Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Break 2014

             Jaxon, his best buddy, Jaiden, one of Ezrie's best buddies, Ezrie

I need a journal, my poor neglected blog is the best thing I have right now.  I wanted to write something somewhere in the hopes I would never forget this week.

Magical moments are few and far between - at least for me.  I have been very blessed to have a lot of them this week.

I had promised to take the kids to UT for spring break to see there cousins.  The last six months have been spent, in part, in a massive application effort to find an internship placement for William.  We found out the week before spring break that he had not matched in the second round of the psychology internship matching process.  I had to make the decision to stay home with the kids to continue the application process while we continue searching for a placement for William (he has had interviews this week in Ohio and Kentucky, has another one next week in North Carolina, so our continued efforts are producing some results).  So I decided to take the money we had budgeted for gasoline expenses (which we didn't really have anyway!) and use part of that to make the disappointment up to the kids.

The kids have never been roller skating, and I took them all one day.  I had the bright idea of getting all of us in skates and hitting the rink at the same time - the chaos was overwhelming and hilarious.  It was hard work for the kids, but they all said they want to go back and they had a good time.  Plus the popcorn was only $1 - you cannot beat that..

We additionally have made multiple trips to the "great big swings" at riverside park here that opened again April 1 - yay!

The big event of the week was the hotel with a swimming pool I had booked here locally.  The kids made me take them a few days before our stay so they could do recon =).  The hotel and our room overlooked the river, it had a sofa bed in it which for some reason the kids think is the coolest thing ever, and most importantly had a wonderful swimming pool and hot tub.  Our friends met us to go swimming, and Jaxon had the wonderful transformation from being terrified of the water to loving being in it.  Largely in part because his buddy was watching him, he became this fearless little water baby gleefully jumping off the side of the pool into mom's arms, so many many times.  The other kids likewise had a wonderful time.  Levi, Ezrie and Jaiden learned how to "chicken fight" and it was hilarious to watch them figure that one out.

After swimming, I took them out to Shari's (think Denny's only w a local vibe to it), where my parents have taken me and my siblings many times growing up.  Ezrie got the "x marks the steak" off the kids menu, which is so Ezrie, and Jaxon behaved himself well enough that it wasn't complete chaos.  The whole evening was actually quite golden and beautiful and memorable.  The next morning of course saw us back swimming until we had to check out.  One of my kids was able to go twice to the free breakfast, and I actually saw her leaving the room as the last one out before the doors were locked - totally, completely classic.

Last night did see me having a major crash - either a 18 hour stomach bug or just exhaustion/stress from the last several weeks, but it is over now and we are planning on seeing a movie today.

I feel very fortunate to have had moments where I have been able to forget, for a period of time, the stress and strain of reality and just be a mom doing fun things with her kids.  I am really a very blessed person.

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Coming later, but for now ...

I just really need to get these dates down so I don't forget what a miracle this has been:

May 13 - the idea forcefully came to be that we need to move to WA this summer.

May 18th - William had agreed to plan, I started packing/cleaning the house to ready for selling process.

May 24th - the home became officially listed on the MLS.

June 4th - offer received to purchase our home.

June 5 - offer accepted.

July 1 - we move.

This has truly been miraculous and divinely inspired. As I look at all of the homes similar to ours in our locale,  our has been the only one that has sold in the last few weeks.  We are so blessed and blessed and blessed.  More later .....

Monday, April 22, 2013


It has been two weeks and time has been kind.  I am learning about the stages of grief, how it is not a linear process. I have gone forwards and backwards through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining/guilt, depression and acceptance.  I have particularly felt a lot of guilt - things left undone or unsaid.  Which I find really interesting.

The last time I was with my Mother, I spent a week caring for her night and day while my Father was out of town.  By the end of the visit, I told myself that I was prepared for her passing.  (Obviously, though 'prepared,' I in no way shape or form envisioned her passing just 6 weeks later.) I think it is virtually impossible to be 'prepared.'

I know there are so many ways we can try and beat ourselves up for imperfections - almost as if these nearly inconsequential actions or in-actions completely negate the great love we have for the person we lost.  And that is simply not true.  I know I wish I had been a better daughter in so many ways to my mother.  And I also know that the love I have for my Mother is so real, and that she knew it.  I really do have to let the little things go.

A very special time for me is that during my week with Mom in February, My sister Karen and I were able to take her to the temple, to do one brief ordinance and then go to the celestial room.  I distinctly remember holding my  mother's hand and telling her that I loved her.  That I looked into her eyes and made that statement.  That is the moment that I got to tell my Mother goodbye.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was granted that tender mercy.  It was nothing short of miraculous that we got Mom out of the house and to the temple that day.  And that is one of my memories that I am going to treasure always.

I love you, Mom.  I would give just about anything to go back to February and have one more day to care for you and spend time with you.  But I can't.  So I will remember the times we did spend together, and the wonderful qualities of your character.  And I will share those times with my children, so they know how blessed they are to be your grandchildren.  Instead of lamenting my perceived mistakes, I am going to celebrate your life.  I miss you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mom's Funeral

I went through some of the photos taken at Mom's funeral and burial, and felt like these three were not too intrusive to share.  I absolutely love the picture of my sisters comforting my father.  The hours and days since Sunday, April 7, at 6:34 p.m. when I got the call that Mom was at the end, and Monday, April 8, at 11:34 a.m. when I got the call that she had passed away, have seemed so very, very long.

Tomorrow Ezrie and I head back to our home and our own little family.  Two weeks from now I will be traveling to Washington to help my Dad go through our family home, and to attend a memorial open house for my mother there.  It still seems so unbelievable that she is not in this mortal world.  I am so very grateful for the knowledge that she is with God.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Tonight is another hard night to get through - there have been several this week.  Mom's funeral and burial occurred yesterday.  There have been many very sweet moments during this week.  The two highlights have been attending the temple Thursday morning with my cousin Julie, and my sisters Angela and Karen.  There was a moment where I felt my Mother there and that brings comfort.  Another moment involves a momento I  purchased to leave in Mom's casket with her, which I found out later was tied to the last word she uttered.  That made me feel very connected to my Mother.

I was one of several who briefly spoke at Mom's funeral.  I presented a Top Ten list - the Top Ten Things I Learned from My Mother.  Some were silly, some were serious.  My Mother taught me:  the importance of families, that homemaking is one of the most important roles a person can undertake, how to be a 'constant' in your children's lives, patience in long suffering, strength (she is the strongest person I know), and most importantly, how to love (how to love the Lord, parents, your spouse, your children).

My Mother will always be the best person I know.  The most Christ-like.  The most uncomplaining.  The most patient.  The most gentle.  The most dependable.  The most loving.

I am so very eternally grateful to have a Mother who's loss is so deeply felt and so deeply mourned.  I want to live every day of the rest of my life in such a way that my Mother's memory and life is honored.

I love you, my beautiful Mother.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Longest Day

(Taken moments before my Mother passed away - 52 years of love)

The Longest Day of my life began Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 7 a.m. when I woke up to conference Sunday.  That weekend I had done the biggest whole house clean that had been done for months, and as a result I had about eight loads of laundry that had been washed and needed to be put away - which I did while watching conference.

Thirty-four minutes after conference ended (at 6:34 Eastern time), I got a call from My sister Karen.  The call lasted 13 seconds.  I was told that Hospice had just told my family that Mom might be in the last stages of dying.  I said, "tell Dad I am on my way."  Karen said, "we aren't sure what is going to happen, they just said she 'might be,' it's possible she could improve." I said, "I don't care - I am on my way."

The first flight I could get on left at 6:15 a.m. and arrived at 11:10 a.m. mountain time.  I bought the ticket and began making arrangements for the four kids.  By 8 pm, I had my flight, the kids and William all sorted out for the next five days.

I drove out to my dear friends' home, the Bishop's home, and received a blessing of comfort.  This blessing told me that the Lord loved me, and that I would have an appreciate for and understanding of the Lord's time as I spent time with my family.

I was back at my home, and my daughter Ezrie had been upset and crying.  She had left me a letter, including illustrations, pleading her case as to why she needed to come with me.  I could not deny her this request, and shortly thereafter Ezrie had a ticket to travel with me.  All the boys stayed home.

My friend Jen was organized to take Ezrie and I to the airport at 4:45 a.m the next morning.  Ezrie and I began packing our suitcases.  Fortunately, my friend Emily came over to give moral support and assistance while we were packing and reminded me of key items we needed to pack.  I remember being very disoriented and unable to think clearly as I tried to figure out what to put in our suitcases.

By 10:30 pm I had Ezrie asleep and I was trying to get some sleep.  I knew that Mom was requiring round the clock company and I was trying to sleep so I could relieve my sisters and father who had been constantly  caring for mom.  Mom had only just taking a really bad turn on Saturday.  While she has struggled with severe pain for decades, the pain got to be so severe that she couldn't stand to be touched, yet couldn't get up alone.  Her body stopped being able to make the smallest movements, and she needed to be carried to and from the bathroom.  This took several people's help because she was so contorted in pain and her flexibility was so minimal that it was a very difficult task.

I must interject something about 'the cake' at this point.  And this still hurts me.  When mom started hospice, which we determined she ended up being on for 11 days, being so far away from her was heartbreaking.  I decided that something I could do was feed her sweet tooth.  I bought several small packing boxes, and decided that every Sunday night I would make some type of dessert and mail it to her Monday.  The first Monday I sent her 'from scratch' brownies from a new recipe I was trying out.  The second week, we had just finished spring break, and I was scrambling to get caught up after the break.  Circumstances combined, and I didn't end up getting her package off (mom's recipe for Turtle Cake) until Thursday.  The cake got to her Saturday, the day she started to rapidly go downhill.

After the phone call from Karen that Sunday night, I was absolutely devastated.  I was so mad at myself that I didn't stick to the schedule I wanted to have so this package could have arrived when Mom was in better health.  I felt like a failure - that I had messed up the one thing I was trying to do to show love to my mother. I later found out that the last thing mom ate was a piece of this cake, which comforts me to know that she was able to partake of the tangible love I wanted her to have.

So Ezrie was asleep and I was freaking out because I couldn't fall asleep.  In the end, I gave up on the idea of sleeping and ended up staying up all night.  The most conscious feeling I had was a feeling in the pit of my stomach - the feeling of anxiety of - 'get there, get there, get there.' I started getting ready at 4:00 a.m., and Ezrie and I began our travels.  All flights when smoothly, and we touched down in Salt Lake City at 11:10 a.m.  My aunt Effie and Uncle Merrile picked Ezrie and I up from the airport.  I sent a text to Karen that we were leaving the airport and would be to Mom's house soon.

As we were talking, my Aunt, who had visited my Mom the night before and has seen several loved ones pass away in the later years, told me that when she had seen mom she was under the impression that Mom could hold on a few more days.  I was relieved.  All I had been thinking about was taking Mom's hand and telling her 'I love you.' At 11:36 a.m., Karen called with The News.  Mom had passed away at 11:10 a.m., just as my plane had landed.

The airport ride from SLC to my mom's house, depending on the driver and traffic, can be up to an hour and a half long.  Though the timing of Mom's passing of course had nothing to do with any desire on my part, if the Lord had asked me "Janell, you can shorten your mother's suffering in this life by an hour and a half, but I must warn you, it will mean considerable pain on your part - what do you choose?" Without a moment's hesitation of course I would elect to take on pain so Mom's would be shortened.  So while I would choose things to occur this way if I'd had a say, the heartbreak of not getting to Mom in time is one of the hardest things about this process to me.  I just wanted to hold her hand, to tell her I loved her, and to be present while she passed from this life to the next.

I understand that an hour or so before she passed away, she received a Priesthood blessing from my brother Scott.  The blessing talked about how her time on earth had been prolonged because of the Lord's plan.  That part of this plan was so her children and grandchildren could learn lessons about faith, endurance, humility and long suffering, from her example.  She was told that she would pass from this life when both she and the Lord were ready for that to occur.  And they both were ready at 11:10 a.m. on Monday, April 8, 2013.

Mom passed away in the rocking chair she had spent most of her waking and unwaking hours in the past five years.  After she passed, my Dad, brother in law Brent, sister Karen, and nephews Brandon and Matthew carried her into the hospital bed hospice had provided, and she waited there for me to arrive.  I admit shock when I saw mom.  The severe pain she had been in had not yet left her face.  But nevertheless, I got to kneel by my mother's bedside and hold her hand.  My siblings and their spouses and my father all kneeled around her and we had a family prayer.  I stayed with mom as long as I could until the gentleman from the funeral home came to transport her.

Aunt Effie and my Cousin Julie brought over food to feed an army that night, and a lot of family gathered at my parents' home.  After every one left, and it was just my father and I, i broke down again, and told my Dad, "I just don't know how to get through each day without my Mom."  Even though we have lived in Australia and then Indiana the last eleven years, my mother has been a part of my daily life.  Wondering what kind of a day she's having, what kind of a night she had, trying to figure out a time when i could call and have a few words with her, planning the next visit to see her -- these are all things that have taken up my time and my thoughts over the last decade.

Though at this stage I had been up for 42 hours, I needed a sleeping pill to finally get a bit of relief.  I decided  I wanted to sleep in the hospital bed where my mother had last been.  I desperately wanted - and still want - any type of closeness I can find to my mother.

Yesterday my dad, Scott, Karen and Angela visited various cemeteries and choose a place to get burial plots for both of my parents that is three miles away from their Utah home.  While they were out, I went through the house and moved various belonging of my mother:  her medicine suitcase, her shoes, her walker, her purse, and put them in the closet where my dad could have access to these things, but they were constantly underfoot.  The most necessary rearrangement was the chair that she had spent 98% of her life these past few years, which had been in the living room.  The pain of seeing that chair vacant was too much.  We moved her chair to the office, and replaced it with another rocking chair.

Yesterday afternoon, Ralene and Marc's flights landed just in time for them to meet the rest of us at the funeral home where we made decisions about mom's casket, and the details of her service.  We are having her viewing at 1pm in Provo, followed by the funeral at 2pm, and the burial afterwards.  I as well as a couple of my siblings will say a few words, Angela is going to play a musical medley.  We want to keep it short and sweet, just like my mother.

All of my siblings are here and we have the next several days to mourn and grieve together and to remember and honor mom.  Something that is hugely important to me is that a few of us are going to go to the temple on Thursday.  I really want a chance to be in the best place to say goodbye to my real mother - her spiritual self - before we lay her physical body to rest.

Knowledge of God's plan, that there is life after our mortal bodies die, that we can be with our loved ones forever brings so much peace.  But the 'natural man' in me recognizes the inevitable pain this separation brings.  I think my father said it best when I was speaking to him on the day she died.  He said, "you know, I have been so blessed.  I have had 52 incredible years with the most amazing woman.  That is more than a lifetime for some people.  I just wanted more."  I agree.  I have been so blessed this past year.  I saw my mom last February after I took the WA bar.  I saw her in June when I sworn into the WA state Bar, I saw her in October after her stroke.  I saw her in December.  I was here seven weeks ago and had the opportunity to take care of her for a week while my Dad was gone.  I have been so blessed with all of this time - I just wanted more.

One last hug, one last conversation, one last chance to say "I love you forever."  And even though I did not get those opportunities, in my heart, I know that she knows.  Mom, you are the best woman I have ever known.  You were an angel on earth during your mortal life and now you are an angel in heaven.  I will see you again, and when I do, I will take your hand and we will both run together - because we can.  Thank you for being the best example of courage, patience, humility, and love that I have ever seen.  Your legacy lives on in your children and grandchildren.  Until that time .....

I love you

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

For Reals

At this time of the year, when I start hearing about other people's tri-lingual, global-trotting, uber-rich, gifted families that all play golf, snorkel, horseback ride, have funded non-profit charities, all while renovating their homes, I think about what I would really write in a Christmas card update letter, if I actually sent one out.

Well folks, this year, here is my gift to you .....

Top Family Achievements:

1.)  This year, our biggest family achievement is that the six of us all still reside in the same home together.  I am grateful for that.

2.)  My biggest personal achievement is a discovery:  hypothetically, a person can throw on a sweatshirt, go put gas in the car and get groceries - all without ever having replaced the upper undergarment famously burned in the 60's.

3.)  Runner-up personal achievement :  any day I manage to get through without having to cook dinner.

4.)  Kids achievements:  (in order to protect the guilty, I will not name names, but they know who they are....)

A.  Being able to successfully pee without getting any urine in the toilet whatsoever.
B.  Playing computer or video games from sunup to sundown on a Saturday (to keep the record straight, you think you "got away with it," but it was a day I just let you do it).
C.  Mastering the art of nagging, demanding, manipulating, to the point that i will unpredictably state sometimes "fine, yes, just leave me alone!"
D. Is no longer that 'perfect baby' and is now capable of shenanigans like the other children.

I will take the real us any day.  The good, the bad, the ugly:  this is what makes our family ours.  As much as they daily drive me insane and push my limits, they daily melt my heart and make me grateful - so very, very grateful that God has blessed us with four children.

On the days that I feel like the burdens are too heavy, I look around and count my many blessings for all that I have in my life.  Heavenly Father has truly looked after us.  My Savior has walked side by side with me many days.  Through all the chaos, love is present in my home.  Who wants a perfect family anyway =).

Sunday, November 11, 2012


William and I have spent the last four days participating in professional training.  We are now trained Parenting Coordinators, which is a role where either attorneys or mental health professionals help couples who are divorcing, who are high conflict, become more educated regarding how their behavior affects their children, and helps them mediate parenting issues.  I am really excited to take this training and implement it into my professional life.  It has been really surreal to attend this training with William, and discuss a field where our professions diverge.  The role of Parenting Coordinator is one implemented in our current location, but I am wondering how it will translate to Washington.

Because we are finally going to move.  My mother had a stroke a few weeks ago.  Jaxon and I went out for a few days to help my she and my Dad.  During those days, it really became clear to me that now was the time to make the move.  And it coincides well with William's education.  After this spring, he will be finished with all of his coursework, and has cleared it with his school that he will do his dissertation long distance.  I'm not sure how the 'internship' piece of the puzzle is going to work out, but we will figure out each step as we move along.

For now, the plan is to move to the city I was raised in.  To do this, we need to sell our home - a kind of scary prospect, but we will work it out.  It has been a time of many changed plans, and reorganizing.  I am grateful for a husband that pretty much goes along with the major things I want to do.  He is very supportive.

I want to dive into Parenting Coordination as soon as I can get some clients in Indiana.  I feel that this is an area that really calls out to me. Advocating for children would be very rewarding (and difficult, I am sure).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I've missed it ....

I have really, really, really missed the memory recording and thought processing I have been able to do while blogging.  I am going to make an effort to make more time to do things I enjoy, like writing.  I am guessing most parents feel this way, but I feel like from the time I get out of bed in the morning until the time I go to sleep at night, virtually every moment of my day revolves around taking care of my family.  I am going to try and carve out moments for myself.  

I love how the kids crack me up on a daily basis.  Here is last night's:   I was at the store with Jaiden (5) when we were approaching an extremely large woman.  I knew what was coming, and I was trying to avoid it.  I just watched Jaiden.  First, he started staring.  Then he brought his finger up to point and opened his mouth to say something.  I effectively distracted him and we were able to move on.  Later, in the car, I talked to him about when we see people who are different, whether they are a different size or whatever, that it is rude to point and say things about them - that those things could really hurt feelings.  Jaiden said, "did I say something?"  I said, 'no.' Jaiden replied, "yes, I did."  "What?"  "Get out of my way."  Oh my - he is too much.

The second most embarrassing moment of my life and one of the most hilarious moments happened this week.  If only I was  being video recorded at the time!  The true hilarity of the situation is lost if you don't know the other person involved.  So all I am going to say is "are you still there?" and "Just walk away."  And I do have to say that I am one of the most ridiculous people I know.  I really am. So zip it!

Ezrie is my little drama queen.  She really, truly, in nearly every way possible is a mini-me.  She is curious and persistent, and unrelenting beyond belief.  She likes to know everyone's business.  She is a little mother to her brothers.

Her latest kick is to outline all the reasons why life is so much harder for her than it is for other people.  I was trying to talk to her tonight about how, instead of looking for the negative, she should look for the positive.  But I think next time we talk about it I am just going to recommend looking for humor.  Little things make me laugh or make me smile all day long.  Yes, I become a crazy person laughing to myself over things that occur to me.  But it sure beats the alternative.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

What a crazy ride the last few months have been!  As I think about what stages and ages the kids are at right now, I know, that as the years pass and I look back on their childhoods, this very time we are in right now is the time I am going to fondly remember - even long to relive for a day.  The kids (8,7, 5, 14.5 months) are still innocent, sweet (even Jaiden, when he comes to sit on me because he knows he's going to fart), and loving.  Jaxon has been an absolutely joy since the day he was born - and I am not exaggerating that one bit. It takes nothing away from the other kids as infants at all - in fact, part of what is so joyful about Jaxon is seeing the other kids interact and play with him.  I am going to remember seeing Levi and how tender and gentle he is with Jaxon - pushing Jaxon out in the big toy police car.  I am going to remember how much Ezrie and I fought over who's turn it was to do x, y or z with Jaxon =) (both of us saying - on my work days - but I haven't seen him all day!).  I am going to remember Jaiden and Jaxon cuddled up on the couch while Jaxon drank his morning milk.  I am going to remember Jaxon with his smile that takes up his whole face, and his arms stretched out to me.  These are the golden years - we are living them right now.  Too precious for words.

At the same time, I am going to remember how difficult things were.  The finances.  William's health, my health (major dramas the last few months).  How our health affected our marriage.  It has been tough.  But we are all going in the right direction.

Today, even the 'worst of time' seems minimal when I think of the great blessings in my life and how very, very, very fortunate I am.  The Lord is looking out for us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Just hanging out recovering from pneumonia.  The last time I had it was four years ago, I didn't have health insurance, and I was hospitalized.  This time I went to the ER before it got too out of hand and we have been fortunate to be able to treat this from home.

I have been doing my version of 'resting' to the best of my ability, because on Tuesday I travel with the kids (by my self) to take them to Washington.  William will meet us for my swearing in on Friday.  The last time I was in Washington with the kids was four years ago.  Jaxon is the age that Jaiden was during that trip.  That trip was right before Tumey was evicted.

Four years.  We have a digital photo frame and I just saw a picture taken of the kids during that trip four years ago.  Jaiden was my baby - 13 months old.  He is now five.  Levi was five back then.  I don't know if this is confusing or not, but using the ages of my two youngest children right now, I am trying to remember the context of what we were facing back then.  What if I had to look at my Jaiden, a daughter two years younger, and my Jaxon and think "if something happens, are they going to remember how much they were loved by their mother?"   It makes me cry just to think about it.  Thinking about the possibility that I could die and leave my (at the time) three very small children - my biggest concern about that scenario was the love they would miss - and probably not remember.  William's father passed away when he was seven, and I have seen what a massive impact it has had on his live, and our lives together.  I did not want that for my children - nobody wants that for their children.

We all know that anything could happen at any time - there are no guarantees.  I am so very grateful that my two oldest children have made it to ages where hopefully their mother's love is imprinted in their identity.  And I am so grateful that I get to continue to make memories and live life with my four absolutely precious children. There are a lot of things I am not good at as a homemaker and mother.  I really do not enjoy cleaning.  I have not had my children memorize scriptures yet.  Sometimes I send them out in public clothing that I deem 'good enough.'  Dinner is sometimes foraged for.  The list goes one.  But everyday, several times a day, I tell every child he or she is loved.  And it is true.  I am hoping love can make up for my deficiencies.

Tonight, my heart is so very, very, full of gratitude.  Gratitude that I get to say "I love you" to four wonderful little people.  Four is a great number.

(PS - Happy Father's Day!  I am also so very grateful my children have such a wonderful, gentle, sweet, intelligent and wise father in their lives.  One of William's best qualities is that he is a fantastic father.  Love you honey!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yay - passing is better than failing, take it from me!

My "news" of a month ago is that I passed the Washington bar - don't get me wrong, it is SUCH a massive relief!  I am getting sworn into the state bar in a couple of weeks in Washington, with a real judge, in a real courtroom, and it is going to be very, very, very, very, weird to feel like a "real" attorney (who still happens to reside in another state - shoot!).

While, on one hand, I am so completely pee my pants scared of being the person signing court documents, making big decisions, speaking in court, etc - on the other hand I am so ready to be at the point where I am putting my education and bar exam trials to use.

It is SO very strange to be on this end of the 'finishing my education and passing the bar exam' journey.  While the angst and agony is so very present and fresh in my mind, it also has a surreal, dream-like quality to it. I have caught myself thinking so many times "who would have come up with a plan like I did, finish law school on-line so I could take and pass the CA bar so I could take and pass the WA bar?  what kind of freaky wacko would think that was a good idea?" Apparently me!  It just seems a bit crazy.  But when you factor in children, there really was no other way I was going to do this.  Hence, the last five years of my life.

We are coming up on our 10 year anniversary - how crazy is that!  Our marriage is very conveniently divided into five year intervals - our five years in Australia and our five years in the US.  Our five years sharing religious view and our five years adjusting to new beliefs.  Five years of being prego or a stay at home mom, five years of being a par- time student and now a part-time employee.  Five years of hard time and happy times, and five years of insane trials and insanely joyful times.  It feels like we have crammed 20 years of experiences into 10 years.  But I am learning that while  we can objectively measure one year by the 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun, the "feel" of the length of any given year is so subjective as to be nearly indescribable.    I know, random!

I am signed up to go through mediation training in July, so that I will then be a licensed mediator - and I am excited!  I'm not sure when I will actually feel qualified to mediate a case, but I am working on gaining exposure and training and this endeavor is something I have thought about doing for a decade.  So yay!

The kids and hubbie are great!  There are no words to describe the joy Jaxon brings our entire family.  He is our little buddy.  The kids have had great years!  Levi is in cub scouts, Ezrie in dance, Jaiden in soccer.  Levi got the top academic award in his class this week, so, of course, I took him out of school the rest of the day!  =)  I have got to dash, but hope to write more frequently.  I miss blogging.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fourth one down, pass it around .....

Bar exam number four has come and gone. What an adventure!!! The first month of studying was superb! But figuring out how to juggle part-time work, leaving my baby with a babysitter all week, while preparing for the exam was .... stressful, to say the least. The second month brought lots of illnesses to our family that really made studying difficult. But, on a plane I went.

Of course, traveling delays occurred and I ended up getting into Seattle at 6am my time, 3am local, my shuttle service had stopped running so I had to take a taxi to Tacoma. Adventures later (witnessing three car accident directly in front of the taxi, hearing Trina brag about her prowess to her employer for the evening at the hotel as they checked in ..... you know, all normal stuff. By the way, on one of my flights this trips, they made the announcement that there would be no working lavatory on our flight - even for me, that was a new one!) Traveling Saturday I started getting my fifth illness in four weeks - a cold.

By the time I got checked in to the hotel and settled, the cold was pretty full blown misery. I was in bed most of Sunday trying to recover from no sleep the day before, and hopefully get feeling better. Monday I was able to do some studying, and the cold remained. The other wrench in the works was that, one week before I had to leave for the bar, I had to start a new medication that started causing insomnia problems. The result was that the night before my first day of the bar, I got around 4 hours of sleep. I woke up still with a cold and a fever. My poor proctor allowed me to have the air on because I felt so crummy. It was not the ideal way to start the exam.

Each day was three sessions - most of the first two sessions of day #1 were not great. Some of my weakest areas of law were tested right away and I could tell I was performing on par with last year. There was a time, during that second session, where I thought: 'Ok, this summer when I have to retake this exam, I am going to have to cut down work hours, and increase babysitting hours and just focus on getting this done right.' (Because this round, i ended up studying three days a week, just during school hours, and then some Saturdays towards the end.) And then I thought, "hey, I'm in the middle of the bar right now," and I got back to my questions.

At this point, I have to mention that I have the best ward of all time. I really do. I am so blessed. Monday when I was studying, I got an email. Our compassionate service leader had passed around a 'go get 'em' card signed by my loving sisters. I found out there were several who were fasting, and many who were praying for me. It was so humbling and made me feel so grateful - I can't even explain it. So when I was going through a rough patch in the exam, I remembered all of these great men and women who were praying and intervening on my behalf, and I was given strength. I also remembered the significance of the necklace I was wearing with the names of all my children on it, and I decided I was not going to give up. I feel so blessed by the power of prayer.

Things started going better and I got some questions that I know I absolutely nailed. Is that presumptuous to say? I guess I figure by four bar exams, I can kind of tell how things are going. And that night, I got two hours of sleep. But my cold was so much better that I went into that day of testing much more clear headed. Despite my lack of sleep the days leading up to and including the exam, when I was writing the exam I did not feel tired. Day #2 of the exam was the opposite of day #1, for the most part, I felt like my answers were very strong, with just a couple that were average.

When I got back to my hotel room, I felt like a massive burden had been lifted. So I guess we'll just have to wait a couple of months and find out what the results are. I am so deeply grateful for everyone who has helped me and my family through my studies and exams - what a group continuing effort!

After the exam, I packed up and made my way to the airport then flew in to stay with my parents for a day and a half - it was awesome! Do you know the tiredest day of your life? I do. February 29, 2012. I got into my parents' home at midnight. I had been so sleep-deprived leading up to and taking the bar, plus the exhaustion from such a massive effort of taking the exam, that I literally began to hallucinate. I was in my parents' basement, and I saw a couch start to float off the ground =). I was so confused, I called my dad down to see if he could see what I saw. He kindly patted me on the shoulder and said, "Janell, I think it is time you went to bed." I went to charge my phone up, and woke up on my bed, phone in hand, shoes and clothes all on, five hours later. Crazy.

And this is the story of bar exam number four. I hope hope hope it is my last bar exam ever. I am not so confident that I have thrown away my notes yet, but should I get happy results, I will burn them. Burn baby burn.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day - to the other four loves of my life

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I am so very sorry for my neglect of the blog. Things are pretty busy around here.

Jaxon is four months old and absolutely adorable. Jaiden, Ezrie and Levi just finished up fall season soccer which meant the last two months have been madness. Ezrie is showing ADHD characteristics when it comes to school work, so we are getting her evaluated and we are spending a lot of time trying to help her. I just registered to take the WA bar this February - and just cannot wait for that happiness ..... =) I am still working two days a week which has been a fabulous fit our our family. William is doing his practical experience and working on his dissertation and the end of our student years is in sight.

A year from now, William will be applying for his internship which will (hopefully) start in the fall of 2013.

As we are both looking at professional careers starting in the next while, we have discussed the fact that we don't won't clients reading all about our lives and our past on this blog. Since I haven't changed any of our names, it's actually pretty easy to google us, even with just the first names. So - I have to decide if I am going to go private or just take the blog off completely - which is what I am leaning towards.

Blogging was a lifeline to me during some hugely challenging times. It was hugely entertaining/rewarding/fulfilling/exciting/supporting/heart-warming, and the list goes on. But as life has gotten busier and busier, and I have less and less time to write here. So we'll see what we decide to do.

I have missed blogging and will continue to miss it - and all the great friendships and love and support. I actually keep my 'to be paid bills' in a box that was part of 'The Love Train,' which is something I will never forget. If I come up with something anonymous, or decide to go private, I'll let you know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Handbook Would Be Nice ....

We don't need a handbook - not for Jaxon. Right now, we don't have big questions about what he needs. Keep him fed, dry, burp him and love him and he is pretty content. (I am actually quite a baby hog - I know this is the last one and I am getting all the newborn cuddles in that I can - sorry local friends, I will try and share!)

A handbook entitled "What to Tell and Teach Your Children when Your Previously Christian Husband is now an Atheist" would be very helpful right now. Similarly, a book entitled "How a Marriage Thrives when the Couple Has Fundamentally Changed" would likewise be helpful.

As Levi's eighth birthday and subsequent baptism has gotten closer, William has been struggling to define what his belief system has become. He has identified his current beliefs and why he feels that way and over this past week every night he has been sharing them with me.

The children are also getting older and have questions about where their Dad is on Sunday. Up until now, I could be vague or tell them to direct their questions to their dad - I did not feel like it was my right or responsibility to face those questions. But now that William has a clear idea about what he does believe and how that is going to affect his life (and our lives) the picture has once again changed.

It could not be avoided any longer, and after another questions I answered honestly "no, your Dad does not believe in God." The next question was "Is Dad going to hell? (spelled out - not said!)" No, your father is not going to hell. And so a brief conversation ensued about Daddy being a good person, etc.

This conversation came up because Levi had asked last week if William could be a church member and come to church with us. He asked it again yesterday, and the above-conversation ensued. After the nitty-gritty was discussed, I belatedly asked Levi why he wanted his Dad to be a church member. He said, "because he has the monkey game on his phone and I want him to come to church with us so that I can show Jordan the game."


Oh what we could have avoided if only I'd asked the right question first.

I am just at a bit of a loss here. What and how in the world do we teach our children when we believe such completely different core beliefs? How are our children going to know what to hold on to as they receive mixed messages?

I know William feels horrible that he has gone through this process after we were married and after we had agreed on how our children were going to be raised. I know the process he has gone through has nothing to do with me. I have empathy for the pain he has gone through and goes through as he knows what his change in beliefs means to me.

And I know how I feel about the whole thing. Which is very crappy. My religious beliefs are the essence and core of who I am.

Yeah, a handbook on how to handle this all would be helpful right now.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Going home!!

We are being discharged! Wahoooooo!!! Jaxon just needs a regular antibiotic that we can give him at home. His bilirubin levels are excellent. He's eating much better and awake more often - phewww. We'll worry about his upcoming dye exam when we get to that point - in approximately 10 days. For right now, I am going to revel in the independence of taking care of our baby in our home. What a sweet little guy!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Different Hospital - Same Baby

Jax and I find ourselves in the local children's hospital. We've been here the last day and a half. His bilirubin level, combined with a couple of risk factors, meant that he was admitted and they started aggressive treatment to bring his bilirubin down. I get to stay with him and take care of him while he is being treated. Definitely an unforgettable phone conversation with the doctor when she called to tell me to take him straight to the hospital.

Fortunately, Jax's bilirubin level came down quickly. But they found he has a UTI, and a subsequent ultrasound shows an enlarged kidney. One of the possibilities is that he has a refulx condition that would necessitate surgery. I am not totally positive what the other possibilities are. Tomorrow we'll talk to the doctors and find out what they think is going on. What I am hoping for is news that we can just take him home. I want my little guy back where he belongs.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Baby Baby Baby

I am going to try and get some pictures on here soon. Our little Jax has the whole family enthralled and endeared with his arrival - except Jaiden. I have not seen any jealousy yet at all, but Jaiden seems very cautious around Jaxon. He's worried he'll do something that will make him cry. I have seen Jaiden be very protective - he has gotten upset with both William and I over perceived ways that we upset Jaxon: "you made the baby cry" (said with a scowly expression)! So there haven't been any of the anticipated negative reactions from our until 8 days ago youngest child (yet), but he hasn't exactly jumped on the Jaxon bandwagon either. Ezrie, as anticipated, is wanting to be VERY involved in EVERY aspect of newborn care. It has been fun to share a new baby with our daughter. Levi is surprisingly excited about his new little brother and wants to participate as well - he is very sweet and cute about wanting to know how his little baby brother is doing today.

Thanks to my sister Angela's last-minute flight out to stay with us, William and I had lots and lots of uninterrupted baby bonding time in the hospital - it was a very sweet and memorable time with our little Jaxon.

For me, I am absolutely amazed at how much I had forgotten. I had forgotten how much time it takes to take care of a newborn. I had forgotten how little hands and feet and ears could be so very precious. I had forgotten how quickly the bonds of love form between parent and child. I had forgotten the post-bath baby smell. In the throes of the challenging end to a very difficult pregnancy, I had forgotten what the whole thing had been about in the first place. It is so good to have our family together.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In love

We are in love with our little man. Jaxon Tate (who will have nicknames of Jax and JT) was born yesterday at 10:12 a.m. He is 19 inches long, and weighed 6 pound 13 ounces. Many dramas surrounded his birthday, but he is here, he and I are doing very well, and life is great.

Hearing his first cry in the operating room brought tears to William's eyes as well as my own. What a very happy conclusion to an incredibly stressful pregnancy.

There have been so many differences between the Australian births of our other children and little Jax's yesterday. For now I will just say I am much more alert and am in much less pain (so far) than I was with the other kids. Levi, Ezrie, and Jaiden were all born at 38 weeks and weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces, 8 pounds 2 ounces and 8 pounds 1 ounces respectively. Our new little man beat out his siblings by one week, being born at just over 37 weeks, but is the runt of the family at this stage. It appears that he takes after the Levi/Ezrie/William side of the family. Jaiden is our only child with my genes.

One disappointment from yesterday is that there was so much scar tissue from my previous three c-sections that my doctor could not perform the tubal ligation - but we'll work something else out.

I am so so so so so so so so happy to have our little man here with us and that we are both doing well. It seems amazing; we are truly blessed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

baby coming

Complications have meant that baby is coming in less than 12 hours ..... we"ll see how it goes to have our first (and only) baby in the U.S.

Friday, June 10, 2011

aye aye aye

My usual end of pregnancy problems have really gone into overdrive the last couple of weeks. I've been put on bedrest until the end of the pregnancy, which I am trying to interpret with three kids all home from school for the summer! At the very latest, this baby is coming on July 6, which is when we have the c-section booked for at the moment. However, at my appointment this week, my doctor did not think we'd get that far.

Who knows????

Between the miscarriage we had in the fall, that weirdo mono thing, and this difficult pregnancy, I have vague memories of a healthier, more active lifestyle. But without a doubt it is all worth it.

Monday, May 9, 2011


So I guess in the past, Washington State did not release your failing score. That is not the case any longer. Today I was surprised to get my exam responses with my scores in the mail.

I needed 126 point to pass the part I failed. If I had scored between a 122 - 125, I could appeal, and choose several answers to be re-read in the hopes of bumping up my overall score to a pass. I scored 121 points.

There is no way to be happy or content about failing. I can only predict how I would have felt, but if today I had found out that I had failed by a larger margin, I think I would have still been upset, but could have said, "yeah, I knew I wasn't prepared." That's pretty much the conclusion I have come to over the last few days.

But today, I find these points very difficult to deal with. Funny how I thought my first day was so much better than my second day - I scored exactly the same amount of points both days!

Truthfully, for this exam, an hour of study of the right law would have made the difference between failing and passing the exam. There was one question in particular on my second day which covered basic landlord/tenant principles. That very morning I had specifically opted not to review landlord/tenant law, and instead studied law that was not on the exam. I lost at least three points for that decision.

Any one of a number of things could have been different, but they weren't. And the result is that I have to go through this horrible process again, with a baby or toddler. Heartbreaking and overwhelming.

And William finally told me yesterday (Happy Mother's Day to me) that him participating in our baby's blessing or Levi's baptism at the end of the year is not going to happen. Not that I had high hopes in this regard, but I had a faint hope he would feel something that would change his mind. But no.

All in all, this week has been ... hard.

I know that being in the seventh month of a pregnancy that has been difficult and emotional from the first few weeks does not make dealing with all of this any easier.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

2013 here I come ......

I think the wallowing has come to an end. The words 'failure' and 'loser' are not continually going through my conscious mind, so that is a step in the right direction.

Washington releases failed exams differently than CA - aren't I so very lucky that I know that? =) With California, you automatically get a copy of the written portion of your exam, and your overall score, with your officially mailed results. With Washington, I have to request my exam and my understanding is that I won't ever find out my score. Which is just irritating. I did pass day three, which was on ethics, so that part I won't have to retake, providing I retake the substantive part and pass within two years. I small consolation. Happier is that having passed the ethics portion reduces my registration fees for next time by half.

So, I just have to have this exam hanging over me for quite some time. The exam is administered in July and February of each year. I clearly won't be taking the July exam with a newborn baby. I also don't think I'll take the Feb 2012 exam, because our little guy will only be five months when I have to start studying for that exam - and that is just too young. I don't want to take a July exam, because that means four kids missing out on a summer with mom - and I'm not going to do that. So, most likely I'll be taking the Feb 2013 Washington Exam. Which is right when William will be finishing up his coursework and dissertation.

I am not excited that this process has to keep going on and on and on for so long. But - what can I do?

In the meantime, I started a new, perfect for me, job this week that has helped me focus on something else. I am working two days a week at a law firm with some very spectacular people. William also has a new part-time job that he's able to do three days a week while continuing his studies. In the matter of two weeks our financially situation has completely changed, and that is very happy.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Right now the big picture is cloudy. Just a few weeks ago I was certain that whatever the outcome of this exam, it was Heavenly Father's will for me.

I honestly don't know if I believe that. Is it really His will that I go through this again? Did I really not get all the lessons down pat from my first big failure? These exams, with all the travel expenses, registration and babysitting fees that are involved are monumentally expensive for our student budget. This is a failing exam that we will literally be paying for for quite a while. And for what benefit?

The hardest part right now for me is the fact that I knew I was not prepared. I was diligently praying and sought spiritual inspiration from every avenue available to me to know if I should go and take an exam I knew I had not been able to adequately prepare for. It would have been much less painful (and expensive) if I had just felt at peace about sitting this one out. The only answer that I can come up with right now is that I was not listening properly.

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that many experiences in our lives are the subject of divine orchestration. But not every event.

At this point, 12 hours after hearing the word 'fail,' I find it difficult to believe that it is God's plan that this occur. I find it more likely that I took an exam I was not prepared for and received the result I deserved.

This is not the utter devastation I went through with my first failure. But, it is more difficult than I was anticipating. This too shall pass, blah blah blah. When I tell the story of how I became an employable attorney, what is going to be the grand tally of how many bar exams it took to get me there? Maybe the story is going to be why I decided this was just not worth it.

A pregnant hormonal failure is not someone who can come up with positive blog posts!