Category Archives: Family
One day, long ago, in the first years of Jon’s and my marriage, my friend Jaymi accidentally dropped her ring on our couch.
It fell out of sight immediately. We took off the cushions, but somehow the ring was somehow even deeper in the crevices of the couch. We then shoved our arms clear down into the guts of the couch and fished around blindly.
Eventually Jaymi hit upon the ring and pulled it out… along with a handful of dust bunnies and random stuff that had piled up over the years. It was a secondhand couch for Jon and me, so you can imagine how exciting the collection was.
Jon looked over as Jaymi pulled out her hand, and all the crap along with it, and he just about died. He was so embarrassed that we would have dust in the couch, and a random sock, and a toy. He ran to get the vacuum to clean it out immediately, as his mother, Patty, taught him. She is very particular when it comes to anything to do with cleaning. She reads cleaning magazines, files papers daily, organizes her spices. You get my point. Jon was raised this way.
I would have to say I am more random. I juggle cleaning and kids daily. I am always cleaning up and straightening things, but if I must choose between filing paperwork and going hiking, or anything else for that matter, I will choose the non-cleaning thing.
Back all those years ago, Jon and I were working through the normal things newlyweds do in the first, let’s say, seven years of marriage. I think it takes a while to set personal boundaries in marriage and figure out how to navigate what we can’t change about each other.
As Jon sucked all the dirt off the couch, I laughed at him for being so freaked out about some mess. I was a little annoyed, too, that I failed so miserably as a housekeeper/homemaker in his eyes.
Jon eventually left for work. Later that night, he came home with a combo meal from McDonald’s, which in my opinion is the nastiest place to eat. I could smell the Big Macs from across the house, the smell that makes me sick.
He sat down in front of the T.V. while he ate. I walked in and he was basically falling asleep in his food because he was so tired. He was dropping that pink nasty-smelly sauce and I couldn’t help but tease him for the mess he was making after the morning’s cleaning freak out.
I said, teasingly, “Oh no! You’re getting sauce on our table. NOW what are the neighbors going to think?”
He didn’t like my taunting very much, I guess. How could I tell? Because he took his 24-ounce glass of water and threw it at me!
I was so shocked I started laughing and said,” NOW what are our friends going to say see water marks dripping down the wall by the front door?”
I don’t think he liked this much either because he proceeded to throw his Big Mac at me. I dodged and it hit the wall.
I had two choices at this point. I could let it drop and go to bed. Or I could continue down the path we were on.
I picked up the greasy, smelly, condiment-less, tasteless hamburger and threw it as hard and fast as I could. It flung apart in the air like a bad airplane and hit the piano and splattered up the wall. Now, Jon isn’t fast most of the time, but today, he was fast. He unwrapped his other Big Mac as he stood. I am naturally fast, but nothing makes me move like Jon when he moves fast. (I once saw him jump an eight-foot wooden fence in a single bound when our hunting dog was about to eat our kids new Easter rabbit. The man can turn it on.)
I turned and ran the only way I could in our small house, up the stairs. I skipped two steps at a time, glanced back and saw Jon skipping three! I bolted into my room, slammed the door and ran into our bathroom. Jon didn’t even check to make sure that the bedroom door unlocked. He just plowed through it and popped the whole door off the frame, and smashed the frame out of the wall! He ran into the bathroom. I stared at him, daring him with my eyes to throw that last hamburger at me.
The dare worked. He threw it. I said, “I didn’t even lock the bedroom door.” He just grunted and walked away.
Suddenly we heard a “ding dong” — the doorbell. People have the worst timing, I thought. I couldn’t believe my ears when Jon answered the door. It was Patty and Grandma Ginny.
From the top of the stairs, I peeked around a corner to see Patty and Grandma Ginny step in and look around. I am positive they smelled the nasty pink sauce because Patty’s nose curled. Or maybe she saw the water drips on the wall and the lettuce on the piano. Or maybe she saw Jon’s look on his face. The look of foreboding.
I walked down the stairs and planted myself in front of them all. “Jon,” I said, “you threw the Big Mac. I AM NOT cleaning this up, and I am not coming back until it is.” And I marched out of the house.
Patty and Grandma started cleaning up the mess. A few hours later, Jon and I made up. Years and many fights and many laughs later, when we were moving out of that house, I found a crusty piece of Big Mac lettuce still stuck behind the piano on the wall.
Marriage does gets easier as time goes on. You get used to each other’s crap, and you figure out how to handle what’s not going to change. We solved the couch problem by hiring a housekeeper that helps me a few times a week. Her name is Maria. I love her like a sister.
The moral to this story is:
Don’t eat Big Macs. They are nasty.
Don’t boss each other around. Don’t tease too much. It doesn’t get you anywhere.
Every marriage could use a Maria.
Run fast if you take on Jon.
“Guess what! We’re going to move to Alaska!”
I couldn’t decide if my cousin, Melissa, was serious, or just being silly. It didn’t take long to realize that she was, most definitely, going to carry out her plan! My sister, Camille, Melissa and I, had started a blog together called MyMommyStyle.com, and shared so many fun memories creating together. And now our partner was moving to the NORTH POLE! It would be sad to see her go, but all of her reasons for leaving made sense. Benji, her husband, had recently finished dental school and Alaska offered enough options to live there and begin building a practice, so they went for it!
Their new rental home would be in North Pole Alaska – on Snowman Lane!
Because it was so expensive to transport all of their belongings for their new home, they went through everything and carefully chose what mattered most to them. Next thing I knew, I saw Instagram posts of Melissa’s adventures, including pulling her kids on a sled to the school bus, Benji and the kids fishing, the Northern Lights, and every other story you hear about the people who are brave enough to live in such a majestic landscape, filled with excitement and promise.
I’ve had a few friends and family members that have lived in Alaska, and they all say the same thing. Either people LOVE Alaska, or find that they weren’t cut out for such a rugged place – and they leave. And so, right from the beginning, I was curious to see if my beautiful cousin would make it. Not in a judgmental way, but because it takes a unique person to become used to the long days of dark or light, to live in the deep woods where not much is really convenient, and -20 degrees is a common number on the thermometer. Because really, I’m not quite sure what I’d do without ten fast food joints within ten minutes driving distance! But the Hadfield’s really loved it! The kids were adjusting well, and even started a fun little business of selling rocks from the North Pole!
And then, in one night, everything came crashing down. Literally. I woke up yesterday morning and received a text from my Dad saying that Melissa’s rental house had burned down to the ground. And by some wonderful blessing, all five members of their family made it out alive! As a mother myself, I began imagining what it must have been like to run through the house with my husband, grabbing my children as a fire was raging. The panic and fear that would most certainly be flooding through your veins!
In the same text, I also found out that her family lost everything but the clothes they were wearing and her husband’s cell phone. EVERYTHING. Their cars burned, their wallets, computers, cameras, clothes, food, blankets, treasures, children’s toys, and even their pet. They watched their home burn from the next door neighbor’s house. The fire department did their best, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. The chimney had caught on fire and burned everything was lost.
Last night Melissa posted this to Facebook:
“This has been an overwhelming day. I never knew my heart could be so broken and so full at the same time. We are so incredibly grateful that we are all safe and we have been so moved by all the outpouring of love and support from family and friends. So here we stand holding every single thing we own in this world and we are happy. We feel so blessed and loved and we are truly grateful.”
You see, they are still standing. They are holding each other closely and choosing to let the fire ignite love, and their conviction to keep living, instead of letting it burn down their life. I can’t even call her to see how she’s doing because she lost her phone in the fire. Thank goodness for social media and all the tools it offers. There has been a Go Fund Me account set up for them HERE.
If you have a few dollars you’d like to give to building back their life, I know they’ll appreciate everything they get. I’m sure that prayers and love we are sending is sustaining them. Hold your loved ones close and remember what is really important, because in a moment notice – every earthly possession can be gone. Invest in your family, just as Melissa has – and you’ll always have your most important possession.
I’ve heard that the American Red Cross put them up in a hotel for a week while they try to find some sense of all the chaos. There are so many great organizations and people who are around us everyday – we can never forget that! People come together in tragedy and help rebuild, they always do. I will always have faith and hope for this crazy world, because in the end, we really care. Have a beautiful day and THANK YOU for being those kind of people!
And thank you, Melissa and Benji, for being such a great example of what family and love are really about!
Kinley is engaged to be married to Mr. Ethan Brown on May 6th, 2017.
I’m pretty sure she was just born and so my timing must be off, somewhere.
On New Years Eve, 2016, we went bridal gown shopping with all of the girls (minus Sydney because she’s living in Florida) and let me tell you, I battled the thought of having six daughters for so long but when occasions like this come up, I’m always a bit overwhelmed with emotions.
“Come one girls, get in the car! We are going to be late!”
“In the back.”
“Right here Mom, you’re talking to me.”
“Oh, right, where is Whitney and Brighton….and our bride?”
When we were all in the car I turned around and said, “Girls….(“Here Mom goes again…”) This is a day we will all remember! Look how much fun we are going to have shopping for wedding dresses! I feel so blessed to be with you all on this special day.”
And with that, I slowly backed out of the garage while one of them got our music going. You see, we can’t drive anywhere without music. We have our favorite play lists and I’ve always prided myself on raising kids that appreciate the best hits from all generations. We decided which order we’d stop at the bridal stores, and we were off!
I’m not going to tell you that every dress was perfect or that the kids never got annoyed with one another, but I will say that it was a perfect day. We laughed and I was a little teary just coming to grips with the realization about what was happening. It was like her first day of Kindergarten, all over again, but in her woman body. I remember being excited that she was starting school because she was SO positively ready to take that next step in her life. And as we prepare for her big wedding day, it feels pretty much the same way.
Kinley is sure in her choice of husband. Ethan is going to be a wonderful addition to our family and I’m so proud of them both. Together they are building a unit that I believe will last through all of the crazy experiences this world can throw at a married couple. They will be wonderful parents someday and I couldn’t be more excited for them! They dance and sing together, they enjoy many of the same things, they are patient and kind with one another, and I’m most impressed by the time they take to genuinely tell one another that the love each other and do small acts of kindness, everyday. Of course they drive each other crazy at times (let’s be honest, who doesn’t) but they find ways to work through their problems. As a mother, I couldn’t ask for more.
Kinley tried on a ton of different dress styles, and by the end of the day she was determined to have someone make her dress. Honestly this stressed me out a bit because the woman she chose lived in St. George, and I kept having thoughts of a box showing up with her dress … that she didn’t like. I would rather her find a dress that she could try on right from the beginning so she could see if it was absolutely perfect. Well, we didn’t find that, but we had a great time trying!
That night we rang in the new year in a pretty chill way because some of us have been sick. Jon bought cazoos, party hats, and confetti guns – along with lots of food. We played scategories and toasted in 2017 with a little dancing, our traditional running in the snow without shoes or socks on, and watching the ball drop.
Well now here we are on January 5th already! Jon has been struggling with his back going out – even to the point that we took him to the emergency room to check for kidney stones. After many hours and tests, it came back negative. Although this may seem like a relief, we were very surprised and now I’m more worried about him because back problems have always been a struggle for him. He’s visited the chiropractor now and set up tests for an MRI to get more information.
Yesterday Kinley, Brighton and I went to another dress store. She wanted to try on more styles to see what dress cuts would work the best for her so she could begin the process of getting her dress made. To be honest, when I saw the dress shop that she made an appointment with, I was scared. It was beautiful…. too beautiful for words. But let me try.
The bridal store is in Salt Lake City and it looks like a boutique for wedding dresses. It was an old vintage house that had been remodeled for the bridal store. There were lots of windows around the outside walls, and beautiful dresses hanging on racks around the perfectly staged room. There were dressing rooms in the center of the big open area and to separate sitting areas where the bride could come out and stand in front of you on a beautiful stand, surrounded by mirrors. They interviewed Kinley about the type of dress that she was looking for and we were shocked to hear that they had an almost exact replica of the dress on Pinterest that she’s been wanting made! They brought us water, and the show began.
The first dress they brought out was the one from Pinterest and I could hardly relax as she tried it on because I was scared of the price tag. It was beautiful, to be sure. She was beautiful. As she spun around, asking for our feedback each time she tried on a new dress, I kept picturing her doing the same thing in her white baptism dress and holding her in her white baby blessing dress. Times flies…
And then it happened. Kinley walked out in a dress that settled the busy room into a hush. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at my baby girl in the most beautiful gown that seemed to be made for her. Every bridal dress is beautiful for someone, but this was Kinley’s dress. It was simple and elegant. It fit her body perfectly in all the right places and it was easy to imagine her wearing, perfectly.
Kinley’s face flushed red and she became teary… and Brighton and I began oooooing and ahhhhhing…. I saw for one moment that Kinley saw her own beauty. This world is so harsh on women and their self-esteem, but for that special place in time, I saw that she saw what I see every time I look at her. She looked pleased, excited, and at peace. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and give all of my girls a dose of it each morning before school. A mother’s prayer is that their daughters feel confident in their own skin, knowing what they know, that they are truly beautiful.
And then I had to ask the inevitable…. “So, what does the dress cost?” and when she told me, I wasn’t surprised. We deserved it. That’s what you get when you find a dress that was hand beaded in Israel. And so we talked for a moment about how much she’d budgeted and saved in other areas. Our venue will be an on old park with huge trees and cobblestone walkways, and it was really cheap – SO we decided that since she saved money there, we’d better spend it here 🙂 but I really didn’t want to say yes to a more expensive dress unless she was absolutely, positively sure that THIS was the one. When she agreed that she was sure, she tried on her other dress options again. When she walked back out in the dress of her choice, we all felt magical again, and so it was done.
The cute girls helping us said, “Kinley, do you say yes to the dress!?” and so I quick got out my cell phone and video recorded her… “Wait!” I said, “Start again!”
“Kinley, do you say YES to the DRESS?!”
And so, with a huge smile and spinning on the top of the platform, she exclaimed, “YES!”
Maybe someday I can post that video, but not yet 😉
Guess what! It snowed, right on Christmas Even. It was a miracle!
I’m sure nobody on planet earth reads my blog anymore – or any other planet for that matter. And why would they? I never post, and if I do, it would be on facebook or instagram – or an occasional snap chat.
I know there are some major reasons why social media is not good for us, but there are some reasons that it has been good for me. I enjoy reflecting on my day and writing about it. I like to remember the reasons I laughed hard or felt deeply enough about something to cry. It helps me learn more about who I am and why I’m here on this earth. And although I’d love to believe that I won’t forget anything, it’s been clear that I do. I forget what happened yesterday, for heaven sake! And when I look back on my old blog posts (more than a thousand of them) I see that they were for myself and my children. I know that I used to have many hundreds of consistent “readers” and it did help me to keep going when I didn’t feel like writing, but at the end of the day – it was for me.
My life is busier than ever, and yet, I have this major pull to try to keep writing. I don’t even know how I will fit it in and so I can’t possibly commit to it – and then I feel sadness. So much of life is striving for the balance that works for us. When it find it, we also experience more peace, hard work, and happiness. And the hard part about it is that it never stays the same. Life changes, and so must our balance. It’s a moving target!
A few days ago, I was sitting down to recover from all the Christmas crazy (hosting 2 huge work Christmas parties, 5 movie theaters full of clients, and multiple family parties) and Whitney walked in. We talked about random things and then I looked up to find her snap chat app in my face. Next thing I know, my features were warped into all sorts of images and I began laughing, and the harder I laughed, the more I was inadvertently encouraging her to continue. And well, a video is worth more than a thousand words, so here you go!
There is nothing like raising teenagers! Nothing. One minute you wonder who they are and what they did with your sweet baby, and the next minute they are your best friend. It makes my head spin – and with six daughters and one little caboose boy, my head has spun for a long time.
SO much has been going on in our home that I could never catch up writing about everything. The stories that would be the most interesting to read about my children and our lives, are private. But there is a lot I can write, such as my New Year Resolutions for 2017! I attacking a few things that would potentially, if I can control myself, change my life.
- I am officially going back to college for the first time in over twenty years! I was accepted into a women’s leadership program during the fall, and Dr. Susan Madsen encouraged me to do it take the full plunge and finish my degree. I’ve wanted to do this for many years, but it hasn’t ever been the right time, but I believe that now it is – heaven help us. I’ve decided to get an Integrated Studies major, including Leadership and either psychology or sociology.
- Not only am I returning to school, I have chosen to do exactly what many people don’t recommend, and that is to take MATH on my first semester back. And true to the “Janae Way”, I’m not only taking math, but I’m also enrolled in a class called Ology that helps you pass ALL OF YOUR MATH FOREVER in one semester! It will be so scary intense, but I want to get it over! I’ve also dragged Kinley, Ethan (Kinley’s fiance!), and Whitney into it with me. My theory is that if we all struggle together, we can overcome! I’d have to say that I’m a bit nervous because the class will also be running during the three months leading up to Kinley’s wedding! I’m also taking my Ethics and Values class.
- After five years of severely neglecting my health, I have a plan in place to hit it head on. I’m so scared, but I have to do it. I’m only half way through my life and I want to enjoy the rest of it and if I can’t figure out how to take control of my body – I won’t. Why do I feel like I’m helping myself by only helping others? How can I find the energy to help run companies, start and run non-profits, and be mama to many kids – but I can’t take care of myself? I think it’s a pretty common thing for women.
- And just so you can all laugh at me, I will also be supporting our businesses with PR and strategy, continuing to build the Parent Advocacy Council, most likely launching a very small business (TBA), and helping to plan a wedding. Not to mention being mom – my most important job.
So how to I plan to achieve my goals? Good question!
- All of my kids are gone all day, from 7:30-3:30. That is one benefit of getting old. I have 8 hours a day to do what I need to do. During this time I will go to school, work, exercise etc.
- After twenty years of raising kids, Jon and I hired a nanny last year to help during the after school hours. We divide up driving, cooking, homework etc. Kelsey helped us all last year and recently moved away. Kenzie is now her replacement and she has also been assisting me with party planning and work errands. I feel like a huge cheater, but like Jon says, “Let her help you with things that I can’t help you with because I’m too busy at work.” and that makes me feel better. He’s been saying this for the eleven years that Maria has come and helped to clean our house. I feel so guilty/embarrassed even talking about this, but I feel like if I don’t, then people compare what they are able to do and think I’m some sort of super woman when really I just have a team of people trying to keep up with me!
- I’m going to be successful in school because I want to be a good example to my daughters of continuing education in any way that they can. It’s important to me that they know that women can lead in whatever ways they want to, whether it’s in the family, business, non-profit, work…whatever. They can be self-sufficient and not wait for a husband to do it for them. Too often in our Utah culture, young women just assume this – without realizing the many things that can get in the way of this plan. Sickness, job-loss, divorce, death etc. all happens – all the time.
- I should also add a big number 4 and that is prayer. I won’t be able to carry out these goals without help from above! I sometimes get distracted, tired, lackadaisical, irritated, lazy when I’m working on something I’m not excited about (such as school, math, and my health) and I’ll need every blessing I can get!
So, here goes nothing and everything all at the same time. Oh, did I mention that I’d like to write on my blog more often, too? There are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Not enough, at all.
So much happens in my life, so quickly, that I can hardly believe it. This is one reason that I love to blog if I can make myself find the time to fit it in. It is so easy to forget things that happen, and it’s so nice to look back later and re-live experiences.
Today was a big day for me. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. like every other day and woke the kids. I began getting ready as the kids got themselves ready. They are getting better at this as they get older, which is so nice. Pretty soon it was time to get them out the door and Kenzie arrived to drive the Ella, Halle, and Jordan to school. At the same time she leaves, I always drive Brighton high-school. I rushed home quickly and finished getter ready and left to find Dr. Susan Madsen’s house to meet for her women’s leadership project at UVU.
I arrived right at 9:00 and went in to meet with her. As I walked up to her house, I remembered that I had heard her speak at a Help me Grow event many years back and I’d had an impression that she would be part of my future. I didn’t know how or when or what for – but I did feel like we’d work together. And now, here I was, walking up to her house to be mentored by her. Life is crazy like that…
As I sat down, we began to talk about the things I’d learned from the Women’s Leadership Project and how I felt about my progress. I mentioned how I now see myself in a different light after taking the Leadership 360 assessment and that I am tweaking little things I do and say each day because of the education I’d received from her. And then she asked me how I was feeling about returning to school. I told her that I was considering going back to school and studying Business. With a smile on her face she asked me how excited I was to take lots of math classes (knowing that was not the case)… and so I let her know that I was not excited – and in fact I knew that this may be the very thing that made it so I’d struggle to finish.
She then went on to tell me about an integrated studies degree that she thought I’d love. She’d told me a bit about it before and the more I heard about it, the more I’m liking it. She developed a program about leadership that I’d love to take and pair it with psychology or sociology… I’m not sure yet. We finished talking and I left to meet Jon for a meeting with the Honorary kernels association. As I was driving, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I was supposed to return to school. I’ve thought about it many times over the years, but this time my heart burned and I teared up. There was no question about it, after twenty years I’m going to start taking classes at UVU again!
Honestly, I’m scared to death and I plan to take it slow at first. But I feel very strongly that it is the right thing for me to do. I really needed a strong answer like this because I have many anxiety about school. I’ve never been a good student and I’ll have to grow in a lot of ways to be able to finish my degree. I’m a totally different person than I was when I tried UVU the first time – and so I pray that this will work in my favor. I know that I have a lot of people around me that will support me. I’m excited to take some classes with Whitney and maybe Kinley, too!
When I arrived at the lunch, I saw Jon and teared up as I shared this experience with him. He hugged me and said he supported me with whatever I felt like I needed to do. He said, “You’ve always wanted this, and you can do it. I support you.” and so we walked hand in hand into the lunch.
When we got inside, I met many amazing people – mostly business men and policeman. I met a really nice man and he looked familiar – so I asked him his name… and it was Sheriff Mike Winder! We both laughed and walked into the meeting. I didn’t have any idea how much this lunch meeting would change me. The sweet girl who was presenting had been attacked and stabbed by an intruder in her house, and I couldn’t even listen to her 911 calls and her description of the experience without crying. It was an AMAZING story and because of it, she started an organization called “Fight like a Girl”, because her sister kept fighting the man who broke in her room. She’s working with Elizabeth Smart and I have some ideas of great people I’ll introduce her to so she can build her group. I talked to her afterward, and I’m excited for the next steps we will take together.
After our lunch, Jon and I drove straight to meet with some business brokers about two different businesses. I always love meeting entrepreneurs and learning about their companies. It was very interesting and we will see what comes out of that.
The past two nights I’ve missed the kickoff event for PAC for Western Region and the kickoff event for Salt Lake City PAC (parent advocacy council). It makes me so sad, but I’ve needed to put other things first, such as Brighton’s soccer banquet on Tuesday and an interview with a new manager and his wife tonight. I have to learn to let go of some things. I know I can’t be everywhere with everyone – it’s not physically possible and my family is the reason I do what I do.
And so, it’s been a long day.. and my eyes are falling shut as I type my last lines. I’m tired, my friends, goodnight.