Wednesday, December 26, 2012


On Sunday, December 9th (exactly 8 months and 3 days from the day he was diagnosed) Porter left Primary Children's Medical Center for the very last time.  It was such a happy day!  The nurses got together and sang "Happy last chemo to you" (in the tune of Happy Birthday) and Porter rang the bell! - Hopefully a post with pictures of this happy day will be posted sometime during Christmas break.

Saturday morning, my dad showed me the song Clouds by Zach Sobiech.

Zach was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in November 2009.  His tumor was found on his left femur and after a few months of chemotherapy they had it removed and his hip replaced.  After surgery, biopsy showed that the chemo had done it's job, the cancer cells had been contained and killed.  But at the end of May, 2012 (9 months after chemo had ended), they found the cancer had returned in his pelvis and lungs.  There are no known  effective treatments at this time.  They have given Zach just months, maybe a year, to live.

Zach's response to all of this is to embrace each day with hope and joy.  His song is catchy and the lyrics are touching.  "And we'll go up, up, up, but I'll fly a little higher." My heart goes out to Zach and his family.  He is an inspiration.  His song has been on repeat for the last few days and I am reminded of how sweet life is.

You can listen to his song over there ------->

And then I am sure you will want to go to iTunes and buy it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

a thankful heart

Thanksgiving is here and words will never adequately express the gratitude I have felt over the course of this year...

So I will attempt to do so through pictures!

I am thankful for:

My family.  I have always loved them, always been supported by them, and always counted them as my best friends.  BUT this year, we have seen just what we can overcome together.  So grateful.

My brother.  My Porter.  I am so amazed by everything this boy does.  He has fought cancer while not only keeping his smile, but continuing to make us smile.  He has lost the bottom part of his right leg, but never let that slow him down.  I am forever grateful for his example.  As of Wednesday morning, he only has one round of chemo left!!!

Friends like these girls.  No matter what happens, I know our relationship will never change.  Plus, we go on fun "boys trips" like our visit to Notre Dame.

My roommates.  I have always lived with girls who I love and these two are no exception.  I love our hallway heart to hearts and hilarious group texts.


My default best friend.  I am so lucky that I get to work with Cami!  So lucky that I get to spend almost everyday of my week with her.  Our adventures are unlike any I have had with anyone else.  I am especially grateful that I have her to hold my hand when flights get bumpy.

My classroom.  It is the cutest and is one of my favorite places in the world.  How blessed I am to have a job that I absolutely love.  Grateful for my ladies who help me make my classroom the place of love that it is.  Grateful for each of my students who show me what love is.

My students.  Old and current.  These kids have changed my life.  I am grateful for their influence.  I couldn't love them more.

I am grateful for things I have accomplished this year and friends who have helped me along the way.

My grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.  My heart is full when I think of them and their love and support.

Especially grateful to everyone who has become a part of my life this year and those who have sent prayers and love towards Porter during his fight.

This girl's heart is full.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with people you love.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

a wonderful sunday - thankful for my family

This afternoon I had the chance to attend my family ward to hear my dad speak, and as an added bonus, watch Porter sit with the priests for the first time as he broke and blessed the sacrament.

Porter seems to have become the subject of my blog these last 8 or so months.  As I watched him prepare the sacrament I was overcome by the spirit.  This 16 year old boy, my brother, has gone through things that would cause many adults to give up.  Not Porter.  He is as strong and resilient as ever.  Today, I realized how lucky I am to get to watch him turn into such a worthy priesthood holder.  As I was still marveling over the influence he has had on my life, I watched him walk back to our bench.  The whole ward was gleaming.  They have watched Porter fight cancer, undergo surgery, and learn to walk with a prosthetic. I am so proud to be his sister.

Then it was dad's turn to speak.  My dad can bring the spirit to my heart in a way that no one else can.  He spoke of families, like the 2 speakers before him.  He opened by telling us of how he went to search "building family unity" and the auto-generated search engine (not really sure what it is called) brought up "building family unity through giving."  He spent the rest of his talk explaining that family unity can be built not only through serving (giving), but as well as by being on the opposite end of the spectrum and receiving such service.

Through Porter's battle, we have met many other cancer families, families whose fight is much harder than what we are experiencing.  (Please know that I am not saying Porter's experience with cancer has been easy, but we have been extremely blessed.  He has stayed relatively healthy and the chemo did exactly what it was supposed to do by killing all cancer cells in his tumor.)  We have been able to serve these families through giving trees, visits, and attendance at their fundraisers.

Dad told of the visit we recently had with Sofi.  One family night a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to meet sweet little Sofi and her family. Sofi was born with down syndrome and a very serious heart defect.  They told her family that her condition was terminal.  They spent the first part of her very special life in the hospital.  Then Sofi was diagnosed with leukemia.  The doctors told her parents that with her heart problems, the chemotherapy could kill her and that it would be best to take her home.  As her dad is telling my family this, he gets emotional and tells us that from day one, they knew that they could never give up on Sofi, that they would have to fight for everyday with her.  If I remember correctly, Sofi has now been undergoing cancer treatments for 18 months.  She is only 5 years old.  Her story is remarkable and made for a night that I don't think any of us will forget.

Meet Sofi.  She stole my heart the moment I saw her.

Dad then began to speak of the amazing unity that being served brings.  Our ward, friends, and family have outdone themselves.  As I think about all the prayers we have felt, the blessings that fasts have given us, the hours of time spent creating Porter's fundraiser,  the strength we have felt through others support, the love and charity we have been shown - I am speechless. Dad shared a sweet story that I had never heard before.  One night he stopped by a house full of women putting together baskets for Porter's fundraiser.  He mentioned to one sister in the ward that he felt bad that so many people were giving up so much time for us, for Porter.  That night, he received an email from this sister.  He read parts of it and one part in particular touched my heart.  She said, "I wish we could do this for everyone, but it was meant to be for Porter."  Such sweet words.

What my dad said is true.  My family is proof of the unity that both sides of the "service spectrum" can bring. I have always felt close to my family, but everything that we have gone through has only amplified that feeling.  There is more patience, kinder words, and pure joy when we are all together.  I find myself on sibling dates at least once a week.  In fact, Porter and I have been planning to see the Hobbit on opening night for nearly a month now.  Last week we bought our tickets and it has turned into a family affair.  We can't seem to get enough time together and I love it that way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music for Monday

Monday is here...again.  Mondays are the longest day of the week.  I often go to bed Sunday with a little anxiety in my heart, not sure that I am ready for the To Do list back at work.

I can tell you that each day feels different in my classroom.  My students need some time to get back in focus after a weekend.  This often turns Monday into a day of fighting behaviors and reminding students of what our expectations are at school.

So to make Mondays better, I have found a song of the week.I love music, but I don't listen to just any one, two, or three genres.  I will play my crooners and then jump to some hip hop.  I have a weakness for boy bands and my heart melts for Usher, Brian McKnight and the likes.  I appreciate musical geniuses like John Mayer and Jason Mraz (my first real love).  I can't get enough of Tristan Prettyman's unique voice.  I often go back to my high school days with the sounds of Taking Back Sunday and Starting Line.  My latin hips move to anything by Pitbull, my latin heart swoons to the voice of Carlos Gardel and my summer in Mexico introduced me to the Mexican telanovela-turned-pop group RBD.  I must tell you though, you will never find any country music on my blog.

Today, I will introduce you to How the Day Sounds by Greg Laswell.  I heard this song a few weeks ago with my mom at TJ Maxx (so thank you TJ Maxx!).  It wasn't loud enough for me to Shazam the song so I stood under a speaker and tried to write down anything I could hear.  Luckily, that was enough for me to pull up the lyrics.  It is a feel good song that is perfect for any Monday.  You can find it on my Music for Monday playlist just to the right of this post.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hunter's fight

Cancer brings miracles and blessings...

but it also brings more heartache and tragedy than you can imagine.

I hear stories of other young children going through their battles and all I can think is that my family doesn't even know what hard is.  Yes, my brother lost part of his leg, but yesterday he got his prosthetic (which he is doing so well on!) and come 2013, cancer will be a fight we won.

 Warning:  This post has been written through tears.

Last night, Porter's cancer buddy, Tristan, had a post on his fb page that broke my heart and has left me on practically in tears all day.  He tells of his friend Hunter.  I have not met Hunter, but if I saw him today, all I would be able to do is hug him.  Like Porter, he has been in and out of Primary's trying to fight Leukemia.  This is Hunter's story from Tristan's post:

"...Our dear cancer buddy Hunter just got done with a bone marrow transplant because of a relapse.  While he was still in ICS recovering his mother suddenly passed away from a heart attack.  That was on September 18th.  Today they learned Hunter's cancer has returned a second time and that tehre is nothing they can do for him.  They told his father, who just lost his wife two weeks ago and a baby girls 12 years ago that they needed to take his son back to Wyoming and make him comfortable for his last days here on this earth.  Hunter is nine years old.  He gets it.  He is still mourning the loss of his beloved mother and now learned he will soon join her.

I am asking for you to please send Hunter a card.  I want to flood his home with uplifting cards so he knows that we care.  Please make them happy and uplifting.  He is nine years old and loves legos and nerf guns.  He also has an 11 year old brother (his only sibling) that I am sure could use some kind words and love as well.  Please send them to:

3800 Sunset Drive #17
Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901"

Another blog about a littler girl named Cami who just finished her fight with cancer, posted a few of Hunter's journal entries.  I thought those were particularly moving.  They are:

Bad Week

Written Sep 29, 2012 3:43pm
My dad will help me keep this updated for everyone, as many people know I lost my mom, she went back to live in Heaven on Sept 18th, and on Sept 27th my dad and I found out that my Bone Marrow Transplant didn't destroy the cancer and it is back. I have to go back to the hospital on Oct 2nd and we will discuss what needs to be done to make me better. We hope and pray that there are better days ahead. 

Busy Week

Written Oct 3, 2012 12:55pm
Hello everyone, thank you for looking me up on my page. I love the support and love. I went to the doctor yesterday and I found out that my cancer has progressed to the point that it is no longer treatable. It hurt me to know that I may not live to be old and experience what my dad and mom did. I was scared until I had a really good talk with my dad. I know that my mom will be there to get me, but not until I have had my fun here first. I have so many things I want to do with my brother and my dad. My Make a Wish has being started and I will be going on my Disney Cruise, I am so excited. Dad is going to take me fishing this weekend if the weather is good. I haven't been fishing for a very ling time and I can't wait. I know that my Heavenly Father has a plan for me but I hope he will grant me some extra time to do all the things I want to do. Thats all for now, thank you.
*You can read Cami's post about Hunter here.
To be so strong at only 9 years old.  To have to face trials that grown adults struggle to make it through.  To stay so positive.  I can't imagine how hard his fight has been.  He is a shining light, a boy who inspires me.  I would like to join Tristan, Cami, and their families, by encouraging all of you to send him your love.  Please remember his dad, Phil, as well as his brother, Buster, in the words you send their way.

Again, their address is:

3800 Sunset Drive #17
Rock Springs, Wyoming 82901

Monday, September 24, 2012

Porter strong.

My heart is about to explode!  I will never be able to express how much love and gratitude I have felt over the last 6.

When Porter was diagnosed, the love came pouring in.  People from our community, ward, past wards, friends, and family were instantly by our side.  None of us have spent any of the last few months fighting alone.  

Almost instantly after Porter was diagnosed, a group of people got together with Anything For A Friend and started planning Porter's fundraiser.  On Saturday, that fundraiser happened and it was one of the most wonderful events I have ever been to.  It was overwhelming to see how many people came!  All of it was so well organized and beautifully put together.  It was amazing as my family was able to come in and simply enjoy the whole thing (even through our tears of love and joy). People who didn't know my brother came.  People who didn't even know my family came!  Friends from southern California made their way up to run with Porter.  I had FIVE students (past and present) come to support us.  It fills my heart with so much love.

I have a sweet story I have to tell.  As I have mentioned many times before - I love my job. In fact, I don't think that quite says it right.  I LOVE my job is more like it.  My first year of teaching was a dream come true.  That was when I met my Alex.  He still is an answer to many of my prayers.  When I am with him, I can feel my Savior.  I have no doubt that he has a very close, very real relationship with Christ.  He is an example to me of pure innocent Christlike love.  I could go on and on and on and on about this sweet boy.  He came to the fundraiser and surprised me.  Our reunion was priceless.  He giggled and screamed my name as he ran to me.  I held him and didn't want to let go.  He started asking me about Porter and I showed him a picture.  It was a picture of Porter when we went to BYU's practice.  He had his cast on.  Alex asked me Porter was hurt.  I told Alex that Porter had been very sick and that they had to remove part of his leg so that he could get better.  Alex looked at me with sad eyes and simply said, "oh...ouch."  Later, Alex saw Porter and walked right up to him and gave him a hug.  Two of my favorite boys became more than just friends.  Alex became a part of my family.  Thank you Kira, Bob, and Janae for bringing Alex and being a part of my heart.  I love you all so much.

The event opened with a 5k.  I can't explain what it felt like to see hundreds of people out running along Highland Drive for my brother.  Kelsey and I were able to push a student from my school in his wheel chair for the whole run!  That was a very good time - especially up the hill.  He sure loved it.  We tried to keep up with Porter and the big buff men who were pushing him, but that didn't happen!  Porter crossed that finish line well before we did!

Then it was time for food, fun, auctions, friends and family.  We were surrounded by people who were there for one reason - my brother.

I was especially touched by two families I met that day.  They were smiling and more than excited to help.  They looked at Porter with love and empathy.  Both of them have recently lost boys to cancer.  I think of them and my heart breaks.  We are constantly reminded how blessed we are to get to know so many wonderful people through Porter's fight.  To those two families - you will forever be a part of our lives.  I can't thank you enough for your sweet examples.

I don't think I can even begin listing everyone who helped with the fundraiser.  I want to thank each of you.  Everyone who put in hours of preparation.  Everyone who came and donated.  Everyone who couldn't make it, but donated anyway.  I want to thank all of you who have supported my family, especially Porter.

I want to tell Porter how proud I am of him.  I know that all my sisters would agree with me when I say that we are the luckiest and that he is the greatest brother in the world.  He has been such an example to us through all of this.  I love you my Poroto!!!

*** I just found out that over $55,000 was raised on Saturday.  Again, I am moved to tears.  I wish there were more words to express how thankful I am.  Like my dad said on Saturday, when we say thank you, we are really saying we love you. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is my dad's birthday!

For some reason, thinking of him and all that he has done for me, always makes me tear up.  There is no man out there like my dad.  They always say a girl marries a man like her father.  I know I am not married, but I am almost instantly drawn to men who remind me of my dad.  And there are many reasons why...

One of the things I love most about dad is his sweet testimony.  He is so strong and firm in the gospel.  I don't know that I have ever seen him show as much emotion as he does when he bares his testimony.

He does not make decisions without the Lord. Once upon a time, I was put on a wait list for the Special Ed program at BYU.  It was dad who talked me through it.  That is one of my favorite memories with him.  I sat on the floor in some random hallway in the library on the phone with dad.  He just told me of all his experiences and challenges he had been going through at that time.   He told me how his career path had been made through prayer.  He had recently quit his job and didn't necessarily have another job in line, but he wasn't worried.  I cherish that conversation.

He laughs.  And makes others laugh with him.

He works hard.  When life gets hard, he works harder.

He values service and has made sure that service was a part of our lives growing up.

He is wonderful with babies.  They love him.  It's no secret, he is so ready to be a grandpa.

He loves a good game.  I love going with dad to cheer on our favorite teams.

He bleeds blue.  And taught me to bleed blue too.

He is willing to try anything and is good at most everything he tries.

He taught me Van Halen.

He is logical and can help me figure out things that us emotional girls like to over analyze.

He loves my mom and shows it. Often.

He has supported me in every dream I have had.

He loves adventure.  Thanks to him I can camp, ride terrifying roller coasters, hike, fish, and be talked into jumping off a rock.

I love my dad.  Together, my parents have gotten our family through all types of trials.  I watch in awe as they support my brother in his fight.  I see so much of my dad in Porter - more than just the fact that Porter is my dad's mini me.  I have my parents to thank for who I am today.

I am so proud to be able to call myself your daughter.  I am who I am because of your example, support, and love.  I am at a loss of words.  Nothing can express how grateful I am for all that you have given to me. I love you with all of my heart.

your kukiluki

Proud to be an American

I remember September 11, 2001 better than most days of my childhood.

I was in 8th grade back then (only a grade or two older than some of my own students now).  I also had the guest room as my own room.  Those days, I liked to wake up at 5 and take my time getting ready, maybe watching some TV, listening to the radio.  No one else was ever awake yet and it was like the downstairs became my own little house.  On that morning, I was listening to 93.3 on the radio.  People were calling in, talking about airplanes being flown into the Twin Towers.  It was the only thing they were talking about and I could sense the anxiety in their voices.  When I ran to wake mom up and tell her what I was hearing, she told me that the radio didn't always tell the truth and that it was nothing.  Not long after I had left her room, she came running down the stairs to turn on the TV.  I remember she was crying and told me we were at war.

School was long and silent that day.  Teachers had puffy eyes and kept slipping into their offices.  I don't remember watching the news at school, but I do remember stealing peaks at their office TV's.  I can still see the planes crashing, the billowing smoke, and the towers collapsing.  Those are images I will never forget.  Teachers kept telling us that we were living history.  It took me a few years to really understand what that meant...

Here I am, 11 years later, teaching my own students about that day.  About the devastation, pain, and heartbreak, but also about the unity and pride it brought out in all Americans.  What a blessed nation we are.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Porter Strong Update

It has been awhile since I have had the chance to really sit down and gather what has happened the last month.

It was just a little over a month ago when I sat in Primary's with my family as Porter followed the doctor to have his leg amputated below the knee.  He had a cast on it for two weeks and a little break from chemo.  During that time, we got used to seeing a blue cast.  Just a week after surgery, we had the opportunity to watch as Porter became a Thursday's Hero for BYU's football team.  My love for that team has only increased 100x since then (a feat that I didn't even think was possible!). We received a grand tour of the football office, watched a few videos - one of Porter that they had shown the team earlier that morning and one full of getting to know players/coaches and highlights from previous seasons.  Then we watched the last half hour of practice, drank team gatorade, and enjoyed some sun.  When the boys were done, they came over and showered Porter with gifts, kind words, and promises to go fishing.  They all signed his cast and a Y flag.  Porter also got to sign a flag that the team has run onto the field before every game.  Let me tell you how neat it is to watch the flag come out and seeing my brother's signature right in the center of the "Y".  When BYU played our first game against Washington State, Porter's signature was the only one on the flag. 

Currently, the cast has been off for a few weeks and he has some silicon "shrinker" device around his stub.  I am pretty sure it has a name, I just can't think of it off the top of my head.

All in all, Porter is doing great.  For the most part, he is happy and upbeat.  He doesn't get why people think he is an inspiration which makes it all the more touching.  That boy has one solid outlook on life and he is anxious to be able to go out with his buddies again.  Just yesterday he was saying that he felt like he held his friends back, which breaks my heart, but at the same time he turns to his sisters to come sit and watch movies with him.  I love how excited he gets when he wants to hang out with me!  Yep.  No doubt about it.  I have the best brother in the whole world.  I love him.

So, here is my Porter Strong Fundraiser plug!  It will be on Saturday, September 22 in Draper.  I feel silly asking people to come because we have already received so so much, but if you don't already have plans, just stopping by would mean the world to me and my family.

*This morning, I woke up and saw that a video had been posted to the Porter Strong fb page.  Thank you to the girls who created it.  I couldn't hold back the tears.  It was such a sweet video full of people who are supporting Porter.  I will put the link up later today.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Shaving Challenge.

For those who know me well, as well as those who have gone on any trip with me....

I have to shave my legs daily.  I will admit that shaving is my OCD.

I like to blame this on the fact that I was a swimmer, but that isn't the real truth.  Daily shaving is something that I have done since I first picked up a razor.  My leg hair is dark and grows faster than anyone I know - I think it is a curse.  I have friends and sisters who will go weeks, if not months, without shaving.  I can't even sleep with prickly legs.  If I don't get the chance to shave in the morning, my day is shot!  I am self conscious and all I want to do is go home and shave. It is a routine that has become a part of my life...until I started with this magic called laser hair removal.

Laser hair removal and I became acquainted a few months ago, but today was the first treatment on my lower legs.  It feels like you are being flicked with a fiery hot rubber band over and over and over again.  I am miserable the whole time.  Let me tell you that I pretty much have zero tolerance for pain.  I always thought I was tough, but the lady lasering my leg hairs was laughing at my flinches and scrunched faces the whole time.  She was shocked (and maybe a little impressed) at all of my thick, dark hair - a trait I like to blame on my Italian Argentine blood.

The worst news came when it was over...

I can't shave my legs for a week.  I don't know if I will survive!  Please note that laser doesn't mean you walk out with smooth legs.  In fact, I am prickly already!  I can't even think about it right now or else I won't get to sleep.

The only good thing about this being over is that I am one step closer to never shaving my legs again.

I may or may not be saying a few little prayers that the weather takes a turn so I can wear leggings/tights everyday for the next week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sisters Do As Sisters Should

I am so blessed to have three sisters.

And even more blessed to be best friends with them.

Today is Kelsey's Birthday!

Kelsey is probably the greatest, most wonderful, most loving, happiest girl I could have ever asked for as a sister.

My life was Kelsey growing up.  I would turn around and there she was, always behind me.  She was terribly shy outside of the house, but once she was home where she was comfortable, there was no stopping her!  She was loud, crazy, fun!  She had this laugh that was almost a cackle.  For years, we liked the same things - we played soccer, listened to NSync together, watched the same movies...

That only lasted until she got to high school.  And then you find out that we are actually very different in style, music, tastes, etc...but, you will never find two sisters who will defend each other more.  Kelsey has it out for every man who has broken my heart - I love her for it.

Kelsey also has the biggest, sweetest, most tender heart of us all.  I have never met anyone with compassion like Kelsey.  She gets life a lot more than I do - in many ways, I think she has experienced more real life than I have.  Her life hasn't always been easy and I don't think she will ever understand how much I admire and look up to her.  She does not judge.  She can relate to almost any person.  She instantly loves.

During the last year, we got to work at the same school.  She became an aide in Cami's class.  So, sometimes, I feel like I haven't done my job as a big sister - not being the first to get married, the only one who went to BYU (going with hopes that soon my siblings will follow) - but I can say that my siblings have all fallen in love with students who have disabilities.  I will take credit for that.  It makes my heart so happy to see them truly love the kids who mean more to me than anything in the world.  Not only does Kelsey love them, but she is absolutely wonderful with these sweet spirits.  They adore my little sister.

Kelsey has been such a blessing to my life.  Kels - my hand keeps reaching to my heart as I think about you...I have no words to describe how huge my heart is swelling right now, but we know it is serious when my hand needs to cover my heart.  I love her husband and it was a proud day for me to watch her walk out of the temple with Scott.  I really think I have the best little sister in the world.  We had our times when we couldn't stand each other, but those will never outweigh the moments of love, laughs, and dancing.

I love you Kelsey.  I love you. I love you. I love you.  Thanks for being my sister.  Thank you for helping me grow into who I am.  Thanks for being my example.  Thanks for loving.  I have always needed you.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Today is big day for my family.

Today, my parents have been married for 25 years.  They are the couple I want to someday be.  They love each other and all of us kids have always known it.  They hold hands.  Sometimes they even kiss in front of us!  They have made it through ups and downs - today being both an up and down as their son loses his right leg below his knee/hopefully becomes completely cancer free!  My parents are my best friends.  I thought I had grown all independent while I was at BYU (though I talked to my mom on the phone everyday), but then they moved to Utah and I realized how much I just wanted to be around them.

Today, my brother will become a below the knee amputee, but also cancer free!!!  We are in the same waiting room that we sat in 4 months and 1 day ago.  The emotions and feelings of that day were unsure, fearful, sad...needless to say, it was a tough tough day.  Those emotions aren't here now.  A few tears have been shed, but there is peace around us.  There is laughing, smiling, and warmth.  There is confidence that everything is going to work out.

 He is so strong!

Thank you to everyone whose thoughts and prayers are with my family, especially with Porter.  We have felt every one of them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


That's right. I just ran 13.1 miles in the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon.

I have never had any desire to run.  Nope.  Didn't think I would ever do it.  AND I always laugh at the people with the 13.1 or 26.2 stickers on their cars.  Great, you're super athletic and you can run long distances!  BUT now I get it!  I want to sport a 13.1 decal because I did it!

Ok, so here is how the run came to be:

Kelsey sends me a message on Facebook back in March saying we should do a half marathon.  It was a great even to raise money for those who are fighting cancer.  I said yes, but nothing really came of it and the race filled up.  Then, Porter was diagnosed.  Now, we had to run, so dad made some phone calls and we now had 6 spots.

I started "training".  I would run 3 to 4 miles during the week and then a longer run (between 9 and 10 miles) on Saturdays - note that I was not consistent in my running and only got in 3 or 4 long ones and my weekday runs were sporadic.  Most of our group was planning on just walking the whole thing so I figured I had a place to go if the running was too much...

Until, I got a call last night.  They weren't going to run.  There was a lot of smoke in the air.  Another one had the flu.  And one (Kelsey) forgot her running shoes!  I had to run it, but I didn't want to run alone...

so here is my little testimony of prayer.  It was about 9:30 and time for me to get to bed so that I could get up at my 3:00am wake up call. I knelt down and told Heavenly Father my dilemma.  The race had grown to mean a lot to me, it was an accomplishment I wanted to have, but I didn't want to experience it alone.  I didn't want to get french toast at the finish line by myself.  So, I asked him to find someone to run with me. At 9:40, my friend Spencer texts me to wish me luck. I tell him that it was just me.  That I was nervous, but I had to do it.  Then of course, I thanked him for his support.  I am not sure if it was a joke or not, but he replied with, "Oh man, I'm sorry...want me to run it with you? haha" Now, that was probably more of a joke on his part, but this was looking like an answer to my prayer!

It was.  Spencer and I ran that race!  And he was such a good running partner.  We made it all the way to mile 10 before we needed to stop and finished in about 2 hours and 15 minutes - beating my goal by a whole 15 minutes!

The run was a great experience.  I picked Spencer up at about 3:35am and got to American Fork High School right at 4.  We were on the first bus to the start of the race, but we didn't win anything from the raffle (even though we were feeling real lucky).  We did get some mickey mouse disposable gloves to keep our hands warm though!

We sat at the starting line for 2 hours.  I ran into a mom of one of my students and we chatted for a little. We bounced around, trying to keep warm.  And we signed the "Cancer Sucks" poster.  Then, I noticed Porter up in the corner of the huge blow up screen.  His picture was up there!  My aunt Michelle had submitted it and there he was!  It almost had me crying.

Finally, we were just minutes from go time and just anxious to actually start running!

We must have been just past the first mile marker when we ran into this...

I ran it for him. 

Then between marker 10 and 11 (the longest/worst two miles EVER), I got the following reminder:

So, we kept going.

From Mile 12 in, it was time to run and give it the last bit that we had.  As we were turning a corner, knowing the final stretch was near, I heard my name.  There were my supporters - Mom and Porter, cheering me in.  It was a pretty fabulous way to end the race.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Poroto...

Is 16!

I can't believe it.  He got all grown up on me.

16 is huge!  With it comes:
- A license
- Dating

I know that I am partial, but let me tell you why I have the world's greatest brother.

(First, can I just say that I have more pictures of/with Porter than possibly anyone else.  And each one has a story to go with it. )

I can't even find the right word to describe how challenging the last few months have been for Porter.  To find out you have cancer is devastating.  You have two options - to mope and be sad or to simply be happy.  Porter has such a positive attitude about the situation.  I have not heard him complain once about how terrible the chemo is, how terrifying it is to know that in just a few months you will be using a prosthetic, or how miserable it is to lose your hair.  Not only does he never complain, but he is still constantly making us all laugh.  You can't help but smile when you are with Porter.  He is witty and quick.  The other night, me, mom, and Port were leaving the hospital.  He kind of stumbles and then says, "So mom, you want me to drive right?" Then he just starts laughing.  I love him.  Cancer has become a part of his life.  At first, we would do anything he asked and after awhile, we started giving attitude back. He quickly learned a new trick.  He would ask us to do something and if we hesitated he would just softly say, "cancer" and later "amputation".  He knows exactly how to get to us.

He is also one of the sweetest guys you will ever meet.  I would like to think that this is due to us sisters.  He is more sensitive than most - except for when he is trying to get on your nerves because he is good at that too.  He definitely puts others before himself.  He will give up what he likes to make someone else happy.  He rarely says no.  As we were leaving the hospital the other night, there was a group of people behind us.  Guess who held the door open for all of them? Yes.  Porter did.  Stud right?!  He looks for every little opportunity to serve.

I have told these stories before, but I think they are such a good show of his character.  When he knew that cancer was a possibility, Porter bravely said, "I'd rather it be me with cancer than anybody else."  Porter is not your typical 16 year old.  Then when we found out that it was actually, in fact, cancer, the doctor asked my parents if he was a good kid.  I think that is when dad got the most emotional...because Porter is such a good kid and in fact, probably the best.  The doctor said that Porter will only become better because of his new trial.  I can't even imagine how he can get any better.

He loves spending time with my students and he is seriously adorable when he does.  They love him.  He has come to visit my class on numerous occasions and has traveled with us on a few trips.  He even came with me to the special olympics to cheer on a student.  He goes out with dad and they fix lawns, help people move, etc.  In San Diego they had some type of "fruit to the homeless shelters" program set up.

Not only is he funny and kind, but he is so handsome.  He was maybe the most darling baby there ever was.  He was chunky, happy, and round.  He was quite perfect.  He gets smothered like you wouldn't believe (and times that by 10 now that he has cancer).

You can't tell me you wouldn't smother him too...

When I was about 12, I went on a walk with a friend through our neighborhood.  Two year old Porter really wanted to come, but for unknown reason, my friend and I didn't want to have him with us.  When we got back from our walk, we learned that Porter had tried following us and a neighbor found him wandering up our street.  It broke my heart and I saw how much that boy meant to me.  I also realized how much he looked up to me.  Now, I am the one looking up to him,

He has become my hero.  He has kept his head high and a smile on his face.  I am amazed by his courage, his love, and his surety in Heavenly Father's plan.  Porter is going to do amazing things in this life.  He has no idea the impact he has made over the last few months.  People who don't even know him have told me how inspirational he is. Visit to follow Porter through his journey.

Happy birthday Porter!  I love you with every piece of my heart.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

a tribute to my dad

Over the last few years, as I have tried to live as an independent adult, it has become very apparent to me just how much my parents have influenced me.  Not only that, but I see all the work that they have put into raising us.  That responsibility becomes second nature to parents as their children grow up.  For example: my mom always passes up something for herself so that she can get somethings for one of us and dad is such a sucker for us and always ends up getting us what we want - especially when it comes to tech gadget stuff.  They hardly notice that they are doing it now. They have given all of their time, practically all of their income, all of their hearts, their love, their patience - their lives to their children.  I am grateful now and I can only imagine how much that gratitude will grow come the day when I have my own family.

Today, I want to talk about my extraordinary dad.  

I was lucky enough to be the first baby.  Old pictures and family videos make it apparent that my parents were learning just exactly how to be parents with me (and I love seeing that).  Dad loved catching us crying on tape.  Or putting his watches around my ankles so I can't walk.  He would bite fruit snacks in half and stick them on my face just to watch as I struggled to find the sticky snack.  I was his little buddy.  He would take me to do everything with him - hike, climb, fish, bike. I was there.

Our lives have changed drastically in the last few months and all I can do is awe at how my dad has handled everything that has come our way.  Dad was the one who did all the news breaking about Porter.  He told the family.  He informed extended family and friends. Hardest of all, he had to explain it all to Porter.  I walked downstairs as they were getting ready to discuss what was going to be happening over the following 9 months or so.  It was too hard for me to watch and I went back upstairs.  When I came back 45 minutes later, they were both teary eyed, but determined and positive.  I have been so impressed by my brother and it is easy to see that he has learned a lot from my dad.  Most importantly, he has learned how to be a worthy priesthood holder by following dad's example.

Dad has taken our current situation and has been able to find ways to serve others through it.  Porter has opened a whole new world of people to us - families who are fighting cancer, just like us.  It has been neat to watch dad reach out to them and develop relationships.  I also watch as my dad allows people to serve him, to serve us as a family.  It is not an easy thing to do, but my dad has done it with a very gracious heart.

He might seem tough, but my dad is a softy.  He has a very sweet heart.  Recently, a football player from our high school back in San Marcos passed away.  Dad had been MHHS football photographer for a few years and had gotten to know Anthony and love him.  When Syd told him, his heart broke.  Together, they cried and went through picture after picture of Anthony, talking about what a great kid he was.

Most of all, I know that my dad loves me.  We have always had dad wrapped around our fingers.  We often deserved the punishment of being sent to our rooms, but we never went without crying.  I can remember on multiple occasions, me lying in bed, crying, so sad...but it would only last for only a few minutes before dad would come up and cry with us.  He hated getting mad at us and always felt bad after.  I love that I can remember those moments because they have become so precious to me.

Just a few days after we found out Porter had cancer, I left for a cruise.  I was supposed to meet at Cami's house at 4:45 in the morning.  She called me at 4:50.  That is what woke me up.  It had been an emotionally exhausting weekend and all of the sudden, I was in a panic because I wasn't going to make my flight and therefore miss my cruise.  I ran upstairs to wake my mom up and beg her to take me to the airport.  Dad heard me explain what was happening to my half asleep mother and shot out of bed.  I am so grateful for that half hour we got to spend in the car together. 

I have found a lot of my dad in me and I am proud to be his daughter. I am a sobbing mess as I reminisce on all the greatness that makes up my dad.  I am so blessed to have such a strong and loving father.  No doubt I am a daddy's girl - always and forever his little kukiluki.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Melanie

My years in Provo were so good for me - it was there that I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world.

Melanie is one of them.  And I would like to wish her a very happy birthday!

Mel and I were in the same ward for four months before basketball brought us together.  For real - I chalk it all up to BYU basketball. We met during the 09 season and my life was changed forever.  It is actually a cute story....
So one day, I was sitting by the tent that Aubrey and I were attempting to man between just the two of us.  A cute boy walked by, in shock at how many tents were already up.  I saw the opportunity and snagged it (I asked him if he wanted to join our group).  We started the get to know you talk and when I told him that I lived in Chatsworth, he asked if I knew one of his friends, Mel.  I didn't know her and figured she must not live there, because I thought I knew everyone in my ward by now.  I was wrong.  He brought Melanie back to help us in our camping and it was instant friendship that was able to carry through so much more than just basketball.  She became a part of my everyday life.

Here are just a few reason why I keep her around:

Mel can dance like no one else.  She has a voice that melts your heart.  She is a fiercely loyal friend who loves with everything she has.  She is one of the most thoughtful girls ever.  One of my favorite roommates because she was always leaving cute sticky notes on your mirror and pillow.  She is grateful and express that often.  She is down to earth and will never judge a person.  In fact, she will give people more chances than they probably deserve.  I love conversations with her.  She is a great travel buddy.  Her sense of humor gets me laughing all of the time.  She has a kind heart.  A wonderful sense of style. Mad camera skills. And an amazing ability to steal all your NBA dream crushes.

Mel gets me through it all.  She was the first to call me after we found out Porter had cancer.  That, and so many of her other acts of kindness, will never be forgotten.  She has touched my heart and made me a better person.

Lately, I have been using my lack of cable and the NBA playoffs to visit her and it has been wonderful.  I cherish my adventures with this lovely lady and look forward to the many more we have coming - including a trip to NYC in 15 days!

Happy happy HAPPY birthday Melanie!


Me and my boyfriend...

Monday, June 4, 2012


Ok - this is two months late, but I have to have some type of documentation of this cruise!

To start it off, I was supposed to be at Cami's house at 4:45 the morning of our flight.  I slept in until 4:50 when she called asking where I was.  Dad bolted out of bed and he miraculously got me to the airport on time where I met Cami and Amber.  We proceeded to Houston where we took a Carnival bus to Galveston and entered our ship - the Carnival Triumph.

Our ship was a party.  It was a 5 day cruise with two stops.  Days 1 through 4 (while on the ship) looked something like this!  We danced...tried food like alligator fritters and frog legs...enjoyed sunsets...made friends with foreigners...and ate lots and lots of soft serve.

Our first stop was in Progreso.  Not my favorite place, but we did get to see some beautiful ruins!  And we got rings with our names carved into them for 5 bucks. Score.

Our second stop was in Cozumel.  Cozumel was stunning.  The water was crystal blue.  We went snorkeling and we took pictures with some really pretty birds.

Our last day on the cruise was a blast full of friends, more dancing, jumping, and lots of fun.

Overall, it was another cruise success!  It was a nice getaway and a good opportunity for me to relax and really think about my family, Porter, and everything that had changed in my life just two days prior to the cruise.  To top it all off, Cami and Amber were the perfect traveling companions!  Two angels in my life.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Yesterday, while mom and I were on our way back from buying stuff for my class BBQ and talent show, she got a phone call.

I could hear Sydney crying...

One of her closest friends from San Marcos had passed away.  From what I understand, he had had a seizure while playing basketball during 6th period.

Mom and I headed to Syd's work.  When I went to hug her, I could feel the pain in her heart and then I was crying with her because I know what it feels like to loose a friend.  I had flashbacks of the night Robi passed away - still one of the hardest nights of my life.

I didn't know Anthony, but he was obviously loved by everyone.  Syd had the best things to say about him.  He seemed to light up Mission Hills and could get everyone to laugh.  It was heartbreaking to watch her tell Dad who loved Anthony as well.  Here is an article that a newspaper in San Diego has on him.

How blessed I am to know that there is life after death, that our Heavenly Father created the Plan of Salvation so that we could return to live with Him again.  We can take comfort knowing that Anthony, Robi, and all of our loved ones who have passed on are truly in a better place.  Though, with the peace we can find there, it doesn't mean death doesn't bring sadness.

My heart goes out to the family and friends on Anthony.  I am sorry for that hole you are feeling in your hearts.  The pain of losing someone so young and so suddenly is almost unbearable.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

To the Sundells - I still think of your Robi everyday.  I love you guys.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

my mom

I have one amazing mom.

There are no words to adequately describe her.  No words to express the love that I have for her.  She is my example.  She loves with all of her heart.  She believes and lives to show how much she believes.  She has raised four pretty great girls and one of the strongest, bravest boys in the whole world.  She fights with us - especially now.  She never complains and she has every right to.  She takes the trials with stride and gives all of us the support we are looking for.  She loves my dad and we know it.  She loves us and we are told that everyday.

Mother's Day 2011

Every other Friday, Porter goes into the hospital for chemo.  This Friday marked the start of round three.  It is hard.  You never want Fridays to come and that makes the weekdays drag on forever.  But, there is nothing like driving to the hospital after work on Friday to find your mom and dad sitting there with Porter.  He is my brother, my one, studly brother, but he is their son...their only son.  And the way they have taken this trial and kept going is not only an example to me, but to everyone who knows my parents.

Mom and Porter.

She is my best friend.

My mom is kind.  She is full of charity, always giving and never taking.  She knows each of us better than we know ourselves.  She is grateful.  She is patient.  She is tenderhearted.  Not only is she everything that is good, but she is fun.  She has taught us to enjoy life.  To dance.  To sing.  To not let tests take the fun out of life.   

Oh, and did I mention that she is beautiful!? 

She is everything I hope I can become.