On the Power of Kindness

I heard an NPR interview the other day that washed over me in a very powerful way. (You can listen to it here) Here’s what suddenly became very urgent after hearing this interview:


It sounds simple, but it isn’t always that easy. Some people are prickly. Some have even hurt us. Some make us uncomfortable and they’re awkward and hard to love. We still need to be kind to them — because more and more it’s becoming clear that our ability to treat others with compassion and simple kindness could have a dramatic impact.

In the radio clip, the host is interviewing a young man who nearly blew up his family and school. He was angry, and felt inadequate, and yes, he was also mentally ill. But neighbors called the police because he was making pressure bombs in his family’s shed. And he was caught, and confessed, and went to juvenile detention and received years of counseling. He’s a felon now, but he’s out, receives mental health services, earned a welding certification, and he’s living an honest life. He spoke with eloquence and maturity about his experiences.

And, he’s in touch with other “would-be mass murderers” — a pretty chilling club to be part of. One of the young men recently committed suicide. Another is doing pretty well, and he describes what foiled that young man’s plan:

He was on his way, in the school, to go shoot a classmate (and presumably whoever else in the school that got in his way). As he’s walking down the hallway, a girl looks at him, smiles, and says hi. 

And he turns around and goes home, doesn’t kill anybody. 

A SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS SAVED LIVES. I stopped cold in my tracks when I heard this story. I wonder, does that girl know her small action of showing basic kindness to a stranger had such an impact on that lonely, troubled boy?

How much can we push and isolate and ignore and ostracize the “freaks” and “weirdos” of the world? How simple is it to say “hello” every once in a while? Yes, they might make you uncomfortable with their social awkwardness and their sullenness — but also: how we treat the weakest among us says a whole lot more about us than it does about them. Everyone needs a friend. Maybe, instead of thinking “oh well, they’re not my type, they need a friend but they need to find the right kind of person for them,” we could just… be that friend? Even for a few minutes in a day?

It’s easy to be nice to people who are likable. It’s another story with other people — the ones that are “not my type.” Sure, everyone should “find their tribe” and all that feel-good stuff, but some people seem to get all the friends and all the tribes, haven’t you noticed?

We could all reach out to someone outside our circle.

People are hurting, and troubled, and isolated. And yes, better mental health services are crucial. (And obviously, it’s important to protect yourself around people who genuinely make you feel unsafe. Reach out to a school counselor, HR person, or the appropriate authority if that’s the case.) But also, we can afford a little extra kindness. We can smile at strangers. We can teach our children to reach out to the ones no one else wants to sit with.

It’s not my intention here to oversimplify the complex issues around school shootings. In fact, this post isn’t really about school shootings at all.

What I am saying is that we can learn something, right now.

This one piece of the puzzle: it is ours to solve. And we have the ability to contribute to that one piece of the solution — now we know, simple acts of kindness can stop a young man with murderous intentions in his tracks and send him home safe to his family. THAT is powerful, and it is power you and I hold in our own two hands.

Kindness. Pass it on.


Blast From the Past: Some Ballroom Clips!

I found some clips of our past ballroom performances!

So I was trying to entertain my kids as I tried to print a double-sided document with lots of pages from home (no professional printing available in town… wish me luck!) and I thought “Hey, I’ll play them some videos of ballroom dance!” and then I googled the dates I was on team at BYU, and… found a few performances some random person had filmed short clips of! OK the quality isn’t amazing, I’m warning you, the person was off to the side in the audience, but still kinda cool because I had a massive hard drive failure a few years ago that wiped out all my videos from that time (it still breaks my heart just thinking about it… I can’t even. Ugh.)

Anyway. Here you go, for your viewing pleasure! Good luck finding me, I’m one of the blondes, ha! With hair and makeup and the same costumes, even I struggle picking myself out sometimes! (Which is kind of the point in a formation team — we’re supposed to blend together, not stand out.) Andrew is in both of these clips too, see if you can find him! (And I’m not dancing with him either — he’s quite a bit taller than me so we were rarely if ever paired together in the formation pieces)

Well that was fun! And now I’m going to go cry about lost videos all over again… sigh.


#GivingTuesday Suggestions!

Hey friends, it’s Giving Tuesday! I wanted to pop in real quick and share several charities and causes that are near and dear to my heart. I know we all have to pick and choose where we spend our precious, finite resources — we can’t all do everything — but I humbly present here a few great ideas to choose from 

— The ongoing refugee crisis is overwhelming: people torn away from their homes and displaced, brutalized, buffeted about and living in limbo for years now, families separated, people drowning… but you CAN do two things right now:

– Immediate need: many refugees are literally living on the streets of Paris (the French government essentially has no strategy for them, in fact police routinely brutalize them). You can donate much-needed items as the nights get colder to Compassion Without Borders, an organization our TSOS team can personally vouch for.
AMAZON WISHLIST HERE: https://www.amazon.fr/…/…/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_ws_2Yz.zb68EAXH5
(Excellente idée particulièrement pour mes amis français ou francophiles!)

– Ongoing need: change the dialogue. Their Story is Our Story – Giving Voice to Refugees aims to help people –and decision-makers — see the individual realities of refugees. Looking into a person’s eyes (digitally) and hearing their story from their mouth makes the global crisis real and personal. Please, help us tell their stories and Turn Up the Volume on those stories instead of the propaganda you hear from pundits & politicians all the time.
DONATE HERE: https://tsosrefugees.org/get-in…/turn-up-the-volume-campaign

— Shriners Hospitals for Children. We directly benefit from a Shriners program at the SLC hospital which pays for Jonas’ braces. Those things are NOT cheap and he needs to change them out every time he grows a shoe size. Not to mention the excellent medical care we got there to treat his feet and correct them over this past year, which could easily have been MUCH more expensive. You can watch the video below to see how we’ve personally benefited from their work 

More on our clubfoot story
DONATE HERE: https://shrinerswyo.wildapricot.org/Donate

— MiracleFeet provides that same standard of care to children in the developing world: $250 is enough to treat one child for clubfoot start to finish — incredible, right?! Children who aren’t treated have difficulty and pain walking: they’re crippled for life. The deformity can also cause other serious problems, for example they can end up begging for food on the streets or be abused, their families even abandon them in extreme cases. It’s a small sum to change a life.

— And last but not least, there’s The Mormon Women Project, for which I helped compile stories for several years. Most recently the editors published an excellent series on the End of the Childbearing Years — highly recommended reading! The project aims to tell the stories of Mormon Women in all their beautiful diversity:

“The Mormon Women Project intends to give voice to those thousands of women who have diverse cultural backgrounds, have overcome personal challenges, magnify their roles at home, or who represent us to the world in their jobs. To an audience inside the Church, these stories support the idea that we can make personal choices with God’s help that often stand apart from the pressures of Mormon culture. To an audience outside the Church, the stories show the immense strength and wisdom of our people.”
DONATE HERE: https://www.mormonwomen.com/

— ALSO: consider becoming a paid subscriber or donor to trustworthy journalistic organizations (NYT, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BBC, NPR in your state, etc). There are also some excellent nonprofit journalistic organizations like ProPublica, the Center for Public Integrity, or OpenSecrets.org. We need good journalism now more than ever! Maybe a good Christmas gift or New Year’s resolution? Food for thought!

 Have a beautiful day friends, and happy giving!


Hygge Life

Have you heard of hygge, the Danish art of wintering? I came across the concept the other day and I am sold! It’s pronounced HUE/HOO-guh and it loosely translates to “coziness.” Candles, warm knit socks and soft blankets, enjoying porridge at home with close friends, cozying up to a good book while it’s storming outside… sounds lovely right? I think it’s an idea that’s pretty common in most of Scandinavia in general, because I remember my Finnish aunt lighting a crazy amount of candles around her home in the evening and curling up with a cup of herbal tea. (Side note: the adjective is hyggelig, and listening to a Dane pronounce it is delightful. This conversation was a lot of fun!)

Anyway. You’ve seen what our winters look like; we need some hygge in our lives! And I think we’re already somewhat on track: for example, we are hot chocolate-obsessed in our home. Andrew drinks it like coffee before heading out into the freezing cold to get to work. I like it too, but I’m more of a gourmet hot chocolate person — adding in flavor, creamer, whipped cream on top… (Starbucks’ caramel brûlée flavor is amazing!)


Adelina is hooked too: more than once a day she’ll come up to me and ask for “atchuk” (her word for hot chocolate ha), and I’ll mix her up some in her sippy. We did have to cut back on it though because she was asking for it four times a day there for a while… We’re all about warm, soft blankets too — there are about six of them in the living room at any given moment — and Sunday afternoon family naps.


Even the babies joined in!


Ha. Adelina is in a fun stage. But let’s be real… nobody actually got any sleep until we put Adelina down for her nap in her own room 😉

And then there are the winter meals: all the warm, hearty soups of course, and raclette is one of our favorites, although our raclette machine finally died after a good eight years of service so we’re on the lookout for a new one. I want to read this book next for more ideas on making it as hyggelig as possible, because winters are really long around here!

How do you winter? I love these decor ideas too, just search hygge on Pinterest




Clubfoot · Uncategorized

Thoughts on Expecting a Clubfoot Baby

A second pregnancy is definitely a different affair. I spent so much time dreaming and scheming (and preparing the cutest nursery!) before the birth of our daughter. I also remember generally enjoying pregnancy so much more — it was such a miraculous, new event! I blogged about it all the time, I took weekly bump photos, I relished in the little things.

This time around… it’s been a little rough. It’s been harder on my body (probably because I’m in such absolute terrible shape… it’s definitely been motivation to get back to the gym ASAP) and with Adelina to run around after all day, I have no energy left. Oh, and baby #2 doesn’t have a room of his own. Plus I’ve had what feels like allergies — BAD — for the past six months, even though I’ve never had allergies in my life. So that’s fun. I know, I know, I’m complaining a little here.. but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for this pregnancy — I am — my husband is very excited to have a boy this time around, and so am I (and a little nervous!). It will be a lot of the same but also so different. The good thing about kids is you learn along the way, right?


But there’s another discovery we made back at our 20-week ultrasound: this baby is extra special in more ways than one, because he has bilateral club feet (meaning they are both clubbed — pour mes amis français: il a les deux pieds bots). We had to go down to Denver back in July, to see a fetal ultrasound specialist, but we are very grateful she found nothing else to be concerned about. (If there is more than one malformation, it can be indicative of genetic issues like trisomy 18 or spina bifida) Thankfully, baby is doing great on every other measure.

In terms of congenital birth defects, this is about the least serious kind, it’s relatively common, and it is treatable to the point that the feet end up looking and functioning totally normally — IF the child gets some serious therapy. (Mia Hamm, Kristi Yamaguchi: born with club foot/feet! We’ll make a ballroom dancer of this kid yet!) So it also means we’ll be making LOTS of road trips to Salt Lake City to see a specialist, and that this poor boy will spend the first 5-8 weeks of his life in full-leg casts, then the next 3-4 years sleeping with special boots and a brace. We’re still learning a lot about it, and it’s going to be quite the road ahead, but we’ll just take it one day at a time for now.

I know on the scale of disabilities, thanks to modern science, this is one of the “easy” ones, but it’s still pretty overwhelming. All that said, we can’t wait to meet this sweet boy! I mean, just look at that cute face… 💙


So back to what this second pregnancy has been like: add in the fact that he’s going to be born with a congenital birth defect. Yes, clubfoot is one of the “better” birth defects out there in that it’s completely treatable and CF babies generally move on with their lives as if it were all just a bad dream. But “treatable” also means dozens of visits to a specialist (in another state, in our case), weekly 4-hour round trips for the first two months, and a lot of pain and stress in dealing with an extra hurdle for sleeping, diaper changing, etc. CF babies get sores and calluses because of the casts and braces, and from what I’m learning, you always wonder if they’re not sleeping because the brace is bugging them/isn’t properly adjusted or if they’re just not sleeping because they’re a baby (probably the latter most of the time, let’s be real ha ha).

Anyway. I feel a little frustrated sometimes because I think some people try to minimize the impact it will have on our lives to make me feel better or something. “Oh well, it’s not a big deal at all, my cousin had a clubfoot baby and he’s totally fine now! It’s just some casts and braces and baby will be fine!” Well, yes. But it’s also: traveling on winter roads to a distant doctor. WEEKLY. While healing from giving birth. I was a mess last time around, I can’t imagine dealing with weekly roadtrips in that condition. And sure, the baby will be fine, but to be totally honest I’m not worried about him. He WILL be fine. Will I? My mental state was not tip-top after my daughter’s birth, so let’s just add in the stress of casting and bracing and staying on top of a treatment plan for fun. That will go super well! And let’s not forget I’ll likely be getting even less sleep this time around because I have an infant AND toddler to contend with.

So no, don’t tell me it’ll be fine. I already know that. Sure, I could be dealing with much, MUCH worse. It could be a life-altering disability. (Which, by the way, isn’t 100% ruled out at this point. The doctor thinks everything else looked fine in the ultrasound but the only way to really know he’s fine is to meet him at birth. But we’ve decided not even worry about that at this point, one thing at a time!) In the meantime it’s still pretty crappy for us, and just because others have greater trials doesn’t make ours any less difficult for us.

Anyway. On the other hand, I’ve been finding some great resources to help figure this all out. I just joined two Facebook groups (Clubfoot is Treatable & Clubfoot Mommas) and have been poring over the posts and comments and asking my own questions to get a better idea of what to expect and how to prepare. Living far away from any stores is a little stressful because I remember running to Target every other day when Adelina was a newborn, because we needed more of this or that or I learned X was suddenly indispensable. This time around, no Target or Walmart I can run to, so I’m a little obsessed with having everything ready to go and fully stocked. Thank heavens for Amazon Prime!

I’ve been learning a few other tricks in the process: for example, especially with bracing, early on the brace has to be worn 23 hours a day. Parents of CF babies say any opportunity to take the brace off is bad news because it means you can create excuses for yourself to not put it back on and “give them a break.” But this treatments is really dependent on rigorous application, and that falls on us as parents. So one blogger I ran across advised to either use snap pants or legwarmers — that way, no need to remove braces to remove pants and change the diaper! Genius, right?! And it just so happens there’s a website called BabyLeggings.com that makes all sorts of cute leggings (really they should call them legwarmers, that’s what they are) and has these awesome discounts — you see them in all those maternity “magazines” which are really just big ads for vulnerable expectant moms ha ha. Anyway, I used a discount code that gets you five free pairs, and you “just” pay shipping and handling (which amounts to $15). So that’s how they’re making their money, but it’s still a good deal in my eyes. The shipping was INSANELY fast (seriously, I think they were at my doorstep in two days!) and the leggings are really cute. I’m probably going to order more so baby #2 can just wear those with a onesie all the time and still stay warm/covered.

CF Parents also talk about random strangers asking questions or assuming your kid’s legs are in casts because you’re a terrible mom who dropped her baby… definitely looking forward to that. I don’t always do very well with random strangers asking prying questions ha ha. And with my husband’s job being very much in the public eye, I have to be careful with what I say and do in public. (You guys, the other day some random guy told my husband he heard a rumor I wasn’t happy living here. WHAT?! There are rumors about ME?! It really irked me, especially because it was absolute BS — I’ve been really enjoying our new life here, despite the transition period which is always a little tough when you move — based on what exactly?! Ugh.) I guess this is an opportunity to practice grace and educate people — just as long as they don’t ask while I’m in a truly sleep-deprived state!

After visiting the clubfoot clinic at Shriner’s in Salt Lake City last month and visiting with our soon-to-be doctor, we ultimately decided I’ll just give birth at our local clinic. We had considered traveling down to SLC for the birth since that way we could just get the first casting done in the first few days, but ultimately it doesn’t save us a trip and it was really stressing me out to have to travel in labor (or induce labor to fit our schedule, which I really didn’t want to do) and deal with our two-year old in the midst of all that. The doctor (who is awesome, by the way — she studied abroad in France for a few years, which was a fun connection!) said there was really no rush, so now I can relax and just focus on birthing this baby, then we’ll deal with the rest when I’m ready. I feel a lot calmer about the whole thing knowing I can take a few days to recuperate before jumping in.

Anyway, all that to say, there are definitely ups and downs. But the truth is I’ve been having more and more moments when I feel this baby kick and shift around in there and I realize I’m so excited to meet him. I can’t wait to see his sweet face and fall in love all over again. I wonder if he’ll look a lot like Adelina or if he’ll be completely different (I suspect he’ll look a lot like his sister)? Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I can have this experience at all — motherhood is hard, but it’s so wonderful and joyful too. And I can’t wait to cuddle and nurse that sweet newborn all over again. Even though I know how completely miserable it can be a lot of the time.

We watched General Conference the past two weekends and one of the speakers said something that really struck me, specifically in context with this whole experience. He said something to the effect of: “enduring well is a refining experience.”

“God invites us to respond with faith to our own unique afflictions in order that we may reap blessings and gain knowledge that can be learned in no other way,” Elder Evan A. Schmutz said.

It is so true. I have a tendency to grumble and drag my feet through trials. I sit and stew, asking “why me?” and thinking about how unfair it all is. But if I take that time to stop complaining and simply trust in the Lord, enjoying the moments of joy that inevitably come with the tough stuff, I can actually become a better, softer person. And maybe learn a little compassion for others in the process. I’m so grateful we just got to spend an entire weekend, just the three of us in our living room, listening to much-needed messages (eating yummy food!) and spending precious time together.

So here’s to our sweet baby boy joining our family! Ready or not, it’s happening — and at 11 days overdue I am MORE than ready!




Hello, and welcome! I’m a new millennial mom expecting our second any day, (at the time of writing I am eleven days overdue… ohhhh boy!) and as with many moms, motherhood has been quite an adventure — and a shock at times. But I love it, and I’m passionate about making it great while also remembering the person I used to be. Better yet: I’m taking the old and mixing in a little bit of new, because we all know motherhood changes you forever.

So here’s what you’ll find on this blog: plenty of my own personal journey, of course, but also things I’ve learned from other amazing mothers and inspiring people around me. Silly (and sometimes maddening) childhood stories, some French recipes and how-tos, tales of raising a bilingual family, organizational discoveries, and stories of saving (and let’s be honest…sometimes losing) your sanity. I strongly believe mothers need to be whole people, not just martyrs or saints, and that means different things for different people, but to me it is: keeping your skills and education sharp, developing your mind, taking some time for yourself and prioritizing your spouse, and continuing your professional development, so expect some of that too! (OK let’s be real though: early childhood and the newborn phase especially can really take you for a loop… so no pressure, but someday we’ll get back to our sharper senses!) As a former TV news anchor, I’m going to be creating some of all this content as videos and vlogs, because why not?!

You won’t see a picture-perfect portrait of blissful motherhood because that’s definitely not me, but I do try to stay positive and sane, and I’ll take you along on my journey in capturing the awesome parts of it while trying to shake the crazy! Join me!