September 21, 2020

Wild Fire

It's hard to believe that it has been two weeks. Two weeks ago today we ran to the hardware store and they had closed early for Labor Day so we turned around and drove home. In that short amount of time a large gray cloud appeared in the direction of our home. When we got home we quickly realized that it wasn't a cloud cloud, but a large cloud of smoke. Where this smoke cloud came from we didn't know but it caused us and our neighbors to feel some unease.

What the sky looked like when we went to bed.

We went to bed and woke up the next morning to discover that the air was filled with smoke. The night before we had some really high winds and we learned that the high winds knocked a tree down onto a power line and sparked a fire. This fire spread over 13 miles Monday night and burned down the town of Blue River and was heading our direction. The fire wasn't controlled and there were less than 200 fire fighters on the ground and no air support.

Andy and I are both sensitive to the smoke and were getting really bad headaches. The smoke and ash were coming into our home through the kitchen and bathroom cupboards, a hole in the wall and through the bathroom fans and heat vents. After talking with my mom and step-mom we decided to book a hotel in Newport for the next two nights. We packed up our important documents, photos, computers and some clothes and hopped into the car and left. 

This is what the neighborhood looked like before we left. Our camera really filtered out the gray/red tones.

What I thought would be the last picture I ever took of our home.

We dropped our other car off at a friend's house and headed to Newport. The smoke was so thick. The sky looked reddish orange. It was a relief when we checked into the hotel room and were able to breathe air that wasn't so smoke filled. As the night went on our room got smokier and smokier, the next morning we realized our bedroom windows hadn't been shut all the way. 

Driving to Newport.

View from our hotel room.

As luck would have it a fire started just north of us in Lincoln City. My cousin called to tell me that they were evacuating the Lincoln City Hospital (he works at the Newport Hospital). It's hard to believe but the smoke in Newport was even thicker than the smoke back home. I drove to the store to get some food and lunch and I could see maybe 100m in front of me. The store was filled with smoke and the shelves were emptying quickly. All of the restraunts had closed-- no lunch for us. And the lines as the gas station were blocks long. We decided it was time to leave as the fire was burning in our direction and could block off our only way out. Luckily I booked directly through the hotel's website so they refunded us for our second night. We didn't know where we were going to go but headed towards Corvallis and decided we would look at a map and make some decisions when we got there.

You should be able to see the ocean in this photo.

In Corvallis we topped off our tank and grabbed dinner. We talked with my aunt and cousin and decided to head to Bend, Oregon via Highway 20. Highway 20 runs along the northern perimeter of the fire burning near our home. The scenery looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off it was really errie. The roads through the pass were very windy, Andy got sick and it just felt really creepy in the forest. 

As we were driving to Bend my cousin text and told us that his friends had a few extra rooms and were willing to take us in. This was a huge blessing and an answer to our prayers. 

Just out side of Bend we saw signs directing evacuees to the fairgrounds. And we passed a brigade of firetrucks. I hadn't had a moment to breathe in the past two days, but this sight made the tears flow.  

Shortly after we made it through the pass to Bend, the pass closed.

When we arrived they had food ready and waiting for us along with two bedrooms and several beds. They told us we could stay for a few days and figure things out unless their really good friends got evacuated. The next day we learned that their friends were being evacuated and we needed to leave. We reached out to my cousin again and he said to come to his house in Nampa, Idaho. We once again loaded all of our stuff up and hit the road. 

We saw my cousin and his family that first day/night and then they headed out of town. We had their house all to ourselves. We stayed in touch with our friends and neighbors and were constantly monitoring fire lines and updates from our local news. We knew we needed to make some tough decisions in the next few days. Continue on to Utah to live with my parents for the foreseeable future or head home while the fire was still burning. 

Cousins who became fast friends.

After a lot of thought, discussion and prayer we decided that we would head back home in a few days. Those few days were spent gathering and ordering supplies, smoke filtering furnace filters (normally they last 3 months our neighbors were changing them out every 24 hours), air purifiers, water purifier with filters (we were told our water was safe to drink but tasted of smoke and ash), etc. 

Saw this on a car in the parking lot. Andy told me to take a picture. Pretty fitting with the Human Trafficking Movement taking place right now.

We did take our boys to a park with a splash pad, but the water was turned off. We had a great time playing on the playground though, we had the whole place to ourselves. We left when some other families showed up. We applied lots of hand sanitizer. We really try to be safe with Covid-19 raging. 

After touching base with Andy's boss it was determined that we would drive home Monday. A storm front was supposed to be moving in Monday and it was going to push the smoke towards Idaho. After looking at the map to see what routes were open we decided to drive home along the Columbia River and then down through Portland. With all the riots Portland is the last place we wanted to drive through but we knew it was the more ideal route for our family.

Bubba and Bear loved playing in these boxes.

Bear fell in love with his cousin's airplane.

Bubba & Andy.


The smoke was so thick on the drive home. Most of the time the Columbia River wasn't visible from the road. For those who are familiar with this drive, the freeway runs right along side the river. At times we had to wear are masks in the car just to be able to breathe. The boys really struggled being in the car on the way to Idaho. Bear cried almost the entire car ride from Newport to Bend. I finally pulled over and told Andy that we were going to turn his car seat around. He was supposed to be rear facing until he turned two and we were three months shy of that. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Bubba cried a lot and kept asking to go home. Both boys did surprisingly well on the car ride home. 

What should be the Columbia River.

The dam.

When we finally made it home we all put on our masks and raced inside. Andy gave the boys a bath and I donned an N95 mask that I picked up at the hardware store about a month before (I acted on a prompting buying a small pack of them). We were told that the air was so toxic and full of ash that we should not exercise at all. And if we went outside we needed to wear N95 masks because the ash could get permanently stuck in your lungs. I unloaded everything from the car as quickly as possible. 

We duct tapped the windows to our house shut, we changed out the furnace filter, turned on our air purifier, turned on all our bathroom fans, taped the microwave exhaust fan vent shut, and put jars of white vinegar around our house to help with the smoke. We took our fans and propped furnace filters up against them to help filter out the smoke and ash inside our home. The smoke was so so bad. Our smoke headaches came back. 

We soon discovered that smoke was coming into our house through a hole in the bathroom wall (we duct taped it shut). Smoke was also coming in under our sinks. Anytime you opened the bathroom or kitchen sink cupboard you were greeted with a very over powering smell of smoke. The smoke was in the walls of our home and anywhere there was a crack or opening it was freely coming in. So where the waterlines/pipes run for the sinks, there is a hole in the sheet rock for the pipe to come through. Andy got to work with expanding foam and started filling the holes. We stayed inside and prayed for rain. We felt so tired and lethargic. 

Rain finally came on Thursday night. It was truly a miracle! We hadn't had rain all summer, this rain I believe was an answer to fasting and prayer. It rained so hard! We very rarely get thunder and lightening and we had a lot of it! The boys stood and looked out the window in awe. Storm front after storm front rolled in. 

The fire is partially contained right now. They don't expect full containment until the end of October. And then they still anticipate that it will burn well into the winter months. 

Every time I see an emergency vehicle I just start to cry. I am so grateful to the brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line to save our town and community.

August 9, 2020

A Tribute To Kelly

Thursday morning my phone rang and it was my Dad. It's uncharacteristic of my Dad to call during the work day but I didn't think too much of it. We chatted for a few minutes and then his tone changed and I knew instantly something was wrong. He proceeded to tell me that my cousin Kelly had been found dead that morning. He died of a unintentional drug overdose. I was shocked. Less than two weeks prior my Dad had delivered similar news, my great uncle had passed. I was not expecting at all to hear that my cousin had passed away too.

I've cried a lot the last few days, as I have tried to process, comprehend and imagine a world without my cousin, Kelly Russell Noack. Like most of us Kelly had his challenges in life. He struggled with drug addiction and his mental health.

In life we find what we are looking for be it good or bad. I've been blessed to be able to see the good in others. When you strip away the drugs and the mental health challenges my cousin had a heart of gold. It is those golden things that I choose to hold onto and remember. 

Megan, Me & Kelly circa 2006 at a family reunion on the Oregon coast.
Megan, Me & Kelly circa 2006 at a family reunion on the Oregon coast.

When I was a little girl our families lived relatively close to each other. I have a lot of memories at the Purdy house. I remember Kelly's drums downstairs. I remember the trampoline in the yard and all the flips and tricks Kelly could do. Kelly was constantly trying to convince my brother Jake to sell him Contra III for SNES. We spent a lot of time playing video games together.

Boy could he skate, when I say skate I'm referring to aggressive skating. He inspired Jake to take up the hobby too. 

My Mom cut his very curly dark hair one day. He picked up the hair off the floor and held it up to his face like it was a beard. 

Kelly was privileged to be bit by a shark while serving a mission in Florida. He caught a shark while fishing one day and put it in his backpack. Unbeknownst to him the shark wasn't dead and it bit him through his backpack.

I'm not sure when he got it or why he had it, but Kelly had a shark in a jar (No, it wasn't the one who bit him). At some point in time he gave that shark in a jar to Jake and Jake proudly displayed it in his own room for years. I'm not sure what happened to it after that. 

When I was about 11 years old Kelly's family moved to Southeastern Idaho so we didn't get to see them as often.

One winter we went down to visit them. Kelly took all of us kids to the sand dunes to go sledding. On the way home, we sat in our sleds and held on the bumper of the van as Kelly drove us home on the ice covered roads. That probably wasn't one of the smartest things we did but it sure made for some fun.

When I was a teenager Kelly told me, "The prettiest girls are from Puyallup" a complient I will never forget.

I have lots of memories swimming at Green Canyon Hot Spring, skiing at Kelly Canyon, cliff jumping at a family reunion, going out for birthday celebrations and visiting him at work (Brady's and T.G.I.Friday's). 

When Kelly was there painful massages were freely given, along with the best hugs. Kelly was a softy and loved everyone and everyone loved Kelly. His last words to me were, "I love you!" and I know he meant it. I can't imagine a world without him in it, but I know that he is in a better place. Until we meet again Kelly, I love you.

April 23, 2020

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes: Anatomy

I'm sure every parent goes through a phase when their children start to notice that Mommy or Daddy has different body parts then them. This is the stage/phase Bubba is in right now. Out of nowhere he will say:

"I have peepee. Mommy you no have peepee. Daddy and Baby ****** they have peepee."

"Mommy you have two big boobs. I have two little boobs." When he says this he often lifts up his shirt and points to his nipples. It's really funny!

"I think my peepee might be coming out."  He says this right before he races to the bathroom to take care of business.

Since we're talking about the bathroom, I don't want to forget this gem.

We have locks on our toilets to keep Bear Cub out of them. Bubba will run to the bathroom, I unlock the toilet and Bubba says, "Baby ****** no fall in the toilet" Andy taught him that he needs to keep his brother out of the toilet. It is my job to then shut the bathroom door and he takes are of business. He sits down to do any and all business (mom win!). One day last week, we went through our normal routine and he started freaking out. Somehow while sitting down, he managed to pee all over his face and hair. He was so upset. I thought it was hilarious! I didn't know what to do, I was trying to take care of Bear Cub at that precise moment. I grabbed Andy and he came to my aid.

April 5, 2020

An Answered Prayer

This afternoon we watched the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was at the end of the broadcast that President Russell M. Nelson announced the locations of 8 new temples. I sat silently praying that he would say, "Eugene, Oregon, USA" but what he said was even better. He announced that a temple is going to be built in "Shanghai, China." I instantly started to cry. A temple is going to be built in mainland China, I can't even believe it. This is something I have prayed for for a long time, that the good people of China would have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Flash back to January/February of 2006. I knew that I wanted to go to college but I didn't know how to even begin to apply for school. Things were really challenging for our family at this time and I didn't want to bother my parents. So I didn't ask for help and I didn't apply for college.

One Sunday, a sister in our ward name Ann was sitting on the stand at church. She played the organ for our services each week. On this particular Sunday God prompted her to ask me if I had applied to college. She didn't feel like it was her place to ask me that, but the feeling wouldn't go away. So, Ann acted on the prompting and asked me if I had applied to college. She was surprised when I told her that I hadn't. She had me come over to her home that evening and we began the process as the application deadlines were quickly approaching.

Ann asked me where I wanted to go to school and I told her, "BYU-Idaho." She asked where else I wanted to go to school and I said, "BYU-Idaho." She said, "I know you want to go to BYU-Idaho but you need to apply to BYU. That doesn't mean you have to go there, but you need to apply." So I applied to two colleges, BYU and BYU-Idaho.

A few weeks later I received a letter from BYU and I had been accepted. Some time passed and I heard back from BYU-Idaho and I had also been accepted there. Now I had a decision to make. Most of my really good friends had been accepted to BYU-Idaho and not BYU. I had family in Rexburg and had spent time there, it was naturally where I wanted to go. I knew one other person who had been accepted to BYU. I didn't have any family in Utah and had only briefly visited Utah a few times growing up. BYU-Idaho is where my heart and mind were set to go. God has other plans for me He told me strongly and very clearly that I needed to be in Provo at BYU.

In the weeks leading up to moving to Utah, I bawled (ugly cried) nearly every night. I did not want to step outside of my comfort zone and do something that I thought of as scary.

My step mom and I road tripped to Spokane. We met up with my cousin Brittany and then we drove to Dillon, Montana. We had a great time on our drive. When we arrived in Dillon it was late and the only place open to eat was the saloon. One side served food and other side was the bar. That night we ate in the saloon-- I felt a little bit like a rebel but we had to eat.

The next day we stopped in the small town of Dell, Montana. We had a blast looking for little gifts to send to a special boy back home. Then we continued on our way down to Rexburg. We dropped Brittany off in Rexburg, Idaho and then continued our drive down to Provo, Utah.

We found my apartment, nobody else was home at the time and a few beds had been claimed. I picked out a bed and we unpacked my things. That evening one of my new roommates came in and she informed me that she would not be sharing a room with me and that I needed to move all of my things. She was really mean and I cried. This was not at all how I anticipated my first night in a new place going. I moved to another apartment in the complex the next day.

My new apartment had only two other girls. Within a few weeks two other girls moved in, they too had had some roommate struggles.

Christmas came and one of our roommates put her contract up for sale-- she was getting married. I flew home for the holidays. Upon arriving back in Utah one of my roommates informed me that the contract had been sold and we had a new roommate.

When I arrived at our apartment I was greeted by the cutest little Chinese girl and her mother. This girl's American name was Nancy. She told us that she got to pick out her own American name. Her English wasn't very good when we first met at the beginning of January but improved very quickly.

This is Nancy's story as it was shared with me back in 2006.

Nancy had moved from mainland China to the United States with her mother. Her father and grandfather were still in China. Her and her mom had lived in Texas and most recently California. Nancy was not mixing with the American kids as her mother had hoped. Nancy only spent time with other kids who spoke Mandarin. Some other Chinese women told Nancy's mom that if she wanted to learn English that she needed to take her to Utah.

Nancy and her mom drove to Utah. Her mother told her she had one day to find and apartment and then left her and went back to California. As luck would have it, Nancy became my roommate. It was a humbling experience to live with Nancy and something I will never forget.

I remember seeing Nancy washing her laundry in our bathroom sink. We quickly taught her what a washer and dryer were. One evening I told her I was going to make cookies. She was shocked. She said, "You know how to make cookies?!?" I replied, "Yeah." She told me that in China you could only buy cookies in the store. I showed her how to make cookies. She took pictures and called home to China to tell her family that I made cookies.

On another occasion Nancy cooked Chinese food for me and Breann (another roommate). She made us chicken heart (a delicacy in China) and chicken gizzards.

One night all of us girls went to eat a Chiles. While we were eating Nancy asked me why I went to BYU. My answer was "It's owned by the church I go to." I asked her if she wanted to go to church with me on Sunday and she said yes.

It was a cold winter day and my roommates and I all put on our dresses. Nancy opted for pants. We told her she should wear a dress and she thought we were crazy. It wasn't until we were at church and all the other women were wearing dresses that she realized that's what we wear to church.

Nancy's first time to church.

I asked her if she wanted to meet with the missionaries and she said no. Later I found out she had been meeting with a set of elders and I began going to the lessons with her.

Nancy told the elders that she did not want them to challenge her to baptism. At some point in time Nancy had met a pastor in Price, Utah. He had helped her and her mother. This pastor was not fond of the Church and asked Nancy to promise him that she would never join it. Nancy made that promise. In China promises are a very big deal and you don't break them. Nancy shared this story with the elders and a few discussions later they challenged her to baptism-- she was not pleased. Nancy asked to elders to stop coming.

During this time Nancy kept coming to church. My roommates and I bought her scriptures in both Mandarin and English (she was taking English classes at the English Language Center in Provo). We watched all of the church movies we could find with Mandarin subtitles and watched them with her. We often stayed up until the wee hours of the morning answering her questions and having gospel discussions. One of my favorite nights was explaining to her who Jesus Christ is.

We took her to Salt Lake to watch General Conference in the Conference Center. We took her to see the Joseph Smith movie that we being shown on Temple Square. As we walked out of that theater she told us that she knew it was true and she "wanted to be baptized more than ever."


We got permission to have some other elders teach her. Nancy was baptized the day before all of us roommates moved away for the summer. Her mom came to her baptism. I was so incredibly happy for her.

Nancy's mom later moved to Alaska. Her mother began taking discussions from the missionaries. Nancy would Skype with them and translate for her mom. Her mom was later baptized.

Nancy attempted to mail three Book of Mormons to China. One made it's way to her grandfather. Her grandfather was a scholar. He had a Bible and he had read it. When he read The Book of Mormon he said he knew it was true and he desired to be baptized. I don't believe he had the opportunity to be baptized in this life.

Nancy was later sealed in the temple to her husband Brendon. And they now have three boys and one daughter.

I can't tell you how much love I have in my heart not only for Nancy and her family but the people of China.

My Dad travels often for work. Just over a year ago he spent some time in Shanghai. While there he was able to attend a branch. Those who attend the branch have to have a foreign passport to get in. He met a man at the branch who has visited the branch several times, also while on business trips. He told my Dad that President Nelson had been in Shanghai quite a bit and that he had visited that very branch many times.

When I first heard this story my heart shouted for joy. I knew something was coming and I anticipated the doors to China being open for missionary work. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a temple would be there.

As I have said before, God is aware of us. He knows each and everyone of us. We are his sons and daughters. He loves us and he knows what we are going through. This announcement is a testament to that. God loves the good people of China and he is preparing the way through his prophet for them to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done" (History of the Church, 4:540).

I text Nancy this evening. She is in shock and so thrilled by this wonderful news. What a blessing!

April 3, 2020

Coping With A Pandemic

The world is sure an interesting place right now. Covid-19 has taken over and turned the world upside down. I remember seeing the news when it first started out breaking in China. Andy and I looked at each other and said, "There is no way they are going to be able to stop that from coming here." Each time I went to the store I bought a little bit more than I usually would. My pantry shelves and chest freezers are "our store." We've explained to Bubba that it isn't safe to go to the store anymore, so we are going to "shop" from our store. Usually when we run out of something he likes, he says, "Mommy, you go buy more (insert desired food here) at the store." This dialogue has come to an end.

We tried to think long range, if China stays shut down and we can't get any imports what could we not live without 6 months from now. For us, this meant a bigger car seat for Bear so we ordered it.

We bought seeds for our garden and picked up starts at the hardware store. We put the starts in the ground early and have made a make-shift greenhouse out of plastic wrap to keep them healthy and warm.

We also purchased a few things from Force of Nature Clean that allow us to make our own EPA approved disinfectant for super cheap.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there are a few things that I wish I were able to get (N95 masks) or have more on had of (toilet paper) but we plan on making due with what we have.

Yesterday Andy and I were asked how we were handling everything. I have thought a lot about that question and honestly, I think we are handling it quite well.

Our family has been really sick this winter. We've caught so many different things. Andy would catch something at work and then it would work it's way through our family one person at a time. We'd all be in the clear for 2-3 days and he'd bring something else home. Bubba had croup that turned into pneumonia. It was rough! That being said, I know our immune systems are down and I am terrified of getting Coronavirus.

The scriptures say, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30). We have prepared as much as we can and now it is time for us to stay home and trust that Heavenly Father is aware and mindful of us and ultimately in control of the chaos that is ever present right now.

I have been really focusing my thoughts on the things I am grateful for. Andy still has a job, he is able to work from home, we are all healthy (knock on wood), we have a home with heat, electricity, and running water. We have food on our shelves and two cars that run, we have each other and ways to stay in touch with those we love and care about even from a distance.

Rocking Mom's new comfy socks.

I asked him if he was, "Hauling balls." And then I realized what I said and burst into laughter.

It's sad that our family trip to Canada to celebrate my Dad's upcoming 60th Birthday was cancelled, but there will be other get togethers. And plenty of memories to be made with the extended family in the future.

Helping Mom rotate the laundry.

He was so proud of himself for climbing in there.

I love the excitement and expressions in this photo.

Some days at home with two littles is hard. Bubba asks often to go to the park, it is literally down the road from our house. It's hard to tell him no, but he is starting to understand that it isn't safe.

Cutting with scissors for the first time. He cut and cut until he gave himself a blister that popped and he wanted to keep cutting. Funny boy!

I asked him to look at me and this is what I got lol.

I love to hike and the trails have all been closed. I have channeled that love of hiking into weeding my yard, for those who have never seen my backyard-- it's a big task and I do it every year. With all the rain and the boys begging to be outside, we've been getting drenched as a family working in our yard. While we might not be making the memories what we desire, we are making memories. We can be sad and down about it or we can see it as a hopefully once in a lifetime adventure and embrace it. It may last awhile, but it won't last forever.

Working in the rain with Dad.

As a family, we are consciously looking for joy in the mundane everyday things and we are finding it. For Bubba, joy was found in our new baby chicks. Bubba woke up early to make a run to the farm store with me-- mommy and son quarantine date. We were there when they opened wearing face coverings and gloves. We were in and out in less than 10 minutes. He was so excited to see and hold those little birds. He spent hours today just watching them.

Curious. Tired. Excited.


Our babies.

Sheer happiness.

Bear wasn't sure about those chicks. He warmed up to them and tried to feed them jelly beans and gold fish crackers.

Bubba found more joy today when I was weeding this afternoon. He kept asking me to find worms for him to feed to our hens. I found a monster sized worm, he love it! When he found a potato bug he screamed, "Potato bug!!" so loudly I couldn't understand what he was saying at first-- he was that excited! He fed all the potato bugs he could find to the chickens too.

Joy is a worm in each hand.

Joy was found when Bubba ate his dinner all gone (that's a rare thing as he is really picky). I gave him the last of the ice cream in the ice cream carton and he offered me and Andy each a bite, we didn't even ask. He melted my mama heart.

Joy for Bear was found in Tylenol and teething gel. This poor little boy is cutting a bottom front tooth and a molar and he was feeling pretty miserable. Lots of cuddles and laughs were had today though.

Finding joy in a wagon ride.

I have found myself praying constantly and more passionately for my friends, family and neighbors. I have been praying for the world leaders, local leaders and those on the front lines of this pandemic. I've been praying for those who are sick, for those who have lost loved ones, who have lost their jobs and for those who are working to develop a vaccine. I've been praying for the missionaries and church leaders as well. I have been pouring my heart and soul out to my Father in Heaven. The one thing I hope and pray comes from all of this is that people will turn to God. Remember Him. And pray.

With all of the rain and hail we have been experiencing in Oregon, the thunder and tornado in Washington, the large earthquakes in Utah and Idaho I can't help but think that the Second Coming of Christ is closer than we realize. I'm really looking forward to tuning in to General Conference tomorrow and Sunday. I can't wait to hear from the Lord's prophet on the Earth today, Russell M. Nelson.