Today is my baby girls birthday. Eight years ago little CJ was born and our family welcomed the sweetest little peanut you’ve ever seen, into this world. She was so tiny, just over 4 lb’s and we called her the little peanut because when she was swaddled that’s what she looked like.  She will be baptized soon and I won’t be able to be with her.  That makIMG_3577es me sad but I quickly refocus on all the good we have in our lives. Chad emailed me and told me he made French toast with a candle that said 8 years old on it for her birthday, I am so grateful he is with our children today! Shelby went over and did CJ’s hair and brought her lots of presents and took her to school with cupcakes for her class. Chad said she was so excited for her birthday.

Last week I got the final approval for Chad and our girls to visit me here. I have been scared to see my family because it was so painful to say goodbye.  It’s taken me months to not cry myself to sleep. The last memory I had of my children they had tears streaming down their cheeks and I had to say goodbye and left our home to come to prison in California. I can hardly describe how excited I was to see them and hold their goodness:) The first day they came was Saturday and when they called my name over the intercom I was so excited I thought I might be sick.  As soon as I saw my daughter Sadie I felt peace, CJ and Sadie both ran up and jumped into my arms. I couldn’t believe how much the’ve grown! Then I saw Chad and his sexy blue eyes and everything was ok. What a light my family is, a love deeper, I can’t imagine. I had some time alone with Shelby and was so touched by her love and kindness for her sisters and her Dad. She is so sweet and such a strength to our family, the girls adore her and I couldn’t be prouder of my oldest daughter. She is so much stronger than I was at her age, such a force for good! Chad and I hit the jackpot when it comes to our kids, Sadie is about 5’6″ tall and so beautiful.  More importantly she couldn’t be more gracious and thoughtful. Little CJ is so sweet and innocent, she’s a gift to our family. Inmates and officers went on and on at the beauty of our family. One of my friends came up to me yesterday and said, “You really have it all Portia, beautiful children, and your man is so hot!” I laughed and said, “I know.” Yes, I am a lucky girl:) I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who provided a way for me to see my family. I was told when I first arrived that Chad wouldn’t be able to visit me, our Heavenly FatheIMG_3575r is always in the details! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see Jackson.  He’s really engaged in football and didn’t want to miss their game but I know I’ll get to see him soon and I can’t wait.

I certainly don’t want to give the impression that prison life is easy.  There are times it is almost unbearable! Last week the temperature rose to 110 degrees.  I live in the wing of the building and there is no A/C or heat and it’s overwhelming.  We had another incident during count time with the woman that goes by Mama Dukes, she can be very offensive! I was on my bunk in the room when I heard her in the hallway harassing the same little Spanish girl. She was accusing her of stealing her Mackerel and said, “If I find out this little thief stole my mackerel I’m going to the SHU (segregated housing unit) and she’s going to the hospital.” Implying she will beat the girl up and doesn’t care if she’s put in the SHU. I flew off by bunk and out the door and said, “You’re going to start with the threats and accusations again with no evidence? Why don’t you just shut your mouth and your door so I don’t have to listen to you verbally assault my ears!” You can imagine how well that went over:) The Spanish girl tried to reason with the large offensive women and I got more angry watching her mistreat the poor girl. Finally I said, “You probably ate the mackerel and forgot!” By then everyone was out in the hallway and the laughter started.

Miss Dukes response was, “If you throw a stone into a pack of wild dogs the one that yelps is the one that got hit.” I looked at her and said, “That was profound, how did you come up with that.” Her answer was, “It’s in the Bible. But you’re a Mormon so you don’t read the Bible. ” I failed to mention this same woman came into our little Mormon study group one day in the chapel and started telling us that we are all lost because we don’t believe in Grace.” Things were getting a little heated in the hallway so my room mate Karin reached over and peaked her head out of the door and said, “Portia, just tell her whoever smelt it dealt it, that’s in the bible too right?” Luckily the officers came to count and we all had to be quiet. I did have several inmates come up to me after count and tell me they were glad I had stuck up for the Spanish girl:)

Portia PattyPrison life certainly has it’s down sides:) I have come to realize that my mouth can be a wrecking ball sometimes and I know that I need to work on humility and patience.  Luckily I have some fearsome friends.  My friend Patti told me, “Portia, if anyone ever tries to hit you, just make sure you roll up like a potato bug and hit the ground. Cover your face and make sure you’re where the camera can see you.” I laughed and told Patti, “I might be little but I’m fast and I would run to the officer and cry like a girl.” Patti said, I’m serious! Just hit the ground then come find me and I will take care of it”.  Later in the day Mama Dukes was bragging, “They don’t call me Mama Dukes for nothing. I know how to use these dukes!” I’m not too worried because I’m pretty good at the potato bug thing:)

A few days later I learned that Mama Dukes and her best Armenian friend had gone around the unit and asked girls to write copouts/complaints accusing me of having an inappropriate relationship with a staff member. A copout is a formal complaint an inmate can write to the Lieutenant. It was an evil trick for sure on their part. So I was called over to the Lieutenant’s office to discuss the matter.  I even met with an investigator from SIS because the prison has to take such complaints seriously. I let the investigator know the complaints were just the trickery of a group of women in our unit. I was impressed with her professionalism and would venture to say that she was more willing to look at both sides of the story before she made a determination than some of my friends at the FBI. Just because a complaint is filed doesn’t mean it’s valid? In the end, the investigator and Lieutenant were made aware of the evil scheme and it didn’t work. There are power struggles that go on in prison and I have learned not to argue with a criminal because they are always willing to take it to the next level. Like I said I’m learning how to be humble. Being locked up in a closet sized room with two other people that have different values is challenging enough. One of the things I have learned in prison is to never feel sorry for myself. I don’t have to look very far to find women that have a much worse situation. Today I am grateful for my faith, I’m grateful for the Power of the Priesthood and I’m grateful for my family! Lesson learned: Don’t steal an inmate’s mackerel;)