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August 1, 2020 / JustinKays Porter




This is equal parts exciting and terrifying to me. I’ll explain why in a minute; but if this post is extra emotional, just know that I currently have all the emotions. All the feelings. All the things. It’s been a very busy, stressful month working out all the details. I’m finally confident that it’s all happening. It helps that we finally got our one-way plane tickets today; we’re moving back to California in less than two weeks!


We’ve had a rough go of things the last few months, as have so many others. Our troubles are probably a little different than most, but it’s no surprise that I think we’re all still struggling. I mean we’re fine, right? Right. We’re fine. Sure we are.

Alright, here’s the story. We flew home to California in June for a much needed break and time with family (Yes, I packed up my kids and put them on an airplane during a pandemic. More than once. It’s fine, you can judge me.). A few days before our flight from Chicago to San Jose, our study coordinator informed us that UCLA had just opened as an injection site. And we should change our round trip tickets to one way tickets and just move home. In three days. Oh, you just signed a year lease? Oh, you have a life in Chicago? Oh, you need some time to wrap everything up before you can move? Oh, you’re not looking forward to moving AGAIN? For the third time in less than a year? Well, too bad. “They” have spoken. And “they” are pulling the plug on financial assistance for rent.


If you know me, you know that my reaction to this was probably “WTF. NO.” I mean yes, take me home. But move in three days?! No. Even if by some miracle I could have made that happen (while Justin worked and I watched a newly VERY mobile one year old and a three year old who needs A LOT of help), we locked ourselves into a year lease in April. Because in April, we were told a California site was likely 9-12 months from opening. So…  ya. NO.

After a lot of emails, letters, phone calls, and so many new gray hairs, we reached a compromise. The sponsor would pay our rent until we could find someone to move into our apartment. And thank goodness our landlord was okay with this situation. And thank goodness we were able to find someone to take over our lease relatively quickly. Throw in scheduling movers, packing, selling, giving away, cleaning, parenting, and living… it’s been a wild few months. But it’s all coming together.

Writing this post, jumping through these hoops, spending so many hours arguing, discussing, scheduling this move; it all really has me thinking about home. Home means something different to everyone. Home is where the heart is. Home is wherever I’m with you. Home is a feeling, not a place. But you know what? To me, home is where my people are. While we’ve built a life in Chicago with so many wonderful people, it’s never felt like home. And given more time, I’m sure that I would get to a point where I had people in Chicago. But the vast majority of our people are in California. And even if I can’t see you and hug you (damn you, coronavirus!), I want to be near you. I need that strength in numbers that only home can provide.


Now that I’ve told you my latest story and shared arguably too many of my emotions, I’ll give you a little day-to-day update. Millie has been on a scary downward spiral until a few weeks ago, but I think we might be on an upswing. We have a looooooong way to go, but I’m feeling a lot less hopeless. A few weeks ago we were getting very few smiles, Millie wasn’t eating or drinking, and struggled to even sit up on her own. But she seems to have rediscovered her appetite, is sitting up nice and tall unassisted, and is smiling more and more. It’s going to be a long road, but Justin and I really feel that being home and around our support system (again with the people!) will also really help. She is very very very excited to be going back to “Flo’s home” full time. As are we all!





Nate is a wild animal. No really, he’s everywhere. All the time. He is so happy and so full of awe at the world. A new sound makes him giggle hysterically. He loves to watch the waves, but has finally figured out if he doesn’t walk toward the water we pretty much let him wander. Birds, flowers, dogs, sticks, clouds… he’s fascinated by all things outside. His favorite pastime inside? Banging on the door to go outside. Yes, I’m serious. I can’t wait for him to have a yard!





We walk or bike to Lake Michigan multiple times a day. It’s no Pacific Ocean, but it’s beautiful. And I can walk there. And I will sorely miss that… the walking and biking trails near our apartment are wonderful. We have picnic dinners with the kids at the lake most nights. We go to the harbor and watch the sailing classes go in and out of the harbor in their tiny boats, chasing tennis balls. We watch the yachts come and go with their giant wakes; the swimmers and sun bathers yelling that they are too close to shore. We bike to the northern-most end of the lakeshore trail and eat donuts on the beach. You better believe we are taking full advantage of our proximity to the lake.






The future is pretty hazy right now. Weekly flights to LA. New doctors. New routines. New, new, new. It’s going to take awhile to hit our stride. But we’ll get there. And we’ll have our people to help us.



Leave a Comment
  1. Chels / Aug 3 2020 7:33 am

    Yayyyyyyyy see you in one week! Love yous!!

  2. Cindi Rhodes / Aug 2 2020 10:10 am

    I’m so glad you are able to return home and will have your family there to help you. Miss you and our walks and talks. Sending big hugs and I’ll be in touch!

  3. michaelstpaulporter / Aug 2 2020 8:04 am

    Thank you for the update, and wonderful pictures! So happy for you getting to return home! Safe travels and much love,
    Michael & Kjem

  4. Kris Pleimann / Aug 1 2020 5:48 pm

    Such great news! One’s own clan — that essential mix of people drawn to you by blood or by chance and choice —is everything. That is home. My heart is so happy for you!

  5. Connie Ray / Aug 1 2020 2:44 pm

    Absolutely wonderful news Millie is doing better and you are all well! So glad you got to come to Californian in June and I’m sure you took many precautions to protect your beautiful family! I actually work in DTLA and we are about 45 minutes outside of LA so if you need to spend some the nights closer to UCLA when Millie goes for treatment please reach out to Dan and I are you are welcome to stay overnight with us. We continue to pray for Millie’s healing and are praying for you as the family moves and readjusts! Sending you much love and hugs Dan and Connie.

  6. Peggy Campbell / Aug 1 2020 2:19 pm

    We are so happy you’ll be coming home and will have more support from loved ones. You are both amazing parents and I could just keep reading!!! What a writer!!!! Be safe we love you. Oh! The pictures too! The kids are beautiful and growing up so fast! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Love, Peggy and Bill

  7. Susan Wilson / Aug 1 2020 10:26 am

    Wonderful news! Wonderful pictures that just emphasize the story and all the emotions! So happy you are able to enjoy the wonderful lake while you’re there and really happy you’ll be going back home to be with your peeps! Good luck on your next journey! Hugs to you all!

  8. The Hartley's / Aug 1 2020 9:08 am

    This is our second post; couldn’t tell if the first one went or not! Thank you for the wonderful update; the pictures, too, tell a 1000 words! We are so excited to hear you are coming back to CA, and I know we are not the only ones who are excited! You are amazing parents and I can’t begin to imagine how strong you are to handle this upheaval during COVID times. And yet those very skills are going to also take you to successful weekly visits in UCLA and future rewards for all that effort. Take care, dear ones. Travel safe. Love and prayers, Bob and Roni

  9. Roni / Aug 1 2020 9:03 am

    Oh you guys, at last! Thank you for the wonderful update. Your pictures, too, are worth another 1000 words! I know you are not the only ones who are excited that you will be back in CA. Love hearing the good news about Millie. And we know with all the planning and organization that your weekly trips to UCLA will be rewarding. Love and continued prayers, Bob and Roni

  10. Marcia Erdman / Aug 1 2020 8:31 am

    I am so happy to read your whole story, Nancy has kept me updated on some things. Good news all around and it will be wonderful to have your family close. Prayers and hugs for all of you.
    The pictures were awesome and I love the product placement of the bicycle wheel. 😏
    Take care! ❤️❤️❤️
    Barry & Marcia Erdman

  11. nancy mcelroy / Aug 1 2020 8:16 am

    Love your honesty and your fabulous sense of humor! You all are amazing! 💕💕💕💕 Welcome Home! 🏡 🤗

  12. Ellen / Aug 1 2020 8:13 am

    Great news! Life never, ever goes the way we think it will; it keeps us from taking it for granted. Good luck, breathe, and enjoy!

  13. Ma / Aug 1 2020 6:54 am


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