Saturday, December 22, 2012

Love these guys

Last week, Brad's dad and Uncle Brian came all the way to Carlsbad to do our foundation. I called them concrete artists before. And that is what they are. They are amazing. No one else in town has a foundation like ours.

They're the best. We couldn't have done it without them.

Besides. They came back to our house every evening and ate and talked with us and helped me stave off pregnancy insanity for a while. I bawled when they left.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A series of less than ideal events

Have you ever seen The Little Rascals (1994)? There's a line from that movie that has always struck me as gut-wrenchingly hilarious. Alfalfa has had a series of seriously unfortunate events. And Alfalfa thinks there's just no way it could possibly get worse. And then it does.

It's at this point that Alfalfa looks at the sky and says, "Then the clouds opened up and God said, 'I hate you, Alfalfa.'"

Not gonna lie. Totally said that about myself today.

First of all, it's been kind of a stressful week. Or series of weeks. Maybe month or so. We've had a lot going on. Like, we're expecting a baby soon (January 5. Or maybe 10. The doctors can't decide). And I'm as big as a house and can't fit into any clothes and my ankles have elephantitis and I have lost the will to shower. So that's one thing.

Another thing is the best midwife I have ever had decided to quit two months before I deliver. The nerve. So I had to switch to a doctor within the practice. I have nothing against doctors. In general. But I hate this one. And so now I get to drive three hours per week for the next four weeks to endure an annoying experience by someone I don't like. Yay.

Also, I am working in my ward's Primary. And that is challenging. And overwhelming. And most of the time I feel like I'm doing a bad job. It's kind of like Motherhood in that way. Except with a lot more kids. And a lot more opportunities for failure.

I should also probably mention that I work at home occasionally. I have this freelance technical writing job. The work isn't at all steady. So when I get an assignment, I want to make sure I complete it so they'll keep asking me and I can use the little bit of extra money for exciting things like credit card payments. Right now (and over the last couple of weeks) I have a pretty demanding assignment.

Oh, and we're building a house. Did I mention that? Well, consider it mentioned. It's Brad's job to physically build the house (and contract out the stuff he doesn't want to do like, say, drywall). My job is to get bids, keep track of the receipts, monitor the budget, and to have complete mental breakdowns once a week when I decide we're not going to stay within our budget and we'll have to go bankrupt and leave the country.

And then these past two weeks there's this bright spot: Brad's wonderful and amazing dad and uncle are in town building our house's foundation. They are doing an amazing job. They are dirt/rebar/concrete artists, I tell you. For real. (Not to mention the fact that they are really great social company and fun to talk to.)

So, here was today's planned schedule: I get up, get girls ready to go to school. Men go to construction site and pour concrete. I get home from taking girls to school, turn on PBS for Weston, and work for two hours (I know. Let me insert my own lecture here so you don't have to: I'm the worst mother. I don't know anyone else who lets their kid watch TV that long.). I clean the house, do dishes, fold laundry. I put Wes down for nap. Missionaries come over with investigator for discussion. I pick up girls. We do some activity. I make a very mediocre dinner and dessert. Boys come home. We eat, I get fatter, and then I go to bed.

I got all the way through the first two hours of work. And then a wind storm started. An apparently violent windstorm. My power flickered and the unsaved work I'd been doing all morning on my computer disappears (seriously? Like people still make the mistake of not saving things?!). And the power continued flickering. For three minutes or so. It was like the Poltergeist over here. So I flipped off the breaker to avoid potential damage to my computer documents or my dishwasher. (I'm really concerned about my dishwasher. Probably can't live without that thing.)

Couldn't work with the power off, so I started to clean in preparation for the missionaries who were scheduled to arrive in thirty minutes. Just then I got a text from the kids' school saying I need to come bring my daughter extra clothes. Immediately after that, Brad called from work and requested that I go to the store and get some plastic for our foundation (I guess rain is bad for concrete). But I was stuck with a sleeping baby, waiting for people to come to my house. I told Brad my predicament, and he told me to go to the store when I could. I texted the school to tell them that there were clothes in one of the girls' backpacks, and that I would bring more if needed. Then the missionaries texted, canceling the appointment, and... my phone died.

Since I didn't have to stay home anymore, I thought it would be best for me to go to the school and comfort my probably embarrassed daughter. As I gathered clothes from the girls' room, I looked out the window into the backyard to see flooding. And not from the rain. A geyser had formed in the dirt. It took me a few minutes to realize that our rowdy puppy had totally snapped a garden hose pipe. The resulting waterway had created a stream that went through our yard and well out into the alleyway. So, I did what I always do when I'm on the verge of hyperventilating, and I called Brad. He told me how to turn off the water (sensible man). Lucky for me, the shut-off valve happened to be located INSIDE the newly formed creek. I waded into the backyard in my flip-flops and groped in the water for the shut-off valve while the dog pounced on my back and covered me in mud. After successfully turning off the water, I sludged back into the house, dripping grossness onto my newly mopped floors. I woke up a cranky Weston, wrestled him into his carseat, and drove to the school (first checking on the men at the jobsite to see if they need the plastic--they didn't). I arrived at the school and hesitantly dragged my drenched, mud-crusted self to the front desk where I was greeted with, "When are you due? You're ready to pop! Oh, you have mud all over your coat, did you know that?"

It was about then that Alfalfa's line ran itself through my head.

I think I'll stay in bed tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I have a focus problem. It's the opposite of ADD. I get so focused on whatever I'm thinking about/working on that the house could burn down and I might not notice.

My mom used to make fun of me and called me the absent minded professor. That started in 2nd grade when I was so focused on finishing my homework before school one day that I walked to the busstop without any shoes on.

I still have this problem. I concentrate so heavily on my projects (primary, my work-from-home-freelance job, cleaning the house, financial planning) that I don't concentrate enough on my children. I forget to be mentally present. And I hate that.

So every day while the kids are at school, I plan a project to do with them when they get home. It helps me change gears, gets me thinking about them, helps me unwind.

This last one was pretty fun. I had scoured the Internet for a good idea, and modified it slightly. I wrote numbers in the bottom of an empty egg carton. Then I placed two beans inside. When the kids got home, we shook the egg carton. We used the numbers the beans landed on to make number problems. Claire wrote and solved addition equations, and since Claire is just starting, during that time, Grace would use the same two numbers to create multiplication and division equations, along with creating fractions that she would then simplify. I loved it. Because usually, I have to choose an art activity for them to both be equally challenged. But this math activity solved that problem. Yay.

What do you do after school? I need more ideas.

Friday, October 26, 2012


What if you just told your daughter to never touch your make up again... And ten minutes later walked back into your bathroom to find this... Do you start another lecture, or melt and give up?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It ain't called insanity for nothin'.

( to those of you who haven't yet "jumped" on the bandwagon, take residence in the asylum here.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012


We had a family meeting the other night. We passed around ultrasound snapshots of our fetal baby girl (!) and then we opened the floor to name suggestions.

When Claire offered up the first suggestion, I laughed out loud. What I received in return was a stern look from Brad and a reprimand: "Write it down!" to which I rolled my eyes and... wrote it down.

...along with the rest of the suggestions. Here's a short selection for your reading pleasure:

1. Marjhayuh (per Claire, please make sure you pronounce the jh as the "ge" in garaGE.)
2. Duhreesha
3. Kirshel
4. Fer-reela (yes, a real suggestion, Fer reela.)
5. Kalichee (which happens to be a type of dirt common to the area)
6. Carilla (not gonna lie. Actually considered this ancestral name for Claire until we paired it with our last name.)
7. Repella
...and my personal favorite...
8. Shaboo.

Heaven help our little girl.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In which we learn that Elise is incompetent.

Claire's birthday came last month. She is now five. Birthdays at our house are not traditionally big parties. Birthdays involve cake, a present or two, and--if you're a student--a treat at school.

I'd been asking Claire what kind of treat she wanted me to bring to her kindergarten class for a long time. For Grace I had brought gummy worms in Oreo-dirt and pudding. The next year I'd taken nothing cookies. (Recipes for those soon because they are fabulous.) So Claire had high expectations. You know, as far as our family goes.

I thought I would help her out by looking with her on pinterest for some birthday treat ideas.

This was a stupid idea.

Claire fell in love with Bakerella's Hello Kitty cake pops. And I, being completely inexperienced in the world of decorative foods, agreed that Hello Kitty cake pops would be a great idea.

That was also stupid.

First of all, you have to understand (because I'm SURE I've never mentioned it before): I live in a desert island. The only cake decorating/baking/craft store within 90 miles is Walmart. And I'm sure this will shock many of you, but Walmart supply on such supplies is spotty. Seasonal. Sometimes non-existent. So I had to forgo a few supplies. Like the iconic heart-sprinkle hairbow. I got a bag of red icing instead.

But I was hopeful and expectant. Excited for them to turn out beautifully and be the model creative-loving-attentive mother.

I started a week early. I had a lot of stuff to do that week. Like I had to write the Primary Program. I had to take Brad to the nearest airport 70 miles away so he could pick up his new truck in Houston because his got totaled. I had to go to my first obstetrics appointment in a city 90 miles away. I had to teach a beginning photography class to junior high schoolers. I needed time.

So I waited until the kids were in bed and Brad was watching the RNC. I spent a couple of hours mixing the cake. Waiting for it to bake. Waiting for it to cool. Dumping it out. Mixing it with frosting. Molding each cake ball oval around a little lollipop stick.

And the cake balls refused to stick. So I put them in the freezer. And I went to bed.

The next night I spent an hour and a half or so melting candy buttons and attaching white chocolate chip ears to the frozen little Kitty heads.

My back started to really hurt. So I said goodnight to 26 Hello Kitties and put them to bed in the freezer.

The next night I melted more candy buttons and brushed each Kitty with gooey whiteness. That took an hour or so. Bakerella says to dip them. But my kitties kept falling off the stick. Dipping was not an option. So I brushed away.

The result was seriously depressing.

I thought: "maybe they'll look better with faces."

So I put yellow sprinkles on 25 kitties (one poor kitty had gone the way of all the earth). Bakerella says to use mini colored baking chips. News flash. These are not for sale where I live. Not anywhere. So I used large yellow sprinkles. Don't bug me about it.

Then, Then. Then it was the night before Claire's birthday. I needed to finish them before class the next day. It was time to draw on eyes. I used an edible ink pen. Which Walmart generously decided to make available to us small town hicks.

After my first little kitty got eyes, the pen stopped working.

I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart.

I had a single kitty. And she was what you might call a reject. I couldn't bring myself to spend another whoknowshowlong piping red bows on the pathetic looking creatures.

Bakerella fail.

I would not be arriving in Claire's classroom as a caring, attentive and creative mother.

I would be arriving as a mad woman with deformed, eyeless kittens.

I took doughnuts instead.

Now I look like the rotten mother who forgot her daughter's birthday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A little progress.

Yesterday, I insisted that Claire (an almost 5 year old), clean her bedroom by herself. It was messy. Really really messy. And the girl does not usually clean, because Grace does it for her. But yesterday I told her that she could watch Curious George if she promised to clean her room afterwards.

Usually I would look at the fact that I allowed this kind of delay as a huge mistake.

And at first, it was. Curious George ended, I turned off the TV, and I wouldn't let her do anything until she cleaned her room.

She hemmed and hawed and tantrummed and moped. For two hours.

Then she nicely asked for some sugar toast.

I told her I couldn't give her sugar toast because it was too messy and she spills and takes it from the table to eat on the couch where it seeps into the crevasse to ever after stickify our clothing.

She replied, "PLEASE, can I have sugar toast? I'll eat it at the table, I PROMISE!"

And that's when I told her that I couldn't trust her promises because of the one she broke that morning about cleaning her room.

And, friends, props to that girl's sweet tooth. She went to her room, counting ten things at a time, and cleaned that whole darn thing.

And then, of course, I gave her sugar toast. At the table.

The next morning I was in the girls' room doing Grace's hair for school. I finished, and stood up to go accomplish some other task (you know, since basically every school morning I run around like a headless chicken).

Claire called, "Um. Mo-om. Aren't you for-GET-ing something?" and the sassy thing pointed to the hairbrush I left on the floor--the only thing messing up their still-tidy bedroom.

Maybe I should have called her on her lip. I didn't. 'Cause I'm pretty sure she was just repeating a lesson she had finally learned from me.


Friday, July 20, 2012


Have you ever seen kids at restaurants who are holding DVD players and watching movies during dinner?

I have. I used to pass them and think with a sneer, "What are those parents teaching their children? Dinner is a time for talking and togetherness. What is this world coming to?!"

But life has consistently taught me the same horrible lesson. Over. and over. Every rude thought I have comes back to bite me.

It's not a fun thing to have happen to you.

I'm going to have to stop thinking.

Here is Weston. And his friend, George, at breakfast.

{This is his camera smile. I know, I know, you don't have to say it. All my children are destined for Hollywood modeling careers.} 

{Breakfast courtesy of this fine lady who--in addition to Weston and George--endured two other monsters crawling under the table and requiring bathroom trips and fighting over crayons. Love her. And the monsters. Most of the time.}

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Word to the Wise

(This is a post I drafted in 2010. I thought it was too provocative to post at the time. But I read it yesterday while culling posts and died laughing. So, if it's TMI, forgive me. But it's funny.)

We all have iPhones. My siblings and I. My mom and Karlee have gotten enough new iPhones to supply everyone with their hand-me-downs. I am a fan of the arrangement.

Anyway. When my mom's heart stopped, there was a lot of texting going on. And it was annoying that one person could send out a mass text but then the responses would only be seen by the person who sent the text. We needed to be able to have a text conversation. And then Karlee educated us old people on group texting.

It's like an old-school chat room. One person sends a group text and we all see each other's responses. It can be very convenient. But it's new. And we're still figuring out how to use it.

I really am getting somewhere. Hang in there, people.

So. Last weekish I sent a group text to my family. Brad's family too. It included this picture of this adorable boy:

I received a series of typical responses. Things along the lines of how cute he is.

My dad responded:
"I love that little man. I want to squish him til his legs break!"

My family is violent like that.

Because this was sent in a group text, my dad's text was sent to everyone I originally sent the text to (my siblings and in-laws and Brad's siblings and in-laws). Keep that in mind. Because this is where it gets awkward.

The next two responses are as follows:

Mom: Why don't you come home and squish me until my legs break?

Dad: Show me the way home honey!

Yeah. Awesome. That's when I started sending frantic individual text messages to my parents explaining that their messages were being viewed by Brad's entire family.

My parents thought the mixup was hilarious.

My in-laws not so much maybe. I don't know. I've been too afraid to ask them about it.

Moral of the story: Group texting. Be careful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An ironically self-absorbed post.

Last month, for whatever reason, I experienced a huge series of little failures. It was depressing. I cried a lot. I had a mini identity crisis. "If I'm not good at ____ or ____ or _____ or _____, who am I? What am I doing for the world?"

This crisis has happened before.

When I was in high school choir, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I competed as a solo vocalist, and I thought I did well. I scored well, and placed high. And then one summer I went to a camp run by BYU's Young Ambassadors. (Think "Glee" on steroids, minus all the drama, slushies, and sex.)

And then I realized I was not. that. great. Like, I was placed in the bottom group with people who had done very little singing.

I met Reality. And it said to me, "You are not the Best. You will never be the Best. Stop trying to be."

I discovered there was a big difference between trying to be the Best and trying to be My Best.

I think trying for the Best means looking for approval, acceptance, attention, recognition.

Trying for My Best meant being realistic about how much I cared about singing, whether I wanted to seriously pursue it as a career (realizing I did NOT), and feeling at peace with the results when I tried my hardest, practiced really hard, and satisfied my own expectations.

It was liberating. After performing, I didn't care how many compliments I got. I did my best. The end.

So, last month, after just BOMBING a bunch of things that felt really important, I met Reality again. And it reminded me: "You are not special. You are not exceptional. You are not God's gift to mankind." (Reality is a dramatic lecturer.)

And... that was liberating. I looked over my failures and realized that I had done my best in each situation. I had done the absolute best I knew how to do. I had prepared. I had planned. I had failed. And I was learning.

So how did I get that way? Why was I ever under the impression that I was somehow special?

I think we get told that. And I think venues like Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger reinforce it. And I don't really want that for my children.

When I saw this graduation speech: I felt like cheering.

Being "special" doesn't make me a valuable person (I don't think my life has been dramatically affected by Michael Buble or Adele or Anthony Hopkins or William Shakespeare even though I enjoy their work and they are extraordinarily talented). But that doesn't mean that I think an individual life is meaningless and unimportant. Being special to someone makes my life meaningful (My kids have only one mom, my husband has only one me, and my friends need me to be the best friend I can be).

Do you disagree? Do you think there are advantages to being special or teaching your children they are?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A lot to say and a lot of pictures.

When I was young, my family did not take a lot of fancy vacations. We didn't go to Disneyland or Disneyworld. We never went on a cruise. 

We camped. 

We lived in Washington state, so we used to pack up the car and drive to Deception Pass or Astoria or Cannon Beach or Winthrop

One of my favorite memories was when we took a vacation to Utah and spent several days camping on the way down. We ended up in Little Mill Campground (on the Alpine Loop) and we found this great huge boulder that had been eroded and smoothed and made a perfect, giant (and slightly dangerous) slide.

We used to ride bikes and pick blackberries and put sticks in the fire.

Good times.

So I thought it was time that our family take a camping trip.

I planned for weeks. And I shared my plans with Brad. And that was weird. 

Brad comes from a camping background too. But not so much family camping. I don't know how much of that he did. Or at least not the kind I was used to. My family camped in a lot of car camping sites (where you park right next to your tent). We did a few middle-of-nowhere-no-plumbing-no-bathroom-camptrips, but not many. Brad, however, did only that kind of camping. He was a backpack camper. He never took anything that didn't fit into a backpack.

So I was planning steak and potato foil dinners, and pancakes for breakfast (with our gas stove), and dutch oven desserts... and he looked at me like I was from Mars.

But I talked him into it, and then Memorial Day weekend came, and we headed into the mountains of New Mexico. Whenever we go, all Grace and Claire can say is, "Wow!! Look at all the trees!!" And then Brad and I look at each other, heartbroken, wondering whether we're ruining our children's lives by raising them in the desert instead of the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Sigh.

Anyway, we found a cute little site minus plumbing, but with some beautiful scenery and only a few other campers.

We played hide-and-go-seek in the woods. We went for a walk. We introduced the munchkins to s'mores. We taught them how to roast marshmallows. Roasting by children ended when Claire accidentally flung a flaming mallow into Brad's arm, which burned Brad's arm and singed his hair [which he handled by standing up and silently yelling. I thought that was a very fair and mild reaction to being burned by fire.]. Claire spent the next half hour inconsolably moping in the tent because she felt so bad. At the campfire, Brad spent all his time at the edge of his camp chair, arms out, catching kids who ran too close to the fire pit. Then, cleaning their hands with baby wipes before bed, he kept saying, "How do they get so dirty? I mean they are covered in dirt!" Which I responded to by laughing hysterically.

The whole experience was kind of a role reversal. I was mostly calm. Brad was a little panicked. Not typical us.

Everything was fabulous until nighttime. When the temperature cooled to a chilly 30 degrees and Weston screamed his head off every twenty minutes.

That's when we decided not to stay all weekend. 

But it was fun while it lasted!

Our walk:

An attempt at a family portrait... 

Oh, yeah. I forgot...

We don't do family portraits.

I love them so:

Hide-and-go-seek. Grace was a fantastic hider. This was just her refusing to pose.

Cute girls.

I told the girls dandelions are edible. They gave them a try.


Oh but Grace likes them.

Um... no thank you.

Chesney the beautiful dog.

Brad's crazy long hair and marshmallow burn.

Blurry pictures are at least evidence that I still exist. And that I like marshmallows. And that I am capable of smiling occasionally.

We wore this puppy out!

After the kids went to bed, Brad and I spent about an hour talking and goofing off with the camera and fire. We tried to write words with fiery sticks. Because we're five years old like that. Anyone guess this one?
We had fun. But it took a long time to recover from the lost sleep. Oh. But I converted Brad to foil meals. Win.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I guess it's a 4 bedroom.

When Grace needed a nap desperately but couldn't sleep in the stark light of the afternoon, I suggested she grab a blanket and sleep in the hall bathroom (our only windowless room).

Now she thinks she has her own bedroom.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The best thing about me

Is that I have never had brain freeze. Isn't that awesome? Makes summertime better. I think.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Evidence of Excellent Parenting

I got into the car to attend Grace's closing ceremonies at school, and I found this.

I'm not gonna lie. It's sobering to be THAT mom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Girl knows her Papa

Last night, as I was putting the girls to bed, we were discussing the possibility of sending Grace to Brad's parents' for a couple weeks. They have started a real, live farm and will be working on it during the summer. Grace is thrilled at the prospect, and I explained to her that working a farm is hard and that a lot would be expected of her.

Grace explained to Claire, "Yeah, Mom would know because she used to live on a farm."

I snorted. (Because, yes, that's how I laugh. It's also why my Dad [still] calls me Pigee. And so I'm the closest thing my parents ever had to a farm animal.) "Um, no. I didn't. Don't you remember my stories about living in an apartment?"

"Oh yeah," she said. And then, after a pause, "But your dad is so farm-like."

I laughed out loud. It wasn't something I would have ever known as a girl her age. Yet, it's true.

Too bad I didn't inherit his green thumb. Yet. Maybe there's still time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Living Things.

One week. An entire week of watering and sunning and then Brad finally called my Mother's Day plant for the wilting failure that it was and threw it away. Let it not be a microcosm to my parenting. But isn't that sort of what a Mother's Day plant is representative of? Nurture? My poor kids are doomed.

Speaking of living things, if you're bad at taking care of them, you probably shouldn't take your children to visit the full bred and adorable (and wickedly inexpensive) golden labs in town. Because now a puppy is coming today.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The token flower

I had to speak in Church today. I also sang. Considering that I just spoke last year on Easter (another high-pressure holiday, yes?) I think my bishopric is trying to kill me.

Anyway. I spent a lot of time fretting over the talk. And in my fretting, I came across an informative and amusing discussion about the traditional Mother's Day talk here.

I was touched by many of the comments and laughed hysterically at others (comment #21, for example. Oh so true.).

But my favorite quote on the post was at #53. Just sheer hilariousness: "I’m against handing out plants on Mother’s Day. That’s the last thing a mother needs, responsibility for yet another living thing."

Where do you stand on Mother's Day plants? For? Against? Indifferent?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Weston came to us with mad skills. If I ever find myself in a drawing pool for the Hunger Games, I know who to turn to for training.

Friday, May 4, 2012

In the tub

I had a lot to do one day last week. It was a hectic day. So I decided to let Claire paint.

Our only washable paint is blue. And The last time I let the munchkins use it, Brad came home and asked if we'd murdered an avatar. Paint was splattered everywhere. It's still in our drapes.

So this time I thought I would just have Claire paint in the bathtub.

It started so well.

It ended with me making friends with a nylon brush and every cleaner in our home. Which makes for the first serious scrubbing of that shower in over a month. So... Win win? Maybe?