Monday, October 16, 2017

The Dress with a (Re)Purpose

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd stayed up late working on a project. I wasn't sure if the project was going to work out or if I would totally fail and have to hide it under my bed and act like it never happened.

That project was a baptism dress for my daughter, Daisy... Made from my wedding dress.

When Zoe was born, I decided to make her blessing dress from my wedding dress. I liked the idea of giving a very expensive dress that I only wore once a new purpose.

I wasn't sure if I could do it, but it worked out. I made it up as I went, and I had no expectation for how it would turn out. This is the good thing about not really knowing how to sew - I'm not limited by rules!

Zoe's Blessing Day

Zoe's Blessing Day

Since I made a blessing dress for my second daughter (Zoe) but not my first (Daisy), I decided I would make my first daughter a baptism dress out of my wedding dress. Then I had a third daughter (Eva), and my idea changed from a baptism dress for Daisy to a baptism dress that all three of them can wear - if they so choose. 

Anyway, I made the blessing dress in 2013, and at that time, Daisy's 8th birthday seemed pretty far away. Then all of a sudden it was here. In September, I realized I needed to either commit to the baptism dress or let it go. Back when I first came up with the idea, a friend of mine told me she would help me, but in July she left on a mission to Chile. 

(Did she plan it this way?)

So I found myself in a pickle. 

I pulled my wedding dress out and took a good look at it. I decided to start unpicking it just to see what I might be able to do. I took apart the bodice and figured it would be too awful to sew back together in a smaller size. So that's what I did. Then I cut a circle skirt from the train and sewed it to the bodice.

Daisy's Baptism

It sounds simple. 

It wasn't. 

It was a lot of work, and I nearly lost my mind. I repeatedly pinned the dress on Daisy to make sure that I was making it the right size. Then late one night, I put the zipper in and finished the last stitch. The next morning I tried it on Daisy, and it was 6" too wide.

How does that happen?

I waited two weeks to get over it and then I picked it apart, took it in, and sewed the zipper back in. 

(These sentences are far too short to adequately portray how much work this was).

At that point, it fit her better around the waist, but there were some problems with the sleeves. There was no way I was going to take it back apart to fix the sleeves (it would have required me to take out almost every stitch in the dress). 

So we made it work.

I bought a brooch from Walmart, removed the pin, and made a sash to go around the waist. This made the whole dress. 

Daisy's Baptism

Daisy's Baptism

The neckline was a little baggy, there were spots where the fabric was frayed, and the hemline was pretty hideous, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

The best part? We are set for the next two baptisms.

Daisy's Baptism

Friday, October 6, 2017

Three Pieces of Advice

I've received a lot of advice throughout my life. Good advice and bad advice. Solicited advice and unsolicited advice.

I've also given a lot of advice throughout my life. Good advice and bad advice. Solicited advice and unsolicited advice.

Of all the advice I've been given, I can think of three things that I would consider the "greatest hits." These are pieces of advice that I fall back on over and over again, so I thought they should be shared!


The first piece of advice comes from an unknown source. I don't remember where I saw or heard it, but it is this:

"Treat your children the way you want others to treat them."

We receive all sorts of messages about parenting through various sources, and I confess, I don't take many to heart.

This particular counsel, however, made me stop and think really hard about the way I speak to and treat my children. When other people care for, teach, or discipline my kids, I expect them to speak kindly to them, to love them, and to truly listen to them. Yet, I frequently give myself a free pass on these things because I'm their mom. I have to deal with them night and day. For some reason, that makes me think I have the right to be impatient, short, and snippy with them. If other people treated my children the way I do, I would be outraged. I need to let go of the idea that it's okay for me to treat them poorly. It's not a parental right.

The second piece of advice comes from my third grade teacher, Mrs. Patterson.

If I have any writing skills at all, it's because of Mrs. Patterson. She saw something in me and nurtured it. She always pulled me aside from the class and gave me writing tasks. I didn't know that she was doing me such a great favor. I remember her having me write a piece for a contest. I worked on it for weeks simply because she told me to, and she set aside the time for me to do it. And then I won! Anyway, her advice was:

 "Let it get cold."

Any time we wrote something in Mrs. Patterson's class, she would gather our rough drafts and put them away for several days. She called it letting them "get cold." The purpose of this was to distance ourselves from our writing so we could proofread and edit with fresh eyes later. At the time, I did it just because that's how Mrs. Patterson ran her classroom, but now, I understand the value of letting my writing "get cold." I don't always have the patience for it, but when I do it, it yields much better writing.

The last piece of advice comes from Hank Smith, a popular LDS presenter. Several years ago, he wrote a guest post for the Red-Headed Hostess with tips for successful teaching. One of his tips was:

"Prepare until you are excited."

I have always remembered this, and for the past four years, I've used this for a guide for knowing when my Sunday school lessons or workshop presentations are "ready." I've found that no matter how much I dislike the topic or the content of the lesson, if I keep studying, praying, and working through it, I will always get to the point where I become excited to teach.

Have you ever received some advice that was really helpful to you? I would love to hear it!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dinner Party Guest List: Celebrity Edition

A few weeks ago during lunch I was thinking about how fun it would be to get to sit across from certain people and have meaningful (or even not meaningful) conversations. I started thinking about who I would like to talk to, and I decided I should probably start coming up with a tentative dinner party guest list just in case.

One can never be overly prepared for a dinner party.

(Not that I would know. I don't go to dinner parties. Are there even such things as dinner parties in real life? Do people invite other people over for nice dinners? I've been to a few potlucks and BBQs, but dinner party? No. Though I did host a Christmas dinner with friends one year when I was feeling super social and capable. Was that a dinner party? Help me out here).

Anyway, I started keeping a note on my phone about possible guests for my dinner party. Then I realized that I need to have several different dinner parties. Remember how I struggle with hypotheticals? The guest list started getting too complex. I needed to set some boundaries. For example, can any of my dinner guests be dead people? Because of the difficulties of hypothetical situations, I ended up organizing my dinner party guests lists into categories. So my first dinner party will host celebrities.

Without further ado, here is my unofficial-but-possibly-official celebrity dinner party guest list:

Guest #1: Miley Cyrus

Okay, I bet you didn't see that one coming.

But seriously, Miley is invited, and if she can't make it, I would happily allow Justin Bieber to take her spot.

Why? Because deep down, I have always felt the need to be their mother. I want to hold them in my arms and nurture the crap out of them.

Guest #2: Michael J. Fox

Why? Because Marty McFly was my first crush, and Michael J. Fox was one of my favorite guest stars on Scrubs (and yes, those two episodes of Scrubs make me cry every time... when Dr. Casey can't leave the hospital because he can't stop washing his hands... and the Epiphany Toilet on the roof... could I go potty on a roof? I don't think I could).

But Michael also makes the list because I'd love to hear about his experiences in Hollywood and living with a debilitating disease.

Guest #3: James McAvoy

Why? I've always referred to James McAvoy as my "weird guy crush." He's not strikingly handsome, but in the movie Becoming Jane, there's a part where he dances with Anne Hathaway, and he gives her this look.

And well... pretty much I just want him to sit at my dinner table and give me that look. He doesn't need to say anything unless he really wants to.


Guest #4: Hugh Jackman

Why? Do I really need to explain? C'mon. It's Hugh Jackman. He's charming, he's handsome, and he's Australian. He can come to my dinner party and say anything he wants.

Guest #5: Amy Poehler

Why? Someone needs to represent funny, successful women at my dinner party, and Amy Poehler is my first choice. Plus, I need to ask her if she'll play me in the movie about my life.

(I'm worried that if she says no, I'll be played by Jennifer Coolidge. Why do I have this fear? I don't know. But I feel that my casting requests need to be made known. Realistically, I will be super old when my movie is made, and a much younger person will need to play me, so I should be looking at the up and coming ten-year-old actresses and not someone who is 13 years older than me).

Anyway, Amy Poehler can be pretty crude, but she also has the capacity to be profound. I think we could have a great chat.

Guest #6: Lin Manuel Miranda

Why? My reasons for inviting Lin might seem weird, but I am being perfectly honest when I say this...

I am paranoid that I will have to compete in a rap battle someday, and I?

Have no rap battle skills whatsoever. I fear the day that I am standing in front of 100 people - or even five people - and expected to rap on the fly.

I am simply hoping that Lin's talent will rub off on me when I ask him to pass the salt. 

IT COULD HAPPEN!


Aside from that, I would love to talk to him about his creative process. In Hamilton's America, Miranda expressed how he read Chernow's Hamilton biography while he was on vacation, and the people in the book reached into his soul and, well... started rapping to him. Even though no historical figures have rapped to me, hearing Miranda describe the experience of how he became inspired to write Hamilton the Musical felt familiar. I have experienced smaller scale inspiration in my life. This needs to be discussed over appetizers. 

Guest #7: Matt Damon

Why? We have a running family joke about Matt Damon. I won't get into the details (you had to be there), but Matt makes appearances in all of our family vacation slideshows. Also, his birthday is written on my calendar (it's on Sunday. Note to self: make cake for Matt Damon's birthday). All of this constitutes an invitation to my dinner party, but most importantly, I need to ask him if he was in Disneyland the first week of April in 2014. This information would clear up some things. 

Guest #8: Keanu Reeves

Why? When I was in high school, I went through what I now refer to as my "Keanu Reeves Phase." I don't know where it came from, but it must have been a combination of The Matrix, Sweet November, and Hardball. I had a Keanu poster on my wall, and I carried around a Bill and Ted sticker (I still have it). 

Keanu is a welcome guest at my dinner party not only because he is a former crush but also because I'd love to hear about what he has been through in life

Guest #9: Hillary Clinton

Why? Honestly, I've never known what to make of Hillary Clinton. She is a woman of power and leadership, but at the same time, I don't know her "truth." I want to sit down with her in a comfortable place and see who she really is. Strip away the politics. Who is this woman in her genuine form? What are her fears? Her insecurities? What would she binge watch on Netflix? Would she win me in a rap battle?

Side note: I wrote this post about two weeks ago, and then Hillary Clinton was on Fallon last night... with Miley Cyrus. I feel like my dinner party guests are hanging out without me.

Guest #10: Gordon Ramsay

Why? Mostly because I want to serve him my cooking and see if he forces it down and tries to be polite or if he would insult my very core.



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

On Vegas

Any time there's a tragic event, I think about what I would say if I were to write about it. I always have a blog post running in my head, but I never write it - partially because I don't know if I'll say the correct thing and partially because there is so much "noise" following a tragedy that quiet contemplation begins to feel more appropriate.

I was in Vegas on Saturday. We stopped on our way home from California, and we were right by Mandalay Bay. The gold building was really the only hotel I looked at that day because it was the one that most obstructed my view. It shimmered in the sunlight. Everything appeared safe and calm. We left the city not knowing that the very next day, lives would be lost on that ground.  

I have many thoughts and feelings about Vegas, and they are all piling up with the thoughts and feelings I was already experiencing (and not writing) from all of the other tragic events our world has faced in the past few weeks. I'm choosing to not add to the noise, but I didn't want to move forward without acknowledging what has happened.

I will say that this event has made me think about what I need to do personally to send more goodness out into the world. It is my hope and my prayer that we will all be able to witness the goodness in the world during this tumultuous time, and that we may all be contributors.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

If You Take Your Kids to Disneyland

We just got back from a family vacation to Disneyland. This trip included a fun mix of people. We planned to go with Scotty's mom's family. All were invited, but it only ended up being Scotty's mom and step-dad and one step-brother and his family who could come. That step-brother is married to my best friend from childhood, Michelle, so it makes it extra fun. Then Michelle's sister ended up coming with her daughter, and Scotty's step-sister from his dad's side of the family came with her boyfriend (who was a first timer - which is always exciting but it is especially exciting that his first trip to Disneyland was with his girlfriend's step-dad's ex-wife), and we also met up with our niece who currently works at California Adventure.

Untitled 

Did you get all that?

(When you and your husband both come from blended families, there is sometimes a need for diagrams).

It's always interesting to see people's reactions when we tell them we are going to Disneyland. Some people are genuinely happy for us. Others are mean about it. Disneyland can be a touchy subject.

A family vacation to Disneyland is equal parts wonderful and horrible.

Untitled

If you take your kids to Disneyland, plan for all of the following scenarios to take place:
  • You will repeatedly have to take your four-year-old out of line because she says she needs to go poop. She will not go poop. Instead, she will look up at you from the toilet and say, "Hmmm.... I guess I don't need to go poop."
  • Your kids will whine and cry about every piece of merchandise and food they see. You will spend the bulk of your time in Disneyland saying, "No."
  • They will also be in frequent disagreement about what ride you should be going on and who should sit with whom.
  • It will be hot, crowded, smelly, exhausting, loud, and frustrating.
  • Your kids will bite, push, argue, and hit each other while you wait in line after line after line...
  • People will force their way into your spots for World of Color, the parade, and Haunted Mansion.
  • Rides will break down when you are ten people from loading.
  • Your kids' legs will stop working, and they will lay on the sidewalk and cry. But when you get back to the hotel after dragging them a mile and a half down Harbor Boulevard, their legs will be magically healed, allowing them to run up and down the corridor all night while you whisper-yell, "Stop running! People are sleeping!"
  • Your child will spill yogurt on your clean shirt at breakfast every morning.
  • Someone will repeatedly throw up next to you on Mickey's Fun Wheel (a ride that, fortunately, has a complimentary barf bag in the cage). You might have to help this person when the bag starts leaking. This person will be a relative, but out of courtesy, you won't be able to tell the internet who it is.
  • Stuff will fall out of your stroller while you are in shoulder to shoulder crowds, and you will have to decide whether to cut the loss or risk being trampled.
  • Your feet will hurt so bad that it will feel like something foreign is attached to them.
  • You and your spouse will take turns being the orneriest person on earth. 
  • Your two-year-old will refuse to wear shoes and/or pants.
  • You will have to spend $30-50 on park snacks in hopes that you will be able to keep your kids happy in line for long enough to get to see the stage production of Frozen.
  • ...and then someone will need to go potty during "Love is an Open Door," and you will be furious. Not just at the child but at the incompetent theater staff that has to escort you out, give you a return pass, and send you through an elevator because you are not allowed to walk down three steps in the dark.
  • You will have moments of pure hatred toward mankind.
Untitled

But, even with all of that, you might:
  • See the pure joy and excitement on your children's faces as they recognize their favorite characters in the parade. 
  • Drink the most amazingly chilled Coke of your life. 
  • Watch a production of Frozen that is so incredible, even the two-year-old is engaged and attentive for the entire hour.
  • See your little girls hold hands all the way through Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Stumble upon a live band and spend an hour dancing with your kids instead of going back to the hotel for the night. 
  • Ride Splash Mountain four times in a row without having to get off because it's 8:30 on a Friday morning.
  • Stay late with your son and ride Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time together.
  • Hear your daughter gasp in awe and excitement at the things she sees in the shows and on the rides.
  • Find a bench in the shade while your little one naps and spend some time sitting still and enjoying just being there.
  • See your little girls in their matching Minnie Mouse hoodies and die from the cuteness.
  • Catch Belle and the Beast riding the carousel.
  • Run into someone you know but didn't know was going to be there.
  • Experience all the feels when you remember the Disney characters and movies you loved as a child and you see or hear something that brings it all back.
  • Cry when you leave.
Holding hands

Splash Mountain

Going to Disneyland isn't easy. Especially in a large group containing several small children. This was definitely one of our hardest vacations with kid management (I thought it would be easier NOT having a baby, but I forgot about the highly opinionated two and four-year-olds that were coming with us). It's one of those experiences, though, where the greater the horror, the greater the joy. I had moments where I thought, "This is worse than taking kids to church." But then I would swing to, "This is amazing!!!"

In the end, I can say that we worked hard and had a lot of fun! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Uh-Mazing

I have a lot to do today, and there's something about having a big to-do list that makes me want to blog. The funny thing is, my list isn't actually that "big." But I've had a calm week, so now that I have a few things to do, it feels like "a lot."

At this moment, I'm pretty on top of things, and it feels really good. I'm caught up on laundry, my house is fifteen minutes from clean (this is my standard), and nothing on my aforementioned to-do list is absolutely dire... save for washing some pee bedding and shampooing a mattress. So when I get myself off this computer and start working on that list, it's going to help me stay ahead in life. And that feels uh-mazing.

(I basically just contradicted myself by stating that I have a lot to do but I don't actually have to do any of it).

(It's cool. I do that a lot).

Anyway, the weather around here has shifted lately. It went from 90° to 50° overnight. Tis the Utah way. In fact, last night I stayed up pretty late working on a project (one that I hope to be able to post here someday, but it's one of those things that I don't want to tell you about yet because if it doesn't work out, I'm just going to hide it in a garbage can and pretend it never happened, but it it does work out, it will be uh-mazing) while Scotty was away working on a side job about half an hour from home. Here it was cold and rainy, and where he was, it was SNOWING. Like, a lot. Scotty said "blizzard." Was he exaggerating? I don't know! And he wasn't near the mountains or anything. It was snowing at 11:30 p.m. in the valley! And technically, today is the first day of fall, so it was snowing in the valley during the final 30 minutes of summer.


(That may possibly be one of the worst paragraphs I've ever written. Just go with it).

(Also, I apologize for blogging about the weather).

(But I'm not done yet...)

Since it cooled off, I now have the privilege of wearing long pants, which is always an uh-mazing transition. When I get to wear long pants, I become a new woman. I feel so much better about myself and about life in general. Shorts and capris are not my thing. but I wear them because I can't deal with the heat. I spend all summer putting my body into clothes that just don't work for me, and then fall comes, and I get to wear long, glorious, comfortable pants!


Unfortunately, I'm running low on pants that fit.

Story of my life!

But better than shorts.

Always.

I went through my clothes the other day and got rid of a garbage bag full. It felt uh-mazing to purge a bit... but it probably won't feel uh-mazing when I decide that I need that blue shirt after all. Or when I magically drop 20 lbs and suddenly feel like I might be able to wear peplum.

(Actually, it might take more than 20 lbs because I didn't feel right in peplum even 30 lbs ago).

(Peplum is so unfair).

(Totally just googled "how to pronounce peplum" because it dawned on me that I've never said it nor heard it aloud. Apparently "pee plum" is incorrect. Thank heavens I've only said it in my head. What if I'd gone into a boutique and said that I needed some "pee plum?")

(And by "boutique" I mean "Deseret Industries." Cause let's be realistic about where I shop).

(I could probably find pee plum there).

Speaking of DI, I went yesterday to try and find a book for my book exchange. I already have a book for my book exchange, but what would it hurt to have ten more just in case?

Sadly, I didn't find a book for my book exchange, but I did find a copy of the DSM-5 for $1. That's an uh-mazing deal.

I was pretty psyched.

(See what I did there?)

I also got a brand new pair of sandals for Eva, two creepy baby dolls that Eva became overly attached to, and a shirt for myself.

I decided not to buy the giant spoon and fork to hang on my kitchen wall. Will I regret this?

(I want to have a giant spoon and fork as an homage to the giant spoon and fork my grandma had in her kitchen during my childhood - very similar to the giant spoon and fork from Everybody Loves Raymond).


OH MY GOSH!!! Why didn't I buy the spoon and fork? They would have been uh-mazing!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Picture This

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I'd applied for an "opportunity." I didn't think anything would come of it, but it worked out, and now I'll be presenting at a women's conference in November.

One of the things I've had to do in preparation for the event is provide a bio and a photograph of myself for the program. I knew immediately that there was no photo in existence that I could use, but just in case, I scoured my files to see if I had anything ready to go. 

I wasn't surprised to discover that the nicest photo available was of me and a goat:

Bear World
{Britt & The Goat}

What I didn't realize was that I take a lot of selfies with animals. 

Untitled
{Britt & The Bunny}

Weekend Fun 
{Britt & The Cow}

Those weren't really options for this event. And neither were any of these:

  Untitled
{Britt & Vomit Laundry}

Untitled 
{Britt & Pee Mattress}

  Saint George 2017
{Britt & Kid Getting Eaten by Dinosaur}

Poop Buddies 
{Britt & Poop Mug}

  The Gilmore Girls Group
{Britt & Facial Mask}

Scientist
{Britt & Fake Braces}

Ew!
{Britt & Costume Prize}

Untitled 
{Britt & Chicken Suit}

  California 2016
{Britt & Toddler}

From now on I'm going to try and take at least one "nice" photo per year. 

It's going to be hard. My face can't handle it. But I need to act like a professional once in a while. 

So here is the illusion I will give people for this round:


Just don't calculate any percentages using the above photos. Ahem....

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Once Upon a Library Bathroom

A few years ago our local library closed for renovations. While it was closed, we made our weekly* visits at a library about 20 minutes away in my "hometown" (I use the term "hometown" lightly because I lived on the border of the township of Magna and the city of West Valley. We were technically on the West Valley side of the border, but we had the Magna zipcode. So I get to claim both places).

The Magna library was newly built a few years before our local library was renovated (there was already a Magna library, but it was torn down and a new library was built in a different location). It's one of my favorite libraries, so even though our local one reopened, we still venture out to Magna occasionally. 

Library 

Today was one of those days where I really needed to be out of the house, but I didn't have anywhere to go, so we stopped at Arctic Circle for courtesy cones and fries, and then we went to the Magna Library.

Library

As I pulled up to my usual parking spot, I started thinking about where the bathrooms are located in the library. That's just something you do when you go out in public with little ones - you have to have a bathroom route mapped out for when they "nee go pee."

(That's what Zoe says while doing her potty dance, "I nee go pee! I nee go pee!" It's precious. Especially in the middle of sacrament meeting. Luckily we sit in front of a little girl who loudly states when she needs to poop, so we just blend in).

During my mental bathroom mapping routine, I recalled something I'd forgotten about...

I found out I was pregnant with Eva in the Magna Library bathroom.

Library

We'd been on our way to the library, and I stopped at the store and bought a test. Then I went ahead and took it in the library bathroom, and it was positive.

It felt poetic, being a person who loves books and takes pregnancy tests in library bathrooms.

Library

After remembering this, I thought about how cool it will be to someday hold Eva's hand and walk her into the Magna library saying, "This is where I was when I found out you were going to be in our family!"

(I could have done that today, but it will be funner when she's old enough to know what a pregnancy test is).

She might think it's weird. She might even say something like, "Ew, mom!"

To which I will respond, "Hey, be grateful you're not your older sister. I learned about her in Walmart."

There wasn't anything poetic about that

*Since having my fourth child, I've stopped taking my kids to the library regularly. I reached my limit and now find it nearly impossible to endure a trip to the library with my kids. We've been dabbling in weekly visits for the past few weeks since school started, but we only do so to fill the awkward half hour that I need to burn in between dropping off a kid at dance class and picking up a different kid from piano lessons. Having two fewer kids with me is the only thing that makes it work.  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chaos Percentages

I have a confession that's a little hard for me to admit.

I really like to look like I have my life together. I want to fool people.

In truth, I don't have my life 100% together. My life is kind of chaotic and seems to be the perfect reflection of my mind... which is also kind of chaotic.

But I like the illusion of having it together. Or at least a 90% illusion. I don't mind if people see small glimpses of the not-togetherness I'm toting around. I'm willing to give you 10%. But I don't like the idea of someone seeing my not-togetherness regularly.

90% togetherness.

10% chaos.

I can deal with that.

But the reality is that it's more like 50% togetherness and 50% chaos.


That's still not bad.

But my 50% chaos always presents itself in front of the same people, which makes it look like 100% chaos, and that makes it hard to fool them!

One of these people is my mom.

It's probably because she's my mom that she's privy to my chaos. I'm always having to call her over chaotic things like, "Mom! I ran out of gas in the school parking lot!" and "Oh my gosh, I forgot I can't use a credit card at WinCo, and I have a cart full of groceries!" and "Mom! I locked my keys in my car at Chick-Fil-A!"

She's always having to save me from my own idiocy.

And then there's my aunt, Lori.

I don't mean to air out my chaos around my Aunt Lori, but it just happens. I'll pull in her driveway, and a kid will start throwing up, and then I'll trip and fall on my face while I'm walking up her porch. Then someone will poop, and I won't have any diapers with me, and I'll realize I forgot to pick a kid up from school.

I'm starting to wonder if there's a "Lori Factor."

And then there's Becky.

I tend to run into Becky when something stressful has just happened. Several months ago I ran into her at Walmart, and I had all of my kids with me and hadn't showered for like three days. I just needed one, stupid, little thing, and I could barely get my cart of screaming children through the doors. After fighting through the store and waiting in a long line, I got out to the van and I'd left the item at the register in the bag.

Then last week when I ran out of gas in the school parking lot, and my mom had to come save me (I also called my Aunt Lori because my mom didn't answer at first, and she was going to come save me, but then my mom called me back) I ran into Becky at Sam's Club immediately after.

I think our conversation went like this:

Becky: "Brittany!"
.
Me: "I RAN OUT OF GAS!!!"

(Okay, maybe it wasn't quite like that... but close)

Luckily, I don't think Becky looks at me and sees the chaos. She just sees a friend.

And that I am very grateful for.

**UPDATE**
After I wrote this post, a friend told me that she was surprised that I feel the need to "put on an act," since she considers me to be very real and open. I realize where the discrepancy is between what she said about me and what I said about myself. My issue isn't with people knowing that I don't have my life together. My issue is with people seeing it. I want you to see 90% together-ness, and I will tell you about the not-together-ness. I don't want you to look upon it with your own eyes!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Brad Makes Me Cry

The kitchen renovation continues...

Remember how a few months ago I couldn't stop mentioning that I had graduated? Well, now I've moved on, and I can't write a post without mentioning the work we are doing in our kitchen. It's all-consuming. So bear with me while my kitchen is the center of my life.

(Still happy about the graduation thing, though. In fact, at church today, I was sitting in the pew thinking about the fact that I have a degree, and I started crying. I just never saw myself achieving this. I'm still in shock that I did it, and I have little moments where I remember, and I almost lose it).


Anyway, I've needed a lot of music, podcasts, and re-runs to get me through my kitchen renovation. A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a Brad Paisley play list on YouTube while I was working in the kitchen, and I kept getting teary eyed (maybe it's time for me to take my quarterly pregnancy test - it's kind of a tradition that about every three months I get super hormonal and paranoid that I'm pregnant. Ah, the life of a woman!).

Those Brad Paisley lyrics, though...

{Via}

Before I get into that, let me tell you about my history with Brad Paisley.

One year for Christmas, Scotty bought us tickets to a Brad Paisley concert. I knew who he was and knew some of his songs, but I wasn't really a "fan." I was neither thrilled nor disappointed by the tickets.

Then we went to the concert, and I converted.* Brad Paisley gave an amazing performance (and I can say the same for the next concert of his we went to). I think I listened to Brad Paisley for about three months straight after that first concert.


I learned to really respect Brad and his music. Some of his songs are a little cheesy, and in all honesty, he doesn't have a beautiful or a powerful voice. It's not a bad voice, it's just not "beautiful." But that guy can perform and entertain like you wouldn't believe. He is really, really talented.

I know nothing about playing the guitar (though I have a guitar and used to be able to play a wicked awesome rendition of the Hanukkah Song), but I'm pretty sure that what Brad Paisley does with a guitar is worthy of respect.

And if you look past the cheesy songs (which I still love despite the cheesy factor), he writes some really meaningful lyrics.

Which is probably the reason I cried while I painted my cabinets.  Well, that and it's just really horrible to paint cabinets.

*I also realized at that concert that I have a dream to play the fiddle in a country band, and now, thanks to Carrie Underwood, I also want to play the harmonica. Like, really play the harmonica, not just Oh Susanna, which I've known how to play my whole life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We're still working on the kitchen (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: There's a setting on our TV that makes a creepy voice read the descriptions of shows on Netflix and tell us how loud the volume is. I don't know how it gets turned on, and I don't know how to turn it off. It's on right now (courtesy of Eva who had to hurry and push every button on the remote as I moved toward her to take it away), and it sounds like a robotic alien has possessed the TV.

I'm pretty sure we have better technology than that. If I can make my iPhone talk to me in the voice of an Australian man (I like to pretend it's Hugh Jackman) then why can't my "smart" TV afford me the same favor?

Fact #2: Last week I was late almost everywhere I went. It was really weird and very unlike me. I was ten minutes late to a hair appointment, which has never happened! And from then on, I was about five minutes behind on life for the rest of the week. 

I think it was because I was always painting, and there was consistently just a little bit of paint left in the dish that I'd want to hurry and use before I ran out the door (every drop counts!)

Fact #3: I find it interesting that there are hardly any consequences for being late. Unless you're trying to catch a plane, you can walk in late almost anywhere and not have any issues. 

This is not a good thing. 

Fact #4: I'm back to my punctual ways now. 

Fact #5: Okay, so I'm punctual. You know that.

But in addition to that, I have a hard time slowing down. Now, don't confuse "slowing down" with "being lazy." I don't have a hard time being lazy. In fact, it's one of my special gifts.

I have a hard time slowing down in the "stop and smell the roses" kind of way.

Fact #6: That scene in Zootopia with the sloth makes me absolutely crazy.

Fact #7: Two of my biggest fears are severed limbs and MRIs.

Fact #8: I worry so much about someone losing a finger (or any body part) and me having to transport the victim and the limb to the hospital.

I don't want to make decisions about the limb, and I don't want to be responsible for the limb.

But just in case, I spend way too much time googling how to care for limbs because I don't want to do it wrong. We have a friend who did it "wrong."

(Don't put the detached limb directly on ice!)


Also, we have a friend who cut off his fingers last weekend and had to go into surgery for 20 hours to reattach them.

Limbs are no joke! Neither are eyeballs.

Please don't ever make me deal with dislodged eyeballs.

Fact #8: The MRI thing is a matter of claustrophobia.

I can't even.

Fact #9: Those aren't my only fears. Nor are they my top fears. They are just two of my fears.

Fact #10:  I'm also paranoid of sea creatures, earthquakes, and getting injured on a loose toilet seat.

Then there's my irrational fear of choking on carrots while driving. Not at any other time. Only while driving.

So I obviously don't eat carrots when I drive.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Improvement

Oh, hi there.

I'm taking a quick break from my If You Give a Mouse a Cookie episode. Scotty and I have spent every spare minute for the past two weeks working on our kitchen. We've hit a bit of a snag (one of many) so I'm currently off-duty.

This morning, we installed our new microwave. We've had a counter top microwave (which we've always hated because counter space is sparse around here), so our dream has been to move our cabinets so we can hang a microwave over the stove. We hung it this morning then suddenly, we lost half the voltage in the outlet.

We aren't sure what the problem is, but Scotty is working on getting us more power.


I'm staying clear of the kitchen for a while because our projects are getting in the way of each other.

I remember why we've put off home renovations for so long! They are a pain in the tuchus!

I was super motivated for the first week, and then last Thursday evening, I hit a wall. It felt exactly like my last year of school. I wasn't sure how I could go on. The thought of lifting a paintbrush for one more second made me all sorts of crazy.

Just to give you an idea of how much time I have spent painting, I listened to 32 episodes of The Office and an entire audio book in three days while painting. I also had phone conversations with friends and listened to some music, so my rough estimate was that I spent 56 hours painting from Monday to Thursday of last week. My routine has been to drop Zoe off at preschool, go to Lowe's for my daily supplies, and then paint until 11:00 each night with small breaks for picking up kids.

The poor kids have been so neglected.

BUT...

We are accomplishing some tasks that really needed to be done, and that feels AMAZING!

There's still a lot left to do, so blogging will be sporadic for a while, but I've been posting some pictures and updates on Facebook, so check it out if you haven't already.



Friday, August 25, 2017

Oops!

You know the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? I'm pretty much living it, but with no cookie.

A few weeks ago, I started doing some little home improvement projects around the house. It began with patching walls in the living room. Then I retextured the walls. Then I painted.

And since I painted the living room, I needed to paint the stairwell. I had to take the banister down to paint the stairwell, so I figured I should refinish the banister while it's down. And if I was going to do that banister, I should do the banister on the other set of stairs so they would match.

And since the living room was painted, I also needed to paint the kitchen, but first I had to patch the holes and do some texturing. And since the walls are getting painted, it doesn't make any sense to not paint the cabinets also, which means I need Scotty to add crown moulding to them. And if I'm going to paint the cabinets, I should do the counter tops as well, which means I need to scrape off all the caulk. And then we might as well move one of the cabinets up so we can hang a microwave over our stove... but that means we need to buy a microwave. And then the microwave won't match the stove, so I'll need to buy a new stove!

Amidst all of this chaos, I saw that the flooring I want is on sale, so I bought the flooring. But when we ripped out the banister to refinish it, we discovered some issues with our floor... and the banister.

Oops!

Oops!

Oops!
{just a few snippets of the damage}

Now we need to build a new balustrade and rip up our entire kitchen subfloor.

So my whole kitchen is torn apart, and it was really just an accident.

And it all happened because I patched a few holes in the wall.



Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Weekday Evolution of Breakfast

Monday: Baked oatmeal prepared the night before and placed in the oven at 5:30 a.m.

Tuesday: Scrambled eggs and a green smoothie.

Wednesday: Blueberry muffins and a banana ("Just grab something").

Thursday: Fix it your dang self (i.e. Cheerios).

Friday: "Here. Eat this bag of chips."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Currently {August 2017 Edition}

Reading: Christlike Parenting by Glenn Latham (third time reading) and the Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (second time reading). 


I always have a marriage or parenting book in progress. Always. I can tell you all of the marriage and parenting things. I just can't live any of them!

Watching: Nothing. I finished a series on Saturday night, then canceled our Hulu account. I haven't started anything new, but I might have to watch season 3 of When Calls the Heart. I just need to get into the right state of mind to find a sappy, Hallmark show entertaining. I struggle with "squeaky clean" shows. They just don't have the substance I prefer (so if you ever come across a "squeaky clean" show with a really good plot, quality characters, and some depth, please let me know).

Procrastinating: Taking a shower. Can I confess something? I hate showering. I feel like it's a huge interruption to my day. I pray for there to be a shower app someday. We've advanced in so many other areas. Why haven't showers become easier?

Wanting: New flooring (I think in all the years I've been doing "currently" posts, this is the most repeated answer for "wanting." Second place goes to "pants that fit"). The flooring may be a reality soon. We'll see...

Craving: A perfectly organized house. Note to self: You have four kids, and you're kind of lazy. This isn't even possible.

But, oh! To dream...

Wearing: A Coke shirt that I was manipulated into buying in Vegas, and some black shorts. 

Relieved by: Being done with school (I'm still on a graduation high, but I've become much less productive as time goes on).

Stressing about: Some matters of self-discipline. It's stressful to eat healthy. It's stressful to exercise. It's stressful to not eat out. It's stressful to not spend money...

Missing: Google Reader. I've never recovered from the loss.

Excited to: Go on a family vacation in a few weeks. It's the first vacation we've been on in 11 years where Scotty and I haven't had to worry about getting online for school. For the last decade, we've become accustomed to writing papers, doing group meetings, and taking tests on the road. This time we don't have to bring laptops or textbooks! It will be so different!

Neglecting: The stairwell that I half-painted three weeks ago and never finished.

Thankful for: So much! So very much!

Looking forward to: 

Dreading: The dead of winter when the days are dark and the kids are sick for months.

Learning: How to "revile not." This has been the topic on my mind lately.

Eating: Honey Nut Cheerios. A kid plopped a ziploc bag of them on me just now.

Suffering from: Plantar fasciitis!! My feet continue to betray me daily!


Frustrated by: So many things... Things I can't express online even though I would love to just let it all out!

Wishing: For that shower app. I'm not going to let that go any time soon. At minimum there should at least be some sort of spray or laser that can zap me clean so I don't have to shower. 

Worried about: The health of my family. Having a body is such a huge responsibility!

Loving: Calm.

Monday, August 21, 2017

And they're off!

It's the first day of school!

I dropped off Nicky and Daisy about an hour ago, and now I'm home alone with the Tornado Twins. The house was reasonably clean when I got up this morning. Now it looks like it's been ransacked by burglars. I never know how it happens. I only know that I can't keep up with the girls.

This morning I realized that this is the first year since becoming parents that neither Scotty nor myself are returning to school. We've been going to school for a really long time... and I think there's more school coming, but not for at least a year.

We did some prep work in the days leading up to school. Last Monday night we had a family home evening lesson on kindness.

On Saturday night, I got rid of our Hulu account. We're trying to make some changes around our home, and since I am not a great manager of TV time, I thought it would best to get rid of some of the "things," much to my personal dismay (seriously, I really love my shows!!!) We still have Netflix, but I'm going to cancel that as well (baby steps). We will be left with Amazon Prime, which doesn't have a great selection for our taste, but it gives us a little Dora to survive on.

On Sunday we attended my mother-in-law's annual back to school fashion show. Grandma and Grandpa always put together a bag for each child with a book and some school supplies. The kids have a great time and always look forward to the fashion show.

After we got home last night we reinstated the school year bedtime routine, and Scotty gave Nicky and Daisy a father's blessing.

This morning, I let the kids know it was time to get ready for school by blasting our breakfast song (it's pretty normal for me to either sing it or play it while I make breakfast). We did First Day pictures on the front porch, and I had them watch this video.

I drove the kids to school and took a wagon for Zoe and Eva to ride in. Then I wheeled the little girls around and dropped each kid off at their classroom.

(I started this post an hour after I dropped the kids off, and now it's almost time to pick them up).

The first day is always really hard on the kids. I anticipate some meltdowns the second they get into the car. Nicky will be hangry. Adjusting to the school year feeding schedule is always brutal for him. Daisy will tell me how much she hated school... and everyone there... and everything else in the universe.

I had big dreams of being productive, even though I knew that's not how things would go. Once I got home with the Tornado Twins, I had to immediately get to work meeting their every demand.

Those two!

I tell ya.

Around 10:30, the lighting from the windows started to dim, so I began to keep my eye on the eclipse. I didn't have any glasses, so I just punched a hole in a piece of paper and went outside to check the shadow every now and then. Our peak time was 11:33. I took the girls outside, and they played in the sandbox while I grilled a salmon burger and watched-but-didn't-watch the eclipse.

We ended up going over to the neighbors' house a little later, and they had some extra glasses. So we got to peek at the eclipse before it ended. Zoe loved it and kept saying, "I love the moon!"

And she does love the moon. She always has! But it never crossed my mind that my moon-loving four-year-old would want to watch the eclipse.

A week ago I didn't feel ready to send my kids back to school, but ultimately, it's going to be okay. I do like the structure, and there is definitely less fighting in the house (though Zoe and Eva go WWF on each other several times a day).

The best part, though, is if/when Eva takes a nap, which she is doing right now. I'm not always this lucky, but on days that Eva naps, having the older kids at school is pure bliss.

Next week, I'll attempt preschool with Zoe once again. I have such mixed feelings about sending her. On one hand, she benefits from the speech therapy and socialization. On the other, I end up having to drag her in kicking and screaming and then wait for someone to be available to hold her so I can leave.

It takes a toll on me.

Here's hoping for school year success!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Perfect Days

Since it's summer,* I've been pretty lax about bedtime. My kids all have different nighttime habits. If I give Nicky the freedom to stay up as late as he wants, he will put himself to bed by 9:30 most of the time. With that same freedom, Daisy will fight her fatigue until she crashes on the couch. Then she'll eventually wake up and either A) come find me and tell me she doesn't feel good or that she thinks she broke a bone or B) shuffle her way to her bed and wake up the next morning wondering how she got there. Zoe's sleep patterns are all over the place because she is four, and four-year-olds should have 18-hour days instead of 24-hours days. Eva has decided in recent months to stop sleeping through the night, and just for the sake of being true to her two-year-old ways, she wakes up yelling at 5:45 a.m.

Last night, Nicky, Zoe, and Eva went to bed around 9:30 while Daisy stayed up watching Doc McStuffins. I brought Daisy a glass of water, and I thought, This would be Daisy's version of a perfect day - watching TV and being doted on.

Then I started thinking of what each of my kids' "perfect" days might be like.


I can think of two different versions of the perfect day for Nicky.

Version 1 would be waking up at an Anaheim hotel, enjoying a free breakfast (Nicky is frugal), and then spending the day at Disneyland with no sisters. At the end of the day, he'd go back to the hotel, sit in the hot tub for 15 minutes, the fall asleep watching the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon.

Version 2 would involve a day home from school with no sisters. He would have pizza for breakfast, a cheeseburger from the Habit for lunch, and sweet and sour chicken for dinner. He would spend a few hours wrapped in his favorite blanket watching TV in his room (in this fantasy, there is a TV in his room). He'd probably also appreciate playing a few board games with adults.

The perfect day for Daisy would, as I mentioned already, involve being doted on every moment. She would love to wake up and have breakfast brought to her in bed. Just like her brother, she would be in favor of eliminating all siblings for the day. She'd request a pedicure at the nail shop, lunch at Chick-Fil-A or McDonald's, and then freedom to wander the dollar store where she would buy a cart full of useless junk.  The day's schedule could be flexible as long as she is allowed to pick everything from what songs to listen to in the car to which route we take to Target. To be honest, she would probably thrive on being pulled around in a wagon with someone fanning her, and she would love to spend a fortune on claw machines.

Zoe's perfect day would include taking a three-hour bath with limitless toys. She, of course, would want her siblings gone. After her bath, she would want four hard shell tacos from Del Taco for lunch. She might want to go ride her bike around the block, but other than that, she'd just stay at home. She would be content to pack one of her 8 backpacks (that is not an exaggeration - she has a backpack obsession) with random toys and haul them in the living room to dump them out. She would spread towels all over the living room floor to make a "beach" and then sit on them to watch a show, possibly Phineas and Ferb, though she prefers to jump from show to show to show. She would probably like to have a friend come over, but it would have to be someone who will agree to do everything Zoe wants the exact way she wants to do it. She'd want to wear a costume and some make-up. For dinner, she'd want a kid's meal from Chick-Fil-A but won't eat it. Then she'd want to sleep in mom and dad's bed... without mom and dad.

On Eva's perfect day, she would be carried around from morning until night while drinking a sippy cup of milk.

As for my own perfect day, all I ask is for 24 hours with obedient children, a clean house, and NO FIGHTING. Simple, really.


*I started this post in June and finished it in August