Friday, August 25, 2017


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.



{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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Choose Sue

I've always had a fascination with choosing between a cook, a maid, and a nanny. Not that any of the three are a realistic option for me, but you never know... someday I might be held at gunpoint and forced to pick one.

It's hard to know which to go with.

I would love a cook to provide healthy meals for my family thrice daily. That would take a huge burden off my plate (pun intended, thankyouverymuch). But I also kind of enjoy cooking for my family, so it's not a responsibility I want to hand over entirely. I really only need a cook on days when I'm really busy... or really lazy. So while a cook would be awesome, I'm not sure it would be my first choice.

I long for a pristine house, so if I could have someone provide that for me, I'd be quite happy. The problem with a maid is that maids typically clean houses that are already clean. Maids dust and vacuum and clean glass. Not pick up the 1,098 random objects my two-year-old has emptied from various drawers throughout my house or dig chewed up carrots out of my sofa cushions. Perhaps having a maid might be more stressful for me than not having a maid because I'd have to have the carrot thing under control before the maid could do much.

I would love a nanny so I could have a daily break from my kids, but for my current situation (stay-at-home-momdom), a nanny would be a bit over the top. Sure, if I were returning to work, a nanny would be a wonderful asset for my family, but right now I would totally misuse the nanny. I would be like, "Here, nanny, take care of the children while I watch Netflix." I already struggle with being "present" with my children. I'm not sure having a nanny would be a wise choice for my character development.

Since none of the three are really ideal for my circumstances, I think what I really need is not a cook, a maid, or a nanny - it's an assistant!

My assistant would be available Monday-Thursday from 9-5, Fridays from 9-2, and Sundays 10-3.* Her responsibilities wouldn't be too hard; she'd mostly be an extra set of hands for me.

I'd be able to say stuff like, "Sue," (I named her Sue just now), "please hold Eva while I give Zoe a bath."

"Sue, please run to WinCo and buy a 2 lb block of cheddar."

"Sue, please stir the soup."

"Sue, will you run outside and grab the chicken eggs for me?"

"Sue, read me this book while I shower!"

(One of Sue's primary responsibilities is to read me stuff that my phone can't read to me. This is what my life has come to).

Having an assistant isn't about having someone to boss around. It's about relieving the stress of having to choose between two things all the time. I'm always dividing myself between people and tasks, and it keeps me from truly getting things done. Sue's purpose is to tackle the other thing - the one I'm not tackling at the moment.

So when I'm desperate to change the laundry before it starts to smell, but my kids are fighting, I can deal with the fight, and Sue can change the laundry.

When Eva falls asleep in the car and needs to be carried inside, but I also need to get the ice cream I just bought  in the freezer before it melts, I can carry the child, and Sue can take care of the ice cream.

Sue has the potential to meet my level of need for a cook, a maid, and a nanny without having to be exclusively one of those things.

So if ever forced to choose between a cook, a maid, or a nanny, I will first ask if Sue is an option. Because choosing Sue is a no-brainer.

*It's imperative that Sue come to church with us. We need as many responsible persons as possible to keep our pew under control. In fact, this idea is so genius that I might post a listing today for an assistant just for church. It's a good starting point. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Fix

Summer vacation is quickly coming to a close. My kids start school on Monday.*  Usually, by this point, I'm more than ready to send my kids back to school, but this year, for the first time ever, I don't want them to go back to school.

I never thought those words would come out of my

The reasons I'm feeling this way are three-fold:

Reason #1: Nicky and Daisy have been pretty helpful while they've been home for the summer. I've realized that having Zoe and Eva home while Nicky and Daisy are gone is sometimes harder than having all four kids home.

Reason #2: I'm not ready for the responsibility that comes with having kids in school. Packing lunches, morning routines, carpooling all over the earth. In past years I've thrived on these things, but this year, I'm dreading it. I'm not looking forward to enforcing regular showers or supervising homework.

Reason #3: I don't want to send my kids out into the world. I just want them to stay home where I can shelter them from everything ugly, dangerous, and unholy.

Regardless of how I feel about the kids going back to school, it's inevitable. Summer break is coming to a close!

This summer has been a little on the boring side for us. Since I was finishing two classes and an internship well into July, we spent the first half of summer doing a whole lotta nothing. Finishing an internship with the kids home from school was harder than I ever thought it would be. I felt horrible about it, but I had to continually tell my kids that we wouldn't be doing a lot of fun things until I was done with school. I couldn't handle having friends over or taking my kids anywhere. I just had to hunker down and get school done. With a great amount of guilt, I put my kids on the back burner for those last several weeks. I kept them fed, but that's about it.

Since graduating, I've tried to be more present, more nurturing, and more fun.

(I have to confess, I'm not naturally any of those things. I have to work really hard to be those things for my children. I'm much more prone to doing my own thing and wanting the kids to entertain themselves).

There are a lot of things we didn't do this summer. We didn't go on a single hike. We didn't host any BBQs. We didn't have nearly enough game nights. We didn't go to any splash pads (I'm actually okay with this). We didn't have a garden or eat BLTs. We didn't hang out with friends much. We didn't do a lot with family. 

So perhaps there's a fourth reason I'm not ready to send my kids back to school. We didn't get our fix!

*Parents in our school district were given the opportunity to voice their opinion on whether the start of school should be planned around the eclipse. I didn't even know that this was something to be concerned about. Since school is starting on the day of the eclipse, our district is allowing kids to miss school without penalty. I didn't know that missing school to see an eclipse was a thing.

**This is the one thing my kids beg for incessantly that I go to great lengths to not have to do!  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Regarding Reputations

In my conversations and circumstances of late, "reputations" have been a recurring theme. Reputations are beliefs or opinions that are held about something or someone. In recounting an interaction with another person the other day, I found myself stating, "She has a reputation for..." That led me to contemplate what that individual is known for - both the good and the bad.

Reputations are an interesting concept. They can be true or false, positive or negative. As I think about the reputations of those around me, I also consider my own reputations. Others might believe things about me that are true or false, but there's also the fact that what I think people think about me may be true or false. For example, I may think that my neighbors think I'm lazy. My neighbors might not think that at all, but if that's what I think they think, that will shape my self-concept.

In social psychology, this is called the "looking glass self," and the basic theory is that one of the factors that shapes our behavior is the way we *think* others view us - NOT the way people actually view us.

Are you with me?

Here are some of the components of my "looking glass self," in essence, the things I think I might be known for:

  • Being on time (I often worry that my headstone will read, "Here lies Britt who died right on time!")
  • Being an early bird and morning person
  • Having high expectations
  • Being a little on the critical side (or maybe a lot on the critical side)
  • Buying stuff at the thrift store (If I had a nickel for every time I received a compliment and responded with, "Thanks! I bought it from the D.I.!)
  • Meddling and getting involved in things that aren't my business (sometimes I just can't stay quiet)
  • Saying stuff I shouldn't (again, sometimes I just can't stay quiet)
  • Reading
  • Eating out a lot
  • Being a control freak
  • Being "stuck up" (this is one that people have actually voiced to me after they have gotten to know me. "I used to think you were so stuck up!")
  • Being creative (this is another one people have often voiced, but this one makes me uneasy)
Some of those are reputations I am okay with and others are reputations I don't want to have. Here are a few more reputations I don't want to have (and subsequently, hope I do not have):
  • Being unreliable or flakey
  • Being mean
  • Being judgmental
  • Being boring
  • Being a bad teacher/speaker
  • Thinking I'm better than everyone
  • Being unintelligent
Obviously, I would like my reputation to be the opposite of all of those, and here are a few more reputations I would love to have:
  • Being a good writer
  • Being a good cook (not like a gourmet chef or anything, but I would love to a have reputation for providing adequate potluck dishes and dinners for those I feed. Like, when someone in my church has a baby and they hear I am bringing them dinner, I want them to be happy about it)
  • Being thoughtful
  • Being dependable and trustworthy
  • Having a strong testimony
  • Putting people at ease
  • Being a good host
  • Being fun to be around
  • Being resourceful
Anyway, I've been reflecting on my own reputations this week, and I've realized that I don't really know what other people think of me. I can only assume. So when I say I have a reputation for something, I'm really only guessing. My guesses at what my reputations are could be as inaccurate as my actual reputations could be. This whole idea fascinates me. In short, I don't really know what people think of me. I don't know if I want to know, but maybe it's no better to assume.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ten Random Facts: Post-Graduation Edition

Fact #1: I'm still learning to navigate life post-graduation. I have moments where I worry that I'm behind in schoolwork, and then I remember that I'm not in school. Then I experience the joyful relief that comes from knowing that I'm FREE! I don't even have the words to describe what that feels like - to be rid of the constant looming of schoolwork.

Fact #2: While I'm grateful for my education and everything I've learned, one of the best blessings I've gotten from going to school was learning to recognize and appreciate "calm." Things are calm for a minute, and I love it and need it!

Fact #3: I've had some motivation for the past two weeks that I refer to as "momentum." I know that eventually the excitement of being done with school will fade, and the momentum will go away, but until it does, I'm taking full advantage of it. 

I've been getting a lot of stuff done around the house - cleaning, organizing, painting etc (though if you were to walk into my house right now, you would not be impressed. My cleaning and organizing process is really messy). 

I shampooed my van carpets, painted my living room, started painting the trim and doors (a task that needs to be done throughout the entire house), went through all of my kids' clothes and shoes and got rid of or boxed-up everything they don't wear, got our van repaired from when someone backed into it in June, fully loaded my freezer with freezer meals, and took my laptop in to get fixed.

Fact #4: I've also been unusually social lately.

Fact #5: I wish I could just always be like this - a high-functioning, productive, social person - but I'll probably crash and burn any second now.

Update: I think the "social" portion of the crash and burn happened this weekend. 

Fact #6: One negative side-effect of graduating is that I've been experiencing what I've started calling "insecurity attacks." I have moments where I feel good about myself and proud of what I've accomplished in life - not just schoolwise, but in general. But then I have times where I'm hit with a huge influx of insecurity, and I feel like I'm worthless and insignificant. The distorted thoughts come on fast and unexpectedly, like when I'm in the middle of eating lunch, so that's why I call them "attacks." I've always had battles with these feelings, of course, but right now they are coming on stronger and more frequently than they normally do.

Fact #7: One of the things I want to do now that I'm graduated is learn to love reading again. I regret to say that I've lost interest in books. Prior to returning to school, I read three book a week. Now that I have the freedom to read for leisure again, I just can't do it. 

Fact #8: I found out the other day that my degree made it through the final approval process and was posted to my transcript. It's officially official!

Fact #9: I celebrated my graduation by stopping my anti-depressants again. In hindsight, I probably should have waited until my kids went back to school.

Fact #10: I only had about eight insecurity attacks while writing this post across the span of two days.