Friday, August 31, 2018

Labor Day Goals

We are nearing the end of the second week of school.


There. I said it.

I need my kids to be away from me. I provide a much better home for them that way. The problem is, they make up for their time away by tripling the amount of melt downs and fights when they get back.

Do they know there's not a daily quota?

Do they???

I tend to spring into action when my kids go back to school which means August is traditionally a month to tackle projects before the excitement of having my kids return to school wears off. Last August was when I started re-doing my kitchen. I never finished, of course. I didn't finish painting. I still have two blue corners that I can't reach without a ladder, and... let's just say that no one can see behind the fridge, so I don't hold myself accountable for what goes on back there (still blue). I have two cabinet doors I've never put back on (we lost a hinge in the grass last year, and we just found it last month). We never put the baseboards on. We never put in a banister. We never put the flooring inside the pantry.

And now that it's been a year, there has been some wear and tear. We have water damage on the new floor. There are scuffs on the cabinets. The walls have all sorts of dents and dings.

We will never be ahead in the game.


This week, I've gotten some stuff done. Scotty and I set some Labor Day goals. By the end of Monday, we are hoping to have all the trim put up in the living room and kitchen, have all of the blue covered, and have quarter rounds installed around the cabinets (we got 8' quarter rounds for $1 a piece on clearance at Lowe's the other day, so really, it was kind of worth putting it off for a year). We also want to finish Zoe and Eva's room, which includes painting baseboards, walls, and doors and painting and installing bunk beds.

This week, I've worked my tail off to move toward these goals. I put the second coat of paint on the kitchen walls. I filled all the holes in Zoe and Eva's room, retextured the walls, and painted them with two coats. Scotty and I bought all the baseboards for the living room and kitchen, and I've been painting them. And I painted the bunk bed (my girls all "helped" with the bunk bed, so it looks like utter crap, but whatever).

I also patched and textured some holes in Daisy's room and patched a big hole in the kitchen. I also washed my back door (Scotty asked if I painted it - that shows how dirty it was), and not to brag or anything, but I wiped all the dust off the light fixture over my table.

 I'll see how much more I can get done before I crash and burn (because I will).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Plague

I was late to the smart phone thing. I knew that once I got one, it would be my life, so I put it off as long as I could. I managed to not be a regular cell phone user until 2010. That's when I finally got text messaging (people thought I was so weird for not having text messaging. I was weird. I just didn't know it until I could text. Then a whole new world opened up to me). I got my first iPhone in 2016. Sure enough, it's my life now.

(I did the same thing with WiFi. We didn't have WiFi until my second semester of school in 2015. I didn't know it was weird to not have WiFi until a friend asked me for my WiFi password one day, and I laughed and said, "We don't have WiFi." Then I had to pick her jaw up off the floor).

Now smart phones and WiFi rule my life - as I knew they eventually would. The other day I was thinking about the biblical plagues and how they would affect us now. God could sent locusts and hail, and we would just stay inside and eat food from cans and be just fine. He could turn a river to blood, and we'd sit around watching hours of YouTube footage of it. He could send frogs, and we'd make make frog memes.

A true plague for our day would be taking out the WiFi.

Anyway, now that I'm almost "with the times" (fashionably, I'm stuck in 2005) I have an iPhone, and I have WiFi, but I've tried to be selective about apps. My first phone had such small storage that I could only have 3-5 apps at a time, so I had to be pretty choosy. Now I have a much bigger phone, so I can have all sorts of apps that I never even use. I've tried to steer clear of games because I hoped that doing so would keep my kids from being obsessed with my phone.

It didn't. They're obsessed with it no matter what.

I caved a while back and put a couple of PBS Kids apps on my phone and a color by number game. Since school started, I've been letting my girls play the games while I do their hair - it's the only way it gets done. But it has also created monsters out of them. They ask for my phone from the moment they wake up each morning, and I think, "How did this happen?" I want there to be some balance. I don't mind a little technology use in the home - in fact, I think it's important so they can learn some of the positive and productive uses for it - but for some reason, allowing them ten minutes on my phone each day has made them into crazy people.

At 6:30 this morning, I clicked on a link to a video, and every single one of my kids heard it and got out of bed and came running to my phone. Then it began...

"Can I play on your phone?"

"Can I play on your phone?"

"Can I play on your phone?"

Frankly, this reaction terrifies me. But that's not what I want to blog about today. What I'm here to confess is that a couple of weeks ago, I did something wild and crazy and put Candy Crush on my phone. Not for my kids, of course. For me! I played it a long time ago on someone else's phone when it first came out (that's what kept me busy during Ragnar in 2013), but I've never had it on my own phone.

I have to admit, I have no idea what's going on in Candy Crush. I get the candy swapping thing - that's simple enough. What I don't get is why I am feeding dragons, pulling bunnies out of mud, and wearing helmets. There is so much going on in that game, and I don't know what any of it means. I'm earning crowns and gold bars. Sometimes I get stars. Occasionally I spin a wheel, and sometimes I get to open a treasure box or a gift. I only recently realized that the skinny red things are not hot dogs. I mean, I get that it's CANDY Crush, but they've always been hot dogs to me.

I've been hiding from my kids so I can play Candy Crush. Don't judge me.

This, of course, is one more reason I've avoided games on my phone. I don't want to get sucked in.

But the candies!! I need to swap them!!

So I guess I need to keep an assortment of candies in my food storage so I can make it through the plague.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Why We're Out Ten Bucks

Like many children his age, Nicky is obsessed with bottle flipping. He's always on the quest to land some elaborate flip, and when he succeeds, he's very loud and celebratory about it (I don't think he realizes he's not being video taped). It's annoying, but I'd rather him flip bottles than play video games, so I try to not crush his bottle flipping spirit (although there have been times where I've had to say IF THAT BOTTLE FLIPS ONE MORE TIME, IMMA FLIP, SO YOU NEED TO DECIDE RIGHT NOW IF YOUR FLIP IS WORTH RISKING MY FLIP).

Occasionally, Nicky will ask, "If I [insert description of bottle flip here] and land it, will you pay me a hundred bucks?" Based on the improbability of succeeding, we mumble, "Sure, whatever."

We're not going to do that anymore because last night we were almost out a hundred bucks. Luckily, right before Nicky flipped the bottle, Scotty agreed to ten bucks instead of a hundred.

Nicky wanted to flip the bottle here:

Bottle Flip

And his hope was that, after flipping the bottle in the air, it would pass through the three loops and land upright on the ground.

Bottle Flip

And it did.

So we will never again mess with this boy. We can't afford to.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Two Down, One to Go

School started Monday for Nicky and Daisy. After I dropped them off, I felt a little disoriented. I came home and everything was still chaotic. I remembered that having them gone doesn't make things easier - it just makes things different. 

Zoe and Eva carried on the tradition of fighting and destroying the house - thus I continue calling them the Tornado Twins. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge the joy they bring as they prance around in matching tutus, hoodies (or "wings"), and rain boots while "flying" off the end of my bed repeatedly. 

They make me happy, truly. But they also make me tired.

There's a heavy amount of costuming and high energy involved in parenting these lovelies, and not as much order and sleep as I'd like.

On Tuesday, when I still felt disoriented and unsettled, I realized it might be because I have to do three first days of school this year - Nicky and Daisy on Monday, Zoe on Thursday, and Eva the following week. I also haven't had a day to stay home yet. I don't think I'll feel stable until after Labor Day.

Today was our second first day of school - Zoe started kindergarten. When I asked her to pose for a picture, this is what I got:

And several more like it.

After I dropped her off at school, I had my first moment of "Wow! The kids are in school!" I drove home, and Eva had no one to fight with!

For tree whole hours!!!

But then I picked Zoe up from school, and the chaos rushed right back in. The kids always make up for being apart by fighting as much as they would have if they'd spent the day together.

Two of our three first days are now complete, and this mama looks forward to tackling a few "to do " list items soon. First up, a big trip to the donation center to get rid of a bunch of my kids' crap [insert evil mom laugh here] followed by painting Zoe and Eva's room, going shoe shopping for myself, and deep cleaning my bedroom.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Thrift Store Finds

One of the things my kids wanted to do before they went back to school was go on a shopping spree. I had some money left in our "Summer Fun" budget, so I arranged for each of them to have $5 to spend at Deseret Industries (this is the thrift store run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - which serves communities around the world).

I tried my hardest to let my kids get what they wanted, but I had to sneak quite a few of Holland's selections back on the shelf (how many broken and dirty toys do we need?)

It was pretty fun to see what my kids decided to buy. Here are their purchases:


My trick-shot obsessed, Fallon loving, chicken farming, 11-year-old boy bought a basketball game, a Jimmy Fallon book, and a singing Santa chicken (it works... unfortunately).

Earlier this summer, Nicky and I were talking about educational options for TV, and he said, "Jimmy Fallon is educational TV. If I didn't watch Jimmy Fallon, I wouldn't know that Beyonce is married to Jay-Z, and I wouldn't have been able to guess Jay-Z in CatchPhrase."

I was too speechless to argue.


Daisy picked two fluorescent colored Easter bunnies, and a pair of footed penguin jammies. We later discovered that the pajamas have a hole in the crotch. It's nothing I can't fix, but I am reminded of an important thrift shopping rule: always check the crotch!

(How did I forget?)


Zoe is obsessed with penguins, and she's been asking me to buy her some footie pajamas, so she was thrilled to find penguin footie pajama's (she and Daisy each found a pair of penguin jammies in their size). She also bought a stuffed owl, a knock-off My Little Pony, and a plush rose that probably fell of a giant Valentine's Day gorilla at some point (I took deep breaths and let her get what she wanted). 

Zoe also got a pair of Heelys. This put her over, $5, but I have an agreement with my kids that if we ever find Heelys in good condition in their sizes at DI, we will get them. We have found many pairs of Heelys, but this is the first time we've found a correct size. Zozo fell on her butt three times within the first few minutes of putting them on. 


Eva, who has no sense of money whatsoever, picked several things very quickly and with each item stated, "I always wanted one of these!" Now she has the Hello Kitty coin purse she's always wanted, the star glassed she's always wanted, the toy hammer she's always wanted, and the half-inflated balls she's always wanted. She also has a broken toy cell phone, a skirt for dance class, and a stuffed shark. 

Nicky loves chickens, Daisy loves unicorns, Zoe loves penguins, and Eva loves sharks. One day told Zoe told me that she has a penguin in her heart. Eva immediately said, "And I have a shark in my heart." She sleeps with a stuffed shark from the dollar store that she calls, "Sharky." Now Sharky has a friend, and I'm sure I'll have to take them both to church for the next five years. 

(Zoe also says she has kitties in her brain. I'm not sure what the symptoms are, but frankly, I'm not surprised). 

I didn't buy anything for myself at DI, but I have regrets. You see, I found a special treasure - a copy of Donny Osmond's book. My first thought was, "I'm totally buying this and mailing to to Shannon!" I picked the book up and thumbed through it, and you guys!!! 

It was autographed! Sheila. 

Whose devotion to Donny is now in question. 

Something about it being written to Sheila made me decide to not get it. Then ten minutes after I left the store, I was kicking and scolding myself, "BRITTANY! You just passed on an autographed Donny Osmond book! What the heck is wrong with you?" If nothing else, it would have been an awesome white elephant!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Keep Calm & Eat Chinese Food

I recently wrote about how our local Cafe Rio moved, and I had to say goodbye to an interior space that meant a lot to me because of all the memories I made there. It wouldn't be fair to write about Cafe Rio and not write about another place that's just as dear to me.

(Of course it's a food place).

(Because food is everything).

One of my best friends, Lynsie, and I met in 7th grade. We had several classes together, but we met officially in Algebra. She sat behind me, and she kept a copy of The Outsiders on the corner of her desk because she thought the boys were hot.

The most important thing I learned from Lynsie was how to have a crush on a boy. The steps go something like this:

Step 1: Pick a boy

Step 2: Give the boy a code name

Step 3: Go ahead and share the boy because he's never going to pay any attention to either of you anyway, so you might as well both obsessively crush on him

Step 4: Find out where the boy lives and convince Lynsie's mom to drive you past his house with fierce regularity

The second most important thing Lynsie brought into my life was our Chinese food restaurant. Proper credit goes to Lynsie's mom, who not only willingly drove us past Tall One and Dog Boy's houses (see steps 2 & 4) but also found the Chinese restaurant and clued us in.

Lynsie and I started eating at the restaurant in high school. We loved the independence of being able to drive ourselves to a food place and buy our own meals. It helped that this restaurant had gigantic combination meals for $5.25.* We could get soup, sweet and sour chicken, ham friend rice, and an egg roll and still have enough money to stop at the Tasty Marble** on the way home. The food came out so piping hot, we'd burn our mouths if we dug in too soon.

The restaurant became our place and is still our place. We just ate there last month, though it's now a year or two between visits instead of a week or two (the food is still piping hot, 18 years later) (18 years!!! Oh my gosh!!!)

As teenagers, Lynsie and I ate at the restaurant with boys, we went there with friends, and we dined there with our families. I was shocked one day to find my uncle there. I felt like he'd imposed on our hidden treasure. He claimed it was his place, and I just couldn't accept it! That's a hard thing about the restaurant, every regular customer thinks it's theirs.

When Scotty came home from his mission, one of the first things I wanted to do was take him to get Chinese food. We ate there while we dated and when we were engaged. We ate there while I was pregnant with Nicky, and then we ate there with our baby. We ate there with our next baby, too... and now with four kids we still eat there.

The only problem with our restaurant is that the owner has never liked us. Lynsie believes this is because her dad didn't leave a tip during one of her family's first visits, sabotaging us early on.

The owner is a bit of a stern fellow. I don't blame him - he basically lives there running his business. One time we walked in and the restaurant was empty, and he was asleep in the back booth. When the door jingled, he stood up - disoriented and hair mussed - and when he saw us, his face read utter disappointment. Which is kind of his permanent face anyway, but here'es the thing: for 18 years we have watched this man be chummy with all his other customers. He knows their names, he knows their regular orders, he chats with them. He doesn't smile - that's not his manner, but he treats the other customers different.

For Lynsie and me, he basically slams our food in front of us and avoids us as much as possible. He's consistent even when Lynsie and I aren't there together. Ironically, this is part of the joy of eating there. We find his distaste for us endlessly amusing.

But we leave a generous tip, in hope of changing his mind. After all, he's practically watched us grow up.

*The prices are still reasonable, but they're around $6.75 now.
**The Tasty Marble was an ice cream place like Cold Stone, but it was BETTER. They had two exquisite chocolate flavors that I've never found anywhere else. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Last Days

Since this is the last week of summer break, I asked my kids to each tell me three things they would like to do before they go back to school. I told them we wouldn't do all of the things they wanted, but we would do some of them.

It's been a hard partying kind of week, and the fun isn't done yet, as we still have some weekend plans.

On Monday we hit the library, where Nicky bought his prank book (I did finally find his prank, and it wasn't anything messy, thank heavens. He had put a funny label on a soup can in our storage room). We went for a Slurpee run and then came home and did chores (we had to get some responsibility in there somewhere). That night we had our back to school Family Home Evening.

On Tuesday my mom took Nicky and Daisy to Pirate O's and out to lunch. I took Zoe and Eva to Sam's Club and then to McDonald's for happy meals ($3 happy meals have been a real problem for me. For the love, McDonald's!!! Raise the price! I can't live with the temptation!) That night we also hit Taco Tuesday at Del taco, and then we spent the evening riding bikes (which is pretty much how we spend every evening).

(Let's just go a head and make a deal that you are not allowed to add up how many times we've been out to eat this week, mmmkay?) (I didn't even mention that we met friends for lunch at Chick-Fil-A on Monday).

On Wednesday we went to the lake.

I'm pleased to report that I can hoist our new kayak on top of our van and strap it down all by myself. I just have to take a step ladder with me. But hooray for independence!

We hung out at the lake for most of the day and had BLTs for lunch. Nicky is a scavenger like his father, so he found all sorts of treasures. He found two pairs of goggles, a pair of sunglasses, a wrestling action figure, a golf ball, a bouncy ball. and a toy Kristoff. All in the bottom of the lake!

On the way home, we stopped for cookies. Oh my yum!

On Thursday we went grocery shopping, where everyone took turns trying on giant plush heads (my kids all said they smelled funny, and I pointed out how many random people have probably stuck their heads inside).

We came home and got all our food put away, and then went to Pizza Pie Cafe for lunch (you're not counting, remember?) After that we went swimming at my mom's house for the rest of the afternoon.

This morning we woke up early and went to the grocery store for donuts. Then we went to the park for a donut picnic before it got too hot.

(My kids have always wanted to try the big ones. Today I let them).

When it got hot outside (i.e. 9:45 a.m.) we left the park and went on a shopping spree at the thrift store. Deseret Industries is celebrating their 80 year anniversary so everything was 20% off.

We came home, and now my kids are eating eye holes out of tortillas and watching TV through them. As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to make them do their chores, and when they are done, they get to sort through my change purse and find Nickels to take to Nickelmania tonight.

I think by the time Monday rolls around, we'll have gotten our fix of summer fun. I'm glad we were able to do so many fun things this year because last year my kids spent the whole summer cooped up in the house while I finished school. We made up for it! But we're going to need a major sugar and fast food detox now.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Back to School Lesson 2018

School is fast approaching, and I am equal parts excitement and dread. There are things I love about having my kids in school. I love that they get to see their friends everyday. I love the structure and the extracurricular activities. I love that I have a team of teachers helping me educate my children, and I appreciate more than anything when a teacher loves my kids and looks out for them.

But there are things I don't love about having my kids in school. I don't love the bad influences that come into their lives. I don't love sending them out into the world where they might be scared or hurt. I don't love getting them ready every morning, and I don't love feeling like I live in my van (this year I will make three trips to the school each day, and on days my kids have extracurricular activities, I will make four trips).

Each year before school starts, we have a back to school Family Home Evening. We did our back to school lesson this week, and I thought I'd share what we did so A) I can use it again later and B) you can steal ideas if they suit your family's needs.

Right now, Nicky struggles with negativity and Daisy struggles with anxiety, so my focus for this activity was to help them with those things as they head back to school.

I included an LDS scripture and a hymn, but the lesson plan is not religious.



Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, 
for I the Lord am with you.
D&C 68:6

Suggested song:
You can Make the Pathway Bright (228)


I started by writing the word POSITIVE on a small white board. I told my kids I was going to show them a word, and on the count of three, I wanted them to say the word.

I asked them what it means to be POSITIVE. Collectively, we agreed that being positive means you can find good in what's going on around you.

Then I asked them, "What would your body look like if you felt POSITIVE?"

I had them stand up and show me. They hadn't ever thought about their body language, so I gave them some prompts like, "What would your shoulders look like? Where would your eyes be? What would your mouth be doing? How would you walk?"

Then I asked them to show me what their bodies would look like if they were feeling NEGATIVE. I tried to help them see what their bodies do based on how they feel.

I then erased POSITIVE and wrote CONFIDENT. I showed them the board and had them say the word.

I asked them what CONFIDENT means. We decided that confident means you feel good about yourself, and you believe in yourself.

I asked then to demonstrate CONFIDENT with their bodies. Then I asked them to show me what their bodies are like when they feel bad about themselves.

I explained that how we carry our bodies can affect the way we think and feel. We practiced different postures and talked about how our day might go if we walked around in these different positions.

Then for two minutes we practiced standing firm with our chins up, our faces smiling, and our shoulders back. My kids thought this was silly, but by the end of the activity, they were smiling and feeling good. I told them that if they form a smile on their faces, even if it isn't sincere, it can make them feel happy (Lyubomirsky. 2008). I asked them what they thought would happen in they started each day by standing in front of the mirror in that position for two minutes. With much resistance, they agreed that it might help them have more CONFIDENCE and be more POSITIVE.

I then taught them about power posing. We stood in our power poses (I taught them the Wonder Woman stance, which is my power pose of choice). Then we talked about situations where we can bust out a power pose to increase our CONFIDENCE.

Some of our ideas were:
  • Power posing before doing an oral report or presentation in class
  • Power posing before walking into a new or unfamiliar place
  • Power posing before talking to someone new
  • Power posing any time we feel nervous or hesitant

(If you're not familiar with power posing, watch this TED Talk. If you need to shortcut it, I recommend starting at 12:45 and then 19:45 to get the gist of it, however, it's worth watching the whole thing. You might also check out this article defending Amy Cuddy's research. I am a believer in power posing. It has helped me in several situations where I lacked confidence, and when I was feeling very nervous).

The point of this section of the lesson was to give my kids some body language tools they can use to improve their thoughts and feelings. I explained to them that when we are feeling down, nervous, scared, or negative, we can make adjustments to the way we carry our bodies, and it can help us feel different.

Section 2: HERO BOARDS

The next activity we did is an idea I adapted from Kirk Duncan. We created hero boards (Kirk calls them "hero walls," but I like "boards" better). Here is a short video where he explains them briefly, however, I heard him speak about them in more detail at a workshop I went to with Shannon, so I had my kids do something a little more elaborate than you see here:

For the hero boards, I first had them brainstorm a list of PEOPLE THEY LOOK UP TO. They could be people they know (like Grandpa), fictional characters (like Harry Potter), or people they have never met, dead or alive (George Washington or Steph Curry). I asked them to think of 4-8 (that way there was flexibility and they weren't overly stressed about it). Kirk recommends giving your kids total freedom in creating this list. Don't try to sway them to put a certain name (religious figures are great to use but shouldn't be forced). Ask the kids about each name and what qualities they like in that person. This helps you learn about who your kids are watching and who they look up to.

(Just a note: in the video above, Kirk says that children with low self-esteem sometimes struggle to identify heroes. I found this to be true with one of my kids. We will be trying to identify heroes over the next few weeks to complete this child's hero board).

After this I had them brainstorm a list of words of 4-8 power adjectives that they WANT TO DESCRIBE THEM.

Then we took those words and those names and drew a hero board like this:

(Forgive the poor image. Creating the visual was an afterthought, and I needed to get it done quickly, and it didn't turn out all that great).

Here's a description of what's going on in the image:

The person in the middle is the person creating the hero board (the people should be labeled, but to keep it from being overwhelmingly wordy, I left those labels off). The person is surrounded by powerful words - things he can become or might already be. The people on the outside are the heroes. This creates a visual of the child being surrounded by powerful adjectives to describe him and people he can look up to.

On the left, I wrote a description of my child's good qualities (some he has and I see him developing). It's just a 3-4 sentences. Then on the right, Scotty did the same. So each kid has a message from mom and a message from dad.

I told my kids to hang these up in their rooms, and throughout the school year, they can look at them and see how great they are and how many amazing people they have to look up to. I also told them they can change their hero boards any time they want.

The purpose of this activity was to give my kids a positive vocabulary to associate themselves with and create a visual of people they can look up to.

For follow up, I hope to encourage my kids to be POSITIVE and CONFIDENT this school year by paying attention to their bodies and using powerful words to describe themselves.

On the first day of school, I like to show my kids a video before they leave home. Last year they watched this one:

This year I'm going to show them Jessica's Daily Affirmation:

And they will hate this, but I'm going to make them do their own affirmations using their hero board before they go to school, and if they won't do it, I'll do it for them. I'll stand in front of them and use my best Jessica actions while saying, "You love to learn! You love to help others! You are awesome, funny, and brave! And most of all... you love your mom!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pranks on the Loose

When we go to the library, Nicky likes to look at the books that are for sale. This week he found a book of pranks for 50 cents. 

This is my life now.

The label on the milk really got me for about ten seconds. Our grocery store changed milk jugs recently, and I'm still trying to get used to the news ones (some things shouldn't change - my hands are so confused when I pour milk). When I saw the label on the milk, I thought nothing of it. So they changed their formula and their milk jugs. Then I processed for a moment and thought, "Why would they add a label admitting that there had once been spider eggs in their milk?" Then I caught myself, turned to Nicky, and asked, "Did that come from your prank book?"

Now I have to constantly be on guard. Nicky has informed me that there's another prank somewhere in the house. I don't know when I'm going to find it. I don't know if I'm going to get a pie in the face or find fake vomit or what. Daisy has already ended up with water dumped on her head (Daisy is NOT the girl you want to dump water on).

I'm bracing myself .

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Color Running 2018

Over the weekend, we did our neighborhood Color Run. My friend Jennifer puts this event together every year. We didn't make it the first couple of years because of other activities, but we've gone for the last four. I usually have some of my nieces and nephews sleep over and join us, but Nicky had some merit badge classes and couldn't come, so we just kept it to our three girls.

Color Run 2018
{Nice and clean at the start}

My mom and my mother-in-law usually volunteer as color throwers. My father-in-law just retired so this was the first time he's been able to come. He seemed to think he could get away clean. The grandkids proved him wrong.

Color Run 2018
{Watch your back, Grandpa!}

Color Run 2018
{Grandma and Grandpa}

Color Run 2018 
{Grandpa, Grandma, and the girls}

This was also the first year my step-dad came. He wasn't too enthusiastic about getting covered in color, but he really liked attacking other people. Scotty has never been a fan of the color. He's okay with having mud in his ears, but not color.

Color Run 2018 
{My step-dad throwing red on Scotty}

The after effects are intense. Eva's hair holds on to the pink and purple for a few months, and as you know, my face is stained. I thought it was gone, but I went in the bathroom at church on Sunday, and I could see purple around my nose still. Its always funny to see all the kids at church with lingering color in their hair. The towheads are the best.

Color Run 2018

Color Run 2018

Color Run 2018

Color Run 2018
{Why I have a purple mustache}

We've had some really bad air here from the fires, so you can see how the air is hazy in the photos. Icky! I like to think the color dust in my nose filtered out all the smoky contaminants. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Much Ado About Cafe Rio

The first time I heard of Cafe Rio was when I was in junior college. I was taking a nutrition class, and during the discussion, another student raised his hand and told the teacher that he had eaten a salad at Cafe Rio the night before, and he wanted to know if it was considered "nutritious."

(I don't remember how the teacher answered, but she tended to be of the mentality that if you're putting a vegetable in your body, you're doing something good for it, even if it's wrapped in a 400 calorie tortilla. I'm cool with that since I ate half a carrot cake yesterday).

That was in 2003. Three years later, I ate Cafe Rio for the first time. I was working at a school, and we were having a big staff inservice, and Cafe Rio did the catering. One of my coworkers ran from table to table plopping salads in front of people. They were either chicken or pork, randomly distributed, and then traded, if necessary. I don't even remember which meat I ate. What I do remember is that I had heard about these salads for years, and I was finally going to eat one, and I had high expectations. I put the dressing on and started eating, and frankly, I wasn't impressed. I ate anyway... because free food, but I couldn't understand why everyone raved about these salads. I couldn't even find the meat in mine. Then after I ate through the lettuce, I found the pile of rice, beans, and meat in the bottom. I had no idea it was down there. I felt like I'd been tricked!

My co-worker (turned BFF) Christie ended up taking me under her wing and saying, "Come, child. I will teach you the ways of Cafe Rio." And thus, I became a regular at Cafe Rio.

{Christie & me with our over-sized cups of salad dressing}

Now, there's something you need to know about Christie. Christie is very loyal to her food establishments and her menu items. To know Christie is to know her food choices. For example, at Red Robin she orders the gourmet cheeseburger - no tomato, no pickles, no relish, no mayo. Every time. At Olive Garden she used to get the chicken Caesar salad, which they've since removed from the menu, much to her dismay (they don't know what they've done!) At Leatherby's, it's chicken fingers and fries and toasted almond ice cream.

Christie is Cafe Rio's number one fan. There is no competition. She has eaten there at least once a week for a decade.

In 2006, there wasn't a Cafe Rio in our city, but there was one in the next city over, so that's where we went for my first couple of years as a Cafe Rio customer. Then one day I got a very enthusiastic phone call from Christie. They were building a Cafe Rio down the street, and I thought she was going to pass out from overexcitement. Christie and I met for lunch at that Cafe Rio more times than anyone needs to know during the following ten years.

This summer, it relocated. I ate there on the last day they were open (I didn't know it was the last day, though. I got a notification on my phone the next day that the new location was open). Last week I went to the new location for the first time. I didn't know it mattered so much, but I walked in and my heart sank. The food was the same, but the experience was different. I didn't realize how special the old location had been, but as I sat down to eat in the new building, I understood that my Cafe Rio is gone (as is the one in the next city over, which relocated a few years ago).

I can't even tell you how many lunches and conversations I shared over those multicolored tables - not just with Christie, but with so many friends and family. I ate there with everyone! All of my kids have sat in and grown out of the Cafe Rio high chairs. We've spilled a thousand black beans and dropped a hundred drinks. I've rushed potty training three-year-olds to the restroom and stood outside the locked doors frantically waiting our turn. My kids have stuffed my purse pockets with a thousand mints. We know the green trays, the way the blinds need to be positioned at each point in the day, where to sit in the winter so the cold doesn't blow on us when people open the doors, and what time to arrive to beat the rush and get to preschool pick-up on time.

When I picture that Cafe Rio, it's like picturing a type of home. In a way, I grew up there.

(This is me getting freakishly sentimental over something I had no idea I would get freakishly sentimental over).

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Things Going On...

...with my face

It's stained purple.

Every year we participate in a Color Run that my friend Jennifer organizes in our neighborhood.* Yesterday, after the run, I gave everyone (including myself) a thorough scrubbing. It's impossible to get all the color out in the first wash cycle - this is to be expected, but I've never had the color stain my face.

I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror and saw that I had a purple mustache. I washed my face again in the sink... still purple. So I got a wash cloth and scrubbed. A little came off, but... still purple. Then I took an alcohol swab and scoured my face. It got lighter but... still purple. I figured it probably looked worse to me than it would to other people, so I stopped fussing. I got dressed and walked outside to talk to Scotty, and the first thing he said was, "Nice purple face!"

The worst of my purple staining is at the corners of my nose, which also happens to be where I am inconveniently growing gigantic, painful zits on both sides. I've been battling the zit pain for the past week, thinking, "Just surface already, and get out of my life!!"

My poor nose.

In other facial news, besides being purple and zitty, my skin looks pretty decent. I bought some facial products on Prime Day - I've never been one to moisturize or any of that stuff, but I started thinking, hey, I'm 34. I should probably start taking care of my face so I can pretend I'm only 32. I don't know if the products are helping my face or if I'm just having a good facial week, but I think I can totally pull off 32. Maybe even 31!

...with my three-year-old

I'm realizing how much Eva is suffering from Youngest Child Syndrome. I think most of us go into parenthood truly believing that we won't treat our kids different based on their birth order, but it's right before my eyes: Eva is the baby of the family.

I signed her up for preschool and dance class this year, and there's a pretty good chance neither of those things are going to happen because this child thinks she is a baby. She's not going to leave my side. She just wants to stay home and be held and drink milk.

She doesn't have to do preschool or dance, of course, but I wanted to put her in preschool so I could have a few hours during the week to help in my other kids' classrooms and take care of myself a little bit. And Eva loves to dance! In the spring I could hardly keep her off the dance floor during her sisters' lessons, but since they haven't been doing dance during the summer, Eva hasn't been watching their classes for a while. If she could have started in May while the other girls were still dancing, she might've joined right in.

...with my hair

Remember how it's rapidly turning gray? I honestly think my gray hair has tripled over the summer. This has been the hardest summer I've ever had mom-wise. Scientists can continue arguing over whether stress contributes to gray hair, but I'm a believer!

Anyway, I saw a photo of my hair close-up last week, and it was worse than I thought, so I dyed it. It was about 75% effective in covering the gray. Good enough for a $7 investment.

...with my feet

I've whined a lot on this here blog about how my feet hurt all the time. When summer began, my feet started feeling a lot better. In fact, it got to the point where I hardly had any pain in my feet at all. I would go several days at a time without my feet bothering me.

Then I made the mistake of telling someone that my feet weren't hurting anymore. Within two hours my feet hurt. What the heck, Subconscious? Why you gotta be like that?

I did talk to a doctor about my feet and she wasn't particularly helpful. She basically just told me everything I already know about plantar fasciitis. I pointed out to her that my symptoms don't match the description of plantar fasciitis, but she was insistent that that's what it is.

I need my three-year-old to go to preschool so I can have some time to go to a podiatrist.

*Photos to come

Friday, August 10, 2018

Currently {August 2018 Edition}

Reading: Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane and Lilli De Jong by Janet Benton.

Watching: Party of Five. Vintage Matthew Fox.

Wanting: A new muffin pan (I've got my sights set on this one)

Craving: Breakfast prepared and delivered to me on my couch. I ate breakfast while finishing this post. Eggs, toast, and orange juice, if you're wondering. Now I'm craving a post-breakfast nap.

Wearing: A University of Utah shirt, workout capris, and pink socks.

Singing: "Wrecking Ball," thanks to the Salt Lake Police Department. My kids have watched their lip sync video a hundred times, and they now sing and reenact "Wrecking Ball" everywhere we go. Little do the bystanders know, they are imitating their uncle Tim, and not Miley Cyrus.

Stressing about: All the unfinished projects we have around our house. The other day it dawned on me that we don't finish anything ever. We have a half-built shed, a half planted garden, and a half-painted play place in the backyard. When we re-did our kitchen, we never finished putting the doors on the cabinets. We have no baseboards. Our floor is unfinished. We have no banister over our stairs. We never put our second coat of paint on, and we still have two high corners that are blue because we never bothered to bring a ladder in the house. Our storage room has no door, and our kids' closets have no doors. We are 50% kind of people, and I'm stressed about it because I really want to finish our basement, but I can predict what's going to happen there.

Buying: Butter. We're out.

Trying: To be more positive. Did you know that I'm an incredibly negative person?

Missing: Scotty. He's not out of town or anything, but I don't see him very much during the week.

Proud of: My son for doing his hair lately. I don't know where this is coming from, but the kid hasn't been complaining about having hair (he usually begs to be bald), and he has been styling it every day unprompted. Maybe he's starting to care a little about what he looks like... but then again, he is still wearing Hawaiian shirts and gym shorts everyday, so I dunno.

Frustrated by: Nothing. Because I'm a positive person now. Wink, wink.

Looking forward to: Fall weather. I'm so tired of being sweaty all the time.

Neglecting: My hair. I need a trim and a color so bad. Can a girl be honest for a sec? I am getting so much gray hair. It's unbelievable.

Needing: A two-hour window with no kids so I can take all their crap to Deseret Industries. I've been stashing it all in the basement all summer until they go back to school, and I can get it out of my house. They haven't even noticed any of it's missing.

Loving: Toast. I have a toast addiction. I eat toast every day, and I like all sorts of toast. Toast with butter. Cinnamon toast. Avocado toast. Toast and Jam. Bread and Butter by the Newbeats is part of my life's soundtrack.

Thankful for: Health. Recently I spent some time in the hospital. I had two ultrasounds, a CT scan, and several rounds of blood work done. All of my internal organs from the chest down were thoroughly checked, and they are all in pristine condition (except I have a liver like an alcoholic even though I've never consumed alcohol). It was pretty cool to have everything looked at and to know that all is functioning as it should!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Exciting Things: An Anthology

Things I got excited about as a child:

  • Big boxes of crayons
  • Home Improvement episodes with a heavy Randy plot line
  • Hearing my favorite songs on the Imagination Station (AM 1060)
  • Getting letters in the mail from my penpal, Kayla
  • Disney movie soundtracks
  • New Littlest Pet Shop toys (the original ones, not the big headed creatures of modern-day)
  • School clothes
  • Book Fairs
  • The Utah Jazz
  • New CDs
  • Irrigation day (the ditch was my favorite place to play)
  • Walking to the store with a ten dollar bill
Things I got excited about as a teenager:
  • Getting passed a note
  • Chinese food
  • When my car would start on the first try
  • Scrapbooking supplies
  • Getting to choreograph and teach dances
  • Exchanging school photos with friends
  • Letters in the mail from my missionary boyfriend (I always come home from school during lunch to check the mail on Mondays)
  • Wide-leg jeans
  • Ham, egg, and cheese bagels from McDonald's
  • Having a Walmart in town so we no longer had to drive to Tooele
  • Rearranging the bulletin board in my room
  • Stealing silverware from restaurants (confession: I had a shoebox full of restaurant silverware under my bed)
  • The Stanley Cup (I loved hockey as a teenager)
  • Riding my bike home from my friend, Michelle's, house (it was all downhill)
  • Scotty driving past my house on his way home from work (my house wasn't even on the way)
Things I got excited about as a young adult:
  • Painting walls shocking colors
  • Harry Potter book releases
  • Free food at work
  • E-mails
  • Double dates
  • The craft store
  • Adam Sandler movies
  • Fun pajama pants
  • Make-up
  • Yard sales
  • Blog comments
  • Positive pregnancy tests
Things I get excited about now:
  • Fresh paint
  • Amazon packages
  • Being alone in the car
  • Library books on the hold shelf
  • Free birthday meals
  • Finding dresses at the DI
  • Free shipping
  • Vans
  • Children sleeping
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Good hair days
  • Grocery shopping without kids
  • Pay day
  • Hoodies
  • Clean sheets 
  • Blog comments
  • A clean house
  • FAFSA grants
  • Good parking spots

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bubba Got Married

My youngest brother, Brock, was born when I was nine. He went by "Bubba" for the first decade of his life, and he was always my side kick. He even tagged along on most of our dates when Scotty and I were young. The only thing that was hard about getting married was leaving Brock.

{This is the most iconic Baby Bubba photo}

Nicky is named partly after Brock (Scotty's grandpa's last name is Brock, so we killed two birds with one stone, naming him Nicklaus Brock). It was a good name selection because even now, 15 years after moving out of my parents' house, I sometimes still think it's Brock tagging along with me instead of Nicky, and I accidentally call him Brock.

Last weekend, Bubba got married. I'm not sure how he got old enough to be married. I mean, yeah, I had been married for 6 years and had like 12 kids by the time I was his age, but he still seems like a kid to me and will eternally be ten years old.

The wedding was really nice. I was a bridesmaid, my girls were all flower girls, and Nicky was the ring bearer. My nephew Dexter was also in the wedding party - he and Zoe walked down the aisle together. I was escorted by my other brother, Colt.

{Zoe, Dexter, Eva - I was actually trying to catch a photo of Dexter picking his wedgie, but I didn't get my phone out soon enough. This works, too}

{Alyssa, Daisy, Zoe, and Brock}

 {Nicky, Dexter, and Brock}

 {Dexter and Eva - shortly after this picture was taken, Dexter ran past me and his boutonniere pin went straight into my right butt cheek. I screamed and threw my arms back, elbowing him in the face}



{Dexter and Zoe}

The bride and groom were very happy, and it was cute to see them both get teary eyed when they saw each other at the ceremony. I wish them a lifetime of happiness, and for the times that aren't happy, I wish them courage to get through it together.

{Damien, Brock, Colt, Ryan}

{She put a ring on it}

They don't want to have kids, but I'm secretly wishing for them have a little "accident," so I can call him Bubba.

{The bride and groom}

19 Days Until School Starts (and ten other facts about my kids)

Fact #1: Eva chews on her hair. She started doing it as soon as her hair was long enough to reach her mouth. I ended up chopping off her hair last summer so she couldn't chew it anymore. Now it's long again, so she chews it all the time. I'm on the border of "Meh, she'll grow out of it," and "OHMYGOSH my child has Trichophagia!!!"

Fact #2: Nicky eats random things. He will find food at the park - leftover from who knows what - and he will eat it. If it's in the garbage, he will eat it. If it's in a parking lot, he will eat it. I am constantly yelling at him to not eat stuff he finds lying around. I've tried reasoning with him, but it doesn't have any effect. It's to the point where I just have to swat his hand, and yell, "NO!"

And it doesn't have to be food, either! He eats bugs. At a family party, he caught a moth and ate it. He'll pick up potato bugs and pop them in his mouth. He has also eaten Legos, perler beads, and grocery ads (if he's hungry after school, and I stop to get the mail, he will eat the pictures of the food he likes).

Fact #3: Zoe likes to play with fitted sheets and pillowcases. She's always dragging them around the house, and I'm always nagging her to leave them alone. She likes to stuff pillowcases in her backpacks (the kid has a backpack obsession) and put her head in the corner of the fitted sheet so it follows behind her like a train.

Fact #4: Daisy has always struggled with logic. She will argue about anything, no matter how wrong she is. She could be standing in front of a mirror with no pants on, and she would argue that she is wearing pants. And then, when she starts to feel defeated, she'll yell out, "You just don't get it!" or "You don't know anything!"

Fact #5: Zoe loves to ride her bike. She's so fun to watch because she exhibits unadulterated joy when she's on her bike. It's exactly what childhood should be, and it makes me mourn that I'm not raising my children in a world where they can come home from school and spend four hours riding bikes around the neighborhood unsupervised.

Fact #6: Nicky is so much like his dad. He has picked up a lot of Scotty's best traits (and some of his more annoying ones). I hope he stays that way. He has some of my traits too - good ones and bad ones, but a lot of the good things I see in Nicky, he learned from his dad.

Fact #7: Daisy has the most fantastic hair - it's thick and has beautiful natural highlights, but she has never let me touch it without a fight. She hates any type of bun, and she's starting to be anti-braid as well. When I brush it, she yells that she hates me and wants me to die. Most days she puts her hair in a pony tail, and she looks like one of the Hanson boys.

Fact #8: Eva always says to me, "You're so beautiful, Mommy!" in her little, sweet voice. I know she's going to change her mind someday, but for now, I'll soak it in every time!

Fact #9: Nicky makes a lot of annoying sounds, and this is something I've noticed is very common among boys his age. I'm glad it's not just my kid, but at the same time... what the heck?!? Why do they do this? They squeal like pigs, screech like pterodactyls, make popping sounds, and go "UHHHHH!" And they are so stinkin' loud!

Fact #10: Daisy can sing. If she had the opportunity to participate in some kind of choir or music lessons, I think she could learn to use her voice really well. Unfortunately, I don't know how to nurture musical talent... or athletic talent... or any kind of talent, really. Except maybe board game skills. And Daisy won't work hard for anything (a trait she probably got from me).


Since it's probably hard to keep track of my kids, their birth order, and their ages, here's the quick guide:

Nicky - 11
Daisy - 8 
Zoe - 5
Eva - 3