Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the good and the bad

This year has been...different for us. If you're close to us, you know what I'm talking about. Things. Things that I've chosen to leave within the walls of our home and not splashed about in cyberspace. 

I've shared basically just the good here. Which is why my posting has been the most sparse it has ever been. And I've thought a lot about that - the onesidedness of this blog. It's not fair really. I post all these happy, smiling, country-trotting pictures, but behind the scenes, things haven't been super awesome every day. A whole lot of hard happened this year. Unmet expectations. Desperately wanted, but unfulfilled hopes. A seemingly permanent presence of patience has permeated the year. 

But when I really sit down and think about it, I feel like all the good was really good as well. And it's here. It's recounted. When I look back, I don't really want to remember the days that weren't awesome.

Instead, I want to remember a tiny Lou, up on tip toes, peering over the balcony to see a Hawaiian paradise below. I want to remember the look in my baby's eyes when she reached the top of her first lighthouse, the wind wrapping itself around her and whipping her hair in all its wild, curly glory. I want to remember the backyard - the stress and the sweat and the unrelenting obstacles, the playing and the napping. I want to remember that our once tiny baby started talking in adult sentences, ones that caused instant belly laughs. I want to remember both babies' victories - preschooltumbling, full-fledged reading, pony tails, full conversationsgiving up the binky and bottle, pretending at all new highs.

I want to remember the look on the girls' faces when the garage door roared to life every night, the mad scramble to "hide" from Daddy, his pretend searching for them, and the joy on all three faces when they found each other. I want to remember the almost constant traveling we did - here and there and everywhere (HawaiiWashington, D.C.North CarolinaCaliforniaBryce CanyonYellowstone - twice). With our two tiny loves in tow. I want to remember that this is the year I really gave my design business a go - and that I finished the year motivated to do, and be, more. I want to remember that this is the year I started editing again, and that when I did, it was like a sleepy part of my soul was awakened. I want to remember what it was like to feel the editing gears of my mind start churning again, like a dusty machine slowly roaring back to life. I want to remember the profile of Jess' face against the moving landscape, seen from the passenger seat of so many road trips, miles and miles of road sliding around the wheels of our ever faithful RAV. 

This blog serves many purposes for me, but overall, I want this blog to be a space that my girls and my family can look back on and see simply that we lived. And that we lived happy. I think it is assumed that there are bad days in every life. There are bad weeks. And those weeks can stretch very quickly into months. But laced throughout is the good. And if this blog serves as nothing else but a reminder of the good that we have - and we have so much - it will be enough.

I'm holding on to the idea of 2014 with all my heart. To the hope it offers - renewal, change, good things to come. I'm hoping that our patience will finally win out in so many aspects this year. I'm hoping that 2014 will be less of a struggle than this year has been. But if it's not, if the battle continues, so be it. Because we're stronger for it, and our joys and happiness are more poignant. 

Welcome 2014. Bring it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

mini christmas coloring book {free printable!}

Annabelle had her preschool Christmas party yesterday. We were invited to bring a little gift or treat to share with her classmates. So of course I was all PARRRTTYYYYY! And my brain exploded in Christmas cheer. Of course, I try my best to pass on OCD party planning behaviors to my children, so I let Annabelle choose what went in the bags. She chose some Christmas chocolate (including tiny chocolate Santas), some holiday cupcake erasers, and she helped me assemble some mini Christmas coloring books. (I added some fruit leather. To balance out the sugar? Yeah right.) Belle also colored and cut out the gift tags. Additionally, she was the task master of the operation and showed Lou the proper way to create a gift bag assembly line. Epic to say the least.

These little coloring books aren't too fancy, but they are pretty cute. :) Click here or on the paper below to download and print. Then just cut and staple one side together. I don't know what it is, but little people love little things. The things that fit in their miniature hands. At least mine do. They tote things like this around with them for days. So enjoy! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

belle and buddy

Does everyone remember that one time we took a three-year-old to a musical? Because sure, why not. Of course, that was THE SOUND OF MUSIC. The ultimate musical in the history of musicals, especially according to that three-year-old. 

Well, this year as we surveyed our Christmas holiday offerings, Jess noticed that Elf: The Musical would be coming to town. We looked up the age requirement: "Children under the age of five will not be permitted in the theater." And thought to ourselves, four is the new five? Right? After all, she was three at a six and over play. She can totally handle this.

The big day came, and she got all dolled up in her holiday-going outfit. She'd been pacing the floors all day, so excited. She willingly took a (huge) nap so she could be awake for the play's late start time. 

And when it came down to it, she was wonderful. The play was darling and Jess and I laughed ourselves silly. Annabelle also caught some of the humor and LOVED the singing and dancing. We'd also prepped her with a few viewings of Elf (the movie), so she was already excited for Buddy the Elf and informed us that the play Buddy was just as good as the movie Buddy (he really was). 

But perhaps my favorite thing was when, just before we left, Annabelle got teary. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me she wished Lou could come. She said she was going to miss her sister so much. Then she held her tiny heart pendant necklace and said, "But she'll know she's in my heart, right?" You'll note that in most of these photos, Annabelle is holding her tiny heart necklace. She's keeping her baby sister with her. And of all the magic that happened that night, that right there? The best.

Also. I cut bangs. I know. For a review of the comedy and bangs, go here. For the record, I really love 'em this go 'round.

Friday, December 6, 2013


+ On Monday evening, we trekked up to Ogden for their Christmas Village (which is where these photos hail from). As you can see, the girls loved it. It's basically a bunch of glorified tuff sheds with Christmas scenes inside. They're at kid level, and it really is some kind of magic for small people. On opening night, there's a light parade and Santa arrives. We're told that night is pretty awesome. We didn't take make it to the opening night and while the girls had a good time this year, we probably won't do it next year. For those of you Northern Salt Lakers, I'd say give it a go. A short drive would make it worth it. The long drive...eh. (There's also a tiny train for kids to ride, tons of twinkling lights everywhere, and (bad) hot chocolate and (store bought) cookies being sold for charity. Santa also has a tuff shed, wherein he visits with kids every evening for a few hours.)

+ So anyone looking for a really great way to spend money? Go to jane.com. You can thank me later. After you're broke from buying really great gifts and super cute infinity scarves. And great chunky necklaces. Maybe some perfect cardigans? Good luck ever escaping jane.com. Every morning, I wake up with nervous anticipation about all the things I won't buy. (I can never pull the trigger when it comes down to it. Although I did snag a few cute gifts. Think personalized puzzles for the girls.)

+ These pumpkin banana muffins (well, bread...but I always make them in muffin form). I use brown rice flour, so I can only imagine how delicious the real deal is. Oh. my. These muffins have changed my life. Basically the perfect muffin. 

+ I feel like if I were a recording artist, I'd never do a holiday album. Because good night nurse, everything has been done. Yesterday. But Kelly Clarkson pulled out a few gems in her new Christmas album. I'm a country gal at heart, so I'm partial to a little vowel abuse in my music choices from time to time. I really love her Silent Night trio, sung with Reba McEntire (her now step-mother in law!) and Trisha Yearwood. Three beautiful, slightly twangy voices that blend uncannily.

+ So ya'll heard about our snow storm? I just want to mention that we were among the residents in that ONE NEIGHBORHOOD THE NEWS REPORTED ON, WHERE THE PLOWS FORGOT US. It was super fun. To be stranded. On the one night of the year I care about. (Opening night for the Festival of Trees.) Tears were shed. No lie. I'm usually pretty Lorelai Gilmore about snow. It sparkles, it melts, we cope. But not on that night. That night I hated snow with a deep and abiding passion. I'm still not totally over it.

+ I haven't run for months. I don't miss it one speck. How's that for blatant blaspheme?! She who ran - on average - thirty miles a week for a decade just woke up one day and said, uh uh. No more. I just really don't like it anymore. Instead I huck giant, heavy cast iron kettlebells around every morning. You want some stress relief? Have a little rage to work out? Try tossing a kettlebell around for 40 minutes. You'll sweat your brains out and get some serious therapy in.

+ Speaking of working out, try any of Fitness Blender's workouts. They're free, they're awesome, and they're basically all I use now. I use the advanced kettlebell and almost all the core work outs, but they have everything from pilates to barre to spinning to HIIT. They have no musical track, which I love as well. If I want music, I just put something on of my choosing. I usually just go silent though. Either way, I'm not stuck with that awkward bouncy typical workout jangle garbage.

Hershey's Peppermint Bark Bells. I do Fitness Blender workouts so I can eat these by the BAG FULL. Why don't you buy me another bag while you're at it.

+ So a month or so ago, Annabelle's preschool went on a field trip to a pediatric dentist. It was a darling set up, and they told the kids all about "sugar bugs" and that you  must brush them out of your teeth or they'll eat your teeth and probably steal your toys. What they didn't know was Annabelle takes you at your word. Your exact word. So now she believes sugar bugs will most definitely eat her from the inside out. So she brushes her teeth every time she eats. Anything. And if she falls asleep before brushing her teeth, she wakes up at some ridiculous hour whimpering for me, and "Can I brush my teeth? The sugar bugs!" So now we have clean teeth with early onset paranoia.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

it's been said

Belle: Did you just toot?!
Lou: Yeah...
Belle: I just tooted too!
{giggles ensue}
Lou: I like Santa.
Belle: You like Santa?!
Lou: No, I love Santa.
{while watching Polar Express, where the eagle swoops down and grabs the train ticket}
Lou: Oh, look issa eagle! What's dat called? {in reference to the baby eagle}
Belle: Oh, that? It's called an eaglette.
{while eating lunch}
Lou: Mommy. Dis soup is good.
Mommy. I like dis soup. Is pretty yummy all da time.
I no put apples in my soup. Dat be yucky!
Mom. Mom. Mom! {gets my attention, points to her soup} Is gooooddd.
{The recipe is here. It is quite tasty.}
{while coloring thankful cards}
Belle: Mom, can I keep some of these for me? Because I'm thankful for myself?
Belle: I'm going to be nice today.
Lou: I be nice to Sissy. I hit Mommy.
Belle: Lolly, can you please keep the nativity people out there?!
Lou: I can't.
Belle: Yes you can.
Lou: ...I can't.
Belle: Yes you can! Just walk your feet over there!
Belle: When Lou wakes up can I give her a hug?
{ten minutes later}
Belle: I want Lou to wake up so I can give her a hug.

{telling me about Thanksgiving}
Belle: So the pilgrims left England because there was a mean king.
And they came to Little America to be free.
{Little America is a hotel in Salt Lake that she loves}
{whilst coloring}
Belle: Green with black kind of makes...mold.
Jess: I'm going to run to the store to get milk. Do you guys want to come?
Lou: I do! I do! I wanna come!
Jess: Annabelle?
Belle: No...I'll stay with Mommy. I need a break from the crazy person (Lou).
{counting (by twos-ish) during hide-and-seek}
Lou: Two, four, six, eight, nine!
Lou: If I could see the Savior standing night...
Belle: Lou, did you know it's not night, it's nigh. Like nigh like close by.
Belle: Lou, I'm a grown up. You're very younger. {pauses} 
Well, I am older so like a grown up. But you're young.
Me: Hey, Lou. Do you need to go potty?
Lou: Um, no sank you.
Belle: Lou, do you want to play with the dolls with me?
Lou: Well, ummmm. Mebbe later.
{while playing house with Lou}
Belle: I'm the mother! I'm in charge of everyone!
{dang straight}
Lou: Momma! Hold me like ya love me!
{This is something Jess always says to be funny.
 It was hilarious hearing it come out of her mouth.}
Me: Lou, are you going to poo in the potty?
Lou: Umm. Wellll. Mebbe tomorrow.
{as we get ready for bed, to herself, under her breath}
Lou: I no wanna wear jammies...tomorrow I be nake-ee.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

thankful for you! {free printable}

We're pretty big fans of crafting around here. I'm constantly dreaming up random things to do or color or paint. Especially since preschool started and suddenly Annabelle is much more aware of her artistic mediums and real glue. I'd previously shielded her from the gooey kinds of glue, and we've been a strictly gluestick household. Until now. Now we have glue everywhere. Because Lou.

Anyhow, this morning, as I sat dreaming up something for the girls, I decided we should do something to celebrate Thanksgiving. So I whipped these up. I explained to the girls that they could color these little cards (little=cute and awesome in their worlds) and give them to the people they love to tell them they're thankful for them. They were so excited and got right to work.

What surprised me was how tender they became about it. They colored one for me, and they colored one for each other. Each sister was so very pleased to have a gift from the other. All day long, they've each been so proud of the tiny little card their sister gave them, exchanging hugs and telling each other how much they love their card.

They're really nothing fancy, but I wanted to share. If you're in need of a last minute Thanksgiving activity, click here or on the copy below. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


So I have really mixed feelings about this whole Santa Claus business. I love the magic. But I hate the lie. My mom did a great job of transitioning us and leaving clues so we could deduce it on our own. And I've already started doing the same. Because gosh dang it, I hate lying to my kids. 

But this morning Annabelle decided it was time to write a letter to Santa. She was so proud and excited she practically had glitter in her eyes and sparkles coming out of her fingers. And there really is so much fun in believing. Isn't there?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

books books books

So is anyone else Christmas shopping? I've got a few boxes full of goodness downstairs. And I maybe go downstairs at least a few times a week just to look at the Christmas that awaits. I'm kind of giddy already. I love Christmas with babies around. So magical. :) 

One gift Santa always givesour girls is a book. Or two. Or maybe five. I use Christmas as an epic excuse to buy books. I customarily get each girl a book she's grown to love over the year (from library visits) and then one book that I think she will love. And then sometimes a few more. Because books. That's why. I have two reading obsessed kids, including Lou. Does anyone remember when she was still barely big enough to crawl and she'd lug books around with her all day? The best. And Miss Annabelle just received her early reading certificate from preschool (she was sooo proud, as were her parents).

So I thought I'd share a few of our favorites. For each book I'll give you an idea of content so you can have an idea of whether or not your kids would sit through it. I know mine have a book reading age threshold - before they cross it, they can barely sit through a short board book. Then suddenly they cross the threshold and can sit for hours while I read. Books, books, books. I'm raising nerds. And I love it. :)

So here it goes (click the book for a link to Amazon):

Extra Yarn (written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen)
+ Probably too long for little babies, but for super readers (listeners) it would work.
+ Charming story, amazing illustrations. About a girl named Annabelle with a magic box of yarn. So duh. :)

Bear Has a Story to Tell (written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead)
+ Longer than a board book, but not terribly. 
+ Darling story with literary panache. Incredible illustrations that make the animals seem alive. Lovely circle of events. Must read.

I Like It When (written and illustrated by Mary Murphy)
+ Great for any age, including tiny. 
+ Simple board book with "I like it when" phrases on each spread. We like to act out each phrase ("I like it when you hug me tight.")
+ I often give this book for a gift. It's always a winner.

Roadwork (written by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock)
+ Great for any age. (We have the board book - much more...loveable.)
+ Rhyming scheme is epic and catchy. Onomatopoeia is kind of amazing. Super fun read.

Who Wants An Old Teddy Bear? (written and illustrated by Ginnie Hofmann)
+ Probably wouldn't entertain a newborn, but it's fairly short.
+ I bought this last year and had to track down a used version. It appears that there has been a reprint though (this cover is slightly different than the original, and Amazon is offering it). That said, a used version will probably be cheaper (mine was like a dollar).
+ I had this book as a child (it was published in 1978). But I find it's message timeless and so incredibly cute.

Bears on Chairs (written by Shirley Parenteau, illustrated by David Walker)
+ Great for any age. 
+ This book is so cute it's practically perfect. Addicting rhyme scheme, darling illustrations, and the cutest little lesson.
+ Grab the board book version for indestructability. 

Chrysanthemum (written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes)
+ Definitely for bigger babies. Lou loves it, but she's really good at sitting for long stories.
+ If you're hormonal or an emotional momma, this might make you tear up. It's the most tender book ever.

And just for kicks, here are our Christmas lists - this and last year.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? (sliding board book version)



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