Thursday, January 31, 2013

a hawaiian lou-ow!!

Our Hawaii trip took three flights each way. I know. It was as awesome as it sounds. But it was the only way we could afford it. And I'm using the term "afford" loosely here.

To be perfectly honest, however, our kids are kind of great travelers. So it wasn't horrible. Except! Except. On our first flight to Reno, Lou cried a bit as we descended. I thought, "Bummer, her ears." On our second flight to L.A., she cried more, I thought, "Oh crap." On our flight to Hawaii, as we made the very long descent, she screamed. She buried her face into my chest, trying to burrow away from the pain. She was in a world of hurt. I wondered if it was an ear infection, but she didn't have any other serious signs beyond a serious binky addiction and a need to have Mommy in her sights at all times. So - sadly - we didn't do anything about it for a few days.

Two days later we climbed Haleakala (in our car). This beautiful inactive volcano is a 7,000 foot accent. At the top, she whined like crazy as the wind blew us around. She and I spent most the time in the car while Annabelle and Jess hiked around (this is actually our usual routine - Lou and I in the car while the other two hike longer than Lou's legs can muster). 

Then when we drove down? She started wailing. I cried too because I knew for sure her ears were hurting. I felt awful. She's the happiest person I know, and she rarely cries. I knew this was bad. I sat next to her, wedged between the girls' car seats, getting incredibly car sick myself, and cradled her ears in my hands and told her it would be okay. When the land flattened out, she whimpered herself to sleep. 

The next day, we took her to the island Instacare. Indeed, double ear infections, one more severe than the other. I'd like to say that things started looking up for Lou, but the poor girl's misfortunes didn't end there.

1. She got a ridiculous diaper rash from the antibiotics. We spent half our savings on island-priced Desitin.
2. While taking a bath one morning, she dropped a load. As I texted to Jess (who was out whale watching), "This isn't just a deer turd. This is a herd of turds." When I took her out of the bath, she peed all over the floor.
3. She also blew out on the cabana. Our poor cabana attendant graciously carted away the poopy towel.

4. She hated. No, she HATED the sand. If you lowered her toward it, she'd whine and say, "Nooooooooooooooooo," and fold her long legs into her chest as best she could. She'd be okay on a towel on the sand, until it was too KUH KUH and she'd beg to be rescued from the filth. She thought the ocean was okay, but only if she didn't have to touch it. 
5. One morning, I lifted her on our bed to watch a movie while I showered, and she peed all over. As in a total bed makeover was in order.
6. When she was playing in her stroller, it tipped, and she got a giant goose egg on her forehead. Which drained into her right eye and gave her a lovely little shiner for a few days.

Seriously, this trip was pure tragic comedy for our girl. That said, she was still the best little traveling goof ball you've ever seen, as all these smiley pictures show. She loved running around the cabana area and she loved the pool with the shallow steps. Jess spent hours with her there. She ate lots of fish and cheeseburgers, and giggled deep belly laughs at all the birds who came begging for food. Despite all the bad, she was our Lou through and through and still made the trip happy. 

For the record, the antibiotics did the trick and our girl was totally fine on the flights home. In fact, she slept through two of the three (red eye flights). Bless you baby. And all the angels who assisted us during that red eye journey.

And lest you think I've forgotten Annabelle, never fear. She too will get her own post. Stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Oh, heee-eeyyy!
Remember me? All three of you?
Turns out we were in Hawaii.
For ten gloriously sunshiney filled days.
Turns out I pretty much unplug while I'm there.
Turns out, it's marvelous.
And turns out we are all now getting a 
mighty fine visit from Mr. Jet Lag.
Boy howdy.
In the mean time, a few photos 
for the grandma and the aunties.
And to remind me that I was 
indeed warm a few days ago.
Oh, Hawaii.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I've mentioned this before, but for months, Lou's been talking in Japaspanglish. She carries on for minutes at a time, and it's very clear that she knows what she's saying, but we generally haven't got a clue. Secretly, of course, Jess and I bathe in that Japanspanglish every day. There is nothing NOTHING better. And I've gotten surprisingly good at interpreting said language. Just recently, however, she's started using words. Legitimate real live words. It is equal parts awesome and devastation for us. Thankfully, she still uses mostly Japaspanglish when she's really got something to say, but here are some of her words (I'm forgetting a handful, I just know it):

+ When being hugged too tight: I stuck!
+ When someone has something she wants: Share! 
(Minus the R sound. We die over this one.)
+ Wuh, Two, Ree! (One, Two, Three!)
+ I toot. (I'm cute.)
+ She can say: Mom, Mommeeeee, Dad, Sithy (Sissy), 
AhBelle (Annabelle), Ty Ty, Abi, Pete (cousins), 
Dah Dah (Aunt Don Don), Cheecha (Jesus)
+ Mama Mama (Llama Llama)
+ Lala! (her nickname)
+ Hep! (Help!)
+ Ope-ee (open)
+ Stah! (Star!) (The one shape she knows.)
+ Issa puppy! (It's a puppy!)
+ Beeeebeeeeee! Issa Beeeebbbeeeeee! (Baby! It's a baby!)
+ My! (mine!)
+ Uh huh (when she answers in the affirmative)
+ "Beek BEEK BEEK." (Binky) (It's going to be so fun taking away her binky. 
What a mess we've gotten ourselves into.)
+ ink = drink and thur-tee = thirsty (she's a water hog)
+ Mow! (More!)
+ Ah-duh (All done)
+ Peeeeessss (Please, and it's said with her made up please sign)
+ doe (toe), ed (head), ehs (ears), ands (hands) 
(she can locate ears, eyes, nose, head, hair, teeth, 
tongue, fingers, hands, toes, knees, belly button)
+ a duck says "wock wock," a bird says "weet weet," a dog says "ruh ruh," 
a horse says "neh," a frog sometimes says "bibbet bibbet," 
a bear or lion or any other animal whose sound she hasn't learned
yet says, "ROOAARR," and she's got the monkey sound down.
+ This is her best circus trick: she knows the sounds of the letters A, B, M, S, T 
and sometimes F. I thank Leapfrog for this. Also, she's always hanging 
out when Belle does her lessons, which probably helps a ton. 
That said, she doesn't recognize specific letters. 
She recognizes that letters are letters (she calls them all A! A!), 
but doesn't know any of them by sight.

This happy sort-of talking age is pretty much my favorite. It's what makes people keep having babies, I tell you what. Because you're like DUDE. WE NEED TEN OF THESE HAPPY LITTLE THINGS! Especially if they talk Japaspanglish. :)


Thursday, January 10, 2013

getting literary

I have a cousin-in-law who is pure inspiration in her yearly reading accomplishments. Last year she read fifty books! (Fifty!) This year, she got pregnant and "only" read forty-five. (Forty-five!) Now I'm a fast reader by nature, one reason my major (English) and career (editor) were perfectly suited to me. And so I decided to copy her this year and set some reading goals for this past year. Should've been easy right? My goal: Read. A book or two. Aim high yo.

Seriously though.

I took an interesting route toward reading. I re-read books from my childhood. I actually read a decent handful, which made me really proud. I totally EXCEEDED my lofty singular book goal guys. Here are a few I recommend.


The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White: I know I read this when I was very young. But I remembered very little of it. This book is a quick and easy read (for adults) and I can't wait to read it with my girls someday (soon!). I just love the swans' dialogue and the way they think. It should come as no surprise that E.B. White - the author, most commonly known for his Charlotte's Web  - seemed to tunnel right into a swan's world and settle down.

"'All swans are vain' said the cob. 'It is right for swans to feel proud, graceful—that's what swans are for.'"

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman: So my best friend in high school was ob.sessed. with this book. I have very clear memories of her and her perfectly permed hair, hiding behind her book and her glasses, totally lost in the Canadian wilderness of Mrs. Mike. I remember really liking this book back then, but now? I simply love this book. It's a lovely (clean) romance of a young girl who falls in love with a Canadian mounty in the years when the Canadian wilderness was being settled. It's beautiful in its depiction not only of history but also of loss and love. And the authors have a beautiful way with words:

“But death does not stand at the end of life, it is all through it. It is the fear of losing, the knowledge of losing that makes love tender.” 

Side note: I had to venture in to the romance section to get this book at the library. You know what section I'm talking about. I felt so awkward walking over with my babies and sliding my book out from between two scantily clad covers. Someone really needs to re-evaluate where that poor book is shelved.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery: I LOVED this book as a young girl. Devoured it several times. My goodness, I think I love it even more now. Could there be a more beautiful place than Montgomery's Avonlea? And let's not forget how much I adore Anne. Oh, Anne. I adore her wit and wisdom and long-windedness. 

“Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?But am I talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I didn't talk? If you say so I'll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult.” 

I borrowed a copy from the library, but I just purchased the Anne of Green Gables suite on my Kindle, and have already dived deep into Anne of Avonlea. Hello, Gilbert Blythe!


This year, I think I'll keep reaching back to my childhood for reading material. It has been so much fun to visit not only my past but also these lovely books.  I just really love them - they're clean and clever. And I feel like it helps me sort of get ready to evaluate what lies ahead for my children.

And this year, my goal is totally the same: read. A book. Maybe two. Setting my expectations high, yo.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

it's been said

{oh, yes, they're back...}

Me: I think I'll just gobble you up. I really think
you'd just taste so good!
Belle: No Mom. No Mom. I wouldn't! I'd taste white!
{bwah ha ha ha ha}
Me, to Lou: Do you feel crummy?
Belle: What?! She's not a little crumb!
Me, singing: Silent night, Holy night...mother and child...
Belle: Hey, that's like us (pointing) Mother and child!
Lou: {spazzy fit of joy}
Belle, pointing to Lou: Mother and child and CRAZY PANTS!
Me: Put your toys away please.
Belle: But why?
Me: Because I said so.
Belle: But what does so mean?
Belle: What's Daddy doing up there?
Me: Unclogging the drain in the tub. Mommy has to stay far 
away because hair clogs make her vomit. 
Especially when it's someone else's hair. It makes me want 
to throw up just thinking about it...
Belle: Yeah me too. I'm growing up so tall just thinking about it.
{insert died laughing}
{while shopping}
Belle: Mom, I REALLY want this shopping cart. Mom I really really really want this doll.
Me: You just want everything don't you.
Belle: I just want everything here that's beautiful.
{while playing with Lou}
Lou: Mine! MINE!
Belle: Mom, she should just said, "Oh, no you don't take that, 
that's mine. Don't you take that!"
Me: She said all that?
Belle: {laughs}
{after burping}
Whoa! I just burped and spicy white water flew out my nose! 
{while playing and imitating Blue's Clues' format I think?}
Today we are spending time with...our cash money!
{our what?}
I'm cracking my marbles up!
{while playing with my old Barbies}
Belle: Hey look!
Me: Uh, where did Barbie's clothes go?
Belle: She's going swimming.
Me: Oh, right. So doesn't she need a swimming suit?
Belle: No, swimming suits make her hot.
Me: Oh great.
Belle: So she's going BUTT NAKED!
Maybe we can babysit my friends when their mother and 
father go to a concert or show or something like that?
{the grown upness of this sentence kills me}
{as she prances around in just a skirt, no shirt}
Okay, I've got my 'spectable shirt on! Let's go!
Oh, look at the tinkling star!
{watch out! :) }
Belle: No Lou NOOO!
Me: What's going in there?
Belle: She wants your cracknutter! (nutcracker)
{insert i die}
{speaking of Brave, the movie, in which the 
characters speak with a Scottish accent}
Belle: Merida wants to change her feet Mom.
Me: Her feet? What? Um. Oh, I think she wants to change her fate.
Belle: No, her feet. She wants new feet.
{after I unsuccessfully made a trip to Big-O Tires and returned home}
Me: The tire store is closed! Can you believe it!?
Belle: No! That's ree-dic-lee-us!
{one toy to another}
You are not being 'spectable! You are being mean!

These photos are from our Yellowstone trip in September (here and here). 
Realistically speaking, I'm never going to catch up, so I thought I 
might as well start using photos.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


So I customarily do not sit down and write down New Year's resolutions. I really hate failing. And having things permanently written down staring at me all year? Those are just etches on paper daring me to fail. So I never do it. This year, however, I made secret, silent goals. Some made deep down inside that I knew I couldn't mention to a soul for the sharp fear of failing. But here are a few:

+ Learn to bake bread. I not only did this - I MASTERED IT. And believe me when I say I was terrified to try. So silly. But my whole grain wheat bread (Bosch's version) was the stuff of freakin legends. I'm kind of slobbering thinking about it.

That said, I also stopped baking bread this year. Because mid year I made a new goal:

+ Go gluten free. Forever. I started researching my disease and found that a gluten free diet would likely drastically improve my outlook if not my attitude. It has. And I dropped a couple pounds too, which I ain't complaining about.

Here's a side story: on Christmas Eve, when we visited Gram, she had a breakfast souffle that had been waiting for someone to eat it. All day. And she was all, "And there's no flour!" I didn't have the heart to tell her that the bread on the bottom had flour in it. And I ate a ton. The poor woman had been waiting so long for someone to feed.

I was sick as a dog that night. And broke out in giant acne three days later. Gluten free really is amazing guys. It's really hard to start. But it's not bad after a while. And you feel so so great. I have more energy, my stomach doesn't get bloaty, and my face is super clear. And if you search, there are great recipes out there that are gluten free. I will say that it is not cheap to be gluten free, however.

+ Run one mile. I mentioned this to my walking friend in the first months of the year. And she was all, let's go. I will never forget how my lungs burned when my feet actually left the earth for the first time in years. Like a painful re-awakening. But I loved it. I ran a few miles a day for several months. I also ran a 10K. I also stopped running altogether. And that brings us to the next goal.

+ Buy a house. This was contingent on God's timing and my husband's willingness. So mostly this goal involved lots of prayer. And my prayer was this: please please let us find a house by Christmas. My prayer was answered, and we indeed moved in weeks before Christmas. It couldn't have been a more chaotic time, and during the busy-ness of moving and packing, I stopped running. I started up a bit again, but found it to be freezing. So I'm back on the bike. Ohmygosh. I forgot how much I love my bike. Not to mention the fact that my sweat doesn't freeze in icicles on my face.

+ Read more. I couldn't even force myself to put a number to the books I should read. But my mind missed reading so much. I did indeed read a handful of books. More on that later.

+ Start a design business. I actively tried to not think about this for most of the year. So intimidating. So many ways to fail. But a few friends and my family told me I could do it. So I tried. And it worked. And I love it. I'm currently creating new inventory and loving every (midnight) second of it. 
And here are a few I failed at (that I'm willing to own up to):

+ Learn to embroider. I think this somewhat lost art is so beautiful. I'm still determined to learn how.

+ Become immersed in the scriptures. I hate that I failed at this. But I love the opportunity to renew and start over. I will try again.  Annabelle and I successfully read the children's Book of Mormon last year, which I loved. We've started again this year, and I'm trying to pair it with real reading that coincides with the stories she's learning. 

+ Attend the temple with Jess once a month. We did go a handful of times, which is a handful more than we went the year prior. So we made progress, but much more to be made here.

And I've got a new list of mental goals stored up this year as well. I feel like 2013 is going to be epic. Don't you think?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


This afternoon, I got a whiff of Annabelle's breath, and was like, "Oh hey death breath." I should back up. When I was young, I had strep throat like all the time. You see, my tonsils were the size of melons and acted like giant magnets for infection and germs. Whenever I'd open my mouth at the dentist or doctor, they'd always go "WHOA! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THOSE TONSILS!" Yeah, yeah. It got so bad that in eighth grade, my doctor finally recommended I have them removed.

So back to the death breath. When there's awesome viruses or bacteria living on your throat, and they get too active or close to the mouth, it smells like DEATH. It's horrible. Believe me, I smelled it on myself after years of strep. You know someone's breath when they've been fasting right? That's like a lovely breath of fresh lavender compared to the death breath. So I broke out my handy dandy flashlight, and one peek revealed a fair amount of white fuzz. Yay! Our pediatrician was able to fit her in at the end of the day.

I should mention here as well - Annabelle's had a stuffy nose and occasional cough for a week. The kind that almost every child under five has all winter. She wasn't lethargic, there was no fever, and she was eating and sleeping totally normal. I should also mention - because her diagnosis is not actually important to this story - that it's just a giant cold turned nasty virus. It's not strep throat. It's just really gross and has become visible on her tonsils.

So back to the doctor. Our pediatrician was running a little behind, so we sat in the waiting room watching a Disney movie. Belle was secretly thrilled I think. It was like movie night WITHOUT Lolly up in her grill! She laid her head on my lap and smiled up at me every once in a while. She had on her brave face and I could see that she was storing up her courage for her examination.

While we waited, I noticed a dad chasing his little girl around. She couldn't have been more than three years old. A cute little thing, and he was a cute dad. Several minutes into our wait, a woman walked in. The little girl ran to her and said "Mommy!" and got a hug. The mom's first words? "So what's going on with her hair here?" As they sat there, I noticed tension. Thick, obvious, awkward tension. This was later confirmed when I heard the man mention something about "mom's or daddy's house."

At one point, the little girl motioned up high to some magazines and asked her mom who was mostly ignoring her if she could see one. The mom said, and I quote: "Oh, I'm sorry. I signed up to be your mother, not your personal servant." My heart actually ached. She's just a little girl! I shot the woman a deathly glare and noticed that I had also unconsciously hugged Belle closer. The mother threw her head in the air and pursed her lips. Seconds passed. I glared. She tossed her head, cleared her throat, and started playing nice. She got the magazine for her little girl, and looked at the pictures of the babies with her.

All the while, my heart just died a little. If I could talk to this woman, I'd want to ask her something: If we - as mothers - do not serve our babies, WHO WILL? They're small, incapable of reaching the top shelf. They can't tie their shoes or brush their teeth unless we teach them. They don't understand that the oven is hot unless someone is there to show them the difference between hot and cold. When we choose to bring babies into this world, I believe we choose to live a life of service. I'm not saying that our children shouldn't learn to be independent, that they shouldn't learn the value of rewards and consequences and a job well done, or that they should be waited on hand and foot. These are all valuable and vital lessons. But in the moments where our babies need help, we signed up to be there unconditionally. 

I'm thirty-one years old. And to this day, I really heavily on my own mother. For support, encouragement, advice, validation. For unconditional love. And her service to me has not ended just because I'm grown. 

I'm so very grateful to have the opportunity to serve these precious little people. I vow to always, always be there when the book is too high to reach. There is nothing more valuable I can do as a mother than to be of service when they need me. And I vow to do so for forever.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

christmas in pictures

We went to Papa's house for a Christmas Eve celebration, and guess who paid us a visit?! Here's the best part - this is the very same Santa that paid little Jess visits each Christmas Eve. Oh nostalgia. My girls were sufficiently terrified of him, and this is as close as they got. Belle managed to quell her screams, but Lou not so much. There was no way they'd be climbing on his knee. Secretly I'm just fine with that, as I prefer that they're scared of strangers, especially ones in crazy get ups and disguises.
This is the lovely little snow-covered house we arrived home to after Santa's visit. And I should explain our 3/4 curtains-no blinds on the windows. You see, out those windows is a beautiful view that we really don't want to shut out. The curtains are placed precisely where Jess and I can see over. (When my mom and sister visited, they had to jump to see. :) ) Just before we went to bed, in the wee hours after wrapping way too many presents for our spoiled girls, Jess snapped this out Annabelle's window:
I know, right? We pretty much want to live here forever.
My sisters were so clever this year. Danielle gave the girls a giant stack of Clifford the Big Red Dog books (ebay score), and Rissa gave Belle a Clifford dog. She was mildly thrilled, as you can see.

This was Lou's first Christmas of sort of understanding the concept - rip it open to find STUUUFFFFF! Here, Rissa gave Lou a Llama Llama book and maybe the most awesome llama toy ever in the world. She walks around with it going, "Mama Mama. Mama Mama."  I secretly covet that stuffed animal at least five times a day.
Just days before Christmas, Annabelle suddenly decided she wanted three things, and three things only:

1. A Merida barbie. Fail.
2. A Giselle (from Enchanted) dress. Fail. This doesn't even exist. Santa hoped just the DVD would suffice.
3. A toy vacuum. Yay! Grandma Cheney was giving her one.

So on Christmas Eve, Jess found himself at Target, staring down a wall of Barbies. And girlfriend got her dang Merida barbie. She couldn't have been happier about a gift. She didn't say a word about the missing Giselle dress. But get this. When we got to Papa's house that afternoon to open gifts, she proudly carried Merida in. And when asked, "So Santa brought you a Merida doll!!?" She said, quietly, "Yeah. But not the Giselle dress."

Of course we're all big fat huge suckers...
...And Grandma Cheney pulled a giant rabbit out of her hat. And look! Santa brought a Giselle dress to Papa's house! Silly Santa! (This is actually the dress that Courtney, my youngest sister-in-law, wore at my wedding. How's that for perfect?) She practically swooned.
After Papa's, we paid a visit to Gram, who had food and wassail waiting for visitors. We stayed for hours, letting our girls entertain her and erase some of the loneliness of her day.  She really is the most lovely person. And see those little elfin slippers? I KNOW. Grandma Cheney found those in New York. I die every time I look at them.
The girls got incredibly spoiled this year. I had it TOTALLY under control. But then Black Friday came and swallowed a certain Daddy whole and suddenly we had a six foot teddy bear in our garage. I KNOW RIGHT? When we finished wrapping up Christmas the night before, we stood there shaking our heads, knowing it was too much, neither of us willing to relinquish our all star gift (him the giant bear, me the dollhouse I bought six months ago). But the morning of Christmas was so busy and full of fun that the dollhouse literally went unnoticed in the window. Before we knew it, we were out the door to Papa's, and we decided we'd open the dollhouse that night.

After our visit with Gram, as we drove home with the girls fast asleep in their seats, I said to Jess: "I'm going to put the dollhouse away. They really did get more than enough already. They can get it for their birthdays. We'll have a mid July dinner party, and they can get the dollhouse together." He protested because he knew that it was the gift I'd been waiting to give them for forever, but when I assured him I was totally serious, he agreed. 

So when we pulled into the garage (for Christmas I got A GARAGE, A GARAGE), Mrs. Grinch ran into the house, grabbed the dollhouse, and hid it. Where it remains to this day, waiting for July. Besides - what could be better than Christmas in July? 


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