Trenton’s Party

After Trenton went off to school with a belly full of birthday pancakes, I went to work and reminded myself to make sure and be at the school at 2:45.  The night before his birthday he made what we like to call “Harry Potter Wands” which is where we dip the tip of big pretzel sticks into melted chocolate and put sprinkles on them.  We took them into his class at the end of the day, and when I walked into his class this is what I saw:


His teacher hung that awesome banner over his desk -what a cool idea!  He was given fun birthday balloons, and he thoroughly enjoyed his birthday attention!0916151502

His classmates were so happy to get Harry Potter Wands and a handful of jelly beans (which we called Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans, even though they weren’t… not officially).0916151503

While she was at school, Alice found her favorite Aunt Ruth (she works as the reading specialist) and she let Alice pick a prize out of the prize box.  Alice came home with temporary tatts.  She’s really proud of them and keep showing them off.

“Look at my PUMPKINS!”0916151547

Right after school, we had our cub scout den meeting where we talked about team work and ate a lot of Chex Mix.  I do really love cub scouts!  These guys make me laugh.0916151624b

Trenton’s little party was starting at 6:30, and given my crazy, full day… I began baking his cake at 5:30 and decorated it at 6:25.  Ha!  He was happy with it, and while it isn’t as fancy as the cakes I’ve made in the past (okay, maybe using the word “fancy” is pushing it), it tasted THE SAME.  0916151846

We’re hoping someday to have a house that holds everyone a little more comfortably.0916151907


Trent’s face in this picture makes my day.  He was so excited as we sang!0916151908a

The pokeball was poked with candles.

Here’s great-grandma with my niece, Analynn.  Analynn was born very early, and we just love seeing how healthy she is!  And we’re VERY grateful her mom is healthy as well.  We don’t know what we’d do without them.  And check out that baby’s cute sparkly feet! 0916151917

Girl cousins -I love these girls!0916151919a

His loot pile wanted for nothing.0916151920

I love seeing my grandma with her grandkiddos.  No amount of pictures will ever be enough.0916151920a

My red-headed nephew, Jens:0916151921b

Trenton loved all of his gifts!  We bought him a Disney Infinity starter set, but we bought the first version because we knew that even though there’s NEWER and “COOLER” versions … our kid doesn’t know or care and we’ll all have fun playing together.  He was given lots of sweets and treats and toys, and he was happy as could be!  I spent part of the afternoon saving a bunch of Trenton’s old pictures into a file on the computer.  I uploaded that file to my Amazon Cloud, and we were able to watch the pictures slideshow on our television using Danny’s Firestick.  It was a great “back drop” for the party, but I think I enjoyed it more than anyone.  Truth be told: I think I did it for myself. I get nostalgic on birthdays. and Tuesdays. and weekends and holidays.0916151926

After the party -at the end of a busy, no-stop day -I sat down with some chips and salsa.  Danny sat with me.  We watched Parks and Recreation while the kids played Pokemon with their cousin.  When the chips were gone, Danny grabbed the pretzel sticks and Nutella, and we laughed about how fun it is to not have our parents tell us we can’t eat Nutella for dinner.

The kids joined us in the living room, and they usually beg for an episode of “Once Upon a Time” but last night they opted to play -not the NEW video game with us – a board game!  My Mom bought Trent the game “Blokus” and he loves it.  And yes, our little Chess Master beat us all.

Lacy seriously hates that.

And Danny was seriously tired.

We all slept well.  Especially Trent.

A Picture and A Birthday

Yesterday I snapped a picture. Well, I snapped 15 pictures yesterday, but this particular picture has a lot to say.

Starting here:

Do you see that wet, pink shirt? It used to be on my toddler. She helped me do the dishes at 5 pm. Can you see how many dishes are done? I think the only thing that actually got washed was the toddler. And maybe that shirt.

Next… I spy groceries from last Friday’s shopping trip that never got put away.  The good news is? Trent’s party is tonight and that root beer will be gone! So I’m just going to let that situation take care of itself.


Let’s just get the elephant in the room out of the way. That’s our salsa. I stood between those two kitchen chairs (ow!) while I chopped and blended and it smelled like HEAVEN. I went to the living room for a few seconds and that’s when I heard.
“Um, Mom?”

Dread, dread, dread. It was like that climatic moment in “A Christmas Story” when The Bumpus Hounds ate the turkey.

I *almost* took the kids out for Chinese, but in the end the alluring smell of chopped green onions and cilantro got the best of me and batch two was ready in time to slather it in chips and cheese and call it dinner.


{Recipe Found on my cooking page}

In the background you can see the lovely bone china tea cups my sister found and gave me for my birthday. Is there anything as fun as mis-matchy tea stuff? We love it, and I love even more that it comes from my sister who thrives on mis-matchy silverware. That ginger is the best.

This morning, I woke up and made the traditional birthday pancakes for the birthday boy!
“It’s a SEVEN! And a…”
“That’s a pokeball, bud. See? See? I made it to look like a pokeball!”
“But it doesn’t…”
He’s a daring truth-teller.

I made a special lunch for the kids. I pulled out the BIG guns and gave them nachoes instead of PB and J. And yes, we had nachoes last night, and YES I basically gave them leftovers and called it special.
And they are on board with the whole idea which I THINK means I win.

I let them miss the bus to spend more time celebrating and finding socks. After I dropped them off at school, I came home and ate some fresh gluten free pancakes. A few bites in, my throat was kind of… stinging. Like the sting you get from onions and peppers.
And THAT’S what I get for making pancake batter in the same bowl I mixed salsa in the night before. Ole!
The kids didn’t say a word when they ate theirs! Is it because they didn’t notice? Or because they’re used to Mom’s food tasting weird?

I don’t think I actually want to know the answer.
So I’ll just post a collage of the cutest birthday boy that ever lived:

Getting their way since 2008.


Budget Blues and Beach Bums

It’s September 15th which means my busy season is *almost* over. Camping, birthdays, school starting, anniversary! Trenton’s birthday is tomorrow and then I think I’ll be able to start getting us back to making sure we brush our teeth every day and eat at the actual table.
“But MOM! I’m not USED to that anymore!”
Give them an inch of a month watching “Once Upon a Time” while they eat and they take it, man. They TAKE it and USE IT against you.

I have hundreds of pictures to add to my blog.
Danny and I spent a weekend in San Francisco, and I want to share all of the pictures! It was a wild, spur-of-the-moment decision and it was really fun! We searched the cheapest plane tickets from PHX to anywhere and San Francisco popped up.
We spent a few hours on a plane playing the saddest game of chess you’ve ever seen.
“Hey, if you move there you can take my knight… but don’t move here because then I might steal your pawn.”
We landed in San Francisco and found out quickly that our hotel was on the WRONG END of everything and also? If you want to eat or smile or fart, it costs $500.
It was WORTH IT, and the best part is that we can have as much fun together walking on a wharf with a half-naked man in a wig talking to himself as we can on our couch covered in mismatched socks. It pays to marry someone who gets your jokes -someone who will people watch and make up conversations with you, someone who will bird watch and make up bird dialogue so hilarious that you have to be careful not to wet yo’ pants.


The beach sand was a far cry from The Couch of Mismatched Socks. Glorious!

I’ll give San Francisco it’s own post with all the deets (can I just get a cymbal crash for every time I use that joke?) later on.
For now I just wanted a stark comparison with the pictures above to the picture below:

That’s my kitchen table this morning.
That’s what it looks like after my busy season.

Now onto the meat of the thing:
I am right brained and Danny is left brained and want to know something cute? I’m right HANDED and he’s LEFT handed! #adorbs

This all means that we have a strict budget that I don’t look at ever. I’m allotted a set amount of cash for grocery and household-y things, and Danny takes care of the other left-brained priorities like medical insurance wars.
Two years ago, I opened my own pet bank account. It’s only mine. I pour petty cash into it now and then. I even usually keep track of the money in it, but lately… the “round about” math I’ve done in my head has been off a literal buck or two, and I’ve overdrawn that sweet little account THREE STUPID TIMES.
Do you know what that means? The bank has taken over $100 in fees from me. If we look at this from the perspective of the “round about math method” in my head, we’re looking at a loss of basically 60% of the entire amount of cash IN THE ACCOUNT.
Enough is enough, friends and folks. Enough IS enough.

So I printed out a budget sheet which was fun, and I bought stuff to build a little budget folder which was ALSO fun.
The rest of what happened was not fun at all.

I did things like ORDER NEW CHECKS. The kind of things DANNY likes to do! I feel like I’m betraying some natural sense of self when I add and subtract with a calculator or on paper. It offends the gypsy inside of me who booked tickets to San Francisco a few short days before actually flying out.
Oh wait… I only had the IDEA to do it, Danny was the one who handled all the booking stuff. Because money.

I guess I just figured today’s post needed it’s own GOLD STAR SPOT. Today is the day I opened and filed medical bills… usually I avoid the post office because I know there’s medical bills in my box all sealed and hungry and waiting to yell at me like those awful screaming letters people send to students at Hogwarts.
I’d much rather stream Pandora and clean my house in stretchy pants than open a medical bill.
Oh, and we have SO MANY! Trent’s seizure stuff, my stomach stuff, Danny’s allergy stuff, tests, tests, tests! Gall bladder removal!

For Christmas a few years ago, the kids gave me a really cute binder and filled it with graph paper because they know how mom likes graph paper more than regular paper.

I bought a pencil pouch to hold essentials: a check book with no cover because the cover is on the OTHER check book that I lost but found again but had to use different checks in the meantime, pens, washi tape.
I bought pocketed files for the screaming medical bills. I thought I’d fill 5 or so, but I filled EIGHT and I need MORE.


The budget sheets I printed are very helpful, but it was pretty gut-wrenching to realize I couldn’t fill it out. Not because we don’t HAVE a budget because I HAVE NO RIGHT-BRAINED CLUE WHAT IT IS OR WHERE IT IS OR IF IT LIKES ME.
Gas? Entertainment? Wherefore art thou?

There’s some great tools in the printable where you can print out goals, reminders and even write a motivational quote! I chose my latest favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt. It reminds me that it’s better to either PAY the bills or OPEN THE ENVELOPES AND FORGET TO PAY THE BILLS than not ever go to the post office ever unless an Amazon package is waiting.
(compliments of -and to!

I decided to ease into my new and unscary budget tactics with one goal only instead of a long list of like THREE goals… I went for something that would stretch me but not be too far out of reach. Probably not too far out of reach:

I figured I was entitled to the same kind of selfie people take after they do a work-out… those glistening, smoldering selfies that SAY (without saying) “I care about taking care of myself and I do things that are GOOD FOR ME!”
So I took one. A post-budget selfie!

I wonder if Danny makes that face when his Left-Brained Self comes strutting through the door after I’ve just dedicated a day to Right-Brained crafting.

In other news, Trenton has lost both front teeth, almost on the same day. Also, the tooth fairy didn’t come TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. Seriously, tooth fairy stuff is right brain territory and I blew it! I even have crafted tooth fairy characters for each of the kids, written notes filled with fluff and fancy!
This note was filled with apology and excuse:
But The Tooth Fairy didn’t forget last night!
AND I have a budget book!
So things are looking up, since love looked up at me!
I keep making him say words like “snow.”

This morning the kids dressed up for Disney Day at school -Happy Homecoming Week!

Oh, and doughnuts for breakfast because Lacy decided that’s what she wanted to give Trenton for his birthday.
“Health first!” ~Me, always

Surface Ripples

This last weekend, my kids and I ended up -through a series of wild events -parked in a strange city at a strange gas station at night.
How’s that for a creepy setting?

Danny and I planned on checking our oil. Saturday night, he had said, “We can’t forget to check the oil.” But Saturday night was very busy. Sunday was even MORE busy. We were visiting family in Danny’s home city (Mesa, AZ). After church we were heading to the OTHER side of the sunny valley to attend the baptisms of our nephews at which Danny was speaking. Immediately after the baptism, Danny was hopping in his parent’s car to drive to the airport to fly on an 8-hour overnight flight that would span the US of A and eventually end up in Ohio. And I would be driving back to Joseph City with three kids.

It shall here be noted that our car was built almost 20 years ago, and this hasn’t really ever been a problem. It’s been a pretty good nut for the most part, and we praised it to high heaven when we side-swiped an elk a couple years ago and walked away with nothing but a slight alignment issue (and some serious elk fuzz in the siding).

But she has had this oil leak for years. It’s so slight we haven’t been able to even find it to fix it, so we manage with regular oil changes and frequent oil checks.
But on Sunday, WE FORGOT. There was packing and speaking and driving and the thought of flights and anticipating goodbyes, and we forgot.
Until I was 40 minutes down the road and I noticed my oil gauge.
It’s usually at 40.
But it was at 20.

I knew that wasn’t good. If my gauge is showing I’m low, that meant I was OIL BARREN.
I also happened to be driving on a fairly new road where there were no houses, no gas stations and spotty cell service. I finally got through to my Dad, The Mechanic, who told me, “Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go straight to a service station.”
I found one in my smart phone, and drove 10 minutes BACK into the city.

And that’s where we meet again.

The children hadn’t eaten dinner, the sun had set, and I collected all three of them and went into the store to buy oil.
“Two quarts of 10W30, please.”

“Mom, can we buy this?”
“Mom, I’m hungry.”
“Mom, PLEASE?”

“Sir, how much are your corn dogs?” I asked the cashier ringing me up.
“Two for 99 cents, but I’m all out,” he shrugged.
What a jerk of a tease.
“My mom MEED COHN DOGS,” Alice tried reasoning with him. She only said what we were all thinking…

Outside I went in 102 degree heat with my oil, children and paper pouring cone in hand. I opened the car door forgetting that my car is almost 20 years old and the alarm system does it own thing.
The alarm went off, blaring loudly and startling me. I was already on the verge of wild nervousness, and the alarm went ahead and pushed me off that rocky cliff.
I shut it off, put the kids in the car and reached through the passenger’s side (because -NATURALLY -my driver’s side door is broken) to pop the hood.
I walked around the car -all of us still in our church clothes at this point -and tried to unlatch the hood. It was hot, my fingers were shaking, thanks to the fun alarm.
A few minutes went by with me just… moving my flighty fingers back and forth shaming myself for not being able to do something I’ve done a hundred times before.
I prayed my 5th prayer in 30 minutes and that’s when a young man walked over to me and repeated my own prayer out loud back to me.
“You need help?”
“YES!” I then went on awkwardly about how I LITERALLY WORK AT A MECHANIC’S SHOP and how STRANGE this place was and how I LIVED THREE HOURS AWAY.
The alarm had pushed me into that nervous place where I say completely unsafe and irrelevant things. But this guy had a safe feeling about him, and he had his Dad with him. His Dad was an older man who spoke Spanish almost exclusively and had the same twinkle in his eye that I imagine Santa has.
He also spoke to me like I was a child because I don’t speak Spanish.
“You THREE hour? Away?” He smiled big and spoke slow.
“Yes,” I nodded, my entire body was pretty much trembling despite the horrible heat and the fact that my air conditioning was going out.
“Oh,” he nodded and smiled, nodded and smiled.
I felt like I was on the receiving end of one of Paul’s epistles. It was as if this wonderful, twinkly Spanish man was saying, “You can not understand the meat of my language so I will give you milk. You tiny, tiny baby.”
He spoke to his son swiftly and seriously and quietly and then would turn to me and speak slowly and cheerfully and loudly.
“These… children?”
“Yes, my children. They are sweet…” and then I’d turn to my own children and speak swiftly, and seriously and quietly, “GET BACK IN THE CAR AND KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. STOP KICKING HER. I NEED OBEDIENCE.”

Oil was poured in the car by my new Angel friend and it was found that I needed MORE. So I went back into the store, trembling and awkward and bought three more. Four more? I can’t remember. I don’t care.
I never wanted to see the cashier again, and I made the wonderful mistake of telling him that.
“That will be 32.56,” he said.
“Thanks,” I took my receipt, “I guess I needed a lot more oil than I thought. Well… I hope I never see you again.”

Back outside with my oil. One more quart of oil was added.
All was well.
Until the hood wouldn’t shut. I popped the thing again and again. It was miles of smiles because I was in a DRESS, remember, and reaching over the passenger’s seat.
Also, did I mention that my back hatch was refusing to open? Where all of the luggage is?
And that my tranny had decided to give me a few messages to let me know that he’s about to leave this world?

After fifteen minutes, my new friends became aggressive (with my permission) and had their own way with my hood. It shut nicely. I bid farewell to my new friends and promised them that God would bless them for helping me -hey!, I said, He might even fix your washing machine! Because their washing machine was broken. These are the kinds of things we talk about with strangers.

My in-laws called to find out where I was and drove to meet me.
As we waited for them, I played mad libs with the kids and brushed the sweat from my face… and wondered if the A/C would somehow miraculously fix it’s own blower motor.
Lacy’s answers for Mad Libs were pretty… vanilla. I knew something had to be wrong. I asked her if she was okay.
She wasn’t.
She burst into tears about The Twin Towers and Dad! Dad IS ON A PLANE! And we were stuck in a strange place! And she wished someone was there to help us!
Her tears scared the toddler and so began The Sob Train.
I assured Lacy that WE WERE FINE. I pointed to a motel across the street.
“See that? We could stay there RIGHT NOW if we needed to. We could! We are taken care of, we are fine. There is food and beds and water all around us.”
I explained to her that TERRORISTS drove the planes on 9/11 and tried to help her understand by using buses as an example.
“A bad guy driving a bus can crash it into a school to try and hurt people, right?”
“But a normal school bus driven by a normal driver will just pick kids up and drop them off, right?”
“Well, Daddy is in a NORMAL plane.”

My in laws came, they checked my oil again and we went through closing Ye Olde Hood again.
We decided to go back to their house and stay the night. I was eager to get home, but it was late and my mother-in-law couldn’t stand the idea of us driving home alone. She’s a wonderful, thoughtful, aware, in tune woman. When she says, “stay,” you stay.
We drove through the lit-up city, watching the cars pass us.

Lacy was still very upset.

“How are you doing, Lacy?”
“I just very stressed,” she answered, honestly.
I understand what stressed as a child feels like. I remember dealing with pretty crazy anxiety, even as a kid.

When I was little, I worried incessantly about the house burning down. I lost so much sleep over it. I hated when it got dark because that meant BED and SLEEPING and something in my little mind had latched onto this idea of the house burning us all up in our sleep.
My Mom grew weary of my worry, and she arranged a family home evening all about safety and having an escape plan in case of a fire. After she was done, I found myself still completely uneasy.
She had actually suggested GOING OUTSIDE in the middle of the night while the house was burning.
WHAT ABOUT STICKERS?! I just KNEW I’d get stickers in my feet, and the idea of my feet getting poked by stickers made me equally as uneasy as being burned to death. Naturally.
“Put your shoes by your bed at night,” my mom patiently suggested.
Ah. All was well. Each night I refused to go to sleep without my shoes next to my bed. Stickers and fire and bears, oh my!

I had tried so many things to ease my habit of worrying constantly. I rubbed worry stones. I vented to worry dolls.
Hoaxes. All of them! Made by conspiring men in the last days to make a penny!

My anxiety really hit a scary high when I was pregnant with Lacy. It had gotten SO bad. I wasn’t even in my own mind anymore. I was sure the world was on the verge of ending and I put forth all of my efforts into trying to control the situation.
I actually rolled detergent-soaked newspaper into logs because they made great fuel.
I tried convincing my husband to sell my 1/2 carat diamond so we could buy a year’s supply.

The fear was VERY real.
A couple years ago, my Mom brought me a bag filled with the newspaper logs I’d made and left at her house and I just laughed. It felt like in that bag was a scary version of me that was also a very funny version of me.

I’ve found more healing from my anxiety in the last few years by working -and working HARD -in therapy and 12 steps and all kinds of stuff.

Our little house may not always be a house of organization, but it is a house of healing and right now? That’s more important.
Our house is a place where it’s totally normal for everyone to do yoga together. It’s normal for us all to sink our toes in the wet grass. We talk honestly with each other in family meetings. We cry and we let each other cry. We talk about the good the food is doing that we’re eating.
“Carrots for our eyes, bread for our energy…”
We journal, we pray, we talk, we listen to music and lifts us. We all sing out loud, “I WANNA SEE YOU BE BRAVE!”

With this in mind, I said a few words to my worried, anxious daughter.
I told her I knew what she was feeling.
“Daddy hasn’t gotten in a plane crash, but your body and mind are putting you through all of the bad feelings that come anyway, right?”
“Right!” I could hear the tears rising up in her again.
“Can you do anything about it? If Daddy crashes? Can you change it?”
“No,” the tears began coming back, “And I don’t know what I would do! And you’re going on a plane next week WITH Daddy and if you guys BOTH die, who will take us? Will we live with Grammy? I don’t WANT new parents!”
Ah, the Anxiety Tornado. Familiar territory for me. Remember the Fire Sticker Tornado of 1990?

“That’s right, Lace. Dad and I COULD die. Dad COULD die on his plane tonight.”
More tears.
“Lacy, bad things WILL happen. Bad things will ALWAYS happen, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I promise you that bad things are going to happen to us. And I also promise that GOOD will happen to us as well. Here’s the thing… can you DO anything about the future? Can you change it or anything like that?”
“No,” her voice was scared.
“You can’t. Why not?”
“Because that’s impossible…”
“And what about the past? Can you change it?”
“Why not?”
“Because it’s already happened and gone.”
“That’s true. There is nothing we can do to change the past. We can’t change the past and we can’t try and fix the future. The only thing we CAN DO is BE RIGHT NOW.”
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“Well,” I thought for a minute, “If you only worry about Dad and his future, you’re missing out on what’s going on right now. What’s going on RIGHT NOW? This moment is the only time we really, truly have.”
“There’s lights…” she offered.
“City lights! We don’t have those in Joseph City,” I said.
“There’s stores…”
“There’s a roller coaster!” My son joined in.
“How do you feel now, Lacy? Do your shoulders and chest still feel tight and heavy?”
“Not as much, but still some.”
“Let’s keep playing…”

And so we learned about This Moment which gift has been my greatest these days.

By the time we pulled into Grammy’s driveway, Lacy was laughing and quoting her favorite Studio C skit.

This Moments is all we have, really. This is the moment to breathe, rest, see, soak. This is the moment to eat something nourishing to thank our bodies, to send that text, to listen to our intuition tell us THE NEXT THING TO DO.

This Moment is all we have to kiss a cheek that may not be with us tomorrow, to hold a hand that may need holding. This moment is when we see God and we will miss Him if we’re too busy living in the shadow of the past or the looming unknown of the future.
What good is a life if it passes by unrealized?

Life isn’t about the money, the clothes, the hair, the cars, or weight. It isn’t about events or vacations or even accomplishments.

It’s about love.
God loves us, and we see it when we’re still. We see it in the sun, the song on Pandora, the way a butterfly glides through our path.
We love ourselves, and we feel it when we’re still. We feel it when we make our bed, wash a dish with gratitude, or bathe our able and perfectly capable body.
We love others, and show it when we’re still. We can hear God tell us who needs a text, a message, a call or maybe even dinner. God loves them as he loves me.
Others love us, and we feel it when we are still.

Be still in the moment.
Listen to God, listen to yourself, and you will truly, truly hear others.

To love another person, to love yourself, is to see the face of God. For God is within every living thing.

So sink your feet into the living earth, open your arms to the living Sun and as you walk through today… release the tension in your shoulders, release yourself from the shackles of the past and the future and chomp down on the moment in front of you.
Absolutely devour it.

God has the future in hand. Trusting Him is so hard for me, but when I’m able to let go and trust God, I feel so incredibly free. I am catching glimpses of what it’s really like to LIVE for the first time.

And I sing this those at the top of my lungs as I blow dry my hair in the morning. I understand what she means.

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.

As I drove down that stretch of new highway with my oil gauge faltering and my cell phone failing, I took a deep breath and told myself there was a reason Danny and I forgot the check the oil. There was a reason I was stalled. God was taking care of me in His own meticulous way.  Maybe there’s an accident ahead or a pack of elk waiting to obliterate my vehicle, out to finish what they started all those years ago.  I could feel the surface waters in my life rippling and reeling and I made a conscious decision to dive deeper into my lake -to a place where the surface didn’t matter, the place where God sings peace to my heart and reminds me that All is Well.
Then I looked up, and there He was.
So I took a very irresponsible picture while driving.
11921839_988161591204166_4096692869831172319_oI regret nothing.

To Camping IV and To School

The last morning of our camping trip, Lacy and I struck out for The Bridge. Each time we drove into our campground, we drove over a bride -it was a mile or so away from our campsite, and Lacy and I were wanting to hike to it. As we approached it, we found out it is on The Arizona Trail -a trail that spans the state vertically.


We had a nice visit as we walked…
“Mom, when we first came camping, I didn’t know if I was ready to make the trailer my home. But now? I NEVER want to leave!”
Sweet kid.

We checked out of our camp and headed in Flagstaff where Dad took the older two shoe shopping and came back with a pair of shoes for Alice that made her say, “OH MY GOSSSS!”
I sat out in the truck with Alice for an hour and a half while Dad helped the kids. Dad’s particular when it comes to shoes…
I made the best of my sweaty time (we had to stay outside with our pup) by writing a bit in my handy dandy journal:

We made it home in time to make a snack for the pack meeting, after which we headed across the street for the kids’ school open house. Just like that, summer vacation slipped through time and became filed away in our memories. It’s bittersweet.
Why is time suddenly flying by?


So we’re back into the swing of school and schedules. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes it’s the weekend.

Daily Do’s

Sometimes I feel defeated.  It’s not hard because I have a toddler.

Yesterday that defeated feeling began to turn to shame, and I took a time out.  I put the kids in front of dinner which was in front of a movie, and I took the dogs for a walk and then pulled weeds in the garden.  I hadn’t done much movement yesterday, so I wanted to let my body MOVE.

It got me thinking less about what I’m NOT doing and more about what I AM doing.




I’m doing a lot of listening…

listening to my body, listening to music, listening to my Soul Needs.

…You’ve got so much soul…

To Camping III

0805151201Our third day out camping brought our Papa to us. We started our day out with bacon, eggs, orange juice and grits which meant both Danny and his Dad were in heaven.
We drove out to Lower Lake Mary and Upper Lake Mary and finally settled on a dock where we could toss our lines out into the muddy water.  The wind was against us, but luckily kids don’t care about that!  They just wanted to see if they could out-cast themselves.

I took Bronco for a mile-long hike which he hated me for.  Poor arthritic pup!

The kids all took turns in Papa’s kayaks, but Lacy made sure everyone knew that they belonged to her.
She cried when Trenton went out on the lake in it:
Though Trenton wasn’t crying!
When they came back in, Alice took her proper possessive state. Ain’t no one sittin’ in “da liddle boat” but her!
Lacy was the last to go:
I didn’t go at all.
I don’t like boats. Or swimming. But I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures! And I enjoyed The Upset Baby falling asleep in my arms. I had one solid hour of just sitting on the shores, listening to water lapping, birds chirping. It was so nice, so refreshing! Danny was jealous of my cuddle time.
We had no luck catching fish, but Papa tossed his line in and started teaching the kids how to fish for crayfish. We caught at least 40! The kids were thrilled.
Danny and his Dad have such nice hands -they are hand twins.
Danny’s Dad actually caught a fish under the dock but it got away. So close!
Lacy was the sweetest picture of childhood with her bare feet danging off the side of the dock, her pole in the water:
And when she crawled up on the railing, I just smiled. So sweet! I’m so grateful the kids have the opportunity to fish in bare feet in the summer time!
Her and Trent were catching so many crayfish -she bravely picked them up and threw them back out! I *almost* picked one up. So she wins The Brave Girl award… and I win clean hands.
I kept Alice by my side because discovering nature with a toddler is like seeing it through brand new eyes. This kid has NO agenda but to be present with where she is:
Watching Danny teach her how to catch crayfish was so cute.
Her face tells ALL her feelings on crayfish!
I feel the SAME WAY, baby.
We stayed out in the sun WAY too long, and that meant that Mom was spent… so for dinner we had Cafe Rio. It was the best choice for everyone involved. Danny and I reflected on that day -August 3rd, 2015. Three years ago to the DAY we had gone to the Dr. and found out we were having a baby GIRL and then we headed out camping.
And there we were WITH that baby girl out camping again.
Life has changed so much in three short years.

Dirty Thirty -The Weekend Getaway

Yesterday I turned 30.
The entire weekend was a sort of Kim K and George Bailey mash-up where I felt completely self-indulgent and took a million selfies while the stream of birthday greetings from phone, text, facebook and voxer helped me feel like I really mattered to other people.

I knew Danny was planning SOMEthing, but he wouldn’t tell me what because there’s nothing that Danny loves more than birthdays AND surprises. Friday morning, Danny told me to go about my day as usual but to
1) Not shower before work
2) Go to work
3) Shower and get dolled up AFTER work
4) Not ask anymore questions.

I even plucked my chin hairs.
Danny cleaned our car out REALLY well -something he actually loves to do.
He picked the kids up from school, packed a bag for them and sent them off with my Aunt. He asked me to pack a bag and then loaded me up in the clean car.
“Your birthday chariot!”

We went down the road and visited, talked about the kids…
When I turned 25, I promised myself that I’d spend my 30th birthday at the spa getting ALL THE THINGS done. A massage, a mani-pedi… just do it all for once in my life! I said to myself, “When the day comes around, you’re going to try and talk yourself out of it, but YOU MUST DO THIS THING.”
As they day came around, I didn’t talk myself out of it so much as change the direction up a little.

The past two years of my life have brought a lot of change… physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually -basically every facet of my life has shifted. I’ve been working some form of a 12-step process for 4 years, and the round I’m doing right now has been the most far-reaching.
When we were out camping, I saw the chaotic surface of the lake lapping, lapping and I thought how much of my life used to look just like that: a chaotic surface of a life.
Each time I work the 12-steps, my life goes deeper… more still, and the more I work out the more I find there is to work ON. As my mental health has healed, I feel God opening up a peaceful way for my BODY to heal as well.
In short, God wants me to make amends to myself and my body.

In yoga this morning, Instructor Taura said, “I find the way I treat myself is the way I treat others.”

As I’ve dipped myself past a surface life, I’ve found that I have more compassion for myself, less judgement, more patience, more acceptance and YES! I find now that I have more patience with others, less judgement, more compassion and acceptance.

As the time drew near for my 30th birthday, I found that I DID want to spend time and money on myself, but in a different way. I decided to start sending the right messages to myself.
I’ve worn out my 6 year old tennis shoes. I haven’t had my hair so much as trimmed in two years… I decide my 30th would be a time of amends. Buy the things that send the right messages! And burn the things that don’t!

I didn’t know what Danny was planning, but he assured me I’d have some time for a little shopping. Whenever I’d ask what we were doing, he’d reply, “All will be made known in due time.”
Smuggy Smuggerson.

We headed out of town, and as we pulled into Flagstaff, my husband had me put on a blindfold and within 20 minutes, we had arrived at our destination!
(As it turns out, Danny unknowingly did the same thing I did for HIS 30th birthday without realizing it. So yahoo for having one mind? Ha!)

He told me we had a few hours to get dressed up and play downtown before our late dinner reservations. Danny had called ahead at the restaurant and the Bed and Breakfast to let them know about my gluten issues, and I appreciated that so much! It saved me from having to explain.
As we strolled along downtown Flagstaff, we found a thrift store full of vintage clothing.
It was just like The Room of Requirements at Hogwarts. It was PERFECT and appeared JUST when I needed it. We had a blast rummaging through all the old beautiful garb.
And I came home with the most unnecessary pants in the history of pants. And some funky glasses that Lacy won’t part with.
And I could have resisted a postcard, but I didn’t:
Danny reserved us a table we’d sat at twice before, and so it was written in stone -set in figurative GRANITE -we now have A TABLE at A RESTAURANT and when they make a movie about our lives, they will talk about it.
We decided to order things we’ve never tried before, and we knew it The Cottage Place is the safest place to try something new because the head chef, Frank, is immensely gifted when it comes to food.
His restaurant is fancy enough to make you feel important and small enough to make it feel personal.
The napkins alone, my friends…
I went with lamb and couldn’t stop quoting My Big, Fat Greek Wedding.
“He don’t eat no meat?! That’s okay… I make lamb.”
Danny went with duck:
We started our meal with their fresh bread and magic butter -I’ve been trying to figure this butter out for YEARS. This weekend I had a bit of a breakthrough in recognizing chives… I’m pretty sure there’s chives in that butter. And I’m also fairly sure the butter is made there, mostly because they make their own certain types of cheese, and making butter is relatively easy compared to cheese.
I gobbled up a perfect spinach with magic pecans (seriously, this place!) and Danny gobbled up lobster bisque:
We were perfectly filled, and I’m still dreaming of that mint sauce… and yes, I picked up the lamb by the bone and ate it with my hands. Ah, the perks of LATE dinner reservations! No one was around to care.
And if they were, I don’t know that I’d actually care if they cared… I wanted every little bit of that meat!
I used the bathroom and found that not only was the ceiling painted to look like the clouds at the end of “Sleeping Beauty” but there was a TABLE in the bathroom with CHAIRS and Frank’s own cookbook. Fun!


I also snapped ANOTHER selfie -just wanted to remember my outfit. It’s one of my favorites, I found the skirt at a free clothing exchange and the shirt was given to me by Tia years and years ago. I fall in love with free clothes:

We headed back to our room -my favorite room -where everything is bookish and cozy and the world forgets you exist.

The next morning we went on a brisk walk, we stretched our limbs out on the green lawn of the bed and breakfast and then went in for some delicious breakfast!
We packed up quick, had a nice visit with the owners, Laurel and Richard, and then we were sent off with some goodies including the recipe for that delicious custard!
I was able to do some shopping to make my self amends -bought THE GOOD foundation that I always convince myself I don’t need. I bought a new outfit at Target -I rarely buy NEW clothes, and it felt so good!
Then Danny surprised me further by dropping me off at a salon to get my hair cut and colored:
I had no one to quote Studio C to:

“Leave it in for a week!”
Danny and I also woke up to an egged car (BOO!) but then our car was given the SPA treatment by the local car wash (remember, Danny loves clean cars) and now Danny wants to buy a membership to the car wash that lives over an hour away from us.
And I just love the cool car washes that PULL your car through. It’s like Disneyland.
Danny thew me in the car after our appointment so I could change into my new clothes, and we went out for sushi! Something we LOVE to do together.
On our way to the restaurant, we stopped off to visit old friends:
Our sushi didn’t disappoint but it never does!
After we ate, we grocery shopped without kids. It took NO TIME AT ALL. I think the entire weekend was coated in some kind of magic.

Here’s a spattering of “leftover” photos. Such a memorable weekend -we sure do love our little getaways!



The dining area in the bed and breakfast is my favorite!0815150906a


I have no clever title for what happened yesterday.  It was… well, it just needs to be recorded for posterity, and that’s all we’ll say about that.

On 8/11/15 (Dad’s birthday!) I set my alarm for 6:20 AM the next day. I needed to get up and moving -scriptures, prayer, breakfast, kids ready for school. I wanted to pick up the house Alice had destroyed (along with my get-up and go) before my cousin Clarissa came over with my cousin Annelie so we could throw a tiny celebration in honor of Clarissa turning 18. Then I would be off to work…
6:20 AM would give me enough time.

Except my alarm did NOT go off. God smiled kindly upon me and had my friend, Beki, call me at 7:15 to ask if her daughter could walk with mine to an after school activity.
I POPPED out of bed.
After school activity!
I’d forgotten!

I wrote a note to Lacy’s teacher, pulled the children out of bed and had them from bed to bus in FIFTEEN MINUTES. Ask me how I did that! I dare you!
Answer: no clue.
Wait, maybe it had something to do with the Fruity Pebbles I shoved in my mouth? Energy rush much?

By the time Annelie and Clarissa came over, there was hot chocolate and I was prepping cinnamon toast. I had skipped my scriptures and prayer and healthy breakfast -I knew it would affect me later in the day, but I took a deep breath and did my best to take the next step forward.
I put on Studio C.

And I gotta say: if you’re going to have a morning routine disrupt, it should include Studio C. I started my crazy, disruptive day belly laughing so hard I cried.

We cleaned up our hot cocoa and toast, laughed with Clarissa and talked about Disneyland and then I packed up Alice and made it to work late looking and feeling like:

While there, Alice sat next to me on a tall, red stool watching youtube videos and demanding a bean burrito from Ruth -our sweet weekly Mexican Food making woman.
“Hey!” Alice threw out her hand and horrified her mother, “Hey!” She beckoned for a burrito which her Grandpa paid for and I hid my face in shame. Pretty soon, Dad took Alice to run some errands with him and Grandma, and I went home to an empty house.
Well, void of people but NOT of Bronco.

I decided to hit “reset” on the day and do my dailies (scriptures, prayer…) right then. Danny and I are trying to connect spiritually with each other and thought it would be a great idea to send a piece of our scripture reading to each other each day, if we read.
Danny has sent me some insightful stuff, and I think I might reserve a post just for those… but the one I found yesterday was SO NICE. It is a perfect companion scripture for the studying I’ve been doing on temporal salvation, health, The Word of Wisdom…
Those verses gave me a sort of PUMP, and I hit my knees with gratitude -thanking God for the chance to hit the “reset” button and ALSO sneaking me an extra hour of sleep that morning, for the rain that had been falling, for the earth that felt so much like my playground, for the chance to spend time with Him at a crucial day where I’d been unsteady and unbalanced.
Unbalanced meaning I’d been so OFF, and I knew WHY and was struggling to return to sanity. I’d gone to yoga with Taura on Monday and fallen over and over and over. I mean, I USUALLY fall over when I do yoga but on Monday it was RIDICULOUS. Thank goodness the earth is a healing element, right? Right?
I just soaked up the goodness earth has to offer while I was down there.

So with the word “balance” on my mind, I got up from my knees and channeled my favorite youtube yoga.

Bronco hated the whole idea:
IMG_20150812_131855Just before my routine ended, my Alice came into the house and immediately began shaking things up.  If I thought Bronco was against my doing yoga, he had nothing on Alice.

“I meeda dwink.  Get it, okay?  Be all done, yoga!  All done!  Get up, Mama!”
I only had to pause and resume three times in the last 15 minutes. So all in all, it was only mostly disruptive.

After yoga, Alice took a snack in her high chair and watched Daniel Tiger (and Baby Margret! who is the newest celebrity in our house) while I stitched up a pillow that’s been pooping fluff all over my floor. I listened to some voxer messages and felt almost human talking with other women. Blessed afternoon.

I wrapped up my sewing and socializing in time to prepare for cub scouts. I made granola for a snack which ended up being pointless because Danny came home and made popcorn and it turns out boys like popcorn and NOT toasted oatmeal mixed with almonds.

We researched fish in our area and after taking the boys home vacuumed up all manner of popcorn and dirt. THAT’S what little boys are made of! Lacy came home from her after-school activity and we watched Studio C as a family and also? EXHALED as a family.

I saw a storm rolling in, so I got our wildest dog out of his kennel to take him for a quick walk/jog. During the big storms, we have to bring him inside and I wanted him calm. Well, Lacy wanted to go too!
And if Mom is going and Lacy is going, then Alice will go!
And well, if you guys are going then I’ll come along and Dad makes 4.
So Trent decides he might as well make it a Party of 5.

I ran the dog ragged and he ran me ragged, and we all gathered back together near our garden and pulled together to pull weeds. LOTS of weeds which our crazy dog insisted on chasing and thrashing as we threw them out.
Thunder rolled in the distance and then the not-so-distant and before we knew it, it was CRASH BOOMING right over our heads. We piled inside, gathered around the kitchen counter and colored together.
It’s amazing how much kids will open up when you color with them… We had a pretty interesting talk with our school agers about bullies.

As the rain began really pelting down, Danny got worried about the third dog and so? We brought him in and put him in the inside kennel.

This picture is for you… in case you’ve got a hankering for writing prose or poetry and need some inspiration.  Rain falling on a window!


As soon as the rain stopped, Danny took a call and there was a knock on the door. Our cousin, Seth, came over to play games for an hour, during which time a family friend stopped by with some God-sent information on food storage.

I was sauteing squash, onions and garlic, visiting with my Mom on the phone and somehow managing to keep Alice on the counter next to me which is where she will always be if I’m in the kitchen.  Because she wanna hewp.

While I grated cheese, Danny started “checking in” with me.  Every day, we try to check in on how each other is going:


And then we list one victory for ourselves and one victory for our spouse. This script was given to us, we weren’t in touch with our needs enough to figure it out ourselves… but it works well for us. It gives us a chance to really touch base in pretty much every area. Only, Danny couldn’t really finish because he had to keep leaving to batten down the hatch, stop rain leaks, play video games, keep the kids from choking each other.
He covered physically, emotionally, spiritually…

After Seth’s Mom picked him up, we ate together. After the kids let us know how making them eat squash was torture and we made them eat it anyway, they all ended up bathed and PJ’d.  I rolled the girls’ hair up in socks while we watched Bible videos (family scripture time!) and hoped it would make the next morning easier… just in case my alarm decided NOT to go off again:


We prayed together and sent the kids to bed with kisses and they only got out once.
Alice came out to let us know she needed her “braids” out because she couldn’t sleep. The socks came out and the baby went back to bed.
Danny and I sat together in a living room that would have been quiet had it not been for the pacing dog. We sipped hot chocolate and Danny said.
And we laughed so hard. WHAT A DAY. Life isn’t usually like this?!

Can we get back to the school routine? Will THIS be the end of our hero?!

I crawled under the covers last night and reviewed a quote I’ve loved a lot lately:
In the midst of the whirl storm that sometimes comes into our lives -whether that storm is literal and leaking water through your windows or figurative and stealing your serenity away -there is a safe place within ourselves, untouched by drama of any kind.

It is light, truth, and divinity.
And today I found it. Sometimes that place seems to shift like the staircases at Hogwarts, but when I find it, I bask in residence.

And perhaps someday, I’ll set up permanent residency as did Viktor Frankl -no amount of outside influence could steal away the liberty he found within himself as he spent time in the death camp of Auschwitz.

It is impossible without God.
God is my sanity, and I am his treasure… come what may.

To Camping II

I’m not a huge camper, but I love hiking.  I was excited to be in a place where I could just strike out without organizing a sitter… Danny stayed with the kids and I took Bronco and away we went!  Almost every morning, I was able to take this trooper out for a little hike:

The kids got a kick out of the pictures I’d bring home.  They couldn’t get enough of the squirrels. I had to take a picture of one up in a tree, chittering loudly:0804150815

I found this nice little cove-ish area where I could pray.  One morning I took my yoga mat and iPad down there and stretched out -it was awesome.  There were a few flies that REFUSED to share their space.  I mean once those guys found you, YOU WERE DEAD.  But until then, it was a great place to breath and gain perspective:0804150834



I loved coming home one morning to find Danny making a hearty breakfast.  He’d pulled the kids beds back into the couch and table.  He made toast on a little griddle:



It was amazing -even he ate and loved the toasted gluten free bread.  If it’s toasted, he’ll eat it.  If not, forget it:0804150848a

Lacy said to me, “When we first took the camp trailer out, I wasn’t ready to make it my home.  But now I never want to leave!”  But that’s only because she’s 8.  If she were 13, she’d be SO READY to have her own space!  I do have to agree, though, that it’s pretty awesome to have a tiny house all to ourselves:0804150848b

One of the camp site’s workers dropped off some paint, brushes and glitter at our camp site for our kids to play with.  They were in heaven!  People like that always inspire me to be give more.  I love it!








This was my favorite view while camping.  She’d stand outside the door and call out, “KNOCK! KNOCK!” until I’d open the door.  And then she’d say, “Sanks, Mom!”0804150848d

After we’d cleaned brushes and left the pine cones out to dry, we drove out to Mormon Lake.  I’ve been dreaming of seeing this lake since I was a kid!  And this is what we found:

All of the dark green is where the lake USED to be.  The little pond-ish creature to the right is what’s left.  Boo!  Boo on the drought!  Boo for not seeing the lake earlier in my life!  We drove into the little Mormon Lake community and played by a pond while Dad filled us up with gas.  It was idyllic.0804151345




We took ourselves out to the lake we’d fished the evening before.  Alice and I went to play in an area where there were no fishermen.  We threw rocks in the water so hard they splashed our faces.  I skipped rocks and hit my personal best record: 5!  It felt good to yell out my accomplishment to the world… because when you’re a mom, your life is LESS about personal accomplishments and MORE about the kids’s accomplishments: peeing in the right places at the right times, for instance.

So the rock skipping?  It was a pretty big deal.  I was happy to see that God noticed… check out this perfect heart-shaped skipping stone He sent me!0804151449

Alice went from putting her feet in the lake to climbing the rocks.  She called it, “I DA KING A’DA WORLD!”  I encouraged her.  Because there’s no greater feeling:queenoftheworld

I made sure there were a couple pictures of me in the mix. I’ve made a promise to myself to get IN FRONT of the camera when I can for posterity reasons.  Also, I used to love looking at old pictures of my parents, but they were scarce!

So here’s Mom in Dad’s hat and -for the first time since she was in first grade… leggings!

When I was growing up, my Mom always had Kool-Aid on hand. Fruit Punch Kool-Aid. We thought it was the only kind… We liked it because kids like Kool-Aid.  And then one day my Mom went to the store and WE SAW.  WE SAW ALL THE KOOL-AID! There are 70 or a million flavors!  We asked her, “Why?  Why do we only get the Fruit Punch?”  And she said it’s the one our Dad likes.

My legs are feeling a little like I did in that moment.  All this time, there’s been these comfy leggings that feel just like our skin and you’ve been putting us in JEANS!  WHY?!?!?!?!  And now it’s hard to take them off to leave the house.  I clean in them and sleep in them and they promise to love me forever.



Here’s my oldest saying, “Watch! I’m going to cast JUST LIKE DAD TAUGHT ME.” Talk about heart melt. It was like a scene out of a Hallmark TV Movie:Lacycast

The next day we met up with PaPa and his kayaks.  It was the crowning day of our trip!

(Though I still feel like my 5 skips was pretty much the deal maker.)