Family Times

I just love families. Aside from being blessed to be born into a really great one, I was doubly blessed to marry into one. Splitting time between the two hasn’t always been easy -we’d like to be with BOTH at once -but it’s never been extraordinarily hard. Each side of the family is understanding.
Thanksgiving week, we spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with my husband’s family. On Tuesday, my brother and sister-in-law took group family pictures for us. SO… for an hour or so on Tuesday, we DID get to be with both families at once. The pictures turned out amazing, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I have to tell you how much I love just being in my in law’s home when most all of the kids are around. My husband is a stud. He’s the man of the house -the leader of the pack. He makes decisions with confidence and he sticks by them. He provides, he protects, and he eats like a man should.
And then I take him home to his mama, and he’s a BOY all over again. I get to see him turn into more of a goof ball… it’s almost as if when he’s around his parents (and away from work) it lifts a little of his heavy responsibilities. Whatever the reason, I absolutely love it.
Tuesday morning, as we were all getting dressed for pictures, I got a little taste of what it might have been like to grow up side-by-side with my husband. I watched his brother yell for a towel from the bathroom, his sister ask Mom if one brother could cut the other’s hair (“NO!”) and I got to watch them laugh together.
It was the best. It made me think of my family and the day my brothers DID cut each other’s hair… the many mornings when there were no towels (or toilet paper). There’s something wonderful about a full house, isn’t there?
My mother-in-law was the Chief of the photo shoot. She asked us all to wear certain things, and even bought most of it herself. And, like everything else she touches, it came out beautifully.

Please excuse my son’s hand over his nose. My father-in-law met a granddaughter for the first time, and Brittany got a picture of it:

We got pictures of the little girls:
And pictures of the big girls:
Pictures of the little boys:
Pictures of the big boys:

And pictures of little, big, and biggest boys:
There are pictures of Moms:
And pictures of Dads:

And pictures of what started it all:

There were little families:
And a very little bit bigger families:

And even growing families:

There were grandpas and grandmas:

And available uncles:

There were pictures taken of little ones by little ones:

And there was even angry birds:
It’s amazing what can come from just two young people falling hopelessly in love:

In this case, it’s an arm full of grand kids.

Five BEAUTIFUL children and one, big happy family:
Thanks go out again to Mike and Brittany for their ALWAYS amazing work.


We didn’t carve pumpkins last year. We wanted to feel bad about it, but we didn’t. Not really. Honestly, we were so tired with two little kids and gardening… we just bagged the idea and focused on the other aspects of Halloween instead. This year, we made SURE that carving pumpkins happened because the girl is old enough to know that if she doesn’t, she’s missing out.
Luckily, I had saved the pumpkin-carving kit that we bought two years ago. I’m not normally a fan of the kits you can buy at the store (like egg dying kits? Who needs ’em?), but I LOVE our pumpkin carving kit!
The kids each picked a pattern and we went to it.

The girl took the camera while she was waiting for her Dad to finish carving her pumpkin and took some pictures:

I looked over and saw her taking pictures of herself. When I asked her what she was doing, she said, “I needa take these of me to send to Grammy. She will LOVE them.”

She was also thoughtful enough to take pictures of the house so in 20 years I can remember just how awesome it is to work my tail off cleaning one day and have the house looking like I hadn’t touched in in three months the next day! Yay!
I baked cinnamon rolls while we carved, and we ate them for dinner. I know I should have made something else, but it was a rainy, cold, cinnamon roll day and by the time I got done making the cinnamon rolls, I was done cooking.
The boys made themselves Ramen noodles to go with their cinnamon rolls.
The girls contented themselves with rich gooey deliciousness. Lacy LOVED the gooey cinnamon rolls. The gooey pumpkin guts? Not so much. She burst into tears after I took this and begged to go wash her hands.

That’s my artwork. Lucky for me, the boy chose one of the easiest patterns in the book.

The kids are so excited to have their pumpkins done. I’m glad we didn’t skip it this year -it’s worth it to see how happy they are (after they get over the shock of the nasty pumpkin guts). We laughed as Trent said, “It’s eye is BROKEN!” as I popped out one eye on his pumpkin.
And we laughed as Trent cooed, “Smile, Pumpkins!” as we took pictures of them in the dark.
And yes, we even laughed as Lacy bawled her eyes out because her hands were dirty.
And then I laughed as I took a picture Lacy had taken and made it my own. His eyebrows really make it too easy for me. See how they form points? I realize this is overdone, but you have to understand how much fun it is to turn your husband into a blood-sucking vampire.

We’ve got 2 Halloween parties on the schedule today -one for the kids and one for us. Costume pictures to come!

Grandpa’s Shop. Grandpa’s Horses. Grandpa’s Awesome.

I dropped my jeep off at Dad’s shop this morning for a service. The kids and I had the opportunity to walk home. I always sort of dread that walk (no stroller!) until I’m in the middle of it.
Isn’t life kind of like that? When Dad would wake us up in the early mornings to go work in the garden, we would always moan and groan until we were smack dab in the middle of the cornfield singing, “Daddy won’t sell the farm” at the top of our lungs… then we were laughing.
There are exceptions to that rule (labor and delivery, for instance), but today was not one of them. The kids and I hopped over cracks in the sidewalk. We counted ants. I told them lies about how naughty children get tossed in the cement wells over the irrigation ditch and they giggled because their mother is just SO GOOD at lying.
I even got to teach them that the artsy looking white splats on the sidewalk were, in very fact, bird poopies. It made their day.
The walk home has other treats. We stopped of at great-grandma’s house for a quick hello, and then we stopped off at the Grandpa’s horses to feed them weeds (every horses dream, right?).

Cousin Dolly came running by and we got to have some laughs with her. She walked with us a while, and just as she left, GRANDPA HIMSELF came cruising up. The kids went bonkers as grandpa promised them doggy doo-doo (which, if you’re a frequent blog reader, you know is actually Rice Krispie Treats) (Grandpa is a much better liar than I).
He promised me half a bag of squeaky cheese that he’d picked up on his drive home from Utah this week.

So to recap, today’s walk went something like this:

Grandpa’s shop
Grandpa’s mom
Grandpa’s horses
Grandpa’s niece

And we all walked home as visions of doggy doo doo and squeaky cheese danced in our heads.
Thanks for the laughs (and the oil and the horses), Dad!

Weekend of Madness

This weekend, we were crazy busy. My sister is leaving tomorrow morning to enter the MTC, and I’ve been overly-emotional about the whole thing.
I wish I had the ability to cry like a normal person. I don’t get emotional very often, but when I do… it’s ugly. It’s literally ugly.
I look horrid.

Sure, it’s only 18 months.
Sure, it will go faster than I think.
Sure, sure, sure.


I know all this, and I’m sure I’ll be okay with it 17 months from now. In reality, I’m super excited for her and all of the adventures she’s going to have. Think of the ways she’s going to grow! I just wish I could text her, you know? Check up on her, you know? Message her pictures of my kids when they cover each other with clothespins!
As it is, I’ll have to settle with real letters, packages absolutely STUFFED to the max, patience, and prayer.

A few months ago, my sister took me to an amazing Greek restaurant. A few weeks later, I found a recipe online for less-than-authentic gyros, and we decided to make them together. Then we forgot to remember to do until until last week, and that’s when everything started going crazy. Tonight is our last chance. I’ve got most everything to crank out a delicious dinner (and a fat cheesecake, of course), and I’m looking forward to having my family gather around my table tonight.
I’ll miss eating with my sister -food is something we bond over, and given that we both love cooking, we have some pretty awesome adventures.
In a year and a half, she’ll be able to teach me how to feed my family for a week using one fish… I bet.

I was thrilled when she text me one morning asking if I’d like to trek to Denny’s with her for an early morning breakfast. She promised to have me back before my husband went to work. As luck would have it, my husband had to go in early, so I pushed back our breakfast date a few days.
Saturday morning, we did it. 6:45 am we left town and headed for the nearest Denny’s.
Breakfast is our favorite meal.

Years ago, when I was in college, I came home to visit and I woke my sister up ridiculously early. We threw on sweaters and drove to Denny’s for hot chocolate.
It started something of a tradition for us. A few months ago, we woke up early and drove an hour and 15 minutes JUST to eat breakfast at the nearest IHOP (a sort of dream for the both of us).
Saturday, we went for the last time in 18 months. Thank goodness she thought to ask me.

(Notice the cantaloupe pushed to the side.  We were afraid of The Deathly Poison.)

We pull out all the stops for our breakfasts, and we order radically. French toast with a side of hash browns? Yes, for a few hours on those early mornings, the menu is our oyster and we take it for everything it’s got.

Our goal this Saturday was to convince the waitress we were traveling using only our appearance.
As we grabbed to-go boxes, she handed us some extra plastic silverware.
“You’ll probably end up needing this,” she said, kindly. We thanked her and grinned like idiots… it looked like we’d fooled her. Our tourist costumes were flawless! A couple seconds later, our waitress came back and gave us a big plastic bag.
“You’re going to want this bag while you’re on the road. It makes all the difference,” she said.
Our idiot grins turned into full-blown laughter and we got the biggest kick out of ourselves. We were genuine tricksters.
And yes, we are THAT easily entertained.
Want to see our costumes?

It turns out if you want to look touristy, all you have to do is wake up, but tennis shoes on, grab a sweater and resist any and every urge to better your appearance.
I didn’t even brush my teeth because I’ve learned the hard way that Colgate aftertaste absolutely RUINS a tall glass of orange juice.

I must big goodbye to my sister breakfasts for 18 months.
I don’t want to, you know.
But my sister has bigger things to do right now. I’ll have to settle with mailing her tiny packages of Krust-eez pancake batter.
I can’t think about that now, though. I’ve got a house to clean, (cleaning day!) bread to make, (pita bread is expensive to buy!) and a meal to put together (opa!).


My husband hacked off his facial hair for family pictures. I’ve enjoyed seeing his gorgeous face for a few days, never mind that he’s already in the process of growing his beard back.

Our family picture adventure was a success! My brother was the chief photographer (working hard while his wife shot pictures at a wedding), and he did an amazing job! I never doubted him for a moment because I’ve known him long enough to know that whenever he does a job, he does it perfectly -no matter what it is. He’s the very best! And he’s sooooo handsome.

See? What a looker! But really:

I lub him.

We lived across the hall from each other for years, and I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to just slip back in time -just for a few hours -to sit on the couch in his room. Those were some good days. Those were some emotional roller-coaster ride days as well. Ah, high school.

Anyway, Mike did an amazing job, and my kids love him. We took the pictures just west of town on my grandpa’s land. There were corrals and cornfields and sunflowers everywhere (obviously). We all got et up by mosquitoes (poor Mike was such a champ) but it was WORTH it! Stay tuned for more pictures!


On the 16th, my son turned “fwee.” We got him everything he asked for and then some.
We asked him time and time again, “What do you want for your birthday?”
And time and time again, he answered, “Toy Story Cake and big gun.”

His Dad knew exactly what gun he wanted, and I took care of the cake. My husband has always been the stellar gift-giver in our family. I try really hard, but it just comes naturally to him. I sent him off to get the boy’s gifts, and he kept calling me.
“What about this?”
“Should I get that?”
“What color of…?”

I finally cut him off and said, “You know better than me! Get what you think would be best!”
And so he did.

A backpack!
Iron Man sunglasses!

The boy is big into backpacks. He actually slept with that thing on last night. And he’s presently clutching it in his little hands.
I’m no master cake maker to say NOTHING of my cake designing skills. I’m not big on fondant because
1) I don’t know how to use it.
2) I’m not big on the taste -even the homemade kind.
3) The kids don’t like it all that much.

So it was a losing cause. There is a Buzz Lightyear cake pan at Michael’s, but I would have had to make sure the cake didn’t stick AT ALL to the pan, and I’m pretty much the best at making cakes stick.
You would think all of this would add up to me just BUYING a Toy Story Cake, but no. No, I can’t do that.
And it’s all my mother’s fault.

Growing up, she would make us each a cake for our birthdays. I would sit by her side as she patiently dotted my care bear and Barbie cakes with icing. When she was done with the cake, she would pipe the leftover frosting onto my palm, making stars and faces… it was the best. I remember how exciting it was to SMELL the cake baking, to see Mom’s decorating kit on the counter. My children deserve the same. I have a feeling that in a few years, when they’re old enough to see the reality of Mom’s Botched Cakes (should I trademark that?), they’ll BEG for a regular store bought cake. BUT UNTIL THAT DAY… I will bake and frost and eat half of the icing.

Instead of buying a Buzz cake pan, I decided to buy Toy Story figurines and jam into the icing on top of the cake. The figurines, I should note, cost the same amount as the cake pan would have. Isn’t that madness?

Also, when I bake layered cakes, I use one cake mix and make three layers. I don’t know WHAT kept me from thinking straight. I thought I should make a four layer cake, and because my brain is on some kind of Primary overhaul, I did simple math.
4 layers.
2 cake mixes.
2 layers per mix.

And I didn’t realize exactly what I was getting myself into until I started stacking the layers, and then I went… ooooooooops.
Tack one more onto Mom’s Botched Cakes!
I set the cake on a glass platter, and I set the glass platter onto a glass candlestick.
You all know how I feel about cake platters.

This is what four layers looks like:

One layer of confetti cake, one layer of white cake with blue food coloring. And repeat. I asked the boy what color he wanted the layers to be, and he said:
“Toy Story.”
“Ok, but what COLOR of Toy Story cake? Blue? Green? Orange?”
“I want Toy Story.”
“Blue Toy Story? Green Toy Story?…” I gently prodded. At this point he literally GRIT HIS TEETH and through clenched jaw hissed, “TOY STORY.”
Wowza, he’s a regular birthday-zilla.

And speaking of birthdays… we had one a few days ago! A brand new niece! I’ve been dying to post some pictures of her, and I can’t WAIT to see her in person.
Welcome to the world, Olivia!

Family Pictures Scheduled

Months and months ago, I set a date to have family pictures taken by Brushfire Photography.

That day, lords and ladies, is today. I’m excited, but I’m not one of those awesome moms that shows at at photo shoots with adorable props, coordinating outfits, and super original pose ideas. To quote my daughter, I’m just regoo-ler.
And that’s okay. Honestly, if I did hang family pictures on our wall of us in coordinating clothes and cute poses, everyone would say “Why do you have a big picture of strangers on your wall?” And I’d have to go through the painstaking process of explaining that the perfectly posed and coordinated people on my wall were actually US. And then I’d have to endure their stifled laughter.

So it’s really better this way. My husband picked out some clothes for us that sort of match, and we’re taking along a change of clothes for more relaxed and funzy pictures.
But really.
I wish yesterday could have gone a little better.

As I’m scheming and thinking of picture ideas, my children were terrible and awful. They haven’t been THIS terrible and awful since I don’t know when. All I know is that I was frantically texting my husband, who had to stay late at work, and letting him know that Mama was on the verge of bursting into tears.

The kids fought ALL day long. She stole his toys repeatedly and then she chased him around the house for the sole purpose of hearing him scream. And scream he did. He’d scream all the way to my side, and by the fifth time it had happened, I hurled him back into the game and commanded that he GET HER BACK and NOT PUT UP WITH BEING CHASED. So he did. And a few seconds later, a screaming girl was at my side, claiming “he HIT me!” to which I replied, “Well it’s about time!”
And that’s when I knew something was up. Mothers should never condone bad behavior. Frazzled mothers often do, though, on account of the frazzledness.
I got a lot done yesterday -never mind the little dears -and that felt pretty good. I made homemade laundry soap, four loaves of zucchini bread (the little darlings sabotaged an entire loaf while it cooled, but never mind that as well), made and canned salsa, did the dishes, folded the laundry, made phone calls, and I even got to BATHE.
As I went to put away some laundry I had folded, I came across this (please note that “picked up the hallway” was NOT on my list of things I accomplished yesterday):
My son taught himself how to use scissors. How maddeningly proud I am. I love it when my kids teach themselves how to do something. I puff up my chest, but only so long as it takes me to get the vacuum… and I didn’t even get that chance. Because as I took that picture, my son came and told me that the girl done pooped.

And that was it. I cashed in my sanity card and the texts to my husband became nearly hostile.
I reported the pooper and got no sympathy at all. He thought it was funny, but it wasn’t. So help me, it was NOT!
Stop laughing!

By the end of the night, I guzzled a brownie, washed it down with milk and then went straight to bed.
Today we’re going to take family pictures.
Today we’re going to like each other, even if we have to FAKE it.
Today we’re going to make memories that we’ll look at in 15 years and say “awwww…”
But most of all, we’re going to steer clear of trees…

I’m Grateful for the Moon…

My husband and I have always had a special sort of dynamic to our relationship. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, so I’ll illustrate instead.
As noted in my previous post, my motivation and creativity have been debunked. This means I’ve spent the last two days under a blanket reading “The Help” emerging only to tend to necessities. I bathed, fed the children, did a few dishes, made a few meals, bottled the blasted peppers, got the mail, and powdered my nose on occasion.
Other than that? I read a book. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve sat down and read a book of fiction, cover-to-cover? I don’t. Needless to say: it’s been a long time. I think the last time I was able to was when I was in the hospital with an infection a few days after I birthed the boy.
In any case, it felt bloody wonderful.

But my husband, though he wouldn’t say, wouldn’t agree.
Do you know what he did last night? He cleaned. He vacuumed. He completely mucked out the laundry room (on account of it’s flooding while HE did laundry).
You might think: Wow, Alicia is a lazy BUM and doesn’t deserve a husband like that. To which I would say: bollocks. I’m just busted, is all. Out of motivation, energy, and spunk.
My husband is the good sort that picks up where I leave off -partly because he loves me, but mostly because he can’t stand clutter.

This has happened before (don’t pretend to be surprised). The house has gotten away from me, and my husband has managed it while I did something else less amazing. And I’d be et up with guilt the entire time he huffed around the house, broom in hand. I’d berate myself for my lack of… pretty much everything.
If I was really a good wife, I would have had all of this done.
I bet he regrets shacking up with me.
He could have anyone.
I should change my name to Millstone.

But last night, I didn’t. Last night, I was just grateful for him.
I’m grateful for him even though he would have RATHER been resting or reading or playing Stupid Zombies (thanks to Kourtney Butler for that)… he cleaned. Was he happy about it? Not at all. Did he voice it? Not even once.

Though my mind be completely void of anything really and truly fun or inspiring, it is stuffed full of gratitude.

I’m grateful for my husband -the willing man who sticks by my side even when my best foot is rather less than forward and even sometimes in my mouth.
I’m grateful for my kids who show their love through giving me flowers.
And telling me they want to be just like me.
(I wear those stylin’ gloves when I chop up peppers, something I must learn to teach my little sister, apparently)
I’m grateful that in the middle of my slump, I opened my mail box to find THREE packages.
I’m grateful for Loretta in so many ways it would absolutely bore you to nausea to hear about it.
And now I’m grateful I have her zucchini bread recipe.
I’m grateful my mail order vitamins were found and remailed. Is that word: remailed?
They’ve brought strength into my fingernails the likes of which haven’t been seen since I was 17.

Before I get to the last package, I just have to say: I’m grateful my kids aren’t in school yet. I’m grateful I can tote them around with me and I’m grateful they BOTH fit in the front seat of the little electronic rocking trains in Wal-Mart. They’re at the best age, and I’m savoring (almost) every minute with them.Photobucket

Finally: I’m grateful for my brother:
He surprised me with a book RIGHT when I needed it -and how could he have known? I guess because he always does. He always knows what I need to hear when I need to hear it. He’ll always be my Dear Abby.
And because I turned the very last page of that book last last night while my husband mopped, I can get back on my feet today.
Is that a word: reinspired?

Anyway, every sister should have a brother -at least one.
Someone who will share guns and apples and eventually books and life’s joys (and grievances).

I’m falling short and grateful for everyone who has tuned in to pick up my slack.
And I’ll also be grateful if someone can tell me the movie the title is from.
“I’m grateful for the Moon, I’m grateful for the earth…”


For over a year, I’ve had the BEST calling in the world. I loved it SO much -and I couldn’t get enough of it! Every Sunday and Wednesday, I got to see my 12 and 13 year old girls. They told me all about school -all about home. They had a way of making me feel like a million bucks (“Sister Deets, you look like a movie star! I love your hair -it makes your eyes sparkle!” —hello, Compliment I Will Be Living On For the Next 5 Years!). I would be happy to be a Young Women Leader for the remainder of my days.
So when I got a new calling a couple of weeks ago, I spent an entire day engulfed in tears.
And yes, “engulfed” is the right word.

I was brave about it, you know, at first. But if life has taught me anything lately, it’s that you have to DEAL with emotion right when it smacks you across the brow or it will grow like a cancer inside your soul until it erupts in some unexpected, ugly mess that you wish you could take back.
I was brave for all of 5 minutes when I was in the Bishop’s office accepting my calling, but the minute I got to my car and gigantic sunglasses were safely over my face… it all poured out.
As we turned out of the church parking lot and onto the street, I cried out, “I won’t get to see them every Sunday!”
As we turned onto the next street I cried out, “I won’t get to see them every Wednesday!”
And as we turned onto the NEXT street I blared, “I WON’T GET TO GO TO THE TEMPLE WITH THEM!”
Once home, my husband wrapped his arm around me and told me it was okay to refuse callings. He was genuinely worried I was going to lose my mind, poor soul.

Deep, deep down I knew my new calling was for me, and I knew the girls would be put in the hands of someone more deserving and more capable. But as I made Sunday dinner, I privately devised ways to keep myself involved with the Young Women. I was overcome with jealousy, thinking about someone else having “MY” calling. Eventually, after I went through all of the grieving stages (and a few other stages unrelated to grieving), I moved into acceptance.
I sat down at my computer to DEAL with my emotions so they’d stop bubbling up every time I thought of “my” girls.
I wrote them a letter.
But first, I made sure my Kleenex box was right under my nose.

And so I’ve got to say goodbye to them. It makes my heart ache so much you’d think I was about to die. It seems silly, but love has a way of making us all seem silly -even if it isn’t the Romeo and Juliet kind.

I’ll always love “my” girls. No matter how old they get, where they go, or what they do… they’ll always be my girls.

And if one small group of young women can rake my heart over like this, I wonder what an entire Primary will do. Only the future will tell.
And if anyone has any hints, tips, or tricks for a new Primary President, I’m all ears.

Speaking of ears… Dad’s getting ready to sell his fresh corn. He doesn’t have a HUGE field like he used to, so hurry and place your orders! It’s the BEST corn in the world -and it freezes well. There’s nothing better than a bowl of corn chowder in the middle of winter. I promise. No matter what my KIDS say… there’s nothing better!

Personal Space?

The minute my kids wake up, they look for me. If I’m not in my bed, they comb the tiny house looking for me. When they find me, we hug and we visit for a minute. Throughout the day, they continue to find me. If I’m doing my hair and make-up in my bathroom, they are jumping on my bed. If I’m cooking in the kitchen, they’re standing next to me on chairs. In the middle of the night, they find me.
Even now, as I type, my son plunked himself down on my elbow making typing a fun sort of challenge.

I want to ask them “why?”
“What’s so great about just being in mom’s space? Don’t you have games and crayons and puzzles in your room? There’s nothing fun about my space!”
But I don’t need to ask them because I remember. I remember the feeling of just wanting to be NEAR my mother, no matter what she was doing. I remember sitting at her feet while she crocheted. I remember following her around simply because I just wanted to be with her, no other reason.

And you know what that makes me now? The life of the party.

I don’t mind it. I’ve never been the life of the party before.
I’ll still occasionally lock my door when I need a brief minute to just unwind (or -let’s face it -get DRESSED), but for the most part it makes me happy.
I mean really… in ten years will I get a picture like that? Forget it. But don’t think I won’t be finding THEM every morning and sort of following them around the house… just to be near them.

I need to keep this relationship strong, people. Someday they’ll be gone, and I’ll need them to trust me enough to leave their toddlers with me.
Grandmas love nothing more than to be the life of the party.