Marriage is what brought us togevah… this weekend. The room we stayed in was actually a super-secret library. Our bed was one of the awesome sort that actually are pulled down from the wall.

It was beyond cozy. I snagged “Julia & Julia” from the shelves and leafed through it, laughing at the Julia parts and rolling my eyes over the incessant use of the “F” word. Julie is a great writer, this is true. I enjoyed her style, but her personality? Not so much.

We ate dinner at The Cottage Place, and as we waited for our food, Danny remarked “This is our spot.”
“Spot?” I said, plastering french bread with sweet cream butter with added chives and lemon zest.
“Yeah, you know… we have a place that’s ours.”
I didn’t take many pictures on account of my already having a bazillion pictures of The Cottage Place. But we did stop to snap one picture just outside of the little nook they sat us in. Danny reserved a quiet corner where we could sit undisturbed.
That is, if you don’t count the 30 minute conversation in the nook across the way held between to older couples about a game.
The more they drank the louder and more important the game conversation got.
“I wasn’t laughing because I was winning… I was laughing because it was FUN!” That comment made everyone at their table roar. Good thing too, Danny and I were having a snickering roar of our own.

We’d spent part of the day at an antique store, something I love beyond most anything. My heart goes all a’flutter as I dig through old pictures and rusted kitchen tools.
Just as I was checking out, my eye caught sight of a necklace. It was marked down on account of the damage it had, and the owner told me if I bought it, she’d knock off $2.
It was a necklace from the 30’s.
And now it’s MY necklace from the 30’s.
I’ve worn it every day since Friday. And I may or may not have slept in it last night.
Sadly, that was the only antique store we visited. My husband revealed to me that he didn’t really like antique stores, and I revealed to him that I didn’t really like the mall. Once we were open and honest with each other, we really didn’t know what to do.
No shopping?
No sifting though dead people’s stuff?
So we hit up tourist attractions instead.

We’d never experienced the ski lift in Flagstaff, so we bought some tickets and hopped on.
As I looked across the vast green country, I remarked how small it made me feel… how it changed my perspective… how I couldn’t believe how amazing nature is… I looked over at my husband and found him spitting off the side of our chair, just to see how far his spit would fall.
We loved watching other people pass us on the lift. We even made light conversation with the bag o’trash that passed by:
Once at the top of the mountain, we walked around and enjoyed the view. From where we stood, we could see Colorado on the horizon, a controlled wild fire near the Grand Canyon, a canyon to the South, and the highest toilet in Arizona.
QUITE an accomplishment.

Rain started pouring gently on us, and then hail started pelting us. We hunkered under a tree and waited it out, laughing as the rest of the crowd we’d come up with all flocked back to the ski lift. I still have no idea what they were planning on doing. Riding SLOWLY back down, completely unprotected from the pelting hail? I don’t know. We were happy to sit under our sturdy tree and wait. We all know it only takes Arizona weather about 2 minutes to switch from rain to hail to sunshine.

I snapped a picture of Danny on the second highest mountain in Arizona (we were standing next to the first. If we tried to hike over to it, about 20 wooden signs threatened us with a $500 fine if we didn’t STAY ON THE TRAIL).
Then he took the camera and snapped one of me. Ever since I bought my sunglasses, he’s been calling me “Hollywood.”
And just before snapping this picture, he called out “Hey, Hollywood!”
Oh, that man.
That night, we ate WAY too much at Olive Garden and then we walked around downtown in hopes of speeding up the digestion process.
We sat on a bench to make out, publicly.
Then we called the kids to listen to them tell us all about their day.
Then we went and saw a late-night showing of “The Help.”


After the movie, we poured into bed. I slept like a log, and thank goodness! The night before, I couldn’t sleep hardly at all.
Did I mention that we slept in a cellar-turned-library/room?
Did I mention that I drank a Dr. Pepper Friday afternoon?
Did I mention that I watched part of an episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” the night before?

All I can say is that lying in a dark cellar of an old, historic home WIDE AWAKE on account of caffeine after having watching ghost stories is the WORST! For the first time in my lift, I thanked Heavenly Father for my severe near-sightedness.
If there were any ghosts, I couldn’t see them!
We came home Sunday after a wonderful breakfast of fruits and croissant sandwiches. The kids were happy and well-behaved. The house was clean and cool. We ate snacks and called it lunch, and then I took a four hour nap (!!!!). I was starving when I woke up and when I opened the fridge, I found a bowl full of fried zucchini.
My sister.
My sister is the best sister, babysitter, house keeper, and zucchini frier.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my husband is home today and we’re going to try and get a few somethings done while the sun shines.

Silent Movie Sunday **SPOILER ALERT**

When I was in high school, Turner Classic Movies used to play one silent movie every Sunday night. I tried to catch it when I could, but for some odd reason the rest of my family wasn’t keen on watching with. Did I mention I lived with about 7 other people? Getting time alone with the TV was practically unheard of, so generally I missed the silent movie.

I did catch the end of The Scarlet Letter once, though.

(image from

Yesterday my husband made Sunday dinner which was absolute perfection because

a) I didn’t have anything planned and
b) I didn’t have to cook.

I would usually say that NOT planning Sunday’s dinner would definitely not work out in your favor. Yesterday, however, was a brilliant exception. Did we eat my husband’s signature Beef and Ramen dish? Yes. Did I have to help? No.

As a consequence, I wasn’t all that tired Sunday afternoon. While everyone napped, I whipped out Netflix and started flipping through the suggestions it listed for me.
I remembered the Sundays of Yesteryear and ended up clicking on
Why Change Your Wife?
A silent film from 1920

I started watching it in bed while my husband slept next to me. I didn’t think a SILENT film would bother him all that much. The background tracks were soothing and beautiful. But my giggling? Not so much. As I tried to quietly sneak into the next room, my husband lazily called after me.
“Do you want the speakers?”
“For my silent movie?” I replied, my giggling turning into full-on laughter, “No thanks.”

The movie is a matrimonial comedy about Robert and Beth. Here’s the opening screen:
From that alone, I knew it HAD to be good. I’m a sucker for proper English, and the properness of this film just DID ME IN.
Beth drives Robert crazy on account of her nagging and intense mothering,

so he leaves her for a fun-loving lingerie model.Photobucket
He divorces Beth.
And marries Sally -the model.

Sally turns out to be rather a pain (surprise!) and his ex-wife Beth puts away her matronly dresses and glasses for a sultry new wardrobe. As fate would have it (and fate often does) the three end up vacationing at the same motel.
Robert realizes he’s still in love with Beth.
Beth realizes she’s still in love with Robert.
They can’t stand to be near each other and unknowingly take the same train home (ah, fate!). As they’re walking, Robert -I jest you not -slips on a banana peel and cracks his head open.
Beth takes him home.
Sally has a fit.
Beth and Sally get in a knock-down-drag-out and then…
Sally get alimony.
Beth gets Robert.
And now you know… the rest of the story.

I hope I didn’t spoil the film for you. You have to understand that I’m working under the impression that you’d rather die than spend an hour and half watching a silent movie. But I wouldn’t. I rather watch a silent movie than nap, and this one was rather worth watching. I wanted to share it, but I was fairly certain you wouldn’t take my recommendation and run with it.
It is, after all… silent. And rather lacking in color.

I think I’ll add the words “SPOILER ALERT” to my title… just to be safe. You never know when someone might have a 1920’s film at the top of their queue.

Birthday Drive-In

My husband is really big on birthdays.  The first birthday we ever spent together was my 19th birthday (!!!  19!?  I was just a kid!).  His gifts to me were so perfectly planned -so sentimental.  He gave me “Hidalgo,” the movie we saw on our first date.  He gave me “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” because I had RAVED about it and to make matters better… he gave me the soundtrack!  He gave me a pink fleece blanket, a carton of cotton candy (pink, which he ate), picture frames to fill our soon-to-be-ours apartment, and he also gave me a brand new pair of RED shoes because he knew how much I loved the red shoes I wore nearly every day.  When he saw a new shiny pair, he thought of me and he bought them.

It was so darn sweet, I could hardly stand it.  Every year -RIGHT when I wake up, he has a birthday gift wrapped and waiting for me.

WELL, this year I got one of the best gifts EVER!  He sent me to a three-day retreat with my Mom in Utah.  Kid free!  Amazing classes!  New haircut and color!  And I couldn’t be more grateful… but the retreat was August 1-3rd… and my birthday is the 16th.  That meant I woke up on the 16th with no present.  Which was fine.  I knew I had already gotten my rather expensive gift (we saved for a year), and I was fine.

The night of the 15th, my husband asked “What are your plans tomorrow?”
I told him the truth, “I have to go through all of our clothes and get rid of what we don’t need. I’m donating them to the clothing exchange going on this week.”
“Oh,” he said, “Cool.”
And then we went to bed.

The next morning, after a birthday kiss, he went to work. I set to washing all of the kids’ clothes. All day long I was under a pile of laundry. I received facebook birthday messages and answered them all right back because -let’s face it -I was sitting on the couch under a literal mountain of laundry.

But it was okay. I mean, really. Is laundry what I wanted to do on my birthday? Not really, but it wasn’t bad. I streamed chick flicks and I enjoyed reading all of my sweet facebook messages.
As the day went on, my daughter’s behavior got progressively worse.
She broke one of my Willow Tree figurines -the one given to me by an Aunt as a graduation gift.
Worse: she lied about it -tried to blame her brother.
She’s also in a correcting phase. As in: every time I do something wrong, she lets me know.
“You’re not wearing your seat belt.”
“We don’t do that Mom.”
I listened to her correction all day long and tried to SMILE about it. Because it was my BIRTHDAY and we’re SUPPOSED to be HAPPY ABOUT IT. After her brother went down for a nap, she asked me for some ice cream.
I dished her out some, putting a spoonful of ice cream in my mouth as I did.
“Mom, where did we get the ice cream?” She asked as I was forking it into my mouth.
“Hannah,” I replied, my mouth full.
“Mom, we don’t talk with our mouths full,” she chimed.
I gritted down on that ice cream and replied, “That’s right. We don’t.”

After a thorough lecture from her father last night about sneaking food into her room, she snuck a pile of chocolate animal crackers into her room, spilled them, stepped on them and then LAUGHED in my face when I spanked her. And when I got after her for laughing, she laughed at me again. Three times.

But I shook it off. My husband would be coming home soon. My sister had offered to take the kids for a while that night… it would all be okay.
Then I got a text from my husband telling me he might not be able to make it home in time to go out.

At that point, I threw caution to the wind and busted out the bag of cookie dough I had frozen a few weeks earlier. I sat on top of my clean laundry and ATE cookie dough. And I liked it.

I had tentatively planned a creative date. I always plan creatively when we don’t have much cash, you know. We’re at the end of our pay period, and I thought it might be fun to hit up Red Box, buy a few snacks, and take my lap top out somewhere and watch a movie… create our own little drive in, so to speak. Just the thought made me sing, “Stranded at the Drive-in” without stopping for, oh… four hours. give or take.

Word came at 7:30 that my husband was on his way home. He would make it home a little late but JUST in time for us to go out. I was emotionally drained. I was tired of laundry. BUT IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY and I WAS HAPPY. I got ready. I teased my hair and sprayed perfume on and applied lip stick. I fed my kids (I wasn’t hungry on account of the cookie dough) and when my husband got home, I had the car fully loaded and I WAS READY TO GET THE FRACK OUTTA THERE!

After dropping the kids off, I remarked, “I’m so tired. Let’s just go rent a movie, grab some take out and go home to watch the movie.”
“Um,” he started with some trepidation, “I have to be to work early, so if we’re going to watch a movie we need to do it now.”
And that’s what did it.
I didn’t want to try and be happy anymore. I didn’t care if it was my birthday anymore. I didn’t want to watch a movie if we were going to be rushed. I didn’t want to grab take out or sit down because I wasn’t hungry.
You know what I wanted at that point?
My bed.

We drove into town to rent a movie. By then, my husband had figured out that I wasn’t exactly hyped up for a party. He asked me to please smile.
But I thought it would be cool to cry instead.
“Please can we just go home?” I pleaded, “It’s late. I don’t want to leave the kids forever. I don’t want food. Let’s just go home.”
“Okay,” he said, wrapping his arm around me.
We drove home, tears filled my eyes… it wouldn’t have been a huge problem except I was driving. We neared an exit, and my husband said, “Get off here. Turn around.”
“Please,” my heart sunk, “Please let’s just go home.”
“Pull off,” he said, gently, “I’ll drive now. Let’s go back into town for a few snacks and then I promise we’ll just go home.”
“Okay,” I nodded, the promise of HOME ringing in my heart.

As we pulled into the parking lot, he turned the car off.
“I’ll be right back,” he said.
“I’m coming with you,” I replied.
There was a reason for it, you know. There was a reason I braved the late night crowd at Safeway with tear-stained eyes. I knew that if I left my husband alone he would buy me flowers.
I didn’t want flowers.
Feel free to judge me for what I’m about to say. I judge me.
Growing up, my Dad always ordered flowers for my mother. I used to sit and stare at them on the kitchen table. They were the most wonderful arrangements I’d ever seen, and they were a symbol… I just knew -every time I looked at those arrangements -that my Dad really, truly loved my mother. My husband has always been a stickler for flowers. He makes sure I have them for every possible occasion that you SHOULD have flowers. Valentines, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays…
He’s sentimental and sweet, really. An amazing man!
That’s why I never had the heart to tell him that what I really wanted… was those expensive arrangements in custom vases with cards sticking out of them.
Can you blame me for not wanting to tell him?! I HATED myself for it! I blame my father! He SPOILED the whole idea for me! (I jest, Papa. I jest.)
Danny has always been so sweet about getting me flowers. Always roses.
I finally had the courage to tell him that I don’t care for roses, and it pained me to the core. How many women out there would kill to have a husband like mine that brought them roses whenever occasion permitted? I know this! That’s why I felt like I jerk telling him the truth. Ever since then, he’s brought me beautiful bouquets of daisies, sunflowers (my favorite), lilies… he’s wonderful.
But last night, I didn’t want a Safeway bouquet. I wanted to cry and I wanted my bed and I knew that if I went with him into the store, he wouldn’t buy me any flowers.
Don’t I sound like the worst person on earth right now? Yes, I do. I know I do. I despise myself.
“Pick out some ice cream,” he said to me in the freezer section, “And I’ll be right back.”
“No,” I said softly, grabbing his arm, “Just stay.”
“No,” he said, less softly and pulled away, “I’ll be right back.”
“Danny, don’t get me flowers.”
“I wanted to get them earlier! I’m promise -I just didn’t have the time and I -”
“I don’t want them,” I admitted, quietly.
“But I always get them,” his shoulders dropped.
“I know,” I nodded, wanting to slap myself for what I was about to say, “I just don’t want them unless they’re… ordered.”
“Did I spoil you with your Valentine’s bouquet?” He smiled (for the first time in our married life, he ordered me a bouquet for Valentine’s Day -a dozen beautiful red roses, and despite the fact that roses aren’t my favorite, I was over the moon. Swoonin’. Smitten. Done for. Absolutely done for.
“I’ve actually always been this way,” I said, carefully.
“Always?” The poor beautiful man looked like I had just taken a mallet to his heart.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asked, honestly wanting to know.
“Because you’ve always been the sweetest man in the world,” I wrapped my arms around him in the middle of the freezer section, “And I didn’t want to admit to myself let alone to you that I’m a high maintenance jerk.”
Much to my relief, he laughed.
And we went home without flowers.

We picked out Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for each other, and then we snagged some IBC cream soda and brownies.
Seven years ago, we took some IBC cream soda and Little Debbie Brownies out by a baseball field at night, we parked the car, watched a wildfire burn on a nearby mountain, drank our cream soda and ate our brownies… and in all actuality we FELL ASLEEP. But we didn’t stay there all night.
The cops woke us up.

In memorandum, we bought our cream soda and brownies (I thought we had bought IBC root beer that night, but Danny reminded me it was really IBC cream soda. See what I mean? The man is GOLD). And then my husband took the wheel.

He drove us out to my family’s land west of town. He unloaded our car which hasn’t exactly been completely cleaned up from our camping trip, he put the seats down:
Within a matter of minutes, we had our own mini drive in. (Check out that “Rango” preview!)
The movie didn’t work all that well on account of it’s being scratched all to heck, but it didn’t matter.
I shifted in my seat and suddenly music started playing.
From under my seat.
One of Lacy’s toys had fallen behind the seat -a Disney Princess “CD” player. It sang and sang and sang… and we laughed harder with every song.
I tried my hardest not to move, but it was impossible. If I didn’t move, I couldn’t have any brownies! I also couldn’t resist singing “Grease.”
I secretly wanted to say, “Meant something to you! You think I’m going to stay here with you in this? this sin wagon? You can take this piece of tin!” and throw my ring at him while I bailed out of the car and ran through Grandpa’s field.
I hoped he would yell, “You can’t just walk out of a drive in!” after me, but I was child locked in my own car.
So I just sat there instead. like a normal person.

In the end, after I had a brownie and a cream soda and a few bites of rich ice cream and a few laughs over “Dinner with Shmucks” I was right as rain.
My husband is a miracle worker -a magical man. A wizard.

As packed up and drove off, my husband hummed “Little Mermaid” songs, thanks to my daughter’s toy.
We picked the kids up two hours after we dropped them off, and I tried to get a good picture of them.
I failed.

And please tell me I’m not the only one who gets excited to see their birth date on stuff. And yes, I still get a rush when I see my birth date on the milk jug. right under “exp.”


Remember our little bird?
It escaped so many times that I stopped trying to catch it. Instead, I just enjoyed watching it hop around our floor. It scavenged for food and shrieked at me anytime I got anywhere near it. It was sort of sweet, really. And it made me feel less guilty for not vacuuming. I mean, if I HAD vacuumed, it wouldn’t have any food. Right?

I named him, you know. I know you shouldn’t name wild pets with broken wings since the odds of survival are minuscule, but I named him against my better judgement. Given my recent addiction (and recovery) to “Prison Break,” I named the bird Scofield in honor of Scofield the Escape King and his ravishing good looks:

(on a side note, the man who plays Scofield actually has a degree in English Lit. AND he sings. Whaddastud.)

Well, I opened Scofield’s box to check on him, and he was dying. I took him in my gloved hands, walked him outside and sat him on the grass.
Except he couldn’t sit.
Lacy stood by my side as we watched him take his last breath.
I said, “Okay, the birdie just died.”
She said, “Oh.”
It was quiet for a minute, and then she burst into tears.

I gently pulled the bird’s wings out and let her see that one was perfect and one was broken.
“If the birdie had stayed alive, it would be hurting because of it’s broken wing, see?” I pointed to it.
“But, but… I just want him with ME!” She sobbed.
I hugged her and let her cry. I explained to her that Heavenly Father could make the birdie all better and that Heaven was a much better place to be. She nodded, took the bird in her hands, said, “I’m sorry but you have to go to Heaven now.”
She handed the bird back, and I told her to go wash her hands.
She sprinted inside. I took care of the bird by placing him back in his box for the moment, rounded up the boy who had run rampant in the yard, and then went inside.
I went into the kids’ bathroom to find Lacy sitting on the vanity with her feet in the sink, water running on them. She was SOBBING.
I took her in my arms and let her cry, and then I told her a short story about when I was a girl.

I had a green parakeet that I loved. His name was Aladdin and I took really care of him. He played with me every day -he would sit on my shoulder for hours. Once when I was sick, he wouldn’t get off my shoulder. He stayed right with me until I felt better. Only then would he go into his cage. One day, a cat got him and he died.

As I spoke, Lacy’s wet eyes got bigger and bigger.
“He died?” She asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “I was really sad.”
“You were?”
“Yep. But now Aladdin is up in Heaven and he’s playing with YOUR bird. Heaven has lots of fun stuff for birds. What do birds love?” I asked.
“Toys.” She said.
“Heaven is FULL of toys for birds,” I said.
“Oh,” she dried her tears, “I need to write my bird a note.”
It was a great note.
She read it to me and I wrote down what she said:
Then she drew a picture of a bird with one perfect wing and one broken wing:
As I made dinner, she sat on the counter and cradled her bird.
“I’m sorry you have to go to Heaven now,” she would say, over and over. Trenton asked if he could hold the bird.
“No, Trent,” she said, “He is just SO dead.”

And when Daddy came home, the tears were gone. She was at peace with her birdie’s death. Daddy helped her bury the bird she had wrapped lovingly in two paper towels.
Right here:

That night it was perfect weather. We ate some tilapia, zucchini (which Lacy insists are called “bikini”), and crookneck squash. I love this time of year.
Maybe that’s why I chose to be born when I did. Only four more days until I’m 26!

A New You Retreat -Pt. V

Our color class was taught by one of the classiest women I’ve ever met: Cindy Wakefield:

Again, a creeper picture. I wasn’t able to get any great pictures of her in our color class, and so I hoped to get one when she sat across the table from me. I set my camera on the table. Aimed it… and *snap!* But it wasn’t all that great.
Creeping does not pay.
I wonder why I keep doing it.

Cindy had us each sit in a chair at the front of the class and she took a magical little magnifying glass with a light on it (maybe there wasn’t a light. I can’t remember). She used it to look at our eyes and determine whether we were warm or cool colors. After checking our eye color, she’d drape a pink piece of cloth over us… and then a peach. If the pink looked better than the peach, we were cool colored. If the peach looked better than the peach, we were warm colored.
My Aunt Julie Strong joked as she sat in THE CHAIR that she felt like she was at Hogwarts getting sorted.
Mom and I were both cool colored. I always thought I was warm colored, and luckily Cindy said I could get away with wearing both but I look better in cool.
Whew! I don’t have to trash my wardrobe. I don’t think I could afford that. We’re in a recession, you know.

Cindy listed about 5 or 6 different styles that we all fall into (casual, classic, dramatic, natural, feminine…) and she also taught us a shopping trick.
If you’re cool colored, you should paint your nails pink before shopping for clothes. THEN hold your nails up next to the shirt (or whatever) you’re looking at and see if the colors go well together. If they don’t, then you shouldn’t buy it.
If you’re warm colored, paint your nails more of a peachy color and use the same technique. She said this technique works just as good as taking a cool color wheel or a warm color wheel and trying to find colors that match the wheel.
Does that make sense?
Obviously, this isn’t my strong point.
But I’m getting better!

My sister, Ju, is most definitely a warm colored person. Maybe I should hand some of my wardrobe over to her.
Mom getting “sorted”:

After our color class, we took a short break and walked down the hall to our style class taught by Kris Denison.
Kris taught us what our body shape was, what our face shape was, and to never -under any circumstances -put our cell phones in our control top pantie hose.

I was certain my shape was rectangle and that my face was round.
Mom was certain her shape was rectangle and that her face was square.

We were both wrong -we both have hourglass figures (!!!) and oval faces. Best. News. Ever. I’ve been dressing differently ever since!
She taught us the 8-point system. As luck would have it, my handout on the 8-point system is NOT where I thought it would be. Stink!
Here’s a link to a more complicated 16-point system. Same idea, but the 8 points is easier and much more practical for someone like me (and you) who is always on the run… right behind -and always two steps behind -two little runts!
As soon as I find my 8-point handout, I’ll share it.

She listed for us the 10 fashion staples:
#1) Little Black Dress (check!)
#2) Black Blazer -fitted (what’s a blazer?)
#3) White Shirt -can even be worn over bathing suit (check!)
#4) Necklaces -layer them, wrap them differently (check!)
#5) Clutch bag/hand bag -can be worn with jeans or a dress (half check! -could definitely use a couple more)
#6) White Jeans -bit belt (NO! NO WHITE JEANS!)
#7) One Great Shirt or Top that you can always grab and feel great (I have a few! Triple check!)
#8) Trench coat -neutral color (need!)
#9) Scarf (check! But I need a few more for variety)
#10) Spanx -get at Target (need!)

She also told us that the key to getting your eyes to really POP has nothing to do with make-up and everything to do with earrings. And all you have to do is WEAR some.

With all of her amazing information, I have so much more confidence. When I walk around a clothing store, I finally have some DIRECTION! It’s so nice! My poor husband’s wallet!
To be fair, I haven’t robbed it yet. But, OH, how I want to! Now that I know what I want and what I’m doing clothing stores are dangerous places… it’s good for me though. I have the hardest time shopping for myself, and really -I’ve been given the tools to find a great outfit for my body whether I’m in Nordstrom or Goodwill (Savers being eliminated from the equation).

My daughter is the coolest girl in the world. She goes to school next year, and I’ll be left at home wallowing in lack of coolness.
Maybe then I’ll get my next baby. And she’ll be a girl. And she’ll be cool like Lacy.

We headed back to the dino museum that night for our final devotional:
Songs were sung TO us (by Stephi, who was in our group):
Songs were sung BY us (warning: this pictures is cliche of what goes on when women get together for three days of feminine fun times):
We had to say goodbye to friends we’d just met but felt like we’d known forever:
And we had to say goodbye to friends with celebrity names (Pamela Anderson):
We had to say goodbye to our tiny roommate who didn’t quite reach my shoulder:
Of all the ladies I miss most:
MOVE to Joe City, girls! Buy Speedy’s and then MOVE to Joe City!

Between dinner and the final devotional, mom and I took some creeper pictures of a woman whose daughter had received her mission call THAT DAY and driven to the retreat to open it with her mom. Several members of the family drove down as well, and they gathered together to share a special moment… mom and I hunkered behind some bushes or pillars or what-have-yous and snapped a picture:
And then we left, later finding out that she’s going to be serving in BRAZIL!

As we checked into the Salt Lake Airport, we saw two groups waiting for missionaries to come home. So what did we do?
We watched.
I took that through some plexi glass. A missionary hugging his sister for the first time in two years. Aw!

I confessed to mom that we might as well make our creeping complete by rushing a laboring mother in a nearby hospital and snapping pictures.
For shame!
But it was so sweet to see their joy… so so sweet.

We said goodbye to camp, came home and said “hello” to a new version of ourselves:

Barbara Barrington Jones “A New You” Retreat for Women really did change my life. I came home with my priorities in order, a new perspective, and loads of confidence (the good kind, mind you. Not the kind that make you want to kick me in the shin)… I went expecting a few days alone with my mom and maybe a cute new haircut, and I came away with a brand new take on life.

Have I told you that you should go?
You should.

A New You Retreat -Pt. IV

The next morning, mom and I braved the lobby without any make up on and without our hair done.  We took some “before” pictures and then we waited patiently for the limo.  I was getting some color done, so I left before my mom.  For the first time since we’d been there, we parted ways.  As silly as it may sound, I got a little emotional watching her walk away.  I felt the exact same rush of emotions I felt years and years ago when my mom dropped me off for a 2 week band camp.
Our driver looked just like a limo driver should look:

Once inside, I HAD to snap some pictures. It didn’t matter that I had no clue who these women were… it was my FIRST limo ride, for cryin’ out loud!

The limo dropped us off at:

Anyone who lives in the Lehi/Salt Lake area NEEDS to know that I have some SWEET coupons for this specific salon that I can’t use because I’m an AZ outcast.
So if you want them, leave a comment. or text me. or facebook me. or email me.
Or skype.
Man, technology is irritating. Will we never have any privacy? (Am I the only one who wants to pronounce it “pih-vih-cee?)

I sat in my chair,
With my ultra long hair…
Magical Britney came and asked me what I wanted done.
I said, “I don’t know! I don’t know if my hair looks good long or short.”
She said, “I like the length. I’ve been trying to grow mine out for a long time.”
I said, “I’m putty in your hands, Britney. My budget is $100.”
Her eyes lit up, she ran her fingers through my hair and then asked, “Can I spend it all?”
And I said, “Yes!”
Because, really. When am I ever going to do this again?

My hair results you’ve already seen. But here they are again anyway.

ASIDE from getting hair and make-up done, we also got a neck massage, a scalp massage AND a hand massage. I could live in that salon! The products are all natural, so they’re healthier for your hair.
The stuff on the right is at the TIP TOP of my wish list. It helps your hair to blow dry faster and it does about half of your work for you. I’m jonesin’ for some:

Diane Workman, on the right, was my counselor. WHAT a beautiful pair of ladies!

The girl who did my make up was named Autumn. She also did my mom’s.

As she put mascara on me, she complimented me on my eye lashes.
“Thanks, I grew them myself,” I said.
“You have such a green thumb,” she replied. And I giggled and almost messed her make up application up. But I couldn’t help it.
After my make-up was done, my group snagged some lunch and then went to meet the limo. HOWEVER, Barbara Barrington Jones HERSELF stopped me and was talking to me. I didn’t want to leave, and I decided I’d catch up with my group a little later.
Except I got lost in the mall instead.
So I went back to the salon and waited for my mom. Yay! I got mom back!

Our salon day ran a little longer than expected, and we were going to be late for our afternoon color and style classes, so Barbara Barrington Jones HERSELF set us up in limo with Joseph.

We rushed back in the LIMO:

Did I mention that they also gave us each a rose on our way out of the salon?

We made it back and didn’t miss anything important in the classes. I thought I’d be able to fit the salon and our color/style classes into one post… but I’m going to do a different post all together for those classes.
That night (just like the night before) all the ladies that had gone to salon lined up, and Barbara Barrington Jones HERSELF walked around and talked to each one of us.

Here’s me with my MAM and ontees:

Tomorrow will be the last post about the retreat. Are you sick of hearing about it yet?
I’m not!

You should go next year!

A New You Retreat -Pt. III

The second day of the retreat, we split up into separate groups.  My aunties all went to the salon in limos, and mom and I stayed behind to take some classes.  The first class we took was on Balanced Health and it was taught by Dr. Stan Gardner.

He fed us all GREAT information that I have tucked away in my beautiful notebook. My only regret was that we didn’t get enough TIME with the doc! I could have easily sat at his feet for three hours. One great tip he gave us that I’ll pass onto you is this: have a glass of water with added fiber (think Metamucil) at least 15 minutes before eating, and it will help keep you from over eating.
Here’s a short exercise he passed on that is HIGHLY effective.

While doing this, it’s important to remember not to squeeze the finger… just hold it. There is an emotion tied to each of our five fingers.
The thumb is connected with worry.
The pointer finger is connected with fear.
The flip-off finger is connected with anger (go figure!).
The ring finger is connected with grief.
The pinky finger is connected with pretense (or the feelings that go along with pretending to be something you are not).

After his amazing (and much too short) lesson, we were sent to lunch. Imagine eating lunch after a session like that! My mind was all a’blur with thoughts like…
Is there enough vegetables?
Am I overeating?
Too many toxins?
And on and on…

Luckily, the food came from a place that doesn’t use any sugar, and all of their food is made out of the healthiest stuff they can get. So we ate worry free -and we didn’t even have to hold our thumbs.

After lunch, we met back in the upstairs room of the dinosaur museum and listen to Darin Knowles speak on motivation.

Darin helped to give us the tools we need to take ALL of the information we picked up during the three days (and there was A LOT) and put it to good use when we got home. He was passionate about what he was talking about, and it was easy to listen to him. It’s really easy to listen to anyone who is passionate about what they’re doing. At the end of his stellar lesson, he explained to us how hard it is for men to express themselves fully to women because they don’t feel the full range of emotions like women do. He said he once heard a song that he felt described his feelings best, and he asked us all to close our eyes, imagine that everyone we loved (kids, spouse, siblings, parents…) was standing in a circle around us and singing this song. It seems REALLY cliche to have a group of women absolutely WEEPING over a Celine Dion song, but you know what? It really spoke to us and got us the message that we needed.

After a short break during which we used up all of the toilet paper in the bathrooms (drying our tears, okay?) we all came back to the big room and were taught a lesson in poise by a woman named Shauna Ockey. I wanted her dress.

She’s from Canada, and I just have to say: every one of the great people who taught us came and taught for FREE. AND they paid their own air fare. Amazing.
Every speaker linked their topics back to the gospel and kept Christ at the center of their teachings which was awesome.
Shauna gave us the 5 signs of a well kept woman. Here they are:
#1) Hair
*well kept

#2) Face
*Teeth brushed

#3) Fingernails
*All the same length
*dirt cleaned out

#4) Clothing
*In good repair

#5) Well Groomed

She also taught us the proper way to stand and told us that we needed to practice, so I did. I practiced all day that day and the next and the next and I’m STILL practicing! At first, it made my back ache like crazy, but now it’s getting used to it and thank goodness! My posture isn’t the greatest, and it feels good to know I’m training it back into it’s proper place.
After teaching us about poise, she gave us an etiquette lesson. The next night, as we sat eating dinner, there were a slideshow of picture being projected onto the wall behind me. I was starving, but I wanted to see the slideshow… SO I stuck a fork in my chicken, turned around in my seat and then just took bites out of my chicken as I watched. After a few minutes, I turned around to return my chicken to my plate to find that SHAUNA was sitting directly across the table from me.
I don’t think she noticed on account of the slideshow. Here’s hopin!
She quoted President Hinckley in the end:
“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.”

That night, we had an inspiring evening devotional. Barbara Barrington Jones talked a little bit about balance. She told us to draw a triangle on the page we were taking notes on. At the top of the triangle, we wrote the word “brain” on one bottom corner we wrote the word “physical body” on the other bottom corner we wrote the word “spiritual health.” She told us EACH of those three needed constant nurturing, but the KEY to success was not only nurturing all of those three but…
(she then had us draw a circle inside of our triangle and write the word “service” in it)

The best part about the evening (aside from getting the secrets of success, I mean) was getting to see my aunts after they’d spent most of the day at the salon.

See how pretty?  (her not me.  I hadn’t gotten my salon day, yet.  In fact, I’d spent the better part of the day bawling over Celine Dion songs.)

That night after Barbara’s devotional, we were able to listen to a concert given by Jessie Funk:

She is so purdy…

Mom answered one of her trivia questions right (how many liters are in a gallon?) and won a CD:

After her concert was over, I bull-rushed her and asked her if I could snap a picture of her hair.

Cutest style ever! I didn’t want to forget it because I’m going to try it out just as soon as I get my hands on a cute headband.

The next day, mom and I went to the salon. More on that later.
Remember how I told you we were going to play with water balloons for our FHE? Well, we did.
The boys were ALL about it. I had fun, too. Not as much fun as the boys… what is it about throwing something and making it break that just thrills a boy?
Lacy thought the whole idea was stinking.
Throwing balloons chuck full of water at PEOPLE so they’ll get WET?! It’s attack! Cruelty!

Being the boy he is, my husband threw a water balloon at a bird perched on a fence.
And instead of watching it fly off, like he thought would happen, he watched it fall.
And it never flew away.
So he got his gloves on and went looking for it:
He spotted it hopping around on the ground with a broken wing, and he tried to catch it. It hopped under some branches, so my husband tried to flush it out with a stick:
Almost an hour went by, and we still couldn’t find the bird. So he got TWO sticks:
FINALLY, we got the bird:
My husband wouldn’t give up. Behind all that “hey-let’s-throw-a-water-balloon-at-a-bird-har-har” facade, there’s really a nice man who cares enough to catch and care for the bird he broke.
At least until he goes to work. Now it’s ME who has to fish it out from under the stove.
I lost the water balloon fight.
And to tie this post up in a nice bow, here’s a cute picture:

Clocking Back In

Remember me? The girl who once made a short wish list that consisted of two things: A lap top and a chance to attend “A New You” with my mom and (of course) Barbara Barrington Jones.
Wellllll… checka and check!

I’ve got SO much to tell you (you can imagine), but I’ve got to go again. I’m headed to a family reunion in the middle of the woods (yahoo for camping!), and I’ve got roughly eleventy billion things to do before 5 pm today, so I’m just going to give you our before and after pictures.

For one day during the retreat, we were whisked away (by LIMO -this country girl was so tickled she giggled almost the entire drive to the salon… my first limo ride!) to a professional salon.
I sat in Brittany’s chair and let her have her way with me.
Brittany the Magician.

I’m not wearing make-up in those pictures. So it’s not really a TRUE before and after, but I just wanted to show you Brittany. I lub her.

Here’s Madre:

Mom LOOKS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!  I had to keep from touching her hair, but not for long.  At 5 am the next morning, she rolled over in bed and we both woke up.

The conversation we had went something like this:

“Mom, are you okay?”


“Can I do your hair today?”


Moms are the best.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to run myself ragged and then spend TWO DAYS wrapped in the comfort of nature.

July Shower

I usually post in the morning, but today I was busy from Wakey-Wakey until… just now. Dad promised the kids yesterday that he would take them to see two new baby horses this morning, and Lacy was absolutely DYING.
“Mom,” she said, cornering me as I did my make-up, “This seeing the horses is taking a LONG time.”

She cooed to the filly, “Come here… that’s right… come here…”

She named that little girl, “Giselle.” (Didn’t see that coming, did ya?)
But there really were TWO baby horsies.
While the kids were playing with the horses, grandpa gave them each a packaged Rice Krispies Treat.
“Here’s some Doggy Doo Doo,” he told them, in all seriousness. And they believed him. In all seriousness. I haven’t taken the time to teach them “doo doo” and “poo poo” are the same thing. I’ve been too busy shaping their minds with deeper, more intelligent things like “glue is not for windows” and “forks don’t go on faces.”
I made a quick trip to the city today, and as I was in the middle of Sam’s Club’s food court, Lacy blurts out, “MOM! TRENT IS EATING MY DOGGY DOO DOO!”
I moved it, man. BOOKED it.
Within .2343243 of a second, I was on the other side of the warehouse! On the other side of the warehouse, there happened to be the CUTEST little old man you’ve ever seen (think “UP”). He was wearing suspenders, for crying out loud. He was also short. VERY short.
“Dat guy just has a baby in hiz belly!” Trent cried out.
Again, I booked it outta there, chattering away, “Oh, babies in bellies? Yeah, Neena has a baby in her belly. And Darah… let’s talk about THAT!”
I prayed I’d never see the man again. But I did. I had a long list, okay? Apparently, he did too. This time around, Lacy locked eyes with him, waved, grinned, then turned to me and said, “That little tiny guy is SO funny!”
Did I mention that Lacy also announced to the entire produce section that she forgot to put on her underwear this morning?

And -as if the trip wasn’t awesome enough -I had to take gum away from them.
That they found.

They couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t proud of them for sharing the gum they found.
Under the table.

Excuse my random abstract poetry form, but it gets my voice across. Can you almost hear how I’m about to ralph all over my Lappy? Kids…
The rest of the shopping day (I’ll spare you all of the details suffice to say: the rest of the trip followed suit) went something like this:
See that bib? That unpurchased bib? Yeah, he tore that off the package before I could say, “Hold but don’t play with.”
When we got home (PS -I’m never going to the city again unless I have hired help sitting passenger), we hurried and unloaded the car and then got everything ready for the baby shower I was helping host tonight for this lovely lady:

Okay now.
I’ve never hosted a baby shower before. I was nervous, but the Internets is overflowing with amazing ideas! I wish I was one of those people who can pull off amazing parties with all of the details just so, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a table cloth until her 4 year old daughter haphazardly throws some scrap fabric onto a table and says, “I helped!”
And I say, “That works! Thank ya kindly, miss.”
The banner, made using fabric scraps (tied together) and clothes pins:
My favorite piece of the banner was scored at Goodwill. Is that bad? Giving a gift from Goodwill? I think maybe it MIGHT be, but not when it’s THIS adorable:

Varsity, anyone?
For the guest book, we had people write on a piece of white flannel. I’m going to finish the edges for her so she’ll have a blanket for the little guy:
There was a table with diapers on it. We left markers out for people to write messages on them (thanks, Neena! I totally stole this idea from your shower):
So many cute messages:
I drew a target on one because, you know…
Here’s my little candlestick/plate creations! I made them specifically for THIS occasion, and they worked great!
See that scrap fabric underneath? My daughter inspired that. I piled peanut butter M&M’s on them. I also filled a baby bottle with 125 green, yellow, and brown M&M’s and whoever guessed the amount of candy in the bottle got to take one of the centerpieces home. My little cousin won -her mom was happy.
Everyone should have a cousin this cute:
Stop growing, Leigh! Stop!

Leigh’s mom (my Aunt Lillian) helped me host the shower. She did all the food, and can I just say? YYYYUUUUUMMMMMM!
She called me this morning and let me know that she was “downgrading” from crepes to cake.
Almond, French Vanilla, and Lemon Poppy Seed, to be exact. And they were topped with cream, fruit, almonds, and buttermilk syrup.
She also slathered fruit skewers in honey butter and GRILLED them. Bookmark that idea, folks. BOOKMARK it. Or pin it. Or something.
The yard:
It’s not mine. Obviously. There’s no black thumbs there. There’s at least two at my house (one on my right and one on my left).

I have no further pictures of the guests or presents or anything on account of my nephew showing up in all his newborn glory.   I was completely taken in.  He’s beautiful, as you well know by now, and I can’t help but sorta maul him.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I’ve got a date with my pillow (if I even make it that far):
What. Like you’ve never fallen asleep during family prayers…

Flying the Nest

I’ve had a few companions on my porch lately.  They’ve always been shy -afraid of attention.  But yesterday, they took center stage.  They bravely POKED their tiny heads out and, with their beaks open, let the world know that they were about to fly the nest.

About an hour later, I watched my sister -always a little shy, always afraid of attention -bravely poke her head out and tell us all she’s about to fly the nest.

Her mission call came yesterday. Look at her guess board:
Check out all of those guesses! She is one WELL-LOVED little bird.
We all gathered around for THE moment of opening.
She remained calm, cool, collected:
And yes, I videoed THE moment. And yes, I cry every time I watch the video.

As Steve so aptly put it, “My sister, Ju, is going to Cebu!”

Dad was engrossed in her folder:
Julianne is excited!
I’m excited for her!
I’m also excited to mail her all kinds of crap! Petrified Wood magnets? Yes, please!