The Final Stretch

A few weeks ago, I cleaned my house like a champ. It felt good to tell my body, “I knew ya could.”
Soon after that, I took the picture on the left. A few DAYS after I took the picture on the left, I took the picture on the right. These both show my belly at 30 weeks:

I woke up Sunday morning and couldn’t get out of bed like I usually did. I couldn’t sit up, swing my legs over and hop up. I had to prop up on my elbows, grunt, scoot, grunt scoot… and eventually sort of dump myself out of bed. I walked into the bathroom to put my contacts in and stopped to look at myself in the mirror.
My belly was HUGE.
It hadn’t been so big the day before…

I blew my nose and held my head, willing my cold to go away. I had to go to church on Sunday -I didn’t have a choice. We’re preparing for the Primary Program and I needed to be there. I also had a meeting I had to be at. I bathed and got ready. I ate breakfast. I got my kids up and bathed. I fed them breakfast.
I went to my meeting.
It had been cancelled.
I came home. My husband told me he’d been called into work. I grabbed all of my Primary stuff, my scriptures, my FAT binder, my FAT bag and my two kids and we made it to church.
The Primary Program Practice was a little chaotic, but of course it was. I didn’t expect to be a reverent day at the spa. I had several people ask me when I was going to pop…
Not for a few months, but thank you for validating what I thought this morning, ‘I LOOK 40 WEEKS PREGNANT!’
I hated saying, “At Christmastime” because their eyes would boggle out of their heads.

My son fell asleep during church. I couldn’t take him to the truck -luckily my brother was nearby and helped me out. I loaded everything into the truck after two hours of Primary Practicing and I drove home. We all stumbled in the door.
I turned Netflix on and told the kids to sit. stay. watch.
I sat down at my computer with a brownie and took a deep breath.

And then they hit. Contractions. Not the Braxton Hicks kind -the real deal kind. They stung. They hurt.
I had to make it back to my bed -had to lie down. I slowly stood up, clutching the bottom of my belly. I couldn’t stand up straight. Tears began falling, and the second my bed was close enough, I collapsed into it.
I laid on my right side, a big pillow between my legs, and I took deep breaths.

The contractions came every three minutes -each one a little less intense than the last. For twenty minutes, they were so painful that I cried. I called my husband -who had called earlier from work to tell me he wouldn’t be home until close to midnight and that he would be miles away -and just hearing his voice made me cry more.
Because they were getting less intense, I knew I would be okay. But I still wanted him there -I still wanted his arms and his big hands and his presence.
Finally, the contractions -though never varying in their constancy -waned in strength and I was able to rest.

I overdid it on Sunday.

I’ve never overdone it in a pregnancy before. Then again: I’ve never been pregnant while I’ve had two kids before. It’s easy to forget that I have a growing baby inside because there’s so much going on that I can’t focus on what my body is telling me. It probably was giving me “slow down” cues and I couldn’t hear them.

For the rest of Sunday, I had Braxton Hicks contractions.
Since then, the REAL contractions have been coming around. They aren’t constant -they don’t come every three minutes, but they do come. I’ll be sitting down, minding my own business and
It hurts.

And I start to wonder what the deal is. WHY I’m so big and WHY I’m getting these awful contractions and WHY I can’t stay on my feet for longer than a few hours at a time before I’m back in bed or on the couch…
and then I remember: oh yeah.
I’m 31 weeks pregnant. I once birthed a baby at 36 weeks. I’m WEEKS away from holding a fully-formed teeny PERSON!
I’ve grown a heart, a brain, a set of legs, a set of arms, a liver, some kidneys, layers of skin… it’s all been forming inside of me. It’s the reason I’ve been hit with a slew of cavities and back aches. It’s the reason I can’t fully kick this cold.
It’s the reason I spend every waking hour and step feeling like I just unsaddled from a week-long round up on a rough horse. My thighs! Someone rescue them, please!
It’s all normal -it’s all very normal. It’s all The New Normal.

It will all be worth it when I hold my bright-eyed little person for the first time -when I feel her little fingers wrap around my thumb… when she cries for me and licks her brand new perfect lips.
And it will all be worth it when she calls me one day and says, “Mom, can you come over? I laid down on the couch and I’m having trouble getting up. This baby is HUGE.”
She’s so strong that I want her to have a name RIGHT NOW. It seems so strange that someone I can feel so strongly isn’t named. She’s very PRESENT in our lives, and we have no idea what to call her.
Little No Name is a favorite with my husband.
Little Sister is a favorite with the kids.
I prefer Tyler Jane.
There’s no meaning behind it or significance. It’s not old fashioned -the way I usually like names. It’s not a family name. What’s more: it’s a boy name.
But there’s something about it that just… feels right. It seems to fit this Little No Name. It’s still up to my husband to come up with a finalized name.
And today it’s up to me to get some nesting done. I can not bring a baby home to THIS!
I’ve already mucked out the cupboards under the bathroom sink. Today it’s the fridge and the kid’s room… unless my body tells me not to.
I’ve learned my lesson. And I don’t want to contract unless it’s going to count toward a birthing experience. Otherwise it’s just a really painful lecture from my baby about how I need to pay more attention to her.
Lesson learned, Little No Name Sister Tyler Jane.
Lesson learned.

Day Date

I’ve been fighting this nagging cough for over a week. My house has suffered, and a few days ago I got sick of trying to keep up with it. I snagged my little man and just got us both the heck out of the house for a bit. We bought us each a Little Debbie snack, and we took a trip to the cemetery to visit Laynee Leigh.

My son doesn’t remember Laynee.  She’s been gone for as long as he’s been here -it’s a little surreal, and I can’t help but look at my son and add about 10 months to him and wonder about Laynee and what she might look like/be like/talk like today.  What would she be for Halloween?  What would I have given her for her birthday?

In two days, we’ll pass the mark -the gone for 4 years mark.  It doesn’t feel like four year, and at the same time: it does.

I’ll never get over the surreal feeling of seeing my brother’s last name on a headstone… of knowing that a little body bearing his eyes and expressions isn’t running around and catching bugs with her sisters.

I’m so grateful for the sure knowledge that families can be together forever -that those little eyes WILL beam back into her father’s one day.  And I want my son to know -I want to teach him.  I want to acquaint him with the things that really matter in life -like love and eternity and families and laughter.  I don’t want to acquaint him with THINGS.  I want to acquaint him with Laynee.
We sat down on the dirt next to her little plot, and my son asked all kinds of questions about bodies and where they go and, “So can we start digging now?”
Um, gross. And NO.

After a bit, we got up and walked around visiting other graves. He was undeterred by my telling him once that he weren’t going to dig up any bodies.
“Can we just dig up great-great grandma and see her?” He asked twice, since two of his great-great grandmothers are buried pretty close to one another.
“NO,” I said. I wanted to be completely grossed out, but his honest curiosity and big, huge eyes were redeeming. That boy is adorable.

and heroic!
If you’re lucky enough to have little ones near you right now, please scoop them up and tell them how important they are.
Thanks ever so.

Utopia, Interuppted

I live in Utopia.  I nearly always have, except for that one time I moved away for a bit to husband catch and degree get.

My father has a farm.  My grandfather own a huge stretch of ranch land.  My grandmother’s home has always been right there -and it is beautiful, warm, clean, and wonderful.  There’s always been an abundance of love and respect and order and family.  I’ve been handed so much of everything the world is short on these days.
And gee -you should see it all at Christmastime. The only thing more perfect than a red barn covered in snow is grandma’s Christmas village twinkling under her tree.

(That was the view from my yard one early December morning last year.)
There’s no Christmas music more gratifying than my grandfather’s organ melodies.

And there’s such freedom in knowing I can drive to my grandpa’s huge spread of land just outside of town for my personal devotionals. I can be alone out there. I can feel the spirit and refresh and get heavenly hugs.

It’s all so perfect and we’re all so together and life has always been this way.
Sure, it’s crossed my mind that maybe things will change. But they never actually HAVE, so it’s hard for me to really wrap my mind around the idea and fully accept it.
My great grandmother gave birth to five boys. The first died in infancy. The other four built their own houses within a block of their mother.
And that neighborhood, friends, is the center of my Utopia. I was lucky enough to physically live there for a season of my life, and now I’m barely a block or two away.

And yesterday, we lost a member of our Utopian society.

Uncle Jay. I found that picture HERE, and you really ought to click on that link because it tells the story of his POW days.
After Uncle Ross passed away, Aunt Sarah May married my best friend’s grandfather: Uncle Jay. It was like a dream come true. We’d spent our entire lives wishing we were REALLY related (as if being third cousins just wasn’t quite ENOUGH) and then one of my family members married one of hers.

Today I’m starting to feel that my denial -something I emphatically embrace -is in peril.
Things are changing. Utopia is slipping.
Maybe I should mesh those two sentences together: Utopia is changing.
It’s still Utopia in it’s own way. It’s always been changing, so why should it stop now? It has no regard for me, that’s why.

Will the farm always be in my backyard?
Will the ranch land outside of town always just BE there for me to gallop around on whenever I feel the need to feed my soul?
Will grandma’s village be there for my great grand kids to enjoy?
My denial says YES! That’s why I love my denial so much. It’s so appeasing.
But my head knows better… and so today I won’t worry about too much of anything that doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll whip out my great-grandmother’s old journals and type away the words of Utopia as it was in 1972, when she was living in the house that was the center of the village.
Maybe I’ll take a picture of the red barn.
Maybe I’ll go hug grandpa and beg for an organ lesson.
Maybe I’ll go cry for a while because I’m plagued with sentiment and pregnancy all at once and it’s fairly lethal… and if I don’t let it out somehow I’ll probably die.
And speaking of Christmas, my daughter decided she needed to write a letter to Santa Clause. I told her we would write them later when we could all sit together as a family, but that she could practice if she wanted to. Without any help from me or anyone else, this is what she brought me a few minutes later:

“I want a very cute dress
that is very
very cute dress.

And I am 10 size.

She’s really 6 size, but whatever. It was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen, and I took her to the computer and let her window shop fancy dresses.
THIS one was her favorite (get a load of this):

Lacy is asking Santa for a fancy, fancy dress... and this is her favorite.


“What are you going to do with it?” I asked, honestly wanting to know.

“DANCE!” She threw her arms up in the air and grinned from ear to ear, “AND EAT CAKE!”
And that, friends, is why kids know more than we do.
When I die, I hope I can leave that behind for my kids. If you do anything at all with this life… make sure that you dance. Make sure you eat cake. Make sure you wear fancy clothes when you do it, and most of all:
Make the most of your Utopia.


For Family Home Evening, we carved pumpkins. I know it’s too early, but my daughter has show and tell in a few days and she’s supposed to bring something that starts with the letter “J.”
She wants to bring a Jack o’ Lantern.

I used the pumpkins to teach a Family Home Evening lessons about yuckies. I told them every person on earth is just like a pumpkin.
We’re all yummy and wonderful and full of goodness, BUT we do have some yuckies inside too. I reinforced the point: THAT’S OKAY!
We’re supposed to have yuckies so we can learn about them and see the difference between the good and the bad.
“We can get the yuckies out of us ourselves,” I said, “No matter how hard WE work to be good and perfect and THE BEST… WE can’t do it. Heavenly Father and Jesus are the only ones who can take the yuckies out of us. We have to ask them too though.”
We talked about how we’re mostly good (we went around the table and each talked about the good in us), and when we do something bad it doesn’t mean WE are bad… even though pumpkins have goo and slime inside of them, they also have plump, delicious flesh that is SOOOOOOOOOO worth saving.

I told them the story of Alma the Younger -how he had a lot of yuckies inside. I even drew my own stick figures and they were oh so pathetic.
When the story was over and we pulled pumpkins out and started carving, I asked the kids:
“What story did Mom tell?”
“We don’t know, Mom,” my son finally said.
“Al…” I prompted their little memories, “Al… Al…”
“ALLLLVIN and the CHIMPMUNKS!” My daughter cried out and then started quoting Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Awe. some.

At least the pumpkins turned out good, right?

I texted the above picture to my brother and wrote, “I don’t think they’ll last until Halloween, but at least they’ll last long enough for Lacy to take to show and tell on Thursday.”
He texted back, “I’ll be surprised if Cinderella lasts past midnight.”

It made me laugh out loud which wasn’t very attractive since the past few days I’ve been a mess o’ snot and phlegm.
Very UN-Disney Princess-ish.

Do Translate

My son has been making up words for just over a year now. He’s a master at it… I mean, when he finds himself in a situation that he wants to talk about but has no vocabulary for it, he doesn’t bloody let that stop him.
He MAKES vocabulary up, and he STICKS to it by jingo. And the next thing we all know, we’re using his words and working them into everyday vocabulary.
My son is a trendsetting genius.
His first trademark made up word?
Bon*e*yo [bone-ee-yo]
1. the most vile insult imaginable, perhaps even lower than pond scum.

It didn’t take us long to figure that one out. But he’s starting to stump me… like last week when he was sitting in the backseat of the Jeep with his slushy… and as I drove snocked it all up.
“Argggg… I’m sorry, Mom, but I just SNOCKED my drink up all over my pants.”
I still have no idea exactly what went on back there.

Here’s the latest:
“Awww, MAN! I just SHONKED my NIBBLE!”
Nibble, it shall be made known, is actually his pronunciation of “nipple” and I don’t change it because it’s too adorable. And I’m actually hoping it will catch and people will start saying things like, “I just pierced both of my nibbles.”
But shonked.
Maybe he shocked his nibbles? I don’t know.
Will you be my Rosetta Stone?

The Giving Tree

A few days ago, I took my kids to pick apples from my great-grandmother’s tree.

I couldn’t help but think about planting a few apple trees myself for my great great grandkids to pick when I’m gone. A means to spoil grandchildren even if you’re gone before they get to earth? Sign me up, please!

(the view from under the tree.)

The kids were great about gathering good apples from the ground (I may or may not have convinced them that the ones that were left behind cried themselves to sleep because no one loved them enough to pick them up…) and I was so glad to have their help.
Picking apples, it turns out, brings out the Braxton Hicks in my body.

Ah, fall. Crisp, crisp, fall.
I hang onto you because when you end, so does my pregnancy. While I’m excited for my pregnancy to be over, I’m MORE nervous about the life changing that’s about to go on up in hur.

Be sweet to your mama. And please. At least TRY to pretend the womb is the nicest place you’ve ever been to and NOT a 3 dimensional trampoline. I don’t think you realize how strong you are, precious.
Thanks ever so.

Decorating With Dave

Dave Ramsey isn’t a woman, and if he were I might just be 100% on board with his plan.  I’m about to be barfingly sexist, so hold onto your moral…
If he were a woman, he’d have an entire section in each of his books regarding home decor and how to successfully integrate it into his plan.
Besides, Decorating With Dave sounds so crisp.

Anyway, my cute kids have been begging me for WEEKS to get ready for Halloween. At first I thought they were talking about their costumes, so I explained that we weren’t going to be wearing costumes for a few weeks, but after a while I caught on: they wanted a SPOOKY house.
“If you can get the living room all picked up before you go to school,” I said to my daughter, “Then we will decorate when you get home.”
The kids and I sat on Pinterest for about half an hour getting ideas. I thought it was a good idea until my kids started pointing to all the Martha Stewartesque porches and mantels and saying, “Let’s make our house like THAT!”
Their eyes fairly sparkled.

What we came up with wasn’t too bad, far from Martha tho’ it be. We decorated from 4 pm until after 9. Well, the kids gave up somewhere around 6:30, but two and a half hours is a pretty good run for little kids.
I drew a couple of bats on some white computer paper and used them as stencils for these:

I cut the bats out of black card stock and folded their wings in a little. The kids helped me tape them to the wall, and they were so thrilled. They giggled.
“Dad’s going to be like, ‘AH! Bats!’… so spooky,” my daughter said.
I should also mention that we were listening to my kid’s Halloween station on Pandora -the kids were in heaven.
For a few months, I’ve been saving empty glass bottles because I’ve been wanting to make my own apothecary collection. I didn’t know if it would turn out, but it did! I soaked the bottles in a bowl filled with hot, soapy water (with some ammonia added). The labels scrubbed right off.
The kids painted the bottles, I printed the labels from THIS site, and then I used adhesive spray to attach them (I stuffed what little I had left of my burlap in the tops of the jars because I don’t keep corks on hand  Maybe I should start…). This was my son’s favorite feature.
“Is there poison in there?” He kept asking. Should I be worried?

It’s not the best picture, but you get the idea.
I have had some blocks of wood on hand, so I had the kids paint them black. My son helped me sand the edges after they had dried. My daughter helped me rip pages out of a book.
I used a glue stick to attach ripped up book pages to computer paper, and then I printed one letter on each page.
After they came out of the printer, I ripped (instead of cut) the letter out. I chalked the edges with soft pastel black chalk and modpodged them to a block. THIS is my favorite craft of the night! I didn’t have any cute Halloweenish paper to print on, so I made my own out of an old book.
I swear my house is turning into a morbid sort of book slaughter house.

The font I used is a circus font that I downloaded for free from (Thanks, Brittany, for recommending that site to me! I love it so much).
I also pulled apart a dead tomato plant that never actually made it from the store to our garden. Wal-Mart sold us a huge tomato plant at 70% off because the tips of it had frozen in a late freeze. We were going to bring it home and trim it up nice and plant it.
But we only got as far as bringing it home. Yesterday I ripped it apart. I’m going to use the dead tomato plant branches in another project, but I had the kids paint the bottom pot black.
My daughter found two HUGE sticks.
I thanked my husband for not weeding the farthest back corner of our yard because I used the weeds (and blue duct tape that I hid with fabric) to make brooms:

The chalkboard is something I made for a Primary Project. It’s just the back of a picture frame (the part that holds the picture in and has brackets on the back. Does that make any kind of sense?). The frame to the picture broke, but I’ve had the glass and back to it in my closet for a couple of years. I ALMOST threw them out last month… good thing I didn’t!!!
I painted it up!! It worked perfect for a WITCHY sign.
And here’s the mess after I cleaned half of it up:

The white butcher paper was the perfect base for our mess. Before heading to bed last night, I slathered a huge portion of it in black paint. Today, I’m going to cut a huge owl out of it and hang it up in the kids’ bedroom window.

Notice there’s no pictures of us actually crafting together (or any step-wise instructions).  My hands were generally covered in crap the entire time we sped-crafted.

The cost for everything we did yesterday? $0!!
Does anyone have Dave’s number? I’d like to text him.  I’m pretty sure he’d text back a picture of a gold star, or something.


The Blame Game

I have this kid.

She’s a girl, and she just started school. I thought I knew her, but since she’s started school she’s… changing. She used to talk so sweetly, so kindly, and now? She’s really emotional and demanding. She’s been extremely entitled, and there’s been more than a few occasions that she’s spouted off and left me rooted where I stood with my jaw dropped.
Did she just SAY that?

And she’s added a fun, new factor to our life: blame.
When she wasn’t eating her dinner and I suggested we race to finish and SHE stuffed her mouth SO full and then ran to the bathroom, spit it all out and FLUSHED it and THEN LIED TO HER DAD about what she’d done with her food behind a locked bathroom door…
It was my fault.
Dad sent her to bed early without any dessert, and the next morning I gave her the biggest hug and asked her if she slept well.
“I was so sad when you told a lie and couldn’t get dessert,” I said.
“Yeah…” she looked up at me with her gorgeous hazel eyes, “You shouldn’t have told me it was a race to finish our food.”
I made she sure she KNEW under no uncertain terms that it was NOT MY FAULT SHE LIED.
But she sort of blinked back like, “Say whatever you want. I’m the victim here.”

I don’t really know what to do. I’ve never had a 5 year old emotional girl who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat and demands just about everything from me.
Get me a spoon.
Give me bread.
I need glue.

To which I raise my eyebrows and say, “EXCUSE ME!”
And she ducks her head and says, “please…”

A few nights ago, she had nothing nice to say to me. After telling me a few times that day how much she hated being home (Columbus Day), she demanded dinner, then told me she hated it.
“GIRL,” I said firmly to her, “You better knock that attitude off and say something NICE to me for a change.”
She audibly groaned and then said in the most depressed tone a five year old could ever muster, “You’re pretty.”
Later that night, she accused me of being a mean mom -and she meant it (I take all of this with a grain of salt because I know she’s just 5 and of course being home is seriously LAME compared to school and of course I’m mean if I don’t let her watch 3 hours of TV at night).
That’s when my husband had had enough.
He set her straight, and I was glad. I could have set her straight, but it just means so much more coming from Dad. After he’d talked with her, she turned to me with her eyes wide open.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” she said. And then she said something about how she was glad I wasn’t in jail, or something…

Yesterday I got blamed because she didn’t wasn’t able to give her hand-drawn flamingo to her teacher. I put her drawing in her backpack and it wasn’t there when she got to school.
“MOM! You shouldn’t have taken it out!”
“I didn’t,” I said, “I put it in your bag.”
“You took it out. I just know you did,” she reasoned, “It’s not here and my teacher may never have it now.”
And she was on the verge of bursting into tears.
“Listen to me,” I said, very carefully, “If you have something you want to give to your teacher, it is NOT my job to make sure that happens. If YOU want to give it to her, YOU need to do that. You can’t blame me for it. Big girls take care of their own things. The bigger you get, the more you take care of. Do NOT blame me.”
“Well,” she sniffled, “It’s not in my bagpack. Someone just taked it.”
And by “someone” she meant “Mom.” I could tell by the way she looked at me with sheer betrayal in her eyes.

This is a stage, right? This isn’t a personality thing, right? Because I have visions of a teenager making horrible choices and blaming them all on me.
If Mom had kept me home, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant…


She really is the sweetest and best kid -the most helpful and wonderful and fun. I’m such a lucky Mom. I just wish there was a handbook for each separate kid.
And Mom.
And pregnancy.
And husband.
So I guess there’s only one thing left to do: PRAY.

Funny Bone

… brought to you today compliments of someone’s pinterest board that I didn’t bother to keep track of.
But golly gee.
It made my day.


I have my daughter home all day today. It’s just like old times -I have great plans for us. We’re going to pick apples and can ketchup. Weirdly enough, the kids are just as excited as I am.
So excited, in fact, that I pushing cleaning day to tomorrow. Look out!
I do have to admit that while having her home will be fun, I have really enjoyed having time with just the boy. For only a few more weeks, I get a few precious hours with just the two of us. After that, it will be the boy and the baby -and I really don’t want my son feeling forgotten about.
Pulling him away from his Super Hero shows isn’t always easy.

But I make him do it anyway -even if he hates me for it. I plopped him on the counter last week, and we made bread.

We had a friend over and I made finger paints. They weren’t nearly as good as the store bought stuff, but the kids didn’t care. They had a blast. As I mixed food coloring in, the boys were hopping with excitement.
“See this red?” I asked, mixing the food coloring in, “It’s SPIDERMAN!”
Their jumps got higher and they started laughing like crazy.
“See this green?” I asked, mixing the food coloring in, “It’s HULK!”
“See this blue? IT’s CAPTAIN AMERICA!”

Oh the things they believe…

During Conference (which was just AMAZING), the kids build forts. Isn’t it written in the church handbook somewhere that while conference in on, kids SHALL make forts?

…and wear costumes, apparently.

During the Priesthood session, my son fell asleep (fort building is hard work). Per her request, my daughter and I sat together with two toddler-size red heel socks and made a sock kitty.

I taught her how to thread a needle and poke it through two layers of sock. She stuffed the whole kitty herself, and she’s sporting it all over this morning. She’s one proud mother.

The kids took it to my hair during the Sunday morning session:

I used to do the same thing with my Dad’s hair. I was one of the lucky kids who had a Dad with tons of hair. He kept it pretty short, but I always found enough to make a few pony tails. Girls ALWAYS find a way.

Speaking of girls, I’m getting my new one in about 2 months (AH!)

I have got to get ON my Christmas shopping!
I still don’t know where this baby is going to go. I’m eerily calm about the whole thing. I just know things will work out.
And I think the only possible way this picture could be any cuter is if there was a baby wedged in there somewhere:

All in “due” time.