Side Kicker

I have Alice with me always.  She goes to work with me, she takes over my yoga mat, she eats what I eat, she’s even started talking like me.

“Alice, can you sing for me?”

“Sure!  I will!  I will sing for you tomorrow…”


I take her with to visit our grandparents, and I had to snap this picture of her helping Grandpa check his oxygen levels.

In fact, I have to share a lot of pictures of Alice with you because where I go, she goes.  And where I and she go, my camera goes.  Sad Kid Face is just irresistible.

Mud is the worst!




20160501_184154To be fair, there’s one other person Alice latches onto -she’s a natural extension of Grandpa Hansen.  She keeps him in line and wears him out.

The Dorothy Dress is her latest favorite.  She loves to cook with me, and this moment is precious.  Dress up clothes, an apron, mismatched boots (who needs ruby slippers?) and crazy hair!


The only person who loves cooking with me more than Alice does is Lacy Lou.  For years, Lacy’s been on my counter.  I even have pictures of her on our kitchen counter in the very dress Alice is wearing.  We love us some Dorothy around here, though Lacy has graduated from being a helper to an assistant chef.  Sometimes she will cook an entire meal!  She loves it.20160509_181446

Todo grew a bit?

Dorothy takes selfies!  If I ever want a picture of myself and the kids, I take it myself!  Alice has taken note:


Color Until it Sticks

Danny is a spoiler. Not in the bad, “hey, I didn’t want to know how the movie ended” kind of way but in the, “you really didn’t have to do all this” kind of way. He gets a little bit of a high off it, I think.
I remember when Lacy turned 6 how thrilled she was to answer a knock at the door and find a delivery of flowers, just for her. Dad just loves to go the extra mile.

This Mother’s Day weekend, we went into Flagstaff to do our big shopping trip with all of the kids.
“Let’s go out to eat, your choice. Pick ANYwhere,” he said, “Red Lobster would be fine. Wendy’s would be fine. But I hope you don’t pick Wendy’s. You’re worth more than Wendy’s, but if that’s what you REALLY want, we can go there.”
Two hours later, we were seated at Pita Jungle. I love that place so much! Their kids’ meals are awesome, the kids love ordering from them. I can’t get enough of their mahi-mahi. I went all out and ordered an appetizer which, if you have kids and no money you know… is a sign that you’re really shooting the moon.
The best part? It took so long to get our appetizer that it was free! Fruit and cheese platter without the Mom-guilt of, ‘oh, I shouldn’t have ordered that… we could have spent that $10 on toilet paper or fruit leather.’

After filling up on food, we walked over to the health food store. We bought some caramel, some goat milk soap and went a little nuts from Alice throwing every expensive thing in our cart. This kid talks to EVERYONE.
“What’s your name?” She asked a man who was trying to get through our family wall.
“Dodge,” he said, “What’s your name?”
“Alice? Whoa!” And at that moment he ran straight into a cart, almost falling over. Trent at least waited until he was out of ear-shot to say it.
“His name was Dodge, but he didn’t…”

By the time we left the health food store, we were frazzled from wrangling kids and saying, “no” over and over. By then the kids were whining at the prospect of Sam’s Club.
“I haaaate it in there. SO BORING,” Lacy sighed.
“Nothing to do…” Trent shrugged.

Dad came up with a solution that made everyone’s day. It was the most peaceful shopping trip we’ve ever had.
“Get your coloring pages from the restaurant. Bring the crayons…” He said.

We came home exhausted and slept really well. Saturday we had trouble getting moving. We tried, but we couldn’t stop streaming “Merlin” episodes.
In the afternoon, there was a knock at the door.

“Danny, you didn’t have to…”
“I know.”

Sunday morning, he gave me a few gifts. While we were in the city, he’d snuck off to Barnes and Noble. He knows me so well.
“I saw that your journal is getting pretty full, and I knew you needed another one. When I saw the coloring journal, I knew you had to have it. Then I picked up a handmade, leather journal. I want you to fill those blank pages with your book.”

Danny’s been waiting for me to write a book for almost 12 years now.
If I’m ever published, I think he’s entitled to 60% of the royalties for encouraging me. That’s half the battle! Well, 60% of the battle.

Danny and the kids also worked together to make breakfast in bed. Just as soon as they plopped the bacon and eggs in my lap, the kids played vulture.
I broke off pieces of my bacon and passed them out, laughing.
“The children giveth and the children taketh away,” I said.

“Kids,” Danny looked at the three wide-eyed kids hovering over the bacon and journals, “Those pencils are just for Mom. You have your own coloring things.”
“Danny, I can’t NOT let the kids play with NEW COLORED PENCILS.”
And there arose a great cheer.

We sat in our church pew all hunched over our own coloring pages. Alice took ownership of a page in my new journal.

I practiced the art of letting go, of seeing what happens when I quit trying to force something to be a certain way. This is hard for me. I’m used to taking a project and just going for it. BUT it isn’t always healthy for me emotionally, and it has wrecked me in terms of trying to get PEOPLE to respond to my expectations.
Sometimes I think I’m God. It’s one of my biggest defects of character.
I manage, I judge… myself and others and things and places and time zones. I frustrate myself.

I could see that the simple act of coloring with a 3-year old would be prime practice. Instead of negotiating with her, I let go of my idea of what I thought the page should look like. I didn’t mind when she snatched the pink pencil out of my hand. I let her take the LEAD reigns and I began filling in the places she’d scribbled over.
It was eye-opening. I began to see the picture take it’s own sort of artful flair, filled with pops of carefree, child-like color.


I noticed my shoulders and chest weren’t tight! So often when things start veering off the path I think they should be on, I tense and tighten.
There’s hope for me yet! The practice is paying off!
After a few minutes, my 9-year old leaned over, “Mom, I like coloring but I AM GETTING TIRED.”

I looked down at her page. Her strokes were heavy and deliberate. She was trying SO HARD TO GET IT RIGHT and TO GET IT DONE.
“It’s taking too long,” she said.

I thought of a quote that had been on my mind… one from a book I’d given my Mom for Mother’s Day:

I remembered that I’d tried coloring before and always, always given up for the reason my daughter had just given. It takes too long! I realized that while I color, I also tense up because I focus on the end.
I do the SAME THING to a bag of Swedish Fish. I tense up and eat the entire bag, like it’s some kind of challenge or something… one I’m always up for! Unfortunately.

“You are doing good and having fun,” I whispered, “Don’t worry too much about finishing your page or you’ll miss how fun it is just to be coloring.”
The stress from her face melted into a grin and she picked her pencil up with a new-found inspiration.

Letting Alice take the coloring page over was a cute little teaching experience for me, and it was really therapeutic to color! I could finally see why so many people like it!

That night, Danny and I sat in silence. Coloring.
The kids were all nestled all snug in their beds while Daddy and I colored pages until midnight. I guess no matter how old you are, you can’t resist a new set of colored pencils.


Other Mother’s Day festivities included eating our annual Eggplant Parmesan with Grandma (forgot to snap pictures, dang it!), checking cows with Dad out in the pretty Arizona high desert and kids fighting while trying to Skype their Grammy:



My favorite necklace to wear on Mother’s Day!  A Mama Bird and Three Nest Eggs:20160508_185241





The day after Mother’s Day, I took a hold of the COOLEST flower holder -a gift from my aunt.  I filled it with a few flowers from the bouquet Danny had given me and a few flowers from the bouquet my parents had given me (awwwwww) and the pink carnation on the end was given to me at church.


I’m really going to cry when they wilt because this bouquet is just LOVE in flower form.  Every time I look at it, I remember love.

Mother’s Day reminds me of the sacred qualities of all women to nurture and create in their various forms.  I think of Mother Nature and Heavenly Mother and how fitting it is that when Mother’s Day rolls around, there’s flowers everywhere!