Jar Love #1: Sunshine

I'm Not Crying

A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page the other day. I could not stop laughing.

The Crying Competition (part 1) from Brent Hoff on Vimeo.

When we are on really long car drives and the boredom begins to wear on our sensibilities, my husband and I have crying competitions. The man wins EVERY SINGLE TIME! He has some serious skills. He could probably give the girl at the end a run for her money. Me...I just look like "The Pooper" on this video.

And while we're on the subject of crying...


Mad about Mondays

Crestfallen, Joe walked into our living room. It was Sunday evening. The end of another glorious weekend of General Conference, candy corn hillbilly teeth, marked off To Do lists, homemade stew, stolen naps, and early morning trail running.

"I don't want to go back to work tomorrow", he whined.

Patting him on the shoulder, I agreed. I didn't want to let him go back to work either. What a drag Mondays are...for the working father and the school kids.

But for the Stay at Home Mom...Mondays are glorious!

I remember feeling that pit-in-stomach dread when I was younger and had responsibilities and obligations to teachers, professors, and employers. Vaguely. That Monday morning repulsion faded long ago with the absence of deadlines and clock-ins.

No boss breaths down my neck asking for "the Johnson file".

The only ones breathing down my neck are the little ones begging for a 9 am "Snack, Mama! SNACK!!"

In the truest sense I suppose my children are my boss. And these supervisors are more whiny, critical, and demanding than most. But they're also pretty flexible and laid back. When I say, "Let's skip the house work today and play Barbies instead ", they don't mind. When we have popcorn for dinner instead of the chicken, vegetables, and potatoes that was on the meal plan, they don't complain. When one of them is sick or hurt, they'd much rather I drop everything and cuddle. Productivity be darned.

I don't mean to agitate the working moms out there, but I can't help feeling like I've hit the jackpot here. If I want to wear pajamas until noon, change into my workout clothes to exercise, shower, and then change back into a second set of pajamas...I can. If I want to interrupt my housework to take thirty pictures of a jar casting shadows on the counter top just because I think it's beautiful...I can. If I want chocolate chip cookies for lunch...then by golly I WILL have chocolate chip cookies for lunch! As long as I share of course.

Not that being a stay at home is all cookies and comfort. It can be pretty tough sometimes. The hours are long and never ending. The chores and chaos are monotonous and relentless. Many days it is too easy to feel insignificant or trapped. Sometimes I feel tremendously guilty that I'm not giving a "real" contribution to our household or world. Every now and then, I ache to return to school and the work force for the socialization, for the paycheck, or for the change of pace.

When I was a kid, my mom had a quote hanging on the wall that I read every morning as I slammed down breakfast in my rush to get out the door to school.

“The greatest work we will ever do will be within the walls of our home.”  ~Harold B. Lee

I read it over and over again until it was ingrained on my brain, but it wasn't imprinted on my heart until I was a mom. I believe my mom had it there for her own sake and sanity. Something to remind her to keep her head up in the midst of the melancholy and the maelstrom and the mediocrity.

Stay at home motherhood may not be charming every day, but today I am grateful for it and the happiness it brings me. I know that I am never as happy as when I am in my own home, working to keep it clean and comfortable, striving to be patient and loving with my children, helping them to do homework or get dressed. I feel incredible joy when my family is well-fed, my home is organized, pictures of a happy family hang on the walls, laughter and good music ring through the rooms, and love abounds from the rafters.

And if I get to wear pajamas while doing all that...Even better.

Bring it on Monday!


Hiking with Kids: It CAN be Done! {Ghost Falls}

Our local school has a marvelous schedule. Every single Friday is a short day! Typically there isn't any homework assigned that day either. Suddenly we have a few extra free hours. I love getting a head start on our weekend!

I made a rule at the beginning of the school year that we would only have play dates on Fridays. My reasoning was that between homework, dinner prep, and soccer there just wasn't time any other day of the week. At least that's what I tell the kids. That's the truth, but the deeper truth is...I hate play dates. Yeah, yeah. I'm a rotten mom and I'll get into my reasons another day.

Today I wanted to write about what we've been doing on Fridays instead of play dates. The last couple of weeks I've been putting on my Brave Mommy cape and taking all four of my children (ages 7 years to 20 months) hiking. And as with most things that I've tried for the first time in my thirties...I wonder why the heck I didn't do this sooner.

I expected this to be so frustrating that all the fun would be sucked right out of it. If precedence showed me anything it was that my kids' legs are permanently broken. Try walking home from school with them sometime. Cue whining, crying, resistance, power struggle, drama, fighting, etc. etc. etc. It's a nightmare. And that's only half a mile.

So why on earth would I think it's a good idea to take the invalids up a mountain? Well...I have this vision. One day we shall be a healthy, happy, hiking family. Everyone will carry their own pack. We'll climb deep into the mountains helping each other up and down. Stories and laughter will be swapped while we soak in the beauties of nature. Choruses of "Kumbayah" and "Amazing Grace" will reverberate around a glowing campfire. And my children will be strong, capable, clever, interesting, well-rounded individuals. For the family that hikes together, stays together.

If I want that dream...I've got to do more than sleep. I'm planting the seeds now.

We started with Ghost Falls, in Corner Canyon near Draper, Utah. The trail takes you right by a couple of neighborhoods. It's odd to be hiking by someone's backyard. Plus I have to fight back a few pangs of jealousy--(I wish my backyard was a mountain.)--but about half a mile in you're clear of the houses. This must be a great place to mountain bike because we saw tons of bikers. Honestly, I don't get it. It looks painful and unpleasant. But to each their own.

We had hiked barely 15 minutes before the kids were asking to rest and eat. I had braced for a struggle of a "hike". Luckily, I had a friend who's an avid hiker (with her kids no less) that suggested we bring lots of snacks and plan for lots of breaks. Thanks to her my expectations were low. They did need to rest fairly often and they wanted to eat something at every stop. I packed jerky, nuts, fruit leather, Gatorade, and water. The kids carried their own little backpacks which made it extra fun for them. They collected acorns, rocks, and bright colored leaves to take home.

This is what I kept in my backpack.

I had printed off a map to bring along, but due to my inability to read a map...we ended up taking the long way in and out. When all was said and done, we hiked well over 4 miles!! I was so proud of my kids! On the way up I kept asking if they wanted to stop and turn back, but they wanted to make it all the way to Ghost Falls and kept pressing on. Coming down, you could tell their energy level was waning. I had to entice them with chocolate to make it to the very end. But they did make it!

Ghost Falls

Four miles was a little long for my kids, especially for their first time. I'm afraid it killed their enthusiasm for hiking a bit, but I promised them we wouldn't go that far again. Still, I just couldn't help being so proud of them for accomplishing something like that! Especially my four year old who I expected to tank out early on. She kept right up with the rest of them with a smile on her face and a song on her lips. Gosh! I have great kids!

Mountain maidens

And now for more pictures!

Baby Cee's favorite part? All that dirt!

"I want to be a rock climber when I grow up!" ~Dee (7 yo)

Acorns! All over the place! So cute!

WE DID IT! Dee kept asking if we were going to be on the front page of the newspaper since we were the first ones to hike this mountain. He makes me laugh.

"I love to see the temple!"
My favorite picture of the day. We hiked up past the Draper LDS temple. What a beautiful view!
So...hiking with kids. It can happen. Just bring lots of snacks, water, and patience. Plan for a chocolate stop at the end. And learn how to read a map. More of our hiking adventures later...


Three for Thursday: Selfish Mommy

Blogging seems to be my little indulgent thing I've been doing for myself this week. So why not take it another step and really get self-centered? It's all about me today! At least for the next fifteen minutes. Then someone has to feed those dang kids, do that pile of laundry, and solve the other 13 million problems around here. *sigh*

Three things I accomplished over the summer:
1. Ran my first half marathon
2. Did fairly well at consistently doing "Adventure Days" with my kids
3. Learned how to make homemade tamales

Three things I would do if I had three hours all to myself:
1. Wander around wondering what on earth to do with myself for three hours
2. Treat myself to some fresh sushi, a pedicure, and a real movie at a real movie theater.
3. Hike

Three things I want for Christmas:
1. Lego Lord of the Rings for the Wii
2. A food processor
3. A box of See's chocolates

Three things I would like to learn how to do in the next year:
1. Shop confidently in an Asian grocery store
2. Pressure cooking and canning
3. Bake delicious gluten-free bread and other baked goods from scratch

Three guilty pleasures:
1. The belly dancing part of Zumba
2. Thrift store shopping (especially for jars)
3. Shaytard YouTube videos

Three pictures: (Gotta squeeze the kids in here somewhere!)
Breakfast. The Most Important Meal of the Day. *Bodyguards included.

Giiiiirrrl! You work those leg warmers!

"I love to see the temple! I'm going there someday!"



Miracles do exist. I'm here blogging two days in a row, aren't I? Miracle.

I wish it was about something more positive though. I'm finding myself in such a funk today. It all began last Thursday night...

That evening, I had the opportunity to donate blood for the first time in ten years. The Red Cross still had my maiden name on file, that's how long it has been.

I used to work as a phlebotomist and emergency department technician among other medical professions so I tend to get a little giddy around needles and blood. (You don't even have to tell me I'm twisted. I know.) My mental faculties were not what they should be. Blame it on the aforementioned twisted giddiness and loss of blood. I walked through the door upon my return home and there was my husband, brother-in-law, and a smattering of children sitting at the dinner table. A fantastic opportunity for random goofiness if there ever was one.

I fainted.

And it was a glorious production. I was committed. I fell and fell hard. Full body meets carpet. Right on my bag. Which had my phone in it.

Good grief. I may have lost 90 plus pounds, but nothing will call out your inner fat girl quicker than totally demolishing your phone simply by falling on it.

Several days later, I have a new phone (Thank you, Insurance Plan), but let me tell you what I don't have. I don't have $100 (No thank you, Insurance Plan Deductible). I don't have months upon months of calender notes. And I don't have five months worth of pictures and video. (I had been using my phone as my primary source of photography.) The guy at the Verizon store tried, but he just couldn't revive my phone. Death...by fat girl fake fainting. The dumbest reason ever for having to replace your phone.

A girl (fat or not) could cry.

Which I have to keep fighting the urge to do. That stupid little thing was my brain. I have no idea what commitments I have made over the next few months. I have no record of what happened over the summer. I have no pictures of my children from the entire summer. I don't even know when to expect my next period. (Judging by the unreasonable feelings of hostility and desperation I am experiencing about this whole thing...probably any day now.) 

?@%&*?!!@#FS*&>+!&^!@#$#%#$$@*&?!?! UGH!!!!!!!

I've got to stop writing about it or I may combust.

Note to self and note to you: STOP LEARNING THINGS THE HARD WAY!!! BACK UP EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!



I've been aching to get back in to blogging, but every time I sit down to do so (if I even get that far) I either draw a blank or draw a novel that is far too long to be posted. Either way...nothing is happening.

Today I have decided to make out with my computer, or more correctly...K.I.S.S. blogging style.

That would be Keep It Simple Stupid in case you lived under a rock in junior high.

My timer is set for 15 minutes. Whatever I type gets published at the end of it.

Ready??? GO!

Today I cleaned, labeled, and packed away the last batch of canning for the year. 13 more quarts of peaches. So pretty. I canned for years in my mother's kitchen, but I was usually placed in the middle of an estrogen-filled assembly line so I failed to truly learn how to CAN. This year I vowed that I would learn how to can all by myself. How did I let myself take this long to do it?!

It's so doable! It's so rewarding! It's so--dare I say--fun!

This year I canned tomatoes, peaches, and raspberry jam ALL BY MYSELF. (My inner Red Hen is practically bursting at the seams.)  Then my sister and I worked together to make applesauce, but this time I made sure to see how every part of the process was done so that next year I can do it alone.

Next year...Pressure canning. (Eeep.)

Other than canning, I've been busy playing chauffeur and tutor. I have three kids in school this year (wahoo!). Dee is in second grade, Jeigh is in first, and Elle is in preschool. Baby Cee just makes sure to wave and blow kisses anytime anyone is headed out.

Every year I am shocked at the amount of homework assigned to school children. It can be such a struggle to get homework done every night in any kind of a timely manner. And it doubly frustrates me because as soon as homework is done, it's time to make dinner. Then it's time to eat dinner. Then it's time for bed. And our day is totally gone. I can't help mourning the loss of my children a bit. Even if I do enjoy the quiet, clean house for a few hours while they're all gone. Ahh the beautiful conflict.

What else can I say in 6 minutes?

Can you believe it's October?! I'm simultaneously delighted and distraught. (This seems to be a common theme with me.) What a fantastic time of year! The sights, the smells, the sensations. I love it all! But, really, who doesn't?

Well, that's all the randomness I can produce for today. Tomorrow? I'll pucker up again.


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