Family Vacation: The Ultimate Involuntary Workout

The ultimate summer workout doesn’t involve much gym time, but I can promise this: you will be sore, and you will be tired.

It is called “family vacation.”

Total body workout includes:

1. CARDIO. Your cardio routine will begin as soon as your car is put in reverse backing out of the driveway. Run back into the house at least five times for forgotten items. Did you adjust the thermostat? Did you remember the iPad charger? Are you sure you locked the front door? Really sure? Way to go the extra mile and hurdle over the garage door sensor on your way back out the third time. I am convinced that traveling with a large family is how Bruce Jenner stayed in decathlon shape, back when his family was young, and back when he was a he.

2. UPPER BODY. When you’ve got ninos in the backseat, upper body is what your car’s co-pilot seat is all about. You’ll have the opportunity to stretch unused muscles and contort yourself while fishing for dropped items. It would be unfathomable to wait another 20 minutes until you stop at Jack in the Box to rescue that Paw Patrol figurine wedged in the seat crack between Graham crackers. It’s just like having Jillian Michaels yelling at you…for free!

You may have a seat belt rash on your neck from being nearly decapitated, but did I not promise you soreness?

3. LOWER BODY. Unloading the car will provide you with ample squatting/ bending/lifting opportunities. If you’ve got a great workout support team like I do, they’ll hide necessities all over the car and keep you running back to get them, individually. Oh, wait. The wipes. Oh, and where’s his other shoe? Oh…the stinky diaper. Did we leave that in the trunk? Good looking out, team. At least when you arrive up the elevator for the third time, your family will switch up the USA chant for, “M-O-M! D-A-D!”

Just kidding, they won’t care, but they will point out that you dropped the iPhone charger in the parking lot, and they’re wondering when it’s time to eat.

4. Upper body, again. If there is a pool, and you have little kids, it will be assumed that you are a shot-put Olympian. You will launch all of your posterity, one at a time, “one mo’ time,” over and over. And one more time for a picture. It was blurry, though, so one more. Your arms may be on fire, but when it comes down to it, you’ll toss your kids a million times over for those laughs.

5. CARB LOAD. I don’t know, but it’s vacation, so it just seems right.

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Baby Showers: The Ghost Expense in my Wallet

I love babies, and am kind of obsessed with watching my friends become parents. Truly. Witnessing my best friends experience parenthood is, unexpectedly, one of the biggest joys in my life. I get emotional thinking of the new love that reroutes their lives, the parenting inspiration they are to me, and…

I am wiping tears right now, so I’ll just stop there.

Consequently, I enjoy celebrating with them at baby showers.

Modern times (and Pinterest) also call for baby “sprinkles,” which are usually thrown for second, third babies, etc.

This is all great, unless you’re Mormon, like I am.

THAT’S A LOT OF BABIES.

Showers and showers mean we LDS women make it rain more than Lil Wayne.

Weddings and babies, man. I don’t know if I can afford this religion. I definitely can’t be forking out money for everyone’s Dock a Tot registry dreams for five people a month without signing up to be an Uber driver. How about a nice box of breast pads?

(If you’ve seen me at a shower lately, don’t worry. Now you know that I REALLY wanted to be there. 🙂 )

If you haven’t been to a baby shower or baby sprinkle recently, let me lay it out for you:

The expectant mother’s mom squad is always there, talking in high voices about baby names they love, that, in my humble, I-named-my-child-Gus opinion, are not names. If there are multiple X and Y and silent Zs and stuff, that’s just not a name, or even a word, but I’ll be by the brownies.

There are not brownies at showers these days, only mini donuts. I wish they were full size donuts. I know cronuts are too much to hope for, so I won’t even address that.

Expectant mothers love flower crowns, which I also like! Flower crowns are pretty, until someone gets carried away with foliage…in which case, I am reminded of Jesus. Don’t be offended. Overzealous flower crowns remind me of Jesus’ crown of thorns, but maybe that’s just because I’m just super holy all the time. Who am I to say? I feel guilty about my thoughts being borderline sac religious, so I look for brownies again, just in case I missed them.

My next baby, I am throwing a party called the “Fat Ash Bash,” and there will be brownies. In lieu of gifts, there will be a donation for postpartum mom reconstruction, because, what the.

Hold me to it.

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From the Fluent in Blonde Archives: Mom Swimwear for the Community Pool

Even thought this was originally posted in 2014, right before my first postpartum swim season, I still haven’t quite figured it out. I’ve stopped caring, I guess, but maybe I should still seek out the “community pool swimsuits” runways this upcoming Fall Fashion Week.

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Ahh yes, pool season…brings so many nicks to my legs, and new hurdles to motherhood.

Lathering a baby in sunscreen is kind of like greasing a pig (I would imagine). The other babies in the pool probably assume Gus has some sort of skin discoloration disease because his mom can’t figure out how to completely rub in the sunscreen before he slips away to lick the chair. They are just dots of impenetrable sun protection.

And, question: how do you know when there is something other than water in a swim diaper?

Another question: what do moms wear to the pool? The Victoria’s Secret 2010 swimwear is left in some unseen corner of the dresser, and maternity swimsuits are not applicable here…so. Do moms wear Speedo brand for Michael Phelps speed in catching a pooping kid across the pool? Do moms wear goggles if they need to rescue a sunken Sophie? Do they wear the swimsuits with skirts attached? Do moms even wear swimsuits? I know they aren’t actually swimming, and I know for a fact they don’t lay out, so maybe just some kind of moisture wicking active wear is best for the pool.

I kept asking Gus, but he was busy emptying his diaper bag for 20 minutes.

A favorite activity.

Gus gave me his insight on motherly swimwear choices after we got home. While I was rocking him to sleep after the pool, he broke it down for me.

He said, “Mommy, if you wear a:

wet suit, that would be ideal. I’m sure you can find one on eBay!”

bikini, you will remind me that I’m hungry all the time. It’s like a self serve ice cream machine on a cruise. ”

tankini, I will assume that the glaring white skin around your waist is a floaty and try and grab on when the water at the steps gets choppy.”

one-piece, you will have a perma-wedgie, because one-piece suits are not one size fits all. I don’t mind that, though, because you won’t be standing still long enough for anyone to notice…unless you stop chasing me and just let me eat those dead bugs I always find.”

We really bonded over our swimwear heart to heart. I like to think that, and not the afternoon of wading, was why he was extra cuddly all evening. I love that little head resting on my shoulder.

If there is a seasoned mother that has any suggestions other than wetsuits, that would be great. At least no one will pay much attention to me with this cute face nearby.

(Maybe my next post will be a 2017 “seasoned mom” answer.)

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Where Did My Baby Go?

I’ve had a lot of feelings this week, and it makes me feel like that girl pouring her heart out on Mean Girls. (“She doesn’t even go here!” “I just have a lot of feelings.”)

This month has proved to be another with no promise of a baby. Does that sound pathetic for someone who already has two beautiful, healthy children? I am so blessed! The feeling of deeply wanting a baby is overwhelming, and weirdly isolating, because I don’t believe husbands ever drown in that emotion like women do.

Disappointment is a frustrating feeling. Sadness with an undertone of anger.

Waking up the day after a miscarriage or negative pregnancy test is the worst.

Kind of like when you get dumped, if you can’t relate. Has that happened to you? Did anyone ever break up with you? You wake up the next day, and there are just a few glorious seconds of amnesia, and then the previous day’s events come flooding back to your mind like an aftershock.

It’s kind of like that, only with less Beyonce break up playlists from your best friends.

The inside of me feels a little wilted, and I let myself experience those feelings for a few hours, but I can never be upset long with Gus and Roscoe keeping me busy. My sons are my best buddies, and without a doubt, angels sent to my home.

Oh, were you looking for a blog that posts about gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free brownies? I’m sorry.

My current baby turns two at the end of the week! Can you believe that? I am always emotional about birthdays, but this suddenly talking dude is getting to be SO fun that it emphasizes the sweet in bittersweet. I’m soaking in the last few moments of having a 23-month-old while I can still refer to his age in months. Just look at this face!

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Has Anyone Started Dreaming in Boomerangs Yet?

It’s been said that once you truly comprehend a new language, you start dreaming in it.

It makes me wonder if every person active on social media has suddenly experienced endless dreams (nightmares?) of Boomerang videos over and over and over and over and over and over and over and three new views and over and over.

Just curious.

(I haven’t yet, but I have yet to master that Boomerang wiggle, and I am positive that’s a prerequisite.)

Although I mainly use this blog as a reference website for writing samples, can I incorporate other stuff? Like, I don’t know…crappy iPhone photos? My favorite blogs have always been those that show me a glimpse of a person’s (slash total stranger I’m convinced I’m friends with) real life, and you can really get to know someone through their low-quality, quickly snapped pictures. A screenshot of the 72 open browser tabs on their phones, too, perhaps? I’ll save that for next time.

Maybe I’ll do that weekly and make a “My Life Monday,” or “More Than You Want to Know Monday!”
“TMI Tuesday?”
How about, “What the Hell’s Happening Wednesday”?

Yes. I like that one, but my mom would probably thin smile and that’s scary.

Also, it’s not Wednesday.

Also, my kids aren’t allowed to say “butt,” sooo I won’t say PG-13 words like hell. I definitely won’t say heck. I sure as hell won’t say heck. (JK, Mom!)

Anyway, here’s the past week:

I went to a friend’s baby sprinkle. You know that group of friends that you just kind of elbow your way into because they’re fun? Or do you not do that? Here are mine. I really like them and I’m way happy they were forced into the shackles of my love.

After Destiny’s shower, I made the most of my thirty minutes in the mall before the stores closed. I bought my son shoes, had an item to return, and I bought several pairs of sunglasses, because I will break and/or lose them all before July. I had to text a best friend to ask for her opinion while simultaneously doing the same with the Nordstrom girl helping me. (Like I said, forced friends. “Do these look okay? Do I look like I think I’m 17? Do you want to go to spin?”)

I ran into a girl at the airport wearing these shoes, and I had five minutes left to casually run to the other side of the mall to decide if I was pulling the trigger on copying her. The run! The color decision! It was all very thrilling. I’m saying I bought these shoes for Mother’s Day, but I am still holding out hope for a will. Shoes just sound appropriately less morbid for Mother’s Day.

We went swimming with a few friends at our friend Dylan’s house, went through the carwash at least six times, celebrated our friend Trey at his birthday party, celebrated the opening of a friend’s soda store, celebrated my friend Jackie’s birthday at a Backstreet Boys concert.

Wow. I guess I know why my boys napped so well.

Every week, I’m more and more in love with these little guys. Even with a bunch of fun events, my favorite moments are at home. Seen here: playing In n Out Drive Thru in Halloween jammies. They even ask, “You want animal style?” #proudmom

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My Most Sunny Days Always Leave Me Teary

There is a wonder I experience as a new mom, crossing new bridges as my oldest child does the same.

My kids are approaching the real pearl of childhood. At almost two and three, the sleepless nights are behind us. My boys are both talking and expressing their own, hilarious thoughts, and I feel that new-mom isolation no more.

I’ve been caught off guard by this new stage of life and its unexpected sprinkling of pixie dust, because my kids think EVERYTHING is magical.

From seeing a street sweeper, to a stranger’s raspy voice, to blossoming trees…it’s all entrancing. Holding a ladybug for the first time, and watching with sheer astonishment when it flies away! Listening for helicopters! Watching a puppy lap water from a bowl! Garbage day! Witnessing sprinklers turn on! Putting detergent in the washing machine! It’s new. It’s fresh. My mundane routine is suddenly dazzling and vivid. The days have more zest. I’m still tired, but my kids give me a shot of laughter hourly, and their thrill of pioneering a new world is contagious.

My children are young enough to not understand real sorrow. Heartbreak is unknown. They don’t know about the world…they only know the world I put in front of them. At ages one and three, naivety is normal. Innocence is beautiful. Heaven still feels close.

They’re also young enough to not have any real school schedule or pressing commitments. I savor the peacefulness of midmorning strolls on quiet roads, and appreciate being rich enough in time to admire every dandelion along the way. I love the slow pace, and have to remind myself often not to complicate it. The world hasn’t sped up yet. I know, I know, it will, and the sand will slip through the glass quickly and cruelly; let me just enjoy holding onto those little hands a bit longer.

And those little hands. Those teeny, sticky fingers always find me, because I am wanted. A heart soars to feel wanted! The elation of feeling truly wanted as a parent is unparalleled. I know they’ll need a mother for years, but to WANT a mother–that’s different. Even on the days I go crazy almost tripping over two extra shadows, I know my heart will break just a little the day my kids insist they can spread their wings alone.

These are the days.

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Nursery Rhyme Meanings That Keep You Guessing

 I’ve heard convincing arguments that Mother Goose is the key to Ivy Leagues. I’m all for brain stimulation and early developmental progress, but I don’t remember many nursery rhymes. I’ve had to go off of memory, and it has proven to be a little fuzzy.

By “a little fuzzy,” I mean that I can’t remember even half the words. “Ring around the Rosies” is the only thing that’s clear in my mind. Sadly, that’s only due to years of elementary school repetition, because of the fascinating rumors of its morbid meaning that were shared in the shadows of the tether ball poles.

I looked up a couple nursery rhymes to keep in my back pocket.

Have you read them recently? There are some real creepers in there. How many young children go to sleep smiling serenely after hearing about some egg-dude Humpty that fatally fell off a wall, anyway?

Why do none of these have conclusions? Are there sequels?

What do these even mean, anyway?!

Here are a handful of my loose interpretations.

“Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.”
Translation: Little Miss Muffet sat on her stool, or possibly Kim K booty (haven’t checked “tuffet” on Urban Dictionary), and ate 2% cottage cheese. She regretted not keeping the pest control guy’s magnet on the fridge.

“Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, nine days old.”
Translation: Someone spilled frozen peas in the steel cut oatmeal. Before finally throwing it out, Mom kept it for nine days, because there are starving children in Africa.

“It’s raining, it’s pouring;
The old man is snoring.
Bumped his head
And he went to bed
And he couldn’t get up in the morning.”’
Translation: He got the Advil mixed up with Ambien. Or else…

“The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain, to see what he could see. To see what he could see, to see what he could see. The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see.”
Translation: This was a “she” bear, probably a mom, just trying to get out of the house. Sometimes I do that. I go to Target, to buy what I can buy, to buy what I can buy.

“Old Mother Hubbard, went to her cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone. When she was there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none.”
Translation: This is an ASPCA commercial. Cue Sarah McLachlan.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread,
Whipped them all soundly, and sent them to bed.”
Translation: This lady came home from Saks with new Louboutins, and her husband said, “You better be living in those shoes, because that was as much as a mortgage payment!” She was like, “Fine, I will.” The new leather smell made her go crazy, and I really don’t know what happened after that. I’m sure the husband has full custody, and a pending restraining order.

I don’t think I’ll read that one to my little guy.

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A Letter to the People Telling Me I Have My Hands Full

To Humans That Throw Me The Old, “You’ve got your hands full! HA! HA! WINK!” Comment Every Time I Leave The House,

Okay, okaaaay. First of all, duh. I have a one and three year old, so, yes, you’re right.

Second of…wait. Are you referring to my children, or the large drink and two Starbucks sugar cookies in my hand as I’m steering the Target cart with my wrists?

Just making sure we were on the same page.

Does, “WOW YOU HAVE SURE GOT YOUR HANDS FULL!” translate to, “Hello!” in some kind of Costco/Target dialect of English?

Could you at least hold the door open for me while you say it?

Maybe not run to try to beat me to the check out?

Buy me a Twix?

I am beyond grateful to have babies with strong personalities and strong bodies to keep me busy. I adore them. I want more. Also, I won’t tell you that they’re actually being very angelic right now because I bribe them with orange Tic Tacs at the register.

If I have another baby, the only reason I’m hesitant to save my placenta to throw at people like you is because I don’t trust my aim. Pulling a placenta out of a Rebecca Minkoff bag and drilling the wrong person in the back of the head at Nordstrom Rack sounds like a news worthy assault suit.

Except, quite a few attorney friends are coming to mind as I’m thinking of it. I could probably count on some feminist friends to rally in front of the courthouse…so tell me I’ve got my hands full one more time and we’ll both see if I’m joking.

Juuuust kidding. We both know I’ll just fake smile at you again, like every week, and maybe say something much classier, like, “So is my heart!”

But, really. Knock it off.

Thanks You’re Annoying,

Ashton

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Finding Light in the Dark

Over the weekend, a past salon owner lost his child. Even though we weren’t close friends, the sadness was felt throughout the whole weekend at my salon. Like any parent, I feel deeply for this family. I can’t even handle the news in my mom-with-a-lot-of-feelings state! It’s safe to say I was a little shaken and very eager to love on my little guys a little extra. As I drove home from work both days, I thought about this tragedy in silence, because music almost seemed inappropriate.

For me, the stillness lingered today.

…but in that stillness, I noticed a lot more than I might have.

The vibrant green of new, spring leaves is stunning.

Teeny legs of a ladybug are ticklish. My boys held out both arms in awe as we caught our first ladybug. They marveled at the red. How many spots did it have? Was it friends with bees and butterflies? What about crocodiles? My youngest son screamed the shrieks of joy only a thrilled one year old and a baby velociraptor can.

My grandpa’s eyes have a never-aging twinkle in them every time he smiles.

My three year old’s face as he looked at himself incredulously in the mirror the first time he tried on new Batman jammies will make a grown man cry…and it did. Gus was stunned speechless with nothing but a huge grin and a few gasps, couldn’t stop touching the Batman logo until he needed both hands to fly. His sweet daddy’s smile was almost as big as he quietly wiped a few tears.

In these still moments, I am reminded what a beautiful life we live. Even though I have a limited understanding of the big picture, I know the Lord intends for us to be happy. Tender, perfect moments are sprinkled all along our lives’ paths, no matter where they may lead.

Right on cue from LDS General Conference today: “Even in the most difficult and darkest of times, there is goodness and light all around us.” -Elder Bragg

I can’t imagine how this cute family must feel, so I write this only as a “note to self” for future reference, and hope they can feel how many people send their love.

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Our Beginning of the Week +1.

For some reason, I’d assumed leaving my kids to go to work would get progressively easier as they got older. For me, it’s proven to be quite the opposite. Watching my little guys fade out of view in my rear view mirror makes me teary almost every single time.

Coming off my long work weekends, I’m so eager to play with my buddies. I like to ditch my phone and enjoy being in the moment. I want to tickle my 22 month old and hear his deep belly laugh. I want to have zero distractions building carwashes with blocks. I want to lay with my boys while they fall asleep and admire the thick eyelashes they will never fully appreciate.

My whole world revolves around them. As exhausting as it is, I am completely soaking in this season of life.

I think it’s because of my work guilt that I let my kids completely take the reins on Mondays.

Thaaaaaat’s why we’ve ended up taking this little turtle with us on several beginning of the week outings. His name is Turtle…my boys are quite literal in the naming process.

Turtle wanted to swing recently, so he got his own swing and I spent a while pushing both my guys and a turtle.

After my boys were done swinging, my 22 month old stood next to me to help push Turtle. I snapped a few pictures, then went back to pushing Turtle and narrating the ride with lots of “WEEEEE! SO HIGH!” until I realized the little blonde in my peripheral wasn’t my child, but a little girl and her grandma. They were patiently waiting behind me to stop taking pictures of my swinging plastic turtle so she could have a turn.

My kids were in a playground tunnel, so I, alone, moved Turtle, and he sat down next to me on a bench.

I’m sure I’m on some neighborhood watch Facebook page, but I’m really into Turtle right now. He’s become a real beacon getting me through my work days.

I am lucky to love my job, but if Turtle joins the crew and makes an appearance in my rearview this weekend, I’ll probably need waterproof mascara.

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