It’s Possible We Were Overzealous in Planning Family Vacations

Because I am LDS, everyone thinks I am:

a. From Utah.
b. Traveling to Utah.

I get it, but just wondering…does everyone do that to their Latin friend when HE goes on vacation? “Oh, Juarez again?”
Weekends with friends? “I bet the weather is great in Tijuana.”
Visits family? “Have fun in Guadalajara!”

No, because that’s racist, and he’s a third generation Peruvian from Milwaukee.

I’m the cookie cutter blonde hair, blue eyed Mormon chick, but I’m not from Utah, nor do I often visit it…although I LOVE Utah, and I would totally move there.

Totes.

Alas, this time, it’s true. I WENT TO UTAH. Back to the motherland!

For the first time EVER, my little family made the drive north together and enjoyed time with both sides of our family. Brian’s sister Courtney was an awesome host for the Fourth of July, and then we ventured out to my grandparents’ house to celebrate my grandma’s big 8-0.

I did not even completely unpack before repacking. This summer has been the epitome of “work hard, play hard,” working 12-14 hour days in between leaving town. I think I prefer a “work normally, just go to bed at 9” lifestyle.

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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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California-ing and Wondering When Webster’s Going to Employ Me

Vacation mode. I want to say something like, “It’s where your mind is, not where your feet are,” but my mind wanders away from me exponentially more often than I’d consider myself vacationing.

Currently: trying to figure out how to sleep my little family in one room, with a two and three-year-old who both still nap, and a two-year-old who is a little big for the pack and play but won’t go to sleep without one, climbs out sporadically, and spends an hour at bedtime trying to find other people in the dark room using echolocation style squawking.

In fact, I’m writing this at 6:40am as I’m feeding that little two-year-old Goldfish crackers to keep him quiet. Low volume cartoons aren’t helping the cause with the occasional, “I WANT THAT,” at every commercial.

Sooo I’m not sure if he caught the vacation mode drift.

I’m readjusting my original vacation mode statement to, “It’s not where you are, it’s where your child who doesn’t sleep later than 8AM is.”

Roscoe sure is a cutie, though!

Other than being a little tired, Gus and Roscoe have been having the time of their lives. You can tell by the photos that Roscoe is still lukewarm about beaches…

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To My Stay At Home Mom Friends: You’re My Heroes

To the moms that refer to themselves as “just a mom”:

You are everything that I hope to become.

This can further be summarized by saying, “You’re the (little poo emoji)!”

Instead, I’ve chosen to use more eloquent (mature?) words, because this has become a personal, deeply moving topic for me. You stay at home moms have been on my mind often the past several months.

Let me back up before I continue.

I was raised by a father who grew up farming. I legitimately don’t know if you’ve ever seen a man with bigger calves or more muscular, callused hands. The ability to earn a living was often discussed, with emphasis on “earn.” His fatherly preaching? Don’t stumble over feelings of entitlement, work hard, don’t expect to always be taken care of, education is crucial, and women developing a skillset that will give them the ability to financially support their families know what’s up with Survival 101.

(I’m sure that went over my head for a good while, but when I spread my wings, I was grateful for the realistic perspective.)

My dad wasn’t necessarily a feminist, but he very much applauded and encouraged women’s self-reliance, married or not. (A woman empathetic to the effort required to make ends meet makes a great partner, right?)

Because of that, I have MAJOR admiration for women in the workforce. Whether they’re employed out of necessity or by choice, their representation in every sort of job fills me with pride.I could go on and on about women with successful careers. For a long time, I was one of the “work by necessity and don’t stop at Marshall’s on your way home because you can’t even afford cereal” type. I worked six days a week, and now, with kids, I’m relieved to be down to part time (which somehow still exhausts me with two little guys at home).

Working as a mom is tough, emotionally as well as physically.

But, even as I work part time, do you know who I am REALLY in awe of?

Stay at home moms. The “just a mom” moms.

Motherhood shouldn’t overshadow their capabilities. They are just as strong, determined, educated, and powerful, yet honorably decline the workforce. All those student loans? Unrealized dreams? A promising potential career path? Affording a different lifestyle?

Do you know how much faith that takes to watch these things fade in the rearview, even if they’ll be revisited in later years?

I’m so amazed by these women (and very specific women who I hugely admire) and their steadfast decisions to just to stay home with their children.

And by “just to stay at home,” I mean join their kids hand in hand on the front lines, battling a scary world. These moms are wise, and know that, if they can afford it, their time is most valuable teaching their children before sending them off to the world.

“Just a mom” is a woman, who, by choice:

braves the isolation that comes with young motherhood.
makes do with just a little less than she might if she worked.
is completely, utterly, painfully selfless.
stretches herself to be everyone’s everything, constantly.
never stops.
never gets a break.
is always, always on the clock.

Before I had kids, I asked of stay at home moms, “What do they do all day, every day?”
Now, I wonder, “How do they do it all day, every day?”

Although I’m not ready to throw in the towel with my job, I wonder if I am brave enough to become “just a mom.” For years, I’ve found enjoyment working outside the home. Am I brave enough to let go of years of schooling and hard work? Am I that selfless? Will I lose myself? Maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s the refining process that creates the unsung heroes of every family.

You “just a mom”s are everything I aspire to be.

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Taking a Minute to Remember Sue

The other day ended with Brian happily swatting flies out of our kitchen with a (new and pretty, I must add) dish towel, and telling Gus, “That fly can run but he can’t hide from the inevitable. Can you say ‘inevitable’?”

Brian’s face while he playfully whipped the flies (and our bums) with the towel reminded me how most men are, deep inside, boys. Youthful, funny boys.

I’m jealous of that inextinguishable playfulness, and hope that, with three boys in my house, it will rub off on me.

On second thought, much of Brian’s youthfulness may be attributed to genetics. His grandma, who recently passed away, was eternally young.

Literally. I don’t believe I will ever see a woman in her late 80s bounce around like Sue Scurr. The word unreal comes to mind.

I will forever think fondly of Sue. I had the pleasure of meeting her the same day I first met Brian’s whole family. We were headed to his sister’s wedding reception, so I was a little “EEEE” about meeting his whole family at one time. Any feelings of nervousness dissipated after I was suddenly arm in arm with this immaculate, stylish woman! Sue seemed about twenty five. She was bubbly, lively, bright, and made me laugh. Good humor always bridges generational gaps, doesn’t it? I felt so welcomed! I’d made a new friend, even.

Before I knew that Sue had a name other than “Grandma,” I knew she had a late husband she deeply missed. Within moments of meeting Sue, she spoke fondly of Harry. While I was trying to remember people’s names at the wedding reception, she told me all about Harry. Never, ever, ever did I have a conversation end without her mentioning how she missed him.

That’s why this photo brought the happiest tears to my eyes. After twenty years, her reunion with Harry must have been indescribable.

(I also hadn’t realized that Harry and my son share a birthday! That makes me smile.)

Although I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, these beautiful photos from my awesome in-laws made me so grateful for family. Isn’t Sue beautiful? I’m not sure what she’s holding, but I wouldn’t doubt she needed an iPhone to take selfies of her glamourous wardrobe.

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Every Beach Trip is Shark Week When You’ve Watched Too Much Shark Week

They say home is where your heart is, and mine is always, always at the edge of the water.

Not far in it, though, because that’s scary and seaweed-y. Too many years of Shark Week.

(I wouldn’t mind a small nibble though, just something that would promise a small scar to elevate my street cred, especially to my boys. I’m envisioning being my kids’ elementary school show and tell object, walking into a spot light in an awed room, commanding attention as I solemnly part my leg hair to show them the 2” scar from what I’m positive was a teacup Great White…)

Oh, sorry. I digress.

Don’t let me watch Air Jaws again this year.

I think I got more smile lines this week from watching my boys beam. We waded in the chilly water, but mostly just played in the sand and exchanged, “This is the BEST, right!?” looks.

My heart feels right at home smelling any salty ocean air, but there is one beach in particular that I love. It’s where I’ve watched the sun set for years and years.

Are you a sunrise or sunset person?

Me? I’m a sunset girl. I think it sounds more romantic, less morning-breath-y. I love the dramatic ending to the day, a fiery exclamation point to punctuate the last moments of daylight. I like the way the sky dissolves into blackness, slowly but unrelenting, the way black ink bleeds on paper.

But.
A sunset is hardly an ending.

A past-life me would reassure you that dusk is just when the night is beginning.

There is a tangible energy that sunsets produce. Instead of blackness, the world suddenly sparkles with a thousand lights. There is a buzz of mystery. At nightfall, the world is suddenly exciting, delicately filtered by moonlight, and forgiving of seen-in-broad-daylight blemishes. Wait, is that why I like sunset?

There is a magnificence in feeling so insignificant watching one of nature’s shows.

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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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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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