I’ll Take ANY Beach, BUT…

Disneyland had just opened when my grandparents got married, and that’s where they honeymooned. Now, they absolutely love Disneyland and sharing all things Disney with their family. I believe it could be because it’s still just the way it was when they visited in the 50s. Every time they go back, regardless of their age, it’s still romantic, magic, and youthful.

I feel that same way about a few beaches.

Beaches are all relaxing and revitalizing, right?

There are a couple of beaches that are more than that to me. They still have a little sizzle. Each time I visit these particular beaches, I’m suddenly about seventeen. Even hauling toys and kids, something about that ocean air and familiar landscape makes me feel…what is it? Carefree? Fun? No, it’s more alive than that. There is something that’s still smoldering…just barely, but it’s there. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s all the positive feelings of seventeen: carefree, unaware of major responsibility, living life on a whim, fun, easy. It’s that little buzz of excitement, like seeing a text from a cute new acquaintance.

Maybe it’s just de ja vu, or maybe that energy really does still linger at these beaches, fossilized in every tide pool I’d explored at seventeen.

Either way, these beaches make me FEEL. They breathe life into a tired mom.

My sister and I can’t avoid wading into the high tide, even if it just a “walk on the beach at sunset like mature people” outing. She is in high school now, so maybe these will become her beaches, too.

I think everyone has a special place like this.

I hope everyone has a special place like this.

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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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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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A New Mom’s Letter to Her Babysitter

We don’t get date nights often enough, and I semi-blame the whole “finding a babysitter” fiasco.

Now that we are on our second child, our instructions to babysitters have become much more lax. Ultimately, we just want our kids safe and happy. A few years ago, however, my new mom hormones were TURNT UP. WAY UP. Had I written an actual note (a la my mom in 1992), it would have looked exactly like this:

Dear babysitter,

Thanks for coming over! Help yourself to any food (notice we bought the name brand graham crackers this week), and make yourself at home. My kids should be sleeping, so just hang out! Watch TV!

Except, try to avoid turning the TV volume higher than 12, because that will wake up my kids, but it’s okay if you have to because you don’t lip read as well as I’ve been forced to learn. If you would like to actually hear your show, you can just put them back to sleep after they wake up. They’ll lay down for you super easily.

All you have to do is this!

You’ll need to heat up a little milk (roughly between 4-6 oz) for my little one, for 45 seconds. He is particular. Shake the bottle. Test the temperature. He also likes his grey blankie to snuggle with, but make sure it’s not on his face. My other son can just get up and watch TV, but only one show and not for too long, and if you don’t understand what he is saying, try the Dinosaur movie, but fast forward the part where the dad dies. Along those lines, if he says something that sounds like “daddy,” it could mean daddy, Mickey, or blankie (full phonetically spelled translation guide on the side of the fridge).

But whatever! Just have fun! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!!!

Consult the attached pamphlet for numbers of my–

Pediatrician
Poison Control
My number
Restaurant’s number
Next door neighbor’s number
911’s number
Insurance agent information
Homeland Security
CPR instructions
Animal control
Living trust
Speediest SWAT responders (Don’t hesitate to call!)
Current shot records
Life insurance documentation
Last will and testament

We will be back in forty five minutes! Thanks!

–Ashton

PS Fire extinguisher is under the kitchen sink.

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HBD Brian / Sure Hope I’m Pregnant for Swimsuit Season / Those Two are Unrelated

What would President’s Day be without spending a few Jacksons? Or Franklins? Or even Washingtons?

I perused President’s Day sales online last night, and snagged a couple swimsuits. This led me to firing swimsuit-shopping-in-February inspired questions that Brian never knows how to best respond to. In order:

“Oh my gosh. I ordered swimsuits. Ugh, I feel so fat. Do I look bigger?”
“When am I going to finally take those hardcore classes I have a pass to?”Wait, have you seen my Food Network Magazine? It was just right here.”

He treated them as rhetorical questions, although I was concerned about the magazine. I found it this morning. Don’t want to misplace the special pasta edition.

Thank goodness those swimsuits en route are black.

My in-laws visited over the weekend, and even though it was Brian’s birthday, I felt like I got a break! A new MIL appreciation comes with having kids. She grocery shopped, played with my kids, and helped with laundry, all while I was working. I even slept until nine one morning!

Leila and Mark helped us celebrate with a fun dinner. Let this not be overlooked: at some point on Brian’s birthday, his festivities included doing a massive pile of laundry, and I came home to fresh, folded clothes.

That’s very telling of Brian. Laid back, practical, and nice. Really, really nice. He will quietly do ANYTHING for our family (or friends), and his selflessness is underrated.

I had no idea how right for me that twenty three year old boy was when I met him, and even though it took me two years to recognize it (and change his name from “Brian Creepy” in my phone), I can’t believe I caught him! With a lot of false advertising (like shaved legs and clean hair), and the help of Morgan and Stuart Peterson, I caught him.

Happy belated birthday, Brian. You’re our bestie.

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Feb 15: Valentine’s Day Split Personalities Explained

At the risk of offending self proclaimed feminists, I will go ahead and say that February 15 is the day that we girls collectively explain our optimistically erratic Valentine’s Day behavior.

I’ll go first.

This Valentine’s Day, I told Brian I didn’t care what we did to celebrate.

He interpreted that as I didn’t care what we did to celebrate.

Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m THAT girl. The girl that says, “I don’t care!” and genuinely mean it about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, it’s up to my husband to decipher what I really mean.

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, etc are always in that other 20%. By, “I don’t care, whatever!” I mean, “I don’t care butyoubetterreadbetweenthelinesandmakeplansorcomehomewithsomethingbut really, whatever!”

Then, there are other girls, who are fine with their guy surprising them with Trader Joe’s flowers, until they’ve scrolled through social media for seven hours. A bouquet pales in comparison to the Ferrari that babiesburlapandbigamy had in her driveway, and Carolyn35 had her pool drained and filled with her favorite chocolate and a swan floatie. Even Brittany from high school had a gluten free cake served in freezable portions to accommodate her Weight Watcher’s diet!

Suddenly, those Trader Joe’s flowers make you wonder if your man even LIKES you.

Your single friend’s Galentine’s was more elaborately planned than your night, so now, you’re sitting at Outback with your date, nary a bloomin’ onion, furiously unimpressed. “Yeah, no, nothing’s wrong. This is great.”

I know better than to peruse social media on Valentine’s Day, and although I still tossed Brian my usual, suspiciously impartial attitude this year, we had SUCH a fun day.

We began the day with heart pancakes that looked like demented Mickeys. No one ate them, but I took a picture.

Gus went to his darling friend Ivy’s Valentine’s party, and it sounded like he was a little confused about his first ever play date without me. One day, he will be thrilled I left him alone with all these girls, and he will be even happier to know I squirted him with his daddy’s cologne on the way out for good measure. Thanks, Taylor and Ivy!

Brian maneuvered through my “I don’t care!” lies with wisdom of a seasoned (battle scarred?) husband. (For the record, I don’t hope for much, just SOME ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, which was established after my 2009 birthday.) (Ashley Furness was my date that night and let me know husbands don’t know what you want unless you tell them, which was news to me…and has only sunk in 80%.)

We stayed in this Valentine’s Day, and Brian cooked an amazing “adults only” dinner after babies went to bed. If you’ve never had a Brian meal, you’re invited over. I have a hard time eating meat since pregnancies, but Brian’s steaks are ridiculous. He made his own dressing for this pear arugula salad he made but wouldn’t eat, and I almost drank it.

Our dining was momentarily accompanied by background music of overtired Gus’s night terrors. After snuggling him for a while, I returned to my OG Valentine, enjoyed conversation, and went to bed early.

Food and sleep speak to my heart.

So, boys, let this serve more as an explanation than an apology, because history repeats itself, especially so long as your significant other has social media accounts and watches The Bachelor. Sleep well tonight knowing you have another twelve months to either figure out if your lady is a 20%-er like me, or save $75/month to get her Louboutins next year.

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Regarding My Last Post…

Ok, hold on.

Thanks to all those long wearing lip colors (Lipsense, Kylie, and otherwise), I’m not looking perfect for 10 hours straight like everyone else seems to be. I’m sitting here looking like the Joker after scrubbing my face with only 90% removal success. I get it…you use makeup remover. What about that faint pink tint that’s still stained all over my mouth, like I’ve been lapping strawberry Kool Aid out of a dog bowl? What ABOUT that?

No wonder my kids aren’t scared of anything. Imagine the terrifying mother they see every morning after a red lipstick night out, smiling at them while she pours their Corn Pops…

I once had a rash like this when I was pregnant. Perioral dermatitis. Google it when you’re feeling bad about yourself.

Anyway, that’s a visual of me right now as I read and feel embarrassed by the many responses to my last post. My experience is so minuscule compared to others’ stories, and I’m just short of cringing for posting all my thoughts. It’s like I just pressed “submit” to posting a diary entry online, but I guess that’s kind of my M.O. on Fluent in Blonde.

…which is cool, until hundreds of people see your naked soul and how weird you really are. The dolphin girl on The Bachelor premiere understands exactly what I mean.

This is a round about way of saying thank you for deeply heartfelt thoughts and words. As unmerited as they are, I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have such a supportive, caring, inspirational network of friends and family. Thank you. Really.

(And if you REALLY love me, will you text me a good makeup remover? Because if not, you know the lipstick below isn’t coming off until Saturday.)

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Happy Birthday To My Child Who Was Created Solely By In n Out Protein Style Cheeseburgers

My babies’ birthdays are bittersweet to me, and birthday eves seem to be the “bitter” part. I can’t help but feel incredulous that an entire year has passed. I accuse time of robbing me, yet with an overflowing heart.

Three years ago, at this very moment, I listened to my unborn baby’s little heart beat with a total serenity that one can only experience when Heaven is lingering very near. It’s not necessarily emotional; it’s just perfect. It’s calm and blissful. It’s overwhelmingly familiar. It’s short lived, and it delicately slips through the fingers of anyone trying to hold onto it.

Mercifully, your hands to get to hold a more tangible piece of that bliss, to take home and marvel over for a little while longer.
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Gus has brought us that light far beyond the newborn stage. He is so EASY. He is happy. He is kind. He is fun and enthusiastic. He is a sleeper. (Bless him. His brother was not.)

Gus is excited about EVERYTHING.

…as evidenced by this reaction to his dollar store gifts. (We already took him to Disneyland, remember? That’s what I had to keep reminding myself.)
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I enjoyed the “sweet” part of his birthday today as he played with his new toys, fresh from China, that will probably fall apart tomorrow…just how I like them. In the garbage by next Thursday is the goal. My house doesn’t have storage for this stuff.

We had a handful of friends over tonight, and Gus was beyond thrilled.

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I adore this little guy, and love this tiny human he is becoming. He tells me almost daily, “I so proud of you, mama!” I hope I have another while before I embarrass him. Happy third birthday, my sweet boy. I’ll love you forever.

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I’ll Take The Mouse Over The Rats.

Some people believe bad luck will ensue after breaking a mirror.

Some people believe black cats are a bad omen.

Today, after slinking out of the house to be embarrassing and get a spray tan, my path was crossed by MULTIPLE rats Free Willy-ing over a bush I accidentally bumped with the tanning salon door. I am convinced I was one of those fainting goats in a past life, because I froze and involuntarily held my breath for about 20 seconds before the front desk girl (casually) said, “Oh, yeah. Those rats. There are a lot.”

I (casually) speed walked to my car afterwards in case I was interrupting a conga line.

But, no cats, rats, or spray tan walk of shame can rain on my parade after the fun week I had in Park City with my family, and a girls night with fun friends.

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NAILED IT
NAILED IT
DOUBLE NAILED IT
DOUBLE NAILED IT

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Let there be Nelly, and let there be giant ice creams.

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Only the utmost admiration for the girl that can eat two desserts. “One is my drink.” I am feeling confident in my friend picking abilities.

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Next up on our Super Extreme September calendar: G’s first Disney trip. We’ve been studying the map and discussing Mickey Mouse, but he knows nothing about churros.

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