Dear Eric,

I sent you to school this morning with my blue and orange Jansport backpack. The zipper on yours is broken, so I gave you mine. I used it for four years of college, and I can still remember the day I bought it. I had gotten a $50 gift certificate to the Container Store as a graduation present. I bought a red travel jewelry case and that backpack. As I stood trying to decide on colors, the song Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O'conner was playing on the store radio. I started to cry, thinking of my highschool friends, my home, family and school that I would soon be leaving behind. I was scared and apprehensive, but something inside me told me to move forward. Something told me there was something better ahead.

My freshman year of college was more fun that I ever could have imagined. I cried much, much harder when it was time to come home for the summer than I did when I had left. I counted the days until I could go back to school, back to my friends, my classes, my loblolly pine trees. When I did come back I fell in love, and I don't even have words to describe what that was like. I only know that for some people it happens gradually and for some if feels like being whacked in the head with a baseball bat, only in a good way, and that's what it was like for me. But getting married was like stepping over a chasm into another world, and I knew I would be giving up some things I might never get back. I remember sitting in the backseat as we drove away from the party the night before our wedding, next to my soon-to-be father-in-law. He patted me on the shoulder while I cried and wondered once again about all that I was leaving behind. Once again, something inside told me to move forward.

I thought about these things when I sent you out the door this morning with my college backpack. I miss your baby self. I'm trying so hard to let go of that baby and embrace the boy you, because I know that all too soon, he will be gone too. It's really hard, but something inside me tells me to move forward. I know that God only takes away that which is precious to us in order to give us back something even better. I love Elder Holland's words from this month's Ensign:

Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the "high priest of good things to come (Hebrews 9:11).

I love you! Take good care of my backpack!

Love, Mama


Rule Number One...

Don't eat breakfast cereal that changes the color of the milk.

I saw that in an article on how to encourage healthy eating in your home and it made me laugh. I see the point, and I do believe in sticking to natural, unprocessed foods as much as possible (I make my own whole wheat tortillas, for heavens sake!), but I'm not giving up my Lucky Charms for dessert. It's okay anyway, because I've found a loophole: eat them with cream, not milk- it won't change color.

Yep. I do. And I pick out almost half the cereal to raise the marshmallow to cereal ratio. You know what? Life is short. I figure if a little sugar cereal brings me happiness, then a little sugar cereal it shall be.

Other weird things I eat:

1. Brownie mix, mixed with water and microwaved for 11 seconds so the chocolate chunks melt.

2. Tortillas filled with parmesan cheese and olive oil.

3. Pretzel sticks dipped in marshmallow fluff.

I think a balanced diet is full of two things: foods that feed your body and make you feel good physically, and foods that feed your soul and make you happy. Sometimes I can combine them, but sometimes not and I'm perfectly okay with that. Sorry Michael Pollan.


The pursuit of happiness:

I had to laugh out loud when I saw this picture of Marley in her red silk kimono. First, because she's so darn cute, and second, because by some trick of lighting, my kitchen looks like something out of design*sponge! Maybe I need to add an asterisk to my blog title? In real life- my kitchen does not look like ANYTHING out of design*sponge, but that made me wonder...maybe the same is true of the actual houses they feature?

Eric's sweet little basketball team finally won a game on Saturday. I died. I have been to a few gut clinchers in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and none of them compare to the agony and joy of watching this game. It was mostly agony though. I have one question for the out-of-control parents who scream instructions to their kids and yell at the refs (in an eight-year-olds' basketball game!!): Why? Just- why? I've never even felt the urge to yell at my kid during a game. That's what you're paying the 75 bucks for the coach to do right? I leave the coaching to the coach and consider my role to encourage and praise. Do they really think their kid even hears or processes their repeated shouts of "GET THE BALL! TAKE IT! GET UP- DON'T CRY! REBOUND!" over all the other parents yelling and screaming the same things? Honestly, I don't understand it and I feel so bad for those kids.

Eric's team scored 18 points in the first half to lead by 17, but the other team rallied in the second half and tied the game. Poor Marley was screaming her little head off by this point, but no one could hear her anyway above all the parents' screaming. They got up by two with about 30 seconds left, when Eric randomly fouled a kid (he tripped over him) and the kid made his two foul shots. Poor Eric was devastated and trying so hard not to cry. All I could do was catch his eye from the sideline and mouth "It's okay!" as the second shot went in. Then Eric passed the ball to a kid named Peter, who made a shot with 6 seconds left on the clock. Bless that boy. I will love him forever, and if I have another son, I might even name him Peter. (That's not Peter in the picture though...)
On Sunday, Brigham picked out my jewelry for church. It was hard to get a good shot of myself, but it was the mood ring he had given me for Christmas, on a silver chain since it's too big for my finger, and then a ring my mother-in-law gave me on a string of pearls. I thought it was very inspired! I paid him a dollar a few weekends ago to re-organize my jewelry box, and ever since then he's been into picking out my jewelry. That kid:).
This is how he chose to watch the video on Martin Luther King that was our Family Home Evening on Monday...
I keep reading articles and hearing on the radio about "studies" that "show" that having kids makes you less happy. I'll agree with them- if you asked me to rank my level of happiness while doing different activities throughout the day, sure- I'll take a massage, or even a run, over playing Candyland. But they're completely missing the distinction between momentary happiness and lasting happiness. It's impossible to quantify the joy that children bring you. I guess I don't have much hope of a study ever affirming my choice to be a mother. Luckily, I have other sources of affirmation...

But I do sometimes worry that with all these studies floating around I might never get nieces and nephews on my side of the family. Don't listen to them you guys- have kids! Well, okay- get married first. And then have kids- they're awesome!


What I love about being a mom:

My children think I invented cinnamon sugar.

When our carpool buddy, Trent, climbed in the car this morning, I could tell by the delicious smell on his clothes that his mom had gotten up earlier than I had and made him a good breakfast. When I asked he told me he'd had bacon, chocolate chip pancakes and juice. I wanted to get a handle on just how big of a slacker I am, compared with Trent's majorly pregnant mom, so I asked him if it was someone's birthday. He said it wasn't, so then I flat out asked him if he gets special breakfasts like that all the time or just some days. He said he usually just has oatmeal (phew!) with two scoops of brown sugar, to which Eric replied that that's what he usually has, except he has cinnamon sugar on top. Then he said:

"That's cinnamon and sugar mixed together. It's this thing we made up. Right Mama?"

I tried to skirt around the issue by saying that it was true that I did make the cinnamon sugar myself, but no, I didn't make it up. But I did make it though. From scratch. You may not know this if you didn't have a working mom who doesn't like to cook, but you can actually buy cinnamon sugar at the store. So I get points for that, right? And just the thought that my kids actually thought it was my brilliant idea was enough to make my day.

***Post Edit: They are not actually peeing into the pond in the picture. That is something I might be found letting them do, but I would have the sense not to take a picture while they were doing it!


What should I make?

"My pottery class starts tomorrow."


"What should I make?"

He looks at me, blinks. "Huh? What should you make?"

"Yes, in my pottery class!" I say, indignant.

"But you didn't say anything about your pottery class," he replies, and then laughs, telling me I mumble. Always have.

"Marley," he asks the baby, "What did you just hear Mama say?"

silence, then chubby legs kicking the carseat

"See?" he says, smiling. And I do.

Then, "Don't you think they'll tell you what to make?"

"Oh," I say. "No, I don't think they will."


Imagine. Telling someone what to make. That wouldn't be right. Would it? I don't want them to tell me what to make. I want to tell myself what to make. My thoughts wander back to what I should make...

toothbrush holders for the boys...

a mug...

a pie plate...


"A mouse," he offers.

"Oh. No. It's a wheel class- it has to be something round."


a trashcan...

a vase...

a bowl...

A bowl, yes. A giant bowl that we could flip over and crawl underneath and live inside. It would be warm and echoey. And people who want things and need things from us, they wouldn't be able to get in. They would tap on the bowl, and wait for us to come out. But we would stay under, and laugh and talk and eat popcorn together...

But... I think, as the car rolls to a stop and the doors open and it's time to get out and go to baskeball practice...

It may be that they will tell us what to make.



I keep reading blog posts about how people don't like January, and it's made me realize that January is actually one of my favorite months. I do love September, since it contains my birthday and the weather is perfect. Come to think of it though, the main reason I love September is that beginning-of-school, fresh-start feeling--very similar to January. I love to take down the Christmas decorations and have my house feel clean and uncluttered again. I love tackling projects at a leisurely pace (this year: clean out garage so I can park in it again!...organize pantry...sew pillows for sofa, in purple and hot pink because those were the fabric scraps I had...). I even love the dead, barren look of winter trees because I know that they've shut down to rest and regenerate for the coming spring.

I can't figure out how I feel about New Year's resolutions. I like to set them, but I never have much luck with the follow-through. One thing that the past year has taught me is that for me, lasting changes happen when they're ready to happen. Like for several years now I've wanted to start baking bread instead of buying it. I never got past the first loaf, which was always a disaster. Then Eric went ahead and took the bread-baking initiative, got us all hooked, and then sort of fizzled out (at least I'm not the only one!). So I took up the reins, got good enough that I actually like the bread I make, and I don't think I bought a loaf from the store all year. But had I set a resolution not to buy bread, it might have actually prevented the change from occurring in the first place. Does that make any sense?

Another thing: exercising less. I know how crazy that sounds, but every since I can remember, I've had an unhealthy dependence on exercise. Like I couldn't go on a trip unless I knew I could run. Or I would run even when I was sick. Or the week after I'd had a baby. It was confusing because exercise is obviously a healthy habit and regular exercisers get a lot of praise from friends, family members, doctors and society in general. The problem, of course, is when it's in control of you and not the other way around. Anyway, I happened to get injured this summer and was forced to take several months off from running. The misery that caused me was enough for me to realize I needed help- which I got- and now I have a healthier relationship with exercise. No New Year's resolution could EVER have broken that compulsion. It was something that drew from and reached into almost every area of my life and was much too complex an issue to be dealt with by a simple commitment or goal.

So the best thing for me, I've decided, is to set low-stakes goals that will give me something fun to work toward, but won't sabotage the natural process of deep change and growth that always takes place when I'm doing my best to live the Gospel. Like this...

Resolved: I will concern myself more with the state of my figer- and toenails. Specifically, I will buy at least four new colors of nail polish and strive to use them regularly.

Resolved: I will make over-the-top desserts in the middle of the week, just for my family, not because someone is coming over. I will suppress my frustration when Eric finishes off the entire dessert while cleaning up the kitchen.

Resolved: I will become a night-time kitchen cleaner. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who clean the kitchen after the kids go to sleep and then go do productive things before retiring to bed early, and those who lie around on the the couch like slugs and then get up and read blogs, watch youtube videos and eat brownie batter until all hours of the night. I'm convinced that it all hinges on the decision to clean the kitchen.

Resolved: I will take classes in things that interest me, even if they have no practical application to my roles as wife and mother- like my pottery class that starts tomorrow- woohoo!

Resolved: I will teach my boys to open the door for me.

I think I can do those things, and if not- who really cares?:)


2009 Holiday Recap

My blog is constipated. Since this is as close as I come to scrap booking, I've been nagging myself to post about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can't write about all the other fascinating thoughts swimming around in my head until I do. And now all the thoughts are getting backed up and I have stomach discomfort!

So, in short:
Marley was the cutest little ambiguous gray animal you've ever seen for Halloween. Eric was a Duke basketball player and Brigham was Harry Potter. I tried to sew the wizard robe, but Lindsay had to bail me out as is our tradition.

Eric has worn that Duke jersey almost every day since Halloween. Notice the Michael Jordan pumpkin and the barefoot pumpkin....

This is what I spent my Thanksgiving morning doing. Not much cooking or cleaning, no. Creating some pretty darn impressive mowhawks, which were shown off at the ward football gathering...

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the Alders and the Engelbrights, which is why the next two pictures look strangely professional (thanks Melissa!). The kids rocked out to Owl City before bed and then we grownups watched Elf. I no longer hate Will Farrell.

This ornament didn't know it when it had its picture taken, but his days were numbered. Marley dismembered him soon after, along with a host of other ornaments...

I love these kids. It's fun to see Marley grow and become "one of them", so that's it's less and less "the baby" and "the boys" and more and more "the kids".

The only picture I have of our Christmas tree in all its glory...

My cousin Laura came to visit us for a few days before Christmas. She had the most INSANE time getting here and we lost two whole days of her visit to the snowstorm up north, but we still had a great time. Hopefully she's not taking notes from me on how to be a good mother, but I'm definitely taking notes from her on how to be a great Aunt. Let's see...what questionable television shows will I be exposing her children to?....:)

And, the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE DECADE: I sewed an article of clothing!! All by myself! Linds consulted extensively, but she never touched her foot to the pedal...
These bathrobes were my Christmas present to the boys. They love them. They sleep in them every night and try to get away with wearing them all day long (and who are we kidding-- sometimes they succeed). I made them enormous because I figured if I was going to stay up until 3 A.M. for the 3 nights before Christmas, I wanted to get some mileage out of them. They have pockets, collars, belt loops and everything. Eric made them a wooden castle, which they also love, but it's not completely done yet. We wanted to cut back on the materialism of Christmas this year, and we were mostly successful. My favorite moment? Opening my gifts from the boys: a little plastic teddy bear grasping a fake rose from Eric and a mood ring from Briggie. I'll cherish them always. Even though the mood ring is always purple when I put it on- and purple means I'm feeling romantic.....