Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth!

"We're going to the circus? Can I ride the ferris wheel?"
You're thinking of a fair.
"Well, can I play those games to win prizes?"
No, that's a carnival.

Clearly my kids have never been to a circus before.

You know, on the movie Toby Tyler, with Mr. Stubbs the chimp, and the kids who ride on horses? (old, old movie reference, starring Curt Russel as a kid)
"Oh yeah! Will there be tigers?"
Yes! There will definitely be tigers.

And elephants.

And a cool pre-show where we can see the acrobats and jugglers up close.

And though I talk of candied apples, there will be none of those. They must be a thing of circuses past. But you will be good sports.

The elephants will do amazing tricks, the poodles will make you laugh, and the acrobats will cause me to gasp like an idiot when one of them trips over his jump-rope, and I'm convinced he is about to fall off that spinning-wheel-thing and meet an early death. But he won't. And even if he did, the circus has safety nets and big pads on the floor.

It will amaze. It will be a first for all of you, including Chad. And we will be very glad we went.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Couples Staycation

Chad has a lot of vacation time saved up, not because he's been trying to rack up hours, but because he doesn't usually take time off unless we have money to go somewhere cool. So, he decided to use a few of those vacation days last week. My mom watched the kids, and Chad and I had the house all to ourselves for a staycation.

Day 1: After dropping off the kids, we exercised (P90X) and ate lunch (it's amazing how even the smallest things are easier without kids). Then we went to the theater to see the new Superman movie, "Man of Steel," which we both really enjoyed. I definitely appreciated the gorgeous scenery in that film, if you know what I mean. Then we ate dinner at Olive Garden, courtesy of a gift card from Chad's parents (four words: Black Tie Mousse Cake). We dropped by a Redbox on the way home and picked up "Jack Reacher" (yes, Chad and I are obsessed with movie-watching). It was extremely good.

Day 2: We exercised again. Yes, we are awesome. Then we hit the library and checked out a new pile of movies (again, obsessed). We indulged in a delicious chocolate fondue, enjoying having the entire pot to ourselves. Then Chad set up our inflatable pool in the backyard.

No, this is obviously not us. And that is definitely not our lawn. I just had to show how sweet our $20 pool is.
We were probably out there a good two hours, relaxing with the book Legend, reviving our early-marriage tradition of reading aloud to each other. Then Chad grilled up some chicken for salads for dinner, after which we (what else?) watched a movie. "The Last Stand" is a slightly cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger film, which took itself too seriously, and for which it was very necessary to use our ClearPlay filters. But we still enjoyed it.

Day 3: We slept in until 10am. Heaven. After getting ready for the day, we headed to Scottsdale for lunch at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse. After we sampled the salad bar, they brought around 16 different cuts of meat to our table, along with sides like fried bananas and crispy polenta. It's a pretty fun experience. And the bacon-wrapped filet mignon was ridiculously amazing. I also loved the lamb t-bone, which was a first for me. Then we waddled out to our vehicle, and did a little shopping at the Scottsdale Fashion Square, where I felt very, very poor. So we went over to a Phoenix Walmart to pick up a few necessities and kill time; I felt like a rich snob in that place. Then it was time to head to Chase Field to catch the game.

Go Diamondbacks! I have not had this much fun at a game since...the last time Chad and I went just the two of us. Which was...10 years ago? I can't remember. Anyway, it reminded me how much I enjoy baseball; I've just been to busy with kids to make time for it.

This was a do-over pic, but Chad and I couldn't stop laughing at the guy next to him. Not sure what's going through his mind. He literally slept through the third inning.
We had pretty nice seats, thanks to Stub Hub's discounted prices.
Fireworks after the game, which ended in a finale accompanied by video on the Jumbo-Tron of the Death Star being destroyed. Baseball fans are such nerds. I love it.

The next day we picked up the kids, and we reluctantly re-entered reality. I'm so glad that my mom is pretty close, and always willing to watch our children, and that my kids are always more than excited to stay at "grandma and papa's."

It had been a much-needed vacation for the both of us. A low-stress, low-cost way to reconnect and just enjoy being together. It didn't involve an exotic location, or anything incredibly exciting by the world's standards, but it will definitely be one of 2013's biggest highlights for me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old vs. New

We've been in this house for almost three months, and I still find myself comparing our new life with our old one. Some things have stayed the same, but many things are different. And we're loving the changes (mostly).

Old house => New house


one story => two story
wood siding => stucco
Good changes:
1170 square feet => 2040 square feet
tiny single car port => two-car garage
3 bedrooms, 2 baths, no play space => 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, office, loft
tiny master bathroom and closet => huge bathroom and walk-in closet
no kitchen island => huge kitchen island
no pantry => large pantry
small windows => tons of light
low ceilings, soffits above cabinets => 9-foot ceilings, 2-story living room
no fenced backyard => large yard with block wall
Not-so-good changes:
mailbox in front of house => locked boxes down the street
nice, newer appliances => original crappy appliances 
deep soaking tub in master => shallow builder's grade tub

Old neighborhood => New neighborhood

mining town built in 1875 => just desert & farms until 2000
population: 7,474 => population: 81,321
old, unique houses => HOA communities
Good changes:
closest shopping: old, tiny Safeway => closest shopping: new Super-Walmart
no great school choices => several great schools
few kids in our ward at church => half our ward is under age 12
crumbling sidewalks and steep hills => new sidewalks and no hills
antique stores, ancient ruins, Mexican food => aquatic parks, farms, horses, shopping
only Dairy Queen for ice cream => 2 fro-yo places, 31 Flavors, Cold Stone
Not-so-good changes:
post office, bank & library 3 minutes away => post office and library 15 minutes away
movie theater 3 minutes away => movie theater 20 minutes away
average July temp: 96 => average July temp: 106

Old lives => New lives
Bree's room was also for office/crafts => Bree has a whole room to call her own
Lincoln didn't get to play outside much => we have a safe yard and a park down our block
Mason couldn't access toys during Lincoln's naps => all the boys' toys now live in the loft
Chad was not happy with some aspects of work => Chad really likes his new sergeant and patrol area
I loved my calling as Primary Chorister => I know I'll love my new calling as RS Secretary
home schooling => real school this fall
routines, craziness, excitement, calm => pretty much more of the same

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer is flying by

The summer is already half over? What? How did this happen? I'm supposed to have a chore system for the kids all worked out. Mason is supposed to be learning all this letters and their sounds. Bree should be practicing her math skills so she doesn't lose them. And I haven't even started on the kitchen chair reupholstery project! What have I been doing with all my time?

My summer "done" list:

Couponing and ad-matching at Walmart.
Going swimming.
Two very quick trips to Vegas for Chad's childhood friend's funeral services.
Visiting with family.
Getting a sinus infection and being useless for a week.
Trips to the library.
Doctors appointments.
Keeping the electricity off between 3-6pm Monday-Friday.
Eating better.
Exercising; trying and mostly failing to go to Boot Camp at 6:30am.
Watching terrible TV shows.
Getting my study/craft room organized, with Chad's (and IKEA's) help.

Being called as Relief Society Secretary.

So, no, it hasn't been a total waste.

After all, I've lost five pounds.

My mom took Bree and me to get pedicures.

We celebrated flag day with a healthy and not-so-tasty dessert. But it looked cute.

We had an impromptu indoor campout. We pretty much just relaxed and read as a family in the tent. After it got darker, we broke out the lantern and the s'mores. The kids had never seen what happens to a marshmallow in the microwave.

We have been focusing a lot on doing things together as a family. We have been reading Fablehaven, which the kids (especially Bree) really enjoy. And we've played board games that would not have necessarily been first on my wish list. But I'm trying to be a little less selfish with my time. As a result, I have not accomplished as many of the things on my to-do list. But that's okay.

Because when the summer is over, two of the kids will be out of my hair at school. Maybe I'll get some stuff done then.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Avoiding Rabbit Food

Sooo, long story short: we sold a house, moved, bought a house, and moved again in a period of about two and a half months (though it seemed much longer!). And, since I tend to eat my feelings, I gained 18 pounds. Not cool.

Anyway, there it is, out in the open. I avoid the camera. I'm embarrassed to see people who knew what I looked like "before." At least my new acquaintances here don't know any better. Anyway, I know I'm the hardest on myself, but it is depressing, especially after all my hard work last year in Globe's Biggest Loser competition. They called me a winner and gave me a prize. Now I've let them down. Boo.

Okay. Time to snap out of it. I've been settled here for two months. I really love it here, and am no longer stressed or depressed. There are no more excuses.

So after many deep breaths, a little perusal of fitness websites for motivation, and some serious prayers, I have felt my attitude shift. I'm ready. And I'm going to do it right. I'm not in a competition, and I don't have a deadline, so in some ways it's harder. But rather than focus on extreme calorie-cutting, I'm just going to eat healthier. Which isn't hard, considering I was on the chocolate-milkshake-plus-a-donut-per-day diet before. And I'm going to include strength training, and focus on ways to increase my metabolism. I want to be able to eat like a normal person, just a little more carefully for now. Because living on a rabbit food diet is so sad. No one should have to live like that.

Eat less. Move more. It's so simple.


So, I've done a few work-outs from Amazon Prime's collection of relics. Not the greatest exercise videos ever made, but they got me moving. And I'm eating less junk, and focusing more on fruits and veggies. But I'm not starving myself. I'm not counting calories. If I want ice cream, I eat it. But I pay attention to portion sizes, I eat 4 or 5 times a day, take fiber supplements, and stop eating at 7pm.

Then there's the full-but-not-satisfied phenomenon. I will eat a delicious meal of grilled chicken over a bed of crisp veggies, with some light dressing. Or I might have just had a good sized portion of beef and veggie stir fry over brown rice. And I'll be full. But there's this nagging feeling in my stomach. I used to think I was craving dessert, and I would just try to ignore it. But I've discovered that I was missing fat. I can't lose weight without eating fat. So I enjoy a spoonful of natural peanut butter, or a handful of almonds. And the annoying feeling goes away.

It's been so nice to be done with homeschool for the summer--it got pretty hairy there, and I was clearly burned out. I rarely cooked real meals. We ate fast food a lot. Now I have the energy to focus more on meal planning, and keeping to a schedule for our meals and snacks. It's also helping the kids realize that they shouldn't be eating constantly all day long.

At any rate, things are off to a good start. Here's to staying motivated.

And here's to not eating rabbit food.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Today was a good day. Not exciting. Not eventful. But good. I was productive, did plenty of "good mom" stuff, and ate healthy enough to feel good at the end. So yes, at the risk of being redundant, it was good.

I actually started off the day with exercise, which is how I should start all my days, but only have been able to do it twice this week. Then we did chores. I washed and folded. The boys Windexed the sliding glass door (which I obviously had to "touch up" afterwards).

Bree loaded the dishwasher. (She is now capable enough to be relied upon to do a chore properly-- which is huge!)

After lunch the kids watched an old episode of Batman, which reminded me of my days as a kid, watching the show in my brother's tiny room after school. Then while Lincoln napped, Bree and I played with makeup. I did hers (those lashes are to die for!)

And she did mine (I did my own mascara, and verbally coached her on the art of blending, but she did the rest).

Mason waited sort of patiently for us to finish so we could all play Candy Land. Twice. Mason is on an epic losing streak, which has been a wonderful opportunity for him to practice being a good sport. Then we cracked open the brand new jars of Play-Dough, which I bought specifically for the many hot afternoons we will likely spend indoors this summer. I'm not usually a huge Play-Dough fan, but there is something irresistible about that untouched cylinder of dough in a new jar. You know, before the colors have all been mixed into an unsightly orangey-brown; before the clay becomes tough and grainy; and before you start thinking about all the germs that have probably been multiplying in their own private Play-Dough petri dish.

We had dinner, Chad came home, we read scriptures, finished a movie we started last week, and the kids went to bed. The house is passably clean, the dishes are mostly done, and the laundry almost all got folded. That's pretty much as good as I can ask for around here.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In Quotes

Right now Lincoln is napping, Bree and Mason are playing Legos together, and I am not breaking the "no electricity use between 3 and 6pm" rule (we're on a new energy-saving plan) because I'm using my laptop, and it's not plugged in. I did the dishes earlier, so I'm rewarding myself with some "me" time. I just finished reading another book, and am loving the quiet. It's flippin' hot outside, so laying on my bed under the ceiling fan is my favorite afternoon activity.

Anyway, to continue the randomness of this post, I'm sharing this little conversation that Mason had with Chad's dad last week:

Jim: "I know sign language." (sticks out his tongue and waggles his open hands on either side of his head)
Mason: "Well, this means 'loser.'" (makes an "L" on his forehead)

I also recently finished reading Wonder, by R. J. Palacio, a touching book about a boy who is physically different. It really resonated with me, and I found a couple new favorite quotes:

"'s not all random, if it really was all random, the universe would abandon us completely. and the universe doesn't. it takes care of its most fragile creations in ways we can't see. like with parents who adore you blindly. and a big sister who feels guilty for being human over you. and a little gravelly-voiced kid whose friends have left him over you...maybe it is a lottery, but the universe makes it all even out in the end."

"...if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God."
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