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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Christmas Tree - writing prompt

Last year the kids really loved the Festival of Trees at the Expo Center. I got so many photos of Aspen staring at displays in awe, and I was looking forward to it this year. I thought both kids would enjoy it and decided to put it as an activity in their advent calendar this year. 
I planned it on a day Kevin had off, so I didn't bring a stroller for any tired kid to relax in. That was probably a mistake. Going on Saturday instead of Friday afternoon was probably another mistake. Not bringing enough snacks was also a mistake. Maybe going at all was a mistake ;). The kids didn't seem to have any fun!

We went straight to the gingerbread houses first and even though they were great, Aspen wasn't into it this year. She just moped along and complained any time Linc touched the chain that keeps people away from the displays.

We only spent a few minutes looking at the trees, and more of our time was spent in the back so Linc could hold the chains and run along them. That's pretty much all he wanted to do. And then he was depressed because he couldn't take home the cool airplane/teeter totter on display. He kept saying he wanted to get something for his house and I was like we can't fit an airplane into our car, buddy.

Maybe it was just an off day, but it wasn't much fun. Kev suggested we take out all the advent activities and instead just keep those ideas on reserve for days the kids are in better moods. But I already spent a lot of time looking over the calendar and all our schedules to find days in the first place; I don't know how I can just relax and wing it the rest of the month. It takes a lot of work to make Christmas magical, dang it!

On the plus side, the kids decorated our little Christmas tree a couple of days after Thanksgiving and that was a lot of fun. I pulled out all the ornaments and narrowed them down to ones I didn't think they'd break. We only had one casualty, so I'm proud of us! And I haven't rearranged a single ornament after letting them do it themselves ;). I love our little four-foot tree and am glad the kids were able to spend some time with me, looking at our ornaments and talking about the memories we have of many of them. So at least we had that nice experience this month to help us focus on family and the importance of being together.

Today our advent activity is baking cookies, and hopefully that will be a hit with everyone.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

When I Grow Up - writing prompt


When I grow up I want to remember what it was like to be a mom of young children. I want to be mindful of the younger moms around me who may be flailing and in need of help. I don't want to show up unannounced at their doorstep during the bedtime routine and interrupt. I don't want to call about things that could easily be discussed via email or text or without them at all. I don't want to burden them with requests to do things they simply don't have the energy, time, or desire to do. I want to remember to give them a break.

When I grow up I don't want to forget how hard it is. I don't want to smile and tell younger moms "those are the best years of your life!" because, honestly, sometimes they're not. I don't want to grow up and make younger moms feel ashamed they're not enjoying every minute of mothering young children. I don't want to grow up and come across as a know-it-all simply because I survived all the tantrums and siblings spats and the potty training and the fights about meals and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY JUST PUT SHOES ON WHEN THERE'S SNOW OUTSIDE.

When I grow up I want to be like the woman in my neighborhood who called me about an opportunity to serve. But after a few minutes she said "Forget this! You're too busy with those young kids and I don't want this to be difficult for you." She's the woman who also reiterates there's a season for everything and sometimes when your season is motherhood there isn't room for much else and that's okay.

When I grow up I want to listen to my kids tell me about how obnoxious their kids are, and I want to be able to tell them I'll be over the next day to babysit so they can go sit in their parked car somewhere and have some peace and quiet. I want to listen to my kids tell me about how amazing their kids are and I want to be able to tell them I'll be over the next day to babysit and soak up their elfish voices and make art projects with them.

When I grow up, I just want to remember how it all feels so I can emphasize with younger moms and let them know they'll eventually get themselves back. And it will be worth the wait.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Reflections Program 2016

Last week I received an email from Aspen's school about the Reflections program. It was to invite me to the assembly to watch Aspen receive an award. The PTA didn't specify if it was the advancement award or just one of merit, so we weren't sure what to expect. A second email came through asking if Aspen would be willing to read her artist's statement in front of the school during the assembly.

Hmmm, let's see. Would Aspen like to hold a microphone on a stage in front of room full of people who are forced to look at her? YES, YES SHE WOULD.

Coincidentally, Kevin had the day off and he was able to attend the assembly, too. As I stood on the sidelines and listened to the specifics of the Reflections program and how entries were ranked, I realized Aspen was the winner of her category. That's why she would be reading her statement. I was so excited for her!

Aspen received a certificate of participation, a trophy, a Coldstone gift card, some coupons for meals at restaurants, and her watercolor will advance to the district-wide Reflections competition.

It was so exciting and I almost cried. I'm so proud of how hard she works to develop her talents. She's very smart and artistic and I hope we can continue to nurture her interests and help her explore them and feel confident about her abilities.

Linc was pretty proud too. We told him Aspen won a trophy, and compared it to the Piston Cup to help him understand. He wanted one, too... so we took him home and let him ride Aspen's pink Barbie Power Wheels car around the neighborhood.

Aspen's entry is entitled "Splitter Splatter," and this is the statement she read:

"I am an artist so this watercolor shows me painting a beautiful picture. The rectangle next to me is a pile of all my artwork. I sing songs in my head while I create and it helps me name my art. It makes me happy."

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Class Presentation

We're at the point in the semester that each student in my Intro to Yoga class has to teach a 30 minute practice. I spent some time last week preparing an outline, and hosted a free class on Saturday to give it a trial run. I'm really grateful people showed up and I had a chance to go over the outline and make edits.

I was originally scheduled to teach for my peers next Monday, but I today spontaneously volunteered to fill a spot left by a sick classmate. I wasn't necessarily prepared, and my notes were a wreck, but I'm glad I did it. It feels good to get it over with, and now I won't have to worry about it over the holiday.

Three other people presented before me, and I was challenged with squeezing my practice into a smaller chunk of time at the end of class. The only disappointment to me was being so short on time that my peers weren't given an opportunity to critique my practice and give suggestions. I was really looking forward to feedback!


It felt good to be in front of a class again, and I appreciate my teacher's feedback so much. She's the reason I'm going to cram three classes into spring semester instead of just two; she's definitely teaching the practicum in spring, but is not guaranteed in the summer. I want to have her for my practicum because it's going to be a LOT of work. After each lecture with her this semester, I feel like I've been given a big hug. I think I'll  need that kind of nurturing during the practicum.

This semester has flown by and I can't believe it. College felt like it lasted EONS, but this course has been so fun and quick. I guess a huge difference, besides loving the subject matter, is that I'm not a young twenty-something desperately trying to find myself. That played a part in college feeling overwhelming, I'm sure.

Quote from HERE // Graphic by me

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Family Pictures - writing prompt

2016
I don't have many photos of my childhood. Some survived the house fire, though, and for that I'm grateful. I even have some of my whole family that were taken in a studio setting, in addition to the random snapshots of candid moments.

2015


2014
2013
With my own family now, I usually feel like getting pictures professionally done every few years. Since there are so many easy ways to print and preserve photos (hello Chatbooks!) I can't resist. It's not like these photos will be taken and left to gather digital dust; I'm good about making canvas prints for the walls and keeping the Chatbooks readily available for everyone to look through. I try to make it a very fun experience for everyone, and the last two times we had photos taken, we went to Wheeler Farm. There's a small fee to have a photographer on the farm, but it's worth it to have a setting the kids enjoy. There are good distractions for them, and being outside makes for such amazing light. I'm glad the latest trend for photographers is natural light.
2012
I know FotoFly recently increased their prices, but they're one studio I really love when it comes to indoor (and they do outdoor, too). I only used them once when I had one kid, and she was the only subject so it was pretty easy. When they were cheaper, they rushed you around the studio to use all the different backdrops and it was like musical chairs. Multiple photographers and clients were darting all over the studio and it was a little crazy. But any time I see people's photos from FotoFly, they look fantastic so I think it's worth it.

2012

I've been lucky to have a number of friends dabble in photography, and they usually have awesome prices when they're just getting started. I still have photos displayed in my home from the times I had Linsey take pictures of Aspen (at about 4 months, and again at 1 year).

2011

And we all know I'm not shy about using the self-timer and photographing my family randomly. For years Kev and I used the self-timer for our Christmas photo, and they turned out pretty good! Even Maddie made appearances in them. And although the quality varies, I did a pretty good job regularly photographing both kids once a month for a special letter I wrote to them every month for two years (see those HERE).
2010
Today when we got in the car to visit the library, I noticed Aspen had a Chatbook in her hands. She looked through half of it on the way there, and finished it on the way back. I'm glad I'm already seeing a return on the investment I've put into having lots of photos of our family. Lincoln loves the bigger books I sometimes make through Shutterfly since they're a little easier to look through.

2007
I'm running out of wall space in my home since I have a hard time switching out photos (or use canvas prints instead of frames) but that's okay. It's worth it to walk around my house and see those moments smiling (or frowning) back at me.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Favorite Recipes - writing prompt


I don't remember my mom cooking while I was growing up. We had an unconventional family. If I didn't have to, I wouldn't cook for my family now, either. They claim to be hungry but what they really mean is they want to eat candy until they have tummy aches and then they just want to lie down and watch TV until they feel better. Feeding young kids is the worst.

However, that being said, I know Aspen has a few favorite recipes. She can't get enough of the chocolate chip cookies I make, and for her birthday she requested the chocolate cupcakes I've been making regularly for the last four years or so (lactose-free!). She loves my zucchini bread/muffins, and both kids devour the pancakes I make from scratch. Astonishingly, both kids ate sweet 'n tangy meatballs for dinner last night, and that has become a regular meal in our house. Aspen has also branched out recently and will eat the meat when I make sweet pulled pork in the crockpot. And speaking of crock pot, everyone in the family loves the white bread I cook in mine.

The thing about having the kids help me in the kitchen is that it drives me crazy. They love measuring ingredients and pouring them in and I literally shudder at the thought. The mess is huge, the accuracy declines, and the GERMS! Oh! The germs! I'm always convinced that when I let the kids help prepare food, we're all going to get sick no matter how well I help them wash their hands before.

But it's not their fault I'm neurotic, so I let them help me anyway. And I bite my tongue and smile and exercise so much patience I think I might have a stroke. They're having a good time, they're learning important skills, and they're proud to contribute. They'll have memories of me doing things with them, and hopefully not yelling too much about all the flour spilled on the floor. Then someday when they're writing about their childhoods, they can tell everyone about all these recipes and how they loved them and how nice it was that their mom was so sweet and inviting and stood them on chairs at the counter so they could learn to bake and cook. RIGHT?!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

She Picks! Facebook Group

The blog I work for has a Facebook group called She Picks! with awesome gift ideas, and the occasional giveaway. If you're not already a member, I suggest checking it out. There are also posts with deal alerts, too, which is how I got tipped off that Kindle Fires were $29.99 on Amazon last year around Thanksgiving. WHAT?! I know! I'm still mad I only bought one and I hope the deal pops up in the group again this year so I can buy another.

If you're looking for ideas for family, friends, teachers, etc... then join the She Picks! group, and check out the blog later this month and into December for amazing suggestions and deals you won't want to miss. I love having someone else do the leg work for me so I can just click and be done with Christmas shopping. Also, there's a giveaway on She Picks! that runs until Thursday, so head over and see how you can enter to win an Instax Mini. I had a similar Polaroid camera in high school and loved it SO MUCH.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Gilmore Girls - Anticipating "A Year in the Life"

I have major writer's block today. All I want to do is binge on Gilmore Girls in preparation for the revival that airs on Netflix later this month. It's been a while since I've seen the whole series so I want to be up to speed for the new episodes.

Before Aspen was born, I started collecting the DVDs. I even brought some of them with me when Kevin and I flew to Maine to surprise my sister for her birthday. We knew we'd be driving to Canada and would need something to keep us busy on the ride. Kev, Sophia and I sat together in the back row of the van watching the show together. When we returned home and the time came for the final episode, I didn't even know it was happening. I pulled the disc out of the DVD player and asked Kev excitedly if he wanted to watch just one more. He told me we couldn't because IT WAS OVER. I couldn't believe it. The series ended so abruptly for me. It wasn't until years later that I realized the seventh and final season was written and directed by a new group of people. The show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, left after the sixth season and that made so much sense.

The four new episodes are under the direction of the original creator and I'm looking forward to seeing some resolution that coincides with the direction ASP originally intended for her characters. I don't think Kev has the day after Thanksgiving off (when it airs) so I'll probably end up watching it after he gets home... which means I'll need to stay off social media to avoid spoilers or I'LL DIE. There was this one time I mentioned to someone I was reading Sophie's Choice and she said it was such a heartbreaking story. I told her not to say anything because I still wasn't entirely sure what Sophie's choice was going to be (y'know, I didn't want it to be what I thought it was going to be because *SOB*) but then that person continued talking about the book and what the choice was and I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

So, if you're going to watch the revival, I love you, but don't talk to me about it!

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Yoga Training Update


I recently passed the half-way mark for the semester, so it's probably time for a real update on my RYT course.

Since Lincoln no longer naps (unless Kevin is home to magically put him down), I only have evenings to get my homework done. That's been a big adjustment for me since in the early part of the semester I had about an hour during the day to study while Linc napped and Aspen was not yet home from school. If anything didn't feel complete after that, I dove back in at night. Now, doing it all at night after the kids are in bed is tiring, but I honestly love the work so much. The readings slowed down a lot after a few weeks, so that has made a big difference in how stressed I've felt. Now I'm mostly going over my lecture notes and preparing yoga practice outlines and turning in papers in anticipation of my finals and presentations.

My Intro to Yoga class didn't have a midterm, but Anatomy had one worth 300 points. It was a lot of work to study and prepare for that, but I did really well (94%!). And after going over the test with the instructor, I'm more aware of my weaknesses and what I need to work on in order to do better on the final.

The two courses I've been taking have opened my eyes and given me a deeper understanding of yoga and the human body. It is so interesting to me and I'm sure everyone I talk with is so flippin' tired of hearing me go on about it. But it's a huge part of my life once again and I'm excited about it!

As part of my Intro class requirements, I've been trying to do at least 3 hours of yoga each week. I've been regularly attending a class at the Rec Center (since I'm an employee it's free and I just pay to leave Linc in my daycare), and lately have added another class at a nearby studio I've been to three classes there in the last couple of weeks, and two of them were pretty terrible. The most recent one I went to was probably the most uncomfortable I've ever been in any yoga class, EVER. And I've been through a 90 minute class before with a painfully full bladder. The class last week literally did a couple of forward folds (bend in half toward the toes) for a warm up and called it good. I was once again the only person in class, and it happened to be really awkward. There wasn't any music, and it was actually physically painful due to the lack of warm up. I didn't go into many of the poses (which we held for a looooooong time) because my body was protesting it. When the hour was up I wanted to sprint out of there as fast as I could but I couldn't BECAUSE I NEVER WARMED UP.

When I was at Weber State, there were many times I found myself the only person in attendance for Kathi's yoga classes (she's one of the instructors who helped me fall in love with yoga). But it was never awkward. She even invited me to Thanksgiving at her home because we built a rapport during those one-on-one practices. So I know it's not just me being a weirdo at these Local Yoga classes and being the reason it's awkward. Kev and I discussed today how lucky I was all those years I attended drop-in yoga at WSU. Claudette, Jan, Brittany and Kathi are some truly amazing instructors. And I did appreciate them so much back then! But now that I have more to compare them with, it's more apparent than ever that those ladies had a deep understanding of yoga.

In the coming weeks, I have a guided meditation outline to turn in, and I get to teach a 30 minute practice to my class. I'm a little nervous to teach since it's been a long time for me, but I'm still looking forward to it. I'm comfortable in front of a group, and I recognize I've learned a lot in the last few months that has prepared me to be a better teacher than I was four years ago.

Spring semester I'm tentatively planning to take the two final courses, plus the practicum. I debated waiting and taking the practicum (the course during which all the students take turns teaching for the semester) in the summer, but there's no guarantee I can get the teacher I favor if I wait until summer. I've talked to my classmates about the course load and am not sure how I'll swing everything, but I think doing it all in the spring will be worth it. If I'm not going to school this summer, my dream of spending 3 weeks to a month in Maine for a vacation with the kids is more likely to happen... so the beach might be my reward for getting through a heavy spring course load. I'd say that's worth it!

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Disney on Ice 2016

Last year I won tickets to Disney on Ice, and this year Sophia did! She invited Aspen and we surprised her once again with the outing. When I told Aspen her Auntie was going to take her, she mentioned how last year she got that yummy, long treat-thing. She mused that perhaps her Auntie would get one for her just like like time. I told her I didn't have any cash to give Sophia to cover buying food or toys, so she should eat her dinner and not get her hopes up about the churro.

But of course, the best Auntie ever delivered and bought a churro for Aspen. And I bet she didn't take a bite out of it and cause Aspen to go into hysterics.

The next morning Aspen told me and Linc all about it, and we watched the videos Sophia took and sent to me. There was one with Peter Pan and Linc flipped his lid when he saw them take off and fly through the air. He said, in his cute little elf voice, "Maybe somedayyyy, when I'm a big kid, I can go too! And see the flying!" Every day he talks to me about how he puts his arms behind him and runs fast to fly like Peter Pan. It's so cute.

I'm so glad Aspen and her Auntie got to have a date night together. My sister goes above and beyond to be involved in the lives of my kids and I appreciate all she does for them. And hopefully we can keep up the tradition of winning tickets to see Disney! 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Crayola Giveaway on 'Or so she says...'

If you haven't seen it yet, I have a new post and a giveaway up on 'Or so she says...'! Giveaway ends on the 21st, so get going on your entries. When you enter the OSSS giveaway, you have a chance to win $150 worth of Crayola products, AND $250 worth of products from Crayola's Instagram giveaway. So head over and enter!

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Day - writing prompt

Lincoln woke up Wednesday with a very stuffy nose and extra grumpy attitude. I was able to get someone to cover me at work, and spent the entire day trying not to pull my ears off my head to escape the whining. Biologically, Linc is wired to suction-cup himself to me if he's awake and I'm in the same building as him. When he's sick, it's exponentially worse. When I'm gone, however, he's completely fine and happy and a totally different kid. Lucky me, right?

So while I feel badly for Linc being sick, when I've done all I can to care for him and still can't go into another room without listening to him scream at me, I completely lose my mind. There's only so much I can give every single day and night to my kids, and if they're not bleeding to death I feel like I should be "allowed" to go to the bathroom by myself, or even just walk into the kitchen for a drink. Without fail, any time I left Linc's sight on Wednesday, he'd call out "MOM WHERE ARE YOOOOOOU?!" And then he'd command me to return and play with him, which really meant sit and be bored to death watching him repeatedly crash cars into trains on his wooden tracks.

I didn't get to shower, or brush my teeth until long after the kids were in bed. I didn't talk to another adult until Kev got home from work for a few minutes before leaving again. I didn't put in my contact lenses or leave the house except to take Aspen to school. It was a dark day. I don't like being stuck at home because I'm so paranoid my kids will share their germs and other parents will hate me for getting their kids sick. It sounds selfish that I'm not shedding tears for Linc having a cold, but I guarantee I'm making him more than comfortable despite his circumstances.

I'm hopeful this new day will be better. I'm hopeful I'll see the light of day from the outside of my house. I'm hopeful I'll talk to other grown ups. And maybe not give in and put my kids to bed at 7.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Remembering My Mantra


I've been repeating "I am content" as often as I can remember lately. I even went back to that local yoga studio to try another class.

I'M SO GLAD I DID! Although we started about 10 minutes late because people arrived past the start time, and the instruction had a lot to say when helping us set our intention, it was still a good practice. It was labeled a Gentle Flow class, but it felt challenging to me. I had done an inversions workshop in the afternoon for my Intro class, so maybe that had something to do with how I felt about my second class of the day. ;) I loved how full the class was, and don't mind that we waited for people to trickle in. There's a different energy to a practice when it feels communal. It was obvious to me, as a new-comer, that a lot of these people have been attending classes with this instructor for a long time. There was a lot of love shared between the regulars.

In this practice, the instructor reminded us to send positive energy into the world, and to scoop it up for ourselves as well. She reminded us that although the Presidential campaign often felt toxic at times, it still represents something amazing for women. I don't care how you feel about Clinton, but just the fact that a woman can run for President is incredible. I felt the same when Obama ran, too. So while the instructor didn't get into politics beyond that, she used it as an example of what awesome power we as women hold, and that we have unlimited potential for greatness in so many capacities. Applied to our practice, I took it as inspiration to attempt poses or sequences that felt uncomfortable and/or difficult. By the end, my legs were shaking.

I was more than content with the practice, and I'm grateful my second experience at this studio was more rewarding than the first. I hope that someday when I walk through the door the instructor will greet me with the same enthusiasm she had for her regulars.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Things in Your Bag - writing prompt


Things in Your Bag


I spoiled myself with a Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag when Lincoln was an infant. I spent many hours in his nursing chair, alone with my phone and easy access to shopping via PayPal. There was some kind of flash sale on PPB bags, and even though I once mocked them for their price, I bought one. It's a convertible bag that can hang from my shoulder or be worn as a back pack (Sashay Satchel). It ensures I never bend over and hit one of my kids in the head with my bag ever again. Currently, the is stocked with the usual essentials: wallet, hand sanitizer, diapers, wipes, changing pad, pen and notebook. I also lug around a bunch of Chatbooks in a zippered pouch, as well as another pouch with chapstick, bandaids, tampons, lipstick and lotion.

But let's back up and talk about Chatbooks for a second. Have you heard of them? It's a free app (or website service) that turns your online photos into books. For like, $8 a book (when I first signed up they were $6 and I think I'm grandfathered in at that price for a while). I don't have to do anything to publish my books and have them shipped free to me. I signed up once, and when my Instagram feed hits 60 photos, a book is automatically created and I get a notification that it's ready to review. If I want to change anything, like the photos or captions that are included, I take a minute to do so and then the book ships. It's awesome. The kids love looking through them, and Kev is always surprised by the pictures because he doesn't have Insta and doesn't see what I post. I also make a book for my parents for Christmas as a separate feature of Chatbooks and it's so much easier and cost-efficient than a big ol' photo book from a place like Shutterfly.

Right now using my link, you can get your first Chatbook free, and if five people use my link I get five freakin' years of Chatbooks free. So, sign up! Share my link and get other people to sign up, too!

Okay, now I'm out of time with this prompt but if I get free Chatbooks for five years it's worth it.

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