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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Candyland...or Jurassic Park

I have a wicked sweet-tooth.

I love candy and chocolate almost as much as I love shoes and Hugh Jackman.  (That.  Is.  A.  Lot.)  I'm crazy about Reese's peanut butter cups.  I'm cuckoo for chocolate chip cookies.  (Were you expecting me to say, "Cocoa Puffs?")  I adore Swedish fish.  I want to change my last name to "McHershey."  I would sing through the hills in unbridled, "Fraulein Maria-like" fashion for pretezel M&M's.  If you want to "taste the rainbow," I can suggest my favorite bag of Skittles.  (Hello, Blenders!)  If you are struggling to decide whether or not you should go with a "Whatchamacallit" candy bar, or a "Thingamajig" candy bar...I will tell you to go with the "Whatchamacallit" EVERY TIME. 

See what I mean?

Wicked.  Sweet.  Tooth.

Is it any wonder my favorite game when I was a little girl was Candyland?!  The red and white of the Peppermint Forest, the gingerbread-man shaped game pieces that traveled the brightly-colored squares to King Kandy, the Lollipop Woods, and the chocolate swamp--I loved it all.

Recently, Ms. Lilly has discovered she also enjoys a rousing game of Candyland.  We have oodles of fun playing the game together.  ("Family time" is often spent at the kitchen table, huddled around the delightful game board!)

Last night--as we prepared to embark on a journey through Candyland (aka play the game)--we discovered our game pieces were missing.  Not to be dismayed, Lilly proclaimed, "I have an idea!  I know what we can use!"  She quickly ran upstairs, retrieved Cam's plastic, dinosaur finger puppets, and returned with a grin.  "Let's use these," she said, proudly.


A youthful, sugary-sweet Candyland turned into a prehistoric rendezvous.  Suddenly, we were playing a game of "Jurassic Park On A Sugar High!"  The worst (and perhaps most humorous) part was the appearance of playing with JUST the HEADS of dinosaurs.  I mean, how creepy (and Godfather-ish) is that?!!

Suffice it to say, those dinosaurs--with their formidable heads set against a drippy, "Willy Wonka" background--gave me a severe case of the giggles!  And laughter is almost better than candy and chocolate.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Boys Are Weird

Tonight, as I was giving Cam his routine, "pre-bedtime" bath, something happened.

My soapy little man was slippin' and slidin' in the tub, merrily laughing at the yellow duckies that were gliding through the bubbles.  After I had lathered and rinsed his hair (I know you're thinking, "What hair?") with lavender-smelling shampoo, I briefly turned my back on him to return a damp towel to the towel rack.  When I turned back around, I saw him do something so ridiculously stereotypical of his gender it made me freeze in my tracks.

He stood up, took a whiz in the tub, and happily exclaimed, "OH WOW!"

(I saw his face, people!  He was focused on the "range," he was admiring "the splash value."  He was...proud???  And fascinated??  And IMPRESSED?!)

Sometimes, being the mother of a boy freaks me out!

So tonight--before some much-needed beauty rest--I'm going to "cope" by doing something ultra girly.  Like tweeze my eyebrows...and watch Pride and Prejudice...while I paint my toenails...and apply a mud mask.

Sheesh!  Boys are weird.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Accessories! Accessorize!

"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize."
--Clairee, "Steel Magnolias"

Aren't accessories fun?!  A pretty scarf.  A bright-colored belt.  An animal-print flat.  PEARLS!  A flower hair-clip.  Big earrings.  Red heels.  A gorgeous handbag.  (I'm drooling a little on my keyboard...)  I adore all of it!  I have always loved accessories.

As a little girl, my favorite thing to do while visiting my beloved grandma was to play "dress-up" with her old costume jewelry.  I'd sit on a stool in her kitchen and snap vintage, beaded, clip-on earrings onto my earlobes, while she rolled my hair into pin curls.  Talk about glamorous!  I would look through her red, cedarwood jewelry box and marvel at the glimmer and glitz of the contents within.  I could never decide which necklace I wanted to I would wear all of them!  

My grandma.  Her kitchen.  That old jewelery box.  Some of my most cherished memories of childhood.

As a very mature and very grown up woman (I can hear you giggling from here), I still love to adorn myself with things that sparkle and was my Lilly who once reminded me of my very best accessory.  Even better than the contents of a cedarwood box.

My smile.

One peaceful summer afternoon, I was rocking Cam to sleep for a nap.  Miss Lilly came into the room and whispered, “Mom, I want to show you something.  I drew a picture of you.”  I laid my slumbering, baby boy down in his crib and followed Lilly out of the room.

“Where's your picture?,” I asked, enthusiastically, as we walked into her bedroom.  She said, “Right there,” and pointed to her closet.

My daughter had drawn a picture of me in blue marker on her closet!!

Now, there were several reactions I could have had after the initial shock wore off.  I could have been annoyed about having to take time to clean marker off the door.  I could have felt frustrated at having taught Lilly over and over again that "we DO NOT color on anything but coloring books or paper Mom approves of."  I could have felt stressed over trying to figure out what kind of cleaner I was going to use to get the job done.  (I heart you, Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.)

Honestly, the most alarming thing about the whole ordeal was the fact that Lilly had drawn me frowning!

"Does she think I'm mad and ornery all the time?," I couldn't help but wonder.  "I know she knows how to draw smiley faces," I kept thinking.  I pondered on my "portrait" all afternoon and well into the evening.  The more I thought about it the more resolved I became to cultivate a happy and joyful home for my children; an environment of acceptance, contentment, and laughter.  I decided to start by smiling more

Your children watch you.  They watch your face. 
Remember to smile! 
It's your greatest accessory.

(And don't forget the pearls!)

Monday, July 18, 2011


I have a confession to make.

Sometimes my kids drive me nuts.

There are days when I'd like to send them to work with McHubby!  Days when I'd like to hide in the bathroom.  Days I'd like to pull my hair out.  (But the pretty, new hair color I'm sporting prevents me from doing so!)  There are days when I feel like I might be raising zoo animals!

Today was one of  those days.

After breaking up fights, mopping a flooded bathroom floor (bath time=FIASCO), and cleaning toothpaste out of the carpet, I had had enough!  "Alright, alright," I hollered, "that's it!  Get your shoes on, now.  We are getting out of the house!"

I grabbed my keys and ushered us out the front door.  Harmon's--our "friendly neighborhood grocer," with a deli that is to die for and a bakery that is deliciously sinful--was to be our sanctuary...err, destination.  I hoped to locate some sanity somewhere between the cereal aisle and the snack foods aisle.  Plus, we were out of milk and laundry detergent (and Monday is laundry day...blech), so a trip to Harmon's was absolutely warranted.

While perusing produce and inspecting bananas for optimal ripeness, I happened to notice Ms. Lilly was dancing around the cart with a bag of gummy frogs in her hand.  (I told her she could have them as long as she "shared them with Cam" and "stopped squawking like a rooster" because she was "startling the other shoppers.")  She was prancing and twirling around on her tiptoes; her messy ponytail flopping against her small shoulders.  She was happily chanting:  "Mom, you are the best mom ever.  You are the greatest mom ever."

I was a little preoccupied by the nectarines, so was halfheartedly and distractedly replying,  "That's nice, Lil" and "Thanks, Lil."

"Excuse me?," an older woman in a funky, floral dress asked.  "Did she just tell you you're the best mom ever?"

"Oh!  Yes, yes she did," I said, somewhat embarrassed.

The woman dropped some broccoli in a clear, plastic bag and said, "Overhearing her say that to you made my day!"  She began to laugh, then asked, "Does she say that all the time?"

"She does," I said, also laughing.

The woman replied, "Well then, she must make your day too!"

KA-BOOM!  Her comment, like a bolt of lightening, struck me down!  I looked at Lilly--skinny legs pirouetting and brown eyes sparkling--and realized she does make my day brighter.  Even hard days, like today.  I just have to remember to look for it.  Suddenly, in that epiphanic moment, everything changed.  My day changed.  My perspective changed.  My attitude changed.

Had I just found my sanity in the produce section of Harmon's?!

As I walked out to my car--with a grocery cart full of kids (and lemon poppy seed muffins and jalapeno salsa and "Chile Picante con Limon" corn nuts...OH MY!)--I thought about attitude.  Sometimes, all we have to do is change our attitude to improve our day.  Sometimes, we need a woman in a funky, floral dress to remind us.        

Friday, July 15, 2011

Art On The Lawn!

Vincent Van Gogh, the brilliant and eccentric post-Impressionist artist from Holland, once said, "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

To that inspiring quote I would add (no disrespect towards you, Mr. Van Gogh):  "If you hear a voice within your mommy brain say, 'you can't paint on a big sheet, in the front lawn, with the kids..the neighbors will think you're crazy,' then by all means paint on the front lawn anyway.  And enjoy a lovely afternoon art project with your little ones."

First, you need a BIG sheet (and a twirling preschooler).

Any ol' sheet will do.  We purchased ours for two bucks at a thrift store.

Next, you'll want to stake the sheet down on your lawn.  I pushed some long nails through each corner of the sheet, all the way down into the grass so that only the nail heads were showing.

Fill some styrofoam bowls with a variety of paint colors.  Don't forget the sponge paint brushes!  (Oooh, or kiddos could use their fingers and hands to create messy, Pollock-type art!)  

Last step:  Have fun painting happy little trees...or whatever you'd like...with your children!  (Did you catch my Bob Ross reference?!  Did you?!  Did you?)

I asked Ms. Lilly Mae what she was making, and she replied, "I'm making a souffle."

Make a soufflé.
Make art.
Mostly, make memories.

"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
--Pablo Picasso 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Brothers And A Sister

Do you have siblings?  Are they as crazy as mine?  Do you have a brother who tells hilarious stories about "stealing" a basketball standard from a foreclosure, while under the cover of night?  Or another brother who refers to himself as, "Optimus Prime?"  Do your grownup brothers enjoy "Phineas and Ferb" as much as most seven-year-olds?   Do you have a sister who laughs like Shirley Temple and has the best-shaped eyebrows EVER?!

I do!

My siblings are nutsy and wonderful, funny and supportive.  They each represent an important piece of the "B Clan" puzzle that, when put together, creates an endearing, beautiful "whole"--our family.  We get along well, love one another immensely, and...

CAN NOT take a "normal" picture if the shape of Erika's eyebrows depended on it!  (Wait, what?)


See what I mean?

And finally...the "most normal-looking photo" we were able to take:

(I STILL look crazy!)

Clara Ortega eloquently stated:  "To the outside world, we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other's hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time."

Perhaps that's why we take pictures like that...because deep down--and when we come together--we still feel like this... 

 Just kids.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Guest Post: Happy Fourth of July...Now, Simmer Down

My Sunshine is a real "sparkler"... on the Fourth of July AND every other day of the year!  Have a "Sunny" Sunday! 

Dear Child/Teenager/or Child-like-teenager-like Adult,

I love the 4th of July, and heaven knows no one likes the prospect of small explosives more than yours truly, but I am telling you right now YOU NEED TO SIMMER DOWN (best said with a southern accent, so that is sounds like, "Simma dawn") with the fireworks! 

As a child, I adored this wonderful time of year where we remember our amazing country we live in and all the men and women that serve in our military.  I couldn't wait for the sun to go down and the fireworks to begin.  I loved the junk we ate while enjoying the show, I loved the fact that we got to stay up waaayyyy past bed time; it was awesome.  Speaking of military personnel.  I feel this would be a good time to tell you about my Grandpa.  He was a World War II veteran.  He was IN the Battle of the Bulge (, he didn't sit in some high school history class reading about, he was IN it.  When he returned from the war he was physically unharmed, however, he was terribly shell shocked from being on the front lines during such a serious time of fighting in that war.  Loud noises, such as balloons popping, doors slamming, or cars back firing, sent my poor old gramps diving for cover--hip replacements and all.  Imagine how dreadful he found this time of year.  Rockets red glaring and bombs bursting in airing left him as jumpy as a 5-year-old on a pogo stick (trust me on this point of reference).  So, are you getting the irony?  A holiday specifically designed to honor our veterans ended up somewhat traumatizing him.  I didn't understand it...until now.  Kind of.

You see, my children have the stomach flu.  Not just any old stomach flu, we're talking the "armageddon" of stomach flus.  If regular stomach flus were guppies, this one would be a full grown humpback whale.  The conversation between my husband and I went something like this yesterday:

Me:  "Good golly, we're gonna need a priest."
Husband:  "What like 'last rites' kind of priest?"
Me:  "No, no, like 'exorcise the demons' kind of priest"
Husband:  (long pause while he considers this) "I'll get the yellow pages."
Me:  "Nice try, but the yellow pages can wait.  Now help me strip off these pillow cases...again."

So, you can imagine how traumatized I have been, when upon finally getting my poor sick babies settled in their beds for some much needed rest, you start with your loud popping and cracking of the fireworks at 11:00 on July 7th??  I'm not asking you to forgo the sparklers, I'm just asking you to please, for love of all that is good, limit your activities to the hours before 10:00.  If you continue to kick up the kind of ruckus we've been experiencing these past couple of nights, you should know that I have a rolling pin and a temper and I'm not afraid to use them.  Keep in mind that you shouldn't be difficult to locate as you keep sending up "signal flares" that make tracking you a cinch (rubbing my hands together evilly).  Seriously, SIMMA DAWN NOW.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter,
(Patriot, Proud Granddaughter, and EXHAUSTED Mommy)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Free Stuff, Dudes!

Who doesn't love getting free stuff?

When I worked in the Distance Education office at USU, once a year the university would host a "Staff Assistant Appreciation Day."  All of the staff assistants on campus would come together for a catered lunch and a "meet and greet" with office supply vendors...lots and lots of vendors.  The vendors would bring stuff to give away--like pens, highlighters, tape dispensers, sticky notes, etc.  I would fill a plastic bag with free "Office Depot" goodies.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  (And how nerdy do I sound right now?!)

I'm a sucker for the free hot dogs at RC Willey's Labor Day sale.  I love the free samples you can get at Sephora.  (Heaven!)  Recently, I had a hankering for a burrito at Chipotle.  The nice man working the pinto beans gave me a handful of coupons for free kids meals.  HOORAY!!!!!  Bless his burrito heart!

And of course, I can not forget my beloved "Big Burly Dude" at Great Harvest, who hooks me up with free cookies all the time.  (I love that man.)    

My point is, free stuff is fun!  Would you like ME to give YOU something, for free?  Like a DVD?  From Feature Films for Families?  Called, "The Velveteen Rabbit?"  YOU WOULD!?!  Well, here is what you need to do:

1.) Follow my blog.  Click the "follow" button and make it official.  (Sorry, this one is only open to newbies but I promise to do another giveaway  in the future.)
2.) Leave me a message in the "comments" section and let me know you are a new follower.
3.) Leave your email address in the "comments" section too!  I will contact you via email about where your DVD needs to be shipped.  (I'll even tie a ribbon around it...and include a thank you note.  Pretty awesome.)

I have SEVEN, brand new DVDs that need a good home!  The first seven people I hear from will get one.

(UPDATE:  THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!  MORE giveaways to come!  I heart free stuff!  10:20am MST, 7/9/11)

As always, THANK YOU for reading!

(Note:  Not affiliated in any way with Feature Films for Families!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I took a bath with a dinosaur today.

As I slid down into the lukewarm water, a plastic dinosaur floated by me.  (Side note:  My bath water is always lukewarm because I can't manage to get in the tub when I want to.  Someone needs a diaper changed, or someone needs a drink and a snack, or someone needs help getting their head unstuck from the arm hole of a shirt.  Sound familiar?)

I watched as the dinosaur "bobbed and weaved" around the Barbie that was floating at my feet.  I couldn't help but notice the alphabet foam letters stuck to the wall, forming a "bath toy" perimeter around me.  Suddenly, Cam threw open the door and ran into the bathroom.  He launched his toy truck into MY tub, laughed, and then promptly left.

In that moment, I thought, "It is apparent I am a parent."

Do you ever have moments like that?  When the reality of your situation hits you like a baby boy's truck flying through the air, and you realize with uncanny certainty that you have become the mother you always thought (or never thought) you'd be?!  Does it become blatantly apparent to you that...well, you're a parent?  Do you think to yourself, "Wow.  I am such a mom!?"

Like when you talk extensively with a friend and "fellow mommy" about stretch marks, vacuum cleaners, and curing diaper rash; or when you go to the grocery store with bedhead because you're out of milk and your kids cannot live without it, even for a feel like such a mom.  When your husband comes home from work and politely asks, "Didn't you wear that yesterday?", or when you insist that pancakes are a legitimate dinner feel like such a mom.  Your four-year-old weeps and wails because she can't wear panties with "Thursday" embroidered on them when it's a Tuesday, so you promise to wash "Tuesday" while she's at preschool if she'll "please, just wear Thursday" for now and then change feel like a mom then, too!

You feel like a mom when you take a bath with a dinosaur.

And that's okay!  The graham cracker in your hair, the spit-up on your shoulder, the house smelling like poopy diapers, the sippy cups, the missing toothbrushes because the baby is a "klepto," the preschool crafts, the messy kitchen, the stinky fridge, and the dinosaur in the bath tub--it is all okay.  It's the "evidence" that you are a mom--and when you get right down to the nitty-gritty core of it, being a mom is pretty awesome-saurus!

Don't you extinct?...err, I mean, don't you think?!