Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Brianna's Buddies

They're dressed up as "Frozen" characters, they said.
Brianna has some great gal-pals here in Bountiful. As do I.
This is the hardest part about moving - leaving these wonderful people we've come to love.
I'm not too worried about myself - I can keep in touch with amigos pretty easily. Thank you FB and blogs.
But for Brianna... I just hope and pray she'll make excellent new friends in her new school/ward/neighborhood. Friends have SUCH a HUGE influence on children.

"Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will lead you in one direction or the other. Everybody wants friends. Everybody needs friends. No one wishes to be without them. But never lose sight of the fact that it is your friends who will lead you along the paths that you will follow. While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you. They will be your safeguards in situations where you may vacillate between choices, and you in turn may save them." -Gordon B. Hinckley

LLL Love

I'm just barely getting off my Lactation Helper's High. Last night was awesome - I got to help teach our semi-annual Breastfeeding Twins class at LDS Hospital. We've been doing this for a couple years, and it's been fantastic. And by fantastic - I mean crazy. Just crazy. Some women show up with their itty bitty newborn twins, and need triage care ASAP. Some show up in a daze, having just discovered they're pregnant with twins. They may or may not be happy about that. Some show up with their husbands, who have a grumpy I-don't-wanna-be-here glare. Some women show up with that look themselves. It's such a tricky balance leading a discussion that emphasizes the facts while presenting them with tact. Oftentimes people are easily offended, especially with breastfeeding being a sensitive topic for some. But I hope we drove home the SOCO that LLL is here to help families with THEIR breastfeeding goals, whatever those may be. We provide support and information. We genuinely want to help those who WANT help. And I get an overwhelming happiness from the times I'm able to do that. It makes up for all the times I come short of providing the help needed.... because I still have so much to learn! I'm looking forward to checking out LLL of Spokane and seeing if there is a place there where I can serve. (But not right away - gotta get settled in and buy a home first :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chia seed jam

I'm so excited to have a healthier, yummier, and less expensive alternative to store bought jam!

Fruit, honey, chia seeds, food processor, done.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sisters. Pink. Happy.

Barley Treats

Despite how non-appetizing that title may sound, these were seriously delicious.
Organic puffed barley, coconut oil, and marshmallows. A healthier and yummier version of rice crispy treats.

Couzin Kellie

I'm so grateful Lindsay came to help me pack last week. Biggest lifesaver ever. And so fun to be w/ mah sistah! She got SO MUCH done!!
I had to sacrifice one evening with her though, so she could go hangout w/ her favorite cousin Kellie.
Why does the baby look bigger than Kellie here??

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grandma wanted to braid my hair...

And when grandma wants to do something, you just let her!

I will miss my Sunday visits with Grandma. Definitely feeling guilty for leaving her. I'll probably stop by just once more before we leave. It will be very sad.



oh, and we are moving to Washington in 6 days.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Candy hunt in backyard w/ Grandpa

Grandpa's been visiting more now that he knows we're really leaving. He hid the candy around the yard and the kids had fun searching for it. This is proof the kids CAN *find things* if they're motivated enough!

My last Bountiful Nickel Auction [sniffsniff]

I volunteered to host, for obvious reasons....SO MUCH STUFF!

I will miss my nickel auctions!! I wonder if I can get one going in Spokane...

Friday, April 18, 2014


I love GOING to yard sales.... but I do not love hosting one! So much work!
It's been worth it for us with the chunka-change I've made....but man - busybusy!!
Though I have enjoyed seeing my belongings go to friends and neighbors that want it. Everything has been given away free or super cheap to my ward family, and that feels good to do.
What will feel even better is when it's all GONE!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Post-French-Braid hair

Lindsay did 2 tight braids and I left them in for 2 days.
This is how my hair looked hours after taking them out!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oh, this boy.....

His cheesy smile melts me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Treasures from Boondocks

I hosted a ward Nickel Auction a couple weeks ago, so Brian took the kids out for that evening.
They returned with these lovely additions to our way-too-full playroom.
Apparently they got lucky, and a bunch of teens were at Boondocks on a group date and decided to give the cute kids with the single dad all their tickets!

Monday, April 7, 2014


These were taken over a year ago, but I just found them.
I'm pretty sure I never posted it, and I'm pretty sure my blog would be incomplete without it!! So cute.
However, I don't want to give the impression that we're the Huggies-elitist type.  We buy whatever diapers I can get for the best price. Generally that ends up being store brands. Cuz seriously... they're just going to poop in them. And my kids don't have crazy sensitive skin that requires the purchase of diapers 3x more expensive.
And there I just blew my chance of getting the Huggies company to pay me for this free promotional blog post....

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Baby Shower for Jami

We headed down to Spanish Fork Saturday for a baby shower for Brian's brother Mark's wife Jami. (whew, mouthful). It was scheduled between General Conference sessions, kindof awkwardly, so we missed a little of the morning and afternoon. But I'm so grateful that the messages are so easily accessible now immediately after GC.  Someday I'll be telling my grandkids, "back when I was your age, we had to wait until the following month's Ensign magazine to hear the conference sessions! And we had to drive all the way to the Stake Center to watch them live!" Kinda crazy, huh?

So the shower was fun. I reallyreally enjoyed catching up with a few of Brian's relatives - Aunt Brenda especially. She has to be one of the kindest people alive.
Charity is lucky- she will have two girl cousins close to her same age on the McKell side!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A necklace for Charity

A paper-chain necklace, that is.

Made by a proud big sister. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 baby

I'm sure I already posted this.... but I just love this picture!

The morning crew

This is what a work-from-home mom looks like....

Have you ever seen anything sexier in your life??!!

*Photography credit: Brianna O. McKell

*Hair and makeup credit: my bed pillow 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I have ratty hair sometimes...

She grabs, clenches, and twists!!
And it seriously makes my hair gross cuz she does it with her little fists that she's usually just slobbered on.  
So I wear my hair UP 95% of the time.
Brianna took this picture - she has a fascination with my camera on my phone.
Guessing that will only increase with time!

Seriously though...I adore my hair-grabbing-chubby-baby-monkey. I want to munch on her all day. Minus nap times. I love nap times so very much.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

That one time my parents almost died from CO poisoning

I received a call early in the morning from my sister in Spokane as she was racing over to our parent's home following a bizarre call from our mom. Meredith said mom was crying and moaning and was difficult to understand and was saying, "I can't move my body at all. I can't dial 911. Call 911. Get over here quick, something is wrong....."
I'm so grateful they got there in time and got my family OUT!

The scene in front of their home, from Mere's phone camera.
We talked about the possibilities - bizarre virus? Flu? E. Coli? Food Poisoning? Panic attack?  I hung up and tried Dad and Mom. No answer. I called Lindsay in Seattle. She used her other phone and called mom, who answered, and was now sobbing and totally incoherent. Lindsay told me to hang up and call Mere and be sure Mere calls 911 right away. Mere did, but arrived at our parent's home to find a fire truck and ambulance already there.  I texted all my siblings and told them to start praying for mom and dad and Lily.
 Soon Meredith called me and told me the cause of it all - carbon monoxide poisoning.  I gasped - totally shocked. I had just told them a few weeks ago - via email - that they needed CO detectors in their home. I shared with them the story of the family in Idaho who all died from CO poisoning in their sleep. Mom said they didn't have detectors. I told them to get some. I found out later that dad soon went out and bought them... but hadn't installed them yet.
Two days in the hospital, three 3-hr treatments in the hyperbaric chambers.
The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent receiving updates from Meredith on my parent's condition.
 I stayed with her on the phone as she was driving behind the ambulance taking my parents to Deaconess Hospital. She was frustrated that she couldn't keep up with the ambulance and they specifically told her not to speed. She described how she watched the fireman carry mom and Lily out of the house, and assist Dad walking out.
Princess Lily, enduring a lot of pokes and tubes.  
And how they went in to rescue the cat.  The cat??!  We don't have a cat... oh wait, the fireman quickly found out he rescued a very life-like FAKE cat :)
The reading on the house:  760ppm (parts per million). A home shouldn't ever be over 30ppm. Yeah, THIRTY. And theirs was at 760.
After Mere got to the hospital and everyone was admitted and starting their treatments to get the CO out of their bodies.... I realized it was time to tell the world. For attention? Hardly. My parents wouldn't appreciate unnecessary attention, especially my Dad. But I knew they WOULD appreciate the opportunity to warn others, so they could help prevent this happening to anyone else.
"Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor."  - D&C 88:81

So I posted it about it on Facebook, saying, "Early this morning, my mom used her last ounce of strength to tell Siri to call 911. If she hadn't, my parents and niece likely would've died today from carbon monoxide poisoning. PEOPLE - make sure you and everyone you know have working CO detectors in your homes.
I was pleasantly surprised at the response! Lots of people sent their sympathies and shared in the relief that my fam survived. But even more important - so many told me that they ordered their CO detectors that very day. Or they went and checked the battery on their existing detectors. Many "Shared" my post with all of their friends, reminding and warning them of the dangers of carbon monoxide. So amazing - the power of social media - saving lives.
I had the whim thought to contact the local Spokane news station and inform them that they have 3 Spokanites who are lucky to be alive after a near fatal CO poisoning incident.   Too dramatic? Well, it's the TRUTH!  Fortunately, they jumped at the story and went and interviewed Meredith and my parents and Lily at the hospital. Meredith said my parents were initially reluctant to go on camera, but by the end, actually seemed to get a kick out of it. Krem 2 aired the story twice - the morning news and evening news. I'm really glad I contacted them! Maybe saving MORE lives!
Watch the Krem 2 News story HERE. 
Since then, Mom said she has been "recognized" around town a little.  Oh, my celebrity survivor parents...  :)
Lily FINALLY got to go home from the hospital!
Her pneumonia was scary and makes me grateful
for modern medicine. Poor girl has been thru a lot!
Seriously though... can I thank God enough for saving them from this??!
They reallyreallyreally could've died this day.
So easily. They were minutes away.
 I could have LOST my PARENTS.
I'm so too young for that.
And for Meredith to lose her parents and daughter... unfathomable.  Maybe we don't even fully realize how close it was. They surely had angels with them.

Heavenly Father gave us the greatest gift - more years with these wonderful people.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Out with the old, in with the new - BLANKIE!

From birth to age 5, Brianna had a strong attachment to her white fuzzy blanket. Well, it started off white and fuzzy. It got worse and worse as time went on. I would sneak it away to wash it whenever I could, but it got tattered and smelly and gray. But she loved it the same. So very much. Looking back, I realize her attachment to this object might have been a consequence of my early misguided efforts to parent differently than I do now (darn those babywise - babyunwise - books!!) If only I could go back and tell my first-time-mom-self what to stop worrying about. Like everything. And just enjoy my baby.
Anyway, so over these 5 yrs of blankie obsession, many attempts have been made to rid her of the gross looking blanket. Her grandma McKell offered many many times to take her shopping for a new one. Or sew her a new one. She tried to tell her how yucky the old blankie was and how pretty a new one would be. Brianna always stood her ground and defended HER blanket. And I had her back. I would've let her take that thing to college if it made it that long (the seams were coming apart). Again, probably because I felt guilty the attachment even happened. Ugh. Those baby books need a disclaimer addendum, "warning: you might look back at these unnatural approaches to sleeping and sorely regret being unresponsive to your child's needs."
SO - the shock of all shocks came when one day, a few months ago, Brianna announced she wanted to get a new blanket! I didn't believe her. The next day, again, she asked to go shopping for a new blankie. And again the next day.
I tested her, "okaaaay, but then we'd have to get rid of your old blankie."
She said that was fine.
Part of me was elated - no more nasty blanket in my home!! No more trying to bleach it and seeing it drug everywhere and watching it get grosser.
Another part of me was crushed. My baby is growing up!!
So we went to the child clothing section at Smith's and found this cute fuzzy animal print blanket. $9.
Brianna helped me cut the old blanket into rags. She showed no remorse.
She's definitely not a baby anymore!

Papa Visit

  So glad dad's here! He's in town for his mom's 91st bday.

My kids loved every second of their Papa's stay with them. Courtney repeatedly offered to let him share her room, and even graciously got out the extra crib-sized mattress for him.

Mom and Lily were supposed to come along, but Lily was in the hospital with pneumonia. My Dad felt guilty for coming anyway, but it's good that he did - all his other siblings were in town and it meant a lot to my grandma to have all her kids here. 
I got to watch my Dad and his brothers say goodbye to each other Sunday night, with a group hug featuring gorilla noises.  Very touching. 

Dad was a superstar here - he fixed our swing set, a broken folding chair, and a desk. His visit also motivated me to get the house clean, which is my favorite result of having guests over. 
PLEASE - family - come visit me so I'm motivated to make my house look prettier!  :) 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I should be banned from the kitchen.

WHY, MUFFINS, WHYYYY???!!! Every single time.... burnt on the outside, mushy on the inside! Could my oven be hating on me? Could it be the muffin pan itself? Maybe the result of too much modifying the recipe? (started w/ a basic almond flour muffin, then monkeyed around with the receipe a lot). Should I lower the temp from 350 to..... ?? Ugh. Help.

The good news is that they taste great and we are enjoying eating out the middles with a spoon 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I like having the home that the neighborhood kids come to play at :)

Alexis, Elena, Analyn, and Josh joined my 3 for an exciting game of Princess Bingo.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's starting to grow out a little.

Courtney's first hair cut. Warning: sad story.

I've procrastinated this blog post for a long time now, because this is was a painful experience to go through, and the stabs of heartache and anger and exasperation come back each time I relive the ordeal.
Courtney and Brianna decided to play barbershop.
The results were horrific.
Fortunately, it happened at 6pm, so I could send them straight to bed and deal with my emotions on my own. Fortunately for THEM, that is. They didn't have to suffer from the furious outburst I was on the verge of lashing out at them with. By the next morning, I was cooled off and prepared with a more appropriate consequence.

I'll never understand what was going on in Brianna's head.  She's 6 years old. That sounds so young, yet to do something like THIS... I'm almost certain she is old enough to know better. She had to have realized she was doing something very very wrong. But she was overly tired from a full day of activity, and I was in the other room getting work done, so she could have been feeling ignored.  So yes - I feel some mama guilt here. It was one of those nights I was ready to hit SEND on that email draft quitting my job. Cuz I don't NEED to work. I don't need to have a part time job - not financially, and not for personal fulfillment. I'd be cool with my world without the Marketing Director title in it. And I resent the occasional times when I have to get stuff done while my kids are awake and I'd rather be with them. I need to be with them. I need to be present to prevent crap like this from happening!
So. Anyways.  I'm a terrible story teller, aren't I?  I keep jumping around out of chronological order. But it's all blur in my head anyway since it's been so long. I remember staying up late that night, unable to sleep. I was crying. I couldn't look at Courtney without bursting into tears. I had to have Brian put her to bed, because I didn't want her to think she looked ugly.  Because while she's always beautiful to me.... it was about the ugliest hair possible. Whereas before, she had such pretty wavy beach-hair. So innocent and untouched and natural. But maintaining Courtney's self-esteem was definitely a priority.
The next morning at the hairdressers, I had to convince her that now she had a "pixie cut - like the fairies! Fairy hair! So lucky!!"  When in reality, I strongly dislike pixie cuts. 98% of pre-graying women look better with long hair than short, IMO.
So who paid for this emergency trip to the hairdresser? Brianna. She got to empty her piggy bank and hand it over. That wasn't enough to cover it, so she got to do chores. Lots of them.
Part 2 of her consequence:  she has to SERVE her sister, to pay for the meanness and harm done. Her service:  making her sister's bed. Every day. Every SINGLE DAY - until the hair grows back! That's right - until Courtney's hair is back to it's previous length. Some have questioned my ability to enforce this for such a time period. Well, it's been over a month, and we haven't missed a day. Brianna knows that if I have to REMIND her, then she also gets to make Bennett's bed. So she's pretty good about doing it everyday, first thing.
I understand there are worse things in the world that can happen to a 3 yr old. Far worse. I read the news enough to hear of the various tragedies that occur with children.
But this was pretty darn devastating to me. It's been of a small condolence to hear the stories of empathy coming in from all sides - everyone seems to have had a hair cutting catastrophe in their family at some point. What's with kids and scissors?! Sheesh. Those tools of disaster are now hidden away in our home.
I hope this the LAST horror hair story for our family. Ever. It was no fun at all.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bennett's fresh spinach protest

He says, "No! I not eat leaves on my hambooger, leaves are for da trees in the backyard!!"

He will not win. He will soon learn to give in and eat the spinach, like his Dad does now. I will prevail. The spinach will be eaten!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Taxes schmaxes

Every year.
So time consuming.
Papers, receipts, documents, questions, emails, numbersnumbersnumbers...

Shoot me now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bumbo baby

She likes her cute purple seat....but only for 10-ish minutes.
Then she wants out, and back to her ultimate fav position: being held.
All the time.
Preferably with my undivided attention.
All the time.
Too much to ask?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kite day!

I love it when Brianna notices the wind blowing hard and announces, "It's a KITE day!!"
Then we drop everything and grab the giant butterfly (killer yardsale find!) and get it up in the sky!
Utah wind isn't ideal for kite flying - not like typical coastline wind - constant and steady. This wind is freakish, coming and going sporadically. So we have to just take what we can get!

PS - I have to stay off Facebook today. It's St. Patrick's Day, and everyone is posting picture of all the cute holiday themed activities they're doing with their children. And I feel mama guilt for doing nothing but putting green shirts on them. It's not so simple to do typical St. Patrick's Day festivities when you don't believe in using conventional green food dye or giving crap to your kids to eat. That's no excuse - there are lots of healthy, fun holiday traditions I could be starting.  Maybe next year?!!

Mud hiking

I sent Brian off with the kids to do a "nature walk" while I had my Sunday visit with Grandma.
Unfortunately he took them to a trail that was more MUD than anything else.
They had fun, and that's great. But I did NOT have fun cleaning up their nasty clothes afterwards. So time consuming.
I hate to be "THAT" mom, who doesn't embrace the dirtiness and celebrate them living up their childhood.... but really, can't they be one with nature in a less messy way?!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making a difference

I love the "Mother's Lounge" at church. As much as I'm an unabashed advocate of freedom to nurse in public and the tremendous importance of normalizing that, I love the lounge. Kick in a recliner, listen to the speakers via intercom, chat with the other moms, feed my baby. It's great.
But we've got a prob in our ward: more mama-baby nursing teams than cozy recliners and lounge space.
So last week I took it upon myself to politely inform the bishop and first counselor and RS Pres of the situation.
And this week, what do I find?
A new room for us!
Recliners are on the way, and hopefully the big HD flat screen, water fountain, and free stocked vending machine I requested. But we'll see....I wouldn't wanna seem TOO demanding....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Biggest Loser Bountiful Winners!

Our ten week competition ended today! I'm so glad I took the leap and pioneered this back in January.
I was so nervous that I wouldn't get enough people to join.
But we had 25 people sign up and pay their $10!
So today that $250 pot was split between 2 winners: highest body weight percentage lost: Steve Tanner, 15.75%. And the person who lost the highest percentage of their body fat: Brian McKell, 18%! Down from 26 to 21. I'm so proud of both of them! And Steve's wife is thrilled.
I'm personally proud of my results too- 9% body weight lost, 15% of my body fat percentage lost. I'm 5lbs from pre-preg weight, 15ish from goal. I definitely didn't take full advantage of this contest, but I made better choices than I would've without it, for sure!
I knew we'd likely get some of the participants dropping out, but it was shocking how many: we only had 9 come to the finale! Everyone else fizzled out over the 10 weeks. Why??? We had weekly prizes, a blog and emails and facebook group page for communication....sad. Wish I could've helped everyone! But it was fun, and I'm so glad we did it. I'm really grateful to Four Pillar Fitness for letting us use their facility each Saturday and their high-tech body fat scanner. They're great.
Now it's over - back to my fudge icecream and pizza!! ;)