Wednesday, September 30, 2009


It's taking a ridiculously long time to go through our PR-DR pics and write about everything (yeah, it's going to be a freakishly long post). So I've decided the best way to get it done is to stop working on it and blog about other stuff.
Today I got this little package in the mail from my mom. She's one of those people that frequently does extremely thoughtful and generous things for others - often being cute and creative in the process. Read the note (click on it to enlarge if you need to). Those who are aware of recent events will understand all the puns.
While I was reading this and going through other mail early this morning, Brianna ran off. She must have found her way into my bathroom and climbed on the toilet to access items in the cabinet.
This is exactly what I found her doing (excuse the tomato-sauce face - she likes raviolis for breakfast):

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just landed in Miami! Had an amazing trip. Only took a few dozen pics but look forward to a full write-up with crazy stories. It was all we wanted and more. Staying in Dallas tonight and driving from Phoenix home to Cedar tomorrow. I hope Brianna's not mad at us for being gone so long. Reallyreally missed her, but this adventure was worth it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just landed in Dallas. Flight to San Juan in twenty. On the flight here B commented that there was no one to share our peanuts with. That made me start crying. For the tenth time this morning. I miss my baby. But looking forward to drowning my sorrows away on the beaches of the DR!

Monday, September 21, 2009

So far...

Am I lame cuz I'm blogging during vacation? Maybe. But Brianna's napping, and I'm just hanging out at B&B's home in Gilbert. Flight leaves early tomorrow morn. So I might as well reduce the amount of blogging I have to do next week when we get back. Because I couldn't just NOT blog every minute detail of our lives, right? Right. Soooo.... here is our stop at Glen Canyon Dam by Lake Powell:

My B&b sitting in the back watching movies on the laptop (we bought a car charger for the laptop instead of a portable DVD player. Saved $80!) and eatting Veggie Chips from Costco.

Taking a morning swim in the Smith's pool.

[some creative cheesy caption]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brianna's in the back saying AHH DONE! I'm thinking that too after having to use gas station restroom. SickNast. We are leaving Flagstaff, or just FLAG as some locals say. Brian says it looks just like Spokane. He thinks every place with pines looks like Spokane.
Passed Kanab - holy cowboy town! Very cute Yee Haw. Stopped at Lake Powell. Saw the dam sights at Glen Canyon. Going thru Navajo land now. Sending mundane blog updates via text cuz I'm just. that. bored.
Fell asleep in car. Woke up on different planet. Went from gorgeous Fall-colored mountains to flat rocky desert. Ready to be done with sitting in car. 5 hours to left. Might go nuts.
Am I the only one who is a little OCDish bout leavin their home perfectly clean before leavin on a long trip? Stayed up til 1am packing and cleaning. Skipped Sunday School to walk home and pack more. Went back for RS though - I'm the new pianist! Favorite calling.
An hour into the drive. It's not too bad. Brianna sleeping. B and I playing Chat Pack question game (thanks mom and dad!) One question asked which ethnicity you'd choose to be. B said half Filipino half Black, raised in the ghetto so he could speak perfect Ebonics.
Passed Orderville. I'll never understand why people want to live somewhere so remote and isolated. Cute looking shops though. Brian said this town is where the last of the old polygamists hung out. I asked how he knew that. He said wife #4 told him.

I wish Brianna CAME with a manual like this...

*~*~Dear Becky and Brian~*~*

I can't thank you enough for being willing to take care of Brianna while we are on our trip. When you called us months ago and made the offer, we were a little dumbfounded - how could anyone be so generous?? Then we realized - it's just the way you roll. You're just the bestest nicest type of people on the planet, and you'll get major blessings for this. Or at least stronger arms from lifting both your chunker and our chunker around.
To make your time with our Brianna-banana a little easier (cuz as much as I hope and pray to the contrary, I know she'll have moments of serious poopiness - literally and figuratively) I am presenting here a Brianna-manual. I hope you don't take this as if you couldn't do this on your own, and don't already do a fabulous job with a tyke nearly the same age as Brianna... nonono, take this more as... I'm supernervous Brianna will drive you up the wall as she demolishes your home and exterminates your patience. So here are a few tips/tricks/norms for our munchkin...with a disclaimer: she normally deviates from her norms. She constantly changes her consistent patterns. So this is based off her most recent behavior. Like from yesterday. Let's begin with everyone's favorite thing for her to do:
SLEEP - Brianna usually wakes up around 7am. Big improvement from the former 6am arising. If you hear her before 6am crying - it's a fake-wake. Do not go get her or make any loud noises, and she'll fall back asleep within 5 minutes. If it goes on longer than 5 minutes, let your paranoid mind run wild about what could be wrong. That's what I do. She takes her nap around noon. It lasts 2-3 hours. Again - she almost always wakes up mid-nap and cries/screams for anywhere from 10-90 seconds. When she wakes up for rEaL, she's usually happy and jabbering. That's how I know she's totally rested and done. Brianna goes to bed around 8pm (which means starting the bedtime routine around 7 - she likes to play in the bathtub for a long time, so I bring a book). As far as routine... I TELL her she's going to have a nap or go to sleep for the night. She goes around the house saying "nite-nite" to everyone and everything. We say our prayers - she's good at folding her arms and bowing her head. For 10 seconds max. She sleeps with her white blanket - fluffy in the middle, silky on the edges. If you lose this blanket, the world is OVER. She wants to keep it with her ALL the time - I try not to let her. Especially outside - it gets dirty. She associates the blanket with SLEEP and comfort. You can also hold her/rock her and sing "I am a Child of God." She knows that's her bedtime song, so she usually gets sad hearing it. We rarely get through the first verse before she cries and arches her head back to be laid down.
EATING - Brianna is like a garbage disposal. That's an exaggeration - but really, she'll eat just about anything in any form. You know me - I don't give her junk food. So she's not used to sugary or fried crap. I could make a list of all her favorites... but really, she'll eat anything if she's hungry. If she's NOT hungry, you can't bribe her to eat. I try. She's stubborn. I don't know where she gets that from. I've packed a bunch of snacks for her - because she'll empty your cupboards fast. She's a big snacker. I probably give her something to eat every hour, during waking hours. She tends to eat really sloooow and get distracted. Sorry. Maybe I should be enforcing better meal-oriented eating habits. She's decent with using her special toddler-size fork and spoon - I'll pack those. The only thing she can't have is FRESH CITRUS. I think the acid hurts her bum on the way out. You'll be dealing with a very unhappy girl with a red bum. So oranges, pineapple, their juices... big no-no. Tiny amounts are ok. Speaking of liquids... Brianna won't drink milk. I've tried. If you can change that, I'll pay you. So she takes 2 calcium/vitamin D chewy vitamins each day. And she just drinks water and very diluted juice. And smoothies.
PLAYING - Brianna isn't the best at sharing. Good luck. I think she follows pretty typical toddler behavior in this area. She just needs to be distracted with another toy or activity. If she does something totally out of line - hitting, blatant disobedience, dangerous behavior... chose an arbitrary corner of your house to sit her in for a thirty second time out. Please explain to her as clearly as possible what she did wrong. I really feel like she understands what people say. And give her a big hug and kiss afterwards, even if she pushes you away. Speaking of hugs and kisses... Brianna requires at least 42 of them each day. And being regularly tickled and wrestled. She occasionally asks for a "ooo-vee" which means her movie - the only one she usually watches is her "Your Baby Can Read" series. Which - by the way - doesn't really work. She can't read. She mostly likes the animals on the screen and the instructions to do things (touch your toes, raise your arms, etc). We will bring those, and a couple of her favorite books. And her bathtime Nemo-colors book. And crayons - she loves to color, but tends to break her coloring tools.
DIAPER - We're working on potty training, but you don't have to. I'm not even bringing her mini potty, but I'll bring the toilet attachment. It saves you from having to wipe a bottom. She usually goes #2 within two hours of having breakfast (which is around 7:45 am - I try to delay it - I've heard this helps them sleep in longer, and it worked for us!) Then she typically has two more #2's during the day. It's not on any normal pattern, because it just depends on how much she eats, which varies everyday. It's always a very loose consistency - don't be worried. She'll tell you when she's about to do it, and after she's done it. She'll also inform you when she's tooted ("ah tooo-did!") which can preempt a poo. She doesn't say anything when she goes #1 - unless it was a LOT, then she'll say "ah wettt." We just went to Costco and purchased a big case of size 4's that we're bringing for her and Dean to share. Not literally, like sharing one diaper.... that'd be gross. Speaking of sharing - she's not sick and hasn't been for months. Maybe a year. She's pretty resilient. So don't worry about her sharing with Dean. She tends to steal sippy cups. Though we are bringing her special ones that she knows are hers.
CHURCH - She gets really excited about it. She loves Nursery at home, so she should do fine.
Just tell her that's where she's going.Hopefully your ward is 9-noon. Otherwise you'll have to try to adjust her nap somehow. She needs to wear nylons, or the underwear bottoms that go with her dress, or she can get bored and pull her diaper off. That's always fun.
SWIMMING- I know you have a pool, so watch out - she has NO fear. Also, she gets tired pretty quick after running around in the sun and playing in water. She might need some book-time or movie-time afterwards. I'm guessing that's the same as Dean.
TALKING - I'm glad we're going to be there with you guys for a day, so we can tell you what she's saying if you don't understand. She tends to get frustrated when she speaks and no one can tell what she's trying to communicate. She doesn't do r's or l's very well. Have her say "ravioli" - it comes out like "ah-ee-ooo-ee." If you don't get what she's saying, try to change the subject. If she's crying, ASK her "what do you want?" very clearly, making eye contact. She will usually calm down and tell you. Often the answer is "fooood" or "bank-eht" (blanket) or "ow-side" (outside) or "ooo-vee" (movie) or "toy." When she's in the right mood, she really likes "performing." Ask her all the animal sounds, facial expressions (mad, sad, surprised, happy), ask her to sing, cough, scream, laugh - those are all pretty funny. Ask her to say her alphabet - sometimes she can get all the way through (with a jumbled-up "nenenoooP" in the middle). She can count to about 19, minus a few numbers she feels are unnecessary. Like 4 and 12. If she doesn't want something, she will say "ahh done." If she's not responded to quickly, this can escalate to "AHHHH DONE! AHHH DUUUUUHHHNE!"

If anyone's wondering why I'm putting this all on the's doubling as a monthly update (which I haven't been doing very well)! So that was her 19.5 month update. My main request is that she's alive when we come back. Anything extra is bonus. We'll be leaving you with enough cash to cover carpet cleaning.
LOVE you guys MUCHO! Again.... can't thank you enough. See you tonight!

We have a loooong drive to do

Saturday, September 19, 2009

We're really lucky to have Brian's aunt and uncle in St. George to watch Brianna while we temple. Today I told Debra how excited Brianna was to go see her again. Debra said "oh yeah, it's easy - we just load her up with lemonade and popcorn and she's real happy."
Meredith just called to tell me she got a $124 ticket for talking on her cell phone while driving. She called me while she was driving.

Seat's taken.

I think I figured out how to use our scanner. But it's still a bit blurry:

caption: "All alone in my Dora jammies on my Dora couch."

Friday, September 18, 2009

spare the rod, spoil the child?

I've officially initiated the time-out punishment program. Yesterday was Brianna's first time being sat down in the corner while we counted to thirty. Then we talked about what she did, hugged, and made amends. I'm not sure if she's old enough to understand. She definitely does not like being put in the corner for that long (we count to 30 pretty slowly - she tries to get up and I hold her down). She seems quite relieved at the end of the punishment to get hugged. She says sorry and helps clean up. I hope I'm doing this right.
I'd love to hear what other parents do.
I asked Brian how he was punished as a child, and he said he honestly can't remember ever being punished. Just allowed to do whatever he wanted.
I remember being grounded and having "privileges" taken away (lots of them), but I don't think Brianna's ready for that concept. I think I was spanked once, and chose to pretend it actually hurt so I could be done.
(if you're curious - yesterday's time-out was a consequence of her opening the front door and running straight out into the middle of the street, and today she threw her pieces of cantaloupe on the floor after I told her to stop. Devious child, I know).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

hate is a strong word, I guess.

  • Dontcha hate it when you're reading the Seriously, So Blessed blog and TAMN mocks a stereotypical mormon mommy behavior in her satirical posts that you're totally guilty of?
  • Dontcha hate it when you're reading someone's blog, and all the comments are reader's personal stories trying to one-up the story from the blog? (don't worry - not referring to anyone who reads/comments on this blog. As IF you COULD one-up me!)
  • Dontcha hate it when your visiting teaching session hits the 30 minute mark and everyone starts making inconspicuous glances at a clock, yet no one makes any definitive move to end the visit...
  • Dontcha hate it when your clothes mysteriously shrink...coincidentally a couple weeks after two family reunions...
  • Dontcha hate it when someone uses the same phrase to begin each sentence in a relatively inconsequential list of trivial vents?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We are in the car going to SLC. Brianna is supposed to be asleep. B turned on the radio. Brianna started shaking her arms in the air and saying "I dancing! I dancing!"

Monday, September 14, 2009

No offense, Brianna...

Brian and I are starting to get really psyched about this vacation next week. We were talking about details last night (since we have NO itinerary, besides the temple in Santo Domingo and a car rental with National), and we realized... we get to go OUT at night. We get to sleep in. We can can fit everything we need in carry-ons. The only nap times we have to worry about are our own. We can take those naps on the beach...or just wander around the mountains... we can do whatever, whenever.
I'm going to miss Brianna like crazy (I get anxiety just thinking about the separation)... but this week of freedom is overwhelmingly exciting.


I can't find my camera. [frowny face]. And I don't wanna blog more of my random thoughts and writings, sans pictures. And I couldn't possibly just NOT blog... psshht. So I'm taking this opportunity to figure out how to use our scanner. We got one of those all-in-one Epsons for free when we bought our camera, and I haven't bothered to play with it til now. I probably would have if I actually paid for it. Isn't it interesting how our level of appreciation of an object is directly proportional to what we paid for it? Sometimes. Or maybe that's just me.
aNyWaYs... here is test run #1. I scanned these pics of my sisters.... well, minus Sam. She always refuses to travel to family events, I don't get it. I ask her why and she just yells at me.
Photo #1 is at Becky's wedding in AZ, 2005. Photo #2 is on Laie Point, circa 2003. I need to figure out how to get rid of the white area, and how to enlarge. Help??

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cuz I wanna win

This is a contest entry for those crazy folks at TodaysMama and Cricut. Be sure to check out Cricut's cool new cartridges and the chance at $30,000 in travel for you and your friends at the Great Gypsy Escape site.

Great Escape Meme
1. If you could escape to anywhere in the world where would it be? Australia. Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef is on my Bucket List.
2. What song do you play when you are by yourself in the car? In the car... by myself? I don't recall that happening in the last 19 months... but in my previous life, I do remember a lot of Josh Groban. "Awake" is my favorite of his.
3. If you had a night to yourself, and money was no object, what would you do? My initial answer involved crazy adventures like skydiving and that flying-squirrel thing people are getting into... but then I felt guilty. If money was no object, I'd have to spend the night doing some altruistic humanitarian venture. Save whales, starving orphans, etc.
4. What is your guilty pleasure? Loaves of homemade bread. Yes, entire loaves (plural). With honey. But I don't feel as guilty about it as I should.
5. What is the farthest place you have traveled away from your home? Philippines. I think that's farther away than Denmark or France.
6. Last book that you couldn't put down? Wheels on the Bus. I couldn't put it down because Brianna wouldn't let me. She kept saying "again!"
7. When you want to escape into another time, what movie do you watch? The back of my eyelids. I'd rather nap than watch a movie.
8. What is your favorite local escape? The gym. Definitely. Brianna loves the childcare; I love pump class... it's a win-win.
9. How do you escape on a budget? You shouldn't escape on a Budget. You escape with Enterprise! (I'm so clever and cheesy, I know).
10. Best food you've ever had while on vacation? On my three year vacation on Oahu... those purple potatoes in Hawaii at the PCC. They're some sort of yam or sweet potato. I've never found them since and don't even know their real name. The Polys said they're taro, but I don't think that's correct. We'd buy them at the leftover sale in the back of the PCC at 9pm for 25 cents a pound. Especially awesome next to the pineapples. I ate several platefuls.

I tag: everyone that wants to win a Cricut too.
[post edited per Nonny's request] Brianna got her first haircut. Not with our permission. She looks like Lloyd Christmas.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yes, finally

I don't know how unique or noteworthy these are... but Brianna has reached a few milestones lately that I think may be worth recording:

-She has started responding YES and nodding up and down when I ask her if she wants a particular item or activity. She used to just repeat the word if she wanted it.
-She now says "uh-uh" and shakes her head if she doesn't want it. She used to just say no. Maybe this is actually a regression though...
-She walks around the house singing to herself. Typically the alphabet song, or TwinkleTwinkleLittleStar.
-When the doorbell rings, she runs to it and opens the door and says "HI!" This was a little awkward today because she was diaperless (we're working on potty training).
-She climbs into her booster chair and buckles herself into it. And refuses to eat until she's totally buckled in.

-Brianna is doing much better with using correct pronouns. We work on this often because I think it's ridiculous when kids say things like, "you want lunch" (when they mean I )or "us go outside." Brianna has started saying "carry me" and "I did it" and "your shoes" and "I broke it" (I hear that one often). I also avoid talking in third person because, again - I think it's ridiculous. Like at the park when I heard a mom say to her kid, "Mommy wants Johnny to stop throwing dirt." Then the kid learns to say stuff like "Johnny likes Johnny's big boy bike." Really cool. Not.
Chelsea says sorry to blog reader if offended.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I've never had better neighbors. They've taught me what "southern hospitality" means. Deborah and Tom are from Alabama. They bought the home next to us a few years ago (their third home) because they "just want a lil place out west." From the day we knocked on their door to introduce ourselves, they've been inviting us over, feeding us, playing with Brianna, letting us borrow things we didn't even know we wanted to borrow...
These pics are from last weekend when they invited Brianna and I to join them at the fair. They were so disappointed that the rides hadn't opened yet, because they were ready to buy a bucketful of tickets for Brianna.

But the petting zoo was open:
Brianna was crazy about the "buneeez," "titkens," and " "seep." She would've stayed all day.
Deborah lured her away with some toys she bought for Brianna at the booths:
Then they were so excited to see these "lil doll houses!"
I told her to say "cock a doodle doo!" I wish I could type the way she said it... twas pretty funny.

But even more funny was how excited she got - not at the dog - but at the BOW in the dog's hair. Cuz she has the same one. She said, "MINE!"
More than all the treats and kindness... I'm most grateful they helped wear her out for the day:
They've invited us to use their condo on the beach in Pensacola. Think we should take them up on it?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Name That Food....Season V

If you are unfamiliar with this game, please see NTF Season I,
or IV

Monday, September 7, 2009


I haven't done a lot of blog-writing (versus video/pic posting), and that's no good cuz I don't keep a journal (nor scrapbook. I know, I'm such an unrighteous slacker). So I will write about today, which deserves be written 'bout, cuz it was totally ideal (well, barring surrealistic options, like snorkeling the Caymans or winning the Olympic trial marathon). I accidentally left the camera at home, which perhaps was a good thing. It's easier to enjoy the day if I don't have to worry about remembering to document it. So let's begin at the very beginning: 6:22 am, the child awoke. It was Brian's turn. So I slept in til 7:30. Bliss. He even took her OUTside, so I didn't have to hear her (sweet, precious) loud chattering. We headed out to Parowan for the Iron County Fair 5K. I ran a 19:29 and felt pretty good. Most of the course was downhill, which helped a lot. I won two gift cards - one for the local (ridiculously expensive) grocery store, and one for a cute little bookstore called Berries and Books. I got a gift for....someone (haven't decided yet), and a smoothie called Berry Manilow for B and b to share. They put fresh blueberries and pomegranate seeds in it! We ran into the Gunns, Niles, and Clausons at the parade we stayed after for. Brianna was thoroughly entertained (over-stimulated?) by all the floats and crazy people chucking candy. We walked up Main Street for almost 2 hours, stopping at the various sales. I religiously believe in supporting local entrepreneurs, which translates into buying a lot of homemade goods and items from yardsales. At one charity fundraiser I found a pair of crocs I had been wanting! And another one had an elderly lady sitting by boxes of peaches with a FREE sign on them. I wasn't shy. Nor was I shy about the free cucumbers being given out at a bakesale. Also bought a scrunchy for Brianna from a lady crocheting them. We headed home around noon for Brianna to take a nice long nap (almost 3 hours!) during which Brian watched a movie we bought at a yardsale (Cats and Dogs - cute show) and I did computer time. Blogging, FB, Ebay shopping... then spent an hour making the house look a tornado did NOT hit it. Brianna woke up and we headed to the St. George oven for a Going-Away BBQ with ERAC people. The manager of the St. George branch - Mike - is moving to Idaho. I'm sad - I really liked his wife. We got together a few times. The park we had the BBQ at was totally empty - I can't imagine why. Possibly the 98 degree weather. Brianna's little cheeks were bright red, and she drank more water in those few hours there than she does during most 24 hour periods. But she kept begging, "SIDE!" (slide) and "SING!" (swing). I brought marinated thick zucchini slices to throw on the grill, which were a hit. I was really surprised, honestly. I figured it was just another one of those weird things only I do. Brian really enjoyed hanging out with his Enterprisers. Seriously, I don't think I know any guy who likes his job as much as Brian does. He loves to talk car rental. After the party we hit Big 5. I had a gift card I had been meaning to spend, and we don't have a Big 5 in Cedar. So we bought a mini air hockey table, the Ultimate ProGym in a Bag set, Spenco inserts to hopefully help cure my plantar fasciitis, and an ankle brace for B so he doesn't kill himself playing basketball every week. Then we went drove home, playing silly songs with Brianna the whole way to keep her awake. We all went to bed at a decent hour.
So there it is - my idea of an ideal day.

Bathtime video, co-starring cousin Ali

Halfway through this <1 min video, these little girls do something they might be embarrassed about in the future.

ps - this video features toddler nudity, only partially hidden by bathwater. If you're one of those uptight people who finds this abhorrent, you don't have to watch this. Or even read my blog. I promise, you never have to.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Smith party at Priest Lake

We spent 5 days with most of my family at Priest Lake, ID in a cabin we we rented from Bonnie Bell - a longtime friend. We played, swam, dove, grilled, puked, read, Nintendoed, Balderdashed, bonfired, kayaked, pushup-contested (I got 31 but lost), canoed, trailran, gourmet-snacked, hiked, boated, checkered, stargazed, islandexplored, bee-killed, and shared a twin bed (ever tried doing that? It's...cozy.). Also baptized two nieces in the lake... sweet huh...too bad I missed that part. Had to leave early and return to Zion for the McKell reunion. More on that later.

Oh, and before all this fun began... Brian, Becky and I escaped to Nordstrom Rack to finish off our Christmas gift card. Love that place. It was a good thing Becky was there - she helped rid me of my indecisiveness. By getting really mad at me. Thank you Becky. See ya in just 15 days! I'm really anxious for our big trip.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One of her favorite games:

She throws her blanket over her head and
says "ehzz beana?"
(translation: where's Brianna)

Then she pulls the blanket down and says "eh ah am!" (here I am!)