Friday, December 30, 2011

Yummy Neighbors

Lindsay and I saw these weirdos on our run this morning.
Not sure what they are - bison maybe?
If  so, I know for a fact they'd make excellent jerky.

Musical Memories

Nothing makes ya feel old like seeing a piano and realizing you've been playing it for over 20 years.

I'm so glad my parents encouraged me to start lessons, and discouraged me from ever quitting. Even though I hardly ever practiced - thus I'm not half as good as I should be, for having played so long - I'm grateful for what I can do. It's fun sitting down and going through old music books, playing Christmas songs, accompanying hymns...  And taking advantage of the "player piano" - putting scrolls in there and pretending I'm the awesome pianist. Nothing matches the sound of a good acoustic piano. 
Calling dibs!  Hopefully someday I'll be the one to inherit this old (40+yrs!) piano and my kids will play it too. 


Birthday lunch with Ninsy!
I lovelove Greek food - don't you? That Mediterranean yumminess makes me want to yell OPA! and dance around with fat happy people.

Seriously though, I'm glad I got to hang out with my sis Lindsay on her bday and the few days prior. I don't get a lot of sister interaction these days, so it's awesome for me to get this QT. 
Sisters are the people who know ALLLL about you... and STILL love you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You'd cry too if your parents accidentally left you at a restaurant.

I was going to just leave this post with the subject and the photo, thinking it's pretty self-explanatory.   And.... well, obviously, it's not something I want to brag about.  Leaving your child somewhere.... not only embarassing, but it really gave me the sickest feeling and great panic attack I've had in a long time.

It's the classic story - big family group at a restaurant  (Red Robin for Cougar's 7th birthday party), drove in 2 separate cars (actually 3, since Maria joined us), and I thought Brian left with her while he thought she was with us. There were car seats in both cars for the kids, so it was perfectly logical. Fortunately on the way home, he called and asked how the babies were doing - I said fine, and how's Brianna - he said he didn't have her - and that's when the panic attack started. I called RR and they said they had a very sad little girl there waiting for us.  When we pulled up, I spotted her happily playing with a balloon the manager gave her. But as soon as she saw me, she burst into the saddest sobbing.  Of course she blamed her parents for leaving her - nevermind that she had slipped over to the restaurant's arcade as we were going out the door.  Honestly I'm glad this happened - it was an important lesson learned with no major damage done. The lesson?  Keep children on leashes at all times.


One of the top five items on my Spokane-trip bucket lists is to go on a run on the road behind Cat Tales Zoological Park, cut over the railroad tracks, and peek behind the zoo's fence. It's fun to surprise the big kitties and get their reactions. They're such amazingly beautiful creatures.
Then as I run the few miles home, I picture the newspaper headlines, "Tiger Attacks Taunting Trespassing Runner."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


After nearly 7 years apart, I finally got to see my childhood best friend again! The last time we were together was at my wedding! But really - as soon as she showed up and we started chatting, it was like no time had passed. We have very different lives now, even more than before - different circumstances and personalities, different beliefs and ideas - but we love and care about each other a lot, and I'm very sure we'll always stay connected.  And now the fact that Bennett has a huge crush on her....I told him just to wait another 30 years, and their age different won't be a big deal at all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mall Rats.

The Lizard store at Northtown Mall is awesome!  If it were there back when I was in JrHigh/HS and thought it was sooooo cool to waste hours and hours wandering the mall.... I probably would've wasted even more hours there.

Isn't that big purple guy insane looking?!


Ridiculous photo of me, I know, but this was the group shot from Mom's treat to her girls - pedicures! I looooove getting my toes/feet done. Of course I'm too cheap to pamper myself, so I only get this luxury when I'm with my mama+sisters.  So fun.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Just the thought of surviving a two hour flight with two toddlers and a preschooler on Christmas Eve made had me on the verge of an anxiety attack for weeks prior to this trip. But it ended up not being so bad.
Kept them totally under control on the flight. Ha.
Seriously, it helped to have them dressed cute. It elicited much more sympathy than if they had been in their usual frazzled state. And the bags of new little toys/snacks/books I packed were a lifesaver. They didn't care at all for the DVD I thought they'd watch, since they couldn't hear it. Honestly one of my biggest fears was GERMS. I'm not a germaphobe really - I totally believe in the 5 second rule. Sometimes it turns into the 5 hour rule. But airplanes... gross. Even the air we're breathing is contaminated with strangers who've been who-knows-where. And those nasty front-seat pockets... never get cleaned, but get touched by everyone. Tray tables, bathrooms, the SEATS... which of course my kids were eating their crumbs off of when they dropped their snacks. Ew. But it's allll worth it for a Christmas vacation! Having a fabulous time here.

Twin Candy Cane Elves

Someone call airport security.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jesus Dinner

Tonight we had our traditional (well, traditional as of last year, so really it's just our second) "Jesus Dinner" Christmas Eve. We eat what we think Jesus ate - fish, flatbread, grape juice, figs, grapes, olives - on the floor, with our hands, by lamplight. Then read Luke 2. Then open presents. All while listening to good Christmas music. It really feels good to do Christmas like this, and I hope someday the kids will appreciate it more. Courtney and Bennett just tried to dump everything over and grabbed at the Bible with the intention to rip, and Brianna was quite impatient for the present opening to start. Oh well. We'll shoot for reverence next year. Terrible photo, I know. But you get the idea. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gas Makes Me Happy.

I know.... 14-yr-old humor in that subject line. Couldn't help it.

But seriously - getting a full tank for $1.95/gallon made me do a happy dance. I get ridiculously excited about good deals. All those shopping trips to Smiths, dragging along my reusable bags for extra points, pays off!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Little Mommy

Not Brianna... she's not really motherly - more like sassy-bossy. But Courtney - she's the little mommy - she loves to feed other people, put clothes on them, give toys, help change Bennett's diaper (so hilarious. Would love to post the pictures of that, but it's Bennett might not appreciate the nudey toddler pictures when he's running for President), and Courtney also loves to help brush Bennett's teeth.

Friday, December 16, 2011

From Brianna's Mouth Lately....

-"Hey, let's take turns playing with knives! We have to take turns."
-"Mommy, if you keep feeding Bennett, his feet will grow so big!"
-"If you keep feeding the babies, we won't have any more food!"
-"Mommy, am I on the potty train?"
-"Bennett, come with me. I'll put on a movie for you in my room and feed you."
-"When Courtney and Bennett and me lived with Jesus did you marry Daddy?"
-"Mommy can I be married with you?"
-"I ate a carrot. CHECK. I ate an apple. CHECK. Now I need a lollipop."
-"I love you. I love Daddy. I love CourtneyBennett.  I even love myself."
-"Mom, Bennett is showing me his bum!"
-"Jesus sent Clifford to be the Big Red Dog."
-"If you don't give me icecream I will cry - that's what I'll do!"
-"You can't stay mad at your little girl!"
-"I love, I love, I LOVE princesses. Ex-specially when I'm sad, mad, or happy."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Card(s)

I was a little bummed not to do my usual collage-Christmas-postcard, but RiteAid did a promo for 25 free 4x8 cards, so I had to take advantage of it (from mine and Brian's accounts - so 50 total, 2 different designs). Here they are! Kinda boring and conventional, but quick and easy. Maybe someday I'll get on the creative/cute/funny card train.

If an electronic card doesn't float your boat, I'm happy to mail you one! We have lots. Just email or text me your address. And if YOU have Christmas cards to mail out - WE WANT ONE! It will get put to good use - I leave them up in a little display on the pantry door for several months :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Scowl

So very many caption possibilities....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Picture Perfect Family.

These were some of the better images from our family photo shoot. Really.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sorry Santa, you lose.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this today - check out Walmart's new gift cards! I'm not a Walmart fan, but major kudos to them for choosing this beautiful design instead of Santa or snowflakes or something else more politically correct.
Merry CHRISTmas!


"Won't you join me for a tea party, mommy dear?"Why, of course. I'd love to. And I'd love it if my life also revolved around planning tea parties and picnics. Wouldn't that just be grand... No errands, bills, diapers, cleaning... Just searching the fridge for tea party picnic fodder and setting up places for guests, real and imaginary. Oh, the life of a 3.8 yr old girl!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm on a Sunday Shopping High.

Gotta say.... I'm reallyreally good at finding deals online.
Just sayin'.

(TOTALLY KIDDING - I really hate that phrase. WHYohWHY do people use that?)

Seriously though - I spent several hours today online helping my mom buy Christmas presents for her children. The bigger ticket items that have to be shipped.  (Maybe not the most Sabbath-appropriate activity. Online shopping. But it was SERVICE, right?  But kindof self-serving too. Hmm). 
I'm so proud of myself for the deals I found!   I can't share what the items are, because I think once in a blue moon my older siblings might read this blog. Although I think they're the ones who informed me as a child that Mom and Dad were Santa Claus, but if I told them they told me, I wouldn't get any presents so I better keep my mouth shut.    I'm not resentful at all. 
Anyways, so I'll share my method.... and if you already knew all this, feel free to leave a comment saying DUH! YOU'RE NOT AS COOL AS YOU THINK YOU ARE.   I won't be offended. 
I start by looking for the product on Amazon to get a basic idea of what a good price range is. Amazon generally has decent prices, and free shipping over $25.  Plus, reading the reviews can be very helpful.  And there's no sales tax (which saves a LOT on bigger items). BUT - as far as I know, there's no cashback or incentive programs out there that give you anything for shopping through them at Amazon.  
Then I go to Ebates and ShopAtHome and MyPoints and look for the product. I have to compare the prices, calculating in the incentive offered (percent cashback and points-value). And of course, find the sites that offer free shipping and no tax.
Then I take whatever online store I found the best price at, and look for coupon codes online at sites like RetailMeNot. 
I pay for the item through PayPal (where occasionally they have incentives), using my credit card that gives 1-5% cashback. 
Then text Mom the total she owes me and she transfers it to my account.   Done. 
Then I sit back and bask in the happiness that only sweet money saving deal shopping can offer. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where's Dr. Mom when ya need her.....

l hate playing the medical guessing game at home.
Is it a rash? Allergic reaction? HFMD? Impetigo? Cold sores? 
I call friends, search online, worryworry, debate whether to head to the doc or instacare and spend the $$, feel horrible for even thinking of money when my child may be sick, feel stupid for rushing to the doc when the problem will go away by itself, feel upset at having to miss going to the gym, feel terrible for being upset at something as trivial as the gym when my baby may be ill...
Seriously, who left me in charge here?! I don't know anything!

**Update: We sucked it up and spent the $50 to take her to the Instacare. I left feeling very frustrated, because they prescribed an antibiotic, yet no diagnosis, just the same list of possibilities I had also come up with. Bennett has the bumps too. Most likely Impetigo - a bacterial infection. I'm not going to blame anyone [*cough*]GOLDSGYMDAYCARE [*cough*] cuz ya just never know where kids pick up this junk. Nobody is sleeping well. And we have to stay home so we don't pass on this joy to others. So fun.  Wah wah wah. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Wild Ward Christmas Party

Typical ward Christmas party tonight. 
Dinner, music, friends. 
Kinda boring. 
Fortunately they had holiday M&Ms on every table so I could entertain myself by chucking them at people then acting nonchalant while they looked around bewildered. Childish, yes. 
But not as bad those awful parents who allowed their destructive toddler twins to run wild.

We stopped them when they got to the piano. 
Brianna likes her friend Maddie.    Just a little. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

[sing] Happy traaaaillls to mmeeeee....

iPhones take pretty decent pictures, eh?  I love using the
RunKeeper app. If you're a smartphone-using-runner,
check it out. 
Do these photos give anyone else the overwhelming urge to throw on running shoes and hit the trails?! 
I can't be the only one.
Just looking at these again makes me drool a little. Not joking.
I had an ammmaaazzzing run on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail today, courtesy of my fabulous friend Kristina.
Apparently taking care of her own 5 kids (including twins) isn't enough to wear her out, so she insisted on having my munchkins over too.
PEOPLE - I have met Supermom. She goes by Kris.

Note: this is what happens when friends offer favors to me. I graciously and shamelessly accept.
I do feel slightly guilty for having no pride and gleefully dropping them off at her house so I could have 45 minutes of running bliss. Just slightly.

Not enough not to hope to it again, of course.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sandwich/Clothing Artist.

Brianna dresses herself every morning with style, makes her own jam sandwich, and balances it gracefully on her head. 
My daughter is amazing.

I love Smiths, and not just because that's my maiden name.

They're having a tea party - so cute!
7 months left until I can drop off Courtney and Bennett along with Brianna at our favorite grocery store's complimentary childcare. I'm wondering how early I could pass them off for 2 yr olds... I'll start working harder at getting them to speak better and eat more . Must GROW! Maybe around 20 months we'll see if we can get them in. Because then grocery shopping will be so much less of a freakshow for us. You'd think with all the kids in Utah it wouldn't be a big deal, me having 3 little ones in tow... But no, we never go anywhere without stares and comments- "Are they all yours?!"  "Wow you've got your hands full!" "Double trouble!" and my favorite- the silent glare that says, "can't you keep them under control?!!"   Um, obviously not very well. Maybe I'll write a letter to Smiths Manager and see if they'll lower the age limit. They'd save a lot of broken containers and spare customers from  witnessing meltdowns.

ps- I really do love my children. Tons. Oodles.  It's just a wild age :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cheap Toys

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, please bring us more plastic storage containers. 
Just leave them in the lower cabinets. Thankyou.

The McKell Twins

Friday, December 2, 2011

Daddy-daughter, Round Two.

I remember when Brianna was a baby, thinking how well she had her daddy wrapped around her chubby little fingers. Daddy's heart belonged to his little girl. But his heart must have expanded a lot because now Courtney has him totally hooked. When she runs at him squealing "DA! DA! DA!" you can almost see Brian turn to jello. He just melts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It all started with a loud wind storm that woke us all up around 4am. I could see debris flying all around that looked like wild bats. Every few minutes  we'd hear a huge crash and thud. Trees falling. I started getting texts from friends around 6am, wondering how we were and if we had power. A smarter person would've charged their phone immediately and done other storm prep, but no- I wasn't taking this seriously yet. Just a little freak wind storm. Then our power went out. POOF! Sorry kids, no toast for breakfast. Or oatmeal. Keep the fridge/freezer shut! Sorry no PBS Kids. No Wiggles music. Gotta take a flashlight into the bathroom and closets with ya. Can't drive anywhere because the garage won't open, and the car might tip over out there! 95 mph gusts! Federal state of emergency declared in Centerville. Schools closed. Brian's out of commission at his office, with a lot of customers needing replacement vehicles after theirs were smashed by falling trees/poles/wild bats. And he felt pretty isolated, being the only branch in the area to lose electricity. This storm just hit Davis County then skipped over the rest of the state, apparently. Lucky us. It's frustrating to know that just twenty minutes away, life is going on as normal. Their backyards aren't covered with roof shingles and random trash. I'd like to say that we embraced our lack of electricity and enjoyed just playing at home. And we kindof did- I mean, I got the house super clean since there was nothing to distract me. The kids all took a long nap... since there was nothing else to do... But no- I LIKE ELECTRICITY. We missed gym time, storytime, grocery shopping, SuperWhy, WordWorld, warm breakfast/lunch/dinner, HEAT, the elevator, LIGHTS, washing machine... The Lord put me in the 21st Century because He knew I'm no pioneer woman. I like buttons and switches that make life better. The only good that came of this was that I realized how ill prepared we are for a real calamity. I'm buying a small generator ASAP. And matches. We had to borrow from a neighbor to light our candles. So embarrassing. We're all going to bed now wearing 548 layers of clothes. And no sound machine. I miss that. It's so quiet it's freaky! And looking out the window at a dark city is freaky. And thinking about no hot breakfast tomorrow is freaky.  I better go to bed now - since I'm sure we'll end up with all three kids in our bed. Family bonding time!