Friday, August 31, 2012


Brian made it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro!  Almost 20K ft.  Tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
So happy for him and my dad and bros!!

Now he just needs to make it back down, fly the bazillion miles home, and help with the dishes and laundry.  Cuz I'm a little overloaded here doing this solo.

And here he is, apparently hanging on for dear life on a freakishly steep cliff in Africa.   That's not disturbing at all.

Rain Worship

I texted this pic to my mom, thinking she'd love it. So cute. Kids playing in the rain puddles. Instead she texted back, "Your children look like they're doing some sort of messy cult worship." Hmph.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sugar-Free September!

yes, I realize I'm stealing this photo. And probably breaking
some kind of photo-stealing rule.
But I needed something that looked sugary-nasty,
not sugary-yummy!  :)
It's been a Summer of far too many sweets. 

I'm challenging myself to a Sugar-Free September!  Just one month. No added sugars.  Of course natural sugar, like in fruit, is fine.  But none of the crap.  I'm going to learn to get through the afternoon slump, cope with stress, enjoy parties, be happy, fight nighttime munchies, etc.  without gummy bears and chocolate chip cookies.

Anyone brave enough to join me?  I dare ya!

9/4/12 update:  I'm 4 days into it and feeling so good!  Everytime my mind wanders into dangerous territory  (I always crave kid cereals), I think about the yummy fresh fruit in my fridge from the farmer's markets.  This is going to be a tough month - but I'm going to make it! Simply for pride reasons - I don't want to have to admit to anyone that I failed. 26 days of self-control left! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

News from the other planet

When I look at a map and see how far away Brian and the Smith men are, it seems unreal. SO FLIPPIN FAR. But it's great to get daily confirmation that they're all alive and hikin' via the Team Kilimanjaro blog. They don't offer much detail, nor can I communicate with them at all, but these few glimpses they've sent out so far make me happy. And envious.

URG Update

My poor neglected blog! I have so much to update... but I'm in that horrible trap where I missed blogging about something big (babies' birthday, my birthday) then another big thing happened (Brian's job change) and then another thing (Brian's Africa trip) and then another thing (my 15 seconds of fame on 3 news stations for hunting down a camera owner on FB) and I feel too overwhelmed with keeping up that I just put my head in the sand and hope it will go away. But it won't. And I'll feel sad someday if I look back and say, "hey - pretty sure my kids turned 2... and I didn't blog about it?! WHAT KIND OF MOTHER AM I?!" So I am determined to catch up. I might have to hire a babysitter to do it though. Or sleep even less than I am now. Really, I blame my biz though. Utah Running Guide takes up a TON of my time! Well, about 30-90 minutes of each day. Which any busy mom knows is a LOT of precious time. Those are minutes I used to spend doing important things. Like blogging. (and, um, chores. My bedroom is the biggest disaster. I have like 3 laundry baskets full of CLUTTER I have to sort out. I've had to just throw it all in the baskets and hide it, so the front rooms of our home stay clean-looking when people come over). But overall it's going well and I'm glad I'm doing it for now. Quick update: At 7 weeks into it, I'm less than 300 Likes away from my original 1,000 Likes goal. If you haven't Liked the Page....WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!?! Go LIKE it now! Many thanks. The website gets about 2,000 unique visitors each month. I'd like to see it be 2,000 each DAY. I need to work on the calendar really bad to draw the crowds, I think. The Twitter following just passed the 200 mark ( @UTRunningGuide ). But do people really pay attention to Twitter? Still not sure. But covering my bases. The Facebook Utah Running Guide group is at 680 I think. Again, the goal is 1000 for that too. Getting numbers up is HUGE, because that attracts more Race Directors. But I have to have lots of cool races to do promotions for to get more Likes/Fans. So both are important to work on and are dependent on each other.
I'm pretty comfortable doing my sales pitch. If a Race Director will give me 3 minutes, I can explain exactly what Utah Running Guide does that so effectively gets their race info out to the Utah running community. It's honestly a no-brainer way to advertise for a busy Race Director. I don't charge much at all (thus I don't make much at all... another reason I question why I'm doing this somedays :) and the potential reach is huge. For example: a recent giveaway we hosted on FB had 50 people enter. They each had to LIKE and SHARE a marathon's FB Page. Let's say those 50 people each have 400 friends. So there's a potential reach there of 20,000 people. Oh, the mighty powers of Facebook. My favorite part of doing the site is when I get to announce the winners of the free race entry giveaways. Though it's sad sometimes seeing how many people are going to be disappointed, it's fun making those few winners happy. My least favorite part is getting turned down by Race Directors when I contact them to offer our advertising package. It's so frustrating.  I want to yell at them WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!  Go through all this tremendous effort of putting together a huge running event, and turn down an opportunity for fabulous advertising?  I've actually only been turned down like 3 times so far, but obviously - it still stings.  Grrr.  But on the flip, I've have dozens of RDs say YES, and I've had nothing but happy customers so far.  So those haters missed out.  Anyways.... I need to get a testimonial page up and going on the site. And 592 other things.  I shouldn't even be typing this - I need to go work on my site!  Or go to bed. Since it's midnight.  The only time my house is perfectly quiet and I'm free to work! :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I deserve a root canal for this.

Nothing makes you feel like a great mom as much as finding out your 4.5 yr old has five cavities. Ugh.
It's totally my fault. Sometimes I let her brush her own teeth, and she doesn't do as good of a job as I do. And I don't even do that well - about 30 seconds. Should be longer. And more than just at bedtime. And we should floss more.
And I suck.

Support the Future Entrepreneurs of America!

I'd like to bear my testimony of the importance of buying whatever kids are selling.
Even if it's potentially contaminated lemonade that you have to discreetly dump as you turn the corner. Or cookies that may or may not have been made by someone using proper sanitation practices. If kids are sitting out on a corner stand waving their signs - BUY IT. And we'll all make the world a better place. (though honestly... someday when my kids are old enough to be the ones sitting out there selling junk... I'm not going to do all the prep work, like I'm sure these kids' mom did. Those cute signs definitely weren't made by a 7 yr old. Where's the lesson on advertising and marketing fees?! And the 25 cent cookies looked totally mom-made. She better have submitted her hours for that, and possibly filled out a W-9. And I bet these kids weren't taught about overhead costs, like paper cups and ice cubes. I'm such a party pooper, I know. But my kids are going to be excellent business people someday after learning the tough lessons as young lemonade-peddlers!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

YardSale Fairy Strikes Again

Would it be super boring if I just filled this blog with all my yard sale finds?!
I just get so excited about them!

This one: salmon colored Express coat. Looks like it was never even worn. $3.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tummy rub

I don't know if Brianna is more quirky than other kids her age... but I'd be willing to bet on it. She thinks of some interesting ideas and requests. Latest: she wants me to rub her tummy and sing her "Jesus songs" until she falls asleep.
 And I oblige, because I can do that with my left hand while my right hand is on my phone, responding to LLL texts (I'm one of only two Leaders in Salt Lake who chose to allow and respond to questions via text. Most don't like to because it's such a limited form of communication, but I believe it's very helpful for some moms). Rambling again. Point: quirky sweet Brianna and her tummy rub requests.

YardSale Find of the Year!

Bountiful is a yardsaler's paradise because people here are generally fairly wealthy, and extremely cheap. That means yard sales with great quality stuff at ridiculously low prices. I've learned to never offer a price first when haggling, because they'll almost always underbid the number I was thinking.
This dress is a Mikarose. Retail value $bazillion$. Perfect quality, my size, on the hanger... I almost died when I saw it. I asked the price hesitantly... scared she would want too much and I'd have to walk away (cuz I don't NEED new clothes, nor have room for them. I can only justify accumulating more if it's a steal.) And it was: $2 !! So I left feeling like I had shoplifted, honestly. And I didn't just get this dress - I left with my arms FULL, having spent $28 on her clothes. All brand name stuff: J Crew, Banana, Express, etc. Not that I care about brands - just that it generally means better quality, cuter, and more comfy fit. And I love comfy clothes that don't look like pajamas (ie, the bball shorts and old race shirt I sport most days.)   And this is why I'm kindof ecstatic about Brian's new job, because he doesn't have to work Saturday mornings anymore... so I'm free to go SHOPPING! :)   Although I'll like his new job even more when we finally buy a car.... because til then, we're a one-car fam, so he steals the minivan all day. And my triple stroller is broken. So I've been stuffing the kids in the bike trailer whenever we want to go anywhere, which is uncomfortable to them, so to avoid their protests I give them snacks in there, which makes a mess. Then I have to hose down the bike trailer, and they LOVE that, because they get to play in water and grass and mud I create. Then I have to hose them down before we go home to our 3rd level condo. Then we get in trouble for going up the elevator with wet kids making fingerprints on the elevator walls.
This is the problem when I write blog posts at night. I start rambling. I'm supposed to be talking about yard sales, yet now we're talking about reason #842 our grumpy old neighbors don't like us.

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Fam Fotos

We got a killer Groupon deal for Target Portrait Studio, so even though I kindof detest formal studio pictures, I know my Mom likes them. So I threw together some attempt at outfits (I'm terrible at that, and welcome tips), brought some tic tacs in my pocket to bribe the children into smiling (which I felt guilty about, til the photographer told me every parents does it) and we survived the session.   Didn't quite get the perfect photo I dreamed about (everyone smiling, looking up, no clothing glitches - too much to ask?!)  but here they are for you, Mom! LMK if you want prints of any  (besides the first, which is waiting at your Walgreens in 8x10 for you right now!)
Despite my scraggly hair, Courtney's half-drugged face, and Bennett's lack of eye contact... this might be our best 
Behind "It All Started" are faded letters saying, "with a kiss."  THEIR cheesy collage design, not mine. 
Really, Courtney? You just had to look left right at this moment? Thanks. 
They designed a thank-you card for us.  So people, feel free to send us birthday/Christmas presents - we've got our thank- you cards all ready to go!  Notice all three children are lifting their right arms.  WEIRD.
A major goal was getting one good shot of the kids together. This was the best of our attempts. Notice Bennett's face - he had just had the soccer ball taken away. Sad.   And Courtney's little fist pump: "Go Team McKell!"
Best attempt at a Courtney solo. And now you know what her tongue looks like.
Hmmm.... I'm not a fan of the sepia coloring. Makes us look like we're in a dirty cloud.
Things got goofy towards the end. This was our attempt to get the kids HAPPY again. If you look close, Bennett and Courtney are both really upset.  And I'm upset that I didn't do something with my hair. Someone gimme a lesson on what to do with two feet of long wavy hair!
I rarely get to say this: I like this photo! 
Mom - do you like this one better?  (I think you would, since I have a drooping neckline shirt. You can borrow it if you want.)
Cheesy pose idea #493 from the photographer: "hey, let's put a big fake flower on her shoulder!" Um.... ok....
I like this one of Brianna. I wish I had done something cuter with her hair, but her pose makes me happy. Combo sassy and sweet.

These didn't quite work. I look 10 ft wide. Bad outfit choice. Somebody save me from myself!  That aside... the middle one is ok.  The left and right ones.... well, Brian and Bennett's expressions just scream "I'M DONE!"
Out-takes.  It's tough getting everyone to smile. And getting my face to not look extremely round. And looking at the camera.  Too much to ask, I know.
Bennett's a ball guy, but I didn't choose for him to hold this. He just saw it there in the prop box, and threw a total tantrum if we tried to take it away. So we have a bunch of pictures of him holding Target's mini soccer ball. Whatever.
Should I let the Target Portrait people know they misspelled LOVE ? cheeeesssyyyy
This one got about 60 (SIXTY!) "likes" when I posted it on Facebook and seemed to make everyone really happy.   Can't figure out why....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Last day!

Peace out, ERAC. Hello Cintas!
Deets to come... (When not typing on my cracked phone)

Emergency Bike Pit Stop

If you're going to get a massive flat tire on your bike trailer, it's good to do it near a bike shop.

The twins had a serious freak-out when they went upstairs at Bountiful Bicycles and saw the collection of kids bikes. They started yelling, BIKES BIKES BIKES pointing everywhere, wide eyed.

Seriously though....I end up at a bike shop getting a repair of some sort for one of my wheeled toys every single week it seems like. Sheesh.  I use these things to save money on gas, and I'm not saving much when I have to do all these repairs!

Oh, and a major shout out (not that he'll ever see this)  to the Good Samaritan who saw me struggling to get my bike and trailer to the shop. He pulled over and carried the trailer so I could carry my kids, then went back and got my bike. In 95 degree heat. I hope that man is showered in blessings for that.

Flower Grandma

Grandma Smith is in her 90th year and staying busy! We surprised her this morning with a visit and found her in her shed, arranging bouquets! She gets the artificial flowers from the cemetery from the groundskeepers before they're thrown away, spruces them up, arranges them beautifully, then donates them to the Senior Center so they can sell them for a couple bucks.... to the elderly folks, who likely will bring them back to decorate cemetery graves. And the cycle continues as long as those silk stems hold out.