No longer…

…does my beautiful fourth child look like Mr. Bates from “Downton Abby.” She did for a while and I’m a seasoned enough mother to know that all newborns look really weird for about 2 weeks.

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Well. This little snookum turned one last week and I don’t feel like the time just flew by because we had a whole lot of life lived in that year. Good: A Rapunzel party, first words, a baptism. Bad: 187 smashed eggs all over the property, poop finger-painting, screams that split the ear drums. Ugly: Post partum depression, ant invasions, this song that my husband thinks is hilarious when he gets it stuck in my head. Anyways. It’s been a unique year that I would add to my list of top 10 favorites.

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My childrens’ first birthday cakes have become a running gag in my family. I am the Queen of the Health Fad and unfortuneatly for my kids they don’t get normal cakes as a result. Little man had an all raw cheese cake, because we were eating raw. Nay had vegan cupcakes because we were vegan. Layna had homemade wheat flour cupcakes because I was between fads but still am a crunchy granola mamma and Corra got a GAPS compliant no-bake cheese cake. In my defense, my children have never complained and I thought all the cakes tasted fabulous. All the girls also had flowers so check one more for Tradition! Tradition! [you sang that like Tevye right? Good.]

Corra took a minute to sort out why everyone was staring at her and smiling. It happens a lot but without the sense of anticipation. She got a taste and gathered steam in no time.

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Presents and, yes, they have all been successfully commandeered by her older sisters.

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She got a new pair of squeaky shoes, which sound like they would be totally “chew your ears off” annoying. They grow on you, and are so stinkin cute. My mom made her that dress, thus making this my favorite outfit for her, ever.


So we’ve come along way. This face. Those eyes. These rolls of chub. I wish I had the right words to gush about her because I love her something fierce. She brings brightness to my life that I didn’t know I needed. Funny how kids fill holes you didn’t know were there. Happy sigh for babies and motherhood. (And no I didn’t paint my fridge teal. My camera just has a weird sense of humor…)

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Filed under Food stuffs, Holidays, life the universe and everything


Have you ever done nothing? No, I mean on purpose, intentionally, and deliberately done nothing? If you move through life at the same pace I generally do, I highly recommend doing nothing for an entire day.


My grandparents have a time share that needed to be used this summer and they graciously offered to let us use it. Not only that but they also offered to baby sit our four monkeys for two whole nights to make our stay-cation a true relaxing experience. My mom helped with bedtime and we were set. This meant that there was one whole day in which I didn’t have to do anything. Now let me clarify. When I say “do nothing” I mean that there were no external pressures dictating my choice of how to spend a given minute. At home I have animals that must be fed, kids that must be taken off the kitchen counter and out of eggs, and floors that demand to be vacuumed. Not so on this stay-cation. I didn’t even bring a book to read as I didn’t want to be guilted into anything, just in case I didn’t feel like reading. I napped for four hours over the course of the day. I swam (this may not seem deserving of italics, but since becoming a mother 8 years ago I never swim so much as I facilitate baby swimming. The realization hit me that I am a pathetic swimmer). My husband and I talked. A lot. Without interruption.

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For the record, selfies in a hammock totally count as doing nothing.


Basically, this break from reality was the perfect birthday-start-of-the-year-regain-my-control sort of a present. The timing couldn’t have been more welcome and with two solid nights of good sleep (sans cats and waking babies) I returned to life ready to conquer the world and the ants that have since reinvaded my kitchen.

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Filed under life the universe and everything

The Peterson Automotive Museum

[Over the Summer Little Man got to go spend a few days with my Dad in California. They got to do some pretty cool stuff, like visit a car museum that I loved when I was a kid. Garyn took our camera and had his first taste of photography. He'd like to share some pictures and his thoughts on this awesome place.]

The Peterson Automotive Museum by Garyn McGuire


This car broke the speed of sound and it was my favorite car at the museum (it was in the parking garage!). The cockpit on this car is off centered to make room for the jet engine. It was amazing that it broke the speed of sound and I wonder what it looked like when it did that. This car wasn’t the only cool looking car…


This small model was of a solar powered car. The solar panels are actually on the big curve over the top of the rear of the car. I think it would be a great car for Las Vegas because we have lots of sun to fuel it here in the desert. Driving this car would make me feel important, with all the people waving and pointing at my spaceship-looking solar car.


I was surprised to see that the museum had a model of “Herbie, the Love Bug.” I’m not sure if it was the real thing or a model, but I’m guessing a model. Herbie was the main character in a movie that I like a lot. He seemed to have a personality of his own, especially when he was racing! Here’s another race car that also got banged up in a serious crash just like Herbie…


I could tell just by glancing at this car, that it had been part of a huge chase and crash. The front of it was obliterated! As you can tell from the name, it must have been driven pretty fast. I would love to drive a car super fast…but I’d have to be careful of sudden turns! Not all the cars there went really fast though.


I was guessing from when I first looked at this car, that it’s outer housing was taken off. But then I wondered if it was meant to be this way. What I liked most about this one, was that it was skeletal and you could see it’s whole engine. IMG_8598
Here is an engine from another car. I think it’s cool and I’m guessing that the orange swirls are the spark plugs. I liked taking pictures of all the machine parts and the pictures can help me decipher how they all work.


I really like this picture because it shows license plates from all over the world. The red one on the left looks like Arabic. I’m glad my grandpa took me to see all these awesome cars!


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So we are Mormon and that means the Eighth birthday is a big one because that is the age at which a kid can decide to be baptized. Also happens to be when our Little man started cub scouts and got his first pocket knife (thanks Grandpa Todd!) so life is pretty rosy around these parts.

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Garyn is a studly little dude…even the photo-bombing, escaped puppy thinks so. His sisters think he’s pretty great and I’m glad he loves them as much as he does.

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Actually lots of people think he is great.

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But I’m pretty sure nobody loves him as much as we do. This was supposed to be one of those life moments where I’m mostly really proud but a little sad that my baby is growing up. Nope. Not even a little bit sad. I’ve worked very hard to savor each moment…even the crappy ones. There’s been lots of those, by the way. But I can look back on the past eight years and not mourn times I should have, could have and didn’t. Most every bed time story and song he’s wanted me to read and sing I’ve dragged my exhausted self off the couch and delivered (sometimes very off key) so that I could celebrate his milestones without wishing he was small again. I will not begrudge them their growing up. Sigh. [Soap box disengage]. It’s funny though that this is one of those epic life events that you remember forever and he is a highly intelligent and intellectually mature boy so I was kind of expecting some deep and profound comments on this deep and profound occasion. Nope. Not even a little bit deep. He was thrilled with the presents he got and the new batch of people to play “Rock em Sock em” with him. The fact that he is still solidly an eight year old little dude, is very comforting and strangely makes this whole growing up thing easier. I’m not sure if that makes any sense but bottom line: I’m grateful for this crazy kid who happily is my guinea pig for this whole mom adventure that I’m on. He makes my heart happy.


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Neckerchiefs!!! YES!!!


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Lego Head Pinata

Enough said really. Ok, No. Not enough said. If you are like me you may have sniggered at the cheap “Dora” piñatas or the goofy tissue papered, cone-bedeckled monstrosities that can be found in any grocery store. Never again will I look down my nose at these products or the artisans who painstakingly craft them. Piñatas are difficult little beasties to make and I have a new found respect for them.

I’ve said before that I don’t know how people did anything new before the internet…and I’m not even on Pinterest! There was some brilliant soul who looked at a propane tank one summer day and said, “You know what? That looks like a huge Lego head!” Then they made a piñata and posted pictures on the internet for me to find.

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I kind of just made this up because I thought paper mache is the easiest thing ever…flour, water, newspaper. Well turns out it is easy if you allow plenty of time to dry between layers. Tuesday night is when I remembered that I was even making this thing so yeah…that only left time for a few layers and not even very good layers. And I never have white flour on hand so whole wheat it was! Oh and another thing. Packing tape. Loves to stick to itself…not slightly damp newspaper and flour. So I had to bust out my glue gun to get it back together after cutting it off of the propane tank. I have a burn mark on my forearm to commemorate.

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I did get it together only to realize that the namby pamby poster paints I bought wouldn’t cut it. However, I had a can of exterior grade latex paint from the aquaponics system that just happened to be the right obnoxious shade of yellow! I drew a face, cut it out, glued it on and we were in business. I was the only adult at the party so this is the best I could do picture wise after the stupid thing tore off of its string before the kids even dented it. Sigh.

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In addition to the piñata and just playing Legos, we decorated Lego head cupcakes and then ate them…

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Opened presents and played Princesses (well, Little girl did anyways…)

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And all the kids got these nifty t-shirts as party favors. Garyn has worn his for three days straight now.

The little girls were babysat so that legos could happen free from interruption, which was a very good call. It was a small gathering, but really nice and laid back. I didn’t mind a small party so much, since he also got: a family dinner, a homeschool dance party, an almost week long trip to hang out with Grandpa in California, starting Cub Scouts tomorrow, and this coming weekend is his baptism…(more on all that later). I’d say it was a good way to turn eight.


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Superfluous Body Parts

Tonsils. Who needs ‘em? Certainly not three year olds with Down Syndrome (and therefore tiny nasal cavities) and sleep apnea. And adenoids? Do you know what function your adenoids perform? Thus it was under the best medical advice, that Little little girl was parted from these body parts last Thursday. As a brief aside: where are her tonsils/adenoids now? what do they do with removed body bits? Anyways.

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Nothing says, “Hurry up and wait” like a hospital stay. Luckily they have worked with kids before and have it down to a science, nay a beautiful art form. We were very pleased with the overall experience. Ok, I wasn’t thrilled with one of my babies having surgery, and I was super stressed but that was all on me. I’m so glad Neil got to take the day off (even if he was on his computer putting out work fires every minute he wasn’t desperately needed). It was helpful for me to have him there and Layna certainly loves her Dad guy.

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Before going back they brought her a doll and some toy versions of all the things they would be doing to her. So Layna got to take the doll’s blood pressure, and put on an oxygen monitor, and listen to her heart. The cap was the biggest hit. I think that helped Layna calm down a little bit.

For some reason I created this picture in my head of me holding her hand as she peacefully drifted off to sleep and then being right by her side as she slowly came out of anesthesia. Nope. Not so much. We were not allowed back to where the magic happens so we just had to hand her off to one of the nurses that had spent some time with her. Layna doesn’t do strangers so much, especially after a morning of all kinds of new stuff. She freaked out and we walked away to the waiting room. That was rough.

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Everything went great. It was short and didn’t take her too long to wake up. It took awhile to get a room, but then she crashed in her prison bed. I brought all of her favorite books so that was a nice distraction from the fact that her arm was duct taped to a splint. Like I said, they have this whole kid surgery thing down. Initially we had decided that Neil would stay over night but she freaked out when I tried to leave and then I just couldn’t. So he went to get the other kids and she and I settled in for a long night.

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There were perks. I know she is bitter that it took surgery to bring green jello into her life. Grandma came to play for a few minutes (and bring mommy a tooth brush). Then we mostly just hung out.

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At ten at night when she is awake and refuses to be in her bed (even though that is the easiest place to be with all the tubes and wires coming off her body)…there really is only one thing to be done. Take self-ies.

She is doing well, still refusing to drink if I don’t stay up with her pain meds, but seems more or less normal. I am over the constant drooling because it is too uncomfortable to swallow, but that too shall pass. This parent right of passage is firmly checked off my list. And there was much rejoicing!



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Filed under life the universe and everything

Independence Day


Leading with your strong points is always good advice. So I’m leading with the best family picture we have had in a while. I love color coordinated holidays!

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Can I ask for a moment of silence, in my behalf, as we have reached this stage? There never were two more contented partners in crime…

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He looks all growed up with his hawk and skate shoes and he was lighting off fireworks like a pro. It was apparent that he has begun a life long love affair with all things fire.

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Food and Sparklers. Life is good.

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At least she has moved from “fireworks will cost you therapy bills in the future” to “I kind of like them sometimes, but mostly I’m still terrified of them.” Grandma was a champ and sat with her on the porch where they could barely see the occaisional sparkle. Progress!

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This is us being profound and patriotic. This is CoCo eating a popper. Which is basically the same thing.

I rocked the responsible parent thing this year, and we read the Declaration of Independence out loud to the kids. Honestly, the state of our country and the direction it’s headed makes me want to run away to North Carolina (oh, it’s going to happen) and hide on my perfectly self-sufficient off-the-grid farm (I’ll knit my own clothes, dang it!) and it makes me wonder if we could ever be that great again. I love my country and everything it stands for and was meant to be. Sigh. For now though I can look at my family and situation and feel a deep sense of gratitude for what we have accomplished and the fact that we could not do what we do in any other country in the world. I cried when I read the last sentence of that amazing document and reminded my kids of all those who died and currently fight to give us those freedoms.



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Filed under Holidays