Thursday, September 29, 2011


Jared's grandma passed away last week. We were glad we had been able to visit her a couple of times this past year. Here she is with Libby on Christmas Day, 2010. What a sweet picture.

We were lucky to find super last minute plane tickets we could afford on Priceline and were able to make it to Idaho for the funeral. It was nice to be there with family and to remember Grandma Howell. 

Libby got to play with some new toys at Grandma and Grandpa's house. She loved this tricycle and screamed when Jared took her off to try to show her a different scooter. She could walk/scoot with it a little bit, but was mostly content to just sit on it. 

We had a great time picking and eating raspberries when we were there in July and were glad to see there were still plenty of raspberries left. Libby goes absolutely crazy for them.

We had to take a picture of Libby with this zucchini. It was monstrous. Jared pulled out a fence post in the backyard that left a 3 foot hole and we joked that we could just fill it in with this zucchini.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If you got a flat tire, what would you do?

Am I the only one that gets way too emotional about cooking? Seriously, nothing ruins my day faster than burnt food.

This morning, I ran across a recipe for homemade granola and remembered how long it has been since I last made some. I gathered the ingredients and put Libby on the counter to help. She "stirred" the granola with her hands. (It was all going well until she started shoving fistfuls of raw oats into her mouth.) It came together super quick and I was getting really excited to try it. About 10 minutes into the oven, I started to smell smoke. I was bummed, but hoped it was still salvageable. It wasn't. I don't know why it burned so fast, or why it bugged me so much, but I was just not in a good mood after that. I put the 2 pans full of burnt granola on the porch and aired out the house. 

And then, after a couple hours of sulking I decided to try again. While I was whipping up a new batch (this time with a new recipe...just in case that was the problem), I was reminded of an interview with Jillian Michaels I read in a magazine the other day. She was talking about eating healthy through the holiday season and specifically, not giving up when you make a mistake.
“Think of it this way: If you got a flat tire, what would you do? Change the tire? Or get out of the car and slash the other three tires? No! Get back on the road. Don’t dwell on it, don’t beat yourself up. That gets you nowhere.”

I truly never thought I'd be quoting Jillian Michaels on my blog, but there you go. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I really love hunting for a good bargain, so I do quite a bit of thrift-store browsing. I've gotten some of my all-time favorite pieces of clothing - like my gray pencil skirt, my other gray pencil skirt, my black pencil skirt, my navy pencil skirt (anyone else sensing a pattern?) - at thrift stores. 

Sadly, the one thrift store here in town is a bust when it comes to clothes. Everything is from WalMart or Dress Barn. But, I've found quite a few good household items, including 2 shelves, tons of picture frames (I'm in the process of putting together a gallery wall that is 100% upcycled or thrifted), and today, this dresser:

I was far too lazy (read: it was too cold in the garage) to put the drawers back in for the picture

I've been in the market for a new dresser for Libby since the movers broke both of hers. Do you know how hard it is to find a dresser that is sturdy and inexpensive? The cheapest solid wood dressers I could find started at about $600. And let me tell you what, I am not going to spend $600 on a dresser that is going to get covered in crayon in about 2 seconds. But all those darn particle board dressers (even the nicer ones) end up being flimsy and take about a million years to assemble. This baby is 100% solid wood, came already assembled, and only cost $15. I can live with that.

Now...I have to find out what sort of hardware to install that will prevent the drawers from being pulled all the way out (and onto Libby's feet). And maybe think about painting/staining it to match her crib. 

Friday, September 9, 2011


When I was in high school, particularly my freshman year, I was in pretty good shape. Like, the best shape of my life. I was on the volleyball team and my coach took off-season training seriously (probably because we lost every game we played that year). I could pound out 30 pushups like it was nothing. I may have felt like throwing up after all the sprints we had to do, but I could do them. Eventually, I had to give up sports for theatre (yep, I was a drama geek) and they don't tell you this, but theatre isn't a very good workout.

Long story short, it's been a long time since I've had a consistent exercise routine. About a year and a half ago, I had a doctor tell me that I was a "weakling" and that I had "basically no musculature" in my neck and shoulders. For about 2 seconds, I was determined to start working out regularly, but then life got in the way and I had a baby, etc, etc. Finally, several months ago, I was having some serious insomnia issues. I think my body was all out of whack from waking up so much with Libby, that even when she started sleeping through the night, I couldn't. One night, while laying in bed awake for over FOUR hours, I decided it was high time to make exercise a priority. The next day, I went to the gym and worked out so hard I felt like throwing up. It only took an hour for me to fall asleep that night. The next day, I worked out hard again and I fell asleep even faster. Since then, I have made it a goal to exercise at least a few times a week. It was harder back in NC, since I didn't have a gym with a nursery, but I'm so lucky now to be able to drop Libby off and exercise during the day. 

Libby had a cold for about a week and it was killing me to not be able to work out. My sleep was suffering, too. Finally, her leaky nose was contained enough that I felt okay about taking her to the nursery and behold, I can sleep again. Today, I swam laps for the first time in a very long while, and I felt strong. I'm a terrible swimmer and my technique sucks, but it felt good. I felt good. And that's what matters.

How we realized we are country bumpkins

On a whim, we decided to go to Chicago last weekend. Thinking it would take a short 2 hours to get there, we left about 4:30 PM, hoping to have a nice dinner in the city before retiring to our hotel.

Things didn't go quite as planned. First, there was construction on the highway, so we were behind schedule before we even got close to Chicago. Then, there was the Chicago suburb traffic...busy and fast. Finally, we got into the heart of town and I misunderstood the directions and missed a turn. In a city full of one way streets, overpasses and underpasses, we got seriously turned around. Thank goodness we had a GPS to get us back on track, but it was at least a 20 minute detour to make our way back. Finally, we arrived at the hotel, only to find that valet parking costs $49 dollars a night. I parked in a loading zone while Jared ran in to check in and find out if there were any other parking options. Apparently there was a really long line to check in because it was taking FOREVER. It was already well past Libby's bedtime at this point and she was getting cranky, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. Thinking there was a parking lot just around the corner, I left the loading zone and turned onto what turned out to be a one-way street with no available parking spots. Now I was stuck and couldn't get back to the hotel the way I came from, so I thought I'd just drive around the block. But the hotel was on an "upper" street and when I circled the block, I ended up on the "lower" street and could not for the life of me figure out how to get back to the upper street. I had the GPS on, but it kept losing satellite reception since were under bridges. To top it off, I tried to call Jared to tell him that I had left and was trying to work my way back, but my phone's battery died. I got more and more lost and more and more frantic, but finally my prayers were heard and the GPS started working again. I made it back and promised Jared I would never ever ever leave him again (not that he was upset, but I had been so scared alone!).

Finally, we got into our room and discovered that our 4 star hotel room was the size of a matchbox. It was far too late to go out and find something to eat, but we were all starving, so we ordered a much too expensive room service pizza and finally were able to get Libby to bed. Jared and I woke up the next morning with backaches from the awful bed. Seriously, this is what we paid for??? Anyway, it was a place to sleep and I guess that's all we really needed.

Saturday, we walked to the shopping district and looked around a bit. We went to the Museum of Contemporary Photography (unfortunately not as cool as I was hoping) and wandered through the park.

We were planning to go to the temple that afternoon, but realizing it was a good 45 minutes north of town, not including traffic delays, we decided to skip it after all. Turns out that was the right call, because it started raining like crazy, which only made traffic worse. We even spun around on a busy Chicago road (the Lord was looking out for us, though, because there were miraculously no other cars around!).

Finally, after another series of GPS malfunctions and detours, we made it out of the blasted city and had dinner in the much small and quieter city of Joliet. Over dinner, we decided that we are not city folk. We'll take our small town with it's lack of shopping and dining over the big city any day (or at least 364 days of the year). It's kind of a bummer that the nicest place to eat in town is the $7.99 Super Wok buffet, but at least there's ample parking.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


To Libby, on your first birthday,

As I write this letter to you today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that you are mine. I hope that somehow, in some future year, you will understand just how precious you are to me and how amazing this last year has been. My world revolves around you. And while that simple fact may be challenging at times, I know how lucky I am to have something important and meaningful enough to change my whole world - YOU.

I almost started this letter by saying that one year ago, I had no idea that I could love you this much. But that would be untrue. Even before you were born, I loved you with my whole heart. Seeing you grow and learn and change this past year has been incredibly fulfilling and and while I somehow seem to love you more each day, it doesn't mean that I loved you any less the day before. Rather, I think my capacity to love you grows along with you.

There are so many things I love about you: your smile, your laugh, your "monster" face, your snuggles, the way you lay your head on my shoulder when meeting someone new, the way you lean your head way over to the side and grin, your love of books, your impromptu games of peekaboo. Every day, you make me laugh. Every day, you surprise me with your creativity, intelligence, and abilities. Every day, I am grateful to be your mom.

The world is lucky to have you, Libby Claire. I can't wait to see the person you become.

Happy birthday.