How to Be a Decent Mom: Forget the What

We mommas focus a lot on the “what” part of parenting. That’s where all of the Mommy Wars come from. Anti or pro vaccines? Co-sleeping or crib sleeping? Home, private or charter school? Breast or bottle feeding?

We should focus on the how. How are you a good momma? Like most of you, I’m pretty proud of what I do with my kids most days. We are all pretty committed and even defensive of our rules, expectations and family culture that we have established.  I’m no different. I love that we go to church, read scriptures and pray as a family. I love that my boys can communicate in two languages. I love teaching them their letters. I love going to the library with them. I love being home together.

What it all boils down to though, is that my kids will remember how they felt when I was with them. They will remember if I was loving or critical; patient or in a hurry; interested or distracted; genuine or annoyed. How do I enforce the rules? How do I teach? How do I interact with them moment to moment?

We all know how we should treat our children. I think we all would like to show them kindness and consideration and love all of the time. I just think we forget when we get caught up in what we need to get done. Sometimes we even forget when we have something really “fun” or “educational” or “special” planned for the kids. We are so focused on the activity (and, let’s be honest, on how awesome of a momma we are for planning said activity) that we tend to be less than patient/kind/loving as we should be.

There’s a chance that I’m alone in this but I have a feeling there are a few more moms out there who can relate to what I’m saying. My goal this summer is to be more patient and genuinely loving with my kids. I hope the feeling in my home can be one of love and joy and fun and safety.


A Nerdy Thirty Birthday

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If you know Derek, you know how appropriate a nerdy thirty party was. It was even his idea…. kind of. 🙂 He wasn’t a big fan of the bow tie but he was a good sport.

Here’s the Invite I sent out: DerekBdayInvite (2)

2014-05-10 14.20.03We had Derek’s favorite snacks: Doritos, popcorn, Red Vines and on the other table we had nachos and soft pretzels with soda.

My three smallest nerds:

ImageImageImage2014-05-10 13.31.38These two… We sure are going to miss having these cousins around.Image

2014-05-10 16.20.07Aunt Linda was the favorite! I’m not sure how many books she read but the kids just kept them coming!Image

I think he had a good time and felt loved. Thanks for coming everyone!



We got to celebrate our cousin’s 2nd birthday last weekend by visiting the Hill Aerospace Museum. We went there last fall as part of Isaac’s potty reward but the boys were way more excited about it this time. Everything is more fun with cousins! They love the movie Planes and I was impressed at how quickly they recognized all of the different types of planes. We saw a Chupacabra and a Skipper and jets like Echo and Bravo. I don’t think I would have made those connections if they hadn’t pointed them out. It must be a boy thing…



Happy Birthday Christian!


Basement Remodel: Windows and Framing

Hi. Remember how ever remodeling project is full of little projects that you didn’t plan or budget for? They give me (the stay-on-schedule-plan-maker) anxiety. I thought the windows would be easy because my dad is the (Carter’s Glass) window guy. Yeah, well. First we had to hire an excavator (who cost more than we wanted.) Image

2014-03-17 09.00.54The boys loved watching the excavator from the windows.

And then we had to hire a cement cutter (who cost WAY more than we wanted). Image

Then we had to break up the cement block that came out of the house (because the expensive cement cutter was only a cutter not a measure-er or a jack-hammer-er or a hauler away-er). After all that we finally got the new windows. And I do have to say they were worth all of the trouble. I LOVE them! They let in so much light and they are so white and pretty! Thanks Dad!


New windows in the office and game room.

Our second unplanned project was framing. When we pulled the wall paneling down, we discovered that the exterior walls weren’t framed with 2x4s. We had known that we’d be framing in a closet and a couple of new doors but we weren’t expecting to do the whole basement. We could have just put sheet rock over the top of the existing 1x2s but we wanted to install insulation so we decided to frame. Image

Derek framing the den.


Bedroom with new window and framing

We aren’t quite done. I decided that I wanted to cover this *beautiful green-brick* fireplace as well. So we are in the middle of framing over the brick and we still need to do the closet and the doors… So many detours. Image By the way, I got my inspiration for my new fireplace from The Lettered Cottage. I’m excited to see how it turns out.


Basement Remodel: Demolition Part 2

Grandpa Curtis is our remodeling superhero. He came down two more times this week to get us all demolished and cleaned up. Uncle Nate donated his day off to helping too. His job was dusty and gross: pulling down the ceiling (I think he discovered 3 *old* mouse nests!! Ew! Glad those are gone.) Thanks Nate!


The boys were so excited to “help.” They had all of their tools down there hammering away. Isaac especially had a good time working next to his grandpa. He was carrying ceiling tiles up the stairs and into the truck for a good hour while Curtis was hauling the big stuff. He talked non-stop and enjoyed every minute. I think Grandpa did too.


I was surprised and impressed at how good Isaac was with the little crowbar. He was popping nails out like a pro. He kept hitting himself in the face, but he was in heaven.


He also got to take a ride to the dump with Daddy first thing this morning. He was looking forward to it all week and as soon as we woke up this morning, he was ready to go.

Boys are kind of fun sometimes.


Disneyland Trip: Days 6 & 7

Our last day at Disneyland was the best. We wanted to stay until the park closed so that we could watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. We decided to save our sandwiches for dinner to eat during the parade. Isaac was SO excited to have a picnic at the parade. He carried the lunch pail all day. He wouldn’t let it go for anything!  We left the park for lunch and let the boys take a real nap back at the hotel. That was such as smart idea. After their naps they were so happy and ready for a few more hours of fun.

We hit almost everything in Fantasy Land and took pictures with a lot of characters today. We actually rode the train as transportation instead of diversion. I think the highlight of the day for the boys was seeing Tigger, Eyore and Pooh. They still talk about them.



About an hour before the parade was supposed to start, I took the empty stroller and snagged us a good seat in the circle in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. I lucked out and got a bench after one family decided they didn’t want to sit there for an hour. Derek and Mitch let the kids play on the cars in Toon Town and took them on several more rides in Fantasy Land while I saved our spot. Smart move for two reasons: 1) Fantasy Land was empty and 2) the boys didn’t have to sit still for a whole hour before the parade even started.


Being monkeys in the Casey Jr Monkey Cage

The parade was so fun. I don’t know if it was because Isaac had anticipated all day his parade picnic or it was night-time or he was well-rested but the parade was magical. It was so fun to see their reactions. Cooper was waving frantically at every one for the whole parade. Carter was dancing and yelling and pointing. Isaac was taking pictures with his trusty camera and would get so excited whenever something else came around the corner. I’m glad we took the time to see it.


The next morning we were on the road by 4:30. The trip home was (luckily!) pretty uneventful. We stopped in Baker for gas, go-gurts and muffins. We had lunch at a park in St. George. The boys slept clear until Scipio where we had to stop for gas. We were at Grandma Cynthia’s by dinnertime.

We had such a fun time! Next time we do Disneyland, I’m sure it will be a very different experience. Our kids will probably be more independent. They won’t need naps.  We won’t have to haul a stroller or a diaper bag. We’ll all be able to ride the big rides. They’ll remember more. Yes, it will be very different (and maybe easier!). But we won’t ever have the chance for this same experience again. I’m glad we took the chance.


Disneyland Trip: Day 5

The next day (up at the crack of dawn again) was our Magic Morning day. But, since Disneyland’s hours change daily, we were really in the park at the same time as we were the day before. I guess We did beat SOME of the crowd by having our Magic Morning passes. We rode Space Mountain and the Matterhorn right off the bat since the lines for these were short. The lady at Space Mountain told us about how you can cheat the system a little bit using stroller passes (officially called Rider Switch) and Fast Passes concurrently. I wish we would have known about this at California Adventure.

Fast Passes let you skip the long line at some of the popular rides, but you can only get one at a time (or every 90 minutes, whichever is shorter). So, for example, in California Adventure we got four Fast Passes for California Screamin’ (we used Isaac’s ticket plus our three) and then I waited with the kids while Derek and Mitch rode. Then Mitch stayed with the kids while Derek and I used the other two passes. We found out from the Space Mountain lady that we should only get TWO Fast Passes for any given ride and then ask for a stroller pass once we got to the front of the line. For example, we would get two Fast Passes for Space Mountain and two more for Indiana Jones during the same 90 min window. When it was time to return to the ride, Derek and I would ride Space Mountain, ask for a stroller pass and then Derek and Mitch would take the stroller pass and ride while I waited. Then we could head right over to Indiana Jones and do the same thing. We did this for Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Matterhorn (no Fast Passes) and Star Tours.

This day was a little tough on the kids. Since we rode all of the grown up rides this day the boys did a lot of waiting and walking around. It was hard to go on rides with the boys while we were waiting since most rides only seat three. Plus, kids under 7 have to be seated with an adult. The train was a good one to ride with one adult and three kids, though. I think we rode it 3 or 4 times to stay entertained during wait times.

Watching the ducks while waiting for Daddy and Uncle Mitch (Apparently this was the only picture I took today.)

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The toddler-friendly rides we rode today were:

Enchanted Tiki Room

Tarzan’s Tree House: Derek and the boys did this while Mitch and I rode Indiana Jones.

Pirates of the Carribean: I had forgotten about the little drops. They aren’t really that big but in the dark, they made the twins a little nervous. Then the ride broke down while we were on it. It wasn’t awful but I don’t think this was the kids’ favorite.

*Autotopia (32″ limit): The boys LOVED this ride. The car I was driving kept stopping on the track so I didn’t love this one. If the line hadn’t been so long we would have gone on this one a few more times.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters: Similar to Toy Story Mania in California Adventure. Instead of playing video games you shoot lasers at Zurg and all of his minions.

Astro Orbitor: Classic “rocket” ride similar to Dumbo. It made me sick.

*Jungle Cruise: We went on this twice. The boys liked going on the boat and seeing all of the animals.

My cousin Casey is living in California and going to nurse anesthetist school. His wife, Ashley, came to meet us late in the afternoon with her two boys to say hello. Derek and Mitch left for the Lakers/Jazz game soon after. It was nice to have someone to hang out with for awhile before dinner and it was so fun to see them!

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Go Jazz!

I realized after Derek and Mitch left that my credit card was back at the hotel. I had hoped to just eat dinner in the park to save myself some hassle. Instead, I packed all the boys, the stroller and our gear on the bus, back to the hotel and up to our room only to realize my credit card was in my pocket the whole time. Awesome. It wasn’t too bad, though. The boys had been well-behaved and happy the whole way so we headed out again to find dinner.

They boys were insisting on Mac N Cheese so we trekked four blocks down the road to Red Robin. I think the hostess and waitress thought I was crazy. They weren’t super helpful or empathetic to my situation, but so far, the kids were still doing really well. Pretty amazing considering they didn’t nap and it was almost two hours past their normal dinner time. I was happy and grateful.

Towards the end of the meal, things started to go south really fast. Isaac zonked out in his chair sitting up. I couldn’t get him to wake up so I held him on my lap so he wouldn’t fall to the ground. At the same time the twins started arguing (i.e. growling, squealing, hitting and yelling) about who was going to get to run next to the stroller on the way back (I only had a double). Yes, they both really did want to run and not ride. A kind lady at the table next to me offered to help. She got my stroller and helped me get the kids strapped in and out the door. Cooper and Carter were still wailing. Carter, because he was the unfortunate one to get put in the stroller, and Cooper because he was just plain exhausted.

The walk home was pretty comedic. Isaac was out cold in the stroller. Carter was trying escape from his seat belt and screaming bloody murder. Cooper, mad that I made him hold my hand across every busy road, was also sobbing as he ran next to the stroller. I was singing them songs and pointing out all of the buses, trucks, and colors I could along the way. We sure made a scene. All because I didn’t take two seconds to check my pockets for a credit card… Oh well. It makes for a good laugh. I wish I had a picture of it to post.

Needless to say, the boys went right to sleep the second they got in bed. So did I.


Disneyland Trip: Day 4

We woke up bright and early! 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. in California felt like normal wake up time to the boys. When we went down for breakfast we found out that several other Utah families were enjoying their February in Southern California as well. We all stuck out from the natives in our shorts and flip flops while they were still in jackets and pants.

We spent the first day of our park visit at California Adventure. The last time I went to Disneyland was 2001, so I have never been to California Adventure. I was really excited for Cars Land (the boys are kind of obsessed with Lightning McQueen and Mater) and it didn’t disappoint. It felt like we were right in Radiator Springs and it was definitely the highlight our visit for me. Derek, Mitch and I each took a turn waiting in line for Fast Passes to Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin’ (my favorite) and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror while the other big people rode rides with the little people. Derek and I also got Fast Passes for World of Color as recommended by Teri. It was fun to be able to do some adult things too.


There was quite a bit that the boys could do. I was pleasantly surprised. The twins barely cleared the 32″ limit and Isaac was just at the 36″ mark. The only “kid” ride that the twins couldn’t go on was Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies. Isaac was super disappointed that he couldn’t do Radiator Springs Racers with us (40″ limit). He was bawling when Derek and I came back to him after riding. Sad day.

Here’s the list of toddler-friendly rides that we rode and a review of each for anyone (like me!) who hasn’t been to Disneyland in a while. The boys’ favorites are starred.

Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (32″ limit): This is kind of the same idea as the Scrambler carnival ride only you ride in tractors and Mater sings. The boys were a little nervous when it went fast. And it made me sick. But overall it was pretty fun.

Luigi’s Flying Tires (32″ limit): This is unlike any ride I’ve been on. It’s similar to bumper cars but you control your “tire” by leaning forward, backward and side to side. Derek described it as a giant air hockey table, which is pretty accurate. The tires inflate and you hover over the ground. It was kind of weird and just “meh.”


Toy Story Midway Mania: This was my favorite kid ride in California Adventure and it was the longest wait (40 min) of our whole trip. If I could do it again, I’d ride this one very first after getting Fast Passes to everything else. It’s also different than any other ride I’ve been on. You ride in a car wearing 3-D glasses and play different arcade games (target shooting, ring toss, skee ball etc.) I thought the boys would really like it but I think we lost their attention during all the waiting. And they had a hard time keeping their glasses on.Image


*King Triton’s Carousel: Carousels make me sick. They rode it twice. I’m glad we went all the way to Disneyland for this…. 🙂


The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure: I had heard that this was a popular ride so I didn’t really think we’d take the time to stand in line for it–especially since the boys have never seen The Little Mermaid. I was surprised at how short and quick the line was! You sit in a clam shell train that never stops moving. It’s a classic Disneyland ride in a dark building that depicts scenes from the movie. Ursula was kind of scary.

*Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies (36″ limit): Isaac rode this with Derek and he LOVED it. Cooper was super jealous and kept trying to climb the fence so he could get in. They are just bumper cars that look like potato bugs inside a big circus tent.


Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train: This was kinda cute. You go through a garden of giant food and hear Heimlich eating it all. He starts off with carrots and watermelon and ends with candy corn.


Francis’ Ladybug Boogie: This is basically the tea cups ride only they are lady bugs. Spinning again. Made me sick.

Flik’s Flyers: These are mini hot air balloons that lift up and spin around. Another nausea inducing one for me. (I guess all kid rides make me sick now. I must be getting old….) All six of us could ride in one box together.


Can you tell these boys (especially the biggest one) love posing for pictures??


We stopped to see Pluto right as we entered the park. I was interested to see how the boys would react since it was their first character encounter. The were a little nervous when they got right up close and they had to keep their eyes on him. But they actually really loved meeting him and all of the other characters. Since they had such a good time with Pluto, we took time to say hello to all the “celebrities” we passed throughout the day. I’m glad we did. We got some fun pictures.


We met McQueen and Mater, of course, in Cars Land. Isaac couldn’t wait to take a picture of McQueen with his camera. (Um, I didn’t realize that they are “real” characters. From seeing other people’s pictures, I thought they were just statues like the cars in Toon Town! So. Cool.)

We saw Donald and Buzz on Paradise Pier.


Meeting the characters was probably more fun for the boys than riding any of the rides. I was surprised but not disappointed. I enjoyed seeing what the boys liked and then trying to cater our visit to their tastes (except for riding the carousels over and over again). 😉

We also stuck around for the Pixar Play Parade. It wasn’t quite as magical as I had expected, probably because it was dinner time and the boys were tired of sitting around waiting for it to begin.


We left the park for dinner right after the parade ended. We took the bus over to the Garden Walk area and ate at California Pizza Kitchen. I thought we’d save money by not eating in the park, but that was our most expensive meal. :-/ Mouse Savers does recommend signing up for discounts by joining Club Garden Walk on the website. I just never got around to it. Guess I should have.

We took the bus back to our hotel to put the kids down for bed. I was worried they’d put up a fight again like the first night. They absolutely crashed. It was so nice. Mitch stayed with them so Derek and I could go back to California Adventure for World of Color. We got there right as they were opening the viewing areas and got a spot on the bridge. We had a pretty good view but I didn’t like that we had to just stand there for an hour to save our spot before it began. We should have brought our cards or a snack or something. It was nice having a little date night in the park without the kids and all their stuff (stroller, lunch pail, diaper bag, etc.).


World of Color was pretty amazing too. It was definitely worth seeing at least once.