On My Yearly Social Media Cleanse

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Unrelated but cute pic of Reese crashing in the big kid car seat on vacation

About once a year I start getting really fed up with the internet. And of course it isn’t the internet – if you’re the person who blames “social media” or “the internet” or “the world” for the ills in your life then you’re accepting no responsibility. The internet is what we make of it. We have the self-control and curation powers to cater our own internet experience.

And I can tell when I’ve started to do a terrible job of self-control and curating my feed. I’m constantly irritated by everything I see and read, but still checking it an insane amount of times each day. I hate everyone, and I feel like everyone hates me too. I get offended by everything I see, resist the frequent urge to pick fights or hurt feelings intentionally, and I take what I’m experiencing from the screen into my real life. It just feels messy and stupid all around.

It always seems to happen to me during the summer. I’m not sure why. There were a lot of other contributing factors – my first trimester fatigue, this decaying roadkill carcass of an election, celebrity drama, mommy wars, good and bad things happening in the lives of others… The landscape of social media is always changing, for good and bad, and sometimes it’s just a little much to keep up with.

I LOVE social media. And I never want to be the kind of person who is like “Oh I’m leaving social media! It’s just SO toxic!!!” because let’s be real – everyone rolls their eyes at those people. It’s just always a good reminder to me that if I’m not loving my experience online that it’s time for me to take a step back and remember that *I’m* in the driver’s seat.

If I’m bugged I really only have myself to blame. If I’m bugged there are solutions/reasons that are all within my control:

  • I need to unfollow or block the person/account/blog
  • I need to increase the ratio of positive to negative in my feed
  • Something makes me uncomfortable or offends me because it’s right about me, and I don’t like that
  • I’m guilty or doing something wrong or being unChristlike in some way
  • I need to find a way to respect the opinions of others and humble myself – because contrary to MY popular belief I don’t actually have all the answers

The week before we went to Disneyland I decided to step back from social media for a week. I checked in a couple of times when I needed to do Harry Potter Book Club stuff, to post/share my blog, and to Instagram Reese because she turned 18 months and was being super cute. It was really really nice. I highly recommend it to everyone, because it gives you time and perspective.

This time I found basically the same thing that I wrote about 2 years ago, which makes me happy because I think it’s good: I miss PEOPLE. I miss pleasant interactions, complimenting others, knowing what’s going on in their life. I felt the sweet relief with 7 days of none of those things that bugged me, but I definitely missed my online friends. It’s a reminder of what social media should be – friends and happy interactions.

I returned with a clear picture of that, ready to ruthlessly edit my online experience to fit the vision of a social media world where I’m happy, healthy, and not addicted to pointless or negative fluff. Until I logged back into everything and started to RAGE.

You know what I didn’t miss, and was thrown back into PAINFULLY?

  • 6, I am not kidding, 6 different MLM groups. IN A WEEK YOU GUYS.
  • A billion political posts and I hate them all no matter what they say or who they support because they just incite friction!
  • Complainers who only complain
  • People bragging or glamorizing (for lack of a better word?) about their immaturity, mistakes, or mental illness. Twitter is such an echo chamber for this unfortunately.
  • GoFundMes
  • Backhanded remarks about other people’s parenting or thinly veiled critiques of parenting/discipline methods disguised as promotions of their own preferred parenting/discipline methods
  • Criticisms of the Church, Mormons, Mormon culture
  • Any of the sudden and passionate liberal opinions of my students who are now college freshman
  • Anything posted by anyone over the age of 40
  • Disheartening and scary news about sexism and misogyny, and the ensuing backlash of militant feminism

The hard thing about coming back to this is that I’m not altogether sure how to best deal with all of these. Quitting Facebook would eliminate a lot of this, but it’s the very best place for Harry Potter Book Club and drives most of my traffic for this blog. It’s also where most of my extended family gets updates on my life and communicates with our entire family. I have hid a lot of people, and I just try to avoid Facebook at all costs, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely leave Facebook.

Unfollowing on Twitter helps, but often it’s people that I really like or who very occasionally post things on that list so it’s probably more just taking better care mentally and spiritually to be in a place where those things don’t bother me. That’s on me. I know I have a lot of issues with feeling superior and judging others. I need to have more compassion and humility.

That being said, it’s taking everything in me to not write a huge, impassioned post about MLMs. I’m so done with them, you guys. SO. DONE. I can’t believe Facebook doesn’t have a setting that says “Require my permission before allowing someone I haven’t talked to in years to add me to a stupid Jamberry/Lularoe/Lipsense group.” For now I’m leaving the groups like a dad fleeing a bridal shower. But it still bugs me so much that I HAVE to, you know? #firstworldprobs #entitlement

The big realization for me during that week away from social media is that I’m a mom now. I mean, I’m not just realizing that now, obviously. But I’m realizing it in the context of social media. I cannot allow myself to be tossed about by social media. I can’t allow other people, accounts, articles, or shares to affect my mood in a way that could change my parenting to be anything but better.

So that’s my new mantra. That’s my North Star.

Is this going to make me a better mom? Is this going to help my parenting?

The Beard often rolls his eyes when I talk about “my online friends,” but I can genuinely say that this online community of friends that I’ve been privileged to assemble really does make me a better mom about 95% of the time. Tweeting jokes, texting questions, sharing fails and wins honestly makes me a better, more grateful, more mindful mother. It’s a mom tribe of which I’m very lucky to be a part.

For everything else – if it has no effect on my parenting and doesn’t drag down my mood, then game on. Hopefully it enriches my life, motivates, inspires, strengthens me as a person and mother. But as soon as the barometer turns to negativity, second-guessing, unhealthy comparison, or irritation – it has to go. And suddenly with Reese (and new baby!) in perspective it’s pretty easy for me to draw the lines I need.

It was also a sharp reminder that this is a two-way street. In order for the internet and social media to be the positive and happy place I want it to be, I need to contribute. I need to be sharing the type of stuff that uplifts and strengthens others. I can’t contribute to the black tar of negativity that lies on the sticky floor of the internet. I’m too snarky too often. If you know me in real life you know that I’m actually a very bubbly, optimistic, cheerful personality. Why not bring a little more of that to the internet? I shall.

I missed you guys. I missed the positive. I missed the inspiration. I missed the motivation to be as cool and funny and awesome as you all. I am happy to be back.

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Holdy Baby #2!

If you follow along on social media you already know the news –
Disney maternity

There’s gonna be another mouse in our house! I am 14 weeks along, due February 18th (Reese was due February 5th and born February 10th). We love February babies!

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Unlike Reese’s pregnancy this one has already had some bumps and scary moments, but I finally felt like it was time to share – even if we’re not entirely out of the woods yet. We are very excited about another baby Holdy and very happy to share the news with our friends and family. We are hoping to hear good news this week and from here on out – including a gender ultrasound this week. We’re not the types to wait.

On the Holdaway side they haven’t had a boy since The Beard himself – 4 daughters and 3 granddaughters! And my brother Mitch is our only boy on the Budge side, so I think all parties are pretty anxious for some testosterone up in here. Boys are very intimidating and foreign to me, for some reason, but I feel like it’s a challenge I’ll have eventually. Especially as I’ve seen so many close friends and family lately have ADORABLE baby boys.

That being said, I would be OVER THE MOON about another girl because Reese has been so much fun and completely exceeded our expectations. Not to mention I have 18 months worth of girl clothes with which I’m completely obsessed and excited to use again.

Thanks to you all for your kind words and excitement and prayers. Here’s to hoping we can think of some kind of gender reveal that isn’t tacky AF.

 

 

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Tips for Toddlers in Disneyland

Toddler in Disneyland

When we went to Disneyland last year Reese was still a “baby.” She napped wherever, took a bottle whenever, chilled endlessly in the stroller, and just generally rolled with whatever we wanted to do. It was awesome. Taking a baby to Disneyland wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and we had the best time with her. Definitely check out my How to do Disney with a Baby post along with this one, because it contains a lot of general Disneyland tips that also apply with toddlers.

When we went this year in June, however, Reese was at an entirely different stage (16 months) and I was very very worried about how different it might be. At the same time Reese was way more alert and aware and reactive, so I was extremely excited to see her react to the parades, rides, and the characters she can now recognize – like Minnie & Mickey. I’m happy to report back that, while it was a little more difficult to take a toddler, it was much more fun than when she was a tiny baby.

There was a definite shift in this last trip from the previous trips, and as we prepare to head back to Disneyland this week I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences and how I will be better prepared this time. HENCE blog post time.

Tips for Toddlers in Disneyland

Prep Before You Go

  • Read my How to Prepare for a Disneyland Trip – it starts at 3-6 months out and winds down to the day before you go.
  • Get to know the characters. Reese watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at my mom’s and my MIL’s somewhat frequently now, and it has definitely made her recognize Mickey & Minnie more. We also have several Minnie Mouse toys so those have become favorites. Because of this recognition she was so much more excited when she saw Mickey & Minnie stuff all over Disneyland.
  • Figure out their basic eating/sleeping/playing/bedtime schedule. Most of you moms are probably like “uh, duh.” We have always been pretty loosey-goosey over here when it comes to our schedule, though so it’s not always a given. It’s fine when we’re at home and just living our regular life, because I have things ready to rock whenever she wants them and we’re basically always less than 10 minutes from home. In Disneyland however it was much hard to distinguish her needs and when it was the right time to do certain things. I’ll talk more about this below, but it helps if you just have a really general picture of wake up, breakfast, play, lunch, naps, snacks, dinner, diapers, bedtime routines, etc. They definitely will not adhere to it in Disneyland, but it’s still helpful to have as a baseline.
  • Get them cute Disney tees and accessories! I wrote all about this in a Disney Style post, but my favorite places are Walmart (by a landslide – cheap and always have lots of Disney stuff in every section), Target, Old Navy, Forever 21, H&M, Amazon, and The Disney Store. Start looking early for stuff in your toddler’s size, and always keep an eye on the clearance sections – in store and online. Ask around to see if friends have Disney clothes or costumes they’d be willing to lend you. I have Disney stuff in almost every baby size now and I’m happy to share!
  • Practice long walks in the stroller, walking through crowded stores or the mall while holding hands, and do a test run on a toddler leash backpack.
  • Scope out the restaurants you want to try while you’re there. Disneyland is very baby/kid friendly, but some places are obviously more baby/kid friendly than others. I’m not saying you should skip out on a restaurant you really want to try – it’s just that they sometimes take more time and effort, so we ended up only doing one “real” restaurant a day, or every other day. Prioritize where you want to go. (My favorite Disney foods here.)
  • If you have a very picky toddler, you might also want to look into the menus of restaurants around the park. Many offer kid menus with PB&J, Mac n Cheese, and other kid favorites. It’s just helpful information to have on hand in case your kid goes full meltdown mode and you just need a quick win.

To Buy/Pack

Toddler in Disneyland

  • A variety of prepackaged, disposable snacks. Last time I had little tupperware containers that I filled up each morning before heading out. I can’t tell you how many times we lost the lid, or Reese spiked the entire thing over the side of the stroller. #nope This time I’m taking a ton of disposable food pouches, fruit snacks, the individual baggies of goldfish, and snack ziploc bags to put her yogurt melts and crunchies in. (I might keep those snack bags in a small tupperware to keep them from crumbling, but then I’ll leave the tupperware in my bag and only give her the disposable stuff. Yahtzee.)
  • Small bottles of juice or milk to take into the park. You can buy juice boxes and stuff there but it was way more affordable to just buy 8 or 12 oz bottles and throw them in the cooler with my Diet Cokes.
  • Speaking of drinks – take a cooler bag. Ours is almost exactly like this one, and it’s perfect for throwing in the basket of the stroller. Last year we just took a tiny 6 can cooler bag and it was great, but now that we’re packing more juice, milk, and snacks we need something bigger. We put drinks and snacks like string cheese, chocolate, or other melty things in there. Trust me, everyone in your group will appreciate you bringing one.
  • A toddler leash backpack. If you are fundamentally against these then you’re just ignorant. We have this panda one, but they have a bunch of other animals and options. Reese loves it and asks us to put it on her all the time at home. It was super helpful in line when we couldn’t just stand and hold all 25 pounds of her and she wanted to stand and walk on her own anyways – throw on the leash and they can feel independent but stay safe and close.
  • Stroller fan. We took a big spray fan last year and never used it, but then when I saw the clip on fan that my SIL had for my niece I knew it was a better option. We just bought this one to take this time.
  • An ipad loaded with games and/or movies that your toddler likes. There will come a time that they are just freaking out and can’t stand the stroller for one more minute but you just can’t let them run wild because you’re at dinner or headed all the way across the park or waiting for something important. We didn’t bring the ipad last time and it was fine, but it would have been nice to not have to hand her our phones for YouTube because she just needed to chill while we waited to be seated for dinner. Definitely taking it this time with Zootopia ready to rock at a moment’s notice.
  • A Disney “souvenir.” I actually read this on another blog and thought it was GENIUS. Basically you buy your kid a stuffed Disney character or toy or whatever you think they’ll love BEFORE you go to Disneyland just from Walmart or Amazon or wherever. It’s way cheaper than actual Disneyland merchandise, and you can just keep it secretly tucked away in your bag and then give it to them when they ask for a toy or souvenir. They’re none the wiser.
  • A back up binky, bottle, sippy cup, etc. We only brought one of Reese’s binkies last time and it fell out of the stroller at one point. Reese only likes her wubanub binkies, so I was stressing about where in the world I’d find one in Anaheim in the middle of our Disneyland trip. I’m sure I could have or that we could have done without it, but it would have been a pain. Luckily we retraced our steps and found (and sanitized) it! Toddlers are even more temperamental and possessive about their favorite things, so I’m always making sure we have a backup – even if we just leave it in the hotel room.
  • Good toddler shoes. {It’s actually a Disneyland rule that if you set your kid down at all they have to have shoes on, just FYI.} Those cute fabric crib shoes or trendy leather moccasins are NOT the right choice for Disneyland, even if your toddler will spend most of the time in the stroller. Those shoes are great for everyday wear around your house, grocery store, or the park, but will wear down and get filthy so fast in Disneyland. Rubber-soled, broken in sneakers are the way to go. Reese wore her Ikiki Panda shoes most of the time and we’re packing those and her Nike kicks for this trip.
  • A backup tee/onesie/romper for your toddler to have in the bag. We’re thankfully past the blowout stage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t spill EVERYTHING on our clothes, get soaked, or start getting sick of the big fluffy Minnie costume.

In The Park

Toddler in Disneyland

  • Avoid making lots of set plans or trying to keep up with your non-toddler group. Toddlers just slow you down, and that’s ok. We were super clear with our family and they were very accommodating and not offended at all when we had to say “We’ll just catch up with you!” If you’re planning to hit a fast pass and then go straight to another ride and then grab lunch at that restaurant over there and then do another ride in that other place… I can basically guarantee you that your toddler will make sure it doesn’t happen. Try to take things one step at a time and be as flexible as possible.
  • That being said, kind of plan. Talk with your group about general plans and areas of attack. Don’t get a random fastpass for the other side of the park in an hour. Try to tackle areas at a time, and plan your park hopping carefully. Nothing tires you out and irritates a toddler faster than a 20 minute walk to traverse the park. Wandering aimlessly can be fun. Walking around the park for an entire day and only riding 3 rides is maddening – and a waste of your pass!
  • Let them walk as much as you possibly can. Sometimes Reese was content in the stroller, or I expected a huge fight when I inevitably had to put her back in, so I avoided letting her walk or get out to play when it was an option. Fast forward an hour when we’re in the middle of a crowded thoroughfare and she is FREAKING. OUT. because she’s sick of being in the stroller. Can you blame her? This time I am going to consciously and actively let her walk and play whenever possible, even if it’s a bit of a pain for me. It will make her happy and more importantly – wear her out!
  • Venture into Toon Town. If you’re like me, you haven’t been there since you were 6. Why bother? It’s for kids. Well, now it’s time to bother, because it’s for kids. I thought it was maybe too advanced for Reese but I was wrong! It’s the most kid-friendly part of the park, and we basically let Reese run wild there. And even at the busiest hours of the park it tends to stay relatively open. Don’t discredit Toon Town.
  • Shift your focus from 100% rides to 50% rides/50% attractions. When you don’t have kids, you’re like “SPLASH MOUNTAIN SPACE MOUNTAIN THUNDER MOUNTAIN TURKEY LEG MATTERHORN INDIANA JONES.” Welp. Not really like that anymore. Even if you’re doing the kid-friendly rides, you just can’t go back to back to back. Trust me. Between the lines and attention span and holding/chasing/soothing your toddler… it just doesn’t work like that. Choose a handful of kid-friendly rides (Reese’s favorites are It’s A Small World in Disneyland and The Little Mermaid in CA), and a few attractions you want to check out (next bullet).
  • ATTRACTIONS! There is so much more to Disneyland than rides! Grab a pamphlet/map/program when you get there are pick a couple of attractions you want to see. I am obsessed with the parades. I literally cry every time I love them so much. And Reese loves them too! It is 150000% worth it to go get a good spot along the parade route and just camp out for an hour or two before it starts. Sync this time up with dinner or nap time for extra points. Last time everyone went and rode some of the “adult” rides while I got us a kicka** parade spot and I ate a snack and Reese napped the whole time. {INSIDER TIP: It was also a great spot for the fireworks – right on the roundabout in front of the castle.} Last time we were there we walked up to the castle to get our pictures, and it just so happened to be right when the Disneyland Marching Band came out with Mickey & Friends. I am SO GLAD we accidentally got a front row seat, and we are definitely making it a priority next time. So cute and fun and Reese LOVED it. I’ve heard good things about the Mickey’s Magical Map, Frozen, and other shows around the park too.
  • Meet the Characters! This isn’t really worth your time unless your kid is old enough to actually recognize and be into it. You also may want to take into account your kid’s age/shyness/stranger danger/stage fright. My niece Lillie (she was 3 at the time) is obsessed with Elsa, but she’s also very shy around strangers and doesn’t really like the spotlight being on her. They waited in line for a while (you can imagine what the line to meet Elsa looks like), and when it was her turn to meet Elsa she was a little overwhelmed and terrified. I can’t blame her! It’s a lot to take in and comes with a lot of pressure. The Character Breakfast can be a fun and less stressful option with toddlers, or you can look up when they’re doing photos/autographs and get there early. Toon Town has a lot of the characters around most of the time. We have gotten lucky with Minnie & Mickey before at random spots/times around the park – just keep your eyes out for characters and hustle over when you see them!
  • Quiet Time. Last time I found that on one of our busiest days Reese just seemed fussy and agitated, even though she was fed and had a good nap. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to realize she was simply overstimulated! There were 10 of us talking to her, showing her things, walking her around, all on top of the excitement that is Disneyland alone! We skipped out on the next ride and found a little secluded and shaded area in Toon Town and just chilled. I pulled her out of the stroller, we shared some popcorn, walked around the little area together, and read her board book a few times. Sometimes toddlers just need to chill out.
  • Pajamas – I keep going back and forth on this one. A lot of moms say they love to change their kids into pajamas when it’s their bedtime, even if they’re gonna stay in the park for a few more hours. They say it helps keep the schedule somewhat normal, and if the kids fall asleep at any point you can just transition them straight to bed when you get to your hotel room. We did it one of the nights last time and it worked ok. We bathe Reese at night, and she doesn’t transition super well if she falls asleep somewhere other than bed, so it’s kind of wasted if she wakes up or if she got super gross that day and needs a bath before bed. I’m gonna take pajamas with us and we’ll play it by ear, I guess.
  • Mom and Dad need to enjoy Disneyland, too. If you’re not having a good time then your toddler won’t be enjoying it either. It’s ok to tell your kid “no” when they want to ride Dumbo again and you just can’t take it, or to let your toddler chill in the stroller while you and your spouse take turns doing the Splash Mountain single rider. Of course the trip is about the kids, but still do the things that you love. Make a plan to hit your favorite rides, restaurants, and attractions along with all of the kid stuff you plan to do. Drink plenty of water, take snacks that you also like, and treat yo self to some shopping and the legendary Disneyland desserts.
  • Toddlers will still throw tantrums in Disneyland. You aren’t a bad parent if your kid melts down. Their trip isn’t ruined. Remember that these tiny people are still developing their brains and emotions, and that Disneyland is overwhelming for the best of us. Have one parent take the toddler somewhere to cool down alone, while the rest of the family or group keeps going.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave the park. Sometimes you have to know when to say when, especially with a toddler in tow. If by midday it is hot and crowded and frustrating, peace out for an hour or two. Venture into Downtown Disney for shopping or even a movie. We love going down there to an air conditioned sit-down, no-rush restaurant (Tortilla Joes!) to escape the park for a couple of hours. You can even go back to your hotel for a nap, bath, or lunch. Don’t feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth if you would just spend that time sweating in insane lines with grumpy kids. The same goes for leaving the park at night – if you planned to stay till midnight but everyone is tired and you don’t feel a second wind coming on… call it a night.

Toddler in Disneyland

Grainy and dark, but it’s one of my favorite pictures of our trip – Reese entranced by the parade!

Taking a baby didn’t feel all that different from just going with adult friends and family, other than planning around baby swaps and who was sitting off with the kiddo. Taking a toddler? Completely different trip. But much, MUCH more fun! Just remember to take it slow, have fun, and stop to feel the magic – it’s much easier to feel with toddlers around. They can show you how; just watch them.

I’ll be taking next week off while we’re in Disneyland but follow along on Instagram (dholdy), Twitter (danica_holdaway), and Snapchat (dholdy) for lots of pics, videos, and updates while we’re in the Happiest Place on Earth!

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18 Months of Reese

Today Reese is 18 months! Once a kid is a year old I don’t think you should continue to mark their age in months, even though there is still rapid development and change from month to month. Unless it’s another mom of a small child all people want to hear is “oh he’s a year!” or “She’s almost 18 months!” or “He’ll be two in September.”

But 18 months is something to celebrate, because it is SO FAR from one year. She’s an entirely different child now, awesome in the same ways and so many new ones, with a completely different landscape of challenges and discoveries.

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Six months ago Reese didn’t walk. She said “Mama” and “Dada” and “Toto” and “Wow.” She was still drinking more milk than eating food, although she was eating basically anything we offered her. She was napping twice a day and sleeping 12 hours a night like the angel nugget blessing from heaven that she is. She was freaking bald. She had zero teeth. All she did all day was read books.

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And now all she does is talk. She is jabbering constantly, and making up a variety of facial expressions to go along with her words. She insists on walking/running everywhere and wants to hold hands with everyone. She still likes books, but she’d watch YouTube for hours if I let her. She’s down to one bottle before bed and it appears that, like her father, pasta is her favorite food, or perhaps popcorn like her mother. She takes one nap a day, and we’re lucky if it’s 2 hours – but we can’t complain when she sleeps 12+ hours a night and goes down like a little champion. She thinks she is bigger than she is, and tries desperately to keep up with big kids.

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I’ve never really blogged one of these, since I keep a very detailed baby book, but something about reaching 18 months wants me to recognize all of this. I just look at this little 18 month old person and can’t believe all that she does, and all that she’s become. Since we don’t quite celebrate this like a birthday, I still want to mark how far we’ve come. And it’s not fair to say we won’t celebrate, when I’m sure I’ll be dancing around the church building when I leave her in nursery this Sunday. Who says celebration has to be cake and ice cream? Maybe it’s just as festive for Reese to live her best life with her buddies in nursery and for her mom to have two hours of quiet listening in a padded chair.

Words Include

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Toto
  • Wow
  • Mo (more)
  • Mah-maw (Grandma Patti)
  • Bampa (Grandpa Ed)
  • Mimi (Grandma Kitty)
  • Papa (Grandpa Chad)
  • Uh-oh
  • No
  • Hi and Hey interchangeably
  • Baiiiiii
  • Ta-da!
  • joos (juice)
  • Bah-bee (baby)
  • Maow (meow/cat)
  • Pa-bah (panda)
  • Shooz (shoes)
  • Wes Go! (Let’s go!)
  • Pees (please)
  • Ow-sy (outside)
  • Wa-wa (Her cousin Lillie, no idea where this came from)
  • Wooby (Ruby, her cousin and her bestie)
  • Pop (poop – we’re hoping this will help us potty train eventually? who knows)
  • Ow
  • Nigh-nigh (night night)
  • “weh goooooo weh goooooooo” = “let it go let it gooooooo” hahaha
  • “da da da da da di daaaaa” = “hot dog hot dog hot diggity dog!” lolol

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Tricks Include

  • Giving loves
  • High five and “boom” (knuckles/bones/pound fist)
  • Random tackle leg hugs
  • Various stunning dance moves
  • Folding her arms for prayers
  • “Knock-a-door” where she knocks on the bathroom door while you’re peeing
  • Letting Coco out of his kennel
  • Getting into Coco’s treats and feeding him approximately 1,000 before I catch her
  • Brushing her own teeth & hair (I mean, kind of)
  • Finding YouTube on anyone’s phone within 20 seconds
  • Spotting pandas of any size from an impressive distance
  • Pointing to her button, ears, nose, feet, mouth
  • Peek-a-boo
  • FINALLY using a spoon successfully, praise the Lord (she used the blunt end for like 6 months)
  • “Nigh-Nigh” where she pulls pillows off the couch and then lays down on them on the ground to watch tv/pretend to be asleep

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Loves

  • Totos of all kinds
  • Talking constantly and earnestly
  • Going outside
  • Going anywhere at all
  • The Office. I swear it, you guys. She literally dances excitedly at the opening jingle.
  • Holding hands
  • Her grandmas
  • Pandas 4eva
  • Weird freaking YouTube videos like Pregnant Elsa and Spiderman crap
  • My Little Pony, Octonauts, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  • Her Klip Klop Princess castle
  • Pretending to put on makeup with mom
  • Singing and dancing
  • Making people laugh
  • Popcorn, Pasta, Yogurt Melts, fruit snacks, whatever you’re eating
  • Sleeping with her bum in the air
  • Her cousin Lillie. She would follow Lillie off a cliff.
  • Splash Pads – especially if they have the shallow streams, which she prefers
  • Doing her doll’s hair
  • Her wubanub binkies
  • Swinging and slides

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Every day is a lot more intense, a lot more messy, a lot more frustrating. Every simple task takes longer and is a new discovery. I’m getting less done now than when I was breastfeeding for hours a day, which is just so bizarre to me. I definitely think often of 4 month old bowling ball Reese that just smiled and cuddled and made no messes and I miss her.

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But the excitement I feel when I get to do something new with Reese – the anticipation of her reaction, the expectation of the joy or surprise on her face, the precious peals of laughter when she finds something to be hilarious… I’ve really only had that at 18 months.

Only at 18 months do you get a kid that is figuring out how to joke and tease.

18 month cuddles are more rare and more intentional, so they’re worth more than gold.

The babbles of an 18 month kid in the backseat actually feel like conversation, somehow, and if you know me you know how much it means to me that I will actually have a little talking buddy soon.

At 18 months they can tell you “mo” or “pop” or “ow” or “nigh nigh” or “toto” and TELL YOU why they’re freaking out.

18 months is still happy to see me when I come into her room every morning. Maybe even more excited, because she immediately starts spouting off her thoughts to me. It’s my favorite way to wake up.

18 months can feed herself and eat anything I’m eating.

18 months waves and says “hiiiiiii” to everyone we see.

18 months wants to do everything I’m doing. On her own. But with me.

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18 months rocks. Happy 18 Months Reester Bunny!

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All Dogs Go To Heaven

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I’ll try hard to not make this a big depressing sob story, but it felt wrong to not acknowledge the life and death of one of my best friends!

You can really tell pet/animal people from non-pet people by the way they react to the last part of that sentence. If you furrow your brow at that, you just aren’t a pet person. You just don’t really ~get it. Through no fault of their own! It’s a circumstantial, experiential thing.

It was so interesting to see the commenters and what they commented on my post about our dog on Saturday. For the most part people who commented were pet people – you can tell. And even amongst them you could tell which people had a family/childhood dog that they too had lost. Their condolences were particularly heartfelt and understanding. Not that everyone else wasn’t sincere or so so kind! They were, and the nice words were honestly helpful.

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Because somehow losing an animal is this different plane of loss and sadness. It’s hard to describe exactly. It’s almost like they’re too innocent to have to die. Too pure and juvenile and you just know they don’t fully understand what they’re going through. People are smart and have made mistakes and know what they’ve done and what is happening to them (for the most part). But dogs? Animals in general? They just shouldn’t have bad things happen to them.

You don’t know if they really ~knew how valued and loved they were. You don’t really know if they’re in a lot of pain, or scared, or sad. They’re just tiny and worried about you to the very end. You spend so much of your life loving them, but loving them so passively, taking them as a granted part of your daily life. And then they are just gone.

I hated animals. Did you know that? My sister Brooke was the big time animal lover. She primarily loved cats, so we always had a cat or two growing up. I liked them while they were kittens, but became crazy allergic as they became bona fide cats so I never developed into a cat person. Brooke wore my parents down with frequent requests for dogs, so we tried a couple of those – unsuccessfully. I did not have great experiences with the dalmatian or the chocolate lab; they seemed big and dangerous to me at the time.

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When my little brother Mitch was like 6 years old he asked Santa very earnestly for a dog. He even played the “I don’t have a little brother” card if I remember correctly. Santa couldn’t quite deliver that Christmas, but when a local family mentioned that their shih-tzu had puppies just 3 days after Christmas my mom felt right about it. I will never forget going over there when those little fur loaves were just the size of my 11 year old hand, squealing over them as Mitch chose the one he wanted – the dark fluffy one with a bright white line down his forehead and belly (hence the name Blade). I couldn’t believe how obsessed I became with those fuzzy caterpillars, asking constantly when we could go back over to the breeder’s house to visit in the month before we could take our home for good.

I think everyone expected Mitch to love him – as he was kind of ~his – and Brooke to love him since she was the labeled animal lover. I was as surprised as everyone to discover how much I LOVED that dog. I LOVED him, you guys. I had never taken to any animal in my life; not even my “own” cats I had picked out in the past. But this dog was somethin’ else.

I sat on the floor in the laundry room, with Blade playing or sleeping in my lap, while I talked on the handheld phone (for you young ‘uns, that was like a super huge and clunky cell phone that only worked inside your house) to my middle school besties and boyfriend.

Once he was fully potty trained I would sleep with him in my bed a couple of nights a week, at least. Anytime I ran an errand that didn’t require me to leave my car (i.e. 2,000 approximate trips to Sonic, if you’ve met my family you understand), I took Blade with me.

One time I took a solo trip to St. George, just me and Blade. When I was in England I missed him more than anyone, because I couldn’t talk to him! I begged my parents to bring him to the airport so I could see him right away.

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This sounds so freaking stupid but I literally had a moment when we took pictures outside the temple on my wedding day where I thought “Blade should be in these pictures.”

Blade is the only reason I was able to talk The Beard into getting a dog, because as you might imagine he is NOT a dog person. He, like everyone, loved Blade though. It was quite the bait-and-switch though, because Blade was the best dog in the universe so Glen Coco was doomed to fail. Especially since he also happens to be the dumbest and most anxious dog in the universe. Sorry, Beard.

I have a million memories with Blade. But one of the sweetest and most comforting parts about the last few days of grieving him has been the outreach of family, friends, and especially all of my mom’s salon clients who have known and loved Blade nearly as much as we did for 14 years. I am still getting comments and condolences on my post from Saturday. It’s kind of nice to hear that you didn’t just think your dog was awesome because he was yours – he actually WAS awesome and you have like a hundred people beyond your family to testify to that.

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Losing a childhood/family pet hurts in it’s own weird and raw way. The grief is obviously different than a human person’s, but the ache is real and unfortunately I know we will miss him a lot for a long time. But every time it starts to hurt so bad I just think “but was he worth it? Was having him worth this pain and loss?” Of course the answer is an infinite yes.

So despite the loss and ache I feel for my Blader Bug, I can tell you and your family and everyone else out there that having a dog is worth their loss one day. The 14 years of memories and love and snuggles and anecdotes are worth the ugly crying of the last several days, and the grief of the next several months.

If you don’t get this, it’s ok. You just aren’t a dog person, a pet person. But if you ~get this, thank you. Thank you for your kind words of understanding and condolences, and not rolling your eyes and saying things like “it’s just a dog,” because quite frankly NO he wasn’t and you’re an a-hole.

Squeeze your pets. Take more pictures of them. Spend some time just playing and loving them. They’re an enrichment to our lives that I can genuinely say I believe came from the direct design of God. All dogs go to heaven. I believe that sh*t in my soul. Pardon my french. I’m grieving.

 

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The Cursed Child Review

Cursed Child review YES there will be some spoiler content in this post, so if you haven’t read the script yet – come back when you have. I don’t want to ruin anything for you! I am so glad that nothing was ruined for me, because I think you need to just read it through and just ~experience it.

I was very, VERY nervous for this. I thought I would certainly be disappointed and I’d heard some vague accounts about it showing favorite characters in a less-than-favorable light. Did you guys know that I never even read that short story about everyone reuniting at the Quidditch World Cup that Rowling released a few years ago? I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Idk. Maybe I’ll be able to now. I just very painfully tore myself from this world when the last movie came out, like the most excruciating band-aid that forced me to realize that it was over. Yes, I’ll be obsessed and have these books and movies for my entire lifetime of course. But it’s hard to realize something is over for me, and I guess I just wasn’t ready to open up for something new and then have that feeling of being “done” again. When this was announced I had the same feelings, but realized quickly that it would be a big enough deal that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, avoid it.

What if something awful happened? What if people turned out to be sucky as adults? What if someone died? What if Albus is the Kylo Ren to Harry’s & Ginny’s Han & Leia???????? Or, worst of all, what if it just isn’t that good? Now THAT I couldn’t abide.

And a play? Why???? It’ll be years before the majority of us can actually see it. And a script? Such a weird thing to read. What would that be like? Certainly not as pleasant to read as an actual book. Lacking context, description, the critical unnarrated thought and emotion that characterizes Rowling’s writing… I just had very low hopes and it was wearing on me in the weeks leading up to this. I know that much of my Harry Potter Book Club agreed with me, because we were kind of all this one big knot of nervous energy about it.

So when midnight came and I was holding the book in my hands – a book that said “Harry Potter” and “JK Rowling” on the cover – I was incredibly relieved to feel my fears dissipate and my excitement mount. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had that familiar new-Harry-book feeling? Yes, you do. Nine years since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I felt seventeen again. Flipping that cover open and seeing the names of my favorite characters in print again felt like coming home.

Cursed Child review

I read for a couple of hours before literally falling asleep on the open pages around 3 am and jerking awake from drool and scratchy new paper. I spent much of those early pages wiping away tears because it was just making me so emotional to hear them speak (figuratively) again and to pick up the little nuggets and pieces that it felt like JK Rowling was dropping just for us.

When I woke on Sunday morning I reached straight for my copy and didn’t set it down until I was done, walking around making lunch and picking up Reese’s toys one-handed. The Beard got pretty sick of my exclamations and gasps, but he got even more sick of me trying to explain the entire play to him. So here I am spilling it all in a blog post.

Thoughts, Loves, Opinions, Disappointments

  • Harry saying to Albus what Molly Weasley said to him at Platform 9 3/4 CRYING EMOJI
  • THE BLANKET CRYING EMOJI DEAD EMOJI
  • I absolutely LOVED the Trolley Witch and her backstory. Somehow that felt like such a JK touch, like something she wanted to include in the books but never had reason to. Yeah, I’m not sure if that was all true they WOULD have been able to escape, but whatevs. Didn’t let that bog me down.
  • Ron is such a DAD and somehow that was hilarious and so comforting to me. The idea that he steps into Fred’s place to run the joke shop (with George, presumably?) was healing to my heart.
  • OF COURSE Hermione weaponizes books and riddles of COURSE she does so on brand
  • SHE’S THE MINISTER WHAT A BADASS I LOVE HER
  • I want to raise Scorpius as my own. I just love him so much. He provides some depth to Slytherin house, as well as redemption for his father.
  • Speaking of Draco, of course there is still animosity and his deep-seated nature is to be a little b*tch. But it was interesting to see the way that becoming a parent, and especially Astoria, has changed him. I still bristled at moments when he’d smile at Hermione or Ginny, obviously, because 7 books of ingrained conditioning and hatred isn’t just gonna go away.
  • We got very little about Astoria and I wish we had so much more. I’d read an entire book about her. Just the idea that Draco defied his dear father to marry her automatically makes her one of the most interesting and arguably important characters to this story.
  • How pissed is McGonagall that she is still dealing with Harry Potter’s sh*t all these years later? But like of course she is
  • This sounds awful but I was surprised that she was still alive, to be honest?
  • I get that this is a play and they can have the entire cast of the books, but I just kept thinking “Molly Weasley would be lighting this sh*t up right now if her grandson was missing. Where the hell is she?”
  • But seriously how did they manage the Polyjuice Potion onstage? The spells? The time turning? I just couldn’t even picture it! I can’t wait to see it!
  • The Delphi/Amos/Cedric thing just never felt all that ~real to me? I guess that was my biggest beef with this story. It’s not an original story – it’s diving back into the main story in a fresh way – which I liked! I just felt like the Delphi/Amos/Cedric part was a little bit of a stretch? Idk. Seemed like a random and small piece of the story to blow into a full book but at the same time it was a big death in Harry’s life and a pivotal point for Voldemort.
  • To be honest – I always wondered why Voldemort didn’t procreate to solidify his mark on the world. I even said to Harry Potter Book Club that I would have expected it to be with Bellatrix. They’ll back me up on that. So that part seemed reasonable to me, even though I know people think it sounds far-fetched.
  • I’ve never been a huge Hermione/Ron-shipper but I did like seeing their relationship in the different universes. The tension in the moment where they interact at Hogwarts in the reality where Ron married Padma was probably one of my favorite parts of the entire play.
  • My biggest complaint about this play is that, as someone who has deeply identified with Hermione from my earliest memories, I didn’t feel this WAS Hermione, if that makes sense? Being the Minister – yes. The weaponized bookshelf – you bet. But her dialogue, the way she handled things… it just didn’t feel particularly Hermione to me. Which is ok – this isn’t her story. This wasn’t about her.
  • Similar feelings about McGonagall, to be honest.
  • Harry has always been a bit of an idiot, but he felt particularly obtuse and belligerent somehow? Ugh, Harry.
  • I loved being able to talk to Dumbledore’s portrait. And there was some good closure to the Harry/Dumbledore relationship there, but at the same time it felt a little forced to me.
  • HAGRID SAYING HE WAS GONNA BE HARRY’S FRIEND LITERALLY BROKE ME INTO A MILLION PIECES NOT LITERALLY OBVIOUSLY I JUST MEAN IT THE WAY WHITE GIRLS MEAN IT AND I WILL NEVER STOP CRYING ABOUT IT
  • I actually really liked the tension and friction between Harry & Albus, though I know it made a lot of people angry and uncomfortable. As someone who has dealt with teens a lot I felt it was a pretty good picture of what that relationship really would look like.
  • Ron meeting Neville for a drink in Hogsmeade just made me so happy. Just so happy.
  • The Voldemort reality was scary as sh*t to me and just made the main story mean so much more to me, somehow
  • The depth and bravery to Snape added in this story did feel a little heavy-handed, but somehow totally right. Being willing to sacrifice himself to a better reality where he was dead makes sense, since he was willing to die and risked his life constantly in the actual story.
  • I liked the message that being in Gryffindor wouldn’t have made Albus happier or made his problems go away, just like being the popular Scorpion King wasn’t ~right for Scorpius.
  • The love interests for Scorpius and Albus were a little confusing to me as I felt like they were kind of more in love with each other, I guess? Idk. Maybe that’s just the vibe I got because I couldn’t watch it. Whether it was romantic or just platonic, either way I really did love their relationship and connection.
  • I really, REALLY missed the descriptive narrative. I’m not very visual and not good at imagining, so the lack of description in a script is difficult for me. I never did theater. I’m a writer – I can see something and put it on paper, but I have a real hard time going back the other way.
  • Per usual, I should have expected Delphi from the first pages when I was confused why she would flirt with a 14  year old and want their help when they’re clearly supposed to be at Hogwarts? But that’s very JK, isn’t it? Twisted me right up.

I could keep going for another hour, but I’ll stop there. I can’t wait until our Harry Potter Book Club meeting this month because we are just gonna straight up discuss it for probably 6 hours, maybe more. We have no way of knowing. Hit me up if you want to join us this month!

Overall – I loved it. It’s bugging me that other people didn’t. It makes me feel like they don’t really ~get it or maybe they’re taking it too seriously or trying actively to dislike it. I feel like you have to avoid spoilers, come at it with no/low expectations, and just let the part that feels like our old school stories speak to you. Let it be it’s own new thing, and don’t treat it like something that’s coming to displace your old favorites. Enjoy the nuggets that she’s dropping just for us. Savor the feeling of a new Harry Potter story, even if it’s not a bona fide Harry Potter story.

As always, I love you JK. Thank you for continuing to bring magic into this Muggle world. We owe you so much. You have no idea what your words have meant in my life, and this play just felt like a little dessert after the hearty meal you’ve given us. Thank you.

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Books I Read: July

I had bought, started, and read July Book 1 and July Book 2 before July 5th. What a weekend that was. I traveled to St. George with one book (Still Alice… I just couldn’t do it you guys I just COULDN’T. Scarier to me than a Stephen King novel), and ended up buying and reading two completely different books instead. I read quite the variety of books in July, reminding me that I need to continue broadening my horizons when it comes to my book list.

Room
Room book review

Jack has lived his whole life in Room with his Ma. He knows nothing but the four walls and the objects within them. For five years his Ma has raised him and created a life for him in this meager shed with few belongings or resources. Eventually through bravery, a master plan, and a healthy dose of luck, Ma and Jack are able to escape Room, where Jack has been held captive by “Old Nick” for five years (since his birth) and Ma for seven (since being snatched in a parking lot in college). Discovering the outside world is scary and challenging and wonderful, as Jack is introduced to everything he’s never known before. 

I’ve never read anything quite like this book. It somehow reminded me of Wonder, A Child Called It, and an episode of Criminal Minds I saw where the lady had kept a secret kid in a cabin. But somehow, and I mean this, it wasn’t dark. It really wasn’t! There are a couple of parts that get heavy and times when I welled up with tears of pity and anger, but the perspective of a five year old boy allows the focus to be on the positive, the light, and the love of his Ma. I can cautiously recommend this book – very, very interesting and well-written, but the content is definitely intense and will stay with you.

Good

  • So detailed and interesting. You would think that being in a room all day, every day would get boring, but Ma keeps it so interesting and fresh.
  • The LOVE. Just the love you feel between Jack and Ma keeps this book from taking really dark, really scary turns. At the end of the day that is what the book is about.
  • MA! I absolutely loved her. She was so smart, so disciplined, so careful. I thought it was so incredible that she created all of these routines and exercises to develop Jack’s skills and abilities in every area. If you think I wouldn’t be watching TV 12 hours a day… man.
  • The way Jack explains things, and the way Ma explains things to Jack just really puts you right there in Room with them. You think about what it’s like to be five, and how challenging it would be to have such limited resources as a parent.
  • I really felt like the family relationships were so well written. Her mom, stepdad, her father, brother, his family… it all just seemed so real and tangible.
  • You can’t put it down. You just HAVE to know if they get out, if they’re safe, if they’re happy, if everything works out.

Less Good

  • I am NOT a fan about the route Ma takes when they are released. I didn’t feel it fit with the storyline or with her character at all. I also don’t think the media would be coming out swinging at her like the did in the interview, prompting her dark spiral and suicide attempt. I think everyone would be in absolute awe of her, commending her for doing such an incredible job in such dismal circumstances. Instead they accuse her of being selfish? And that makes her want to kill herself? Nah.
  • Didn’t love the nursing. I mean I get it. But still. *shudders a little*
  • I started to get a little wound up right before they escape. Like “I don’t know how much more of this I can take!” wound up. Thankfully it wasn’t long before the escape happens.
  • This sounds awful, but I like the Room part of the book better than when they were outside. Part of that has to do with Jack’s discomfort outside Room that you can feel as he narrates.
  • I mean, I don’t know much about young children – I’m a teenager kinda girl – but even with the one-on-one tutelage of his mother I’m not sure everything about Jack was quite age-appropriate.
  • The book ends pretty well, but there’s something about it that feels like it’s always going to weigh on me a little bit? I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One review

Wade Watts, AKA Parzival, is a teenager living most of his life in the online world of the OASIS. He attends school, watches vintage movies and tv shows, makes friends, and most importantly – searches diligently for the hidden puzzles, the quest left by the mysterious creator of the OASIS within it’s unlimited planets and virtual cities. Halliday programmed a quest based on 80s references to his favorite books, games, movies, and songs, and leaving the winner with his enormous fortune and ownership of the OASIS world. When Wade finds the first key, when many have discarded the contest as a hoax, he is suddenly a target and the race is on!

This is such an original and awesome book. I guess I need to read more science fiction! It was so fun to experience all these different worlds and settings and characters in rapid succession. As someone who isn’t that into video games or virtual reality, I worried I’d get lost or bored in a book that takes place primarily online. I was also born in 1989, so my taste of the 80s was fleeting, and mostly from the preferences of my parents that bled into my 90s childhood. Still, even without a video game or 80s obsession, I was intrigued with the quest and the characters. I flew through it quickly and cannot WAIT to see a movie interpretation.

Good

  • You never really know where it’s going, or what is going to happen. Even when the ending is coming up and you’re like “Yay they’re gonna win” it still doesn’t happen quite the way you think it will, and you’re still stoked.
  • I loved the characters Aech and Art3mis! The way these characters are revealed and developed, and their relationships with Parzival just bring some much needed humanity to the virtual story.
  • The 80s references are really fun, even if you only get some of them.
  • I couldn’t help but think about recommending this book to teen students who love to game and hate to read. Sometimes those worlds have difficulty with crossover, but this book just bridges that gap in such an amazing way.
  • It’s a pretty fast-paced read, great for vacation!
  • I have a feeling this is gonna be a pretty big cult classic. I’m glad I read it before the movie comes out!

Less Good

  • There is swearing and violence. Nothing crazy, nothing I would say was over the top. But it is there so people need to be aware of that. I’d be wary of recommending it to young teens.
  • I didn’t really like Wade all that much? I liked him at first, then got so annoyed with him, and was honestly happy that his actions had consequences. He just didn’t feel that real or deep to me.
  • This punk kid that’s been basically living in an abandoned van is suddenly a secret agent capable of infiltrating the Sixers organization and bringing them down from within? k.
  • Maybe I just don’t have the video game/virtual reality background that you need to imagine the descriptions accurately for a mental picture. I found it hard to visualize in my brain. Maybe it was weak description, maybe it was just me? Idk.

The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoos Calling book review

Three months after the supermodel’s highly publicized suicide, Lula Landry’s brother contacts private investigator Cormoran Strike for help proving that it actually wasn’t a suicide. Sorting through the secretive and indulgent lives of Lula’s friends and family is trickier than the no nonsense, former military police detective expected. 

Clearly this isn’t JK Rowling’s best work, but I LOVE that she wrote a completely separate novel and published under a pseudonym just to see if she could do it. And even though she’s no Agatha Christie in this genre, she did it. She wrote an interesting and successful mystery. It’s weird because I wouldn’t have read this if it wasn’t her (I’m not big into the mystery genre), but at the same time I think I held it to too high a standard because of Harry Potter. Once I tried to forget it was her – which wasn’t hard to do because it’s so so different – I started liking it better. So what I’m saying is it’s definitely worth a read if you like mystery, but if you’re just reading it because it’s JK Rowling then you may be a little underwhelmed.

Good

  • I really LOVE Cormoran Strike. He was very visible and real to me. I found myself guessing what he was about to say or do accurately enough of the time to feel like I knew him, but surprised by his actions enough to keep me interested.
  • I liked the diversity of characters – from the supermodels, to fashion designers, to drug addicted actors, to lowlifes, to cops, to rich lawyers and bluebloods. The juxtaposition of rich to poor, young to old, guilty to innocent, made it very interesting to see how everyone interacted and affected one another.
  • She does a lot to get you invested in Cormoran Strike, his secretary Robin, and where the success of this first case will take them. I requested the second book immediately upon finishing this one!
  • I listened to the audiobook and the guy who reads it did a great job!

Less Good

  • My number one complaint about this book is the excessive amount of swearing. Bad swearing, which is in my book the f- and c-words. So much. Too much. There’s a little bit of sexual content, but it’s short brief and not explicit.
  • It does get a little boring and repetitive, especially in the middle portion where he isn’t really discovering much and is just doing preliminary investigation. You have to push on.
  • For someone who is clearly meant to be a main character, Robin is very under-developed. The majority of description surrounding her is in regards to her engagement and her relationship with her fiance. JK Rowling obviously knows how to write strong female characters and I’m sure she has big plans for Robin in the following books, but I felt she was poorly represented in this one.
  • This is not a book I’m likely to recommend when I’m asked “So what should I read next?” Nor is it a great book for a book club or discussion. But if you’re looking for a mystery to read or listen too I suppose it will do just fine!

About The Cursed Child

cursed child

Yes, obviously I read it. More than once. And discussed it with my Harry Potter Book Club at length. And I have A LOT of thoughts and feelings to work through about it, so a completely separate, dedicated post is coming on Friday. I am anxious to hear what you guys think about it too!

It was a great month of reading. If you’re looking for your next book I’ll be reading The Martian, How May We Hate You, and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for August!

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Hello August!

august

I decided to ditch the Monday Music Motivation posts in favor of a goals/inspiration type post to kick off each month. Using a bullet journal in particular has really helped me to be more intentional about goals and tracking, and it’s been really fun. Should I blog about my bullet journal? I’ve thought about it a few times, but I’m not super artsy or creative so it’s definitely not as cool as the amazing bullet journals on Pinterest and Youtube. Maybe I’ll share a few things in a quick blog post later this month. Who knows.

August promises to be a pretty fun month. Crazy, but fun. I’ve learned to expect that from any month we go to Disneyland. You expect to get the same amount of things done in the weeks before and after a vacation, but somehow that just doesn’t really happen. So I’m trying to be realistic and prepared this month, preventing the dreaded mess that sandwiches an amazing vacation.

In August I am going to:

  • Have a Bachelor in Paradise kickoff/Bachelorette finale party with my Bach Crew WOOT WOOT
  • Celebrate Reese’s 18 month mark and send her happily off to nursery!
  • Completely pay off two of our debts, which is so exciting to me!
  • Go to Disneyland with my family
  • Finish HP7 on audiobook on the drive to/from CA
  • Celebrate my SIL Emily and niece Lillie’s birthdays
  • Host a Harry Potter Dungeons & Dragons night for Harry Potter Book Club
  • Read “The Martian,” “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and “How May We Hate You?”
  • Hopefully catch the organizing/cleaning bug from reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and get some house projects done
  • Buy school supplies that I don’t need at all of the Back to School displays
  • Get Snocones
  • Attend an Orem Owlz game
  • Get 2 weeks ahead on freelance before Disneyland
  • Leave for Disneyland with a CLEAN HOUSE!!!!!!! Danica!!!! Come on!!!!!
  • Go to storytime at the Orem library
  • Continue to swim every week
  • Prepare the blog for some exciting updates and redesigns! Much excite!!!
  • Do 7 Yoga Sessions
  • Do 7 Weightlifting Sessions
  • Attend 4 Zumba Classes
  • Meet Dad for a picnic lunch

I think maybe 1/2 of this is reasonable, Leslie Knope/Danica. It’s going to be a very busy and fun month. Hit me up if y’all want to join us for any of these.

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July GBOMB

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I loved you, July. I mean, I could have stuck with just double digit heat rather than the triple digits, but I have enough friends in Arizona to know that we should really just be content. And August will bring us, if anything, hotter weather. I’m trying hard not to crave the crisp autumn air. Do you remember what that feels like? Walking outside and thinking “whooo! Better bring a jacket next time!” as that breeze cuts through your cotton tee and scatters the fallen leaves. Wait, is that pumpkin I smell? My basic white girl is showing.

Good

  • Reese is doing so well with bottle-weaning. I think we’re gonna try out some small cups soon. Like CUPS. Not sippy. Regular ol’ cups. Gonna be a disaster.
  • I go through cycles with Pinterest where I only use it for specific things – like a new piece of clothing I bought that I want outfit ideas for, or an upcoming project – then when I don’t look at it for months and think it’s stupid – then when I’m checking it all the time and finding tons of great stuff that inspires and motivates me. I’m in that phase right now and it’s wonderful.
  • I cleaned out 3 closets this week! All of the D.I. detritus is still just sitting in the hallway, but hey.
  • Sonic’s Real Lemonade Slush is sour AF and so so good
  • Tomorrow I’ll be dressed in costume at a midnight release party for a Harry Potter book (kind of). I did not think that was a sentence I’d ever get to say again.
  • In two weeks we’ll be back in Disneyland with my family! My whole family!

Bad

  • I haven’t worked out in forever. When the weather was milder I was at least walking around the park a couple of times a week even if I wasn’t hitting the gym. Now I’m too hot and lazy to do anything.
  • I have a lot of feelings about this election. I may need to blog them, just for the emotional and mental release. Basically it’s a dumpster fire.
  • Our family dog, Blade, who we’ve had since I was in middle school, isn’t doing so hot. He’s very old and he’s lived a very good, long life. But it still sucks to see him decline into poor health and realize we won’t have much longer with him. Best dog ever.
  • The Fall of Taylor Swift has been hard on me. I love her. I will always love her.

On My Brain

  • I am itching for a hair change. But I don’t want anything that will require more work or maintenance. I’m spiraling.
  • A friend invited me to a Cookbook Club – they pick a cookbook each month and everyone makes a recipe from it to share and discuss. I’m intimidated by this, as someone who is not very good in the kitchen. At the same time, it could be a great way to practice and learn. Plus y’all know I’m a sucker for social groups and clubs.
  • I am really disappointed in Planned Parenthood with this whole CTR thing. Utah is not crazy about them, and I believe they need more support. I support Planned Parenthood and think they do important things (read: not just abortions), and I would like to see them improve their relationship with conservative and religious Utahns. This was an epic and tasteless step in the wrong direction. It confirmed the thoughts and fears that all conservative Mormons have about Planned Parenthood. :( I’m glad they’ve backed down, but I fear the damage has been done.
  • How much work is too much for me? I’m not sure where my line is, or when I need to draw it. I have had a few meetings this week to discuss upcoming freelance gigs and projects, and while I’m very excited I am also wary of my mom priorities. I chose to quit my job for a reason. But I also want to buy a house. Idk.

 

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Reset

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The last few weeks have felt messy to me. Part Groundhog Day, part post-vacation blues, part toddler tornado… just messy. I feel like I’ve done a poor job at planning and self-discipline. Days felt busy and chaotic, only to realize as I collapse into bed that I really didn’t accomplish that much, or anything of true significance. Maybe that’s just how some days are when you have a toddler.

This last week in particular was just so WEIRD. I looked back on it and thought “What a fun week! But wait… what did I do again? Why do I have so many dirty dishes? Why am I so tired? Why do I have so much work to do? Why do I feel like a chicken with my head cut off?” I got to go to the Shell Yes party on a last minute whim, which was so so worth it but took up Tuesday night and much of Wednesday. I wrapped up the book contract I’ve been working on since April. Wrote a bunch of articles for my freelance jobs. Did ~some of the chores I’d to-do-listed for myself for the week. Didn’t exercise AT ALL. Reese watched FAR too much YouTube, her naps were all over the place, and my mom guilt was at an all time high. Just messy.

When Saturday came I just felt so grateful that we had absolutely no plans at all. I would have all day at home with The Beard and the Reese to just get my head on straight. I was craving it. I knew I needed it so badly.

When Saturday morning dawned I found myself awake earlier than planned. I grimaced, remembering those college days when I would sleep until 1 pm every Saturday. Instead I was alert, headachey, and taunted by The Beard’s deeply sleeping snores, promising another several hours of blissful sleep. I knew Reese was also due to sleep for another couple of hours, so I resigned myself to consciousness and retreated downstairs for some breakfast.

I made a warm cup of fake Mormon coffee (Pero) with milk and sugar, toasted my favorite bagel, and as I was sitting down at my kitchen table I glimpsed my scriptures and the Gospel Doctrine manual I had begun studying back in March when my life was even ~moar of a mess. I pulled it out again, cringing as I realized how long it had been since I’d taken the time to do earnest scripture study. I’d read Daughters In My Kingdom every morning until I had finished, and now I was reading Women and the Priesthood, but that was really passive and quick. As I began my renewed study, flipping to scripture references, underlining phrases I liked, I felt so comfortable and also stupid.

Whenever I see or hear anyone complaining about what a mess their life is or how everything is going wrong, my first thought is always “They should be more intentional about their prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. That tends to put most things in perspective and fixes a lot of problems.” Because I’m THAT type of self-righteous nightmare. Especially when I’m not doing those ~*Seminary Answers*~ myself. And guess what? I haven’t been!!!!!!!

I finally had a quiet, uninterrupted, solo moment to slow down and really reconnect with myself. As I looked back on these messy weeks I noticed a lot of very clear red flags:

  • Waking up without a plan
  • Oversleeping/Reese is my alarm clock
  • Trying to work during the day while Reese is awake
  • Not making time for Reese alone
  • Not making time for prayer or scripture study
  • Had not attended sacrament meeting in 3 weeks, full block of church in probably 6 months (YIKES)
  • Overextending myself – making too many plans, putting too much on my to-do list, letting time-sensitive things rule my life
  • Justifying everything with “well Reese is having a hard day” or “I just need to wrap up this contract” or “I’ll do better tomorrow, just for today I can…”
  • Spending too much time on social media

The realizations just kept coming. None of these things are inherently bad, of course. But when they slowly start to add up and take over, over the course of several weeks you really start to feel like a car that’s running on fumes.

Did you ever get that object lesson with the golf balls and the sand? I’ve seen it in church to illustrate the importance of covenants and seminary answers, and I’ve also seen it in the junior high to demonstrate principles of time management. Basically you have a pitcher or beaker, a handful of golf balls, and a glass of sand. The golf balls represent ~important things/priorities. The sand represents all of the extra crap you have to do like chores, and the extra crap you like to do like Netflix. The pitcher or beaker represents your life, your available time. If you start by pouring in the less important stuff – the sand – then you can’t get the real important stuff – the golf balls – in. But if you start with the golf balls, THEN pour in the sand – it will magically all fit. If I’m not explaining it clearly… just watch this little video that lays it out nicely.

When your life is just sand it feels messy. I needed a hard reset, to empty out my jar, lay out my rocks, pebbles, and sand, and to start over. I cracked open my bullet journal, said a quick prayer for clarity, and began scheduling the rocks into my week.

  • Rock #1 – Quality Family Time. Instead of the long and detailed cleaning list I had hoped to accomplish with The Beard on our unscheduled Saturday, I shortened it in favor of some good, clean family fun time. We got lunch as a family, did a *little bit* of cleaning together, and spent the evening snuggled together on the couch watching a movie. It was awesome.
  • Rock #2 – Daily Scripture Study. When you’re dealing with the unpredictability of a toddler, it helps to stack your goals with everyday habits that will happen no matter what. Ideally, yes, I’ll wake before Reese and enjoy some quiet time in my room to read my scriptures. But that only happens sometimes. Instead I scheduled scripture study with breakfast, because we both need to eat!
  • Rock #3 – Church aka ALL of Church. It’s been hard, guys. And YES I know people walk to church for miles and are persecuted and alone, and having a loud and mobile toddler really is no good reason at all to not attend church. But it’s still been hard for us. It’s an hour of wrangling and stifling her during Sacrament meeting (which we always try to do), then I’m faced with the choice of two hours of chasing her through the hallways and pushing back her nap or taking her home where she can’t disturb anyone and I can at least read some conference talks while she sleeps. Guess which one usually won out? I decided this was finally the Sunday to try going to nursery with her, since she’ll be 18 months in a few weeks. I guess the rule is that you just have to stay with them if they aren’t 18 months, but that’s fine by me. I hung with her during 2nd hour, and the Beard spelled me for 3rd hour so I could finally attend Relief Society. Reese absolutely LOVED it and basically ignored me and the Beard the entire time, so we are pretty optimistic about her doing solo nursery full time in a few weeks. And attending Relief Society? It felt like a feast after famine. I can’t even describe what it was like, spiritually, for me. It brought me new life. That was exactly what God wanted me to do, because He knew what it would do for me.
  • Rock #4 – Work on MY time, not family time. I have felt really flustered with my work life lately. I felt like I had SO MUCH TO DO so I needed to be doing it as soon as we got changed and fed. I’d spend hours half-focused between Reese and my work, doing a crappy job at dealing with both, and then be sick of working when Reese’s nap rolled around. Somehow I would work all day but not get enough done, and still need to work when the Beard got home. #nope not working for us. This week I’m waking up earlier than Reese and getting work done before she’s awake. I’m not working when Reese is awake, and I’m utilizing her naps more. If I need to put The Beard on Dad Duty for a few hours in the evening – I can do that, but I want to try to avoid working in the evenings.
  • Rock #5 – Reese. Mostly going along with Rock #4, I just realized how little one-on-one time I’m actually spending with Reese. As a stay-at-home-mom!!!!! That’s ridiculous! We go to splash pads, and lunches with family and friends, and grocery shopping, and to the parks. But when we’re home my attention is usually split. Home time is the best time for her learning and development, and I should be doing more in that arena. I want to spend more totally focused time with Reese. I want to get her sleeping and nap schedule more regular and predictable. I want to kick the bottle and scale back the binky. I want to teach her more words and gestures (GOOD ONES you guys, not bad ones).

I also need to get my ish together when it comes to the pebbles: basic chores, Glen Coco, my blog, side projects, friends, Harry Potter Book Club, and plenty of others. But let’s just start with the rocks, shall we?

My schedule this week, instead of getting filled out with obligations and my freelance and blog work, started with my scripture study, Reese’s wakeup and nap times, activities I want to do with her and The Beard, and a few personal and home goals to accomplish. It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already felt so wonderfully different and satisfactory. My work still got done, the to-do list got some attention, and I feel much more connected to my husband, my daughter, and my Father in heaven.

Sometimes you just gotta reset.

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