It'll be okay. Don't worry.


A few years ago, when I first heard Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, I was moved to tears. Partly for the tragic horror it would be to face mortality and its consequences as a parent, but partly also for the magnificence of Randy Pausch's mother in letting him draw all over his bedroom walls.

Pausch says:
"When I was in high school, I decided to paint my bedroom. I always wanted a submarine and an elevator. And the great thing about this is they let me do it, and they didn’t get upset about it. And it’s still there. If you go to my parent’s house, it’s still there. And anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me, let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry..."
That quote has come to my mind many times. When my kids have asked to hang a particularly ugly poster on the wall in their bedroom or begged to paint their room a hideous color. Without fail, each and every time, I've said no. And patted myself on the back for not letting them make decisions I was confident they'd regret later.

Deep down inside, it's haunted me.

So this weekend, when I announced that I would be painting their walls as part the The Remodel, I was fully prepared to say no when they asked to help.

But I thought of Pausch, his mother, and I somehow found myself saying yes instead.


In the beginning, it was all I could do to not take over the job myself. Every fiber of my being cried out against this loss of control. When I stepped in large gobs of paint spilled on the floor. When I caught their paint drips racing down baseboards, and discovered I had caught them too late.

Most especially when one of them fell off a five-foot ladder, landing in a painful heap on the hard floor.

But once I'd made peace with the inevitable paint smeared on the ceiling, the paint dripping down the closet corners, and the extra hours it took for all of this, I noticed something.

I noticed the eagerness in their eyes as they talked about where they'd place the furniture in their new rooms. I noticed their smiles and laughter, as they sang along to the music. I noticed the teamwork as they helped each other navigate tricky angles. I noticed the ownership and pride on their faces at being given the responsibility of such a grown up task. I noticed us working, side-by-side, as our happy chatter passed the time.

And I noticed something I had missed all along: It's really not such a bad thing to let your kids paint on the walls after all.

And it'll always be okay.

Because the things that matter are not drips in the corner or smudges on the ceiling.

The things that matter are the three wonderfully perfect little people who put them there.

Testing my patience

Today's lesson in the culinary arts comes from Chase.

When you want to make a shake after a long, hard day at school, it is wise to remember one thing before starting:


Make sure the bottom is put on the blender BEFORE you pour the #!@$ milk and it runs all over the counter and floor.


Also of note: The blender is hereby off-limits to sixth grade boys pending further notice.

Adorable new smiles notwithstanding.

How to have a spontaneous vacation (and survive it)

The poor gator we brought back home with us. Yes, it's totally real.

As you have no doubt been reading ad nauseam, we took a little trip down to Naples, Florida last week. It was completely a spur-of-the-moment thing, turned out to be fantastic --and was absolutely worth it.

I learn a lot every time we take a trip anywhere, and this one was no exception. Thought I'd share a few things I learned with you, in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

1. Don't be afraid to say yes. When your husband says, "I am going to be in Florida for an extended business trip, want to come?" Say yes, even if you are afraid you will not get cheap flights at the last minute. Say yes, even if it is the last week of school and you will have to pull your kids out, forcing them miss most of the fun parties, field days, and concerts. Say yes, even if it seems like an insane thing to do.

For when you sit under that beach umbrella with your husband, watching your babies play in the surf, you will both turn to look at each other at the exact same moment and say, "IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT."

Besides, airfare will be surprisingly cheap. And kids won't necessarily care about the parties at the end of the year. Family memories and time together will last a lifetime. They are only this age once.

2. Do not be afraid to check the rates of very fancy hotels that you think you cannot afford. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton for $119 a night, people! That's cheaper than most of the crappy hotels NOT on the beach. It was five-star service at a two-star price. I would have been content to stay anywhere, but the Husband's tolerance level runs a wee bit higher. We hit the city of Naples off-season, and had the beach and hotel wait staff to ourselves. It was heaven.

[I'm also slightly afraid that my children are ruined for life. You can't stay at the Ritz and then ever stay anywhere else without being terribly disappointed.]

3. Do not be phased by emergencies that come up. During our five-day stay, we had one emergency room visit, one urgent situation requiring help from a physician back home, one child pass out due to heat stroke on a hotel boardwalk, and a supposedly waterproof mitt failed - leaving one child's cast soaking wet and full of sand.

For most people, these events would absolutely ruin the trip. For us, it was pretty much normal fare for a vacation.


But a few doses of antibiotics quickly took care of the ear infection that sent us to the ER. Some ice, water, and juice took care of the heat stroke. A late night conversation with our physician back home solved an otherwise nightmare situation. The soggy, smelly cast was removed when we got home and replaced with a removable brace. We took it all in stride, and figured it wasn't worth getting upset about.

Slightly annoyed maybe. But not upset. We were back on the beach and in good form - hardly the worse for wear.

4. Give yourself permission to put down the camera and watch your babies play with your own two eyes. Pictures are treasures that can help preserve the memory, but it is also important to be a part of making the memory yourself. So many times I miss things because I am busy photographing them instead of doing them. This trip, I did not make that mistake, and I have no regrets for the small number of pictures I took.

Instead, I made sandcastles with Hannah and hunted for seashells. I dove through waves with McKay and Chase. I raced the Husband (and lost) on a kayak in the middle of the ocean, laughing as the salty water shot up around us.

And not once did I feel anything lacking.

The trip was heaven and I'd do it again. And again. And again.

How's tomorrow, in fact?

Giving you the best of my brain power

It is not often that I have an idea so profound, so succinct, that it changes my life forever.

I know. Some of you are shocked speechless. You thought I was spewing forth genius all the live long day.

Shut up.

But I figure if Al Gore can invent the internet, I, too, can have a few contributions to my name.

And so it is that I feel compelled to document these things here. You know, as proof that my brain actually once contained some useful cells. And one day when I'm shuffling down a linoleum hallway in some nursing home, toothless and diaper-clad, it will be said that I wasn't always that way.

Idea #1: Treadmill DVR (probably my biggest stroke of genius)

About eight years ago, I decided to stick a DVR in front of my treadmill. I boldly committed myself to taping my shows ONLY on that DVR.

What that commitment meant was this: If I wanted to watch my shows, I had to exercise.

I fully credit that move for helping me to maintain my weight. I would probably be sending in my tape for the Biggest Loser today were it not for that commitment. I hold myself to it, and do not watch my shows on any other TV or DVR. I find that I enjoy my shows so much, it hardly feels like exercise. An hour goes by before I know it and my evenings are freed up to spend time with a husband who cannot stand watching any TV.

And since I just so happen to be slightly fond of the TV, it means I run six days a week. And have done so for eight years.

Idea #2:

The split-end saver

I have been doing this one for so long, I hardly know when it began. Every day after I finish styling my hair, I rub some lotion onto my hands. When the lotion is almost all the way rubbed in, I run my fingers through the ends of my hair. It makes the driest part of my hair soft, and has helped to keep split ends in check. I don't have so much lotion that my hair gets greasy, but just enough to moisturize the dry ends.

I swear by this beauty secret, and will do it until the day I die. Or until I'm diaper-clad in that nursing home. I figure by then, split ends will be the least of my worries, right?

Idea #3:

The dish soap dilemma

When we moved into this house three years ago, I found myself constantly annoyed with the dish soap. Since we use a dishwasher religiously, I don't find myself washing dishes all that often. But when I do, it's a pain to reach under the cupboard and bring the soap out. Plus, then you have to put it away again.

And that's like eight seconds of my life, people.

What's that? You say I could just leave it out all the time?

Um, have you met me? I don't like the ugly things to be left out.

So, I bought an olive oil bottle and filled it with dish soap. It's pretty enough that I don't mind it being out on the counter all the time, and yet provides me the easy access I was longing for, too.

Idea #4: Job charts

I wrote extensively about these puppies in the past. Click over for the full story.

Bottom line: We're still using them today.

Idea #5

World's Best Water Bottle

While I definitely didn't come up with this idea myself, the discovery of this water bottle has changed my life, as well as the lives of several friends I know.

What's the biggest problem we have with water bottles? The condensation that leaves ugly water marks all over the place and soaks your hands every time you take a drink.

This water bottle is genius. There is an inner bottle that is not exposed to any outside air, thus eliminating the pesky condensation. It's nicely marked to help you keep track of the volume you consume, and they offer a lovely pink shade that promotes breast cancer awareness.

(I feel like an infomercial here.)

At first, I could only find them online, but lately I've even seen them in the aisles at Target. Pick up a few today. Your dehydrated body will thank you.

Idea #6


I created this snack one day after craving chocolate and peanut butter together, but finding myself in the unfortunate predicament of trying to eat healthy.

You know. That one day. When I tried healthy eating.

It has become my go-to afternoon snack, and I've even gotten the Husband addicted to them. It's simply this: a chocolate rice cake, a dab of peanut butter, and a half a banana. Two hundred calories of bliss.

Yes, I realize that rice cakes went out of style after we all got over the low-fat diets in the 90s, but this snack is fantastic. It's sweet, salty, crunchy, and filling. I combine it with a good 24 ounces from my special water bottle, and the three o'clock munchies are no longer a problem.

Idea #7:

My favorite photos on the wall

While I can only take credit for the idea of the wall, the Husband was the mastermind behind the planning and placement of the arrangement you see here.

But I LOVE my photo wall. It's the first thing you see when you walk through our front door, and it is my favorite room in the whole house. The light in there is spectacular, and the furniture is just right. When I'm going to curl up with a good book and a blanket, this is the room I go to.

In fact, it's where I'm typing right now. Best thing we ever put up on our walls. Ever.

I guess that's it. It appears that I have only had seven good ideas in my lifetime. But considering the brain power I'm sporting, I'd say that's not too shabby.

Not too shabby at all.

Counting my blessings again

I have nothing for you here, my friends, but can send you elsewhere today for some of my words.

Mormon Women is featuring a post I wrote over a year ago that was definitely life-altering. Go check it out if you haven't read it yet or read it again if you need a reminder for yourself, like me, that somebody is watching out for you.

I still get chills when I think about what could have been. And I still tear up when I wonder why it wasn't.

God is good. And He blessed my little family in a very simple, yet profound, way.

Happy pretend Monday.

How to lose the Christmas spirit (before you've even really gotten it yet)

Step one: Annoy your husband by demanding he haul the extra large, extra heavy tree box up from the basement. Annoy him further when you ask in your nicest wifely voice if he will also bring up the two large bins of ornaments/decorations. Ignore his grunts and grumbles and be glad he is so strong.

Step two: Turn on the Christmas music that you burned onto your oldest son's i-pod (as your i-pod has recently died a slow and painful death). Smile sweetly when he complains about this. Think of his painfully difficult birth that was done without the use of an epidural, and decide he owes you this, at the very least.

Step three: Untangle multiple balls of mangled lights that you could have sworn were rolled neatly last January. Begin hanging the untangled lights on the tree.

Step four: Finish hanging the lights, go to plug them in, and realize (to your horror) that half of them are burned out. Begin searching for the bulbs that are burned out and suddenly realize you cannot see things up close. Wonder exactly when that happened, and blame it on your recent 35th birthday. Make a mental note to start shopping for cute bifocals. [Wonder briefly if that is an oxymoron.]

Step five: Give up searching for burned-out bulbs and remove all lights from the tree. Test another tangled ball of lights to make sure it works before hanging it on the tree. When lights appear, hang the second tangled ball of lights. Go to plug them in (and realize AGAIN to your horror) that half of them are burned out. Wonder exactly why the universe hates you. Decide you hate the universe, too.

Step six: Try hard not to lose heart, in spite of the universe hating you. Grab your purse, and head to Target for replacement lights. Sing loudly in the car on the way there. Be proud of yourself and your unusually positive attitude in a situation like this.

Step seven: Get home and call madly for the children to come back and help with the tree. Realize they have lost interest. Pull new lights out of the plastic Target bag and realize (TO YOUR SHOCK, HORROR, and SHEER FRUSTRATION) that you have purchased lights with white wiring, which will not look too good on your green tree. Momentarily consider hanging yourself with them.

Step eight: Decide against suicide, grab your purse, and head BACK to Target. Say lots of four-letter words out loud in the car instead of singing. Return white-wired lights and pick up new boxes of green-wired lights. Stand in line and try not to throw things at people in front of you.

Step nine: Come home yet again. Ignore the children who could now care less about the tree decorating. Silently curse that annoying Christmas music in the background. Hang the damn lights on the damn tree.

Step ten: Start hanging ornaments and have the children suddenly take an interest in the tree decorating.

Step eleven: Find your ice-cold heart of stone slowly melting. Finish decorating the tree. Stand back, sigh, and be mildly grateful for the season.

Step twelve: Angrily throw old lights into the trash. Vow to buy new lights next year before beginning this process. Turn off the lights on the tree. Go to bed.