I have a real love-hate relationship with cleaning ladies. On one hand I love them because who wants to clean their own house? (Hint: not me.)  On the other hand, it’s expensive and what kind of lazy bones can’t clean her own house? What am I so busy doing that I can’t scrub it myself? Or make my minions do it? (Oh yes, I’m being a mom to six kids and a Relief Society President). Sometimes we’re too broke to have a cleaning lady. Sometimes we’re desperate enough to pony up the money. Lately it’s been the latter.  Also, I’m the only person in my neighborhood who cleans her own house. Seriously!  But then I watch Downton Abbey and they don’t even do their own hair, let alone scrub their own toilets. So then I feel totally cool with it.

Mister is not a big fan of my lackadaisical housekeeping skills. I’ll scrub toilets til the cows come home–there is nothing grosser to me than a stinky, dirty toilet. Even if I’m about to throw up I’ll be madly scrubbing the toilet first. But my floor mopping schedule is a little more–how shall I put it–elastic. So Mister finally insisted that I find someone to come in every week or two to do the dirty work.

In the past we’ve always managed to have really sexy cleaning ladies. They always come in sweats, though, not in French Maid outfits. Although one time our Russian maid, Tanya, came dressed in teeny tiny hot pants and high heels. It looked like she was going to go dancing afterwards, but those Russians–they can dress oddly at times.  On that particular day I walked into the bathroom while Tanya was bent over scrubbing the tub and wow! Did I ever get an eyeful.  I can now say with absolute assurity that that woman did not have an ounce of cellulite anywhere. It’s probably a good thing that Mister wasn’t working from home.

We had Flavia after that. She was a Brazilian girl with a rocking bod. She’d wear skin tight cropped tank tops and sweatpants rolled down to just under her pelvic bone. Flavia always wore her thick wavy hair cascading down her golden brown shoulders. It was almost waist-length and she never wore it in a ponytail. I can’t imagine that it was very convenient but it looked really pretty while she was wiping off my appliances.  She was a real butter-face, though. You know, everything is fantastic but her face. She was as sweet as sugar and loved babies which I had about a million of at the time.

This week I finally got around to finding a new cleaning lady. Carmen came highly recommended by one of my friends. And she also sounded pretty cheap. Definitely a bonus. Carmen speaks Spanish and that’s all. She didn’t even know the English word for broom or mop–definitely a handicap in her profession, I would think.

The way our cleaning ladies have always worked is that they charge by the house, not by the hour. So cleaning my house is always X dollars, whether it takes them two hours or five hours. Their first visit always lasts a little bit longer since they have to do everything. They won’t be dusting the blinds and cleaning the baseboards every time, but they start out the first visit by getting everything done.

So Carmen (who is not even slightly sexy) came over on Wednesday morning right after my kids left for school. After pantomiming a list of what supplies she needed I scurried off to fill her order. It took three tries of bringing back the wrong item before I figured out she needed a step ladder.  All those years of French have really come in handy. Not.

I let Carmen get to business while I spent most of the day planning my trip to Europe in a couple of months. Hmmm, I guess I’m more of a spoiled American than I thought.  After three hours Carmen was still in my room. Slightly humiliating, I guess. My room was apparently dirtier than I thought.

It got worse. I told Carmen only to vacuum the kids’ rooms. Their dressers are piled with all sorts of random kid crap and some of their beds weren’t made. But of course she made everyone’s beds, straightened everything up, dusted and vacuumed. I half expected her to leave their towels folded into origami animals like when you go on a cruise.  The lady didn’t even take a break and was still at it when Mister got home from work.

All in all Carmen was there for eight hours. Eight hours. She did a great job but compared to our regular cleaning lady (me and/or my slovenly children), it didn’t matter much. I’m not that picky. As long as I’m not the one doing the cleaning, I’m happy. I got over my shame of hiring a cleaning lady right quick.  Now I just need to figure out how to say “mildew” in Spanish.

Screen shot maid

I’ll be buying this outfit for Carmen, of course.


According to all the stores. January is the time to organize stuff. And you know what? I agree. After the mayhem of the holidays, it feels good to clean and organize everything. Mister has been getting very put out with the state of clenliness lately. Let’s just call it “laissez-faire housekeeping”. It all came to a head a few days ago when I came home from . . . . I’ve already forgotten. But Mister was having a meeting with his Boy Scout committee and as the house was in disarray, he had cleaned it nicely. Or so it seemed.

This is the main difference between men and women, I think. Most men (mine included) think cleaning up generally means shoving stuff in baskets and boxes and putting it somewhere less visible. I walked into our bedroom while Mister’s meeting was happening and what do you know? There are three laundry baskets piled with everything from shoes to my glue gun to actual clean clothes.

Meanwhile I had several boxes of Christmas decorations sitting in the mudroom because I couldn’t put them away. The attic was a complete mess due to kids looking for winter clothes. Every person woman knows that you can’t put stuff away when everything is already disorganized. First you have to organize, then you clean. And if you don’t have time to organize everything? Well, that means the cleaning kind of grinds to a halt.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done my share of stash-and-dashes when we’ve had company coming over. Having a master bedroom on the main floor means that there is always a place to put things in a hurry and feel fairly safe that nobody will see anything. But if I’m going to clean–like, really honestly clean, I’m going to do it right.

Or course there are superwomen out there who always have things organized and clean. These women perplex and slightly frighten me.

But I’ve been working hard on organizing and especially throwing things away/giving things away (been to Goodwill a whole lot lately). You cannot fathom the huge amount of receipts that I have been storing in every nook and cranny. But you can’t organize clutter, so I’m jumping on the January bandwagon and cleaning out the hidden spots in my house first. The attic is done. My closet is in progress.

Two weeks ago Mister chided me for having two grocery bags full of canned goods sitting in the garage (they’d been there for oh, a week or so). “Put these away already!” he said before he left for work. They were all meant for storage, not the pantry. But the food storage room/closet was thoroughly disorganized and stuff was all over the floor. So I spent the day dragging everything out, cleaning the weevils out of the carpet (thanks to a ripped bag of flour. It’s as gross as it sounds), and reorganizing all the food. Of course this took a million hours longer than I had hoped. Half an hour before Mister got home from work, the grocery bags still hadn’t been unloaded. But I made it just as he pulled into the driveway.

Deep cleaning and organizing is partly satisfying (yay properly organized stuff!) but nobody ever appreciates it like they ought to. (Would it be too much to have one of my kids say, “Wow, Mom, you did a great job placing all the spice jars in alphabetical order, and in order from oldest to newest ensuring we rotate through our supplies wisely.”? That’s all I ask!)

I still have to unload my new shoe shelves from the car, but once I get that closet cleaned the world is going to look a lot shinier.

PC240599Whew! What a Christmas! It’s taken me a whole week just to recover from our vacation. We went to The Motherland (Utah), where several relatives on both sides met us. We spent the entire time going from family to family with tiny interludes of seeing old friends. Relaxing, it was not. Not even close. But it was still a good vacation because we got to spend so much time with the people we love the most. I always have this crazy notion that vacations are meant for relaxation and if that doesn’t happen then I feel gypped and angry. And of course when I feel angry I like to take it out on Mister and vice versa, so there were a lot of fun moments where we sent daggers from our eyes to each other.

I may or may not have also taken my lack of sleep and stress about the holidays out on my mother-in-law.  We had a little “incident” over a lemon pie (formerly Lemon Truffle Pie but hereafter known as The Pie That Ruined Christmas) that ended with me being unpleasant and my mother-in-law sobbing at the kitchen table. If you want to know how to make my husband madder than he’s ever been, try being mean to his mom. On second thought, don’t.

But, like I said, it was a good trip because we got to spend time with our relatives; all of whom we adore. These are all the cousins who were in Utah from Mister’s side. A whole bunch are missing but hopefully we’ll see them soon.


The kids also got to go skiing. It was the first time Ada and Jasper had seen snow since they were babies. Nothing beats that Utah snow. I, of course, did not go skiing because I don’t go outside when it’s that cold unless the house is on fire. There’s not enough hot chocolate in the world to make outdoor sports worth it.

On the second day of skiing Arabella and India ended up stranded at the top of a “terrifying ski run” (from the way they made it sound it was a black diamond, but turned out to only be a green. But they’re newbies, OK?). The Ski Patrol tried to lead them down but they preferred to sit at the top of the mountain and cry for over an hour. Finally one of their grown-up cousins tracked them down and coaxed them down the hill, reassuring them the entire time that they weren’t about to die.

Skiing at Park City

We flew to/from Utah on Southwest Airlines. This was necessary because of the two free bags that are allowed for each person. When Christmas presents and winter clothes are involved, you need all the baggage you can get. The trip north was fine (only nine suitcases!) but the trip home was a little iffier. We ended up with two additional suitcases and a box of beautiful wreaths that I bought the day after Christmas (yay for sales! And yay for Tai Pan Trading!).*

We required our own shuttle out to the airport parking lot when we got back to Austin, we had so much stuff and people. Mister had actually come to Utah on a later flight than the rest of us so he brought the near-empty minivan to the airport when he left. He had the brilliant idea to throw the rooftop luggage rack in the car at the last minute since he knew we’d be short on space.

Only it turns out the luggage rack doesn’t fit our car. It was for our old minivan. He swore up and down that we’ve used it on Betsy, my current minivan. But evidence proved otherwise and there we were with not only a million bags but a giant roof rack that didn’t come close to fitting on the top of my car. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and with the help of a luggage strap and some yarn from a knitting project, we strapped that roof rack on the top of my car. It jiggled and rocked precariously the whole way home and I expected it to go flying off onto the car behind us at any moment. But we drove 45 mph on the freeway the whole way home. It took us an extra 15 minutes but nobody behind us was decapitated. Success!

We did manage to get all the bags in the car but everyone had to sit Indian style so we could put bags under the kids’ feet. And then we all had to pile suitcases in our laps.  You should probably know that by this point I was screaming, “shut up!” anytime someone tried to speak. Never has anyone been so glad to pull into their driveway. I made a quick dinner, took a sleeping pill and was in bed with earplugs by 8:30. And I slept until 8:00 the next morning.  The perfect way to end any vacation.

I’m quite sure we won’t be taking our show on the road for Christmas again. Although it was lovely to spend the holidays with our relatives, the stress and trouble are simply too much. Unless our relatives want to spend Christmas in Hawaii. I’m pretty sure we could make that work.

*I’m going to overdo it on decorating next year. I have to make up for this year; Although I decorated my house, I didn’t put up the Christmas tree. We wouldn’t be home for Christmas! Can you blame me?  The sad thing is that I bought a new star and a new tree skirt and didn’t even try them out. I’m so lame sometimes that I shock myself.

I have been working on redecorating my bedroom for quite some time. I think I mentioned that before. My brother came and visited and kicked the re-do into high gear. Mister and I don’t really work super well together on projects: we get very angry at the other person for not reading each other’s minds. And since we both lean towards the quarrelsome side, we can get a smidge testy. Once when we were engaged we took an upholstery class. We had to find a chair and then spent the entire two month class reupholstering it. Towards the end of the semester one of the other couples in the class was very surprised to find out we weren’t already married. “You two argue so much I just assumed you were,” they admitted. So yeah, projects together have never been our strong point. But we know how to channel all that passion, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, so after Mister and I attempted to hang some bead board together, I decided to have my friend Tamara help instead. There may have been a lot more laughter than was needed, but we eventually got it done and it looks pretty decent. We only put one piece in upside-down!

The thing I’ve really wanted for my new bedroom, though, is a wrought iron bed. We currently have a lame head board (swirly white wrought iron that my mother-in-law picked out for us about a month after we got married). I wanted something a lot more cottagey and old-fashioned. And something with a footboard too, because a bed without a footboard seems teenager-ish.  I had my eye on this Medocino bed from Pottery Barn. But you know how Pottery Barn is–so overpriced. I mean, I’m sure they bed is nice quality but the prices are a little absurd.


This bed frame is $1300 (not including 8% sales tax and $150 shipping). Not in our price range. But it’s so cute! Ah well. I did find it at the Pottery Barn outlet for $789. But that’s still a little more than I could get Mister to agree to. He didn’t want a new bed to begin with and it’s hard to get someone to plunk down several hundred dollars on something they don’t want at all. I had already pushed my luck getting Mister to agree to my red and white color scheme so I figured the bed would have to wait. You gotta know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em, as Mr. Kenny Rogers would say.

I don’t understand all these bloggers who do a whole room remodel in less than a week. Do they have all the furniture and decor before they even start? How do they know how it will look once it’s put together? I bought one comforter and then decided I didn’t like it once I put it on the bed. It took me six more months to find one that I liked better (fortunately I sold the first one–bought on clearance at Pottery Bar–on ebay for a $70 profit.) It took me two weeks just to figure out how to change the blade on my miter saw, let alone cut the mouldings for my bedroom. I think I’m not motivated enough to be a home decor blogger. Also, I don’t like artistically arranged stacks of stuff on tables. I like my tables free of clutter. A lamp, yes. Books and shells and vases full of who-know-what? Yuck. So I can forget about being a career as an interior designer.

Because I love to waste time online, I peruse Craig’s List for various items quite often. Wrought Iron beds, among other things. (Although it’s a little hard to find wrought iron beds because a lot of people are dumb and think it’s “rod iron”.) But I found a guy over Thanksgiving break who was selling the exact Pottery Barn bed I wanted. In the size I wanted. For $90. Ninety dollars.

Despite living an hour away from me, I boogied down to his house immediately. Even Mister couldn’t complain about that price. That’s less than our sheets cost, for Pete’s sake!

The bed was on his back deck and it was freezing out (literally. A rarity in Texas). There was sleet coming down and I could barely see the bed frame. I could tell it had a few nicks and scratches but for $90 who cares? I knew I could touch it up, no problemo. When I pulled my money out, they guy actually said, “you know what? Just give me $60.”

I seriously almost fainted.

I would have danced a jig if it hadn’t been so cold out. Just for kicks I dragged Mister into the Pottery Barn outlet on our way home to show him the exact same bed for $730 more. He got a little more jazzed about our bed after that.

I have expertly painted over all the nicks and the bed is ready to go. I’m just waiting on the new mattress frame (turns out I need a bed frame that will accept a footboard. Another $100. Still a deal.)  And I need to frame the vintage postcards I bought on Etsy. But they’re being shipped from Germany so who knows when that will happen. See what I mean? How am I ever supposed to finally be done with this bedroom? By the time it’s finished I’ll probably be sick if it. I’ll keep you posted.



I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Every year of my adult life I’ve been up in the wee hours making Thanksgiving dinner. Some years it’s been at Mister’s parent’s house and there have been lots of people helping out. Some years it’s been me doing the whole thing. This year we decided to do a Pie Party and make all our pies the day before Thanksgiving and invite people over for that (And have pizza too, which also counts as pie sort of). I spent a day and a half making several pies. It was really nice to get it done early. And since dessert is way more important than the rest of Thanksgiving dinner it was nice to be able to eat it while we all still had room in our stomachs.  It was lovely to have people over that we actually are friends with instead of relatives who fall all over the likeability spectrum. Although most of our friends are at the beach because the kids get out of school for a whole week. Why would you visit family someplace cold when the beach is just a few hours away? But we–losers apparently–remain home. But we certainly are making the best of it.

But back to Thanksgiving dinner. We are buying it this year. From Cracker Barrell. It was Mister’s idea. I have eaten at Cracker Barrell exactly once in my entire life but Mister takes the kids to breakfast there all the time. He claims it’s good. After a jillion hours in the kitchen already, I’m more than thrilled to not be cooking right now. Especially since it’s just the same group of people I cook dinner for every single day of my life.  Mister wrapped a little turkey with bacon and threw it on the smoker this morning so we’d have some extra meat (turkey is my favorite!). But otherwise I am leaving it to somebody else to feed me. And that is what I am thankful for today.

Have a super Thanksgiving!

P.S. I like to call the above picture, “Sure you can wear my bonnet, Tom! I’ll just get it back tomorrow when we cut your head off.”

You guys! Last weekend was one of those times when everything stacks up and crushes me near to death. It’s all I could do to keep breathing til last night.

First of all, it was my anniversary. Nice, pretty mellow. But still it’s a whole evening when I had lots of other things to do. What other things, you might ask? Well, at church the men are given a little gift on father’s day. A lot of times the teenage girls are in charge of it (actually, the leaders are in charge. The girls just hand them out). But this year the women were in charge. I was thinking of something store-bought but I realized how much I hate to receive store-bought stuff so I decided to make some monster cookies. In case you have lived a sheltered, pitiful life and don’t know what they are: kind of a half-peanut butter, half-oatmeal cookie with M&Ms and chocolate chips. Only I don’t have a good recipe. So I had to search the interwebs to find something worthy. Which required me making a whole ton of Monster Cookies to try out. The grand winner was this recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s a keeper because it’s not too heavy on the oatmeal; too much oatmeal makes a cookie taste blah. So my anniversary cut into my baking time.

On my way home from working out on Friday I stopped to buy all the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Nothing like being absolutely soaked with sweat holding 15 bags of candy. I’m sure people suspected bulimia. And the stores here don’t provide grocery bags (of course I had forgotten mine in the car, as always) so I was dropping bags of M&Ms left and right. Those suckers are slippery! But I made it home with all my chocolate and began to bake.

I spent some of Friday and most of Saturday making 90 giant Monster Cookies. I have a gigantic mixer that does three or four batches at a time, so it really wasn’t as much trouble as it sounds. My counselors did all the wrapping and labelling and i think the cookies were a big hit.

But you know that wasn’t all I had to do, right? Mister dragged me to a movie on Friday night. I can’t remember what it was called but it was Danish and I liked it very much. It put me behind schedule. As did the wedding we had to go to in San Antonio on Saturday morning. Two hours each way for a 40-minute ceremony. Oy. But we discovered a new (and delicious!) BBQ place halfway between San Antonio and Austin and that made everything all better (the brisket melted in my mouth. Divine!)

Also this weekend: Arabella had to give a talk in church. Mormons don’t have a clergyman that speaks in church every week. Instead, members of the congregation are asked to speak about a given topic. Everybody gets a turn, aren’t we so lucky? Once kids turn twelve they’re fair game for speaking, too. This was Arabella’s first talk and it was about fathers so that meant that I had to help her with it instead of pawning it off on Mister. Much encouragement and proofreading ensued.

This wasn’t our only “first” at church either. India got asked to play the prelude music in church for the first time (piano not organ). Meaning I had to nag her to practice several times (“Mom, nobody even listens to the prelude music!”). She did a really good job and I’m guessing she’ll get asked again. Our house was filled with hymns all weekend, which seems nice in theory but really just put me on edge.

Then there were the teenagers nagging me to sign up for summer church camps right this second, requiring me to decide exactly what our itinerary is going to be as camp is four states away and will require travel of 10-12 days total. There is nothing that I despise as much as planning things in advance and I’ve been avoiding the details of our big summer trip. But there I was trying to get the kids all signed up for camps, knowing that there were only four slots left at the session they wanted to go to (“what do you mean you can’t remember your camp password from last year? Well, then they can email it to you. You forgot your email password too???” ) It took over an hour but we finally got it squared away.

There were Father’s Day presents to wrap, cards to nag the kids to make, and the Father’s Day meals to prepare. And a whole bunch of church busywork that takes a million years and is no fun at all but had to be done for Sunday.

It’s really a wonder that I only burned one tray of cookies. As much multi-tasking as I was doing, there should have been a few dozen burned.

And then there was Jasper. Poor, poor Jasper. It was his birthday on Sunday too. But I felt sorry for him having to share his day with Mister, and that it was on a Sunday (no eating out or having much fun being the Sabbath Day and all), so we lied and told him that we hadn’t looked at the calendar properly and that his birthday was actually Monday. Thank goodness he bought it! Having his birthday yesterday instead of Sunday was so much better. We went swimming with friends and he didn’t have to share his special day with his dad. It ended up being a great idea. I’ll have to remember to lie to my kids a lot more often.

OK, this is officially the most boring blog post I’ve ever written. But I just wanted you to know what I’ve been up to. I’ve had good reasons to slack on blogging and I’ve got the dark circles under my eyes to to prove it.


Today is my twenty-first wedding anniversary. I am 42 years old which means I have been married as long as I’ve been single. That is a weird thought. In honor of such a special occasion I thought it would be nice to tell you  how Mister and I met. He doesn’t really like when I talk about him, but it’s a cute story.

We met when I was nineteen. Good heavens, I was young. But like all nineteen-year-olds, I thought I was as mature and experienced as the hills. I was going to BYU, majoring in Art History and having a grand old time.  I spent my spare time waiting tables at a Chinese restaurant owned by an incredibly superstitious man from Shanghai named Randy. I have always been a fan of things Chinese so the restaurant seemed a good fit for me even though I only made $2/hr (plus tips! Which in a college town are pitiful.)  Randy made the best Sesame Beef I have had to this day.

One Friday night, the girl who normally hostessed called in sick. I covered her shift and did my usual friendly banter and smiling at the customers as they paid their checks. One table of four guys came in, had dinner and then left without taking their leftovers. Here’s another thing about waiting tables in a cheap-o college town: people always come back for their leftovers, being hungry students and all that. So I was waiting by the door, Chinese take-out boxes in hand when one of the boys from the table came running back in. I smiled and handed him his food. That was Mister. Sadly, I have no recollection of this at all.  I must have had other things on my mind but he can still describe the outfit I was wearing (Mister likes to say, “you had a big smile and big boobs. I was hooked.”)

Mister, normally very shy with the ladies, was tranfixed by my beauty (or something) and after much egging on by his roommates, decided to call the restaurant and ask me out. Only I had gone home by that time. Randy informed Mister that while he couldn’t give him my phone number, he could tell him my name and that I was a BYU student. Now at that point I was going by Jennie. And my maiden name was Davis. You can imagine what a common name that was. Mister decided to call every Jennie/Jennifer Davis at BYU (there were around 10) to find me. The funny thing is that it’s so unlike Mister’s personality to do anything like that. But apparently I looked really good when he saw me at the restaurant.

Wouldn’t you know that I was the one Jennie Davis with an unlisted phone number. So Mister decided to expand his calling area to Provo in general and got another half dozen phone numbers to try. None of them were me, either. There were a lot of Jennies who thought what he was doing was so sweet and volunteered to go out with Mister should I never be found.

Mister called Randy at the restaurant late that evening and told him that he couldn’t find me. Randy informed him that I’d be working the next night and that he should come in because [say this is very broken English] “she no have boyfriend. You have good chance!”

When I showed up for my shift the next day Randy was so excited he could barely talk. “You boyfriend come in tonight!” he said over and over. It took a lot of explaining before I got the story that some guy had been trying to find me and was planning to return that evening to ask me out. I was slightly weirded out but flattered. The other waitresses were on high alert for this mystery man and finally he showed up just before the end of my shift. Shelly, a fellow waitress, came running up to me announcing that he was here! And he wanted to know if I’d like to go to a play next week! I relayed a reply (Yes! any guy who didn’t suggest dinner and a movie at the dollar cinema was definitely on the right track!)

I didn’t actually meet Mister until he he was on his way out. We both felt bashful and awkward. It was even more awkward when he picked me up. It was almost like a blind date. I had been in no mood to go on a date with a complete stranger so I had tried to pay my roommate Tiffany $10 to go instead. Tiffany looks a little like a blonde version of me so I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. She refused, of course. Mister and I double dated with another waitress from work and one of Mister’s friends so it didn’t feel as much like a set-up for a date rape scenario.

The play was good, although neither of us can remember what play it was anymore. We spent to hours talking afterwards at Frontier Pies (oh man, do you remember the scones and cornbread and honey butter??? That’s pretty much my happiest college memory right there.) I was writing a paper about Pre-Raphaelite painters at the time and not only did Mister know what I was talking about, he told me which Pre-Rapahelite paintings he’d seen in London when he was there the year before. Any man who can speak intelligently about art gets an A+ in my book. He was also a returned missionary (Mormon girls are groomed to assume that any guy who didn’t go on a mission when he had the opportunity is a loser. There is more truth to that than you might think.)

When Mister dropped me off afterwards (a polite goodnight. No kissing on the first date!) I was incredibly surprised that I had had such a nice time. A really nice time.

What I came to find out over the next eighteen months that we were dating/engaged was that he is the kindest and most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. He has a silly and outlandish sense of humor that still makes me laugh every single day. He loves God and tries so hard to do what’s right. He is more patient with me than I deserve, even when I called off the wedding half a dozen times. He’s very passionate and opinionated (sometimes to the point of being infuriating) and has taught me how to have an open, unselfish heart (well, he’s trying, at least). I’m grateful every most every day that Mister had the tenacity to keep looking until he found me. He has made me a better person in a hundred different ways.


I worked until my second child was a few months old but I made sure that I only worked hours that Mister was home so we didn’t need to put the kids in daycare. One day when India was a baby I forgot to restock the formula before I went to work but I figured it wasn’t a big deal; Mister was perfectly capable of going to the store. Capable, yes; did he want to? That was another story. I got home from work that night to find baby India drinking a bottle of chocolate Slim-Fast. Pretty much the same thing as formula, right? But it could have been worse. Happy Mother’s Day!





Adelaide Amelia Clementine turned eight last week.

Turning eight is not just any birthday if you’re Mormon. That’s when we get baptized. Mormons believe that babies and children automatically go to Heaven if they die, so baptism isn’t a requirement until kids are old enough to really understand the difference between right and wrong. Which we have interpreted to be eight years old. So although Ada’s birthday was a big deal, it was the baptism that took center stage. All the grandparents flew into town, which was nice. I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen before here in Texas.

Ada was the only person in the ward turning eight this month so we asked if the baptism could be held when it worked out schedule-wise for all the relatives. Which turned out to be on Ada’s actual birthday. It seemed a charming idea for the baptism to be held on her birthday but let me tell you, NOT the best idea.

Baptism traditions differ from place to place but here we have the baptism which is followed by cookies and punch. Since the baptism isn’t part of church, not as many people come. We had about 60 people which is a pretty good turnout. Being a snobby baker I made all the cookies myself. All 250 of them. Interspersed with cookie making I had to make a birthday cake and a birthday breakfast. Mister made the birthday lunch, so that was one less thing for me to worry about. Then we had to do presents.

Basically by Sunday evening I was bone-tired.

I had been planning all along on making Ada’s baptism dress. After doing hours and hours of research, however, I just couldn’t find a dress/pattern/fabric that I liked better than the dupioni silk dresses I’d made for India and Arabella. While most Mormon girls wear a white dress for their baptisms, that’s nothing more than a tradition. Our family likes to be just a smidge different. Heaven knows it would have been a jillion times easier to find a white dress with Communion season upon us. Pretty white dresses are a dime a dozen. But that’s not how we roll, so I talked Ada into wearing India’s old dress. (It wasn’t hard. I just said, “Doesn’t this blue dress match your eyes perfectly?” And Ada was all over it. She’s very proud of her blue eyes.) The hem had to be let out a bit since India had been so shrimpy, but it worked out perfectly in the end.

Here’s the silly thing about the dress: the girl doesn’t actually get baptized in it. Since we do what Jesus did, that means actual immersion under water. Dresses usually float to the top of the water so years ago the church switched to providing white jumpsuits for the baptizees. The dress (or suit if it’s a boy) is worn to the baptism and changed into immediately after the baptism itself for the rest of the event. It’s not like they’re expected to walk around in some soaking wet thing all day.

The service was just lovely. Mister performed the baptism and the confirmation afterwards where the gift is given of having the Holy Ghost as a constant comapanion. There was an awkward moment during the talk about baptism that my mother was giving where I halfway expected her to start talking about the birds and the bees, but other than that it was perfect. Mister and I tried to get a few pictures with the birthday girl but after only one my iphone decided it had had enough. So here is our one memento that Mister and I were both at our sweet Adelaide’s baptism.



Since we have been talking about presents and how I love them, let me tell you about a present Mister gave me a few years ago: a garbage can. Yeah, I know, lame. I thought so too. Let me backtrack a little. When we moved to Texas we left a house with a trash compactor that I was very fond of. But our new house didn’t have one and we needed a large garbage can for the kitchen. I knew exactly where I wanted to put it but I couldn’t find one the right size that opened how I wanted it to.

So on Christmas Mister gave me a fancy garbage can that was exactly right. Except that it was stainless steel. I so hate stainless steel. I want my kitchen to look cozy and colorful and pretty, not like a restaurant kitchen or an operating room. But the can was exactly right so I figured I’d keep it.

And then I saw the price tag. $149!!! For a garbage can! It’s by SimpleHuman and their stuff is not cheap. I really can’t stomach keeping a present that seems like it’s not a good value (ask me about the Profi Whipped Cream maker Mister gave me several years ago that I love–theoretically–but I still refuse to use because it was $100. All it does is make whipped cream! Not a good value).  But I felt like I’d be bratty and ungrateful if I didn’t keep it. So I did.

Other than the sink, I don’t think there is a single item in our kitchen that gets the workout our garbage can does. And our Simple Human garbage can has performed beautifully. I have even overlooked it’s stainless-steelness. The kids have given it quite a beating, though, and last month the hinge on the lid broke.

I emailed Simple Human and explained the situation. They asked me to send a picture of my broken can and tell them when I had purchased it. I have no idea when, exactly, but I guessed five years ago. Well, wouldn’t you know they have a 10 year warrantee on all their products. So the incredibly wonderful people at SimpleHuman paid for me to send back my old broken can and sent me a gorgeous new one. No receipt required.

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It’s not quite the same as the old garbage can but it’s close enough. It even has a dirt-and fingerprint-proof coating that my last one didn’t have.  All in all I’m pretty thrilled.

I don’t know that I feel good about spending $150 on a garbage can, even after all that. But we have absolutely gotten our money’s worth. None of our crummy Rubbermaid garbage cans have lasted anywhere near 10 years. If you break it down it’s about $15 per year. That’s not so bad! Knowing I’m buying something that is made by such a customer-friendly company is very comforting. I love Simple Human. You can see the trash can they sent on Amazon.


*Nope. Simple Human did not ask me or pay me to say any of this.