Monday, September 8, 2014


On the first of this year I sat down and made a list of New Year's Resolutions. It had 7 goals on it, including (1) Get Pregnant (2)Walk 5x a day (3)Give my novel to people to read and (4) Read 20 books. How am I doing, you ask? I'll gladly tell you.

To my complete surprise, I got pregnant within days of writing that goal on paper. I haven't religiously exercised 5 times a week every single week this year but I have done well., so I'm calling that one a success. I haven't let a soul read one word of my novel, so that one is very much a failure. (In fact, the more time that passes the more I hate my novel and want to change every word. That's normal, right?)

All is not lost on the literary front, however. Yesterday I finished reading my 32nd book. So while I may not be making a lot of progress on the novel writing front, I'm a least doing a lot of research ;)

And since today is the rainiest day in the history of Phoenix (true story!) and Owen and I are more or less trapped inside our house for the morning, I figured now is as good a time as any to make some book recommendations. If you like YA fiction, this list is for you. If not, you may as well move along.

On Writing, Stephen King. Not a YA book, obviously. This was a Christmas present from my sister and I read it right as I was coming down from my post-novel writing high. It was part memoir, part writing instruction, and entirely fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming a writer.

Allegiant, Veronica Roth. I probably don't need to say much about this. If you want to read it, you've probably already read it. Once you've invested your time in the first two books in the Divergent Trilogy, you have to read the last one. But my goodness. I thought it was dreadful for so many reasons, including the plot. It was so bad. My main problem with the book, however, was Roth's decision to write it from two different perspectives because both narrators had the exact same voice.

The Beginning of Everything, Robyn Schneider. A classic coming-of age story that begins after Ezra, a token High School Golden Boy crushes his leg in a car accident and loses everything, including his girlfriend. Before long, however, he falls for an unpredictable new girl who turns his life upside down. It reminded me of a John Green book, but not as good.

Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi. Another YA dystopian trilogy with some romance mixed in. I remember loving these books as I read them. I loved them enough to recommend them to several family members and friends. It's been several months since I read them, however, and interestingly enough, I can hardly remember what they were about. So if you are a fan of The Hunger Games and are looking for an enjoyable and quick read, give these a try but don't expect them to leave a lasting impression.

All Souls trilogy, Deborah Harkness. This was described to me as an "Adult Twilight," which is totally fair. It's hard to escape the comparison when a controlling vampire falls in love with a human, although this human is technically a witch and can totally hold her own. If you like supernatural books, however, don't let the comparison scare you off. These books are rich with historical detail, backstory, character development, and an exciting plot. (Or the first two are, at any rate. I found the third book overly long and hard to get through. That being said, it didn't disappoint me the same way Allegiant did.)

One day early this summer I went to the library and checked out a handful of books by Sarah Dessen. She's a big name in the YA world and I hadn't read anything of hers before this year. She's published almost a dozen novels and they are constantly gracing YA "Best Of" lists. She's also unique by today's standards because all of her books stand alone. In this era of series and trilogies, that's an impressive feat. Anyway, I read Along for the RideThat Summer, The Truth About Forever, Lock and Key, The Moon and More, and This Lullaby.

Once I'd read a few of her novels, they all started to blend together. The majority of them take place in small costal towns during the summer. They always have a teenage, female narrator who is juggling family problems, a summer job, and a maybe-relationship with a new boy. They are light and fluffy but they do deal with teenage issues and I can understand why they resonate so well with the YA crowd. If you are interested in reading one or two, The Truth About Forever was my favorite, followed either by Lock and Key or This Lullaby. Feel free to skip The Moon and More. That was a chore to get through.

The Selection Series, Kiera Cass. These books were described to me as Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, which is spot on. It's a dystopian trilogy about a teenage girl who gets selected to compete for the privilege of marrying a prince. It's completely silly but a lot of fun. The books only take a day or so to read and are worth the time spent. These books won't change your life, but they will make you smile.

Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. I discovered this book from NPR's List of 100 Best Ever YA Novels. It's about a witch named Sophie and takes place in a fantasy world where enchanted hats, fire demons, and traveling castles are the norm. It had a lot of potential but I don't think it lived up to that potential. Skip it. If you are looking for a fantasy book about witches and wizards, you can find better.

Blackmoore and Edenbrooke, Julianne Donaldson. These Regency era books were written by an LDS woman and are billed as "Proper Romances," which is another way of saying "G Rated" which is another way of saying "YA." They were an absolute delight from start to finish. I read Blackmoore first, loved it, and quickly read Edenbrooke, which I loved even more. If you are a Jane Austen fan (I am!) don't skip these. They combine classic romance and wit with a faster-paced story than Austen's novels.

Longing for Home and Hope Springs, Sarah M. Eden. I picked these up because they are also billed as "Proper Romances" and were written by an LDS woman. They tell the story of Katie, a woman who is haunted by a past she left in Ireland after the Great Famine. She feels responsible for the death of her sister and the downfall of her family when she travels to America to make a living. After years of moving from city to city, she ends up in a racially divided town in Wyoming. She soon finds herself at the center of a town feud and a confusing love triangle.

If that sounds a little boring to you, skip these books. They are a little boring. If it sounds interesting, however, there are worse ways you could spend a couple of days.

The Birth Order Book, Dr. Kevin Leman. (One of these things is not like the other.) In the interest of complete honesty, I did not read this cover to cover. I did read enough, however, to gather the basic idea that people develop personality traits, choose careers, and mesh with other people because of their birth order in their family. The book contains interesting information (presented in a semi-boring way) that allowed me to play psychologist with my family for a weekend. If you are into stuff like this, check it out.

An Abundance of Katherines, John Green. Last year I read two books by John Green, both of which I liked better than this one. That's not to say I didn't like this, however, or that it's not worth reading. John Green is an expert at creating compelling characters, even if you don't always like them. This short novel is about a former child-prodigy named Colin who is reeling after his latest breakup. What makes his circumstances extraordinary, however, is the fact that this is the nineteenth time he has been dumped by a girl named Katherine. He tries to run from his pain by taking a road trip with his best friend Hassan (my favorite character in the book) and ends up in a tiny town in Tennessee where he learns about life and love and relationships and everything else I have come to expect from a coming-of-age novel. If you like John Green, you'll like this one too.

If you're counting, this doesn't equal 32 books. But I think this post is already overly long and, honestly, some of the books aren't even worth mentioning. So there you have it. And, as always, I welcome your suggestions. Read anything good lately?

Friday, September 5, 2014


It's 8:15 in the morning. So far today, I:

*Ate breakfast
*Cleaned the house
*Washed a load of laundry
*Put dinner in the crockpot
*Walked around the neighborhood with Owen
*Showered and got dressed for the day

In other words, Owen really needs to stop waking up before 5 am. Missing that last hour of sleep is hard on my 9 month pregnant body and it's hard on Scott, who had to leave for work at 7 am.

On the one hand, we have exactly 4 weeks left to break Owen of this bad habit before another little guy comes to town and messes up our sleeping schedules even more. On the other hand, I sort of expect any and all family schedule to fall apart once the baby is born. With Scott on paternity leave, I would not be surprised if we fall into the same habits we had in the weeks following Owen's birth, including long family naps in the middle of the afternoon and midnight walks around the neighborhood. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely looking forward to it.

I am 36 weeks today. The cruel irony of being 36 weeks pregnant is that while I probably won't have this baby for 4-5 more weeks... I could technically have a healthy baby at any time. So I have to fight the urge to install the car seat and set up the pack n' play and pack a hospital bag just in case and replace it with more realistic expectations.

I also have to start making plans for this month. Nothing makes time stop like an empty calendar, an active 2-year-old, and 100+ degree temperatures outside. This summer was long. And hard. And more than a little bit lonely. And since it's still hotter than hades outside, I have to think of ways to keep Owen and myself busy. We'll probably start with a batch of oatmeal cookies this afternoon because it's Friday and I'm 9 months pregnant and those reasons are as good as any I'm likely to find, I expect.

I'll probably check in again next week, maybe with a bump picture. Aren't you lucky!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


*Summer needs to end ASAP because I am too fat to bend over and shave my legs. Also, because of the heat.

*My stomach has officially shrunk. I eat a regular amount of food and then feel sickeningly full for the next 2 hours. I then feel normal for all of 5 minutes before I am starving again.

*I get so tired so quickly. This morning I took a shower, got dressed, and put clothes on Owen. Just doing that, and nothing else, left me out of breath and in need of a nap. It was 9:30 in the morning.

*I unpacked the box Owen's old 0-3 month clothes yesterday and folded them neatly into dresser drawers for baby brother, as we've taken to calling him around here. Scott and I squealed over their tininess and their memories while Owen charged around the room yelling "Mine! Mine!" and trying to stretch them over his body. I told him they belonged to baby brother and he was not having any of it. We're still working on sharing over here.

*Because I am having my second boy, I don't really need any new baby clothes. But I sort of do. You know how it goes. A couple of pairs of pants, because new baby is due in October and my August baby had zero pairs of newborn pants. Two new long sleeved onesies, for the same reason. And a new going home outfit, because how could I not?!

*I have tried to be really careful about what am eating and weight gain in general this pregnancy. With Owen, I gained more than 40 pounds (I'm not sure how much more because my scale blessedly ran out of batteries those last few weeks). That being said, I'm still gaining plenty of weight and at this rate I should top out at about 35 pounds, which is the upper limit for what a healthy woman my age "should" gain and was my goal all along. Part of me knows that I should continue to be careful for the next 5 weeks because I am so close to my due date and achieving my goal. The other part of me, however, is so tired of caring. Just give me all the ice cream, please.

*This is not what I look like right now. This is what I looked like at 30 weeks, when the picture was taken. But it's the most recent bump selfie I've got, so it's all you get today, internet. I'd take one now, but I'm not wearing any pants. See also: lazy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


On Friday, August 15, 2014, Owen turned 2 years old. While he was finishing his breakfast Scott and I climbed onto the countertop to hang the traditional Happy Birthday banner. As soon as Owen finished the last of his cereal, he hopped down from the table, scrambled up the couch, and climbed onto the countertop just like Mama and Dada. All while my back was turned. My first instinct was to remind him that he is not allowed to stand up there. He could fall and get hurt, after all. I opened my mouth to order him to come down immediately and found myself saying "Stay Right There!" instead. I ran and got my camera and took this wonderful shot. It perfectly sums up my 2-year-old little boy without any words at all. Of course, this is me, so I'll add some words anyway. It's what I do.

Owen at 2 is the happiest, stubbornest, naked-est little mischief maker I know.

I once had a friend tell me that whenever her girls fall asleep, she sees them as newborns again. I get it. I totally do. It happens to me, too. But sometimes when I look at Owen and see those unruly curls sticking out from underneath a baseball cap, pumping his arms as he runs wildly through the house, I get this feeling. It's a feeling that tells me I'll always see him this way. On his first day of Kindergarten, the first time he drives a car, his high school graduation, on his wedding day, I will always see a happy, smart, wild, sensitive little 2 year old.

And now, a few facts about Owen at age 2. He can count to 10, knows all his letters, is potty trained (95% of the time), sings along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Take Me Out To The Ball Game, reads along to several of his favorite books, loves looking at pictures of "Mommy, Daddy, Oh-nah!", calls himself Oh-nah, likes to talk about baby brother, says his own prayers every night before bed, has traded the word "No!" for the cuter/more frustrating phrase, "Um.... Nope!", loves hot wheels cars and playing "Bat the Ball," gives the best hugs and kisses (especially when someone gets hurt), is covered in trademark little boy bruises, and can spot a garbage truck, cement truck, or construction vehicle from a mile away.

Goodness, do Scott and I love that little boy.

 ^^NOT a birthday shot, but it just makes me laugh. The shirt and the undies were my doing, but the hat and suspenders were ALL him.
 ^^A week before Owen's birthday I threw him a little swim party with his friends, complete with garbage-truck-shaped sugar cookies.
 ^^Bounce U on his birthday, doing what he does best.

 ^^Choo-Choo trains!
 ^^Hard to tell if Owen or Scott was more excited about the mini-glove.
 ^^Impatiently waiting for birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, Buddy. We love you.

Friday, July 25, 2014


---This morning I woke up around 6:45, kissed Scott goodbye, looked at the baby-countdown-calendar I have taped to my bedroom wall, saw that today's box was painfully empty, and almost started to cry. I wanted to cry at the thought that Owen and I had 12 long hours to fill and nothing with which to fill them. Add to that the fact that it is literally unsafe for me to spend any extended period of time outside in this heat (116 degrees yesterday) and, well, you get the idea. After some hemming and hawing I made Owen a reservation at Bounce U to spend 2 hours bouncing his heart out with other kiddos his age. We've never done this before but Owen loved every second of it (except for the seconds where he had to learn to share). I was a dummy and wore a dress (too hot for pants) so when Owen dragged me through every bouncy obstacle and down every tall slide in the place, I KNOW all the other moms saw my underwear. Live and learn, I guess.

---Yesterday Owen and I met up with my friend Regan and her two little boys for a lunch date at Costa Vida. I'm not in the habit for going out to lunch in the middle of the week (because, money) but I made an exception this time because I felt like Owen and I deserved to celebrate his latest milestone.
---This boy done got potty trained! My mama heart is so proud of him, and also weirdly proud of myself for potty training him before age 2. In truth, however, I had very little to do with this. He was just so ready. I brought home a little potty when he was about 18 months and it sat in our bathroom for the next month or so. Once he decided he was ready to sit on it, he thought it was the greatest thing ever. Eventually he was going several times a day and I figured it was time to take away the diapers and just do it. This was about a month ago, but I waited until after our vacation because I didn't want to take a long car trip with a newly potty trained toddler.
---Speaking of vacation, SAN DIEGO. We spent 5 days there earlier this month and it was wonderful. There was a split second when we pulled up to Coronado Beach on our first morning there and I looked at Scott and said "What if Owen doesn't like the beach?!" But he did, you guys. He LOVED the beach.
---Also, I'm 30 weeks pregnant now.

(Although this is technically me at 29 weeks, headed out to a splash pad with Owen before Mesa turned into a burning hellscape.)
---Sometimes it feels like I still have to wait and eternity to meet this little boy but other times I can't believe that I only have 10 weeks left (or 11, if he's stubborn like his brother). Nothing super interesting to report at this stage in the game except we are having such a difficult time choosing a name. I honestly don't remembered feeling this tortured about it with Owen. Also, I thought I was bit with an early dose of the nesting instinct on Wednesday when I scrubbed out the inside of my refrigerator for the first time in ever, but yesterday I was back to lying under the fan with no pants and doing nothing at all, so maybe not.
---And that brings us to the almost-end of July. June was a great month in this house. We started it off with a little family vacation up north with all of my family (minus Scott, who was at Scout Camp). There were lots of splash pad outings and play dates and play dough making sessions and cookie making sessions and the month flew by. July, on the other hand, has been slooooooow. I'm looking forward to the end of this month and the beginning of August, which will bring Owen's birthday, a mini baby-moon for Scott and I (fingers-crossed), and a few more thunderstorms (fingers-crossed). Every day Owen looks out the window and shrieks "raindrop?!?!" and I have to reply, "Not today, baby boy." He seems to be taking it in stride, but it breaks my heart a little every time.
---And I'll send you out with way too many vacation pictures.
 ^^Somersaulting on the lawn across from our hotel. He did great on the 5.5 hour drive, but I think he was happy to have his freedom again.
 ^^Coronado Beach
 ^^Eating yogurt/making messes on the hotel bed.

 ^^Seaport Village is such a tourist trap but I love it there anyway. We went twice, but only because our first stop there was cut short thanks to what the on-call doctor thinks was a gallstone attack.
 ^^San Diego Zoo!
 ^^Owen loved this helicopter way more than any of the animals at the zoo.
 ^^Owen snuggling the stuffed Panda we bought him in the zoo gift shop. He's slept with it every night since we got home.
^^I tried SO HARD to get him to turn around and smile for a picture but he was clearly too busy for pictures.

 ^^La Jolla Shores. We loved Coronado so much on our first beach day that I didn't think La Jolla could top it, but it totally did.
 ^^A quick stop at the beautiful San Diego temple on our way back to the hotel from the beach, which is why we are all sandy and windblown.
 ^^At a playground overlooking the harbor across the street from our hotel.
 ^^Scott and I have almost-daily discussions about cutting those baby curls but I just love them so much!

  ^^I think my face was even more excited than Owen's.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Last week I reached the halfway point in my pregnancy. And even though I know that means I still have a long way to go, it also means the worst part is over. (I would rather go through 24 hours of labor than 24 hours of morning sickness, any day of the week.) And that is certainly cause for celebration. Last week, we celebrated the 20 week mark and the onset of summer by swimming in our neighborhood pool (twice), running through the sprinklers, playing out back in the hose water, visiting a splash pad, and taking Owen on his very first Lake Trip. And then the weekend came (and with it, the triple digit temperatures) and I was dead tired. It was the first time I felt truly pregnant. And by that, I don't mean it was the first time I felt crappy or tired or sick, because that was my entire first trimester. But it was the first time I felt like I couldn't catch my breath, even when I was lying on the couch.

Relatively speaking, I still feel pretty great. A few months ago I wrote how hard it was to survive the long and horrible month of February. And then March came.

On Monday, March 3rd, Owen threw up on the long car ride to my Grandma's house in Phoenix.

On Monday, March 31st, the doctor's office called to tell me that the antibiotics worked and that the bacterial infection in his stomach was gone.

Everything between those two dates is a blur. A blur of doctor's visits and washing bed sheets and changing dozens of diapers a day and crying and praying and worrying and trying in vain to get Owen to eat something, anything. And then, trying to in vain to get him to swallow his medicine.

It was the worst. Truly.

So what does that have to do with being pregnant? Well, nothing. And everything. While all of this was happening, while I was waking up every single morning to find Owen's crib filled with vomit, I was also dealing with my own sickness. I was tired all the time. More than once, changing his sick diapers sent me to the bathroom with my own sickness.

It was a long month.

But we survived. Again, we survived. It took the help of family and friends who were willing to bring dinner and help me disinfect my house, but we survived. And now here we are, almost 2 months later, and things are great. The pregnancy is moving along and baby boy is kicking up a storm and I'm gaining all the weight and summer is here and things are great.

^^Owen enjoying the lake with friends.
I mean, look at that smile on that healthy, happy little boy. How could things not be great?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Yesterday as Owen and I stepped off the front porch in the late afternoon sunshine, he reached up to grab my hand.

He missed.

His body went sprawling onto the hot pavement below, arms and legs sticking straight out like he was flying. For a moment, I didn't react at all. I waited to see what he would do. He stayed just like that, in superman position on the side of the road, as he assessed the damage. After several seconds and not a single tear, he picked himself up and grabbed my hand securely so we could walk to the park.

His palms were black and slightly scraped, as were his knees. As I looked at him in his overalls and white tennis shoes and baseball hat, a thought hit me with more force than it ever has before.

He's not a baby anymore.

My little boy is a capital letter Little Boy.

I knew it was happening. It's been nothing but cars and balls at our house for months now. At the end of each and every day he is sweaty and dirty and a little bit smelly. In that moment, however, it felt so concrete. He's a little boy with scraped knees and he doesn't even cry when he falls down.

I took a moment to catch myself. To say Thank You for my little boy. And to say Thank You that another baby is coming. And, especially, to say thank you that this new baby is also going to turn into a capital letter Little Boy.

That's right.

We're having another boy.

We had the ultrasound last week. And despite the fact that I spent the last 3 months assuming this baby was a girl (if only because this pregnancy has been so different than the last), as soon as the image appeared on the screen I knew in my heart it was another boy.

A brother for Owen.

How could I ask for anything else? Scott comes from a family of five boys. FIVE! I honestly don't know how his mother did it. And although sometimes I feel a little lost during family dinners (sports talk and endless movie quotes will do that to this girl), I know what these brothers have is special. And I am so happy that my two boys will know what it's like to have a brother.

Selfishly, I am also a little relieved. I know how to be a mom of a boy. Most days, I think I'm pretty good at it. And I'll tell you what, there is something wonderful about dirty knees and sweaty little boy curls. I love that there is always a stray hot wheels car somewhere at the bottom of my purse. I love that every day Owen brings me Scott's baseball glove and instructs me to put it on as he picks up the bat. I love the boundless energy. I love that he puts his hands on my cheeks and gives me chocolate kisses as we share a fudgesicle.

I love my baby boy. Both of them. And I love my capital letter Little Boy. The one I have now and the one that will suddenly appear before me one day, a ball of tough energy and tender sweetness rolled into one tiny, chubby, perfect human being.

There is magic there. I swear there is.