Mar 31, 2011


Dear Mom,

Thank you for offering to buy me a new maternity dress for Women's Conference.

I can't find one a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e. But the gesture was lovely.


Your pregnant daughter


Dear Women's Conference committee,

I know there is a dress code for presenters. I realize your code includes a dress and heels. But since I am really struggling to find something appropriate, I'm wondering if I could wear a cute top and my best jeans. If I also wear pearls and mascara, this should work since I'm standing behind a podium.



Someone you might regret asking to speak


Dear Motherhood Maternity sales associate,

You, at 17 or so, have no idea how much courage I had to muster to walk into your store today (to say nothing of bringing my loud and crazy children and giant double stroller). You also clearly have no idea what it feels like to be pregnant for the fifth time and to have the pressure of finding something fantastic to wear in front of hundreds of people on your 32nd birthday. Based on your attire, I'm guessing that clothing with sleeves and a modest neckline isn't a personal priority. Thank you for trying anyway. I know I probably shocked you to the core when, after trying on every dress your store carries, I left with just one and a promise to return it if I couldn't find the perfect cardigan to cover my shoulders.


The annoying customer


Dear Chapel Hills Mall,

Since when did Old Navy go out of business?



Dear Old Navy on Powers Boulevard,

Since when did you stop carrying maternity clothes? Pfffft.

Even more disgruntled


Dear JCPenney,

Your maternity selection is abysmal. Seriously....not even one dress or skirt? What is this world coming to? Do you think pregnant women only go to the park?

But thank you for the coupon that gave me 25% off the area rug I am buying for my birthday. But no thank you on the shipping charge.

Cautiously yours,

Still looking


Dear Kohl's,

I bought two maternity dresses from your establishment, but they both have problems for which solutions are not as simple as I expected. (Again with the sleeves and the modest neckline!) Even though I bought them for a great price, I will probably be returning them next time I feel like venturing to your part of town. I kept the receipt in a safe place for exactly this reason.

I still love you, Kohl's, but we might have to break up until I have a more reasonable figure. Right now you are just depressing.

Love your sales,

Bargain shopper


Dear reader,

If you are wondering, "Why don't you just take what you wear to church and wear it to Women's Conference?" I will tell you. I have only ever been pregnant in the winter, except for the first time, and let's get real: nothing that fit me then fits me now.

Just getting that out of the way,

The author


Dear body,

I try very hard to love you because I know I should. I am very grateful you are making such a nice home for our Littlest Missy right now, and that you haven't died in the process (it was a little sketchy there for a while, wasn't it?). However, the more angry letters I write to maternity clothing distributors, the more I realize it's not their fault that nothing fits. You are very oddly proportioned, even in a non-pregnant state, and you deserve a custom designer to outfit you. But since I can't afford that, I guess we're going to have to work extra hard to find something to wear to Women's Conference. I think we ought to downgrade our expectations from "fabulous" to "modest and not hideous." Deal?

Love (or trying to),


Mar 28, 2011

Monday musings

  • If I ever build a custom home, the kitchen will have a locking, lead-lined door. Access will only be granted by the retinal scan of an adult over 30. Appliances will be activated and/or opened by key card. Security-breaching miscreants will be captured through a trap door in the floor and fed bread and water until properly penitent.
  • Maternity clothing designers need help. Women who are not a size 2 or a size AA or who have less than a 36" inseam do not look good in picnic blankets, tents, old-lady sweaters, or Project Runway attire. Where are the sensible shirts with sleeves, the dresses that do not require modesty layers, and the skirts that cover varicose veins?
  • One should never trust an almost-two-year-old who pleads, "I be nice, Mommy!" from her crib.
  • Nap time is the most glorious thing ever invented, and is especially lovely when certain rowdy boys are safely ensconced in school classrooms.
  • Wallets should be equipped with homing devices. So should car keys and cell phones (even when in 'silent' mode).
  • I wonder how long it will take my boys to notice that I donated their gaming chairs to Vietnam Veterans of America. {Insert evil cackle.}
  • Big bruises on baby girl faces are very, very sad.
  • Late-afternoon bath time is an excellent stalling tactic as we wait for dinner to bake and for Daddy to come home.
  • Gavin will probably grow up to hate his name, given the number of times he hears it exclaimed in harsh tones. Or maybe I'll be the one to grow up and hate his name. I wonder what we can name the next baby that will avoid this problem. Surely he/she will be as naughty as his/her predecessors.
  • Is this baby a boy or a girl? 48 hours and we will know....

Mar 26, 2011

Wildlife, pizza, and family economics

Garry had an extra-long work week and the rest of us endured (experienced? enjoyed? Depends on who you ask...) Spring Break. Yesterday at breakfast Tyler asked, in a really whiny voice, when he could go back to school. "Spring Break is kind of boring," he said. Zachary vehemently disagreed, spawning a shouting match that characterized the need for our school-time schedule to return. At this time every year I wonder how on earth we will survive summer break.


We spent most of our Saturday in Denver as a family, marking the first time in a really, really long time (we think maybe since last May!) that we took a family outing to a place other than McDonald's or church or Arizona. Thanks to a fantastic Groupon deal, we checked out The Wildlife Experience in Parker, about 40 minutes north of us. It was a fun little museum.

Our first stop was the in-house theater, where we watched a 45-minute film called "Animalopolis." The kids loved it, and the Littles held in their wiggles almost the whole time. During the closing credits, Gavin yelled, "Everybody dance!" He and Lexi busted out some sweet moves before the lights came up. Then we were off to the races.

We started with the frog exhibit, where we saw dozens of live frogs in their habitats. The poison dart frogs were very popular. Gavin only needed time-out once, which we considered a smashing success. I was very grateful for a second adult. Keeping track of children who immediately scattered and perused the exhibit at four different speeds would have been impossible. Three cheers for a helpful husband!

We also enjoyed the only other section of the museum that didn't require an additional admission fee. Gavin's favorite part was the avalanche simulator. He clapped and cheered everytime the white "snowballs" came crashing down. This section of the museum was perfect for his interest and activity level. The older boys kept busy with things they could read and inspect.

My favorite part of the museum was the outdoor walking tour that went past several metallic animal statues. The fresh air was lovely, even though Lexi insisted on walking at a snail's pace while Gavin ran at warp speed. Good times, good times.

When we finished up our wildlife experience, we drove a little further north and west to the Denver Temple grounds. Our ward is sponsoring tours on the grounds in April while I will be at Women's Conference, so we decided to spend a little time there today while we were close. We posed the kids at the fountain, saw the Christus statue in the visitor's center, and walked around a bit. I'm not sure how much of my sacred, eternal, Easter-themed commentary sunk in, but I tried. I told Gavin that Moroni was a Book of Mormon prophet and he started singing "Book of Mormon Stories" as he skipped along. Judging from the packed parking lot, it was a busy day at the temple.

From there we started scouting for some fast food before we hit the road for home. I couldn't stomach McDonald's, but we couldn't find much else since we aren't familiar with that part of town. The boys universally axed Chick Fil-A. We ended up in the food court at Park Meadows Mall. What a zoo!

We chatted about our favorite things from the morning over our pricey food, and then Zach begged for ice cream. As we boarded the escalator to leave, I explained that one scoop at Ben & Jerry's cost $3.57. I asked him to do the math for a family of six. By the time we reached the bottom he said incredulously, "It would cost $21.42 for six tiny scoops of ice cream? Wow." Yeah. Maybe at Disneyland, but not at the mall.

On the way home, Zach, Gavin, and Lexi napped. Gavin and I napped some more when we got home. Now I'm off to make some brownies, which we are substituting for Ben & Jerry's tonight. We'll send Spring Break off in style -- economic style.

Mar 24, 2011

Color me Lexi

Lexi, you have discovered crayons. In my closet cleaning efforts I left a big container on the counter the other day and you were eager to explore it. You are the first of my children to actually find crayons interesting as coloring implements rather than chew toys, weapons, or breakable sticks of wax. I am delighted that you like to color. We have set up an area on my desk so you can color while I work on the computer. This has been a lovely arrangement so far.

Every crayon you pick up is called "boo." If I substitute the correct color, you will repeat what I say, but you still think everything is blue. I am waiting to see if you adopt a favorite color. You often scribble back and forth with both hands at once. You are very serious about your art. I love that you have inspired your brothers to enjoy coloring (for very short stretches) as well. You also discovered markers this week, as well as the art of coloring on yourself and non-paper surfaces. I suppose it goes with the territory. Luckily I only buy washable coloring utensils.

Lexi, you are a girly girl in many ways. You love your babies (Abby and Ben). While you aren't an obsessive little mama yet, you enjoy putting babies to bed and pushing them in their stroller. One of your favorite toys is a set of wooden food that you can cut apart and put back together. Sometimes you feed your babies this food. Sometimes you pretend to eat it yourself. I like to watch you pretend. You are also a cuddle bug and love to wrap up in blankets, rest on pillows, and carry around your favorite stuffed animals, Betsy and Roxy.

At 22 months, your verbal skills continue to amaze us. You seem to be more articulate every day. Some of your most common phrases relate to the recurring activities in our life, but you are also good at asserting what you want, need, think, or feel in the moment. We regularly hear you say:

"I no want dis bib anymore."
"Give me miwk, pwease."
"Not poopy. Just wet."
"I wear jacket now. And boots. My boots. My pink boots."
"Where is Betsy now?"
"Davin did it."
"Yexi take showeh wif Mommy?"
"Doh ou-side? Yexi doh ou-side? Pyay? Pyay ou-side?"

You can be as sassy as you are sweet. "No" is definitely a favorite word right now, and you tend to yell it in a very ornery tone. You don't like being told what to do or when to do it, and you don't like that you have to do certain things that your brothers don't, like sit in a high chair and wear a bib and use a sippy cup. You think you are entitled to all things big and grown-up. It's a rough-and-tumble world with three older brothers, but you are not the dainty princess who always needs to be rescued. You want to do everything yourself and even go so far as to undo things I have done in order to have the satisfaction of completing a task on your own.

I often think about this time being the end of your reign as the youngest child. Of course, you have no idea that Mommy is having a baby in a few months, and you are blissfully unaware that it will rock your little world. Hopefully adding "big sister" to your toddler resume will be a happy experience for all of us.

Mar 22, 2011

Spring Break so far [in pictures]

It's Spring Break in these parts. We didn't plan an exotic vacation (or anything mildly interesting, for that matter) this year. I admit I've been slightly jealous as I have seen and read about my friends' fun adventures. But I'm also glad to be out of bed and (mostly) enjoying my kids. Here are a few random photos of our activities since Spring Break started last Thursday.

Pictured: A St. Patrick's Day feast of Pesto Pasta, grapes, beans, jello, and punch. Not pictured: Lucky Charms and green milk, green frosted cupcakes, rainbow sherbet floats, and lots of green tongues. Also not pictured: Two phenomenal parent/teacher conferences that morning.

Pictured: The kids just before a Sunday walk. Notice the youngest three in jammies and Gavin with a pink helmet. Notice also the brand new stroller that Garry won at work.
Not pictured: A mother also in pajamas. (Word to the wise: Gavin needs to learn to either ride that scooter effectively or agree to ride in the stroller before he will ever be invited on another family walk.)

Pictured: Army men ready for battle in the backyard. A good afternoon of play for rowdy boys. Give those kids some shovels and they're good to go! Not pictured: Two bathtubs full of sandy grit.

Pictured: Lexi in a swing. Mommy in a swing (and pajamas). Gavin digging in the sand. Gavin learned to "Superman" down the slide that day. Lexi enjoyed swinging like a "big dirl." Not pictured: The lawnchairs where Garry and I sat and watched our kids play for an hour.

Pictured: Neighbor Tyler K. in between Tyler B. and Zach, with popsicles. These boys are great friends. Not pictured: the third Tyler in our cul-de-sac.

Pictured: Gavin after a pizza meal at Costco with Dad and the sibs (I was napping). Do you think Gavin attacked the pizza or the pizza attacked him? I'm most impressed by the fact that there is no pizza sauce on his clothing. Not pictured: the overflowing grocery cart.

Pictured: Lexi chillin' in the basket of the Kohl's cart (also with Dad and sibs). She didn't want to ride in the stroller part. Not pictured: Dad trying to find some jeans for himself with four kids in tow. He didn't find the right ones, so he ordered them online. Also not pictured: Me, at home in pajamas with my feet up, working on a Blurb book for Gavin for three hours.

Pictured: Another day, another closet re-org. (I'm a little crazy.) We moved a toy organizer out of the closet and hung Tyler's shirts, which made more room in the dresser but less in the bedroom (still a win). Not pictured: Tyler and I in the crawl space, going through boxes to find shorts and t-shirts for he and Gavin.

Pictured: Three kids in new shoes. Two were purchased at the outlets in Castle Rock yesterday, and the other on From left to right: A 7-year-old in size 2.5; a 3-year-old in size 11; and a 22-month-old in size 6. Not pictured: The 9-year-old who got new shoes (adult size 7) a few weeks ago.

Pictured: Zofran comes from the pharmacy in sheets of foil bubbles. I asked Tyler to cut up the sheets into individual doses so I can grab-and-go when it's time for my fix. I usually put the pills back into the box, but Tyler made me a custom bag, which I love. Not pictured: The three other drugs I take on a daily basis.

Pictured: Four kids enjoying their bribe to behave during a Target run. Lunchables are made even more exciting when consumed on the coffee table downstairs (my "cleaning professional" was mopping the floor when we got home). Not pictured: My peanut butter sandwich.

Pictured: Kids in a tent in the basement. They are "camping in" tonight, and possibly for a few nights, depending on whether the tent makes my life easier or harder. I love the staticky hair. Awesome. Not pictured: The eruption of Mt. Laundry on the other side of the room.

We may not be on the beach or in the mountains or at a resort, but Spring Break isn't so horrible after all.

Mar 21, 2011

Taking a [very silly] poll

This evening over dinner Garry and I had a discussion about where Baby 5 would live when he or she arrives. One of us has been thinking about this for a while, and one of us thought about it today for the first time. Of course, the two of us had radically different notions and a meeting of the minds has not yet taken place.

When Lexi was in utero, we used the Normal Mormon Husband to mediate a naming disagreement. That was a mostly silly experience and didn't help at all (although the poll winner is still my very favorite), but I thought of him tonight when Garry and I were deadlocked over the allocation of real estate in our home. Mind you, we only talked about it for ten minutes, and this is a good-natured deadlock, and we really don't have to decide right away. So I'm turning to you. Here is the background.

We have a five-bedroom house. Garry and I obviously share one room, which is on the main floor of our ranch-style abode. Lexi is next to us in a 9'x10' pink and girlified room. Next to her is another small bedroom, which we use as a home office (picture computer, printers, filing cabinet, desk, etc). Downstairs we have a large family room and two bigger bedrooms. Tyler and Gavin share one, and Zachary has a room to himself. This arrangement, which we have had for about a year and a half, has worked swimmingly. I am quite content.

With the arrival of Baby 5, we have a few options. Having the baby in our room is NOT an option. Let's just get that out of the way.

Option A: Move Lexi downstairs to share with Gavin. Move Tyler in with Zach. Give Lexi's room to Baby. Keep the office intact.

Option B: Move Gavin into Zach's room and have Lexi share with Tyler. Give Lexi's room to Baby. Keep the office intact.

Option C: Move Zach into Gavin and Tyler's room (we can re-bunk T & G's beds and easily fit another twin bed). Move Lexi into Zach's old room. Give Lexi's room to Baby. Keep the office intact.

Option D: Move office stuff to the family room downstairs. Possibly buy new furniture to accommodate the change. Keep all children in current living arrangements. Give Baby the bedroom-formerly-known-as-office.

So there you have it. This is a very silly, superficial, non-problem, but I hope you'll indulge me with your opinions. We are spoiled with lots of space in our house; the trouble is allocating it to our greatest advantage. Some questions we've been mulling over include:

*Does it matter if different genders share a room?
*If personality and/or age conflicts currently exist, will they be improved or worsened by the sharing of bedrooms?
*Is it more important to have a dedicated office or a bedroom just for the baby?
*Will our decisions be swayed when we know the baby's gender next week?

Please let me know what you think we should do by leaving me a comment! I'd love to know which option sounds best, but more importantly, WHY it sounds best. I'm sure we haven't considered every angle. Thanks for your input!

Mar 17, 2011

Out of the closet(s)

My closets are a good indicator of my mental health. If they are clean and organized, then usually, so is my brain. The reverse is also true. I take it as a good sign that I've been itching for both my brain and my closets to wake up and shake out. What possessed me to actually attack the closets this week is still a mystery. I was just frustrated one afternoon and took it out on the spices.

However, after a few days of labor (the kind of labor that is appropriate at this juncture), this particular project is finished. There is something so soothing about straight rows of boxes and bottles, neat stacks of towels, and labeled plastic bins. I love knowing how many expired, unused, broken, or unnecessary items I purged in the process (and I'm totally ignoring how embarrassed I was that I let it all accumulate). I didn't take any "before" pictures, so probably only Garry, my mom, and I will appreciate the drastic transformations.

The pantry:

The new spice cabinet (former home of

The corner cabinet (formerly referred to as The Black Hole):

The cabinet above the dishwasher (up next: a child safety latch):

The linen closet (My mom would laugh whenever I told her something belonged in there. "Really? There's room for that?"):

Just for the record, I felt like an old lady at the end of my re-organizing days. It really was a bad idea to attempt this just as I am returning to a normal existence.

I have plans for two more closets, but I won't tackle those until we decide it's time to convert our fifth bedroom from office to nursery. And of course that can't happen until we know gender....and my sad body recovers from this week's activities.

But until then I can dream, right?

Mar 16, 2011

Going to the dentist

To kick off Spring Break this afternoon, we went to the dentist. Zachary and Tyler had appointments at 4:20. At 4:00, I was pretty sure the house was going to implode, judging by the intense heat and fireworks going on inside, but the five-minute drive to the dental office allowed us enough time to regroup. (It also allowed enough time for Lexi to remove her shoes and pigtails.)

I have learned a thing or two in my old age. First, I scheduled the boys simultaneously, thus limiting the time I had to wrangle the Littles. Second, I left the stroller and the diaper bag in the car on purpose. I knew that no amount of entertainment and/or containment would make the Littles happier or easier to deal with than just letting them sit/wander and watch their brothers. Third, I relied heavily on the happy and accommodating natures of the office staff to be patient with my entourage. Overall, it was a successful outing.

Tyler got x-rays in order to track the movement of his jack-o-lantern smile.

He had an excellent check-up! Tyler had mostly clean teeth (much better than I expected; only one trouble spot) and no cavities. It appears that he does not have a third set of molars. I was too distracted to ask if that meant he won't grow wisdom teeth. Any dental wives out there care to enlighten me?

I love this picture of Gavin standing watch over his big brother. Gavin was riveted. He was so disappointed that he didn't get a turn in the chair this time. He has his own appointment in a couple of weeks (in the morning, while the boys are at school).

Zachary also had an excellent check-up. I was especially concerned about his teeth since brushing ranks only slightly above changing his underwear on a weekly basis. Apparently I have picked the right battles; making him brush has paid off. Clean teeth and no cavities! I asked about an orthodontics consult, and the dentist agreed that we should wait a year or two. Zach has two loose teeth and three or four currently growing in. It's not time to straighten things yet! I'm glad.

Zach nearly filled the entire dental chair. I couldn't believe the way his body stretched out! He's such a big kid! People who see me with Zach always ask about the height of his father (since I'm obviously not the source of his tall genes). Zach is nearly my height and has bigger feet than I do. He's only nine! Seeing him in the chair reminded me of his first few dental check-ups. The first time he wouldn't even get in the chair. I think by the third visit he allowed the hygienist to count his teeth. We've come a long way!

The staff had lots of questions about my large family and the baby on the way. I guess we are a big group, and a family our size is a bit unusual. At least everyone was mostly well-behaved. We were only in the office half an hour, which definitely helped!

We celebrated our successes with McDonald's ice cream cones on the way home.

Mar 15, 2011

beware the ides of march

lately i have felt the fog lifting from my brain. i am able to do more things as my strength returns and my health improves, and yet i am still limited. i simply can't function at the level i am used to functioning, and i am also a little rusty on handling the daily frustrations of my normal life. today all four of my children were in my care all day for the first time in months. in some ways that was a good thing -- after all, my health hasn't permitted me to really act as a mother for quite a while, and i am greatful for the opportunity. however, it was kind of a doozy of a day, and i experienced a long-dormant emotion: complete and utter exasperation with my children and life in general.

nothing catastrophic happened. it was all just stuff like this:

  • a dinner conversation about college education that ended with zach announcing that he plans to become a professional video gamer instead of serving a full-time mission
  • the kids finding a stash of balloons and spending half an hour blowing them up and either slowly letting out the air so they squeaked loudly or letting them fly around the room (repeated 64,000 times)
  • gavin and lexi dumping crayons and goldfish crackers all over creation
  • gavin and lexi raiding the applesauce and eating about eight single-serve cups while i folded the laundry
  • lexi refusing to nap
  • canceling my looooong-overdue hair appointment due to factors beyond my control
  • lexi unfolding clean laundry faster than i could fold it
  • zachary flying into a rage about doing chores he earned as a consequence for behaving in a defiant and ugly manner during family home evening last night
  • finding out that zach has to do a separate write-up for the science fair
  • learning (over dinner) that tyler got into big trouble at school today
  • watching gavin *almost* get hit by a car in the target parking lot
  • gavin smacking his head on the floor after jumping from the coffee table to the hopper ball and making me consider an e.r. excursion
  • self-medicating during lexi's non-naptime with cadbury eggs and jelly beans only to really regret it an hour later
  • getting a new gel case for my cell phone in the mail and finding out it is a startling neon green color instead of my favorite kelly green
  • setting my cell phone on the table and not realizing for ten minutes that it was sitting in a puddle of water (bye-bye, phone camera)
  • getting to scouts and realizing that zach left his scout book on the counter at home, even though it was imperative that he have it tonight
  • discovering that gavin had locked all of the bathroom doors at a very inopportune moment
ok, venting over. hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Mar 13, 2011

The magical world of letters

Over the last few weeks, Gavin has opened his eyes to the magical world of the letters. Practicing with him is something simple I can do from the couch, and I have been completely amazed at how quickly he has caught on. Not only is he rapidly learning to identify letters (both upper- and lower-case) but he is associating sounds with the letters, too. This path of discovery has been delightful to watch. It's an experience I want to remember.

Some of his recent letter-prompted exclamations include:

M! That's for Mommy-Heidi!

H! That's for Heidi-Mommy! And hugs!

G! That's for me and Garry-Daddy and grapes!

U! That's for BYU!

Gavin: That's an i!
Heidi: Actually, that's an exclamation point. It is there to show excitement.
Gavin: I am excited! There's an F!

Upon seeing an S, he said, "That's a ssssssssssssssssssssss."

Gavin also realized that the letters of our last name are displayed on the living room wall as part of a picture collage. Now he can spell his last name. The same day he discovered that our house numbers appear above the garage outside, so he suddenly knows our address. I'm already wondering if this kid is going to be our earliest reader.

Maybe I don't have to stress about preschool after all.

Mar 12, 2011

[Approaching] normal

Friday was the kind of day that I couldn't have fathomed happening a few weeks ago. I ended up doing too much, but at the end of the day I had a deep sense of satisfaction to go along with my nausea and fatigue. That was nice.

The day included shades of my former life: Pearl of Great Price study group, a visit to the lab for a blood draw, three square meals (plus snacks), a nap, talking to a neighbor, laundry, and playing outside with my kids in the beautiful Springtime weather. That last bit made me the happiest, of course.

Baby 5 will reach 16 weeks gestation on Monday. I seem to have bottomed out, weight-wise, and my belly is suddenly growing. My thrush is improving, as is the wicked cold. The nausea is still ever-present, but slowly abating, perhaps due to the new antacid in my medicine cabinet. I am still receiving lots of help from our ward Relief Society. I am grateful for the service. Our Spring Break begins at the end of next week, and I need to be more functional by then!

pass it on!

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