A few weeks ago, most of the leaves were still on our big chestnut tree. Then there was a big windstorm, which knocked about half of them off, followed by a foot of snow, which made raking impossible. The other half of the leaves fell on top of the snow a day or two before we left for vacation.

Of course, by the time we got back, the lawn was completely covered in leaves. I mean, really, the chestnut tree is huge. But it’s been tricky to find a time to rake, since I have no fence to contain two kids and a dog. I had to leave them to their own devices for a while.

Yesterday brought beautiful weather and June went down for a nap without any diaper incidents, so I sat Evan (and the dog) down with some Netflix and headed out to rake. It went more quickly than I expected, but the sheer number of leaves and size of my yard (not to mention my inexperience with raking leaves) meant it was a 2-hour endeavor. And then what to do with all those leaf piles? I generously let the kids jump in one to their hearts’ content, and a neighbor came by offering to park his trailer by the tree so I could dump all the leaves in – and he’d take them to the city facility when I was done. Maybe that was the generous thing. Jarom took over when he got home, and now the lawn just needs a good mowing.

If only I had a lawnmower.

P.S. I had a book club last night, so Jarom’s friend came over to keep him company. Many kids together = no sleep, and when I got home at 11:30, Evan had just barely passed out on the couch, and June fought sleep for another half hour. Then she got up at 7 this morning. Is there a refund or something I’m eligible for today?


We’ve been in our house for 5 months now. I still love it! Some days the house is tidier, some days it’s toddler-ier. But it always feels like home.

When I was packing to move, I got rid of TONS of stuff. Given that we have 400+ more square feet here than in our basement, it wasn’t strictly necessary, but less is better. I often think we own too much, even though we’ve gotten rid of more since moving in. (Although we have added more furniture – but donated lots of toys, books, and random clutter.) Whenever it gets messy – rather, when the mess gets to be overwhelming – I consider donating everything we own. Except some clothes. And all of my books. And a few toys.

I’ve been slowly hiding the kids’ toys in my closet over the past month. They notice if I take a big box out of their rooms, but so far there’ve been no complaints about the disappearing toys. Despite having removed almost all of the small- and medium-sized stuff, there is still destruction in our house by noon. Fortunately, it seldom gets so out-of-hand that it takes very long to clean up.

Whenever I sleep at someone else’s house, or in a hotel, it feels distinctly like I’m visiting. But where we live is comfortable, whether it’s in a basement or a charming little house. I’d hoped that the first few days here would be magical in some way – but I think the same old, same old comfort of home is best.


Last week we went to Southern California for a Thanksgiving family reunion. I’m not ashamed to admit it – I slept pretty much the entire week. Jarom was so nice to get up with the kids and entertain them every day while I snoozed. In my defense, I was exhausted…and an extra week of sleep was lovely.

Because I slept so much, I didn’t get much done from my to-do list. I’m still trying to get stuff ready for an Etsy store, but finding a quality (and affordable!) printer nearby is challenging. Also, I found out after a few tests that my netbook has terrible color display, and images that I thought looked fine turned out to be horrible on any other device. I meant to work on the baby name keepsakes I offered to do for some friends as samples, but I was too busy sleeping. Understandably.

By this time of year, I’ve already sent out our Christmas cards. Well…I still haven’t scheduled our family photo, or had the cards printed, or bought envelopes or stamps. Jarom loved the design I came up with this year, so I guess I have to actually go through with it! But I’m severely far behind. The good news: I’m not panicking about it. Cards will get sent out, eventually, and life will go on.

Other things I meant to be doing: keeping the house clean (it was nearly spotless when we left for Thanksgiving), exercising every morning, getting up before the kids, tracking down a good printer, figuring out how to take great photos of my cards and prints once they’re printed. Yet even with my extra week’s worth of rest, I’m still too tired…without any momentum to get going.


Last year I decided not to eat any desserts, treats, or sweets from December 1 until Christmas. Why? I have no idea. I think I really wanted to test my willpower, and no other time of year is so treat-infested. I was in the midst of a difficult semester…so maybe I wanted to prove that I could actually accomplish what I wanted to.

I convinced Jarom to do it with me, and that’s probably the only thing that kept me from giving in. His classmates at the law school told me how good he was about turning down cookies, even when they promised not to tell me he cheated.

We started again on Sunday, since a few extra days isn’t going to kill us. (More likely it’s good for us.) We got back to Utah on Saturday night with very little food in the house. Jarom had bought a pineapple that we planned to eat on Friday, with our knockoff Dave’s burgers, but I guess we forgot about it until we were packing to come home. Pineapple + Orange County oranges + grapes + Allred orchard apples = amazing smoothie, right?

Disgusting. The pineapple wasn’t even close to ripe, so the whole thing was bland; the texture was awful. But it seemed a shame to waste all that nutritious fruit. We both suffered through a giant glass of this horrible smoothie and after that were so full that we didn’t want any dessert.

Today, I talked myself into making pumpkin bread. I debated its classification as a sweet: 2 loaves have 3 cups of sugar, so it ought to be discounted. After all, I ruled out hot chocolate, biscotti, pudding, and several other things we had in the house. In the end I went ahead with the pumpkin bread because I wanted to make something with the kids, but most of the things I could think of (brownies, cookies, cake, caramels) were clearly against the rules. And it turns out the bread isn’t that sweet or even flavorful.

Well, after the first piece it tasted a lot better. But I still could use a new pumpkin bread recipe. You know, for after Christmas.


We got a dog.

Here’s what happened: one Saturday, Jarom and a few coworkers had a guys’ day out. This seems fair, since Jarom is always encouraging me (perhaps too enthusiastically) to go have girls’ nights out. But while Jarom was gone this particular Saturday, the kids were horrible. Terrible. At this point I can’t remember the details – so in fact it was probably just a typical day, with June deciding to poop on the floor instead of taking a nap. You know. The usual.

Oh, I do remember what else went wrong – June started a new book-ripping phase, and ripped one of my favorite books. Of course it was a sentimental book, and a new copy will just not be the same. Sigh. By the time Jarom got home, I was frazzled, and emotional, and tired. He offered to get me anything I wanted. I believe his exact words were, “Whatever you want, I’ll get it!”

My requests:

1. A maid. He said he could hire a maid, but it wouldn’t be that day. Boo.

2. Chicken fries. Burger King stopped selling them in January and I’ve been desperate for them ever since. In Jarom’s defense, this was a pretty impossible request.

3. Something expensive. He said it could be done, but he’d have to order a gift and it wouldn’t arrive for at least a few days.

4. Money. I changed my mind about this, because it just wouldn’t be a satisfying gift.

5. Chicken fries, again.

6. A dog. I think Jarom was regretting his offer by that point, as I’d managed to come up with a lot of unreasonable ideas. So he was willing to bargain.

It turned out that one of the coworkers had just acquired a dog from a friend whose landlord suddenly said pets weren’t allowed. The coworker was hoping to find a new home for the dog, and Jarom asked if I wanted to go see if I was interested in taking it.

We had them bring the dog over to our house that evening for a visit. It was an extremely shaggy cocker spaniel named The Cheat. By the end of an hour, I was sold; Jarom wisely suggested that I work up to having the dog full-time, so over the next week the dog spent more and more time at our house. Now he’s mine!

Before haircut.

I liked the name The Cheat at first, but I realized that only people roughly my age who lived in Utah in the last 10 years might know what it’s from. And since we plan to have the dog long-term, I decided to change his name. Fortunately my shelves are full of books I love, and Jarom and I agreed on Ender, from Ender’s Game. (I had someone ask me if I named him after The Ender Games. Ha, not quite.)

Ender got a nice haircut a few days after he moved in, and I’ll be honest, I like the short hair much better.

After haircut.

He’s 4, and well-trained, and so far I love having him. The kids adore him, mostly. I did hear Evan say to June recently, “Let’s go sneak up on the dog and chase him!” It might have been innocent, but Evan’s tone indicated otherwise.

So, we have a dog.

Bonus: June jumping. In snow boots.

And that’s all there is. There isn’t any more.