queens, activity days

I teach the Activity Day girls at church. They are 8-11 years old and we do activities every other week, so 2 a month. This month we focused on beauty. We did an outer beauty night where we talked about hygiene and then did manicures and pedicure to one another. It was a fun, pampering night. But last night, I was in charge of the “inner beauty” night.

I wanted to make sure the girls felt special, had fun, but knew that what we were talking about was important. So I wanted to add details and elements to make it special. The theme for the night ended up as “Being Queens – as daughters of God, we are queens in the making”.

Then I of course had to make crowns. duh. And since I had to do it all for free, because our budget is blown, I made them out of lace I already had. I saw these crowns on Pinterest and was inspired:

Gorgeous right? Yeah, well, it gave instructions on how to make them from lace and so I thought I could …. but it was a bit of a fail. I was trying to do it on the cheap, so I didn’t go out and buy fabric stiffener, I saw online that you can make your own homemade fabric stiffener with glue and water. no you can’t. I did it and it didn’t make it stiff. They were semi-firm. Anyway, here was my process:

Apply glue/water mixture (or fabric stiffener if you’re smart) and let it dry completely, overnight.

Apply silver or gold paint and let it dry then brush them with mod podge and apply mad amounts of glitter. Let it dry completely.

Then, give up on making them completely stiff and turn them into quasi-tiaras with ribbon you have on hand. Whatever works.

The plan for the evening was this:

They come into the room and I wanted to have a “throne” for everyone (steal the chairs from the foyer), but we have too many girls coming for that. So instead, I am having a set of tables set up in a U shape with chairs.
Then they will all be seated and we will watch these two Mormon Messages for the youth … in this order:
Next, we’ll play a game I made up called “WWQD? (What Would Queens Do?)” Throughout the game the girls will be guessing and playing charades to find out what queen qualities we are working to possess and then doing an activity for each quality.
I brought my magnet board from home and put up this awesome picture of a girl in a crown.
There are 4 qualities we focused on. It’s supposed to be all about the girls’ inner beauty, so the qualities are: be kind, THINK, be modest, and the 13th article of faith (which obtains just about every quality we need).
Be Kind – played charades/Pictionary/hangman to figure out the quality, then we played “Baby I love you, won’t you give me a smile”. Sometimes being kind is simply a smile.
(THINK) “Think before you speak” – played charades/Pictionary/hangman to figure out the quality, then played “the minister’s cat”, where you have to think quick and come up with a quality for the cat in alphabetical order. You clap your hands in a beat and go around the circle in the order of the alphabet.
Be Modest – played charades/Pictionary/hangman to figure out the quality, then broke into groups of 2-3 girls each and had them use magazine cut outs to create outfit boards for certain occasions. How would a “queen” dress to go to a swim party, prom, work, school? etc etc. They glued all the outfits onto the page and showed the group.
This was fun, I got to ask them what they thought about modesty and how it worked in their lives. We had a good discussion.
These girls were finding a modest outfit to wear to working at Subway. :)
13th Article of Faith – play charades/Pictionary/hangman to figure out the quality, then I will teach them to memorize this. However, they already knew it and so we just recited it. We were out of time anyway, so it worked out.
Once done, I had handouts and sugar cookies for the girls with little sparkly crowns on top:
And that was it. I had fun and I think the girls liked it too. I usually do too much, but this was a good balance for me. It wasn’t going overboard with decorations or extras, but hopefully it was just enough to let them know I thought this topic was important enough to put extra time into it, making crowns and displaying pictures and having awesome sugar cookies. There we go. Now next time, I think we’ll just sit in the gym and play games :)

weight update

This is mostly for me. But I feel the need to celebrate/be accountable to someone/something. I weighed myself on April 19th and I was 168. Today, July 15th (almost exactly 3 months later) I weighed in at 158.5 at the gym this morning.

I only weigh myself at a specific time: in the morning, after I’ve pooped, with as little clothing on as the gym allows :) So I guess it took me 3 months to drop 10 pounds. And that is 3 months of going to the gym 2-3 times a week, sometimes more. One month of 6 am workout class with Leslie. 3 months of watching what I eat, doing a juice cleanse, trying out “clean eating” for a few weeks, skipping out on treats and not eating after 8 pm. And all of that means that I lost a little less than one pound per week (0.83 lbs per week). That doesn’t seem like a lot, hmmmmm. I have 13.5 lbs to go until I’m at my goal weight. I guess that will take me until Thanksgiving, at this rate. That’s crap. Maybe I’ll make the goal to be back to 145 by my birthday. Yeah. November 1st, here we come.

I have been working waaaaaaaay harder to lose this weight than I have with any other baby weight. Ray officially did me in. And another thing about my weight/body – it is “settling” differently. Like, really differently. All my weight is settling slowly into my belly and thighs. I have a mommy body. The gut is never tight and my legs are disproportionately larger than my upper body (and by upper body, I mean my chest is smaller). It’s not cute, that’s for sure. Sagging, settling, lumpy, stretch marked body.

I see these little 20-somethings walking around the gym with their sweet, tight little bodies and I have this unbelievable urge to shake them and say, “Enjoy this! Appreciate your body now! Take pictures! ….. cuz it’s all downhill from here girls ….” I don’t shake them, but I must have a desperate look on my face because sometimes they seem to feel my stare, look at me and then hurry past. Such is life as a mommy – you start staring desperately at young girls at the gym. Weird, right?

the gym

Sometimes I think that maybe I’m a little dramatic. maybe. I dunno.

I have a gym membership to the YMCA. I’ve been a member of the Y for about 6 years, off and on, taking breaks for delivery of babies and the first few months after I have the baby for recovery time. And I love the Y. Let me tell you why – the biggest reason is because they have a child watch area and I know the ladies there. Miss Jean and Miss Dee are awesome. Even when I plop Ray down, get him involved in a toy, try to creep out and he still cries, they just shoo me away and tell me he’ll be fine. And he always is but it takes a few minutes and they take that time with him. Anyway, I go to the gym because they watch my kids so I can workout alone.

Daniel runs (I am not a runner, but he is, so more power to him). He usually wakes up a half hour earlier than normal and runs around our block and general area. He really gets a good workout and his heart rate up and I see that and think, “maybe I’m a little dramatic about this whole gym thing. Maybe I don’t really need the gym. After all, I do a lot of exercises on the floor and I don’t require a lot of equipment … and the boys aren’t that bad. Noah and Liam play downstairs with Legos quite nicely and Ray just crawls around …. maybe I don’t need the gym …”

So this morning, Ray woke up with a fever and I couldn’t take him to the child watch, so I thought, “I’ll just workout at home. I can do this. I have a yoga mat and an exercise ball. It should be fine”.

It was not fine. I NEED the gym. I am NOT dramatic. Because at the gym, I’ve never had to go into a bathroom while someone was pooping and change the toilet paper roll, mid workout. Also, at the gym, no one has ever crawled over to my head while I was in plank position and pulled at a piece of fuzzy hair falling out of my bun, then giggled with delight. And then pulled my hair really hard right after that. Never happens at the gym. Nobody at the gym poops their pants and then stands directly in front of the fan blowing on me. And nobody laughs while standing there blowing poop air into my face. I never have people crawling under me while in plank position or sitting on my mat when I get up and come back, or crawling on top of me while I’m doing scissors. That never happens at the gym. And while I’m cooling down at the gym, doing my stretches, nobody comes to show me their lego creations and while I’m distracted looking at legos, nobody has ever bit me hard on the toe.

I need the gym. And now I know exactly why.

California girls

There is so much that this picture harrows up in my soul. It means I’m home and going into the city for some fun. It means Lucca’s Deli. It means Chrissy fields, Daddy Daughter dates to Espetus, family trips to the bathroom at the Fairmont Hotel. It’s all jumbled in my mind, but it’s allllll good.

I’ve been home for almost a month since my last visit and ever since I got back, I have been trying to find a way to describe all the warm fuzzies I get being around my sisters and their kids and mom and dad. I just love it. It’s comfortable and fun. I think we are the best all together, as one unit. We all fall into the same familiar rhythm, but just add kids, but it doesn’t even matter which kids you’re talking about. I scoop them up and kiss their faces off and play on the floor with them and shake my head at them when they’re ruining mom’s fountains. They are all of ours. They are an extension of my sisters and so I love them just the same.

And mom and dad are just fun. I wonder if dad does this on purpose, or if it’s just natural, but somehow, each one of us girls finds ourselves on a grown up daddy daughter date (mini ones) all the time when we’re there at their house. He just asks for us to join him doing whatever it is that he’s doing. One morning I was up at “his” hour (6am) because I was on east coast time, not because I am an early riser, and he asked me if I wanted to take a bike ride with him. You bet! I hopped on one of Dad’s road bikes (he has 3??) and he did what he always does – sets me up with all the good stuff, all of his stuff. He gave me the awesome glasses, the gloves for my hands, the helmet. Then we headed out for a 6 mile ride. I loved it. Then we got home and a little later he asked Aria to go with him to the store to pick something out and off they flew in the Corvette. It’s just funness (not a word, but it works in this instance) and it makes you feel special. He wants to spend all of his time around us, his girls. He wants our company and we want his. It’s so nice and comfortable and it feels like home, with my dad.

But as for my sisters and my feelings for them …. I just didn’t know how to explain what they are to me. How they fill in all my gaps, to make me feel like a whole person around them all. And now I don’t have to because …. Mina did it for me. She got home and wrote a poem about us all. It’s perfect. Mina is a poet. It just comes to her. It’s one of her talents and I love how poetry makes everything you say sound more important, more poignant somehow, and beautiful all at the same time. Mina and I are the only ways “away”, aka out-of-state and I think that makes us more sad to leave. We know it will be a long while before we feel that love and closeness again, so here it is, it’s called, Glass Half Empty.

After spending time away,
Then congregating home to play,
Our time together is so dear
And leaving is my greatest fear.

I wish to bottle it all up,
Satiate my endless cup
I turned my thoughts into a rhyme,
To take a picture of our time

Five Girls can sound like such a crowd,
We smile each time it’s said out loud,
But life without just one of you
Unravels my world, and changes its hue

It’s not a pie without eight slices
And despite all of our vices
I learn so much from each of you
So listen up, because its true

Beth has been our fearless leader,
Even when we didn’t head her,
Now she has us all impressed,
A definition of hostess!

She invites your kids with a smile,
Welcomes your burdens to her pile,
And when you think she’s had enough
Within a blink, she adds more stuff

Besides hard work and her service
Reigning in a daily circus
No single word can juxtapose,
Our Bethany, our valiant rose.

Though we tease her unrestrained,
Francesca is our family’s flame
She spreads her cheer just like wild fire,
Bearing gifts and Fun Supplier

A voice sonorous and ornate
Her home is organized and straight
She’s plagued with love of dazzling shoes
She’d buy them all, if she could choose

She’ll be the first to make you smile
And dress you up with flashy style;
Her love is honest and, you see
As sisters go, she fits with me

Christina is our middle ground
A level head and gem I’ve found
When asked which sister is her fave,
“I love you ALL”, she smiles and waves

Her beauty incomparable
Like mythic creatures in Fable
It transcends through her soft skin tone
Angelic features, all home grown

She’ll hold you close and make it right
Assured love, without a fight
We’ll sit and talk for hours and hours
A loyal friend, it’s her great Power

Our Chickie doesn’t stand alone,
In fact, we put her on a throne.
The family beauty’s cross she bears,
And wears it hum’bly without flares

I wonder if she knows how great
In all our eyes we venerate
Her honesty and fortitude,
For compliments, she often “shoos”

But know it now, how we all feel
We could not do without your zeal
And how we all have grown to love
This baby sister we speak of

If only these few words could do
The job that I had asked it to,
To bridge the gaps when we’re apart
And fill this hole, inside my heart

But now it’s made me wish inside
For all the pieces of our pie.
And nothing else will remedy
The magic of our fam’ly tree


Take these words and fill ‘er up,
And sip upon my rambling cup.
Until its time to all come back,
Refill the canteens in our pack.

I love you.

The only thing left to say is Mina. I honestly gave poetry a valiant effort and it was pitiful. It not only had a funky rhythm, the strains to make it rhyme made everything I said sound like a first grader explaining his love for pancakes. It was weird. Anyway, I am left with my descriptive powers and that will have to be enough:

Mina is so much. I don’t know how I would dare try to explain her in 3 stanzas, although somehow she captured us, I don’t know how to capture Mina in words. You want to have Mina in your car, because it no longer is a car, but the party bus and somehow you find yourself and all of the kids inside chanting “par-ty bus!” while flying down highway 17 on your way to Santa Cruz. Then you can get to the beach and it’s a crappy day at the beach, cloudy, overcast and Mom is buying sweatshirts for $50 on the boardwalk. But Mina is the one that throws propriety to the wind and takes ridiculous jumping pictures with you in the sand. The pictures are embarrassing and silly and totally awesome too. Then she can turn right around and on the car ride home, notice your uneasy driving this crazy huge beast of a car back on winding highway 17 and know just what to say. She’ll tell you your doing great, ask the kids to be quiet for Aunt Fran and talk you through each turn. She’ll keep one hand on your shoulder and you feel loved. You didn’t even know that’s what you needed or that you were acting nervous, but your little sister is so in tune and right there. Then you can continue down that road, and as it stops twisting and turning, your conversation turns deep. You can talk about anything with Mina and she’s right there with you. She has insight and thoughts and understanding and then what the heck, you’re both crying and then laughing.

Mina is so much, you can’t keep her in a box, but if it were a box, it would be a party in a box. As I spend more time with Mina’s little babies (they are 5 and 3, so not really babies at all, but you know what I mean), the more I see Mina in them and it makes me love them intensely. Truan is a party, like his mommy. He is everything that is good and fun and open and impish, he’s your friend. But Jellybean, she is everything that is fragile and girlie and beautiful, just like her mommy. She feels so much and wants to be loved. I know my sisters all have a different relationship and view of Mina, but this is mine.

I stole most of these pictures from Mina because she had a “good camera”. I had my phone and used it every moment, but it doesn’t capture enough. There’s never enough pictures, never enough good food, never enough time …. yeah, it’s mostly the time thing. Never enough time. Good thing we’re around for eternity.

The kids …

me and Jellybean


Rocco hiding telling Truan a secret. :)

Emily (Enlee) 

more Enlee


wait! what the? …. how did Jeff get in there ….

 The rest of us:

Dad, Jellybean and Mom on our walk in Concord

Me and Christina at Beth’s house

Aunt Net and Uncle Cliff at Chevys in Emeryville

Me and Mom at Chevy’s in Emeryville

Chiara, Beth and Dad at Chevys in Emeryville

Beth, Christina and Mom at Greens in SF

The Food at Greens …. which we promptly devoured (do you see the progression of the plates??). seriously. It was kind of embarrassing how quickly we cleared the shared dessert plates …. and then … we went to Ghirardelli Square for a little more dessert. what?! 

Mom, with her Stevia, at Greens, making her own tea. 

At Beth’s house, the last night we were all together.

OK, I posted this picture, solely for the shot of Aria in the background. She’s right next to Bethany and it looks like she’s mid sneeze or something. best. picture. ever. 

It was all for Daddy. Good times.


I have so much to be grateful for, but I am about to NOT talk about the many things I am grateful for. So, prepare yourselves. It’ll just take a moment.

Summer has been suffocating. It has been the rainiest summer I’ve experienced here in MI, so thank you Michigan for taking me to disgusting, humid, dripping, sweaty places I’ve never been …. and never wanted to go. But more than that, my boys are driving me crazy. Right now, it has been a day full of crying, cleaning, more crying, feeding, time outs, more crying, more feeding and now I have tight shoulders and I am craving chocolate and silence in a place where I’m completely alone and it’s …. quiet, did I mention needing quiet?

It’s a bad time of day, 5 pm. It means I should be making dinner, but I’m not, I should be getting ready to leave for Activity Days tonight in an hour and the boys are most needy at this time of day. They need food (dinner is coming, so I can’t hold them off with snacks, or dinner becomes a painful experience, reminding them to eat their food every 2 minutes), I need food and it’s the end of the day. I’m tired and I am flat out of great, learning activities for them to do to keep them busy and they just end up circling around me like vultures, pecking at me with questions, requests and whines.

I just told them to leave me alone because “Mommy needs a time out”. seriously. oh geez. I am looking down the barrel of a night of food making, taking care of a sick Ray, cleaning up and then going to spend the evening with a ton of 8-11 year olds for hours. I am tired. And I’m hot and sticky and my brain is aching.

Here’s what sounds good to me: going to Anthropologie and sitting in a fat, cooshy chair, surrounded by good smells and pretty things, drink a Jamba Juice (Caribbean Passion) and read. Maybe I would bring a laptop and look at apartmenttherapy.com. That would be nice. Look at nice things, in a quiet, good smelling place, drinking something yummy. Yes. Ahhhhhhhh.

But no. Ray just woke up crying and dinner should’ve been made 15 minutes ago. Blech. Time to dive in to the evening of duties. I hate being an adult. A responsible adult with kids.