Reading List for Early Fluent Readers

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

You know when you say something, and immediately think, "Wait, did I actually just say that?"

We were in the middle of the get-ready-for-school rush, and I was reminding the kids to make sure their backpacks were ready and was on time nine out of fifteen of asking them to please put their shoes on. I found Pato walking around the house with his nose in a book, and I said, "Pato! Please stop reading!"

It immediately took me back to those times I would sneak under the covers with a flashlight and a book because I desperately wanted to know what happened next in the story, but I was supposed to be asleep. 

Kinda felt like one of those "full circle" moments.

Anyway-- I've been trying to find books series that would be challenging enough for my kids to read on their own, but also have stories that didn't go way over their heads or turn them into serial killers. The people of Instagram came to my rescue, and I was able to compile a good list of series and some non-series books as well. I was asked by numerous people to share the list, so here ya go! (Quite a few of these were recommend numerous times, so I'm hoping they're good!)

Nate the Great series by Marjorie W. Sharmat
Ramona series by Beverly Cleary
Ivy & Bean series by Annie Barrows
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
 Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald
Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series by Carolyn Keene
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minaret
Pete the Cat series by Kimberly and James Dean
Pedro, First Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin
Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne
Eerie Elementary series by Max Brallier
Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler 
Happy Reading!

one fair, three very different summers

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Every year, the fair comes to town. We've only been here for a few summers, and it's amazing how different each summer has been. And specifically, how I remember this particular fair.

Three summers ago, I didn't even go to the fair. I had just found out I was pregnant, and each day felt like I was barely trying to keep my head above water. While my daily joys typically revolve around playing with my kids or seeing them get excited about something new or even a really delicious ice cream sandwich, during that time, I had a really, really, really, really, hard time finding much joy in anything. I felt so tired-- as if my own blood cells couldn't muster up the energy to do much more than just survive. The day of the fair three years ago was dark for me, and I really can't tell you much more than I went to bed around five in the afternoon, and didn't wake up until the kids had already been asleep for a couple of hours. I remember asking Chris how the kids liked the fair. But, even my questions felt half-hearted. I couldn't understand why I didn't even feel like being around my own kids. Having suffered with depression during my second pregnancy, I knew what was happening, but it sure didn't make it any easier.

Last summer, we went as a family of five. Chris and I were officially outnumbered. We brought baby Oscar with us, and we were still trying to find our footing with three kids. And I remember the big kids saying, "Mom! I'm so glad you came this time!" They couldn't wait to show me every ride from the year before.

Fast forward three summers later. A genuinely happy mama, with two genuinely happy kids, and one baby back home sleeping. 

And one genuinely happy dad who didn't have to ride the teacups :)

As we stopped at the top of the ferris wheel, Sof hung on to me so tightly. Every time it would go around, she would squeeze me around the same time because she knew what was coming next. She was anticipating the fear that she knew would come. As I sit here writing, I've realized that I know so well what that feels like. Sometimes, I wonder if we do have another baby, if that same darkness will come back. I don't know if I've ever really written or vocalized it before, but this is the truth: I am scared. I am scared of going to that really hard place. I know that I am one of the fortunate ones. One of the ones who experiences antepartum depression for a few months, and then it sort of seems to fade away by around the half-way mark of my pregnancy. But, as I've talked to other moms, I've learned that while each experience is unique, it is still very real. 

So, yeah. Just cracking a window open here to let you know that stuff scares me, too. And feeling so lucky to have such amazing people in my life who let me squeeze them tight when I'm going around that ride and are there with me when I need them most.

A year of Jones kids: August

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

You guys. I don't even know I've been posting these updates on the blog, but I've been taking pictures of the kids in front of this calendar since January.

And, like, you know when you start something, thinking it's a really fun idea...but then you get halfway through, and you're all "Wait, what was I thinking?" Yeah. THAT.

But, whatever. Every month, they stick with me. They know they'll be both bribed and threatened and bribed some more. You know what, though? I keep doing them because every month a small part of me is proud that they're all still there, and I haven't accidentally left one behind at the grocery store. (Speaking as someone who once got lost at the grocery store as a child, and was so certain I would never see my mother ever again, and would have to spend the rest of my days somewhere in between the cereal isle and the dog food, this is a major MAJOR win.) 

Some days I still think, "Wow. Three. And they're mine."

Just makes my heart want to burst and cry and hold them so tightly. Never gets old. 

Also, speaking of photographing kids, I was honored to be approached by one of my favorite companies, Artifact Uprising to help contribute to a piece they worked on called, "Photographing Littles." I, along with some other parent-photographers, shared some of our tips when capturing our own little ones. You can find the post HERE!

|| Little Cottonwood matching "Ridge" button-up shirts: HERE || Little Cottonwood "Rosie" dress in blue gingham: HERE ||

Sayulita: Where to Stay!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Have you heard my whole thing about "seasons?" Like, I'm not talking about weather seasons, but, like, the metaphorical kind? There are seasons where I'm better at staying on top of the laundry, seasons where reading a good book seems to sit on the back burner, or seasons where I am really really good at carving out time for myself. Well, this season I've been in lately has revolved around keeping my kids semi-happy while they're out of school, so any writing and work has taken a bit of a hit. But, I'm ready to start a new season, and excited to find my writing groove again now that the kids are heading back to school.

Near the top of my list of things to write about and catch up on was our trip to Mexico earlier this summer! In an attempt to simplify things for myself I'm planning on breaking the trip down into smaller posts. So, we're kicking things off over here with Sayulita: Where to Stay!

Before choosing a place to stay, I really like to do a bit of research. I read reviews, searched to see if the places had their own Instagram accounts, and really tried to find out as much about the place as possible. I chose to book a stay with the Petit Hotel Hafa, and we are so glad we did. Whenever we have traveled together, Chris and I really like to look for a place where we can really immerse ourselves into the area. One time several years ago when traveling around England, I was able to (accidentally) find a place in Manchester that not only put us in a wonderful location, but also was a stone's throw from a landmark commemorating one of my husband's favorite historical figures. I wasn't able to achieve that this time (darn!), but I guess that means we just need to plan a trip back to Europe :) Although, I will say, Petit Hotel Hafa was pretty darn close to his favorite taco stand of all time, so that DOES count for something right??

Do you spy two little cute selfies??

We chose room #2, and I fell in love with the feel of the room right away. I loved the decor, and of course, I loved how bright and clean it felt. I will however, advise that you splurge a bit and pay extra for the AC-- it can definitely get a tad toasty in there. We had someone come in every day to clean and bring fresh towels. I also loved that in addition to the key we got to the room, we also got a key to the main gate of the hotel. They lock it up every night around 8pm, but you can let yourself in whenever you like. We felt super safe our whole time there.

Before our trip, I had these great plans to sleep in and not get out of bed till noon. Well, that didn't happen. I don't know that I would call myself a morning person, but once I wake up in the morning, I'm up. That's it. There's really no dozing back off to sleep.

I was pretty happy to lay in our room, however, reading there or up on the gorgeous rooftop deck that was just steps away from our room.

Seriously though, this place was just so pretty and quaint every took you turn!

The rooftop deck really was the cherry and whipped cream on top here. It was always quiet, and we usually had the whole deck to ourselves. We loved to come here to read in the mornings, or just spend time tougher after dinner. When it's dark, they light the place up with candles, and you can hear all the night owls in the streets. 

And if you're looking for a good spot for a picture, there is a darling path of hearts just outside our door!

So, there ya go! And these pictures don't even quite do it enough of justice. We loved staying at this super colorful and beautiful place, and I'd highly recommend it if you find you're planning your own stay in Sayulita :)

Till next time!

|| "Faye" Straw Boater Hat: HERE || Madewell tassel earrings (red no longer available) HERE || Madewell sunglasses (sold out) similar HERE || 

A real question...

Monday, July 10, 2017

So...once upon a time, O was this calm(ish) baby who didn't go around the house destroying everything in his path right?? Or am I remembering things wrong?

And seriously, this is the reason why I sometimes don't even bother putting the broom away.

Earlier that day he had escaped twice from the room where we were waiting for the doctor, and ran right into the waiting room unclothed. When the doctor finally came in and asked me if he could walk, I was like, "Uhhh...yes. When he's not running."

**Amazing and gorgeous portraits of the kids by Bruna Mebs. She was so kind to create these for us, and I can't walk past them without stopping and smiling at them.

Raising a No-Girl

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

This girl.

I think if there was a list of "themes" for my blog, for sure one would be, "Figuring and re-figuring out how to be the mom my daughter needs." We are two peas in a pod, laugh at the same stupid jokes, share a mutual dislike of any tags on our clothes, and often feel like we're the ones who are right. (Guys, I'm working on that.)

She constantly has a hundred things running through her mind, and she doesn't have enough hours in the day to say them all. That's my Sofi girl. She's jabbering your ear off from the second she wakes up to the second she starts snoring. (She really does snore, and it's my favorite snore in the whole world. Sometimes, I'll sneak into her room and creep in really close hoping I can catch a bit of it.)

She has fears and very real anxieties. She has big ideas, and a big determination to do anything to execute them. Give her a paper and some string and she'll make you a kite. A box turns into an ice cream truck.

I love that she's determined. MOST of the time. Unless she's determined to do something fifteen minutes before I'm wanting to wake up for the day.

And because she's so determined, she's really turning into a pretty strong willed little girl who knows what she wants, and what she doesn't want to do.

- Sof, can you please go put those blocks away?
- (Thinks about it for a couple seconds.) Um, no, I don't want to.
- I didn't ask if you wanted to.
- But I didn't take the blocks out.
- Sof, pleeeeease can you just put them away? 

She then verrrrrrry reluctantly puts the blocks away, and makes a pretty big oscar-worthy scene about it. As if it was the single most biggest favor she was doing for me.

I'll admit. She really is a huge help, and everyone speaks glowingly of her. But for some reason, she really doesn't have an issue with saying no to me.

I try really hard to never pull out the "...because I said so" card on my kids, but I did come close last week. I already forget what it was that I had asked the kids to do, and Sof immediately asked why she had to? And I responded with, "Well, someday when you're a mommy and have kids, you'll get to ask your kids do these sort of things." 

"Mom. I'm not having kids, remember?"

Oh, that's right. I had forgotten that she had already made this huge life decision at the ripe old age of 5.

Just the other night, we were out with some of our good friends who were in town, and of course, we started talking about our kids. They also have a daughter Sofia's age, and I asked, "What do you guys think of five?"

I could tell by their hesitation that they were trying to think of the right words to use. We then spent the next few minutes discussing all the wonderful things about having kids around this age, but also the very real difficulties that accompany it. And then the conversation turned to our kids' ease in saying the word "no." Our friends had an older family member who said that "kids these days" just weren't being raised the same way they were used to. That their disobedience at young age, and them saying no to their elders would clearly lead to a child who would eventually grow up to be an promiscuous alcoholic who robbed banks.

We all sort of shook our heads and laughed (by the way, when are we going to stop using terms like "kids these days" or "people/parents/whatever these days?") but then Chris said something that really hit me. He said, "The ironic thing is that BECAUSE they feel comfortable saying no, they'll be more confident in saying no when they are faced with tough situations."

I love that! It's true! Already, Sof told me how some girls in her class at school were playing some game, but when I asked if she joined them she said, "No. I told them I didn't really feel like playing that. So I just played by myself."

I remember thinking, "Hey! Good for her!" Already she's learning not to cave to peer pressure!

So, is it easy when she says "no" to me? No.

Do we talk about it, and say that yes, she absolutely does need to pick up all the clothes she threw all over the floor because she wanted to change outfits for the third time that day? Yes. And do I find myself having to take deep breaths to get through it? 

You betcha.

But, do I feel like when she eventually comes to different important crossroads, she will be confident in trusting her own gut? I do. That's what being a parent is about, right? Teaching and instilling values in your kids, in hopes that the good stuff sticks, and when it's their turn to go into the world they can face it without fear? 

I hope my Sof doesn't feel like she needs to be a yes-girl all the time. That being a No-girl can get her just as far. 

My Top Five Favorite Perks of Traveling Without Kids

Sunday, July 2, 2017

So let me be clear. When it comes to trips, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I'll tell you that while traveling with kids can be hard, it is so much better because you get to see the world through their eyes. And if not with my kids, then for sure my husband. Lucky for me, June kinda turned into a month of travel for me, and I was able to enjoy a trip away with Chris, and one by myself.

I took a quick jaunt to my old stomping grounds this week, and I can't tell if I enjoyed the actual trip more, or being able to you know, SLEEP on a flight. To be honest, I was really going back and forth about this trip. The timing was kind of tricky, with it coinciding with the kids' last week of school, and lining up someone to watch the kids while he worked was no walk in the park either. But, Chris was totally on board and we were determined to make it happen.

The kids were more than a little miffed, because they were sure I was abandoning them again, but they seemed to cheer up a bit after the mention of "souvenirs." I was a little sad, too, leaving them again so soon, and I teared up a little bit on my drive to the airport.


as soon as I had arrived at the airport, I was all, "Oh. Wow. Yeah, this is nice." I can totes do a few days of this.

So, here you go: My top five favorite perks of traveling without kids!

Taylor ham, egg, and cheese bagel. This is what we will all be eating in heaven.
1. You get to eat all of your food. There's no one asking for a bite of your bagel, and asking you to share. You reluctantly decide to say yes, because, you know, SHARING is an important life skill or whatever, even though in your head you're thinking, "You better ENJOY that bite! And so help me if you decide to spit it out!" 

2. Flights are a flipping breeze! What did I do at the airport? I WATCHED FRIENDS. True story: for a solid minute I got nervous and fidgety while watching because I kept thinking there must be something I was supposed to be doing. Because when did I ever just go to an airport and just, like, enjoy myself?

3. Packing light. You can ask my husband; I get such a thrill from packing efficiently. It's so weird. I check, double-check, and TRIPLE-check every single item I pack and think, "How much do I realllllly need this?" Because of this, I have self-proclaimed myself a packing queen. For real, invite me over before your next trip and I would love to help you pack. For FUN. This time around, I even packed a travel pillow in my carry on because I had so much room left. And normally, I don't ever bring a travel pillow because I don't really consider it an absolute necessity. Besides, when would I ever USE the darn thing?


4. I didn't have to worry about nap schedules. We could come and go as we pleased, and I didn't have to worry about Oscar being a total nutcase and running into the street everywhere we went.

5. I didn't have to watch a single episode of Daniel Tiger, or Curious George, or My Little Pony. I mean, it was pretty depressing not waking up to a hundred (loud) renditions of "THIS IS MY HAPPY SOOOOONG...." but we made up for it by catching not one, but two U2 shows. I tell ya, Bono is the man. I have a feeling he and Daniel Tiger would really get along. 

Also, can we all just take a second to bow our heads in thanks that I actually found my car at 1AM in the airport parking lot? I was sitting IN the shuttle when I realized that this was the masterpiece I took to help me find my spot. I'm sure National Geographic will be calling me up offering me a job annnnny day now.

Best Places to Stroll Guide with Baby Jogger: Salt Lake City

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's no secret that our family loves to travel and explore new places. Whether it's someplace far or just our neighborhood, there's just something exciting about experiencing things together that has a way of bringing us closer as a family. 

Before Oscar was born, for a while, it was just the four of us. I felt like we had really found an amazing groove-- getting out the door for the day or packing for a trip had become something that didn't require too much effort. I didn't need to pack diapers or extra sippy cups. We were fortunate to see some pretty amazing parts of the world.

When I was pregnant with O, I feel like people kept telling us that having that third baby would really be a game changer. That the boat would be rocked, and to be honest, I was more than a little nervous about adding another little person to the mix. Would we ever be able to make it out the door? Like, ever??

Fast forward almost a year (and a half!) and I'm so thrilled that little Oscar has fit right into our family. It's like the train was already rolling, and he just hopped right on! Granted, getting out the door IS a little tricker, and we do need to pack more things, but he is so happy to be on the ride!

When I was invited to try out Baby Jogger's City Select LUX stroller and show you #HowIStroll, it really was a no-brainer for me I have never owned andy of their strollers before, but saw enough of my friends with them that I  knew they were the real deal. After trying out our own, I now get what all the fuss is about. 

We decided to take our City Select LUX with us around downtown Salt Lake City, and spent the day exploring the sights. And Oscar, our craziest and most active child yet, happily (and magically) sat in his stroller as walked around. I'm sure that it being the smoothest ride ever didn't hurt :)  Right away, I noticed how roomy the basket was under the stroller to store things, so I didn't have to worry about lugging around my backpack as I pushed him. I often feel like a I need six more arms with all the things I have to carry (and my kids have no problem giving me their stuff to carry, too!) So, this feature was a huge plus in my book. 

However, I think my very favorite feature of the City Select LUX is that should we choose to add another little one to our mix, it can grow right along with us! You have the option to add a second seat, as well as a bench seat or glider board attachment to accommodate a third child. I'm seriously wishing I had this stroller when my big kids were little! This stroller is all about giving you options-- you have six different fabric colors to choose from, and (AND) get this, twenty different riding options. 

As someone who has used multiple strollers for different reasons, I would say I could probably get rid of them all and just use this one because it's so versatile. This one is truly the only stroller you could ever need.

Where is your favorite place to go for a day trip? For more ideas, head to for the full Best Places to Stroll Guide :)

** This post was sponsored by Baby Jogger, but all opinions are my own! As always, I only share with you products that we use ourselves, and things that I feel good about. 

To older moms and younger moms and moms who are in between...

Monday, May 1, 2017

I read recently that preschoolers ask an average of three hundred questions a day.

Well, I have two preschoolers. You do the math.

This one isn't talking yet, but really has no problem telling me what he wants. Or doesn't want.

But, really, how did parents do it before google came along? I mean, I already make up a quarter of the answers I give them already...

Which makes bring me to another thing.

I feel like almost weekly, I hear someone (usually at church) say something like, "I don't know how young moms do it today. I couldn't! The world is such a crazy place right now, it must be tough." There seems to be this yearning for a simpler and different time.

And every time I hear someone say that, I think two things:

1. Dear older mom-- you COULD have done it! You would have done it! You wouldn't have had any other choice! Why do you feel like you need to sell yourself short like that? You are way stronger than you think. You're a mom, anyway. That's already amazing.

|| On an unrelated, but sort of related note-- the other day I was at a birthday party with my son for his five-year-old classmate. The topic of superheroes came up, and one little boy raised and waved his hand wildly and declared, "My mom's Wonderwoman! She really is." I LOVED that. I thought, "Now  THERE'S a little boy who loves, values, respects, and looks up his mom. I bet he doesn't even remember all the times she screws up!" And, "I bet that mom loves herself. She knows she's not perfect, but knows she's wonder woman anyway." ||

2. Don't feel bad for us "young moms." Really, don't! It's an amazing time to be a mother! Let me tell you just a few reasons why!

- Technology. (Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Napoleon Dynamite here.) But, if you're like me, and live half a world away from family, you don't get the luxury of seeing family all the time. Because of the technology we have today, I can easily call my parents in Hong Kong, and my kids can sing them the latest song they heard or show them how they can read.

- Thanks to social media (which I knows gets a bad rap a LOT) it's so easy for mothers to connect to other mothers all over the world. We all walk different paths in life, but motherhood is something that can connect women in such a deep way. I don't know how often I've shared a knowing look, a hug, and a laugh with perfect strangers. Motherhood can be very lonely, isolating, and if it weren't for social media, I wouldn't have made so many of the amazing relationships I enjoy today. 

- Our kids are growing up being told they can be whatever they want to be. I can look at my daughter and tell her if she wants to open up an art store that is also a bakery, she can do that!

- Our sons are learning that its okay to have emotions. And to express those. And that they can paint their nails if they want to. And that they can dress up as firefighting princesses. And that they won't be shamed for crying. I know I wouldn't want to raise my sons any other way.

- Moms are getting help for mental health issues in ways that just weren't around a generation ago. Things like postpartum depression and anxiety aren't taboo to talk about anymore. I remember feeling like it was silly when the doctor asked me if I was having depressing feelings after Sof was born. I thought, "How could I? I just gave birth to the most amazing person on earth!" But, by the time that I was pregnant with Oscar, I understood so much more. I was so grateful that the doctos asked about my mental health at one of my early doctor appointments. I had told them about how I struggled with early prenatal depression, and it was something they would keep checking back with me on. 

So, listen. I get it. I am not blind to the news and what is going on in the world. I have my worries just like the next person. Do I choose to ignore them and keep my kids in their own little bubble? Absolutely not. That's not doing anyone any favors. So what do we do? We talk to our kids about what's happening in a way that they understand. We try to pick out the good in our days. We encourage them to love and to be brave. If we can start in our homes, my hope is we can "throw kindness around like confetti." Make that difference. 

Someday I will look back and think, "Those were the best days." And I have no intention of letting fear ruin that.

One Thing That Really Surprised Me About my Motherhood Journey

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Before Sof came along, I think I had all these ideas of what motherhood would be like. I imagined a lot of good times-- baby milestones, reading together, making messes in the kitchen, etc. But I knew there would be rough patches-- sleepless nights, sickness, potty training!

I could write on and on about all the things that have surprised me about motherhood, things that no amount of years and reading and talking to other moms could have prepared me for.


This morning I woke up to find Sof, my forever little early bird, sitting on the couch, with neat little stacks of folded laundry in front of her. Too tired to get to them last night, I had left a basket of just-washed clothes out in the living room, with plans to get to them this morning. When I walked out of the room, Sof looked up and said, "I noticed you forgot to fold these, so I wanted to do it for you!"

Chris jokes that one of my love languages is cleaning, so you can imagine just how loved I was feeling at that moment. I scooped her up in my arms, and a flood of memories and feelings immediately came to me.

Yes, this was one of those good moments I had dreamt of. I've been so blessed that she and I have shared so many of these together.

But, though our relationship has always been solidly firm, it has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.

I'm going to be super honest and vulnerable here, and I hope what I say next doesn't get misconstrued. Because really and truly, I have loved her every second of her life. I loved her since the moment we started praying for her.

But here it thing that has really surprised me about my motherhood journey is that while I always always always have loved her, I've had lots of moments that I just plain didn't like her.

Gosh, that sounds awful doesn't it?

It's true though. Especially during her third year, there were so many days where I woke up already praying for bedtime. She has such a big personality with SO many emotions, and all those emotions are also big. This can be such an amazing thing because it means that she loves so hard, laughs with her whole heart, but also has big fears and big anxieties. And I haven't always known how to help her through those. (We are now in the process of learning how to help her with those fears and anxieties, and she's learning how to face them herself.) I'd start off by being patient, but I'd end up feeling like I needed to just walk away. Even at a year and half, someone at church once remarked that she acted like she "...had the whole world on her shoulders."

And how would these feelings manifest themselves? Tantrums, slammed doors, disobedience, whining (and whining and whining), and rudeness. I constantly have to remind myself that she's only five, even though she's always seemed much much older.

While the slammed doors haven't stopped (nor do I imagine they will anytime soon) I've found the moments of "I just don't feel like I like you right now" have lessened. I wish I could tell you the answer as to why, but this isn't a "tips on how to deal with a hard child" post. This is a "I'm telling you that I'm not a perfect mother and have my struggles" post.

The only thing I can say for certain does help, though, is hanging on to those bright moments. Make that hug last a little longer. Check on them after they've gone to sleep and breathe them in. Close your eyes, and make that good memory of them stick so that when the going gets tough, you have plenty of "THIS is why I love AND like them" memories.

Hang on to those bright moments.

8 Things You Couldn't Pay Me to Do

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ever see someone do something, and you're like, "Ummmmmm, there's no way you could pay me a bajillion dollars to do that!"

Of course you have.

I don't know what made me start thinking about it, but during this last week, I've been keeping a mental note of what I'd put on the list. I was originally planning on making this a list of TEN things, but I ended up taking way way too long talking about #8. You'll soon see why.

1. Drive a semi truck cross-country. I don't even like driving. Heck, I wouldn't even want to back that thing out of the driveway. I can already imagine the headlines popping up across the news: "Stay-at-Home-Mom Runs Over Hundreds of Innocent Cows."Or, "Thousands of Road Trippers Cancel Trips Till Semi-Truck-Mom Week Ends." It would be so very bad.

2. Go back to high school. You know those 80's John Hughes films that always have a rocky, wrong side of the tracks start beginning, but somehow the jock up ends up with the nerd and the girl shows up to prom in a killer handmade dress? I mean, maybe if I had had a Duckie then I'd consid--no. I'll stop. But you know want to know the silver lining? I ended up way better off than my sixteen-year-old self could ever imagine. My taste in music, however, still has managed to go unchanged.

3. Give Donald Trump a loving embrace.

4. Sing the National Anthem at a major sporting event. I wouldn't even sing it at a MINOR sporting event. I can feel my hands clamming up just thinking about it!

5. Sleep in a room full of mice and vermin and basically anything that scurries. I'm certain my heart would stop and I would die.

6. Give up desserts for the rest of my life. Okay, so I would mayyyyybe consider giving them up, but it would have to be a whole lot of money. Chris and I gave up sweets for Lent, and I've come super close to wanting to set myself on fire half a dozen times because of it.

7. Watch any of the Freddy Kreuger movies. I watched parts of the movies when I was wayyyyy too young (my uncle was watching with his friends and for some stupid reason I thought it would be a good idea to watch) and I had nightmares every night for YEARS. Pretty sure if I write much more about I will be having nightmares tonight.

8. Drink a glass of milk. So, I probably would do it for $100, but I'd most certainly be crying the whole entire time. I hate milk. And I do not say that lightly because as Sof will always remind us, "We do not say HATE!" But I hate it so much. If it touches me, I have to wash my hands right away because I am so worried that it will soak into my pores and go right into my bloodstream and kill me. You know the saying, "Don't cry over spilled milk?" Well, the person who came up with it clearly has never ever met me. Quick anecdote for you: my freshman year of college, I was sitting with a table of friends at dinner in the good ol' BYU Cannon Center. They knew I hated milk, but they had NO IDEA how much. One of my friends decided it would be funny to toss his pork chop into our other friend's bowl of cereal. I took one look at it and I felt the tears pouring out of my eyes. I ran out of there so fast. Crying. I don't think I'll ever, ever, forget that. Ever seen "Inside Out?" Yeah, that incident made its way into my core memories.


So, if you were hoping to throw some money my way to do any of the aforementioned things feel free to just keep it in you wallet cuz I just ain't doin' it.

What about you? What's on your list?

A time when I didn't have a good answer.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

You know those moments in parenthood where you look back and think, "Pretty sure my kid was the one teaching something here." Today I had one of those moments, and for some reason, I can't seem to shake it off.

But, maybe that's the point. Maybe it needs to stick with me and make me feel a little bit uncomfortable so I can learn the lesson.

Here's what happened...

The kids and I were in the car, out to get some bagels. I had just gotten a piece of good news, and I was excitedly chatting about it with my brother on the phone. (Don't worry, it was on speaker!) As usual, whenever the kids hear or see me talking to someone, they immediately have, like, a thousand things they just HAVE to tell me, and it has to be RIGHT NOW.

So, I'm on the phone, and I keep giving my kids half-answers, while trying to finish telling my brother the details about my news. I pull up to a red light, and I'm the first one in my lane. As I wait at the light, I hear Sof say, "Who's that man, mama?" I ignore her because I didn't really know who she was talking about, and again, I was on a call. But, then again, she asks, "Mama, who is that? Why's he standing there?"

I look over and see who's she talking about.

"He's homeless, baby."

- "What does that mean?"

"It means that he doesn't have a home."

- "So, you mean he has to sleep on the sidewalks or on the streets?"

"Maybe. There are special places where homeless people can go to and get help. Sometimes they can sleep there."

- (pauses) "What did his sign say?"

"I don't know, sweetheart, I didn't see. But, maybe he was looking for a job, or asking for money."

- "Why didn't you give him any money?"

I sit there, not saying anything.

- Again she asks, "Why didn't you give him any money, mama? Is it because you don't have any monies?"

This is where I got stuck. Why didn't I give him any money? Was it because I didn't have any? Well, that wasn't true. I knew I had a few singles in my backpack sitting right next to me.

The truth was I simply didn't have a good answer. I had a couple of answers running in my head that weren't very good; maybe he'd use the money to buy something that wasn't good for him. Maybe I was feeling extra nervous because the driver side window sticks when I roll it down. I'm sure I could have come up with a dozen not-very-good reasons.

So, after she asked me a third time, I simply said, "I don't know."

That was all I could muster up. I didn't want lie and say I didn't have anything for him. That would have been SO easy to do, but I couldn't do that to myself or to her.

- "So you couldn't help him?"

And that's when I knew I had to show Sof that even mommies need to be humbled.

"No, Sof. I could've helped him, but I didn't. I should have done better. Thanks for reminding me to be better."

- "It's okay, mama. Next time we can help."


It hit me hard that Sof still only sees people in the very best way. She doesn't judge, doesn't care about people's pasts, and doesn't understand why we don't always make the right decisions. I mean, that's exactly what we try to teach her, right? To mourn with those who mourn, visit the sick, and help the poor? How can I teach her about giving away the shirts off our backs, if I'm not willing to take a second and pull out some spare change.

Anyway, I learned a really important lesson today. And I think it was good for her to see that.

***Sof's darling shirt and skirt c/o Lucy & Leo.

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