Life as Lou

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I Went On Vacation- Almost By Myself!

  • October 5, 2012 5:21 pm

We had planned a family vacation to Fargo awhile back, and then the Air Force canceled it, as they are wont to do.  So when my husband came home from work about two weeks ago and said he was taking leave, and then asked me if I wanted to go to Fargo, I said yes. . .but I wanted to go by myself!

I have never just taken off and left my husband home with the kids.  And certainly, I’ve never left him home with FIVE kids. The closest I’ve come is having babies or surgery and spending a night away at the hospital, which is completely different than a full week of an experience I like to call “Welcome to Motherhood!”

He was very supportive of me taking a vacation (we both knew I needed it), and we decided that I would take just Maggie and have a girl road trip.


It was so nice to sit down, and stay sitting down for as long as I wanted.  It was great to hear quiet and not automatically assume that someone was shredding curtains or setting the carpet on fire.  I ate meals without popping up and down ten times trying to take care of everyone else while my food got cold.  Maggie is easy, entertains herself for the most part and completely enjoyed her break from reality as well.  I loved shopping with people who were patient, walked at the pace of normal human beings, and never screamed hysterically for a treat.  Heck, I loved shopping in general, simply because Fargo has pretty decent options when it comes to clothes shopping and I had all my favorite stores at my fingertips!  It was beautiful.

Just a few pumpkins. . .and sevral boxes of gourds

I visited a few friends, but mostly just hung out with my parents and did nothing, which is just what the doctor ordered. We did have one grand adventure when we drove out to Bluebird Gardens, a really cool Farm co-op my parents participate in.  We harvested pumpkins, lugged them out of the field ourselves and loaded up my car with A LOT to take home.

I ran out of room in the back- good thing I only brought one kid with me!

Confession: I love pumpkins. And not a little. Very little in nature makes me happy like Autumn and Pumpkins- and boy did Fargo deliver a gorgeous fall!

Isn't that a super cool bush behind me? What gorgeous color!

Now I am home, and getting back into the swing of things.  Gabe has barely moved from my side since I walked in the door.  All is well at home, and Chris did an amazing job making sure everyone was happy and fed.  Astonishingly, the house wasn’t completely destroyed when I got home.  I wonder if he’ll let me do this every year?


  • September 7, 2012 4:41 pm

Well, school started. Seminary started. We got two new kids.

And then I didn’t blog for several days because the chaos level at my house has left me a little off kilter.

It is a whirlwind around here.  We have ha meetings, back to schools, registrations, and a million other things that have kept me running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I think I have most of the initial appointments done, so hopefully I can sit for awhile.

Today is the first day for a week that feels slower- and in all reality, it is still a pretty full day!

We are adjusting well.  I’m tired trying to get back into my early morning seminary schedule.  My house is literally shutting down around eight at night now because we eat dinner and then basically fall over from exhaustion.

The kids are all doing well.  Our two news (I am going to call them Kid2 (toddler little guy) and Kid1 (preschool girl) for now, out of privacy) are easing into a routine.  They are very good kids, easy and compliant.  They have their quirks as all kiddos do, but on a whole, these are pleasant children and we like them. That’s good, because it looks like we will have them with us for awhile.

My kids are doing alright with the change.  The two little boys are vying for my attention, so I am being careful to spend extra time with Gabe and hold him a lot.  He’s been running errands with me; I guess you could say I’m sacrificing my sanity for his peace of mind. Jonas and Maggie are, as always, wonderful older siblings. They will both be great parents someday. The littles have already learned to look forward to end of the school day when the fun comes back home.  I look forward to it as well, since that gives me a little breathing room.

Kid2 needs a lot of cuddles.  He is such a content kid, but when you hold him he just melts in to you as if this was where he wanted to be all along and he’s glad you finally noticed him. Kid1 likes to snuggle as well, but mostly she likes to talk, talk, talk! She’s a pretty funny kid and I enjoy a lot of her little commentaries on her world.  The day after she arrived she held up her hand with all her fingers spread wide and said, “you get to keep me this many days, then I go back to mom.”  We had to have a talk about how it was going to be lots more days than that, but she handled it well.  Both kids amaze me with their ability to just roll with things and adapt.  Some of it, sadly, probably indicates that things are pretty tough right now, but most of it just indicates that they are amazing.


Scientific Research

  • August 25, 2012 4:47 pm

Having a family is a lot like doing scientific research.

I am currently living in the field engaged in an experiment called “What do Killian’s like to do?”

You would think I would be somewhat of an expert on that topic,

but after 11 years of having this family, we are still working out the details.

We are all very different people.  Our interests and likes are pretty varied, as are our ages and abilities,

and that has kept us from doing a lot of experimenting.

Being a military family and having Chris gone a lot hasn’t helped.  Neither has having a mom who got really sick every time she had a baby. Moving from place to place, finding something we like and then moving somewhere where that is unavailable can throw a crimp in your family activities as well.  You can’t go to the ocean here. You can’t go to the zoo. You can’t eat at the places we used to do birthdays.

Now these three are gaining a little more independence, and it is suddenly very important to me that we do something together-

something beyond household chores and being vegetables in front of the television.

We need some memories. We need bonding.

These kids are getting huge in a hurry, and I am pretty sure they will all move out and move on in a few minutes,

and they might never come back.

When you look at your family, can you make a list of things that you all like to do together?  Not things that half the people tolerate, or things that wear mom out but make everyone else happy, or things so expensive that you only do them once in a lifetime. I’m talking little things that could slip into your definition of who your family is.

We are people who. . ?

We all like to eat out.  And earlier this summer we discovered we all like to go swimming.

We are also homebodies who all like quiet time alone at home, by our selves. We need nudging to break out of our routines.

I have been making plans to do new things. I’m experimenting.

I’ve come to the hypothesis that we all really like a low key hike around Canyon Lake Park.And I like taking pictures of things I love.

Ever Anxiously Wait For The Starting Gun And Then When It Gets Shot Off Realize Your Shoe Laces Are Untied?

  • August 24, 2012 12:52 am

Wildflowers at Canyon Lake Park, Rapid City, SD

So our social worker e-mailed me.  Our file is officially open for placements and in the hands of the lady who makes the calls.She said we would get a call soon. . .if we hadn’t already.


So, about a week and a half ago I had an icky little tummy bug.  Then Maggie got it, and Gabe got it 2 days later, then Jonas dropped on Monday, Chris went down on Tuesday. . .and I thought- well, good.  We’re all done with that.

Until I woke up at 3 am on Wednesday sicker than a dog.  Yeah.  So not cool.  And to top it off, everyone else felt like crapola for 1 day- me, I’m on day two of feeling icky.  I think I am on my way out- yesterday was horrid and today I am just weak and miserable feeling.

I am willing myself to get well before the phone rings.

Also- I bleached pretty much the entire house on Tuesday, and now I need to do that again.  The last thing I want to welcome new kiddos with is a tummy bug.  Yeech.

Polished Insanity, or Yet Another Reason Why I Will Forever Be On My In-law’s Bad Side

  • July 21, 2012 3:24 am

me on vacation in manti, ut

When we were at my in-law’s home a few weeks ago, I had a horrible experience. I need to preface this with some back story.  You need to know that my in-laws built a beautiful new home just a few years ago. You should also know that shortly after they laid the gorgeous Brazilian cherry flooring, a tiny, tiny rock got caught by the wheel on Gabe’s high chair, and when I went to take the chair out to our car I inadvertently scratched a HUGE scratch in the floor in a very visible place. I felt terrible. I cried. In fact, I still die just a little bit inside every time I see that scratch, and that was two years ago.

This trip was a little exciting because my in-laws had just finished the basement. There was now a bathroom and two guest bedrooms, all designed to make someone staying in their home feel very comfortable. It was finished literally days before we arrived, and it was beautiful.  The bathroom has lovely tile flooring and a very striking glass and tile walk in shower in natural, neutral tones.

So one morning Chris and his parents went to the temple and I stayed behind to watch the kids.  I had all the time in the world, and I enjoyed a long shower and some extra primping in that beautiful new bathroom. After I got dressed, I decided that I would paint my toenails. It should be noted here that I have never, ever in my whole life made a nail polish mess. EVER. So when I put my foot up on the lid of the toilet and set the polish down next to it and began to apply the bright red polish, I wasn’t worried at all.

I got two thirds of the way done with my toes when the unthinkable happened. Somehow that little bottle slipped and fell to the tile below breaking off half the neck of the bottle. It then proceeded to bounce, flipping back and forth, back and forth on the floor no less than seven times, wildly spraying streams of very bright red all over the floor. In slow motion I watched this bottle bouncing as though possessed, and all I could think was “the devil is in the details.”

Now, I am not one to use the excuse “the devil made me do it”, but for the first time in my life, I honestly felt sure that there just had to be a pack of demons in that bathroom, plotting my demise. I had already wrecked one new floor in this house, and I was sure that some evil being had a plan that my in-laws would just never, ever like me, no matter what I did. Since things had been going relatively well, Satan just had to intervene and make sure I stayed firmly planted on my mother in law’s bad side forever. I was going straight to hell, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.

I was in a state of total panic.  Nail polish clean up usually involves attending to the spot as quickly as possible, but when there are streaks of polish across at least fourteen ten inch tiles and up the side of the shower, it is impossible to even know where to start. I grabbed a roll of toilet paper, got on my hands and knees and started dabbing up the thickest splotches. This, of course, smeared the red lines into hot pink blotches, but I had to get the excess off before I could do anything else.

Once I had the bulk of the goo removed, I poured nail polish remover all over the floor and began to scrub like crazy. I wasn’t getting very far. I bolted up the stairs and found a magic eraser sponge. That, combined with the acetone, started getting most of the polish up. I put good old fashioned elbow grease into this for at least twenty minutes before I just knew I wasn’t going to get any more up this way. I reached up to the sink, grabbed my own toothbrush, and started working on the tiny divots in the tile that were still stained. After about ten minutes, I had almost all of it up.  I stood up to survey my work, took a few steps back and screamed.

I had forgotten that my toenails were wet. During the entire time I had been erasing the evidence from one half of the floor, my wet toes had been leaving a second set of streaks behind me. I had to start the whole process over on the other half of the floor. Maggie had heard the scream and walked in and asked what I was doing.  I explained and then swore her to secrecy.

By the time the worst of all of it was up, I had spent almost an hour on my hands and knees. I was certifiably high off the acetone fumes, and still in a state of panic because though the tile was back to normal, the grout was still hot pink in at least twenty places. I called my mother in desperation and explained my situation.

She laughed at me. Then she told me that I should have visited her, and that if I had, I would be eating a Dairy Queen blizzard and taking a blissful nap on the big white swing in the backyard.  But no.  I had gone to my in-law’s home, where things never seemed to go right, and look where that had gotten me. There is nothing so bad that a little extra guilt can’t make worse.

I asked her what she would do to remove nail polish from grout, and she quickly ran through the remedy list of everything I had already tried. She googled it, and came up with the same answers.  I tried soaking the grout in even more nail polish remover, but NOTHING was going to get the pink out. She put me on hold and asked a co worker who had recently grouted a bathroom what she would do. Her answer was that she would stop trying to remove it, go to Lowe’s, buy matching grout and cover it.

BRILLIANT. Except I was in teeny tiny Manti, Utah and I had no idea where one might buy grout, (the closest Lowe’s was about two hours north) and I had no idea what this particular shade of grout was called. I decided to go look through the garage to see if there happened to be any left overs.  This house has two garages.  One is a two car and the other is a one car garage. Both have shelves and stuff lining every single wall, and it is packed with everything from motor oil to Christmas decorations.  Holy cow, how would I ever find anything in this place? I started in one corner and methodically worked my way through the shelves.  At three fourths of the way around, I found a bag of left over grout. YEA!

Now I just had to deal with the totally insignificant fact that I had never in my life had occasion to mix or apply grout, and had no idea what I was doing. It was also getting to that point where people should be coming back home. I was nearly hysterical.  Reason and common sense were completely taken over by wild eyed insanity.

I lugged the grout into the kitchen, and read the side of the bag. The directions were for people who wanted to mix up gallons of grout at a time. I only needed a cup. I put a few spoonfuls of dry grout into a large dixie cup, put the cup under the faucet and proceeded to add way too much water. Aaaagh! In a mad hurry, I thought to myself, “I’ll just dump most of it down the drain and it will even out.”

I can only imagine the pack of demons that must have been rolling around on the floor, sides splitting from laughter when they realized what I was about to do. “Oh this is TOO good- better than we imagined,” I’m sure they said.

Thankfully, my guardian angels yelled loud enough to access even my shorted out, acetone riddled brain cells, and seconds before I tipped the cup into the sink I heard them yell, “YOU DO NOT EVER POUR CEMENT DOWN THE DRAIN!!!!!!!!!” Oh yeah.  I knew that. Whew. I shudder imagining what explaining that would have been like. I stirred a few more spoonfuls of dry grout into my cup and thickened the mixture up to what I hoped would be appropriate.

I ran downstairs with my cup o’ grout, knelt down on the floor and prayed that it would work. I carefully dabbed the wet grout over the hot pink streaks. It was covering it!  Except it was all smudgy and didn’t have that nice clean, linear, professionally applied look any more. This was more like what a finger painting preschooler would do. I ran my fingers down the sides of the tile, pushing all the grout into the right grooves and finishing it off with a knife like swipe of my thumb nail. It looked perfect. I did this about twenty more times, until I had no fingernails left, and stood up and inspected. The grout I was using was darker than the grout already there.  I willed that stuff to lighten as it dried.

It had been just over two hours since the start of this debacle, and I was still shaking from adrenalin when Chris walked in the door a few minutes later.

There is no evidence whatsoever left in that bathroom.

Bamboletta Hair: French Braided Styles

  • June 15, 2012 2:32 pm

Today we are looking at french braiding yarn hair and using this pretty Bamboletta doll, Maggie, as our model.  This doll was created to look just like my daughter Maggie- and when Maggie got her for Christmas way back in 2008, Maggie named her Maggie, because, “Mom! It’s ME!!!!!”  Pretty cute. I thought Christina at Bamboletta got the doll made perfectly- super sweet with a discernible dab of mischief and ardent intelligence.

This style is really pretty simple, and you can dress up a lot of styles by french braining parts or all of the hair. If you already know how to do french braids, you will find this tutorial very easy. If not, don’t despair- for some reason, I can’t french braid people hair to save my life, but I’m just fine on dolls.  So there is hope! Dolls are don’t wiggle, yelp and are totally willing to stand upside down if that position makes it easier for you. As with all yarn styles, the trick is to keep the seams hidden, and the hair looking as full as possible.

To get started, pull small sections of hair from all three main seams (top, middle, bottom) and do one initial three strand, criss cross rotation to form the beginning of a basic braid.   With each new strand that you move into the braid, pick up just a few bits of yarn and add it to the three main pieces you are making the braid from.  You will want to make sure you grab them from the top and bottom- you can get some from the center, but I usually go for more from the sides.  If you leave the center alone, the non-braided part will look fuller.

You can see how I am adding just a bit with each new twist, and see how the sides are being pulled into the braid down the center.

Keep this going until you get the front section braided, and then tie it off with a ribbon or band or just wrap a few strands of the yarn around it snugly.  If you want to do braids all the way down, then keep going until you reach the bottom of the hair.

At this point, if you want to top it off with messy buns, pull the braided section behind and around, then twist the hair until it forms a bun and secure.

You can add ribbons or flowers to dress it up or down.


Or you can just leave it down.  I like to wrap some hair around the band holding the front bits, and then tighten it up so it forms two little fountains.  I actually really like this style- it seem very spunky, Punky Brewster to me. (Now you know how old I am!)

I know it was similar to last week’s fishtail, but don’t despair- next week we will do something funky and fun- cornrows and cornrow styles!

In Which I Most Certainly Will NOT Include A Photo

  • June 11, 2012 10:48 pm

I love my mother dearly.

I also love her mother, my strong, sharp, flippin’ hilarious grandmother, who I sometimes miss so much I can’t breathe.

And today I was thinking about something that happened with them back when Jonas was just barely one year old- that’s almost nine years ago, people.

There is the most beautiful beach in Pacifica, CA.  It is about a mile away from another nice, but super crowded beach that I liked to go walking on in what now seems like a past life.  Chris was trying to take me to the second beach when we stopped too early and found the first beach.  There are about a hundred old wooden steps down from the highway to this very secluded, very private beach, nestled between two cliffs. It is picture perfect, serene, and utterly unspoiled- and there is almost never anyone there.

That’s because it’s a clothing-optional beach.

So, with this information, I couldn’t help but take my mother on a little trip over there when she visited. Because- there was never anyone there when we visited before, and it was truly lovely, and wouldn’t it be so fun to watch my mom’s face when I told her what kind of beach she was at?  Never miss an opportunity to shock your mama- especially if you are really pretty straitlaced and not very shocking at all, like my goodie two shoes self.  I don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to see my mom’s eyebrows jump all the way to her hairline.

So down the stairs we went, me, mom and my baby boy, all the way to the bottom, and we were rewarded for our efforts because, indeed, it was as perfectly pristine as remembered.

And then Mr. Naked As A Jaybird walked around the corner of the cliff.

Cue MY eyebrows hitting my hairline, and my mother giggling at MY expression (I honestly don’t know why I try).

Well, this guy was awfully naked.  All he had on was a floppy hat covering his balding head. I have no idea why he bothered with that cap. I’d be considerably more worried about a sunburned willy than skin cancer on my ears, but what do I know? The guy wasn’t anything special to view in the nude, but also not disgusting, and it was, after all, the kind of beach where guys go when they have a thing for airing out their privates, so not really all that shocking.  So, I figured- well, what the heck.  Why let one wanker ruin a perfectly good beach trip?

We continued to enjoy our afternoon, snapping a few pictures, taking in the ocean lapping at the shoreline, and watching (because we really had no choice, and honestly, how can you NOT look), at this guy meandering around the beach, with his dopey Gilligan hat on, sand between his toes and heaven only knows where else, and his Johnson flying at what can only be described as. . .half mast.  At least, for his sake, I hope it was half mast.

It was a great day for a few beach pictures, and since my mother and I just can’t help ourselves when it comes to photo-taking, we had to bring out the camera and get a few cute shots of me and my little boy, and grandma at the beach, waves hitting the shoreline, the beautiful cliffs.

Figuring that I could still have the last laugh, I took the camera and with great stealth and deception, I pretended to take a picture of my very nice family members, but instead- I took a picture of our nude friend.  With my mother’s camera.  And I didn’t tell her about it.

This was not a digital camera.

I can only imagine what the North Dakota developer thought when he processed my mother’s California vacation photos.

She picked up the photos on the way to meet my grandmother for lunch, flipped through the stack and was shocked.  Mission accomplished.

Then she intentionally put the naked guy back into the pile of respectable vacation memories, sat down with Grandma for lunch and handed her the stack of photos. (Certain traits seem to be genetic.)

Well, Grandma was having a great time remarking on the cuteness of the baby, the pretty daughter and grand daughter, the picturesque beach. . .and then she yelped, pressed the photos to her chest to hide them from view, and looked around wildly to see if anyone saw that she was looking at dirty pictures in the middle of a restaurant.

It is one of my deepest regrets that I was not there to see this.

My mom said they both had a good laugh over it.  Then they mailed me a copy of the picture.

To this day I can’t picture it without giggling.


Whatever Blows Your Dress Up. . .Or Your Hair

  • June 9, 2012 11:01 pm

Eleven Years Of Marriage

  • May 24, 2012 1:25 pm

Happy Anniversary to my husband Christian.

11 years, 3 children, 2 deployments, several TDYs and training stints, four states, 10 moves, a hundred fights, a million kisses, and still causing trouble together ;-) I love you!

Photos From My Day; A Dog, A Plant And A Grouch

  • April 13, 2012 10:18 pm

Watson and I enjoyed the sun today, while it lasted.  He is growing up and you can really see it in these photos.

While spending the past six weeks basically just healing and being as lazy as I can be, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time watching my plants grow.  This is a sempervivum bloom, from the green planter in my windowsill.  The flowers are small and lovely, and a nice little welcome to spring.  I have a few that are starting to grow their long stalks, beginning the first steps of the end.  Death is rarely so beautiful as with the monocarpic sempervivum plant.  It is a shame people don’t die that way- one last beautiful hurrah celebrating everything lovely they’ve been holding inside.

My doctor appointment went well.  I am on track.  I get my life back in approximately two weeks.  I just wonder if I will have any energy in two weeks.  I’m not optimistic.  I’m wiped out on the best days.

I have given up on attending church this weekend.  It is Stake Conference, but between Chris working all weekend, trouble finding a sitter and the unpredictability of Chris’ schedule I think I will miss both sessions, which just stinks.  I love the adult session- it is the only sermon I actually hear!  For the family session, you have to mix the fact that I have a hearing loss, which means I always arrive about two hours early to get a seat near the front so I can hear and read lips, with three antsy kids who don’t really want to sit for two hours of grown ups talking and the fact that lifting and chasing are still verboten. . .and I think I’ll be home, missing church yet again.  I just can’t make that work on my own.  I wish I could at least get to the adult session, but oh well.

Gabe is in a very foul mood today, which I think has a lot to do with being shuffled to so many different houses over the past few weeks.  He has had a really fun time- so many new friends and toys to explore, and his behavior has been stellar for all of my friends. I think he is home and basically letting all of his frustrations out to me, his supposed freak-out safety net.  I’m glad he feels he can scream and tantrum for three hours and I will still adore him, but seriously, he’s pushing his luck today. Mommy is too tired for major freak outs.

Ah, there’s my good boy again.

The kids just arrived home from school.  Hopefully they will go easy on their mama this weekend.  I’m pooped! I have a few fun (but low key) things planned, so I think we will make it!  And it is only a two day weekend, not the five day marathon from the last go round.