Friday, December 19, 2014

Deck the Halls 2014

I've decided something.  Next year for Christmas, (or maybe in February for Brian's and my anniversary!),  I am going to ask for a nice camera that can take good decorating pictures.  My phone just isn't cutting it anymore, and I feel totally left out of the decorate-your-house-and-then-take-awesome-pictures-with-your-nice-camera world.  But anyway, my halls are decked.  What do you think of my outdoor banner?  I made it with corrugated plastic and foam that I glittered (although you can't tell from the pictures, of course...grrrrrrrr).  I was pretty proud of myself because I've never seen a banner outside before.  :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Girl, Gain Goo

I'm recording this here for fear of otherwise having it lost forever in the past.

Last night Janey got into my our bed to read because Danin's music was distracting her.  After she fell asleep and I moved her back into her own bed, I noticed  I had accidentally left a few small Christmas gifs on my bedroom floor that she had likely seen.  So tonight I pulled her aside and asked her if she had seen the gifts.  I asked her to be honest with me.  She said she had not seen them.  But when I went into my bedroom later, I found the following note from her on my floor:

Mom when I was reading in your bed I did see some presents but I forgot what it was, I promise.  I said I hadn't seen any because I thought you would get mad at me    please forgive me  love, Jane.

Oh, man, was my heart swelling.   I went and got a note card of my own and responded:

Gain Goo!
I got your note.  I am so proud of you for telling me the truth!  That is a very hard thing to do!  I am not angry at all.  I just feel so proud and grateful to have such a wonderful daughter.  I love you.  Love,  Mom.   

I will put the note in her lunch box for tomorrow.  Probably with a treat.  Because I really couldn't be more proud.  Love that girl.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Let's Make a Deal

I'm getting older.

I've already ranted and raved about how many wrinkles I have, right?  No joke--I really do have more wrinkles than any other girl (my age) I know.  And this can seriously cause me a lot of stress if I think about it too much.  However, not long ago, I realized something.  Even if I were to look younger, I would obviously still be the same age.  So WHAT if people think I am older than I am when they first meet me?  I've realized that as soon as you know someone, you really loose objectivity about how old or attractive she looks.  You then know how old she is and knowing her makes her beautiful.  Right?   So what real advantage does a younger-looking person really have?  None that I can see.   Unless the person is a single middle-aged women (or older) who looks younger and who is on the hunt for a husband.  Maybe looking young would help her.  But who knows?  Anyway, I can't worry about it.  My granny has a lot of wrinkles and she is awesome.

But it's not just my wrinkles that provide evidence of the swift passage of my lifetime.  There are other signs.  I  go to the grocery store and forget that I am wearing my slippers.  My head starts to pound if I cheer too loud at a sporting event or I try to do a cart wheel.  I have to put garlic and onions in everything.  I have long scraggly hairs on my big toes.  I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.  I like nuts... and my cookies.  I thought I'd never see the day.


There are some wonderful things that come with the years passing, though.  My getting older means that my children are also getting older.  I am physically free.  For the most part, I do not have to carry, or nurse, or change, or feed, or chase, or wash my children.  They do it themselves, and I LOVE it.  They run and play on their own and I sit and enjoy myself.  It's wonderful.  And actually, I didn't mind my children's physical dependency.  I loved nursing and cuddling and cooing and rocking, and stuff.  But I gotta say--nowadays, when I am at a gathering where someone has a baby they are caring for, and my kids are off playing by themselves--I think,   This is niiiiiicce.

I feel like I want to freeze my kids how they are right. now.  Camp and Jane and Danin are young enough to make me laugh and entertain me, and old enough to be helpful.    And Skip is still just darling.  I'm coming to the realization that he is growing up, too, but for now--he's still little, and I'm terrified of not having a little kid anymore.  It's been ok--even good--for my kids to be growing up as long as I've got one that's still little, but what about when Skip's not little either?  I'll mourn.

I fear forgetting my kids when they were little.  I feel SO grateful to be able to watch home videos that remind me of everything that was so wonderful and individual about each of my babies.   I've decided that when I get to Heaven, I will ask Heavenly Father to give me the chance to visit the child version of each of my children again.  Does that make sense?  I want the little child version of each of my children to be available whenever I want to experience them again at that age.  And I think Heavenly Father can do that.  Because he can do anything that will bring us joy.  Who knows.  Maybe by then, being with my grandkids will fill that need for me....

I've wanted to document what my life is like right now with Skip being the only kid at home with me.

Every morning (ok.  Lots of mornings), Skip goes with me to the gym.  He plays in the play room--the lone ranger in a room full of  princess-dress adorned little girls--while I exercise.  Sometimes, he bites a little girl--one of his best friends--who is playing with the toy he wants, and he leaves a bite mark on her arm, and she starts wailing ( I can't blame her), and is taken to her mom who comes and shows me what Skip has done.  But mostly, he plays nice and enjoys himself.  And when we get home, we take a shower.  I have often times wet my pants while on the treadmill and have had to sit on my sweatshirt all the way home so as to not get urine on my seat.  I am soaking wet with sweat at the very least.  So I start the shower and Skip asks if it is cold.  He means hot.  He gets opposites mixed up.   (I'll tell him he needs to do something, and he'll ask me why not instead of why.)  I tell him it is hot and we step in.  He asks, "It's ok I go potty in the shower, Mom?"  And I say, "Yes, Bip."  I tell him to aim low and to not get potty germs on the soap.   He plays with his cars on the floor of the shower and asks me not to drip Shampoo on his head.  After about 15 minutes, I get out and Skip tells me he'll stay in for a little bit longer, and then he'll get out.  "OK, Mom?"

He loves to see me my hair look all crazy after I have bent over and towel dried it and then shaken it out.

We go into his room and I hold open his underwear, and then his pants, for him to step into.  He puts his arms around my neck for balance and he smashes his lips against mine, so that his eyes blur into one, and I say--out of the corner of my mouth--"Wow.  That's a big kiss."

I've realized how much I talk out loud to myself because he responds to me every time I do.  I get frustrated and groan, or say crap!, or dang it!, or whatever, and he'll say, "What, Mom?"  And I'll have to give him an explanation.  It will make me laugh, and he'll say, "What, Mom?" again.

I hope I don't forget.


Danin's 7th birthday was yesterday.   Man, that girl.    I agreed to let her have a party this year since she didn't have one last year and we sat down to write out a list of invitees.  I drew the line at 13.  13!  The girl's got more friends than any other little girl I have ever seen.  And all thirteen of those kids are children Danin plays with on a regular basis.  And I swear half of them would tell you Danin is their best friend.  I can't blame them.  They know a fun girl when they meet her.

She is playing soccer.  She moaned and groaned and told me she did NOT want to play soccer again.  Whenever Danin gets in a mood and starts complaining about something, she goes into a monologue of everything in her life that she doesn't like.  And she always mentions how I call her nicknames in front of other people and it embarrasses her.  I can't convince her that my giving her nicknames is a show of my love.  Anyway....Ultimately, Erin was able to talk her into playing soccer and being on Camden's team.   So in last week's game, while my parents were visiting, I did my best to cheer for Danin, instead of for Shugee, and it was hard.  Afterward,  she told me she guessed it would be OK if I yelled, Go, Shugee    This week, I saw her score her first goal ever.    I also saw her glance over at me as I was yelling, "Way to go, Shugee!  Giiiirrrlll!"  She did her best to suppress her smile.  She was thrilled at her goal, and hopefully at my cheering for her, too.

And it turns out that Jane is quite the athlete.  For whatever reason, I had though it would be Danin that would be big into sports--but it's turned out to be Jane.  She has been one of the best players on her team for the last several seasons, and it has been so fun to see her turn into a legitimate soccer player.  You know what I mean?  When we play with adults and kids, we don't have to go easy on her.  She more than holds her own.
She is one of the two-member "homework police" in her class at school.  She finishes her homework everyday on the way home from school and then hands it to me to sign and put a star on.  It doesn't challenge her yet.  She still has a lisp and is unable to say her own name--or any other word with the j, sh, or ch sounds--correctly.  She produces these sounds entirely through her nose, so when she plugs her nose, she cannot pronounce them at all.  I am a little concerned about this.  Her speech teacher told me she (the speech teacher) has done everything she knows how, to help Jane, and that she may need to see another kind of specialist.  I need to look into that some more.
For Danin's birthday party, Jane and her best friend were in charge of overseeing the games.  There could be nothing more down Jane's alley than overseeing something.  She loves it.   Win, win.

Camp.  My boy has grown up so. much.  And I feel so proud and delighted by who he is becoming.   He gets in trouble at school from time to time for being distracted or distracting others, but that same quality in him is one of the things that makes him so neat.  He always has interesting things going on in his head.  His wheels are absolutely always turning.
He is mature, and so helpful.  He'll do anything I ask of him.   And he always makes an effort to compliment what I've made for dinner.  Maybe someday he'll even eat it!  :)  I mentioned last time how much he is loving football.  LOVING it.  And guess what?  He plays.  In the games, he plays.  And his contribution is significant.  And I cheer, and I am so proud.  Recently, Brian texted Camp's coach to tell him how much Camp was enjoying football, and this was his coach's response:
...Camp was killing it on defense today!  He was everywhere at linebacker, covering both sides of the field from right outside linebacker.  He is becoming an animal!  I especially appreciated his desire at the end of practice on our angle drills.  I called practice and he asked if he could run one more...I value desire and commitment so I let him.  He wanted to have a chance at Elijah... He took the right angle and made a beautiful tackle on him.  I appreciate Camp.  He works hard every play...
He works hard every play.  Could there be a greater compliment?  Not in Brian's eyes.  And not in mine, either.
For family night recently, we watched  Rudy for the kids' first time.   Camp watched it again this morning as a pre-game pump-you-up.
I got shirts made for the rest of us with Camp's number (number 12) on them.  Brian's and the kids' have Lacouture on the back of theirs, but the back of mine says Homie.  :)


I've told you--in my last Christmas letter, at least--that I struggle with my words.  Sometimes I say too many of them and I overwhelm people.  Sometimes I say really mean ones, or the wrong ones,  to Brian and the kids, and I hurt them.  But no one will ever be able to say that I didn't use my words to show love, either.  I use words to show my love often.  I've realized that for me, my words are my greatest strength and my greatest vice.

I have been worried about being able to say the right words when I talk to Camp and Jane ( and eventually Danin and Skip) about things that are really important--like sex, and pornography, and love, and temptation, and being like Jesus.   I so desperately want to say the right words--the words that will explain and empower and encourage and give hope and show love.

And then this morning, while I was cleaning the dental office and listening to This American Life, I had an idea.  It's been a long time since I've made a deal with God.  But I have another deal to make.  I will promise to put forth an extra effort to keep from saying hurtful words to my kids when I am angry, if he will promise to bless me with the right words to say during those conversations with my kids that will really matter.  I realize it doesn't sound super kosher to make deals with God, but I'll tell you what:  it's been my experience that whenever I have committed to God to put forth a little extra effort in some area of my life, he has always been consistent in throwing in a few extra needed blessings in return.  He really will always take any opportunity I give bless me.  :)  So I'll make the deal.  Tonight.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Yesterday, I happened to glance down at Skip while he had his finger in his nose.  He said to me, "Burger...(booger)."  I laughed and commented, "That's nasty."  Then he said to me, "Mom, dare (they're) not nasty.  You should try one."  No shame,  I tell ya.  The boy's got no shame.

Just out of curiosity--how long is too long to spend brushing your teeth?  The other night as I was flossing, I commented to Brian how glad I was that after so many years of flossing after I brushed my teeth, he had suggested I do it before brushing.  Totally changed my life.  He then said, "Yeah, and I think you brush too hard and for too long as well."  I'll spare you the ridiculous boring details, but suffice it to say, I totally got my feelings hurt.  I feel like for years now (after having learned that hard brushing was the cause of my receding gums), I've made a concerted effort to softly brush my teeth.  Aaaannnddd---brushing too long?  Is that even possible?  I don't know.  I just thought I was being thorough, and all along Brian has just been thinking critically of my brushing habits.

I think I'm just particularly sensitive to all things mouth related because of the breath issues I've told you about.  Come to think about it, I've had mouth and teeth issues my whole life.  In like first or second grade, I specifically remember recognizing that Jamie Mueller had the big humps in her upper lip that make a woman beautiful and I had hardly more than a straight line for my top lip---almost no lips at all, for that matter.   And that's saying nothing of the cold sores and cracks that have plagued my lips my whole life.  Add to that the fact that I have had gapped teeth, then missing teeth, then false teeth, then receding gums and bad breath.... Seriously?  Could it get any worse?  Answer:  Yes.  Next week I'm getting at least one root canal.  (But guess what?  When I called my dentist to schedule a root canal, he recommended I go on antibiotics.  He said doing so would help with my pain, but also that it would kill the infection.  Until then, it had never occurred to me that need for a root canal denotes an infection.  So then it occurred to me that maybe having an infection in my mouth for some time has had something to do with my bad breath?!  Could that be?!  I'm going to ask Brian tonight if he's noticed a change in my breath since I finished the antibiotics.   Crossing my fingers (and popping in some gum)......

P.S.  You know what else totally hurts my feelings?  Selfies.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Skip said the dinner prayer tonight.  I reminded him to thank Heavenly Father for the food.  He also included, "Thank you for Santa Claus.  I want a shoot gun like Afton's...."   Afterwards, Camp commented that Skip may be confusing Santa Claus and God.  Yikes.

Tomorrow night Brian and I are taking Jane out on a date to share the big secret of life with her.  I hope she takes it better than I did at her age.  I don't want her thinking I am worse than the devil.  I also don't want her catching on to the reason behind our bedroom door so often being locked.    Hopefully she doesn't yet put two and two together.  She is really good at math, though.....

Tomorrow, Camp--that same little boy who so (seemingly) recently was insisting on my playing the audience for his "cage trick"--will have his first tackle football game.  He has loved practices so much and is so pumped about his games.  He told me that he wants everyone he knows to be at his first game.  I asked him what would happen if he played terribly?  He said maybe he would rather that everyone he knows be at his second game.  :)  But at a parent meeting yesterday, the coach reminded the parents that not every kid would get equal playing time (or playing time at all, for that matter.)  I expressed to Brian how much I hope that Camp will get to play.  He wants and expects to play.   Brian just said, " Well, if he doesn't, there will be no one better to sympathize with him than me."  Man, I love Brian and admire the person he has become.

Still, I hope Camp plays.  And I hope he hears my proud cheering from the stands.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Girl's Got Confidence

I admire my Shugee so much.  On the first day of school, the two of us stood outside her new classroom and I asked to take one more picture of her.  She rolled her eyes, but consented.  Then I gave her  a last excited hug and a kiss.  She groaned a bit, and not because she was embarrassed, but because I was wasting her time.  I let go of her and she marched down the hall with her perky backside twitching back and forth.  She didn't look back.  This morning in the car on the way to school, I kept glancing back at her in my rear-view mirror as she was talking to Hunter.  She was telling him--all annoyed--that last year, every boy in her class had a crush on her....

If they were smart they did....  :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Heart Sundays

 Did I tell you this summer has been the best summer ever?  It has.  And sometime I am going to write all about it.  But for now, I'm just going to share my favorite part of it.  My family.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


 My laundry room has evolved a lot.  I take that back.  What has evolved a lot is my ability to manage laundry.   And when you have a bunch of kids, that's what it is, right?  Managing laundry.  But I haven't always been able to manage the laundry.  I had work my way up the ranks.  Laundry used to manage me.  My laundry room used to hide under piles of it until the day would come when I would haul it all out to the family room to finally fold it all.  And then I would place a bunch of neat little stacks into my kids' drawers, and those stacks would look great just long enough for my kids to open the drawers to find something to wear.  And then no more neat little stacks.  I was bemoaning this one day when Erin presented an idea to me:  stop folding the laundry.  Why not just sort it and cram it into the drawers, since that's how it ends up five minutes after folding it anyway?  Such a good idea, right?  So I started doing just that.  And then another day, Erin suggested that I get some baskets for my laundry room so I could just sort the laundry right as it's coming out of the dryer.  So I did, and that has REALLY worked well.  And when the baskets get too full, the kids take them to their rooms and sort their clothes into their drawers.  Later I added the wire baskets to manage everyone's socks as well.  But the socks always stay in the laundry room.  I sort them and put them in their respective baskets when they come out of the dryer, too.   The other day when a lady came to look at the house, I was excited to show her my laundry room and explain the way it now functions.  She wasn't impressed.  She did only have one kid, though, so.....

Do you guys even care about this?  You don't, do you.  Well, thanks for humoring me.  Oh, and one more thing, just in case you're wondering--  Brian's and my clothes go from the dryer into that white basket you see and then into our room to be folded and hung.  I fold or hang all of Brian's clothes, and even roll his underwear together in pairs.  That's something I do to show Brian love.  I hang all of my nicer shirts and church clothes and fold my jeans, but all of my underwear, swim suits, work out clothes, etc., just get shoved into the baskets hidden inside my armoire.  And I'm totally cool with that.  I only care about outside appearances.  :)  And I fold towels and rags right out of the dryer and then put them away.

So my efficient, but ugly, laundry room remained undecorated for quite some time.  It wasn't until I finally got my tools (which I also keep in the laundry room) an appropriate home (the Original Pink Box), that I finally decided that a little spiffing up was in order.  So while this is definitely NOT one of those laundry room makeovers that you see on Pinterest or HGT--in fact, it is mainly just a bunch of new accessories---I did it entirely myself, and don't you just love my rooster?!!

Ribba frames from Ikea.  My favorite.

 I got this little box on clearance at Homegoods to contain the mismatched socks until their twins surface.

Shugee painted me this picture for Mother's Day and that little pink box contains my dryer sheets.  I got it, the clock, and the rooster from Homegoods, too.

The jars are from the dollar bins at Target.  I made the boxwood wreath from preserved boxwood I bought wholesale online.  The pink wreath and the woven tureen (is that that it's called?)  are from...Yep, Homegoods.

I never buy safety pins.  I just save the ones we get to pin our numbers on at races. :)


Ironing board cover:  Homegoods.

Roses:  Homegoods.  Original artwork by my Gain Goo.

Rooster:  Free range  Homegoods.

All of my dirt rags go into this bucket and then I was them together.  I got it on clearance at Fred Meyer.  I buy very few things (other than food and spray paint) at Fred Meyer.  I'd rather shop at Homegoods. :)

Doesn't this picture kill you?!  Thanks, John!
So there it is.    Before:  

And after:  

Thanks so much for reading, guys.  

P.S.  A special thanks to Erin....and Homegoods.