Behold the beauty of the FEASTMASTER


When we purchased our home two years ago, there was this random patio in the backyard that the previous owners didn’t seem to use for things other than random-crap-from-the-yard-and-house. Nathan “hired” the Young Men from our Salt Lake ward to clear out the things left behind. They devoured their pizza dinner. In that patio was this old, built-in grill, that looked like it had been untouched for at least a decade. I took a few pictures of it and showed some of the guys at work who thought, yeah, that could be saved. Sure, why not? I asked Reddit for advice (because that’s my go-to advice group), and got some direction for this DIY attempt. I had never done anything like this before, let alone used a wire wheel (because POWER TOOLS!!!), so I was embarking on some new territory.

Nothing progressed during the first year of home ownership, because duh: pregnancy. Eventually, though, I was able to find time in between diaper changes and feeding children to work on the FEASTMASTER.

How cool is that name? How sad are you that Feastmasters are no longer sold at the nearest Lowe’s? Have you ever seen the movie, Beastmaster? Tangent…

Anyway, I finished. I actually finished a project. Or at least, mostly finished. The vent still needs some high-heat paint as well, but check it out. I posted all of the images to an imgur album. WordPress doesn’t embed the album so I have to individually embed each picture, but let’s not get into the technical mumbo jumbo. I already shared this via instagram because I was pretty excited about how it turned out.

And remember how I finished a project? BAM! Go me!

Time for some grillin’!

hypocritical mom statements

In honor of the one-year anniversary of my new career as a SAHM, here’s a list of hypocritical statements by me or some of my mom friends. Do you have one to add?

  • Don’t pick your nose.
  • No candy before lunch.
  • Stop yelling.
  • Stop reading and go to bed.
  • Don’t get naked.
  • People don’t like to hug when they’re naked.
  • You have to comb your hair every day.
  • No electronics before 10 a.m.
  • Don’t just step over it, pick it up!
  • No swearing.
  • Make your bed.
  • Go to bed on time.
  • Get off the computer and do something else.
  • Put away your laundry.
  • You need a healthy breakfast before eating a cupcake.
  • Stop whining.
  • Don’t say that word.

Angry mommy needs a reset

I was buckling my three-year old into his car seat when he asked, “Are you angry, mommy?”

My body language, expression, and silence all told him I was mad.

I paused. I didn’t realize I was so easy to read.

Being patient and calm is beyond hard. I failed miserably this morning when breast milk spilled across the counter. It’s liquid good, you know. Don’t spill that stuff.

But my three-year old should still be more important than a few ounces.

I really do think that I have improved my temper now that I’m nearing the one year mark of becoming a SAHM. But I still have a long way to go.

On the flip side, Dom is a very thoughtful kid, quick to give a hug, say sorry, tells me how much he loves me, dotes on his baby sister, adores his dad, talks on and on about cousins and grandparents, and when he feels grateful, that kid is full of thank yous.

“Oh mom! Thank you! Thank you for making the water sooooo warm in the bath. Thank you!”

This kid.

Quick note about family

In about a week, I imagine that Dom will ask me what we’re going to do that day and when I tell him we don’t have plans, he will be quite bummed. He’ll probably inform me that I am not interesting, Gabbi doesn’t talk, and Pogi is a one trick pony/cat. And it’s true because we simply cannot compare to all of his cousins.

He must be on the biggest cousin high he’s experienced so far in his life, what with trips to the Aviary, birthday parties, swimming, hotel bed jumping, hotel bed falling and bumping of heads, and the giant table of trains.

Gabbi on the other hand is not on a cousin high. One day, she will realize the life long friendships of all of her cousins. Today is not that day.

To be so surrounded by family is a mighty blessing. Gabbi prefers to enjoy this blessing in her momma’s arms. And she is Miss Fussbucket so she gets her way!

Tonight, I hope they are having pleasant dreams of cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Sleep children. Sleep well. I could use it.

buried in books and rambling about it


Sitting at the computer, there is a wall of books, double deep, to my right. Over my left shoulder, across the room, there is another small bookshelf spilling the baby books out. In my bedroom, we have a bookshelf stacked tight with hardbacks and paperbacks, then the dressers that serves as my nightstand has several book towers teetering precariously on top. In Gabbi’s room, there are more spilling baby books from her book shelf, and Dominic’s room has a bookshelf jam-packed.

Then there’s the guest room, where we need to purchase a bookshelf for the filing boxes, stacked three high, with books. And in the living room, that bookshelf is crammed with a mix of piano music, Shakespeare, and cookbooks.

We have books.

Just a few.

And yet, I wonder if I manage to read a full 15 minutes from any of these books to my kids each day.

That’s the recommendation, since birth, coming from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Did you know that? They specifically outline reading 15 minutes, aloud, every day, to your child starting at birth.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot ever since Nathan and I went to dinner a few weeks back with my Dad and some of his friends. One of them happened to be the former superintendent from the Salt Lake school district. It was fascinating to hear him talk about his work and emphasis (as an education consultant now) on early childhood education.

The feeling in this country seems to be that our school system is sub-par.

We don’t seem to compare with other first-world nations.

But the problem isn’t in the schools, he argued. Once the kids get to school, they’re already so far behind, they’ll never catch up. The intervention needs to be in the home, from birth. So much development happens in their little brains before they show up for their first day of kindergarten, or even preschool.

So I’ve been thinking about this, and have developed a bias to finding stories about this as I peruse the interwebs.

One in particular stated the troubling statistic that only 34% of parents hit the mark of reading aloud to their kids each day for 15 minutes.

I also think back on a book I read when Dom was first born: Brain Rules for Baby. It focused on providing some of the following for your child: healthy pregnancy, have a support group, work on your marriage, describe everything you see and do, put options in the playroom (drawing, music, costumes, blocks, books, gears, etc), not hyper-parenting, watching your own behavior, encourage hard work, limit electronics, etc.

I think of the kids at Nathan’s school that might be struggling and I’ve heard stories about parents in jail, homeless parents, working-multiple-jobs parents, parents without any English language skills, grandparents stepping in, grandparents attempting to step in, and so on. These kids aren’t being read to. Nobody’s setting them up with a playroom. Their parents aren’t congratulating them when they work hard at their homework.

I don’t worry about my two kids and whether I’m hitting that 15 minute mark on the head, because I do read to them every day, in varying amounts of time, and they are surrounded by books so that has to mean something.

As I read Gabbi’s bedtime story with her tonight, she pointed at the paintings of the animals on the pages and jabbered on with some noises. When I’ve been reading stories with Dom lately, he’s been asking me to teach him the words, too, so we read each page slowly and he repeats the words back to me.

One of the amazing things to me about reading with my kids is that it gives me the ability to experience their language development every day. It’s incredible to me. And I am never left without gratitude for two little children that learn and grow and experience this world with attitudes full of hope. They don’t worry about presidential elections, terrorist groups, paying bills, or if there’s acne on their jawline. Every day is new and fascinating. When we read the same book together over and over and over, day after day, it’s still the best to them.

What’s my Mom Return on Failure?

titanicSince quitting my full-time-mostly-in-the-office-send-the-kid-to-daycare job, I’ve been working here and there with some freelance gigs. One of them is writing social media content for a couple of small businesses. This has changed my daily reading.

I once spent time combing Agile Software Development blogs, posting comments to Reddit discussion threads on Project Management, or following fellow AgileRoots buddies on Twitter. (And laughing at gifs from Imgur, too. The important work stuff.)

I now search the sysadmin sub-Reddit for blogging inspiration and follow the Twitter feeds of and Harvard Business Review. I’m such a sophisticated mom.

Oh, and I also still laugh at important Reddit posts such as this:

Because cats.

And internet.

Okay so let’s get to the point of my blog already. On HBR, I read a great article, “Increase Your Return on Failure”, which got me to thinking about my Mom Return on Failure.

In business, a risk-averse culture won’t foster innovation. Projects are labeled successful when they’re built on predictability and efficiency. So people don’t want to mess up, they don’t try new things, and therefore, there ain’t no innovation going down.

HBR argued that there are three steps a business could take to raise their return on failure, which would help foster innovation instead of shunning risk-taking.

I’m taking HBR’s three steps and applying them to my MOM Return. Here goes:

Step 1: Learn from Every Failure

Okay. So I start by reflecting on failures. HBR stated that this doesn’t come naturally because people don’t want to review past problems in the business world, but guess what?

We moms are excellent at remembering our failures!

We may be the most talented group at remembering every last detail of personal failures. We own the market. That’s why it’s called Mom Guilt.

“I’m a failure because…”

Start filling in the blank and try not to get carried away rattling off a list longer than the text of Les Misérables (the unabridged).

The real trick with mom failures is to avoid turning them into guilt and instead, list the positive side effects gleaned. Let’s try this.

Some of my Mom Guilt and some of my positive side effects from it:

  1. Postpartum depression after Dom’s birth—I realized the love and support of the women in my life who picked me up and brought me to the doctor.
  2. Struggling for weeks to successfully nurse Dom—I developed empathy for the moms who nurse, the moms who pump, and those who give their babies formula: they can all be incredibly hard!
  3. Delivering via c-section and not following my birthplan—I learned that there is no easy way to bring a baby into this world, whether it’s vaginal, surgical, through adoption, etc.
  4. Being a working mom—I watched first hand as my son developed incredible skills from being in daycare, interacting with other care takers, being around other babies, and all of the love that surrounded him.
  5. All of the French fries Gabbi has eaten—I know there is no nutritional value in a “fake” McDonald’s French fry, but I don’t know how many she has already eaten in her little life, however, I will take pride in the fact that when we aren’t crashing at the PlayPlace for lunch, she’s tried everything from tofu to sushi, so have some greasy fries, girly!
  6. Yelling at my kids—I’m learning to apologize at the same time I am trying to teach Dom (and eventually Gabbi) how to genuinely apologize so perhaps they will learn from my imperfect example.

Step 2: Share the Lessons

We Moms need to share more and it shouldn’t be the manicured social media posts we feel best about posting. I’ve found some outlets for the sharing of “real”, but I should work on doing this more because sometimes I just use those outlets for complaining.

To be honest, though, this is a step that I’m simply not sure about. How do I share my Mom failures and keep the emphasis on *learning*? Who do I share them with?

I have my walking buddy, my sisters, my mom, my FB moms group, my high school buddies, and on. Do I share with them? Do I ask them to share with me? Does anybody want to experiment with a weekly Mom failure respective? Does any Mom have time? I don’t want it to take away from my after-kids-go-to-bed-long-hot-shower time! And can I share them without coming off as some pompous mom trying to brag that I know how to do it better than you?

So many questions on step 2.

Step 3: Review Your Pattern of Failure

For this step, I’ll tell you one thing I do know for sure: raising children will never let you get too overconfident. No matter how good your kids are, they will always keep you humble. I will never feel like I have this Mom gig down, no matter the grades or citizenship or sports accolades or whatever accomplishments my kids snag. And no matter the number of times we stumble and fall—both myself and my kiddos. If I have a pattern of failure, I do not know it, but I’ve never looked for it. So perhaps I will try to now.

I’ll let you know if I find that I yell at my kids when it’s been too many days since my last Dr. Pepper!