Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Youngest

My youngest child who is not allowed to get any older has defied me again. Despite my wishes to the contrary, this week he turned six years old.

I am going to admit a really bad Mommy moment here.

I missed his birthday.

Yep. It's true. The kids came home on Tuesday night, my mom is in town, all three kids are in soccer, Max has scout camp, there have been a lot of issues and changes with their Dad and I am working full-time. I had it in my head that his birthday was on Saturday - most likely because I thought that's when we would try and have a party. So, it was not until Friday that I realized his birthday had in fact been on Thursday.

Bad Mommy. Bad.

I tried to make it up to him with cupcakes on Friday afternoon with the daycare kids. He received a big box of new school clothes from my in-laws, a big activity book from the Quicks and school supplies and clothes from my parents. This year I let him choose a gift from me - he chose a new Wii game and is happy as a clam.

I'm still going to try and have a little party for him and his friends sometime soon and I'm really going to try and be a better Mom!

Sophie is Definitely Home

Sign found on my front door the day after Sophie returned (click to enlarge):


To get in you must love:

To get in you must hate:
insect killers
poisonus gas
insect repellent
entomologist haters
entemology haters

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Eyes Were Bigger Than my Biceps

Last week we met for playgroup at Jensen Lake. After playing at the park for an hour, I decided we should walk around the lake. The path is one I've enjoyed running lately and it is approximately 2.4 miles. We had three 9 year old boys, one three year old boy, a 14 month baby boy and a 11 month baby girl - and one stroller.

It is a beautiful walk and we started out well . . . except fat baby boy has really short legs and was taking forever.

It became clear very quickly that I was going to have to carry him - all 26 pounds of sweaty baby. We walked fast.

This baby thought the walk was great fun . . . and then she fell asleep.

We stopped for water breaks and time to try to skip rocks in the lake.

My arms started to burn. It was humid and I was drenched in sweat.

We marveled at how overgrown and green the plants have become.

We lamented the changing leaves - a sign that summer is ending.

Though the older boys swore they were going to die every 10 minutes, it was a beautiful walk and good exercise.

Fat baby boy took a really good nap.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I did not take many photos in Chicago - which as you know is strange for me. Our trip really was a very quick one - we took my car and left at 5am. Our group consisted of three grown women - all of us work full-time and have families. Leaving town at 5am was perhaps a little ambitious but we were all ready for a girl's weekend.

I stopped for 3 of the largest diet cokes I could buy at that hour and we headed out to Chicago. I'm pretty sure we laughed the entire way there when we were not singing along to tunes from our high school days. Deb refuses to pee at any public restroom despite the fact that we all drank insane amounts of diet coke and munched on peanut m&ms for 6 hours. We made her stop though as Kelly and I do not have bladders of steel. There were also outlets - the perfect excuse to stop and stretch!

Here are the Chicago highlights:
  • We stayed in a swanky hotel on The Miracle Mile. Swanky hotels are pricey. They valet parked my minivan and did not mention the fact that the trunk had buckets and sand toys rolling around.
  • We shopped - I came home with two new shirts and a very sexy pair of shoes.
  • We ate deep-dish Chicago pizza - twice. It was delicious (see photo above).
  • We bought cupcakes because they are trendy: Sprinkles and More Cupcakes (reviews below)
  • We ate Garrett's popcorn - soooo good and sooooo buttery. Long lines too. Deb and Kelly went back for more on day #2 - it's that good.

We went out for Tapas - see that dish in the center? Honey goat cheese fried and served with bread and a balsamic reduction - I'd like to eat that every day for lunch please. We sent tha calamari back because it was not fried and tasted like dead fish.

  • We saw lots of homeless and street performers who would actually refuse to perform until you gave them money. Break dancers, silver painted men and tap dancers were popular. My favorite guy was this one who had a bull horn and stood on the street corner advising us all to have our DNA tested to make sure we were not Russian. I'm not sure why he is dressed like a highlander.

We visited my favorite chocolate shop - Leonidas. I only bought seven of their amazing chocolates, and they are already gone. I miss you Leonidas.

  • We walked all over the place and came home with a few blisters.
  • We saw the bean. I love the bean.
  • We ate mango gelato. I love mango gelato.
  • I saw a concert in Millennium Park - the sound was amazing and the location is just beautiful especially when it starts getting dark and the lights of the city start to really glow.
  • I met a friend from online for the first time.

We shared the cupcakes from More Cupcakes on the drive home. These were a little more expensive than Sprinkles, were bigger ($22.00 for 6 cupcakes!!!) and prettier too. We picked up some forks at McDonalds (along with more diet coke) and sampled them as we drove.


There's my review - but let's get specific. All of the icings tasted like they were made with shorting. I hate that. The key lime had a meringue topping that tasted like - nothing. the cookies and cream had too much icing with little flavor, the key lime had a nice filling but the icing and the actual cupcake did not have enough zest. The chocolate hazelnut had a good base and a really tasty filling but awful icing. The worst one of all? The salted caramel. It was so salty and strong that I spit it out. Inedible.

More Cupcakes - you disappoint me. I can bake you under the table any day.

We were all a little tired on the way home - even while blasting the Glee soundtracks.

I invited a couple of friends over for a taste testing of the Sprinkles Cupcakes on Monday. Here are our thoughts:

We loved the clean, modern presentation. The key lime needs more zest - both in the icing and in the cupcake. The bits of green are missing. The cake has a nice crumb. The black and white had a delicious chocolate cupcake (the same cake in the double chocolate) but the icing was bland. The carrot cake was excellent. Paula thought the icing needed a dash of salt. The marshmallow was good if you like the hostess cupcake thing. The lemon needed more lemon flavor and I would have preferred some lemon curd inside. The cake was dense and moist. The double chocolate was our favorite. None of the icings tasted like Crisco.

Overall - pretty good, but I could make every one of these and I would not charge you $20 for 6 cupcakes.

I've decided girl's weekends in Chicago need to happen a bit more frequently. Who's with me?!


It is always hard to get back to real life after a vacation. It feels like I need some time to recover from vacation before starting up again.

After returning from my trip west, I returned to work bright and early Monday morning. My days look like this again.

In many ways, routine is comforting. I loved my trip, but I missed my home.

The week after vacation actually flew by because I was looking forward to another little trip the following weekend - a road trip to Chicago with two of my girlfriends.

PS: No, the kids do not always play together so nicely and yes, they make a huge mess every day, but that's life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Changes Are in Store

These shoes have nothing to do with anything except they are really cute.

My children are still far from home. When I spoke to them yesterday morning, they had been to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Playmill, had gone camping and roasted marshmallows and today two of them are headed off into Yellowstone while child #3 is leaving for another adventure (more on that later).

They are happy. They are loved. They are being spoiled rotten. I miss them - a lot.

When they get back home next week, they will meet with their Dad and find out that he is moving across the country to Syracuse, New York in a few weeks. I have mixed feelings on the move. It is a great opportunity for him and he will be closer to his family. Having a job again is a blessing in this economy. It should mean that I will get some help financially with child support which will be a big relief after this last year. It should mean that the children will have heath insurance again (a huge positive). It should also mean that the divorce will be finalized before he moves.

On the flip side, the kids are going to be devastated. Divorce is really, really hard on children. They are going to miss their Dad. Their visits to his apartment every other weekend these last months has actually been a really good experience for them. Knowing they had that time set aside to be together was something they all looked forward to (and truth be told, it was nice to have some time to myself every other week). Hopefully, they will create a new way to stay in touch - talking on the phone or perhaps email and we will work out a new visitation agreement.

They are strong kids, we are a strong little family, but I wish they did not have to go through all of this.

Changes are afoot.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


After my adventures in Portland, I flew down to Salt Lake City, UT to spend some time with my sister Heather and her family. Heather and her husband Ross live in Daybreak in South Jordon and I love all of the walking paths in their neighborhood - very well planned.

Little baby Oliver likes to curl his toes. We dragged him all over town for shopping and good food.

On Thursday, my brother Jason and his family came up from Manti with my children! we all met at Thanksgiving Point for a picnic and reunion.

Cousin Jacob the cowboy (Calvin's new BFF), sweet Sophia and Cousin Soren.

Oh, I miss this little guy!

Heather and Ollie. Great boobs run in our family - and Heather is nursing and may kill me because I posted this. Too bad! I love this photo.

I love this shot of my Dad and Ollie. Ollie takes after Heather - big dimples. I have wonderful parents.

The next few photos were taken by Jason during my kids visit to their house in Manti.

We took a lot of photos of Oliver - because he is the smallest.

The Johnson cousins: Sophie, Max, Soren, Jacob, Margot, Calvin and Phoebe. Missing: Ollie

I miss these guys too - I think Max got taller on this trip.

Cousin Margot with Heather and Ross's dog, Teka


After spending the day together and eating way too much of Mom's cherry pie, the oldest five cousins crammed into Mom and Dad's car and headed off to Idaho Falls for more adventures. They will be playing with Grandma and Grandpa for a week and then joining the rest of the family in Island Park for a family reunion the following week.

Soren and his Dad, Ross

Margot and Amber

I spent the next two days hanging out with Heather, visiting with friends, catching up with my still gorgeous MTC companion over ice cream, shopping and watching movies. We managed to make it to Cafe Rio once for chicken salads and I was able to visit with my friend Leta for about 20 minutes on Saturday before heading home.

On Saturday morning we went to the SLC Farmer's Market and sampled the foods. The fresh limeade was my favorite.

We just kept sampling . . . across the street from Pioneer Park is a Belgium waffle place - so good!

The next time you are in Salt Lake, do yourself a favor and go to Les Madeleines and order a Kouing-aman. They are the best thing in town. Vacation was lovely and now I am home.