Thursday, February 24, 2011


Day 3 on the antibiotic and my chest is still on fire. Pneumonia? Last night Ryan was feeling tired from his long run, and I told him I wish I felt tired from a long run. He laughed. I joked with him that I feel like I'm a chain smoker or something. I was fully winded after walking up half my staircase and had to pause for breathe on the landing. Pathetic, I know. But sadly, all true. The head cold part seems to be marginally better, though, so there is hope.

My big outing today was walking down the street to pick Easton up from the bus. And it was oh so beautiful out. I totally needed the fresh air and the exercise (if you can call it that).

I was only going to have a 2-day work week to begin with since Monday was a holiday, but it turned out to be a 0-day work week. Lots of catch up next week I fear.

Still, I have so much to be grateful for. I just read my SIL, Shari's, blog post about her sweet Tate and his inability to communicate and I bawled my eyes out. She is truly an amazing mom and doing all she can to help her little guy. I hope he has a breakthrough with his speech sometime very soon.

My two youngers are cracking me up right now. It's just the two of them home with me this evening and they have been running laps around the downstairs for about 15 minutes now. I can't believe they are still going. Normally, I would have run out of patience by now and asked them to stop, but really, they're not even bugging me so I just let them run. Funny. It's good to see them giggling their heads off. I guess there's something pretty hilarious in the kid world about running indoor laps. Maybe I should try it. But not today - surely I'd pass out after one loop around the pool table.

Ryan took the two olders for a few hours to tackle the marathon night of softball to basketball, back to softball then to junior high open house. Holy cow...Barrett is going to junior high. I had planned to do it, and was kinda looking forward to being out with the girls for all that actually, but that's OK. I think Ry will squeeze in a run around the track while he waits and hopefully spend some time out on the field with the girls too.

So life keeps moving, and we are keeping busy as always in spite of our less than stellar health. Yesterday we finished Easton's kindergarten science experiment (a cool balloon hovercraft thing I found on the internet), albeit two days late since we totally forgot about it. He had a blast doing it. Rowan's finally getting her 14, 15 and 16 subtraction facts down (after a zillion flash cards), but still hates it. It's hard to see one of my kids not loving the math. Afty finally found the love of reading, and is on Harry Potter book 4 now. She's totally loving the hoops and is now double booked for a couple weeks with softball starting too. Barrett is Miss Social and still excelling at everything and really enjoying softball starting too.

Well, I've been fending off the requests for dinner from the two youngers for about 30 minutes now (to say my motivation is lacking would be an understatement), and I think they are losing faith that I'll ever feed them again. They just came downstairs and brought me a hand drawn map leading to the Brown house cafeteria (i.e. the kitchen) with a plea for food. Hint taken.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I need some air...

Maybe the weather shift? Maybe some random bug I picked up at the grocery store? Or in the temple Saturday night? Or, maybe, just maybe, it was tending to two super sick kids all last week. Hmmmmm....not sure. But I'm pretty much a mess and I'm pretty bitter about it. I already took a turn being sick this winter. It's someone else's turn. I promise, I've been a good girl. Really - getting plenty of sleep, eating well, exercising tons, taking my vitamins. Apparently, it wasn't enough to fight off the crud.

It came on so suddenly. Saturday morning, I felt fantastic. I ran 9 miles, including some good hill work. Super good training run - getting ready for the Mountain to Fountain 15k in a few weeks. Then I spent the rest of Saturday churning and burning through all our family activities and errands and date night, slept great, went to choir on Sunday morning, and by the end of sacrament meeting on Sunday, I had this weird dry cough thing starting. Every hour I felt worse. Sunday evening I helped my folks finish moving all their stuff out of closets and rooms and plastic-ing pantries and such to get ready for the tile demo crew to start early Monday morning. By bed time on Sunday, I knew it was coming in full force.

Overnight, my cough morphed into that serious burning bronchitis stuff, and my head was pounding from all the hacking. Oh ya - I can't breathe either. Minor detail. Sometimes it's kind of important to breathe. I have crazy asthma, like I'm at 70% oxygen or something. Surely, I must be exaggerating because I'm not really sure you can live at 70% without a machine. I don't know. But I haven't had to use my inhaler this much in I don't know how long. Years? I must have needed a little stronger kick in the pants, though, cause the alternating chills and fever have now kicked in too, so I'm bundled up in the warmest blanket I can find fighting off the latest chill attack.

What the heck? All I wanna do is hibernate and breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I think I'm breaking down and taking something stronger than Motrin and essential oils and vitamins and my inhaler. The girls will be walking in the door in 45 minutes and we're off to the semi-annual dentist appointments that we've had on the books for six months. No chance we're canceling, so I've gotta pull it together. I'm thinking dinner will be Daddy Delight a la mode (aka whatever he wants to make) while mama soaks in a hot shower and sleeps. Doesn't that sound delightful?

OK, OK, I need a little cheese with my whine...

On the brighter side, Easton finally went back to school today (Rowan went back on Friday) and although he is certainly not 100%, he's back to smiling and happy and enjoying the normal kid stuff instead of sleeping cheek down on the carpet in the middle of the last room he could stay awake in. So that's always good.

And the girls had their first softball practice last night. We're super stoked that Afton got drafted up into majors so she and Barrett will be playing together on the same team. Seriously - so happy about that. The coaches are fantastic and I think they are going to have a terrific season. We have yet to hear from Rowan's coach, but I'm sure the call will come soon. And we only have two weeks of overlapping basketball and softball, so that's all good too.

Well, I hope the masses are fighting the plague and staying healthy. We'll try not to breathe on you. And just FYI - we don't need any more cooties at our house. We're not used to being sick around here and we've met our quota for the decade, thank you very much.

Happy Tuesday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Hundred Dresses

I read it last night. It was a really quick read - less than an hour - but such a cute story with a good moral. It was written sixty or more years ago - back in the day when young school girls wore dresses to school and the boys wore neckties. And even though the "school dress" of our time has changed dramatically over the decades, the same school yard dynamics exist among our children today and the same timeless lessons on kindness ring just as true in 2011. Really, I should have read it aloud with my girls, but they were already tucked into bed. They would have enjoyed it too. And more importantly, I'm sure we would have had a good talk afterwards. I will have to check it our at the library again and make time to read it with them. I did give it to Barrett to read today. I hope she finishes it before I have to return it tonight.

On Tuesday night at our Relief Society meeting, our group kicked off our spring service project, called "The Hundred Dresses." Our whole RS was divided up into six groups, each with a fearless leader, and each armed with a cute black dress chest housing this cute book inside. The plan is for each woman in our RS to take a turn with the black chest, read the book (if they want), and return it to the leader within three days with a donated dress inside. If everyone participates, we'll have collected the hundred dresses by late March and will donate them to the professional dress closet at the career development center run by Save the Family, a non-profit organization established to help families get back on their feet. Such a great idea for community service.

Our whole evening was centered on service that we can do outside of our normal comfort circles. We were encouraged to get out into the community more and do some good. It's easy for us to serve in our families and wards and neighborhoods. And sometimes we feel like we do it endlessly. But even so, we need to do more. And we can. Really, I think we can. Even the busiest among us. Even if we do something small, like donate a dress or two or ten, volunteer at a school, help pack some weekend food for hungry kids, volunteer at a charity race, or whatever - a little community service will do us all some good.

So I took the first round with our group's dress chest and book and am excited to return it tonight with a handful of dresses. We're only asked to donate one, but really, I have a number of nice, professional suits and dresses that I could donate and I am happy to do it. I'm sure there is some woman out there who would be thrilled to have something nice to wear to a job interview or new job. Really, it's such a small thing.

Thanks to the good women of the Harris Park Relief Society for coming up with this idea. It was a fun night with the girls for sure and a good reminder for us all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sick Kids & a Lost Friend

My two youngers are home from school sick today. Both have sick eyes, croupy coughs, and 102 degree fevers. They make a great pair. Yesterday, my little Easy E got off the morning kindergarten bus and was sad as can be. Tired, weak, weepy. Pretty much a mess. He didn't want to do anything, eat anything, say anything - except "hold me." Poor kid. I didn't realize how sick he was until we drove him out to Imperial Tile to pick out our new master bathroom tile, and he fell asleep on the way and could barely muster enough energy to walk. Ryan ended up lugging him around most of the time. Not so fun with a 5-year old. As soon as we got back, he crashed on the carpet. And Rowan said her teacher "yelled" at her yesterday to stop coughing. Hmmm...not sure about that one.

So after I took the temps again this morning, I asked them both if anything hurt. Easton said, "Ya, my brain." Rowan said, "Me too."

Translation: headaches (or at least I think). So I gave them both a little Motrin for the fever and headaches and hopefully a day of rest will help kick whatever little bug they picked up. Maybe some kind of flu I'm guessing.

On another note, and a sad one at that, Ryan's long-time former employee and friend, Orlando, whom we fired a year ago after discovering that he had embezzled boatloads of money from us through a whole series of schemes, passed away last night from pneumonia and a compromised immune system.

The saga of the last year is too long and unnecessary to rehash, but suffice it to say that it was a horrible experience all the way around - devastating in so many ways.

Well, yesterday afternoon Ryan took a call from our head handyman, who also knew Orlando very well. He told Ryan that Oly (that was the nickname he went by) was in the hospital and only had maybe a day left to live. So Ryan quickly got in touch with Pete, Oly's nephew, and found out where he was. Ryan let Pete know that he wanted to come and visit Oly and let him know that he forgave him. The family was in tears and so grateful and touched that Ryan would come by and express his love and forgiveness after all that had happened. We both felt undeniably that he needed to go.

So last night, Ryan drove over to the west side and paid his last respects to his old friend. He was sleeping or unconscious while Ryan was there, but Ryan talked to him and prayed with him and said his goodbyes. Then just after 9:00 last night, Ryan got a text from Pete saying that Orlando had just passed.

It's funny how things that seemed so monumental (and were so monumental at the time), suddenly become really unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I cried last night when I saw the text. Even though the end of that relationship was so, so bad, when Ryan and I look back on the whole 8 years we knew Orlando, there was so much good. Orlando was always happy, and had such an upbeat sense of humor. His personality was charismatic and he got along so well with everyone in our office. Truly, he was a great friend to my dad, Ryan's dad, my Aunt Laurie and Lacey, and especially to Ryan all those years. It's just too bad that it ended like it did.

So today we are hoping and praying that he is at peace on the other side and that his family will find comfort in knowing that he is at rest. And now we will move on as well and stop worrying about if and how we might ever collect on the unpaid debts, and worry more about how we can make a difference.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Hard Day

Yesterday morning after getting all the troops off to school, I headed out for my run. I love Tuesdays, by the way. I love being home, love working around my house, love getting errands done, love getting "caught up" and being with the kiddos. And I love that I can work out at 8:00 am when those kiddos are all safely in class instead of working out at the crack of no dawn (yes, it is still so dark and cold in those wee hours before everyone wakes). I like Fridays and Saturdays for that same reason too, but the weekend always seems to bring so much busyness along with it. So I'm pretty sure that Tuesdays are my favorite days.

Anyway....I ran hard and felt better than I have in weeks. It's nice to finally feel like my lungs are coming back. I still had to use my inhaler when I was done, but I finally feel like I can breath again. After cooling down, I came upstairs with my big glass of ice water in my favorite red cup, ready to head to the shower. As I walked by Barrett's room - conveniently located right at the top of the stairs - I noted that her door was mostly closed, which seemed a little unusual. As I opened it, I smiled knowingly at an un-made bed, assuming that was the reason for her closed door. So I decided that it was a good day to change the sheets and began stripping the bed. And then I saw it.

I'm in her room everyday for one reason or another, and I've seen her magnet board a million times, but still - as I looked at her board - really looked at it - I was overcome with a big wave of gratitude. And love. Truly, I felt blessed to be the mama of our sweet and fun-loving Barrett Ally, who is blossoming into a young woman, trying so hard to choose the right and be a good friend and make good choices. This is her board:

Of all the great young women handouts, inspiring quotes, and other things pinned up on her board my favorite attachment was undoubtedly the well-worn temple recommend, which she uses often. Most weeks, actually. Sure, she makes daily mistakes (just like we all do) and sometimes makes me crazy with her night-owl thing and then dragging so much the next morning. And sometimes I worry that I'm too hard on her or expect too much from her as our oldest child. We moms rely on our older ones so much - how would we ever survive without them? But I hope she knows how crazy I am about her and that I love her to infinity and beyond...and back. She's such a good girl. Truly, I am blessed to be her mom.

But a couldn't finish this post yesterday - as much as I wanted to. I was conflicted in my emotions and gratitude about being such a lucky mom as I tried to reconcile those feelings with how another wonderful mother in my ward must be feeling. One of my dear friends - my visiting teacher, the piano teacher of my kids, the choir director that I am blessed to work with in my calling - tragically lost her oldest son yesterday morning. I can't even imagine her grief. My friend had just gotten the news not long before I showed up for Afton's piano lesson. As I pulled up to drop Afty off, there were a few cars in front of her house and a sign on the door that we couldn't make out, but soon saw that it said, "No piano lessons today." Just then, her next door neighbor - our relief society president and a good friend of mine also - came running out to intercept me. She gave me the sad news and we cried together as we talked about what we might do to help. I was heartbroken for my friend and for the wife and and two little sons that her son left behind.

Oh my goodness, what a hard day. Just a couple of months ago during one of our monthly visits, this good mom broke down in tears as she told me about the struggles her son was facing and what a trial they were going through in their family. We cried together that day and I have prayed for her countless times in the months since then. I have thought about that sweet visit often as I see her. Even on Saturday, after my parenting class that I taught, she and I visited briefly and I again thought of our visit a couple months back. Then today, when I got into work, I listened to a voice mail message from her that she had left for me yesterday morning (before she learned of her son's death) asking me if I could bring some soup for our RS meeting next week.

I am grateful for the knowledge I have of a loving Redeemer who atoned for our sins and our grief. I am grateful to know that his mercy will have to be enough in this difficult time as he bridges the gap between our capacities and deeds and what is ultimately required to return to Him. Keep this sweet family in your prayers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Date Night

What's that old saying? A picture is worth a thousand words...

Needless to say, we had a blast on our date night this past weekend. Super fun! But before that....Ryan and I had a busy Saturday leading up to date night. I spent the morning and early afternoon at our Stake Relief Society Women's Conference, which was fantastic as always, while Ryan manned the troops and transported them to all things sporty: Afton softball tryouts at 8:00, Barrett softball tryouts at 9:00, then quick intermission to bring Barrett to the conference and sneak in an errand or two before Afton's basketball game at noon. I am so grateful to have such a hands-on and amazing husband. I would never want to do this without him.

I loved the general session where Sister Holyoak and Sister Walters spoke, along with President Ahlstrom. They were all so good! The theme was "Choose Faith: Don't be Afraid to Get out of the Boat." The cultural hall was set up for come-and-go buffet style brunch all day, and everything was decorated with a nautical theme, including centerpieces with live fish. Very clever.

My "Parenting: Sink or Swim" class was fun. I taught two sessions at the conference (I thought the second one went a little better than the first, but I guess that's to be expected) and had a lot of really nice positive feedback from some of the terrific ladies that attended. I was in good company on Saturday, that's for sure. There's something pretty special about being among so many good women, all striving to be better, all trying to walk on the straight path. Clearly, the teacher benefits more than the students ever could due to all the time, study and preparation that goes into preparing, so I felt really blessed to be able to accept that assignment. A little nervous, sure. Humbled - absolutely. But really, really grateful. Being a mom is my #1 job, and raising our four fantastic kiddos is on my mind pretty much full time. I hope we are doing some things right amidst all the things I know we could be doing better.

My adorable friend, Jane, who used to be in our ward but who moved about a mile away into another stake a couple of years ago, asked if I would share a summary of my class, so I may post about it soon.

Anyway, after the conference and after all the kid stuff was done, Ryan and I got in some Saturday afternoon fitness (he biked and I ran), then got ready for a much-needed date night. We finally got ourselves over to Spinatto's - this little Italian food joint in Tempe we've heard much about and that we've been talking about trying out for months. The food did not disappoint! The ambiance was so-so as we were tucked into this corner in a very small-ish table, a little too close to a table of cute double-dating seniors (we could hear every word of their conversation), but the food was super tasty. And the company sitting across from me couldn't have been any better :)

After dinner, we headed over to Bass Pro Shop for a little shopping and browsing. I love that store. Seriously, it is just so cool. In the camping section, we ran into this guy...

and I just couldn't resist taking a picture. I was tempted to scale up one of the walls to get a photo op with the buffalo, but I didn't think the Bass Pro guys would be too thrilled about that.

Ryan scored with his new tent heater and hand warmers (he's taking the scouts on an overnight in two weeks so he's preparing for the chilly night.) After two years as scout master and another who knows how many years to go, we figured it was time to invest in the heater. We'd like him to keep all his digits in tact.

After a fun stroll through Bass, we went and picked out a movie at Blockbuster, ran a couple of errands and headed back to tuck in the peeps before watching our flick together.

Great day. Great date. Looking foward to another good week!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


We may very well be wimpy Arizona dwellers who can't handle the cold, but I don't care where you live. When the little blue digital thermometer on your windshield mirror keeps toggling between this...

and this...

it's just plain cold - then add a little wind chill for good measure. Seriously, super duper dang cold outside for the past two days. We've been ultra-spoiled all January with our 70+ degree days, and now we're getting slapped back into place by Mother Nature. I'm glad today was a temple morning and not a running morning, cause I would have been freezin' my beheiny off for sure.

But really, I am not complaining. Just recording. Yesterday morning it was -23 in Park City. Yes, that's negative 23. My boss is freezing his chops off in Boston this week. People are snowed in all over the country. Flights have been cancelled left and right. And we still have totally clear, sunny skies - just a little crisper than we thin-blooded Arizonians are used to. I guess we still have it pretty good (even though I finally had to give in and turn my heater on for the first time in a month).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Her First

I know that aside from the actual tooth-loser herself and the famous money-delivering Kari (our family's tooth fairy), no one else besides me probably really cares that our little 7-year old beauty finally lost a tooth. But it was a pretty huge deal to her. She tearfully informed me on more than one occasion that she was the ONLY one in her first grade class that hadn't lost a tooth. The ONLY one...

So it finally came out last night, with the sweet assistance of her big sister, Barrett, who was more than happy to give it the final yank. Lots of blood (more than I remember with any of my kids' other teeth), and so, so tiny. I swear it was the tiniest tooth I've ever seen. And for some crazy reason, our tooth fairy has never taken one tooth in all her trips to the Brown house over the years. She leaves a note and some mula, but never does the tooth exchange. OK with the kids, I guess. They like their teeth collections...