I can only see two options.

One: My sister, Laurel, and I are the two funniest people on this planet.


Two: We get each other in a way that defies understanding.

I'm hoping for the first.

But the truth is, with everyone else, I am pretty boring.  Why don't I have unbelievably witty things to say when my friends are around?  Why can I not evoke that level of laughter when I need to impress new acquaintances?

I either need to work on my one liners, or start inviting Laurel to all of my social events.  Because I'm guessing that my joke about blood-clotting is just not going to have the same effect on everyone else.



Big debut.

In case you were worried, Ella totally nailed her line in the Primary Program on Sunday. Paul wouldn't let me take a video. So you only have my word. And I'm not biased or anything.

We've been practicing her line for weeks. And I'm pretty sure Charlotte (who had no part, because she's too young) had it memorized too.

Meanwhile, our sweet little Max continues to be incredibly good-natured, (unless he's in his carseat) fundamentally chubby, and unbelievably ticklish.

I am very blessed.


Mazel Tov!

We recently attended the wedding of some good friends. (Who are Jewish, if you can't tell.) And had such a nice time that we are considering converting.

Hello!? Why didn't I insist that someone put me on a chair and dance around with me while lifting the chair high in the air at our wedding? It was maybe the coolest tradition. That and breaking the glass. And the big dance around in the circle dance. It's not just in the movies, y'all.

It was awesome.

Plus, Paul looks hot in a Yamaka.


'Cause that's how we roll.

My daughers and I just had the following conversation completely in song.  If you can imagine.

Me:  It smells like poop! Where is the poop!  I can't find any poop!

Ella: Maybe it is in the backyard.  We should go and check.

Me: Or maybe we should go to the Li-bra-ryyyyyy!

Ella: And seeeeeeee if it still smells like poop.

Charlotte: (on a low sustained note) Pooooooop.  Poooooooop.  Pooooooop.

I promise I did not make that up.  Seriously, we should have a tv show.


She's no lightweight, herself.

So, I was surprised to find that Max sort of dwarfs Charlotte when she holds him.  He is one hunk of chunk. And we all love this baby.  Charlotte frequently tells me that, "he wants me," and insists on holding him until he cries and she informs me that, "he wants you."  Today she entertained him with colored pencils and a yogurt container while I was cooking dinner.  Win-win.  Except for the risk of impalement.  Whatever.

Ella is getting proficient enough in baby holding for her to hold him for a minute in public (sitting down) while I do something else.  She sat and held him today while I got Charlotte's shoes on as we were leaving the play place.  This may sound boring to everybody else, but it was this huge revelation to me that I have a child who is old enough to help with another child!  That is a game changer, my friends.

I also discovered that the secret to getting your children to mop the floor is not giving them rags to 'skate' on around the kitchen.  (You would think, right?  I thought it was my best mom-idea ever.)  The magic is all in the spray bottle.  Arm those girls with spray bottles and a rag, and they will work forever.  It works well with bathrooms too.  (I use a vinegar and water solution to clean, for those of you who are worried.)

And so, every day my children become more and more competent minions.  And then I begin to question, how could I not homeschool?  It gives us so much more time for them to do my bidding.  I am looking to phase out my own housework altogether in four years, tops.  Delegate.  Delegate.  Delegate.


Some riveting dialogue

Charlotte: Mom! The spoon is talking to me!

Me: What's it saying?

Charlotte: It's saying, "I'm not a spoon!"

Me: Oh!

Charlotte (to the spoon): No, you are a spoon!

Charlotte (as the spoon): No, I'm not a spoon!

Charlotte: (to the spoon): No, you are a spoon!



My kids love them. Both on a small scale and a large scale.

They also love magnifying glasses. Ella takes hers all over the place and examines everything. It makes our neighborhood walks take for-ev-er.

But I want to encourage that behavior.

I also want to encourage manual labor. Because its good for kids to do your dirty work.

Although this particular dirty work was not helpful. Ella was "building a house for the ants." So considerate.



That's how we make our babies.

I had a friend ask me what was new yesterday. (We haven't seen each other in a month.) I spent at least ten seconds trying to think of something.


We are blissfully constant right now.

So here's to a quiet life and a fat baby.



When were living in Idaho, and drove by missionaries on the street, we would yell "John Smith is a liar!" out the window. Because we felt like they probably needed some religious persecution in their lives.

Building character.

You know.


So this one time I made soap.

Actually, I have now made soap three times.  Except the second time no actual soap got made.

The first time I made soap, it was a wild success, except for the ugly brown color it turned when I added the mint leaves from my tea bag.  No big deal.  Lesson learned.

The second time I made soap, or rather attempted to make soap, it was at a Relief Society activity, where I was in fact teaching other people to make soap as well.  I felt confident in my ability to teach people because my success rate so far had been 100%.  Indeed, how could I fail?

Well, something went horribly wrong when I added the lye to the water.  I now know that this was due to using an aluminum pot.  We were lucky that I chose to do this step outside, because as it turns out, when lye and aluminum interact, they cause toxic fumes.  And the lye burns holes in the bottom of your aluminum pot.  Or your friend's aluminum pot, as the case may be.  And even if all of this happens outside, if you leave the door to the church open, the fumes might be blown in by the wind, causing the entire group of women who are supposed to be learning the secrets of soap-making at your feet to run for cover.

Upon arriving home (at 11pm due to all the time spent cleaning up the toxic waste I created), I laid in bed for at least two hours unable to sleep while dwelling on that massive failure, and also reading as much as I could on "lye poisoning".  And I slowly convinced myself that I and every other member of the Relief Society need to rush to the emergency room to be treated for our exposure to lye.  Well, about one o'clock in the morning I decide that I need to call poison control.  Yes, I do it from my bed, waking up Paul, and causing him to think I am (even more) crazy.  

"I think I might have lye poisoning," I tell the operator.

"Well, what are your symptoms?" She asks.

"Well, I don't really have any symptoms.  But I was working with lye and aluminum tonight and it created toxic fumes that I was exposed to."


"If you don't have any symptoms, you are probably okay."

"Oh.  Thanks."

Now I know.

The third time I made soap was another wild success, bringing my success rate up to 66%, which is something I think I can feel good about.  And Lindsay was here to help, which made it even more fun.  Actually, that's what made it even doable, because I didn't really want to expose my children to lye, and they follow me around like groupies to a rock star.

So, Garland 3rd Ward Relief Society, if you want some soap, let me know.  I owe you.  And I'm really glad we all didn't die

PS  That is a picture of the actual soap I made.  


Life is good.

In case you didn't know.


Got it.

After weeks of smiling. I finally captured it on camera. The delay was for a couple of reasons. First, it's more fun to engage with a smiling baby than to grab the camera. Second, when I finically decided to start getting out my camera, he would stop smiling and stare at the camera with interest.

Not helpful, Max.

This boy gained exactly one pound between day 5 and day 14 of his life. And then he gained another twenty six ounces between day 14 and day 21.

I guess he's getting enough to eat.

He is now 30 days old. And I can only guess how much he weighs. (As there will not be another doctor's visit for a while.) But I swear I wake up every morning and think he looks bigger.



Last week I was feeling especially sleep deprived. (Shocker.) And I really didn't want to resort to letting my kids watch tv all day. So I packed us a lunch and left the house.

One of the stops for the day was Cabela's. Because its kind of like a free zoo that makes you want to buy hiking equipment.

We went mainly for the zoo element.

But I have been thinking about camping lately (when the weather cools down) so I hit the tent section with the girls after we saw all the (dead) animals.

I had no idea how much two tents would entertain our children. Hello! We played 'house' for at least an hour. Mostly I laid down on the cot and let the girls come 'visit' my house.


We will be going back.



Oh yes she did.

Thanks to Sudie (Paul's mom), we are officially potty trained.


I am not missing diapers one bit. And since Max has now grown enough to fit into his cloth diapers, our diaper bill is about to go WAY down.

More money for high end foods! Right, Paul?


Sometimes he sleeps.

Sometimes he doesn't.

Sometimes it's not his fault.

Is there such a thing as too much love?

But, do you want to know the best part about having a third child?

The fact that this time around, I just don't care what people think about his sleeping habits. I felt really defensive of my girls and their sleeping (which was never stellar during infanthood). I think because it feels like the gauge by which people judge your infant. It is decidedly the question I get most often. "Is he a good sleeper?" or some variation thereof.

With the girls I felt compelled to soften reality. "Oh, she's pretty good." (And by soften reality, I mean lie.)

But, if people judge Max's "goodness" by his sleeping, then so be it. Because this is how it now plays out:
"Oh! He's so sweet! Is he sleeping well?"
"Mmmm, no."

But I'm doing great. And feeling great. In large part because my sweet mother in law made sure I got a nap every day this week. We'll see how I do now that I'm on my own. But I have hope.


Life around here.

It consists mainly in sleeping and eating and reading stories to little girls. They've been amazingly patient with me this week.

Max has started social smiling, which is so fun. He smiled for the first time on Monday, and I thought it must be a fluke, and then he smiled at Ella on Tuesday. And he's been giving me regular gummy grins ever since.

Somehow Max is just fine with being kissed incessantly by his sisters. And hugged. And having multiple toys piled on top of him. And instead of protesting when Ella speaks to him in a high pitched voice with her face approximately three millimeters away from his, he just looks mildly interested, and dare I say, happy.

And so life moves on and we are finding another new normal.


74 Hours Later.

Max is here.  And we are beyond thrilled.  He is... a newborn.  So far, that's about it.  Sweet and tender and needy, needy, needy.  This stage is so fleeting that I am really okay with the neediness.  He constantly wants to be held, and mostly just wants to nurse.  And Paul asked last night, "What if he is always like this?"  And I said, "He won't be."  That's just how newborns are, and it's nice to have the perspective of the third baby to just cherish the newborn neediness and know that it wears off rather quickly.  

And so I am writing his birth story while he sleeps in my lap.  And I am one hundred percent okay with that.

My doctor has strong opinions about inducing at 41 weeks.  And she told me that up front, and, truthfully, I was sure he would come at least before then, so I wasn't too worried about it.  But as time went on, I realized that very soon I would be facing an induction that I didn't really want.  I delivered Charlotte and Ella without an epidural, and planned the same birth for Max.  Because I was induced with Charlotte, I knew that pitocin would make labor harder, and really hoped to avoid it.  But, I also knew that I was capable having the birth experience I wanted with or without pitocin.  So, I kind of resigned myself to the induction, and went with it.

Most of you know, Max flipped into a breech position at 40 weeks, which was actually really stressful for me.  Even though he flipped back over pretty quickly, it was a very emotional couple of days.  And in some ways I was glad to induce, because I became so worried he would flip back over.  I was also worried that he was small (the girls were both in the nine pound range), and that it was maybe my fault.  What if I wasn't eating healthy enough, and all that jazz. (It turns out he weighed in at 9 lbs 1 oz and 22 1/4 inches.  How that baby turned breech and back again, I will never know.)

Well, we got confirmation on Monday that he was again head down, and so I went home and took some castor oil to try to avoid an induction on Wednesday.  No luck.  I also tried basically everything else, and have been trying all of those things for WEEKS.  He was just not ready.

So we showed up to the hospital Wednesday morning excited and optimistic about pretty much everything.  My doctor offered to break my water first to see if labor would start on its own.  Max was so high (-3 station) that it didn't do much, and it certainly didn't start labor, and not wanting a prolonged affair in the hospital, we started Pitocin around 10:30am.  It always takes a while to get going, and so the first hours were pretty easy.  Contractions were coming regularly, but they were easy to handle, and I became even more optimistic that this would be my easiest labor, yet.

Well, three o'clock rolled around and labor started getting really intense.  I was still coping really well with the contractions, but I was kind of desperate for some confirmation that we were making some good progress.  So at four we asked the nurse to check me.  I was only dilated to a 4.  That was the point I became really discouraged.  I spent about a half hour talking over my options with Paul and my Mom.  Because it was so early in labor, I felt really in my own mind (not the crazy person talk that I have during transition), and so it was a good conversation.  I decided sometime between four and four-thirty that I just didn't care at all about not having an epidural.  Somehow, it just didn't matter to me anymore.  I couldn't remember any of my reasons for having the kind of birth experience I had with Ella and Charlotte, and so I asked for the epidural.

The doctor came in right away and I had the epidural at 4:50p.  It was completely effective by 5:30 (longer than I thought it would take), but it did start taking the edge off very soon after it was administered.  My doctor came in at 6:00 to check me and I was still only at a six.  I was SO glad I got that epidural in that moment.  I think if I had labored another hour and a half with so little progress I would have just lost it.

A nurse came in at 7pm to check me and, miracle of miracles, I was complete and ready to push.  "Like, I can push right now?" I asked her.  And she asked if I would wait until my doctor came in.  "Sure."  I actually started feeling 'pushy' just a few minutes later.  And my doctor was already in the hospital, so she was in the room and ready to go just a few minutes later.  It was all so surreal.  During the pushing stage of my other labors, I was so focused and involved in labor that I was completely unaware of everything going on around me.  It was really interesting to see them get everything ready, and then my doctor said, okay, you can push when you're ready.  Weird.  And at the last minute I asked for a mirror so I could watch myself pushing.  I've always been offered a mirror, but truthfully, I have never cared, because I was so tired and focused on the work of labor.  So I started pushing.  It was different to not have a lot of feedback from my body, but I have pushed two other babies out, and my doctor coached me through it, making sure I wasn't pushing too fast to risk tearing.

It was really miraculous.  I have never been so aware and in awe of the miracle of birth as I was that night.  And so, after three pushes, Max was here.  They laid him on my chest and toweled him off and we laid skin to skin for the first hour.  It was the best bonding experience I have ever had just after the birth.  I attribute this to two factors.  The first is, I wasn't so exhausted from labor and so I was a pretty strong advocate for myself.  And the second is the hospital I chose to birth at; they were completely willing to delay weight and height assessments and other things for a full hour, and did all apgar assessments while he was laying with me.  It was glorious.  He breastfeed soon after birth, and it was amazing to be able to enjoy those first few moments of his life.  Ella's and Charlotte's first moments of life are such a blur; I was so tired.

I still kind of laugh to myself that I got an epidural.  I never would have predicted that.  But, if you want the truth, I am completely happy with my experience.  My recovery has been easy, easier than my first two, truthfully.  Max is my most vigorous breastfeeder, yet.  Although I attribute that to personality as much as anything else.  I don't know how things would have been different if we hadn't been induced.  Certainly contractions wouldn't have been so intense so soon, and maybe I would have chosen a completely different pain medication outcome.  But, for this birth, I have no regrets, and feel completely at peace with my choice. We'll let future births play out on their own.  

And so, that is Max's story so far.  

We are so blessed to have him home with us, and excited to watch him grow into the man God wants him to be.


I appreciate cows.

Friday was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil A.  Which basically means, if you dress up like a cow, you get a free meal.  Yes, meal, people, not just a little chicken sandwich.  I got an entree salad.  The girls got kids meals, with fruit! (For the second time in their entire lives.  And I mean kids meals from any restaurant, not just Chick Fil A.  They never get kids meals.  They were thrilled with the toy at the bottom of the bag.  We went out to eat with my mom last weekend, and we ordered them an adult entree to share, and the waitress asked if we had seen the kids menu, and Paul said, "We don't believe in kid's menus."  Amen, husband.)  So, judge me for going out for fast food, because the lure of free lunch was just too appealing.  Plus, my friends all got together Friday morning and we made cow costumes while the kids played.

Best playgroup ever.


Lying has not worked out for me.

So, about nine months ago, give or take, I decided that my babies are always late, and so telling people my actual due date would just result in weeks of comments such as "Any day now!" or "Have you had your baby yet?"  Which, to me, are just frustrating, when you pretty much know that delivery is still a month away.  Even when I assure people that I'll probably be late, I hear things like, "Well, you never know."  Which, I understand, you don't ever really know, but, I kind of do.  Well, so I told everyone (except Paul and some of our family, and a few friends), that we are due in August.  I just pushed the due date back three weeks, thinking that I would be free and clear of all reminders of how unbearably long it takes me to gestate.

Well, I think this plan would have worked for many women.  Some women carry high, and it's hard to tell how pregnant they are.  But, as it turns out, it is pretty obvious that I am full term, because people are coming out of the woodwork to tell me that I will be birthing any day now.  Random strangers at grocery  stores (yes, it has progressed beyond polite conversation with the checkout person), people I have never even spoken to at church.... I'm trying to think of other examples.  But, now that I think about it, mostly I just go to the grocery store and church.  So that's basically it.

My friends either know that I'm a little (or a lot) sensitive or think I'm due in a month, so they leave me alone.  It's everyone else who bombards me with reminders of my ever aging fetus.  Well, strangers and the nurses at my doctor's office.  Seriously, doesn't anyone go the full 40 weeks any more?  Apparently not, because my 37, 38, and 39 week appointment were all met with comments about me "still being here".  Yep, just getting my money's worth.  Keep up the good work.

So now I know.  Lying doesn't help.  Although, next pregnancy I am considering pulling out the big guns:

"When am I due?  Oh, I'm not pregnant."  That'll stop the comments real fast.

But for now, I just content myself by committing to just pretend people aren't pregnant when it's painfully obvious they are.  I sent my good vibes out into the universe the other day when I passed another (very) pregnant woman in the grocery store, looked at her right in the eye, grinned, and said, "I love your haircut."

The view from here.  Why yes, that is a cow spot on my shirt.


My littlest.

At this point in my pregnancy, I find my thoughts turning to Charlotte more and more. She is unbelievably cuddly and affectionate, her favorite hobby is "helping" with anything I'm doing, and she is just incredibly enjoyable right now. Although, I think she could even be in the middle of a really tough stage, and I would be feeling similarly toward her.

Nostalgia is the best way to describe it. These are the last few weeks of her being the baby.

And I am absolutely enjoying every minute of this sweet baby before the next one comes.


Underwater cameras kind of rock.

And, as of today, everyone in my little family can hold their breath on command.  Which is kind of fun.

We went to Austin for the weekend.  Don't tell my OB.  Because she was a little freaked out when I traveled at 35 weeks pregnant.  Two weeks ago.

But we had a lovely time at (Paul's sister) Carolyn's house.  Really, seriously fun time.  Much of it involving the pool.  And the camera.  The rest of it involving yummy food that I didn't have to cook.  Win-win.


And then, all of a sudden, your birthday is over.

Last night I had a three year old, and today she is four. And thrilled by this evidence of aging.

I don't mind aging so much, either. Life just keeps getting better and better. I've been thirty for almost three years now, (December will bring the day that I will finally be telling the truth about being thirty), and so I have no complaints about aging so far.

My only complaint is how fast it is all happening. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I need to slow down a little. But I honestly have trouble comprehending how I am even a fully grown human, much less the mother of a full-fledged child. (I think we can safely say that Ella is beyond her toddler years. There is no toddle anymore.)

I offer to snuggle Ella every night before bed. She started refusing my offer. I think because I require her o be quiet and still during snuggles, and she likes telling herself stories when she's laying in bed. There was about a month without snuggles. Which was kind of sad. Maybe really sad. So, I told her how I missed our snuggles. And so she has started asking for them again each night. And I stopped enforcing my lay still and quiet rule. I guess we have an understanding.

I must say, it's a relief that she is finally four, because when a girl walks around with a big belly like mine, and people ask how old her children are, andcage tells them three and two, she gets looks like she must be crazy. But Ella was very insistent that we all conveyed her age accurately.

Charlotte on the other hand could care less that she's two. When asked, she offers a blank stare. Or she says she's one. Or, as of today, three. And I quote, "Ella is four now! And I am three!" That child is so smart, I know it is not a comprehension problem. She is just outright refusing to be her own age.

I guess she gets it from her mother.


Paul win.

I love kissing my girls. So much so, that I probably request twenty kisses a day. Usually they oblige, but occasionally they don't want to kiss for whatever reason.

Instead of respecting their personal space, I say in a mock angry voice, "You have to kiss your mother," and I chase them down and kiss them. So, it has become a game for us.

Well, they started telling Paul that he couldn't have a bedtime kiss, I imagine, because they think it's kind of fun to be chased around. But Paul didn't feel comfortable making the girls kiss him, which I actually really resect. So, he started offering a choice, he told them that he needed a kiss or a high five before bed. They could choose which one.

Well, they now choose both, every single night. The kiss and high five must happen simultaneously (according to Ella), so it inevitably results in multiple failed attempts to coordinate the two. And it is darling.

I love that man.


Paul fail.

I got to the store the other day and realized I left Ella's shoes at home.

"What are we going to do?" I asked Ella, considering running back to the house.

"No, Mom, I don't need shoes at the store," Ella informed me, "Dad always just let's me ride in the cart without shoes!"

"Oh, he does!"

The game is up, Paul. Count on a long healthy life of your own children telling all your parenting secrets.


Ella prays.

"Please bless us to be safe from lions, monsters, and cheetahs, and that they won't eat us."

(A few days later, after I explained to her that lions and cheetahs are not really a danger in our country because we keep them in cages.)

"Please bless the lions and cheetahs not to get out of their cages."

"Please bless us that we will get bigger and not turn back into babies."

"Bless everyone I don't know, that I will meet them soon."

"Please bless everyone, the brown kids, the white kids, everyone."
(Where does she come up with this stuff?!)

"Bless us that we will remember to wash our hands after we touch our bottoms."

And my personal favorite:

"Please bless everyone in the whole wide world."

I just love that girl.


Bokums and cheese

Charlotte spends her days talking about anything and everything happening. Her articulation isn't perfect, but it is pretty good most of the time. But somehow, she has picked up the word 'bokum' instead of 'bottom'. We think it is the cutest thing ever. So I only do a half hearted job of correcting her. In fact, every member of our family has been know to use the word bokum. Hopefully we are not sabotaging her future speech. But I think she will pull through.

My favorite speech intonation of Charlotte's is when she talks about anything small, and she calls it "a little, tiny" whatever. In a ridiculously high pitched voice. So funny.

I hate the word booger. I don't use it. And I haven't given either child a vocabulary word to replace it. So Ella used to say "Mom, I have dirt in my nose." I was happy with this arrangement, and would gladly oblige her with a tissue. Charlotte calls it cheese. As in, "Mom, I have cheese in my nose." It sounds a little weird, but it still does the job. And I have made it very clear that we never ever eat the cheese from our noses. Ever.


We weren't trying for a a boy.

I'm just going to send that out into the universe, because I have heard from far too many cashiers, salespeople, and random strangers on the street that it must be a relief that we finally got a boy.  "I bet you're glad, huh?!" They say to me, every time I take my children and my large belly out in public.

It drives me crazy.

Because I have yet to find a nice way to say, "Not really.  We're just glad it's a baby."

Don't get me wrong, we weren't trying for a girl either.  But we were trying for a baby, and so all our dreams have come true.  Because ultrasounds have definitively confirmed that it's not a puppy.

We went into the ultrasound pretty sure it would be a boy, because this pregnancy was so different from the girls.  Neither one of us really thought that we cared one way or the other.  And the funny thing is, Paul was really excited it was a boy.  And I was kind of disappointed it wasn't a girl.

It has taken me a while to get used to the idea of a boy running around.  Which is also kind of funny, because I really don't believe in that whole "Boys are just different from girls" line.  I get that a lot too.  Mostly from people I know.  "You'll see," they say again and again.  And that's fine I guess.  I'm sure Max will be different from Ella and Charlotte.  But as it turns out, Ella and Charlotte are pretty different from each other, too.  And, another interesting fact is, just because a child is a certain gender does not guarantee that they will act in accordance with the stereotype for that gender.  Even if there is some evidence that the stereotype is a somewhat accurate representation of said gender.

So stop labeling my child.  He is still unborn.

I think that I must, somewhere in my subconscious, believe that the relationship between a mother and daughter is different from mother and son.   When we first found out Max was a boy, I had four or five dreams that I was getting married to a variety of men from my past.  I didn't tell Paul about the first couple of dreams, because, well, that's weird.  Why am I dreaming about marrying someone else?  And then I started seeing patterns.  All of these guys are people I knew relatively well, but never dated or had any romantic feelings for.  They were people I respected and admired.  And every single wedding was not a wedding of love, but of duty.  Often the proposal would go like this, "Well, I guess we should get married, it seems like the right thing to do." Finally, I realized that this must be symbolic of me committing to another man(child).  I just wasn't all the way on board with having another man in my life.  When I worked that out, the dreams stopped.  Weird, huh?

We are thrilled about this baby boy coming to our house.  And the closer it gets, the more exciting it is.  I'll be thirty-five weeks on Wednesday.  I had an ultrasound a couple of weeks ago, and he is measuring average in every way, which is wonderful.  Because with Ella's birth weight at 8 lb. 12 oz, and Charlotte's at 9 lb. 3 oz., let's just say that we don't worry about my babies being big enough at term.  (They also measured average at all their ultrasounds.)

But since I don't get sassy with strangers, I just wanted to lay it all out here.


Whose knees are these?

Currently Charlotte's favorite book is centered around knees. Not just any knees. These particular knees belong to a little black boy. Some of my favorite lines include, "So brown and so strong, to whom do these fine knees belong?" and "They belong to that cheerful chap sitting on his Mommy's lap!"

We have had it from the Dallas public library for no less than three months. Possibly more like six. Thank you Dallas public library for allowing 99 renewals. This ensures that we will be able to read Whose Knees Are These for approximately the next seven years.


Mom, take a picture of us!

I'm not sure why holding hands with the store dummies at Old Navy was photo worthy, but Ella assures me it was.

This was on our quest for flip flops for Charlotte. Ella's still fit from last year. But flip flops this year have been a bust. Ella has these nice foam-y soft comfy flip flops, and in all my flop searching I could only find the hard plastic-y kind. Charlotte doesn't like them very much. Although, she pretty much hates all shoes, so it's really not a great indicator.



Ella likes to make lists. Sometimes she makes them on her own with random letters and squiggles down the line. But often she sits patiently and has me spell things out letter by letter until her list is complete. Shopping lists. To do lists. Lists of her friends.

Last week she wanted to make a list of my friends.
"Sure," I replied.
"Okay," she said, thinking for a minute. "How do you spell Jesus?"

Yep. Jesus was the first friend on my list.

I'm glad she knows we are tight.


Bright idea.

Today the kitties, I mean, girls, decided to put their bowls of peas on the floor and eat them in the true spirit of felinity.

Bonus: no forks required = less dishes.


Ella's kitty.

At least three times a day, Charlotte reverts into 'cat mode'. It can happen at any time. I'll be walking along in the grocery store, and I suddenly look back and see her on all fours meowing at me. Luckily, it tends to happen at home.

More often than not, Ella takes this as her cue to find a 'leash' and take her cat for a walk, parading her around the house and giving her many instructions. This has also caused multiple situations where I've had to explain that the downside of cats is that hey rarely do what we ask them to.

Last night, Charlotte decided to be a cat when Ella was in the other room with Paul. Always the supportive mother, I pet her back and gave her little head a scratch. And said, "Are you my little kitty?" To which she promptly responded, "No, I'm Ella's kitty."

I guess cats are also pretty loyal.


Spring in Dallas.

It's here! Although, the temperature is about the same as it has been all winter. But all of a sudden there are millions of gorgeous wild flowers.

Love it.


She basically rocks at hide and seek.

We've entered this really fun stage in parenthood when our children are finally old enough to play games that are actually fun for us, too.

Hide and Seek is a perennial favorite. As is Red Light, Green Light.

Tag is also up there, but since Charlotte doesn't like tag as much, I mostly end up chasing Ella (or being chased) while carrying Char. The upside of this is that it really evens out the game. Six months pregnant lugging a two year old vs. a spry three year old. You can only imagine.


She is getting better.

My phone was completely wiped out on Saturday. And for some reason Ella has had it kind of a lot since then. Because now there are 177 photos on my phone from Sunday and Monday alone. But I have to say, her photography skills are really improving. She got some good ones of Charlotte and at least twenty of a turtle sunning itself by the pond today. And, I would say less than five percent of her photos are blurry.

She does take after her father, in that at least fifty percent of the pictures are self portraits. Can you ever really take too many pictures of yourself, though?


So we moved.

Remember that day that we decided to look for a new place to live? And then exactly six days later we moved into a new house. And now our old ward thinks we're crazy people. Or maybe that we were evicted or something. :)

But really, we just wanted to get it done while Paul had some time off work and we didn't really plan ahead. (Sort of. Long story.)

So now we have a crazy messy house, and I regularly wander around aimlessly and wonder if it will ever get put away.

Probably not.

But I can always find the most important things. You know, my children. And my cell phone.

Just kidding. I can't always find my cell phone.


Any guesses on who these girls are?

We spent the better part of an afternoon at my grandma's going through old pictures.

So fun.

Biggest disappointments of the afternoon?

1- I found not even one picture that might land us a spot on

2- I used to think I was so darling as a child. But now, I am so accustomed to looking at Ella, and she looks so much like me, that all the pictures of me just look a little "off".

Oh well, I'll just have to revel in her cuteness. Both my sister and my step-dad thought this picture was of Ella and Charlotte. Except they couldn't figure out why Charlotte didn't really look like herself. :)

***Update. I just showed this picture to Paul. He looked at it and said, "Whos's the little girl on the left?". I told him, "Laurel," and he said, "Whoa. It's official. Ella is going to look just like you."***


Conversing today.

Ella: Mom, when am I going to be four?

Me: In June.

Ella: My last birthday was in June, too!



It's like the salvation of parenthood.

I always (usually) adore my kids. I really do find them delightful, at least 70% of the time.

But when they sleep.... Oh how I love them. I spend too much time kissing their sleeping heads and staring at their angelic faces. I should be sleeping instead.

Anyhow, I sometimes feel guilty that my most peaceful and joyous parenting moments are while my children are completely unaware of me.



Charlotte wanted to sit on my lap during dinner. I said "No," and Ella said, "You can sit on my lap, Charlotte." So she did.

Charlotte climbed up and said, "I love you."  Which melted my heart.

It went really well, until Charlotte tried feeding Ella.  That was kind of a bust, and the magic was over.


Guess What.

It's a boy.

Weird, huh?  I didn't even know we could make those at our house.

We took the girls to the ultrasound with us, and spent most of the time pointing out various body parts to them.  "Look, there's the heart, look, that's a little hand..." etc.  Then the ultrasound tech showed us a screen shot and said "There's one you haven't seen before."  And I thought, "What the heck is this lady talking about.  I had at least three ultrasounds with both of those girls, I've seen it all."

"It's a penis," she said.

"Ohhhhh!" I said.  I'm a little slow.

Then she showed us another shot.  I can confirm that it is indeed a boy.

I still think it's a little crazy.  Even though we've been waiting for Max for a long time, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole "boy" thing.

My sister-in-law (who just had a baby boy) is thrilled and went out and bought our babies matching outfits, which I just think was the sweetest thing ever.  Our little guys will be about ten months apart, but they will be in the same grade, so it's kind of fun to dream about them being BFF.


They're nice to have.


I'm practically famous.

That's my Kia.  And my white shirt and arm.  My mother-in-law's face was blurried out for privacy reasons, I imagine.

And do you want to know how we got on the Googlemaps Cam?  We followed the Google car all over Dallas until we lucked out and he had to go into a cul-de-sac and we were waiting at the intersection.  It was exhilarating, I tell you.

So anytime you want to see my arm, just head on over to Google.  And count yourself lucky.


Pregnancy, so far.

Some fun facts about this pregnancy:

This is the first pregnancy that I have had actual, specific cravings.  Prior pregnancies my cravings have been for food in general.  Basically everything sounded good.  But there was one afternoon that I actually hauled my kids to the store and bought corndogs to satisfy a craving.  (I know, I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it, now.  Gross.)  Other cravings include meat and dairy, which were just not a big part of my life before. I ate them, but just didn't cook with them a ton.  We've had to restructure our food budget to include meat.

This pregnancy I had major nausea.  Never vomited.  But there was a lot of laying on the couch, wallowing in my own sorrow.  I know it's not as bad as all you people out there who have to go to the hospital to get re-hydrated because you can't keep anything down, and I'm not trying to compare.  But it was absolutely debilitating.  Thankfully, it is over, and my house is starting to recover.  Thank you Paul, for many late nights doing dishes.

I am an absolute sleepaholic.  Early to bed, late to rise.  Naps whenever I can get them.  The television has become far too great an influence in this home.  This week I am pledging to go TV-free.  No Blues Clues, no Dinosaur Train, no Calliou.  Calliou bugs me anyway.  He is so whiny.  But the girls love that show, and so this is how Ella asks for Calliou:  "Mom, can I watch Calliou?  I promise I won't whine like he does."  So far, so good.  Two days down.  They haven't even asked for a show.  We did spend the morning dancing around to the best of John Phillip Sousa.

I felt the first kicks around fifteen weeks, and I can already feel little bit kicking on the outside of my stomach. Paul hasn't felt this yet, because we no longer go to bed at the same time, and bedtime used to be our "lay in bed with your hand resting on our unborn child" time.  We are going to have to figure something else out.

I don't know if it's the fatigue, or the extra hormones, or what, but I absolutely cannot abide going to the grocery store with two children anymore.  So I have given up daytime grocery shopping.  Weekends or mornings are when it gets done (I am too tired at night).  Or not at all, and we just eat plain beans.  Paul is so lucky to have me as his personal chef.

Ella is pretty thrilled about the new baby and constantly tells me how helpful she will be when the baby comes.  Charlotte consistently asks if she can hold the baby.  It'll be fun to see how it all works out when reality strikes.

I taught a Relief Society lesson, where one section addressed the Law of Chastity.  I told the sisters there that sometimes this principle gets glazed over since "most of us get to practice our powers of procreation on a regular basis."  I wanted to add, "As you can see," while gesturing to my burgeoning belly.  But I didn't.

Conclusion:  I eat all the time.  I'm tired all the time.  And I think I have started to waddle when I'm really tired.  I think the pregnancy test was accurate.


Parenting Fail.

Well, Ella has started speech therapy.  (That is not the fail.)  So far... well, she kind of hates it.  But to be fair, I'm sure it is a little bit hard to be corrected and put on the spot for two hours a day.  Plus she's the only girl in her class, and she feels it keenly.  (I thought she was too young for that.)  It's only twice a week, though, so she's going to have to tough it out.

Anyhow, since she is leaving the house on a regular basis and spending it with strangers, I do make an effort to make sure that she is dressed in cute clothes and her hair is combed.  At least on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Well, Monday she was out of cute pants.  There were plenty of dingy leggings, which are usually a fine option for me.  But, you know, I don't want strangers to think we're trashy.  So, I come across these really cute leggings of Charlotte's in the dryer (where I'm searching frantically for cute, clean pants).  And I think, Ella and Charlotte, are basically the same size, Ella is only taller, so I'll just let her wear Charlotte's pants, and I'll make sure she's wearing her tall-ish winter boots, and no one will ever know that she is in crazy high waters.  Problem solved.  Children dressed.  All except the shoes, which I grab, and take with me to the car.  Along with the hairbrush.  So we get there, brush hair, put on the boots, and I realize that they are not tall enough.  So now, my child is wearing crazy high water pants, with tall-ish winter boots, and and half inch of skin showing in between.

So much for not looking trashy.


Ornamental Kale is wildly popular in Dallas.

And I'm not going to lie. Whenever I see it, I make a mental note of where it is, just in case there is some kind of food supply crisis. I think we'll be set for leafy greens.


The hidden side of the foot photo.

In early November (or maybe mid) we attended a hot air ballon festival with Richard and Jess and Soren. We were five weeks pregnant and wanted to do something cute to announce the birth of number three. So we had the other Christensens take some foot photos with the intention of making them into personalized cards for the family. (which we did and it was a great success) What we did not plan for was two very tired girls at the end of a long day. We had literally sixty four pictures where at least one child was kicking their feet in protest, or wandering off, or other such nonsense.

How did we finally make the magic happen, you ask?

Each girl in this particular photo was engrossed with an iPhone. Even Paul, who is pretty strict with his phone, relinquished it for the greater good.

We cropped that part out. Obviously.

Good times.


If you are any good at counting...

You may realize that there are five pairs of shoes in our header picture.

And if you are any good at guessing, you are absolutely right.

So, maybe we'll get a Max this time.  Or maybe it will be a Mabel.

My mom wants both.  But I have decided that if there are two, she will have to keep one.

You can count on baby three's arrival in early August.