The boy

He sure looks older now. But yeah. Exactly the same.

The boy, 2013

My name is Duncan, but you can call me Dunc.

Age: 7

Favorite Toy: Beyblades.”

Favorite Book: “Captain Awesome!”

Favorite Website: Minecraft.”

Best Friends: “Savannah and Chaz. Oh, and Roberto.”

“When I grow up… I’m gonna live with Chaz in the woods. And I’m gonna be rich. And I’m going to have a mansion.”

In Hotel Transylvania when the dead chef sticked his finger in his nose, that ... always makes me laugh.”

For Duncan’s new answers, look here.

leveled up!

The kids’ profiles needed to be changed. Can you believe this child is 3? I can’t. She’ll be 4 in February. I know, I know, shut your mouth! Say it ain’t so! Look how this stinker has changed…


Lincoln City 2013

My name is Charlotte, but you can call me Charlie.

Age: 12 months

Favorite Toy: My Chewwie.

Favorite Book: Leslie Patricelli’s Baby Book Tower books.

Best Friend: Mama’s hair.

Rachael’s frowny face … always makes me laugh!”


Legoland 2015

My name is Charlotte, but you can call me Charlie.

Age: 3

Favorite Toy: My dress-up princesses.

Favorite Book: My new wind-up train book!

Best Friend: Miley.

When the guy on YouTube says, ‘mommy, can you kiss my boo boo?’ it … always makes me laugh!”



Liv’s new answers:

Legoland 2015

My name is Olivia, but you can call me Olivia. [We’re too cool for nicknames now.]

Age: 11

Favorite Toy: “My phone.”

Favorite Book: “Harry Potter series.”

Favorite Website: “Uhm, *giggles* don’t write that. Okay, uhm… I don’t know!”

Favorite Game: “Minecraft.”

Best Friends: “Elijah, Phoebe, Aiden, and Olivia H.”

When I grow up… I don’t know! What are you doing? Don’t write that! When I grow up I want to… I want to… *giggles* I know this sounds nerdy but I want to be a marine biologist.”

When I try to do a serious face contest with Elijah, because it’s impossible, it always makes me laugh.”


Lately, I’ve been having some self-beat-up-self issues. Second guessing myself. Bringing myself down thinking about past failures. Feeling like I can’t succeed at anything new I’d like to try because I haven’t been able to in the past. Working myself too hard. My favorite: finding a new genre or hobby or just something new I’d like to try and then rather than cutting my bites and chewing slowly, I just stuff the whole plate in my mouth and think about swallowing. Bad, Melissa, bad. How could I possibly enjoy that new thing? I’ve overdone it, and it takes something I sincerely enjoyed and looked forward to and, well… kills it. DEAD. I just want one thing that I can really focus on and be successful with.

And distractions! OH, the distractions! Or the little things that I turn into distractions to distract myself from doing the thing I want to do. Kind of like the flip-through video I’ve been meaning to tape ever since I finished my Project-Life-esque album from our Legoland trip. The book’s been done since this summer. The video? HA. I spent so long on my YouTube channel that I have yet to even set up the table in front of the window (for lighting), let alone the tripod. My nails weren’t done, I couldn’t decide whether to talk during the video, should I let Charlie help, the office is dirty, how will I find music I like for the background? Excuses. Distractions.

So, in honor of never posting “on time”, in honor of never being “normal” (despite my best misguided efforts), in honor of all the past failures (and successes), and in honor of every second I’ve felt overwhelmed or under-qualified – I say: no more. No more judging myself based on what I think I should be, what I think I should look like, how I think I should sound. No more deadlines for things that don’t need an actual deadline. No more beating myself up because I just couldn’t stomach one more glass of water towards my goal for the day. No more hating myself because I had a rough day and “needed” that Cutie even though it pushed me over my calorie limit for the day. No more shaming myself because I really did mean to get my run in but between all the literal running around I did to put out fires here, there, and everywhere, pick up kids from 8 different places, return this item, make this dinner, stain-wash this load, fill the dishwasher – no more. No more judging my life based on how clean the house looks before I go to bed, or how many times I stepped over the tiny pile of cereal crumbs instead of sweeping them up. I, quite honestly, am my own worst enemy. No more.

I belong to a culture/community where I don’t feel I fit in. And I’m beginning to be okay with that. Because the reality of this feeling is – who is? There must be someone who is viewed as “the one who does all the things” to feel that I don’t, right? And to find that person that we compare ourselves to, that makes as feel as if we could do better, try harder, etc. to be more like what they portray, we first have to judge this person based off of what WE see. We don’t know what happens behind closed doors, we don’t even know what happens when we turn the corner and that person is alone again. It’s all stereotyping and judging and assumptions. No more.

Ultimately, I need to fit in with ME. I can be a member without needing to perfectly fit in with my religion. I can own a home and be a nice neighbor without fitting in with my neighborhood or city. I can be social and hold friendships without fitting in just right with every social group.

I always considered myself a happy person. I always considered myself to not be a judgmental person. But, as I grew up, I realized that these were things I wanted to be. I look back and I realize there was a lot of anger and frustration that I didn’t understand. A lot of low days, and eventually they did take hold of me. Sometimes they still do. It’s great to be happy – but no one is “happy” all the time, every day. It’s okay to not have a good day. It’s okay to feel like you’re hanging just a little lower than everyone else. It’s great to feel you don’t judge others – but not because you feel that way based on the thought that you judge less than your neighbor. DUDE, yer judging. Just to figure that out, you juuuudged. No more.

I spend a lot of my day consistently worrying about others judging me, people looking at me and making assumptions about the way I walk, the way I dress, the way I talk, the things I like, whether they think I actually like those things or I’m just “posing”, whether they think I’m pretty, if I’m funny, if I talk too much. There’s a LOT. I get caught up in it. The reality is, I’m just walking from my car to the grocery store and I’M the one judging myself. The woman over there loading her groceries into the back of her old van while her son texts? Not only did she not see my T-shirt (or my chub) she probably has NO clue what it means. That guy checking his phone as he walks back to return his cart? He may not speak English or understand that I snapped at my rambunctious 3-year-old for refusing to hold my hand while crossing the parking lot. The older man sitting in the running truck by the entrance to the store? He might be waiting for his wife to come out, or his buddy who ran in to grab lunch – but I guarantee he’s not thinking about how I could stand to lose 20 pounds or that I need to find a way to tame my mane of unruly curls that love to frizz. Things like that caused me to stop trying. Couldn’t go to the store, because of what people would think. Couldn’t handle home life because dinner’s crap because I couldn’t go to the store. It snowballs and snowballs and suddenly I can’t get out of bed in the morning to get my kids off to school. I’m really good at this game. I’d stop trying completely – it’s where I’d end up anyway, right? No more.

When a counselor pointed out to me that a portion of my daily frustrations were based off of things that hadn’t even happened, it was both mind-blowing and life changing. I had never thought of it that way. I was real-time reacting to things that weren’t even happening. Assumptions. I was acting based off of assumptions and judgments of what I thought someone was thinking, might think, or might do. Judgments. Assumptions. The very things I was terrified people were making about me. Sure, I wasn’t road-rage-ramming people or having screaming matches, but personally, there is a lot of internal reacting and turmoil that happens before I outwardly react. It was taking its toll. No more.

There are a hundred million things I’d like to do with my life, different directions I could take. It’s a lot to realize and list out all the things I enjoy doing. Or even the things I love doing that I could try to turn into a job.  And, maybe, even be successful with. For me, the best analogy is standing in a library and thinking that there is no way, in my lifetime, that I could possibly read every book that I’d like to – just IN this library. And believe me, our library isn’t THAT big. Especially for someone who reads a lot. But I would never be able to check out a book, nor enjoy reading, if I didn’t just try a book. I don’t have to buy the book, I don’t have to read it everyday for the next 17 years. I’m just checking it out for three weeks. If I don’t like it, the genre, the author, the cover – anything – there’s always next time.

I’m going to post to this blog. I’m going to take photos. I’m going to clean my house. I’m going to run three times a week. I’m going to post videos to my YouTube channel. I’m going to quilt. I’m going to sew. I’m going to read my scriptures. I’m going to cook and bake. I’m going to play games. I’m going to read books. I’m going to buy more comics and trade paperbacks. I’m going to buy more graphic tees (even though my husband thinks I’m a giant dork). And I’m going to do these things without deadlines, without judgment. And without rushing! One step at a time. If I don’t feel like turning on the sewing machine, I won’t. If I don’t feel like reading adult fiction, I’ll go to YA fiction. If I don’t feel like posting anything on my blog, I won’t. I’m going to try things. If I don’t like it, I won’t try it again. Seems simple. Here’s to keeping it that way…

I’m not a superhero. I’m not the perfect girl, daughter, library patron, sister, friend, Mormon, wife, mother, neighbor, or aunt. I don’t need to be.

But I am trying. Doing the best I can, and that is enough. I’m enough.


Updating things on the site, including the kids’ bio pages. Look how tiny! For the new updated photo and answers, peek here.

Rachael with her felt cookie, 2012

My name is Rachael, but you can call me Rae.

Age: 4

Favorite Toy: “My Stephanie Lego car. Daddy put it together for me for my birthday. My girl drives with her friend.”

Favorite Book: “Hmm… aha! Princess Collection.”

Favorite Food: “Penguin crackers. But, cucumbers too.”

Best Friends: “Dora and Boots.”

“When I grow up… I want to be a horse rider.”

When somebody tickles me, it … always makes me laugh.”

Summer Bucket List

There are SO many things we want to do this summer… and of course the online lists and ideas are ENDLESS. My Aunt (and I think a couple others sent me this as well when I posted about behavioral issues right at the onset of Noschool Syndrome) sent me something that she saw that will definitely be used in my house this summer:

After some digging, I still couldn’t find the original source but it’s been changed a million different ways and people have made printable after printable. I chose this one, from Happy Home Fairy. It’s printing now!

I also love this moveable schedule, from Thriving Home, that makes it really clear what we’ll be doing each day. I may need to pick up some poster board, cut out strips, and get my sloths out of media-mode.

Every morning:

Child: “I did my chores!”

Mom: “Great! Thanks, babe.”

Child: “Now can I play Minecraft?!”

Mom in her Ideal World: “Go check the color coordinated schedule for the day!” Mhmm. A mama can dream.

But – all that aside – between our big Summer Bucket List and the BORED Chart… there’s plenty to keep us all busy!


Things we get to do with Daddy

Dates we’ve done something

Something we’ve already done!

Last updated 7/2/15

Want more ideas for your own brood? Check out my Pinterest board specifically for my nerdlings – summer ideas, crafts, things to make for the kids, snack and meal ideas, etc.

Paint! (Mostly for dad…)

The siding will be Classic French Gray (SW 0077), with Extra White trim (SW 7006). We’re also adding shutters which will be the same color as the front door, those will be in done in a blue called Naval (SW 6244) [Not shown.]


Summer has begun. It kinda happens that way. One minute it’s not, and I’m struggling to force myself out of bed each morning, and then BAM. OREGON HEAT WAVE. Must be summer. It’s July 1st after all… magic. [HAPPY CANADA DAY!] The kids, on the other hand, have been counting down the seconds. We all felt it coming but they had been salivating long before I realized that we had just weeks left.

My littlest nerdling has probably had the largest adjustment out of all of them. While Olivia and Duncan are veterans at this whole school’s-out-for-summer thing, Rachael is just starting – but she was only half day kindergarten for the majority of the year. Really, it’s not THAT big of an adjustment. She clearly doesn’t understand the fact that school is out for an extended period of time, every Sunday, “School night, mom?” But Charlotte was just getting used to the idea that the world revolved around her 8-12, every “schooday’. No siblings, no competition! Instead, we all get to listen to the consistent chorus of the oldest two bickering. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Nothing exciting going on in our summer thus far. Mostly just the typical “I’m bored” and “I hate chores”. We’ve had a few appointments, most of them have been mine. Like this morning, I had physical therapy and my Child Labor for Can of Rootbeer agreement with Olivia worked great. Babysitting for Rootbeer, who knew?! Win win, I get a quiet appointment where they scrape, claw, and dig into my arm and hand muscles (my therapist – not my kids, they’re not there, remember?) and they get to stay home, ignore their chores, and fight without me yelling at them to stop! Sounds painful, but hurts so good. (I guess for the kids too!) Granted today’s appointment was filled with my phone vibrating as they tried to text and call their tattling instead of just screaming it down the stairwell. #facepalm

While I was gone, the painters came to start work on our house. Well, not paint yet, just washing everything down. I’m excited to see some color change. Yet, also TERRIFIED. It’s scary, this is a big canvas, people. It’ll be bye bye brown for this casa, and hello gray! (Still terrified.)

That little yet, not so little… sniffle pink and blonde blob is Charlie yelling “MOM, WHY YOU AFFER DA STREET?!” from the front step. (For those that don’t speak three-year-old-er that’s “Mom, why are you across the street?”) Can you believe that little peanut is almost 3-1/2? Rachael wasn’t even that old when we moved into this house! Crazy. Between the tree in the front and the height of this girl’s vocabulary… it’s just crazy how fast time passes.

Summer bucket list will pop up tomorrow – stay tuned.

Pinewood Derby

The moment finally came! Duncan’s been waiting for this for a while, working on his car, painting, drying, painting, drying, repeat, repeat.

And then – it was done! (He’s immensely proud of his creation.)

I was a little worried about the drag that the construction towers would make but smiled and left it alone – the important thing about Pinewood Derby that a lot of people seem to miss out on is that it’s for THE BOYS. Not me. Not the Dads. THE BOYS. If he wants Emmett sticky-tacked to his car with towers behind him, that’s what he gets!

Go Color Guard! He was pretty pumped that he got to be (in? apart of? the?) a member of the (?) Color Guard during this den meeting. Of course, no matter how many times I tried to get a decent photo, this was the face I got. #sigh At least he’s cute, right?

While both the Tween and the Kindergartner abandoned us to watch the races, this little miss stuck around. “Lap? Pick up me? Take picture me, mom!” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. She’s just a little photogenic. (Her hair was so cute that morning. Then she ripped out her bow. I fixed it before we left but left out the bow hoping to get her to leave it alone. Didn’t work. While trying to fix it AGAIN at the Derby, the rubberband broke. Really?! I pulled an emergency one [huge for her] out of my purse and she was left in a top knot all night. Stinker.)

Can you tell she likes to get ALL UP IN YOUR FACE? Apparently, this also applies to my camera lens. You get a nice clear shot of her nose… booger-ed and crusty… because my poor camera couldn’t take that much cute, that close to it, and figure out how to focus all at the same time.

When we got there, Duncan added graphite to his wheels and was weighed in. They suggested he take off the… uhm… wrecking balls? No idea what they were! So he agreed and ended up hot gluing some various metals on top of the car to make up for the weight loss. He was still happy with it, so I was happy with it.

Rachael followed most of the kids right up to the sidelines. She’s sitting with her friend, Michael, here. His older brother was in the race as well. I’m friends with their mom too – it’s always nice to have friends that have kids around the same ages! Although, my friend is lucky – that’s her youngest! I’ve still got a few years ahead of me before my youngest is in Kindergarten!

As much fun as it is to watch the boys race their own cars, I think they all enjoyed watching ALL the cars race. Making an event of creating a custom car and then racing it on a cool tall track with a lever that releases them together while a crowd of people stands by oohing, ahhing, and cheering them on? Seriously, I think Cub Scouts might exist JUST for this.

The Slam Dunk

Getting ready for another go. Check out the green car in Lane 1, and the CHEESE in Lane 2. Everyone loved the cheese, every time he finished first, you’d hear “CHEESE!”

Cameron trying to satiate the PICKUPMEMOM Monster. Side note: This poor guy was home from work today – he actually called in sick. Something he never does usually. But every time he gets sick, he ends up with pneumonia. His chest was already not feeling quite right so he called and went in for an impromptu appointment. Came home with a certified your-life-sucks paper that read: Sinusitis + Asthmatic bronchitis with acute exacerbation. (Except they wrote it in all caps, screamed it at you off the paper. I took the volume down for you guys.) Gotta love tehsick. He’s now recovering with Super Sudafed – the real kind, that apparently you can craft fancy things with – and good ol’ prednisone. And his inhaler of course. On the bright side, the girls… who gave it to him in the first place, (sorry Daddy!) are quickly healing. Chuck has a runny nose still, and all three give off the occasional cough, but it’s definitely letting up.

BROWNIE POINTS ALERT: During his “sick day”, Cameron kept Chuck with him so I could go to my Quilting Society class alone, and even picked up Rachael from school so I could stay the full 3 hours! #dreamboat Does this make me a bad person?

It was a fun night, albeit a little on the long side, and all the poor younger siblings in the crowd were starting to lose it. Or maybe that was just mine? Moaning and sitting, yet getting excited each time a trio took off on the track. Duncan got a “best construction” award for his car (with Lego Movie construction legos – all the awards were punny). All in all, it was a fun night and everyone (sans Mommy) enjoyed a HUGE ice cream sandwich at the end.

Disclaimer: Excuse the fuzziness on that sweet face, I took this last photo with my phone’s camera (read: HORRID LITTLE BOX THING THAT TAKES ILLEGIBLE PHOTOS AND VIDEO) so I could send it out via text, and it’s not the best. Yet it’s the only one where he has something on his face resembling a smile – go figure!

Prep Day

I think most of you know that I’m the 2nd Counselor in the Young Women‘s Presidency at my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Well, because I also LOVE to bake cupcakes, I tend to get called upon when it’s time to serve goodies. (Oh darn!) We are hosting the stake dance at our meetinghouse this weekend, and I’ve been asked to make 150 cupcakes for part of the refreshments!

I made some adjustments to my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and have hopefully (fingers crossed!) got the kinks worked out making the batter in tripled amounts. Can you imagine 13 dozen cupcakes, one batch at a time… neither can my mixer! So today is my tester day. Sometimes recipes won’t work properly when they’re halved, doubled, and so forth. But so far, so good!

I’ll be prepping for my baking day by measuring out my dry ingredients, measuring out some of my wet ingredients – that way making the batter itself won’t take as long as it usually does. It’ll just be a matter of mixing things together, not measuring, scooping, and so forth.

I’m also going to make my frosting ahead of time and see how that works out. Since my recipes are vegan, I have to be careful with over mixing. I make sure to use a dairy-free butter substitute in my buttercream that does NOT have water listed as the first ingredient. While I’ve found that substitutes like accidentally-vegan Blue Bonnet Light (where water is the first ingredient) will work for baking, it cannot keep from separating in something like buttercream. I personally use Earth Balance, which has an oil-blend as the first ingredient and it whips up just like real butter would in a buttercream recipe.

Here’s my go-to recipe for buttercream:

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


1/2 cup Earth Balance “butter”

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

about 1 teaspoon (or more to reach desired consistency) coconut almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

Directions: Whip together the Earth Balance and shortening. Add confectioner’s sugar (confectioners’ sugar?) and mix together. Add vanilla and salt, and slowly add coconut almond milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. It won’t take much, don’t over pour! Frost cupcakes (or anything that tastes good with frosting, right?!) and enjoy!