I decided to finally take the plunge into YouTube. My little nerdlings have been posting ridiculously (pretty terrible, lol) I’m-a-kid videos for quite some time. Minecraft playthroughs and Duncan even took his viewers out to see the chickens at one point. Gotta love it.

Recently, I’ve been scrapbooking and slowly falling in love with the Project Life method. You slip stuff in. You can do it easy peasy, no fuss – or you can add to it. The fact that there’s not a huge layout process that takes over a room of my house for six months is SO. NICE. SO SO SO NICE.

That being said, it takes a lot to get my butt in gear sometimes and the only one I’ve completed is of our time in Legoland California. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure photos will be back to the traditional Creative Memories style, simply because I have all the materials and our previous Disney trip is in that one already. (And that album definitely has room to grow!)

I decided to record a flip through and (terribly) add music and transitions. I won’t go into details but I’m really not thrilled with YouTube’s on board transitions. And what is with my camera and the spaz-out auto focus? Ugh. Not my favorite. But it is what it is and I did it! Woo! Achievement unlocked. ;-)

For those interested, you can see the photos from the video here and here.


(Link for those that can’t see the video:



Side note: I gave a talk this Sunday in church. It’s been a while and it felt better than I remembered. I was given a specific topic (gratitude for Prophets) but I’m not really sure it was super clear. I’m sure a lot was heard and pondered (ideally) but whether or not it clicked in their brains as the topic given, I don’t know. Probably doesn’t matter. I felt great giving the talk, shared a cute Liv story, tons of scriptures and General Authorities quotes, but really what seemed clear to me, may not have been to others. ENTER OVERTHINKING. Anyway – talk went well, and whether or not my actual assigned topic got across, I got love from many members of the ward, so I know they at least enjoyed it.

So, while I specifically avoided the cheeky “for those of you who don’t know me…” opening in my talk yesterday – you’ll have to just deal with life today. Which leads me to…

For those of you who don’t know me in person, aren’t family, or are the random mystery person that stumbles upon my little nook of the internet (ahem, right.) – I’m the oldest of seven kids. We all have our individual lives at this point but are still fairly close and in touch. My brother lives in Washington and has his own blog which he updates on a much more consistent basis then I do. He and his wife are so sweet, I love them. (Hi Laura!) (Okay – hi, Dan, you too.)

In the spirit of sibling rivalry, I’ve been mulling over why this is. Yes, being a wife and mom is full time job; yes, I’m busy with church/library/school volunteer work; and yes, all the rest of the crap in my life takes time. But Dan is definitely busy too – he’s working a fairly new, full-time, awesome job that allows him to support his family. He and his wife go on adventures, takes pictures, make posts. WHY NOT ME, guys? He even has a new side job. He’s taking the cake.

Anyway – I think my personal issue (the largest at least) is back to that thing I’ve talked about before. This process of overthinking, over-stressing, and the never ending perfectionist battle. In my ripe, old age of 29 – I have many years to go – I’ve noticed that it doesn’t get easier with age. There are now more things in my control for me to be anxious over! Bleh, whodathunk? Regardless of this, I’ve noticed that allowing things to just be… can be helpful. Did I clean out the older kids’ dressers this weekend while they were gone? Yes – it felt good. Did they notice? They’re not blind and they don’t fold clothes so that’s a stupid question, they must have noticed. Unless they believe it’s the same person who leaves buckets of mystery water on the bathroom counter overnight and never flushes the toilet or – Cameron’s favorite – someone that “breaks into the house to leave string cheese wrappers on the family room floor and then leave”. I highly doubt they believe in this mysterious, obnoxious person – so we’ll assume they noticed it. Neither of them said anything, and that’s okay. I’m not sure how please Liv was to find it that way anyway, oops. BUT! I didn’t tell them they had to keep it that way. I didn’t check on it and fix it like I impulsively always want to do – baby steps! It was just a nice little refresh for the closets. (And my sanity.)

So while I’m open to trying this out online too, it won’t be… easy? Comfortable? Bah – such is life. It’ll work out. This will probably mean less posts about my traditional child-centered posts like Charlie’s new fart-announcement habit and more posts about (maybe) the fact that Linkle has arrived. Or maybe that I’m feeling pretty crappy about my disintegrated 5-year-vegan-bakery-plan. Or that my character on Skyrim seriously took out some rockin’ baddies the other day and I feel pretty daggum good about it. Or even that I might have… FINALLY posted a YouTube video. None of those things may interest you, as my reader, but ultimately this blog is for me. The closer I come to understanding that, the closer I am to fully being okay with just being me. Even in this tiny little portion of the web. And if I’m okay with me, my posts and content will improve. And I would assume that would account for better reading and more consistent posting. It’s all connected. It’ll work. Right?

And let’s be honest. We’re still gonna talk about Charlie’s fart announcements.


This won’t make for much of a post, but here it is anyway. After all, I was a pinch on the slacky side last week! It all works out in the end, right?

We didn’t do much last week, basically more of the same. Though we did have Library Day at Duncan and Rachael’s school. That was fun! Last year I was just a volunteer for the school’s library and I was in pretty frequently. It’s completely volunteer/parent organization run and this is the first year that I’ve signed on as Library Co-Coordinator. It’s really been nice, to be honest. It can get hectic, there are six grades, and the olders tend to all maul each other over a few favored series, but we’re working on the kinks. But on Friday, it went pretty well! The older kids are enjoyable because not only are they opinionated but they’re capable of carrying out the act of looking for what they want mostly on their own. Whereas the others are all DEFINITELY still opinionated, just not quite so capable! It’s especially fun when we have a very particular want from a Kindergartner and they can’t even read the titles to help look! We have a few little boys that will set their minds on a topic, ie Dump Truck or Dinosaur Fossils, but any and all similar topics: “PFFT – HOW DARE YOU. I wanted a DUMP TRUCK book, not a cars, tractor, train, construction, any other vehicle book you have book.” They’re mostly sweet about it, but it definitely does get me on my feet and learning our books!

In other news, I pretty simply want every single outfit Felicity Smoak is ever pictured in on Arrow. And, OMGOSHATOM! Kinda stoked. (Yes, we’re behind. We’re currently in Season 3 via Netflix.)

Speaking of things that are smoakin’… (punny!)

Dinner tonight was simple but good. Mexican Bubble Pizza, though the recipe definitely needs an upgrade. It’s one of those Pillsbury recipes that revolves around things they make. Ours is also simplified because my kids are turning into picky eaters. Well, at least the younger two as of late.

Tonight’s (doubled recipe) basically consisted of:

2 cans large biscuits (ripped into 8 pieces each and balled up) [also: each serving of this meal was 524 calories – mainly because of these calorie-heavy biscuits – imagine it with cheese! eesh.]

1lb-ish homemade shredded pork from the crockpot (leftovers from pulled pork sandwiches a couple of nights ago that was bagged and frozen for later use)

2 cans of condensed tomato soup

4 TBS WinCo bulk taco seasoning

1-1/2 cups water

I slow-thawed the meat through the morning and afternoon, and when it came time to make dinner I threw it in a cast iron pan with the water, seasoning, and soup. Bring to a boil, simmer for 3 minutes. I think I simmered mine for longer, I felt like it was suuuuper watery at first and wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be Mexican Bubble Bread Soup.

While that’s simmering, rip the biscuits up. This is annoying. And kind of gross when the biscuits aren’t homemade. What are the little beads in their? Buttermilk solids? Butter-flavored shortening flakes, iunno? Throw them all in a 9×13. You may want to ball them up just a little to help with them immediately trying to stick back together.

After your liquid and meat mixture has simmered and thickened, pour it on top of the dough balls and mix gently. I used a spatula and almost folded it all together like you would egg whites. Or other things that require folding. Then pop it in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 23 minutes. Liquid should be bubbling and biscuits baked.

Normal people would then add cheese (I don’t eat dairy), chopped olives (we were out), chopped green onions (didn’t feel like answering, “What ARE these?”), salsa (HA, nice try. Meet Rachael.), and sour cream (again, I don’t eat dairy). I guess I should add, I could have offered things individually, like the cheese and sour cream at least. But I forgot sour cream while grocery shopping and I really REALLY didn’t want 5 people microwaving their food because their cheese wasn’t baked on their dinner. Mama makes one meal. Don’t like it? Don’t eat. It became a low-key, but yummy, dinner.

Charlotte ended up eating a few bites of biscuits and all of her corn. Complained the entire time – but she did it! She’s a work in progress. But Rachael ate it all and didn’t complain that it was “too spicy” until well into her second helping.

Achievement Unlocked! Try it, you might like it…

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.]