Friday, November 22, 2013

The Big Move

First, I am beyond thrilled to be out of the townhome we were renting. Seriously. Beyond thrilled.

Why, you may ask? It was a decent amount of space and the rent was quite low. We had great neighbors on one side of us. Why would we be so eager to leave?

Why not?!

We have a lengthy list of reasons we left. The most serious grievances we have/had with the complex are their complete failure to perform maintenance in a remotely timely manner and their refusal to effectively treat our unit (and building) for a bed bug infestation.

Yup. Bed bugs. For real. Mainly in Amy's room, which meant she was getting bitten to pieces by the bugs on a nightly basis. Arms, legs, and occasionally face. My poor, sweet little girl who began crying out in the middle of the night because the bugs were coming for her and she was terrified.

I doubt I need to relate my immediate transformation into my Mama Bear self. Probably isn't hard to imagine. They insisted on having the pest company use chemical sprays, despite my research that the sprays are ineffective because they don't kill the eggs. They claimed they were using an additive that restricts the bugs' growth cycle, and that after a few treatments, they would be unable to reproduce. Except that my research discovered that the particular chemical needs to be sprayed every two weeks, and we were pulling teeth to get them to come out once a month. Oh, and that pesky little fact that the other units in the building weren't being treated, so the bugs could leave and come back at will. Yeah.

Grossed out yet? I know I am!

In addition to our lovely parasite problem, we had an issue with a nasty sewer smell invading our unit on a regular basis. We'd noticed the smell less than a week after moving in (more than 18 months ago) and had reported it. They basically twiddled their thumbs and told us to flush the drain in the laundry room with water. Yeah...that was helpful. (Not.) So we've had this pretty constant stench that starts in the basement and then works its way through the house via the ventilation system.

So....needless to say, we wanted OUT. And now we are! We're renting a house! An actual, for real, house. I don't share a wall with ANYONE for the first time in years! We're all pretty excited. (Although it's a little bittersweet since the house we're now renting was being rented by our very good friends, who moved to Utah.)

Pictures to come soon once we get unpacked and make the place look nice!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yes, it's really been THAT long.

And yes, I'm slightly embarrassed.

As you can probably imagine, there's been a lot going on in our house. In addition to grieving for Hannah, we've had all our "normal" stuff going on, too.

What does that mean? Well, it means:

-Visits from family (3 out of 4 sisters and their families!)
-Visits TO family (a fun 4th of July in Ohio with 2 out of 3 of Brett's siblings)
-Visits with friends
-Missouri Children's Burn Camp
-Amy's 3rd birthday (featuring a Tangled/Rapunzel theme)
-Laura's 27th birthday
-Brett & Laura's 6th wedding anniversary
-start of fall semester

In addition to the fun stuff, we've had a few bouts of illness, including Amy & David dealing with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease and Brett and I struggling with pneumonia at the beginning of the semester. Perfect timing, right?

I've got a ton of catching up to do, so I will try to put together a few posts. No promises, though, since thanks to that fun week of pneumonia I'm behind on my schoolwork.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Suffering in Silence

I am NOT one to suffer in silence. I don't cope well that way. I definitely need time to myself, but I also need access to people I love and trust, so that I can talk when I'm ready.

The more I learn about miscarriages, the more I learn how often women suffer through this in silence. Often a woman miscarries early enough she hasn't announced the pregnancy yet. I had a miscarriage like that in December of this past year. I hadn't even told Brett I was pregnant yet. I tried to deal with it myself, only to end up sobbing in the middle of the grocery store the next day. (That wasn't embarrassing at all...)

Statistically speaking, one in four women experience at least one miscarriage. Some of them are so early, the woman doesn't even know she's pregnant. Most of them are before a heartbeat is detected. A few of them, like mine, are after a heartbeat is seen.

And most women suffer silently.

How many women in my life have experienced the pain of a miscarriage or a stillbirth? I'm not entirely sure, because for some reason, this topic seems to be taboo. Either we want to spare the grieving mother the pain of talking about her child, or we want to spare ourselves the discomfort of talking about a loss we can't fully understand.

Because you can't fully understand it. No matter how many losses you've experienced, or when, everyone grieves differently. Everyone experiences a loss differently. Some don't want to talk about it. Some want to try to forget about it.

I'm not one of those people.

Despite the brevity of my pregnancy, Hannah was and is very much a real person to me. She's not some abstract concept. She's not a lost pregnancy. She is my daughter, and she died. I never got to see her, other than on the ultrasound. I don't have pictures of her. I never got to hold her, or kiss her. But that doesn't make her any less my daughter.

She will not be forgotten or replaced. She has a name. If you talk with me about this difficult experience, please use her name. It is more hurtful to me to feel like she is being minimized or ignored by not acknowledging the name we gave her.

As hard as it is, and as much as I miss her, I know some day I'll finally get to hold my little Hannah. Some day I'll get to hug her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her, and how much I've missed her. Until then, I will remember her.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I've taken a long hiatus from this and my other blog. It began with the end of the semester approaching, which is always stressful and requires a ton of work. Then, a happy discovery: we found out we were pregnant, expecting a new baby Christmas Eve of this year. My morning sickness was extremely severe, and I had a hard time keeping food or drink down, let alone trying to move off the couch.

May 30th I had an ultrasound at a prenatal appointment with my midwife. I got to see our little baby, complete with a strong heartbeat and some fetal movement. We had waited to announce the pregnancy until seeing a heartbeat since I had an early miscarriage in December. Since the heartbeat was present, we announced the pregnancy to our family and friends shortly thereafter.

My morning sickness was still very severe, and I ended up in the ER for dehydration on June 10th. I was sent up to the maternity center where I got 2 liters of fluids (after 5 different attempts at an IV...I was really dry!) and some anti-nausea medication. I was looking good, so they started my discharge paperwork. They'd mentioned wanting to do an ultrasound to check on the baby, so I reminded them about it to see if they still wanted to. The nurse practitioner said yes and returned quickly with the ultrasound machine.

I'd been laughing and joking the whole time, trying to keep the situation light since really, who actually wants to be in the hospital? A longtime friend had gone with me so Brett could stay home with the kids. The nurse practitioner started the ultrasound with all of us still laughing. I made some offhanded comment about how all I wanted was to see the heartbeat and make sure it hadn't gone anywhere. The nurse practitioner got really quiet...which is, of course, never a good sign.

After what felt like several minutes of the NP, me, and Shannon all staring at the screen, the NP said that she wasn't seeing a heartbeat. She went and got another nurse to look with her and confirm that, indeed, the heart was no longer beating.

I can't begin to describe how that moment felt. I know several family members and close friends have experienced similar tragedies.

The next day I had a follow-up with my midwife to discuss my options. After some of the information she gave me, I really felt impressed that I was supposed to have a D&C (dilation and curettage), despite the fact it was a surgical procedure. My midwife referred me to an OB she was used to working with in situations like mine. I'd actually heard of him before, as he'd come up in my research to find a natural childbirth-friendly OB.

Thursday, June 13 I had an appointment with Dr. Gosser. He and his staff had worked hard to get me in quickly. I was (and am) incredibly impressed with him and his nursing staff. They were extremely gentle and kind. Dr. Gosser spoke with me far longer than I've ever spent with a doctor before--20 minutes in the exam room, followed by an ultrasound to verify the findings in the ER, and then about 20 more minutes of conversation as we again discussed my options. I told Dr. Gosser that I felt sure the D&C was the right choice, so we set the procedure for the next morning at 7am. My mother-in-law, Barbara, arrived from Ohio that afternoon to help with the kids and the house while I was out of commission.

Brett and I had to be at the hospital at 5:30am the next morning. My nurses worked hard to get an IV in me (again!), which I found mildly annoying. Usually I have really great veins, but apparently I was still pretty dehydrated, so my veins were pretty small and fickle. After several sticks from 3 different nurses, they finally managed to get an IV in. Right on time, Dr. Gosser came in to speak to us briefly before I was taken back to the OR, and he prayed with us. They took me back to the OR and the anesthesiologist put me to sleep pretty quickly. I remember him telling me he was giving me something to relax, almost immediately feeling sleepy, and teasingly telling him and the head OR nurse good night.

I started coming out of the fog of anesthesia in the recovery room. I remember knowing something was wrong because I felt horrible, and even without my glasses on, I could see several people swarming around my gurney. I was still really groggy and everything was spinning, and I was shaking badly from the anesthesia, but I knew something wasn't right, and dang it, I wanted to know what was going on. Apparently I was pretty feisty in the way I demanded information, but they were really evasive at first. After a few tries, the nurse told me my blood pressure had dropped because I had lost more blood than they'd expected during the surgery. With a blood pressure of 76/45, things weren't looking too hot! They were running fluids into me as fast as they could to try to bump up my blood pressure. I was in recovery for about 2 hours, much longer than expected, while they tried to stabilize my blood pressure. Finally they took me back to my room where Brett was waiting. I was so happy to see him! Being really out of it when things are going wrong is scary. I'm not a fan of being on that end of the issue.

I started feeling a little better, but was still having trouble with my blood pressure. Every time I would stand (or try to), my blood pressure would drop and I felt like I was going to pass out. I was really not thrilled, especially since it meant that I was relegated to a bedpan. :( Yuck. I detest bedpans. I had really hoped to avoid it, but after trying to get up twice and failing miserably, it was pretty much the only option at the time.

A few hours and 4 liters of fluid later, my blood pressure finally was staying up and I got to walk to the bathroom. Woo hoo! After passing that final test, I got to go home, with strict orders to rest and a prescription for iron pills. Despite losing 2 pints of blood, my blood counts were high enough my doctor didn't feel a blood transfusion was necessary. So, iron pills. And lots of fatigue.

Physically, I'm doing...okay. It's still hard, and if I walk too much (apparently a shopping trip to Target is too much right now) I start cramping badly. But for the most part, my body is healing--just not as quickly as I'd like. I'm impatient, and I want to be back to my normal self, not huffing and puffing after walking up a flight of stairs or needing to take a nap in the afternoon.

Emotionally....well, I'm not really sure what to say about that. It's hard. Really hard. Harder than I thought it would be. Dr. Gosser said they recommend choosing a name for the baby to help with closure and the grief process. That was really tough. I'd felt for several weeks that this baby was a girl, almost as strongly as I'd known who Amy was before I even knew I'd conceived her. I'd picked out a name for her already, although Brett hadn't been convinced yet, especially since he was convinced the baby would be a boy. But to me, the baby was a girl, and her name was Hannah Noelle.

The pain of this loss continues to surprise me, as does the range of emotions I experience. Pain, sadness, loneliness, disbelief, guilt. I know they're part of the grief process. I know I need to feel these things in order to grieve properly. But it's the strength of the feelings that really surprises me. I'll be fine one minute, and then something will trigger inside me and those feelings come rushing back.

Part of what's so hard about this is that well-meaning people make some really hurtful comments. I know I'm young, and that we can keep trying. I know I'm blessed to already have two beautiful children. I know that something was likely wrong with the baby that would have prevented her from leading a normal life, if she could have even survived to birth. I know God has a plan for us and is mindful of me. It may be that losing the baby later in my pregnancy would have been harder for me.

But these things, this knowledge, does not make the experience any easier, or the pain any less. Regardless of the brevity of my pregnancy, I knew that child. I loved her, I wanted her, I was excited to have her. She was MY child, and now she's gone, and nothing I could have done can change that. And I miss her.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Disease Called "Perfection"

Quite some time ago, I read a post on a blog I frequent entitled The Disease Called "Perfection" (this link is to an updated version of the original post).

I cried.

I just read the updated post, and guess what?

I cried.

Now, people who are close to me know that I cry pretty easily. As in, at the drop of a hat. I always have. But this particular post hit incredibly close to home. Why? Because, like so many people, I suffer from this "disease". I fight it, and I fight it hard. But still this disease haunts me.

I think the idea of perfection is especially prevalent in Mormon culture. We're taught from an early age that we're commanded to be perfect, although we know we won't attain that in this life. But the striving is there. And striving to be perfect isn't necessarily a bad thing. But the need to appear perfect is dangerous.

How often do I take on more than I can really handle, because I want to appear a certain way? To appear to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect student, the perfect....whatever.

How often do I say what is expected of me but don't really mean it, because I want to appear kind and sweet and agreeable?

How often am I disingenuous because I want to appear "perfect"? How often do I pretend that I'm happy with my body the way it is, because admitting I have a lot of weight to lose would be admitting imperfection?

How often do I pretend everything is fine, when in reality I can feel my depression creeping back up on me, because to admit weakness would be to admit imperfection?

Fortunately, the answers to these questions are: far less often than I used to. I have fought long and hard to be ME. Just me. Not a perfect (fake) version of me. The real me, complete with my insecurities, foibles, flaws, weaknesses.

I am not perfect.

I lose my temper with my kids and my husband. I slack off as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter. I hate my body, not because of my scars, but because of my weight. I feel fat and ugly, and I am terrified to make the changes I know I need to. I feel inadequate as a wife and mother. I feel like I should be doing more, I should BE more.

But I'm not. This is who I am. Yes, I keep striving for that unattainable perfection. But I don't obsess over it, and I try really hard not to present a facade to others.

Do you suffer from this "disease"? How does the pressure to appear perfect affect your life?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quick Update

There's so much going on these days, so, a quick update:

  • School is going great--lots of reading and papers to write, but I'm doing really well and enjoying it. And I'm not horribly stressed out, either!
  • We went to Ohio to visit Brett's parents over President's Day. It was low-key, but we really enjoy spending time with them. Now they're visiting us!
  • We went to the Burns Recovered Support Group bowling party today. It was fun to see everyone. I always enjoy these get-togethers, because I know so many great people from camp and don't get to see them often.
  • I started a new blog! I've been wanting to post about some of the "hippy" stuff I'm into these days, but thought this wasn't the best place for that. Thus, a new blog was born! 

So, keeping very busy here! Here are some recent pictures of the tiny people. Enjoy!

David playing at the park on a remarkably warm day:

A couple of shots of Amy & David watching the Blues practice. Let's go Blues!

Pirate Captain Amy at the grocery store:

Pirate Captain David:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beauty is...

I've been involved with Burns Recovered Support Group for quite a few years now. I've had some really incredibly opportunities to volunteer with this group and to be involved with various projects.

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a photo shoot featuring burn survivors. These photos, beautifully taken, show our beauty in spite of, and because of, our burn injuries. I feel so blessed to have the privilege of being part of this incredible project. There were over 30 models, including myself and my younger sister. These photos will be put together in a book along with some information about each person and will be available for purchase. Stay tuned for information about the book, as well as a fabulous kick-off party to come!

Sneak peek of my pictures, one of which will be featured in the book:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Fun!

I am the first to admit that I'm really not that into football. It takes too long. You get 10, maybe 20 seconds of action, and then a couple of minutes of nothing while everyone lines back up, repeat ad nauseum. So, not my favorite.

But, I LOVE a good excuse to have a party! I just adore spending time with friends over some incredibly yummy food. Who wouldn't?!

This year, Brett and the kids and I went down to our friends, Liz & Dustin's new house. (Which, by the way, is incredible.) I made buffalo chicken dip and attempted a version of crab rangoon (with mixed results), and also took down some Lofthouse cookies. Liz made a cheeseball, 7-layer dip (which I think of as her trademark, because she always does an amazing job), and little Smokies. We all ate ourselves silly while the menfolk watched the game and Liz and I "watched" the game. (Read: caught up on girl-talk.)

At one point, David apparently managed to snag one of the kids' plates from the table, and was face-first in it. I guess my son is also a fan of Little Smokies!

But really, with that face, who could get upset? He was so proud of himself. It was seriously cute, and no real damage was done to clothes or floor.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ooooooh, I'm so "artsy"!

Okay, maybe not.

BUT...I DID make a new banner for the blog! It's the first time I've even attempted to do something vaguely artsy on the computer, so I'm pretty proud of myself!

Granted, I kept the same look from the one Heather made me, but I just love the way it looks. And, I'm really bad at picking color combinations. So, it works.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Dear Jackie

I don't hate you. I don't think you're a terrible person. I bear you no ill will at all. I'm not angry with you.

I forgive you.

I forgive you for not being a better parent. I forgive you for your involvement, whether it was direct or indirect, in the abuse that I endured. I forgive you for making mistakes. I forgive you for not protecting me as you should have.

I used to hate you. I used to be so angry with you. I have wished and hoped so often that a special level of hell was reserved for you and people like you, who either harm their children or allow them to be harmed by others. I used to hope some horrible tragedy would befall you, because in my mind, it would have served you right. I thought horrible things.

I was wrong to do so. I hope you can forgive me for that.

But forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. Forgiving doesn't mean I want you back in my life. I don't. I have a mom, and you are not her. I have sisters, and your children are not them. I have a family, and you are not part of it. I don't say that to be mean. It is what it is.

You are not part of my life, nor do I want you to be. As I have stated to 2 of your children, I do not want contact with you or your family. Not because I hate you, because I don't. But because when it comes right down to it, I have no feelings towards you. I don't know you. And I don't owe you anything. In many ways, I feel sorry for you. You missed out. You missed out on being a part of my life. You'll never get that back.

I know you read my blog, as you've commented on several posts over the past year or so. Please stop. No contact with you means no contact, including responses on my blog. I hope you respect me enough as a person to abide by my wishes.

Ah, at season!

I wasn't always a hockey fan. We didn't watch it growing up, and I always had the (correct) impression that it's an incredibly violent sport. But, when I was considering marrying Brett, I was introduced to hockey and the passion for it that exists in his family (mainly, Brett and Barbara, my mother-in-law). I have a hunch that I was undergoing some sort of test to see if I could hack being married to an obsessive hockey fan. We watched the playoffs that year at Brett's parents' house. The only team I recognized in the playoffs were the Ducks, thanks to the Mighty Ducks movies, so I decided to cheer for them. As it happened, they actually won the Stanley Cup that year, so it was a good introduction to the sport!

I quickly became a fan of the sport, owing mostly to the fast pace of the game. I LOVE how fast hockey is. The movement is constant and fluid. There are a couple of breaks here and there, but it's not the constant stop-and-go pace of football or baseball. There is always something happening. Things can change in a matter of seconds (or sometimes tenths of a second). It's fascinating! And you have to admire guys who can be on the ice for that long, skating, taking and delivering hits, occasionally fighting, and sprinting up and down the ice after pucks. Really. It's impressive.

Long story short, I'm nearly as obsessive as Brett is these days, with a pretty thorough knowledge of the rules and intricacies of the sport. I was pretty hacked off when the lockout happened, yes, I despise Gary Bettman like any good hockey fan, and I'm so glad they're finally playing again!

Brett sent a link to me today to a story about a "guide" put up on the New York Rangers' website. "A Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers" was full of really obnoxious, patronizing remarks, including referring to female hocky fans as "Puck Bunnies" and using language that was patronizing at best. I automatically am irritated when I feel like I'm being talked to (or written to) like I'm stupid.

I pointed out to Brett that I, a woman (gasp), know just as much about the sport as the majority of male fans do, possibly barring the really obsessed ones like himself. We then proceeded to have a hockey-centric conversation including names of various players, injuries and recovery periods, and the comments I make during games we watch.

I'm embracing it. I'm a hockey fan. (And hockey fans aren't like other fans.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Being busy and remembering Dad

Wow, this past week or so has been crazy busy! I finally was accepted into University of Missouri-St. Louis, so I had a lot to do before the semester starts. I managed to get enrolled and get my financial aid taken care of, get my books, and attend a transfer orientation. At the orientation I spoke with a student rep from the Honors College, and after discussing it with Brett, decided to apply to the Honors College as well. In keeping with the dizzying pace of the last week or so, my application and writing samples were rushed through in a day, and I met with an honors adviser yesterday for an informal interview. At the conclusion of the interview (which was actually highly enjoyable and thought-provoking), my adviser welcomed me into the Honors College, and helped me sign up for an honors course (which involved dropping Bioethics, a fact I'm a little bummed about). My acceptance is contingent on good letters of recommendation (which I have no worries about), and continued good performance in my classes this semester.

Whew! Thank goodness classes don't start until next week!

Yesterday was the anniversary of my dad's passing. He died January 17th, 1999. Naturally, I always think of  him a lot around this time of year, but it seemed especially poignant this year for a couple of reasons.

First, as part of my application to the Honors College, I had to submit 2 writing samples. One of the samples I chose to submit was a poem that I wrote a couple of years after Dad died. My writing it was actually pretty random, because it was one day at school when we had those stupid standardized tests. I finished way early (as usual), and words just started popping into my head. I wrote them down and later posted them on a writing website I had joined. The poem has remained largely the same, with one major revision a few years ago. I love it, because I can still feel those emotions every time I read it, and I felt it was honestly one of my better writing samples that wasn't done for a school project.

The other reason I was thinking of Dad a lot is more personal. I have so many regrets about my relationship with my dad. I was so young when he died, and I always felt like I had been such a disappointment to him. I was smart, but I didn't apply myself. I was in trouble so often. He was always having to discipline me. There were some good times, but I'm sad to say that I have more negative memories than good ones. In recent years especially, as I've grown up and matured, I've fervently wished he were he and could see me be proud of me. I know he looks in on me from time to time, but how I wish he could stand by my side, give me a big hug, and tell me how proud he is of me! I have worked so hard these past few years, not just to make Dad proud, or other people proud, but so that I can be satisfied with and proud of my own accomplishments. And part of the reason for that is my history with Dad.

I do have good memories of him, too, and I cherish those memories. I wish we'd had more time together. I am so grateful to have been sealed to my family in the temple, and to know that I can be together with all of them again.

A couple of Christmases after Dad died, my mom gave us a copy of a letter he'd written as part of an assignment for something at church. The last line was, "Goodbye, my dear ones. Parting is hard, but our reunion will be sweet." That line is firmly embedded in my mind, and how true it is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I think I was so busy with a new baby last year that I didn't actually set any resolutions. Or if I did, I either didn't write them down or I just can't find them. Big mistake on my part. :)

I've really been thinking about what my goals for this year should be. There are a lot of really good and great things I could pursue. There's so much I have on my plate, and so much more that I want to do!

I've been thinking a lot lately about my family, specifically my relationships with  my family. And to be honest, I find them lacking. Because in a lot of cases, I don't have much of a relationship with them. The blame is laid squarely at my feet, because to be honest, I don't put a lot of effort in. And it really is difficult to admit that.

It's not because I don't love my family. I do, very much. One of my most treasured memories is of our family together in the Chicago temple when I was sealed to them (and later when Chandra was sealed to us). I want to be with them for eternity, and I look forward to that.

In the case of my older sisters, it's kind of explainable. I was so young when they left home, and believe me, I was incredibly obnoxious as a child. (And that's an understatement.) So to be honest, I really don't know them. I've put forth some effort, but not as much as I should.

Granted, I'm busy. I'm a wife and a mom to 2 young kids, in addition to going to school and church activities and social activities and everything else that seems to accumulate in the lives of a young family. But that doesn't really excuse me.

I want to be close to my family. I want to have friendly, comfortable relationships with them. And I know that has to start with me.

So I have one resolution this year, because I want my entire focus to be on this.

This year, I will focus every possible energy on developing my relationships with my family. I will initiate contact because I genuinely want to. I will ask questions because I genuinely want to know the answers. Because I want to get to know them. Because how can I have a genuine relationship with someone I don't really know?

I know I won't be perfect. I'll probably still forget to send a birthday card to a couple of people. I'll try not to forget. My dedication will probably wane towards the end of semesters when I'm frantically finishing schoolwork. But the least I can do is try.

So, Johnsons (and Minsters--you guys are getting included, too!)--be prepared. I may ask you some really stupid questions. By the end of the year, it's quite possible that you'll be completely sick of me. But I promise that I'll know you better than I do now! And who knows, you may even decide you like it! ;)

Excuses, excuses

I know I need to write a blog post about the holidays, blah blah blah.

I'm tired.

Brett, David, and I were violently ill for 24 hours, and I'm still extremely fatigued.

Holidays stress me out. A TON.

I'm trying to fix a last-minute bungle by the community college so I can still enroll in the university this semester, and it's not going well.

I'm a big ball of stress. I'm exhausted. And it's probably not going to end soon.

I'll do a blog post when I don't want to just crawl under the covers and sleep for the next three days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vanilla Body Lotion Bar--a tutorial

Holy cow! Another tutorial! I know you're all just teeming with excitement. As my mom would say, "Keep your panties dry!" (And yes, I really did just type that. I might regret it later.)

As part of the Christmas gifts I gave/sent to my siblings and in-laws, I included 2 little bars of vanilla body lotion. I saw a tutorial for these on Pinterest, and though it was a cool idea. So. My tutorial, very slightly adapted from this tutorial by Sarah over at Frugal by Choice.

First, you need your ingredients, which I did not take a picture of. Shame on me.

~ 1 part grated beeswax
~ 1 part sweet almond oil
~ 1 part coconut oil (solid at room temp)
~ vanilla essential oil

I used a cup each of the oils and the beeswax. I had some grated already from the lip gloss I made last year, so I only had to grate a little. An important note here: DO NOT use a good grater to grate beeswax. You will not be able to use it for anything else after grating beeswax with it. Trust me on this one.

First, completely melt your beeswax in a double boiler over medium heat.

Add your almond oil. It'll sort of harden the beeswax up a little again into white squiggly stuff. That's okay. Allow most of the squiggles to melt.

Add the coconut oil, and allow it to melt completely. Like this:

This is where I added my vanilla oil. In reality, you should allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding.

Get whatever you're putting this in ready. I bought this nifty silicone snowflake-shaped pan on sale at Joann. There are a ton of things you could put this in, though. Use your imagination!

I opted to pour the mixture into a measuring cup to control the pouring better. I highly recommend it. I just know if I'd tried to pour it straight from the bowl, it would've been everywhere.

Pour carefully. And be impressed, because I'm taking this picture one-handed on my phone while pouring.

Fill up your little molds. I filled them all the way up, you can see the surface tension on a few of them. Because I used the silicone mold, they were incredibly easy to pop out once they hardened.

Allow these to sit in the mold until completely solid. That middle row is already on its way. They don't take particularly long. Once they're solid, pop them out of your mold, and you're good to go! I put two in a little ziploc bag for each. (Like, a little jewelry-sized ziploc. They're small.)

To use: simply rub the bar on your hands (or wherever), like you would a bar of soap. The heat from your body will soften the bar enough to get some of the lotion on your skin. Then rub the lotion into the skin. This does start out feeling slightly oily, and you have to rub it in more than a light lotion. But it DOES rub in, and it's incredibly moisturizing. I use it on my feet, which are...well, I have gross feet. But this actually helps, and it rubs in better than the Eucerin I usually use. Smells nicer, too.

The next time I do these, I'll probably add more beeswax, to make them a smidge more solid. I thought they were a bit soft for my taste. So, maybe a cup & a half of beeswax.


David's Birthday Party

Brett and I decided that we wanted to do a luau for David's first birthday. Brett served a mission for our church in Hawaii, so he lived there for 2 years. In Hawaii, it's tradition to throw a (huge) luau for your child's first birthday, especially if it's a son. This comes from the old days, when it was quite an accomplishment to reach the 1-year mark, and meant you were pretty likely to survive to adulthood.

So, yeah. I was cool with it. It meant eating Polynesian food, which I dearly love, so I wasn't going to turn it down!

The "spread": Under the foil is kalua pig. Clockwise from there: potato salad, lomi lomi salmon, haupia, and macaroni salad. We also had Aloha Maids to drink (yum).

David's birthday cake, which reads "Happy birthday David" in Hawaiian.

The cake I made for my family's celebration. That would be a plumeria on top, which Brett greatly assisted with.

Admittedly, I didn't get many action shots, mainly because our camera died and so I have to rely on my cell phone. (Thank goodness I've got a smartphone now with a decent camera.)

We had a blast, though, and enjoyed celebrating with family and friends! I'm so grateful this little man is part of our family!