Monday, February 29, 2016


It never ceases to amaze me how many toys you receive for a baby and think they will be so appealing, only to have the baby be drawn to  kitchen spoons and toothpaste containers.

Her favorite toys:

  • Wipes container

  • Monkey stuffed animals

  • Darts

  • Pie tin

  • Keys

  • Waterbottle

  • Feet

  • Shuttlecock

  • Old bunny rattle with no appendages

  • Motorcycles

  • Mirrors

  • Shoes

  • Crinkly blocks

  • Fuzzy socks

Need I go on...?

And, just to drive the point home, she pays more attention to the tags on the toys than the toys themselves

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What Dads Are For

Sweet laughter

...and this is why...

No one makes this girl laugh quite like her daddy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fan of the Fan

Riley has always been an observant little girl, and the things that she decides to fixate on tend to be objects that we barely notice.

As a baby she was very fond of looking at Gma H's blanket we received when we were married that hung on the living room wall. She could look for hours at that thing, and I think if we could delve into her subconscious mind, we would see that she very nearly memorized the pattern on that thing.

Nowadays she has a sixth sense related to fans. If there is a fan in the the near vicinity, she immediately scopes it out and can sit and look at it, completely mesmerized, for full minutes at a time. She even noticed a huge fan in Costco over the produce section I never noticed before!

Mesmerized mid-push-up by the fan

I may never come to understand the draw of The Fan, but until then, I will continue to use it for its entertaining capacities.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Papa and Mimi

Having three extra mouths to feed, a crying baby pilfering sleep at night and a constantly dirty living room would be enough to drive any grandparents to the doorstep of an asylum. Mimi and Papa have  not only kept their mental health in balance, but also still seems so welcoming and happy that we are in their home. I have loved getting the chance to talk to each of them and get know them better. One of my very favorite things about living here is that Riley has had a chance to get to know her Mimi and Papa.

Riley adores them.

Favorites: Papa and Peek-a-boo

Papa nurturing a sick Riley

This man's creativity surpasses all!

Riley came to crash Mimi's work schedule :)

Shopping buddies. Riley kept looking over at Mimi as if she was happy to be doing cool stuff like shopping 

Riley currently has very big, I'm-going-to-eat-you! kind of kisses. Only Mimi stands firm and undeterred

Papa forts

One of her favorite activities: 'helping' Papa with dishes
aka play with bubbles

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Play Date

We started making friends! A woman from the other ward invited us over for a play date, so we have met up a couple times. It is fun to have something to look forward to that is kid friendly for Riley, and at the same time to see other kids, and be able to talk to a peer all in one! It is amazing how good it feels to get out and interact with people.

She has a baby that is about 9 months and a 4 year old girl who is very sweet with Riley. We have enjoyed getting to know them.

She has made me want to pay it forward and look out for other people who may be friendless or just need to get out and invite them along to something. It makes so much difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Activity Days Anticipations

I was called to be the Activity Days leader at Emily's farewell on February 13th. I wasn't sustained until today, and all I have done in the meantime has been to steep longer and longer in worry and anxiety than I never thought 8-11 year old girls could provoke.

How do I interact with these little humans? It has been so long since I have been around their age group.
How did I feel when I was there age? Is it possible to dredge up that information considering it feels like centuries ago?
I'm scarrreeddd...!

I recognize that waiting around and fantasizing about them ganging up on me and creating an Activity Day Lord of the Flies replica isn't going to help, but sitting down and actually planning has been intimidating.

So my unharnessed imagination has full reign.

I may not survive this.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Dingles

This is something that Mimi has termed 'the dingles.' At least the first one was. I'm not sure if the second one is a real chill or if she is just trying to make herself do it again...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mom Swears

As early as late December and early January, little Riley surprised us by pronouncing one word loud and clear: Mom

There's nothing quite as elevating, endearing and ego-swelling as being at the receiving end of your baby's first distinguishable word...!

Then again, there is nothing quite as deflating as to realize that instead of her repetitions of Mom being a cheering chant for the greatest parent, it turns out it is the word used in times of frustration as her favorite swear word.


We are going to work on that.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


For church today we had a stake conference broadcast, where we were able to hear from our own Chris Kurtz from the stake presidency and some general authorities (including thoughts from Elder Runland, who's talk about basic doctrines and context for commandments was great!). It was a good spiritual feeding as Chris and I traded off taking Riley out in the hall to get a short nap and some food before the journey to the east bay to see Melissa and her family. Melissa's daughter, Carrie, and her family were visiting from China, and a family gathering was called in order to see them before their departure back home to Beijing.

Remember the interview Chris had with the company in Beijing? Well, Carrie's family and the man who interviewed Chris are in the same ward in Bejing, so we would be really close to their family if we ended up taking that job! Small world! Even in China! :)

It was a fun afternoon, packed with delicious appetizers and gripping conversations with many folks, especially the explanations of living in China. They were very honest about the pros and cons of living in Beijing, and after what they said, I felt more comfortable with the idea of living across the Pacific. Especially if we would be living close to them-they are such a fun, cute little family!

Riley was especially good for being back in the car after the traumatizing effects of last weekend. She did very well both on the rides to the chapel and to the east bay (with ample entertainment from Mom and Dad) then she slept the entire way home! So happy for this girl!

Then we were able to Skype with the M.s and D's, and found out the M's will be both visiting Utah soon (just missed them!) and then moving because they sold their house!!! And we learned that Elizabeth's bed head can greatly resemble a Donald Trump hairdo.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Unpretentiously Stupendous Saturday

It seems like NorCal was forever ago (even though it was only last weekend) and having a relaxing Saturday together was so nice!

We were productive-we cleaned, got our oil changed, and I finished a book I have been reading-but most of the day was spent enjoying the nice weather with Riley and even sitting on the back porch together enjoying lunch in the beautiful weather.

We had planned on going to the library to get library cards for the both of us, but it was closed for the entirety of the President's day weekend. So instead, we sidled over to the nearby park to play a bit.

At the end of the day, it was nice to celebrate everyone feeling better after sicknesses and enjoying living in an area with perfect weather (we have to soak it in while we can!)

Friday, February 12, 2016


We had a talking to with Riley to decide when she is going to start pulling her own weight around here. We came to the conclusion that she could start helping with folding laundry.

I'm not sure that she is a fan...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Riley has been sick for the last two days.
She is rarely happy.
Sleepless nights.
Constant headache.

But I am pacing our dark room, swaying back and forth as I try once again to get this restless girl to sleep for the night. As I hum her song to her gently, her little arm hugs my triceps and she begins to sing along with me. She cuddles up to me and lays her head on my shoulder.

Have the last couple of days been hard?
I can't even remember.
I smile despite myself as I rest my cheek on her sweet, feverish head and take this all in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Unlearn the Selfish

Riley woke up at 3am Tuesday morning with a fever. Due to sporadic thermometer readings, I'm not sure of the exact intensity of the fever, but it was in the range of 100.3 and 101.2 degrees.

All of Tuesday she was lethargic and whimpered almost constantly. The only method of comfort that was effective was holding her feverish little body against my shoulder while I paced and softly sang her song to her.

She would not let me put her down, and she never got completely to sleep-she seemed very restless. Even at night, I ended up having to lay her against me in order to get her to relax at all. Every 15 minutes she would wake up crying and I would stroke her and talk gently to her to lull her back into her uneasy sleep.

Her fever broke on Thursday morning, and she was back to her cheerful self by Saturday.

Despite the fact that she really wasn't sick for that long, or even that sick, worries me a little. Because those few days were EXHAUSTING! I am very aware that if I had more kids, a more hectic schedule, or I was sick myself it would have been so much more difficult, and I am not sure how I would have gotten through these past few days!

This mom thing being a 24/7 job is starting to sink in. Awesome, yet terrifying :)

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was a thought I had on Saturday about all this. I was talking to Mimi as we were playing with little happy Riley, and she mentioned that Papa had sent her a text on Tuesday saying I had earned my angel wings because of my dedication to helping Riley feel better at my own expense. I noticed that as she said it, my mind immediately dismissed it, unwilling to take it as a compliment. I knew why too.
I responded easily to Mimi, "That is sweet of Papa to say, but really, any mom would have done the same thing."

And it is true. No mom, parent-or person in general!-would see a miserable baby and not rack their brain to find a cure, wouldn't take their time and energy doing what they could to ease their pain. It is a natural response, no matter the personal cost.

We talk quite a bit about wanting to become a better person by learning to be selfless. But honestly, in most cases, isn't the tug to help someone pretty instinctual if we see someone hurting? I think a better way to put it is we need to unlearn being selfish. The divine part of us will always have a drive to reach out to those in need, but how many times do we have a thought to reach out to someone or say something kind, and we stop ourselves? We may have had a bad experience when we have been kind, society has taught us that certain circumstances warrant certain tough love responses, or we fear making a situation worse. But if we want to be selfless, instead of learning how to do it, we just need to drop our cultural conditioning and do it.

That thought makes it feel like a much more 'obtainable' characteristic to me.

Monday, February 8, 2016


One of Riley's trademark tricks is still getting her socks off. It isn't uncommon to be going throughout the day, and finding that she all of a sudden only has one sock on!
One day we were taking a walk, and I put the little umbrella shader up so that the sun wouldn't be in her eyes. After a few minutes I pulled it back just to check on her, and I saw this:

Triumphantly holding up her sockless foot.
Riley: 1 Mom: 0
The mischief in this girl's eyes is unmistakable.


Don't worry Riley-this is exactly how I feel in Costco too

Sunday, February 7, 2016


This weekend we had the chance to go see Ben play in the NorCal band. This is a very prestigious band in Northern California where all the high school band students have an opportunity to audition for a spot, and only a small number get in. On top of that, we heard after chair auditions on Friday that Ben had gotten THIRD chair! Third chair as a sophomore out of all the band students in California is pretty awesome!

Ben in Sonoma County Honor Band last weekend
We headed up to Humboldt University (the performance site) on Saturday morning, resolute to enjoy the journey and take it slow, for Riley's sake. She did pretty well! Of course, she had her moments. I mean, what human in their right mind would want to be strapped backwards facing, unable to move much or see much for hours on end? No one, especially not our little Riley. But she did well considering.

Beautiful drive!

Once we got to the hotel, Chris and I took advantage of the extra time before dinner to introduce Riley to the Big Bath (aka the pool). She has begun to love bath time, and we were excited to see her reaction to swimming for the first time.

She wasn't all that impressed. She kicked her legs a bit, but never got super excited. Then she got mildly freaked out by the loud splashing, so it was a short venture. But its fun to have little things like swimming to look forward to because you have a little person who you get to witness experiencing it for the first time.

We then went to a fancy restaurant with Mimi and Papa. We were short on time and we had a wiggly baby by that time, but it was nice to go to a nice sit down place. We haven't done that in awhile! And the food was great! Papa let us try some of his scallops, which I have never tried before. So good!

Evidence of her super wiggly-ness:

We dashed over to the University to find seating for the performance and got the seats closest to the door (Perfect!). Riley was ok through the beginning announcements-a pretty good accomplishment considering they went on for almost half an hour!) But most of the time we had her out of the concert hall so her tired squawks wouldn't ruin the recording. I was able to watch the choir performance, and Chris watched the band. I loved the choir! I've never given choir much thought, but after how well they did and how much fun it was to listen to, I figured if Riley wanted to try it out, I would be more than willing to support it :)

We got back to the hotel, put Riley down, and set my expectations to a long night of awakenings since we were in close quarters with no noisemaker to soften noises. But I was amazed to wake up for the first time at 3am of my own accord, wondering if Riley was still there! Five hours of straight sleep?! That hasn't happened for a LONG time! Especially with her routine all mixed up with the trip. Happy happy happy happy :)

The forest was thick on the edge of the chapel we went to on Sunday. This is me giving my hubby The Smolder.

The next morning we took our time getting ready and took off as soon as Riley fell asleep. We went through the Avenue of the Giants (redwood forest) on the way home-so worth it! Beautiful trees so tall we couldn't see the top! I love the feeling in forests too-dampish and cool. I can't wait until we go camping next!

The last hour of the journey Riley was DONE! She was full out crying by the time we pulled off the freeway, and the two minutes it took to get to the sleep, she was dead asleep. Poor girl! Road trips are rough stuff for babies. But I'm glad we were able to go support Ben and enjoy a family road trip this weekend!