We started off this beautiful season with a trip to this darling farm out in Hurricane, UT.  They had all sorts of fun things for kids and it was nice that it wasn't too cold yet when we went!  Paisley LOVED the headless horseman-I think he was more confusing than scary for her.

This is her first time on a horse and she is ECSTATIC!!  She was so excited-she pretended it was Rainbow Dash.


We also had our annual Halloween Party and did a murder mystery.  With all the switching around and issues I had planning the whole thing I swore I would never do one again...it ended up being hilarious and completely worth the headache!!  I think this may become a halloween tradition!

Desserts were fabulous!!

We took Halloween picture and made Halloween frames for preschool.  The kids got to paint the frames themselves with glow in the dark paint and they loved it!

We were pretty worn out by the time Halloween actually happened!  For the first time I didn't end up even dressing up on the actual day because I was just too busy getting the kids put together and helping with activities that it just didn't happen!  Our neighborhood does a trunk-or-treat on halloween which I have mixed feelings about but its fun because everyone leaves from there and heads out into the neighborhood to trick-or-treat.  It's fun finally having a neighborhood!

Rainbow Dash! 
Twilight Sparkle

We even dressed up the bus for halloween!


birth thoughts.

I have so much to post.  Halloween, homemade deodorant, avett brothers, preschool...soo much.  But I'm tired of looking at pictures so that will just have to wait.  Today I want to post about birth.

Yes, I am still talking about it-and I am so sorry to those of you that listen to me talk about it, I am a little obsessed, I know.

Initially I wanted to rant.  You don't need that.  Then I wanted to site a bunch of articles.  You can do that too.  Today I just want to paint a picture.

Often in the early hours of the morning I get called out of my warm bed to go on a birth.  I arrive to peoples homes and I'm immediately greeted with the calming spirit that is there, the active spirit of hard work being accomplished and the anticipation and smell of new baby in the air.  It is a very powerful atmosphere to enter.

I witness new Dads and loving Mothers support their wives and daughters as they work through this amazing spectacle.  I make beds, fetch warm compresses and chart notes.  I hold hands to help center and align women as they radiate the power and energy pulsing through their bodies.

I assist in safeguarding miracles.  It is an incredible work-this whole process of baby-having.  It demands respect and understanding and we've lost that in our country.

I hear so many remarks "Oh, but there wouldn't be peace at my house, just screaming." "Oh, my husband is grossed out by all that, he couldn't help."  I see something completely different so often now that my sense of normal has changed.

I watch as I paint this picture for women-many get a far away look just for a moment and then the fear sets back in and they make a sarcastic remark about needing an epidural, screaming and pain.  Why have we ruined birth?

It is possible.  It is painful.  It is incredible, spiritual and rewarding.  I requires preparation, study, meditation and work.  You need support-but that support team benefits so much from it!

I want to change our attitude towards birth.  I want a new generation of empowered women that believe they can do it and want to.

Because I've seen it.  I want everyone else to see it too.


{soapbox}: food

I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute.  The worst part?  This isn't the only rant I'm in the process of writing right now!  This has been rolling around in the back of my mind for some time and a couple of conversations I've had lately have really reinforced my need to rant.

I'm here to rant about food.  I am a food addict, foodie and general food lover.  My current life motto is to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.  I preach this concept regularly.  I believe that in it's simplicity it will work to help you find your natural weight.

Unfortunately, things sometimes have to go deeper than that.

I also work hard to make sure I'm fueling my body with premium fuel.  I've started looking at my normal meals in terms of nutrient density because if you don't you spend your days with no energy and feeling like crap.  So I've put a lot of effort into finding out what is dessert and what isn't.

See, as Americans we think that cereal is breakfast.  Cereal is dessert.  Lean Cuisine's are lunch.  No.  Lean Cuisine's are dessert.

How did I determine this?  Most people know they shouldn't have a pepsi for lunch (beause pepsi is a sugary treat, right?).  What they don't realize is that many of those 300 calorie lean cusine's they're eating have more sugar than that can of pepsi.  They are dessert.

My most favorite health food?  Yogurt.  At some point someone deemed yogurt as healthy and health nuts throw it in their smoothies, choke it down for breakfast, snacks and the best part?  They even top it with granola or cereal (also dessert items).

Let's look at yogurt:

For me, eat a snickers instead.  I know it's fun size but really does yogurt really help your appetite any more than a fun size snickers??  I doubt it.  I was talking to someone and she actually said "Wow, this yogurt I got (because she's on a diet) is sooo good it really could be a dessert!"  It is.  It is.

"But April, I eat that chobani yogurt and that's like so much better for you, right?"  It is better....but still loaded with sugar. The only thing chobani has going for it is the amount of protein.  That helps justify the sugar...but still I'd really rather eat a snickers.

I once spent 3 hours in costco reading food labels.  I couldn't believe how little I knew at the time-everything I thought I was eating that was healthy wasn't.  Granola bars?  Dessert.  Milk?  Dessert.

"April, I've seen you down cupcakes...you're not THAT healthy."  I'm not claiming to be a beacon of health...but I am educated about it and I know when I'm eating dessert.  I think that's what I want people to understand more than anything-is when they're eating dessert and when they're not.

I have almost every single diet scheme backing me when I tell you that sugar is bad for you.  They all fight about how many calories/carbs/proteins/etc you can have and what to eat but EVERYONE agrees that sugar is bad for you.

So I do work hard to make sure that when I'm eating a peanut butter sandwich that the bread doesn't have added sugar, that the peanut butter is only ground peanuts and salt and that the honey is raw (and ideally local).  Honey actually is high in sugar but has several other nutritional components that help make it justified...and I love a good peanut butter and honey sandwich.  When I want to eat dessert I WILL.  And when I'm supposed to be eating a meal-it's a meal and not dessert.

And now, a soapbox within a soapbox. MILK.  At the beginning of 2010 I started cutting back on milk.  For me that meant no longer drinking it 24/7.  I loved milk.  I got pregnant in 2011 with Stella and due to it being the only thing that stayed down, I went back to milk (and cereal after being off it for a year).  After Stella was born I cut back on milk again...and then one day I wanted a glass so I drank some.  It made me sick.  I am now hyper-allergic to milk!!!  Serious!  If I drink it I wake up stuffy, mucousy and sick to my stomach the next day (and sometimes very soon after drinking it).

{ Great article about some of the sad truths about milk here. }

It now doesn't taste the same and comes with some nasty consequences afterward which really breaks my heart.  You know what doesn't break my heart?  I'm no longer addicted to sugar.  I don't have hayfever anymore, and generally I'm in better health than I have been in a long time.  Why?  Because I'm pretty sure I was allergic to milk all along and harming my body by drinking it non-stop.

I don't think I'm an unusual case.  We've seen a rise in allergies with our generation?  We also drink more milk than any generation before us and any other country.

"But April, what will I put on my cereal?"  Stop eating cereal.  It's dessert.  I promise.

"April, I drink fat-free milk though, so that's at least better, right?"  No.  I'll show you what my problem was:

Fat-free milk doesn't have the fat or calories to fill you up so I could easily drink a gallon a day and feel completely justified because "milk is good for you AND it was fat-free."  If you take the fat out of milk there is nothing to satiate your diet...so you drink more and literally double your sugar intake.

Plus seriously guys...it's cow's breast milk.  It's full of fat and sugar because it's supposed to fatten up baby cows.

Anyway-to sum it up:  I just want people to know when they're eating dessert and when they're eating a meal.  We eat too much dessert unknowingly in this country and as you can see, it's driving me crazy.  I don't rant about this to show off how amazing my diet is-I don't claim to eat perfectly-any one of you that spends any amount of time with me can easily agree with that BUT I have put a lot of time and effort into understanding a lot of this stuff.

My challenge for you:  Get a sitter or go at midnight and spend 3 hours without your kids at the grocery store.  Read food labels...ALL of them.  You'll be surprised.  And make sure you're eating dessert when it's dessert time...and meals at meal time.  The end.


{travels}: september

We're going to post in opposite order today.

Lunch died Sunday morning.  It was really sad.  We knew going in that we would probably lose a chicken or 2, but having to explain death to Paisley has been rough.

We kind of love having roommates.  It really isn't so bad.  I have that many more children to clean my house for me and there is never a dull moment!  I love sharing cooking responsibilities and it is SOO much easier to babysit kids that live with you and have a built in babysitter!  We're having fun.

It seems every time I go to Vegas for one thing or another I have enlightening experiences.  This last trip was no different.  And it was so fun.  It's always nice to miss your kids for a minute.

Gotta love insta pics.
Before that, Paisley and I went to Dallas!!  I had a family reunion for my Clark side and it turned out to be easiest to just take Paisley with me.  She is obsessed with airplanes and LOVES flying.  The plane we got on here in St George was hot and small and I thought I was going to die of sickness-all the while she made friends and happily stared out her window.  We used the bathroom no less that 4 times between both flights to get there.

The whole group that went to whirly ball
I got to hang out with my Grandma, my parents and spend some time with my extended family.  It was a very laid back trip and I loved just relaxing and talking to everyone.  I had never played whirly ball and we got to go play as a group.  It's a terrifying game that involves driving a bumper car while trying to catch a whiffle ball with a lacrosse style scoop and make it in your teams basketball hoop type thing.  Yep.  It's hard core.

This clustercuss pretty much sums it up.

I had high hopes for Paisley going to a modern art museum...she lasted about 10 minutes.  All those are instillations are just tooo tempting to touch and stand on.  It was just too hard.  I can sympathize-I always want to touch them too.  Thankfully only the bottom floor was open so nobody was too sad about being in and out.
Sunday morning we went to visit Grandpa.  Cemeteries are also not a great place for children.  I love trying to figure out which graves she stole things from...those flowers just look like they're meant to be grabbed and moved around.  She did really pretty good considering.
We finished off the reunion with dinner and cake for my grandma.  As per tradition, we were in our matching reunion t-shirts-something that I love!  This years design was particularly..um...interesting, but I think pictures turned out darling.

The entire reunion was wonderful but I was so happy to get back home!  I missed my husband and Stella sooo much.


{holidays}: paisley's 4!

We love ponies in this house.  Even though she did a pony party last year, she wanted to go for it again this year.  It was either that or Rescue Bots, and she still chose ponies (it was a tough choice though...she LOVES Rescue Bots).  She is turning into such a little girl and has been so much fun.  I'm really enjoying this age with her and I love watching her learn and grow so much.  I think this will be her last year home with me full time and as much as I look forward to it I think I will be sad to see her in school!  

She could not leave her new ponies alone!!  I had to put them back over and over again as she would sneak over and play with them!

The water balloons wouldn't break on the cement!!  It was hilarious!

New Rainbow Dash hat!!

Love rainbow cake.  Totally worth it!

This is totally Paisley in her natural environment!  She loves her chickens and loves playing outside in the dirt.  They are all her babies

This picture is like a little Jon.  She looks so much like him with her neck getting longer!


{update}: a list.

  • ^ Love this quote.
  • Stella is walking.  Like a pro.  She was hesitant at first and crawling was faster and then one day she got her little determined face on and decided to walk every where.  It's super cute because her legs are still just as chubby as ever!  She has been so friendly and happy lately.  She is such a joy to our family and we love her infectious happiness!
  • Paisley is once again either a darling dream of a child OR a complete out of control monster.  It does seem that lately it's been more darling child than monster...but you just never know.  She's processing more, learning so much and asking so many intelligent questions!  We passed a light post at night that's light was out and she said "Mom, you stand on Dad's shoulders and I'll stand on your shoulders and then I'll fix the light!"  This type of problem solving (as far fetched as it might be) was really something I was hoping to instill in my children, so it's amazing to see her put that together.  On good days she's fun to shop with and still loves to be snuggled-we're really just enjoying this inquisitive phase of life she's in.
  • We have roommates!!  A week ago we had some friends move in with us.  Stella is now sleeping in our closet so they can have her room and Paisley is sharing her room with her 2 friends!  It was madness at first but as all the kids are getting used to sharing and such they've actually adjusted really well.  They're building a house very close to ours and their daughter will be in school this week at the elementary school next to us so it just made sense to have them move in.  Now I only have to cook half the week!
  • Baby birthing is fun.  Women in labor are incredible.  The power that emanates from them as they labor and deliver is mind blowing and awesome.  Before going into this I was on the fence if this would ever be a realistic career for me and now I've got my calling.  I love it.
  • Jon's working on a vintage dirt bike for a long trek he wants to embark on.  Crazy kid.  It's good for him.


{world's greatest}

After driving to Page, AZ and through several small towns I saw lots of opportunities to try "The World's Best [fill in blank here]."  It got me thinking about where I had eaten the worlds best fish'n'chips and I decided to make a list.  The more I thought about it, the more I've realized that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and so maybe those Fish'n'chips at that tiny diner in LaVerkin miles from any ocean really are the best fish'n'chips the owner or some customer have ever had.  A list:

  • World's Best Chicken Strips and Fries:  Kelly Canyon.  After hours of freezing and destroying myself snowboarding NOTHING has been more delicious.  I get them every time!
  • World's Best Turkey Sandwich:  Dixie Regional Medical Center.  They're available 24 hours a day and smeared with delicious cream cheese and cranberry.  It is truly the best treat after pushing out a baby and something I looked forward to after the delivery of Stella!!
  • World's Best Chocolate Milk:  Reed's Dairy.  Any of you that have tried it know you can't argue with me!!  It's the best.
  • World's Best Sushi: Some random sushi shack on Ocean Ave in Huntington.  After sleeping in the car for 2 days and laying on the beach eating those lobster rolls was the best thing that ever happened to me!
  • World's Best Lemonade: Wendy's natural.  2 Hours of shooting Omega force photos in the hot sun here in StG reinforced how delicious and wonderful this lemonade really is.
  • World's Best Tamale:  the awesome tamale lady that used to go door-to-door selling them!  Sooo good.
  • World's Best Stroganoff:  My Mom's.  She would have to double and triple the recipe to make enough to feed all of us because we wanted seconds and thirds.  My mom makes the best meatloaf and chocolate chip cookies too if you were wondering!
  • World's Best Huckleberries:  Straight off the bush in the mountains of Idaho.  Haven't tried a huckleberry?  You need to.
  • World's Best Gelato:  Pedro Eis.  It is the best.  They're on every corner in Bavaria and nothing yet has been able to top it's amazingness...and the fact that you have to be in Europe to enjoy some helps!
  • World's Best Dutch Oven Cooking:  Girls camp 1997.  I'll never forget the first time I had dutch oven chicken and potatoes and nothing has topped those first few bites!!
  • World's Best Breadstick:  Pizza Factory!!  No story with it-they're just the best!!
  • World's Best Coke: Cold and from a single can in Germany on 4th of July.  I'm not a big Coke fan but nothing tasted more American that day than coke in a can.  We missed our country.
  • World's Best Apricot:  Off my tree!!  It might be because she only produced 6 this year so all her attention was on making those 6 amazing.  I can't wait until we get more next year!!
  • World's Best Pie:  the first pie I made successfully all on my own!  Pie making and pie crust are an art and something I wanted to achieve sooo much and on that Thanksgiving that I finally did it nothing was more delicious!!  I still remember my Mom coming home to my flour covered frustrations...
  • World's Best Steak:  made by Jon, donated by the Mickelson's, bbqed on my back patio at the Betty Manor.  I had never had steak properly cooked (medium rare) at that point and it opened up a whole new world to me!
There are so many more...What are some of yours??


{throwback thursday}: sales

So for a season of my life I went door to door to businesses selling online advertising.  It was a very interesting time and I really enjoyed meeting with so many different people.  I found that if you show up at their business in person they tend to be more receptive than if you cold call, so door to door I went.  I originally started here in St. George, we each having our assigned areas and then ended up in Cedar City for the summer that year.  It was amazing getting out of the heat and commuting up there so we took it a step further and commuted all the way to Parowan for a couple of weeks.

Parowan is the most random little town.  If I ever wanted to write a novel, it would be there that I would hibernate for writing.  It's full of crazies, bed and breakfasts, small cafes and a few other small businesses.  So much of the small main street is original, and I love it!

One of the days I was there I wandered off the main road and found a small motel.  You guys, the cat lady from the Simpsons lives there!!  I'm not kidding.  An old woman with crazy gray hair was chasing cats around speaking in an unidentifiable language.  And entire flock of ducks was also making their way down the overgrown dirt road that separated the two rows of motel rooms.

Oh!  Google Images...there's a picture!

the picture pretty much sells it, right?
So, being the young and non-intimidated idiot that I was I decided to knock on the office door.  Sometimes I look back at my days in sales and thank heaven I'm still alive and safe.  Who in their right mind drives clear up to Parowan, finds the most dark and secluded motel off the beaten path and then decides to go to there?  Yeah...

I knock on the door and I kid you not, a wall of smoke wafts over me as the door opened.  In front of me is a youngish man with an old t-shirt reading "hippies stink."  (they do).  His first words:  "Hey!  Look at you!  Look at me!  Look at me looking at you!"  (In my mind I think I was grateful that he was a friendly stranger).  I introduced myself and the product I was selling.  He said some other very hilarious and only mildly-coherent things here that unfortunately time has taken from my memory.  He had no internet access. (I would be willing to bet they probably still don't have internet access).

An entire flock of wild turkeys then decided to migrate through.  Seriously.  Squaking, feathers and all.

Typically I would meet people and set up appointments to come back and go over the full spiel.  So I asked if I could.  No.  He then asked if I had any lit.er.a.ture...pronounced just so.  Not if I had any more information, but if I had any lit.er.a.ture.  I did.  And I left it.  He made sure to get my personal business card as well (I was hesitant, but thoroughly entertained and curious at this point enough to risk prank calls or stalking..who knows)

While our exchange took place we gathered an audience of the motel's inhabitants.  Old men playing cards, a toothless woman crocheting, and of course the cat woman.  She actually growled at me from behind her bike (like I was going to steal it) as I left.

I'm sad to say I never heard anymore from this.  It was quite the exchange.  We were recently up in Parowan on our way up the canyon and all of a sudden this memory flooded back to me.  Luckily I scrawled down a few tiny details on a notepad because I thought the entire thing was so funny at the time.


{holidays}: stella's birthday

My baby is 1.  I still can't believe it.  It's like we've always had 2 children, but at the same time sometimes in the mornings they're a surprise like "who let these children in our house??  where did they come from?  why are they waking me up!!!?!"  It was so fun putting her in the same onesie that Paisley wore for her 1st birthday!  And of course Paisley had to be all fancy too in her cupcake dress.  It is nearly impossible to get a good picture of the two of them...oh well.  Their Daddy is their most favorite person in the whole entire world, and as you can see they LOVE HIM SOO MUCH.  He gets smothered every day he comes home.

her most favorite place in the world

The cupcakes and her cake were a comedy of errors.  As you can see, everything looks extra homemade!  The vanilla cupcakes came out perfect-they rose beautifully, they didn't burn and everything was looking like it was going to turn out amazing.  So I made the cake.  I wasn't sure exactly how much batter a 6" round took so I looked it up and it said 2 cups...I'm thinking that's for 2 rounds (because it was for a 2 layer cake)...and maybe I just can't read...either way me and Wilton are in a fight.  The first cake layer came out huge and took a long time to bake...so I attempted to even things out with the 2nd layer and do less...I don't know, either way I ended up with severely unequal, uneven layers, but at least they weren't burnt and they tasted good, right?

I then started making the frosting.  I LOVE fresh strawberry frosting but it is a bit temperamental.  I just made it a couple of weeks ago and it turned out perfect, thus renewing my strawberry-frosting-making-confidence.  my mistake.  I didn't realize this wasn't stiff enough until after I was halfway through frosting the cake (which I did let cool plenty long so I at least get stars for that, right?)  Getting an already broken and misshapen cake to shape up is difficult with good frosting, and I would say impossible with runny frosting. Into the fridge it went.  Unfortunately I'd already put the other portion in the bag for frosting the cupcakes so the cupcakes also went into the fridge with the hopes of freeze-framing the frosting.

Determined not to let the same thing happen to my chocolate frosting I made it ridiculously too thick and could not even get it to come out of the bag!!  (Once again, put it in the bag before confirming consistency...ahh, life lessons).

In the meantime, for one reason or another ALL of my chocolate cupcakes came out caved in and stuck to the pan!  The second batch was SO stuck I couldn't even get them out of the pan without completely destroying them so I gave up.  I can't really complain too much because as long as it all tastes good, I will always stand by my baking...I just can't always promise perfect presentation.

watermelon is her favorite

I love how well this captures my siblings and their significant others.

sexy man.

We're going to look back and call this Chad's beard phase.

Paisley's newest boyfriend.

I LOVE that we have room for people!!

She loved her cake and had no problem dunking her own face in!  She was so excited!!

It was delicious, malformations and all.  Thanks to everyone that came to celebrate our little Stella!