UPDATE! DIY Concrete Countertops over 3 years later


Concrete countertops_

Well howdy, friends. I’m taking a break from novel writing today to bring you the latest and greatest on those faux countertops. Fans of my young adult novel series, don’t mutiny! I promise book three is coming along ASAP! (Side note: if you haven’t read my Candeon Heirs series, the first book is free on Kindle this week!)

Who’s ready to see what those faux concrete counters look like 3.5 years after install? (2.5 years after the last countertop post). Ooh, and take note of my beautiful new floors! (Ignore the missing trim around the base of the cabinets and above the upper cabinets. That’s the next project.)


I still have ’em. And from a distance, they really don’t look too bad. I don’t quite get embarrassed when people come over and see them, as long as they don’t look too close.

I’ve got grease stains that have settled into those chips that used to dry when wet. And a very thin part of the concrete has worn down to expose the old laminates.



I’ve got these lovely saw marks from a late night wood moulding project that should have never happened. Still don’t know how I managed to do that without noticing.


I’ve got acrylic paint drips from my three little minions.


There are indeed scratches. You’ll see ’em on most of these photos. (I previously stated that scratches weren’t really an issue. Then I think I got cocky and reckless, because boy oh boy I’ve got scratches now!)


The edges around my sink are starting to … turn.



And finally, the grease splatters that I rarely wipe up on the backside of the stove are semi-permanent. Meaning: my lame attempts at “wiping them up” didn’t work. So instead of elbow grease, we’ll just go with a “semi” disclaimer.


The seam where the old laminates came together? The concrete has now cracked a bit over the top and I’m pretty sure that’s butter, oil, or coconut oil that has seeped into the crack. (This is my baking prep area.) To the right of that seam are a TON of chips.


Moral of the story: take care of them, and they’ll last you a good 2 years. But 3 years? You’ll be pushing it. 4 years? You and I should be lazy friends. I’ve gotten really good at platter placement for family or social gatherings to hide the worst offenders. 🙂

Quickie Q&A:
1. If I could go back in time, would I still have done these counters three years ago? BIG FAT YES.
2. Would do install them a bit differently? YES. I’d make sure I didn’t have any super super thin spots. I’d do more coats. And I’d smooth/sand the edges around my sink better.
4. When are you going to re-do the counters? When the universe and our schedules align.
3. Will I grind them down and do faux concrete again? That depends on the state of my bank account during the aforementioned universe alignment. I’d rather have quartz. Or even a high quality, beautiful laminate. But you can’t beat this price (well under $100).

Did I miss anything? Hit me with your questions in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out my 5-star rated young adult novels Hiding Haelo (book one) and Haelo Hunted (book two) on Amazon!


Harry Potter Wizard Chest – Christmas FTW.


Someone hand me the award. Because I nailed Christmas gifting this year. Totally nailed it.

And I quote … “Mom, you’re the bestest ever! I’m going to keep this FOREVAAAAAHH!”

Bestest. Ever.

DIY Wizard Harry Potter Chest.png

There was a time when I won a different kind of parenting award. The not-good kind. The I-can’t-believe-you-forgot-the-Easter-Bunny-you-terrible-mother kind. But this? This is legit.

Isn’t reading incredible? I love that this Harry Potter journey has been the catalyst to my children’s desire to learn to read. I now have a voracious reader of a daughter and an up-and-coming preschooler boy who is figuring out so many words already. They want to read. And let me tell you, it takes a special kind of book–one that they’ll always remember–that first inspires young readers. Thank you, JK Rowling.

I took a long break from writing the sequel to my novel, Hiding Haelo, to put together the ultimate Harry Potter lover’s chest. This all started with a little pin I saw on Pinterest of a printable Marauder’s MapMy kids will love that, I thought. My kids are obsessed with Harry Potter. I might have encouraged that obsession, but it’s there nonetheless. Well, that Map started a chain effect, which got waaaay outta control. Next thing I knew, I was spending hours a day for way too many days putting together the ultimate Harry Potter wizard kit for each of my two oldest kids. Nailed it, guys. Nailed it.

They LOVE these.

Included in their Wizard kits are:
House Notebooks 
Spell Books
Character/Creature encyclopedias
Marauders Maps
Ministry of Magic Identifications
Leather Bookmarks
Golden Snitches
Sorcerer’s Stones
Harry Glasses/Hermione Time-Turner Necklace 
Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans
DementAway Chocolate
Chocolate Frogs
Hogwarts robes. (Which I’d already made a few months back for Halloween.)

Harry, Hermione, and little Ron-ette. Aren’t they cute!? Look at those faces.
Or this one. Look at this face.
I mean, come on.

So they have everything they need to play wizard. Except, well, magic.

(I came *this* close to sewing invisibility cloaks.)

Disclaimer:  I have a printer, a sewing machine, a hot glue gun, epoxy, and a laminator (okay, my mom has the laminator). A good friend of mine already had the chocolate frog mold, too. I had leftover faux leather from when I cut a leather topper kid-shield for my freshly-stained kitchen table. I also already had off-white cardstock, embroidery thread, gold sewing thread, small glittery ornaments, wire ribbon, chopsticks, spare composition notebooks, wood stain, modpodge, an old leather studded purse, neodymium magnets, Hershey bars (we’re a s’more family) and those little plastic treat bags. The Hogwarts robes, Harry glasses and Hermione necklace we already had from Halloween.

So really, I only had to buy the paperweight “sorcerer’s stones,” the hinged boxes, the photo prints for the encyclopedias (in which I used a 50% off coupon code), photo albums from the dollar store, Bean-Boozled jelly beans, glitter scrapbook foam, and “quills.” The biggest expense by far was when my printer ran out of ink. Because our $30 printer uses $45 ink. Seriously.

So, yes, these kits were relatively inexpensive …  for me and my stocked crafting horde. If you had to buy everything from scratch it could get pretty pricey.

Expense aside… the time put into these was so far beyond reasonable. The encyclopedia alone took me like 5 days of go-to-bed-at-three-in-the-morning. But lucky you, I did it already! So if you want to make these, you just have to print! Go ahead and click on each item to get to the good stuff.

Someone pat me on the back.

After I’d put the whole thing together, I placed the quills (in their packaging) at the bottom of a big box (because they don’t fit in the treasure chests), then placed the chests on top. Then I added the wrapped Funko Pop characters they asked for for Christmas (Quidditch Harry, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Hermione, and Luna Lovegood) and threw in their Halloween Hogwarts robes to keep all the boxes from shifting around.


Harry Potter FTW. SuperMom FTW.

P.S. Did I mention that a stuffed Hedwig, and a super awesome Firebolt broom might have also been Christmas presents this year? Nailed it. I totally nailed it.

Reading is awesome. My daughter couldn’t read when we started this journey. She had little interest. Now she’s a voracious reader. She got a few different beginner chapter books for christmas from different people and she’s been plowing through them. I’m sure you have those *certain* books from your own childhood that inspired your reading. Yay for that.




Today’s trending twitter hashtag (at least on my feed): #firstsevenjobs

I’ve never been a pig farmer. Or an arborist. Or a ninja spy. My job history has been a little more . . . unremarkable.

  1. Babysitter  (AKA: child wrangler and entertainment specialist, AKA: poop removalist)
  2. Medical Transcriptionist  (AKA: listening magician)
  3. Piano Teacher  (AKA: ADHD focus-er)
  4. Secretary in the Computer Science Dept.  (AKA: nerd monkey)
  5. Secretary and T.A. in the Fine Arts Dept.  (AKA: Excel slave, with benefits)
  6. Director of a political lobbying non-profit.  (AKA: volunteer professional eye-roller)
  7. Orchestra Conductor  (AKA: unpaid comedic arm-waving jam captain)


Now, I’m a writer. (AKA: stretchy pants wearing crazy lady). But guess what, that means I get to take that list and turn my unremarkable job history into a feast for the senses!

*Side note: LONG POST. If you don’t care, don’t read. Scrollllllll to the next post about the time I forgot Easter and confused my children. Maybe someday my kids will forgive that day and read this.


Poop. Lots of poop.

Diapers, dog poop, clogged and overflowing toilets. A kid’s pet lizard pooped in my hand once. Then there was the time I was changing a diaper on a kid much too old for diapers and he sharted. On me. That was super fun. Mac n’ cheese will never be the same. Especially after the time I thought I added butter, but it was deceptively packaged Crisco. I’d never felt so judged, and by an 11 year old, no less. There was also the time I locked myself in a bathroom because a 9 year old was coming at me with a knife. He says he was joking. I sure as hell wasn’t sure.

But there were also giggles. And sweet forts. And preschooler dance parties (the best kind of dance party). There were theatrical productions from the dining room stage and borderline inappropriate hilarious I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I battles. And art projects. Lots of art projects.

At 16, I got a “real” job.

I did medical transcription at a Physical therapy office. Too many opinionated females in a small space (the front office). Drama, Drama, Drama. I focused on my job: old head-set, dictation pedal at my foot, listening to the stereo sounds of therapists rattling of strange medical terms in long sentences that they’re so used to rattling off it all sounds like one big long 37 syllable word. But I took anatomy that semester and figured it out. It was easier than figuring out the three ladies in the desks behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I liked each of them very much. Individually.

The biggest obstacle to getting those audio transcriptions typed out was the fact that the owner (and lead therapist, also a family friend) dictated during his lunch break. I got a lot of apple crunching sounds in there.

For some reason, when I think back on that job, the thing I remember the most was a pair of shoes I wore for just one day. They were made of either foam or wood pulp, I couldn’t really tell. I know that makes no sense at all, but that’s why it was so flabbergasting. What is this material!?

But that was high school, and I got depressed. That was my dark period. And I quit. Even though it wasn’t the job that was making me depressed.

The best paid gig.

Then, my longest standing job, which I come back to frequently ad still do to this day. Piano teacher. Teaching kids a skill that I hold near and dear to my heart helped pull me from depression. How can you be depressed when a perfectly innocent second grader finally gets that measure and pops up to you with the biggest smile, beaming with pride? You can’t. Joy is infectious. I did that through high school and into college. Highest per hour pay school gig out there, ladies and gentlemen.

I married my best friend (the man of my every dream), and sugar-momma’d our way through another year of college with nearly 40 students on my plate. But that didn’t last long. Because the best adventure ever happened.

The hubs got recruited to play basketball at BYU-Hawai’i. Hawai’i!! Who goes to college in Hawai’i!?

(There was the one day I worked as an elementary school aide, but it only lasted a day. So I’m not going to count that. Even though I still get a letter every year from the State of Hawai’i informing me of the $1.42 I earned towards retirement.)

Nerd monkey

My first Hawai’i campus job was as the Administrative Assistant to the Computer and Information Sciences department. Those guys were cool. Super weird, but cool. I had to figure out how to communicate with computer nerds. And accounting. Because the main secretary over the entire “Business and Computing” college apparently wasn’t detailed enough in her budget reports. We both rolled our eyes over that one. No, no, the computer guys wanted details. From every angle. I became intimate with Excel. But at least I had my own office with a plaque at the door.

One professor had canned refried beans every day for lunch. (I’m implying something here for you, dear readers.) At least his office was down the hall a little ways. Man, those guys were quirky. But endearing. I wanted to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, but I loved ’em.

Excel master/slave.

The university was making huge changes. Business and Computing got a little too political for me. So, I transferred to the Fine Arts department; I was a music major after all. I mean, this was my chance to work for my professors! Oh the things I could learn! Oh the brownie points I could earn!

When their head secretary found out I’d been doing the computer nerds’ budget, she about cried. It was her least favorite part of the job. I’m a perfectionist and I saw the Fine Art’s budget disaster and just couldn’t say no. So instead of taking it easy at a quiet front desk a few hours a week, I was back to accounting.

I’d been intimate with Excel before, but now I was reprogramming that thing into submission. I dominated Excel. And a few of my professors might have hated me for it. “Professor So-And-So? That such-and-such you need for the studio? Well, um, you don’t exactly have the money for it. Maybe you could ask for a transfer of travel funds into your supply fund? But you’d have to adjust your upcoming trip.”  I mean, I was a super obnoxious student getting waaay in the way. “Just doin’ what I’m told.”

Me: “Don’t forget I need all of your receipts!”
Every professor in the department: “I can’t find it.”
Me: “… I’m going to need you to fill out this form…”

Super fun, guys. I was every professor’s dream. Wah-waaahhh. 

But that was the first year in over a decade they actually knew how much money they’d spent before the next year’s audit. So there’s that.

A nice change-up!

Because of my course of study, there was one particular music professor I’d had for most of my music classes. Dr. B. And he was awesome. And just my luck, he needed a T.A. My job got better after that. And I was back to teaching music, which I missed desperately. (Teaching music … grading assignments … okay, lots of making copies, but it was a break from budget!! And I got to tutor!)

One day, while working on a piece for Dr. B.’s composition class, I just couldn’t concentrate. I daydreamed my way into procrastinating that composition and instead typed out the beginning of a little story about a high school girl with incredible, magical underwater abilities. I took a creative writing elective the next semester and worked on it some more.

The hubs and I had our first daughter, we both graduated, and sadly, had to leave. As much as we’d missed our families back on the mainland, we both weren’t ready to say Aloha to the island.

Aloha O’e

Back on the mainland, I was a new mom times two and a grad student. But I got back into teaching piano. There was the time a student of mine (after finding out I was pregnant) creepily told me, “Wait, wait, wait . . . you did it? The S-sssssss word?”  I’m pretty sure he had Asbergers. It was a very interesting, delicate conversation.

I went through a few more dark periods. One with each pregnancy. But that’s a conversation for another day. And I’m a stronger woman because of it.

And then the best thing happened!

It was 9:30 pm and I had a big paper due at midnight for my master’s program. But I really didn’t want to write it. Like, really. I noticed an icon on my desktop for that mermaid-ish story I’d worked on in college. I pulled “Haelo.docx” up instead. Because, you know, priorities.

At 11:00pm, I forced myself to shut down my creative pursuits, and got back to work on that stupid grad paper. I think I got it submitted at 11:58pm. It wasn’t very polished, but it got an A. Haelo got a lot more attention after that. Though I did graduate with honors, I’m pretty sure I had candeons on my mind for most of that Public Administration degree.


After graduation, I decided to step lightly into the local political world. I had a goal of becoming a political advisor or speech writer for a senator or diplomat, but knew that was years down the road. I somehow ended up as a non-profit lobbying Director. I still don’t know how that happened. I was sitting, rather quietly, at a Christmas brunch for the organization, minding my own business, sitting in awe of these incredible women, and walked away with an invitation to take over a particular chapter. They didn’t know me from Adam. I think they were crazy. Or desperate. It took me a few months to accept.

I wasn’t ready for that post. Technically, I think I’m still in that post, because my attempts at passing the torch haven’t been successful. I can’t say no. I really need to work on that. But I don’t trust myself to not roll my eyes in a very inconvenient moment at an important meeting one day. Even state Congressmen and women I’m supposed to support have jaded me. There’s a lot of crap in politics. Speech writing would be fun. Dealing with multiple politicians at once is not fun. Ever.

I’m surprisingly diplomatic. Very careful with my words. But a little voice in my head is starting to get feisty, and I’ve got to get out.

Jam sesh.

My sister recently wrangled me into starting a community orchestra. This is the absolute funnest job I’ve had. The music is a blast, the musicians are fun, and they laugh at my jokes. It feels like a huge jam session mixed with dancing, because you can’t direct some of those pieces without a little bit of dancing. It’s just too fun. At the same time, I’m a thrifty tight-wad and can’t afford huge symphonic sets of sheet music. So I buy the parts for strings and arranged the parts for brass and woodwinds myself. It’s stressful, and takes up time I don’t really have, but it’s keeping my composition skills from wasting away into “something I used to know how to do.”

We’re currently working on an Appalachian backstep, a Lady Gaga jam, a bit o’ Disney, the get-up-and-shout “I Will Follow Him” from Sister Act, Debussy (Satie’s Gymnopedies), and . . . The. Tango. <– the funnest thing I’ve ever jammed on in my life, and that includes my time in a hella-awesome Caribbean steel pan band. (Youtube video)

Now I’m a writer.

And the best part is that I don’t feel like a poser admitting that! It is an incredible creative outlet for a busy mother of three. That little story I started in college, worked on as a grad student, and finished in whatever meager spare time I had inbetween potty-training, dinners, and church service, is PUBLISHED! And I want to scream into a pillow at how good that feels!


A milestone! After so many nights of feeling exhausted. So many mornings waking up knowing I was farther behind than I was the day before. Too much, too many, too little, too late. But then, I remember my favorite quote.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” – Gina Carey

Life is funny sometimes. I’m going to look back on this post ten years from now, with more jobs added to the list, and smile. I have no idea where life is taking me. But I’ve got a best friend / husband / co-parent dreamboat at my side, three incredible kids, a strong spiritual foundation, and just enough gumption to march forward with a wink.

Laugh, guys. Laugh when you think you can’t. Collect your experiences. And wink. Because there’s more comin’ down the road.

And if you want to check out my author website, where you can read the first chapter of Hiding Haelo, you can do that here. And here is a link to Hiding Haelo on Amazon.

IOU Easter Bunny


Guys. We IOU’d Easter.

It’s a long story, but the point is this . . . we forgot about the Easter Bunny.

I was laying in bed Easter morning, thinking what a beautiful, wonderful day it was, pondering peaceful thoughts of my Savior, when the hubs and I heard our son burst forth from his bedroom proclaiming to the world, “IT’S EASTER!! WE’RE GOING TO DYE EGGS! YAY!! (SISTER), WAKE UP AND LET’S FIND OUR EASTER BASKETS!!”

I’d be lying if I said my thoughts of heavenly things didn’t go south quickly with a swear word or two.

We forgot. Completely.


There were no hidden eggs. There were no baskets. I didn’t even have any eggs.

I kid you not, the kids searched everywhere. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so . . . not hilarious.

I ran to the laundry room and drew up a note from ol’ E. Bunny that said, “Your door was locked! I’ll come back tomorrow!” which the hubs taped to the back of the house while I was helping confused children get ready for church.

Seriously. We IOU’d Easter Bunny.

It gets worse. How do you put together Easter baskets when you observe the Sabbath day? Without going to a store? I’ll just let you ponder that one for a minute or two.

In the end, it worked out. Our children are not traumatized. Mostly.

Are you ready for the kicker? The punchline of all punchlines?

A few days later, we forgot the tooth fairy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.21.55 PM

Ba-dum tchhhh.


Tony Perkis is not my homeboy.


I can’t move my legs.


No, that’s not it.

My legs are moving all by themselves.

As in, they’re shaking.


I can’t pee because I’m terrified I won’t be able to get up off the toilet. Nick’s going to come home to wild children and find me stuck on the porcelain throne.


Leg day just kicked my butt.


Once upon a time, I was fit.

In fact, I worked out with a trainer 3 days a week, not including the other 2 or 3 days I spent at the gym with the hubs or by myself. I was strong. I was toned. I could do cardio without fainting. I had a goal: get super fit and super strong so the next time I got pregnant, I’d last longer before my muscles and stamina atrophied away.

Best shape of my life.

Flash-forward 14 months: I’ve got an adorable, perfect baby, and the body of a limp sea cucumber.

I mean, it’s not Jabba the Hut over here, but there’s definitely more squish than there was before. My pencil skirts are riding a lot higher.

So, I’ve been taking my kiddos to the park a few days a week to exercise with another neighborhood mom. She’s awesome. I’m pathetic.

Today, four of us mothers worked out, one of which is a fitness instructor at local gyms and brought a game plan. A leg game plan.

I still remember the feeling when it was all over and I looked at my baby in the car seat and realized I still had to haul her up the hill to the car.


I hurt.


Somebody call my husband and warn him not to expect dinner tonight. I’d call but my phone’s across the room. Let’s hope there’s no zombie apocalypse in the near future. I’d be a goner.

Tomorrow is going to be worse. I can’t wait.

Remember the aforementioned pencil skirts? Or those jeans I’m trying to wear sans muffin-top? Meh.



the moaning noodle stuck to the couch.


Pinterest Valentine’s Fail, times two.


It’s high time I stopped succumbing to the Pinterest fantasy.

See, I saw this lovely pin from The Nerd’s Wife:


“I’ve got to get my kids’ valentines done!” I said.

“Hey! I’ve got a heart shaped ice cube tray!” I said.

“I’ve got crap-loads of broken crayons lying around here somewhere!” I said.

“I can do that!” I said.

Well mine looked like crap. Aaaand I ruined my tray. Aaaand it was a pretty silicon one. Aaaaand I probably left them in the oven way too long because the colors blended super weird with a film of waxy/oil almost-color across the top.



So instead, I bought my son the cheap Star Wars valentines at the grocery store like he wanted from the beginning. No candy. No super cute quote. No not-candy-but-look-at-this-cool-item-because-I’m-a-really-on-the-ball-mom pun thing. Just a small piece of holographic cardstock. And my son LOVED IT.

But my daughter, who’s been through this song and dance before, straight up ASKED me to look at Pinterest. “Pentrist?” she said, with a hopeful smile. They get ’em young, I’m tellin ya.

So, I found this awesome Pinterest gem, thinking “no oven, no hot glue gun, no photoshop, no selling my soul to the craft store gods . . . and I get to be ‘the healthy mom.’ I can do this.”


I didn’t think this one through.

I printed that printable on hot pink paper, cut them out by hand (because who has the “circle cutter” mentioned in the post?) and taped those babies to my dollar store applesauce all within an hour the night before the kindergarten valentine’s party. I felt awesome. Correction: awesome sauce. Everything was going according to plan.

Until morning arrived.

Do you know how much 28 applesauce cups weigh?

It’s a lot. Like, too much for a forty pound kindergartner.


When my daughter’s carpool ride arrived, I had to walk out, help her load the bag of cups into my neighbor’s van, and mumble some weird apology/joke about how I was making my daughter lug half her body weight around in a new-baby gift bag.

She came home and told me that her friend had to help her haul the valentines across campus into class.

Good job, mom.

It wasn’t until later that day, as my daughter and son were going through all of the valentines they’d gotten from friends that I realized something else. We never put her name on her valentines.

So now, I don’t even get the credit for being the healthy mom. What’s the point of being the healthy mom if I don’t get the credit! Oh, not the point, riiiight.


Verdict: Holographic cardstock valentines for the win.

But we ended Valentine’s day with a lovely family BBQ, drawing with chalk on the back porch, watching the sun set. I love my Valentines. All four of them.


Did I mention my husband painted my portrait? And nope, he didn’t have help.


He said the wet smudges at the bottom are “cloud nine.” Because I’m floating.

Until next time,


p.s. There was a third FAIL, but it involved a compromising chalk drawing of yoda, darth vader, and obi wan kanobi in a fight. It was on accident, but my brother keeps bringing up “schwartz” Spaceballs jokes…



You Go, Girl.


Yesterday the hubs and I went to kindergarten parent teacher conference for our daughter. I wish I could make some funny comment about how we were dreading it, but I’d be lying. I wasn’t dreading it. My daughter is awesome. And I’ve got the perfect story to illustrate why.

Her teachers are amazing. (She’s got two – one mostly for English, reading, art, & kindergarten “social studies,” and one mostly for Spanish, science, & math. Spanish Dual Immersion kindergarten is so cool!) And they “get” her. They love her! They were oh so sincerely rantin’ and ravin’ about her. We ate it up.

Even the hubs got misty eyed when one of her teachers spoke about her character. And dang, my girl is smart. I couldn’t be more proud!

Both teachers told us stories about her that made us giggle and beam. But my favorite story about her was one I experienced myself.

Usually when Reese gets home from school, I “casually” ask lots of “nonchalant” questions. Who did you play with at recess? What did you play? Who did you sit by at lunch? Did you see anyone who didn’t have friends to play with today? What did you do? Did anything make you sad? Did anything make you nervous? Did anything make you laugh?

I’ve gotten lots of different responses, and then one afternoon, this conversational gem:

Me: “So who did you play with at recess today?”
(Daughter) R: “In the morning I played with *Jessie. But I didn’t play with her for the recess after lunch.”
Me: “Oh. Did something happen?”
R, with no indication of sadness: “She just didn’t want to play with me.”
Me, trying to hide my ruffled feathers: “What were you playing?”
R: “We were playing tag and Jessie didn’t want to play after lunch.”
Me, hesitantly relieved: “Oh, she was probably too hot to play tag. It’s really hot out there, huh?”
R: “No, mom. She said that tag is for babies.”
Me, eyes bulging, mouth pinched, secretly thinking WHO IN THE WORLD IS THIS JESSIE GIRL AND WHERE DOES THE LITTLE BOOGER LIVE!?: “Oh.”
R, with gleaming, glittering eyes and a stinking confident smile: “But mom, (shakes her head like an adult), babies can’t run.”

Babies can’t run, people. And tag, well, tag is no baby game.

You go, girl. You go to the moon and back.

Love, your mom.

*name changed to protect the friggin’ guilty.

Wild Zone!


Wild Zone!

My dad is awesome. He has a hilariously skewed and unexpected sense of humor. He likes the weirdest movies, and proves it with endless obscure movie quotes that almost no one but his family recognizes. Aziz! Liiiight! 

He’s many things: an airline pilot, a stubborn debater, world-class champion of The Look, tinkerer, mechanic, sailor, grandpa, cherisher of my angel of a mother, BYU Cougars fan, intellectual, rock music aficionado, pet scorpion owner,* and secret teddy bear.**

But did you know? He’s also an inventor. No, for real. Like, the man has two patents. The guy could have been a mechanical engineer if the sky hadn’t been calling to him since he was a little tyke.

I’m going to let you in on his best creation (besides us kids, you know). It’s called WILD ZONE!. That punctuation may look funny. It’s because you can’t say “WILD ZONE!” without the “!”

Now, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’ve spent years, nigh, decades alongside my siblings in our combined pursuit of OMG-Dad-you’re-so-embarrassing. Wild Zone is one of those things we “tolerated.” Almost like how we barely tolerate the super worn-out overalls he deems worthy of wearing in public. Except, the overalls are truly horrifying, and Wild Zone is actually pretty awesome. But of course, we couldn’t admit that.

Years and years ago, my dad invented a game. And then he had it made. Made. As in he professionally printed his card game. Then life got busy. Four kids and his profession and all other sorts of life responsibilities took precedence, and so the card games never got sold to stores. They wallowed in storage for a very long time. Then one day, his partner-in-crime decided it was pointless paying the storage fee for years on end, so boxes of card games arrived at our house. LOTS of boxes. An INCREDIBLE amount of boxes.

Wild zone storage

This is what’s left after a good 10 years of giving away games whenever possible.

Inside each box are 48 WILD ZONE!’s. We as a family played a lot of WILD ZONE!.

Wild Zone!

What a gem. Straight outta Zack Morris/Kelly Kapowski early 90’s perfection.

Did I mention we have a lot of boxes? Guess what my parents gave out to trick-or-treaters last year? Yep.

It’s a fast game, with simple math, and a whole lot of you snooze, you lose rivalry. If you can add up to 10, can tell the difference between red & blue, and have no problem stealing your own mother’s turn, then you can play.

When Nick and I lived in Hawai’i, my Dad snuck a box of these into our luggage, which we dispersed among friends. Many a get-together resulted in heated WILD ZONE! matches across our coffee table.

My dad named Nick the Vice President of International Sales and Distribution. Which means WILD ZONE FOR EVERYONE!

So, if you want a free card game, hit us up! This is prime Monday FHE material we’re talking about here. Though if you’re a local neighbor of mine, just wait a few weeks until neighborhood Christmas gifts start making their rounds. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of that years ago?


*Yes, my father owned a slew of scorpions for longer than I care to acknowledge. He kept them in a large fish tank on his bathroom counter. And he named them after his daughters’ ex-boyfriends. Except for the one he claimed was a member of a Mexican drug cartel. That one was named “El Jefe.”

**The mother of my childhood best friend once told me that she had always been super intimidated by my Dad. That she thought he was sorta scary. Then she declared, “But really, he’s just a big teddy bear, isn’t he?”



Pee-Pants. A horror story.


PEE-PANTS Horror StoryIn case you were wondering what I mean by said “pee-pants,” we’re speaking of toddler/kid night time pull-ups. And, dear readers, PULLS-UPS ARE THE KINGS OF THE NECESSARY EVILS.

They’re disposable (yay!) and suspiciously expensive (boo.)

They’re easy for kids to pull on (yay!) except every 3rd time, when they rip up the side (boo) and render themselves useless. Unless you’re a parent willing to use duct tape. No comment.

They’re everywhere & always within reach (yay!) until it’s two hours past your adorable hellion’s bedtime and you discover you’re all out (major boo).

But dear readers, let me tell you a horror story.

It happened on a very recent dark, stormy night. We did laundry. More specifically, we did the kids’ laundry. If you know where this is going, then shame on you for not warning me ahead of time.

The buzzer buzzed oh-so-innocently and hubby got up from the couch where we were watching reruns of “New Girl” to forward that load to the dryer. I heard the washer door open, then an incredibly long silent pause. No sounds of sloshing wet clothes. No little “hmphs” from Nick begrudgingly bent over transferring those wet clothes to the dryer. Nothing. Sickening silence.

Then, the dreaded, “honey . . . ?”

I didn’t move. Maybe if I just pretend I didn’t hear it, time will rewind and fix whatever horror it is. 

“Seriously. Something is wrong. Come look at this.”

Nope. Nnnnnope. Nothing is wrong. Everything is just fine.

“Tara. There is something seriously wrong with our washer.”

I blew out a sigh, bid Schmidt to wish me luck, and trudged into the laundry room WHERE FREAKIN’ SLIMY SNOW AWAITED ME.

I kid you not. Little, clear-ish/white-ish slimy pellets of snow were spilling out of the washer and clinging to the wet clothes.

“I don’t want to know what that stuff is,” said my dashing, debonaire, total scaredy-pants husband.

I bravely picked up a clump and squished it between my fingers. Then images of a long-forgotten Youtube gardening video flashed through my mind. A video where the crystals inside of diapers are soaked with water and placed in the soil, thereby providing a source of water for thirsty plants and also preventing overwatering.


My son’s ***PEE-PANTS*** literally expanded to 5 times their normal size and violently disintegrated.

With more attitude than was probably necessary, I impatiently carefully removed each article of wet, slimy clothing and shook out slimy crystals all over my laundry room floor, then threw them in the dryer. We plugged a wind-turbine in front of the washer to dry out the crystals and hoped (or just pretended) the clothes now in the dryer wouldn’t do any damage. “This thing is under warranty, right?”

Nick vacuumed out the dried crystals in the morning, and the kids clothes are no worse for wear. (Though I cannot attest to their emotional and mental state.) I still haven’t tried to use the washer or dryer since. Too scared. Should we take bets on how long I can go without doing a load of laundry in this house??

Moral of the story: warn your kid not to put their pee-pants in the dirty clothes. And warn yourselves to be on the lookout for the little disposable traitors when throwing in a kids’ load late at night in the dark.

Stupid pee-pants. Stupid, stupid little pee-pants.

*If someone dares make a joke about them not being “little” pee-pants when they’re five times their normal size, I will publicly unfriend you.