Sunday, May 19, 2013


You know. When I got a marketing degree, I thought my degree would mostly teach me about advertising and even include a few graphic design classes. Unfortunately, my degree included zero graphic design classes and focused more on the process of getting a product into the hands of consumers rather than specifically dissecting the advertising aspect of it all. It wasn't until my senior year that I learned SUU offered an Advertising major. That included graphic design classes.

Seeing as I wasn't about to change my major one semester away from graduating, I took it upon myself to learn what I needed to learn to satisfy my graphic design/advertising cravings. Enter -- curtain business.

I recently changed the name of my Etsy shop! It is now called The Crooked Branch -- inspired by my childhood street name. I have loved rebranding my shop and coming up with cute things to make my company more aesthetically appealing. Here is a card I include when someone requests swatches:
This one is kind of like my business card. It is included in all the packages I send out.
I was really honored a couple months ago when a website contacted me and wanted to feature my curtains on a project they were working on called The House That Etsy Built. They decorated a house with products from almost 100 different Etsy shops. These three pictures are from that project:

Another thing I'm feeling the need to show off is an invitation I made for a Young Women's activity we had recently.

I've also slowly been working on making our house more aesthetically appealing. It took me a near 6 months to get both of these curtains finished and to decide on throw pillows for the couch. I am completely loving the way our living room is coming together.
I have serious commitment problems when it comes to fabric. I don't even want to tell you how many hours I spent and how much fabric I bought before deciding this would be perfect.
My dream is to turn the basement living room area into a playroom. This is the first step in that process. Next step is adding shelves for storing the mess of toys we currently have down there.
It is so exciting to me to see design ideas come to life! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bouncing Baby Boys

When Eli was in his first year of life, Jeff would often bounce Eli on his knee and say, "Bounc-ing Ba-by Booooooooooy!" I thought it was adorable.

And thus we see where Eli's love of bobbing up and down comes from. You'll forgive me for basically only taking pictures of my kids on the trampoline, right? I can't help it. They are the cutest and the happiest and the most eager to pose for pictures while they are trying to defy gravity.
I need to give an update on the boys. Our lives have been a little hectic lately. I kept feeling like we were in transitional phases of life so I kind of lost our routine, schedule and rules over the past several months. Between busy season, babysitting for a friend for a few months and learning how to split my time between motherhood and my calling, everything kind of went crazy.
I kept getting frustrated because Eli seemed to be turning into a nutcase. Then I realized it was probably because he's always been on a really good schedule and we've been flying by the seat of our pants lately. I expected him to be unaffected by all these changes, but that was not the case.

I've instigated a Baby Bootcamp this week. Jeff and I sat down and came to a consensus on a few family rules so that we were both on the same page and could work on getting our lives back to where we once were.

The new rules are:

  • Eli only gets his binky in his room. If he comes out, he has to give us the binky. He can have it as much as he wants in his room.
  • The time that we put Eli to bed is going to be more concrete. 
  • No more milk for Eli at bedtime because we are *drumroll please* FINALLY potty training Eli completely. Meaning even at night and nap time.
  • Toys must be picked up in the backyard. It was kind of becoming a junkyard back there.
  • If we say no or yes to Eli, that is final, so we are going to be more thoughtful when telling him no or yes.
So far so good! Sure, we're only two days in, but Eli already seems to be appreciating the structure that has returned to our house. 

I realized I never gave an update of what Carson has been up to at his 1-year mark, so here are a few of Carson's milestones lately:

  • He says "dada" and even "Daddy" all the time. He will say "Mama" on rare occassions like when Eli is nearly strangling him to death but he usually limits his Mama usages to life and death situations. He said "Bye, bye" the other day and he is starting to blab a lot of nonsense.
  • He has been sick most of his life. I just went to the doctor and found out my asthma flared up which made me wonder if Carson has actually had asthma all this time. I plan to take him to the doctor to find out more about that.
  • He is on a funny sleep schedule. He goes down for the night around 8. Wakes up around 8. Back to bed at 10:00 sharp and lately he's only been taking one super long morning nap. So he wakes up from his 10:00 nap around 2-3. It's crazy. The little boy who never slept is finally catching a little shut-eye!
  • He loves to stick his hand into the toilet.
  • He follows Eli around all day long and will cry in the morning until he sees Eli.
  • He looooooves to be held. He is a very clingy boy. He's content to sit in my lap and watch Eli run around the house all day.
  • He has started hitting. He has quick little hands, too! He thinks hitting is hilarious and I think it's a game for him right now, so I'm trying to fix the problem before it becomes something more.
  • He is a great traveler. We just switched him into a new carseat (convertible that's currently rear-facing). He seems to like it.
  • He switched over to cow's milk no problem.
  • He still wakes up once at night. I will probably do sleep boot camp with him after our lives are in order from baby boot camp.
  • He can do the motions to the popcorn song. He loves singing nursery songs.
  • He is very sensitive. If he falls down or if Eli nudges him as he walks by, Carson has a come-apart.
  • He loves bananas, chocolate chips, watermelon, carrots, broccoli, cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta, eggs and green beans.
  • He chipped his front tooth! I don't really know what to do about that.
  • He's such a goof. Jeff and I love to watch him roam around the house because he does the funniest things. He brings us so much joy!

Next up: Eli!

  • Here's Eli's big news -- We decided to night potty train him. I hesitantly put him in underwear the first night, expecting to be up several times with a wet, screaming toddler. We all woke up the next morning dry and happy! He went all the way through the night without wetting the bed first try! It was so awesome. The next night he woke up around 11:00 crying. I took him to the bathroom and then he woke up dry again. Now if we can just figure out his refusal to go #2 in the potty he'll be officially toilet trained!
  • He goes to bed around 9:00 right now. I want to work on making that closer to 8 though. He still takes a good 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon.
  • He loves trains, cars, trucks, tractors and airplanes. He has also taken an interest in fishing.
  • He was afraid of dogs, but has warmed up to them since Jeff's parents got a dog. He and Barkley are now good friends and enjoy playing "Blankie Chase" together.
  • Eli loves cereal, mac and cheese, yogurt, strawberries, lunch meat, eggs and sandwiches.
  • He just started doing this thing where he scratches his head and says, "My don't think so." When we say something he disagrees with.
  • The conversations between his toy cars have become very advanced. He's got a whole soap opera going on between them.
  • He loves doing anything and everything with Jeff. They are the best of buds.
  • He loves books. Curious George and Dr. Seuss are currently his favorites.
  • He is great at going to nursery, and he has had a few successful play dates with a couple of his nursery friends.
  • He is so smart, persistent and stubborn. If he wants something, he will find a way to get it. My dad tells me to appreciate it because he's a leader, but it does get hard to parent such a strong-headed little boy! I do love his cleverness, and he's good about keeping me on my toes.
  • To go along with his strong-headedness, he has recently started running out our front door every chance he gets. As soon as he's out, he runs around the corner of our street, completely out of eyesight. I have to chase him down anywhere from 3-7 times a day. We're working on getting a lock to put at the top of the door. 
  • He is so active. Loves to be on the trampoline, running around, jumping, skipping, or throwing balls around the house. 
  • He loves to color, do stamps, play with play dough or write with chalk.
  • He also completely loves our phones, the computer and TV. His favorite shows are Thomas, Mickey Mouse, Super Why and Mater.
  • He has so much energy, confidence and resilience. I am always surprised with how much information he can soak up and all the funny details he remembers. He is so fun to be around and we love having him in our family!
Now here's a slew of pictures. We'll start with Eli getting a gardening lesson from Jeff.

Children's museum. All his wildest dreams coming true.

 Carson's blurry chipped tooth.
 Bouncing. Always.
 I told him to smile at me and he did this.
 Carson was not harmed in the taking of this picture:
I laugh when I think back to not so long ago when he would try so hard to jump but could only get one foot off the ground. He's come a long way.
Crazy kiddo.
Here's Carson in the trying-so-hard-to-jump phase. Soon enough, my dear.
Eli found some cool shades one day.

Carson's pre-dinner meal. If dinner is on the table when Jeff gets home, you can bet this is the only way it happened.
I sang Thomas's theme song incorrectly. Eli was appalled.
The trampoline alone no longer suffices Eli's adventurous side. He now has to put a ball on the trampoline, jump onto the ball, which sends him flying every which way. I'm fairly confident we will be visiting the hospital this summer.
Eli often "accidentally" crashes into Carson. This was one of those attempts.
With Mother's Day, I've been thinking a lot about being a mom. I'm so grateful to be the mother of Carson and Eli. We have a lot of craziness. I have a lot of learning. But it really is the best, most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have done with my life.

My friend Kenz came over to my house for dinner on Monday. Eli was screaming the majority of the time. Carson had food splattered all over him and smelled like a dirty diaper even though he didn't have one. My kitchen sink was piled with dishes. There was food sprinkled about my floors. Toys strewn in the living room. Basically, we were in our true form. Hiding nothing for Kenz.

I fear the situation may have scared her away from motherhood. It's easy to see the dirt, mess and chaos that comes with child rearing. It's easy to complain about how hard it is. It's tempting to throw your hands in the air in defeat and say you actually don't really know how to raise the little ragamuffins. 

After joking with Jeff on a particularly rough evening, one of us said, "Why did we do this to ourselves?!?" That made me think. Why do we do this? Why do so many people have kids when you know they will bring with them the horror stories of diaper-smeared rooms, screaming through the night and tantrums in grocery stores?

If so many people are willing to put up with the tornado of raising children, it makes you realize there must be something super special about it. And to Kenz and anyone else who may be momentarily overcome by the craziness of motherhood, I want to make sure you know that it is special. 

The moment you hold a new, innocent, perfect little clone of your husband (let's face it, they usually look just like the husband), you fall in love. That little baby can do no wrong. You love every breath they take. Every sneeze is journal worthy. Every snot-faced kiss can melt your heart. 

And then they turn into toddlers.

But that's okay, too because suddenly they're talking. And you get the pleasure of hearing every hilarious thought they've been storing up for the past two years. They are so full of life and happiness and a perfect naiveness about the world. My kids are the best examples to me. My kids have taught me selflessness like no one else ever could. They are unintentionally molding me into the very person I want to be. 

I have come to learn about myself that I am not even very good with kids. I'm just not. I've tried to be but it does not come very naturally to me. Even so, I love being a mom. I am a kid person with my own kids because I know exactly what they need. I can see myself in them every day which is humbling and rewarding and makes me gush over their every move. Even with the screaming and the dirty diapers and the sink full of dishes.

So Kenz. And everyone else. Please don't be afraid of having babies. They are worth every moment of frustration. At Girly Girl weekend we talked about our moms and how they have influenced us. It reminded me that my job is so important, and that I will have a huge influence on my children. It is such an honor to be their role model and to teach them the things I know. I love being a mom. And I just wanted everyone who has seen how crazy my boys and house can be to know that I'm glad I "did this to myself." It is hard work. But that's how you know it's worth it.

End of stereotypical motherhood rant. Happy Belated Mother's Day. :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day Getaway

It's that time of year again. The time of year when all the Excell girls gather together, dump their kids in their husbands' loving arms and skip town for Girly Girl Weekend!
See ya later boys!
Don't check the bank account while we're gone.
I was in charge of the girls' weekend this year. I loved that we ended up going the weekend of Mother's Day. It was the perfect Mother's Day gift because none of us had to bring any babies for the first time ever! Since we were childless, I decided to have a let's-do-all-the-fun-things-we-can't-normally-do-because-kids-sometimes-don't-cooperate theme. Don't get us wrong now. We love being mothers. But it was nice to get in and out of a car without wrestling with carseats for a couple days. Plus I actually had time to let loose and slip into some stilts at the shoe store as we meandered through the mall.
If Tana and I ever wanted to be carnival people, we found our niche -- amazon women in heels. Come one, come all.
Shopping sure can wear a girl out! Luckily Celeste and Laura put on a fashion show for us at Sear's so that we could take a breather.
We stopped by Camille's for a darling little lunch. Notice the new wallet I'm sporting. I finally retired my wallet from my junior year of high school.
Chick food at its finest.
More shopping happened -- as is evident from my new PURSE! Yes. I said it. Purse. I am now a purse owner. Never really been a purse girl. And I don't know how I lived so long without one. I also bought boots (I'm talking knee-high boots here, people) for the very first time in my life. I came home a new woman. Jeff almost didn't recognize me.

Anyway, with my new purse, we made our way to a movie in the evening. The movie was really good. Movies are such a luxury to me ever since having kids. I love slipping away to the theater.
We had fun chatting before finally crashing for the night. The next morning we went on a walk and did family names at the temple. Then we hopped on over to The Pizza Factory for lunch.
At lunch everyone shared something special about their moms. It was neat to hear how each mom has influenced each daughter.
Then this happened. Three times in a row, but I'll only give him the honor of appearing once on the blog.
Little did he know, I am reeeeeeeeeaaallly good at editing photos.
After much shopping, eating and laughing, it was time to pack it up and head home. Oh, what's that? We had to pack an extra person, boxes full of shoes and clothes, and a few groceries more than we came with? Will that fit? Don't we need a man to figure out how to load the car just right? No. We have the car-packing expert Mary. She impressively got us all cozied in with room to spare.
We stopped by Mary's parents' house on the way home to drop off a Mother's Day gift.
Mary's dad picked us all flowers from his beautiful garden.

We got home around dinnertime on Saturday. I didn't realize how much I could miss my little family after not seeing them for such a short time until I saw them Saturday night. They were so cute and happy and I could tell they had a lot of fun having some father and son time. But I sure missed my boys!

I'm sure Mary missed her boys too.
And if she didn't miss her boy, I sure did! Thanks for giving me a fun Mother's Day weekend, Jeff!
I love this tradition and I'm already looking forward to getting together again next year!