Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hello, thirty.

Last Wednesday, the 24th of August, at 3:56pm, I officially bid my twenties farewell.

It's ironic that the last year of my life has been the most significant yet. On a handful of occasions I've referred to it as "my year", in fact. Despite the many challenges I've faced, however, I've grown leaps and bounds, and gained a new level of empathy, patience and acceptance for the inevitable. It certainly has been a time to grow. No need to get mushy though. It's been a wonderful week and I've had a blast celebrating. In light of that, I thought it would be fun to post a birthday interview to document who I am right now. Thirty is a milestone, after all, and I think it's worth making a tiny fuss over. So here is probably way more than you ever wanted to know about me.

AS OF 24 AUGUST 2011:

Favorite thing to eat:

I'm on a major caprese salad kick. We have two tomato plants outside that finally started producing cherry tomatoes a couple weeks ago. Between those and my sweet cousin's amazing vegetable garden close by, there has been an abundance of tomatoes around here. I've also managed to keep my basil plant alive this year, which is a first for me. Now add a little fresh mozzarella, red onion, and a sweet balsamic vinegar concoction and you've got a tasty (and eye-pleasing) treat. What's really funny is I've hated tomatoes my whole life, until about a year ago.   

Favorite TV shows:
House, M.D. and Criminal Minds.  Also love How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, SNL and So You Think You Can Dance.  We still watch The Office, but I think it's going downhill.

Favorite movies:
Oceans Eleven has for years been my favorite. And among many others, I'm a real sucker for make ya feel goods like The Blind Side, August Rush, Radio, Rudy, and The Pursuit of Happyness. I also try to watch A&E's Pride and Prejudice every few years, though I still haven't talked Neil into watching it with me. I also love many old movies and find the dialogue to be refreshing and insightful. So many movies today lack good dialogue.

Actors I love:
Vince Vaughn - my absolute fav. He's the kind of actor who seems to just play himself. He's so natural and real. I think he'd be a really cool guy to hang out with at a BBQ.
Jack Black - again, hilarious and real. Love his quirky, eccentric nature.
Matt Damon - great actor and ridiculously good looking.
Justin Timberlake - really could care less about his music, but think he's an incredible actor. And as a longtime SNL viewer and fan, I also think he is by far the best host they've had.
Clark Gable - the epitome of "tall, dark and handsome." Loved him in It Happened One Night.
Paul Newman - maybe part of the reason I've always loved him is because he reminds me of Neil. Aside from his amazing talent as an actor, he was also a family man. I respect and love him for it.
Daniel Craig & Ryan Reynolds - hottness at its finest!

Actresses I love:
Reese Witherspoon - love her cute and sassy nature. She plays her roles very well too.
Kate Winslet - I find her endearing, sweet and very down-to-earth. I also love her accent.
Joan Cusak - love her voice!!
Kristen Wiig - so funny! One of the best cast members SNL has ever had. Target lady? Genius!
Ellen Degeneres - absolutely hilarious!  Love her.
Katharine Hepburn - love the sassy roles she played, especially in Bringing Up Baby.
Kate Beckinsale - quite possibly the most gorgeous woman I've ever laid eyes on.

Musical artists I love:
I'm pretty well rounded when it comes to music.
Diana Krall, who's not only an incredibly talented singer and pianist, but a down to earth wife and mother to twin boys. It's rare to find such qualities in a celebrity these days.
Other favorites include The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sergei Rachmoninov (composer and pianist), John Mayer, Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead and some of the older classics like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles. I guess it's the stuff you hear from your youth that often sticks with ya.

Songs I'm loving:
"Hello" (Martin Solveig & Dragonette), "Strawberry Swing" (Coldplay), "Good Life" (OneRepublic), and "Starlight" (Muse).

Favorite Christmas song:

"Winter Wonderland."  Also love Dean Martin's "Marshmallow World."  No one sings that song like Dean.  That recording brings back tender memories of childhood Christmases.

Favorite church apostle:
Among the many amazing ones out there, Jeffrey R. Holland is probably my very favorite.

Favorite hymn:
I have many! "Lord, I Would Follow Thee," "Where Can I Turn For Peace?," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "The Lord is my Shepherd," "Joseph Smith's First Prayer," "Love at Home," and "The Spirit of God" are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Powerful words and melodies. I usually can't get through any one of these without getting choked up.

Favorite primary song:
"I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me."

Favorite scripture story:
Joseph Smith's first vision and the events that followed. This last year especially I have grown to love and cherish the Doctrine and Covenants. So many treasures there!

Current church calling:
Beehive advisor (for the third time in nine years).

A calling I would enjoy:
Relief Society teacher.

Favorite holiday:
Thanksgiving. It lands during my favorite season, the food is always amazing, the football is awesome, and you can't beat spending time with family! I think another reason I love Thanksgiving is because it's sort of the kick off to the Christmas season. Rest assured, I never get my Christmas decor out until after Thanksgiving has passed.

Favorite candy:
Chewy Sprees! Also love Hot Tamales, Red Vines, and Peanut M&Ms. Definitely prefer fruity over chocolaty.

Guilty pleasures:
Coke or Pepsi.  I drink way too much of it. Sushi is another. I literally can't get enough and am always in the mood. Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake - so terribly tasty.  I only make it once or twice a year for a reason.

Favorite smells:
Tide with a hint of Downy - I could sit and smell a bottle of that stuff all day long. Fresh rain. Vanilla and Harvest scented candles. Pampers Swaddlers - I know that's weird, but they have such a clean, new baby scent, and totally take me back to those first days.

Places I'd love to go:
I am a real homebody so honestly, the idea of traveling isn't a must for me. There are a few places I'd love to see before I die though. New Orleans is one of them, as strange as that may be. I'd also love to travel Europe, see Jane Austen's house, and visit Bern, Switzerland from where my paternal grandmother and her family came when she was only eleven.

What I want to be when I grow up:
The same thing I've always wanted to be: a wife and mother. I am living the dream, and I mean that with all sincerity.

Things I both love and hate:
Running - hate doing it, love the liberation that follows.
The Pottery Barn - love their stuff, hate their prices.
Pinterest - the ultimate time sucker! I will say I have found some excellent and useful ideas and recipes there. It really is an incredible tool and offers an efficient way to archive some of your favorite things. I've just had to learn to practice some serious restraint!

Biggest pet peeves:
Forgive my candor, but I have quite a few.
Bad grammar! Don't even get me started.
Not giving credit where credit is due.Twice I have seen my photos on another person's blog with no permission or mention of me, and I've seen it happen to other photographers countless times as well. This is why I've started watermarking my personal photos in addition to my professional ones. It isn't that I care if people use them. Nor am I trying to say I think my photos are exceptional and deserve praise. It's just principle! If you're going to share someone else's work on your blog, social network page or anywhere for that matter, take the extra two seconds to include their name! And it wouldn't hurt to ask their permission first, too!
Bad drivers. Some people just shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel.
Flakiness/not following through. If you've committed yourself to something, do it! If you can't or won't do it, don't commit in the first place! It's quite simple. And if you borrow something, give it back! Don't make me ask for it! Drives me nuts!
Phoniness. I don't want candy coated, I want real!
Disrespect/sense of entitlement.This mainly applies to the youth of today, but unfortunately I've seen it among adults as well.
Noisy/inconsiderate neighbors. I don't tolerate noise well, especially when it disrupts the peace and quiet in my home. Whether it be someone blasting their stereo or talking loudly, if I can hear it inside my house with my windows shut, I'm probably going to make a fuss over it!

Greatest weaknesses:
I'm indecisive, lack patience, am an extreme perfectionist and a terrible procrastinator. Wow, that really doesn't paint a very pretty picture, does it?

Greatest insecurity:

My teeth. Hate them. Ugh! Braces, someday.

Greatest strengths:
I am compassionate and care deeply for the important people in my life, probably much more than they know. I also have the ability to recognize God's simple beauties. I am passionate about and easily moved by these things, and I'm grateful for this sensitivity. The world is so much more pleasant when you can surround yourself with lovely things that fulfill you. Sometimes I feel like I'm a young person with an old soul because of how deeply I appreciate and feel like I can understand certain things. Whether it be music, art, poetry, or dance, when I am moved by it, you know it. I really hope I can pass this same sense of passion, recognition and appreciation down to my children, not just so they'll learn to love some of the things I love, but because I know it can bring them joy and fulfillment as well.

The things I value most:
Being a daughter of God, a wife and a mother. Neil, Chloe and Ryan. Spending time with my family, extended families and close friends. Family history, including old and current photos, journaling and other special things documented. My parents' and in-laws' wisdom, knowledge and testimony of gospel truths as well as my own testimony and the sacred things in my heart.

A few of my favorite things:
Big tall trees, renovated homes in charming old neighborhoods, Bath and Bodywork's anti-bacterial soap, Target, Nike dri-fit gear, the Fall season, creme brulee, ballet, The Pioneer Woman, blasting an awesome song in the car while driving alone, polka dots and scalloped edges, writing, blogging, caramel corn, flag banners, classic Christmas music, cooking and baking, long, meaningful talks with loved ones, tasteful crafts, 49ers and LSU football, Pandora radio, the house in the movie Father of the Bride, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, rain, rottweilers and bulldogs, family bike rides, Briannas salad dressings (haven't tried a flavor I don't love), white kitchen cabinets and dark wood floors, McDonald's fries, Lay's kettle cooked jalapeno potato chips, Baskin Robbin's daiquiri ice, C.S. Lewis, photography, old family photos, avacados, vintage fabric, and a good laugh. Just to name a few.

What I hope to accomplish in the coming year:
Build even stronger relationships with my children. Read to them more. Talk to them more. Relish my time with them more. Scrapbook and journal more. Get my photos organized once and for all. Print my blog into books. Read, study and know my scriptures better. Relax and not stress so much. Get back on a normal running/exercise schedule and stick to it. Call my grandma more frequently.  Take part in a flash mob.  Plant and maintain a nice fruit and vegetable garden. Be more kind to others. Go to bed earlier. Organize a family tree on a wall in my house consisting of old family photos, new family photos, and special quotes/sayings by family members who have passed on. Be happy, smile and laugh lots.

Wow, that took forever, didn't it?!


I had a great birthday week.  On Wednesday (my actual birthday), my cute friend, Brittney threw a birthday brunch for our friend Tina, who celebrated her birthday the 26th, and me.  Brittney, Tina and I went to TOFW together back in March and see each other a fair amount given the nature of our callings in YW.  I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Tina, who reached out to me the first Sunday we went to church here.  It was fun being the birthday girls together.

Neil thought he was going to have to go to Bakersfield Wednesday afternoon, so we had planned to celebrate my birthday another day, but he found out late Tuesday that he did not have to go after all.  So we snuck out for dinner that evening, leaving the kids with our next door neighbors.  When we came home, we sat outside and chatted for a while while the kiddos played. 

{With next door neighbors, Gabby and Ariana.  Love these girls.}

My cute friend, Janea dropped by some cupcakes while we were still outside, which finished off the day just right, not to mention all the texts, phone calls and facebook messages I had received throughout the day.

On Thursday, my friends Tami and Lorilee took me out for sushi.  Misty was going to come but got sick at the last minute, which I was really bummed about.  I kinda like that friend of mine.  It was fun to get away for an hour and a half and enjoy some girl time.  I've never really been a big "girls night out" kinda gal, but these 3 ladies make it really easy to love the concept.  I'm anxious for Tami's birthday in November so we'll have an excuse to go out again.  She'll also be celebrating the big 3-0!

Just when I thought birthday festivities were over, I was invited to yet another birthday lunch on Friday that another lady from the ward arranged for all the August birthday girls at church.  There were six of us total, so an intimate little group, but just perfect.  I am really amazed and touched by the generous nature of the women I go to church with.  They inspire me more than they know.

{Top left: the birthday girls holding up our bracelets that our friend, Alex made for us; top right: birthday brunch crew - me, Tina, Kathy, Alex, Amber, Kaylene and Belinda - all ladies from church; bottom left: Tami (with her cute little baby girl bump), Lorilee and me (we missed you, Misty!); bottom right: just a glance at the number of cards and treats I received from loved ones.}

So far thirty feels pretty good. Thanks for everyone who contributed to my very happy birthday.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


"I remember that it was really hot out."
"I remember Holly's cell phone going off during the ceremony."
"I remember you looking pretty in your dress." (said with a wink)
"I remember walking around with you outside the temple and pretending we liked each other.  Except we didn't have to pretend."

"I remember just feeling really, really happy the whole entire day."

"I remember feeling really, really happy when we were done with pictures."

"I remember the sincere expression on your face upon seeing me for the first time in my dress.  I'll never, ever forget that expression.  Ever."
"I remember sitting in the celestial room with you just moments before we were escorted in to be sealed."
"I remember saying, 'yes'!"

Neil: "It was a good day."
Valeri: "It was a good day."

Happy 9th to us! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A visit and 3 birthdays

It's always fun when Grandma comes to visit, especially on a week when two great milestones are taking place!  What, you ask, might those be?  Well, kindergarten for Chloe, of course.  And for Grandma Susie?  A birthday!  That's right.  On August 13th, Susie celebrated the big 5-5!  What a milestone!  She sure is youthful for being that old (HA!), despite Chloe's innocently honest remark over Sunday's dinner about all her wrinkles.

Grandma Susie, we're so glad you could come hang out with us for a week!  And we're even more glad that you chose to do so the week of your birthday!  It is rare that we get to the chance to celebrate with you and it was special for us just as we hope it was special for you!

{During an afternoon of rafting and enjoying some warm California sun.}

You are an awesome person for whom I hold high respect.  You know what you want, know how to achieve it, and don't waste any time in the process.  I also love that you are honest and direct.  One of the nights you were here, Chloe asked if you went to church and you told her you went to the same church that she does.  I loved what you said next:  "It's true, ya know."  What strength and confidence your children and grandchildren gain in hearing you share your beliefs.  I have always admired your obedient heart and love for and confidence in the gospel.  And I find it to be more comforting than ever now that Chloe is growing old enough to understand the concept of a testimony and use yours and other loved ones' as a foundation for her own.

Rafting, sugar cookie baking & frosting, swimming, shopping, bike riding, and movies... it was all a blast!  Thanks for coming to see us, and thanks for being awesome!

{Eating a special birthday breakfast cake while opening a very funny birthday card.}

We love you and hope you had a wonderful birthday!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Grandma Jean, who celebrated on the 16th and also my father-in-law, Dave, who celebrated on the 19th. 

{LEFT to RIGHT: Uncle Don, Grandpa Don, Grandma Jean & Blake, Mom, and Dad}

I had to steal these pictures off facebook since I don't have recent pictures of either one of you. Obviously it's been too long since we hung out. Good thing Lake Powell is just around the corner!  XOXO.

Late night chat

Tonight as we were heading up to bed, I made my nightly rounds to the kids' rooms; you know, the usual: make sure they're still breathing and kiss them goodnight (yet again).  When I entered Ryan's room I noticed the cupboards attached to his dresser/changing table were wide open.  In fear that he might run into one if he happened to get up in the night, I closed them.  Just then I heard some rustling coming from his direction of the room followed by,

"Hi Mom."

"Hi buddy," I said as I knelt down beside him on the floor (where he sleeps 98% of the time). 

With his eyes still closed, he reached his arms straight out in front of him and said, "Hug", to which I quickly fulfilled his wish.  Then, only a second or two later,  "Kiss".  I again obliged.  His eyes were still closed. 

THEN, about five seconds after that, he said, "I colored on my penis."

"You what?" (I hadn't caught the "colored", only, "my penis".)  When he repeated himself and I caught on to what he was saying I started to chuckle, which made Ryan, whose eyes were still closed, chuckle too. 

"I colored on my penis," he said again, "and my tummy."  He actually did color in these places earlier this evening, hence the red marks all over his lower half (and desire, for whatever reason, to remind me).

"We don't color on our body though, do we?", I said.

"No, only on paper."  More giggles.

What a sweet little boy, and what a preciously silly (and unexpected) 11:43pm conversation he and I had.  I sure do love that kid, troublesome and all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paragraph missing... and a few more thoughts

I was just glancing at the post I published late last night and noticed a paragraph was missing.  Oops.  Not sure how that happened because I know I wrote it.  Anyway, if you've read the post (which I don't expect many have because it's long and void of pictures), and wondered if something was off or missing, you are correct!  It's the paragraph starting with, "Not two days later..." that was inadvertently removed.  Sorry about that. 

I also had an afterthought, which I might as well share now since I'm going to the trouble of writing this post anyway.  There is a particular scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121 that has brought me comfort in recent months as I have tackled the various challenges of parenting with patience, and which greatly applies here.  Section 121 consists of prophecies written by Joseph Smith when he was in Liberty Jail, specifically, the responsibilities and attributes of the Priesthood.  Many prophets and other church authorities have referenced this section and have dissected some of its verses in great detail. 

41: No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only be persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42: By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--
43: Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou has reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44: That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45: Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46: The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

These words so beautifully describe the attributes that holders of the Priesthood should seek and practice, as well as parents.  Verse 43 in particular hits hard every time I read it.  We are human, and as parents we sometimes lack patience and tolerance.  We react on impulse and allow outside frustrations to influence our temper and the manner in which we discipline our children.  That's not to say our children don't need to be corrected, sometimes in a sharp, firm manner.  But just as we should scold them (sensitively) when necessary, we should also show "an increase of love" afterwards.  This is so hard to do sometimes when we may not feel so warm and fuzzy inside, but so imperative for the sake of our children and our relationships with them.  Truly, the way we act around and treat our children is the way they will learn to act around and treat others. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley's talk, Behold Your Little Ones, from October 1978's Conference Report is just incredible and encompasses this whole idea.  I would recommend any parent read it and take heart to his wise council about raising children.

I am so grateful, amidst this crazy, evil world in which I live, to have the gospel in my life, and for the prophets, past and present, who offer guidance and comfort to members of the church.  A part of me is terrified at the thought of Chloe being out there now where I can no longer control her surroundings, encounters, experiences and friendships.  But another part of me, a bigger part of me, feels reassured that she will be just fine.  Because as her parents, Neil and I have the power and privileged to teach her every day, both by word and example.  Just as the scripture says, we have with us the Holy Ghost to help us, so long as we're living in a manner that is worthy of His presence.  Sometimes our "teaching" is unpleasant but necessary, and sometimes it's pleasant and fulfilling.  Whichever it may be, I am trying much harder to think before I react and always, no matter what, end things on a positive, loving note.  If this concept isn't enough to motivate me to be a better person then I don't know what is.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why Chloe needs kindergarten in her life...

I wrote this a few months ago and wanted to get it posted before Chloe started kindergarten.  Too late for that seeing that August 10th was five days ago.  I know, what kind of mother am I that I haven't even posted a picture from her first day?!  (Or wished my mother-in-law, who turned fifty-five on the 13th a happy birthday?)  In some ways, however, I think it's appropriate that I'm posting this now because of the added perspective I've gained from these short four days she's been in kindergarten.  This summer and especially the few weeks leading up to that bittersweet first day, I've frequently pondered Chloe's tendencies and habits.  And as I've done so, it has struck me numerous times that she, and children in general, each reach a point in their lives where dad and mom aren't enough anymore, and when school is simply crucial to their growth and well being.  Structure, routine, responsibility, challenges, consequences, independence, teachers and other sources of authority, and friends.  They just need it.  Yes, they still need their parents too.  But without school (whether it be in a public setting or at home), it is difficult for children to grasp some important concepts about surviving in this world.  The following is a {somewhat comical} account of recent challenges I've faced with Chloe.  Reflecting back on the four short days she's been in kindergarten I can honestly say I am already seeing positive changes in her, which reinforces my previous claim that school is crucial. 

These events took place in April, and I wrote this post in May.  It may seem a bit silly and lacking in direction or purpose.  And perhaps I'm just setting myself up for others to judge me as a mom.  But I think it's good to document not just the pleasant but sometimes the unpleasant, particularly when there are lessons to be learned.  And hey, if nothing else, if I'd had the nerve and strong will at age five that my daughter has now, I'd really enjoy reading about it twenty-five years later.


Preschool mornings, which are thankfully of the past, were rarely joyful in our house. Inevitably Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings were the mornings Chloe did not want to get out of bed, and would whimper and whine until we dragged her up.  Then she'd usually whimper and whine some more.  I will have to say she did improve as the end of the school year approached, but generally those mornings meant a grumpy little miss.

One morning in particular (in April), after laying out Chloe's clothes and awakening her, I raced downstairs to make sure Ryan wasn't up to any trouble. Naturally, he had already found it (sigh) in the pantry.  Yep, there he sat, on the floor, enjoying the bag of M&Ms Chloe had earned at preschool the day prior, which he had retrieved from the top shelf of the pantry. If you don’t believe me when I say “top shelf”, take a look at this.  Or this.  It's a good thing Chloe didn't see him, although I don't know that it would have made much difference with the foul mood she was already in (and about to inflict upon us).

First, the shirt I picked out for her was "wrong". It had a three quarter length sleeve and she doesn't like those for whatever reason. Or maybe I should say she didn't like them on this particular day, either because I chose it or because she tends to like things one day and dislike them the next. There's usually no explanation, but she does it a lot. "I don't like broccoli anymore. I used to like it but I don't anymore." Or, "Yes, I'll have butter on my toast. I don't really like butter, except in cookies, but I'll eat it today."

After a minor squabble over the three quarter length sleeved shirt, she reluctantly put it on and came downstairs. This is when I offered her breakfast. Among a handful of options, she chose a granola bar and proceeded to tear off the plastic packaging and bite into it. Now I'm convinced it was broken in two to begin with, but she didn't notice it until she'd taken that first bite. That’s when the world stopped and Chloe proceeded to chuck the imperfect granola bar onto the floor, cross her arms and let out a pitiful groan. I immediately told her to pick it up to which she replied, "No! I'm not going to eat that! It's broken!" We went back and forth for twenty or so seconds before I simply concluded, "If you don't pick up that granola bar and eat it, you don't eat at all!" Chloe didn't believe that I'd actually send her to school hungry, but quickly realized I wasn't messing around.  Either eat it, or be hungry.  Those were her two options.

Not two days later we had a similar incident, again, before preschool and during breakfast time. What joy fills my soul when the first thing I hear upon awakening in the morning is the shrilling scream of my child. I don't often catch Chloe in the act of bullying her brother, but on this particular morning I happened to walk into the kitchen just in time to witness her shoving Ryan. Without a second thought I sent her straight to timeout, reiterating for the 17,857th time that it is never okay to contact someone in such a manner! As she stood there, I took it upon myself to prepare her cereal. We were running low on time and I was trying to make every minute count. So after placing a bowl of Apple Jacks at her place and telling her she could come out, she walked to the table, took one glance at it, and burst into tears.

"I didn't want Apple Jacks! I wanted Cocoa Krispies!"

Really, Chloe? After earning a first class ticket to timeout, you're going to have the nerve, not a second after being released, to throw a fit over the cereal I poured into your bowl? I tried to explain to her that, 1) she asks for Apple Jacks 90% of the time, so why wouldn't I assume she'd go for Apple Jacks on this morning too?, and 2) given the circumstances, does she really think it's acceptable to throw a tantrum right now over something so trivial?

But wait, it gets better. As Chloe was now stomping, screaming, and borderline hyperventilating (no exaggeration - I wish I'd captured it on video), she paused to say, "I'm not your daughter anymore!", to which I matter-of-factly replied, "You're not!? Well, maybe you should find a new mom then!"

Chloe, who by this point was on fire and ready to accept my challenge, then raced to the front door, attempting to escape with no success due to the locked top latch. For the sake of our neighbors, it's probably best that she didn't make it outside.  No one needed to catch a glimpse of our morning glory.

So why in heaven's name would I share these stories? Certainly they don't paint a very good picture of my dramatic five-year-old, or her mother for that matter!  I'd like to think that in years to come when I've [hopefully] found a way to channel Chloe's stubborn and headstrong nature into something healthy and productive, she and I will laugh together at the arguments we once had. But aside from that, I find that these experiences have taught both Chloe and me something. First, let me just say this. Chloe did wear the three quarter length sleeved shirt that day. And, believe it or not, she did end up eating the broken and now-off-the-floor granola bar. And would you believe it if I told you that she even ate the entire bowl of Apple Jacks about which she so strongly disapproved?

Parenting is miserable at times. There's no other way to put it. But in sticking to my guns and not giving into Chloe's pity parties, it would appear that I got through to her. Sure, it would have been much easier to say, "Fine, go choose a shirt!", "Okay then, here's a fresh, new, fully intact granola bar!", and finally, "Oh, you didn't want Apple Jacks? Well, sweetheart, let me just throw that cereal right down the drain since there aren't any starving children in Africa who wouldn't love to eat it for you! And what was it that you wanted instead of Apple Jacks? Cocoa Krispies? Can I sprinkle some sugar on it for you too?!" I did not do any of those things. Now, weeks later, does she still throw tantrums? Yes, she does. But to the same magnitude that she threw these? Generally, no.  Of course she still has her days (don't we all?), but I am seeing huge improvements in her.

She certainly isn't going to grow up overnight, but little by little, we are making progress.