Tuesday, April 30, 2013

18 Reasons It's Good to Be Mrs. Brandon Reynolds

1) Because he's dang cute.
(Our first official date at The Carousel ice cream parlor.)

2) And looks good in a suit.
 (At Bubba's, the house Brandon lived in while we were dating.)

3) Because he respects women and motherhood more than most women do.
   (At the wedding of my best college girlfriend in San Diego.)

4) He writes love letters that make me cry.
(Back at my sweet apartment, right after we got engaged.)

5) He has a big awesome immediate and extended family who provide a great support network for us. 
(The traditional "Roast" with his extended family where we were roasted and received lots of advice.)

6) He works hard for the money. (Always has. We spent the first 11 years of marriage in school!) 
(A series of pictures taken for our wedding announcements.) 

7) He gave me four amazing children. 
(This is the one we ended up using.)

8) And they absolutely adore him (probably because he's constantly knocking himself out for them).
(Now I think this one is better.)

9) He's a dreamer! Life has always just begun in his mind.
(This one is pretty good too.) 

10) We have this Japanese connection.
(At our "Barefoot BBQ" the night before the wedding.) 

11) He loves books, good food, the great outdoors, and travel as much (or more) than I do. 
 (On the way to the temple the morning of our wedding.)

12) He's a good kisser.
 (Just after coming out of the temple.) 

13) He shuts down the house every night. And folds laundry.

14) He is honest, sensitive, compassionate. (Who knows how much free care he's given to various patients at this point.)

15) And funny.

16) He put up with my crazy antics for about the first 10 years of motherhood while I "adjusted"-- always loving, supporting, and encouraging me as I grew into motherhood. He is also 100% supportive of everything I now do with Power of Moms. In the words of Marjorie Hinckley to her husband, "you always gave me wings to fly."

17) He is fiercely loyal to me and our children. 

18) Our mutual devotion to God and our faith is the glue of our relationship, and neither one of us would have it any other way. 

Happy 18th Anniversary, sweetheart. I love you. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vicarious Childhood

You have to admit, one of the best things about being a parent is living a vicarious childhood through your children--either your own, or the one you wish you'd had.

Lucky for me, I had a pretty awesome childhood, so I like living my own childhood vicariously through my children. Though I have had my moments of vicariously living the childhood I wish I'd had, like when I bought Kate an Easy Bake Oven for her birthday one year.

In any case, this is what I was thinking about just now as Brandon woke me up from Elizabeth's bed after I put her and Rachael to sleep. (It was my turn tonight, and this is what always happens--I put myself to sleep in the process.)

Yep, from listening to songs from Annie, Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins this morning in the kitchen while making breakfast and lunches, to the Ants-on-a-Log I made for those lunches, to singing "Oh, Susanna" to Rachael for her bedtime song, to reading one of my all-time favorite children's books to both of them (Strega Nona), I think I probably do more of this vicarious childhood living on a regular basis than I realize.

I don't think we actually owned Strega Nona when I was little, but I remember reading it at the Horace Mann school library. And that reminds me of another childhood memory. Who remembers this guy from those educational movies you had to watch in the library on bad weather days?

Do you think I could get my kids to watch some old youtube videos of this guy? (They would be as creeped out as I was as a child. Again, vicarious living.) He's right up there with School House Rock, don't you think? (And does anyone reading this who may have gone to high school with me think this guy strangely resembles Eric Sarno? . . )

Monday, April 22, 2013


It's been a good day.

In the spirit of a gratitude journal, all my favorite things about today included:

This youtube video that Kate emailed me early this morning. (In response to the hilarious and now viral "How Animals Eat Their Food" video.) It's always nice to start the day off with a laugh.

Seeing Elizabeth in a bright yellow sweater and matching headband for school today. That is absolutely her best color, not only because it looks good on her, but because it fits her personality.

Knowing I had a plan for the day because I sat down yesterday and micro-organized my week. I do this more or less every Sunday (in a Pages document titled "A Week in the Life" if you can believe it), and yesterday I did it to the nth degree. I like having a plan. The best thing about having a plan? Being able to really and truly relax. When I don't have a plan, I feel stressed all the time thinking about all the things I may or may not be forgetting. Organization for me is not about doing more, but about relaxing more. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but that's how it works for me.

Taking my sister-in-law, Angie, to lunch for her birthday. Good food and good conversation with family is always a happy thing. (And watching Rachael have a blast with her cousin Ty was a kick, too.)

Going to the grocery store with my new emeals.com app. You have GOT to go to this website! You just choose your type of meal plan (I use the "natural and organic" plan, but there are a bunch to choose from like "crockpot" or "diabetic"--whatever) and WAH-LAH! A week's worth of recipes, instructions, and a shopping list. I was just about to cancel my subscription, because heaven forbid I go to the trouble of actually printing out the shopping list (I wasn't, so my subscription seemed like a waste), but then they came out with this super convenient app that put my shopping list right there at my lazy fingertips. Yes, today's shopping experience was magical. Magical! (Choosing salt water taffy flavors for the whole family with Rachael was fun, too.)

Commiserating with Kate over failing her driver's permit test at the DMV. I've done it myself more than once. Who on earth has the patience to actually study that drivel? And who wrote that blooming manual anyway? It's horrid! Redundant, mundane, unimaginative, self-important and yet totally unimportant information that will never in a million years be used in real-life driving experiences . . . typical government operation. (Ask me how I really feel.) Long story short: now she's studying the manual.

Making fish tacos with Rachael and learning that butter is a healing salve for jalapeno burns. Sadly, it was Rachael with the burn, not me, but getting to be the all-wise superhero mom by solving her problem is something I try to enjoy as much as possible these days since I know superhero status doesn't last forever. (Just ask Kate.)

Those fish tacos. They were super tasty! Every one of the kids liked them, which astounded me. I'm telling you, emeals.com. (And then get the app.)

Watching this video as a family while folding laundry together and then discussing it after. (Followed by Keebler Grasshopper cookies and milk. It's that FHE thing we do as Mormons and it's pretty awesome, even if all you do is watch a little video and eat cookies together.)

Rachael giving me too-long lip kisses as well as butterfly kisses in between laundry folding and video watching.

Having Will hand over his hard earned money to me as I clicked the "order now" button for this Dr. Who gadget. (He's totally hooked on Dr. Who.) It was just cute to see him so excited about it--kind of like the younger version of Will--and to look over reviews and product descriptions together. My little man is growing up, but there's still some little boy in him.

Last but not least: Brandon's night to do the bedtime routine so I could spend a few minutes blogging. Yippee! (We've started taking turns as of last week.)

It's shaping up to be a pretty good week. I think I'll wrap up Mexico tomorrow . . . and let's all give it up for the Boston police, right?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tragedy in Boston

Well, I sure am glad I didn't schedule that post with the last day of our Mexico trip to go up yesterday. But I'm sure no one really wants to see us frolicking on the beach today either, so I thought I'd hurry and get a new post up with an excellent resource put together this morning by April and Saren. (I just barely put it up on the Deseret News blog as well.)

Interestingly, Will has to watch the news 5 nights in a row and write a brief summary about what he learned for one of his scouting merit badges (citizenship of the nation), and even more interestingly, I just barely cut our cable. In any case, I had him watching various live news feeds on the computer last night, and while we did talk about the tragedy in Boston in brief, after reading this excellent post by April and Saren, I think I'd like to have a more formal discussion about it tonight with the whole family.

I just happened to print off a bunch of General Conference memes last week (there are TONS of these floating around in cyber space--apparently it's the latest post-conference craze in the LDS world, and I personally appreciate these talented and creative people who put these together) and put them up in a banner-like form over the fireplace, and there is one in particular that I think will be perfect for our discussion tonight:

So as you think and talk about what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday (either alone or with your family), remember that there really are more good people in this world than bad, and that this one act of terrorism doesn't hold a candle to the many acts of heroism, bravery, and love that were shown yesterday. Each of us can be that kind of light in our own worlds of darkness--whatever that looks like--but today I'm grateful for the first responders and concerned bystanders who were that light for those innocent people hurt in yesterday's tragedy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meheeko: Day 4, Part 2

After getting back from the Offroad Adventure, we had just enough time to change our clothes and go by the resort store to pick up a sweatshirt for the Rhythms of the Night tour leaving in about an hour. I had visions of wearing a cute beachy dress to this event, but it was starting to get chilly and we would be going by boat and staying until late that night so I quickly sacrificed looking cute for being warm. It was a good thing too, because even with jeans and a sweatshirt on I was still FREEZING all night. It put a little bit of a damper on the evening, but you'll see from the pictures that it was still pretty amazing.

First, a few pictures of the beautiful resort grounds as we made our way over to the taxi station:

If you ever go to Puerto Vallarta, you really should try to take a tour or two with Vallarta Adventures. It's the top rated tour company in the area and for good reason. While we were waiting to board our boat, we checked out the area where they do the Dolphin Adventure and I caught these cute pictures:

Finally on board. It was the last time we were warm that night. Looking happy:
I brought my "nice" camera on this tour because I knew the light would be low. Unfortunately, my cap blew off the boat from the wind. I'm feeling a little chilly again just looking at these pictures:
 So pretty:

We made a stop at one other port to pick up some people and this other tour boat was there:
Nothing like a sunset on the ocean:

The boat ride across Banderas Bay took over an hour, but the staff on board put on a great show. Super funny:

Welcome to Survivor Island Las Caletas:

The evening started off with an impressive show about ancient Mexico:

(No pictures allowed once the show started. Not that they would do it justice anyway. Much better than I anticipated!)

Then we went to a delicious buffet style dinner down by the water. There was plenty of time afterward to explore this beautiful property owned by Vallarta Adventures. I would love to go back again someday and do this on a warm night when not exhausted, but I did enjoy it as much as I could:


Um, even the bathrooms were amazing:

And the library/upper dining hall:

Don't these pictures make it look so warm and cozy? I wish that were true! Thankfully on the boat ride home they passed out thick wool blankets, but Brandon and I were wandering around on the island for so long that we didn't hear the bell ring to let us know it was time to leave and ended up heading back to the boat only after we noticed no one else was around. We ran all the way back, and were the last ones on board just as they were about to leave. All the seats down below were full, so guess which couple got to huddle together in plastic chairs up on top? Yep. Lucky us. The upside? The stars were unbelievable:
Fun, fun night.

Pardon the pun, but as wonderful as it was, Day 4 went a little overboard . . .

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