Freckles in April: February 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015


It's been just over a year since I broke up with the Mormon church. At Aaron's request I still generally attend church so I've had the chance to hear a lot of lessons from a very new and different perspective.

Just a few months after my decision we had a Sunday School lesson in which the teacher asked, "How can we help our children stay true to the gospel?" The answers were along the lines of: teach them to read scriptures, have family home evening, pray for them, encourage them to follow the commandments, etc.

As I listened to these devoted parents trying to come up with ways to help their children stay in the church they love, I started to squirm in my seat. "My parents did all those things," I thought, "and ultimately they didn't help."

I should have raised my hand and said, "You need to teach them about the skeletons."

It's kind of like the sex talk. Do you want your kids hearing the details from you, the loving well-informed parent? Or would you prefer they learn about it from some punk kid on the playground who only sort of knows the truth mixed in with some total crazytown info he overheard from his older brother?

The Internet is that punk kid, and all that information-- true, false, a mix of the two-- is laid out for your kids to find with a simple Google search. They're not going to learn it in Sunday School or from the Church Educational System because, as Boyd K. Packer put it, "Some things that are true are not very useful." and the church doesn't like to talk about the skeletons in its own closet.

Let me tell you something about the people who are leaving the church right now: they are good people. For the most part they are not leaving because they "want to sin." They're leaving because they've learned things about the church itself that make them deeply uncomfortable.

I've wondered lately if things might have gone differently if I had had a more honest and truthful view of church history and other bothersome things while growing up. It's possible that I still would have landed where I did (the church's unequal treatment of women and gays is a huge issue for me and may have been enough on its own) but maybe I would feel a little more warm and fuzzy toward the people at the top. Instead, I look at them and think, "You knew and you never said anything." And then I have to take deep breaths and work very hard at not becoming a bitter apostate.

At the Provo temple during my BYU days

From my personal experience I can tell you that finding out about the church's skeletons from the internet as an adult instead of from the church itself felt a lot like spending 24 years of my life in loving, constant devotion to someone and then discovering that they'd been lying to my face the entire time. I'd hear something in passing or see an odd comment in a news article and think, "Surely that cannot be true! I never learned anything about that in all my years of Sunday School and seminary or at BYU!" And then 10 minutes of research would confirm that it was not only true, but also there was SO MUCH MORE that I'd never heard before and it all made me feel like I'd been duped. I spent 4 years feeling heartsick and used and trying to ignore the skeletons. It didn't work and I left.

If you want to help your children stay in the church you need to teach them about the skeletons.

Tell them that Joseph and Emma did not have an amazing love story. Tell them that he had as many as 40 wives; one was as young as 14 and some were married to other men who were faithful members. Yes, he probably had sex with at least some of them. Emma hated polygamy and ultimately separated herself from the church.

Tell them that he was in Carthage jail because he broke a law, not because he was falsely accused.

Tell them about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Tell them that innocent men, women and children were tricked into surrendering and were then murdered by members of the church and Native American accomplices. Tell them that it may have been done on Brigham Young's orders.

Tell them about the Book of Abraham. Yes, the church has the papyrii. No, it doesn't contain what we have in our current scriptures.

Tell them that prophets aren't infallible. Tell them about blacks and the priesthood ban.

Do your research. Know your history. And tell them about it.

I don't blame my parents for not telling me about these things because the information wasn't readily available when they were raising their kids and they didn't know. It's easily found now though, especially as the church releases essays on sensitive topics. Tell your kids about the skeletons. It might be hard or awkward but they will grow up knowing that you did your best to be open with them and that you valued honesty and integrity enough to tackle hard topics and trust them with the information. When they have questions they'll come to you instead of that punk kid, The Internet and maybe you'll be able to save them from the hurt that has killed the faith of so many others.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Galentine's Day Party with the Arizona Blogger Meetup

Organizers! Camille, me and Chrissy

I'm one of the organizers behind the Arizona Blogger Meetup, which puts on semi-regular events for bloggers and influencers to get together and network, learn, make friends and have fun. Our last event was kind of business-y and we wanted this one to just be FUN! We did a galentine's day theme with waffles from Waffle Love, gifts, and chocolate dipped strawberries from Shari's Berries.

I got 4 super huge balloons from Party City for the event. Driving those suckers to the event was...interesting (terrifying). My boys were THRILLED when I brought two of them home though. They've been dragging them everywhere.

Shari's Berries graciously sponsored the event and sent 150 strawberries for our attendees. They were AMAZING. And I was super impressed that they could send that many berries to my house and then have me drag them to Chandler and have them all arrive still looking perfect. The power of good packaging, people.


Lydia of Photography Hill also came and did our photobooth. She is always so fantastic to work with! The pictures turned out amazing.

These are my people. (Camille, Jen and me. I FINALLY PUT ON LIPSTICK AND DON'T LOOK LIKE THE UNDEAD NEXT TO CAMILLE. Gold star, please.)

Are you an Arizona influencer? Join our FB group, the mailing list, or follow us on Instagram to get info on upcoming events!


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DIY Faux Brick

Our house is a track home built in the early aughts. There are pros and cons.

Pro: it's like a blank canvas! So many possibilities!

Con: zero personality. It's the Ann Veal of the housing world.

As I sat feeding my baby at 3 AM a few Saturdays ago I realized I had nothing scheduled for the day ahead and thought, "I'm going to start on my bedroom today! It definitely needs paint. And a headboard! And I think it needs some brick. OMG BRICK YES IT'S ALL SO CLEAR NOW."

The exhaustion of 3 in the morning makes me strangely ambitious. But once it had been thought it could not be un-thought and so I got to Googling.

There are quite a lot of ways to do faux brick- you can do brick veneer made from real bricks cut in half (too pricey), styrofoam (worried about how it would hold up long term, especially with a headboard against it), stucco (messy + I'd have to paint it to look realistic). Fortunately, Lowe's carries these 4'x8' faux brick panels for $26 apiece. They're not very pretty or convincing on their own but they're a decent starting point since they've already got some texture and color variation.

Here's my wall inspiration:

After the planking in the nursery this seemed very doable.

And it kind of was. It would have been FAR easier if The Caboose saw fit to nap for longer than 20 minutes or if I had another set of hands for the whole project. Neither of those things happened so the project had some frustrating moments BUT it all worked out.

I picked up 5 sheets of faux brick paneling from Lowe's and hauled it home in Aaron's truck. The stuff is pretty stinky so I let the panels air out in the garage for a couple days before I got started.

I started by figuring out where the headboard would go and then I messed around with the arch until I found a size and position I liked.

I used my jigsaw to cut out individual bricks from one panel, cleaned up the edges on a belt sander, and arranged them on my paper half-arch to figure out spacing and all that.

I did some math and measuring on the wall (then had Aaron double check my work because I really suck at math and measuring) and used liquid nails to stick the individual bricks up.

The nice thing about liquid nails is that it takes a while to dry so I was able to adjust the arch a bit after it went up. It was a little wonky and I was able to nudge bricks around and get it more symmetrical.

This was the part of the project where I was like, "WHAT THE BLEEP WAS I THINKING." Because that always happens at 10% in. I had to remind myself to trust the vision.

Aaron helped me haul the rest of the panels upstairs and then he went back down to his office and I attempted to get to work. The panels are 4' x 8' and kind of heavy. It was really hard to just maneuver them around, much less get them up on the saw horses, cut properly and installed. I swore a lot. I crushed one of my toes. I gave up halfway through then came back a day later determined to finish the darn thing. More swearing.

Last year I bought a massive roll of brown paper off Amazon to wrap Christmas presents with. Turns out it was also super convenient for tracing the arch so I could cut the panels to fit.

I attached the large panels to the wall using liquid nails and my old friend, the pneumatic nail gun. I freaking love that thing.

At this point I could tell Aaron was getting...concerned.

Once all the paneling was up I gave it a wipe down with a damp rag and did a good deep cleaning and vacuuming. Poor Aaron's allergies were going crazy with all the sawdust from the jigsaw.

For the paint I watered down some cheap white primer I already had on hand, brushed it on then wiped it off with a rag. It was messy work but didn't take terribly long.

The crazy long part of this project was in the grouting. I knew when I chose to do the arch that I'd have to do grout in order to cover up all the cut lines. I made my peace and forged ahead.

I bought a bag of grout from Home Depot, mixed up a small watery batch and started painting it in using a cheap cruddy paintbrush I nicked from my kids' art box. Audiobooks exist for projects such as this. I made it through the complete oeuvre of Jane Austen (minus Emma. Still on the waiting list for that one) as well as a fantastic book about a girl who escaped polygamy while doing the painting and grout. I spent Valentine's Day with the grout. I ruined a mixing bowl when I forgot about the grout. I often dreamt about the grout.

I grouted 90% of the arch when I realized it looked pretty terrible wherever I had smashed the grout in to fill large gaps. I ended up chipping out all the grout I'd already done and using cheap, paintable caulk to fill the gaps. I smoothed it with a damp finger, let it dry, then painted on watered down grout. It was a pain but it gave a much prettier end result.

I let the grout sit for a couple days while I did the headboard and then I finally reassembled my room. Living in a construction zone stinks- putting it all back together felt so very good!

It adds some much needed texture and interest to our room!

There's still a lot left to do (bedside tables, lighting, a bench, crown molding, FLOORING, etc) but we've come a long way!!

This post was featured as part of a Wayfair Homemakers Housewarming party over at Wit, Wisdom and Food!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Amazon Fail

I'm pretty terrible at grocery shopping lately because who wants to drag a baby in a car seat to the grocery store? So I was like, "Hey! I'll order a bunch of pantry staples off Amazon! It's like the store coming to my door!" I ordered chicken stock and canned tomatoes because those were the only non-refrigerator things that I could think of that we use regularly (I have since remembered we also go through a lot of coconut milk).

I've heard that San Marzano tomatoes are like the creme de la creme of tomatoes so I found a listing and added them to my cart. It kind of seemed like the listing was for a single $10 can of tomatoes but I knew that couldn't be right. Who pays $10 for ONE CAN of tomatoes? "It must be $10 for a case of like...4-6 or something," I told myself.

But no.

I paid $10 for a single can of tomatoes.

So last night we invited some friends over for pizza and I triumphantly presented pizza sauce made with $10 tomatoes fully expecting that we would all be completely blown away by the amazingness of the sauce.

I'm sure you will be shocked to hear that $10 tomatoes taste basically the same as $1 tomatoes.

I can now carry on with my life secure in my cheap canned tomato choices.


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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taking Out the Crack Den

When we moved into this house I was 7 weeks pregnant and deathly ill. By the time I wasn't throwing up anymore I was huge and then when I wasn't huge anymore I had a newborn and a fresh belly incision and wasn't sleeping. So here we are, a year in and I'm only just barely starting to look around and go, "Hm I should think about hanging that picture and painting that wall and unpacking that box..."

The master bedroom was the very worst. Before we moved in we painted the common areas and Aaron's office but left the bedrooms alone. We were feeling kind of poor and didn't want to pay to paint anything else! Since I knew we would eventually paint our bedroom I dragged my feet on unpacking our books and putting them in the bookcase. So they sat on our floor. For a year. And also I didn't have a bed side table anymore so my crap sat on the floor. For a year.

It got so bad in there that Aaron started referring to our room as "the crack den." I'd always respond, "It's not THAT bad!" but it actually kind of was. As proof, I present the world's more embarrassing Before pictures.

Aaron kept waking up with back pain so he set up a bed on the floor. So it was even MESSIER than usual. Ughhhh I can't believe I'm showing you these.

The crazy thing is that our room is actually HUGE but we had totally forgotten thanks to all the space taken up by boxes and piles of books. Simply cleaning up all the crap made a big difference (surprise! It's not like I say that to my kids every day or anything...).

So then I painted. Including our ceiling because, for some unfathomable reason, the ceilings were the same awful tan as the walls. WHY.

I can now officially say that painting ceilings is my least favorite thing ever ever ever. It took like 8 hours over two days and covered me in paint. I looked like I had some sort of weird white spotty disease. The next morning I was still finding flecks of paint on my EYEBALLS.

Aaron pitched in on day two to get the walls painted. We just used leftover paint from the rest of the house (Silver Birch from Behr) because A. we love the color and B. we have 3 buckets of it in the garage aka freeeee.

The next morning our room was so bright that I thought The Caboose had slept in super late. But nope! Just our room not being a dark cave-like crack den anymore.

The improvement was SO drastic that part of me was like, "Eh, just leave it here." Buuut I couldn't.

Next up: She's a brick...hoooouse.


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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Let's Hang Out

Are you an Arizona based blogger/small business owner/influncer/person who enjoys good company?

We'd like to invite all you poetic and noble land mermaids to celebrate GALENTINE'S DAY with us on February 21st!

Galentine's Day is all about celebrating lady friends (and waffles). So leave your husband or boyfriend or complicated relationship angst at home and come prepared to celebrate and be celebrated!

Each participant will be given a fellow blogger as their Galentine. Then we will all research/stalk our Galentines in order to purchase a small gift we think they might enjoy (keep it simple and under $10- don't overthink it!). And then we shall gather together to enjoy some liege waffles from Waffle Luv, gourmet chocolate dipped strawberries courtesy of Shari's Berries and good company- hopefully we'll all come away having made a new friend or two!

Interested? Tickets are available over at Eventbrite!

(Can't make it to this event but want to stay in the know about future meetups? Join the Arizona Blogger Meetup mailing list or the Facebook group!)


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Things I Write at 4:07 AM

I'm so attuned to my baby's noises that the second she starts to squirm and whimper I'm wide awake. I slit my eyes at the clock and see that it's 3:52 AM. It has only been 2 hours since she last ate. Exhaustion presses my head into my pillow- I can feel it like a literal weight crushing into the planes of my face trying to force me into getting the sleep my run-down body so desperately needs. The whimpers coming through the monitor quickly turn to wails so I wrestle out of the blankets and flail down the hall, trying to get to her before she can wake her brothers or her dad.

I feel equal parts annoyance (awake again? Really?) and gut-wrenching mama love as I pull her out of her crib, sniff her lavender scented head, and settle into the rocking chair. This baby is my worst sleeper and not a particularly good nurser. Her hunger is a frantic, angry sort of thing, even after we've added formula and bottles to the mix. I often joke that she goes from 0 to starving in less than 60 seconds. Despite her firm belief that she is wasting away from neglect she falls asleep almost immediately after latching on. I sigh and begin our routine in which I spend 30 minutes prodding my baby, reminding her that she's hungry and needs to eat so I can go back to bed. She fills her belly in fits and starts while I let my mind wander, desperately trying to stay awake.

She reminds me of a glow worm, I think sleepily. Bald, wiggly and incandescently beautiful. It's a comparison that makes me laugh in the morning but there's some truth to it. Whenever I set her down during the day I inevitably come back to find at least one of the males in our home trying to coax a smile or giggle out of her. We're all drawn to her sweet baby glow. She smiles with her whole body, from the wrinkle at the bridge of her nose to her wide open gummy grin to her joyous wiggling toes. She often gets pulled from the dark and quiet of her bedroom to finish her nap in the car as we ferry her brothers around and she rarely complains about it. She's a snuggler- my first! We can't get enough.

I spent many years quite happy in my role as Queen of All in our home. For her, I happily concede my throne and my sleep. She's worth it.

Other things I've written in other places this week:

How My Marriage Survived my Change of Faith

Five Things to Know for First Time Home Sellers


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Monday, February 2, 2015

Valentine's Day at Home | Panang Curry + Chocolate Croissants (shhh...just go with it)

Aaron and I aren't big on Valentine's Day. We barely even do our own anniversary so there's no way we're going to go wait 2 hours to eat at a restaurant when we can just as easily look deeply into each other's eyes over the kitchen table at home.

This year Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday which means our favorite restaurants are going to be even more crazy than they would normally be (plus we have a tiny baby...double-no-thank-you). We'll be cooking at home and face-planting into bed after a couple episodes of Frasier on Netflix. Party animals.

I asked Aaron what his ideal Valentine's Day meal-at-home would be and he said Panang curry over rice. I asked about dessert and he thought for a second before deciding on chocolate croissants and hot chocolate. We'll pretend we have an "international" theme and that those things go together.

I got my curry paste from a local Asian market but it's also available on Amazon.

Mercifully they're both fairly quick and don't make much mess! I have no desire to spend my V-day doing dishes.

For the curry, I added red bell pepper because it's our fav and broccoli because I just bought a huge bag at Costco but add (or don't!) whatever veggies suit your fancy. You can also do beef or tofu instead of chicken. It's a fairly flexible recipe!

Panang Curry

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or another cooking oil)
4-5 tablespoons panang curry paste
2-3 cans coconut milk
2 large chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper
1 head broccoli, chopped into florets

small bunch of fresh basil leaves

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add curry paste and saute for 2-3 minutes. Pour in 2 cans of coconut milk and stir. Taste test the curry and add more coconut milk as needed. Bring mixture to a boil and add chicken. Simmer until chicken is almost cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add vegetables and simmer a few more minutes. Remove from heat, chiffonade your basil, and stir it in.

Serve over hot rice.

When it comes to chocolate croissants you really can't beat the frozen ones from Trader Joe's. My uncle's French friend and neighbor Sophie told us about them years ago and promised they were the closest you'll find to the real thing outside of France (I haven't done a side-by-side taste comparison but I've now had pain au chocolat in Paris and I think these are dang close. Plus HUGE). You do have to account for rise time (9ish hours) so plan ahead but other than that they're embarrassingly easy. Stick on a cookie sheet. Let rise. Bake. Face plant and forget about the calories because it's a special occasion and all that.

Aaron is really particular about his hot chocolate. It must be homemade and only Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips will do. He makes this several times a week for us during the winter months and we all like ours a little different- adjust this to your individual tastes!

Hot Chocolate

1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips (add more or less to taste)

Heat in a saucepan on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently, until hot and chocolate is melted.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Want more awesome dinner ideas for Valentine's Day at home? Check it out!

Romantic Brunch (Including Liege Waffles) by Jen from Nothing Comes of Nothing
A Manly Valentine’s Meal by Amberly from A Prioritized Marriage

Find all my favorite recipes on Pinterest!


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