Voting, As Understood By a Six-Year-Old


R: We’re going to have a new president soon.

Me: That’s right.

R: Is it President Lincoln?

Me: No, he was president a long time ago and he died a long time ago.

R: Is it President Obama?

Me: Yes, President Obama is our president right now, but his turn is almost over and then we will need a new president.

R: President Obama will die.

Me: No, no, it’s just that his turn as president is over and someone else will take a turn.

R: And then he will die.

Me: No, no! He will just get another job.

R: He will be a worker?

Me: Um, yes.

R: And then President Lincoln will be the president?

Me: No! He died a long time ago. But he was a great president.

R: And Jesus was a great president too.

Me: Hey, who wants a snack?!



Not much has changed in the two years since “Voting, as Understood by a Four-Year-Old


My First-World Problems

1) My kids won’t eat the quinoa kale patties I made for them.
2) My dryer broke.
3) My kids got sick from the gym.
4) My twins were fighting during nap, so I put one of them in the guest room.
5) My husband has to travel again for business.
6) I don’t want to unload the dishwasher.
7) We can’t afford the two new AC systems we need.
8) My jetted tub is old and made my warm bath water rusty.
9) Our house needed a second Wi-Fi router.
10) Someone left the bread bag open and now the bread is stale.
11) My Birkenstocks cracked.
12) I can’t schedule that particular doctor appointment online.
13) We didn’t finish those leftovers before they went bad and I had to throw them away.
14) I can’t decide which Pinterest chore chart to make for my kids.
15) My husband parked too close to me in the garage.
16) This water is taking forever to heat up from the faucet.
17) My headphones keep getting tangled at the gym.
18) These disposable diapers are giving my twins diaper rash.
19) Those people taking selfies at the gym are so annoying.
20) This 36-pack of waters from Costco is so heavy! Sheesh.
21) _______Your snark here_________  (insert your best First-World Problem in the comments below)

Life is so annoying! Dang! Some people call these “white people problems”, but, alas, let’s stick to “first-world problems”. However you slice it, I’m a spoiled jerk!

Stuff That Shouldn’t Be in My Purse This Week (First Edition)

You know you could make an entire blog about what you (purposefully OR accidentally) keep in your purses. Below are the items I removed from my purse this week that didn’t belong in there.

Note: I have excluded necessities (such as diapers/snacks) as well as trash (which is plentiful), and I still have all this to show!


Matchbox cars, of course.


Unused crayons even though my kids never color. Good thing I found these before summer.


The sticker that they ripped off their Cozy Coupe ride-on car… because, you know, I might glue it back on one day?


The spine to a beloved board book… because, you know, I might glue it back on one day?


This tiny arm. I have no idea from what body it detached. As long as none of my kids aren’t missing arms, we’re good.


This tiny T-shirt, which I found inexplicably acting as a tourniquet for one son’s leg.


And, ta-da, a swiped PVC pipe fitting!

I can’t imagine how much more I would find if we ever actually left the house.


And what have you found in your purse this week, dear readers?

It Took Me 32 minutes to Dress All My Toddlers in Snow Gear


It took me 32 minutes to dress all my toddlers in snow gear – for HALF AN INCH of snow. Half an inch of snow made me sweat like the mom in “A Christmas Story” – but she only had one kid to wrestle into a fluffy snowsuit.

7:00 AM

Oldest son bursts into my room, saying, “It snowed!” Commence begging to play outside.

7:15 AM

“Yes, I told you we would play outside but we have to wait until the sun is up!”

7:30 AM

“Yes, the sun is up, but we have to have breakfast first!”

8:30 AM

“Yes, we’ve had breakfast, but we have to wait for it to get a little warmer.”

9:00 AM

I mentally berate myself for promising him I would take him out. How am I going to get all these kids into snow gear? I know it’s only half an inch, but it’s so cold that they really need snow gear. Where is all of our snow gear? I kinked my neck again last week by hoisting a huge twin over a baby gate and how am I going to have the strength to wrestle their fat bodies into snow gear? Maybe he’ll forget.

9:30 AM

He does.not.forget. Anything. Ever. I mentally walk myself through the whole house, mentally searching for boots, hats, waterproof mittens, and snowpants that actually fit – all while changing poops and cleaning up the kitchen. (Don’t worry: I don’t change poops in the kitchen.)

10:00 AM

It is warmer outside, the sun is up, the twins are going stir-crazy, breakfast is finished and cleaned up, and I have no right to stall any longer. I give myself a mental pep talk. I can do this. I can do this. I’m like a football player coming out of a huddle. I’m a bull snorting and about to charge. I’m a soldier. Hoo-ah!

10:01 AM

Commence Operation Search for Snow Gear.


I empty the hall closet of everything we might need. I find three winter coats in semi-appropriate sizes, and two pairs of boots. Miraculously, I find last year’s waterproof mittens in the bin labeled “mittens”. I whisper, “Good girl” to myself (even though it was probably my husband who put them there).

10:04 AM

I leave some twin fighting to run upstairs to find more gear. I can hear my oldest son begging for me to find the sled. I shout down that there isn’t enough snow for a sled. He shouts that there is enough snow. I shout down that I can’t reach the sled because it is high up in the garage. He shouts back that I can “just use Daddy’s ladder”. My brain feels like a ping pong ball.

10:05 AM

I frantically search the kids’ closets for snowpants. I find a thrift-store pair two sizes too large for my oldest (Size 7), and congratulate myself on my forethought. In the twins’ closet, I find two pairs of much-too-small snowpants (18 months). I realize that I have to either box them up or donate them or sell them, and a wave of sadness washes over me.

10:06 AM

I pity myself for just one minute because my babies are growing up so fast! They will never wear these cute little snowpants again. Were they ever this small? Woe is me.

10:07 AM

Pity party over. Back to my oldest son’s closet. In the way way back, I find two pairs of snow pants that are too small for him, but perfect for the babies (sizes 3T and 4T). I mentally congratulate myself for never cleaning out his closet. “Good girl,” I whisper to myself.

10:08 AM

I head downstairs again and am greeted by three crying children. I show them snowpants. The oldest stops crying and begs for me to put them on him. The younger two seem irrationally but unsurprisingly scared of snowpants and run away screaming, “NO!”

10:09 AM

I run back upstairs for three pairs of socks. I wonder if it’s worth keeping a sock bin downstairs beside the shoe bin. I mean, seriously, why are our socks upstairs in dressers, but our shoes are downstairs in bins? In fact, why don’t we keep all our clothes downstairs, like the “19 Kids and Counting” family on TLC? Screw dressers.

wpid-wp-1424879000565.jpeg10:10 AM

I survey the enormous pile of gear on the floor. It looks like the back of a Goodwill truck. I feel overwhelmed and want to quit. I know it will make me sweaty to do this. I know I will hurt my neck again. Sadly, I note that there are only two pairs of boots. I mentally thank my mother-in-law for giving those boots to the twins for Christmas, but mentally scan the house for one more pair. I futilely ask my oldest son to go find his snowboots.

10:11 AM

My oldest son wanders the house and cries because he can’t find his snowboots. I look in the closet again. I run upstairs to his closet. We can’t find them. I start to panic. Half an inch of snow doesn’t really need snowboots, but he was just so excited about those used junky snowboots that he can’t accept wearing boring old shoes. No amount of convincing will help.

10:12 AM

I send him into the garage for one last look, and he finds the boots! I thank him profusely. I try to bury my incredible surprise that he actually found something by himself, and I whisper a silent prayer of thanks that he finally learned how to open the baby gate to the kitchen/garage. (Hey, moms pray over some odd things, okay?)

10:13 AM

Commence Operation Put Snow Gear On.

I start with my oldest. He is the most excited, and thus, the most vocal. The sooner we get him in his gear, the sooner he can go outside and give me some peace. I pour him into his too-big snowpants, making sure the twins are watching and understanding just how awesome snowpants are. Mittens on. Why are you a limp noodle?! Make your arm straight and push! No, don’t punch me! Just push! Coat on… Nevermind. Mittens too big. Must take mittens off and put coat on first. Now mittens again. No, don’t punch me! Just push! Socks on. Boots on. Here, sit in my lap, maybe that will be easier. Push your feet! Maybe we should stand up. Stand up and push! No, don’t stomp on me. Just push. Why are there so many straps? This Velcro is all worn out. Maybe I should have sprung for new boots for him. Hat on. I silently thank my best friend, who, despite living in California, knitted them the most adorable and soft and warm hats ever. Oh, it’s backwards. Here, now you can see. Is that better? Okay, please go out on the deck! And take the dog! For the love of all that is holy, please get the dog out of here!

10:18 AM

Phew. I am sweating. But our numbers have been reduced by 50%, and thus, so has our noise and chaos level. The twins are dancing around me and starting their slow keening wail of jealousy that they can’t be outside yet. Twin B opens the door and defiantly follows my oldest outside in the snow. He is surprised by the cold! Thank goodness he’s in bare feet so I don’t have to get new socks. I haul him back in.

10:19 AM

I start with my Hurricane Twin B. I sit him in my lap and pull his snowpants on. He freaks out and acts like I am dressing him in tin foil. He does one amazing ninja move off my lap and out of his snowpants. He kind of acts like a snake shedding his skin in fast-forward. How did he do that?

Okay, fine, you don’t like snowpants? This is where having twins comes in handy. I will simply dress your brother and make you jealous.

10:20 AM

I sit agreeable Twin A in my lap and proceed to pull on snowpants. He doesn’t like it, but he lets me do it. I make sure Twin B is watching so he can see just how cool snowpants are.

Mittens on. Kind of. Where is your thumb? Do you have a thumb? Good thing your hands are the size of a college sophomore, because I actually get your mittens on. Coat on…. Wait. Mittens too big. Coat off, mittens off, coat on, mittens on. Hat. Twin B is crying out of jealousy or regret or irrational fear of snowpants– I can’t tell. Okay, new snowboots. Twin A looks at them warily. Stand and push. Is your foot in there? Oh, well, when you start walking, your foot will probably settle down in there, right? You can’t walk? Okay, then, push!!! Push! For heaven’s sake, push!

Okay. Done. Can you walk? Okay, just go on the deck. You certainly won’t get very far in that poofy outfit. I am sorry I will miss your adorable reaction to the snow, but I have to deal with your twin.

wpid-wp-1424793852241.jpeg10:25 AM

I turn to crying, angry Twin B. It’s snowpants time. Yes. Yes. You’ll be fine. These are special pants to wear in the snow. Aren’t they great? See, brother is wearing them! And other brother is wearing them! Don’t you want to wear them? I berate myself for encouraging herd mentality. Am I setting him up for a life of peer pressure and drugs?

He finally lets me put the snowpants on when he realizes there is a zipper – his new favorite thing – and that I will let him zip them. It takes about five minutes for him to work on that “zap zap”. That’s cool. I needed to stop sweating for a minute anyway. I look out the back door to check on my slow-moving meatballs out there.

Mittens on. Kind of. Where is your thumb? Do you have a thumb? Seriously, there is no way that tiny thumb is ever going to be found. Oh well. Coat on… wait. Mittens too big. Coat off, mittens off, coat on, mittens on. Where the heck is your thumb? Hat on. He hates it. Hat off. Oh, no you don’t! Hat on. He takes it off. I win by putting it back on and tying it in a knot under his chin. I briefly wonder if it will choke him if he pulls his hat off. Boots on. Thankfully, Twin B gets super excited by any and all new shoes, so these are a breeze. They even have zippers for him to play with, although he can’t really bend over to try it. He gets frustrated. Hurry, let’s get outside!

10: 32 AM

I usher him out the door to join his brothers. I have no shoes on. I have no coat or hat. It is 25 degrees. I go back in to throw a coat on over my bathrobe, a hat over my unwashed ponytail, and unlaced boots over my slipper socks. I look like Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation. I wish someone was here to laugh at that. I’m so witty.

I can breathe now. I can sit down and rest on this snowy patio chair and watch my beautiful children enjoy their first snow of the year. It will be so peaceful and joyful.

Okay, who pooped?!


Don’t worry: He got to use the sled during the next snowfall.

All My Friends Are Writing Post-Apocalyptic Books!

Two of my friends have just released good novels! Even though these two friends don’t know each other, they both wrote post-apocalyptic fiction. All the cool kids are doing it.

By some miracle, this here lifelong book nerd and overworked momma of “triplets” managed to read both of my friends’ books – and they were excellent! Phew. (If they had sucked, I would have quietly avoided my friends and not written this blog post, obviously.)

Who wants to check out some new authors?

outage voyage CrumbleBook3D_200

Ellisa Barr, a dear friend from church (we Mormons make great “preppers”), has written two young adult books in a series. Not gonna lie: I cried at the end of each – because I was mad that they were over.

The first book in the series is “Outage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 1)”. The dust jacket says: “When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa’s farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right. A high-tech Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country’s power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water… even her cell phone? Written for all fans who love apocalypse stories, Outage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes useful prepping tips with an action-packed story.”

The second book in the series is considered “a companion novel” to the first. It is called “Voyage (Powerless Nation) (Volume 2)”. It’s just as good as the first. I’m just going to say that both books now have my heart forever.

On a personal note, Ellisa is the kind of friend who doesn’t say, “Let me know if I can do anything” when you have a new baby. She’s the type of friend who comes to your house with a swaddler when you have a sickly newborn who doesn’t sleep. She didn’t just say, “You should swaddle him.” She didn’t just name the brand of swaddler she liked best. She brought the swaddler to my house, showed me how to wrap him so little arms couldn’t break free, and made me practice in front of her. Then she told me to keep the swaddler. From then on, I swaddled that sickly baby for every single nap and every single bedtime for six months. She is the reason I got my first couple hours of sleep as a new mom. Now, don’t you want to read the book of a person like that?!

Devon Porter, a friend from high school, has written about his own personal passion: the end of the (modern) world. He wrote “After the Crumble”, which is most definitely labeled regular adult, not young adult. (Just warning you that the post-apocalyptic future looks a little more brutal than the young adult novels can say…)  The back of the book sums it up: “Our future has crumbled. In the late 2020s, the grid finally flickered out for the last time, succumbing to attacks from a newly formed Resistance, fuel scarcity, and general entropy. It is now the year 2037 and many have died, with the few that managed to escape death solely concerned with their daily survival. Gavin Collier is one of those lucky few, but survival alone isn’t enough for him anymore.”

This book is a beautiful and fast-paced story. My favorite review of “After the Crumble” expresses it best: “It’s refreshing to read a novel that finds in the collapse of modern life an opportunity for the resurrection of the best parts of us.” Plus, this book made me think about a few angles of my personal prepping that could use work.

Just FYI, the first time I met Devon was in Latin class for juvenile delinquents older boys. Devon went to the same tiny private school where I met Mr. Okayest (and also several of my best good friends featured throughout this blog). The private school pushed a classical education, so students began studying Latin at a young age. Since I entered the school in eighth grade, I was not in Latin 3 or 4 or 200 with my peers. Instead, 13-year-old skinny me was learning “veni vidi vici” with five senior men. Let’s just say they made me like Latin forever.

Now Devon raises pigs and blueberries and is definitely not a juvenile delinquent, although I’m pretty sure he is still older than me.

You can find Ellisa’s website at

You can find Devon’s website at

(Ellisa and Devon, I’m so proud of you guys! You have inspired me!)


jack5.500x8.500.inddNeed more books? It turns out one of my long-lost but recently found cousins, Michelle D. Argyle, is also a published author! While she hasn’t written any post-apocalyptic fiction (yet?), she has written some great books. (She’s a little more experienced than my  ^ newbie friends, ha!) I’d like to give her a shout-out here as well. Her most recent novel is “If I Forget You”. You can see her other work at Enjoy!



Christmas Fail? But Charity Never Faileth

Christmas is four days away. I feel like a failure in each and every way, and yet I am so grateful for all the acts of love and service that others have given to us.

The Okayest Family has been quite ill for quite some time, and my to-do lists have been ashamed of themselves.

My Christmas tree has looked like this for over a week now:


My Christmas decorations are still in their boxes in the basement:


My presents are still not wrapped:


And my dresser looks like this:


(Okay, let’s be honest: my dresser always looks like that. It has nothing to do with sickness or Christmas, but we can just pretend, mmkay?)

I feel frustrated. I feel sad. I feel like I’m failing. I promised my oldest that he would sit on Santa’s lap at the church Christmas party, but we couldn’t go when my husband was still too ill to assist me in child-wrangling. My kids didn’t perform in the church Christmas program this Sunday for the same reason.

Things aren’t going smoothly, and I’m so tired, and I want to cry all the time. However, most every mother probably feels this way around this time of year. Besides, I’m just okayest; I know how to take things down a notch, right? (I’m no Pinterest mom, but I do want my kids to have a Christmas.)

I force myself to pick myself up and remind myself to count my blessings. It slowly is starting to work. I am so thankful that my husband has a secure job with paid sick leave. I am so grateful that we got to cut down the Christmas tree together (even if it is still outside), that we can afford presents (even if they aren’t wrapped), that we have a warm home with room for storage of luxuries like Christmas decorations (even if they aren’t hung up).

christmas cookies (2)So many people have shown me love and service lately, and it humbles me. Every time I feel like I am drowning in illness and exhaustion and undone to-do lists, someone else shows me love and service. My in-laws come to care for the children when we can’t, even if they subject themselves to heinous viruses. My mother comes to have a “Christmas craft day” with my kids, and brings her cookies to decorate and makes sure we at least get out the only decoration that matters: my great-grandma’s nativity.

imageFriends check up on me via text. Church sisters offer to put up my tree, substitute teach my Sunday School class of six-year-olds, bring dinner, and even haul my twins into the beige minivan when I can’t physically maneuver them. One friend even makes my kids some “shake it” sensory bottles when I go to her for advice about some specific behavioral problems.

My church sisters’ love makes my heart full. My Mormon friends each have more children than I do, and yet they always help. Mormon women seem extra good at serving in specific ways. They never say, “Let me know if you need anything.” Instead, they say, “I’m bringing dinner,” and, “I’m teaching your class.” Sometimes they don’t say anything, but just pick up that runaway twin. They will do things like this for people they hardly know. They have always done it for other sisters; they will continue to do it in the next town they move to. It’s not just for me. They are a great example to me. I will pay it forward someday … when the kids are in school? I know heaven smiles on these women.

A friend reminds me to think of the one thing I can do each time I get overwhelmed. Maybe today I can play some Christmas music to bring peace, and maybe tomorrow I can read to the children about the birth of Jesus. They won’t care if the door has no wreath and the presents are “wrapped” in a brown cardboard Amazon box.

Most of all, I can remember to be ever grateful for my miraculous little family that was created against all odds. We are together, and of course, that is all that really matters.


Dear readers: I wish you and your family peace at this time of year. I hope you find it quicker than I have! I know Christmas can be hard for many of us for so many different reasons, but I hope that you have love in your life and peace in your homes. Much love to you all!

I Don’t Want My Kids to Be Happy

happiness sunlight Yeah, sorry, I did the ever-popular “Shocking Title to Get Your Attention” trick. (Aren’t I so trendy?) And now that you’re reading, hear me out.

Of course I want my kids to be happy, but that is not my most important goal for them. Happiness is not my aim, but it can be a welcome by-product of a life well-lived. I feel that if I teach them how to be good people, then they will naturally be happy. I am not raising them to make themselves happy. I want to raise them to make others happy first – to lose themselves in service to other people (and hopefully, to God). If they do these things, then I hope their own happiness will follow.

What is happiness anyway? As Bob Dylan sings, “I’m halfway content most of the time.” That’s good enough for Bob, and it’s good enough for me.

During my infertile years, I used to torture myself by watching “A Baby Story” on TLC. Remember that show? Kinda cheesy, makes you choke up, and every episode is the same? Yeah, that one. Each episode followed a woman through the last few weeks of pregnancy, then the birth, and then a bit of the newborn phase. At the end of each episode, the producers must have asked each set of new parents the same question: “What do you hope for your child for the future?” Invariably, each mother would respond, “I just want him to be happy.”

“I just want him to be happy.”

happiness car repairThe phrase just always rubbed me the wrong way. It would make me bristle. I felt like shouting at the TV (but that was probably because I was infertile and secretly hated that show but couldn’t look away). I would think, “If I were on this show, and if I were blessed with a baby, I would answer, ‘I want to raise him to be a good person. I want to raise him to be selfless and caring and a productive member of society.’”

I have always felt that if we raise our children with their own happiness as a goal, then we are setting them up for a lifetime of selfishness. I believe that true happiness is found from losing oneself, from thinking outwardly, and from service.

happiness work editOne of my best friends, a mother of five young children, says that whenever she gets stressed or overwhelmed or depressed, she immediately turns her thoughts outward. “Who can I serve? Who needs my help today?” She has no free time to give, and yet she is constantly looking out for others in her neighborhood and our church. She babysits when a mother has to go to the doctor; she brings meals to the sick; she gives rides. She manages to put her own family’s needs first, but they still get to see her service to others. She is a great example to me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson can, of course, say all of this better (i.e., more succinctly) than I can. He wrote, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

happiness handsI agree. My purpose is not to make them happy; their purpose is not to be happy. I hope my children understand: If you are useful, honorable, compassionate, and make a difference, then you will give yourself the best shot at happiness. (Or at least at being “halfway content most of the time.”)

And now two of them are crying. They are not happy.

I Hate Deer.

I hate deer. To quote my mom, “Deer ruined my life.” You think they’re cute? Stop being my friend.

My family was driving down a two-lane Virginia highway at dusk (don’t do that, by the way) in our Beige.Chrysler.Minivan. when we witnessed a massive deer collision with the car in front of us. We saw the huge deer coming at a right angle to the tiny sedan and knew impact was imminent. The collision was gruesome. The deer hit the windshield and got at least twenty feet of air before landing with a massive thud to the side of us. (I thought I was exaggerating the “twenty feet”, but when I asked understated Mr. Okayest, he said, “At least twenty feet!”) We then drove through a cloud of deer dust and fur.

I am not proud that I screamed and scared my children. Mr. Okayest stayed manly-silent, until I whispered to him to explain to our nervous son about what happened. I was nervous I would scream again if I explained it.

The smashed car in front of us weaved and slowed down to a crawl, but strangely didn’t stop. It crawled along in such a slow and wobbly fashion that I wondered if I should have jumped out and run beside it to see if the driver was unconscious. Finally, after perhaps a quarter of a mile, it stopped in the middle of this dangerous two-lane road, where other cars were speeding by at 60 miles per hour. My husband parked us on the side of the road and jumped out to go to the driver’s door.

He stood there for so long, I also got out to help. He had been trying to convince the confused woman with no windshield that she needed to put the car in park, take off her seatbelt, and open the door. The sequence of those events was more than that stunned (and non-English-speaking) woman could comprehend. He finally got her out and took her to me. He then moved her wreck of a car to the side of the road. I made the woman sit down, and she collapsed into a tiny pile of tears and shaking. Mr. Okayest called 911 and I made her stay down by my van. I didn’t like my children alone in the van on the side of this busy road, but I couldn’t leave her alone either. I couldn’t tell if she was injured because, without her speaking any English, I couldn’t tell how confused she was.

Her family got there within 20 minutes. The police got there within 30. (Yes, 30!) We stayed with her until that point. Strangely, when her family (at least 5 people, including her daughter) arrived, no one hugged her, checked over her body, or said anything. I had already done all those things. She had glass in her hair and had most likely hit her head, as the airbag had never deployed. I don’t know if she would have hit her head on the steering wheel or on the deer, but there was no windshield left.

She made me think of my own mother. My own mother hit a deer a few years ago. She was okay, but very bruised and shaken. She couldn’t even drive on that same road to go to work for months, and took a very long route on a bigger highway instead. Someone had to have been first on the scene. Someone might have helped her out of the car. Someone might have brushed glass out of her hair. And you can bet that if I had arrived on the scene myself, I would have hugged her and sobbed with her and checked her poor body for injuries, as if she were my child.

This poor woman also made me think of my brother, who, as a teenager, hit a deer in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere and was as scared by the airbag as he was by the crash.

It’s so easy for even the most seasoned driver to hit a deer. Even though we rural drivers are well-trained to scan the sides of the road at all times, and to not drive on two-lane roads at dusk, and to choose roads that have a tree line far from the road, and to watch out in November (hunting season AND mating season), we still hit deer often. The results are ugly.

With no natural predators, deer are in abundance. More housing developments mean less room for the deer. And it’s not just car collisions that worry us. Deer are not as docile as people think. They can be “mama bears” when defending babies. My childhood dog was attacked by a deer who was defending her fawn, right in front of my eyes, in my own driveway. She got that 25 pound dog between her feet and kicked/rolled him down the steep driveway. My dog was okay, but bleeding.

We even have to consider the deer for mundane daily hobbies like gardening. My mother is an avid flower gardener, but she can only plant things that are deer-resistant. They detest stinky stuff like marigolds. They stay away from daylilies and daffodil bulbs but will dig tulip bulbs right out of the ground. Deer-resistant, however, means that they will only resist the particular plant until they are starving enough to eat it. During a particularly deep snow this year, they even ate my parents’ mugo bushes, which generations of deer had left alone for 25 years of snows. “They must have been desperate,” my mom said. The bushes were the only thing sticking out of the snow that the deer could reach.

And vegetable gardens? Ha! You have to have Top Secret Clearance levels of fencing to manage that.

Yes, I do realize that I am like the White Man settling on the Native Americans’ land and declaring them a menace while I ruin the earth around them.

Therefore, I would keep my mouth shut, except for one thing. Lyme. Can we talk about Lyme Disease for a moment? Lyme Disease is a plaque of the modern day. I cannot stress how debilitating and how terrible this disease is. Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks, and the deer (along with other animals) deposit them wherever they go. As I’m sure you know, deer ticks are not the ticks of our childhood. I remember being taught, as a young girl, to run my fingers through my hair after playing outside to check for ticks. I would find them, and my mom or my cousins would pull them out. End of story.

Not so anymore. Deer ticks are the size of a tiny mole. A tiny freckle. The size of a poppyseed. How are you supposed to find that in your hair? And what if your child’s skin and hair are very dark? I spent a lot of time in the woods as a child. I grew up to be a regular hiker, camper, and caver. Now, I don’t even know if I can ever allow my children to play in the woods on our own lot.

We have packs of deer that wander through our wooded but non-rural lot. At the risk of sounding like the White Man, I wish they weren’t here in my yard, where my children play. They bring ticks, and that brings disease. I learned from my neighbor that the previous owner used to lure deer onto this property by purposely feeding them cat food. What?!

I scan my children’s fat bodies at every diaper change. I am constantly running my fingernails over new moles during their baths. I, Mrs. Okayest Mom, who is pretty relaxed about most everything kid-related, am terrified of deer ticks.

Many of my family members have had Lyme Disease. If you catch it early enough, like most of them did, it is treatable. Antibiotics  – sometimes several rounds –  can cure it. However, one close family member had Lyme Disease that was never caught or treated. Many people, like this person, never get the bulls-eye rash. Many people, like this person, probably just think they have the flu. It turns out that most of the autoimmune disorders that this beloved family member suffered from for decades were either misdiagnosed, or were perhaps the result of untreated Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease isn’t called “The Great Imitator” for nothing. Long term, Lyme disease can mimic or cause terrible things.

While watching this family member (not naming him/her because I’m not about to spill someone’s medical business on my public blog) go through this hell, I was flipping through a pet-supply company catalog, and spotted a Lyme vaccine for DOGS. My brain practically leaped off a cliff. Why in the world can we vaccinate dogs and not beloved family members against Lyme Disease? Well, that’s a really big question. A discussion for another day. For now, let me just say that IT SUCKS.

We don’t give our 100-pound dog that Lyme injection, but we do use the once-a-month tick and flea prevention on her. If I weren’t so worried about her bringing ticks into the house, I probably wouldn’t give it to her. The chemicals in those medications are ghastly. Every month, as I watch my husband put it on her back, I think, “Is this why we never got pregnant?” I am not a pessimist or a gloom-and-doom person, but, seriously, I am actively putting this hazardous pesticide in my home, on my pet. My babies kiss that dog! Which is worse, the toxin or the Lyme? Right now I am choosing the toxin, but only because I have seen what Lyme has done to my family and I’m not willing to risk it.

Deer give me so much fear. I don’t operate from a place of fear on very many issues – or any issues –except this one. I am scared to drive at dusk on two-lane roads. I can’t even plant a vegetable garden. Worst of all, I am not sure I can let my children play in the woods on our hard-earned property. For now, we stay on the deck, because it’s big and flat and my kids are small and wobbly. But what about next year? And the year after that? I am a nature girl who might end up accidentally raising some indoor-only kids. Kids who get vaccinated by a dog injection.




For further reading:



My Kids Eating Lunch Under a Blanket in Honor of National Breastfeeding Month

I’m not shy about the fact that, uh, my relationship with breastfeeding was, uh, complicated. Adoption. High-risk twin pregnancy resulting in near-death. ICU and NICU stays. Tandem twin feeding. Everything about me and breastfeeding is complicated. However, there is nothing complicated about THIS. I’m still happy that it’s National Breastfeeding Month and I honor it with this photo.

One Good Dad

Kids eating

In honor of National Breastfeeding month, I made my kids eat their lunch under a blanket just like the old days of when they were infants. It turns out it isn’t the ideal way to eat. Who knew?

Other posts on breastfeeding that you might enjoy:

A Dad’s Thoughts During National Breastfeeding Month

Reaction to the Time’s Breastfeeding Cover

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Let’s Be Okayest Together! Facebook page launch!

My dear readers,

My first facebook page is up and running! “Okayest Moms” on Facebook will be a community – not just stuff about me. Please join by clicking on the facebook “like” box. I have almost 2500 followers on the blog, but the facebook page is launching TODAY! Instead of saying “join the discussion” (ugh), allow me to say:

-Post a picture of your Mom Confessional or Mom Problem to our album.

-Check out the link to my zazzle store, because I get royalties from your purchases. Yeah.

-Be sure to like ME because there are okayest imposters out there who are boring.


“Okayest Mom wants to create a community where we can all be okayest together. Tired of the mommy wars and the competition? Me too. This page is for moms who want to confess their okayest moments, rant a little bit, quit pretending that our kids poop rainbows, and (oh yeah!) be fans of the Okayest Mom Blog. ”

Love you guys!





Do You Ever Feel Caught Between Two Weird Worlds of Nutrition?

In this modern day, aren’t we all just really really healthy and really really unhealthy at the same time? I mean, I’m pretty sure my grandparents didn’t have chia seeds in their fridge, but, then again, they didn’t have rBGH in their milk. I’m fairly certain my grandparents didn’t drink coconut water to restore their electrolytes, but, then again, they didn’t ingest GMOs either.

My modern-day child-rearing often leaves me scratching my head in amused consternation. We all give our children such extremes of good/bad food, and, as a result, alternatively congratulate and chastise our own parenting skills.

I’m the kind of mom who routinely sneaks flax seed and pumpkin into their Bisquick pancakes; sweet potatoes into their jarred marinara; wheat germ into their meatloaf. They snack on hard-boiled eggs as well as graham crackers.

I forbid aspartame and corn syrup from passing their lips, but I will give them (homemade) cookies or (store-bought) animal crackers, made with real sugar.

Yes, my kids drink this. Yes, they are regular kids who detest vegetables.

Yes, my kids drink this. Yes, they are regular kids who detest vegetables.

They guzzle smoothies that I make with kale, avocado, and almond milk AND they also love McDonald’s french fries. I cook with coconut oil AND I also like to fry things. They eat avocados every day, AND they also love beanie weenie. (Hey, don’t knock it – that’s an amazing amount of protein and fiber for toddlers!)

Good, bad, good, bad. Who’s with me?!

My own sons eat an odd little combo that I like to call Southern Cooking, Mediterranean style. I was raised on southern cooking. Our food groups are meat, potatoes, cheese, mayo, and fried. Just kidding. My mom is an excellent cook, and, even though she worked full time throughout my whole life, made biscuits from scratch, could somehow get a whole meal out of a ham bone, and knew her way around a deep-fryer. In the 1980s and 1990s, when everyone was worrying about fat grams and eating Snack Wells, my mom always said to us, “I’d rather feed my children fat than chemicals.” We always used real butter, even when all of you ate margarine. She was ahead of her time, even if you might make fun of her GrandPappy FryDaddy or whatever it was called.

My husband, on the other hand, comes from a unique heritage that is undoubtedly not-southern. I don’t believe he ate mayo or peanut butter or anything from a can. I am certain they didn’t deep-fry. I like to say, “Before we met, I had never had real tuna, and he had never had tuna from a can.” Without divulging his origins, English was not the first language for either of his parents, and, as a result, his parents brought two diverse cultures of food to their table.

He was raised on fresh food, massive quantities of fruit, all kinds of nuts I never heard of, and something called, um, chicken? Lean meat? His mother, like mine, is an excellent cook, but that is where their similarities end.

(One place I’ve managed to feel haughty with my husband is sweets. My mother was a dental hygienist, so I didn’t eat sweets. I think it helped that neither of my parents had a sweet tooth, so sugar wasn’t some forbidden treat. We just didn’t care about it. My husband, on the other hand, has the normal love of sugar.)

Let’s just say that when Southern Cooking married Mediterranean Cooking, cultures clashed. Good thing we had eight childless years to figure out if our house was going to contain mayo (yes) (how else can you make potato salad?), tuna from a can (yes), and canned corned beef (no).

I was distraught as a newlywed when I made him my favorite meal, Corned Beef Hash, and he didn’t like it. For those of you who aren’t familiar, you can combine any meat with “hash” (the potato kind, not the Amsterdam drug kind) and fry it into a meal. The corned beef, to be clear, has to be from a can. It kind of smells like dog food when you open it, but once it’s fried, it’s delicious. I was such a weirdo kid, I requested that cheap-o meal for MY BIRTHDAY every year! That was the one day of the year that I could have requested steak or shrimp, and I requested meat from a can that smelled like dog food. What can I say? I am a cheap date. He still doesn’t like it, so, to this day, my mom will make some for me on my birthday, but my husband doesn’t have to eat it.

Conversely, I was overjoyed when I discovered that he loved my creamed-chipped-beef for breakfast. (Or, “SOS”: “Sh*t on a Shingle”.) It’s still a weekend breakfast staple around here. He likes tuna from a can now, as a quick protein. He loves it when I fry things, but I try not to do it too often, so I don’t offend his non-southern body. Seriously, those healthy people can’t take it!

I made my fair share of changes too. I learned a handful of his favorite recipes from his mother. I am always wanting to learn more. I still don’t like berries of any kind (weird, I know, but they give me a stomachache), but I do eat far more fruit than I ever did as a kid. I think we mostly had apples and grapes in our fridge when I was young, but my kids have a never-ending supply of every kind of fruit. It’s an expense that my husband insists we make room for in our budget. My one-year-old twins can eat an avocado per day, each. My four-year-old can pit cherries by himself. (I don’t think I had a real cherry, the kind not from a jar, until college.) He can eat an entire Costco-size container of raspberries if I’m not looking. My husband- and now my children- are fruit snobs. That’s okay with me. I pretend to be one too and I hope they never discover my secret.

Yogurt-snobs: I count 5 different flavors, 4 different fat percentages, and 1 homemade raw onion yogurt

Yogurt-snobs: I count 5 different flavors, 4 different fat percentages, and 1 homemade raw onion yogurt

Besides being fruit snobs, my children are yogurt snobs, too. I could write a whole blog post about this house’s relationship with yogurt. I didn’t try yogurt until college. My husband, on their other hand, had plain yogurt with almost every meal. It was a fixture at his table, much like white bread was a fixture at my table as a child. I can tolerate a few select brands of blended yogurt, like lemon or vanilla, but, plain yogurt? Whoa. That is an acquired taste. No, I take that back. I haven’t acquired it yet, even after much effort. Plain yogurt is something on which you have to be raised. I’m pretty sure we have at least six different kinds of yogurt in our fridge at all times. And I’m not talking flavors –I’m talking varieties. Whole, organic, Greek, Iranian, fat-free, fruit, onion. Wait, what? Yes, onion yogurt. My husband and my children fight over the plain yogurt with raw shallots in it. Yeah. They do. My babies wake up from nap with onion breath. They will turn away from fake-y yogurt with aspartame in it but they fight over RAW ONION YOGURT. I hope they never discover my secret: I am no yogurt snob, I didn’t eat yogurt until college, and I certainly don’t (yet) eat shallot yogurt. Go, kids, go!

Like his father, but unlike his brothers, my oldest son (who came to us through adoption) seems to eat the most Mediterranean diet of all. His favorite foods include salmon, berries, onion yogurt… and he says he’s just “full” when I serve anything remotely Southern, creamy, buttery, cheesy, or fried. He’s polite about it, because he knows he’s not getting anything to eat that wasn’t already on the table, but he asks to be excused quickly. He might be one of the few four-year-olds who doesn’t like chicken nuggets. My twins, while being of the same biological lineage as my husband, scarf down my homemade mac n’ cheese with intense fervor.

And there you have it: I suck. And I’m awesome. Just like you.




Tell me I’m not the only one! What extremes of good and bad food do you feed your kids? Come on, brag/publicly shame yourself a little!

100 Happy Days? Pfft. How about 10?

How about I bring this down a notch to an “okayest mom” level? How about 10 Happy Days?

I keep seeing people do this 100 Happy Days thing on social media. I guess you are supposed to post a picture each day of something that makes you happy, so that you will, you know, be more grateful. That’s a good idea, I guess, but that’s way too overwhelming for Okayest Mom.

Simply, here are ten photos that made me happy in the last ten days. (Thank you, new smartphone, for helping me achieve this level of spontaneous snapshot-ing.)

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Did anyone notice that was more than ten? It was somewhere between ten and 100, right?

Passive-Aggressive Fake Letter to The Jerk Who Tried to Run My Van Off the Road

Tired of reading passive-aggressive “letters” to people/things who will never see them on facebook? Me too. However, since I couldn’t exactly engage in road rage with small children in the car, there’s this:

Dear Person Who Tried to Run My Van Full of Children Off the Road,

Yes, I drive a beige minivan. Yes, I look boring on the outside. Yes, it looks like you can push me around because I am trying to merge in a beige boring minivan while you don’t move over. And, then, yes, after not letting me merge, you can slow down and pull up to my side and try to sideswipe me so that I end up in the shoulder. You’re right, you can push me around and I’m not going to do anything about it. I’m not going to tailgate you afterward. I’m not going to give you the finger. I’m not even going to murmur a curse word inside my van.

Not to worry. I may be driving a minivan right now, but the racecar in my garage will eat your little tin can for breakfast. Its 626hp engine will find you in a dark alley and make you cry. Also, the husband who built it will make you cry some more. Did you go down to AutoZone and buy some little stickers and some pretend accents to try to make your car look a little tough? Wow. Good for you. Why don’t you come back when you get some real racing components and we can have a little chat? Did you try to make your car sound a little louder but now it just sounds like someone talking through his nose? Whoops. Why don’t you come back when your car can really clear its throat? Our racecar can set off every car alarm it passes. I hope it doesn’t scare you, poor little thing.

I have FOUR carseats in that minivan. You also had four people in your tin can. They were laughing and having a great time at our expense. I can assure you that none of my passengers felt the same.

Something you better learn, you little whipper-snapper, is that you can’t judge a mom by her minivan. I’m coming for you.

Sincerely, The Mom in the Beige Minivan


In church today, I was sitting behind my friend Jill as she held her newborn. I noticed all the women in front of her, beside her, behind her, and across the aisle from her staring at her baby with googly eyes. They were women from all seasons of life. Every one of them looked like someone had shot her with a oxycodone dart. They each had the same gooey-eyed expression and small satisfied smile on their faces. They each seemed to be silently sighing instead of listening to the lesson.

I admit: I was one of them.

Whaaaaat? I have four toddlers living in my house right now (adoption + IVF twins + my niece). I change 8+ poopy diapers per day. And, yet, I was one of the googly-eyed women.

Some of the women have grown children. They still stared. Some of the women have small children (ahem, me). They still stared. One of them women has NINE children. She still stared. Actually, she stared the most of all.

IMG_4174I can’t remember my babies being that small. I see the pictures, and it was only a year ago, but my body seems to have no memory of what it felt like to hold an eight-pound baby close. And I certainly don’t remember holding twin eight-pound babies close. Did it really happen? Was it all a dream? I try to hold Jill’s baby and my skinny arms and bony chest have no idea how to comfort him. I have rocked mine and held them and nursed (some of) them and cradled them, but I have no muscle memory of it.

It was the hardest time of my life. I slept 1-2 hours per night until I cracked. I experienced fear and isolation and despair and …. All I can remember is smelling their heads. Inhaling them.

Helping with HouseworkWhat I know now is chubby toddler arms around my neck. Mashed avocado between chubby fingers every night. Sharp teeth biting into my collarbone. The floor under three highchairs that needs mopping three times a day. Anticipation at opening the twins’ door every morning to twins jumping in identical cribs with identical grins on their (not identical) fat faces. Toddle-running so fast that their cheeks wobble. Watching one twin be so overcome with love for a brother at mealtime that he has to stop eating just to rub his head on his brother’s head and say, “awwww”. The pep talk I give myself when I have to go get them up from naps (“You got this! You can do one more round!” and making a sound like a football player ending a huddle). Vacuuming while all four follow behind me, stepping on the cord,  and imitating me (if, by “imitating me”, I mean: pretend-vacuuming with a duck while naked).

I am overwhelmed with hard work, love, exhaustion, and the terrifying passage of time. I am like every other mother in the world.

I am destined to be the googly-eyed lady for the rest of my life.

My Sister Wife (I mean, My Sister Mom)

My all-time-favorite photo of my sister-in-law and me. It was her wedding day to my brother, and R was super excited about the portraits. Photo courtesy of Mr. Okayest.

My all-time-favorite photo of my sister-in-law and me. It was her wedding day to my brother, and R was super excited about the portraits. Photo courtesy of Mr. Okayest.

Since I’m LDS, I shouldn’t promote the idea of sister wives. But, dang it, having a sister wife would be AMAZING! Except, of course, for the sharing-my-husband thing. I am not condoning polygamy, but um, what stay-at-home mom couldn’t use the extra help?! My sister-in-law is currently living with us – along with my one-year-old niece – and she kind of feels like a sister wife. However, since she is married to my brother, that thought is just extra gross. So, my brother has coined a new phrase: sister mom. She is my sister mom.

Some fine print: The LDS (Mormon) church does not practice polygamy and anyone who actually did would be excommunicated. Members of the church did practice polygamy in the 1800s, but it was renounced as a practice in 1890 in order for Utah to gain statehood. Our church believes in following “the laws of the land” and we don’t do anything illegal. Any forms of multiple-wife marriages you see on TV (“Sister Wives”, “Breaking the Faith”, “Big Love”…) are NOT my church. Those families are from a variety of offshoots of our church , and NONE are affiliated with the “mainstream” LDS church.* Some of them separated from the mainstream LDS church due to the issue of revoking the practice of polygamy.

Some more fine print: Our prophet has denounced the use of the word “fundamentalist” when describing offshoots of our church, because we believe we stick to our fundamentals just fine. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “There is no such thing as a ‘Mormon Fundamentalist.’ It is a contradiction to use the two words together.”

Now, having said all that, I am now free to tell you that I can kinda see why those sister wives like their lifestyle. I am a descendent of Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS church, and possibly the most famous polygamist of all time. The number of wives and children he had is staggering.  I guess I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for polygamy. His wives worked together and many lived in the same houses. Do you think one woman would have been capable of cooking from scratch all day and hand-washing all the clothes and caring for children and running the farm (and, ok, fending off American Indians, according to my ancestors’ journals) out in the middle of Nowhere, Utah?

On the TLC show “Sister Wives”, one man is married to four women. The Brown family members belong to the offshoot known as the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). Even as a lifelong member of the LDS church, I had never heard of the AUB. ** The Brown wives have said that they support each other by playing to their own strengths. One wife does the cooking, one wife cares for the small children, and one wife works outside the home. Many hands make light work. I guess it comes at a cost: each sister wife only shares a bed with her husband every fourth night. (Many hands make light work in the bedroom too? Ha, sorry.)

Since my sister mom moved in with me, we have four children under the age of four living here. That is far too much chaos for one person, but, with four adult hands, the ratio seems to work in our favor. Like the Brown family, we also divide the work in a way that benefits us. For example, fixing dinner with four toddlers underfoot is not only mind-bendingly challenging, it’s also quite dangerous. (Just think: splattering oil, boiling water splashing, hot stove burners, opening the 450 degree oven….I had resorted to throwing a ball away from the oven to make the kids go chase the ball like a dog before I opened the oven door.) So, we take turns: one of us cares for all four children in the basement playroom, while the other sister mom cooks dinner in perfect silent safe aloneness. It is blissful.

With a sister mom in the house, I am able to run to the store during naptime. I have an adult to converse with during the day, and, thus, I get to use more complex sentences that don’t always have the word “poop” in them. I have a second set of eyes and hands to catch the baby who climbs on top of the picnic table on the deck. (Those of you who personally know my children will undoubtedly know which child did that.) My sister mom does the chores that I detest – such as unloading the dishwasher – just because she is a kind person who takes pity on me. She watches the babies while I spend hours in the bathroom with a potty-training oldest child. And, best of all, *I* get to go to the bathroom alone- with the door closed and everything! Oh, wait, no, the best of all is that Mr. Okayest and I can slip out to a movie after the kids go to bed!

However, downsides to having a sister mom include: 25% more food on the floor during mealtimes, a naughtier dog, and a higher-than-average playtime decibel level. So worth it. I know I could close this blog post with a joke about “as long as she stays away from my man”, but it’s just so gross and weird that I’m not going to even suggest that kind of joke. Except maybe I just did. Anyway, having a sister mom is worth it. I’m not so sure about having a sister wife.


 *The most infamous of those groups is the FLDS, which is still run by a jailed Warren Jeffs. (In my opinion, he is one of the most evil men on the planet.)

**For comparison’s sake, the AUB has about 10,000 members, the FLDS has less than 10,000 members, and my LDS “mainstream” church has nearly 15 million members.

For further reading about polygamy and our church history: