We bought onions at the store this week…

Me: “Where’s my onion?”

Stella: “It’s hiding.”

Me: “I need it for the soup.”

Stella: “No. I hid it so you won’t kill it. It’s my baby.”

I found it a few days later. She had stuffed it into her desk. I think someone has been reading SOPHIE’S SQUASH again… ____________________________________________________________________________________________

This week we also made an advent calendar out of burlap pockets trimmed with glittery ribbon. Stella inspected one of the finished pieces and said, “Mom, these are magnificent pockets!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

One of our illustrated Bible story books, in the chapter on Moses, says that God smote Egypt with maggots. That was news to all of us:

Stella: “What’s maggots?”

Me: “They’re larvae, or immature bugs, and they live in rotten meat, and later they turn into flies. They’re really gross. They look like this…” [as I pull up a picture on Google images….ugh, why did I do that?!]

Stella: “Oh look, they’re minuscule worms.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella helped me make a bingo board for my primary class. The pictures we placed on the squares were all related to stories of living prophets: Daniel, Samuel, Noah, Abinadai, Moses, Joseph Smith, President Monson. We needed to fill one last square and weren’t sure what picture to place there, so I said:

“Maybe something from the story of Moses. What should we put here?”

Stella: “How about boils? Can we put boils right there?”

Me: “Eew, no!”






Scene: Stella had a nap and was going to bed much later in the evening than usual. Dad had read books to her, told her stories, and sung to her, and finally left her to her own devices to fall asleep in the dark room. Around 10:30 PM there was a noise from the bedroom. Dad walked in to see the light on and Stella putting some of her toys into a plastic container.

Dad: “What are you doing Stella? Why aren’t you asleep?”

Stella: “I’m all done sleeping now dad. Can you get my clothes so I can change? I don’t need my pajamas any more. I need to come out.”

Dad: “Noooo! It’s late and you need to go to sleep.”


Scene: Stella had watched the movie Sing and was singing all the songs as she went around the house. One of the songs in the movie is Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back (I Like Big Butts).” (Not a great song for a little kid movie.)

Stella: “Oh my gosh. Look at her butt.”

Dad: “Stella! That’s not a nice thing to say. Don’t say that.”

Stella: “Oh my gosh. Look at her nice butt.”

(Long discussion on why that is not appropriate either. Stella knows now that we don’t sing that song…)


Scene: We were visiting Sarita’s sister Merella and family for Thanksgiving and getting ready to leave. Stella ran off with her cousin through the apartment complex–through the streets and around corners. Uncle Dario finally caught them and we got her in the car ready to go. We had a long talk about how that is dangerous and we didn’t want her to “perish” (one of her new favorite words). Stella took a nap on the way back to Granny and Grandpa’s house, and when she woke up…

Dad: “We need to sit down and talk when we get home about you running off. It was a dangerous thing to do and I don’t want to lose you.”

Stella: “Dad, you need to be like Elsa and Anna and Let it Go.”





While Dad was trying to work on his computer, Stella couldn’t resist needling him to the point of frustration, when he said, “PLEASE! STOP!”

Stella said dejectedly, “Don’t yell at me. You shouldn’t yell at little kids!”

We laughed.  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Mom told Stella to put something away in her room and come out after closing the bedroom door. Stella disappeared and didn’t come back. After a while, Mom said, “Stella! What are you doing in there? Stop plotting and come out!”

Stella: “MOM! I’m not plotting like Laman and Lemuel!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

While telling the story of Jonah and the Whale for the first time:

Mom: “…And Jonah sailed as far away from Ninevah as he could, in the opposite direction. He was trying to run away from God, but God got upset and threatened Jonah’s boat with a big, terrible storm. The people on the boat were angry with Jonah and tossed him overboard. Then he got swallowed by a giant [dramatic pause]…what do you think swallowed him?”

Stella: “Um…I think it was a shark!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________





Terrible Twos…and Threes

Terrible Twos…and Threes

“Whoever came up with the term “terrible twos” must have felt very foolish after their kid turned three…”
― Jim GaffiganDad Is Fat

2017-07-20 Stella 3rd birthday [1]

In the months leading up to Stella’s third birthday, I thought there was no way age three could be worse than age two. I thought if I could just get past two, everything would be fine!

It is NOT fine.

The tantrums are epic. She screams herself red in the face until she’s choking and hyperventilating because you said NO to wearing rubber boots to bed, or putting on nail polish right before a bath, or eating jelly beans for dinner; or YES, she has to wear underwear today, just like every other day…

She is totally rude. Now, when people smile at her in the grocery store and tell her she has the most beautiful hair, she grumbles and whines and turns around so she doesn’t have to look at them.

And she thinks she’s a baby. I know the “experts” say it’s just a phase or whatever, but it’s still maddening to hear the incoherent, monosyllabic mumbling that comes out of her mouth. Her height does not help the situation. She looks like a realllllllly immature five-year-old when she says, “Da da, look, I wet!”

AND, she likes Taylor Swift songs. Gah! But I guess that’s my fault for letting her watch the movie SING and letting her dance to the “pig song…”

The good news is, she usually reserves the worst of this unpleasantness for whenever Dad is in the room. We don’t know why, because he doesn’t put up with it any more than I do. Wait, I guess that’s not good news. Never mind.

On the other hand, Stella is so sweet and happy and articulate. Those are her two extremes: she’s either delightful or demonic. There is no middle ground right now.

At her best, Stella can be reasoned with and you can actually have a conversation with her, sort of. Example:

S: “I want Shark! Will you go get him? He’s in Sophie’s room.”

D: “I’m sorry, but we don’t have Shark any more.”

S: “No, we do, he’s just in the other room. Will you please go get him?”

Dad, in hopes of having a tender, teaching moment to impress upon her young mind the importance of decluttering and sharing your abundance with those less fortunate, continues:

D: “Ok, I’ll go check…”

He comes back and makes up some baloney story,

D: “You know, here’s what happened. There was another girl who didn’t have any toys and we knew you had so many toys and would want to share with her, so we gave Shark to her so she would have something to play with. Doesn’t it feel good to share and help kids who don’t have toys?”

S: “No. I want Shark!”

Generally, Stella is almost completely self sufficient and helpful. When she’s in a good mood, she’ll do whatever I say. Thank goodness. And one of the most amazing things about her is her resilience. I stopped keeping track of how many times a day she falls down or bumps into walls or scrapes her knees or elbows because it’s never been a big deal. She’ll cry for two seconds and then say, “I’m okay!” It’s the best.

Her latest trick, when you compliment her on how good she is at doing X, is to respond with, “Yeah, I have dexterity.” We said dexterity means you’re good at doing things with your hands, such as: helping to make dinner by chopping vegetables (with a butter knife); painting our nails (with child proof nail polish); cutting up catalog paper into confetti-sized bits; writing (her name, the alphabet); drawing (flowers and outlines of hands with added fingernails and jewelry details, the Cat in the Hat, “potato people,” which are ovoid outlines of bodies with bulbous eyes and sticks for arms and legs); coloring all my printed MAGIC HOUR sketches with colored pencils on the light box after I’ve transferred the lines to watercolor paper; watercolor painting; coloring with markers; drilling holes in her play doh dentist patient’s teeth (his name is Mr. Unlucky) after administering healthy doses of Novocain; playing Dr. Stella, which entails bringing all her stuffed animals back from the dead by taking their temperatures and giving them flu shots; filling up all her purses with Legos and carrying them around the house; taking empty cardboard boxes and stuffing them with the most random assortment of toys then hiding the boxes in weird places; the list goes on….

She also likes looking at pictures of Australia (since reading, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, she tells us she’s going to Australia every day) and reading GREEN EGGS AND HAM and of course, hearing about every little thing that happened in the Bible and Book of Mormon (current favorite stories: Joseph of Egypt, Moses, Laban’s death, Abinadai’s death, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Noah’s Ark)

I suppose these bright spots are worth the aggravation of three-year-old tantrums…just kidding, what am I saying?

2017-09-04 Stella labor day [1]2017-09-04 Stella labor day [2]2017-09-04 Stella labor day [3]

When I grow up, I’m going to be…

When I grow up, I’m going to be…

I continued to not meet my book deadline by celebrating Sophie’s birthday in September, and finally making zhua zhou cards. Zua Zhou is a form of first birthday celebration that supposedly originated in dynastic China but is celebrated in lots of countries in East Asia–it’s Doljanchi in Korea, Thôi Nôi in Vietnam, and Erabitori in Japan, for example. Anciently, the procedure was to present baby with a variety of symbolic objects connected to future occupations, and whichever item baby grabbed first would give an indication of their future life. The items presented depended on gender. Girls were given jewelry, flowers, or scissors and thread, while boys could choose from items like scrolls, pen and ink, and swords. I’m not sure who thought swords would be a good idea…While the tradition used to be perceived as a peek into a child’s future, today it’s basically an event that provides blog fodder and a reminder that my kids are something or other sixteenths Chinese. So for Sophie’s first birthday, we used the cards to predict her future in the most unscientific way possible.  Stella chose an onion and a calculator in 2015. Not to be outdone, Sophie surprised nobody by choosing…you’ll never guess.

2017-10-14 21.15.37

The meanings of most cards are probably obvious–books for scholarship/academic inclinations/the perpetual state of limbo euphemistically dubbed “All But Dissertation,” or ABD Land; an egg beater for reigning power in the sphere of domesticity; pen and ink for literary aptitude/writerly talent…etc. But some are less obvious, like peonies for reproductive power/beauty/richness/honor/high social class; noodles for long life; or a syringe for upstanding medical professions (not intravenous drug use, silly). I threw in the cleaver just for fun. Sophie didn’t pick that one.

 And Sophie picked…  the same thing every kid goes for: whatever is closest to her fingers. But that’s a boring story.

We’ll go with a tie between cupcake and gramophone.

Cupcakes for the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. Sophie regularly demonstrates her appreciation for the pleasures in life. She loves food, sparkly things, and anything soft, furry, and fuzzy. When Sophie gets really really mad or wakes up cranky from her naps and is in a foul mood, food is usually our friend. Hold a cracker in front of her face and the crying stops instantly. She squeaks excitedly when in close proximity to dogs and carnival stuffed animals. At church, she practically fell out of my arms in an attempt to snatch a lady’s glittery, neon pink scripture case. The lady was really nice and gave me the scripture case, making me promise to give it to her when she was old enough. But that decision might have been inspired more by the puddle of drool Sophie left on the handle.

Let’s just say that cupcakes don’t symbolize a potential penchant for hedonism, but instead a possible career as food critic or patissiere. Yes, that sounds nice.

And a phonograph, for what I initially thought might be musical talent. When I made the cards I was just looking for a cool picture of a musical instrument. It was going to be a violin at first, but then I stumbled upon a phonograph and chose that instead. And then later, I realized I didn’t know what a phonograph was. So I asked Google. And Google says it’s one of the most revolutionary inventions of all time, Thomas Edison’s favorite patent. That is so COOL. If you’re bored or in the bathroom with nothing to read and want to know more about phonographs, here’s a fascinating article from Smithsonian. But if you have better things to do than read about phonographs, just know that Edison’s phonograph was responsible for some major evolutions in music. 1) hits and genres emerged when producers realized they could sell music and people would need quick and easy ways to identify what they wanted; 2) songs got shorter; instead of one hour live symphonies, songs were cut to 3 minutes to accommodate a phonograph’s recording capacity; 3) genre instrumentation changed because some instruments produced better sound quality on the phonograph than others; 4) performances had to be perfect--instead of an occasional vocal slip being acceptable on stage, the most “microscopic accidents” became monumental in a recording; 5) listening to music changed–you could listen alone at home instead of going out and listening live or playing music yourself, which were your only two listening options.

All this is to say that maybe Sophie will invent something. Or be a music historian. Or own a bakery franchise. Or maybe she’ll be a *Bowling for Soup groupie who goes on pastry tours. Either way, we’ll still love her.

*#27 on a list of 60 bands named after food








Stella walked into the kitchen and spouted off a barrage of imperative sentences:

S: “Mom, listen to the words I say. You have to follow the rules. Or, you go to timeout.”

Me: “Ok?”

And then she walked away. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

S: “Raise your hand if you want ice cream!”  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

S: “Mom, tell me the story of Moses.” (for the 13th time that day…)

Me: “Why do you like that story so much?”

S: “Because it’s weird and tragic.”

Me: “What does tragic mean?”

S: “Really, really sad.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

At church, Stella ran away from us and raced up the stairs to the second floor of classrooms.

Me: “Stella! Get back down here!”

S: “No! I’m going to sacrifice a lamb!”

Me: “Well, come do it down here.”

S: “Yeah, ok.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

At church, there are three women named Amy: Amy Reall, Amy Jensen, and Amy Wise. Amy Reall is our best friend; we see her several times a week and her daughter sometimes babysits Stella. As we walked past Amy Wise in the hall, I said, “Stella, say hi to Amy. This is the other Amy.”

S to Amy: “Hi Amy.”

S to me: “Mom, I said hi to that Amy. Now I’m going to find the real Amy.”