Tuesday, September 28, 2010

carrie underpants

um, not sure why we call her that; my sister and i just always have. but, underwood or underpants, we love her. i'm not a huge concert-goer, but this was hands down my favorite concert. ever. 

ryan got me tickets for my birthday and it was the best present ever!

that girl can perform

she had multiple costume changes, her stage and set were incredible and she just knows how to put on a show! she even rode around the pavillion on a big, blue truck hung by trusses. 

she can play the guitar and the piano, she writes a lot of her songs and she. can. SING. wow. most people aren't nearly as good live as they are on their recordings and this girl did not miss a note, i swear. plus, she's just so darn cute.

ryan and i got gussied up in our most western attire, obviously. 

i would have worn my cowgirl hat, but i think he would have a been a bit embarrassed. he did humor me and wear his "western" shirt. thanks, ry. i made sure to thoroughly embarrass him with my signature invisible microphone anyway. he secretly loves it. and yes, i'm a nerd...but she told us to sing along!

sons of sylvia and billy currington both opened for her. pretty good shows, but she blew them both out of the water. we were thoroughly entertained by the couple in front of us - the guy was anything but interested in his date until they had a few beers in them. nice. 

it was a great show. if she's coming to your area, i highly recommend going. loved it. loved it. loved it. 

thanks, ry. love you.

let the birthday celebrations begin!! happy 29 to me!

Monday, September 27, 2010

mmm...dirty water

had a great time deep cleaning our kitchen yesterday. i made some apple crisp {with those freshly-picked-from-the-orchard apples} for dinner at my cousin's house last night. i was cleaning up the kitchen after so we could leave. i started the dishwasher {have i mentioned i love having a dishwasher again?} and then cleaned up around the sink. there was some food left in the sink, so i pushed it down the drain and started the disposal {have i mentioned i love having a disposal again?}. 

i had used the disposal a few times in the past 10 minutes already. this time, it didn't work. it spun, but it didn't drain. 

great. clogged drain. 

ryan to the rescue. 

he cleared out underneath the sink and started to unscrew the pipes. knowing it would dump some water, we had buckets ready and waiting. 

somehow we both forgot the dishwasher was running...and the second he pulled off the pipe, the dishwasher happened to have its first drain at the same exact time

nice, warm dish-water all over ryan. it was lovely. it soaked ryan, soaked the rug, and flooded the perimeter of our entire kitchen. ryan honestly just sat there with this i-cannot-believe-this-just-happened-to-me smile on his face. it was classic. and, obviously, a moment to be photographed.

he cleaned the pipe out and found the culprit:

a knife. gross tidbit of information? it wasn't our knife. gross! i'm not sure HOW this knife got clear down into the pipe, but it did. and it must have wiggled down there months ago when a previous tenant lived here. ryan looks creepy in this picture. he is not creepy in real life. i promise.

no worries. the kitchen is now sparkling, we were {almost} on time for dinner and the crisp was delicious. and we threw the knife away.

i made salsa because leah has rett syndrome

really, i did. 

we went apple picking last weekend and decided to stop at a local farmstand on the way home to pick up some other produce. as we were in the checkout line, the checker handed leah a lollipop. i was busy paying, so i couldn't take the lollipop from him for her. i simply said, "she can't use her hands. i'm sorry."

he looked a bit confused and wanted more of an explanation. i'm never sure how much information people want, so i usually give them the short version unless they ask for more. too much information often makes people feel awkward and i walk away feeling like a circus freak. so, short version, i said, "she has a neurological disorder and is unable to use her hands in a functional way."

"oh," was all he replied. but he had a somber look on his face and you could tell the wheels in his head were turning. 

then he began to talk her her...an expecting a response from her in return. 

"she can't speak either," i explained. 

"what?! well, she'll be able to learn right?" 

not really in the mood to discuss things in great detail, i smiled and said, "not unless they find a cure."

the man was in shock. he had never heard of such a thing and was truly interested. we continued to talk about how she was born "normal" then digressed and what her future might look like. i handed him a purple card {more on that friday} and he seemed satisfied. as i was walking away, he said, "please. take these." it was a bag of peppers. all shapes, sizes and colors. 

i graciously accepted the gift because it was so kind, all the while wondering what in the world i was going to do with a ginormous bag of peppers. 

so, i made salsa. and it was yum. not the best i've ever had, but the first i've ever made solo and i think it was a success. i even whipped out the chopper for the second time since we received it for our wedding. and it made me wonder why i don't use it more often. that thing is awesome!

so, thanks leah. and thanks rett syndrome. because of you we could enjoy a nice, fresh batch of chips and salsa. how's that for some silver lining?

one big mess

every week while i teach piano, leah has a playdate with three of the most darling girls on the block, literally. they're so close we can walk, which is fantastic. they all seem to adore leah and the feeling is mutual. she giggles every time she sees them! the girls are as different as can be ranging from tomboy to princess, so no matter leah's mood, she fits right in. 

as a trade, we watched all three girls the other night while their parents attending a school function. as they entered our house {they had never been here before}, the oldest announced, "wow! your home is beautiful! how do you keep it so clean?"

i like this girl. 

they immediately ran to leah's room to discover everything in sight. and, well, even things that weren't in sight. leah's room was messier that night than it has ever been. 
pictures were drawn, crayons were used, dress ups were worn {as were nearly 30 of leah's many hair clips}, musical instruments were played. 

we hadn't eaten yet, so i scarfed my dinner down while ryan stayed in the kitchen to feed leah. i'm not sure if leah really wasn't hungry or if she just wanted to be playing with the girls, but either way, her dinner ended like this. 

ryan was not amused {with the mess or the picture taking}. 

i had to leave early to go teach piano so ryan cleaned up the entire mess while the girls watched the little mermaid and the oldest said clever things such as, "do you have any snacks? everything's better with a snack."

like i said, i like this girl. 

i know it's strange, but i loved every single minute of the mess the girls made. i loved picking up their toys and putting them back in their places, knowing they had been used and loved. i don't really see that anymore and it's often hard to walk into leah's room and see all these toys go unused. her room is often spotless. you'd think that would be a good thing, but it's not. 
i hope no matter how our family grows i continue to enjoy the messes. i just hope one day they'll be leah's.

knee socks

dear children's clothing store, 

if you sell knee socks that show off my daughter's knobby knees and skinny minny thighs, i will buy them - especially when paired with a corduroy skirt. i consider this fair warning and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.


potty jamba

little miss leah has been working on potty training. since she'll never be truly potty trained, we're trying to get her used to going on the potty rather than in her pants at certain times of the day. "time trained" if you will. she's slowly improving and is catching onto the whole idea of a sticker chart. we basically have a fiesta in the bathroom every time she goes, so she knows it's a good thing. 

she's working on prize no. 3 right now. prize no. 2 was a "potty jamba" just for her. we went on a little smoothie date, just the two of us last friday afternoon. i can honestly say i didn't even take a sip until i knew she was done. and she had 9/10 of a sixteen ounce smoothie all by herself...and in about 3 minutes flat! she was really good at letting me know she would rather be eating than photographed. she got that from her dad. 
the lengths this girl goes to to master something new never cease to amaze me. she is one determined, smart little girl. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

if i had a wish then it would be...

so many things i'm dreaming about on this lovely friday afternoon...

vanilla joe joe's
a root beer float
some fun, fall decorations
japanese masking tape (isn't this pack and this one and this one fun?!)
a little bit of Glee and More Glee for the piano
an inbetween camera. i'm in love.
a large latte bowl in every color of the rainbow. to match the small ones i have and loooooove. 
a new piano lamp
a fun, green tablecloth like this one

a new kitchen timer

 some cute potholders like this or this.
and a nap.

happy weekend to everyone! 
i'm off to have yummy homemade pizzas with some great friends. 
just hoping ryan will get off work in time to join us...

what's on YOUR wishlist?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

you asked...about fashion

have to admit...when i got the questions about fashion, i chuckled to myself. and then i chuckled out loud. i spent a good portion of my life wishing i was a bit bolder and able to wear fun, cute things. usually, my sister would wear my clothes and get compliments while wearing them. i rarely got those compliments. guess she just pulled them off better? but...it helped me realize that fashion is all about yourself and your confidence in what you're wearing. kelli had that confidence. {the girl sported a sweatshirt - the SAME, oversized, navy blue, nike sweatshirt - every day for an entire year and pulled it off}.

i don't really have fashion picks for the fall...mostly because i think many of the trends in the store right now aren't super attractive...at least on me. so instead, i've decided to list my fall fashion rules {the rules i try to live by when purchasing and putting together my look} and a few of my favs...

maren's {fall} fashion rules:

{1} layer. 
especially in fall, the weather is unpredictable and can change dramatically in the course of even a few hours. layering, for me is key. lots of tops, long sleeves, cardigans and jackets clutter my closet.

{2} accessorize. 
i've never been amazing at this and even still hesitate as i'm adding to an otherwise dull outfit. but, i rarely regret it when i actually go through with it. accessories like belts, hats, scarves, jewelry, bags and even shoes are a relatively inexpensive way to spruce up any outfit. accessorizing is also a great way to stay with {some of} the trends while staying within your budget. i'm a pearl girl. i currently have 9 pearl necklaces and 7 pair of pearl earrings on my jewelry tray. a bit overboard? maybe. but the different lengths, sizes, clusters and colors really change the look of an outfit at not much cost. figure out what you like and go with it!

{3} shoes, shoes, shoes. 
i never used to be a shoe girl. and i'm not sure when or how the transformation occurred. and i know shoes can be expensive, but they don't have to be. i have one or two nice pair of shoes - not including my running shoes {which HAVE to be quality, but that's another post}. the others are inexpensive additions that add pop of color or sparkle or even a dainty ruffle to my wardrobe. most were under $15, none were over $30.

{1-old navy; 2,3,10-target; 4-my sister's closet; 5-dsw on clearance; 
6,7,11,12,13-twiggshoes.com; 8-payless; 9-forever21}

i also love a good boot and can honestly say with the seven pair i have {acquired over just as many years, if not more}, i have never spent over $35 on a single pair. i've found most at target and most, if not all, have been on sale. 

{1-boku.com, $30, 2-street market in hong kong, <$10; 3-old navy, $20; 4-rain boots from bed, bath and beyond!, $10; 5-target, $29; 6-target, $35; 7-target, $25}

i can't be a true fashionista because i don't love the new trend of booties. just sayin'. feel free to wear them on your cute feet, but these cankles won't be sporting them any time soon. which leads me to...

{4} know your style. 
you can experiment with trends without becoming a slave to them. find what you like and rock it. and don't feel bad about not owning or wearing...or even liking...things others are wearing this season. if skinny jeans aren't your thing, so be it! rock the boot cuts or trousers. if you just can't swallow the 80s and early 90s trends finding their way to the shelves, don't sweat it. just figure out what you like and go with it. 

{5} modest is hottest.
i know, i know. cliche. and, while i'll admit this rule originally stemmed purely from my religion, i truly believe modesty is beautiful. the shorter the skirt, the lower the pant, the deeper the neckline, etc., etc., the more you tell others you care more what they think about what you wear than about wearing what you feel comfortable and confident in. plus, not many people can truly pull off showing a lot of skin. 

{6} it's all in the presentation. 
i've always been a firm believer that, no matter what you wear, you should take pride in you and your appearance. this isn't to assume vanity or to try to one up a friend or coworker. i don't care if you're wearing yoga pants and tennis shoes five days a week; it's how you present yourself that matters. run a brush through your hair {and get a hair cut that meshes with how much you know you will actually do your hair}, iron out the creases {or buy non-wrinkle clothes like me...i do not like to iron}, put on some mascara {or under-eye concealer if you're me}, sit up straight {still working on that}, smile and own it. take pride in you and your own personal style and you can't go wrong. 

my top 5 fall colors:
1. gray
2. purple
3. yellow
4. teal
5. off white

my 5 fall go-tos:
1. straight cut jeans
2. ballet flats if it's warm, boots if it's not
3. plain ruffle shirt
4. colored cardigan
5. one accessory {scarf, earrings, necklace...}

5 items out of my comfort zone:
{but i'm oh so glad i tried...}
1. bangs
2. boots
3. straight cut and skinny jeans
4. leggings
5. red lipstick {as if my lips aren't already red enough?...i LOVE it!}

**along the lines of stepping out of my comfort zone, i think it's fun to remove staples from my closet in order to try out new things. so next week i'm going denim-less. ALL week. i'll take pictures. it could be a huge flop. we'll have to wait and see.**

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

here's to fall...

i'm loving today.

i put my head on the pillow last night with a big, fat migraine...and woke up this morning without one. that's a great start to a day. i ran some errands, picked up leah from school, had lunch with some lovely ladies and a nice, long chat with a good friend, taught piano {and both students practiced!!}, went to a local produce market with leah to pick out some nice, plump tomatoes for fresh salsa, got a package in the mail, became better acquainted with a new friend and neighbor, ate dinner, snuggled with my little girl {the same little girl who went potty after only sitting for 5 minutes today!}, welcomed home my hubby after a much-too-long day at work, watched glee, vegged to an episode of friends and snuggled into bed reading a good book.

and i did most of this while wearing a new, purple cardigan...which was relatively needed today...because it's FALL! and it feels like fall!

september 21st might be one of my favorite days of the year. the crisp, cool air. the deep, burning colors all around. the pumpkins, the spices, the parties, the friends, the family, the memories.

when i was little, fall brought school. i know, i might be in the minority here and i'm definitely admitting i'm a nerd, but i actually LIKED school. i liked the social aspect of it in addition to the academics. i had some great teachers and loved learning and grasping onto new concepts. i put my all into projects and was usually pleased with the final project. i had friends who also liked school and we became each others best competition to stretch and better ourselves. i can honestly say i loved going into a test - especially if i was prepared {and i usually was} - and coming out even happier with a successful load lifted. school is no more for me, but i still find great satisfaction in learning new things and stretching myself in a way i never though possible. for some reason, i always am revived in the fall to do just this.

fall brings my birthday. i love my birthday and i'm not shy about it. i think everyone has the right to love their birthday. a day just for you, you know? in the past few years i've started to give gifts for my birthday. four years ago, i gave one to my mom to annouce the arrival of little miss leah. that was fun. this year i'm going to give away a few things via this blog {so stay tuned!}.

fall brings holidays and thoughtfulness and gratitude and beauty. and i hope to make the most of it this year.

if there is one thing i love most about california it would have to be the fall. it isn't necessarily breathtaking as it was growing up in utah or finishing the NYC marathon amidst the brilliant colors of central park. you have to search a little to find it, but when you do, it's amazing. and, because the weather is so mild, fall lasts for an incredibly long time. and during a season that should be full of family {and ours hasn't been for the past three years}, that long-lasting autumn sure helps.

so here's to cardigans.
here's to boots.
here's to leaves and brilliant colors and cool air.
here's to friends and family and yummy food.
here's to holidays and traditions and memories.
here's to fall.


Monday, September 20, 2010

loving this boy...

saw this video on my friend's blog today and am in love. if you're wondering, yes, it does make me want leah to have siblings. no, that is not announcement. but more on that at another time...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

the quintessential family outing

apple picking. 

it just oozes with images of fall and families and fun. 

when i learned that there were apple orchards about an hour south of us where we could go and pick our own apples i was giddy with excitement. our family picking apples in the fall. it was like a picture from a magazine. we planned to go with another family, but their plans changed last minute. ryan couldn't join us either. that boy is busier than anyone i know. so, leah and i ventured off to the ranch by ourselves.

the apples were delicious. we picked gala and pippen...
 i got to spend the entire day with my favorite little girl...
we of course wore our fall boots...
and looked cute as can be...
we took breaks amidst the fallen, rotting apples. well, one of us did...
 and zonked out on the way home. well, again, one of us did...
my favorite pic of the day.
we've made apple crisp a few times and it was to die for. 
i'm building up some courage to make my own applesauce in october. 
i. can. do. it. 

what's your favorite thing to make with apples?

Friday, September 17, 2010

you asked for it, ryan

thanks to everyone who commented! i've got a good list started and i'll just keep adding to it if anyone ever has questions, so keep 'em coming. i got some great ideas for future posts.  

to keep the harmony in our home, i figured i should first entertain ryan's idea of providing a pre-game analysis for tomorrow's college football matchups. he thought he was being funny...when really he knows i always beat him with any kind of sports bracket. the truth is, i'm just better at calling the shots than he is. that's why he wanted my input.  

i randomly {okay, maybe they weren't all so random} chose five match-ups i'd like to analyze. i really dug deep. down to the nitty gritty facts, people. so here goes...

first off, alabama vs. duke. the blue devils and crimson tide go head to head tomorrow afternoon. alabama comes to the field with a no. 1 ranking and two wins under its belt. duke is still trying to shake off their first loss of the season from last week with wake forest. and, although i've just always liked duke for no real reason, i'm gonna have to go with alabama here. we lived in alabama for a summer and i really just wouldn't want to mess with those fans anyway. as you can see, mr. cutcliffe isn't amused with how i've called the game,  
but you wouldn't be amused either if you had to play a team with big al on their side.   
enough said. this one goes to alabama. 

second, stanford cardinal vs. wake forest demon deacons. i'll avoid the mascot battle here. i'm pretty sure a demon deacon would wail on a tree. i'm also pretty sure a majority of my neighborhood would wail on me if i chose anyone other than the cardinal. both teams are rushing the field with a flawless 2-0 record for the season, although stanford's wins are a bit more impressive. also, i own a stanford shirt and my daughter was born at the hospital on campus...my loyalties have to lie somewhere. this one goes to stanford.

third, unranked ohio vs. no. 2 ohio state. this is a biggie for all those in the buckeye state, so i figured i should call in the big guns. enter afton, my friend from ohio. she educated me on all things ohio. sure, ohioans might not know know the national anthem, but ask them for any line of "hang on sloopy" and, according to afton, you get a rousing rendition. she bleeds red AND gray {or is it grey?} and convinced me that ohio state always wins. and, if they don't win, "something fishy is going on, and you are usually safe blaming it on michigan, or someone from michigan, or someone who wore blue or yellow on game day." so, ohio state it is. and if they don't win, it's not their fault.

fourth, utah vs. new mexico. although haunting images of incredibly unfortunate looking (not to mention sweaty) men were photographed and hung on my wall in college, no thanks to a runnin' ute roomate, i think this game still has to go to utah. the fact that i can only name a handful of utah fans who can recite any part of the school fight song other than "a utah man am i" utterly disgusts me...but new mexico's combined 17 points from the past two games {against their opponent's combined 124} just isn't enough to convince me otherwise. i'm handing this one to the utes.

and finally, byu vs. florida state. both teams are coming off a win two weeks ago and a loss last week, the cougars have a new secret weapon on their side. i can't give too much information away, but the aforementioned secret weapon is my nephew and he was born last saturday. he kind of has a lot of say in the game. 

i'm blaming their loss last week on his 20+ hr. entrance into this world...he just wasn't able to give his full attention to the game. this week will be different. here we go cougars, here we go.

that's it for pre-game analysis. i'll have ryan chime in with a post-game discussion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

what do YOU want?

so i'm kind of in a rut. blog, speaking, that is. summer vacations are over, school has started and i'm back into my routine. i love a routine, but nothing much is happening. nothing is extremely exciting. and that should NOT be the case in the month that kicks off the best few months of the year. i love, love, love the fall and i need some inspiration. 

what do you want to see? what do you want to read? let me know!

just leave a comment. ask a question. give a suggestion. i'll do my best to answer and write! anything you'd like. and unless is ridiculously personal, you'll most likely get an answer {if i know that answer, that is}. writing on your cue could be just what i need to pick me back up...and lead us into october. and believe you me, i have some fun ideas for october. it is the best month of the year, you know. 

in the meantime, feel free to feast your eyes upon the cutest cougar ever. she's sporting the new jersey her daddy brought her from his recruiting trip last week. we won't talk about what happened to the cougars while she was wearing the jersey. there's always next week.

little known fact: when leah was younger, we'd ask her what a cougar said and she'd pump her fist and say, "rah! rah! rah-rah-rah!" now, that's one smart kiddo, if you ask me.

say cheese!

we laytons had our first full-family pictures in seven years taken last month. it's hard to believe we hadn't documented the cutest new addition to the group. 

that would be leah. 

thanks to claire from claire elise photography for not only being my step-sister, but for taking some great pictures!!

please feel free to comment on my steal-of-a-deal boots. found them on clearance at, you guessed it: target.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


phew! i am SO glad that is over!

i presented information about blogging at a local genealogy conference. this particular conference was about how to publish your genealogical findings, but i know the president of the society and his wife...and they know my blog...so they asked me to introduce this crowd {remember: average age is 73} to blogging and how you can make connections through it, as it is a form of publishing. 

it was a new topic for me. but a topic i've definitely been grateful for. i've so loved the connections i've made through blogging as well as the previous connections i've been able to maintain or even better though this crazy blogosphere.

so, in the grand scheme of things, it really wansn't that big of a deal, but it was big to me. 

the class was so inviting and literally soaked up everything i had to say. they were interested in the opportunities blogging might provide for them and asked some of the greatest questions. thankfully, i had some fellow bloggers among the group and they were able to walk alongside me throughout the class. 

all in all, a very fun day. i created my first powerpoint presentation in four years {and they loved the font} and participated in my first public speaking event, other than a religious meeting, since college graduation oh-so-many years ago. and i don't want to toot my own horn or anything, but i think i did pretty awesome. i didn't stumble on my words or forget what i wanted to say. in fact, i didn't even use my notes. i looked at the slides and knew exactly where to go from there. it was a first, that's for sure. 

so thank you to my commenters for helping me out beforehand. if you think i don't have your address, comment with it or email it to me {marejl at gmail dot com} and you'll have a surprise waiting for you in your mailbox {the real one, not the virtual one} in a week or so.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

grandma and grandpa hauley

we had a great girl's week with grandma hauley during the end of our stay in utah. we played on the bridge, watered plants, ate yummy food, had a party, cleaned out boxes and shopped to our hearts' contents. grandpa decided to hike the la sal mountains for 4 of the 5 days so leah was his shadow for a day and then there were no boys allowed at home!
leah sported also some of my old clothes...
ok. so did i.
how did i ever go out in public? mind you, i was most likely 4'10'' when i wore that. how big {not to mention unattractive} were my clothes!?