Charli’s Thankful List

I ask Charlotte what she is thankful for every night at bedtime. It’s inevitable that “daddy, “Ashy,” “Gwama,” “Papa” or some friend or family member will make the list.

Sadly, she never tells me she is thankful for me.

Now, I know it would be petty for me to feel jealous of the list of people and things for which Charli is thankful. …

BUT this list includes the likes of Minnie Mouse and shoes, just any old shoes. While thanking God for shoes may be interpreted in a very profound way, I doubt my two-year-old is contemplating the socioeconomic status of developing nations and how millions of people around the world do not own shoes and she has four pair in her latest size.

She was once thankful for a squishy toy lizard. How can I even try to get on this list?!

I want so badly for her to look up at me with those big blue eyes, smile and say she is thankful for me, mama, mommy or even Angie. That would be ok with me!

But no…

I wasn’t here to tuck Charlotte into bed tonight because I was playing volleyball. When I got home, HOS told me that Charli finally said she was thankful for me. ME!!

When he asked her why, you know what she said?

“Uh, cookies.”

Smart girl. And she will be getting more cookies tomorrow!!!


That’s Some “Shit”

I know it’s wrong. I know I shouldn’t even put it into writing. I definitely know I will be judged by many, appreciated by some and laughed with by most.

There is something adorably hilarious about a toddler saying curse words.

C’mon!!! You know exactly what I mean.

Let me set the scene…

Last night, Charli, my ridiculously cute toddler, walked into the kitchen. Her arms were wrapped around a bottle of Life Water and her sippy cup filled with milk. I hardly noticed as she passed behind me, walking on her tip-toes. As I was jabbering away at HOS and browning the ground turkey for dinner, I heard my daughter’s first (confirmed) curse words.

“SHIT! Oh, shit!”

She stomped her little foot and looked around with utter exasperation.

I probably looked like a moron. My mouth had fallen open, but I was smiling/choking back laughter.

Without thinking, I asked what was wrong. She furrowed her brow and point at the counter top saying, “Rabble, rabble, rabble. Table.”

I asked her to put her drinks on the dinner table instead of the counter. She walked toward the table and accidentally dropped the sippy cup on the floor.


This time, my shoulders racked with laughter, but I hid my face. She placed the drinks on the table and tip-toed back to her toys like nothing had happened.

My sweet baby girl with a precious toddler voice that can’t form the sounds for l, r, or y is now competing for swearing sailor of the month.

Fast forward to today…

As funny as it was the first couple times, the cuteness quickly wears off.

Charlotte slipped climbing the ladder to her slide. I caught her bottom in my hands. I apparently didn’t move fast enough…


There it was again.

She couldn’t open the door.


She dropped her baby doll.


She tripped.


We tried ignoring the word in hopes it would go away because it didn’t invite a reaction.

That did not work.

I have moved into the stage of timeouts. How do you tell a two-year-old she is in trouble for saying “shit.”
And that “shit” is a bad word she shouldn’t say. If she says “shit” again, then she will get a timeout. Super scary punishment!

Oh, and you don’t.

For now, we are in a curse word Cold War. Any one who drops one of those bombs goes straight to time out.

Moms of the world, how can I win this war?

Six Steps to Embracing Your Curl

I feel the need to preface this post with a few notes.

1. I am not, nor will I ever be, a fashion/glamour/beauty/whatever blogger.

2. I still burn myself with my straightener, curling iron and diffuser.

3. I’m not confident that I can put a curl in my hair without the awkward kink at the end signifying I turned the barrel the wrong way.

4. I was raised by an amazing woman who never used conditioner on her hair. She didn’t use product, and she brushed out her beautiful curls.

Now that my disclosure is out of the way, I would like to talk to you about frizzy, curly, uncontrollable hair.

Let’s be real, no curly hair is the same – inherited or not. We all have to figure out what type of hair we have and what product may or may not be successful long enough to finish the bottle.

Lord knows the next bottle will be a waste because your curl, like a bacteria that wasn’t completely killed by an antibiotic, will adapt to that product, rendering it useless. And your curl will be that much more powerful…

Or maybe that’s just me?

I’m going to be completely honest. I was in hair denial for about 10 years. I scorched my hair into place or pulled it up in a ponytail. I refused to acknowledge the curl.

For a while, I went through an incredibly awful stage. I went to work with wet hair nearly every day.

I have one question. Where were my friends? Who looked at me and thought, “oh, yeah. She is working that wet dog look.”?

Finally, I discovered Pinterest contained more than ridiculously unhealthy recipes and impossible crafts. I came across a blog about curly hair that changed my life! I learned what the heck the claw thing was that attached to my hair blow dryer; and it would help me!


In all seriousness, who would know that is a diffuser or what that thing does for your hair? It looks like a car part… Or a ray gun! It sure doesn’t look like it would help curl my hair.

I experimented with different methods for using the diffuser: upside down (successful), pre-styled (not so successful), over one side of the head and then the other (successful).

I tried different sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. I don’t remember why but it’s supposed to be better for curly hair. The AG brand smelled terrible and made my scalp very oily. It was disgusting.

I also tested different products. I have no less than three different curling products at any given time. If the instructions include a step for twisting your hair, throw that bottle away. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Ok, so… I have not mastered my curls by any means, but I am now proud of my hair. I wear it curly 90+ percent of the time.

This is the method that works for me:

1. I wash my hair with Hempz Couture Volumizing shampoo and conditioner. This is not for everyone. I have thin hair that needs a boost!


2. For the best volume and curls, I rinse the conditioner from my hair upside down. Yup, flip my hair over my hair and bend my neck forward to rinse my hair. It’s worth it!

3. I squeeze out excess water. I shake out my hair and scrunch it all little with my fingers before wrapping my head in an old, very thing towel. I don’t want it to dry, simply stay out of my way.

4. Remove the towel and massage a quarter-sized dollop of L’Oreal’s EverCurl Sulfate Free Hydracharge Leave-In Cream into the end of my hair, working upward toward the roots.


5. Begin diffusing upside down, focusing on the front hairline. Tilt head to the right and diffuse. Tilt head left and diffuse. Fluff hair with fingers in between. Lastly, diffuse the back and fluff. Make sure all the hair us dry!

6. Style bangs, if needed. Use light hold hairspray on curls.


(Insert funny remark about the awful duck face.)

Not bad for a girl who used to look like a dog in from the rain. You, too, can learn to embrace your curl with these six simple steps!

Or maybe not. Like I said, every curl is different.

I would love to learn from other curly-haired people. How do you style your hair?

Charlotte’s First Illness (& My Breakdown)

I started to write this blog several times now. I tried to find the right words to tell my story of today in a riveting, memorable manner.

I don’t have the energy or brain to do that tonight.

This week, my two-year-old daughter fell ill for the first time in her blessed life. The fact it took so long is amazing!

Charlotte is pretty awesome. She’s a “go big or go home” kind of toddler, so when she finally fell ill, she fell REALLY ill.

Without going into details, Charli was vomiting and filling diapers. We couldn’t get her to stop, and she wouldn’t eat or drink.

On top of that mess, HOS is out of town for a bachelor party.

After an awful night with little sleep and lots of showers, laundry and scrubbing, I finally reached freak out mode. To be fair, she has never been sick before… And there is something devastating about failing to make my Charli feel better. She looks up at me with big, blue eyes that beg me to help her and I have nothing to offer aside from hugs and kisses to wipe away her tears.

Worst. Feeling.

After the second round of vomit, and zero wet diapers, I took Charlotte to express care which sent us to the ER for dehydration.

Emergency Rooms should be equipped with therapists or preachers or lots and lots of chocolate.

I held my baby as she screamed louder and longer than I ever thought possible. I helped hold her down, and I kissed her tears while they used a catheter to extract a urine sample. I held her down and whispered apologies in her ears when she looked up at me, pleadingly, screaming for me to help her. They blew out the vein on her right arm and then inserted the IV on the left arm. They pumped her full of fluids.

I think I needed a therapist, preacher AND chocolate by the end of the experience. I would have fallen apart if my sister hadn’t spent her whole day with me.

It took five hours, but we were released to go home. We are cuddling in bed. I’m still hovering. My nerves are shot, and I need food and sleep. All I want is to hold my daughter, kiss her sweet cheeks and thank God for the doctors.

Today, I learned not to give a sick toddler milk… Even when she is begging. I also learned our carpet is no match for a sick toddler.

Most importantly, I learned that there is nothing more blessed than a healthy child.


12 Things I Learned While on Vacation With My Two-Year-Old

Last week, I took Charlotte on her very first vacation! There is nothing like taking a brand new two-year-old on a trip … without HOS … To visit family six hours away. But seriously, I made precious memories with my sweet baby, and I learned a lot.

What I learned while on a five-day vacation with my two-year-old:

1. If Charlotte is sleeping in the car, do NOT wake her! Sure, she refused to eat lunch and the only food in her belly may be seven donut holes (don’t judge!) but once she is awake, there is no going back to sleep.

2. Don’t be cheap about audio books. I don’t know. Maybe you enjoy listening to one chapter read by a British woman followed by one chapter read by a gruff old man followed by a chapter read by someone whose accent is so heavy you simply skip the chapter in its entirety. If you don’t enjoy some odd woman reading in strange little voices that make you seriously consider listening to local, rural Nebraska radio stations, then I recommend paying for the audio book on Audible or using an app from your library.

3. Charli is afraid of men. She seemed to develop a leeriness of men overnight. She has never met you? She doesn’t like you. You’re her papa whom she talks about constantly? She doesn’t like you. You’re her cousin who plants a sweet kiss on her forehead? She dislikes you so much she cries.

4. The need for naps is real, people. Trust me, you don’t want to test this!

5. Charli is afraid of trains. She will stand in a completely empty room and begin telling me, “I scare. I scare! Twains, mommy!” An hour later, she sill stand in a room filled with toy trains, a conductor hat placed backward upon her head, and she is happy! I can’t pretend to understand this child.

6. Sugar is not a source for sustainable energy. Charlotte tried to prove me wrong all week long, and failed every time.

7. Charli is afraid of farm animals. I’m fairly certain this is due to the fact that all animals have faces. This is apparently very scary, especially when said farm animals look Charlotte in the face.

8. There are few greater feelings than your baby (two-years-old counts..) falling asleep in your arms. There are few greater workouts for your thighs than climbing two flights of stairs while carrying that 27 lb “baby!”

9. Charli is afraid of curtained windows. … For this, I have no explanation.

10. Tantrums thrown by a “two” are not at all like what you people describe! They are worse.

11. Charli is afraid dogs. Again, they have faces.

12. If possible, always leave for a road trip at the beginning of nap time, preferably when Charlotte has a full belly! Driving solo with a toddler trapped in a car seat is no easy feat! (And remember #1!)

What lessons have you learned on your family vacations?


Meringue is no Joke, People

When I was young, my great grandparents would take my brother, sister and me to a cafe in Broken Bow, NE. If I remember correctly, I believe it was Charlene’s? Or maybe that’s what we called it…

There was an older woman who would always wait on us. Great grandma always had her hot water for tea. I remember wonderful mashed potatoes and gravy, and my brother and I always ordered chicken nuggets and Mountain Dew. The dream lunch of all 5-10 year olds. And some days, we were allowed to order chocolate malts. I’m not talking about the shakes you can order at any old fast food joint. These were the delicious malts of yesteryear. We watched a magical malt machine churn out the dessert into an icy metal cup. This was the kind of treat that ruins you for all other treats!

What does all this have to do with meringue?

My memories of this cafe are some of my fondest memories with my great grandparents. It was the type of cafe that only exists in small towns, and I hope that each of you have experienced a place like this. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the pie case filled with apple, cherry and peach pies next to lemon, chocolate, banana cream and coconut cream pies with mile high meringue. You know the kind… When the meringue is just as deep as the filling!

I never attempted to make meringue until this weekend. And it really is no joke!

Meringue instructions appear very simple, but don’t be fooled! It took three attempts to top my homemade chocolate pie with somewhat presentable meringue.

Failure Attempt #1
“Whip egg whites until they become fluffy…”
What the H does that mean?! I whipped the whites with a fork and they became a little bubbly. Does that count as “fluffy?”

It does not.

Failure Attempt #2
I was smarter this time; I watched a YouTube video!

When searching for a video tutorial, I recommend finding someone with a skill level close to your own. Don’t watch some top chef like I did..

While I finally learned how to make my egg whites fluffy using a whisk
, they were not fluffy enough and sat on top of my chocolate pie like a greasy, gooey excretion.

Yes. Gross.

Attempt #3

I found a YouTube video from what’ sounds like a lady who would play cards with my grandma every Saturday. Bless this woman with for meringue for dummies tutorial and her use of a mixer.

Thanks to her video, I was able to produce the pie seen below. It’s not going to win the blue ribbon on the fair or take a place of honor in the cafe pie case, but I’m proud nonetheless!


If you’d like to make a meringue, I recommend watching this video beginning at the 4:10 time stamp.

Can you make an awesome meringue? I’d love to know your secret!

Dear HOS: I Need You to Know

Dear HOS,

I know that you have your doubts as a dad. I know you worry about the hours you work. I know you stress about the impact you have on our wonderful daughter. What parent doesn’t feel this way?

I wanted to let you know that I see you. I see everything that you for our family, and I am grateful. I want to ease any doubts or concerns that may enter your mind.

You make the most of every minute you share with Charlotte.

Charli asks for you when you aren’t here, and she is excited to see you walk in the door.

Charlotte learns from you every day. Our not-quite-two-year-old knows her body parts because you taught her. And she can tell her left from her right because you taught her.

And while I know you (and I) will have moments, days or even weeks when we feel like we are most definitely screwing this up, I need you to know that you are amazing dad.