Sunday, November 8, 2015

Baby Kora's Birth Story

Three days past my due date, I decided to spend the night at my parents' house while Mr. Brown Eyes went back to work. Brown Eyed Boy and Baby Blue Eyes thought this was a great idea. Spending the night at grandma and grandpa's house = movies, Klondike bars, and sleeping in the guest room in a king-sized bed.
I went to bed with the kids that night around eight o'clock. Then, just before midnight, I woke up feeling contractions. They didn't seem very strong so I was almost inclined to dismiss them as more Braxton Hicks. But a little voice told me to get out of bed, so, with a sigh, I disentangled myself from my snuggly two year-old and heaved my very-pregnant self out of bed.
As a bit of a side note, I have really fast labors that don't follow the typical labor pattern of contractions slowly growing stronger and closer together. So one of my worst fears is not realizing I'm in labor and giving birth by myself on the cold bathroom floor. As my due date approached, I started praying to Heavenly Father that when I was in labor He would help me know for sure.
Although this may be TMI, the answer to my prayer came as I sleepily shuffled to the bathroom and saw that I was bleeding.
Ok, so I was in labor. Suddenly awake, I hurried out of the bathroom. My fingers shook as I dialed the midwife's number. She didn't answer, so I called Mr. Brown Eyes next. Thankfully, he answered right away and said he was leaving the station as we spoke.
Bless my mother's heart, who came downstairs and talked to me while I paced back and forth, waiting for my husband to arrive, keeping my mind off the worry that maybe I had waited too long and we wouldn't make it to the hospital. I dashed outside as soon as I saw headlights flash through the window. Mr. Brown Eyes, in his work uniform, met me halfway down the sidewalk and helped me into the car.
After a peaceful drive with steady but bearable contractions, we arrived at the hospital. Mr. Brown Eyes got me a wheelchair and wheeled me inside, then went back out to park the car. The nurse came around the desk and exclaimed, "Did that firefighter bring you in and then just leave you?"
I laughed. "Oh no, he's my husband."
We went up to triage where the nurse took her time registering me, her eyes glued to her computer screen, asking such all-important questions as whether or not we lived in a house. I don't think she really believed I was in labor, until a sudden, intense contraction had me leaning against Mr. Brown Eyes for support, and I exclaimed, "I need to push!"
That finally tore her away from her computer. "What?"
"She has really fast labors," Mr. Brown Eyes explained, a tiny detail we had failed to mention.
They rushed me to the delivery room then, though they still wouldn't let me push until the on-call doctor had everything ready (I could insert a rant here about doctors, but I'll refrain). One big push was all it took to bring sweet Baby Kora into the world.
It was 1:56 in the morning.
Good thing I listened to that little voice telling me to get out of bed.
Unlike her brother and sister, Kora came into the world without any surprises.

And I'm so happy that she wasn't born on the cold bathroom floor.

Welcome to the family, Baby Kora.

We love you,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Seven Years

Mr. Brown Eyes and I finally got around to celebrating our wedding anniversary.

Just seven months late.

Our plans started out elaborate--I'm talking, like, Hawaii--and then slowly, because of morning sickness, my brother's accident, Mr. Brown Eye's trip to Washington, and then just being too darn close to my due date, fizzled down to an evening hike where we had our first date and a picnic at the spot where Mr. Brown Eyes proposed to me.

Luckily we like each other enough that an evening in the Arizona desert is just as good as a week in a tropical paradise. As long as we're together.

Although a week in a tropical paradise is sounding pretty awesome right now.

Marrying Mr. Brown Eyes is still the best decision I ever made. Hiking that familiar trail with his hand in mine made me even more certain of that fact.
It also made me feel like I might go into labor.
But, alas, we're still waiting on that.
Happy anniversary, Mr. Brown Eyes. Seven months late.

Dreaming of Hawaii,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writing Pains

Rejection Letter #1:

Only 5.2 million more to go, right?

While a part of me expected rejection when I submitted my manuscript, the less rational part of me (and, let's be honest, the bigger part of me) hoped for instant publication and glory.

So the rejection stung a little, and I considered whether to keep going. Because I love writing for the sake of writing much more than the thought of being published. And if trying to get published is going to be painful, do I really need to put myself through it?

But then I reminded myself that this is only my first rejection, and I've got to wade through a bunch more before I can even possibly consider giving up. I am not a quitter.

So here's to lots more rejections. And probably tears. Lots of tears.

Boxes of Kleenex would be appreciated.

Writing on,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, September 11, 2015


Yesterday Mr. Brown Eyes came home.

I threw myself into his arms and felt whole again.

Today, as we remember September 11th, 2001, I am sobered by my blessings. After a very long two and a half weeks, Mr. Brown Eyes is home. I can hug him and kiss him and listen to his laughter.

On September 10th fourteen years ago, so many people hugged their loved ones for the last time. Instead of waking up today, like I did, in the warmth of love and comfort, they woke up to heartbreak and tragedy that I cannot even comprehend.

May we never forget the lives lost and the courage shown on that terrible day.

May we put aside our pettiness and love deeper.

May we remember our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, death is not the end.

Holding Mr. Brown Eyes close,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Missing Mr. Brown Eyes

For years now Mr. Brown Eyes has talked about going out to fight wildfires over the summer.

He's gone out to a few small ones here and there, but every summer, it seems, the big ones escape him. Either we're on vacation or his department isn't sending out any crews or there aren't any big fires that need extra resources.

Which has been fine with me.

This summer, however, with the entire northwest blazing, I kind of knew Mr. Brown Eyes would get his chance. After a short stint on the Willow Fire in Lake Havasu City, he told me he was at the top of the list to get sent out again, this time to Idaho or Washington.

I tried to prepare myself. But seriously, how do you prepare yourself to be without your husband and best friend for two weeks?

Last Sunday, I excitedly welcomed Mr. Brown Eyes home from his forty-eight hour shift at the fire station. One minute we were snuggling in our bed, talking about the possibility of going to Cabo for the weekend, the next his phone was ringing and instead of getting ready for church, he was packing his equipment to go to Washington for two weeks.

And I was in tears.

A part of me wanted to pull the pregnancy card. He couldn't possibly leave me with the kids for two weeks while I'm so emotionally unstable. I knew all I had to do was say the word and he would stay. But I also knew how badly he wanted to go, how he planned for this for years. I couldn't keep him home just because I was too selfish to let him go.

So I let him go. And now we're counting down the days until he comes home.

Even though I feel like a part of me is missing, I have to admit, I like telling people where Mr. Brown Eyes is and what he's doing. I am so stinking proud of him.


Meanwhile, we're trying to make these two weeks as fun as possible.

I mean, as much fun as two kids can have when their mother is 33 weeks pregnant and as big as a whale.
Only 500 million days to go,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Surviving Summer

I've been pretty nervous about being pregnant through the blazing Arizona summer.

While I'm sitting in the cool AC in my house or at work, I think, "No problem. This summer's got nothing on me."

Then I step outside and instantly feel sweat dripping down every unspeakable part of my body, and I start yelling at my kids for every little thing as I buckle them into our oven of a car, and the only thing I want in the world is a bucket of ice water poured over my head...then it occurs to me that I'm pregnant and it's hot, and those two things may not be the best combination.

Which is why the kids and I had Sonic slushes for dinner the other night.

But as long as I have the AC and my parents' pool, I'm good. So good, in fact, that I've actually been noticing things that I kind of love about Arizona summers:

1. The fiery sunsets

2. Low, billowing thunderheads on a hot afternoon

3. Cicadas buzzing in the trees

4. That deliciously cool feeling the second you jump into the pool

5. The low rumble of thunder in the distance

6. Flip flops

7. Tan lines

8. Watching my kids learn to swim

9. Camping at Clear Creek

10. Flowers blooming on the only plants in my yard I've managed to keep alive

11. Sonic slushes. My new favorite meal.

Happy Summer,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The First Step

This past weekend we had one last hurrah before Brown-Eyed Boy starts kindergarten.

I make it sound like starting kindergarten is equivalent to the world ending, but that's because it is.

To me.

A piece of my world is ending. The piece where I am part of Brown-Eyed Boy's every day, every hour, every minute, always there to play with him and laugh with him and dry his tears, there to hold him close and protect from all the scary things out there in real life.

I know he will love school, and he's definitely ready, but it breaks my heart to think of all the not-so-fun things that happen there, to think that he is growing up and this little step into kindergarten is just the first of many that will take him far away from me.

I'm not ready to let go, even in this small way. I wish I could protect him from everything that could ever hurt him. I know I can't, and I know it wouldn't be good for him if I did, but I wish I could.

Am I the only mother who isn't dancing a jig as she sends her firstborn off to school? This is supposed to be a happy time, right?

Being pregnant probably isn't helping.

Tomorrow I will put on a happy face while Brown-Eyed Boy dresses in his new school clothes and slips into his backpack. I will walk him to his classroom, watch him settle into his seat, and smile as I wave goodbye to him. I will accept that school is now part of our lives and do everything I can to help Brown-Eyed Boy succeed.

But today, I'm going to cry.

Because I swear it was just yesterday that he looked like this:

They don't lie when they say they grow up so fast.

And I love every minute of it,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An Update on my Brother

I posted at the beginning of May about my brother being badly burned. I am happy to report that he was able to go home to his family yesterday. He still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he has made incredible progress and will continue to do so. He's stubborn.

Thank you to everyone who offered faith and prayers on his behalf. His healing thus far is nothing short of a miracle.

The Lord works miracles, you know. All the time. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes to see them.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, June 26, 2015

Father's Day California Rolls

When Mr. Brown Eyes and I first got married, going out to eat was a major chore. We would spend hours just trying to decide where we wanted to go. Sometimes, the decision was so impossible to make, we just ended up staying home.

That was before Mr. Brown Eyes was introduced to sushi. And before we discovered some amazing conveyor belt sushi restaurants not far from where we live.

Now Mr. Brown Eyes is very predictable when it comes to eating out. He wants sushi every time.

Which at least makes the decision of where to go out to eat a whole lot easier.

Because I love his stinking guts, I made Mr. Brown Eyes (well, and me) this pan of scrumptious little beauties for Father's Day dinner:

Not authentic sushi, of course, but still delicious.
And this was the first time I made California Rolls (almost) entirely by myself, so I was pretty proud.
Happy Father's Day, Mr. Brown Eyes. I love you (and your love of sushi).
California Roll Queen,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rocky Point 2015

Our second year in Rocky Point flew by.
"Five days on the beach," we told ourselves. "That should be enough."
Um, no.
Really with travel time it was only three days on the beach, and it flew by so fast it doesn't even feel like we were there.
Thankfully, I have the proof: 


Between playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, eating tacos (and donuts), and discovering all kinds of sea life, we had a blast.

In closing, I wanted to show you this. It is a mango sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder, the juiciest, sweetest, most succulent thing you will ever eat. My life is changed forever. I will never look at a mango the same again.

Happy Friday!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pregnancy, Tender Mercies, and George Washington

This pregnancy has been one of wondrous little tender mercies.

After thinking I was pregnant at the end of December and then finding out I wasn't, I basically gave up and figured it would be months before my body got itself into gear to get pregnant. My cycles have always been really irregular and I've had to take Clomid to get pregnant since Brown-Eyed Boy.

But then, sometime in the middle of February, I started to wonder if...maybe...possibly...? I didn't want to get my hopes up. I didn't want to take a pregnancy test and then be crushed when it was negative. So I prayed to Heavenly Father that if I was pregnant, to please please give me a symptom.

The very next day the morning sickness hit.

Moral of the story: be careful what you pray for.

But I was so grateful to be sick if it meant I was pregnant. In fact, when, still in my early weeks, the morning sickness started to dissipate, I began to worry. I went to my first midwife appointment terrified of miscarriage.

Toward the end of the appointment, the midwife said, "It's probably a little early, but why don't we try listening to the heartbeat?"

I agreed doubtfully. I had never heard the heartbeat before twelve weeks with either of my other children, but I figured we could give it a try.

The midwife put the Doppler probe to my belly. Immediately we heard my heartbeat, slow and methodical. She moved the probe around, then, after a moment, exclaimed, "There it is!"

I stared at her. "I don't hear anything."

She held the receiver up closer to my ear, moved the probe around some more, and suddenly, I could hear it--underneath the pound of my heart, a steady flutter, fast and strong.

Tears spilled down my face. My baby had a heartbeat. He was all right.

The Lord is mindful of us. Even in the smallest of ways. I was only eight weeks pregnant that day. It's really unusual to hear the heartbeat that early. But the Lord knew I needed reassurance, so He blessed me with that sweet, tender mercy.

And yes, I have been calling my baby a "he" all this time. And I was shocked last week to learn that "he" is actually a "she."


So much for my motherly instincts. But it's good she's not a boy, or Brown-Eyed Boy might have insisted we name her George Washington.

The girl name he picked out is much better.

Excited for baby girl #2,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Life and Death

If there's one thing pets are good for, it's teaching kids about life and death.

Except I think I'm taking the lesson harder than they are.

We lost one of our ducks this past weekend, probably to a dog. Brown-Eyed Boy had named him Paper. He happened to be the favorite duck, the outgoing, silly one, the one that Brown-Eyed Boy was referring to when he told me multiple times, "I just love him too much, Mommy."

Brown-Eyed Boy was crushed when I told him, of course. He cried in my arms and then said a prayer that Paper would come back. Then he got distracted playing with his cousin. I was the one who spent half the morning sobbing.

Pregnancy hormones, I tell you.

We buried Paper the next morning. Brown-Eyed Boy watched for a moment as dirt piled up over Paper's once-shiny black feathers, then slowly walked away, head hanging down.

"Are you ok?" I called after him.

"I am just sad," he replied, not looking at me.

Mr. Brown Eyes and I exchanged sad looks, then we heard Brown-Eyed Boy call from the front porch, "Mommy! I want an icee!"

Children are so resilient.

Mr. Brown Eyes caught me staring off into space last night, and laughed when I told him I was thinking about Paper.

We all miss Paper, though. It's not the same walking outside and not seeing him waddle-running toward us, webbed feet slapping against the sidewalk. I miss watching him and Fluffy splashing in their kiddie pool or in the irrigation in our yard. I even miss yelling at Brown-Eyed Boy to stop chasing him.

To which he would always tell me, "I just love Paper too much, Mommy."

I guess I did, too.

Mama Duck Minus One Baby Duck,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mother's Day

I had several pictures from Mother's Day to share with you, but for some reason they are uploading upside down and I can't figure out how to fix them. So here's what you get:

 The breakfast my husband brought to me in bed. It made me and little Baby Booger very happy.

The man who made me a mother. In his firefighting gear. Enough said.

I also went to lunch with my mom and my sisters, but my camera-shy mother is probably grateful those pictures aren't posted.

Possibly my favorite part of the weekend was watching my kids try Pop Rocks for the first time.

I tried to fill the weekend with as many hugs and "I love yous" as possible, because since my brother's accident, I've learned that those are the things that matter.

Happy late Mother's Day!

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Praying for a Miracle

In the last week, I have been astounded by the power of prayer.
Not just my prayers, but the combined prayers of hundreds of people, some I don't even know, all focusing their faith on my little brother.
Last week, he was severely burned when a gas tank he was working on exploded.
On Sunday, family and friends all over fasted and prayed for his healing and recovery. It made me cry just to think of how much faith and love was being sent his way.
No, he didn't get up and walk out of the burn unit the next day. But little miracles are occurring all over. His condition continues to be better than the doctors expect. He assisted in physical therapy instead of resisting. He is strong, holding up through seven hours of surgery.
Prayer is real. It is powerful. It works miracles.

So please pray for my brother and his beautiful little family. You can never have too many prayers.

Full of Gratitude,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Ducks

We arrived at the Easter party and the first thing my kids wanted to do was play on the playground.

I could have kept them blissfully ignorant. I suppose I didn't really want to.

"Hey," I said to Brown-Eyed Boy. "Do you want to see some baby ducks?"

He snapped to attention on his swing. "Yes!"

Baby Blue Eyes, of course, wanted to come along because she wants to do everything her brother does.

So I led them to the little cage where my friend had housed two tiny ducklings, both still fluffy with yellow and black down. A crowd of other kids were already ogling them, trying to pick them up and squeezing them too hard. My children joined the crowd, fascinated.

I could have let it end there. I didn't have to tell Brown-Eyed Boy that the ducklings were a raffle and he could win them if we bought a ticket. I didn't have to hand over two dollars for two tickets.

But I think, deep down in my five year-old heart, I wanted those ducklings just as badly as Brown-Eyed Boy did.

And even though I've spent the last three days cleaning up duck poop and transferring the ducklings from my bathtub to their outside cage and back into the bathtub, nothing beats the way it felt to drive home from that party, Brown-Eyed Boy clutching a peeping box of ducklings on his lap, telling me over and over, "I'm so glad I won the ducks, Mommy."

I am too.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, March 16, 2015

Not Being Happy

During Family Home Evening one Monday night, Mr. Brown Eyes gave a lesson about talents. We talked about all the things we're good at.

For Brown-Eyed Boy, the answers were "playing, building with blocks, and riding his tricycle." Baby Blue Eyes was told she's good at making silly faces and dancing. Mr. Brown Eyes is good at fixing things and making us laugh.

When asked what Mommy's talents were, Brown-Eyed Boy said, "Not being happy."

Um, what?

Mr. Brown Eyes told me just to laugh it off, that it was just a four year-old spouting words the way four year-olds do.

And I did laugh it off, but I haven't been able to forget about it. Because, in a way, he's right.

I am an expert at seeing the worst in myself. In rushing through fun because I can't get my eyes off the next thing I need to get done. In taking myself so seriously that I forget to laugh.

I need my goofy children--who stand on their heads, and pull their arms inside their shirts, and bust up over words like "booger" and "poop," just because it's silly--to remind me that life is meant to be enjoyed.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said it well in this talk that I love. "The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable."

I am trying.

Not a Gloomy Mama,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Real Life Family Pictures

Every time we get family pictures taken, I always pick the best ones to post on facebook and hang on my wall.


But I get a kick out of the pictures that don't make the cut, the ones in which we are not all smiling happily and looking at the camera.

The ones where, yes, sometimes, I look like I am about to strangle my children.

In other words, the ones that are a little more true to life.

Here is a sampling:



Those imperfect moments will bring back happy memories in years to come.

Keepin' it real,
The Brown-Eyed Girl