All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


Mad Documentation Skills – HA HA!

Hi there!

I had round 1 of my “work done” today and I documented the process on my fitness blog.  It really should be documented here, but because I believe in transparency when it comes to how one looks and the other blog is about fitness and bettering my physique, I chose to put it there.  It was a VERY interesting experience and without seeing results yet, I would recommend it just based on the physical experience of the procedure.  I ran 5.0 miles 3 hours afterwards, and would have run right away if there had been time.

I’ll post progress photos as the weeks go by!

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In Case You’re Wondering…

As if you haven’t had enough of me today, here is a link to my other blog in case you’re curious what I’ll be spending my $975 (and hopefully growing) FB sales money on that I made and collected this week.  HA!

I’m “getting some work done.”  Yes… that kind of “work.”


Super Mom **

I got this text from a good friend today:

“Do you ever have complete meltdowns or are you always super mom?”

I laughed out loud, and then responded honestly. No mom is super mom, and I’m far from it. Hottie has been traveling the last two weeks and my kids are feeling the toll and stress that puts on me and my (very quick) temper. The last two days were not my proudest parenting days and today was only better because I finally got to run, drink diet Pepsi, and eat Chipotle. It’s the small things, ladies, that calm my nerves!

But being perfectly honest, if my kids had mobile phones, they’d post pictures to FB of me losing my mind at them and tag them ‪#‎worstMomEver‬.

I’m totally serious.

All moms have bad days. All moms have bad weeks. Parenting is not always lovely, in fact, it usually is NOT. What we see on FB are the good times, and that’s because public self deprecation helps no one. And I know that I post the good times so I have those to reflect on and remember when things are far from good.

Find the little things that help you survive, let go of the shame in needing those things to survive, and move on after you lose your mind with your kids. We all loose or minds… A LOT.


** (My latest post to FB after having one of those “desperate mom conversations” via text messaging.)



My good lord, I’ve been gone a long time.  Both of my blogs have been very neglected lately.  I feel like I have no time to sit down and really write anymore.  I figure I should be taking to the micro-blog Mondays as that would be a great first step to getting back here more regularly, but I’m not even sure that feels do-able right now.

Things are good here, just busy!  I am training for 3 half marathons scattered throughout a three month span (April 30, June 4, July 23) and that keeps me working out and focused.  I’m trying to lift weights and do PiYo at least twice a week to stay strong and loose.  I’ve painted another painting which will go in our bedroom once framed and I love it!  I’ve been selling stuff on FB the last 3 days so that I can do it all at once and then be done for a while.  Man alive, that takes a lot of time but is worth it – $975 in 72 hours.  It’s hard not to do it when there’s that kind of money to be made.  Hottie is traveling quite a bit right now which is fine but at the end of the day, I just want to sit and do nothing.

The boys are doing great!  Matthew is doing awesome with his speech and in school.  He NEVER complains about going to school, something that truly amazes me after 2.5 years of going.  Bryson loves school and also never complains, but that’s expected right now because it’s still sort of fresh and exciting.  😉  They are both signed up for camps this summer and Matthew is doing 8 weeks of it and I think Bryson is doing 5 weeks (he has to be 3 to go, and that won’t happen until the end of June).  We are potty training Bryson and if he’s naked, he does great.  There has not been a single naked accident even on the first day.  but if you put undies or a pull-up on the kid, he uses that.  It’s aggravating.  My deadline is his first day of camp in July, so there is time.  Matthew is into science and information in general, and Bryson is seriously into puzzles (I just ordered more from Amazon).  Everything is great on the kid front!

I’m scheduling things to succeed with my “Year 41 Plan” and now that I am 40 (oh yeah, that happened on St. Patrick’s Day!), that plan seems a little daunting.  HA!  But I’ll stick to it!  I’m excited about quite a bit of it, actually!

So that’s what’s going on.  Not a lot, just a lot of the same.  🙂  Life has leveled out a bit now that Bryson is approaching 3 and I hope it just keeps getting easier.  I know, I’m kidding myself 😉



Who Doesn’t Love a Little Dr. Seuss?

My kids love, love, love Dr. Seuss books!  We started them out young with a book my friend, Denise, gave us that her girls loved – the small board book version of “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket.”  It’s a very special book to me because it was gifted down from her girls, it was the book that their mom read to them over and over again.  I love the rubbed edges that it came with and could get rather edgy if the boys tried putting it in their mouths or peeling the edges  🙂  I started reading that to Matthew when he was a few months old and then added “Fox in Socks,” “Oh the Thinks you Can Think,” and “The Foot Book,” – all in tiny, condensed board book versions.


When you finally acquire yourself a baby (I know not everyone births their own babies!), you get lots of books as gifts and I would say that 15% of them or more are Dr. Seuss books.  We have lots of them, but they can be tricky, and long, to read at the end of the day.  Matthew loves “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and asks for that year-round.  Both of the boys love “Green Eggs and Ham” and I wish I’d kept the second copy we received of that so we could have one in each room.  We have bought Matthew some Seuss-style books that on the cover, look like they were written by the good Dr. but a closer glance makes it obvious that they’re not.  There are some good ones of those, though, and he loves the Dinosaur one (I can’t remember the title).


On my way to my painting class tonight, I had to stop at Target to buy staples.  What an odd thing to need from Target.  I can’t just go into Target and buy the one thing on my list, so I picked up some paints for the boys and on my way to check out, there was an end-cap at the checkout lanes with heaps of Dr. Seuss books for $5.00 each!  This was a sign!  Why?  Because I was on my way to paint… THE CAT IN THE HAT!  I about cried when I saw the full versions of “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket,” and “Oh the Thinks You Can Think.”  Bryson recites parts of both of those books and it just melts my heart, and being perfectly honest, “Oh the Thinks You Can Think,” has always made me emotional* because of its really, really, REALLY great message (if you use your imagination, you’ll never be lonely).  I picked up two bigger-boy books for Matthew (“There’s No Place Like Space,” because that boy is obsessed with outer space, and “Seuss-isms”) and the two that made my heart skip a beat.  I’m super excited to read them to each of the boys tomorrow night!


Tonight’s painting was “Cat in the Hat,” and I signed up for it probably 5 minutes after Marcy (the teacher/artist) posted it on her site.  I am not 100% sure where this guy is going to go, and I fear there may be a little battle over who gets him in their room, but I’m thrilled to have him home and ready to frame.  Matthew was up when I came home so I showed it to him and he gasped with excitement.  That’s what I was going for!


He’s not my favorite painting so far, but he will be the boys’ favorite, which makes him pretty darn special!

*  I’m an emotional reader



Two Reasons

There are two reasons for doing the crafty things that I do.

  1. I really enjoy it!  If I can find the time to bake or do some cool craft project, I’m all in  🙂  (I’m painting again tonight!)
  2. When my kids act like assholes at school, I *sort of* hope that the teachers will remember that they can’t be all that bad if they have a mom who sends cake pop bouquets to them for Valentine’s Day (or spooky, decorated wood letters for Halloween)

Ha ha ha!



Camping Out

I don’t even know how to start this post, and I wonder why I’m putting it out there in the first place.  But, this is part of my life and I need to say it because it’s my reality.

My aunt has lots of cancer.  My aunt, the one who has been so supportive of me and is the mother of my favorite cousin (SK who lived with us this summer, and she’s also Sam’s mom), looks to have liver, pancreatic, stomach, and bone metastatic lesions.  The clinical report was sent to the entire family and although it’s not conclusive, the oncologist is pretty sure he’s right and that this is not curable.  He does say, though, that it’s somewhat manageable.

I’m always a realist, but can usually snap into a hopeful mood about these types of things pretty quickly.  This time, I just can’t get there.  It’s just too close to Jenny dying, and my friend’s nephew dying, of cancer to feel all, “rah rah rah you’ll beat this.”

Because so far, the people I’ve known and loved with cancer recently… they haven’t beat it.  And in our family, on both my dad’s and mom’s side, no one has died of cancer.  We knew a time would come that our luck would run out, but this is rather shocking.  My aunt K is the youngest of 7, and she’s 10 years younger than my mom who is the 6th child.  When Sam was hurt this past summer, it was really hard because he was the youngest grandchild, everyone’s baby.  My aunt K is her siblings’ baby, and this is feeling like it just can’t be.

So… 2016 isn’t starting out so great.  We didn’t even get out of January without devastating news.

I feel like a serious weight is sitting on me.  Not resting briefly, but camping out.


Big Shoes to Fill

I enthusiastically rang in 2016 thinking that 2015 wasn’t all that bad.

I can be so blissfully ignorant!

2015 was not our year, and from the blogs I’ve read this year, it wasn’t a lot of people’s year.  2015 was rough for a lot of us, and my family did not escape the challenges of 2015:

  • Things with my parents got worse
  • My sister-in-law went through a divorce
  • My cousin was in a terrible car accident and was not expected to ever wake up out of his coma
  • My friend’s nephew died at the age of 13
  • My good friend lost her fight against cancer 9 days after her 35th birthday

But on the flip side, certain good things came of those bad things:

  • I finally realized that my parents are not the types of people I really care to interact with unless I have to
  • My sister-in-law and her husband decided to try to work out their problems and are still going strong
  • My cousin, miraculously, woke up out of his coma and, despite the expectations of multiple physicians, he is almost 100% recovered
  • My friend’s family brought so much awareness of childhood leukemia to hundreds of complete strangers with their outreach projects in Sam’s name
  • My good friend is finally done living in fear of cancer – and this has brought her husband a lot of peace

When you add the good things above to the list of GREAT things that happened in 2015 (happy healthy kids, a solid marriage, a truly fantastic summer, a full year of fitness, travel, school for both boys, so much fun time with Hottie’s parents, the most beautiful autumn in years, a (so far) mild winter, Christmas eve dinner for Hottie’s family, the excitement of Santa coming to our house, the most relaxed holiday season of our married life), I understand how I could forget about how hard the past year was for us.

I’ve been told by my mom my entire life that I’m a pessimist, and I never believed her.  I always said that I was a realist – I took the good with the bad.  But maybe I am an optimist after all.  Maybe I do see the glass as half full.  Maybe I do always search for the silver lining.  Maybe I am, truly, just one of those happy people.

I have high hopes for 2016.  Looking at the “bad” list from 2015, it wouldn’t take much for 2016 to exceed my expectations.  But looking at the “good” and “great” lists from 2015 – 2016 has big shoes to fill.

She’ll fill them!


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A Visit

This holiday has physically taken a toll on us. Hottie and I, since having Matthew, have a tradition of staying up late on Christmas eve to wrap ALL of the presents we’ve accumulated for the people in our lives – for the kids, for each other, for friends, and for family. We turn on, “Love Actually,” and get to work. This, of course, came after the huge dinner we hosted for his family, the one that had me up and in the kitchen at 7:00 that morning. My body was aching so badly by midnight that I had to keep sitting down to rest. We trudged on until 2:45 AM when everything was ready for big fun and surprises the next day!

Bryson woke up at 6:10 so we got only 3 hours of sleep on Christmas eve. We drove to Hottie’s folks’ for Christmas day and we were so tired coming home that Hottie almost pulled over to sleep, and the drive is only 45 minutes. Every last one of us was exhausted. We didn’t get to bed early on Christmas night, but when we did finally go to bed, we slept hard.

Bryson, God love him, was up at 6:00 and I volunteered to get him because Hottie was so sound asleep and I wasn’t waking him up. At 8:00, Hottie came down and I went back to sleep.

Something amazing happened (I need to write this out a bit so I don’t forget it).

Jenny visited me in my dream this morning. I woke up remembering everything, and quickly told Hottie through a stream of tears what had just happened, amazed by it.

We were standing together, hugging each other and crying. I knew she wasn’t alive and that it was just a brief visit from her. Her hair was longer and golden blonde like before the cancer struck (her hair was naturally that blonde) and she was full of life and color. I told her that I needed to tell her that I was sorry for our falling out right as they moved away, and she said she knew and that we were all under a lot of stress then (I was delivering Matthew in 10 days and they were moving out of their house). She also said that she appreciated all of our visits to KC after they moved because she was so worried our friendship would fade away once they moved. I told her that I knew she wasn’t physically there with me, but that I knew she could hear me, and then she said, “yes I can, and I heard everything you said to me as you sat with me after I’d gone.” And then, just like when my cat Lily visited me after she’d passed away, Jenny slowly faded out of my arms.

I woke up from her visit at 10:38. 2 weeks and 5 minutes after she passed away.

I know it was a dream, but I also know in my soul that it was more than”just a dream.”

I feel so much peace.


The How-To Guide on the Christmas Eve Cake

We had a huge family Christmas Eve dinner at our home again this year after a successful run at it for the first time last year.  I think we are making a tradition of this, which thrills me!  We love making big, multi-course dinners for a lot of people and don’t get the chance to do it very often at all (like in the old, no-kids days).  I have a terrific mother-in-law who would do anything for us and asks nothing of us, but last month, she asked me to make a white wedding cake as soon as possible.  She loves my white wedding cake (a recipe from  I wouldn’t normally make a white cake for Christmas dinner, but I love a challenge and I found the neatest cake in the world – it’s even called “Christmas Eve.”  So… I did it!

I was a little nervous about this – I’ve made a lot of cakes in my days but this one was entirely different.  I’m an amateur who just really likes decorating cakes – I don’t have real skills.  I’d spent so much time thinking about how I was going to make the cake that I felt like I was 25% done before I even really started.  I’d never lit a cake with lights before so that was my main challenge at the beginning, but I ordered some neat battery-operated “balloon lights” that ended up working out perfectly.

Here is the cake that I found online:

Here is the cake I ended up with:


I am still so excited that it worked out – I really didn’t expect it to turn out as well as it did.

A lot of people asked me how I planned to do this cake, so I took pictures along the way  🙂

My plan was to make the snowman, tree, windows/door, and snowflakes out of fondant well ahead of time, which I did end up doing.  I planned to bake and freeze the cakes (two very deep 10″ white cakes to make a 2-tier cake) a week ahead of time but ended up baking them just the day before show-time.  The bulk of the frosting and construction of the cake was planned to take place on Christmas Eve throughout the day, which is exactly what I did. I planned to use royal icing for the ice cycles, tree snow, and piping but I’ve never used royal icing and once the cake was looking pretty good, I decided not to chance it and just use buttercream.  That was a good decision.


Fondant snowman and pine tree were constructed.  Both were dusted with pearl dust to add depth and dimension.  I added buttercream icing to the tree for the snow on Christmas eve.

Fondant eve


I finished up my fondant work on the 8th!  I started with the snowflakes for the border between the white fondant and blue buttercream, and ended up cutting them ALL in the wrong color (blue).  When I realized the mistake, I was sort of relieved because I wasn’t crazy about how dark the blue came out.  I re-did them in white and had them done quite quickly because I’d already mastered the snowflake fondant cutter/press.


Then it was time to move onto the cabin pieces.  It took FOREVER to get the brown fondant dark enough, but it finally got there.  I used a precision fondant knife which really was just a food-safe exacto knife (waste of money) and cut the pieces very irregularly because I wanted it to look rustic.  I cut accent wood pieces to add depth and put them together, but was not happy with the final product.  It was too flat – it needed texture.  I found a small flat brush in my cake kit and dry-brushed brown gel dye onto the pieces.  They look MUCH better and very rustic!


When I gathered the mail on my way back into the house after picking Matthew up from school, I found my “balloon lights” in the mailbox.  HOORAY!  I’d been wondering if they’d be small enough to put behind the cabin walls to light the cake and I was so relieved to see that they would work PERFECTLY!

The next, and final step, was to figure out how to put “glass” in the windows.  I was going to buy rice paper but I just didn’t want to – I wanted to try making it.  I searched for videos on “how to make edible glass” and found a perfect tutorial.  The lights I got are a very bright cool white, which is too bright.  I need the glass to tone down the brightness and the video explained how to make a golden-colored glass.  I got to work with the boys and I LOVED the final product!



I baked up the cakes in the morning and let them cool, covered and on a cooling rack, all day.  I then popped them in the freezer for 20 minutes while I whipped up a batch of buttercream to do my “crumb coat,” which I almost NEVER do because I’m lazy.  Because it was critical for this cake to be smooth and presentable since the entire thing was not going to be covered in fondant, I opted for the crumb coat.  I put too much “cornflower blue” dye in the frosting and ended up with that darn dark blue again.  Oh well, it was just the crumb coat.  I first leveled the cakes and then stacked them with icing between them (obviously).  The next step was to cut out a section of the cake that would be put on top of the bigger piece.  Once done, I covered each section with a thin layer of frosting, put support sticks in the large cake where the smaller cake would be placed on top of it, and then put them in my cake box and in the fridge for overnight storage (buttercream should be kept cold).


I got to work at 10:00 AM when Hottie took the boys to a movie to give me space and time to do my work.  I so appreciated that!  I took the cakes out of the fridge to let them warm up a bit.  I started by making a double recipe of REAL buttercream icing ( and I split it in 1/4 white, and 3/4 for blue.  I did not like the blue that I made for the crumb coat and needed it much lighter, so I died it slowly.  This, however, made the icing too fluffy and airy – a problem but not a big one.  I covered both sections of the cake with a generous layer of ice blue buttercream, and the color was perfect!


Next, I cut out the sections where the lights would go behind the cabin fronts.  This was a little tricky – trial and error.  The lights could not have been more perfect for the job!  I tested out all of the cabin fronts to make sure they fit well, and they did.


The fondant was next.  I love rolling and playing with fondant – it truly calms my nerves like nothing else can.  I could roll fondant for hours.  The layer on the bottom tier was not to be perfect – it was to have sections out of it to reveal the blue buttercream underneath.  I just rolled a funky shaped, large piece of fondant and laid it on top.  I had to do minimal trimming of the fondant to reveal the blue icing.  The top-tier was completely covered in fondant.  Where the fondant didn’t meet seams correctly, I just patched it together.  I then, again, made sure that the cabin fronts still fit properly.  They did.


The next step was adding snowflakes all over the cake!  I used cake adhesive and they went on very easily.  I used the snowflakes to cover the fondant seam imperfections, which made the cake look even better!


The final hard part was putting the blue piping around the bases of the cakes.  It was made out of buttercream so as I squeezed the piping bags, the butter melted more and more.  I was in a rush to get it done without melting the frosting!  I added the silver beads and then we popped it in the fridge to harden up the buttercream piping.


The final steps were tossing the lights in, putting on the cabin fronts, piping the cabin fronts to the cake to seal up any seams, putting “snow” on the tree with buttercream, and putting the snowman, the green tree, and the twiggy tree on the cake.  I added a few more snowflakes and a bit of snow in the windows and icicles on the cabin and called it done!  It went back in the fridge until it was time for dessert.  When I pulled it out of the fridge, I was so happy to see all 4 lights still going (they were advertised to run for 8 hours, but I wasn’t chancing it)!  I sprinkled some sugar crystals on top of the whole thing for loose snow, and it looked beautiful!  I brought it up with the lights out and everyone LOVED it.


As the boys would say… Ta Da!