Birthday Bonuses


It’s my birthday!!! I plan to live it up and thanks to several local businesses I am going to score some serious deals.

Every time I go to a store or restaurant and see an email reward sign-up card I fill it out. Then I forget about it.

This week I got a bunch of emails for free birthday gifts that I forgot I signed up for.

I want you to be able to get some good stuff on your special day too so I’ve compiled a short list of places that offer birthday rewards. Fill them out and live it up on your birthday!!!

The Habit Burger Grill: They sent me a free Charburger with cheese. It doesn’t expire until the end of the month and can be applied to any menu item.

Buffalo Wild Wings: They sent me a free snack size of wings. It isn’t good on Wing Tuesdays or Boneless Thursdays but it’s valid until a week after my birthday.

Red Robin: They sent me a free birthday burger good for one free Gourmet Burger or Chicken Sandwich. It excludes Finest Burgers and modifications. It expires a week after my birthday.

Dairy Queen: They sent me a coupon for a BOGO shake. Buy one medium Blizzard Treat and get one of equal or smaller size for free. It expires two weeks from the day they emailed me.

Johnny Rockets: They sent me a free single burger with the purchase of any entree and a drink or shake. It’s good for single hamburgers only. It expires at the end of the month.

Settebello: They sent me a free pizza. I have to use it within a week of my birthday for dine-in only.

Chilis: They sent me a link to add a free dessert to my Chili’s reward account. I have until a week from my birthday to redeem it.

Archibald’s: They sent me a free entree with the purchase of another entree. It’s valid anytime this month.

AMC Theater: They sent me a free large popcorn when I visit before the end of the month.

Payless Shoes: They sent me a coupon for 25 percent off in-store and online. It’s good until the end of my birthday month.

I did a quick google search and realized there are many, many birthday deals that I have never heard about. Here is a link to a site that lists 100 free birthday rewards to sign up for. Sign up and enjoy and let me know when your birthday is so I can wish you a happy day!

Seven Year Stumble

IMG_1190p8x10It happened again today. Like it does a lot. But after seven year I stumbled. Someone asked me how many kids I have and I didn’t quite know what to say.

I’ve written about this before and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. It’s something that I’ll forever question.

How do I reply?

Well, I’ve carried five babies full term. I’ve labored and delivered them. Held them in my arms and kissed their sweet little faces.

But one of them I had to give back – almost immediately.

In my heart I know he’s mine. Yet I can’t find him in my arms.

So I continue to occasionally hesitate.

There’s no easy way to quantify my family size. It will always be difficult.

And even though I have a good life and am incredibly happy, missing Luca is one thing that will always tug at my heart strings.

There will always be someone missing at our dinner table – someone special. Someone who I keep safely tucked into my heart, always.

I stumbled when replying earlier, but I want to spell it out on here: I am the proud mother of five beautiful babies. Five babies that I love with all my heart. Five babies that I can’t wait to live with forever. Five babies. Forever.

Bed Hogs

Four. The average number of times a night I am ripped from peaceful slumber by one of my tiny offspring.

I guess my 2-year-old and 5-year-old love living with a zombie mom because that’s what I have become.

A zombie.

Every night both of them meander into my room and climb up into my bed. Then it’s a tug-of-war-I-don’t-have-enough-room-in-my-queen-bed-for-all-of-us kind of night. For some reason it’s gotten worse the past couple of months.

If it doesn’t change, I am going to end up a wrinkled old hag suffering from sleep-deprived dimentia at age 35.

Occasionally I will awake just as they are wandering into my room and I stumble them back to their beds. But most of the time I don’t realize they are there until I wake up stuck between the two of them unable to move like a fish in a can of sardines.

I want my bed back.

Sometimes they wake up because they are “thirsty.” That’s when I want to take their sippy cups and throw them at the wall. Either that or strap a water-filled baby bottle to their wrist so they can quench their thirst at midnight without me.

I’ve tried to load them up with water bottles by their bed but it never fails. Those nights they’ll scream “milk” and won’t relent until I pour them some cow juice.

I don’t care who you are, after several months of being woken up multiple times a night, you’ll end up with your cell phone in the microwave and your lunch in the shower.

Trust me. I am losing my mind.

You’d think the lack of sleep would be getting to their young bodies too but no. Their little eyes pop open with the sun. How can they survive on such restless slumber when I’m exhausted and ready for bed by 4 p.m. each day?

Something’s got to give. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. And being tired and grumpy only adds to my stress and anxiety.

But I don’t know how it’s going to change. Aside from me locking them in their rooms – which, despite my frustration, I don’t feel right about.

So the cycle continues. Until I can come up with a way to hypnotize them to stay in their warm, comfy beds all night.

That’s all I’ve got.

I can’t think of any other good ideas. I’m too tired.

Dear Mint


It’s summer. So naturally my second son wants to write a letter to the United States Mint and ask them to create a coin based on a new sketch he has drawn.

What do I do? I buy him a stamp and find the address for the Denver location. And reassure him that they may never write back.

Sure, his favorite author Mary Pope Osborn wrote him back a couple of summers ago. A few years before that the Dinosaur Park in Ogden responded when he wrote them about a fossil that he thought he found in our back yard.

And I still can’t believe he got a large envelope from the White House last year with pictures and a letter from his political hero – President Obama.

He was certain the mint would reply. I was skeptical. But I’m not one to dampen his ambitions. So I kept quiet as he raced to the mailbox day after day waiting for his new coin.

It took two weeks and then he came running in to the house with an envelope from Colorado.

The Denver mint had written back. They didn’t craft him his new coin, but they sent him and his older brother a press kit with brochures, pictures and a mint-condition 2017 penny paired with a completely unstamped, blank penny.

He was on cloud nine.

How can he be so lucky? I can’t even get the swing set company to answer the phone regarding replacement parts to our set.

Maybe I need him to write to Robert Downy Jr. on my behalf, asking for an autographed picture.

Better yet, maybe he’d write the mint back and ask for two newly printed $20s to replace the ones that my dog ate a few months back.

You never know!

Blackened Treehouse, Blackened Heart

Blog Post1I worked my butt off last week in my yard and house getting things ready for a month filled with birthday celebrations. I wanted to have everything done so I could enjoy quality time with my kids.

And then I found myself at the top of an 8-foot ladder Monday morning uselessly scrubbing for hours trying to remove dark stains that someone splattered across the back of our treehouse.

Monday was my 5-year-old’s birthday. I wanted to sit on the couch and cuddle him all day. Instead I was trying to remove invasive vandalism.

Thank you vandal.

I should make it clear that we aren’t certain who did it, but we are positive in what direction it came from.

Sunday night we noticed that one of the trees we planted last summer during the infamous treehouse compromise was dying. My husband went to get a closer look. When he glanced up he saw black splatters and streaks across the base corner of the tree house.

The corner is covered and then the stain branches out with small freckles of black peppered across the wood.

The black webs down the posts and side braces. There are discolored splashes across our new swing set. Our children’s plastic picnic table is covered in brown puddle stains. The tree stump that we built upon is polka dotted with black. Our turtle sandbox and mud-making station were also hit.

And our tree. The fast-growing evergreen that we paid a lot of money for is dying.


As I stood on the top rung, steadying myself with my electric sander I was fuming. I still am.

I should have known it wasn’t over. But after more than a year of quiet I had gotten comfortable.

How can someone stain my life like that?

And I’m not just talking about physically. My heart has begun to blacken. I know there are amazing people in this world, but the actions of some make it hard to see the good sometimes.

Right now it’s hard for me to see the good.

The police asked us to make a financial list of the damages. How can I put a price on reclaimed wood that we ripped from our fence, pulled nails from, measured, cut and then screwed onto the tree house one by one? How can I replace the giant post and cement cinder block that are bracing up the north west corner? How can I put a price tag on all that damage?

How much is it going to cost for me to have peace in my back yard?

I don’t know the answer. Or even if there is an answer.

What type of world do we live in where a set of parents can’t build a tree fort for their kids in their own back yard without harassment?

It’s absolutely ridiculous. It disgusts me.

But there is a lot that disgusts me these days. This world is making me sad.

Beyond my back yard, what type of place is this where we are treated differently because of the origin of our birth or the color of our skin? Why do some have access to medication and health care treatment while others can’t afford to seek care? Why do I have a roof over my head while others are scrambling for food and shelter?

There is so much hatred. So much indifference. So much sorrow and despair.

I could go on and on about the injustices I see happening in this land of the free, home of the brave. From across this nation to my own back yard and beyond, this world is depressing me.

I’m sad, and I’m tired. I don’t have much fight left in me.

But I keep fighting. Why? I fight to teach my kids that there are some things worth fighting for. Like equality. Like respect. Like Love.

Like tree houses.

After all, they are the reason we built it in the first place.


Five Years With My Rainbow


“What did you make me when you were born?” I always ask my 4-year-old.

“Happy,” he replies while cackling deep from his gut – the way he always laughs.

And it’s so true.

Next week will mark five years of my little boy making me happy. To celebrate the colorful light he has brought back to my life, I dedicate this week’s blog post to him.

I’m not going to sugar coat things. His pregnancy was one of the hardest times in my life. It took me a while to get pregnant and when I did I worried nonstop that he would die in the womb like his brother before him.

I learned to sit back, take deep breaths and relish the feeling of his kick against my stomach.

467871_10151336849707889_1519287247_oThe day he was born my heart felt happy.

He is my rainbow.

What is it like having a rainbow baby?

It’s like living through one of the darkest storms of your life, wondering if the wind and rain will ultimately consume you, then spotting a streak of color and light in the distance.

You are drawn to it. You cling to it. You thank the heavens for it.

And you never want to let it go.

13524554_10208440581071022_7536633307077381544_nI’ve had five glorious years with my rainbow. And I never want to let him go.

Having him has not only brought me pure joy, but it has taught me to appreciate the good things in life. The times when things work out.

My little rainbow is the happiest kid I have ever met. He loves everything in life and laughs at least a hundred times a day.

10362804_10152738143392889_2736045714292664483_oHe is really smart and will help with anything I ask. He loves to cut down weeds and help stir the food for dinner.

He’s obsessed with dinosaurs, dragons and lava wolfs – his imagination is larger than life.

So to him on his birthday week, I say, “Imagine on little rainbow, for I can’t imagine my world without you.”


Thirsty Travelers

I know you’ve been there. You’re on a family road trip. It’s hot outside. There are two water bottles with condensation pooling on the sides sitting an arms-length away.

You are thirsty but you don’t know if you want to drink. You don’t know if you dare.


Because if you reach for one of the water bottles, one of your offspring will see you. They will beg and cry for a sip. And you don’t know if you can handle that again.

Forget the fact that they just had one. Forget the fact that you just stopped at another gas station so they could use the bathroom. Forget the fact that you thought you could sneak a sip without them noticing.

They. Always. Notice.

So you sit thirsty. Wondering if you could pull it off.

Finally you give in. And then you hand the bottle to the back seat.

Then you find yourself hauling your four and two-year-olds into another gas station restroom. Why are you stuck wrestling the two youngest in a tiny stall while each of the three of you take turns going to the bathroom?

Because your two oldest boys are too old to go into the women’s restroom unless they absolutely have to.

So you stand cramped into the corner of a dirty stall holding it while the two-year-old – who is wearing a diaper – insists she goes first.

When you finally get your turn, you have to go at lightning speed. Otherwise one of your kids will flush while you are still sitting and the other will open the door before you are ready.

I can’t tell you how many times my kids unlock and swing the hinges while I’m still sitting on the pot.

It’s awesome.

I also can’t tell you how many times I found myself searching for a potty while road tripping this week. It’s one of my least favorite parts of driving to a vacation destination.

I get so nervous that someone is going to have to go while we are in the middle of a dessert that I limit everyone’s liquid intake until we are all completely parched.

For some reason it feels like my kids ask for a drink ten times as many times as they normally would because they are bored out of their minds.

Maybe next time I’ll leave the water bottles home. But I get thirsty sometimes too.

Maybe I’ll make everyone wear diapers. Now that would be something.

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