Sunday, October 21, 2012


So here it is--Afton's She-Ra costume! The kid loves this show. She watches it on Netflix all the time. But since it's so old, the only ready-made costumes of it are sexy adult ones. So Trevor and I made it ourselves! Here's how we did it:
First, the white body suit. Purchased from Amazon. $11.00.

I made the skirt myself--just sort of made it up. We had no patterns for any of it. I first practiced by making a small version of it for Afton's American Girl doll. And then I made hers and attached the belt do it. It's separate from the body suit.
The headpiece--Trevor made this himself with crafting foam, doing several layers. We bought the jewels for the whole costume at the Bead Fairy, and Trevor just painted them. It just attaches with elastic in the back.

The boots - Trevor was pretty awesome with these. We really didn't want to do ugly boot covers, so we found these plether boots at the D.I. for $4.00. Then we weren't sure how to paint them in a way that would allow them to stretch. So Trevor, being the genious he is, just covered them with the same material that we used throughout the costume. I couldn't believe how awesome they turned out!

Arm Bands - simple. Drew a pattern, cut it out of interfacing, then made a "pocket" of gold material to fit it and then turned it inside out, sewing the remining side. Then added velcro. Turned out awesome! I also made a gold choker, but you can't see it so well in the picture.

Wings and Isignia on front of body suit--We drew patterns of both of these, then pulled them into Photoshop to perfect them. Cut both of them out with my sister's awesome Silhouette machine. With the insignia, we cut it out with the sticky interfacing attached, and then just ironed it on the front. The wings we sewed them together, stuffed them, and sewed them on the front.

The cape - One side is crushed velvet, the other side satin. It was a real pain to sew. So glad Trevor did it and not me! It's just velcroed on to the body suit.

And last but not least--the SWORD. I don't feel that I can really describe this and do it justice, since this really was Trevor's project. It has a center core which he put inside foam, then basically carved it. Then he added layer after layer of latex, finally mixing the last layers with silver paint. I really can't explain it better than that--all I know is, it's awesome. Very light, and you can't hurt anyone with it.

And here she is all dressed up in it for the first time! Make sure you watch the end--it's my favorite!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Scarlett & Ripley are ONE!

Well, yesterday was a big day as my darling little twins turned one years old! I can't believe it's been a year! And yet, life before their arrival is a distant memory. That morning we bailed on church and instead went to Red Butte Gardens to take pictures and spend some time as a family. Every month for the first year of their lives, my children have a little photoshoot on or near their birthdays. I put this photo in their scrapbook. You can see all of them in the video at the bottom of this post. Here is a picture of all three of my little girls from our little excursion!
We had a little party at my house for them, and they got some wonderful gifts from family. This little kitty is seriously the cutest toy EVER. It has motion censors in it, so the kids chase it and it runs away. Both of them were chasing it all over the kitchen this morning.

The best part of the evening HAD to be the smash cakes. My sister-in-law made them, and they were so cute. Ripley, though the heavy-weight of the two, was really quite dainty about it. While Scarlett pretty much went ballistic. She had it everywhere. She finished first and we were cleaning her up when Ripley suddenly seemed to decide she was ready to just go for it. She demolished her cake in like 10 seconds. Unfortunately, our camera had run out of battery at this point, so my father-in-law took pictures and I don't have them from him yet, so no pictures of Ripley with her final smashed cake.

One thing I did was make a little video. We showed it to everyone at the party to start things off. I basically took videos and pictures from the first year of their lives, and my pregnancy, and put it to music. Its about 10 minutes long. I am adding it here for your viewing pleasure! I used all music from Laurie Berkner. I think it just turned out so cute! I think I might make it a new tradition--to make one each year for their birthday to show how they've grown!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Doing It!

Well, it's official I have lost 10 lbs, and at last measuring, 18 inches. Hooray! I can't even begin to count the number of times I have started and then stopped attempting to lose weight. The only time I was truly successful was in 2004, when I lost 25 lbs and 42 inches. It ended when I started working as a teacher and felt it was difficult to keep it up. I still managed to keep the weight off, or within about the same range. But then I got married. Wow. So now, this is what happens: School gets out, I work out all summer, and then when school starts again, I completely lose all control and all interest.


It all started in early May when a co-worker of mine--the same one mentioned in the post above--started the Rotation Diet in order to lose a few pounds she'd gained after she got married. At first I was very skeptical--the diet calls for three days of 600 calories, four days of 900 calories, a week of 1200 calories, and then repeating the 600 and 900 week. After that, you're done.

This was against everything I had been taught. 1) You shouldn't eat that few calories 2) what happens when its all over? Where is the lifestyle change?

But I watched her lose weight. So I thought--I'll try it. Here's the thing--it totally worked for me. Why? Because it helped me achieve the mental change that I needed in order to really get started--and one thing I've learned about weight loss--it's all mental. What goes in your head is more important than what goes in your mouth. I had spent the last year eating whatever the crap I wanted, without pausing to ask if it was good for me or not. I didn't care. I lose weight during my pregnancies, and so during my pregnancy with the twins I ate with wild abandon. After the babies were  born I lost 45 lbs in less than a month. I weighed 20 lbs less than when I got pregnant in the first place. But it was deceptive weight loss and I knew it--I was flabby and my stomach looked horrible.  Then the habits continued during the school year, I gained 10 lbs, but more than that, I gained inches.

It was actually really easy, that first week. Mainly because I had felt so helpless to stop my eating habits, it felt really good to firmly tell myself "NO." I had a list of exactly what I could eat each day. There was no cheating--I just did it. I was grateful for every single thing I put in my mouth. I thought about every bite. And it worked. I don't think that NOW I could eat that little, but 1200 calorie days are not as impossible as I thought.

During the third week of my diet, I told myself, "NO! I am not going to fix my eating only to ruin it by not exercising too!" I have learned--you have to do BOTH if you want good results. So I started then and there, and have been working out 3-4 days a week ever since. Mostly P90X and The Firm. I'm telling you, buying the firm videos and the Firm Box was the best investment. I've used it SO much. Totally worth it. I got P90X of KSL a few years ago for only $50 and it was also a totally worth it investment. I like working hard and feeling the sweat and knowing I'm doing something about it.
That's why I'm writing this post. To remind myself, if the day ever comes again, that I LIKE THIS. When I am overweight and not doing anything about it, and I talk to family or friends about it, I tell them the following story:

"In 2004 when I lost all that weight, I told myself I would never get heavy again. Because now I knew what it takes. I knew what to do. I know what to eat, how to exercize. I know what it takes to get and stay thin. But now, that's exactly why I don't try. Because I know what it takes. I know how hard it is. I know how long it took and how much I had to work at it to get results. And I just don't want to do that again."

I am here to remind myself--THAT ISN'T TRUE. As time goes by, you forget what it was really like to lose weight. You forget that although its hard and time-consuming, it's also exciting and envigorating. I have more energy. I can't wait to get on the scale. I feel so STRONG, both mentally and physically, when I can tell myself NO to cookies and YES to push-ups. I love envisioning where I'll be a month from now. I took before and after pictures and although I still have a LONG LONG LONG way to go, I CAN see a difference.

As my friend Tony Horton says, "Just keep pressing play. Just keep pressing play."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When Did I Start Saying "I Can't?"

I was raised in an "I can" home. Somehow, we all knew that if we wanted to do it, we could. If I have an idea, it usually isn't long before its being implemented. Something takes hold of me, and I just think it through and get it done. I like this about myself. And in a lot of ways, I still am this way. I watch the progress we are making on our backyard, or a new project I've started with my students, and I know that I CAN achieve whatever I set my mind to.

But I've also started to realize that, in other previously strong areas of my life, I am always telling myself I can't do it. I am friends with two other teachers at my school who are both younger, prettier, skinnier, and cooler than me. I love both these women so much--they are, in some ways, what I used to be. They are just cool and fun. The kids love them. One is recently married and the other is getting married next month. Neither have children. They remind me of the kind of teacher I was about four years ago. Back when I was thinner, funner, crazier, and full of energy and optimism about my work. I know that as I get older, I am losing some of that youthful energy I once had--both as a person and as a teacher. But seeing these two women really brings it all to the forefront.

I used to get up in front of people and sing or dance, laugh, with no reservations. I used to read the announcements in an accent. My class was a comedy routine every day. I used to make up funny tricks to play on other teachers with my students. I used to be a good dancer--I used to be confident about my ability to move my body and make it do what I wanted. I used to just do crazy things, and my students loved it. Yesterday I was cleaning out my back room, and stumbled upon the 2004-2005 teacher group photo. It was my first year teaching. I was 26. And I was so CUTE. My hair was cute, my clothes were cute, my shoes were cute. I was about 30 lbs thinner. I had totally forgotten about that person.

Recently its like I'm getting a taste of it again. Yesterday we took our kids out for a fire drill and we were out there on the field for a long time. My kids were bored. So I threw candy at them. Then I made them do the wave. Then I told this girl that if she did her front hand spring, I would do a cartwheel. I just did a simple round-off--first once since I had my babies--but I heard about it all day long. "Mrs. Rees--I heard you did a cartwheel!" and "That was the funnest fire drill we've ever done!" And I'm kind of thinking, "That was nothing compared the crazy crap I used to do." Why did I stop? Why did I start saying I can't?

I've lost something of what I once was--it's been drowned in the stress of having children and being "tied down" all the time. Don't get me wrong--I love my kids with all my heart--but I think that once you have kids, you get so used to saying, "Oh, I have small children. I can't do that," that you really start to believe it--and apply it to just about everything. Anyway, that's what I've done. My kids are my eternal excuse for everything. Weight gain is another one--packing around 30 more pounds changes the image you have of yourself. But would losing weight really give me back that person? Well, I'm sure nothing can bring her back, but to get a piece of that again would be fantastic. Is it even possible?

When I was a kid, my mom had a Reba McIntire CD she played over and over. There was one song that I never quite understood the point of the lyrics. It never made sense to me. That's because I was a teenager. Now they are crystal clear:

Is there life out there? So much she hasn't done
Is there life beyond her family and her home
She's done what she should, should she do what she dares
She doesn't want to leave, she's jsut wonderin is there life out there

I don't feel like I should change the choices I made--I would make them all again. But I have gotten so sucked into my quiet stressful happy little world that I have left behind those parts of me that are not absolutely essential for survival, but also made my life and my work so much fun. I want to lose weight. I want to dance. I want to be just a little bit crazy--I guess I just really want to WANT those things--want them enough to actually make a change and then do them. I have recently started eating right and exercising again--for the first time in two years. Its part of why I am noticing my frumpy clothes, extra pounds, and tired lines around my eyes. I've let myself go. I still have small children, and I still have to say, "this is not the time in my life where I get to do _________." But there is still so much more I CAN do. So much life out there I'm missing. I don't want to lose the fun parts of myself that made my husband fall in love with me. The part that I see Afton developing as she dances around the livingroom, sings songs, greets complete strangers or performs for people. Is that something you CAN get back? Or am I just too old? Come on. Thirty-four can't be THAT old, right?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Backyard Makeover

So we are finally doing it. We are finally doing some sort of improvement on the OUTSIDE of the house. For up until now, other than chopping down NINE ill-placed and ugly trees, we haven't done much. But yes, we are finally tackling the backyard. Now, the biggest improvement we could make for the backyard would be to remove the tumor from the back of our house--to read all about said tumor, I posted about it here. But I must admit, I'm a little loathe to part with the tumor. Although on the outside it's a total disgusting wreck, on the inside it's become a very conveniently located toy room that for some reason the kids just LOVE. So no, we are not removing the tumor. Not just yet. Besides, it would probably cost a fortune.

No, instead we are tackling the yard.

About a month ago, Trevor and my Dad and our awesome home teacher attacked it with two tillers. Brother Knapp's tiller was of a commercial quality--it kicked some serious butt. Trevor has since been re-routing all the sprinkler heads and preparing the ground for sod, which we hope to lay in early June.

Anyway, we're working on it. But this post is ACTUALLY about the lovely gift from my parents for my birthday. Yesterday, Mom and Dad came over, and Dad and Trevor put in Afton's new sandpile! She was so freaking excited.
It went well, other than the unforseen issue of a MASSIVE patch of cement that was buried and must have once held a fence post. It just happened to be in the middle of her sand pile so Dad and Trevor got it out after much effort.
It was a stubborn bugger, let me tell you.
Mom and I sat on chairs and watched. Scarlett went to bed. Ripley cuddled with Grandma.

And Afton generally got in the way and demanded to help. She rode in the wheel barrow. Which, by the way, has a story all it's own. This thing was old when my Grandpa got it out of a junk pile years ago. Then he gave it to my Dad years after that, and Dad has used it forever. Seriously, this thing is probably over 100 years old.

I insisted on pouring the sand myself, just so I could say I did something. Then it was time for Afton to play! I played with her. My mom even brought some buckets and shovels.

This morning all three kids played in it. So cute. Afton was out there several times today. My sister Jen brought over a couple of outside toys, so Afton had an awesome little playground out there.

Now all we need is GRASS!!!

A HUGE thank you to my awesome parents! They are always finding ways to help us out! And to my awesome husband, who sacrificed the money he was saving up to buy a handgun in order to give his daughters somewhere safe and fun to play. I am truly blessed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Little Mermaid

Afton's favorite song is "Ariel's Song" also known as "Part of Your World." She asks for it every night when I put her to bed. I'm actually getting kind of sick of this song. Those of you who know me well, know that I went through a HUGE obsession with The Little Mermaid when it came out--I danced to this song in my living room, wearing my pink body suit and my green chiffon skirt, and I sang it and sang it hoping eventually I would sound like Jodi Benson. I drew Ariel over and over and over until I had her down, and to this day I swear I can draw Ariel in my sleep. Funnily enough, we don't even OWN this video--well, we have it on VHS. The one I got when it was first released in 1989. It's so weird--when you watch it, the movie just starts with no ads or anything. Anyway, she watches it mostly on the Disney Princess sing-along that she loves. (Great suggestion, Heather! You were right!)

Anyway, it's a long song and kind of complicated, but she knows every word. I've heard her sing it more accurately than this, but who cares! She's so freakin' cute in this video! I love my little singing Afton! (And, for a three year old, she's pretty on key, don't you think?)

And here is one more of my babies! They are so cute! (Note how good Scarlett is at holding herself up against the side. Explains why this morning she FELL OUT OF THE CRIB. Guess it's time to drop it lower...)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Five Things I've Been Thinkin'

I'm still alive. It's funny--I have no real intention to stop writing in my blog. I think of myself as an active blogger. And then I look at the date of my last entry and I'm kinda shocked. I'm sure anyone who ever read my blog has long since given up on me--just like I've given up on some of my other friends who have stopped blogging, or blog rarely. So sorry. I know you are all dying to hear the pearls of wisdom that come from me. I DO keep up a lot better on my Realscrappy blog--maybe that's why I feel like I'm an active blogger? I did a record THREE ENTRIES in a WEEK last week. So there.

What have I been thinking about?

1. On Saturday I had to go to a UMLA conference--a Middle School Conference. Honestly, I didn't want to go. A Saturday away from my family is a high price to pay--not just for my mental health and the health of my family, but for the sake of all the chores I can only do on the weekends since I work full time. But I had to go--I need the re-licensure points for my job so I went. And you know what? It was excellent. So I'm so glad that if I had to spend a day away from my family, it was totally worth it. Here's what I learned:

a. Elk Ridge really DOES have do awesome school plays. They school we were at performed a number from theirs and it was cute and the kids did a great job. But ours are WAY better and have WAY better choreography. Go Elk Ridge! Go Mrs. Gordon!

b. I learned about some really cool technology ideas for the classroom, and also that I am SO behind in technology, despite being a business teacher. Kinda embarassing.

c. Our keynote speaker was incredible. He talked about a concept he read about where you "make deposits" with people so that when you have to make a "withdrawal" you have something to draw from. It's a great way to build relationships. I thought about my students, and how I don't get to know them as well as I could. When they feel like I care about them and their success, when I take a moment to talk to them, encourage them, or have any personal positive interaction, I am "making a deposit." I don't make enough deposits. Not personally. I applied this to my marriage as well, and Trevor and I had a great discussion about it Sunday morning. It's something we are going to work on with each other.

d. I have a hard time really caring about my students. Does that sound horrible? It's not that I DON'T care about them. Its that I only have them 10 weeks, not a whole school year. And I don't have a lot of time to get to know them. And it really means I have to stretch myself to try. I keep a very professional relationship with my kids. We have fun and I make jokes and I try to make class interesting. But I'm not that teacher that hangs out with them after school or goes to their games. I'm just not. And I'm not sure I want to be. I'm not sure that it's within my abilities to cross that line. I guess I have with my ballroom kids, but that's only a few kids and we had a very different relationship. I just don't know where the balance is. I guess I only have so much fuel in me, and my own family takes a lot of it. And if I have to choose who is getting my energy, it will be my own kids. Still, it doesn't take much to ask kids how their weekend is and find out a few things about them. It doesn't take much to encourage them, to point out when they do well. Thoughts like that cross my mind all the time, but I don't always vocalize them, or remember them the next day when I have that student again. I guess what I mean is that I'm a good teacher, but I don't feel like I made a really big impact. I'm not that teacher that kids will come back and say, "you were the best. You changed my life. I'm a teacher because of YOU." They like me. They tell their friends my class if fun. But I don't think they remember anything. I know this because my 9th graders come in after being out of my room for two years, and have forgotten EVERYTHING and could care less about how cool I am. I don't know. All I can do is try, I guess.

2. I have totally gotten addicted to Farm Town again on Facebook. How did this happen to me? Why am I letting myself do this? Why am I actually contemplating spending real U.S. dollars to buy a second farm or a stable? I mean, really? Am I THAT pathetic? How did I become one of those people that play Facebook games? My only excuse is that its something to do while pumping. How's that?

3. My babies are growing up. The other day I had to leave for work and the babies were SO cute in the morning. I went in there, and they were all grinning and laughing and rolling around. And I did not want to leave them! "Summer is almost here," I told myself as I sadly left. And then I thought--"But in the summer, they won't be BABIES anymore!!" It's true. They are eight months old and now Scarlett has three teeth (none for Ripley yet) both are getting up on their knees getting ready to crawl, and both can even stand against furniture--though they don't like to. Where is the time going? Babies are so hard, but suddenly its going to be OVER. And I don't know if I'll ever have another baby again. We might, but we might not. And I love my little babies! But oh, just thinking about chasing after two crawling babies tires me out and excites me at the same time!

4. I've started making soap again. I used to make it with my students, back in the days before I had kids and could spend extra time in the preparing it. It was so fun, but I got burned out. We make badges now instead. But I got some new soap base and started making a few bars--and oh yeah! Making soap is so freaking fun!I forgot! I had to invite the art teachers over and Friday and we made a few bars during our prep. I give them away as thank you's to teachers who help me out.

5. We got Afton a potty watch. We are desperate. She poops her pants every single day. I am so tired of poop. The potty watch is working pretty good so far. We got it for her Saturday, so it will be interesting to see how it goes all week as she goes to four different places for daycare. We're hoping the potty watch will be a steady and reliable proceedure that will follow her wherever she goes. Oh please! Please say it will work!

Well that's all. It's time to go pump now. Thank you all for listening to me rant on and on!