July 20, 2014


Here's that link I promised you.

July 17, 2014


Rather than re-type it all, I've decided to tell the tale of this day by just copying and pasting a letter I just finished emailing to my friend. 

It's been one of those days, I tell ya.  Behold:

"Dear Lisa,

So here's the low down on why I:
A) Took so long to respond to your emails today
C) am freaking exhausted right now

Do you ever just have one of those days?  And I've decided, it's the worst when you put so much effort into things, only to have them fail miserably.

Exhibit A:  Execellent planning of the day.  Ash told me two days ago she was setting up an interview with a temporary agency for today.  Of course, her car is in the shop (this week - when Mart is gone - OF ALL WEEKS), so it's up to me to get her to/from said interview (IN MY LOANER CAR NO LESS - I STILL have not heard from the dealership about my car) She asks me if 2pm will work.  I tell her I doubt it since I have a hair appointment (cut AND color) at 11:30 in Herriman and her appointment is a good 30 minute drive from there.  I tell her (being experienced in time management and all) that I don't think 2 hours of time will work for my hair - it takes longer when there's color involved.  I suggest possibly making it for 3pm.  Last night she informs me she made it for 2pm.  It will be fine she says.  So, here we are - I have foils in my hair, a hair cape on, and we're in Herriman and it's 1:10pm.  That means I have 20 minutes for my cut portion of my hair(and that's if she DOESN'T dry and style it).  I give Ashley the evil eye and (totally not wanting to do this) tell the stylist that Ashley has an appointment she HAS to be at by 2.  AS I SUSPECTED WOULD HAPPEN IF I TOLD HER THAT, she then proceeds to quickly and stressed out cut my hair into pieces.  It's one of the worst cuts I've had in months, and for the rest of the day I drive around looking like a homely bag.  (you KNOW how much I need a good haircut Lisa).  Also.  Ca-ching.  That horrible-sad-boxy-looking-molly-helmet-head haircut of mine cost $120.  Awesome.

Exhibit B: I asked, kindly, Mart to please clean the pool chlorinator before he left for the trip on Tuesday night.  I knew it would make it a late night/early morning for him, but I figured it would need to be cleaned in that amount of time if he didn't.  (It's typically needing a good vinegar soak about every 3-4 days) and I didn't want to have to worry about how to do that with the pool party coming up (nor the 5 hours of requisite soak time without the filter running in the meantime) because it seems to take about a day afterwards before the pool looks clean again - yeah - our filter bites.  Did he do it?  Nope.  He assured me the chlorinator would work just fine through Friday when he gets home.  Are you sure?  I asked him - I have the pool party on Friday and I don't want to have the filter off the day before.  Yep he ASSURED me.  So, I wake up this morning (after applying fresh new chemicals and bug poison to the tune of $85 last night) expecting a sparkling fresh pool.  Nope.  Cloudy and disgusting, and hey - the filter isn't running for some reason too!  So I spend the morning (before the pest control guy gets here (ca-ching) and the maids get here (ca-ching ca-ching), and I'm out there scrubbing out the filter which is FILTHY (I'm assuming from the poison crap we put in it yesterday), and realizing, how about that??? There's no chlorine in the pool AGAIN!!  And why is that?  Why - look at that.  The chlorinator needs cleaning. 
I don't even KNOW HOW to clean it Lisa.  I have to call Mart (and you can bet it wasn't a very nice phone call) at the end of the day today and have him walk me through how to turn things off, unscrew things, empty things, fill things with vinegar, soak them for four hours, rinse things out, rescrew things, and start it all up again.  This along with another filter cleaning gets things working on the pool again - and I'm hoping and PRAYING I wake up to it looking a whole lot better tomorrow since there are FORTY people coming to use it tomorrow.

Exhibit C: INCOMPETENCE EVERYWHERE I TURN:  So, we took Ash's car into the repair people that are literally 40 miles from my home (because they are the only people we've found that don't charge RIDICULOUS prices, and my dad and brother both SWEAR by this mechanic.  He's slow, they promise me, and he's a drive, but he's WORTH it.) - Mart and I drop it off on Saturday night.  I call the guy and tell him - it's shuddering when we idle at red lights, and the oil light is flickering on and off.  By Tues afternoon - we haven't heard anything so I call to check.  They're driving it now, they say, call later.  I do - and they haven't been able to 'get it to duplicate the problem'.  Call tomorrow.  I do (wed now) and they tell me they were able to get it to duplicate and they're pretty sure it's just 'loose connections' and they're going to scrub off any corrosion and try it out.  Can I wait to pick it up until tomorrow afternoon?  So I run numbers in my head - leaving at 11 for the hair appt.  At 2 is Ash's appt.  So what if it's 20 miles THE OTHER DIRECTION?  I think we can make it to the shop by 5 - and perfect - because Ash will be with me to drive it home.  Okay I tell him, and we head there right after her appointment today (with all the groceries for the party in the trunk of my car - which I shopped for during her interview of course).  We go there, I get the car - he promises me: problem solved - we cleaned it up and probably drove it 200 miles without one more problem.  Thanks for the payment - have a nice day.  Ash and I get in our separate cars and head home - Ash to work (which she will now be an hour late for) and me to the pool store for some MORE chemicals (clarifying oxidizing crap they assure me will make the water clear and shiny (ca-ching - 20 more bucks).  While I'm making my ca-ching purchase, Ash calls me and says her car died ON THE FREEWAY while she was in the bumper to bumper traffic (idling again).  Awesome.  I call the mechanic.  He can't believe it and claims to be really angry and embarrassed.  BUT don't come back tonight!  (it's closing time after all).  Instead, drive the FORTY miles home, and bring it back tomorrow (when I'm SUPPOSED to be hosting a party for my other daughter - and the whole reason we went there to get it tonight was so that Ash would have her stupid car for her bank interview tomorrow at 3pm while I'm HOSTING that party!).  I tell him Ash can bring it back but I can't come with her to drop it off.  No problem he ASSURES me.  I'm going to drive it with her tomorrow so I can find the problem, and then I'm going to fix it and have her out the door in time for her interview.  HE PROMISES.  Yeah....we'll see....

Exhibit D:  Ash's temporary agency interview - you know...the one I got a crappy haircut for, the one we drove 40 miles out of the way for...the one that made her late for her pizza job....yeah - it's a total bust - sounds like they only have stupid day jobs, and they don't even call you - you have to call them when you want a job, and they'll 'let you know what's come up that day'.  ???  Gag.  Not about to quit a steady pizza job for a day job making customer service calls that may or may not be there the next day.

Exhibit E: When we got home, we realized the yard looks a mess.  I remembered that Mart hadn't been able to mow/edge last weekend because we spent all day on Saturday helping Curtis (unexpectedly of course) with his house - remember?  So here we are with a pool party to host and a messy awful yard.  So...Ani agrees to mow, while I edge.  Lisa - it's been YEARS since I did edging.  (thank goodness for those lawns I mowed/edged with my dad and brothers years ago, or I wouldn't even know how!!) I've mowed, but I turned the edging over to Mart when we got married.  For one, I HATE that thing - I always end up with dirt in my eyes, and it scares me.  For another, I always end up having to wind up more string in it - and I can never figure out how to - and it's super frustrating for me.  (Stupid MAN MACHINES! - You can sure tell a women didn't design those suckers).  Sure enough - I know I have to somehow put on my big girl panties and make it happen.  I manage SOMEHOW to get the sucker started - which, YAY!  Accomplishment number one.  I get partway around edging the front yard, and Lisa - it looked like CRAP - It was all choppy and zig zaggy - how embarrassing.  And sure enough - what happens?  I run out of string.  Wow.  Not one to be beaten by a MAN MACHINE, I plop down on the driveway and pull that sucker apart.  I'm very careful to be sure to study how I'm pulling it apart, so I can figure out how to put it back together.  Still, I get to the part where you have to string on the new string, and the string we have isn't as THICK, so I can't seem to get it through.  So I call Martin (yet another NICE phone call) and start complaining to him, that not only does he leave, but everything he left in his wake needs maintenance!)  I tell him I don't know how to get the string through the thing, and as I'm talking I'm working it on my own, and wouldn't you know it?  Right that second I get that stupid string through, I pushed the right button or something, and on the other side of the phone I actually hear Martin laugh and say this:  "Well, I guess I'm gonna have to walk you through this since I'm pretty sure you've taken on something you cannot handle here".  That's when I proceeded to hang up on him and gritted my teeth together and thought - Apparently, Martin has forgotten who he is married to.  I then finished that DAMN yard, and if I do say so myself, it looks pretty stinking good Lisa.

PS - Has he bothered to call me back?  no he has not.

In conclusion.  Today SUCKED the big one.  Nothing went right.  In spite of it, GIRL POWER.  Ani, Ash, Cass and I pulled together (cass got my bed all ready for me tonight, and Ash made me brownies, while Ani helped me with the pool stuff and mowed the lawn) and wouldn't you know it?  We got everything done.  The pool is currently filtering beautifully, while the chlorinator is doing it's thing (and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!) I hope I wake up to a sparkly pool in the morning.  The yard looks immaculate.  The house is clean and sparkly (insert I love my maids!!! here), and hopefully PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE that mechanic will come through for us tomorrow.  On top of that (and BONUS!)  I came inside and took myself a nice long shower.  When I got out, I decided to give this whacked haircut my best shot and see if I could pull anything out of it, and wouldn't you know it?  It looks GREAT!  I've decided Mindy may be the 'hair ninja' of LONG hair, but I'm the 'hair ninja' when it comes to styling short hair.  I'm just glad it's not going to SUCK for the family get-together on Saturday, and the family reunion next week!! 

In the meantime, the twins arrive here at 9:30 tomorrow, and I just barely received a text from a friend to PLEASE come help her pack her house up tomorrow as she's moving on Saturday. (of course, I've been asking her for weeks if she needed anything - and TOMORROW, she needs.  I promised her I will help from 10-2 tomorrow - party prep be damned.) So 9:30 - twins.  10-2 packing 2-9 party 9- COLLAPSE.  Hopefully, Ash will make it to the mechanic, and her job interview without me tomorrow - that's the only kink that could happen in the whole thing.  (knock on wood).  Mart will be home at 9pm (of course - right when it's all said and done).  Have I mentioned how much I detest his traveling?

Love ya.


July 16, 2014


Ani attended two camps this year -  -
 Red Cross YLDC (youth leadership development camp)
and LDS girls camp.
I'm thinking her fave was the Red Cross camp
since her text on the way home read 
"This has been the best thing that has ever happened to me."
That camp is all about diversity and leadership.
I think it was good for her.

She really missed Cass though,
and ditto for Cass (missing her).
When we were on our way to pick her up,
she sent me a text saying,
Bring my child with you please.
And I did.

July 15, 2014


in all his free time,
has decided to learn a new language.
And not just any language.
Mandarin Chinese.
While he was in an online language forum,
where Chinese speaking people try to learn English
and vica versa,
he began to get to know this girl.
They are starting to get to know each other,
and since he changed his FB status to
"In a relationship"
I guess it's worth mentioning.
This ends the update.

July 14, 2014


So, about the end of May, things started heating up in Utah,
and we knew we were going to be in for a long summer.
I'd been tossing around the idea for a pool.
My girls are at a great age for it, 
and I figured it would keep them away from the TV and outside.
I sure was right about that.
When we first started filling it up they just COULD NOT WAIT to get in.
 Even with the cold spring weather (check out those skies)
the girls had to be in the pool.
When we first filled it, the water temp was 68 degrees 
but if you think that stopped them, think again.
They would swim for about 5 minutes,
then, shivering and blue lips,
(you thought I was kidding about the blue lips?)
climb out and warm up on the patio.
 Then back in they'd go.
After a while, they took to floating on top of the water,
 rather than swimming in it.
(you know - to avoid hypothermia and all)
Slowly, over the month of June, 
the pool has warmed up 
and is now hovering around 82-85 degrees
which is MUCH NICER.
The girls spend a lot more time in it now.
I love the goggle look.
I would think they'd get sick of it, but they don't.
And the neighborhood kids love it too.
They're welcome so long as they can touch and breathe at the same time.
(no drowning please)
One of the nice things has been getting to know more people 
in the neighborhood.
Cass invites kids over, and the parents will sometimes come with
and we'll hang out on the patio visiting.
One of the not so nice things will definitely be the condition of my sad lawn
when it's all said and done and this thing comes down for the winter.
I'm seriously scared for that day.
I was prepared for all of this, though - 
what I wasn't prepared for 
(and BONUS!)
is the fact that my house stays clean 
all day long.
The kids are outside swimming all day,
and the house stays nice and clean.
As for me and Ash,
we prefer to float on top and improve our tans.
I'd say, all in all, the pool was a good idea.
(and no more blue lips)

July 11, 2014


...there was a lot of this going on...
Oh, and also, some of this...
During which,
this guy did a bunch of this...
Afterwards, she did this...
and he did this...
While she continued to do this:
Not the worst week in history.

July 10, 2014


Around here, there's this running joke 
that I'm Cassidy's grandma and Ani is her mom,
because I swear, that Ani spends more time with her than I do.
So when Ani decided to go to camp this year,
I knew Cass was gonna miss her like crazy 
and I started looking around for something she could do to pass the time.
That's when I came across Farm Camp.
Yeah - I'd never heard of such a thing either, 
but it turned out to be the PERFECT thing for Cass.

I'm pretty sure it was feeding the animals that did it...
...or maybe catching the chickens...
...or maybe the riding the tractor...
...or playing in the hay bales or corn pit.
 Something to do with the animals probably.
(I love this one with the goat looking up at her)
My favorite was when they painted a rock,
and planted a pumpkin seed next to it.
 In the fall they get to come back to the farm and harvest their pumpkins.
How cute is that?
Also, the cute snacks they ate - 
like pancakes and peas,
or carrots and popcorn.
Things they gathered from the fields.
One of the days, on the way home, I asked Cass if she wanted lunch
and she made a face and rubbed her tummy, saying 'urg'.
Then she explained that she was full from the pancakes and peas.
I said, "Oh I bet you had a bunch of pancakes, huh?
Her response was "No.  I only had one pancake but I had three bowls of peas!"
Whoa Nellie.
Cassie absolutely loved it and now claims she wants to be a farmer
when she grows up.
Go Cass!

July 9, 2014


I think I might've mentioned that this guy is being courted
by some new companies, and in the process,
is heading into some very intense interviews.
But listen.
My guy works in the IT industry.
I'm constantly worried that he doesn't look professional enough
when he heads out the door each day wearing nothing but 
a polo shirt and some old baggy jeans. 
But he laughs whenever I do
and reminds me he works in the IT industry.
People can look like hippies in that field and it doesn't make a bit of difference,
he says.
But when it comes to interviews,
that's where I put my foot down,
so we dug into the closet for his suit,
....sadly, had shrunk.
(if ya know what I mean)
So, off to the store we went.
After visiting several shops
and trying on a million different options,
we finally decided on this one.
Looks stunning with the flip flops - am I right?
With a little tailoring
...and some dressy shoes,
it's just perfect, and my Mart is off to land a job.
Go Mart.

July 8, 2014


You know what?  
I've decided I kind of love our neighborhood.

We started the fourth out right.
We slept late.  
Then, we got up and prepared the food for the BBQ
including making up a marinade for the chicken
and of course, I was a little worried it would turn out gross,
so I was pleasantly surprised when the chicken was the hit of the party.
Wow, it was good!
So then of course I had to try to remember exactly what I'd added and how much
and write it down for next time.
We also made the Merrell potato salad, Kim's grape salad, some tasty berry punch,
and my raspberry pie.
The guests brought cookies, chips, hot dogs, berry cobbler, 
and one of the best tasting chocolate pies I've ever had.
MMMM...So good.
We opened up that redneck pool of ours 
 and the 13 kids swam while us adults sat around in the shade of the patio
enjoying the smells of the BBQ and talking and laughing for hours.
I enjoyed the little baby.
Oh how I miss babies!

Into the evening, we all gathered our camp chairs and headed to the 
driveway to enjoy the redneck fireworks the neighbors had purchased.
 We started by doing fun sparklers, and I realized this is the first time 
Cassie has done that!  Wow.  The things you don't do with your last!
She loved it!
You know what my favorite part was?
That the neighbor had his truck parked in the driveway,
his family sitting in lawn chairs in the back of it to watch the show,
and the radio on - blaring partriotic music.
 Haha - it was so funny - he would be about to light up a firework
and he'd stop and say,
Wait - I have to wait for the right song to come on...
But when he did light them up - 
I was so shocked!
All these years, we've driven long distances to see city firework shows.
 We've parked miles away and walked and walked with our arms loaded with supplies
just to see a show of fireworks that's overcrowded and hot.
Then we've waited for hours to get back home.
Little did I know - 
I could have a BETTER show right here at home in my driveway!
Man, people must spend a lot of money on fireworks - 
I'll be that show was as good as the city's!
And have you ever felt the pieces of the firework landing on you?
Cuz yeah - those suckers were RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS.
It was so much fun - 
what a great fourth!
Both Mart and I agree this was one of the best fourths we've ever had.
Hope you had a good one too.

July 3, 2014


This summer in Utah
has been one of the finest in a long time.
I wish I could share with you what it's like to sit on my back patio right now.
The fresh warm breeze dances with the leaves of my trees,
the light rattling sound that the leaves on my birch tree make,
the long shadows in the yard,
the unaltered late afternoon light forming crystal clear images all around me
and that sky.
That bright indescribably blue sky.

Far away, but not so far,
the peaks of the mountains still gleam with patches of white
and an almost furry green coat below.
All around me the shrubs and flowers are growing.
No, not growing.
Alive, and brightly colored - such a variety.
Off in the distance I hear children playing, 
and occasionally, a dog barking.
It's still warm, but not hot.
And cooling
 as the sun stretches further and further into the distance.

I love these evenings so much. 
I think I live for them.
They are peaceful and quiet.
There's no structure, or routine to worry about.

I turn the AC off and open the windows 
to let a little piece of summertime in
as it begins to cool for the night.

I've taken to sitting on the back patio this year,
instead of the front.
It's the pool that did it.
I like to sit back there and watch Cass play in the water
until she's too cold, or tired and finally gives up.
It's a shady and wonderful patio,
and I wonder why I haven't used it more.

I really have such a good life.
Thank you summer in Utah.

July 2, 2014


...when you're very close to finalizing a new job
and everything gets put on hold for the week
because of what's supposed to be a 'one day holiday'?

I do too.

Patience Grasshopper.

July 1, 2014


When we moved back to Utah in 2006,
we sort of established certain holidays that were spent with Mart's family
and the fourth was one of them.
It was great fun.
We looked forward to family piling into our little rental house,
everyone overloaded with food.
We'd pile the food out onto the counter,
then gather our camping chairs and form a big circle on the side of the house
(the only spot where shade could be found)
where the adults would sit and talk and laugh.
We would be catching up on each other's lives,
while the younger ones would play in the sprinklers/slip-n-slide/croquet
or whatever else we'd all brought for their entertainment.
(Cass and her cousins)
We'd play a group game that someone would suggest
and laugh until we were all splitting a gut.
Eventually, it would get dark and we'd gather our chairs up 
and carry them to the street for the corny fireworks we all bought from local stands.
  We'd laugh and enjoy each other some more...
grandkids in grandma's lap,
teenage boys jumping over the fireworks like idiots.
Then, we'd all hug and say goodnight, and wish each other a safe drive home.
They are memories I'll probably cherish forever.

But when what shall forever be known as 
that all stopped.
In fact, everything stopped.
No more family.
No more invitations to family events.
It's like we died to them.
Someday, maybe I'll have the courage to blog about that,
but for now, I cannot.
It still...
hurts like hell.

every. single. year.
on the 4th of July,
we have sat here in our house,
like idiots,
waiting...hoping...desperately wondering
if we might just be invited this year.
Two years ago, we even had the nerve to show up to the family party
(gasp!) - after Mart found out about it, and called his brother seeking an invite,
and was half-heartedly given one.
But when his parents left 10 minutes later, we knew we would never see another invite,
and we weren't wrong about that.
For Thanksgiving that year, we were actually 
turned away on account of 
'the siblings can't have a relationship with us if it means the parents won't stick around'.

This year, we have taken matters into our own hands,
and have secured three fun neighborhood families
who also, 
are family-less
on this day.
We will BBQ,
we will open the pool, 
and we will eat to our heart's content.
We will laugh, talk, and enjoy each other's company,
and if we're lucky,
we'll finish out the evening with some corny fireworks.
And all will be right in our world again.


Motherhood at this stage is very different than I thought it would be.

It's so weird because I spaced my kids out -
I had one every three years
(only we missed one in there)
and I figured that no one stage would hit suddenly and harshly
like parents who have all their kids close together.
It would be more of an ease-into-it
kinda thing.
But it really hasn't worked out that way.
I guess I was so wrapped up in what was happening with J in TX
that before I knew it Ash was graduating,
and now I have two that are
'no longer independents'
and my third is so independent minded that
I feel like she might as well be gone too.
So that leaves me going from four dependent kids to one
 in what seems like it was just a couple of years.
It's left me kind of spinning.
I think I would be more depressed about it,
I've entered this new
stage of parenting that I really didn't even know existed.
It's the stage where you're busy and are involved with your kids still,
but mostly because they don't know what they're doing yet -
I mean- maybe they're in college and you are sending them stuff all the time,
and they're calling you all the time,
and they're buying motorcycles from people who don't own them
and stuff.
Or maybe they are graduated, but are in no position to go off on their own yet.
And you're busy helping them create resumes,
and check out their options,
and learn about colleges, and certification courses,
and look for the path that might be right for them,
while in the meantime, teaching them to maintain a car,
and manage a bank account, and
other independent type of things.
You know...that kind of stage.
The thing is - they still sort of need you at this stage,
but they don't WANT to need you.
So even when they come to you and ask for help,
when you give it, they get frustrated about it -
maybe they don't like the advice,
or they (more likely) don't want to hear that answer.
Stuff like that.
And in the end, you know they have these
sort of important decisions in front of them,
and you hope they'll make the right ones,
but ultimately,
you don't have any say in it anymore.
They might,
or they might not.
And in the case of the latter,
you wince, get a grimace on your face,
and just hold on for the ride.

I guess it's kind of like a
stage of life.

It's interesting, anyway.

June 30, 2014


Sorry the blog has been lame lately.
I have to admit, I've been spending a lot of time in the pool.
Did I mention we got a pool?
I'll post about that eventually.
In the meantime, I'm working on improving my tan
and people.
I haven't been this tan since I was in high school
and had all day to devote to my sun worship.
It feels good and also bad
because I know better now.
Still, I'm soaking in those rays and enjoying time with my girls
and we invite people over occasionally and enjoy them too.
Other than that, 
there's just plain not much going on.
Talk to you later.
I'm headed out to,
well...I'm sure you can guess.

June 26, 2014


Today is a big day for us at the merrell house
and I feel anxiety about it.
It's also the first grey and cloudy day
that we've had in a few weeks, so that isn't helping.
Because it's grey and cloudy we can't spend all day long
in the pool
(Did I mention we got a pool?)
so maybe today I'll be able to actually catch up on a few things.
Hopefully I can stay busy until this day is over.
I have a feeling it will go by too slow.

June 25, 2014


Not telling.
You know,
jinxing and all that.

June 24, 2014


A few days after my sweet granny passed,
when all was said and done with the funeral,
and the family had gone back home,
I made my way over to her now-empty house
with my shovel and a garbage bag.
In the frigid January weather,
I dug into the frozen ground.
I cut a piece of one of her perennial flowers out
and wrapped it up carefully into the garbage bag.
I knew it was a long shot - 
trying to harvest and plant a perennial flower
in the middle of the Utah winter.
But I had to try.
I came home, and repeated the process in my own backyard,
but this time, instead of harvesting, 
I planted.
As I planted her flowers, I thought of her
and I cried.
Granny must've protected those flowers for me,
because, wouldn't you know it?

They came up that spring,
and not only did they come up - but they came up strong.
Now every year, I see that plant come up
and I think of her.
And I still miss her.

June 23, 2014


Even though Mart has completed his CCNP certification,
and even though he's on the brink of a new job that will
he's still studying.
He's not giving up on that CCIE goal we set two years ago.
He still goes to his mentor's house every Saturday morning
and works labs wit him,
he still stays up late working those labs,
and he still studies 1-2 hours a night.
Only now,
he does it outside,
in the backyard,
in the cooling Utah evenings.
It's pretty mahvelous if you ask me.
Tonight I joined him to prepare for my piano group class tomorrow.
And I have to say.
It wasn't bad.
Not bad at all.