Seeker of Happiness

$12 Tote Bags and Some Happy Thoughts

The Movie That Traumatized Me as a Child

Carrie ChapmanComment

There was a time, when I was 12 years old, that I was afraid of the color red. 

My family and I had just recently moved from the inner city of Tacoma, Washington to a more rural area on the Key Peninsula. We were surrounded by trees at the every turn and I struggled to watch TV at night with the curtains open. My over-active imagination would go berserk, conjuring up all sorts of lurking evil in the woods. By day, the trees were grounding and safe but at night... at night those trees only served to hide something coming to get me. 

Because we had just moved, some of the only friends I had were the ones I had made at church. For one reason or another I hit it off the best with the kids who were just a couple years older than I was. I felt accepted and welcomed, but every once in while it was obvious that I was still ions away from their maturity- the path from 12 to 14 might as well be the Odyssey. 

Wanting to fit in with my friends at school and my older friends at church, I asked my parents if I could watch The Sixth Sense. It was in theaters and everyone was talking about it. Tales of screaming in the theater, and jumping into the scrawny arms of unsuspecting boys? I wanted in. I asked my parents if I could watch it because it was rated PG-13, and I had just turned 12. My dad told me he wanted to watch it first, mumbling something about making sure there wasn't "like, Satan stuff" in it. Of course, watching a scary movie wasn't on his list of priorities so I rode out some of the hype until it came out on video and the hype started all over again. 

A oh-so-mature 14 year-old friend of mine from church was having a birthday party. It was going to be a sleep over and everyone was going, both girls and boys. There was your standard cake and presents, but as it got dark, it was announced that we were going to watch The Sixth Sense. It wasn't a big deal to anyone else because, except for one other boy there, they had all already seen it. I got uneasy, but what was I supposed to do? Announce to the room full of older friends that sorry, my dad hasn't watched this yet so therefore I'm going to have to go sit in the other room? I was not THAT lame so I sat there on the floor, my back pressed into the back of the crowded couch, clutching the blanket on my lap. I jumped and screamed. In an hour and forty-seven minutes, I had both sworn off childish things like blanket forts and exploring old houses but regained the sense of fear of under my bed. I firmly decided I would NEVER go to the bathroom at night again. 

No one was as affected as I was but I think I played it cool. I made it through. We could go back to eating snacks now, right?!
Nope. They decided to do the thing that ruined me.
They decided to watch all of the bonus features. 
You would think that doing so would have HELPED me resume my disbelief, but no. All it did was teach me that M. Night Shyamalan had created a world that now existed in my own. When he said "I used the color red to foreshadow when a ghost was coming"
I heard "when you see the color red, that means a ghost is coming into your life and there's nothing you can do about it." 

Later that night, all the boys slept in the house and all of us girls slept in the tree house in the backyard. Are you hearing me?! I had just watched the most terrifying movie of my life and I had to climb up a wooden ladder to sleep in an old tree house with my friends who seemed as relaxed as ever! I had finally started spinning out a bit, admitting that I had seen a red balloon in the bathroom earlier and almost cried. I had a pair of red socks on and I made someone trade me. I didn't sleep a WINK which is how I know there was no funny business between the girls in the tree house and the boys in the real house.

For the next week or so, I was pretty sure I saw dead people. I would ask my friends if they could see the biker  across the street. However, the thing that got me the most were those still shots of long hallways and door frames. The ones where it's dark and quiet and you never know if a ghost is going to jump out from around the corner. Suddenly, at night, I could ONLY see my house through the lens of Shyamalan. I didn't sleep for days. I would run from my room into my baby sister's room and sleep on her top bunk. After I started becoming afraid of HER closet, I finally went into my parents room and asked if I could sleep with them. 

They were annoyed. I was way too old for this crap. My mom told me I could sleep on the floor. The idea of facing what was under her bed hit me with a wave of panic. I cried and begged to just be able to sleep in their bed! They asked several times why I had been acting so weird lately and I just gave the good ol' teenage "I don't know" through tears.

Finally, my dad sat up and very calmly said: 
"Carrie. What happened at that sleep over? Did one of those boys touch you? Even though they go to church, you can tell us." 

That's when I realized that my parents lived in a darker world. One where there were worse things than ghosts who don't know they're dead. I quickly assured them that NOTHING HAPPENED and then, through sobs, admitted that I had watched The Sixth Sense and it was so scary you guys I'm telling youIcan'tsleeeeeep! 

My parents looked at me like I was the biggest idiot on the planet. I'm pretty sure they IMMEDIATELY sent me back to bed because this was a ridiculous reason for all of us to be awake in the middle of the night. Oddly, I was cured. Something about how dismissive they were shocked my system and discredited all of my fears. I slept fine from then on, although, at 31, I still get very freaked out if I think about the movie for too long. 

Someone told me once that it was the guilt of watching a movie I wasn't supposed to that had been keeping me up all night. Maybe that was part of it. But most of it had to do with cabinets. 

Book Review: Unexpected Love

Carrie ChapmanComment

So here I am again, reading romance novels that would normally never grace my bookshelf, and I'm finding that I'm liking them more and more. There's something so innocent and sweet about a clean romance that makes me wish I was 18 again (something I don't wish for too often). 

Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology is just as the title describes. There are four short stories included and, for the sake of transparency, it should be noted that the first was written by my sister-in-law who published her first book last year. She called me when this project came up, wondering out loud if she should/could/really wanted to add the extra stress but it was a no-brainer. She's just full of too many stories to ever turn something down!

As I mentioned, hers is the story you open up to first: Ashbrook Abbey. I found Heather's writing to be quite comfortable and I nestled right into it. When our hero, Ambrose, learns that he has the opportunity to inherit his childhood refuge from his uncle, he tries and fails to make a decent impression. He comes to the conclusion that marrying the young and orphaned Kate could get him into his uncle's good graces. Kate agrees on her own terms as it would mean that, now married, she would receive an inheritance of her own: a small cottage by the sea. 
My favorite part about this story is the subtle humor. While not full of witty lines or one-liners, you can't but help but snort at Ambrose as he tries desperately to impress his uncle and his new wife. He tries and fails over and over again but through the little trials, we find a love story. Heather is fantastic at those first kiss scenes, and I was totally swooning. 

First Comes Marriage is set in New York in 1908 where Letty and her brother-in-law David marry one another in an effort to save their late sister and brother's children from the clutches of a greedy uncle. Because the situation was urgent, I felt like Letty just sort of found herself in this new situation and was suddenly expected to put on a show so everyone would believe her pretend-marriage was a real one. I kind of wish she had more of a resolve in the matter. However, as the story progresses, Daniel shows his affection and respect for Letty in practical and touching ways. I will say that I found this particular story a bit anti-climatic and the ending was a bit abrupt. Of course, it's amazing to me that any novella has a natural ending! I don't think I could fit an entire story into 20 pages. 

The Price of Her Heart took me a minute to get into as it's a western and my brain felt a little jarred by not only the change of scenery, but also the heaviness of the subject matter. It took me a couple days to pick the book back up again. Our heroine, Faye, witnesses a crime and has to go into hiding to protect her own life. Part of her new life includes being married to Geoffrey, a small-town sheriff in Utah Territory. The story jumps between the perspectives of Faye and Geoffrey- Faye's in first person and Geoffrey's in third. If there's anything I would have changed about this story it would have been putting them both in first person. It drove me crazy. I didn't feel like the writing was as strong as the first two, but the plot was just different enough that I stayed entertained. I especially liked Faye's vibrant and fiery personality. She made me laugh and I definitely rooted for her. 

Beauty and the Beholder felt unique and fresh! In an attempt to allow her granddaughter, Fanny, access to her inheritance, Lady Caldwell arranges a marriage between Fanny and her husband's nephew Percy. Unlike the other stories, where the couple find themselves in an awkward situation that eventually blossoms, this marriage of convenience is a battle of clashing personalities. Both Percy and Fanny are strong, witty characters and watching their loathing develop into something more was so fun! This was probably my favorite read second only to Ashbrook Abbey.  

Overall, this was a very fun anthology full of budding authors and fresh plot lines. Totally worth picking up. 
If you're interested in keeping up with what I'm reading, you can find me on goodreads.com/carrie4ya! I also love any new book recommendations so if there's a book you're dying to have someone to talk about it with drop it in the comments! 

We Don't Hit ... ... ...

Carrie Chapman1 Comment

My Georgia is a passionate girl. She's five now and sometimes I forget how delightful she is until I watch her interact with new people. Georgia is animated and funny and when she's not feeling insecure and overcompensating with silliness, she is just plain easy to talk to. She feels deeply about things, and with that comes some stuff that hasn't always been easy. Before I delve in here, I'd like to remind you that this is Georgia at the age most of this story comes from: 

When she was a baby, we had issues with her scratching people's faces. That sounds so violent as I type it out. It didn't start when she was a toddler either- I'm talking she was like 9 months old and hitting people in the face when she got upset. You don't really put a 9 month old in time-out so I'd just say a stern "NO" and hoped she'd grow out of it.

I remember shortly after she turned one, I stood in my kitchen crying while Georgia screamed in time out. She had hit me for the thousandth time and a mom can only be hit in the face so so much before they take it personally.

We had some issues with her in the nursery at church. She'd get in scratch fights with another little girl. These two 18 month-old's would waddle out of a room full of toys and snacks, wearing Sunday best dresses and big pink bows. Their cuteness was in huge contradiction to the glares on their faces- they looked like they'd just finished freaking a UFC fight. Fresh faced toddlers with right red welts on their cheeks. 

Once, in this nursery class, I was teaching the kids some song about ducks and I had brought in duck pictures glued on Popsicle sticks for them to hold while we sang. Georgia wasn't quite two yet and there was a three year-old boy who snatched her duck prop out of her hand as soon as she got it. I gave her another one in the interest of time , but out of the corner of my eye, I saw that a different three year-old boy had taken Georgia's second duck out of her hand. At this point, I'm out of ducks and I tell Georgia she can make a duck puppet instead. I am helping another child, when an adult in the room gasps and starts laughing. I follow her gaze to the back room, where tiny, pig-tailed little Georgia has both of the aforementioned three-year-old boys stuffed in a corner. She has each of them by the hair, and she is silently yanking their heads back and forth. The boys aren't crying- they are in total shock and they are clutching their ducks on a stick like grieving Italian grandmothers clutches their rosaries. I was mortified. 

We would go on to have this problem for a long time. She once reached for a girls throat and the teacher in the class spoke to me in hushed concern. We just wonder where she learned to choke someone. The judgement in his voice was thick, and the indication was clear. 

After she had turned three, I decided to REALLY put my foot down. I laid a strict, zero-tolerance no hitting rule. You hit, we go home I told her. I left quite a few play dates after three minutes. Play dates that took me 20 minutes to get to, I might add. I loathed hauling her out to the van, abandoning the time I could have spent chatting with my friends had my daughter not been such a tiny incredible Hulk. Why does discipline have to be so much work on the parents? 

I gave her what the internet told me were "tools" to "redirect" her anger. Most of her reasoning for hitting came from defensiveness, and I read that small children acted out when they didn't have the words to say what they wanted. I told her that she needed "to use her words." I told her to come to me if someone is being mean and I could tell her what to say. Georgia quickly learned I meant business about leaving play dates early, and, because of this, she actually DID started coming to me to tell me when she got upset. I'd give her a line to say, and she'd obediently go say it. She wasn't perfect every time, but I was finally seeing progress. 

Sometime during these weeks of me being a hard-nose, we were eating at a fast food restaurant with a play place. Georgia was playing and I was facing the window where I could see her. She came down the slide, scooting at the end, a glare etched deep in her small, smooth forehead. She told me that a boy wouldn't stop "bugging her." I had been down this road before so told her to not talk to him. I told her if he bugged her to say "please don't talk to me" and walk away. 

Fast forward about 10 minutes. I happen to look up and see, through the tiny, scratched window of the bright orange play tube, Georgia and  a six-year-old boy scratching and slapping one another in the face. I raced inside, my baby on my hip, and shouted for Georgia to come down. The boy slides down first. He's crying, Georgia is not. She's breathing hard, but steady. She is watching the boy sob. I asked her what happened. She tells me that he was "bugging her" and she said "leave me alone" but he didn't, so she hit him. 

While I'm getting this story (in three-year-old English, of course), the six-year-old boy is HYSTERICAL. His mother is smoothing his hair and rocking him in her chest and giving me a death glare. I'm embarrassed. I make Georgia apologize. I tell her that she hit, and so we have to go home now. 

As I was putting on Georgia's shoes, a skinny little girl with a long, brown ponytail bounces up to me.
"Those boys were poking her and she told them to stop and they didn't. I don't know why SHE has to leave."

Just like that, I suddenly found myself in the sticky ball pit of parenting conundrums. i
My thoughts were these:

I know she's only three.

I know she has a problem with overreacting and hitting and can do better.

I know that  if there's one thing I want to teach my daughters- it's that you beat the CRAP out of any boy who touches your body after you've told him to stop. 

We did end up leaving. I told her it was because she hit, but I didn't elaborate like I usually did. Honestly, I wasn't sure of exactly what to say. I buckled her in her car seat, I started the car, and then I drove through the drive-thru and bought her an ice cream cone.

 

 

*The idea to write this down came from a writing prompt found here. The topic was "Describe a time you allowed your child to do something you normally would not let slide." 

Back to Blogging + Big Magic

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Over a year ago, I decided I wasn't going to post to my blog anymore. I allowed some small voices become BIG voices. I had a hard time answering the question: "why do you blog?"

The answer feels so narcissistic, no? There is a world of people who will tell you it is. They will take what you find important and tell you it isn't.  They post in anonymous forums and leave nameless comments. They'll beat you up for the audacity of telling them what you think.

 The interesting part about these folks? "They" have never directed any negativity at me. At least, not that I know of. My writing is so insignificant and unknown, and yet, I allowed these snarling voices of people talking about big-time writers and celebrities to become the voice of my "audience" (whoever that is). The truth, however, is that no one really cares if I blog or not. I mean, maybe my mother does- she's chastised me more than once over the last year.  But she didn't end our relationship. She didn't give me some high-stakes ultimatum "BLOG OR I WILL NEVER ANSWER WHEN YOU FACETIME ME!" 

The calendar flips and writing here doesn't really impact the day to day life of anyone I know. 

This isn't self-deprecating. It's actually really liberating. No one's life is going to be forever effected if my words don't show up in the form of a blog post. I don't think I ever actually thought they would be but I did feel this... pressure. I felt pressure to carefully construct what I posted so as to not sound TOO much like I was preaching or pretending to know about something I don't. I felt pressure to be an expert. I felt pressure to write as if I had studied writing. I felt pressure to make sure I never looked like I was stealing someone else's idea. I wanted to talk about my life, but I also had to make sure everyone knew I know where Iran is. The result was sometimes lopsided and clunky and, truly, not authentic at all. 

No one was putting this pressure on me. I didn't have critics or a clan of followers or haters. Nope, my blogging anxiety was homegrown and locally sourced right in the center of my creativity. It makes my heart hurt to think about the way I talk to myself when I'm making something that other people will see. I create in my mind the snarkiest, most anonymous mean girl and I analyze whatever I did with her voice in my head. I'm doing it right now, as I type this sentence. 

Just because I stopped blogging doesn't mean I stopped writing. I decided that I would write some short personal essays about my life and compile them for my kids. It was the start of a little personal history. It was fun and difficult at the same time and I enjoyed all of the retrospect. I ended up writing about 200 pages worth of stories. During a time that I felt like I could barely keep the light of my identity from going to black completely, writing about myself kept me grounded. I didn't back any of it up on an external hard drive, and I lost all of it when my hard drive crashed. 

Losing my personal narratives made me spiral downward. I felt like I literally lost all of myself. I would say, out loud to anyone who would listen "nothing I do matters." There were other reasons I felt this way, but losing everything I had written felt like the universe's way of agreeing with me.

I never thought I'd ever be in a place where I struggled to live creatively. It has always kind of oozed out of me and I could never find enough sources to hold it all. Those negative voices are powerful things. "Nothing you do matters. Unless it pays bills, what you create is a waste of time, and a joke." 

I sold my tote bag business because I needed to focus more on my new business endeavor which, honestly, CAN be a creative outlet but I hardly ever allow it to be. Why do I do that?

A friend recommended the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She didn't recommend it to me, personally. She just put it on a list of her favorite books from 2016. I remembered watching a TED talk about creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert and I remembered that I liked it. Back then, I liked that talk because she just said a bunch of stuff I already knew how to do. When I saw she had a book on the topic, it stood out because I was pretty certain I had forgotten all of it.

Anyway, I picked up Big Magic from the library and downloaded the audio version. It's incredibly rare I take notes- like ACTUAL scribbling notes when I'm reading a book. She, through her own human experience, related many of the reasons we get in our own way.

One of my favorite parts? When she mentions how people might hate what you create and you can tell them to go make their own effing art. It's what I decided to tell the snarky bitch in my head when I resolved that I would start blogging again and she flipped her hair and raised an eyebrow.

Blogging kept me creative. I've never been in it to make money or gain a big following. But it forced me to bring my nice camera places. It made me capture more moments in my everyday life. I know that's just the definition of a journal but I really really really love to share what makes me happy and what makes me uncomfortable and what makes me angry. I used to read my diary to my friends because what's the point of writing how you feel if you can't talk about it with someone?! 

So let's talk. You should go read Big Magic. And if you want, from time to time, you're welcome to come here and read some stuff too. 

10 Things to Remember When Apologizing For Doing a Crappy Thing:

Carrie Chapman1 Comment


1. Actually feel bad. That's okay to do. You've hurt someone's feelings and it's okay to feel crappy about that.

2. Don't blame them for their feelings. "I'm sorry YOU FEEL I stepped on your toe" is not an apology. It is condescending and taking the heat off of you and placing the burden on them. 
Other variations include: 
"I'm sorry you thought I stepped on your toe. In my mind, I barely grazed it." 
"People get so easily offended by small things like getting their toes stepped on. There are worse things happening you know!" 
"I'm sorry your toe is bleeding but you have NO IDEA how many bloody toes I'VE had." 

3. Admit what you did to the person. Validate that you hurt them.
"I'm sorry I stepped on your toe. I can understand that you are hurt." 

4. Figure out if there is a way to make the situation better. Get a band aid or an ice pack for their toe. If you're not sure how to make it better, ask the person "how can I make this better?" 

5. Perhaps explain the circumstance, but don't make excuses. Instead of "I'm sorry but your big fat toe was in the way" you might try "I'm so sorry, this truly was an accident. I was so hungry that I was running to the kitchen and didn't look where I was going." While excuses are not okay, allowing the person to understand where your coming from is. 

6. But don't expect the hurt person to immediately understand you were hungry and running to the kitchen. 

7. Don't ask the hurt person to make you feel better! "I hope you don't hate me for stepping on your toe! Because I just can't handle how bad I feel about it. Please, I need you to let me know I'm a good person even though I stepped on your toe!" 
The person has a bloody toe because of YOU! Your feelings about the situation are not their responsibility! 

8. Try to figure out WHY you did the crappy thing. This should be done with yourself- perhaps before apologizing, but can also be done after. A sincerely sorry person is saddened by what they did and want to make it right. 

9. Make a plan on how you aren't going to do that crappy thing again. This can happen in a conversation with yourself, or with the person that's hurt. 

10. Be understanding if your hurt friend only wears close-toed shoes around you from now on. He doesn't hate you, he just doesn't quite trust his bare toes around you quite yet, and that's okay.  

The Real Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging

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I've had a few people reach out to me and tell me that they "miss my blog" and I am always touched and a bit surprised. I usually tell them that I'm still all over Facebook, and they can keep up with me there. I don't know if I'll ever fully get back into blogging, and the reason is ironic- I just have too much to say. 

Being an opinionated person in a world of controversy and politics, I can pick a number of hot button issues and chat about them. But getting on my blog and doing so overwhelms me for a couple of reasons: 

1. I don't have the time or energy to thoroughly research each issue I feel strongly about AND THEN break it down in a simple way for people to understand where I'm coming from. If I'm going to sit and take the time to go through how I feel about something, I feel like I have a responsibility to do so very clearly because...

2. I don't have the time or energy to a host a conversation about most things I feel passionately about. I am in the camp that if you post a meme/article/blog post on social media, then you have invited a conversation and should therefore be a gracious host. Most my friends on Facebook and other social media are EXTREMELY conservative, and  having to respond to their confusion or disgust with my beliefs is draining to say the least. I'm simply not in a place where I can handle it. Posting an emotional and controversial post only to say "I don't want to debate" is selfish and unfair. "I don't want to debate, I only want you to comment if you agree with my controversial point of view because it is right." I would never do that to my friends in real life, so why would I do it here? 

3. I am woefully un-immune to social pressure and still care what people think about me. I worry that that nice lady from church will look at my differently if she knew I don't think Obama is Hitler. I don't want friends who have decided to leave the LDS church to think that I am shutting out their concerns if I post why I stay. I want to focus on what I KNOW rather than what I doubt, but that somehow ends up being defined as "fake" or "cowardly." And on the flip side, sharing a doubt or contradicting belief is now aiding and feeding the doubts of others.
 I can't win!
I've had people tell me "but what you have to say is IMPORTANT and you're being selfish if you don't share it!" But those same people are ones who rant about other bloggers "spreading doubt." I don't want to be fake, but I don't want to spread doubt. Someone I love is going to be disappointed in me and my comments and so the only way to avoid that is to not talk about anything.

4. On a slightly different note, I stopped blogging for another reason. I got sucked into an anonymous snarky website where people (most claiming to be women) rail on famous (and some not so famous) bloggers. I'm a sucker for a good joke, so I found myself reading this forum all the time- even when I knew it was outrageously negative and in no way added to my life in a meaningful way.
Because I feel I can't talk about anything that is really important to me BESIDES my family, I found myself only blogging about my kids and every time I wrote a blog post. Each time I did, I heard 1,000 snarky comments. 
"Why does she think we care about her precious snowflake kids?" 
"Ooooo she went to the dinosaur monument again! So sad that she thinks this is blog worthy." 
"Does she really think we would find this interesting? She's the most basic Mormon chick we've ever seen." 

I have since stopped reading the above mentioned forum, but the effects are still there in my anxiety-ridden head. I should be clear that I am in no way blaming the snarky (and admittedly hilarious) people on that forum for my insecurities. I let their dialog become my inner dialog, and that's my own weakness. 

5. Anything I do feel is worth posting about my family I put on my Facebook page in a condensed way that I don't feel like needs a a whole post written about it.

So to recap, I stopped blogging because: 
I don't have the energy to discuss things I truly care about with people I truly care about. 
I don't feel like going to the same park with my kids every day is "blog worthy" and I am still concerned with that word. 
I put stuff about my kids on Facebook anyway. 

There you go. Overall, the effects of not blogging have been pretty beneficial for my family. So I don't know what the future of the ol' blog holds. Maybe I'll move back into it. But for now, I'll just refer anyone who says "why did you stop blogging?!" right to this little post. 

Vernal Doesn't Do Easter BUNNY

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Easter egg hunts were a big part of my childhood growing up, and I wanted to make sure that the girls experienced the same rush (adreniline/candy) that I had as a kid. But being a parent reeeeally brings the laziness out we had not taken the girls to any egg hunts and opted to just scatter some through our backyard and call it a day. Which worked and all was well. 
BUT NOT THIS YEAR! This year we got are arses out of bed and and ventured to find plastic toy eggs! Of course, we had to buy Easter baskets to replace the ones I had tossed in our last move and when I showed up at the grocery store I noticed a bunch of mini looters escaping through the autmatic doors with what looked to be at least 20 bucks of candy per kid. Apparently Smith's had an egg hunt we had just missed. 
We also found out the one we were headed to was actually 30 minutes away and were told instead to go to the one held at the dinosaur museum. We got there early, and there was a line, but we were kept company: 

I realize now that you can't really tell that the orange thing is a dinosaur so here's a better shot of her (him?) with someone else's kid: 

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Ruthie = clearly impressed. She cried everytime that monster even walked by. So, you know. Booking our tickets to Disneyland soon. 

Georgia was thrilled with the deformed-eyelash dino and also a friendly caveman who kept us company in the line. 

Said cave man gave us instructions on how a million toddlers collect eggs in a museum without breaking anything. The kids collected as many EMPTY eggs as they wanted and at the end turned them all in for ONE non-candy prize. 

Clearly, wise parents of toddlers planned this gig and we are thankful. 

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I wish I could have captured the determined look on Georgia's face. GATHER ALL THE EMPTY PLASTIC EGGS! 
Ruth was much more concerened with openining a few rather than gathering many. 

Afer they filled their baskets, they ran into this guy: 

At the end the girls turned in their eggs and got a small stuffed dinosaur. Ruthie loved hers, saying "doo doo doo ROAR!" every 30 seconds. 

Hope your Easter egg hunter and gatherers had as much success as we did! 

Happy Easter Dresses!

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Happy Easter, friends! We are spending our weekend watching LDS General Conference so the girls got to wear their Easter dresses last Sunday. Confession: I took these photos a couple weeks ago because I didn't want to stress about it around the actual holiday. Mission freaking accomplished. 

I found this purple wall behind a building on Main Street. I'd like to tell you I'm so whimiscal and this is behind a quaint bistro or something. Nope. This is the backdoor to Curves. We keep it classy with our photo ops. 

I was so excited when I saw this stupid purple wall. My brain was having a hard time focusing on anything else. "Must... take... all.. the pictures..." 

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The girls each got these bunnies from their grandma's. As in, Mimi came to vist and Georgia got one, and then Gammy came to visit the following weekend and got one for Ruthie. They love these bunnies so much you wouldn't think we had a real one. I will say, I've never felt a stuffed animal feel as close (or as soft) as the actual animal. They are pretty beloved over here (obviously). 

Every Easter feels like it's a "speical one" for me and this year is no exception. I have more thoughts on it but i just wanted to get these cute pics up and out of the way. May you find all the eggs you need to fill your basket! 

Dinosaur National Monument

Carrie Chapman1 Comment

I can't say enough about how small our little town is. It's small. But we do have a national claim to fame, and that's dinosaurs. I bet you could go for hike anywhere in Vernal, UT and find a fossil. They're everywhere. 

The Dinosaur National Monument is where we take everyone who comes and visit because it really is pretty impressive. These pictures are from the first time we went on a random Saturday. We have been back like, four times since this. lt's cool everytime because you get to touch real dinosaur bones and you just can't downplay that. 

I don't know all of the technical words (hi, not a paleontologist) but basically they uncovered a crap load of dinosaur bones in a hill and built a building around it so all could enjoy. 

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So if you come see us, we will take you here. And you can touch dinosaur bones. I've heard there are some hikes with petroglyphs too so if you come in the summer you'll get double the ancient history lesson ;)

And you'll also get to see us. We're just as awkward as we look. 

Home Office

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You know when you're like "I'm gonna really start dedicating more time to my side business."
And then your church family asks you to not only teach adults in Sunday School, but also teach singing time to little children kthanksbye 

It's fine. I mean, really. I could have said no. But I didn't because it's fine. Last week was my first week and while I was pretty exhausted by the end of my 3-hour church service marathon (keep babies quiet for an hour! Teach about the New Testament for an hour! Teach singing time for an hour! Energy, energy, YES!), I felt weirdly satisfied. I'm gonna make my procrastination weaknesses into strengths dang it. 

I'm still trying to devote more time into the ol' tote bag biz (PLUG! Follow here, here, and here), and I've discovered that I've turned the elliptical into my home office. 

Every day I dump the girls at the child care center at the gym. I climb into my stair-stepper desk and I get crap done. I listen to the scriptures. I organize my calender. I post on social media. I respond to emails. Turns out, doing stuff on your phone with two hands engages your core while you climb those imaginary stairs so it's all a win win win. 

My house is a disaster though. I can't clean it when I'm at the gym so I just ignore it instead. You win win win some and you lose some. 

 

Clothes That Make Me Happy

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Sweater: Target // Shirt: TJMAXX // Pants: Loft // Sandals: TJMAXX // Necklace: Charmig Charlies // Tote bag found here

Sweater: Target // Shirt: TJMAXX // Pants: Loft // Sandals: TJMAXX // Necklace: Charmig Charlies // Tote bag found here

Let's remember a few things, shall we? 
1. I never claimed to be a fashion guru
2. The clearance section at Target is my favorite place to shop
3. Clothes aren't what make you happy

But they help sometimes right? I mean, I know that when I'm dressing true to my nature I feel good and light and happy. And while most days consist of fancy work out clothes I change into after my work out, there are a few outfits in my closet that are guarenteed to boost my mood. This is one of them. 

I don't wear heels very often though. Confession: After I wore these shoes shopping with my mom it took 3 days for me to regain feeling in my left middle toe. My dainty piggies are used to Born clogs and New Balance. They had no idea what to do but I told them to suck it up because these sandals are awesome and match everything. 

It turns out I'm also becoming a wannabe "Maxxinista." We don't have many stores in old Vernal, Utah but TJMaxx is one of them. I'll be honest, I scoffed at it. SCOFFED. Only to discover that it is the single greatest TJMaxx on the planet. I never walk out of there without a tote full of marked down picture frames and sunglasses. It's my go-to shopping place when I get sick of ordering (and then returning) clothes online. 

So if you come visit me, I will take you into this secret little place and we shall dance among the Nautica bathrobes and last season Kate Spade everything. 

What Makes Her Quirk

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My favorite Camp posted the quirks of the campers and it got me to thinking about all the weird crap my Chapman babies do. 

Like, Georgia loves eating feta and/or bleu cheese straight from the container with a fork. Which doesn't make our house smell like vomit AT ALL. 

Sometimes she will ask to do things, but these days I just want her to tell me WHEN she's going to do something. So just about every morning I'll hear "Mom! I'm going to get my dolly from the car!" And the front door opens and shuts and I know she's standing outside in her jammies and a coat and some cowboy boots figuring out how to get her doll out of the car. The other day I kept a side eye on this and I watched as she ventured out to the van, realized it was locked, came back in, grabbed my keys and proceeded to push every button on the key fob (except for the panic button, thank you Jesus) until she unlocked it and was able to rescue her Sleeping Beauty baby from the refrigerator Honda. Maybe that's not amazing to you but it's amazing to me. 

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When she helps me cook, she calls me "Chef Mom." 
She collects a rock from the landscape outside the recreation center every day I go to the gym or she goes to ballet class. She doesn't just pick one at random. She changes her mind over and over until she can't stand it anymore. 
She climbs in our bed every once in awhile in the middle of the night. Once, I asked her why she does this and she told me she "just wants to be with somebody." 
She cries when she looks in the mirror and her hair isn't doing what she wants. 
She hates wearing clothes when she's at home. 
She pronounces excited "eggs-aye-ted."

And Ruth is your pretty standard 19 month old but she has quirks of her own, 
She holds a crayon like a grown up and puts her face veeeeery close to the paper before coloring in a very specific spot. 
She throws everything away even if it doesn't need to be thrown away. 
She can unroll an entire roll of toilet paper while you are getting ready in the bathroom. But you will never see her come or go. You'll just suddenly notice that all the toilet paper is on the floor and not on the roll. She's like a t.p. ninja. 
She only sleeps with Aden and Anais bamboo blankets because she thinks she's the royal effing baby. 
She sits on my lap and instantly turns it into territory that 1. she owns and 2. Georgia suddenly wants a piece of. It can get pretty Sharks and Jets sometimes. 

Barney the Dinosaur is her one true love. She calls out his name at all hours of the day. She will tolerate Elmo for no more than 20 minutes but then, unimpressed, she will look at you and demand "Bah-neeeeeee"
She will gather all the supplies you might need to give her what she wants. I was once getting ready (yeah, once) in my bathroom upstairs when I heard a grunting Ruthie getting closer and closer. She brought me two gifts: an unopened jar of applesauce, and a plastic bowl. She handed them to me and signed "please." The image of Ruthie crawling up the stairs, heaving those two things in her chubby little hands- that image keeps me going at the gym. If Ruthie didn't give up, neither can I! 
If I'm really lucky, I can say "Let's change your diaper" and she will fetch me a diaper and a case of wipes. 
Or she will say no. Which is usually just a sassy voice inflection. 


I want to hear all the quirks of all the babies in the land. What makes your little weirdos weird?

Current Reads

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If there is one good thing about this tiny, rural town I live in it would be the library. We spend a lot of time there and both the girls are getting to ages where they like to sit and listen to story sometimes and I like the cuddle time. I also like smelling their hair in between pages because I'm a creepy mom like that. But anyway, here are some of the books currently landing in my lap on the regular: 

1. Ella Bella Ballerina and the Sleeping Beauty. We first met Ella Bella Ballerina during her adventure with Cinderella, so Georgia about lost her mind with excitement when I told her this one was about Sleeping Beauty. These books tell the story of the actual ballet and, being in ballet class, Georgia feels she can relate. I love this book because I was able to show Georgia that dance tells a story- something I don't think she quite grasps yet. Also, the book itself is HUGE and the pictures are gorgeous. 

2. Ruthie and the (Not So) Teeny Tiny Lie. Any book with one of my kids names in it must be checked out. This one came at a good time because I noticed that Georgia is having a harder and harder time telling the truth. She doesn't LIE exactly, but I see how much courage it takes for her to be honest. Each time we read this a little conversation about it would spark. 

3. Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? This is a Ruthie favorite. She LOVES Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? so when I saw this one I had to buy it for her. Ruth loves babies and for some reason she LOVES these books. I don't really get it, to be honest. Maybe it's the simplicity and the colors and the contrast in the art? Whatever. I don't question Eric Carle. 

4. Mix it Up. Pretty sure this book has been reviewed a million times and I know it's kind of trendy, but my kids can't get enough of it. Totally interactive and fun. It's the perfect book to read when the girls are too wiggly but focus on a story but I want them to settle down a bit. 

5. The Paper Bag Princess. Georgia is rediscovering this book and I'm so glad. We own it, but we checked out a "princess bag" from the library and this was featured. I always love showing Georgia stories of princesses who aren't wearing pretty dresses and who aren't waiting for their prince to save them. And this has like, the best ending of any princess book. 

There you have it! I haven't been doing too much personally reading lately but I do post what I read on instagram under #carriesreads if you're interested. I love talking books so feel free to comment with your favorites! 

A Winter Spring

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Everyone's "prayers for moisture" are screwing up the seasons. We had Spring in January and now we are having winter in March. I'm glad we had at least ONE good snow storm, and it really is pretty. I'm just trying not to let my mind get too hopeless. If I still see snow on Mother's Day SO HELP ME. 

The girls were excited to get outside. It only took me about 76 hours to get them dressed. And once we got out there, Ruthie was like "NOPE NOPE NOPE"

Instead of playing outside, we left the door open for her so she could venture in and out but she mostly ventured in and kept her distance when she was out. 

Georgia was all about that snow life

For some reason, Georgia went inside, found this too-small-for-her leopard hat and proudly proclaimed that she had TWO hats.

For some reason, Georgia went inside, found this too-small-for-her leopard hat and proudly proclaimed that she had TWO hats.

Everyone was thrilled for the snowfall, and a bunch of neighbors had come outside to enjoy it. I've never seen someone as happy to shovel a driveway as Emily. 

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Georgia and I decided to build a snowman. Well, mostly I built it. Georgia doesn't have the attention span for that sort of thing. 

She did place the nose and the buttons. She also stuck the arms in. My sister-in-law made us this adorable snowman kit for Christmas but we didn't have any snow to use it! I kept it in my closet because I knew as soon as I put it in storage we would have a snow storm. 

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After the snowman was built, Ruth decided she could summon the courage to check it out. Georgia licked it and named him Mr. Grape. 

What's snow and snowman building without a little hot chocolate in a snowman mug? 

Welcome, Winter. Please only stay for like 2 days kthanksbye. 

Auntie

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About a week ago, we were in Utah valley which meant we got to hang out with my little sister all day and my girls got to see their Auntie and everything was suddenly right with the world. 
I know this, because we had In-N-Out burgers with fries and milkshakes and Ruthie wouldn't let anyone but her Auntie hold her. You would think she would have come to me seeing as she was suffering an allergic reaction from some antibiotics at the time, but nope. Only Auntie would do. 

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I will say, I think the connection between my girls and their Auntie, really just boils down to a simple, but intense love of milkshakes. 

Bring on the Good Vibes

Carrie Chapman2 Comments

It's not news. Everyone goes through this crap. Cars break down. Bank accounts dwindle. Kids get sick. Anxiety rises and falls, the sun comes up, goes down, the moon continues its cycle. 

When you're in it, it's weird though, right? Like, you have to walk this tight rope of accepting what's happening without freaking out but also not ignoring it all either. I'm really good at the freak-out and ignore method, but I'm learning. 

I do feel lucky lately. Even on hard days I have to say out loud "the girls were really good today" because they are just such good little babies, and it's rarely them making me crazy. Yesterday Georgia had "a good idea" to make an "outside craft" which at the time sounded exhausting and vague. But she took the lead. We went outside and gathered sticks and grass and rocks from our barren little yard and taped them on a piece of paper. The fresh air did all of us good and I was just so grateful to her in that moment. 

Ruth has been sick non stop for two months but you really wouldn't know it. As in, I literally didn't know she had a "raging double ear infection" until the doctor said those words at her last well check. Then the poor girl had an allergic reaction to her antibiotic and she was so GRUMPY about it. I wish I could explain to you how funny it is to see Ruthie be grumpy. She's like, the happiest baby on the planet so watching her scowl at her Cheerios as she eats them one by one is hilarious. 

The point is, I bought a salt lamp because it's supposed to have some magical powers to clear the air and energy in your house. I also got some beeswax candles and a smudge sage stick just in case I want to be real hippy up in here. We leave the windows open a few times a day, pump up some music, and overall, I have a hopeful feeling.

Overheard at the Chapman House (Georgia Edition)

Carrie Chapman4 Comments
I got Georgia these black converse shoes second hand. She loves wearing them with dresses, or in this picture, her ballet clothes. She says she's "just a princess and can run fast." She took the laces out because she "needs to take them off in the car." 

I got Georgia these black converse shoes second hand. She loves wearing them with dresses, or in this picture, her ballet clothes. She says she's "just a princess and can run fast." She took the laces out because she "needs to take them off in the car." 

Georgia: I want treats
Me: We're are all out treats. You ate all the Valentine's candy, and the rest of my candy bar. 
Georgia: ...We can make purple cupcakes! 
Me: We can't have treats! You have to have breakfast!
Georgia: I don't want breakfast! I just like SUGAR!

Georgia: I want a kitty and Ruthie can have a puppy. 
Me: Why do you want a kitty?
Georgia: So I can just hold it
Me: A lot of times kitties don't like to be snuggled and held. 
Georgia: But MY kitty will. 

I had a headache and was lying down in my bed during "quiet time." Georgia woke me up by stroking my hair and softly saying:
"I don't like your short hair anymore. Just have it be long now." 

"I want hot cocoa. But cold. I want cold hot cocoa." (she asks for this daily)

Me: (fake crying) Georgia please get in your seat...
Georgia: ... does crying help, Mom?

Scott: (7:45am) I'm leaving for work now
Me: Okay can you get Georgia a show before you go?
Georgia: Yes, and cake. 

Georgia is often found mothering multiple Disney princess baby dolls
Me: You are a good mom to your babies
Georgia: Yes, but Aurora is my favorite 
Me: ...

Me: Were you playing with my sunglasses?
Georgia: No, I was just wearing them.
Me: Did you break them?
Georgia: ...yes.
Me: Why didn't you tell me?
Georgia: I will just tell you tomorrow

 "I like broccoli but I'm sad when it is not a cookie. And I'm sad when my pants are not pink." 
 

On Self Conscious Fashion Blogging

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When you start to work out and lose a few inches, you really find some confidence. I have been feeling so good and trying harder than I ever have before to listen to my body and take care of it like a tool instead of an object and I've felt so GOOD. 

So I decided to cut my hair into a pixie cut. Because, strong, confident women can pull that kind of thing off right? Here's the thing about vulnerability and leaving your comfort zone: you end feeling really vulnerable and uncomfortable. For the first 24 hours after I cut my hair I was so insecure. I thought I looked fatter and that I wasn't beautiful enough to pull it off. Who did I think I was? Jennifer Lawrence?! What was I thinking?!
But I slept on that short mop of hair and when I woke up in the morning I felt great about my decision and I still do. I love my new hair cut because 
1. It always feels out of the way and pulled up 
2. I kind of feel like Tinkerbell
3. It's new and I like new things. 

My confidence came back and I got this brilliant idea to do a couple of "fashion posts" where I model some of the stuff I have for sale in my shop. I felt so good in the outfit I'm wearing in the above picture. I'm doing a weird pose in an effort to make myself appear thinner, but when I saw the pics on my camera that insecurity crept back in. 

"Who are you to do a fashion post? You are not fashionable, and you are fat. Also, your legs are short."

But here's the thing: If any woman my size or larger posted outfit photos I'd just be like "that skirt is cute." 

The point is, you're gonna have to bear with me and my new awkward posts. It makes me feel weird and then weirdly empowered so I'm gonna keep doing it... sorry if you really just don't care about how I style a tote bag or t-shirt. You can skip over any post that starts out with my hands too far together on my waist and my face not knowing what to do. 

shirt: Seeker of Happiness
skirt: Downeast Outfitters
shoes: target

Valentine's Day

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Last year I started a tradition to make my family a little Valentine's Day breakfast. In order to make it a tradition I had to do it again this year so- success. 

Just like last year, I got everyone a balloon. Georgia's was an Aurora balloon that was literally as tall as Georgia herself. I gave Ruth two balloons to make it all even. Now she can't look back on this post and use it as evidence that Georgia was the favorite. 

I love seeing my little bed-head babes looking so happy

We had heart pancakes with strawberries and sprinkles. The girls especially liked the pink smoothie. 

While we ate we opened up Valentines. The girls each got a book, some new crayons and a coloring book (which was really just a bunch of coloring pages I printed off the internet because I'm cheap). Ruthie was thrilled. 

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After breakfast, we quickly had to get ready for a little toddler Valentine "play date"* I set up for some neighborhood toddlers. That meant brushing that messy hair and turning it into a festive "heart hair"

Then the friends came! They exchanged Valentine's, attempted a couple games, and then became completely enthralled with the pink scented rice I made on a whim the night before. 

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After that, we enjoyed some snacks

We had sausage, cheese and crackers, fruit kabobs, apple slices, sugar cookies, cream melts, and (my favorite), chocolate dipped clementines. 

We loaded up and headed outside in the beautiful weather to eat

I was happy with our little get together even though Georgia was kind of acting grumpy the whole time. I just like being with friends. 

Later that day we got a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's and Scott cleaned out my car and folded all of the laundry (what more could a girl want?). I was thinking about all of thoughtful and romantic things some of my friend's husbands did for them and how sweet they were. But I mostly thought about my Valentine, and how grateful I am that he is there everyday. That he helped me set up the chairs for my party and that he feeds the girls lunch and genuinely likes being around us. I'm so glad he's mine every day of the year. 
 

*I'm not really allowed to have any "parties" this year since I went all out last year on the girls birthdays. 

Lately, I've been:

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Watching: YouTube channels like this and this in an effort to replace my mindless Real Housewives binging. 

Reading: This book which is not a book I would have ever chosen for myself. My library is doing this adorable thing this February where they put a book in a bag and when you check it out it's like having a "blind date." I'm not gonna lie, the bag category said "thriller" and I was expecting more classic James Bond than LDS missionary fiction. I don't know how people online date. This one blind book date has already deepened my trust issues and made me swear off ever doing it again. 

Listening to: A mix Brandilyn made me. It starts out with some dance beats and just when you're too tired to jump around anymore moves into pretty music that still makes you happy. Girl can make a playlist. 
I've also been listening to the Invisiblia podcast and the Serial podcast because apparently I just love to do what everyone else is doing. 

Eating: better than I did in 2014 but worse since I finished the Whole30. I still follow it for the most part, but I have indulged in a frosty and fries and didn't feel bad about it.

Drinking: Pellegrino mixed with grapefruit juice. It reminds of that soda Squirt (remember Squirt?!) and I love it. 

Wearing: this necklace that my aunt sent to remember my grandma by. It's cute and adaptable and you can't help but love it so it's a perfect representation of her. 

Working: on getting to the gym every day which I've done for 2 weeks now. I am still a little embarrassed working out around people. And anyone who says "no one is watching you" is a liar because there is a plethora of youtube evidence that says otherwise. Not only could people be watching me, they could be RECORDING ME. If I think about it too much I get real freaked out since I'm pretty sure I don't have any abdominal muscles. And also because my body is uncontrollable when Uptown Funk comes through my headphones.

Discovering: Snapchat (which I'm still getting used to but you can say hi to me! My username is Carrie4ya), lakes that are 30 minutes or less away from my house, The Art Assignment 

Still sad about: The Seahawks losing the Superbowl, Parenthood getting canceled, the fact that I don't live in a city that consists 100% of all the people in my life that I love.

Tickled by: Georgia's new obsession with things I did "when I was a little girl." She likes it when I do her hair in a side pony or three ponies sectioned off and pulled together because that's how my mom did my hair. A 3 year old with an already heavy dose of nostalgia 

Savoring: Ruthie's quiet cuddles while we watch Barney turned way down low in the late afternoon. 

Looking forward to: a toddler valentine's day party, visiting some friends in the Valley, having in-laws come visit and see the booming metropolis we live in that consists of a rec center, a church and a library (and that's about it).