Recipe for B-Dogs

Tonight we had B-Dogs for dinner. They’re kind of like J-Dawgs, except my three-year-old makes them. Here’s his recipe:


  • You take a hot dog
  • Add something
  • Add something else
  • Then you do this dance*
  • And then it turns into a B-Dog!

Try them at home. They’re delicious!

*The B-Dog dance is a hip-wiggle back and forth. Kind of like hula-hooping without the hula hoop.


The Inefficient Samaritan

I had my bag taken today.

I was on campus with John, trying out a new kite we’d just bought at the Creamery. (We got the one with the fire on it. It’s super cool.) And since kite-flying involves some running and general flapping around, I put my backpack down by a light pole and took John over to the grass.

We ran and jumped and got the kite to fly a little, but it really wasn’t windy enough for kites. So we gave up and walked back. And my bag was gone.

I was stunned. I am not exaggerating when I say that we were gone for five minutes at the most. And within sight. Like, if I hadn’t been looking straight up at a kite, I would have seen the person who took it. I started thinking through the things I would need to replace: wallet, credit card, photo ID, library card, my reading book…. I’m not sure what it says about my priorities, but I was most torn up about the copy of Green Eggs and Ham.

As we headed to the student center to check the lost and found, I got a phone call from a campus number. “Hello, is this Rachel?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Hi, this is Ethel (I don’t remember her name) in the BYU Police Department.”

“Hi. Do you have my bag?”

“Why, yes, we do! A very kind young man visiting from Kansas just turned it in about five minutes ago.”

This guy must have been Lightning McQueen. Faster than fast. In less than fifteen minutes total, I had my bag “lost,” “found,” turned in, and retrieved. I’m glad it wasn’t stolen, but dude. Maybe calm down a little and ask around first. Provo is weird. ♦


Daring Greatly

daring greatly

I had a friend recommend Daring Greatly. And then she dropped the book off. And then she started asking how far I was. So I figured I had probably better start reading it.

I ended up listening to the audio book while I was out walking, instead of reading it the old-school way. This is the first “book on tape” I’ve ever listened to. And it’s started to kill my resistance to the format. It also helped that while I was out getting my daily sunshine and exercise, I was listening to a really uplifting self-help book. I’ve tried with Edgar Allan Poe, and it doesn’t seem to lift my mood quite like Brené Brown.

Anyways. Brené Brown has been researching shame and its effects on people for years, and Daring Greatly is an easy-to-understand overview of that research. In a nutshell, there’s a difference between being embarrassed, feeling guilty, and feeling ashamed. And shame is not good. Shame takes “I did a bad thing” and turns it into “I must be a bad person.”

I learned a lot from this book, and it started to change the way I think (for good.) In fact, I kept bringing home illustrations from the book to talk to Ethan about, and after a few weeks, he finally decided he’d better just read it himself. (Which he did.) Daring Greatly does a fantastic job of dissecting the American culture of shame, including our reasons for shaming others, our reasons for shaming ourselves, and ways to stop. Brown also does a good job of making it clear that we still need to be accountable for our mistakes; you can’t just shout “Don’t judge me!” and pretend you’re perfect. We should all feel bad sometimes, because we all do bad things sometimes. We just need to recognize that grinding ourselves into powder over it isn’t going to solve anything.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, really. I think it’s an especially good one to read with a spouse or loved one, because you end up sharing things you wouldn’t otherwise think to share, in an environment that allows you to open up and explore without being embarrassed. Five stars. ♦

The Great Gatsby


Good heavens, I’d forgotten how good this book was.

I mean, I had to read it in school. And it was okay, and all, but I had to read it. And everyone was so shallow and depressing. And now I go back and read it, and remember that they’re supposed to be shallow and depressing.

The Great Gatsby is one of the most brilliant, scathing social commentaries I’ve ever read. The entire book is about rich people going around breaking things and pretending to have feelings. And poor Gatsby is just so obsessed and so ambitious that it’s like he’s throwing himself against a brick wall again and again.

I’m not as good at comparisons as F. Scott Fitzgerald, clearly.

The Great Gatsby is a story about a poor guy named James Gatz who decides he’s done being a nobody. So he changes his name to Jay Gatsby, sails off with a stranger, joins the military, and then retires in splendor to a mansion he’s built with questionable business successes. He then spends the remainder of his life pining for his old girlfriend, Daisy, and eventually seduces her. This upsets her husband Tom, for obvious reasons. But for some reason, Tom doesn’t see the parallels with his own mistress, whose husband is rather upset that she’s been cheating on him. In the end, Tom and Daisy have trampled all over everyone, Tom’s mistress is dead, Gatsby is dead, and Tom and Daisy are “devastated” enough to shed a few tears, maybe. But not enough to go to any funerals, and certainly not enough to call off any parties.

If I remember correctly, Fitzgerald wrote the book to sound like jazz music. It has a gentle lull to the words, even when it’s describing things falling apart or people dying by the side of the road. The symbolism is slap-you-in-the-face obvious without being cliche. The characters are all a similar kind of shallow, but their different vices, obsessions, nervous tics, and apathies still match each person perfectly. Somehow, Fitzgerald managed to get the entire mood of the Roaring 20’s, while all of his words are a condemnation of the Roaring 20’s.

If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school (or skipped the reading and went straight to the notes), pick it up. It’s brilliant. ♦

Get Up Out of That Bed!

I took a nap today and woke up super depressed. No real reason. (Besides Depression, I guess.) Just felt like crying.

I went to check on John, who was also supposed to be napping. He was not. Instead he had disemboweled his entire closet and strewn his clothes thither and yon. As one does.

I gave him a time-out, but my heart wasn’t really in it. After a while, I came in and sat on his bed to talk about the mess with him. He noticed I wasn’t doing too well.

“I’m feeling really sad right now,” I told him. It was a little liberating to realize that was a normal thing for a three year old.

“Mom’s sad,” he said dramatically. He then leaped up, started doing the Running Man, and chanted, “Get up out of that bed!” (Roughly to the tune of “Get Up Off of That Thing.”)

So that was hilarious. Then we brainstormed Ways to Feel Better. We tried a frog toy. Then playing football. Those didn’t work, but they made me feel a little better. We’re currently trying dinner.

I have a good kid. I’m proud he cares enough to help me feel better, and I’m glad he has so many ideas about what to do when you’re sad.

Granted, his ideas don’t work too well for me. I don’t think reading a Chuggington book is gonna lift my mood that much, but hey. He’s trying. And when he’s sad, he’s already got some great ideas to start with. Good kid.



I started reading the Redwall series when I was in elementary school. I saw a thick book with a mouse on the cover wielding a sword, and decided it was worth a try. Cute mouse, swordplay, what could go wrong? I remember my dad joking on the way home about a mouse sticking his sword in the side of the tire and spinning around as we drove.

Surprisingly, this series was written for adults. Brian Jacques was just writing regular fantasy, with animals as main characters. After some disagreement, his publishers finally convinced him to market to a younger audience, and the cover art got a little flashier. His writing also changed just a little bit, with less references to humans—no more huge carts and horses, for example.

I digress. Mattimeo is the third book in the Redwall series, and I decided to pick it up again for nostalgia’s sake. Jacques is still a good author, but I can’t say I would be picking these books up if I didn’t have just a little old-timey attachment to them. There are some plot holes and convenient miracles that I no longer brush over now. But this book is surprisingly more dark than the previous ones, as the main character (Mattimeo) is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The entire book is about his journey into a creepy  underground kingdom, and his father’s journey to rescue him.

I would recommend this book (and series) to anyone between the ages of 8 and 14, depending on your reading level. And, of course, to any adults who are willing to read a fantasy with animals as main characters. If you haven’t read any Redwall, I suggest picking up the first one before you pick up this one. But if you enjoyed that one, by all means, read Mattimeo. ♦

Hey, Chairs!

After dinner, John got down off of his chair and folded it up. He stacked it neatly in front of the other two, which are just kind of propped up in the hallway, since we haven’t found a better place to keep our extra folding chairs. The chair is as big as he is, so he was having a little trouble with it.

All of a sudden, the whole stack came crashing down, and he flew towards me crying. “Oh, no!” I said. “Did you get hurt, or was it just scary?”

“Just…” he cried. “Just…”

“Just scary?”

“Yeah!” He sat on my lap and tried to calm down. I held him for a minute and made sure he was alright.

Then I said, “John, look at those chairs. Say, ‘Hey, chairs! I’m not afraid of you!'”

He said, “Hey, chairs! I’m not….” and started crying again.

“Try again. Hey, chairs! You’re not so scary!”

That one was funny, apparently. “Hey, chairs! You’re not so scary!” Then laughter. Then again. Then more laughter. Within a few more practice rounds, he was cured.

And that was that. The chairs weren’t scary anymore. He went back to eat some more salad, watched Sarah and Duck, and didn’t mention it anymore. Until he was supposed to be sleeping. I just caught him in his room, lights off, kneeling to look at the chairs under the door. “Hey, chairs! You’re not so scary!”

“Good job. Now go to bed.” ♥