For Testing Purposes Only

Several months ago I signed up with Influenster after seeing my sister post an Instagram of a particularly lovely shade of lipstick she got from them. Or was it sunscreen? I forget. Anyway. I didn’t really expect it to light my world ablaze necessarily, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see if what I got before giving up on it like I do for many things my sister does, such as couponing, cooking, and advanced trigonometry.

So. I received my first “VoxBox”, and considered it with a very suspicious eye. Primarily because asks for your opinion. Broadcasted on every social channel known to man. I’m not a fan of spam. Neither is the rest of the world. So I figured right then and there that keeping my feedback limited to a few items and severely non-annoying frequency would be key.

That first box actually had some good samples. Mascara, after-sun lotion, coupons and nail polish that I didn’t realize was A) not quick drying and B) not for children until after I’d decorated one of my three year olds’ with it and she fell completely in love with the color. Because, of course.


I was honestly thinking of deleting my account. It requires a lot of time and promotion and I figured, ‘meh. It’s just samples’.

Which is exactly when the next VoxBox showed up. With a Braun Thermoscan 5 inside. Then I was REALLY thinking this wasn’t worth it, because I have been using the same temporal thermometer my Mom, Queen Labor & Delivery Nurse of the Universe, gave us for our baby shower three years ago, AND I LOVE IT. Even though I have to use it four times per head because I can’t ever get the angle right and figure it couldn’t hurt to find an average.

That Thermoscan immediately found a home under my desk, where I intentionally ignored it. NO, MR. BRAUN MCTHERMY-THING, WE ARE HAVING NONE OF YOUR INNER EAR BLEEPY BUSINESS HERE. I BANISH THEE.

Braun Thermoscan 5 Ear Thermometer   Walgreens

A week later, Emma got a cold. Right after we’d visited a friend with compromised immunity. Whom we’d waited months to see for This. Exact. Reason. Thankfully, we’d washed our hands about five times in three hours and did not come in close contact with her. She did not so much as develop a sniffle.

However. Things at our house were a little different.

Here’s how a cold cycle works through our house: Emma gets a runny nose. Develops a junky throat two hours after bedtime, wakes up crying like a baby seal and gets a crap night of sleep. She wakes up a little better. Everyone else seems fine. Two days in, she’s still sick. On the third morning, Sarah wakes up sick but would rather play. Emma gets a fever. Ashley develops the teeniest of runny noses, but also can’t be bothered with details like colds. By the fourth morning, we have varying degrees of ZOMBIE DEATH and oh, hey Mom, we got you something, too.


This scenario was going through my head on Night 1, and I thought, as one does, “I should take her temperature.” But my regular thermometer was nowhere to be found. Probably because our girls are REALLY INTO FLASHLIGHTS RIGHT NOW, and I can’t find those, either.

So I did what any reasonable person in my shoes would do. I put my hand on her forehead. Not being ridiculously hot, I put her to bed and proceeded to look for the thermometer. Which is still MIA.

I finally broke out the Braun Thermoscan 5 out on Day 3 or 4, when she DID finally start feeling hot. This is what I got. From all three kids.


World’s Best Mom, you guys.

Also? The new thermometer rocks. I was very anti-one-use-disposable caps as it was CLEARLY a ploy to sell me more crap, but then I realized, I probably can’t clean a digital tip with alcohol. It’s actually very handy, very quick and very compact. Everything stores in on snappy little container, and as long as I put it on top of the bookshelf, I’ll probably be able to find it whenever I need.

#BraunTherms VoxBox

Adorkable, Part Deux

This is post several days overdue because, SHOCKER, I threw my back out on Thursday and sitting in a chair for any length of time has been excruciating. I tried several times writing on the couch from my phone, but I’m so bad at texting everything comes out like this. Maybe I should have just gone with it. I went and mowed the lawn today and now I’m loopy on Benadryl from a non-stop sneezing fit. Mojo has been lost, is what I’m saying. But here it is anyway.

I apologize in advance to everyone involved in Friday’s post, because…nope. Can’t let it lie.

This is me with my mom in October 1976. I was 2. And blonde, yes. Curly? No. But huh, uh, WUH? ASHLEY’S GRIN. I sees it!


I am loving that car. I have no idea what it is, but the mere fact that it’s basically a green hunk of PURE STEEL, like the automotive equivalent of The Hulk, has me imagining it sitting in an intersection, egging on traffic with a casual, “I’m always angry. BRING IT”.


I’m guessing this is me in 1st grade. Still absolutely no resemblance to any of my children. BUT, I feel the need to point out that I am actually liking the shirt. Because most of what I’ve found of my wardrobe from this era are variations of this:


THIS is why there was no color tv in the seventies, kids.

So. Right. Christie’s grin. SURELY I have some photographic proof of my wonky weird memory.


There it is! On Christie…AND Tammy. Holy cow, where did that come from? Why am I surprised?

(Interesting factoid: in Gaelic, “Julia” means “Blind”. It used to offend me just a little bit. Now? Explains a lot.)


Wow. There it is again. On Tammy.


Thanks, Mom. Also?





I’ve been told it’s quite common not to be able to recognize your own features in your children, and up until last Christmas I’d been so fuzzy on the subject that I had convinced myself that Emma must look like me simply because she has the EXACT same hair coloring I did at that age. I know, it’s genius, right?

Then I turned the page of an album I was rebooking as a Christmas present and had my breath stolen upon seeing a shot of Travis at, I don’t know, five? Six? Doesn’t really matter, because Saint Xerox, SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE HIM. As more than a few folks had gently tried to suggest. Since birth.

Travis has mentioned many times that Sarah has expressions that remind him very much of my mother, and many people make that comment on pictures of Ashley. I’ve haven’t seen this so much myself, a fact that makes me a little sad, as shouldn’t I be able to see my own mother there if other people can?

BUT, and here’s where I up the ante and go out concealed – my whole life, everyone has always remarked at how much my sister, Christie, looks like my mom. And by high school, people used to confuse me for Christie all the time. It even happened once on this blog.

This picture is of Ashley, who is throwing down a Christie grin so hard it hits me like the sharp stab of a certain someone’s plastic, pink umbrella in 1979 (I have not forgotten that, missy).

So there I have it. Unmistakable proof that my daughter looks a little like me. And my sister. And my mom.

But don’t be fooled, self. This kid is a brand new human being. And although I may have a hard time seeing it in her face, it’s been clear for quite some time that she’s got the brains of all four of us combined.

*Although, on a side note, this photo also illustrates the apparent joy she recently discovered for putting bags and pillowcases over her head and walking into walls during a trip TO THE BEACH. So. I may not be in as much trouble as I initially feared.

For Ben, Who I Do Not Know

Exactly when I met my friend Isaac, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t remember the year, and I certainly don’t remember which project I was working on for eBay at the time. Based on some highly passionate conversations I had with him on the subject, I’d venture a guess it was Rewards & Recognition. What I DO specifically remember is that I screwed up the spelling of his name.

Isaac: “It’s just like it’s spelled in the Bible.”

Jules: “Um. Right. And…that is..?”


Isaac: “…two ‘A’s.”

That moment replays in my head EVERY time I think of him.

Whatever caused my professional friendship with Isaac and the eBay IT department dudes, I am thankful for it. I spent an inordinate amount of time discussing projects, ideas, and implementation issues with them, and they taught me everything I know about IT. Which, yes. Is probably more than your average bear, but not enough to be off their ‘Keep Away From Important Shiny Buttons’ list.

Isaac is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He cares about things passionately, he’s always been out to change the world for the better, and his family, oh my heck. His family is his everything. He’s a good friend. He’s a good person.

So when I saw his facebook post this weekend, I hit a wall. I’m still kind of stuck there. I just can’t see around it, I can’t forget about it, and I don’t even understand what it is.

Isaac lost his brother. His brother’s wife. Three of their children. I’m not what you would call ‘immediately current’ on events, so none of this made any sense to me at all. I thought they must have been in a car accident. But in fact, it was something so much worse.

Nobody knows what took them. They’re just gone. There’s no explanation at all.

While I should know by now that never stops the Backseat Sherlocks of the world, it nevertheless makes me want to burn down the comment sections of every news article with scathing replies to the people posting conclusions of the most despicable nature with the suggestion that if they are empowered with so much more intellect, judgement and omnipotence than the professional men & women actually investigating the case, they are wasting their lives from behind the comfort of their computer chair. Which is probably in their mother’s basement. With a week old pizza and a pet rat.

But I can’t do that. It’s pointless. It’s unconstructive. It doesn’t help a damn thing. But here’s what would: Reaching out to Isaac, which I have. Going to the vigil, which I wish. Donating to the funeral costs. Which is in process.

If you’re in the Provo area and want to show my friend and his family your support, here are the details.

Public Vigil: Ben & Kristy Strack
Thursday, Oct. 2, 6pm
Provo Pioneer Park
500 W. Center Street
Provo, UT

If you would like to make a donation to the memorial fund, here is their site.

My heart is broken for the Stracks. It doesn’t matter that I never knew Ben. I know Isaac. And I know I wouldn’t want to open my eyes in the morning if it meant my sister, her husband and children weren’t in this world with us.

All our love and prayers, dear friends. My heart is with you.