the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Enjoying the memories offline

This post is brought to you by Target.


When I first put the old house on the market last summer, we had to figure out a place where we could escape during showings for potential buyers. When I say “we” I mean me, Dane, Tyrant, McKenzie, Marlo, Leta (if she was home from school), and both dogs. The traveling circus. The side show. The car everyone thought was transporting polygamists.

(Kenzie has been gone for only two days and NOW I UNDERSTAND POLYGAMY.)

Our venue of choice in the warmer months was Memory Grove, a park just north of downtown where we could let Marlo wander around and explore while we watched from a bench with the dogs. But then it got colder and started snowing and these nice little outings turned into boring 90-minute drives, all of us cooped up in that car trying not to scream at each other, Coco whining incessantly. We’d wait and wait for my real estate agent to call and tell us we could return home, and by that time we resembled less a circus and more The Donner Party.

We hadn’t been back to Memory Grove since the house sold, and Sunday morning I needed a plan for the girls. That’s the deal Leta and I struck when we had a talk about her fear of boredom. I mentioned that I had her write down a list of things she could do when faced with a free afternoon, but I also promised her that I’d do my best to schedule fun activities for the weekend. She immediately thought “fun” meant “Disneyland” and I was like, calm down. Dream a little smaller, kid. Think “popsicle.”

So I texted my friend Stacia whose boys Finn and Beck have been friends with my kids since Leta was in kindergarten and asked if they’d like to join us for a few hours on Sunday morning. It would be our triumphant return to this quiet little place, all the way over HERE on THIS side of selling that house. A celebratory walk of sorts. A return to summer, one without the weight of a mortgage on my shoulders.


Leta hasn’t ever had to pay a mortgage, can you even believe that? This idea wasn’t as fun or as celebratory as it was for me. So I had to add on some incentives. I suggested that we take some photos and then afterward we could print them out and put them on a memory board, something that we could use throughout the summer to host the photos of the “fun” things we’d be doing. Every week we could print out something new and tack it up. She seemed to like this idea because she perked up a bit and asked, “Can we put up that photo of Chuck growling at my fireplace?”

This is her favorite memory of summer so far, the idea that a raccoon could have been living in her chimney. I feel bad that it happened after school ended and she couldn’t show up to class the next morning and be all YOU ARE NOT EVEN GOING TO BELIEVE THIS. Had it happened just a week earlier I would have told her to tell them it was a bear.

A koala bear.





I let Leta use my phone to take photos because it’s just more suited to kids than my giant Canon. Also, she complained last week that “walking is so exhausting” so, you know. All this working out that I do is having such a positive influence.






Marlo was fascinated with all the dogs roaming around, jumping in and out of the water and she asked why we hadn’t brought Chuck and Coco. I was like, here’s the thing Marlo. Chuck and Coco cannot be trusted off leash. And all these dogs here? They are supposed to be on leash but everyone is sort of pretending not to pay attention to that, and just as those words left my mouth two dogs got into a fight that sounded not unlike an eighteen-wheeler full of caged chickens crashing though a glass wall.

“That,” I said, pointing to the two owners trying to intervene. “That’s why they aren’t here.”












These photos don’t really do justice to the differences in my girls and Stacia’s boys. She and I have a pretty similar parenting style, and yet my girls are very contemplative and talkative. Not that her boys don’t take the time to think about things meaningfully, it’s just how they express themselves. My girls speak in endless sentences. Her boys don’t really speak as much as they shove and poke and throw each other to the ground. Also, Beck likes to lick.

Here are just a few of the shots Leta took. Again I didn’t edit these in any way. I just pulled them straight off of my phone.




You would think with all the photos that I post on this site that I would have a mountain of photographs lying around and hanging on my walls, but that’s just it: my website has always served as the memory board. It was meant to hold all the stories and pictures. It was meant to be the scrapbook. If my kids wanted to see a picture from a certain event I’d just bring up my site. And demand that they fix me a hot dog first.


Which is why I am so glad that we decided to do this because now I can print out pictures all the time to show the girls. They can hold them in their hands and study them up close. They can even rip them up if they want to because a torn piece of paper is NOT a crashed hard drive!

WHY IS THIS SO NOVEL TO ME? It’s just a printer and I feel like I discovered fire. I want to print EVERYTHING now. Remember when you were a kid and thought it was the funnest thing ever to sit on Xerox printer and scan your butt? I’m not going to do that, you’re welcome, but that’s the feeling I have right now, that tingle of “what else can I do?” Headed right now to google images of “Ryan Gosling on the beach.”




Oh, and don’t think I forgot. It’s right in the center of the board:


My Relief Society President and Bishop are so proud of me, whoever they are.


This summer inspiration is brought to you by Target. Find more fun and surprises all season long on Target’s #SummerUp Pinterest board.

  • Lauren3

    2013/06/12 at 9:05 am

    Love this. And it reminds me of back in the day when you used to post those albums with the title pages you designed.

  • Josey

    2013/06/12 at 9:22 am

    I was just thinking about how much I miss actually PRINTING my pictures out. Hm… might be time to get back on that!

  • Carla King

    2013/06/12 at 9:29 am

    I recently paid $2 at a church sale for a large cork board with a really nice, decorative frame. I painted it black and sanded it so a bit of the white and gold underneath would come through a bit. But yours is really nice in that solid glossy black and bamboo-style frame. Is that from Target?

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/12 at 9:41 am

    No, it’s a board I found several years ago at a vintage shop and I’m just now getting around to using it.

  • amber79

    2013/06/12 at 9:47 am

    So the whole Leta exhausted thing . . . my nephew was in kindergarten and my sister signed him up for some indoor soccer thing. They had the kids running around at the first practice and all of the sudden my nephew’s freaking out, because there’s water on his skin. The coach had to explain sweat to him and also assure him that it’s completely normal.

  • maggie wilkin

    2013/06/12 at 10:00 am

    To try and combat the whole “Walking is soooo boring thing” (my kids feel exactly the same way), you should try geocaching. I have tricked my kids into walking for over an hour trying to find a “treasure”, which is really just a box with a note in it. It also encourages you to check out new parks. I just use the iPhone app which was about $10, much less than a personal GPS and it has been great!

  • specialkrispy

    2013/06/12 at 10:01 am

    Ha ha ha!!!

  • Susan

    2013/06/12 at 10:02 am

    I love the idea of printing pictures at home. Is that Epson Home Expressions printer the one you have/recommend?

  • Joanna Sequeira

    2013/06/12 at 10:02 am

    This is hilarious! I signed my son up for a sports day camp, he runs all day, I’ve asked… from the moment I drop him off to the moment I pick him up he is running. That being said it is impossible for him to walk from the car to the house without getting tired. Kids!

  • specialkrispy

    2013/06/12 at 10:03 am

    What a great idea. Memory Grove is such a great place. I’m pretty sure it’s where I was conceived.

  • Nicole Morgan

    2013/06/12 at 10:08 am

    All my pics are now on disks after being retrieved from crashed hard drives, scattered in unnamed files and kind of sucks when I now need to put together family albums of when … well, when we were still a family. Procrastination bit me this time. In other news, my Mom wants me to come to sacrament to meet a single lawyer, asked if I could have wine with my wafer …

  • Meagan

    2013/06/12 at 10:31 am

    What a great idea, my older daughter loves to take pictures too. This gives me an idea for her this summer! As for the not wanting to walk. My four (almost five) year old daughter told me she no longer wanted to take dance class because “it takes too much of my energy up.” Then she proceed with: ” But can I do football instead!?” Boy is she gonna be bummed after her first day…

  • kmpinkel

    2013/06/12 at 10:39 am

    I am heading to Target to get a memory board now. They may have wanted me to buy a printer, but I have one. Target just sold me on YOUR amazeballs idea! Thank you!!!

  • Diane Cayton-Hakey

    2013/06/12 at 10:42 am

    I’ve been printing my own photos out for the past couple of years, framing and using them as art on my walls. It doesn’t require expensive frames either.. the big box stores have frames that work well. Love the memory board idea. Very special and fun for kids!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/12 at 10:47 am

    Thank you! This really was a lot of fun and my kids LOVE it, Marlo especially who climbed up on that bench, pointed at each picture of herself and said, “That’s me and that’s me and that’s me…”

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/12 at 10:50 am

    It’s the one I bought, yes. I was really surprised by how easy it was to set up and use. Super simple, and the quality is really nice. It’s not “I’m going to sell these online” quality, but for what I’m doing here it’s perfect.

  • kmpinkel

    2013/06/12 at 10:51 am

    Its funny how much they enjoy looking at themselves. At what age did that change?

  • Kimberly Wydeen

    2013/06/12 at 11:20 am

    When I was a kid, and we complained we were bored, my mom would tell us ‘There is always something you can clean.’ In the competition of reading a novel v. dusting, reading wins every time.

  • Ashley Berman Hale

    2013/06/12 at 11:36 am

    I know you probably care diddly about Google/organic search – but I noticed you followed sponsor links. Why take the risk?

  • carla

    2013/06/12 at 12:49 pm

    first time reader and i must say, your photos caught my eye before i read your post! how do you manage with that many kids??? i have one 10 month old and he’s already a handful! but i also wanted to know, what canon camera are you using? the photos are exquisite.

  • Hannah Mayer

    2013/06/12 at 1:03 pm

    We also do a summer memory board and we throw everything on there. Ticket stubs, the paper bracelets they give you when you enter a venue, even a flower my kids (illegally) picked for me at a park.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/12 at 1:12 pm

    I’m still using the Canon 5D Mark II. For this post I used an 80mm fixed lens. The lens really makes a difference.

  • BabetteFeasts

    2013/06/12 at 1:21 pm

    I may just save the Canon Pixma I was about to try to sell/donate…Just yesterday I had to explain to my husband why I still like photos. On PAPER.

  • miss_msry

    2013/06/12 at 1:31 pm

    Now you know why Chuck was growling at the fireplace.

  • miss_msry

    2013/06/12 at 1:34 pm

    It’s odd that some people find having an actual photo to be a novel idea. But then I’m old and still print from my digital camera.

  • miss_msry

    2013/06/12 at 1:36 pm

    Funny, I’m retired now, but worked as a newspaper photographer for over twenty years and printed numerous photos the old fashioned “wet” darkroom way. Digital is so much easier.

  • Peggy

    2013/06/12 at 2:39 pm

    Okay, I’m a scrapbooker so after the summer is over, I’m just dying to throw your photos into an album, which can be any size/shape you want, even paper bags. There is also a whole other cult called Project Life that does what you’re doing, not by the summer but by the week. Just remember, you heard it here first!

  • Christine

    2013/06/12 at 2:49 pm

    Speaking of googly eyes, I just found this.

    It made me think of you and your animals! 🙂

  • Heather M

    2013/06/12 at 5:44 pm

    This made me laugh coffee on my keyboard. Hilarious! Also? So true. I run a kids’ outdoor adventure camp, and every year meet kids who have never worn sunscreen or been allowed to play in the dirt! (I may or may not let them get extra dirty to make up for lost time).

  • KittensRule

    2013/06/13 at 6:09 am

    That is really, really sad. A five year old kid has never played until he’s sweated before? The only time he’s ever sweated is at INDOOR soccer? That is messed up. What happened to frolicking outside? What happened to summer fun?

  • Stephanie Reidy

    2013/06/13 at 6:45 am

    Why are your kids finished school so early? We go right to the end of June!
    Leta is taking some wonderful photos. She has a really great sense of composition and isn’t afraid to get in close to frame a shot.
    Looks like it was a good day.

  • Sarah

    2013/06/13 at 6:57 am

    My daughter’s last day of school was May 23.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/06/14 at 10:21 pm

    Oh my word, I love that kid’s red hair. I may be partial to red hair since my son has the brightest-ever red hair, but seriously, gorgeous.

    I haven’t printed a photo in longer than I can remember, but I’m pretty sure my girls would go NUTS over the idea of being able to print photos at home.

    Also, great photos, Leta!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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