Monday, February 28, 2011

Slaying dragons and open discussions

You know how exciting the old fairytales are, where the prince is gone all day slaying dragons? I imagine that the princess is home safe and sound. She is looking after little ones, is stoking the fire, maybe hanging laundry.  She probably is grateful for his protection, but has no real idea of the danger he faces.

This morning one of the kids asked "Why do we have to read scriptures every morning"?  That launched
a discussion on the protection we get when we are obedient and do the things - like prayer and scripture study - we are asked to do each day.  Both mom and dad gave counsel on how we are (I think literally) shielded by those simple acts.  I don't think we'll ever know all the times danger has averted itself because we followed through on these two things.

Then we read our normal chapter a day.  Miraculously (it NEVER happens) we still had several minutes to spare before the oldest had to leave.

We talked again, to all the kids this time, of that protection given to us by daily prayer and reading the word of God.  We asked them if there was a difference between the spirit felt at school vs. our home. 
I asked Potter "Do you ever hear swearing at school?"  He said "Phhfft.  ALL the time". 
I asked the next oldest.  "Bugs, do you ever hear swearing at school?"  He said "Yep". 
I pointed out that that was one instance where you can notice a real difference.  I told them that we work hard at home to provide an environment where they can feel safe and loved.  Their dad said when they leave home we do our best to put a vital armor on them till they get back to us again.

One son was prompted to open up. "Is it bad that sometimes, even though I don't swear, I get the words in my mind sometimes?" 

I said that it was perfectly normal, especially for anyone around it during the day.  I told him that the more we fill our mind with good things, the easier it is to push out the bad stuff.  I pointed out that Rosebud and Princess don't get those things into their mind yet because they don't hear it - and even I (and I started to cry as I realized what I was saying) don't hardly EVER have to be around a morally hostile environment.  Through my tears I told Strider and each boy how much I loved and admired them for going out into the world all day, every day, slaying dragons till they come home. 

It's rare for me to be in the halls of the jr high or another place where I am painfully reminded how much yuck there is.  My husband and kids have to actually use their armor all day long.  I am so blessed.  I am so humbled. 

I remember how hard it is to be a kid.  Or do I?  I remember the temptations they are faced with.  Or do I?  Not only do I certainly forget, but man alive, it's gotten terrible out there in my 20 yrs since jr high. 

I must rely on my Savior who knows these children and their trials more clearly than I do to let me know how to protect them from evil.  How to teach them to shun evil.  How to instruct them on ways to fill their hearts with goodness.  It's a tough world!  I wish I could fight their battles for them.  But somehow, some way, I am told they will be stronger for it.  I hope so.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Recipes from the heart

While looking through a box of candy molds and cake decorating stuff from my mom's garage, I found a folder of recipes. Some were pages ripped from a magazine of something my mom had obviously wanted to try to make sometime. Others were written on scrap pieces of paper and were things we ate often. I loved coming across those memories.

Here is my mom's recipe for her special Broccoli Ham Quiche.  She was picky about the way other people made quiche, so this is specifically the way my family loves it.  I love how it's just scrawled down quickly.  There's not even a title.  But I sure knew what it was when I saw it.

This next one is for Golf Balls, or some people call them Buckeyes, or PB balls.   I smiled at the change from 1/2 to 1 cup of peanut butter.  Was it a mistake, or did she increase it because of our PB insanity?

The last one was a surprise.  A Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe written in my Grammy's hand.  That's my dad's mom.  And she is writing down a recipe from her husband's mom, my great grandma Brown.  So my mom has this recipe from her mother-in-law from HER mother-in-law.  Cool.

How's that for baking with heart!  Do you have any recipes in a relative's handwriting?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Music to my ears

Strider kissed me goodbye this morning and said,

"SO, where are we going on a date tonight?"

Ahh, the language of love to this tired stay at home mom!

Edited to add:  I just noticed that I posted the exact same thing in June of 2008 (go to the date night tag).  See?  Some things never change.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

10 reasons I get up in the morning

10.  there is a to-do list just waiting to be checked off

9. too many books to be read!

8.  I have many temporal blessings, like a cute house and new-to-me car

7. I love my calling in church working with the children

6.  to pick up the living room 37 times a day

5.  seeing the mountains out the window

4.  there is always someone needing fed

3.  a chance to kiss 6 cute faces

2.  I love being there at the crossroads of the day; when the kids come and go are very important times to me

1.  because if I don't, another precious day will pass me by

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I guess she was hungry

Caution:  If you're writing a blog post about your love of reading and Emma, your toddler just may get herself a snack.  I swear, if an earthquake or a natural disaster of some sort ever happens around here, this kid will be just fine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I know I've mentioned book club before. Our club consists of  my sisters and I, as well as three more from my sister's husband's side of the family. How thankful I am for the extra push to read books I would not normally choose for myself! It is quite rare that I don't enjoy the book selections.  I love these women, I love our conversations, I love experimenting in different genres, and I definitely love getting out of the house once a month.

Currently I am reading Emma in preparation for our discussion next week.  I promise you I never would have chosen this book if I were just wandering through the library.  I have never read Jane Austen (GASP!).  I'm not really a classics girl.  But I love it so far!  I am a bit over halfway and it's quite comical.  Emma's character is a real piece of work.

So in a nutshell I think reading is not only marvelous, but reading things that are new and different is truly enriching!  It's like flexing my brain muscle.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Erin go bragh

First of all, thank you ladies who commented on my last desperate parenting post.  You always rescue me when I panic.  I admire each of you and take comfort that we're all in this together.  It takes a village, right?

On Saturday I took down the hearts and all the red and pink. Easter is really late this year, so I am totally decorating in St Patty's stuff.

I didn't have much, so I bought a little and made a little.

I printed an 8x10 subway art from here. SO many color options!  I printed on cardstock, trimmed from 8.5x11 down to 8x10.  Easy peasy. (more cute sets here and here).  Decorating doesn't get much cheaper than that.

And I love the little plaque I put together. If you want to make one you will need:

~mod podge
~$1 5x7 unfinished wood shape from Michael's (they also had oval, rectangular)
~scrapbook paper
~scrabble tiles (watch thrift stores for old games)

Paint the outside of your wood black.  It will look like a frame.

Turn your shape face down on the back of the paper you will be using.  Carefully trace around the bevel to get the actual shape of the surface.  I hope than makes sense.  Then cut it out. 

Mod podge the paper on (thin layer!).  Smooth it out really well so the surface will be free of bubbles.

Isn't it pretty?

Next I took a nail file to the edges of the paper and edges of the routed wood. 

Position your scrabble tiles and adhere.  I used glue dots.

It looks cute on the table next to my jar of lucky shamrocks and some stitching I did this weekend.

Kiss me!  I'm a wee bit Irish!

Today's Creative BlogTip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's exhausting

Warning - this post will probably be pointless and meandering.  I'm just thinking with my fingers at the end of a long day (week).

I think I've signed my name 379 times this week.  I wish I could say that a bunch of people out there want my autograph.

No, it's just permission slips and school planners and reading logs and field trip forms and, and, and.... There is so much.  Just so much.

"Mom, will you.." 
"Mom, have you had a chance to.."
"Mom, I need..."
"Mom, can I..."

I am feeling particularly overwhelmed right now.  I wish I could say there was a reason.  There isn't.  It's not a crazy time of year.  It's just life.  I better get used to the new normal, eh?  I distinctly remember about a year or two ago (maybe when Rosebud was born?) when I realized how busy we were becoming and how it all felt out of my control.  Oh how I wish I could remember my mom at this stage and see how she juggled it all.

My kids aren't even in any sports right now.  So it's only school and scouts and church and home that's simmering on our stove.  I can't cut out any programs.  There isn't anything to drop.

I have kept up on laundry and my bedroom lately but the rest of the rooms are suffering.  They are on the kids' chore lists but all they have time for is homework it seems.  The chores are barely getting a half effort before they dash off to a meeting or to find their book to get required reading minutes. 

Anybody else with gradeschoolers up to their neck in assignments?  At 5, 8, 11 years?  My goodness.  I really don't think all this is necessary or even healthy.  On the rare occasion that we want to go somewhere as a family, or even have a decent Family Home Evening, we have to ask each about their homework and see who can even spare an hour or get up early the next day to finish what they won't have time for.  It's ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm pooped!  We cleaned and beautified our room a couple weeks ago; thank heavens!!  It's my only respite.  I go in there at the end of the day and collapse on that pretty bed. I have tried to make my prayers more sincere and meaningful - I need His help more and more.  I can no longer be reactive in my parenting in a large busy family.  I have to decide things in advance, I have to plan to a T, I have to parent with purpose and objective - or we're not going to make it. 

It used to be that it was easy to tell who needed my attention the most or what kid to focus on. Now I have to be way more conscious of each one.  They are getting older and need me approaching them more to get deep into their feelings.  It's mindblowing how much work it is!  You experiencd mothers reading this are definitely laughing at this point.  I'm thick skulled, I guess.  This is so hard.  One day at a time, one day at a time.  I keep reading the scripture at the top of my blog: Be not weary in well doing....

Oh, and Strider is going to start coaching again next week.  Soccer this time.  Buckle up, folks!

To remind myself that time passes quickly and it will all be a blur if I don't smell the roses, here is Rosebud at four months:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gotta love boys

11 yr old Bugs just said to me:

"Mom, sometimes I ask Heavenly Father if I can have the Force just a little bit. It never works".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Faith in something greater than ourselves enables us to do what we have said we'll do,
to press forward when we are tired or hurt or afraid,
to keep going when the challenge seems overwhelming and the course is entirely uncertain.

~Gordon B Hinckley

Monday, February 14, 2011

Babies and Love!

What a week!

For most of the last 7 days I was either preparing for my sister to call me to help her through labor, helping her through labor, or recovering from helping her through labor.  Yeah, and I didn't get emotional at all.

We have a wonderful new niece in the family. What a joy she has been in her four days of life. I am so thankful to Jess for reminding me of those sweet spiritual highs that come with new life.

And tell me if this isn't the most special picture:

Jess and baby #2, just minutes old

It makes me cry.  It is the very definition of love.

We all love her:

When we weren't in baby mode, this is our last week:

1.  Bugs took first place in the Science Fair.  Yes, I'm serious.  And I literally did nothing.  He did a group project with two other friends, they did the experiments and wrote up their data, another mom cut out some lettering for the title and printed a few pictures.  Sa-weet!

2.  Strider and I attended the Northern Utah Marriage Coalition's annual marriage conference on Friday at Weber State.  We had such a wonderful time at the workshops and it was a fun way to strengthen our marriage and our resolve to keep our relationship our highest priority.  I highly recommend it (it is always the weekend before Valentine's Day). 

A couple we know well is splitting up and for the last few weeks it has been very difficult for us to process.  We have been married about the same time, have kids about the same ages - just seems to hit close to our hearts.  We really needed to hear the things we learned in these classes.  We already know we have a strong marriage but we also know we must be proactive in order to stay that way.

3.  The kids wrote out all their classroom valentines.  Didn't you love this part as a kid?  I sure did.

4.  Potter's school was selling roses last week as a fundraiser.  He got this one - from anonymous.  Hmmm.

5.  Bugs made an iPod Touch Valentine's Box.  All by himself.  The other kids' classes just use boring paper bags for valentine deliveries, but his class is having a contest.  What do you think?


Lots of love, everybody!

I'm off to make the angel food cake for our traditional family fondue night!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bedroom spring cleaning

Okay, it's not even close to spring, but I felt an itch to clean and make a change.

A year and a half ago I scored basically a new bedroom set-up, minus the comforter,  for $5.

I love it still. About 8 months ago, frustrated with short comforter sides and a hubby that steals covers, I bought a king down alternative set that gave me LONG hangover for my queen bed.  It was perfect!  Sadly, it was showing wear spots (from the dryer?) lately so I knew I needed to protect it and get a duvet on there.

I was at Target this week and found this sateen damask duvet for 75% off and I knew it would be great.  I kind of really like the way the two patterns work together.  It feels luxurious.

So Strider and I decluttered and cleaned and organized and like crazy (yeah, it was worse than this) and spiffed up the little retreat of ours.  It's like a hotel room!  We keep joking that we're going to "stay one more night".  It is such a joy to be in an uncluttered, peaceful place.

(Next items: paint and get that wrought iron thing off the wall).
So, see ya!  If you need me I'll be in my room.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Spread the love

Last night for Family Home Evening our family made homemade valentines.  We were preparing for a trip to a local care center tonight to visit a man from church who lived in our neighborhood but is there now.

The kids worked so hard on their creative masterpieces.  All day today they asked when we were going.  They really wanted to deliver some Valentine cheer to him and to hopefully many others.

As we pulled into the parking lot I gave them a pep talk and a bit of an overview of this place and what it would be like when we went in.  I warned them of what the elderly can be like, of what sights and smells they may encounter.  I encouraged them to not be shy and to just be nice (they fought like cats and dogs ALL afternoon).

We walked in and found our neighbor.  After a bit of a visit there, the kids were chomping at the bit to start delivering. We left Strider talking with him and decided to walk around the halls and visit residents who could use a valentine and a smile.

I was in utter amazement at my children as I watched them serve these strangers - all these grandpas and grandmas of other grandchildren.  All these military vets and paralysis victims.  Those with Alzheimers and Parkinsons.  Their inhibitions were gone after a stop at the very first room and they went forward boldly ministering to the aged, the needy, the sick.  I fought back tears most of the night as we went from bed to bed offering up conversation and hugs and smiles for so many.

We talked to dozens of people and they were so very excited to be visited by loving children holding no prejudice or fears.  Some of them held and stared at the valentine like a treasure.  They said "Thank you, Thank you!" over and over. 

A nurses aide tapped me on the shoulder and said "You have made their night! This is the neatest thing! My baby is just an infant, but this is what I want to do with her when she's older".

One of the first men we gave one to was still in the hall in his wheelchair as we headed out an hour later.  But this time he was asleep and as we passed him he was clutching our valentine card in one hand and his medicine cup in the other.  I wish I had a picture.

I don't remember a family gathering so rewarding as this.  The kids were overheard saying "That was awesome!" ..."This is so fun" ..." She was really nice!" ..."That was so cool!"  As Strider and I left the building we felt as if we would just float away.  It was the greatest family night ever.  Honestly.  We might have brightened a few spirits but I'd have to argue that we were the ones who were uplifted the most tonight.

Take the chance to spread love this week - someone needs it!  Isn't that all anybody wants?  Just to feel loved.  You can touch another life (and bless your own) and it will cost nothing but your time. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine hair stuff

I love having two little girl heads of hair to do now, especially for holidays.  With Princess going back on track at school this week I wanted to make sure we had Valentine hair stuff at the ready.

I made a puffy heart first.  I cut a quick heart from paper to use as a template.  Then I cut out two heart shapes from felt and stuffed a little batting inside as I hand stitched the edges. 

Then I got matching ponytail holders and all the red/pink/white ribbon scraps I had.

I tied them onto ponytail holders in pairs in order so they were mirror images.  I thought they would look better on her head that way. 

Attach an alligator clip to the back of the heart. 

Time to model!

It's the only time of year my OCD will allow me to mix red and pink and I love it!  The girls look really cute.

Time:  about half an hour
Cost: $0

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