Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Here I sit at the computer on my first day "off" after a long, busy, and wild summer and caught this beautiful quote about motherhood as well as an article defending it as a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Both share thoughts I so desperately needed to hear and feel right at this very moment in the whirlwind of raising my three young children.

Click here to read Motherhood is Also A Choice article

"Mothers decide to stay home not just because they are tired of juggling family and career; not just because they want to "be there" for the first word and the first step; not just because they have found that a rich home life requires persistent personal investment.

They want to be home because in some quiet moment caring for their children, they have suddenly experienced the vastness, the intricacies the delicate nature of this work. While performing some entirely routine act of nurturing they have unexpectedly stumbled on a moment of insight so luminous as to reveal with imposing clarity that the greatest opportunity for success they might ever have is nestled right there in their arms.

And in the midst of a thousand previous assumptions about life and love, in an instant that no one else can measure or see, they decided that this uncertain business of trying to guide childish innocent into adult wisdom is an art worthy of extraordinary exertion and time."

Thank you Clover Lane.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Minecraft Mayhem

This year our 6-year old son requested a Minecraft themed b-day party. After finding some great Minecraft party ideas here and here, I was ready to get going on the inexpensive homemade decorations! To start, I bought some square shaped green paper plates, cut out various sizes of black squares and rectangles from construction paper, attached them to green garden stakes, and viola, we had some very menacing looking creepers to display around our backyard.

Watch out for the CREEPERS!

Found this pre-made banner at our local Watkins Printing shop, thank goodness my parents were there to help lace it on the string and hang up!

As shown in one of the previously listed blogs, wrapped cardboard boxes can be used as blocks for Minecraft structures to be built. I bought 2 stone printed tablecloths to wrap the boxes with, in addition to a roll of gray wrapping paper and roll of brown wrapping paper. This game was used as an ice breaker as we waited for everyone to arrive. The instructions given was to build a structure as a team but they MUST use all the blocks! Once they succeeded, these punching balloons were used to help destroy the structure.

Here's another creeper I easily made out of a white paper plate, black construction paper, and white tissue paper

 Neon green labels from Amazon were easy water bottle covers

Found these rubber topped axe pencils from Amazon.com and came up with the idea to have a ice cream bar where kids were served vanilla ice cream and the following toppings listed on the sign above. The axes were used to crush the black coal oreos which were contained in a plastic baggie. This part of the party was a big hit! They also made their own creeper bags out of green paper sacks and black construction paper to contain candy caught in the pinata. This pinata was a great alternative to the kind you have to hit with a bat.

 Found these cute party boxes at Watkins Printing shop and Grant found mini slinkies from the dollar store to go inside!

We played a game where these various Minecraft animals (found online, cut, and backed in colored paper) were hidden all around the yard and everyone had to find them and try to trade them for what a villager was holding in a box....the box contained 2 fake diamonds and Hershey gold bars of chocolate.

The mayhem part of the party took place when I placed the TNT image under the cardboard boxes to play a game similar to musical chairs. Well, every time the music stopped and the kids sat down on a box, they instantly collapsed and then were quickly destroyed by the kids! :O I know that's expected from a bunch of young boys, but that whole scene erupted faster than I could blink! I think everyone had a good time and I'm thankful the weather was nice for us to host another fun party in our backyard. Happy 6th b-day Mister G!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Maria Shriver

For the past year or so I've been subscribed to Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper. It just comes out once a week (which is all the time I have to read something!) but every time I read it I find something informative, uplifting, and though provoking. Here's an article from last Sunday April 16th....

Here are 20 profound truths that I thought were worth sharing:
1) We are all united in our brokenness and in our suffering. What is broken in you makes you human, not bad. Acknowledge it.
2) Revelations happen from the inside out, not the outside in. Allow for them.
3) We think we need to know someone before we can love them, but divine thinking is to love before you know. Love unconditionally.
4) One of the biggest challenges we face today is loss of meaning. Find meaning wherever you can.
5) Religion has become too centered on sins. We were taught that our sins separate us from God, but that’s not true.
6) If you always have to convince your parents to love you, then you never trust that they do. Note to parents: focus on the love your child is seeking. 
7) There are moments in all of our lives when we are blind, then we see. Open your mind to other ways of thinking and seeing. That will get you out of the dualistic frame of mind of good vs. bad or right vs. wrong. Open your mind to a third way. It’s more creative and playful. 

8) The contemplative mind approaches things in their completeness. Be contemplative in action. They actually go together.
9) Most thinking is simply the result of an obsessive mind. Find ways to turn yours off.
10) You have to pull the rug out from under yourself. Only then can you live in the flow. In choosing to accept the unknowing that life presents, you’ll be able to accept the flow.
11) Wholeness is when the way of your being matches the truth of your being. And the truth is, you are a very good creation. Note to self: accept this truth as it is.
12) The opposite of more... is enough. Remember that.
13) In order for your "yes" to matter, your "no" has to matter, too.
14) Everything comes down to your capacity for presence. Your mind dwells in the past and the future. Work with it to focus on the present. 
15) Most of us carry shame in our bodies, so we punish them. Integrating your mind and body helps you be present. 
16) See yourself as doing God’s work. My takeaway: if you see yourself this way, see others as doing it, too.

17) We often hold onto other people's stories of ourselves. Know your own story and tell it.
18) Electricity can only operate in a circuit. There has to be a giver and a receiver. Remember that.
19) You will know what you need to know when you need to know it.
20) Your experiences are yours and yours alone. My takeaway: rise to your own calling. Each and every one of us has a calling, a mission, and a purpose. Our challenge on this day and all days is to rise to that calling.

Good stuff, right? She also posts frequently on her Instagram account....enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Homeward Bound

Yes, just like that cheesy talking animal movie from the 90's (btw- what is it about talking animal movies that people like so much?) I am on a mission to keep my 3 children and I at home as much as possible for the next 6 months. Why for 6 months you ask? Because that is the magic time frame my mother has convinced me of for radical changes (both in maturity and in our schedules) to occur amongst young developing children and collectively our family life. Call it the straw the broke the camels back, that last Jenga piece to make the tower tumble, or just the tired motherly voice of reason in my head that started out as an innocent whisper and has now become an unavoidable ROAR...reminding me to re-imagine and re-frame our lives with as less stress as possible.

I know that I've done the 3 kids-in-tow thing pretty darn well for the last while....especially given my children's ages and grade levels. I even sometimes would feel a rush of strength, like I was about to conquer the world with my impressive to-do lists, indignant "stay close to mom" speeches, and spidey-like mom reflexes such as saving a child from falling, sensing where a lost child would most likely wander off to, and preparing snacks for 5 in under a min. I also give courteous "we're going to leave in 5 min." warnings like clockwork, and always keep ready-for-anything changes of clothes in the trunk of our van. Supermoms Unite!

While these skills will undoubtedly still be put to use, I'm trying to minimize the number of times I have to perform them given the number of inevitable dramatic outtakes (except in our case they're part of our show) that can be so very draining and scary. Thanks to things like babysitters, grocery delivery, and amazon, I know this is possible, the only thing I'm wondering about is why it took me so long to reach this point....I think it could be the city we live in and where we live- everything is just so darn convenient! Or how my husband took on a new job further away, or how we're already all in the car 3x per day every weekday (just going back and forth to school), or how I don't want us to be bored! As my mother would often say to us as children, "Only a boring person gets bored."...I know we are anything but BORING so now all I'll have to do is remind myself with the saying of "Homeward Bound" and home we shall go.

I still want to remember the times when I felt like I saved everyone's sanity with a fun outing to a play place, park, movie, heck, even the dollar store will do! and how I've learned from past events...Eleanor Roosevelt says a woman is like a tea bag; you you never know how strong it is until you put it in hot water!" There's also numerous life lessons I know my children have benefited from about how to appropriately behave and interact in various public settings, and I love taking my children out to discover new places and meet up with family and friends, all of which we'll still do- I just feel I need to try a new approach to practice more simplicity.

I'm aware that chaos can still arise anywhere with kids, but I want to try this new idea of limiting our outings and the number of children we have attending those outings, as well as only attending major outings with another adult and see if it helps. Even though we don't see it, the work of a mom is constant (mentally and physically!) so I think it's wise for me to assess my limits and fully understand the toll that numerous kid-filled days has on me as well as the importance of knowing when to take a break or call it quits. To put it quite simply, I've learned less effort does not have to equal not enough.

So, bring on the bathtub parties, tea parties, car racing, movies by the fire, board games, chess games, card games, made-up games, books (oh, how we looooove books!), ping pong, computer time, cleaning, cooking, creating, dancing, puppet shows, obstacle courses, playing outside (or at this time of the year, in the snow), and making forts....we're up for anything we can do safely (or as safely as possible) within the security of our home or backyard. That's it, and that's PLENTY!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

For Joy

Received this poem from Maria's Sunday Paper by Maria Shriver and found it to be quite an accurate description of the feeling one gets from a surprise and a wonderful reminder to allow surprises to come ~

by Jan Richardson

You can prepare 
but still
it will come to you 
by surprise,

crossing through your doorway,
calling your name in greeting,
turning like a child
who quickens suddenly 
within you.

it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open
in welcome

for the joy
that finds you
so ready
and still so 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hawaiian Dora B-day Party

Aloha! Elyse turned 3 this June so we celebrated with a small luau in our backyard complete with leis, Hawaiian pizza, and tropical Dora decor! It was such a fun way to celebrate Elyse and welcome summer!

Tissue flower hangings were from The Dollar Tree ~ love how they set the mood for both a fun and tropical feel. Very grateful to Bart for helping me put all of this decor up the night before...there's so much cute Hawaiian themed stuff out there but I think I had just the right amount. ;)

 We had Chex mix, Hawaiian pizza, veggies, Lee's cupcakes and Dora fruit snacks! Cute plates and fruit bowl cups from The Dollar Tree!

Elyse wanted to help by putting stickers on everybody's water bottles. ;) 

 Love the fun Dora banner mixed with the tropical leaf and flower garlands....both from amazon.com

Fun tropical florals to greet guests at our back gate

Found these fun leis at Watkins party supply

 We bought these mini tables a couple of years ago and have gotten SO MUCH good use out of them. Elyse and I planted those pretty bright pink petunias the morning of her party...love how we already had those turquoise blue pots on hand that matched perfectly with our decor! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pokemon Extravaganza

Toot the horns and beat the drums....our Mister Grant is now 5! Like we've always said, Grant will always be our baby (don't tell him that! ;)) with his cherub face and sweet demeanor (often disguised with goofy shenanigans) he also knows how to be the real life of the party! Speaking of party, here's all the details from his 5th B-day....

Picking the Pokemon theme for this dude was a no brainer. Ever since last summer when the neighbor boys introduced our sons to the world of Pokemon trading cards, Grant's been just a wee bit obsessed. After doing some research on it, I learned that Pokemon comes from Japan and means Pocket Monsters, makes sense- Pok (pocket) Mon (monsters)!

We were able to host the party in the dance room at our local gym which we all enjoyed because it was very spacious and provided a fun atmosphere with Grant's Party Dance Mix of songs and fun party games such as Catch Charizard, Who's Got The Pokeball (played just like the game Who's Got The Button), and also made Pokemon ear hats! We had such a great turn out with all of our family and friends...thank you everyone for coming and helping!

Party City (online) and Watkins party store (local) are where I found all the decorations and treats for the goody bags. Lee's Grocery did the cake and meat and cheese tray. We decided on a meat and cheese tray since Grant doesn't like pizza but it turned out to be a super easy food solution....we just bought a pack of rolls and everyone was able to make their own sandwiches and enjoy some snacks, ice cream, and cake!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Latest Loves of Winter

Guys! I've been wanting to share some wonderful loves of mine for what feels like forever! I knew I wouldn't be around much in December...(I consider that time our quiet crazy winter wonderland) but after we got back into the swing of things come January, I STILL felt like I could not keep up with it all! :O  Any spare moment I had to myself was usually spent trying to check out with a tv show/movie or sleeping. I didn't know motherhood was going to keep on staying sooooo involved and busy!

Speaking of this motherhood thing, do any of you want to scream when you get comments like "Oh, you poor lady!" (said in a sympathetic tone) or "You must stay busy!" (said in a sarcastic tone) or "You sure do have your hands full!" (said in a bewildered tone) when out and about with your children?  I get them ALL THE TIME and the more I think about it, have been for awhile....I think I expected them when I had my 2 toddler boys and a newborn (I too was thinking- God bless us!) but now mine are 6 1/2 yrs, (almost) 5 yrs, and 2 1/2 yrs- practically all self-sufficient, right?. I've been through a whole list of embarrassing/exhausting/disgusting/terrifying kid moments with them in public and have come through most of it with a smile all while keeping us healthy and looking cute (most days). Since I've so proudly made it through these parenting trenches of the younger years, I'd like to make one small request: If you HAVE to say something to me, the mom-on-the-go-with-kids-in-tow, let it be a polite offer of help (I will never turn down someone holding the door open for us or someone letting us go in front of them in a long line at the store or public bathroom) or genuine praise (a nice smile or thumbs up to one of my children goes a long way) because trust me- I got this, mmmmkay?!!!

Now for my latest finds....first up is the new Netflix tv show, Fuller House. Yes, it is a continuation from that show you watched all throughout your childhood if you were born anytime between the 70's and 80's. I watched the first episode the other night and just about died! It's so right on with everything I remember about it, but still funny (in the cheesy live audience kindof way), sentimental, and cute. Score!

Next is this video. I've watched it at least a dozen times and my kids find it hilarious too. This guy is already one awesome Dad and his baby is pretty cute too. ;)

This amazing face cream ~ St. Ives Timeless Skin Facial Moisturizer. I heard about it on a beauty blog and now I'm hooked. Price is awesome ($5 on amazon!) and it really, really, works in creating softer and supple skin! Hard to find in stores (I could not find it at Target, Walgreens, or grocery stores), so you may want to buy online. Wrinkles no more!

Denise Austin work-out videos via streaming on amazon. Do you remember good old Denise from the early 90's? If not, maybe this famous line of hers will refresh your memory..."No more shoulder pads, we'll make our own! She's happy, straight to the point, and not too intense so no more of my I don't ever have the time and working-out-hurts excuses! In addition to my weekly runs, I've made a commitment to do one video of hers a week- 2 if I'm really on top of things and it has actually been happening since I can do her videos straight from our living room! My faves are: Denise Austin Hit The Spot 5 10-minute Target Toners, Denise Austin: Burn Fat Fast Cardio Blast, and Denise Austin: Shrink Belly Fat. All involve some weights and as I've been hearing from those in the work-out world, weights are the key to weight loss effectiveness while building muscle tone! If you need one more boost to really movin'- check out Old Navy's work out clothes...they're really awesome and so well priced!

DOT by Marc Jacobs is my new favorite fragrance. I would've never picked it up had I seen how ugly the bottle is but I found a smaller travel size (my new favorite way to try finding my new scent!) at ULTA and I love, love, love it! Fresh but not too floarly = perfect in my book!

Organic 3 Cheese Pizza by Simple Truth. I don't know my deal is with pizza, but if it's not perfect- then I don't like it. I typically don't like any fast food chain of pizza except Papa Murphy's but even there I only like their veggie kind. Finally my cheese pizza craving has been fulfilled with this Smiths grocery store frozen kind! Weird I know, but the sauce is the perfect amount savory and tangy, the cheeses hit all the right notes, and the crust is not too thick and not too thin....definitely worth the try!

K, that's it! Sorry no pictures for each featured item, but at least I got the links in! I still am planning to post our updated family room and our children's room pics but we need to do some updates to our computer (our memory is full!) so probably sometime this spring. Until then, kudos for surviving winter and welcome spring!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Full Time Mom

Remember this post when I talked about what I prefer to refer to my job as? I like that post because it takes me back to my first year in parenting where I was just getting used to my role in our new family and learning about what exactly it entailed as well as what I felt most comfortable taking on. Well, fast forward to almost 6 years later and while I still find the title of Family Relations Manager catchy, I've settled in on the title of Full Time Mom whenever I'm asked what I do or who I am. I do not consider this title to be exclusive for stay-at-home moms, so feel free to use it too in addition to your other full or part time job(s)!

I find this title fits me best because being a mother is something I commit myself to working hard at every day - and right now for me during these young child raising years, that's ALL day! Yes, there are bits of school (my oldest is a half-day kindergartner) and extracurricular classes that our children attend, but for the majority of the day and early evening they're with me (right down to their little fingers squeezed under the bathroom door!) and the majority of what I do during the day involves something for them or with them such as running our own at-home preschool, planning and taking part in play dates, parties, and various outings, taking them to their various classes and dr. appts, working at my son's school (for free), and volunteering within our community....tired yet?

After recently watching the movies I Don't Know How She Does It (2012) and The Intern (2015) I found myself disappointed with how they chose to represent stay-at-home moms. For those of you who haven't seen either of these, they showed them working out at the gym all day, making perfect homemade treats, and waiting around their children's school being all judgmental towards working moms. I find all of these representations of stay-at-home mothers SO FALSE. In fact, I've yet to meet any stay-at-home mom who cares at all whether another mother decides to work or not!

There were some very endearing parenting parts by Sarah Jessica Parker's character (Kate) in the movie I Don't Know How She Does It, like when she's telling a new first time mom how wonderful being a mother is and you'll wonder why no one ever told you it's that wonderful but it's contradicted by the amount of the time she's constantly working and away from her family. Other parts try for a closer view of her conflicted feelings regarding her job and motherhood demands, but simply involve her making a childish sorry face towards her husband or making more lists for herself while she internalizes things she's missing out on with her children. At one point in the movie Kate says that her without her job isn't her but her without her husband and children is nothing.

I remember the vulnerability I felt when I first learned we were pregnant with our first child...I was unbelievably happy but also unexpectedly had this image of myself no longer being able to walk around feeling all powerful and successful in my business-y clothes (at that point I'd been working full-time for the past 6 years). It took me by surprise that I felt this way as I had always pictured myself being a mother, but over the next 9 months I had a lot more time to really think about these thoughts and feelings and realized that what I'd be giving up wasn't all that great compared to what I was about to experience with bringing a new life into the world. Still, I held on and told everyone at my current job that I was going to make my official decision about staying or leaving my job after the baby was born. Honestly, as cheesy as this sounds- the decision for me to stay at home with our child was a crystal clear YES! the second I held our baby. I knew in my heart there was no place I could ever be at that time that would feel as good or be as important and it truly has been one of the best decisions we've ever made. I say all the time that I need my baby during their first year of life as much as they need me and to this day, I still feel a deep bond with each of our children and know a lot of that came from their early developmental years that we shared in together. I wish the media did a better job of showing that as well as the moms who like my mom, returned back to work AFTER raising her 3 children!

I caught this book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms by Dr. Laura Shlessinger at the library the other day and while it has drawn some criticisms, it was the encouragement I needed to hear as I continue to forgo my career for our family....

"They number in the millions and they are incredibly important to families and to our society, yet they are under-appreciated, little respected, and even controversial. Who are they? They are the stay-at-home moms.
These are women who know in their hearts that staying home to raise their children is the right choice for the whole family. Whether they do it from the outset of their marriages or make the difficult transition from career-driven women to homemakers, it is a choice that is incredibly rich and rewarding, not to mention challenging. Building on principles developed during her long career as a licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Laura provides a wealth of advice and encouragement to women as they navigate the wonders and struggles of being stay-at-home moms."

I never knew becoming a mother would require me to figure out a new me, but it's been a very worthwhile and satisfying journey~ one that I'm extremely thankful and proud to take on each day regardless of the stereotypes and misconceptions.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Great Gifts

Thought I'd share a quick rundown of some great gifts that I've come across lately....happy shopping!

On a action-oriented level of 1-10, there's no doubt our 2 boys each rank a 10. It seems as if they're biologically inclined to participate (and sometimes rather haphazardly) in any activity involving motion, which in my mama eyes = DANGER! But, thanks to this awesome Bern helmet, they've got they're precious noggins covered for skateboarding, biking, and with this cool winter liner- even SKIING! SOLD x2 for us.

Can I get a woot! woot! for extra warm and toasty gloves with touch screen features on the finger tips? Above are pairs in both mens and womens by Eddie Bauer ~ perfect gift for all in my book! As I mentioned last year, their pj pants (both mens and womens) are phenomenal as well. While talking Eddie Bauer, I recently caught a photo of Sarah Jessica Parker sporting a great NAVY parka (see below) and decided to go on the hunt for one....turns out Eddie Bauer has a cute one of those too! (click here). Since it's pricey (but very well made and a complete necessity to us winter weather dwellers), I've noticed that they've been frequently running it on one of their 40% outerwear sales....just sign up for the emails to stay current on which type of sale is running.

I once bought a pair of really cute gold triangle earrings by Oh Hello Friend from Logan's local boutique Roolee, and absolutely LOVE them! I've since browsed their online shop and quickly fell in love with EVERYTHING they sell. Definitely a cute little shop to bookmark!

Hickory Farms Holiday Petits Fours
Everybody likes pretty deserts around the holidays ~ right? These Petits Fours from Hickory Farms are pretty AND delicious! WARNING: you'll want to try one in every flavor, so maybe buy 2 boxes while you're at it!  For sale now in the Cache Valley Mall for $19.99 per box. p.s. their Turkey Sausage Snack Sticks are also a big hit with my boys. ;)