July 29, 2010

notes on my pillow.

[yes. this post is out of order.  we are now in Idaho, these letters were written while i was in Austen for a PTA conference.  the professor was home with his young.]

i returned home late Sunday night to find love notes stuck under my pillow.
i REALLY adore little girls.
Dear Mom,
I miss you so much! I love you so much!
I wish I could see you right now!
Well I have to go play family game night
but it won't be the same without you!
Love, Anna

Dear Mom,
I miss you so much i can't stop thinking about you and crying.
Drew has been bothering me
and Jakob has been fighting with Drew
and Anna has been acting weird lately.
 and like i said, i miss you so much that i haven't been working. 
And Dad is not controlling his temper.
Love, Ellie
ps.  Lily and Leah have been acting weird.
Love, Ellie.

July 28, 2010

a trip.

because she was a mom of older kids when i was a mom of lotsa babies, my neighbor Maria taught me much.  she gave me perspective when i was overwhelmed and worried that i was ruining the perfect bundles God kept sending me (4 kiddos in 4 years...  oh what a time of life.)

Maria taught me to think "We're taking a TRIP."  not "We're taking a VACATION."
trip = happiness
vacation = disappointment
No, trips are not vacations for mom. 
They take a lot of planning and A LOT of patience.
often i need a vacation after my trip.

this wisdom has served me well.
turns out, i LOVE trips.

i procrastinate the heck out of cleaning my house and packing and planning, but then when we have only one evening before we need to leave, i turn into the packing genie.
i often make the professor go to the pool or the park with my kids... it seems like they have so much pent up excitement about the trip it is impossible to do anything with them around.  plus they are continually finding treasures they have to bring, or taking things off my piles... so, i send them away.

this time i tried a new way (thanks taneil)
i cleaned my whole house, did all the laundry and put the laundry away.
then, i packed.
actually, i piled and the professor put everything into suitcases while the kids were sleeping.

i packed a small totebag for each kid including a new book, a sticker book, a notebook, some little toys, and a ziplock full of writing utensils.
i tell the kids that whatever i find on the floor will be thrown away.  but i don't really do it.
we just clean up at every bathroom stop and stick stuff back in the tote bags.

we have 2 little tv/dvds that we bought years ago from Target.

i bought the new BBC earth movie, narrated by Oprah, called Life, i think.
and, the new Barbie Mermaid movie.
And- we got some books on tape at the library to keep the Professor and me awake.

we left at 6am and arrived in Rexburg, ID at 2am the next morning.
the kids were great.
the professor was only a little bit cranky.
(this makes me laugh the most... when Todd looses his temper because the kids are fussy.  i calmly remind him that being in the car for 20 hours is hard, especially if you're 6.  If HE is having a hard time staying happy he should understand when they are having a hard time being happy.)
overall, i have found if i can stay calm, the ride is nice.
if i'm cranky, heaven help us!!

i hope my kids will always look back on these road trips with fond memories.
i cherish the memories of past trips.

like the time we got pulled over for speeding and we had 4 screaming kids in the backseat.
the cop said, "thank you for keeping them in their car seats.  please drive carefully"
he let us go without a ticket.
i guess he understood why the professor was in a hurry.

or the time the professor let me drive
(he HATES for me to drive, because i'm not good at directions and he's not as patient with the kids.)
he told me get on the interstate and drive straight for 4 hours.
i woke him up 4 hours later and asked him if we could stop by some road site.
he said, "No, that's about 4 hours out of our way."
he went back to sleep.
i woke him up again, "Uh, honey, i just saw another sign for that place."
turns out i had driven 4 hours SOUTH instead of WEST.

or the time we were coming home from a reunion and our air conditioning broke, a belt on our minivan broke, and right as we were gliding into a nasty motel, drew said, "My tummy hurts."  he started puking all over the seat.
by the end of the trip all 4 kids were puking and pooping every few minutes.  the van stunk and i was NEVER going to Idaho again.
but, trip pains are like labor pains.
you forget by next summer and find yourself on the road again...

remember, if it's REALLY, REALLY bad, it will be a GREAT story later!!
now, i'm off to rescue Grandpa's Garden from his many helpful grandchildren pickers.

July 26, 2010


we drove over to josie's this morning to say goodbye.
the girls wore their new dresses.
i gave her the flowered quilt that she had admired in my craft room.
she said, "jakob, God-willing, i will see you as a missionary in my country in 8 years.  and, i will take care of you."

it was 8 in the morning, and my kids are all eating the lollipops that i brought home with me from Austin.
have a sweet day!
ps.  don't look too close at the dresses.  especially leah's.  remember, i only got an 85%.
and, i didn't make the baby's dress.  well, i did make her one, but i'm not finished yet.

pps.  we decided to leave for our MONTH trip to Idaho tomorrow morning at 5am. (one week earlier than planned.)  i have to pack A LOT today.  and, i'm really procrastinating getting back to real life.  i LOVE packing.  i LOVE packing.  i LOVE packing.  i LOVE driving 20 hours straight thru.  i LOVE driving 20 hours straight thru...  love it.  right?!

July 23, 2010


ready, set...

i'm off to a pta conference.
fun, fun!!
i hope the professor spends his days in the sun {not behind the computer screen}
and that he remembers to put elastics in the girls hair- so they can see.
love ya!

July 22, 2010

finished. {almost}

yesterday, we finished sewing my new temple dress...
i also finished organizing/de-cluttering the last room in my house.
it was a bitter-sweet end.
i have learned so much this summer.
my home is so fresh and clean and de-cluttery.

do you know how hard it is to take pictures of a room?
it's really hard.
especially with my 50mm lens.
that's why i haven't posted pictures of my new organization...

as we were sewing yesterday, josie told me the story of her marriage.
she was 21, he was 36.
he loved her because she could sew dresses and make money to feed him.
he drank beer, but she didn't know how much until after they were married.
if he got a job, he never went.
he slept all day and got drunk all night with her money.
in Philippines there is no divorce.
but, he didn't hurt her.
because she told him she would kill him.
when i first met her she told me, if i was not a member of your church i would have killed my husband.
yesterday, i believed her.
she said one time he tried to hit her, she was sewing and she threw her sharp scissors.  she missed him, and they stuck into the wall.
he knew she was strong.
she told him, "you would be easy to kill... i will put poison into your drink when you are drunk."
he was scared of her, and never hurt her.
she is a strong woman.
today he is sick.
he still sleeps all day but cannot get drunk.
i told josie she should take him with her on her daily exercise walks in the mornings.
she said, "No.  He is slow and I am very fast."
Ha!  what a life she has lived.

josie told me that she is finished sorting through the things that i gave her.
{it was a TON of stuff}
she made 2 piles, one for her and one for her son-in-law's family
she said her sister begged her to bring back shoes... even if they are old.
she said that when she was younger she never had money to sew curtains, curtains are for rich people.
so, she pieced together the scraps from sewing her dresses and hung 'scrappy' curtains.
i asked if she still had them?
she said no, she never keeps things, because she always has family that can use them.
and her house doesn't have closets.
oh what i would give to have that pieced together curtain...

last weekend, josie and her daughter and son in law drove to Ft. Worth to visit with some of their friends from the Philippines.
they slept at my mom's house.
josie said, "your mother is very beautiful."
i asked if she thought we looked alike?  (we don't.)
she said, "Oh no, your mother is much more beautiful I think.  For sure when she was younger.  Smart and beautiful."
i asked if she thought i looked like my younger sister.
she said, "Aaaa-me.  Yes, you look like Aaaa-me.  But she is more fat."
i love that woman.

she told me it is hard for her to eat a candy bar in America.
because it costs one dollar.
and one dollar is 45 pesos in Philippines.
2 kilos of rice cost her one dollar.
Josie has been a teacher for 21 years, 8 hours a day.
she makes 12,000 pesos in one month.  $300 a month.
and she has a great job.
i gave her some fabric from my "dress-up" box.
"what do you make with this?" she asked picking up leftover Tiger scraps.
"A costume, for my boys, to play."
she smiled.
"Oh, this is good.  In Philippines you are rich if you have costume."
i hope her little grandson is the cutest, richest tiger on the block.
she told me that her suitcases are so full she hopes they can fit her on the plane.
i do too.
i love that woman.

josie has been sewing a bit on my sewing machine.
i tease her that she sews like my mother drives.... FAST, then slow... FAST, then slow.
she's not smooth with the pedal.
she complains about my big presser foot- even though i have 20 she can choose from.
her presser foot is smaller...
she tells me, her machine is for sewing dresses, mine is for kelting {quilting}.
no, i tell her, my machine is also for sewing.
i make her promise not to go to Philippines and tell stories
"oh you should see how my American friend can not sew... she was fast and sloppy."
i keep reminding her that some Americans can sew clothes.

Josie commented how easy it was to thread my machine and was over-joyed with the back stitch button.
She said that her machine had a lot of knobs that she had to thread the string between.
"Like this?" i asked, pulling down an old machine that i have for decoration.
"Yes!" she exclaimed, "My machine is just like this, it is good, where did you get this?"
from a friend.  for free.  i have no idea how it works.  but, i keep it.
because it's cute.
and blue/green.
josie- i am TOTALLY buying you a new sewing machine for Christmas.
if i don't forget.
please, don't let me forget.

July 21, 2010

keep on keepin on.

yesterday, i soaked up the rays, played with friends, and let my hair frizz with chlorine pool water conditioning.
life is good.

i also read this talk... Love of Father and Mother.
it's great.
this is my favorite part.

you can't force your boys, nor your girls into heaven.
you may force them to hell--
by using harsh means in the efforts to make them good,
when you yourself are not as good as you should be...

you can only correct your child in love, in kindness-by love unfeigned, by persuasion and reason.
along that note...
yesterday i threw leah into the pool.
she was being a stink to her little friend.
and i told her if she wasn't nice i would throw her into the pool.
i did it with a smile... does that make it right?
she was kind after that.
no.  i'm not a perfect mother either. 

note 2.
none of us can possibly correct in kindness every time.
it is impossible.
so, that's why i vote for letting things go.
if you can't correct kindly, ignore it.
put it on your list of "things to teach later"
remember- i hate consistency.
i'm not sayin' i'm right, i'm just sayin' when i'm loosin' it...
i work on fixing ME first and teaching THEM later.
i get quiet when i'm stressed or upset... very quiet.
this is a LEARNED behavior.
then later, when i'm under control, we talk it over.

and, i PROMISE this is not a blog where i tell you everything i've ever learned about parenting.
because truthfully, all i've learned about parenting is...
kids are great.  i have a long way to go.

remember my favorite scripture...
he maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.  praise ye the Lord.  psalms 113:9
it's not about what i teach them.
they'll be ok.
their Father is God.
it's about becoming.  learning.  growing.
nothing shapes a soul better than being a parent.
it is truly a refiners fire and i am a better person because of the marathon i am running.  
the end.

oh, ok.  here are a couple more quotes that i love.

Our Heavenly Father, who loves us COMPLETELY and PERFECTLY, permits us to have experiences that will ALLOW us to develop the traits and attributes we NEED to become more and more Christlike.
Elder James B. Martino... read this it's pretty much my favorite talk on learning from our trials... so good!!! All Things Work Together for Good.

There is NO FAILURE except in giving up.
Elder Robert D. Hales... read this amazing talk, Our Duty to God

Never stop starting.
Shana Sylvester, one of my favorite mothers

Your child is Heavenly Father's child.
You are about His work.
He has promised to gather His children, and 
He is with you.
Elder Robert D. Hales... i told you this was an amazing talk, Our Duty to God

The greatest LOVE and the greatest TEACHINGS should be in our HOMES.
Elder Robert D. Hales... seriously,  read this again...  Our Duty to God.

The greatest FAITH we have will be within our homes as we REMAIN STRONG in the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
Elder Robert D. Hales, what did he say???  
Trials and Tribulations of parenthood....  YUP-- It's HARD!  it's REFINING.

oh how i love this scripture... print it out and hang it on your refrigerator.  read it when you're trying to get your kids to eat dinner and you're worried that they will be 21 and still surviving on vitamin-fortified Frosted Flakes.

...let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed. doctrine and covenants 123:15,17
love this.
i know God loves parents.
i know God loves little children.
i know that He helps us every day... even the days when He "permits us to have experience that will allow us to develop the traits and attributes we need to become more and more Christlike."
even then.
He love us.
Life is good.
Families are GREAT.
the end.
of another book.

July 20, 2010

time out.

 i LOVE time out.
this is one great thing we have done through the years.
it works.

we have a bench.
when kids are fighting and defiant we tell them to go to the bench.
we used to call it the sorry seat.

the little girls count to 10.
if they are still cranky, i have them count more.
if they need help, i count and they copy.
when they're done they say SORRY!!  we hug and they go play with a smile.

my little kids LOVE time out.
when lily does something wrong she often sends herself to time out.
she counts.
smiles and gets down.
if leah gets to sit in time out, lily is jelous and cries to join her.
the most important part of time out is the HAPPY ending.
Hooray!!  You changed!!  You will obey mommy and be sweet!!!  go, have fun!!
do not allow yourself to do the last minute lecture.
do that at the beginning.
end happy.
{note-  i have often known kids who have a hard time apologizing.  i think they feel shame and embarrassment.  my kids are all very quick to apologize.  yes, they do a lot of bad things... but they are adorable at SORRY!! with a smile.  i think this is the way to go.  because, i know that all of us mess up.  we all sin.  a lot.  Satan wants us to hide when we sin.  God wants us to repent quickly and be on our way.  Repentance is a change of heart and it does not need to be an ominous, guilt-ridden thing.  these kids aren't BAD.  just mortal.  and learning.  time out does not need to punish, just distract!!}

my mom used to make my brothers count on the stairs for timeout.  i remember when my younger brother, Aaron went to get his 4 year old shots the doctor was surprised at how well he could count.  my mom laughed- lots of practice.

i had a professor at byu that used to make his kids do push-ups when they were in trouble.
3 of his sons held the high school record for push-ups.
the bigger kids sit for 2 minutes- if they go happily
the time is quickly increased depending on how long it takes them to get to the bench.
if they are crying or throwing pillows while they are sitting on the bench, i don't start their time.
sometimes they sit for 30 minutes.
the important thing to remember is that the bench is not a punishment, it is a distraction.
a place where they can choose to pull themselves together or not.
IF they don't choose happily to go to timeout, then they get sent to their room, for a long time.
or they get grounded or soap in their mouth or i give them an extra job or i make them write "I will talk nicely to my mother" 100 times or i say a really fun thing we're planning to do and how they won't be able to do it with us.
ha!  it is kinda fun to come up with consequences.
although, honestly, my kids are pretty quick to say sorry so i hardly ever get to use them.
my grounded is usually grounded from screens-- computer, game boy, tv.
so, my grounded kids are usually outside.
you can be creative with punishments... i always tell my kids
--you are not in trouble, just sit on the bench and calm down.
IF they won't, they get in trouble.

when 2 kids are fighting they BOTH go to the bench together.
until they can each say what they did that was wrong, apologize and forgive each other.
they choose how long they sit.
{i got this idea from the Eyres-- think Joyschool.  i learned MUCH of my parenting from that family.  i think they call it the repenting bench.}
i'm looking for a soft heart.
i NEVER referee my kids.
i let them referee themselves.
finding what each of them did wrong.
it really works.
if one particular child is really crabby and unwilling to make peace, i'll sometimes say their sibling can get up first.
when crabby child is ready to make amends, they have to find their sibling and have them tell me they are forgiven.

what i love about time out is that it isn't a fight.
i NEVER hold them on the bench.
i just calmly tell them to go sit on the bench.
if they don't go i tell them they can choose 2 minutes or 5 minutes.
if they are disobedient at church, or when we are out... i just tell them when we get home they will owe me some time.
some sundays we have the whole clan sitting for 30 minutes...
making up for the 30 minutes of HELL they put me through during our church service.
 i really like time out.
just sayin'.

 An EDIT for Katie....  she has a 2 year old who screams all through time out.


first-- i would not let a screaming kid off the bench.
i would just leave him sitting until he calmed down.
ignore him.  don't let him see that you are bothered at all by his screaming.
hum, sing, clean the house...
this is one reason why i like counting to 10 for small kids instead of time.
he can scream all he wants, but when he's ready to get up he has to calm down to count.
you ignore the screaming and every now and then ask  "Are you ready to get up?"
if he says yes you say, "Ok, let's count.  ONE." wait for him to say one.  "two".
if he won't count, just walk away.
if he gets off, act surprised.
"Oh No!  We must count before we get down."
just sit him back on the chair and with a smile ask, "Are you ready to count?"
in a happy voice, say "One!..."
When he finally counts to 10 say Hooray!!!  You did it!!  Give him five!  Great job!  Dance...
Are you ready to get dressed now?!!!
it works.  don't give up.
if you can stay calm, he will learn that time out isn't that bad.
i have had MANY beastly children... do not fight them.
pretend you are on a tv show and you are just the happy, sweet mother.
happy on the INSIDE.  let your face show that you are NOT happy with your child's choices.
calmly place him on the bench.  with a disappointed face.
"Oh my.  this is NOT how my good boy behaves."
"You are a good boy.  This is NOT a good choice.  Sit nice and count to 10."
you can be firm and sweet.
If he continues to get down just put him back on and say firmly...
"No.  we do not get off the bench."  look him right in the eye.
"Are you ready to count?"
Firm, sad and disappointed while you are insisting obedience. 
Happy and forgiving when he starts to count.
Children learn a lot from your face. 
NOT ANGRY... sad, disappointed, surprised.
followed by excited, happy, forgiving.

if you remain calm, the bench will work wonderfully for you.
i'm sure of it.

I also like to show little kids what they look like.
So sometime when he's not upset I'll tell them a story.
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jakob of the woods.
He was playing with his toys and his mom wanted him to get dressed.
When she brought his clothes he ran away and said, "NO! I don't want to wear clothes, I want play."
His mommy said, "if you do not obey you will sit on the bench until you are ready to get dressed."  jakob of the woods sat on the bench and he screamed and screamed and kicked his feet, WAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!  (really cry and tantrum while your little guy laughs.)
jakob of the Woods was not happy.  was he?
Jakob of the Woods had a friend.
Prince Jakob.
Prince Jakob liked to fight dragons and climb trees but before he could go outside his mother told him he had to get dressed.  Prince Jakob wanted to keep playing with his toys and he said, "No mom, i don't want to get dressed now."  His mother sent him to timeout.
Does Prince Jakob cry and scream in time out?
Nope!  he says "OK mom.  I'll count to 10."
He sits and he counts and he is happy.
then he gets dressed and goes out to ride horses and slay dragons.
Prince Jakob is happy.

If he is a young 2 I might save time out for hitting or defiant behavior.
I would probably distract him if he is fighting getting dressed.
And, he might be a little young for Boy of the woods stories... unless he's an older 2.
I start with shorter stories.  You can use a baby doll if one is close by...
With my almost 2 i do things like... if she screams when i say it's nap time...
"Lily,OH MY!  why are you screaming? {act shocked}  silly.  you talk nice."
"Momma it's time for bed.  NOOOO BED!!  WAHHHH!   WAHHHHH!" 
she laughs.
i say, "no, we don't scream."
"Lily, time for bed."
"OK!  Love you momma.  Night Night."
"NOOO!!  WAHHHH!"  she laughs 
"Night Night momma.  Love you."
"See?  You are a good girl."
Honestly, she will just laugh and lay right down to sleep.
When you show them the difference they laugh and understand and they think about it next time.

This may sound stupid to you, but it really works.  I do stories for A LOT.
with my 3 almost 4 year old we play pretend.
I say, "You are the mommy and I am Leah of the Woods."
I tell her to send me to bed.
Then I pitch a royal tantrum.  I use every excuse... I need a drink, I have to go potty, i'm scared....
She laughs.
Then I say, "I'm the mommy, you are Princess Leah."
"Time for bed dear."
She says, "Ok Mother, I will obey."
I smile and tickle her and tell her what a beautiful, obedient, happy child she is.
"Why are you so good?"
We do this roll play A LOT!  For sharing toys, eating food, sitting reverently at church, staying in bed, etc.
teaching is better than consequencing. 

good luck!  and, don't worry...  he'll grow out of it!!
HA!!  i don't claim to be an expert.  but i do have experience.
maybe time out doesn't work for everyone.
but, i do think it can work for everyone IF you can do it calmly.
as a distraction, NOT a punishment.
and, i'm a dork.
i have to laugh that i'm actually telling people about my silly stories.  but, they do work!!

July 19, 2010


oh my gosh!!
i just love these guys.

my brothers sometimes laugh at me for having such a large family.
i hold little lily and kiss her till she has the most intoxicating giggle... then i tell her-
"Uncle Matt didn't want YOU!!"
honestly, even uncle matt agrees that life wouldn't be as bright without 6!!

i believe that children are gifts.
"Happy is he who has a quiver full of them" --psalms something??
i have been blessed abundantly.
and...  although the thought of being pregnant AGAIN makes me so NOT excited.
{ugh.  pregnancy affects my brain... i spend 9 months fighting CRANKY with all my might}
it's just 9 months of hard.
then i have an eternity of complete joy.
no.  i'm NOT pregnant. 
i'm just sayin'  it's hard.... very hard... but worth it.
i have a sign in my house that always makes me smile.
love it.

it's not just 6 that i love.
it's each individual kid.
i really can't imagine life without any one of them.
seriously... THIS is what life's all about.

July 17, 2010

summer ideas- play with lepers.

anna is in my sunday school class at church.
we were talking about gratitude and the 10 lepers.
i'm afraid my description of skin and noses rotting off may have been too graphic.
i've seen a leper creep into almost every pretend play this week.
love her.

ps.  this is my in camera shot... i know i could edit it to make it brighter, but i think i need to adjust my Nikon automatic settings... maybe ISO?  anyone know more about this than me???

July 16, 2010

feature friday??!!

i think i'm being featured at this blog... http://youarewhatyoukeep.blogspot.com/  
it's a cute blog about a woman who is on a mission to declutter.
she calls it "you are what you keep... living with the BEST i have."

go check her out!

July 15, 2010

Ten on Thursday.

1. Sewing-- i really want a 60's dress.  i bought this pattern, and some fabric, and now i need to sew it.  i could buy a dress that i would love from Shabby Apple, if i wanted to spend $100.  But, I'm making it... for $15 of fabric.
It may not be great when i'm finished.  But... i'm learning a skill, i'm using my resources.  i HOPE that the more i practice the more i will be able to sew cute trendy things that i can't afford to buy, for me and for my kids.  i don't know.  sewing is something that i go back and forth on... is it worth it???  i hope sew.  :)

2. Laundry-- this whole summer i have rocked at laundry.  {prior to this summer, laundry was the bane of my existence.}
what's the trick??  my friend corrie told me she does laundry on Monday and Thursday, and that it's not a big deal... she just does it and is done with it.  so, that's what i've done... Monday and Thursday, it's a priority, and i finish.  it's FREEDOM from the angry laundry Gods that haunt my dreams with visions of unfolded laundry baskets.  except this week.  i have baskets of unfolded laundry.  and, i'm haunted. today.  today.  OH-- and want your laundry to smell LOVELY??  Try Arm and Hammer Linen and Lavender flavor drier sheets {i found them at Target}.  Heavenly.
  3.  Bleach-- One more laundry tip... bleach without a front loader washing machine.  Todd's grammy told me this tip and i especially use it on my kitchen towels and washcloths.  Pick HOT and SMALL load... Dump in detergent and bleach, let the water fill to the small load capacity and agitate for a little while, then add your whites and turn your load capacity to large.  It works wonderfully.  I actually love bleach now. 

4. Houses-- i went to my friend's house for a birthday party.  she lives 40 minutes outside town.  in a house that cost around $100,000.  the outside is not anything wonderful, and it's old... but the yard is dreamy and they have decorated the inside so adorably... i think i could live in a house like that.  we've always lived in new houses, in nice neighborhoods... i THINK i could live in a smaller, older house in a less than desirable neighborhood, IF i had a large yard and decorated the inside charmingly.  the professor isn't so sure.  i did break my own rule about no realtor.com before an offer.  it seams like i can find houses i love for around  $400,000 $225,000 most places.  But, i really want to buy a house for $140,000...  i just do, i think.  {the house we live in now cost $140 and it is great... if only it had a basement and a bigger back yard.}  i want to get out of debt fast-- student loans.  and pay off our house-- and be one of the "millionaires next door".  i wonder how long this ideal will last??...

5.  Style-- i'm plain.  mom-cute.  sometimes i see people with style and courage and i wish i had what they have.
i wish i could paint my girls room funky like this room.  i wish i would EVER wear something fun like this.  and, i wish there was a bone in my body that would let me pick GREEN counter tops.  (aren't they fun?)  see how cute and trendy that mom is... someday?!

6.  Green Chicken Enchiladas--  want a great recipe??  i got this recipe from my latino, adorable neighbor, deborah, who caters.  i've brought it to many people for dinner, and served it to 100 teenagers... everyone ALWAYS asks for the recipe.  and, it's EASY.  very easy.  so, i share.

Chicken Enchiladas.
1 big can of GREEN enchiladas sauce.
1 small can of cream of chicken soup
corn tortillas
2 cans of canned chicken.
(yes, use canned... the first few times i shredded my own chicken, and it's good if you want to take the time... but no one can tell the difference if you use canned chicken and it's so easy.  my latino friend, she uses canned.)

mix enchilada sauce and cream of chicken... put a little on the bottom of your 9x13 then dip your tortillas in it (like french toast) and lay them out on the bottom of the pan (think tortilla lasagna).  continue to layer saucy tortillas, chicken, cheese, tortillas, chicken, cheese...  bake at 350* for about an hour.  serve with sour cream.  mmmm.

7.  CUPCAKES-- i made perfect, adorable cupcakes {for 100!} and they weren't even hard.  actually, i had a friend bake them... using a BOX red velvet cake mix.  Then, i made
Cream Cheese Icing
(one recipe will ice 50 cupcakes with leftover--really, icing goes far.  i think 6x the recipe and now i have icing in my freezer for the next 20 years.)
1 8oz. cream cheese
1/2c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powder sugar
1 Tb. milk.**  do not add more milk, even if you think it's too thick.  this is PERFECT.  just keep mixing.
(you can make this the day before and just wait till right before your event to frost.)
Frosting is EASY and fast.  just use a disposable frosting bag and cut the tip off.  don't frost all the way on the edges, and just swirl it in a circle, like you're spraying whipped cream on top of it.
i topped my cupcakes with purple m&m's from walmart... they have tons of fun colors you could match any party decor.
i'm definitely doing this again.  this was my inspiration cupcakes from chubbyhubby... i was so worried that mine would look homemade, but they were fancy.  you can do cute cupcakes.  really.

8.  MOVIES-- i really love old-fashioned love stories. i really like netflixs at night when the kids are in bed.  i really like BBC.  especially Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Daniel Deronda, etc.  but, i HATED Mansfield Park.  it was dumb.  because of the bbc actress, she was not lovable.  and i love Lie to Me, Dirty Jobs, and Brady Bunch.  I'm obsessed with their cute clothes and Alice.  if The Brady's were real, i'd want to be just like them.

9. PLAY-- i don't play with my kids.  i supervise.  i teach.  i talk.  i bathe.  i cleanse.  i organize their play.  i craft with them. i work with them.  i tell them stories and read them books. and i watch.  sometimes i play games with them and sometimes i do puzzles with them..  but mostly i cook or clean or take care of babies while they play.  the professor plays... he wrestles, he rides bikes, he arranges great wars with nerf guns, he is the king of TIGER on the trampoline.  and, i'm ok with this.  i actually really like my place in the family.  is that bad?
{note- i USED to play.  when i only had jakob, i couldn't clean ever because i played and entertained all day long.  when drew came 16 months later, i had a break down.  i could not play with jakob all day and take care of my life... so i became the manager instead of the play-mate.  i learned to get out a box of toys, set my boys in front of them, and walk away to cook dinner while they played.  it was a HARD learning process, but i do believe that is one of the reasons why i can handle so many kids.  i hope my kids won't be scarred for life because they had a mother that never played barbies with them...}

10.  Barbies-- And, that leads me to my number 10.  i bought a new ken doll this week.  because, on the way to the store, i asked my girls about their Barbie games.  I was really curious what they played.  (When i was little, we were really weird with our Barbies- like i remember our Barbie getting raped?! how did i even know what that was?!  so now i ask.)  The girls started off... well, we only have Edward, because the other ken's head fell off and you threw him away, so we had to pretend that Edward was married to both of us.  HA!!!  I just laughed and told them NEVER to tell our christian friends about this... us Mormon's have a hard time living down the polygamy thing.  we bought a new ken.  :)

11. Oh, i had one more.  Know what i did?  Cause I'm a dork...  I took pictures of myself in a swimsuit, in the bathroom mirror, because i can't figure out my body type.  This blog talks about what clothes you should buy to fit your body.  I can't tell if I'm and A figure- Pear (i am small chested and bummy), an I figure- Celery (i'm not super large anywhere), or an H figure- Apple (because my tummy is my most embarrassing place).  Even after i took the pictures, i still can't tell.   I know, silly but frustrating none-the-less.

July 13, 2010

summer ideas- take time for toads.

run for you life little toad!!  run!!
i laugh at my little "summer ideas"
we are NOT taking trips to disney world
or Tahiti
my kids are not in ONE camp
not taking swimming lessons
we haven't even gone to one library event or to barnes and nobles.
not once.
we have bought new books at Sam's a couple of times.
and, we have gone to the library-- just not for their magical summer program
we have hung out with friends.
we have gone to the dollar movies.
we have take one trip, 30 minutes away to a community swim center that cost $2 per person and has 2 water slides.

life is cheap and easy.
we have time to tame toads.
and do lots of this
and this
today at the pool i thought.
these are the days.
a neighbor asked... are these ALL your kids??
yup, i smiled as i lay covered in tanning oil on my lawn chair...
it's a hard job.

it's that time of year... the professor is applying for teaching positions at universities across the country.
south carolina.
some in texas.
and this is only the beginning...

i love this country.
i know i can be happy anywhere.
but I HATE transition, change, saying goodbye.
i feel like we will be saying good bye for a year.
i try not to think about it, but it is there.
seeping into my thoughts.
i forbid myself from looking at university websites or real estate sites, until we have an actual offer.
but... i do find myself ALMOST looking.

{i took these pictures out of my car window on Saturday... we were driving back from Post- about 40 minutes outside Lubbock.  have i told you lately that i really love lubbock?}

July 12, 2010

summer ideas- talk sweet.

done with cooking for 100.
back to cooking for 8.
it has been raining a lot here lately...
so my brood has spent a lot of time indoors.
they've become a bit sassy and irritable.
i pulled out some old jars... put 10 pieces of candy in each one and told the kids
"this is my candy, that i will share with you at the end of the day, as a gift, if you remember to talk sweetly.
if you forget to talk sweetly, we will just share your sweets with the person you were sassy to... get it?"
they were all excited.
and, a swedish fish does compensate quite nicely when you have a sassy child.
my friend taneil tried this tactic to rid her kiddos of potty humor...
{taneil banned 3 words from her home... Poop, Idiot and Jerk... i think.  either jerk or booger.  she ate a candy anytime her kids said one of the banned words.  i love it poopy head!!}
it works great.
for everything except your goal to loose 5 lbs.
{ha!  this reminds me of a time when i told my boys- you can have play guns, but do not shoot people, only pretend bad guys.  my oldest said quickly... "No mom!  There is a pretend bad guy right in front of your face!"  ha! ha!  smart kiddos.  random story.}
i should note that the professor and i have our own jars.
yes, there have been many times when i hear myself yelling.
and then i smile and say, "and you can get yourself one of my candies on the way out..."
oh. sweet teaching moments.

July 08, 2010

summer ideas- chore charts and NON-consistency.

i have had MANY chore charts in my day.
this is our latest and greatest.
actually, the rule is only mom can mark off a job, but i let ellie pose for this picture.  :)

when i was younger, my friend heidi always had the coolest jobs.
i remember writing in my journal... "when i'm a mom, i want to have job lists like hers..."
she would have to bake something, read a book, play the piano and the usual, clean a bathroom, etc....

this is our list.
get dressed
teeth and hair
bed and room
chores- dishes or trash
practice music
ask mom
i have this quote on the bottom "I learned the value of hard work by working hard." by Margaret Mead

i just printed out a chart from microsoft word and stuck it in a $3 Michael's frame, that i had.
(remember, i'm not buying stuff...) 

it is a wonderful start to our day.
and, it makes me happy, everyday.

-- the order is important...
i always teach them to, start with your body, move to your environment.
Chores before fun.

--i like that this chart wipes clean everyday.

--i like that i can personalize it for certain days.

--i use white board markers, and they work great...
BUT if i were buying them, i would get the overhead projector wash with water thin markers... i think they would be PERFECT.

Some THOUGHTS on Being Consistent With Chores.
actually, this may surprise you, but i don't believe in CONSISTENCY as a parent.
i hate consistency.  {i KNOW... can you believe i'm writing this???}
i think that being consistent often gives parents an excuse to be contentious.
if i have a morning where i don't have the energy to do chores and keep it light and joyful.
we don't do them.
and life still goes on.
some days, we leave the beds unmade and the breakfast dishes on the counter and head to the park.
these days are my favorite days.
being consistent-- blah!
i'm always changing things, coming up with new systems...
a new season, a new theory...
It also helps that i am married to Mr. DEPENDABLE, non-deviating...
we must have oatmeal on mondays, eggs on tuesday, cream of wheat on wednesday...
the professor is consistent, and i am the wind that keeps everyone happy and flowing in his general direction.
i really don't care if we eat oatmeal on monday.

BUT... i am REALLY good at getting my kids to do their chores, most days, and they are SELF MOTIVATED and HAPPY while they are doing them.

my kids don't have a tv rule like "only 30 minutes a day" or "you can earn hours" because i don't want to be consistent in that.
if i think they're watching too much tv on a given day, i just turn it off and say "go play"
if they complain... i just smile and say something like,
"i'm your sweet mother, it is my job to protect your brain... and today, it is shrinking from too much tv.  GO PLAY, and someday, when you have children, you can choose to let them have tiny brains..."
but, we do have patterns... MOST days our life is ordered.
really... i think one of my greatest assets as a mother is that i am flexible.
but, i don't hear this much from really good families, so maybe don't listen to this advice.
{here is a WONDERFUL talk, More Diligent and Concerned at Home... suggestion 3-- is be consistent.
i really am conflicted about this... because, i have found, CONSISTENT is what makes me a cranky momma.}

To LOVE is better than to TEACH- a principle.

This is one of the profound moments on my journey to LEARN mothering.
it is a moment that i often reflect on.
a moment where God taught me so i could teach them.

i was a young mother.  
i had a 2 year old, a 1 year old and i was pregnant with Anna.
i had just finished folding baskets and baskets of laundry.
they were ready to be put away, sitting in a line at the top of my upstairs balcony.
the next thing i knew, my boys were laughing and throwing all my laundry off the balcony.
like 6 loads.
in a heap on my entryway floor.
i was devestated and SO MAD.
i was convinced that they knew better.
that they had to be taught.
i remember wanting to throw them off the balcony.
{i know, horrible mommy... they were BABIES!}
right when i was about to YELL... 
to TEACH them not to make MESSES... 
to TEACH them to respect their mother and all MY hard work...  
when i was just about to give it to them and feel completely justified in all my rage because what they had done was WRONG!!!
right at that moment, i felt a still, small voice that asked me...
what is more important?  teaching them to be clean, or teaching them to be kind?
i wondered if my children went off to college and had no idea how to clean a bathroom, or fold their laundry, could they still be good, functioning adults?
i remembered my college room-mates.
they were good girls.
one had a father who was a general authority.
they were messy.
they once cleaned the bathroom with windex and toilet paper.
i remember being surprised that they didn't really know how to clean.
{i'm certain this was just my impression...}
i KNEW at that moment, that it was NOT important to teach my kids to be clean.
i NEEDED to teach them to be KIND even when they were ANGRY.
i NEEDED to teach MYSELF to BE KIND, even when i'm ANGRY.
and...  LOVE is more important.

i will always remember that moment.  sitting at the steps, with my boys in my lap and the mountain of laundry strewn below us.
i hugged them and i cried.
for my weakness and their purity.
i learned that day to tell myself... love them today, you can teach them that tomorrow.

and today, my boys are wonderful!
they don't ever throw clean, folded clothes around the house.
they have learned.
and... i have learned.

be consistent.  yes.
consistently LOVING.  
and, if you cannot teach cleanliness and kindness, pick kindness...
they can learn cleanliness another day.
if you cannot teach potty training and kindness.
pick kindness...
they can learn potty training another day.
if you cannot teach your grand scriptural insights and be kind.
pick kindness... they can learn scriptural wisdom another day.
because if you can't teach with love, you aren't really teaching at all.
you're just enforcing.  
so, i guess i am for consistency... just depends on what your trying to be consistent in.
when it comes to most of life's tasks... i am consistently inconsistent.
when it comes to teaching my kids, loving my kids, keeping calm and carrying on... 
i'm pretty dang consistent.
and surprisingly, when i choose kindness... the other things happen more consistently than you would expect.
it's the loose yourself and you shall find yourself principle.
give up control and you'll find control.
ahhh... the lessons i'm learning...
NOTHING teaches you more than being a mom.
"He taketh the barren woman and maketh her a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord."  
{psalms something...}
An Example of our Daily Routine.
so, i'm sharing what we do...

--CARTOONS- my kids watch tv when they get up, until i get up and at it...

--MORNING DEVOTIONAL- we start with morning devotional, i turn off the tv, we sing, talk about the scripture chapter that they read the day before, and say family prayers

--SCRIPTURE TIME- part of their chores is prayer and scripture...
so, after scripture time, we just sit for 5 more minutes and silently read the next chapter...
some days, i read the chapter out loud to the kids who aren't fast readers, but we don't talk about it yet...
my husband and i have really studied "Watching with all Perseverance" by David Bedner.  It is so good.
He asks, "Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to at, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable?  Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking?" 

My kids have begun looking for 3 questions while they read...
they either mark them with a ? on the side of their scriptures, or they write them on a piece of paper...
the NEXT day, during morning devotional, we just say, "So, what did you learn yesterday in your scripture study?"  and then wait for THEM to tell US.
"Does anyone have any questions?"
When they ask a question, i say, "Ohh, great question.  What do you think?"
i HARDLY EVER answer any of their questions.
We have them look in the scriptures for the answer and occasionally we ask the other kids, "What do you think?"
interactive scripture times are SO MUCH more effective then the sit and listen to me preach scripture times...  love it.

--WORKING TOGETHER- my kids do chores in pairs.
first and third-- do trash, gather it from around the house and take it to the dumpster.
second and fourth-- do dishes, empty the dishwasher and set the table.
i really like seeing them learn to work together.

my bigger kids are each taking piano or violin lessons.
i encourage them to practice each song 3 times every day.
i don't correct them if they mess up.
for me, music is teaching daily discipline.
i want it to be something they love.
i let their teachers correct them at their lesson and i focus on practicing with a smile.

--LAUNDRY- i like that they have a LAUNDRY job everyday...
some days they gather and sort, some days they fold, some days they put away, and some days it's a FREE spot.

during the day, i keep a running list of little jobs that i never do...
like, pair the mismatched socks, vacuum around the edges of the carpet, wash windows, toilets, mop, wash counters, organize the craft cupboard, gather all the shoes in the house and put them in the right closet, vacuum the bedrooms, etc.
Because i'm not consistent, i LOVE the flexibility of this job.
I also LOVE that this job lightens my load as a mother.
I don't have that heavy burden when i see another job that needs to be done around the house that i never get to.

Yesterday, i heard the kids talking...
jakob- "i HATE mopping."
anna- "i LOVE mopping, it's fun".
jakob- "what's your ask mom job, i'll trade you."
anna- "i have toilets.  i LOVE toilets."
jakob- "man, toilets are fun.  please trade."
mom- "what don't you like about mopping?  mopping is fun."
jakob- "i hate sweeping."
mom- "i don't mind sweeping for you."
jakob-  "fine.  but tomorrow can i clean the toilets?"

HA!!  i love it!
seriously, my kids are great workers, i'm afraid that i am lazier than they are.

--READ is a great chore.
some kids take longer to read a scripture chapter,
so they count 20 minutes of scripture study as their read chore.
i LOVE it when they set the timer and curl up on the couch.
i especially love it when the timer rings and they keep on reading.
i don't care if they read for an hour, because i don't care if their chores ever get done...
i mainly use chores as stuff to do BEFORE tv or BEFORE friends...
so, if they spend all day reading and never turn on the tv... i'm ok with that.

when i was a young mom, i worried that forcing my kids to do something would make them resent it.
some of my kids may complain for a minute when they get to read... and i just smile and encourage.
after they start, they are hooked.
i'm all about requiring them to do what i choose.
and in time, they choose it on their own.
{same with tv... we don't have television, just Netflix.  i hate disney channel so i say they can watch tv only if they watch leave it to beaver, or brady bunch, or national geographic or father knows best type shows... at first, they won't choose what i like, but after knowing that they have to, they actually like to.)
i even encourage my little kids do their chores.
my 3 year old will ask, what's next, and i'll tell her she has to read.
she says, "Fine!!" and gets a pile of books.
it's lovely.

--CREATE- this is another great one.
They just have to make something.
Many days, this just expands into our afternoon.
Some kids write songs on the piano,
some play with Play-doh,
some draw,
some make cookies,
some paint.
yes.  create can be messy.  but it is wonderful.
and, i love this job.

we don't always get to this job, but the kids like planning what they are going to practice.
sometimes origami, sometimes it's bike riding, sometimes it's typing.
Create, practice and play are where the kids get to do their summer goals... they choose, i encourage.

--PLAY- another favorite.
this is play not screens.
i love when they play with stuff like legos, barbies, blocks, puzzles, games, outside, etc.

With this job list, my days are lovely.
i have no guilt if we stay home all day, because my kids have done great things.
We are usually done with our list by noon... or at least onto Create, Practice and Play...
so, i have my afternoons free to organize while the little girls sleep.
on the days we go to the pool, we just do the first part of the list, go play by 10 and Create, Practice and Play after lunch while the little girls take naps.
Many days, we don't go on our field trip till 3.
i LOVE going to the park and pool from 3-5pm after naps and before dinner.

NOTE-- this is the other post i wrote this summer on JOBS and letting kids pick their own jobs.
i LOVE this idea...
and i think i will do at the start of EVERY SUMMER or even EVERY MONDAY.
but, it's not the best for every DAY.
it seemed like we were spending A LOT of time writing down our goals each day.
this new chart is flexible enough for them to take ownership of their day...
and, still gives them structure for the things that don't change.

so, once again.  a LONG post, just when i was showing you our new chore chart.
such it is.
and now, time for me to turn off the tv and start my kids on their morning journey.
me-- i'll be making enchiladas for 100... i finished the salsa and mexican rice last night.
wish me luck!!!
fun, fun!!
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