February 29, 2012

organizing with young children.


amy-- i had to laugh when i read your comment on my last post.

honestly, yesterday i went a bit CRAZY!!
ok, a lot crazy.
because my whole house is needing me...
and, everyday i have grand plans of what i'm going to get done...
and, i'm not making ANY progress.
why?
well, because my regular life is so busy and full-time that it's hard to expect that i can add a small thing like, "Organize my whole house" and expect that i'll get it done.
my husband says, "it's not overwhelming honey, just start small, one drawer at a time."
he suggests that i just start with the baby's dresser making a pile of too small clothes...
but i wonder what i'm supposed to do with the pile when i'm done?
and then i remember my storage closet that the kids got into playing dress-up and my heart beats a little bit faster because i know that in order for me to put away too small clothes i have to tackle that closet first.
and, the truth is, i either need to get rid of A LOT... or i need to buy a few more large tupperware boxes.
and, i can't organize because i REALLY need to go grocery shopping-- so my kids have food.
AND
I AM SO SICK OF IGNORING MY KIDS WHILE THEY WATCH TV or PLAY COMPUTER so i can get something done.
my husband even suggested leaving me home alone for spring break while he takes the kids to his parents so i could organize.
and while that sounds mildly appealing...
I DON'T WANT MY WHOLE LIFE TO BE CLEANING MY HOUSE!!!!!!!!!
but... my life CAN NOT function unless my home is ordered.
it just can't.

for example.
my kids CAN'T put away their laundry because their drawers are too full.
i can't find the scissors when i need them because i have 10 junk drawers.
i have stacks of unorganized papers and i keep loosing important things- like the schedule of when and where basketball games/practices are.
and, when my girls pick out their own outfits for church they look like mini-hookers because their dresses are TOO small.
it's my fault-- i have got to sort their clothes so that they can find the clothes that fit them.
yes, everyone says to work WITH the kids... get them to help.
and, helping kids are good...
but not with this-- spring cleaning house overhaul.
it's too hard to do with little eyes saying "OH! Wow! i love that toy that i haven't played with in a year!"
nope.
this is a mother job.


and... i'm ready to TACKLE this.
it's a new day and i have a new plan.

1.  i'm going shopping.
i'm going to buy 3 more large rubber totes.  just to have them if i need them.
i'm also going to buy blag garbage bags for my goodwill.
and, i'm going to buy 2 new preschool workbooks, a new big pack of crayons, and one new pack of play dough, for my little girls.
i'm going to buy PENS because i believe i have 40 pens in my house that don't work and only one that does work, and i can't find that one.
and, a pencil sharpener... a good one.  because i have 280 un-sharpened pencils and my makeup sharpener is just not cutting it!
(i'm also going to buy a TON of groceries-- HEALTHY stuff, because we've been slacking lately and i'm sick, literally, of eating junk...)
i already bought a book on mp3 to listen to while i organize.  i love to learn while i do monotonous tasks!  and, if the truth be told, i'm going to buy some things for my home that i need--
like bunk beds, or book shelves, or a new dresser, or an iphone :).  even though i HATE spending big chunks of money.  i trust that i will know what i need to be ordered and i'm going to get it and not be a martyr to my situation.  we will not go into debt to get things-- but we might not save as much this month as we usually do.
re-decorating is always a good motivator to re-organize.
(last year, we were poor, and i re-did my whole house taking pride in the fact that i didn't buy anything...  i'm not at that same place this year!)

2.  i'm going to straighten up first.
yup.  i'm going to sweep through my whole house making sure it is basically straightened.
i'm going to be strict with my kids-- if they get a snack, they clean it up.
i'm going to unload the dishwasher early and keep my sink clean.
i'm going to throw in a few loads of laundry each morning so i don't get backed up.
i'm going to contain my organizing to one room so that i'm not INSANE with mess during my organizing process.
and, i'm going to severely limit my distractions- turning off the computer, NOT talking on the phone, NOT going to the optional activities-- this includes sending my husband to watch the kids' games even though i really love to go.
it's going to be hard-- but i'm GOING to do this.
i'm giving myself two weeks.

3.  i am NOT going to put my preschoolers in front of the TV.
i'm just not going to do it.
i'm going to pretend that i am SUPER WOMAN!!
i'm going to tell myself that i can organize AND be a great mom to my crazy 5 year old, 3 year old and 10 month old... (and today is a half day, so really i'll have all my punks).
When i have it in my mind that TV is NOT an option, i'm pretty good at finding CENTERS for my kids to play with.
i will pull out something-- maybe animals with blocks and tell them to build a zoo.
they will whine, because they want me to play with them or they want to go on tv... my poor children go through heroine withdraws when i am firm with no tv.  but, it is short lived.
when i am firm, they will begin to play.
sometimes it helps to invite a friend over for them to play with.  sometimes it doesn't.
i'm going to sit them right by me and have them do school work or write their abcs or color on a big box that i'm using to sort.
or stick them all in laundry baskets and tell them that they are lions.
or pull out puzzles.
or play dough.
or...I DON'T KNOW-- but, i'm going to be AWESOME.  seriously.
i'm going to be deliberate with nap time.
i'm going to feed them a healthy lunch, read them one book in my most fun mother voice.  kiss them, tickle them, and INSIST that they nap (or stay in their bed with a book).
i'll probably get frustrated.
honestly, i may turn on the tv after i have put sufficient effort into my mothering...
but, i only feel good about my projects if i FEEL like a good mother first.
because, i am a MOTHER first, not a MAID.

4.  i'm going to organize with a system.
i'm going to have a black bag for goodwill.
a big rubber tupperware for things that need to be stored, a pile for things that belong in a different room, a white trash bag for trash, and a box where i am putting papers that i need to sort.
and, i'm going to have clear packing tape and index cards to label things as i go... i can go back later and print out cute labels.
with kids, labels save my life!
if you want to read how i organize my whole house in two weeks you can read back over my posts for december 2010-january 2011... i really got it done.
this year i'm dealing with just the normal disorder that comes from months of no re-organizing and continued growing... and, having a NEW house.
boy, it takes some time to figure out those systems!
my favorite way to organize is to EMPTY EVERYTHING-- sort it, and then put it all back.
(last year i watched Hoarders while i cleaned-- i would dump everything in a big pile in front of my tv... sort it all and stick it back in the room.  so fun!)
THE KEY TO GETTING ORGANIZED IS TO PURGE!!!!
get in the mindset that you HATE stuff cluttering your life and get RID of it.
don't let yourself get clingy to your things.
things are your enemy!!  :)
it is WRONG for you to keep things you aren't using... it is GOOD for you to GIVE them to people who NEED them!

oh how i am ITCHING TO DO THIS!!
i'm going to do EVERY nook and cranny of my 3400 sq. foot house.
yes i am.
and, i'm going to PRAY my way through my day!!
i'm going to do organize with God's grace.  because i need it.

and, that is my plan.
i am old enough and wise enough to know that it is going to be like taking steps forward in quicksand.
BUT
i have done this before.
and, it is a GOOD thing.
a necessary thing.
it's worth the effort.
some people run marathons every year... i organize my house.
both make your muscles ache-- my bum will not be getting any smaller but emotionally i am so much healthier when my home is in order!!

tie on your bonnets, sisters, we're going to make it to zion!!

February 28, 2012

beauty and the beast- dave berry

why do women sometimes struggle with self worth?
Have you seen this you tube clip?




This essay made me laugh...
i first heard it from this talk "Coming Together and Sustaining Each Other in Righteous Choices" by Renata Forste... it's a GREAT talk, if you're interested.


Beauty and The Beast 
By Dave Barry 
If you're a man, at some point a woman will ask you how she looks. 

"How do I look?" she'll ask. 

You must be careful how you answer this question. The best technique is to form an honest yet sensitive opinion, then collapse on the floor with some kind of fatal seizure. Trust me, this is the easiest way out. Because you will never come up with the right answer. 

The problem is that women generally do not think of their looks in the same way that men do. Most men form an opinion of how they look in seventh grade, and they stick to it for the rest of their lives. Some men form the opinion that they are irresistible stud muffins, and they do not change this opinion even when their faces sag and their noses bloat to the size of eggplants and their eyebrows grow together to form what appears to be a giant forehead-dwelling tropical caterpillar. 

Most men, I believe, think of themselves as average-looking. Men will think this even if their faces cause heart failure in cattle at a range of 300 yards. Being average does not bother them; average is fine, for men. This is why men never ask anybody how they look. Their primary form of beauty care is to shave themselves, which is essentially the same form of beauty care that they give to their lawns. If, at the end of his four-minute daily beauty regimen, a man has managed to wipe most of the shaving cream out of his hair and is not bleeding too badly, he feels that he has done all he can, so he stops thinking about his appearance and devotes his mind to more critical issues, such as the Super Bowl. 

Women do not look at themselves this way. If I had to express, in three words, what I believe most women think about their appearance, those words would be: "not good enough." No matter how attractive a woman may appear to be to others, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she thinks: woof. She thinks that at any moment a municipal animal-control officer is going to throw a net over her and haul her off to the shelter. 

Why do women have such low self-esteem? There are many complex psychological and societal reasons, by which I mean Barbie. Girls grow up playing with a doll proportioned such that, if it were a human, it would be seven feet tall and weigh 81 pounds, of which 53 pounds would be bosoms. This is a difficult appearance standard to live up to, especially when you contrast it with the standard set for little boys by their dolls... excuse me, by their action figures. Most of the action figures that my son played with when he was little were hideous-looking. For example, he was very fond of an action figure (part of the He-Man series) called "Buzz-Off", who was part human, part flying insect. Buzz-Off was not a looker. But he was extremely self-confident. You could not imagine Buzz-Off saying to the other action figures: "Do you think these wings make my hips look big?" 

But women grow up thinking they need to look like Barbie, which for most women is impossible, although there is a multibillion-dollar beauty industry devoted to convincing women that they must try. I once saw an Oprah show wherein supermodel Cindy Crawford dispensed makeup tips to the studio audience. Cindy had all these middle-aged women applying beauty products to their faces; she stressed how important it was to apply them in a certain way, using the tips of their fingers. All the woman dutifully did this, even though it was obvious to any sane observer that, no matter how carefully they applied these products, they would never look remotely like Cindy Crawford, who is some kind of genetic mutation. 

I'm not saying that men are superior. I'm just saying that you're not going to get a group of middle-aged men to sit in a room and apply cosmetics to themselves under the instruction of Brad Pitt, in hopes of looking more like him. Men would realize that this task was pointless and demeaning. They would find some way to bolster their self-esteem that did not require looking like Brad Pitt. They would say to Brad: "Oh YEAH? Well what do you know about LAWN CARE, pretty boy?" 

Of course many women will argue that the reason they become obsessed with trying to look like Cindy Crawford is that men, being as shallow as a drop of spit, want women to look that way. To which I have two responses: 

1. Hey, just because we're idiots, that doesn't mean you have to be; and 

2. Men don't even notice 97 percent of the beauty efforts you make anyway. Take fingernails. The average woman spends 5,000 hours per year worrying about her fingernails; I have never once, in more than 40 years of listening to men talk about women, heard a man say, "She has a nice set of fingernails!" Many men would not notice if a woman had upward of four hands. 

Anyway, to get back to my original point: If you're a man, and a woman asks you how she looks, you're in big trouble. Obviously, you can't say she looks bad. But you also can't say that she looks great, because she'll think you're lying, because she has spent countless hours, with the help of the multibillion-dollar beauty industry, obsessing about the differences between herself and Cindy Crawford. 

Also, she suspects that you're not qualified to judge anybody's appearance. This is because you have shaving cream in your hair. 

February 27, 2012

up the down.


my friend lindsey used the term "running up the down escalator" to describe a typical mothering day.
i laughed.
today was that day.
i have great plans of organizing my whole home this week...
sorting and purging.
40 bags in 40 days was supposed to start last wednesday...
i'm only 6 days behind.
i still think i can.
i'm still running!
and loving...
and cooking...
and cleaning...
and folding...
and hoping...
i haven't given up hope.

funny thing-- i was supposed to be showing God my gratitude by sorting and purging in preparation for Easter.
turns out, the only way i'm ever going to get my home purged and my closets sorted is with His grace.
figures doesn't it?!

time to to go tackle the girls' closet.
again.

up the down!
hah!!
(at least i'm laughing as i trip over myself!!)

to glenn beck.


for some time now, i have been mentally writing an email to my friend, Glenn Beck.
i love that recovering alcoholic, passionate, Mormon, talk show host.
he's half crazy-- but you have to be half crazy to really make a difference in the world.
i can't listen to his show often-- both because of the business of my life and the heaviness of his message.
he is often talking about the end of the world-- the hard things that we are in for.
and, i do believe he is right.
although i don't like thinking about it.
he once described our future as hurricane-Katrina like chaos.
he said, it doesn't have to be a hurricane that will hurt us, it will be the absolute bedlam that follows the hurricane.
the anger, the confusion, the disorder.
that image has stuck in my mind.
i do think we need to be prepared.
to learn skills, to be wise with resources we have now, because some day we may not have those resources.
i often wonder what things my pioneer ancestors would buy today if they were here and they had my resources.
i don't think they would buy $5 wal-mart shoes.
i think they would buy sturdy, leather doc martin type shoes.
anyway... that's not what i would write to my friend Glenn.
i would write this.
Dear Brother Beck,
Thank you for seeing the evil so that i can listen to you and know it is there.
Thank you for living what you believe... for not only preparing your family, but for helping me prepare mine.
sometimes, from watching political debates and listening to talk radio, i find myself in a valley of hopelessness.
i see the mess of our country and i doubt it will every get better.
i often think politics are like soap operas.
i often feel that our country is just spiraling downward into a toilet bowl of immorality, greed and deceit.
i think if i struggle to remain hopeful, it must be even worse for you.
i was reading the other morning and this thought hit me so strongly.
we are fighting a war-- a war of good verse evil.
this is a war that we fought before-- in the pre-existence (Rev. 12:7-12).
and, we WON it then.
we won then... and we will win again.
it's like we're in the playoffs- playing a team we already beat.
in fact, we doubled their score.
yes, it's a tough game... but not a hopeless game.
i believe that long ago many of us spoke out for the Savior and His plan.
we were heard and we led and many followed. 
we will be heard again. we will crush his head
we will win.
many who are not Mormon might not believe in the pre-existence.
ok.
i still think everyone understands that GOOD is STRONGER than evil.
light is stronger than darkness.
and, just fyi... i'm not talking about republicans vs democrats.
i'm talking about liberty vs. captivity.
morality vs. immorality.
love vs. hate.
peace vs. war.
good vs. evil. 
it transcends politics.
yes, Nazi's did rise to power.
but they were eventually defeated-- by us.
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.
the walls of Jericho tumbled down.
Christ was resurrected.
the colonists WON.  seriously? against a powerful monarchy!
the slaves were FREED.
the iron curtain fell.
and we will continue to choose freedom and liberty.
we will win again!

we've played this team before.
we whipped them.
we'll do it again.
i have hope.
you probably already know this, better than i do.
but, i needed to remind myself.
“The FUTURE of this world has long been DECLARED; the final outcome between GOOD and evil is already KNOWN. There is absolutely no question as to who WINS because the VICTORY has already been posted on the SCOREBOARD. The only really strange thing is all of this is that we are still down here on the FIELD trying to decide which TEAM’S JERSEY we want to wear!” 
― Jeffrey R. Holland
Carry on with hope brother beck!
the banner still waves!!
and, we've got this one!

February 26, 2012

i hope you dance.

not a great picture of us that was snapped as we were on our way out the door.
(i ended up changing my necklace)
yesterday, todd and i spoke at a stake women's conference.
we spoke with microphone headsets and a power point slideshow in the chapel for two, one hour classes.
it was fun and scary.
afterwords, i felt sick.
as people were thanking us and congratulating us on a job well-done, i felt like i wanted to run home and hide in my bed.
the worst part was, i had just spent two hours testifying about our WORTH as women.
was i struggling with self worth?
i don't think so.
but, i've been dealing with something weird...
and THIS is what i think it is.
{please excuse me while i do some therapy writing}

when i was younger i would attend church dances.
i have very vivid memories of dancing along the sidelines of the church gym with my friends Heidi and Amy.
not just normal, sway back and forth snapping your fingers, type dancing.
full on-- kicking, raising your hands in the air, twirling around, kind of synchronized dancing to the fast songs.
i remember one girl asking me if i was on the dance team.
i remember smiling with pride as i told her no.
and, i felt complimented by her inquiry.
but, that memory has haunted me as i've looked back.
what on earth was i doing?
people must have been looking at us like we were weird folk.
we were weird folk.
for a time, i thought i would like to go back and tell that young girl-- stop dancing weird, just join a circle and try to act like the people around you.

but, just recently i thought about my younger church dancing times with a different perspective.
i was proud of that younger me.
proud that i had the courage to dance.
i would like to say that back then i didn't care what others thought.
but, that isn't true.
the truth was, i didn't even think about it.
i didn't know i was weird.
i never thought about what other people were thinking of me.
once i began to notice other people, i stopped dancing along the side-lines and joined the swaying circles.

for many years i was a sign language interpreter at my church.
i love sign language.
BUT, i could NEVER stand up in front of the congregation and sign a song for the hearing folk.
it's just not me.
i'm very good at understanding what people are talking about and interpreting it for others.
i never really learned enough sign language to do everything the right way.
i never wanted anyone to see me.
i just wanted them to hear through me.
i was a good interpreter because i loved my deaf friends and i loved the lessons being taught at church.
i was blessed to be an agent of understanding and teaching.
BUT
i was never comfortable with the focus on me and how beautiful my signing was.
blah.

when i speak or write blogs, i'm usually focused on the idea that i'm trying to interpret.
usually, i have a testimony inside me that i'm trying to teach or explain.
i have NEVER been someone who has wanted to write an essay and read it to a group of people for special "readings."
i am sloppy with my sentence structure and horrific with my spelling and punctuation.
i was not an English major.
i don't write so people can see my writing and marvel over my alliteration.

yesterday, i spoke from my heart.
to a group of women that i really don't know.
the conference began on Friday night and i walked into this gym full of women i was hit with the feeling of homesickness.
i know people who live near me, but as i looked out over the group as a whole i felt very alone.

i speak like i blog.
i'm very real and very honest.
todd and i are really funny together.
but then later, when people tell me how funny we are i wonder what i said that was funny...
and i hope we weren't too funny-- because our message was not funny.
i think when people hear me speak, they feel like we're old friends.
and, i still feel like i don't know who they are.
i feel a little embarrassed that so many people saw me in my panties (symbolically).
one of the reasons i like blogging is because i can type out my thoughts and then turn off the computer.
except for a few comments, i really don't know who reads what i write or what the think about it.
do you think it's weird that it is easier for me to tell my life stories to people i don't know than to people i can see?
i think it's funny when people ask me if i care that people i don't know read my blog.
i actually PREFER it when people i don't know read my blog.
i would rather be some anonymous voice that is testifying what i know.
what i've learned.  how i see life.
take it or leave it.
it is much, much harder for me to have someone actually see my No Manner's Dinner and make a judgement on me or my family.

many people thanked us for our words... and it was weird to me.
i just realized why...
because, i didn't speak so that people could tell me i speak well.
i spoke so people could feel loved by their Father in Heaven.
so that people could know that this life is good and that it is worth the hard parts.
i hate that sometimes, when i'm interpreting, people see me instead of Him.
for good or bad.
i hate that sometimes my weakness or inexperience distract from the message i feel so strongly.
and i squirm when people tell me that i taught some great idea-- because i know that it wasn't me.
i'm just a pretty funny, not grammatically correct, interpreter.
it's hard being in the spotlight.
harder than i thought.

our keynote speaker was a very gifted musician.
she was amazing... and she sang with her whole soul.
sometimes when she sang, her voice cracked or she would start to cry and have to cough to fix her voice.
but, she kept on singing.
and she sang out loud with her whole voice and her whole heart.
we loved her and her testimony.
another speaker was pregnant and so emotional that she was wiping her nose and taking deep breaths and really struggling with her emotions.
and, we loved those imperfect women.
we felt their testimony and we felt His love through them.

and, even though this blog is all about me (which i hate)
i guess the lesson that i'm learning is this...

sing loud.
dance.
don't be afraid to show people your gifts and your struggles.

let you light so shine that other may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.

my light is but a little one.
my light of faith and prayer.
but low, it glows like God' great sun, for it was lighted there.
SHINE ON!  SHINE ON!  SHINE ON bright and clear!
Shine on!  Shine on!  the day is near.

today i feel grateful for my small opportunity to shine.
i also feel very aware of how small my light is.
and, i feel grateful for so many of the people who have touched my life...
people who would probably prefer to be snuggled up in bed with a book, but instead taught and shared and testified.
i am who i am because of all that i've learned from other people.
and today, i'm so grateful.
grateful for others-- who aren't afraid to dance.
even when people are looking.
thank you.

ps.
can i tell you how much i have missed blogging?
i have SO many blogs to write spilling in my brain...
and, i have hundreds of pictures to sort through.
my plan is to slow down this week and get back to the basics.
(we've been busy and full these past few weeks.)
better necklace... and more comfortable cuddling with a silly 3 year old than speaking in front of a crowd.  :)
i've missed you.

February 20, 2012

the act of marriage.


{Spoiler alert written by the professor:  this post contains many uplifting, and some tastefully humorous, thoughts on marital intimacy.  If you believe that this topic is inappropriate for public blog posts, feel free to click “Back” now.}

When my mother scheduled my first OB appointment just weeks before my marriage, she told them that I was a virgin and that I was getting married.
You can imagine that I was a bit of a celebrity in that Washington, DC office.
I will never forget the Indian women’s instructions complete with a demonstration using her fist and pointer finger.  “If he go slow” she explained, “you’ll be just fine.”
Todd read the book, “The Act of Marriage” twice before our honeymoon.
On our wedding night I told him to shut up and kiss me.
I did not want to know anything from a book.
I wanted our intimate life to be exactly what it was...
New, experimental, innocent and perfect.
I figured if God thought we could figure it out on our own I wanted to enjoy the process.
We did!
there are things that good mormon girls don’t talk about.
Your sex life is one of them.
I do believe that your intimate life is between you, your spouse and the Lord.
It is sacred and private.
And, it should be.
But, I have learned much from wise friends who have answered questions I’ve had... and, I’ve felt prompted to be open about intimacy with others.
I hope you feel that I’m open without being irreverent or immodest.

I have some advice about intimacy.
I was even asked to teach a class on marital intimacy once.
This was my advice...
You know when you’re young and your arm brushes against a boy’s arm that you are crushing on?
Your whole body tingles.
And then you start dating and you hold hands or kiss for the first time.
It’s magical.
And after awhile, holding hands looses the tingles... but kissing is magical.
My advice is... ENJOY THE PROCESS.
Can you imagine if the five year old who kisses a boy for the first time behind the swing set bursting into tears because her kiss wasn’t like the ecstatic woman on tv?
Enjoy the tingles that come from brushing arms!
Enjoy kissing, enjoy being near each other... enjoy learning together!
Enjoy what it is even as it is becoming what it can be.
My wedding night was beautiful and perfect.
We have learned a lot since then.
Our intimacy is different, but no more real or perfect.

There have been many stages to our intimacy.
There have been times when I thought we had it all figured out.
There have been times when I have sobbed because I thought we were the only couple in the world that couldn’t figure things out.
There have been nights when I’ve pushed todd away from me thinking he was the most selfish man ever.
There have been nights when I’ve begged him to want me more.
There have been many nights where I’ve laid in his arms knowing that I am the luckiest girl in the world.
When we couldn’t get pregnant for over a year I thought we were broken.
When I had many babies and couldn’t enjoy much with intimacy I thought I was broken.
We’ve read books, we’ve thrown books away.
We’ve shared our bed with too many kids, we’ve been too tired, too lazy, too stressed.
I’ve had my fair share of head aches.
We’ve tried too hard, we haven’t tried enough.
I’ve thought, sixteen year old girls in the back of a car can figure this out better than we can?
And I’ve thought, nobody has it better than this.

We don’t schedule intimacy... we tend to cluster.
Really great and close—a bit distracted and distant.
Like everything good in life... intimacy takes continual work.
It’s an ebb and flow.

Intimacy in marriage isn’t just something that stays great.
It’s like a testimony...
if you are not continually working at strengthening your marriage, your marriage relationship will naturally dissipate.
Everyone has to work at it.
And, maybe there are couples out there that have never had to work out anything about their intimacy.
Guess what?  They have something else they’re working on.
Trust me.
better yet, don't trust me- just ask them. 
say, "it seems like you have the perfect marriage."
and, unless they are still wearing their wedding dress they will probably laugh.

Satan whispers for us to hide when we are naked.
God commands us to cleave unto our spouse in our nakedness.
We live in a day and age when people spend a lot of money and effort trying to make naked perfect.
I don’t want a spouse that can only find joy in me when I have the body of a 19 year old magazine cover.
I want a man that will love me when I’m old and saggy and wrinkled.
And, guess what?
He wants a woman that will let him love her even when she doesn’t feel like a 19 year old magazine cover.
There is great joy that comes from not being ashamed to be naked in front of your spouse or your God.
Not just physically.
To have one person that sees your strengths and weaknesses and loves you completely is what marriage is all about.
To be able to love someone else.
To love and to be loved—warts and all.
It’s a journey, a becoming, a process, a miraculous dance that you create together.
And, the road is uphill with divine views.

I once was studying the law of chastity.
We believe the law of chastity is that you have no sexual relations before marriage and that you are completely faithful to your spouse inside of marriage.
I thought much about how I could be “completely faithful” to my spouse.
About what it means to have FAITH in him.
Faith is the evidence of things NOT SEEN.
Or, in other words, seeing his potential.
Loving him completely for what he can become- not just what he is today.
Oh, how I have loved learning to love that man completely.

i'm someone that people talk to about their problems- it's in my nature.
my heart aches for those who struggle.
i know that everyone struggles with something.
i have friends who struggle with a spouse who has been unfaithful.
i have friends who struggle with issues from before their marriage that affect their intimate life together.
i have friends who struggle with a spouse addicted to pornography.
i have friends who struggle to feel anything at all during intimacy.
i have friends with husbands who never want to be intimate.
i have friends who complain because their husbands are too attentive and caring too much about making sure they enjoy intimacy all the time.
i have friends with really, really great intimate lives.
i have friends who have taught me much about loving.
We have struggled, like many people do.
People who struggle seem to think they are the only ones... that it’s not fair, that they shouldn’t have to work on their marriage.
People are always surprised when I tell them what I think—
The commandment to BE ONE with your spouse is like the commandment to BE ONE with your God.
It takes daily, weekly, hourly effort.
And NO ONE is exempt from that effort.

i once heard of a Sunday school lesson on chastity where the teacher licked the icing from the middle of the oreo and put the cookies together.
She asked if anyone in the class would want to eat the licked oreo?
She repeated the phrase to the girls, “save yourself for marriage, don’t be a licked oreo.”
The teacher had no way of knowing that another one of the leaders in that room had just found out her husband was a “licked oreo”.
They were struggling in their own marriage.
Can you imagine how painful that lesson would have been for her?
Can you imagine if one of those young girls happened to slip up, to make dumb choices young in life that would bring her pain?
Can you hear Satan whispering to her, “you can never go back now, you’re the licked oreo?”
We have to be SO CAREFUL with what we teach and what we say and what we believe.
God is greater than Nabisco.
our intimate natures are not one time, make it or break it, cookies.
his atonement heals, forgives, changes, purifies, teaches, and fill us with the potential for complete JOY.
he is justice and mercy, divine grace and infinite forgiveness.
if we don't believe this, we do not know Him.
Deep within each of us is the potential for joy that is greater than oreos.
Intimacy is a divine gift from God.
Passion is one of God’s greatest gifts.
It is not a coincidence that he pairs Passion with Creation.
Both are divine.
It is not a coincidence that Satan loves the bedroom.
God is love.  Satan is doubt, fear, trickery, deceit.
Satan does not tempt us or our husbands because we are weak and evil.
He tempts us because he knows we have a GREAT potential for good.
We are commanded to bridle our passions that we may be filled with love.
It is not the weak horses that have a hard time with their bridles... it is the gallant Stallions.
God is not the condemning parent that Satan wants us to believe He is.
God is the wise teacher who is continually leading us to eternal JOY.
You can try to separate physical intimacy from emotional intimacy, but your joy will be shallow.
You can try to enjoy a symbol of commitment with no level of commitment and you will ache for more.
You can drive your “marriage buggy” with one wheel over the edge of the cliff and think you won’t get hurt.
Be careful of Satan’s cliffs.
Excessive physical unity can’t compensate for emotional unity.
You can be content living in a relationship where you are casual people living parallel lives.
but oh how you are missing out!
Nothing compares with pure, unified, marital intimacy.
It is divine and holy and beautiful.
And so fun!
It is worth the wait.  It is worth the effort.
A wise man once told me, intimacy is how adults play.
I think we should play more, talk more, enjoy life together more.

If this whole blog hasn’t already been TMI... here’s the final TMI.
I once got a hemorrhoid.
Not from childbirth, from weightlifting, I think.
I was burning and aching and I dreaded going to the bathroom.
It was horrible and I was cranky.
Nobody knew the real reason why.
(well, except that I always say too much and so I told too many people.)
The whole time I was dealing with my situation I kept thinking about cranky ladies at the grocery store.
I kept thinking, “I bet they have a hemorrhoid and we just don’t know.”
I think that intimacy problems are sometimes hemorrhoids in our marriage.
We may not talk about them, but they still affect everything we do.

Intimacy is the glue that holds everything together.
The rose colored glasses.
the sprinkles on our cupcake.
For me, the true sacrament of intimacy is that 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2.
1 + 1 = 200
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
When todd and I are unified we are more kind, more patient, we work harder, we laugh more, we wake up early, we floss. :)
There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home.

I have learned that intimacy is better than sleep when I am tired.
Intimacy is better than words when we are making up from an argument.
A weekly stay home night is more important for us than a weekly date night.
My real life, imperfect man is better than Stephanie Meyer’s glowing vampire.
Todd and I, we don’t have a perfect marriage.
But, we’re perfect together.
I love him more than I ever imagined possible.
And, he loves me even when I feel unlovable.
And, we want to love each other better.
I still get tingles when he rubs my arm.
I still love to kiss him in the car.
My favorite time to cuddle is in the morning when he’s all dressed for work and I’m a distraction.
I love when pulls me close to him in the middle of the night.
We have travelled a long journey together (almost 15 years)...
and we have many miles yet to travel (1500 years)...
and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather make the trip with.

{This was one of those posts that got me up in the middle of the night- I had to write it so I could go back to bed.  Todd whispered sleepily, “what were you doing?” I whispered back, “writing a post on our sex life.”  He woke up.  hah!  I assured him that I had the draft waiting for him to approve before I pushed POST.  he hopped right out of bed to read my draft, wondering why I had picked this topic.  I assured him, I didn’t... it just wouldn’t go away.  As he climbed back in bed he was thoughtful.  he isn’t the talkative woman that I sometimes wish he was.  “it’s not bad, I fixed some typos,” he said.  “I want to read it again in the morning.”  I wondered if he thought I made our relationship seem too hard.  He said he didn’t think so.  I asked if he thought I made our relationship seem too good?  He laughed and said,  “You could never do that.”  I wondered why and he said that I’m just too real... I asked about hemorrhoids and he laughed, “that’s not too bad, I think everyone has had a hemorrhoid once in their life.”  He liked the part where I said I liked being his distraction on his way to work and he said he should let himself be distracted more often.  wink, wink...  And then he thought we should stop talking and start enjoying our process a little bit more.  As he rubbed his hand down my side he whispered, “Can you feel that? hourglass.”  We have an ongoing debate about my body-type.  He is convinced I have an hourglass figure and I’m pretty certain I’m an apple, or pear, or celery.  I sure love that guy and please don’t tell him that he is not married to an hourglass, thanks.}

Life is good.
Marriage is good.
It is worth it.
This is not a post about my intimate life.
It is a post where I testify that marital intimacy is SO IMPORTANT.
a good intimate life is possible and worth it!!
I know it is.

February 19, 2012

like beans and cornbread.

i'm five months pregnant with eve (my seventh) in this picture- just so you know.
most pictures you see of me, i'm pregnant with someone :)
todd's family is vanilla.
my family is rocky road.

we met at church while we were attending byu.
i shared my testimony one Sunday and had 8 dates the next week.
they called todd "Mr. Mom".
he baked bread, he kept his apartment clean, he never skipped class, he knew all the answers in sunday school class, and he left parties early so he could get to bed on time.
i was a convert to mormonism.
my mother met mormon missionaries around the time she was separating from my first father.
todd's ancestors were mormon pioneers.
even though i was teaching seminary (an lds religion class) i was intimidated to read scriptures with todd because he knew the hebrew root words and i pronounced the words incorrectly.
i cried because my jello didn't get hard.
(fyi- you can not be a good mormon wife if you don't know how to make jello.)
i thought marriage was everything hard in life.
todd thought marriage would be bliss.
we were both in for a surprise.
todd's parents rarely disagree.
i come from a family that fights big and loves big.
todd had never seen people drunk until he came to my first family reunion.
i had never known a family that wasn't affectionate until i hugged todd's uncles and kissed them on the cheek and got a look of complete alarm... these were farming folk who were not the huggy, kissing type.
i'm still embarrassed by my immersion into todd's family.
i was an outspoken girl from the east visiting a small western town.
i didn't know who john wayne was and i thought they were kidding when they said they could never go to Provo, Utah for school because the town was too big.
i remember being reprimanded because i was too rowdy.
it was explained to me that visiting cousins was formal, like visiting teaching.
when todd came to my family it was like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
he said to me in awe one evening, "I just never realized that non-mormon families loved each other this much."

do you ever wish you could go back and re-live a certain part of your life?
i know i could do a bang up job of high school a second time around, but for sure i would relive this engagement time of my life.
i would be less insecure.
i'd spend less time trying to get them to think i'm great and spend more time trying to show them how great i thought their son was.
because, even though we were from different parts of the country... we had a LOT of similarities.
we both have big hearts and kind souls.
we love easily and forgive quickly.
we both LOVE children and family.
we both try really hard to do what is right.
we are both committed to our faith and our God.
we love to learn, we love to be together, we're funny and have so much fun together.
and, we really, really love each other.
we really wanted to make things work... and we knew we would.

because i'm peanut butter and he is jelly... and we're so good together on our little piece of bread.
{pardon the random song that i had to type because it has been running through my mind as i type this post.}

i often reflect back on these early days.
we were both so young.  i was 19 and he was 23.
for months we spent every free moment together talking and making out in the front seat of his car.
i still imagine i can hear the ticking of his grandfather's watch by my ear when he kisses me.
i felt todd's wisdom and his innocence... he felt my raw goodness.
and soon, we just knew that we had found someone we wanted to share forever with.

i'm not sure that many people were super excited about our decision to get married.
but we knew.
for todd it was a dream, for me it was the quiet whisper of the Spirit and an image embedded in my mind.
i could see todd pushing my future daughter on a swing.  they were both smiling and so happy.
i knew that this was the man i would choose as the father of my kids.
i knew this was the man God had led me too.
my life is forever blessed because of this one, good choice.
i like to tell my young self-- you might have muddled up a bunch of things in that marriage transition, but you did a heck of a job picking a man!
and, i'd pick him again today if i had the choice.
oh, it is so good to be home!!

February 18, 2012

Not helpful.

Oh, how I had grand plans for coming to " help" my lil sister with her new baby.
Don't worry about a thing, I told her, I'll cook and cleaned take care of you.
Enter day one and broken armed baby...
Enter the next week of ten month old who needed tobe held 24 7.
Enter anna with fevers, coughs and runny nose.
Enter Stomach Flu!!!
Oh yes, you read that right.
It started with ME and spread throughout the night to everyone, including the new momma.
(Anna threw up on eve twice in the middle of the night.)
I went up to help my sister as she sat with her head in the toilet...
"can I get you anything?" I asked...
And I felt her reply..."I think you've already helped enough."

Oh, sad day.
My flight leaves this morning. Trust me, we will be headed home if I have to puke the whole flight.
I feel horrible for the trauma that I've brought to this sweet time of their lives.
I'm pretty sure this is just another example of my heart being bigger than my capacity to love.

Ugh. What a trip!

February 17, 2012

Popovers

Professor here.  Since she's out of  town and couldn't find a pen :-), Jen needed a recipe for Popovers from our good friend Corrie.  Here it is Jen:

Melt 1/2 tsp of shortening in each cup of a muffin tin while preheating

4 eggs
2 tsp salt
3 c milk
2 c flour

Bake for 30 min @ 400 deg F
Makes 24 popovers

It's a great recipe to serve with roast and gravy in lieu of other starches.  Just put the gravy over the popovers and enjoy!

February 15, 2012

Worth it.

I'm speaking with Todd at the end of the month to a bunch of women at an area women's conference.
Our topic is "letting Christ define our worth."
It is interesting to me, and not at all coincidental, that I find myself questioning and redefining my own worth at this time.
Yesterday I took anna, eve, and my nephew. We rode the metro and toured DC.
It was patriotic, and fun, and long.
I had a chance to see a different reality.
To see a DC that is similar, yet much different from how I remember it as a child.
But mostly, I saw people.
And I saw myself through their eyes.
At the smithsonian I saw a frazzled mother of many herding her children from exhibit to exhibit. She had a pasted smile on her face that was familiar. She scooped up her about five year old, twice, as she tried to watch the movie we were watching.
I felt her pull - love the one amidst the many.
I did NOT think her life looked fun or magical or enviable... Just hard.
I took a picture for a cute gay couple. I'm pretty certain they are gay. But, it is sad that every time I see two handsome men together I assume they are gay...
Anyway, we kept running into each other and I kept thinking how nice they were.
When i think of gay people I remember my college roomates father who had left her mother for another man. He was a kind, struggling soul. He was always in the hospital because homosexuality is not healthy. I hope those two men are happy.
I saw so many fancy, working women on the metro. I wondered if any of them had kids. I thought how fun it would be to intern in DC as a college kid.
I remember people encouraging me to wait to get married and I thought they were crazy.
Now I understand where they were coming from...

I do not have fancy clothes.
I can't do much besides care for my home and my family.
My life is completely devoted to my marriage, my children and my home.
The honest truth is, I struggle to find much time for myself at all.
I try every day to be the best at what I do...
And sometimes I wonder... Do I even want to be the best crazy mom?
Would I rather be the best journalist?
The best politician?
The best author?
The best world traveler?
What would my life have been like if I had gone to Georgetown instead of BYU?
What would my life have been like if I had not gotten married at 20 and had five children by 30?
Today, I want to go shopping at a big northern Virginia mall.
I don't want to worry about budgets or finding seven coordinating "i love dc" T-shirts.
The more nights I don't have to cook for a small army the more repulsive the idea becomes to me.

And yet, I can't imagine touring dc without someone to teach and experience it with.
What's the point?
I've seen the Lincoln Memorial.
Anna hasn't.
I don't really care about the smithsonian mineral exhibit. But, I knew drew would love it.
I can't wait to take him!
Anna told me, "I don't know why, but I just said a prayer at the Jefferson memorial."
I smiled. Because I prayed too... For our country, for my children, for me... That we will remember and be grateful for all that we have.
Anna's favorite? The first ladies dresses. They are my favorite too.
And, on the metro, surrounded by many, many, classy ladies, I pulled eve's pacifier out of her mouth and she exploded into giggles. Over and over.
Lot's of women were watching us.
I wondered if they had children.
I wondered where their children were as they were riding the metro home at 7pm?
I wondered if for a small moment they wondered what it would be like if they were in my shoes?
I think I could run away from my life for a time.
I think I would enjoy having hours to make myself look nice, make myself smarter, rest more, do less, exercise, get paid for my work, hire someone to do the monotonous tasks of life.
I think I would love that life. For a time.
But, I think that life would get old... I think I would seek meaning and purpose.
And, amidst my serving, feeding, cleaning, self-sacrificing life i have found meaning.
My little broken arm baby is sleeping beside my as I type this blog one fingered on my iPad.
I hear her soft breathing and I know.
If I didn't get married at 20 and have five kids by 30, I wouldn't have had her.
Sweet number seven at age 34.
And, she is worth it.
They are all worth every sacrifice I have made.
My life is REAL.
I don't know who has their name on my shoes, but I am KIND.
I work hard.
I love people.
I have learned to lay down my life for my friends... And I have many friends.
It is worth it.
My life is good.
And I may just take a trip to the mall anyway!
(these are just random, unedited thoughts that I'm typing on my iPad... I have a very hard time editing with this thing. Sorry for the many typos!)

February 12, 2012

Buckled.



Sweet eve broke both bones in her left arm.
She was sitting on anna's lap on the couch and just reached over the side.
Anna said, " she was like a waterfall. Here one second and over the next."
I knew it was broken... But she was so happy if she wasn't trying to crawl that we waited till the next day to take her to the ER.
Because she fell from the top, her fracture is a "buckle"... In the x-ray it looks more like bumps on the bone than cracks.
Keeping her from trying to crawl or pull up is going to be tuff.
She is happy and busy.
We go in tomorrow for her real cast.
Oh, sweet baby.

February 08, 2012

on a jet plane...

baby emma, waiting for aunt jen.
did i tell you that anna, eve and i are headed to DC to love on my newest niece?
(oh, and my sister, and her husband, and my nephew.)
isn't it fun that i get to bring anna?!!
my angel husband is holding down the fort- with five kiddos.
i had grand plans of leaving with a super organized home, meal plans, outfits picked complete with hair bows, a surprise fun thing to do each day...
it didn't happen.
{i did manage a bag of surprises for the little girls, valentines and treats for the big kids, and homemade granola.)
but, the truth is, i'm leaving him with a bit of a mess.
for ten days.
how grateful i am for that man.
i honestly think that he is a better homemaker than i am.
i just keep whispering to him, "Please love leah.  Leah and Ellie need your loving kindness."
and i keep praying, "Help him to get his work done while he's at home with toddlers."
he has some deadlines coming up and is going to be trying to work from home.
heaven help him.

todd and i will try to post every now and then.
but, if not...
have a great week!
i know i will!
oh, cute baby!!

February 07, 2012

homemade picture valentines.





 i had so much fun making these... they were fast and easy!
happy valentine's day!!

February 06, 2012

dumb dog.

so, here's an official update on our dog.
daizie pinky pan-a-cake.
i like her.
there are moments when i see here cuddled up with one of my babies and i think- this is why you are with us.
there are moments when i wonder if i can keep her another day.

she poops in my basement.
i think of her like the diggingest dog.
she doesn't understand when we take her out that her job is to potty.
she gets so excited, her tail is wagging, she sniffs, she pees... but she doesn't always poo.
and then when she's inside she's not sure what to do, so she sneaks in the basement.
not often.
but sometimes is TOO much.
i'm not sure what to do about it.

she also growls at my baby.
eve is not always gentle with her,
but, even when eve is nearby and focused on something else, daizie will go up to her and growl.
i've seen daizie nip eve's finger.
i don't like it.  and i'm not sure what to do about it.
i try petting her and telling her it's ok when the baby is near.
i've tried saying no and snapping her collar.
when she bit eve's finger i pushed her off the couch and yelled "No!"
daizie used to growl at lily also... but she has learned that lily is sweet and kind.
now they are best friends.

and, she barks at people.
when we first got daizie she NEVER barked.
well, she would bark at other dogs-- but NEVER at people.
i really thought we had the perfect, non-yappy chihuahua.
i think she was scared.
she is "coming out of her shell"... she feels safe here...
and now she barks when people come over.
i'm not sure what to do.
if i stick her in her cage, she just barks and barks the whole time.
i can put her on a leash and keep her near me and that works pretty well.
at jakob's party i just told everyone to pet her and tell her it's ok... she warmed up quickly.
she is a nice dog, she just sounds ferocious.
i also got a spray bottle of water.  if she won't stop barking we just spray her and she'll stop.
sometimes i worry that i'm giving her more mental issues.

i was whining to a friend the other day about daizie's pooing and growling and barking.
she said, "What?  You got a dog that poos and barks?  Didn't you tell God you wanted the non-pooing, non-barking dog?"
i laughed, kind of.

my conclusion about this dog?
she is just another imperfect being that God has sent me so that i can learn to love more.
she brings goodness to our home.
she brings growth to our home.
she had a hard past and has some issues.
i need to learn how to teach her and learn how to love her better.
{seriously, as i'm writing this post leah screams- "Mom!  Daizie is throwing up..." she's never done this before, i think she must have eaten something on the floor.  gumballs-- the throw up has blue, green and red specks in it that match the gumballs my kids have been sneaking from my pantry.  i start gagging as i'm trying to clean it and she is trying to eat it again.  nasty.  oh, pooch?!  what are we going to do with each other?)

i guess it is true-- nothing good in life is easy.
sometimes i just feel my life.
my home, my finances, my husband, seven children individually and collectively, my extended family, my kids' coaches, my friends and neighbors, and now MY DOG...
learning to love, connect, serve, enjoy, teach, and learn from them takes work.
sometimes i laugh that marriage is hard work.
people look at me like i'm crazy.
they may say something like, "marriage isn't hard, but being a mom is hard."
i think they must be better than me.
maybe some people have dogs that don't poo or bark.
seven claps for them!!
me, i have to learn every step of the way...
every really great thing in my life has come because i was willing to work at it.
it's hard for me to always be a nice wife,
it's hard for me to always enjoy my children,
it's hard for me to be clean and orderly in my home,
it's hard for me to go to bed early and wake up early,
it's hard for me to not be defensive with my extended family,
AND it's hard for me to love this yappy, stinky dog.
BUT
hard is GOOD.
hard has refined me and made me better.
i'm grateful for the hard.
and, i'm grateful for daizie.
daizie is NOT a perfect dog.
but, she is perfect for us.
life is all about learning and growing...  this is just another chapter in my book.

and, it's all about perspective.
i was talking with a sweet elderly woman from church last week.
she said, "your children are always so well-behaved."
i said, "really?  you think so."
she said, "i love to sit behind you and watch your kids during church.  they're perfect."
i asked, "my kids?"
i'm not just saying this... my kids are good kids-- but i never feel that they are good at church.
maybe if i were sitting a couple rows back things would look prettier.
and maybe, daizie would seem like a perfect dog too...
if i were a couple rows back.
she really is a fun little dog.
but, she is still a dog... a pooing, growling, barking kind.
gotta love it.

because of the poo, i decided we needed to take more time with daizie outside.
(we do have a fenced in yard, but if we let daizie out she just stares at us through the door-- she really doesn't understand "go poo")
this is still my kids responsibility- but i decided to "embrace the experience."
i have been taking 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night to walk the dog.
it is SO BEAUTIFUL outside.
i love the quiet time- just me, God and Daizie...
i'm kinda grateful for her poo, because it gives me an excuse to get out.
life is good.
now, i need to go clean my carpet.
and... read up!!
because someday you'll see me with my little dog and you'll say, "wow.  your dog is so well-behaved."
and i'll say, "really? you think so?"
and you'll say, "she's perfect."
and, i'll agree.
she is perfect.
kinda.

February 05, 2012

fisherman drew.

drew is ALWAYS asking to go fishing.
it's all he ever asks for.
fishing is in our blood.  my father and both of our grandfathers were fishermen.
there is a man at church who is a grand fisherman.
i have mentioned to him on more than one occasion that drew would be the perfect "fisherman's helper."
at the beginning of the week he spoke with todd and told him this was a great week for salmon fishing.
(technically it is a special kind of salmon, maybe rockport? it's a mix between salmon and bass, i think.)
the rivers were high from recent flooding and the weather was pretty warm.
todd took drew out of school on thursday around noon and they drove to a private section of river...
drew caught three, todd caught one and our friend caught one as they were about to leave.
well, technically each person is only allowed to catch two fish- so drew and todd both caught two.
my freezer is full of fish and i'm pretty impressed.
(they got home 30 minutes before jakob's party... i was not too excited about the whole house SMELLING like fish...)
i LOVE that my boys get opportunities like this!
mmm.  fish for dinner anyone?

February 04, 2012

aunt jen.


look!!
my sister just had a baby!!
she was born on Jakob's birthday- 2-4-12.
her name is Emma Scotlynn.
isn't she darling?!!
her mom did such an amazing job getting her here...
her daddy gets teary whenever they are together...

and her big brother is going to be the BEST big brother ever.

i can't wait to hold her!
(next week anna, eve and i are heading to DC to help out.)
oh, sweet baby!!

birthday crafts- pennant banner, cake stand, homemade trophies.

Birthday Pennant Banner-
mine took 10 minutes.
i just used one black poster board.
cut it into 5 inch wide strips, piled 3 together and eyeballed cutting out triangles.
they don't have to be perfect, you can't even tell...
i had some bulletin board letters from a teacher's store that i stapled on.
glue is too messy and staples are easy to remove.
i folded my ribbon in half and counted out the middle of my sign.
happy (space) birthday! is 15... so letter 8 is the middle "i"
i started with the middle letter "i" and worked out- STAPLING each banner to the ribbon.
on one banner i stapled the ribbon on the back and the other i stapled it on front- just see what you like.
i hung them on my mantle/wall with thumbtacks or picture hanging nails.
easy. cute. simple.
Re-Usable Cake Stands-
i wanted different levels on the table.
sometimes is stick bowls or pots under the table cloth or table runner.
but, this time i just took a wide vase and a mug and placed plates on top of them.
it was an easy way to make things look a little fancy.
Homemade Trophies-
i've done this a few times for youth events.
i just find old McDonald's toys and hot glue them to a can of beans or baby food jars.
spray paint everything silver (or gold)
and TAH DAH!!  (you could print out a sign to glue or tape to the front of the can, if you want.)
easy, kinda cute, and the kids love them.
i do tell the kids not to keep them forever because there is still black beans inside.
once again, i feel silly sharing these ideas with you because they are so simple.
i don't have a lot of time or money to spend on decorations... so i am really fast and really cheap.
i also bought a bag of balloons that i just had my kids blow up and throw all over the basement.
the kids played with them all night long.
i don't think birthday parties need to be super fancy.
but, i might feel differently if i didn't have seven children.
have a great day!!
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