Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rudolph Day - What's Stored Where

Works for Me Wednesday/Rudolph Day
Keeping track of Christmas decorations

You get a two-for-one post today! It's the 25th, which is a good excuse to do something to prepare for Christmas 2011. Since we're gearing up to clean out the attic and go through our storage boxes, I figured I'd share how we keep those organized. Our system is a compilation of several different ideas I've heard over the years, and I'd like to give credit to those author/creators, but I can't remember who they all are. Just know that this isn't an original idea.

(sorry for the blurry picture)
Basically, I label each of our holiday storage boxes with a number. I then make a 3x5 card for each box or bin where I've listed the contents. This is done in pencil so it's easy to erase when something is thrown out or changes boxes. Then those cards are filed behind "December" in my file box. When a "Christmas in July" activity comes around, and I want to share a particular nativity, or I want to pull out the wrapping paper in November, or I want white lights to help decorate for a wedding, I don't have to go through every single box; I just scan the cards in the file and know exactly which box to find. Of course, that's still an adventure, but at least it's an easier, less time-consuming one. And that Works for Me! Have fun seeing what works for others over at We are THAT Family!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our First First Birthday

Friday Flashback
Son #1's First Birthday

Someone had a birthday a few days ago! And I thought he might enjoy the pictures we took on his very first birthday. As you can see, you weren't quite sure what to do with the cake (most one-year-olds aren't), but you knew that the toys belonged in your mouth! I should probably pull out old journals and scrapbooks to give you some more details, but I won't right now. However, the pictures tell us you started walking one week before your birthday. And it's good to remember that your dad was a student; you were such a thoughtful study partner.

You've grown up into such a wonderful person. Now have fun celebrating your own first "first birthday" in a couple of weeks.

(I love this picture too!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy for No Reason

Works for Me Wednesday
Happiness and Joy

Note: This post was started 2 1/2 years ago, yet I never finished it. Last fall I got an email from my aunt who had stumbled upon the handout I created for myself. So, I moved this post up in the drafts folder, yet still didn't complete it. Today I stumbled across a post myself - The Happiness Journal - and decided to look at my thoughts once again. These bloggers were actually motivated by a different book - "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin - yet I'm sure there are many similar thoughts and experiences shared. It's important to be happy, and not only is it important, it's possible! So here are some inspirational thoughts and scriptures that I found while reading the book "Happy for No Reason" by Marci Shimoff. Maybe they can be motivational to you as well. Searching for help and support on my journey towards joy is something that Works for Me!

Focus on Solutions -- “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou,

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Philippians 2:14

"Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner. Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” D&C 9:6-8

I love what Elder Orson F. Whitney once said: “The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience.” We should honor the Savior’s declaration to “be of good cheer.” (Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!) Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, “Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow.” Jeffrey R. Holland

Incline your Mind toward Joy --
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” Colette, French novelist

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

“Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25

"Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being. It comes from being complete and in harmony with our Creator and his eternal laws. . . . Our Creator wants us to be happy in this life. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “happiness is the object and design of our existence.” The things of the earth were created for our happiness. . . . There is no lasting happiness in what we possess. Happiness and joy come from what a person is, not from what he or she possesses or appears to be. Dallin H. Oaks

Additional note: There were 21 sections in the book, which means there are 21 sections of quotes, so I'm not adding more here, but feel free to go to the link above to find the additional ones.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Memorable Monday Evening

Memorable Monday Moments

The next thing on the "end of the school year calendar" was Academic Awards Night at the high school. Just like last year we turned it into our family night activity. And it was a good thing Princess went, because even though she didn't receive an invitation, she heard her name called:

Steven heard his name a few times, which was expected because he's worked hard, but we did capture the most meaningful one on video just for his dad and brothers and grandparents who were thousands of miles away. We missed you!

Congratulations!!! We're proud of you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Making Progress - A Study in Before and After

The first thing we learn from this study is that I need to do a better job at taking "before" and "after" pictures. They don't all match up very well. In fact, this first pair doesn't even have a "before" and "after," just a couple of "during" shots.

Can you tell what happened last week? Yes, the old carpet was ripped out and new carpet installed.

the upstairs hallway

the spare bedroom

the master bedroom

Michelle's bedroom
the stairs

And since I couldn't sit around for two days doing nothing, it was the perfect time to paint the family room/kitchen.

Now we need to decide on the next top priority!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two Week Menu Plan

Works for Me Wednesday
Menu Planning
My days always go more smoothly when I know in the morning what I'm fixing for dinner! Princess and I are working on our Personal Progress, and since we both needed to "serve your family by planning, shopping for, and helping to prepare" two weeks worth of meals, we decided to do it together. And since the hardest part of meal planning is coming up with ideas, I figured we'd share it. Maybe some of you will like our choices as well.

Ham Bone Soup

Stuffed Shells



leftovers from the freezer

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken and Pasta in White Sauce

You can definitely find more meal ideas from the Works for Me Wednesday links!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Update

Yearbooks were distributed last Friday (another end-of-the-year event!) and the kids had fun going through it with their dad. You can just imagine the crazy comments they made.Saturday it was time for another work day! Michelle got the fun job of painting her room.Steven got the distasteful job of painting the frame for the air handler. Thank you for doing it without complaining!And then it was time for our future electrical engineer to learn some electrician skills. Although I've been told they're two totally different fields, I'm sure the knowledge will come in handy some day. And now we don't have painted-over (from the previous owners) outlets in the bedrooms.Sunday we enjoyed our Mother's Day traditions. Steven (who looks an awful lot like Jeff in this picture) scrambled the eggswhile Michelle set the "table" and heated the cinnamon rolls. Everything was delicious!We came home from church to discover the sheriff's car parked on our front lawn.

And not just one, but two! What kind of a neighborhood is this?? Steven and Michelle got to practice their cooking skills again, and fixed a lovely dinner, with help with their dad. And after talking with Elder Jeff it was time to drive back and get ready for another week of AP exams.

There you have it - just another, typical family weekend. We hope yours was nice as well. Have a great week!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ten Motherhood Lessons

I read a blog post this week on "unexpected lessons I learned because I'm a mother" and decided that was a great topic to ponder on my walk. So, although this isn't an all-inclusive list, here are ten of the lessons I've learned over the past 28 years, which makes it a perfect "Friday Flashback" post!
  • Teenagers are delightful.
This was the first thing that popped into my head as I pondered, probably because I was so surprised when I realized this years ago. For some reason I thought I'd dread having teenagers. In fact, while we were engaged my husband and I decided that since he didn't care for babies, I could be in charge of our children until they were twelve, and then he'd take over. I was fine with that arrangement. Then our kids got older, and I changed my mind. (Parenting babies and young children was also a cooperative effort, but that's a post for another day.) Teenagers are wonderful. They're witty and smart, fun and imaginative, helpful and encouraging. I'm continually in awe as I watch my teenagers discover themselves and mature into amazing young adults.
  • There's something special about seven year olds.
This may seem odd having just stated that I love teenagers, but if I had to choose a single favorite age for my children, it would be seven. There's just something magical about seven-year-olds. They've conquered the basics - eating, talking, walking, reading, obeying, helping, etc. They can understand the difference between right and wrong. Yet they're not jaded and cynical. Everything's new and wonderful and it's just exciting to be around their innocent enthusiasm for life.

  • Interruptions are part of the job description of motherhood.
I went through a period of time being annoyed by all my children's requests. They seemed to be always interrupting me, either they needed help getting a drink or putting on shoes, or I needed to referee squabbles or prevent accidents. Then one day I was reading a time-management book and the author noted that an effective manager will use his secretary wisely to prevent interruptions. It's her job to be interrupted so that the manager isn't. And the light bulb turned on! My job as a mother is to be interrupted. That's exactly why I chose to stay home with my children. I wanted to be there for them. Being interrupted is no longer annoying and irritating, and that is a wonderful thing. It also helped to analyze some of the more prevalent, bothersome interruptions and try to eliminate them. For example, I made it a habit to keep a filled drink cup in the fridge where my four-year-old could reach and get it himself, and other things like that.

  • Mothers never feel like they're getting enough sleep.
The other night, at 9:40 PM, (remember my brain stops functioning at 9 PM), Michelle asked for help with studying her vocabulary words by saying, "My seminary teacher says that mothers can go days and days and days without sleeping if they're shown great love and appreciation. I love you and appreciate you. Please, please, please help me!" So, how could I resist? And actually, we only spent 15-20 minutes reviewing before she felt confident she could remember the definitions.

As a new mother dealing with waking babies, I remember vividly wondering when they'd sleep through the night so that I could also. That day finally arrived, only for me to discover that while teenagers sleep through the night, they stay up late and wake up early! I still wasn't getting all the sleep I wanted. So, I figured once they were grown and gone, I'd be okay. Guess what? Now it's my own body that's the traitor, waking me up at 3 AM and refusing to go back to sleep.

Fortunately, none of these are every night occurences and I learned a long time ago that Heavenly Father is well aware of my limits. Invariably, I'll get a good night's sleep, not when I think I should have one, but just when He knows I need one.
  • Heartache is a real physical symptom.
The pain you feel when your children are hurting is real, even, and maybe especially, when their hurts are emotional in nature and not physical. The memory that brought this to mind was sitting on the gymnasium floor crying with a son who had just loss a district wrestling match, meaning his dream of advancing to the regional, and then the state tournament, was no longer possible.

  • Mothers really do have eyes in the back of their heads.
How else would they know who's poking whom while keeping their eyes on the busy traffic in front of them?

  • Showing respect needs to go both directions.
A child is not going to love and honor a parent who is belittling and mean. Quiet voices, not taking offense easily, assuming that everyone's doing their best, following the Golden Rule, and just being kind go a long way towards producing love and harmony in the home.

  • A mother needs to take time for herself.
Wise philosophers have come up with some true sayings: "Sharpen the saw." - "You can't fill an empty bucket from a dry well." - "Take some time and be with yourself. If you don't you may miss meeting the most important person in your life." - "Be your own best friend."

No matter how much we love our children and want to be with them, we need to do something just for ourselves. At the top of the list should be personal prayer and scripture study, but it's also important to find the time to do other things we love. The amount of time we spend doing so will change during the various seasons of our lives, and we can definitely involve our children in some of these activities, but it's important.

In each passing mortal hour
All around me there is need
There are hearts that yearn, and tears that fall
And hungry souls to feed
I must seek the Spirit's wisdom
Learn compassion's gentle art
For I cannot give with empty hands
Nor love with barren heart

I will serve my Savior gladly
Seek his little lambs who stray
But if I would lead them safely home
I must know the way
I must seek for understanding
That I may serve his children well
If I seek to fill the soul athirst
I must first be filled

If I would bear my brother's burden
If I would share my sister's grief
Extend the hand of sweet compassion
Offer the weary ones relief
If I would ease the thirst of strangers
And serve His children heart and hand
I must drink of heaven's wells o'erflowing
I must learn to fill the well within

by Sally DeFord Fill the Well Within

  • There truly is "no greater joy than to hear that [your] children walk in truth" (3 John 1:4).
What can I add to that? It's the truth.

  • Motherhood is an incredible gift and opportunity.
It's an overwhelming responsibility to be entrusted with sweet, innocent and dependent spirits, yet I've learned that as I work in partnership with God and my husband, just trying to do my best and continually striving to improve, the blessings that come far outweigh any inconveniences, discouragement, and even pain. Watching them grow and mature, and then start the cycle all over again with their own children, really is an incredible gift.
Thank you, my dear children. I love you.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's Only Just Beginning

It's the beginning of the end of the school year. I've often wondered why it lasts so long, but I guess it's so you have a bit of time to breathe between each event. Anyone have any other ideas?
Anyway, we're in the middle of AP exam week. That means I have to look at my calendar each day to see who goes to school for how long! (It reminds me of the Year of the Crazy Schedule. If I could do it for a whole year, I can definitely do it for two weeks, right?)

Last night the Mutual activity was the Senior Send-Off. I didn't do a very good job of picture-taking (the only in-focus picture I got of Steven was right after he'd taken a bite of cookie) so I'm sorry about that. But it was a wonderful night and we enjoyed honoring our seniors. Refreshments were their favorite desserts. Steven's favorite dessert is actually ice cream cake; however, we figured that would be too messy and melt too quickly, so we went with jello cake. We should have chosen his favorite "finger food" dessert! Maybe we'll remember that for Michelle.

The Laurel in charge did a great job of putting together Steven's slide show. I don't have a copy of it but thought you still might enjoy seeing his pictures through the years. Here's one version:and here are the same pictures shuffled around. I could probably hit "shuffle" a dozen times and still be unable to decide on a favorite. But there are other things on my to-do list so I'm exercising self-control :)
One thing I noticed as I watched them last night is that he's grinning in practically every single one. We're so glad to have such a happy personality (and someone who is kind and patient and smart and obedient and willing and on and on) in our family! We'll miss him next fall.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break - the 2011 Version

Time for some catching up! Spring break started with Easter this year, and although we scaled back our celebrating, there were a couple of traditions that couldn't be omitted - hunting for Easter baskets and creamed eggs for breakfast.Then it was time for some no-school fun!

Michelle enjoyed the week at girl's camp. Apparently being a YCL (youth camp leader) is a lot of fun, and even allows time to take a shower every day (something that didn't fit into her schedule last year). I'm sure they did a lot more than decorate a cake, but these are the only pictures I have, and it is a beautiful cake. (The theme was the Old Testament and they chose to make a Garden of Eden.)While she kept busy doing camp activities, Steven and I spent the week with Wayne and painted, and painted, and painted. There's still more to do, but we're pleased with our progress and think it looks a lot better - no more dark brown wall or messy gold paint job. The new carpet's going in next week. We figured we should take advantage of not having to be so neat and particular and paint baseboards before that happened. That was our goal for spring break, but that part actually went fairly quickly and so we did a couple of the bedrooms as well. I didn't feel like posting individual pictures, but there's an after and before of one room in the top right corner, and a before, during, and after of another in the bottom left.

We even got to see a beautiful sunset on the way back home. The past few years we've gone hiking over spring break. Wayne didn't have the vacation time to do that this year. I wonder which is better - hiking or painting? I guess both of them could be considered breaks from the normal routine, and both of them give you a sense of accomplishment. I suspect, though, that if the vacation time is available, hiking will win next year. Besides, all the painting should be done by then!