Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Motherhood: no greater calling

Over the past couple of months, there have been MANY things that have tugged at my heart and made me stop to think about my role as a wife and mother.
I have talked to people who either feel that motherhood means not living up to their full potential, or that it means giving up hopes and dreams to “sit home all day and watch a bunch of children.”  
Being home with your children does NOT mean you have to stop progressing or improving. It does NOT mean sitting home all day eating bon bons and losing your girlish figure. Motherhood is rewarding, educational, healthy and lots of fun!! 

By having children, I have not "messed up" my body, as the world would like most women to believe having children does to your body. By eating healthy and exercising throughout my pregnancies, my body has stayed healthy, strong and in great shape. In fact, I am in better shape now after having 6 kids than I was before I had baby #1. It didn't happen without a lot of work, but it is totally doable. I have many friends who have children that have stayed fit and healthy while having those children and who have also debunked the lie the having babies messes up your body. Having kids does NOT mess up your body unless you choose not to take care of your body while those babies grow inside of you and after those babies come into this world. It's up to you.
Now I do understand that there are cases where the mother is on bed rest or has other health issues for most of her pregnancy and that would be an exception to this rule. Obviously she can't do a lot of exercising, but she could stick to a healthy diet and that will help.

Motherhood is also very educational and rewarding. You don't have to lose your identity by being a mom.  I am trying to help my kids understand that the sky is not even the limit when it comes to dreams they might have. My girls have been helping me make dresses and skirts so we can sell those online and the boys would really like to write a children's book so I am trying to have them help me find out what it would take to do that. I am TOTALLY growing right along with my kids. If I want to learn something new, I have my kids learn with me. If my kids want to know something I don't know, we all learn about it together. It is awesome!! If anything, I feel like I have found myself more than lost myself. I am part of a team and we have a lot of fun round here.

I understand that each person has a right to feel as he or she wishes. We all have an opinion and we are free to share it.  But I have to admit that I have agonized over some of the comments I have heard about motherhood being a waste of one’s time and ability to make a “difference” in the world.  I just couldn’t disagree more………………..but who am I? I am “just a mom."  ;)

I wanted to see what the Lord thought about all of this. I value his opinion more than anyone else's. So I asked.

I got my answer.

Through a very special experience I was told how God feels about the roll of Mothers and Fathers.

God created the earth and everyone in it. Because of this amazing accomplishment He could have gone by so many titles; Great mathematician, Great scientist, or even all powerful Creator. And yet the title He prefers to be called by most of the time is "Father".  And even when you read accounts of him introducing Jesus Christ to others, he OFTEN refers to Jesus as “My son.”
Being a parent is so important to God that even He prefers that title over any other grand and exciting title he could very well be called by.  I love that!! I love the example that He has set for me as a parent. 
As Mothers, we are so VERY blessed to hold this title. We should NEVER be ashamed or feel like we are not living up to our true potential.  

I love that I have the ability to be a parent. I love my children and I love that I get to spend so much time with them. They are my life! There is NOTHING more important I could be doing in this world. Nothing. And the fact that I get to learn and grow WITH my kids.............well.........that is just icing on the cake. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Non-Pinterest inspired Party

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Pinterest. I love the ideas that I get from it. I love admiring the talents of others and I love trying new things that people have taken the time to post DIY instructions for.
But one thing I have noticed about pinning things on my Pinterest boards is that I have been so busy getting creative ideas from others, that I am not coming up with my own fun ideas like I used to.........back in the day.
So I decided that for Morgan's 5th Birthday, the kids and I would come up with our own ideas. (and then go post it on Pinterest. ha ha!)
The only thing I did use from Pinterest (because seriously, this idea was too cute not to use) is putting streamers on the door to the birthday girl while she is sleeping. When Morgan woke up, she was so thrilled to see all of those streamers in her doorway. Such a simple way to put a smile on a child's face!!
Morgan wanted a Disney Princess party, so the kids and I came up with some fun games to play..........using the Disney princesses as themes for each game.
I created Princess stations for the girls to go to.
For the Cinderella station, we had one of her glass slippers on the table, but the girls had to find the missing slipper. (I hid it ahead of time)
It was a lot of fun!
For the Ariel station, I reminded the girls about the part in the movie where Ariel's voice was gone and she couldn't speak. On the back of each fish was an animal. The girls took turns picking a fish off the wall and acting out that animal without saying any words. (charades)
For the Princess and the Frog station, I told the girls that they needed to chose one of the stuffed frogs to kiss. If they kissed a frog, the frog would give them a "kiss". (a candy kiss)   
I think this was my favorite station of them all. So funny!!
For the Snow White station, The girls took one apple out of the witches apple basket.
I played music while the girls passed the apple around. When the music stopped, whoever had the apple got "poisoned" and was out. (hot potato)
When we were done playing, we cut up the apples and had a little snack. :)
 Next we had the Princess Aurora station. Instead of pricking our fingers on a spinning wheel..........
We painted them!!! :)
 For the Belle station, I read them a princess story.
 And when we were all done with our "Princess Stations" I had the girls write a letter to their favorite princess. I saw on Facebook, that if you write to this address you will get a reply from the princess you write to. I guess we will see if it actually works.
 After we were done with our "stations," we sat down for our Princess cake.
Fun was had by all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fishing for Math

Here is a little math activity I did with the kids that they actually LOVED.
I got a fishing pole and attach a clothes pin to the end of the line. Then I filled a baggie with various colored fish crackers. If you have a staircase that works really well. If not, you can always have them fish over the back of a couch.
I had them drop the line (and the clothes pin) over the staircase and then I attached the bag of fish crackers at the bottom of the stairs and gave the line a tug.
They loved reeling in their "fish"
I had them separate the fish into colors and put them in a little pile.
 For the younger children, I had them count each pile of one color and then add each pile together. For my older kids, I had them multiply the colored piles together. (or you could give them 3 large piles to add together for an intermediate level)
 It is a fun way to keep up on those math skills during the summertime and STILL have fun.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Clean Kitchen = Happy Mom

I am the mother of six children who eat three meals, drink at least 8 glasses of water and consume a million snacks. EVERY DAY! Let me translate exactly what that means; we use a LOT of dishes in our house. Not only that, but at the end of the day, I swear we have more dirty dishes in our sink than we had clean dishes to begin with.

I have done job charts with my kids and they have worked fabulously!  But I really wanted to go one step farther than the job chart. I wanted my kids to learn how to take personal responsibility for their own messes regardless whether or not it was their “job.”  (But we do still use a job chart for vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms, etc. ……..things that just get dirty over time)
So I decided to pack up ALL of the kid’s dishes except for one plate, one cup and one bowl each. I color coordinated them so that each child got one set color for their plate, cup and bowl. That was THEIR color, their dishes, their responsibility.  
I sat them all down and explained that these were their dishes. They are in charge of making sure their dish gets washed after each meal so that they will have a dish for the next meal. And having them color coordinated helps all of us to see whose dish is whose. No one is to use someone else’s color. EVER! If your dishes are dirty, you had better wash them so you can eat.
I explained to them that my job is to make sure there is soapy water in the sink after each meal so that they can wash their dishes. If I forget to do that, I wash their dishes for them. (They really liked that part) I have found that if I get water in the sink BEFORE each meal that works best.
It is insane how nice this has worked to keep my kitchen clean and dirty-dish free!! Plus, my kids are learning at a young age how to take care of their own mess. I like that!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Homeschool website

--HERE--   is a great website for the homeschooling parents out there. It has some great links and information that is very helpful and could provide some extra lessons for you.
Happy Learning!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No more Laundry Mountains!!

It has been an awfully long time since I have posted, and I like to think that I have an awfully good reason. I just had baby number 6, so the past few months have been a bit crazy for me as I adjust back to life.
And with 6 children, (one of which likes to spew out all kinds of bodily fluids at all hours of the day and night) the amount of laundry done at my house has easily doubled. I am very good about keeping up on doing the laundry, (You can only let a dirty pile of laundry go so long before it starts calling your name.) But my pile of clean clothes has been bothering me lately.  
All too often I will present a mountain of close to my children and tell them to sort it out. Kind of like this one.
The kids are really good about sorting out the pile, but I really HATE piles to begin with. It looks so messy and it just made folding clothes look like a never ending task.
So I went to Target and got a bunch of these white crates and labeled them for my kids.
  I keep them on the shelves above our washing machine so that I can pull the laundry out of the dryer and sort it into the bin it belongs into. I also divide up the towels and give each kid a couple in their bin. Once their bin is full, it is time to pull it down and fold the clothes in it. It is done right then and there and then put away. No pile. No messy look. It just looks nice, neat and CLEAN.  (Plus, the kids love it this way)
 And for me, clean looking house = happy mom. :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Meal planning made easy!

Having five children and being 6 and ½ months pregnant with baby #6 has been fun in so many ways and yet VERY hard in others. I think baby #6 is trying to kill me. Really!
By the end of the day, I am too sore and too tired (and often too sick) to make a decent dinner like I did in the “good ‘ol days” when life was normal and I was not pregnant. (Wait………did I say normal? Has there ever really been a “normal?”)
Through the years I have tried ALL kinds of Meal planning ideas. I had a friend who would spend a whole day cooking meals for the entire month and then freezing them.  I loved the idea, but never had the time or ambition to go that far. It was a bit overwhelming for me to think of cooking for a whole month.  What meals would I make? How much?
I have gone the route of planning all of the meals for the month on paper and trying to keep track of what we were going to have each night. It eventually got overwhelming too. (Can you tell I am easily overwhelmed when it comes to dinner time and what to make?)
I actually LOVE to cook and always want to try fancy new recipes, but with 5 kids to take care of, I just don’t have the time and I always just reverted back to the same quick and easy dinners over and over again.  (And when worst comes to worst, I bust out the cold cereal. It is a sad true story!!)
So recently I decided to find a way to do what I love (cook fabulous meals) without spending so much time (time that I don't have anyways) and get my dinners organized without getting overwhelmed.  I actually found a way to do all of the above. So excited!!!
I wanted to make sure this would be something that would not fade away over a few weeks. I wanted something simple enough to last through the years. Something I could really keep up with. Something that was doable for my busy life.  (Because let’s face it, after baby #6 comes, life will not get less busy)
I went to the store and found JUST what I was looking for. Three GLASS baking dishes with lids. (I wanted glass so that they could either be used in the microwave or oven)
  Next, I went through my awesome cookbook and picked out ALL of the meals I would like to eventually try. (The meals that I have NEVER had time to try)

I then picked out THREE MEALS. That is it. See not so overwhelming…………..right?
  I got everything I would need for those three meals and I spent some time on Sunday making those meals. It was so much fun!!! My husband was home to watch the kids (So I didn’t have kids needing this or that. I just got to cook. What a concept) and it only took me a little over an hour to make the meals.
  Doesn’t it look beautiful and healthy?!!  Take THAT cold cereal!!!!
I made sure that I had enough to completely fill those baking dishes because in reality, HALF of one of those baking dishes would be one meal for my family.  

Meal #1- Veggie Lasagna
  Meal #2- Enchiladas
  Meal #3- Beef stew
  I put them in the fridge and there you have it!!
Now, on Monday I will pull out one of the baking dishes around 4pm and put it in the oven. That’s it!! I will toss a salad at 5pm, pull the baking dish out of the oven and dinner is done!!!   And since our family will only eat about half of that baking dish worth, I will save the other half for Thursday night.

So basically we will have meal #1 on Monday, Meal #2 on Tuesday, Meal #3 on Wednesday, the other half of meal #1 on Thursday, the other half of meal #2 on Friday, the other half of meal #3 on Saturday and Sunday is a whatever day.  (And I make three meals for the next week)
So I only have to spend a little amount of time to make three meals on Sunday for the whole week. I save so much time during the week!!! Now THAT is not overwhelming. I can do that!!!   

Friday, December 30, 2011

7 things to think about when setting goals

It is that time of year when I like to review the goals I have set this year and set new goals for next year. I love looking at all of the things I have been able to accomplish in a year. It makes me feel a little giddy. (Yes, I am a nerd. I think we have established that)

I have already touched a little bit on goals HERE and HERE
But I just recently went to a wonderful event called Time Out for Women. It is a conference JUST for women and the speakers are AMAZING!!  They travel around the USA each year, speaking to woman to remind them who they really are and what is really most important in life. I HIGHLY recommend attending one next year.
(Go HERE to see their 2012 schedule)
They are great for all women in all walks of life. I especially like the insights I get to help me in my role as mother.

One talk that I loved has a LOT to do with how we should be setting goals. So since this is the “goal setting time of year” I thought I would share my notes on that talk. Enjoy!!

The Speaker started out by saying she would focus on these 7 points. They made me laugh but shocked me at the same time.  Wait till she tells you why she focuses on these 7 points. It is good stuff!!
1.)    Stop worrying about your weaknesses
2.)    Don’t try to get motivated to exercise
3.)    Stop trying to find friends
4.)     Don’t try to feel happy
5.)    Celebrate failure
6.)    Don’t get help with your problems
7.)    Don’t endure to the end

Pretty funny huh?  Now I will share my notes on each of these points.
*Stop worrying about your weaknesses
People get more happiness by focusing on their strengths. God does not call us to serve (or be mothers) for our weaknesses, he calls us for our strengths.

Take the time to REALLY think about what your strengths or spiritual gifts are.  Find new and creative ways to use those strengths.

*Don’t try to get motivated to exercise
Motivation follows action. If you WAIT to get motivated to exercise, you never will.
Do it even If you don’t want to. Pretty soon, the motivation will follow.  (I totally agree with her on this one!!!)

*Stop trying to find friends
Instead, develop the characteristics of a true friend.  Treat people like they matter. Help others feel that they are loved and be there for them. You don’t need to “Find” friends if you “Are” a friend to others.
*Don’t try to feel happy
Instead, try to feel grateful. With gratitude comes happiness. Ask yourself EVERY DAY what 3 good things happened to you today. Think about what made those things happen and be thankful for them. Pretty soon, you will not have to “TRY” to be happy, it will come naturally.

*Celebrate failure
Failure often means we are taking the necessary risks to grow, stretch and serve.  Learn from your mistakes and move forward.  Look at a failure in your life and ask yourself what you have learned from it.  Move forward with that knowledge you have just gained.  (Something I say to myself often is “don’t let past failures hold good future probabilities hostage”)

*Don’t get help with your problems
Instead, help someone else. By helping others, it will better our mood and make our problems very small, if not disappear all together.

We are born with sprits that want to progress and serve others. When we don’t do those things, there is NO medication that will make us feel better about it.
Find one thing to do and then go do it. Learn, grow, progress!!! 
Ask yourself every day “who did I help today?”

*Don’t endure to the end
Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.
Start enjoying all of the goodness around you. Savor and delight in the tiny pleasures of life.  Don’t “wait” to be saved from your problems, enjoy them by finding the diamond in the rough.

And those are all of the notes I have on that talk. Good stuff eh?!!!
I don’t think I really need to add anything more to this. Now go set those goals and have fun working to get them accomplished!!!
Here’s to 2012!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snowman Fun

A fun Holiday tradition in our family is making marshmallow popcorn ball snowmen. My kids LOVE this tradition and I don’t think it would feel quite like the Christmas season without making them. Here is the recipe and a few pictures.

 ½ C. Butter
1 1/3 C. Sugar
½ C. Karo syrup
3 C. Miniature Marshmallows
Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Take off heat and add 1 tsp. Vanilla. Pour over 4 qts. Popped corn.
Collect some fun things to decorate your snowmen with. I like to use fruit rolls for the scarf and chocolate chips for the eyes. I normally like mini M&Ms for the buttons, but I didn’t have any, so I did chocolate chips for those as well. Just get creative.
I like to use candy corn for the snowman nose. Looks kind of like a carrot and it is super cute.
I also like to use stick pretzels for the arms. Again, just get creative and let the kids have fun with it.
Form the popcorn into a snowman for each kid.
Let the kids put the scarf on + start decorating their snow man with all of the candy.
I apologize that I didn’t get pictures of my kid’s finished product. We were having too much fun (as you can see) and I forgot.
I will share one tip. When you are forming the popcorn, put cold water on your hands, not butter like you normally do with popcorn balls. I think it works MUCH better…………………but maybe I am just weird like that.  (Okay, FINE! I really hate getting butter all over my hands. It feels awful and takes forever to get off. THERE!! I said it!!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

This year for the Christmas season, the kids and I have decided to start a new tradition that we are calling “the giving Christmas tree.”
I went to our local Learning Shop and found these cute little card stock cutouts that look like Christmas tree decorations. (aren't they so cute?!!)
The kids told me some acts of service to write on each decoration, such as “make someone’s bed for them” or “do someone’s job for them” and “give someone a hug and tell them you love them.” 
After we wrote the acts of service on the decorations, I had the kids color a picture of a Christmas tree for us to put our decorations onto.
I would like to say this tree is nothing fancy because my kids did it, but in all reality, I am NO artist so it would have looked just the same if I had done it. (Or maybe even looked worse……………)

Each day the kids get to take off a decoration from our “giving Christmas tree” and they do whatever act of service that is on the decoration they have chosen.  Fun stuff! I love that it helps them remember the TRUE meaning of this holiday; giving to others……………..just as our Savior has done for us.
Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Chore Chart That ACTUALLY Works

For a while now, I have been trying my darndest to get my children to do a morning routine of:  making their beds, getting dressed, saying their personal morning prayers, cleaning their rooms, and brushing their teeth. And my lofty goal was to have them do this without me hovering over them to get them to do it.  I wanted them to do it on their own and I wanted them to want to do it FIRST thing in the morning. I like to call this “setting myself up for failure.”   ;)
It was a great goal right? Right!
I tried everything. I made this fabulous chart that goes above their school charts. The chart is great for them to keep track of what they have done and have yet to do, but now my battle was getting them motivated to actually DO what they needed to do on this chart.
Then I remembered that there is someone who knows my children FAR better than I do. I took my problem to the Lord, and everything came to me so very clear.
As mothers, we often times get thrown into this job without ANY training, but I love that we ALL have access to the best trainer out there.  (God) And the best part about this “trainer” is that he KNOWS each of our children and what will work best for them. Such a huge blessing in our lives if we will use it!!!
I found these fabulous little “chore bucks” and “behavior bucks” online. (Click on the picture, save to a word doc, make it as big as you want and then print them)
I printed them off, cut them out, had the kids color them green, (they loved that part) and then I laminated them. (Only because I am obsessed with laminating things)

I use the kid’s pockets that used to be their “behavior chart” and it is now the place where their “money” goes.

I sat down and explained the name of the game to my children.  I told them that if they do the morning routine (make bed, clean room, brush teeth, say prayers, and get dressed) without being asked and BEFORE they come upstairs each morning, they will earn one “chore buck.”
They also have a job to do each morning, such as washing dishes, putting dishes away, vacuuming etc.  Doing that job without being asked also earns them one “chore buck.”
If they behave well in school or have good manners at the table while we are eating, they earn one “behavior buck.” They may also earn a behavior buck by doing something extra nice for a sibling or for helping me when I need it, without being asked.
When they earn a “buck” I stick it in their behavior chart pocket and they get to see all of the “money” they are earning. I have various prizes they may buy with their “bucks.”  Some things are small and only cost two bucks. Other things are larger and they have to work hard and save up to buy them. These are things that usually cost 5-10 bucks. (but everything costs at LEAST 2 bucks) It is great to see them work toward that BIG prize rather than taking a smaller one. (But the two younger kids like that instant gratification, so they usually go for the small gifts)
The system works FABULOUSLY!!! In fact, it works so well, that I have to tell my kids to stop getting their morning routine done so early. I have some kids coming into my room at 4:30am saying they are done making their bed, getting dressed, saying prayers, brushing teeth and cleaning their room.  Oh my!!!
Another great thing about this system is that I am teaching them that everything has a price. When I am trying to get them to go to bed at night, I usually have a couple of kids that want to stay up till all hours of the night in their rooms to play. Now, I tell them that they are welcome to stay up in their rooms past bed time, but if they do, it will cost them one dollar for every half hour they stay up. 
I NEVER say “you misbehaved so now I am taking your money away.” They have earned it fair and square.  But I do let them know that some misbehavior will cost them one dollar. This way, it is THEIR choice. It is not just being taken from them. They are “paying” it out or keeping it.
They go RIGHT to bed now. I love it!!!  And I love that it is THEIR choice. They don’t want to pay the price to stay up past bed time.  They would rather use that money for something they want more. (Kind of like the choices we have to make. Do I want this brownie now, or would I rather not eat it and lose those pounds I have been working hard to lose?)
They are learning how to make good choices. They are learning to govern their actions without mommy hovering over them. And they are all cheering each other on. They often wake each other up and help each other. It melts my heart and makes me smile.
This has turned out to be a huge success.  I shouldn’t be surprised though. Look at who my “trainer” is. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Candy Corn Cookies

Another fun fall project. Go HERE to check it out.
I will be making these with my kids today. So excited!! They are such adorable cookies!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Fun

I love fall, but I usually don’t really get into the fall holidays as much as I prepare for “the big one” in December.
But this year, I find myself feeling really…………….fallish.  (Not a word? Yeah, didn’t think so)
So I have decided to see JUST how many fun fall ideas I can come up with this year.

The good news: my first idea is REALLY fun to do with the kids.
The bad news: Someone else has already “come up” with my brilliant idea.
I love the internet, but seriously?!! ……………………I prefer the good ‘ol days when you thought all of your brilliant ideas were unique and amazing. Now, when you come up with something cool, you can get on the computer and find out that a million other people have already thought of it. Boo!!
So for those of you who have NOT thought of this idea and have not ever looked at the million other examples on the internet, here you go!!
My kids really wanted to make caramel apples. I loved the idea, except for the fact that I hated the idea. Caramel apples are super yummy………………….but SUPER messy. I was NOT going to go there and do that. (Did I mention I have OCD issues?...........)
So that is where my “brilliant” (but come to find out, not so brilliant) idea comes in.  We decided to make caramel apple BITES.
All of my kids are very young, so ours did not turn out as fancy smancy as the ones shown HERE  But it was still fun.
First I had the kids unwrap the caramels. (They loved seeing how fast they could do this)
  And while they unwrapped caramels, I cut up apples and put them in lemon water so they would not turn brown.
  After the apples were cut and caramels were unwrapped, I gave the kids some toothpicks to stick in each apple piece
  Something we didn’t do that I will TOTALLY do next time……… DRAIN the apples and let them dry. Our apples were a bit too wet and it made the caramel runny. So learn from our mistake I guess. :)
 While they were stabbing apples with toothpicks, I was melting the caramels.
  After that, we were ready to dip the apples.
 Let the caramel cool a bit. It will stay on the apple better that way. You could also just let them dip their apples in the caramel and eat it that way.  Either way, it was a fun activity that ALL of the kids could do. Fun stuff!!