If you have found me through Mother Letters, welcome to my house. Feel free to make yourself at home and look around.
Put your feet up on the coffee table, see what I have in the pantry, and enjoy our time together.
If you would like to read my entire Mother Letter, click here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mother Letters

I wrote a letter to contribute to a Christmas gift one husband gave to his wife. He asked anyone willing to write a letter to his wife with words of encouragement, experiences, etc. I decided to copy the letter I wrote here so that I would have it recorded for myself and my family. If you would like to know more about the project, click here. There are some amazing thoughts from mothers around the world. BTW, he received more than 500 letters!  If you have found me through Mother Letters, welcome to my house.

Dear Mother,

As I contemplated this challenge of summing up motherhood into a letter, I realized what a monumental task it is. Defining motherhood and ourselves by extension is an impossible task. As I began my blog, in the “about us” section, I felt forced to define our family and by extension myself. At different points in my life I have defined myself as a student, teacher, friend, girlfriend, missionary, waitress, wife, mother, housekeeper, chauffeur, cook, room mother, director of plays, writer, translator, church worker, and the list goes on and on. I wish I could come up with a definitive label for myself (in my mind) that encompasses all that I am now and have been. Sometimes “stay at home mom” doesn’t begin to describe me. I love being a mother. I also realize that sometimes I need to feel like a woman, sometimes a wife, and often a validated individual. Maybe I am looking for a definition that isn’t just what I do but all that I am. I guess I am just ME! and some days that is more than enough!
I have done many things in my life, from living without indoor plumbing or electricity in a third world country for 8 months and learning to truly love the people, to teaching 4th and 6th graders. I have to say, striving to be the mother I want for my children is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It stretches my creativity, patience, and coping skills beyond limits I ever imagined and I don’t even have teenagers yet!
As for advice, the thing I am striving for most in my journey of motherhood is to keep the big picture in mind and tailor my goals and reactions to each challenge accordingly. I try to ask myself if this will really matter to who my child will become in the future. Is this a skill he/she will really need or just something I want.
I lose my temper frequently and many times realize after the fact that “I made a mountain out of that mole hill” but then I try to forgive myself and move forward. Most of the time the forgiveness part is the most difficult. Forgiving ourselves brings me to the other bit of advice that I try to remind myself of...we needn’t be too hard on ourselves. Even mothers are imperfect and on our own journeys to better ourselves each day. I believe that God made children with short memories and forgiving hearts for that reason. Oh, and stop comparing yourself to the wonder mom down the street. She doesn’t show you her dirty bathrooms and the tears she cries on hard days. It is a good thing God doesn’t judge us by our perceptions of the neighbor moms! As I strive each day to do my best, I pray often to my loving Heavenly Father and ask that he make up the difference between my best efforts and everything my children need. I have faith He will, because I know He loves them too. A personal relationship with Him goes a long way to feeling His loving presence in your life.
I recently heard a wonderful talk given by a local church leader that helps me to keep my perspective. He said that instead of making lists of “things to do” make it a list of “people to love”. Nearly everything we do affects someone. It would be a much better world, a happier family, a happier heart, if the things we do every day were done with love for the people they affect. I read a post about a lady who folds laundry this way. As she folds each article of clothing she thinks of something she loves about the person it belongs to.
We are trying to teach our children that our love is best demonstrated by our actions, not just saying “I love you”. How much more love could exist in our homes if all the “to dos” were done with love for members of the family in mind?
Finally, take a break once in a while. Everyone needs to find the individual inside the mom once in a while. I find that I am more patient and loving when given the chance to miss my children once in a while.
Keep your chin up. Keep trying and know that there are many other mothers out there cheering for you as well as a loving Heavenly Father who wants you to succeed in creating your own happy ending with your family.

With love, from a small part of your own cheering section,
Mother of four ages 8, 6, 4, 14 months

Though this letter is full of things that rarely resemble my real day to day life, it has helped me to write them down and read them often to keep my perspective. I would highly recommend writing your own "mother letter" whether it is about yourself, about the mother you hope to be one day, or about your own mother, wife, sister daughter etc.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Christmas Story (according to Little One)

Little One's sweet teacher at church teacher told me that Little One was telling the Christmas story to her class. She confidently explained that Joseph took Mary on a trip, built a fire for her and they roasted marshmallows. Baby Jesus had a marshmallow too!

For family night tonight, we are going to use our puppets to tell the Christmas story together. Can't wait to hear her part! :)

*Later in the season Little One was telling me the story again. Marshmallows were a big part of the story as before. Baby Jesus liked them so much he ate the whole bag. It also included the star which was raised and lowered by Mary and Joseph when they saw the shepherds and wisemen coming.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Prequel - Murphy's Elves have Struck

Hubby convinced me that I needed to record our Murphy's elves escapades from the beginning to portray the week in ALL it's glory. He had to remind me of many of the details as I had blissfully blocked them from my conscious mind.
Last Sunday, we had quite the afternoon...
It all began with the perfect Sunday dinner.  I had appointments to go visiting teaching so Hubby finished up the potatoes and gravy while #1 put the crescent rolls on the pan. The timing was perfect, I arrived home to a wonderful dinner on the table.

Then the elves came, invisible, but real nonetheless. We were about to sit down to eat when my nose detected something bound to disrupt everyone's appetite. As I took Sunshine upstairs to change the nuclear waste, Freckles was playing with his silverware and knocked over his entire glass of milk. The milk promptly soaked everything including the cushion on my chair. We cleaned up and finally sat down.

We began serving the children and got them started and Freckles spilled his milk AGAIN! We cleaned up and sat down to serve ourselves. I had not even had one bite when Sunshine threw up all over. With heavy heart, I put down my fork to clean up her chair, strip her down, and change her clothes. Meanwhile, Hubby was being plied with requests (whines) for seconds from the other kids.

I made Sunshine some cereal and sat down to feed her. We were minus the tray and buckles which had to be disinfected (practically burned) and so she was flailing. If you've noticed the pattern here, it will not surprise you to learn that she managed to smack the bowl of cereal coating me and herself! I had now had eaten a total of 2 bites and was getting ornery. I yelled in surprise and scared her. As I worked to quiet her, Hubby was arguing with Little One about "trying just one bite". She put the offending bite in her mouth and promptly threw up!!!

When Hubby and I finally were able to eat, we only had enough appetite to choke down a few bites of ice cold mashed potatoes and roast beef. We didn't dare even take the time to reheat because we didn't know what would happen next. We vowed the next week we would be having PBandJ, cooking a large meal isn't worth it.

As you can imagine, we couldn't imagine that those darn elves had more in store for us but we were Oh... So... Wrong! Well, there they are, the events leading up to the day that sent me over the edge.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Murphy's Elves Strike Again

I can't believe how lucky we are (said through gritted teeth)! I thought everything was on track for my annual Ladies brunch that I host for my family. It's supposed to be tomorrow. Last night we were watching the season finale of the 2nd season of Lost (yes we are new addicts, and get to watch 4 episodes a week) with bated breath. We heard one of the sounds a parent dreads most... "cough, cough, bleah, Mommy" Yes, you guessed it, #1 threw up all over in his bed (the TOP bunk). My barf challenged husband stood in the doorway for moral support with his nose plugged, apologizing and promising to put on the clean sheets as soon as I got the mess cleaned up. I won't go into detail but suffice it to say a sticky dustpan was involved. Luckily, #1 is now old enough that for the other 4 times last night he was able to make it into a bowl and we just had to take turns emptying and rinsing. Then, this morning Freckles woke up saying he wasn't feeling well. As I wondered if it was just sympathy/don't feel like school today symptoms, he ran to the bathroom and...yep!
Now I have: 12 guests expecting a party, 11 toys strewn across the floor to step on, 10 ornaments to put back on the tree (Sunshine), 9 times to refill cups of Gatorade which threaten my carpet, 8 floors to clean, 7 loads of stinky laundry, 6 presents to wrap, 5 slimy flushes and a toilet that needs to be cleaned, 4 kids at home while trying to clean for the party, 3 dozen cookies to make, 2 barfing boys, and 1 headache from too little sleep. My own friggin' version of 12 somethings for Christmas.
Where are those real elves when you need them? I think we have Murphy's elves at our house. No matter what we do, how we plan, something unforeseen always seems to happen. I even had to wipe off the inch thick layer of dust before I could put out my decorations. What's up with that? That's enough to kill any one's Christmas spirit despite my favorite Christmas music blaring in the background. In my world, I would have the elves come in and clean up the night before we are ready to decorate then I can have that Hallmark moment when my beautiful, clean, well behaved children smile and laugh gently as we lovingly place our decorations in the perfect spots.
But... until that happens I guess I had better pour some more Gatorade, sort the laundry, and find a clothes pin for my nose as I head off to clean the bathroom. As for my party? I will have to see if the barfing stops in a respectable amount of time to be able to Lysol everything before tomorrow.

P.S. For anyone concerned that the tone of this post is quite different than I usually write, be assured that I am fine and coping. I have used this as a way to blow off steam and try to find some humor while in the throes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"They Forgot Thanksgiving"

I had a rather satisfying moment the other day as I walked through WalMart with the kids. As Freckles looked at all of the Christmas decorations that had been put up the day before Halloween, he shook his head and said, "They forgot all about Thanksgiving." This helped me to realize that the thankful lists we made, our thankful tree, and the many Family Home Evening Lessons about gratitude and Thanksgiving had touched them. I am glad I stayed strong in my refusal to put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, no matter how tempting. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! However much there is to be grateful for at Christmas time, how many people we can serve, and how much thought we put into our gift giving, I want to maintain the importance of a day specifically dedicated to appreciating all the blessings God has given us. Just because the world does not commercialize Thanksgiving, I don't believe it has any less importance. I firmly believe that many problems of the world could be solved with a little more gratitude and less selfishness. If I can teach my children to count their blessings and feel true gratitude, I feel I will have given them a wonderful gift.
"May we be found among those who give our thanks to our Heavenly Father. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed."
--Thomas S. Monson, "
Finding Joy in the Journey", Ensign, Nov 2008, 84–87

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Gift Giving Philosophy

I have a rather old-fashioned view of gift giving. I look at giving gifts as an opportunity to think about the things I admire and appreciate about that person. I want to consider what stage of life they are in, what may make their lives a little easier or bring moments of enjoyment for them.
I have received many, many thoughtful gifts over the years. Most of them weren't particularly expensive or extravagant, but most of them showed thought and planning. I admire a person who has the talent for being a thoughtful gift giver. Some of the most memorable gifts I have received:
  • As a poor college student, my sister sent me a whole roast beef dinner in the mail including the potatoes, carrots, onions, etc!
  • At the airport, leaving for my mission, I received a warm homemade loaf of bread which was wonderful for the verrry long detour we had to El Salvador and couldn't leave the airport. The only other thing to eat was out of a candy bar vending machine. What an inspired gift.
  • When I had the February blues, I was given a beautiful bouquet of spring colored roses that brought spring into my kitchen
  • For Christmas one year, we were given a small, golden, lighted Christmas tree made from small dodads that had meaning for us (seashells, smurfs (loved them when I was little, many a story there), our initials, glasses etc.) We learned that the giver had spent much time searching the thrift store small toy bins for just the right objects, glued them onto a foam base added lights and spray painted it gold. It is beautiful and makes me smile every time we unpack it
  • Another Christmas we received a handmade story quilt and a story book. Reading stories on the quilt every night of December has become a family tradition.
  • A hot, homemade apple pie for my birthday was an unexpected pick me up.
  • The last season of my favorite guilt show on DVD (nope, I won't tell you what it is and you can't make me!)
  • My frugal, practical mother always had a bunny for anything... I especially loved the Groundhog Day Bunny, or the St. Patrick's Day Bunny. Any occasion was free license to give a gift. It wasn't expected, just a nice surprise. She even bought "bunny" gifts for herself sometimes.
  • My Daddy made me a beautiful handmade dollhouse complete with a post banister and hand split shaker wood shingles. Unfortunately, I did not appreciate it like I should have at the time, something I regret as I wish for a dollhouse for my girls.
I want to teach my children thoughtful gift giving. I think thoughtful gift giving inspires gratitude for gifts received as well. On those rare occasions, when I am on top of things, I talk to the kids about what they think the recipient of their gift would like. Sometimes we have to emphasize that their 5 year old girl friend would probably prefer a Polly Pocket set over a robotic transformer or set of pokemon cards.

I strive to be a thoughtful gift giver, though I am not as successful as I would like. I guess it is the procrastinator in me. It is difficult to find a truly thoughtful gift at the last minute. In fact, more than once, I have found myself at a superstore 15 min before a party or wedding frantically searching for SOMETHING to give.

I appreciate having my gift lists made in advance to enable me to ponder through the haze of my life and thus attempt to show others that I value and appreciate them. Now, I must give a disclaimer.... If you receive a gift from me that makes you go hmmm and wonder "WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?", know that I must have had a moment, day, week, month... and I will attempt to do better next time and still value you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Road Trip Fairy

We have a wonderful little fairy that visits us on road trips. She has an irridescent rainbow dress, violet hair, beautiful wings that fly fast enough to keep up with us on our trip, can be invisible when she wants (Mom has only seen her once), and of course a magic wand! She purchases and wraps small gifts (usually dollar store items) that can be played with or occupy children in the car. Each child's gifts are wrapped in a specific paper so they know which are for them. When we stop for a rest, every couple of hours or so, the kids can search the car to see if the Road Trip Fairy visited. This keeps our children occupied and surprises that are ongoing. It also cuts down on the "are we there yet?" and "He's touching me!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Little Schemer

Tonight at dinner #1 said.... "Mom, will you try to do a back handspring so we can videotape it? Then if (said with little doubt) you mess up we can send it to America's Funniest Home Videos and win! You could get a lot of money...."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Little One is Running Away... or Not

Little One and I just had an interesting encounter. She had determined that she is big enough to use "sharp knives" as she dragged a stool over to the cutting board. As we discussed the fact that she needs to be much bigger before she is ready for this particular hazard over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, AND OVER!!! (Her preschool teacher who has been running a preschool with multiple classes for years described her as the most stubborn child she has ever met.)

As we both became incresingly frustrated, she gave me the classic "If you don't let me ____, then I will (won't) _______. Doesn't every kid pull this out? But, she's not even 4 years old yet! Unfortunately she has very experienced coaches in this reasoning.
Her ultimatum was this: "If you don't let me use sharp knives, I won't live here anymore!" I paused to see her reaction to what she had said and to take a deep breath. I then watched her face as I asked her where she would live. The realization of what she had said was visible on her face. I then reassured her that we would miss her very much and Mommy would probably cry for days and days, maybe even forever, if she chose not to live here and be a part of our family anymore. We then talked about all of the things she can do such as make her bed, get dressed, put away clothes, unload the dishwasher, etc. and how fast she is growing up.

As I finally distracted her with what to have for lunch and the chocolate milk I made, I thought the discussion was ended. Halfway through her lunch, I was sitting here at the computer checking email and she came to me crying. When I asked her what was wrong she said "I don't want to live somewhere else." I held her on my lap and assured her that Daddy and I will always love her and want her with us.

It's nice to know that she will be staying a little longer, at least until the next time she wants something else beyond her abilities or maturity.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boy Noises

Over the last few months, I have been pondering a phenomenon. I first noticed it one day when, as I watched my boys play, I heard absolutely inhuman sounds coming from their mouths. Sounds like schooo schooo, and pwuuoooh, and other sounds that I cannot even attempt to type. These sounds are emitted with practically any game they are playing, whether it is playing with rocket toys or waltzing with their little sister. This is strange enough but then I tried to make these sounds myself. I physically cannot do it right!  Hubby, on the other hand, is the Jedi Master of "boy sounds". Thus, I am convinced it is linked to the Y chromosome.
Most of the time I find this talent fascinating considering the many variations, intonations, and situations in which they are used. However, I will admit that there are times that the consant barrage of sound against my brain can be mind numbing.
For you mothers without the pleasure of having boys (having boys verses girls would be a good topic for a later post). I highly recommend some quality time listening to little boys play. It's fascinating! I say mothers, your husbands wont find it the least bit unusual because it is part of their genetic make-up. He may, however, find it interesting to watch you attempt to mimic the sounds. Hubby finds it hilarious!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Our tomatoes are coming on (finally, it took longer because we planted late this year) which means it's time to make salsa! I love it fresh. I thought I would share our additions to my sister's recipe:
10-12 tomatoes or
2 qts bottled tomatoes (drained), chopped
1 bell pepper (we use red), chopped
1 med purple onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Anaheim pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers finely chopped
2 tsp lime juice
We add:
1-3 tsp vinegar
1-3 tsp sugar

We like to put tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds until the peelings slide off, but you can leave peel on if you want. We are trying roasted garlic this year, smells good. I'll add on the verdict if we like it better! ~~We really are enjoying the subtle difference roasting makes. We did learn that it takes more than when it is raw because roasting makes it more mellow tasting. The best salsa is made without exact measurements. Every batch will be different depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes and the heat of the peppers. Taste as you go and find your own favorite combination!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Royal Family (According to Little One)

Last night as Little One and I were getting to the end of our bedtime routine, she said, "Mommy, I am a princess." I replied, "Yes! Yes you are! In so many ways." Then she said, "But we need a King. Daddy can be the king, and you can be the queen. #1 can be a prince, Sunshine can be another princess, and Freckles can be Indiana Jones." Oddly enough, upon reflection, Freckles would probably be happiest as Indiana Jones. When I asked him he gave me an enthusiastic "oh, yeah"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crockpot Mexican Chicken

I am always looking for new recipes and so I thought I would share some of our family's favorites. I am making this tonight. This recipe has been adapted from two different sources: my friend Bethany and this site  (great crock pot site) but since she got it from someone else and I am combining them, I am claiming the following recipe as mine!

6-9 chicken thighs, or 2-3 breasts
1 can rinsed black beans
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup frozen white corn
3 T lime juice
1 T chili powder

The Directions. Put your chicken in the crockpot; mine was still frozen. Top with the rinsed black beans, salsa, and corn. Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours, or on high for 4-5. Cooking time will vary depending on whether or not your chicken is frozen, and how big the pieces are.If you decide to use breasts, increase your salsa by 1/2 cup. Breasts are drier than thighs.
Serve as taco filling, as taco salad topping, or even enchilada filling, etc. Leftovers freeze great in a freezer bag!

Don't you love a recipe that people can eat at different mealtimes? I have parent teacher conference at 6 pm and Hubby doesn't get home until after 7 pm. It's one of those nights! I'm just glad it doesn't happen very often for us. I feel it is so important to have meals together as a family!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paralyzing Glare?

Tonight my boys were trying out some super powers (maybe inspried by Harry Potter or Pokemon, I never can keep track of what they're playing).  Freckles said, "I'm giving you a paralyzing glare." with a strained slightly cross-eyed look on his face.  #1 responded with "No, that's not a paralyzing glare, that's a confused stare. This is a paralyzing glare!" (giving an even more strained look).
As I listened to this exchange, I thought to myself, "I wonder how many times, when I am trying to give my children paralyzing glares, (like during church) do they come out confused stares!?" Probably more often than I want to know. :) I don't often get the response I'm trying to send to them through ESP and some pretty strong body language. It must be all in the delivery. I guess I'll never quite have "THE LOOK" like my mother.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bubbles, Bubbles, everywhere

This morning we pulled out something that we haven't done in a while...bubbles! Even the word seems like magic. I make a bucketful of bubble solution (I'll post my recipe below) pull out the large bubble wands found at the dollar store as well as other bubble devices and we have a blast! Today the kids were trying to bite the bubbles and really enjoying themselves giving me a good chuckle. Whenever I need to see that my kids are still cute despite the arguments I can always pull out the bubbles.:)

Homemade bubble solution
Exploratorium recommends :
2/3 cup Joy or Dawn dishwashing soap
1 gallon water
2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerine (available at the pharmacy or chemical supply house.)
Pour the water in large container.
Add liquid detergent and gently stir.
Add rest of ingredients and stir.
Set aside for four hours before using to allow bubbles to settle. If the bubbles get too stirred up and don't work as well, just let them sit undisturbed for a few hours and they will be good as new.

Bubble Wand ideas!
commercial wands
bend pipe cleaners to make your own shaped wands
Use gum drops and toothpicks to make geometric shapes and hang from string to dip. (Do not eat gumdrops after using)
Use your hands, forming a circle with your fingers.
Use cookie cutters
Use telephone wire to braid and bend your own colorful wands.
Use your imagination to find other things around the house.

Giant Bubble Wand
Two drinking straws
Bubble solution
Large, flat baking pan
Thread a length of string through two straws.
Tie the ends together to make a loop.
Leave as much slack string between the straws as you like, depending on the size of bubble you want.
Pour bubble solution into a large, shallow baking pan.
Hold one straw in each hand, leaving the string hanging slack between them.
Dip the straw-and-string loop into the bubble solution, then lift it out slowly, taking care not to break the film of bubble solution.
Pull the straws apart until the string is taut, then hold the bubble film in front of a fan or the wind and watch a giant bubble take shape!

Group Activity

I have also made huge batches in a wading pool for large groups. You can have a child stand in the middle and using a hula hoop, raise a bubble around the child. Just make sure the pool is on a very level surface. This will only work a few times until the solution is too weak and needs to settle again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What ARE they Thinking?

The other night, one of our boys, who shall remain nameless (but whose name starts with a #1), was watching a friend hitting balls with a golf club. He asked Mom and Dad if he could get his clubs out but, being bedtime the answer was no. Then he saw Little One's bike helmet on the ground and thought "Wow, I could turn Little One upside down and using her helmet as the ball and her head like a golf club, I can hit a long drive!!" Needless to say, he dropped her on her head and tested Mom and Dad's creativity to come up with an appropriate, relevant consequence. He ended up grounded and having to weed a flower bed. (How do you come up with a related consequence for THAT lapse in judgement? :)