Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Prepare for Screen Free Week

The latest studies, show that kids 2 and up spend 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen!  And that doesn't include computer time or video games.  Yes, you are allowed to scream right now.  But what about you?  How much time do you spend in front of a screen?Yes, you have to count computer time.

Screen Free Week starts April 30th and goes through May 6th.  The challenge is to turn off all the screens in your house for the week and see what happens.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can spend that time outside.  While I am going to try to turn off the TV for the kids and the computer during the day for me, both will still be available after the kids go to bed for me.  We are in the middle of a move and need to be able to check and send important e-mails.  We also just rented 3 movies that need watched by Wednesday, so.....that is my excuse.  However, I am going to try to only check my e-mail.  No facebook, no pinterest, no online news reading, no blogs.  Cold turkey.

It is going to be hard, so how am I going to prepare to soften the blow?  Especially, since most of our lives seem to be on these little computers.  You are going to have to go back to being old school in a few things.  Here are a few ideas to make the week easier.

1 - Take a look at your day and when you use TV.  Then, brainstorm activities your child can easily and happily do on his own without much help.  This will help replace the TV time during dinner prep or other busy times.

2 - Plan on getting up when your early riser gets up.  No more TV for one last half hour of sleep this week.

3 - Get all the important numbers you think you may need this week off your computer now, locate your phone book, and just remember 1800-free-411.  If you still need a number, forgive yourself and look it upon the internet, but control yourself and keep your computer time to that one activity.

4 - Print off all the recipes you will need for the week.  Plan ahead!

5 - Get a hold of a radio for music and news.

6 - Hide your computer!  No I'm serious.  I am sending mine off to work with Rob so I won't be able to give into temptation.

7 - Plan your time.  What are you going to fill in that extra time with?  Get a good book, start a project/craft (print off the instructions if necessary), clean and organize.

8 - Take advantage of all the extra moments where you are truly "in the moment".  Have your camera ready.  Plan a few outings to a park.  Live in the moment.

Good Luck!
Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week?  Are you like us and need to make a few adjustments?  What are your plans?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mother's Day Candles

When you think about gifts for Mother's Day, what to you makes the perfect gift?  For me it is something thoughtful, perhaps handmade, personalized, and frugile (let's face it, you have to buy for mom's, grandma's, daughters, it can get expensive).

These candles are the perfect Mother's Day present (or any time of year present if we are completely honest).  They only cost whatever the candle costs plus a dollar for tissue paper.  I got these jumbo ones at Walmart for about 7.50 a piece.  You can personalize them with any quote, note, or picture your little heart desires.  And you get to feel crafty giving a homemade gift!

I found the idea for these candles here. If I were to do it again, I think I would cut out the background on the pictures and just have the people on the candle (like shown on the website).  The link I provided gives very broad instructions, here are some tips to make this project easy-peasy.

1 - Cut your tissue paper (yes just regular tissue paper gift wrap) down to about the size of a regular sheet of paper.  Then tape the tissue paper around the edges to a piece of printer paper.   This makes it possible to print your picture or graphic onto the tissue paper.  Then print it out.

2 - Cut out picture and pin to candle.

3 - The original instructions call for a heat gun.  A hair dryer worked just fine for me.  You are melting the candle to the tissue paper.  Your picture will look like it is starting to get wet, you want the whole picture "wet" or melted to the candle.  Make sure you have it totally smoothed out because it can get wrinkled.  Also don't overdo it on the melting of the wax will bleed through the tissue paper.

And you're done.  In about 10 minutes.  Now go make one for all the mothers in your life.  Then make some more to decorate your house.  I am thinking you can print off quotes and put them on your candles.

By the way, I found this quote that would go perfectly either on the candle or in the card with the candle.  

The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What to do when you "Stop It".

I loved this quote from Elder Uchtdorf.  I think deep down we all know this is what we should do.  But it is so hard!  I am going to be honest here, my biggest fear of not using negative speech is not having anything to talk about.  How silly is that?  And yet...sometimes I wonder what I would have to say.
Like always, a child has taught me.  He is a 9-year-old, autistic boy in my ward.  On Easter Sunday I sang a solo for my congregation.  After the meeting was over, this boy just lavished me with praise.  He told me that I had the best voice he had ever heard, and it was beautiful, and I was better than professional singers he had heard.  Over the top?  Maybe ;).  But did it feel so nice to hear?  Most definitely.  The next week he continued to tell me how wonderful I was.  I told him he could follow me around everywhere if he liked.
This is not the first time I have heard this boy give a sincere, wonderful compliment.  He was flabbergasted when one woman mentioned her grandbaby.  "You don't look like a grandma.  You look like...32!"  Of course, everyone shrugs off the grandiosity as coming from a 9-year-old autistic boy, but everyone also walks away feeling a little brighter and better about themselves.
This morning I realized I had an addiction.  We all have little addictions.  Overcoming an addiction is hard work.  A lot of times it is easier to replace one addiction with another.  I once knew a woman overcoming an alcohol addiction who replaced it with smoking, smokers who replace their addiction with chewing gum.  I need to replace my addiction with a better one.  An addiction to building up instead of tearing down.
I realized that while "Stop It." is a good prescription, it is awful hard to do without filling the void, and the only way we can fill that conversational void is by changing how we look at people.  We need to truly view the people around us like that little boy does.  Wonderful.  Amazing.  Because they are.  We all have the potential to be great.  We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father blessed with divine talents.
Can you imagine how much better the world would be if, instead of picking at the differences and perceived shortcomings of others, we built them up and treated them the way the Lord sees them?  As beings with potential and promise.  Start with yourself.  See yourself this way.  Then look outside.
What have you missed noticing about the people around you?

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -Mother Teresa

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Being Nice to the Earth in our Kitchens

One of the best places we can make changes in our home that benefit the environment, is in the kitchen.  I don't just mean in the ways everybody immediately thinks of either, like switching out paper towels for dish rags, a recycle bin, or a compost pile.  I'm talking about what you actually use and make in your kitchen and how those choices affect the earth.

You are probablywondering if I am going to go on a spiel about the wonders of Organic farming, and how the idea of "slow" farming and natural fertilization, fields lying fallow, and lack of chemical pesticides is so much better, yadda, yadda, yadda. I've read it, and it does sound wonderful.  I wish I could go completely organic.  But I can't.  It is just way too expensive!  So here are a few quick ideas and recipes to help the average joe cook "green".

So you can't afford to go organic.  That's ok. There is, in my opinion, a far better way to improve the eco-friendliness of your food choices.  As much as possible.  Abide by the slogan "Eat Locally.  Eat Seasonally".  Not only is this better for the earth(your food traveled much less to get to you) it is also good for your local economy and your food is fresher.  There also seems to be a link between what our bodies need at certain times of the year and what the earth provides.  Cold and flu season also seems to be when oranges are in season.  Your lighter fruits and vegetables(strawberries, lettuce, asparagus) are in season in the spring, while your heavier ones(squash, potatoes) come in the fall.  Use the guide on the right to see what is in season, and then try to plan your meals accordingly.

To eat locally, try and do your produce shopping at a local farmer's market or sign up for a weekly share in a CSA.  If you live in a part of the country where produce doesn't grow readily (like where I grew up) and there is no farmer's market or roadside produce stand close by, try to find the produce in your grocery store that is farmed in the US, or as close as possible. You can also grow your own. If you live in a place that doesn't grow well, try a planter garden.  If you live in an apartment complex or some place where even that is impossible, try a small indoor herb garden, or hanging tomato/strawberry plant.

The other way you can go greener in your food preparation is designating one dinner a week as "meatless".  I try to have 2-3 meatless dinners every week, just because it is so nice on my grocery budget.  Here are some of our favorite recipes for those nights.

Cheese Fondue
Black Bean Burritos (I add diced tomatoes and taco seasoning to my rice)
Cheese Potato Soup
Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce
Tomato Basil Soup(I add cheese tortellini to this recipe)

So what do you say?  Willing to make a change for a healthier you and a healthier earth?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where is Our Focus

I am the Mother of six children. My oldest three girls are adults and living their lives in beautiful ways that exemplify all that is good in Womanhood. I still have three sons at home..all teens. My boys are going through the trials of adolescence. I love being a Mother and have loved every stage from Young Mother, Mother of Teens and Adults, to the joy of being a Grandmother.

My perspective come from a place where I can look back with fondness and empathy for all Mothers of young children. The sheer amount of time needed to Mother little ones correctly is sometimes overwhelming. It is also the time when many women realize how much more important the home is compared to the boardroom. It is the time when women realize they are happiest when they are serving others fully. The time when nursery rhymes are more familiar than the latest novels, High heels and skinny jeans are exchanged nursing bras and larger pants. The time in a woman's life when she realizes her love and care will influence generations.

I also know the joy and sorrows that come from Mothering teens. This is the time when a child outgrows the incredible physical need of a Mother, in exchange, exhausting her with emotional and social issues. I have loved being a Mother of teens, they can talk, you can have wonderful conversations with them. It is also such a joy to see them grow and make their way in the is also heartbreaking when the world knocks them down. As a Mother you are always there, no matter the situation to help them back up.

I love being a Grandmother. It is so amazing that I can love my Grandchildren as much as I love my own children. I love seeing my Daughter mother. It is so rewarding to know she loves Motherhood and Womanhood as much as I do.

Motherhood is a very focused part of Womanhood. As a Mother we live the majority of our lives focused on others. Once we become a Mother everything changes for a woman. We will never again make decisions without wondering how it will affect our families. This is how it should be. As women we have been endowed with the gifts of compassion, love, gentleness, healing, and care giving. It is this focus on others that sets us apart...making us vital for the salvation of the family and mankind in general..and that is why I am distressed.

I have noticed that for many years Motherhood has been diminished in the eyes of the elite. We have been told it is more important to have careers, and fancy clothes and homes. We have also be spoon fed the notion that we should never age. We should always be a size 5 no matter our age, number of pregnancies, and genetics. We have been told we should be bored, and put out for how much time little ones take. We have been told we are nothing more that glorified babysitters and it is more important to have "me time" instead of family time with our husband and children. Most distressing is the fact that we have been told that instead of us as women serving others, that to be truly happy we need to be self-focused.

It is so sad to see so many women accept this line of thinking. I have seen too many Mothers abdicate their responsibilities to home and family, so they can socialize, diet, and look and feel important in the eyes of the world...all the while their children whether babies, teens, adult children or Grandchildren starve for their affection, and nurture. We are losing too many young and not so young Mothers to this mindset...somehow we need to put Mothering back into focus....What it truly should be.

I don't know how to do this other than commit myself to Motherhood in all its stages, with all its consequences. What are the consequences...As a committed women to Motherhood and family I will never be skinny again. It is more important to have tasty nutritious meals enjoyed by my husband and children. (I will try to be healthy, but I will never diet).
I will never be a fashion plate again. My clothes will always be chosen for comfort, durability and ease. I will always try to look nice but I would rather be able to have a baby spit up on me and not worry about it, than wear white suede. I will never be considered important, smart or successful in the eyes of the world...But what will I have? I will have the happiness that comes from serving others my entire adult life. I will have solid relationships with my family, and friends. I will have the memories of my children.. from all the TIME spent with them. I will KNOW that I assisted in a divine work. I will know LOVE.

Will you also commit yourself to Motherhood. Never to lose focus on what is truly matter what the world throws at you? You will be glad you did.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Going Green: My Limits Part 2

Remember when Cheryl Crow remarked that we should try to use just one square of toilet paper to be more eco-friendly?  Well, some people don't use any toilet paper at all.  Those cloth baby wipes are for everyone in the house.  I guess if you are willing to do it for an infant, then it isn't much different for an adult.  But for just isn't happening.

As I have read about this though, people really seem to love it as they feel they get cleaner with cloth. Hmmmm.  Something to think about.  Another comment I heard was that you should really have these for emergency preparedness.

I think that is a good point.  Instead of stockpiling disposables, just having a nice little storage of cloths wipes, diaper, and yes, even pads, would be a life saver if there was ever some sort of emergency that left you either stranded in your house, or left grocery stores unstocked.  So just a thought for you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Going Green: My Limits

I really do enjoy finding ways to "go green".  However, I have my limits.  In honor of Earth Day coming up in a week, I though it would be fun to count down some of the grosser or more ridiculous things that may be eco-friendly, but are totally off-limits!

Limit #1

I am all for cloth.  Cloth diapers, rags instead of paper towels, cloth nursing pads, heck even cloth wipes.

However...this just isn't going to happen.  There are only some things that I am willing to reuse.  Feminine hygiene products are not on that list.

However, I did see an interesting charity where you can buy cloth pads for a girl in Africa.  This enables her to be able to still go to school even when she is menstruating.  Which is a really good idea...but I think I just added disposable pads to my list of reasons I love being a woman in America.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Simplicity Parenting: Food for Thought

I am currently reading "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim John Payne.  I have only read three chapters, but so far it is wonderful.  It is based on the fact that our familie's and children today are confronted with "too much".  Too much stuff, too many activities, too much information. I would highly recommend it to all families.  However I just wanted to share with you a quote from the book for you to chew on.

"By starting at home-embracing experience over things, and "enough" rather than always more-you've made room.  You've cleared out space, literally and emotionally.  You've made a container for relationship and the slow unfolding of childhood.  You've allowed room for your child's own imagination and their explorations through play.
It's a small environment, an even smaller circle of light we draw around those we love.  But for a while, when they are young and growing, we adults can offer the protection of more time and ease, less speed and clutter.  We can be the stewards of our child's home environment, setting limits and saying no to too many choices, to much stuff."

Interested?  You can read more and get more of an idea about this "simplicity" approach at

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baby-Weight Blues: 7 Steps for How to Avoid Them

Guess what I found out today from reading the tabloid covers at the store?  Jessica Simpson has had a baby girl.  But more importantly, she has a plan to lose the baby weight!  Well, HALLE-freakin'-LUJAH!  I was afraid she was going to focus on less important things like what a baby needs in the fourth trimester, or proper nutrition and sleep habits(for both herself and the baby).

NAH!  I'm sure in 6 weeks I will get to read the next headline about how JESSICA LOST THE WEIGHT IN ONLY 3 WEEKS!

Sometimes, the media gives us a very false sense of what is normal (and an even worse idea of what is healthy).  So ladies, let's just remember that for most folks, you should expect at least 6 months to lose the weight, probably longer.  And sometimes, you never can quite get rid of every pound.  I still haven't lost all the weight from my first, and I've given up caring about it too much.  This is my body, and you know what?  It grew and gave birth to two beautiful babies!  So if I carry around a few extra "trophies" from that experience, then so be it.

But now is when you get to learn from my mistakes.  Here are my rules for not feeling bad about your non-celebrity weight loss/body.

1 - Don't even think about exercising those first 6 weeks.  You are allowed to go for walks.  That is it.  Your body needs to recover, and you need to sleep and get to know your baby.  Those are your jobs(not to mention everything else a mom has to do anyway).

2 - Don't even think about putting on your pre-pregnancy clothes 'just to see if they will fit' for at least 2-3 months, but if you are like me...closer to 4-6.  Yes, you are a lot smaller than when you were pregnant, but this will only crush your soul.

3 - Control top pantyhose with your dress clothes is a self-image-saver.

4 - Skirts are your friends, dresses(except for Maxi dresses) are not.  Just trust me on this.  5 months after giving birth, I felt good and really wanted to buy a new dress.  I ended up near tears in the dressing room.

5 - Get a new (yet small if money is tight) wardrobe.  You don't want to go back to maternity clothes, but you can't wear your pre-pregnancy clothes, and you can only sit in sweats and pj's for so long before feeling yucky.

6 - In that new wardrobe, trade out your low-cut jeans for a higher waistline.  You just gave birth.  Your hips have widened, and those low cut jeans will never quite fit the same way again.

7 - Look in the mirror, and love yourself.  You are a mom, and as long as you put some effort into looking nice (do your hair, dress nicely) your kids wil still think you are beautiful.  You should think that too!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Miss J Getting Married

Ever since Miss J found some pictures of mine and Rob's wedding day in a folding frame, she has always wanted to hear "the story".  Lately, she loves to talk about getting married in the temple and "wearing a pretty, white dress."  This last week we were able to visit the temple where Rob and I got married.  When I told Miss J the plan she was very excited and kept asking if she could wear a pretty, white dress.  I wish I had a pretty white dress for her to wear, but I didn't.

When we got to the temple, we were able to see a few brides in their pretty white dresses.  Miss J kept talking about wearing one of those dresses.  I told her that she could wear a pretty white dress when she was big like mommy.  Near the end of our visit, Miss J turned to me and confidently said "I get married tomorrow."

I'm sure when the day comes, that is exactly how it will feel.