Friday, January 23, 2015

happy weekend

This week was a good one - full of busy and happy things. I felt like I was on top of my game, which was such a nice change from the past little while. Good health is not something to take for granted, and I am grateful to have felt healthy and strong again.

Some good things that happened this week:

Mabel won the Geography Bee at her school! It was fun to watch her up on stage. She kept her cool and used her brain, two very difficult things to do when you're in the spotlight in front of a crowd. (She's third from the right in the photo.)

Elliot started soccer! About a year and a half ago, when I was tucking him into bed at night, he started asking me if he had soccer practice the next day. Every night. For months and months and months. He is finally old enough to participate in our little neighborhood league. His first practice was yesterday and it was everything he hoped it'd be. I am so happy for him.

What made you happy this week?

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

at this very moment

Some things I want to remember about life right now:

That Mabel is better at applying makeup than I am. That I have to wake her up half an hour earlier than Oliver on school days so that she can monopolize the bathroom. That she cannot for the life of her pick up after herself (but that she has lots of other more important talents, anyway). That she is turning into a teenager right before my very eyes.

That Oliver is balanced on the edge of being too old for his little brother and sister, but much to my relief more often than not, he falls to their side. That he will spend hours with them in the basement coming up with intricate play scenarios. That he is taking to tennis like he's always held a racket.

That Stella has lost all of her teeth (one more after I took that picture). That she still talks in a half whisper, pausing for breaths between syllables. That she is the best reader in her class and that she gives her love unabashedly to anyone within arms reach.

That Elliot will change his clothes fourteen times a day. That he doesn't think it's weird to wear a full baseball uniform, including cleats, to preschool. That he falls asleep on my lap every Sunday before sacrament meeting even starts. That he still whole-heartedly claims the position of baby of the family.

These are good days. There is so much I want to remember.

Monday, January 19, 2015

baked oatmeal

I'm always looking for warm, hearty breakfasts to serve on long school days - something that will keep tummies full through morning lessons until lunchtime. Some of our favorites are thick slices of homemade toast with mint hot chocolate (recipe below), german pancakes, weekend waffles, whole wheat waffles, and egg burritos. My sister-in-law makes a really healthy version of baked oatmeal for her kids all the time, so I thought I would give it a try. The recipe I found is admittedly less healthy than my sister-in-law's no sugar version, but it was a hit with 1/2 of my children and I call that good enough.

Baked Oatmeal
3 cups quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the oats and mix until combined. Pour into a greased 9x9 inch pan and bake for 40-45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Serve warm with milk and fruit.

I'm sure you could lessen the sugar content (which I will probably do next time), or even swap it out for honey instead. Since this was my first time making it, I followed the recipe exactly and was pleased with the results. I served it with blueberries and bananas. This is probably the reason why my blueberry-disliking boys weren't big fans. But I am willing to try it again (and again) until they like it. I think it'd be really good with stewed apples. Or a drizzle of maple syrup.

It has a rather long baking time, so it might not work well on busy early school mornings, but it can be baked the day before and kept in the fridge. My sister-in-law bakes hers in oversized muffin tins and freezes them for individual servings when needed.

Does your family eat something like this? I'd love to try out your recipe if you don't mind sharing.

Mint Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
a dash of salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the hot water and cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Boil and stir for two minutes. Stir in the milk and heat, but don't boil this time. Once it's warm to your liking, stir in the peppermint extract. Serves 4-6.

You can swap the peppermint for vanilla extract and add a dash of cinnamon for a non-mint version. We love them both!

Friday, January 16, 2015

happy weekend

I'll tell you what, I took it easy this week. My 3 week old cold turned into a sinus infection and I finally gave in to the couch - with a little handwork, of course. I put cross stitch kits in the girls' stockings this year and I had such a good time getting Stella's started for her that I found my own little project to do. I found my free pattern here. Those little splotches up there are turning into words and it is so fun! I'll never get over the satisfaction of making something out of nothing with my own two hands.

Any fun plans this weekend? I think our weather is going to be fantastic, so hopefully I'll get out of the house for a bit and fill my lungs with some fresh air. I hope you get to, too.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015: the year I got rid of the throw pillows

I had this silly realization earlier this month: Just because I have collected lots of throw pillows doesn't mean that I need to use them all. Dumb, right? But I can't tell you how good it felt to put half of them in a closet and close the door. Our whole house feels lighter and cleaner without them.

It made me wonder where else I could simplify. And just like that a resolution was born! This year I want to get down to my bare bones - in my thoughts, in my deeds, and in my things. I want to find out what I really like and stick to it. I mean, could I go for a significant amount of time just wearing my favorite gray tops and jeans? Or could I eat the same thing for breakfast everyday? How about cutting down my obligations to the things that benefit my family the most, and skipping the rest? I think what appeals to me about this idea is that it could possibly free up my mind and my time for things that are more important (so long as I don't become consumed by the process).

According to Mike, vague desires can't actually be called goals until they are measurable, so I have some work yet to do, but I like the way this is shaping up.

Also, it sounds like I might be ready for another go at minimalism.

Friday, January 09, 2015

happy weekend

Every other week or so, Stella decides that she's too sick to go to school for some vague reason or another. On Tuesday, her throat was dry. She was worried that she would give her germs to the other kids in her class, and I couldn't argue with that, so of course I let her stay home, which meant that she got to come with me to my hair appointment. My roots wait for no one!

I'm hoping that all of the motivation I seem to have left in 2014 decides to show up this weekend. We have things to do and no desire to do them. Or maybe we should just go with it and take it easy? I never know if I should push through these feelings or let them be. I'll keep you posted.

Stay warm wherever you are! Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

on chores

I'll never be the kind of mom who can happily play with her kids while the house descends into disaster around her. Messes make me grouchy. They make me impatient. They make me feel overwhelmed. I am at my best when the beds are made and the floor is clean and the toys are picked up. I've come to terms with this part of myself.

Someone recently asked me how we deal with chores at our house and I had to laugh, because the answer is that we don't. We don't have a chore chart or a sophisticated chore system. I do the daily chores at our house, not my children. In my 12 years of motherhood, I have decided that maintaining a peaceful home is my number one job. Nagging my children to get a job done is the quickest way to shatter that peace for me. And it is the last thing I want to do when they come home from a long, stressful day at school. I want them to be able to step into a clean, organized, quiet, and peaceful place. And you know what? My kids don't care if their beds are made or not. I'm the one who cares, so I don't mind doing things like that for them (because it is really for me, after all).

This is not to say that my kids never work. They put their laundry away and pick up their rooms. They clean up any messes they make (often times with my help). We work in the yard together. If we have a big job to do, we all pitch in. Sometimes I assign special Saturday jobs. Mabel always cleans her birdcage. Oliver takes out the recycling trash. But I make the beds and do the laundry and clean the bathrooms. I dust and vacuum and do the dishes, and complete any other daily chores. And if I need help, I ask them to help me.

This is what works for us right now, and I feel good about it. That's the key right there: finding a method that feels right for me and my children. The thought of sticking to a chore chart feels unnatural to me, so I don't do it. Sometimes I get tricked into thinking that I have to do things a certain way, or how someone else is doing them, to be "a good mom". But the truth is that there are a million right ways to do things, and here's the best part: I get to choose what works best for us! So I say that if you want your kids' beds made, make them yourself. Or make your kids do it. It's your choice.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

art in the girls' room

I rearranged my girls' room before Christmas, and I was finally brave enough to put holes in their wallpaper to hang the art we've been collecting. They each got a new print for Christmas. This pretty dreamcatcher print from Yellow Bungalow Shop for free-spirit Mabel. And this wonderful Uchtdorf quote for Stella. It says, "He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name. You are the daughters of His kingdom." It was a little over her head, I think, but Mabel got it. And I know that Stella will someday, too. Isn't it powerful? Have you ever thought about that? Our Heavenly Father, who knows the numberless stars, knows us! Each of us. I know this is true, and I want my children to know this, too.

Monday, January 05, 2015


It's not too late to make some New Year's Resolutions! In fact, I think that's what we are going to do for Family Home Evening. Lindsey makes a great Resolution kit every year (which includes a printout for kids) and I am excited to use it tonight with my little family. You can find it (and this pretty photo) here. Thanks Lindsey!

I feel like my head has been stuck in a fog since Christmas. We all came down with a rotten cold and every bit of motivation that I had going in to Christmas break disappeared. Instead of organizing myself and my house and my life to get ready for the new year, I stayed in my pajamas and huddled in front of our space heater.

It felt really good to get the kids off to school this morning and I am ready for a fresh start. I think I'm going to spend the day nailing down my resolutions while I fold the laundry and wash the sheets and pick up the house.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Christmas

Well, I'm officially shutting down the computer and signing off until the New Year. But I'll be thinking about you and wishing you a very happy and peaceful holiday, friends!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

good tidings of great joy

One last video to close out the week. This one sums it all up pretty well. I hope you enjoy it. Now, let's bake some cookies and get ready for the weekend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

mr. kreuger

Last night we ordered a pizza and ate it in front of the tv while we watched Mr. Kreuger's Christmas. It just isn't Christmas without it. In keeping with the unexpected video theme this week, here's a clip of my favorite scene. I hope it brings a little Christmas cheer to your heart on this gray afternoon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

peace is possible

My sister shared this little video on Facebook, and I thought it was too beautiful not to share here. The Christmas Truce happened 100 years ago this Christmas Eve. It is a wonderful reminder that we can love each other, despite our backgrounds and our differences. That we can find peace, even in times of great difficulty. For me, that peace comes from faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ. He makes all of those things mentioned in the video, things like change and hope and healing, possible.

Let's love each other a little more this Christmas season.

Monday, December 15, 2014

on that holy night

"Think of the simple yet dignified way our Heavenly Father chose to honor the birth of His Son. On that holy night, angels appeared not to the rich but to shepherds. The Christ child was born not in a mansion but in a manger. He was wrapped not in silk but in swaddling clothes.

The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior. Though He had created the earth, walked in realms of majesty and glory, and stood at the right hand of the Father, He came to earth as a helpless child. His life was a model of modest nobility, and He walked among the poor, the sick, the downcast, and the heavy laden."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Fill the World with Christ's Love

As I head in to this last, too busy week of school, I needed a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. This video filled me with peace, and the quote from President Uchtdorf helped me to remember what is most important. Service, love, modesty - the hallmarks of Christ's mission on this earth. Those are the things I want to remember this Christmas season.

Good luck this week!

Friday, December 12, 2014

happy weekend

Is it Christmas break yet? I really want it to be Christmas break. For several reasons. One, I am tired. Tired of waking up before 6 am to get kids ready for school. I want to sleep at least until the sun is up, please. Second, our beautiful and fragrant and fully decorated Christmas tree is already starting to shrivel. It stopped drinking water as soon as we brought it home. Aack! I don't think it's going to last two more weeks, I really don't. But what can you do?

Mostly I'm ready to hunker down at home with my little family and not go anywhere. School is totally cramping our style right now. We have movies to watch and cookies to bake and really fantastic weather to enjoy.

I guess I'll just have to settle for the weekends for now. Have a good one!

p.s. The navels are ripe!