Sunday, November 6, 2016

New Beginnings

I got released from my two favorite callings ever today: Sunday School Teacher for the 10/11 year-olds and Activity Days Leader for the 10/11 year-old girls. It was an emotional day but I also felt the Spirit so strongly as I bore my testimony to the Primary Children in my new role as Second Counselor in the Primary Presidency. These children are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. They are precious to Him. They are the next generation. I'm grateful I will have the opportunity to teach and bare testimony to them in this capacity (though, admittedly, a little nervous, as I know nothing about the Scouting Program, which I will be working with). I've said it before, but it rings true again that whenever we put our hearts into something, we leave a piece of us behind. Here's to new beginnings.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Healthier Chicken Pillows

Chicken Pillows are a favorite of my children and husband (me, not so much). Being kind of a health nut, I don't like making these as often as they are requested (which is weekly). The original version calls for a cream cheese, sour cream and chicken mixture inside of crescent roll dough, with the uncooked rolls dipped in melted butter, bread crumbs and then covered with a condensed chicken soup gravy. While still not the healthiest meal ever, this version makes me a little more comfortable serving it to my family frequently.

Healthier Chicken Pillows 

  • Shredded chicken taco meat (I usually plan to make these the day after I make chicken tacos with the leftover meat) or plain shredded chicken meat. 
  • 2 containers of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese 
  • Fresh spinach (or other vegetable, such as zuchinni, shredded carrot, etc)
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Homemade cheese sauce from Skinnytaste 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Mix shredded chicken and cream cheese together. Lay out the Pillsbury triangles so two triangles go together to form a square. Put a scoop of the chicken mixture on each square and add some torn spinach leaves. Bring the corners of the dough together at the top. Brush each "pillow" with a little olive oil on the top and bottom of the pillow and roll it in a bowl of Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Put the pillows on the cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

For the cheese sauce:

1/4 cup flour
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable broth)
8 oz (2 cups) reduced-fat sharp cheddar (Cabot 50%)
salt and fresh pepper to taste

In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper. Once the sauce is thick, remove from heatadd cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Cover a pillow with cheese sauce and enjoy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My "Mom Mission Statement"

My friend Emily Poland posted on Facebook recently, asking her mom friends to share: "What's important to you? What legacy do you want to leave your children? And what pitfalls are you working to avoid?" She's putting together a Mom Mission Statement and wanted some inspiration. I really love this idea so I'm sharing mine here. 


My Mom Mission Statement

I want to teach my children to "never be weary of good works" (Alma 37:34), to recognize how the Spirit speaks to them and to have faith and courage to act on those promptings, that they can do hard things, that just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't right, to be kind to others, to be accepting of differences, to serve and love others, that the key to feeling happy is serving others, to cherish the scriptures, to get along with and love each other as siblings (this is a huge focus right now), to appreciate diversity, to eat healthy and take care of their bodies, to value education, to find what they are passionate about and pursue it, to make a life plan and make goals to accomplish it, I want them to know that sacrifices often make experiences sacred (take parenthood for example), to love books and learning, I want to teach them responsibility (contributing to family responsibilities is a big focus as well), to be respectful, to say sorry and ask for forgiveness when they're in the wrong (I get lots of opportunities to lead by example with this one), to "be patient in thy afflictions" (D&C 24:8), to have open communication, confidence but also humble hearts, to know of their worth as children of God and as my children, to make wise financial decisions, to appreciate their ancestors and what they can learn from them, to know of my constant love for them, to cultivate a good life and record it, to remember that "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6), and to have a good relationship with their Heavenly Father ("Cry unto God for all thy support...let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord, let the affections of they heart be placed on the Lord forever...counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and He will direct thee for good." Alma 37: 36-37). I strive to engage their minds, to encourage play, and to say "I love you" as often as I can. I strive to offer choices to teach them decision-making skills, keep my emotions under control, remember that they are kids and they are an amazing blessing and they only have one childhood.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self,

So here's the thing. I know I will miss this crazy, hectic, chaotic life. I know I will miss the love I feel from them and their adorable quotes and probably even the mess, because it means they are here with me. But the days are long. And they are hard. And I honestly don't know how I'm going to make it 20 more years. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a mother and there are so many good parts and things I wouldn't trade for anything but please don't look back on this time with rose-colored glasses and tell everyone you meet to just enjoy it. Instead, tell them you know how hard it is and that they are doing amazing things daily. Tell them to do their best and record their experiences and feelings so they can hold these in their hearts forever, even after their children have grown up. Tell them it's okay to feel frustrated and to not enjoy every moment. Don't feel guilty about feeling stressed and overwhelmed and wondering if you're doing it right or wrong. Tell them to stay positive and keep going and that there are seasons in life and someday this season will pass but for now, appreciate what you can and do your best. Because that person you say, "Just enjoy it. It passes quickly" to may have had a day like mine. They may be on hour 12 of 15 1/2 when you approach them with your wisdom.

Today there was the usual waking up at 6:30 to get Oliver out the door for school by 7:00. There was the routine stuff like getting breakfast for my kids and working out at the church. There were errands to run and we cleaned out the car (which has to happen every two weeks or it reaches the point of no return). There was also the stressful moment when Oliver threw a rock at Josh and he, in turn, threw it at Norah, while I was driving. Our boys collect rocks. I find them in their pockets, the washing machine, the dryer, the car, there is a big pile of them in our front yard, in their rooms, on the carpet...pretty much everywhere. I heard a painful scream from Norah and pulled over as quickly as I could. The rock had hit just below her small eye, leaving a bleeding bruise.
It was so close to hitting her in her small eye and that scared me. A lot. I kept my cool but was also firm and expressed concern and frustration. I cancelled our park plans and told the boys we would be doing extra chores today instead. That, of course, is really a punishment for me because I have to monitor said chores, along with their constant fighting and tattling, instead of letting them burn energy at the park. Then there was soccer practice and it's always stressful getting out the door to that. An emotional meltdown is guaranteed. Then I start questioning if we should even have Oliver in sports because his days are long and start early and he's just so tired by the time soccer practice rolls around at 5:30. And then I start comparing the pros and cons of being on a team and playing sports as opposed to staying home and not rushing out the door. And of course we were late, even though I started the process a half hour before we had to leave. Fighting on the way there, fighting on the way home. Sandwiches and oranges for dinner (and cereal) because there wasn't time for anything else. It's bedtime and the dishes are piled up in the sink from yesterday and the house is a mess and the boys are fighting again. I get Oliver to sleep and then Josh won't sleep and Norah cries for two hours because she's teething. Norah is crying because she's tired and all I want to do is relax a little but I know there are still hours before that is even a possibility, if I even get to that part of the evening before I fall asleep. (Wendel had mutual tonight so I was solo.)

So choose your words wisely. Be kind and non-judgmental and don't forget how truly difficult the day-to-day is.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Eleanor's Room

It was so much fun putting together my little girl's room. I hoped for a little girl for several years and now that I have one, I'm enjoying every aspect of it, including making her room a beautiful place for her. I wanted to incorporate some of my furniture from when I was young into her space to add some sentiment for her. I started with this beautiful banner and went from there.

A friend of mine in Washington made the banner and brought it to a Domestic Diva Party (where a bunch of girls got together and brought their favorite "domestic" item they used frequently in their home ie. their favorite dish soap or dish gloves to protect their hands or favorite stain remover, or something to make their home beautiful, etc and then exchanged gifts white-elephant style where we would open and steal three times). This banner was one of the gifts, made by my friend Jenni, and I was the lucky one to go home with it. I saved it for years, wrapped around a cardboard tube, intending to plan my daughter's room around it if I ever had a girl. I pulled colors from the banner to use throughout the room. I love the banner and how the room turned out on account of it. The window bench is an Ikea shelf turn on its side. Tutorial here. I picked out the fabric for the quilt and my mom made it. I love how it turned out. The stripped bins are from Target, the dot pillows are from Pottery Barn and were gifted to me by my mom several years ago. 
The white shelf was mine when I was a young girl. It was stained wood so I painted it white to match Eleanor's room.The matching frames on the wall were a thrift store find. I spray painted them white. The green frame is from Michael's. The crib was Oliver's, then Joshua's and now Eleanor's. The wall color is "Tomorrow's Child" from Ace Hardware. 
The lace curtains are from Ikea. 
This shelf was a gift from my mom when we first got married. It was a dark evergreen color so I repainted it (Eagle's Mark from Ace Hardware) to match the room. The big E is from Walmart, the white frame in the middle is from Ikea. The name bunting is handmade by a woman in Australia, who also made name buntings for my boys. She has since closed her etsy shop, sadly. I love her work.
This is what the shelf looked like before I gave it a fresh new coat of paint (as well as some sanding and priming).
The white heart shelf was mine when I was a girl. I also painted it white. The yellow rug is from Urban Outfitters but I don't see it on their site anymore. 
The print in the frame is from this etsy shop. The frame is from Michael's. The wire basket is from Target.
This dresser was definitely a labor of love. I bought it on a local buy, sale, trade site for around $60 and my friend, Autumn, helped me paint it (she's amazing!). She taught me the right way to sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, paint, sand, paint until it looked perfect. We also added a coat of polyurethane at the end (maybe two coats with sanding in between - I can't remember now). It was a long process but I love how it turned out. The color is "Coastal Breeze" found at Ace Hardware (we used good quality paint brushes, not spray paint). The knobs are from Hobby Lobby. The changing pad is from Amazon and the lamp base and shade are from Target.
This is what the dresser looked like when I bought it. The knobs weren't too pretty but I loved the scalloped edges and the sturdy wood. I knew it had a lot of potential. 
 We already had the mirror but it was a light turquoise color so I spray painted it white.
The laundry basket and trash can are also from Target (the trash can was in the dollar section. Can't beat $3.). 
The cubby shelf in the closet is one we already had, which was from Target. Her room is the smallest in our house, so I didn't have a whole lot of space to work with for storage items. So putting this shelf in the closet made a lot of sense. I keep her shoes, swim stuff, extra sheets, etc in these. The cubby containers are mostly Martha Stewart from Home Depot, except for the polka dot one, which is from Target. The clock is from Amazon
And just to give you an idea of what the room looked like before it was painted and made girly and beautiful. It was our guest room previously. I forgot to take a picture before we moved the bed out but here's the one shot I do have.
Definitely a lot of work, determination, some money and a lot love went into this bedroom for our little girl. It also took a lot of patience because it took much longer than I would have preferred. I started in October 2014 (my sister flew here from Utah to help me paint the walls) and finished final details in October a whole year! But I love it and I think this little cutie does as well. Worth the effort! 

I've had people ask me if I tried to be frugal with her room. I used several items I already had (three shelves, the mirror and the crib) to save money. I tried to be frugal with some things (the curtains were inexpensive, the rug was a great deal for a rug (less than $20), and a couple of the frames are thrift store finds). But I did spend money, too, mostly on the window seat bench and paint (for the shelves and walls) as well as paint supplies. It definitely adds up. I also put a lot into the little details, such as the storage bins, frames, clock, vase + flowers, framed print, etc. Each of these is fairly inexpensive on its own but they do add up as well. If you're wanting to redo a room like this, make a list, starting with the things you know you really want (paint for the walls, for example) and then make another "wish list." Look on Craigslist or similar sites for things on your "wish list" to save money. Look in the "As Is" section at Ikea. Bookmark favorite items online and then wait for them to go on clearance before you purchase them. And be prepared to exercise a lot of patience! I am also so thankful for my husband for helping me with things like hanging the shelves and the curtain rods. I'm not good at the kind of stuff but he's amazing. 

Let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to answer them for you. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Joshua's Room

One of my hobbies is decorating our home. I've been working on it a little at a time, starting with the kids' rooms. Joshua's room has been done for a couple of years now and I'm finally getting around to sharing it here on my blog. 

And the little cutie himself (18 months old here but he's three now!).
First of all, everything I read online about painting stripes claimed they are really not that bad. I did not find that to be the case. I couldn't have done it without my husband's help. They were a pain but I really love how they turned out and it was definitely worth the effort. I'm so thankful to my sister, brother and mom (in addition to my husband) for helping me paint as well. They are amazing!

For those who want to know, here is the list of where several of the items came from:

Red cubby bookshelf: Expedit Kallax from Ikea
Red floating shelves: Ikea
Three red frames above the changing table: Ikea
Prints above the changing table: etsy
Gilder: Babies R Us (years ago - we used this for our oldest son, Oliver).
Curtains: Land of Nod (These were a bit of a splurge. I try to be somewhat frugal and reuse what we already have but I fell in love with these.)
Lamp: Target
Changing Table: Amazon (years ago - we used it with Oliver as well).
Quilt on glider: My mom made this for him. I love it!
Yellow cubby containers: Martha Stuart at Home Depot (I don't see the yellow ones online).
Grey and white cubby container: Land of Nod
Metal basket on red cubby shelf: Target
Joshua name bunting: I absolutely love this. A woman in Australia made it for me but she has since closed her etsy shop, sadly.
Rug: Urban Outfitters (I don't see it on their site anymore).
Clock: Target
Yellow dot pillow on glider: Pottery Barn several years ago (I don't see it on their site anymore).
Photo mobile: I got mine at a garage sale years ago but there is one here.
Red basket next to his glider: Michaels
Trash can: Target

This was such a fun project. Walking into his room makes me happy.

2015: Year in Review

It's time for my annual year-in-review post. I actually started this post in December and it it now February and I'm finally posting it. That is how my year has been...super busy, always behind, trying to keep up. But it's also been beautiful and full of blessings. 

October 2015
1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? I learned a lot about Microphthalmia. I learned what it's like to have a child with special needs. 
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? It seems like I'm always working on patience, time management and organization. I'm okay with continuing to progress in these areas. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes. My sister, Lindsey, had her first child, Skyeler (Skye) Brady Larsen. It has been so fun to see her in this role. She's a wonderful mom. My sister-in-law, Amalie (and Levi) had her first child, Adelai (Addie) Louren Roberts. It has been fun gaining two new nieces and seeing these two ladies experience motherhood for the first time. I also had several friends give birth this year, including one of my longest standing friends, Andrea  (we met when we were 12), who had her seventh child. There were a lot of risks with her baby but she is doing great. It was awesome to witness the miracles that occurred with her pregnancy and meet sweet little Brooke in the hospital the day after she was born (we were in the building across from labor and delivery for Josh's hand surgery so I ran over to see her - nice coincidence). 
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes. My Maternal Grandfather, Kay Herzog, passed away on March 19, 2015. He had Alzhimers Disease and Prostate Cancer. My Paternal Grandmother, Althea Roberts, passed away on October 23, 2015. She died of congestive heart failure, damaged lungs and kidneys. I miss them both so much and can't believe they're not here. I will always be grateful for their examples and the relationship I had with both of them. 
5. What countries did you visit? Haha. Funny. 
6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? More sleep. Always more sleep. And organization. 
7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory and why? June 20, 2014 (the day I found out I'm pregnant with our third). 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being a good mom to three kids. It takes all I have. 
9. What was your biggest failure? Nothing big - just little frustrations - things I try to be better at and then let slip. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No. 
11. What was the best thing you bought? A new (to us) Chevy Tahoe. We bought it in Utah over Thanksgiving. It's older (2003) but nevertheless, I'm in love.  
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Oliver is maturing and making efforts to make good choices. He still struggles as he's learning and growing but he's doing well for the most part.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People I hear about on the news. Sad stories and disappointments in the human race. Still. Always. 
14. Where did most of your money go? Our Tahoe, diapers, formula, food. 
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The birth of our daughter, Eleanor. Josh doing well with potty training (unfortunately he regressed. Twice. And is now angry about the topic.)
16. What song will always remind you of 2016? "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon, "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift and "Hello" by Adele. 
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Just as happy, maybe happier. 
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner, due to not being pregnant anymore. 
c) richer or poorer? Richer, both financially and by way of feeling blessed with our three beautiful children. 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? My answer is always the same for this question. I always wish I had more time to work on family history - mostly our kids' books. It's very important to me and I want to make it a priority but can't keep up right now with even the basics. I'm just so exhausted. But Josh just started preschool so I'm hoping to make a little time for this while he's there. 
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? No big regrets in this area. 
20. How did you spend Christmas? A quiet Christmas with our kids in the morning and then we went to Wendel's parents' house in the afternoon. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2015? More in love with my family. Our kids our amazing, my husband is wonderful...I feel incredibly blessed. 
22. What was your favorite TV program? The Good Wife.  
23. What was the best book you read? I really don't have time to read. I was gifted some parenting books for Christmas that I'm very excited to dive into but haven't made much headway yet. (I started this blog post last month, for example, and still haven't finished it.)
24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Not sure I had one, really. 
25. What did you want and get? A new vehicle. I love our Chevy Tahoe! 
26. What did you want and not get? Nothing comes to mind. 
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really fun. 
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 36 this year. It was a pretty low-key birthday. Wendel surprised me with a really nice Miele vacuum, which was much needed and appreciated. 
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Being able to spend more time on our kids' and family books...but to every time there is a season. Now that Josh is in preschool, I will have a little more time to focus on this. 
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? I've never been one to obsess over fashion and trends. I like to look cute but I'm also all about comfort. For example, I wear glasses instead of contact because they're more comfortable. People tell me I should wear contacts but I'm too lazy/tired/don't care enough. And I like my glasses. 
31. What kept you sane? Wendel. Always Wendel. We're in this crazy, survival time together. Also, my testimony keeps me grounded. I would be a different person without it, I think. 
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? None, really. I do think Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are a cute couple. I love this music video they made together. 
33. What political issue stirred you the most? The candidates running for President next year are not anyone I would want running our country. I don't even know how I'm going to vote. (Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump(?!?)
34. Who did you miss? I miss my sister, Lindsey, a lot. I love that we're closer since she had a baby. We're finally at the same place in life (we're nine years apart) and I love being able to relate with her. 
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: We are blessed with specific strengths to help us endure our trials. I believe Eleanor was blessed with a happy demeanor to help her through her trials and I believe I was blessed with positivity and the gift of faith to help me through mine. 
36. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "Stand By You" by Rachel Platten because this is how I feel about Eleanor regarding the challenges she faces with her eye. A few of the lyrics:

"Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you're hurting, but so am I
And, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine 'til yours can open, too
'Cause I'm gonna stand by you

Even if we're breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through Hell with you
Love, you're not alone, 'cause I'm gonna stand by you

I'll be your eyes 'til yours can shine
And I'll be your arms, I'll be your steady satellite
And when you can't rise, well, I'll crawl with you on hands and knees
'Cause I... I'm gonna stand by you"