Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Big Picture

May 19, 2015

Today I went to a routine O.B. doctor visit.  The nurse I usually see wasn't there so a new nurse showed me to my room.  I had my two little girls with me and seeing my daughters, the nurse asked if our new baby would be a girl or boy?

I responded that we are having a girl!  She commented on how fun it will be to have 3 daughters.

I smiled and said, "Actually this will be our fifth!  We also have three sons!" 

-- at this point in conversations there is usually silence because whoever has just figured out that we are having our 8th child usually thinks we are amazing or crazy!  

Trying to be nice the nurse said something about how I must like being pregnant or I must at least have great pregnancies.  

I responded by saying, "It's not that I love being pregnant, it is just that I really like my kids!"  

I reflected on that conversation throughout the day.  Why have I chosen to spend so many of the last 13+ years pregnant?  It is not because I love wearing maternity clothes, I don't enjoy gaining and then trying to loose large amounts of weight.  I definitely don't look forward to feeling nauseous for weeks on end.  I do it because I focus on the big picture.  I love that Heavenly Father has a plan for us as a whole human family, but he also has a plan for me.  I know that his plan for me was to be a mother of many children.  It is a job I am so thankful for every day (even on the hard days).  I know pregnancy isn't always pleasant, but creating life and having an eternal family is well worth the price!  

I just have to keep focusing on the big picture!  

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up- Book Review

I recently finished reading this book.  

I am glad that I read it.  I have given away many garbage bags full of stuff to Goodwill,  I have thrown out garbage bags full of papers, my drawers have never looked better!  This book really motivated me to look at what I own in a new way.    

The most valuable lesson I learned from Marie Kondo is: 
Only Keep What Brings You Joy  

I would recommend this book, but I would first warn you that she is is an organizing expert from Japan and not all of her practices will apply to American families (especially big American families).  
I would also like you to know that I don't talk to my belongings :)  You will understand if you read the book!  

Overall, I am glad that I read about her method of decluttering and organizing!  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Being a mom is the top job!

One thing I learned at Power of Moms is:  

A pearl of wisdom from Linda Eyre, she said something to the effect of, "Write down three things on your calendar that don't relate to mothering and figure out how to delegate or delete."

I sat down with my crazy long list of things to do and places to be before school is out on May 22nd.  I was overwhelmed and I was taking it all out on my husband and kids.  In the back of my mind was that thought from the Power of Moms retreat.  I looked again at my long list and asked myself what do I really have to have done by this week.  What do I have to have done by next week?  What can wait until summer.  How can I put more focus on being the mom and less on being the To-Do lady?  I decided to try to seize the small moments.  

After school I put the to-do list aside and we made an after school snack from the cookbook my 4th grader made me for Mothers Day.  My older boys were gone and it was a rare occasion to spend time with my four youngest kids.  

Later, I spent time talking to my oldest daughter and then I enjoyed watching my little girls do a dance they made up using my Mother's Day roses as props.  I loved it and despite the fact that not everything on my list is complete, I feel complete because I put the focus back where it should be, on being a mom.  

I guess you could say, I took time to "smell the roses." (Even the very smashed rose that my little one used as her dance prop!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Full Tank. . . What I gained from attending the Power of Moms Retreat

One Mundane task we regularly have to do is gas up our car.  We don't actually "have to" stop and gas up, but the consequences for not gassing up are pretty unpleasant!  How much less effective would we be in life with a car that is out of gas?

I have been fortunate over the years to "gas up" my knowledge tank in little bits day by day as I read, listen to, or interact with others.  Sometimes I get a lot of gas when I am able to watch General Conference, attend Time Out for Women, or attend a local conference for mothers.  My husband has been well aware of my desire for many years to attend a Power of Moms retreat at the Eyre's Home in Utah.  This year we decided to make it happen!  Despite the fact that his load at work seemed extra demanding and our schedule at home seemed particularly impossible to manage without two parents to run kids around.  He graciously bought me  a plane ticket, helped me prepare, and dropped me at the airport.

Not only was I able to attend the Power of Moms retreat, I was able to attend BYU women's Conference, spend hours talking with some of my dearest friends, visit with my parents and brother and sister-in-law, run into dear friends that I have collected over the years, meet many virtual friends that I enjoy through internet associations, and rest from daily house keeping duties.

I have learned so much and feel so refreshed and ready to maintain my most important role of wife and mother.

Not only is my "Tank Full," it is overflowing!  I really believe it is essential as mother to take time for each of us to "gas up."  We need to remember who we are as a person, what we want to focus on in our family, and what our goals are.  

I will tell you that I had high expectations for this retreat.  I expected it to be amazing.  It far exceeded my expectations!  It was worth any and all effort to attend!  Our speakers were Linda and Richard Eyre, Saren Eyre Loosli and April Perry (Co-Founders of Power of Moms), Saydi Eyre Shumway, as well as some amazing board members of Power of Moms.  All the speakers were filled with ideas and inspiration, but even better was that they were genuine because they are also busy in the trenches of motherhood!  The structure for the day was perfect.  We had the opportunity to listen and learn, discuss with other mothers, ponder on how were are doing as mothers, and of course eat together.  It was small enough to feel connected with everyone although it was also too short,  there were many mothers I would have like to talk to more.  It was an amazing day and it was so powerful to consider the effect that it would have as all of the amazing mothers, about 85, would take this knowledge and power home to bless their families and communities.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!  

Now for the pictures!-  

I had the opportunity to attend with these amazing women!  I love love love them!  Years ago we all lived in Rochester, Minnesota together and we had a preschool group for our boys.  I will forever be grateful for their friendship and inspiration!  (we missed Lyndsee and Natalie who also taught preschool with us).

Ann Aney, Elise Sykes, Tasha Bradshaw, and Angela McKellar

Saren and April run an amazing website.  I told them that I feel like they are some of my best friends because I listen to their Radio Show while doing laundry and cleaning everyday :)
Linda and Richard Eyre have written about 50 amazing books.  They are also the authors of Joy School.  I have read many of their books and always admired them.  They are parents of 9, well educated, wonderful children and I look up to them for inspiration on how to successfully raise a large family.  
Linda and Richard opened their home to us and made us feel so comfortable and at welcome.  
We enjoyed discussing with other mothers the daily realities of motherhood.  
Discussion Groups.
Their house is amazing.  
Every mother in attendance was simply inspirational.  
I was excited to meet Allyson Reynold's.  She his heavily involved in Power of Moms.  She does a lot of writing for the website, Deseret News articles, and regularly appears on Studio 5.  She was down to earth and wonderful to meet in person.  
Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of lunch until it was nearly gone!  It was wonderful, and we commented that the best part was that we didn't have to make it!  
I loved meeting wonderful board members Rachel Neilson and Lacy Anderson and attending with Angela McKellar was a wonderful treat!  
Saren, Linda, and Saydi
Candi Kidd has been my virtual friend, it was nice to meet her in real life!  
Angela and Saydi Eyre Shumway knew each other in high school!
This mother, Amy Price, just had her 9th baby.  It was wonderful to visit with her.  Not only did she just have a new baby, she also just wrote a book!  
The retreat was in the beautiful mountains of Park City.  
I loved meeting other moms!  Jodi happens to live near my brother and sister and is married to one of my high school friends!  It is a small world!  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Opportunities to Learn. . .

I hope that it isn't a secret to those around me, especially my family, that I am passionate about motherhood.  I know there is nothing more important in this world that I could be doing with my time.  

Motherhood is hard!  As soon as I think I have got a good handle on what I am doing as a mother we have a new baby join our family and the older kids enter a new stage and I seem to start figuring life out all over again.  Throughout my mothering years I have felt so privileged to learn from so many amazing mothers in all different parts of the country as we have lived in several different states.  

I love to learn, I am constantly looking for new ideas and inspiration to do a better job in my role as wife, mother, and homemaker.  That is one reason that I love Power of Moms.  It gives me an opportunity to learn from other mothers and share my thoughts and ideas.  

For many years I have dreamed of being able to attend a retreat that they hold in Park City, UT each year at the Eyre's home.  The last couple of years it hasn't worked out for one reason or another and I am so excited that I am going to be able to attend this year!

This is a big year for our family, we will have a teenager this year, our oldest son will get the Priesthood, right now more than 1/2 of our kids have been baptized, and we will have our 8th child (5th daughter) in August!  

With all these exciting milestones I look forward to gleaning some of the inspiration that Linda and Richard Eyre have gained as they have raised 9 amazing kids, written many books, and had opportunities to speak all over the world!  I love the co-founders of Power of Moms, Saren Eyre Loosli and April Perry.  Both are so full of inspiration.  I appreciate their approach with Power of Moms, here is part of their purpose:

"Just as members of other “professions” have their professional organizations and websites, we see Power of Moms as the “professional organization” for mothers everywhere who take their “job” as a mother very seriously and desire a network of other mothers that can provide ideas, inspiration and empowerment."

I am also looking forward to attending BYU Women's Conference while I am in Utah.  My heros are the amazing women who so selflessly serve in leadership roles to guide and direct our Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society organizations for the church.  Just last weekend when we heard the LDS Women's Broadcast I felt so uplifted.  Sister Oscarson's talk will always be a favorite in my book.  I have re-listened to it at least 3 times since Saturday.  I look forward to hearing many inspiring talks at Women's Conference.  

Another perk of this adventure is that I will be able to see a few of my favorite mothers from our good old Rochester days.  I am so looking forward to visiting with and learning from them!  

If you are available please join us at these amazing events!  I would love to catch up with some of the wonderful mothers that I have know throughout the years!  

(I am only attending 1 day of BYU Women's Conference, May 1.  The Power of Mom's retreat is on May 2)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Loads of Laundry

This post is dedicated to my 
friend Natalie who asked me 
to post about laundry a long time ago!   

Laundry, laundry… it never ends.  May I confess that I don't love laundry?  We have a lot of it and we stay pretty well on top of it because I have a secret weapon… my husband.  Years ago when all of our kids were too tiny to help he offered to take over the laundry for a few months each time we had a new baby. (It was a great deal!)  He is super organized and thinks of great processes of how to work efficiently, thus, our laundry system was born.   Here is how we handle all the dirty clothes:

All dirty laundry that is removed is placed in one of three bins:

Always Sorted!

White, light, or dark.  There are only 3 dirty laundry bins in the entire house and they are all lined up, it has been that way for years (many years, like 10+).   When kids get out of the bath or shower upstairs or down they come and drop dirty clothes in the bins.  The little kids of course need reminding or help.  This helps so much, because I never have to collect or sort clothes! 

(*note: at our house this works because it is a habit.  If your family is currently in the habit of throwing dirty laundry on the floor or in the closet it will take time to break that habit! Be patient and persistent.)

Load a Day

I try to do about one load per day.  (The exception is when we have a potty training child, and then the laundry never ends!).  I fold clothes and leave them in piles on my bed and have the kids take their piles after school to their own rooms to be put away. If I fold laundry after they are in bed I leave their pile by the door so that they can put it away the next morning.  Doing one load a day ensures that we all have clean underwear and socks, but we have a lot more laundry than one load a day.  The fact is that somedays are busy and slide by without a load of laundry getting done.  

Plan to Have a Catch Up Day

In the past:  Saturday has been a big laundry day at our house.  I usually would direct the kids in Saturday work while my husband collects all the towels that need to be washed.  Saturday is the day that we make sure our laundry bins are empty and that all our towels are clean.  Part of the kids Saturday work is to help with laundry, so we all help fold or hang.  

This systems has worked quite well, but my husband continues to get busier and busier at work and church so I have had to adjust to getting more done durning the week.  I now have Thursday as my big laundry day to make sure bins are empty and all towels are clean.  The kids come home from school and help fold their own clothes and put them away.  

I usually do bedding on a Tuesday or Thursday during the week.  Most of our kids take a bath or shower every night before bed, so I don't feel it is necessary to wash their sheets every week since they always get in bed clean.  I usually wash one room's sheets each week.  

Our laundry room is small, but it works. I think the key is to stay on top of the clean clothes and make sure that they are folded shortly after they are finished in the dryer.  

Everyone happily helps with laundry :)  
Favorite Products

If I am going to all the work to have clean clothes I want them to smell clean.  I prefer Gain.  There are two different scents at Sam's Club.  I like to switch it up occasionally so that we notice the fresh smell!  Bounce works for a fabric softener.  

Oxi Clean Max Force Gel Stick is a product that we love!  I can't tell you how many white and light pink shirts this stuff has saved.  When the kids have had an extra messy day with spaghetti sauce, ketchup, or watermelon we stain stick their clothes before we throw them in the hamper and this stuff works!   

Less is More!

Most people can reduce most of their laundry problems by reducing the amount of clothes you own.  You don't believe me?  Try it!  Here are some of the benefits to having less clothes:

-It is easier to put your clothes in your drawer or hang in your closet because it isn't over stuffed.  

-If you only have what you like in your closet you spend less time trying on multiple outfits (I have kids that will try on an outfit and throw it in the hamper so that they don't have to put it away!).  

For little kids our rule is 10 outfits.  (if they have 11 shirts that is close enough :)  

Here are pictures of our 4 year old's 10 outfits.  I roll her outfits together so that she can get dressed herself in the morning.  

My general rule for little kids is:
-10 outfits
-3 pairs of pajamas
-1 coat
-a few cardigans or sweaters for girls
-a sweat shirt
-swimming suit

(I am not a total stickler, if they get a new shirt for their birthday they can have more than 10 :)

Bigger kids:
-At least 5 pairs of pants or shorts (depends on the season)
-Around 10 shirts
-3 pairs of pajamas
-1 coat
-a few cardigans or sweaters for girls
-a sweat shirt
-swimming suit
(of course older girls have vests, scarves, cardigans. . . )       

Church clothes for everyone: Girls at least 4 dresses, boys have a suit and khaki pants with a sweater vest so that they can switch off each week.  The boys usually have a long sleeve and short sleeve white shirt. 

FYI:  for kids over the age of 6 we fold pants but hang all their shirts.  

I cleaned out my closet this week and only kept things that I love.  (I thought my closet was pretty clean and organized, but I filled two and a half garbage bags of clothes for Goodwill.) The best part is that I feel like I have more to wear!  I don't have to sort through the stuff that I don't really like!  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Master Bedroom- Updated Home Tour- March 2015

I realized that the pictures in my "Home Tour" were all a bit out of date.  I am slowly going to post updated pictures of our house.  

I love our room.  I have carefully chosen everything in our room.  I keep it very simple and streamlined because I like to have our room a retreat from all the busy things in life.  

The green chair in the corner has been my favorite spot for many many years.  I dreamed of owning a chaise lounge when I was in 8th grade.  I had several catalogs that I marked pictures of my favorite chaise lounges in and my mom surprised me with this one for my middle school graduation!  (Who gets gifts for middle school graduation?  Especially furniture?) That chair has lived in my room from Virginia to California and many states in between.  I spend the majority of my nights there when we have a new baby!  

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