Monday, April 29, 2013

Choose Your Battles Wisely

Excerpt from chapter 7 of Family Ever After

Choose your battles wisely. My mother-in-law maintains, “If it is not a big deal, don’t make it a big deal; if it is [a big deal], . . . make it [a big deal].” Some things are just not worth emotion and the time, but some things are, and we need to have the courage to address the bigger issues.

When my now brother-in-law was considering engagement to my sister, he was very concerned about how finances would affect their possible marriage. He would become worried or stressed every time she said something about going shopping, eating out, or spending any money at all. His concerns on this matter were valid, as he had come from a family which had fallen on very difficult financial times. Though his parents managed their money in many smart ways, their fiscal management did not prepare them for future financial strains. When unexpected medical expenses were added to existing debts, the stress caused tension in their marriage. My brother-in-law was afraid of having similar financial issues in his marriage and he and my sister began to have conflict over the very topic he feared. He says, “I remember one night when we sat in the car on a randomly selected road and discussed my fears. My girlfriend was really sensitive and I came to feel that she really understood why I was so scared and why spending habits were such a big deal to me. I realized that she didn’t want to go into debt either and that she knew spending wisely was important. I came to understand that she had her own fears of missing out on opportunities because of being too stingy. We discussed specifics and found solutions we were both happy with.” Neither of their spending habits was necessarily bad, but they were different and they needed to find common ground that he felt safe with and she felt comfortable with. He picked this battle because he wanted to have better than decent spending habits; he wanted to be ready for a rainy day. It was a battle wisely chosen, as it would have very likely become a raging conflict in their marriage. It improved their relationship by helping them to come together on an important issue and giving him the confidence to pop the question.

Next time you are choosing a battle, ask yourself if the battle will eventually help your relationships or hurt them. Spending habits can make or break a marriage, but does it really matter if your spouse wears mismatched socks? There is absolutely no way to avoid conflict, but everything isn’t and doesn’t need to be a conflict. Sometimes, it’s okay to let things go.
A small blurb I wrote was featured in a msn article last week on 8 Secrets of Happy Moms by Natasha Burton: You can check it out at
It is featured on the second and third page. Just click on the blue arrows to move pages.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ice Cream Sandwiches and Paper Airplanes

I thought it was time for something new. On Wednesday I have always posted something from my book. Now, I'm going to try and post a fun family activitiy that you and yours could enjoy. It might be a treat, a craft, and adventure. I guess we'll just have to find out. I'm all about simple, cheap and fun and this next activity is just that. Paper airplane contest with homemade ice cream sandwiches. My family loved doing this...even my husband, which leads me to believe that even teenagers might enjoy it.
For the airplanes you just need paper and anything you want to decorate them with (Stickers, markers, glitter). This is a no rules contest. Just have everyone make a plane, line up on a starting line and say go. You could even award prizes (farthest distance, coolest art, longest airtime, best spiral...get creative).

For the ice cream sandwiches we just made my sister in law Liz's recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies and left out the peanut butter chips but I'm sure you could leave them in if your heart desires. After they had cooked and cooled we put about 1/2 c. of slightly softened ice cream between two cookies. We used playdough ice cream which looks lovely and in my opinion tastes disgusting (but my kids really love it), and cookie dough ice cream. If you were feeling super ambitious you could always make homemade icecream. It was a definite winner!

Recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies
1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 10 oz. bag peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix first 4 ingredients. Mix dry ingredients in a seperate bowl and then add it to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix in peanut butter chips (optional). Drop onto cookie sheets, bake 8-9 minutes and cool completely.

I hope you enjoy it THIS MUCH!

Monday, April 22, 2013

When the Going Gets Tough . . . the Tough Should Slow Down

-Excerpt from chapter 8

As the temperatures dropped and the snow swirled around our car, I began holding my breath, only to catch myself taking a gulp a few seconds later. The winter storm was upon us in full fury as we drove across the barren plains of Wyoming. I could only hope my tires were up to the slushy and icy challenge. As the storm intensified, we chose to slow down and be more cautious. We knew that at our current speed, which was the speed meant for perfect weather, we had little traction and little control. We watched, horrified, as a truck flew by us and plummeted straight into the snow bank, followed by another car driving too fast for the weather conditions. After making sure the people in both vehicles were okay, we continued because our mini-van was incapable of pulling them out. We knew it was going to take longer to get to our destination at our turtle speed, but unlike the many cars nestled in the snow banks around us, we would make it to our destination long before they would.

Whenever the storms of our life roll in, we can only hope we are prepared with good traction on our tires, lots of windshield wiper fluid, and functional wipers. However, even when we are as prepared as we can be, sometimes we must slow down and even alter our course. If we had continued our journey at full speed in such uncertain and stressful conditions, I have no doubt that we would have crashed or become stuck like the many cars around us. Life is not always filled with sunshine and blue skies and when we try to race through as if nothing has changed, we often find ourselves crashing, burning, and taking longer to arrive at our desired destination than we would have if we had just slowed down. 

If you feel like you are being blown about in a blizzard, throw out the excess in your life and trim down your expectations. Sometimes this means setting even important things aside in order to take care of the most important things. I know this may seem impossible as many of you have your plates overflowing with responsibility. Try prioritizing a list of the things you need to do. Start at the top with the most important things and work as far down as possible. When the day is done and you have not finished everything on your list (which I have learned from experience is usually the case), learn to be happy with what you have accomplished and tell the rest of that list to take a hike till morning. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

If Only She Could See What I See

I know on Fridays everyone is looking for a great guest blog but today I changed it up. Since our theme this week has been about finding happiness, taking time for ourselves and our family I thought this video was fitting. We talk so much about loving our families but what about loving ourselves? I don't think I go a single day without a comment about how my pants are tight or my hair is falling out or my complexion is just not what it used to be. This video really made me think. Obviously most of us don't have the bombshell bodies we see plastered around us and who are we kidding... Most of them are airbrushed anyway. We are so much greater than we give ourselves credit for. One of my good friends made a comment this week that she hoped people could see past her exterior. It's so interesting to me that she said that because I truly think her exterior is beautiful! If only she could see what I see. If only I could see what my husband sees. If only we could see the good in ourselves.

Enjoy the video and let me know what you think. Check out our Geocaching Mania for some fun pictures!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Are You Doing What Makes You Happy?

With one arm holding the phone, I rushed around the kitchen wiping off counters, stacking dishes in the dish-washer, and browning meat for dinner. I was talking with my mom about financial woes, injuries, the deadline for this book, doctor visits, and new school clothes, when she pointed out to me, “When you get to be my age, you look back on your life and realize that so much of what you thought was a big deal, didn’t really matter at all.”

The wisest people in my life are always telling me to take pictures, write down the funny things your kids say, spend more time with your kids, go on dates, have more sex, or take a vacation. No one ever tells me to have a cleaner house, worry more about finances, or buy the kids more new clothes because they know in the end those things are just not a big deal and that they are not what create happily ever afters. 

(Excerpt from chapter four)


Thank You to everyone who helped out and came to support with the Launch of "Family Ever After" at the Santaquin City Library. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed getting to meet new people. If you weren't able to make it and you would like a signed book you can purchase them from me or click on the picture of Family Ever After and it will take you to Barnes and Noble's web site. You can also purchase it on line at Amazon or Familius. This is a Great book for Mother's Day or to give as wedding gifts. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fill the Resevoir

I have been humming and hawing over what to post today so I thought best to turn to my own reflections. Last week was a hard week for my family mostly because I was a stress case.  At the beginning of last week I was sure I would conquer the world if I just kept at it. My awesome plans failed me. I felt like I was doing the same jobs over and over and I could never do anything fun because I had to do laundry or do dishes or pick up the floor for the billionth time. Then I would squeeze in work and finish every day feeling worn out and frustrated that I hadn't  spend enough time with my kids. This week I am trying something new. I am going to follow my own advice. I'm going to relax, give myself personal time and be with the kids. Seems simple right? I already had my own personal boxing match. My practical side reminded me that I didn't have time for me time, but my happy self  persisted and I enjoyed 30 minutes with my book.  Julia is now begging me to do a color by number with her, so off I go to be with the ones I love most. Enjoy the following excerpt from chapter five of "Family Ever After."

Our body, mind, spirit, and brain need repose. If we are not given this repose, we will quickly find ourselves with a depleted crater that was meant to be our much-needed reservoir. In any relationship, sacrifice must be made. If you never take care of yourself, you won’t have anything left to sacrifice. Build your reserve through relaxation and allow your family to do the same. For me, relaxation is found in walking peacefully near the apple orchards, mentally savoring the delicious photos in my favorite food magazine, or penning my life’s work in my journal. Maybe relaxing to you is enjoying a quiet cup of tea, or maybe it’s mountain biking, carpentry, interior design, or baking. Whatever it is that soothes your soul and fills your reserves, make time to do it. As long as you are living, the work will never be done, so, like play time, you must be intentional about relaxation time.

How can we show love to our family if we become so tired and so hardened that we have no love left to give? How can we enjoy the ride of our life when we are too tired to take in the scenery? We can’t lock ourselves in our room every day, gorging ourselves with spoonfuls of Nutella, as delicious as that sounds, and live happily ever after. To be happy, we need to find joy in the work we do, play and make memories with our family, and give ourselves and loved ones time to relax and enjoy the ride we call life. 

A big thanks to those who participated in our Geocaching Mania. I hope you had fun! Congratulations to Andrew and Sarah Flake in Texas. They are our winners! If you just didn't have time to get geocaching or doing the activities no need to worry. We still have books to give away. So until I give them all away we will continue our Geocaching Mania. So play play play and send us those pictures!

Sarah and kids. Can you see what they found...look closely.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I'm excited to be joined today by Jodi Hutchings. She has been married five years and is mother of two adorable little girls. Jodi holds a BS in Sociology and a minor in family life. She is a fabulous photographer and is the owner of Jodi Hutchings Photography. Feel free to check out her site. She took my author profile pictures and she did amazing! She loves cooking and has become quite the connoisseur and advocate of healthy eating. Here is how Jodi takes creativity with the family to the next level!

While there are plenty of aspects of my parenting that are less than perfect, one thing I am good at is being creative.  Little kids are easy to entertain and impress.  One thing I've learned is that spontaneously acting on one random creative idea can lead to hours of fun and laughing.  The moment I pretend an object is something else, or break into a new song to teach them, or tell a made up story, or come up with a scenario to act out, my kids's eyes light up and we connect in a unique way that brings us joy.  I think young kids thrive on creative play and it helps them develop their imaginations and initiate spontaneous creative play on their own and with others.  Make believe play is cheap or free, and leads to long-lasting family bonds.

You can be creative in any house with any object.  We have had our living room couches for five years.  These second-hand couches are well-worn but have served us well.  Both couches have five cushions each.  Ten cushions is a lot when combined for creative play and they can be useful in almost any make-believe situation!

We stack all ten together to make a "horse."
The "horse" easily bucks us off with a little jostling. 
Place them upright with a roof and you get a pretty awesome tunnel.
Then we get tired and "take a nap."
And then there's always good old fashioned pillow fights.

The pillows and couches they belong to have provided hours upon hours of play - turning into trampolines, slides, islands in the middle of the ocean, and are only limited at the limits of our imaginations.

Boxes can also become almost anything.  Every kid I've ever met loves a good box.  Well, who knew moms could improve them?  One Saturday I emptied a new box of diapers into my daughter's drawer and was about to dispose of the box when I got an idea.  As my children climbed in and out and tried to push each other I noticed how much the box resembled a small car.  I took the idea and ran with it.

I divvied up age appropriate tasks and we worked together to accomplish the transformation. The side flaps became wheels and the back flap became headlights and taillights.

My one year old "inspected" my tools, my three year old traced circles, and I took charge of any dangerous tools.

My little one went down for a nap which became a perfect opportunity to get the paints out.  I was able to locate some older and unneeded paint in our storage and I worked together with my daughter to wash and dry our brushes for later reuse which made this project harmless on our budget.  I
My daughter has a love for painting and aches for me to satisfy her craving.

After all the pieces dried we glued them on and enjoyed this car for days.

These are some of the things that our family enjoys.  But what do you have?  Being creative doesn't mean you have to spend hours on Pinterest or covet and recreate your friends' projects.  Just look around, use what you have and be creative!  It doesn't have to be hard, expensive, or stressful.  Would your table and chairs make an exciting fort?  Does any of your kids' food need a makeover with food coloring?  Do you have any personal stories or nursery rhymes from your childhood you can share?  Is a dance party or field trip in order?

Your kids will love your ideas and you will have great memories being creative together.


Thank you Jodi for the wonderful insights. One last reminder about Geocaching mania. It ends tonight at 5:00 pm MST. Send me those pictures!!!

I have had some inquiries as to how to follow this site. I have added a button in the top right hand corner of the blog. Just click on "Join this site" and google will walk you through it. We would love and appreciate you joining us. Let me know if you have any questions or problems. Have a FUN weekend!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Remember Fun...It Still Is!

As my family and I were flying down the freeway a couple years ago we saw a billboard that said "Remember fun...It still is." I loved it! Sometimes I get so wrapped up in lifes mundane that I forget how fun fun really is. I worry about the dishes, I worry about the my child's next book report, I worry about finances and doctor visits. I worry about whether or not I'm feeding my family healthy food or pesticide laden food, or too much sugar. So many worries. I worry so much I forget to have fun and I forget how having fun makes me and my family happier. I forget how having fun creates memories and builds the bonds with my family that I desire.

Worry gets us nowhere. It doesn't make anything better or happier or easier. Mostly it just wears us out and bogs us down. Who needs the constant suffocation of worry? Most of life is work and I just need to remember to have fun doing it, because fun does make things better, happier, and easier.  Remember Fun...It Still Is!

In honor of having fun, here are some pictures of my family having fun.

A little balloon smashing contest. We played this one over and over.
Super fun but be careful!
I walked away with a pretty good bruise on the calf.

Fillmore Utah - Rock hunting and Volcano exploring (I had no idea there were volcanoes in Utah.
 They erupted about 800 years ago) We actually went inside lava tubes.
 You can consider this your Geological education for the day. P.S. There were no bathrooms. I'm learning to do things I never imagined.

We call this the Gerbal ball. It's awesome! We did get pretty tired
 pushing the kids around in it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Expect The Unexpected!

Today's thought comes from "Family Ever After" Chapter 5.

"In a questionable moment of parenting, I caved like a washed out mine, and told my kids they could have their long-desired kitty if they could keep their rooms clean, beds made, and trash out for thirty days. I knew they would never do it because they hate cleaning their rooms. However,to my utter disappointment and displeasure, cleaning their rooms became a sudden adventure to be mostly enjoyed. Instead of moaning about the strewn books, mountains of Legos, and heaps of clothing lying next to the tipped laundry basket, they dreamed about their new cat, thinking of names and making feeding schedules. Suddenly, the work they were sure would take a lifetime was completed in a flash, without any tears or threats. The work was fun. My kids can scrape poop out of the kitty litter and enjoy it as long as we make it fun. Work will always be prevalent. In fact it will likely fill most of our time. I can’t think of a better reason to make it enjoyable."

This next bit of life I am about to reveal cannot be found in my book. It is just one of life's moments I didn't see coming. The above mentioned cats name is Skitter. My children adore her and do a good job taking care of her. Sweet little Skitter became pregnant before we knew she was even old enough for such things. My kids have been excited about this for weeks. When we came home from our Spring break vacation she had just had the kittens...FIVE of them! I don't love animals but I don't hate them either. I wanted Skitter and her babies to be comfortable and safe. So we set her up a cush little house in the bathroom and locked the door hoping our little guy would leave our new litter alone.  

On Saturday morning Julia our four year old came running to me and exclaimed "Mom, Jackson (our two-year-old) flushed one of the kittens down the toilet!" Can you imagine my suprise? I just couldn't believe it! I counted the kittens and sure enough, one was missing and of course it was the cutest one. We looked in the trash cans, around the house, and in the toys but that kitty was definately MIA. He really did flush it!  

 After excesive loving and playtime with the kittens (which we had already forbidden) one more kitten died. If I was that mother cat I would be seriously ticked! From it all however, my children have learned some important lessons about life and love. I had every intention of giving all five kittens away but it still broke my heart. Life is such a precious miracle even if it is a cat. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mom or Maid?

I love Fridays because we get to hear such great guest blogs. Today I'm excited to introduce Heather Petersen. She has five great kids and a sweet husband. She is a talented musician who teaches vocal and piano performance. Here are her thoughts on motherhood.     
Mother or Maid?--- The kids are racing out the door to catch the bus and I am giving hugs as I shoo them through the door.  I turn around to a house littered with toys, dishes, and some scattered debris (not all identifiable).  I categorize my tasks and compare it to the time I actually think I have.  Of course it is not enough, it never is.  I jump in the shower and continue to mentally list my day.  Before I finish my shower, one child is back home sick and another is asking for my complete attention.  I finish a quick ready of myself and look the house over again.  My daughter is still asking for me.
         I have a choice to make.  My house is closing in around me as my OCD brain screams back.  My daughter wants me to create a budget with her.  She has never done one, has very little income, but is really interested.  Here is where I must ask myself, “mother or maid?”  My brain instinctively retaliates against any other thought than, “clean woman, clean!”  You must understand, it really does drive me bonkers to be in chaos, especially chaos I think I should be able to control.  On the other hand, my daughter really wants to throw together this budget in the last 15 minutes she has before running off to school.  What I could say, “We don’t really have time.”  “How about later, when you are making more money?”  “Would you rather do it with Daddy?”  I could go on, but you get the point.   My next move is critical, though I may not realize it.  I can give my daughter all sorts of reason why I can’t, but she needs me to find the one reason I can.  That reason is her. 
         I realized, as crazy as it made me, my chaos would wait.  After my daughter was off to school, I was able to attack my crazy list.  However, had I chosen my list instead, when it was completed, my daughter wouldn’t have been there anymore.  My opportunity would have been lost. 
         At the end of each day, stop and ask yourself what consumed your time.  Did I read a book to my child today?  Did I look at my child’s school work?  Did I listen?  Did I play with my children?  No?  Is the laundry done? Is the house clean? Are the beds made?  Today, was I a mother or a maid?

Thanks for tuning in with me for my big week. Don't forget to take your family out for a little Geocaching mania (Just click the geocaching mania tab for info) for a chance to win a free book. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Win a Free Book!!!

Geocaching Mania! That's what I'm calling it. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Family Ever After than providing ways for families to spend time together and give them a chance to win a free book. Here is what you have to do. I will be posting GPS coordinates (found on the right hand side of my blog under Geocaching Mania Coordinates or by clicking on the Geocaching Mania Tab above) in random places and I want you and your family our spouse or whoever to go find it. When you find your treasure follow the instructions within and if you do you will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 8 free copies of Family Ever After. Winners will be announced on Friday April 12th and shipping is only provided to the lower 48 United States of America.

What is Geocaching? Basically it's a treasure hunt. I give you the GPS coordinates of a little box and you find it using a GPS. Many phones are now equipped with GPS or you can just use google earth. Remember, this is a treasure HUNT...if you don't see it right away don't give up. If you have any questions leave a comment and I will get back to you. We are starting with Utah and Florida but stay posted we are hoping to have a few more states added by tomorrow.

Good Luck and HAVE FUN!

Stay tuned to this week for more fun and a great guest blog by Heather Petersen on Friday. Thanks as always  for all of your support!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Family Ever After Releases Today!

Today is a big day for my family and me and we are excited to share it with all of you! Family Ever After releases today (this is not an April fools). It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun! This book has changed my life and my family for the better, and I know it can help your families as well. Though I am religious this book is not. It is intended to help families across the world, despite beliefs or denominations. If you would like to purchase a copy you can click on the picture of Family Ever After on the left hand side of our blog and it will link you to Barnes and noble. You can also purchase at Familius and Amazon or you can purchase a copy from me. After you read it, do us a favor and post reviews at those sights, tell your friends and family about it and follow us on our blog. There will be a lot of fun things going on on our blog this week to celebrate the launch of Family Ever After so stay tuned. I'm going to leave you this morning with a tribute to my parents because they are my example of what a happily ever after should be.

As my father was mowing the lawn one day, he unexpectedly found himself in a wrestling match with the lawn mower. Miraculously, despite the tumble of man and mower, he walked away with only a broken arm, sore muscles, scrapes, and a few bruises. About five days after the accident, I called to see how he was doing. He informed me that he was at the dentist with my mother, who had just had a root canal. He told me that he was worried about her because she had injured her knees, and was hoping for her to take care of the injury quickly before it caused her further pain. He spoke not of his own injuries, but of his wife’s current battle; it was so heartfelt and so sweet. I couldn’t help but think, “I love that my mom and dad are so invested and concerned for one another when both are dealing with great challenges. I love that, though it is difficult at times, they take care of each other. I love that they still love each other.” Even though they are in pain and still busy with work, grandchildren, and other responsibilities, they have discovered the key to peace and happiness. They are living happily ever after.

There is nothing extraordinary about my parents. They started the journey of their ever after the same way as the rest of us did. They have not been immune to tragedy, stress, loneliness, or failures, and yet they have found extraordinary happiness in life by showing love to the ones they love the most.