Friday, May 31, 2013

Moving With My Boys

As always I enjoy Friday posts because we get to hear other people's stories. Today I'm lucky to introduce Liz Hutchings. Mother of four boys, organizing queen, and professor of mathematics for various online colleges. She is ever busy doing wonderful things. Here is what she has to tell us about the recent transitions of her life.
Hello everyone!  My name is Liz, and I am the mother of four boys!  For about three months now we have been in a transition stage.  What does that mean you may ask, well, let me tell you.  It means that we decided to buy a new house, which involved putting our house on the market, selling it ourselves, and then moving out.  We have yet to close on the new house, so we are currently living in a little rental house until we can move in.  So, for three months we have been moving from one transition to another around my house.  I had never sold a house before, and I learned very quickly that it is difficult and stressful for everyone.  Mom is trying to keep everything clean and organized.  Dad is trying to fix things up around the house after working all day.  The kids are trying to play with very few toys because mom put the rest of them in storage.  And now we are living in a much smaller house with most of our belongings in storage!  So, how do we deal with these transition times?   Here are some things that I found helpful.

First, we tried to involve the kids as much as we could, so they could feel apart of things and not just on the outside looking in.  When moving boxes and furniture that can be difficult but even the little ones can carry the lighter things.   Also, the children can help with the cleaning, and if nothing else they can hold the tape for you when you are packing.  One thing our kids liked was being able to help choose which toys got to stay out and which went into storage to see again at the new house.

Second, we had little family parties.  Now you have to understand that I am not very creative, so when I say family parties to me that can mean anything from watching a movie to playing a game to ordering pizza.  It may be something you normally do, but if you call it a party the kids will get excited and recognize that you are having fun with them!

Third, we communicated with our children.  Children like to know what to expect especially when things are crazy.  Every Sunday we would talk about the plans for the week, so they knew what mom and dad were doing and what was expected of them.  It is amazing how much more helpful children are when they know their help is needed or they know that if they work hard there will be a small party at the end of the week.  Kids also appreciate honesty.  I don’t like to tell my kids that I will be packing all day for a week, so I may not be able to play with them as much as I usually do, but knowing the truth and hearing my feelings about it really helped us to keep everyone talking to each other, supporting each other, and helping each other. 

Fourth, find time to have fun.  I am a very organized person with many lists that tell me what I need to do.  Sometimes I have to put on my list things like – play a game with Michael or read to Jacob.  I tried to pay attention to see what it was that each child needed and appreciated the most, so that when I had little snippets of time I made them count.   When you are moving there is very little time and sometimes no time at all but usually there was some time that we could take with each child.  My husband started taking a child out to lunch with him, so they could just go and talk.  I would play a game or read or go get a new toy car with them.  It was never a lot, but it was something that showed that we were there, that we love them and that we care enough to make time for them.

We are not done, yet, so we are still trying to apply these principles and hopefully perfect them, but I have seen that they help and that they work.  So, whatever stage of life or transition of life you are in find ways to show extra love, take extra time, and always communicate with your little ones, so you can all enjoy the journey cherish even those crazy times!  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Snowflakes With Grandma

Feeling a bit bored and in need of something out of the ordinary, we naturally settled into making snowflakes. Who doesn't love snowflakes in May? We pulled out different patterns of paper, hunted down the scissors, and started folding. My mom taught me to make star shaped snowflakes which I was especially excited about. It was fun, cheap, and full of creative opportunities. If you know any cool snowflake making techniques we would love to hear about it or see some pictures. Hope you had a lovely Memorial Day. Have fun making snowflakes.

It was definitely messy!

The options are endless in shape and size!

Obviously the coolest snowflake ever!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

All Things Family is closed for Memorial Day Monday May 27th. It will reopen Wednesday May 29th.
Enjoy your families and eat something yummy!

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Hard To Let Things Go

I'm excited to introduce my sister Marquie Walton. She is pursuing a fine arts degree at Brigham Young University as a Music major. She is incredibly smart and talented with a fresh new perspective. Here's what she has to say.
Hey everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read this today! When Michelle asked me to do a guest blog, I reluctantly said yes. I figured I wouldn’t really have anything to say, but I didn’t have anything else to do with my time, either. Michelle said to write something about letting go. Immediately I thought, “what the heck, I have nothing to say”. Upon further search, I would like to share 2 examples with you on letting things go in my life.

I recently had my 1st anniversary. Woohoo! We made it a year. However, the first story took place while we were working on our decision to be married. I am very particular about the clothes I wear, and how people perceive me based on my clothes. Patrick, my husband, wears pants that are too short. He knows this, I know this, pretty much the whole world knows it now, and it drives me nuts. One morning, my dad and I went out to breakfast to talk about my feelings. I brought up the pants. They are just enough too short that it’s a wee bit awkward. I ranted about it for a few minutes, and my dad listened and said something very important. “Then break up with him.” WHAT?! That’s the stupidest thing I had ever heard. And I felt SO shallow. . . Cuz I was. But it bothered me so bad. Why was it such a big deal? It was shallow, but important to me, so it couldn’t go unresolved.  Basically what this had come down to was either I get over it and let it go, buck up and talk to Patrick, or break up. Break up over pants? Come on. But it was an option. And that’s when I realized it wasn’t really an option.

After that, I really realized they were only pants, talked about it a bit, and I moved on, but ensured his tux pants were long enough (for me) at our wedding. :) We still have discussions about the length of his pants, and his short pants still drive me berzerk.  However, upon discussion, I found out that it really isn’t that big of a deal to him to wear longer pants. He had gotten used to the clothes that he had shrunk in, (they were too big!), and he didn’t have the money to buy ones that fit well again. Patrick told me he likes to look nice, just like I do, and feels better when he dresses to fit, but also that there were more important things to do with his money. The thing that I’m trying to get across here is that this tiny tiny thing was made huge. Now, sometimes these tiny things are really important to you, and that is okay. Length of pants is important to me. I didn’t just dismiss it, but I dealt with it. I chose what was most important to me, and that was not the pants. It was our relationship. To this day I still tell him his pants are too short, and he smiles and fixes them. I let go of my annoyance just enough to let our relationship through, and Patrick let go of his short pants enough to deal with my constant nagging. We know we love each other, and our relationship comes first.

The second story is quick, I promise! As you already know, I care a lot about how other people perceive me based on my looks. Well, 3 days ago I had long, beautiful brown locks almost halfway down my back. 2 days ago, I went to the salon with my 9 year old niece, and we cut off our beautiful locks and donated them to Locks of Love. I initially did this because her mom was tired of her screaming every time she had to brush her hair. She said, “why don’t you donate your hair?” I was sitting there, and I said, “if you do it, I’ll do it!” What had I just said?! I had been planning to cut my hair, but NOT YET! I had to work up to it. I went back and forth, and then finally decided that I had told my niece that I would do it, and I wouldn’t go back on that. My long brown locks and her blonde ones are now chopped short to our chins in 2 cute bobs. I was on the verge of tears the night we did it, but it’s already growing on me. The important thing to me, was that I was able to let go of something that again, was rather superficial, but very important to me, to do something important. In this case, I didn’t go back on the promise I had made.

Looking back at these 2 stories, I feel kind of superficial, but these things can be applied to any situation, however deep or superficial. Figure out what is most important to you, no matter how hard the other may be to give up, and stick with it. My family is the most important thing to me, so that is what I choose.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Time to Swim

With memorial day weekend fast approaching and the sun finally shining I thought it was time for our first swim of the season. We had a blast and since the pools and water parks are opening we think you should get out the life jackets, floaties, or lemonade and go for a swim! Maybe some sprinkler running is appropriate. Tack on some outdoor games and a barbeque to the fun. I think we will be doing it again...and again...and again!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Letting it Go

I am not a super organized person as many of you may know but I really want to be. Really bad. I really want my house to be organized, I want to have my life organized and I want to have my family be organized. The problem is, I've realized that to get what I want I have to give some things up. Two things to be exact. The first is sleep and the second is stuff. And I have found that I'm really struggling to give either of them up. I like my morning rest and I think maybe I'm just not sure what to get rid of, but until I do these two things, I can't have what I really want. So, the question is why can't I let go to get what I really want?

 I read a story once about how racoons are captured. I can't be sure of its validity as I really know nothing about catching racoons but the principle is perfect. It taught that to catch a raccoon you simply make a cage with a small opening with food inside. The raccoon puts his paw into the hole to grab the food and the raccoon is caught, because when his fist is holding the food he can't pull his paw out of the trap. If he wants to be free all he has do is let go of the food, but he won't, and hence he is caught.

I think we all have these things in our lives. The things that are keeping us from what we really want. The things we hold onto that catch us, weigh us down, and keep us from attaining the happiness we desire. Some of us want to lose weight but just can't give up the food. Others want to breath better but they can't let the cigarettes go, still others want to get more done but can't stop checking Facebook. I want to get more done but I won't get up earlier or rid myself of extra stuff.

Lets kick it. Lets get rid of the things that keep us from what we really want. Lets start letting go.
Just a heads up, I often do my posts in the afternoon hours because that is when my son takes a nap. If you check the blog Mon., Wed, or Fri. and you don't see a post check back a bit later, say around nap time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Minute Votes

Today is a bit of a treat for me as our guest post will be from my husband Bryce. He is truly the love of my life and the man of my dreams (minus a few inches). He and I do not have a perfect life or perfect family but his hard work, his love and his willingness and desire to better himself, help to make our imperfect life a happy life. I've never known a better man. Bryce is the owner of Natural Power and Developing us. He works hard, plays hard and loves deeply. Here is what he says...
I sit alone in my house without a sound of life around other than the tapping keys of my keyboard. I have a wife and four young kids, but I sit in silence. You see, I left on vacation with the lot of them in our van across the breadth of the United States to head to Virginia and Washington DC. It’s what is called a vacation, and the first vacation for our family since 2006. I then had to fly home to keep the business going and will fly back at a weeks end to travel back home in our van.
My father once told me that a real vacation is for two people and only two people; bring the kids and it becomes a journey with a whole lot of work. This vacation was not planned for years nor did we save up to go, we just found a moment in time where it worked and we left. Had our focus been on a vacation like this, we would have left years earlier. We chose a different course for those years (work, school, etc.), even though we hoped for what we have finally done now.
I am reminded of my economics class and the lesson on ‘Dollar Votes.’ Households or consumers decide what products will be on the shelf and which companies will live or shut down by purchasing their product. Each time we purchase something, it is a dollar vote for more of that product from that company. We can be careful in what we place our dollars toward or we can be nonchalant and throw our votes towards the first object to fit the fancy.
Have we ever thought of our time in the same way? Have we considered where we spent each minute and thought about the ‘minute votes’ we placed in our lives. If we love TV, guaranteed our minute votes would be given to it. If we loved our children, we would spend our minute votes in their realm, in their worlds.
Take a look around you for a second in whatever room you are in. Do you see worthwhile reminders of minute votes well spent? Do we fill our tables and walls with objects that have no “minute vote” value? Have we voted on the things we would consider to be most precious? Do other’s feel our votes towards them or are they towards objects without the capacity of emotional and loyal returns?
Whether political votes, dollar votes, or minute votes, the majority rules and life will mold it’s way to accommodate the majority. Let’s vote for family! Let’s vote for nighttime stories, let’s vote for holding hands everywhere we go with our spouse and children, let’s vote for dinners together at the table, let’s vote for the random vacation at the expense of ‘getting ahead’, let’s vote for those things that mean something and rid our lives of the emptiness of cold votes.
I sit alone, with my family across the nation, longing for this week to end so I can fly back and enjoy our time together again. Hoorah for minute votes well spent! They’re unforgettable.

I miss you hon, thanks for the post!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pizza and a Movie

Our fun activity this week was super yummy! Homemade personal pan pizzas enjoyed while watching Disney's Cow Belles (I think that's what it's called). We made our favorite and easiest pizza dough recipe, rolled out personal size pizzas and set out our favorite toppings (sausage, big pepperoni, olives, mushrooms). They were delicious! The kids made their own pizzas which they loved. It inspired them to try new things because making a cheese pizza just isn't that exciting. We set out blankets on the floor in front of the TV to contain any mess, dimmed the lights, and had a wonderful evening.

Pizza Dough Recipe
3 Cups Milk (warmed for 3 min in microwave)
1 TBSP Yeast
2 TBSP Sugar
2 C flour
1 tsp. salt

Combine sugar, salt, yeast, and flour. Add milk. Continue adding flour until dough consistency is correct (about 6 cups). Knead. If you are using a mixer add flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and knead the dough using the mixer. Roll out on cookie sheets or pizza pans and add desired toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Makes 2-3 large pizzas depending on thickness and 8-10 personal size pizzas. You can make bread sticks with left over dough or freeze to use later.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Life's Journey

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” (Hunter S. Thompson)

Enjoy the ride today. Do something different, new, or just something you've been putting off. My family is going to McDonalds. Not new for us but few and far between (Because I'm convinced that stuff will kill us--as a matter of fact it might actually preserve us in our graves).  Why are we going? Because our kiddies love it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's Hard To Enjoy Mother's Day Without Being Mom

For years I spent my mother's days moping about the Sunday dishes that would inevitably greet me come Monday morning, and I would dread the mess around the house that would accompany those dishes. It kind of turned me into a mothers day grinch. My family tried hard, had good intentions, and created huge messes trying to give me my day off. The kids would cry because Dad would do their hair and it would pull, Dad would be frustrated because he was surrounded by total chaos, while trying to create the oasis I expected. I was giving up on mothers day...until...

One mothers day I was taking a panoramic shot of the whirlwind in my home and decided mothers day wasn't about getting a break from being mom but instead mothers day was about being a mother. I began to experiment on this new thought. I started doing dishes, to which my husband protested. I explained to him that I wanted to help and it was mothers day so he should let me do what I wanted. :) I helped get kids ready, helped prepare meals, and played games with my kids. Something amazing happened, I loved that mothers day. I didn't do everything I usually do. When I wanted to put my feet up I did, if I wanted a special treat I got it, and if I wanted to read a good book I did. The point, everyone, especially me began to enjoy mothers day when I acted like a mother.

 I have had the opportunity to be with my own mom this mothers day and even today she mothers me. Years ago when I was a little girl I remember my mom staying up with me through the night. She held me on the couch because I had an awful ear ache. Sometime through that night my ear drained and the pain eased. I fell asleep on my moms lap. Twenty five years later before I went to sleep with an ear ache, very late at night, my mom hunted down the heating pad, made sure I had ear drops, and scoured her cupboards for pain relievers to assure my comfort through the night.

I imagine as my kids grow my mothers day will change but once a mother always a mother. I do take a break to get my relaxation but I find something wonderful in just being mom.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I recently read a profound article about passion by Stephen Palmer. He taught that passion isn’t just something we are excited about, or always enjoy doing. He implied that passion is sacrifice with a purpose. Saying, “it is not just giving something up but rather suffering for what we love.” As I read the article the word Mother is what came to mind.

A passionate mother is the mother who stays up late waiting for her teenager to come home, the mother who holds her daughter’s hair while she is puking, the mother who comforts her crying child when they get hurt doing just what she told them not to do. It is the mother who does the dishes and makes the food, and folds the laundry that often no one says thank you for.

It is the mother who guides and teaches and cries with her children when things are hard. It is the mother who jumps with joy and happiness when her children succeed. It is the mother who wakes up every day to go to work for a family that doesn’t always appreciate her.  A mother who keeps changing stinky diapers, and telling her children that she loves them after they roll around on the floor cursing her name.

It is the mother who still listens, loves, and guides her children even when they are off to college or having families of their own. It is the mother and grandmother who spend precious moments pondering the perfect birthday gifts or maybe just a little pick me up for her kids. It is the grandmother who still makes special breakfasts for the grandkids, who continues to help raise them, and who always worries about their well-being.  If there is one group of passionate people it is mothers.

Thank you to all of you mothers who are passionate about motherhood.  Who change the world one timeout at a time or one text or phone call at a time.  May this mothers day find you happy in your passion of motherhood.

Happy Mothers Day!

If you would like to read Stephen Palmer's full article you can find it here at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nature Walk

We are enjoying the humid spring of Virginia and thought a Nature Walk would be the perfect activity. I gave each of my kids a ziplock bag and we went for a walk with the instructions to find neat things and put them in their bags. If you want to stretch your activity, have the kids decorate their bags before your walk.

We found lots of fun things...toads, stink bugs, more stink bugs, flowers, black walnut shells, nickles and tons of gnats (in our hair, our eyes, our ears). It was fun to see what the kids loved. When we came back Julia made a little boquet with her flowers, the kids tortured the toad for like an hour and Jackson played with his snake (it was realy a dried up worm). Its always fun to make dioramas with your treasure or use your sticks and leaves to make pictures of nature. If you want to get educational you can google some of the items you find or make little nature books. The options are endless and very affordable. Enjoy your nature walks and feel free to share your fun with us.


Monday, May 6, 2013

I Hate This Hill!

There is this hill...It's huge! I go up this hill almost every day and every day I loathe it still. Last week as my friend and I pushed our double strollers up this very hill, we were weak and our legs were tired. I could tell I had a cold coming on and it was hard. About half way up this murderous hill I yelled, "I hate this hill!" My friend laughed at me and agreed and we pressed forward to the very top. The mountain we were climbing was pure torture, so why were we doing it?

I had a reflective moment. We were doing it because it made us stronger. We were pushing up that hill because it toned our abs, made it so we could eat more dessert, and gave us the extra energy that comes with healthy consistent exercise. At the top of the foothill we could see the entire valley. It was beautiful and refreshing. 

Some days having a family is like pushing a double stroller up a mountain.  It can be really hard. Some days we really tire of the contention, the crying, the constant demand on our energies. We tire of doing things someone else's way or of trying to be patient through one more hardship. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we have families when it is so hard?

First, remember that what goes up must come down. All of family life is not an endless uphill struggle. There are wonderful times and easier times. However, when we reach the small peaks of family life we have the opportunity to be better stronger people, and we can have a new perspective and view of something beautiful that we are apart of. We have been refined. We have learned to laugh when its hard and continue to press forward even when we're tired. It's a hard thing but we can do hard things. We can love the hill even when it's Huge!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Remember When I Could Do Everything?

Lisa Facer is joining us today to share some wisdom on expectations. She is the mother of six children spanning from ages 6-22. She works at the local elementary school, is an excellent cook, is deeply loyal, and amazing with children. Here is her story.
Expectations, those life experiances we look forward to until reality sets in. By nature I like to be organized and on top of things. Picture the Von Trapp family from The Sound Of Music. Remember the part when Captain Von Trapp blows his whistle after which the kids line up in order and on Que.? That was my hope and my expectation when my 3 oldest were young. We had a schedule and worked our routine. I had our days planned and we kept to it consistently. Good food, clean house, fresh air and lots of trips to the library and park were the order of the day. Nothing was impossible if you were willing to work hard--or so I thought. I loved being a mom and felt confident in our decision to have more children.

Then life threw me a few curveballs that rocked my world and changed my expectations. We lost two babies in a row and the resulting physical and emotional challenges slowed me down. After getting healthy and strong again we continued with our plans and were blessed with three more children. Our last little guy came along three days after my 41st birthday and his delivery was anything but routine. The emergency C-section brought with it substantial blood loss and post-partum infection that drained me (literally). I remember three months post-partum wondering if I would ever feel good again, let alone do one-half of what I used to do with and for my family

Life changed for all of us and my expectations had to change as well. I no longer had the stamina to do all I wanted or needed to do in a day. With six kids, teenagers, tweens, and toddlers life was full and many times overwhelming. I realized in order to survive and remain reasonably sane I had to accept a much slower pace.

Six years later and we are still adjusting to a tired mom that used to do everything. Change is hard. My challenge will continue to be pacing myself and accepting all the help that comes my way. In the mean time I plan on enjoying every moment of everyday with the people I love the most--my family.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Treasure Hunt With a Twist

The dirt is piled about six inches high.
I suppose I should have been watching
a little closer.

Before I share with you our family fun activity this week I thought you would enjoy a day in the life of moment. These things always happen on the days you have the least room for inconveniences. This is what I found in my car. Sometimes I wonder what my two year old is thinking...I suppose I've decided two year olds don't actually think, they just do. Seriously, who doesn't like a sandbox in their car? I'm really needing my car detailed now, but I'm kinda wondering what would be the point?
I think we found something!
Okay, on to the fun. This weeks family fun idea is quick and simple. Treasure hunting with a medal detector. A good friend gave us an old metal detector but you can rent them online or at local shops. If you live by me your welcome to borrow ours. If you think it is something your family would enjoy frequently it might be best to buy. Don't forget to bring a shovel and something to hide your treasures in. Our loot: a penny, a piece of copper wire, a ball of aluminum foil, a nail, and a screw. My kids can't wait to do it again.

Probablly the coolest screw and nail we
have ever seen!
Digging for treasure
 For our treat we went with a family favorite. No Bakes. Sorry, but the cookies disapeared before I could take pictures.

No Bake Cookies                                              
2 C. sugar
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. peanut butter
3 C. oats

Combine sugar, milk, butter, salt, and cocoa in pan over medium high. Stir until boiling, boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, add vanilla,  peanut butter and then oats. Mix until coated. Drop by Tbsp. onto foil or parchment paper to cool. (We accidentally left out 1 cup of sugar. They still tasted pretty yummy but they didn't set well)