Monday, November 23, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude... Days 16-22

DAY 16

I am thankful for Musicals. Especially Les Miserables and Sweeney Todd. I grew up watching musicals every Sunday with my family. Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the list could really go on and on. My youngest brother recently performed in Mary Poppins at his High School and I was able to take Aniston Kate to her first musical. She did AMAZING! All 4 hours amazing! Pretty good for a 3 year old. And everyday since, we have watched Mary Poppins on DVD. Aniston has firmly stated however, that she prefers the stage version. Musicals are AMAZING! I love music and I love movies, to mix them is amazing! There are certain things that can really only be said through song.

DAY 17

I am thankful for super supportive parents. These pictures are taken 11 years apart. The top is during my senior year in 2004, and the bottom is during my brothers junior year taken 2005. I am the oldest child and he is the youngest. My parents are constantly going out of their way to make sure that they support us in everything that we do. They attended every game I cheered at, even those that took place hours away. They go watch my brother at his performances at least once, if not more. My parents have worked very hard to make sure that we were able to do everything that we set our hearts out to do. I hope that I can do the same for my own children.

DAY 18

I am thankful for questionable parenting skills. It sure does make our life much more interesting and exciting. Sometimes we put of children on top of the fridge and have them jump off to us. It builds character and diminishes fear... right?

DAY 19

I am so thankful for my Gilbert. We have been friends for 17 years and I couldn't ask for a better friends! I do not make friends easily. I am very particular and picky. I don't like to waste time or effort. Frankly, true friends are really hard to come by. Gilbert has been there through so much! She is so inspiring and amazing! I am so thankful for her friendship.

DAY 20

I am thankful for imagination. Most days Aniston changes who she is at least 5 times. She goes from a monster, to a princess, to a puppy, to the 7 dwarfs, to so many other options that I didn't even know that she knew about. It always keeps my days exciting and it's so fascinating to me to see what she will come up with next.

DAY 21

I am thankful for stores, like Old Navy, who provide something to entertain my children while I shop. Aniston can only shop for so long, but she could color for days. it was refreshing to see a store put family first.

DAY 22

I am thankful for Spencer. Poor guy is so tired from working so hard, but I know that his hard work will pay off. He does so much for our family. Most nights I am already asleep by the time he comes to bed because he is working on homework or working around the complex. Everything he does, he does it so that our little family can have a better life. He is such a good kind father. Our children adore him. It will be a long 4 months without him next year, but I know that everything that he will be doing while he is gone, will greatly bless our lives.

Friday, November 20, 2015

5 Reasons Why... I Will Not Be Shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday used to be something magical to me.
When I was younger it seemed like the coolest thing ever to get up super early,
stand outside in the freezing cold for hours,
and fight and race against people just to get something for a discounted price.
It was like a day of games.

Then I grew up.
I made a family,
And my priorities shifted.

Here are 5 reason why I will not be going shopping on Black Friday.

1. Sleep is treasured and oh so valuable.
I cannot figure why,
For the life of me,
especially someone with children,
would want to wake up hours earlier than they need to in order stand in a line
For hours
In the freezing cold.
Sleep is way more valuable to me than waking up early and hoping that I get what I set out for.
            There is absolutely no guarantee that you will get what you actually are hoping for,
      And that would make me super grumpy if….
a)      I had to wake up hours before the sun would rise
b)      Stand in the freezing cold for hours (I am so not a cold weather kind of girl)
c)      Didn’t get what I set out to buy
d)     I went into debt for “stuff”
      Even Taco Bell wouldn’t be able to cure the kind of mood that would put me in.
      That mood alone is just not worth it to me.
      I know that people often come home after their adventures and take naps,
      But I would rather sleep like normal,
      Wake up like normal,
      And have a wonderfully,
Not exhausted day,
      With my beautiful family!

2. It is totally against the Christmas Spirit.
Christmas is about Christ.
Presents are fun and the traditions and celebrations we have are amazing,
But fighting one another for gifts,
seriously I can't believe that people die during Black Friday shopping,
And going into debt,
Is not what Christmas is all about.
Spencer and I have decided to scale back Christmas this year and focus on what the holiday is all about.
We want to teach our Children about service and giving and love and of course Christ.
As opposed to what Black Friday is all about…
And presents.
My children will still receive presents,
We will still watch all the great Christmas movies,
We will have a Christmas Tree,
We will wear Christmas jammies,
We will still visit Santa,
But we will not dwell on the temporal gifts and meanings that have overtaken Christmas.
We will strive to remember the reason for the season,
And we will do our best to focus on Christ and his gifts to us this year.
Black Friday just doesn't scream Christmas Spirit to me.

3. Holidays are for families.
I support,
heavily support,
companies like REI,
Who are choosing not to be open on Black Friday,
Yet are still paying their employees for a full day’s work.
Holidays are meant to be spent with family,
Not with angry shoppers,
Most of who do not have respect for the workers,
Or the stores,
Or others around them.
Black Friday is one of the most selfish days of the year,
In my opinion of course.
I have worked retail and I have worked Black Friday before.
People get angry and they take it out on the workers,
Even though it’s generally not the workers fault.
We were at Walmart the other day and overheard some of the workers talking about their work schedules on Thanksgiving.
Working on Thanksgiving?
Black Friday has extended into Thanksgiving,
Tearing away workers from their families to make money.
That is so sad to me.
Incredibly sad.
Why have we become so greedy?
To me,
  Family is everything.
   The gifts won’t last,
            The kids will like the boxes and wrapping paper more than they like the toys,
            But the memories that we build and make with our families during the holidays will last forever.
            I never want to take away the opportunities to make family memories,
            And I’m definitely not willing to do it in the name of Black Friday.

4. The Internet.
Stores all offer the same special Black Friday deals online.
You don’t even have to leave your house,
Get out of your jammies,
Or take valuable family time away.
Cyber Monday is also another day you can do shopping online.
You might not have in your possession the items you have purchased,
But you will get them by the time you need them.
One reason I love this option is that it doesn't take you away from home.
Another reason is that it doesn't take place on, or the day after a major holiday.
Cyber Monday at least doesn't.
The going into debt issue,
still applies here,
but let's be honest,
managing debt is a whole conversation in itself.
One that I am frankly, not willing or wanting to go into at this time.

5. I have already completed my Christmas shopping.
I have found it much more enjoyable,
And way less stressful
To shop throughout the year for my children and husband.
It can be a little more risky,
Because what if Aniston no long likes what I had bought for her,
Or what if I forgot where I hid the presents?
But I feel no stress about Christmas,
And that’s the way that it is supposed to be.

To shop or not to shop on Black Friday shopping is definitely a choice we all make.
It’s a decision and even a tradition for many people.
I choose to avoid it at all costs for my own reasons.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Children's Things I Love... Dolly Parton Imagination Library

I love books.
This is no secret.
My children love books.
Thank goodness.

When I learned about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library,
I quickly went here,
and checked to see if my children were eligible.

We were!!!!

There are not programs everywhere unfortunately,
but if you don't have this program in your area,
there is an option to start one.

I quickly signed up both of my children.

Every month they each get a free book in the mail.
Seriously 100% free.
No gimmicks.
No nonsense.
It's probably Aniston's favorite day of the month.
Every day when I check the mail she asks if her book came today,
even if her book had just come the day before.
It's like Christmas one a month.
Well, actually twice a month.
Benson's book and Aniston's books come on different days,
and Aniston is a firm believer that whatever is Benson's is also hers.

Since my children are different ages they get different,
age appropriate,

The books are good books,
which is important to me.
They're not like weirdo books that no one has ever heard of.
They are legit, 
even award winning books!

The program allows children to register and to receive free books from birth to age 5.
That means Aniston only has 1 1/2 left,
but we can make the most of it!

I am a firm believer that you can never have too many books!

I am so thankful for programs like these that encourage my children to read,
and more importantly,
that encourages me to read with them.

Check it out for your kids.

I promise it's worth it!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude... Days 9-15

I am seriously having the best time counting my blessings every day!


I am thankful for friends who have lived in the UK and have extra teething gel that isn't sold here in the US because of its strength. Holy moly guys! It's the only thing that will work on my little guy. He is the WORST teether! But this friend felt my pain and came to my aid and I am so so thankful! 

DAY 10

I am thankful for technology. Since he has become mobile, Benson has had a much harder time staying content and happy during Aniston's dance and gymnastics class. Last week he spent it screaming because I wouldn't let him crawl down the stairs. He can't do stairs. So basically he was crying because I wouldn't let him hurt himself. So this week I came prepared with his favorite YouTube channel (yes, my 11 month old has a favorite YouTube channel) and headphones and it worked like a charm! Technology really helps a mom out sometimes.

DAY 11

I am thankful for good sleepers. Spencer and I have really been blessed with good sleepers. Aniston started sleeping through the night a 2 months and we were so spoiled! Benson didn't catch on until 9 month, but for the past, almost, 3 months it has been amazing! Mom's really need sleep. I do not even know how we function sometimes on such little amount of sleep. But now that my babies are sleeping like champs every night, I get to sleep which makes everything better! HUGE blessing!

DAY 12

I am thankful for a handy husband. Since we moved into our apartment (7 months ago), the closet in our bedroom had been missing doors. It drove me crazy! It's just Spencer's closet and he keeps it fairly clean and organized, but it's also is where the dirty clothes are and it's really not something that I want people to see when they come into our room. Not that many people come into our room but still. Anyway Spencer went out and bought a door, installed it and painted it all in one day before 10am. It looks so great now!

DAY 13

I am thankful for books. I have always loved reading! When I was 10 I use to go to the library and check out 15 books. 2 days later I would go a return them, all completely read. I love reading a book and being transported to somewhere different. Reading takes away my fears and anxieties and relaxes me. I love reading to my kids. Luckily they both love books as well. I have a huge weakness when it comes to books. I could buy every book if I could. And now that Aniston gets book orders through school it's even a bigger issue. Luckily every month they have like 5 $1 books that are good books, so I definitely get my money's worth. Books are amazing and I honestly could not live without them!

DAY 14

I am thankful for small coincidences in life that make me smile. I need to smile more. I know that. But those little things that happen every day that make me smile really mean a ton! Today Spencer and Benson dressed totally identical but completely on accident. I dressed Benson and Spencer dressed himself. It was amazing and really made my day. 

DAY 15

I am thankful for the gospel. It never ceases to amaze me how no matter where I attend church it's always the same. To have the stability and consistency in life is fantastic! I love raising my children in the church and for them to be able to have the gospel in their lives. it's obviously nothing that we will force them to have in their lives, but I hope that they can see how much it has blessed their lives and that they will want to continue having it there.

Friday, November 13, 2015

DAY 1527... What If I Fall

Fears come and go.
They are constantly changing and adjusting as your circumstances change.

When I was in Kindergarten, we went to a friends house for a BBQ with my family. I remember the house being light, white and airy decorated in lots of different shades of blue. After we had eaten and were exhausted from hours of tag and toys, the kids ended up in the living room where the 1978 Superman movie was playing. It terrified me to my very soul. From that day until December of 2005, so for about 14 years, I prayed, every prayer, that there would be no earthquakes. Thank you Superman. All of the nightmares involved earthquakes, pretty much all of my fears revolved around earthquakes. Then, my family moved to Hilo, HI. And while eating with some friends at Ken's Pancake House one night, I experienced my very first earthquake. It was nothing compared to the Superman movie, but it relieved some of my fears. I had survived, everything was okay, and I didn't feel the need to pray that an earthquake wouldn't happen. I still avoid potential earthquake related activities, movie watching (San Andres), TV shows about natural disasters, etc. But It's not something on the front of my mind constantly.

From before I could even remember I have always loved singing. However, despite 7 years of voice lessons and countless choir performances I didn't enjoy singing in front of people. I fear judgement and what others think about me pretty heavily. In 201 during a church talent show I broke the mold and played the piano and sung in front of a room of about 30 people. I haven't done it since and probably won't again for a while, but it helped me. I also recorded the song and my Dad, who is a BYU-Idaho professor, uses it in one of his presentations that he shows to his safety class.

Kind of fun.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that fear is a normal emotion.
Your fears just change all the time.

In 2007, my family began fostering two young children.
To put them to sleep at night I would make up stories about a made up character and his world.
Soon after,
the rest of  my family began listening to my stories,
they encouraged me to write them down.
So I did.
The number of stories grew and grew.
Pretty soon I begun illustrating them as well.

It's been 9 years since I created this character
his world
and these stories.
They have become a huge part of my life and family gatherings.

My life now is nothing like my life was when I created my green friend and his life.
I wasn't married,
I hadn't even met Spencer,
I had no kids,
I didn't have my bachelors or masters degree,
My life was no where close to being what it is now.
So many things have changed.
But the ggg remained my constant.
He was always there,
Always waiting.

After years of support and encouragement from my family,
My Dad in particular,
I have decided to move forward with the publishing of the book.

My fear of failure has really hindered me in doing this sooner.
The fear of rejection hasn't helped much either.

These stories are weird.
I mean super weird.
They are not your typical children's book.
I'm worried people won't get it.
I'm worried people won't like it.
And I'm so nervous to put my baby out there for that type of judgement.

Of course,
The more time I spend at the library with my own children,
the more I realize that there are some really really weird children's books.
So maybe mine will have a place to fit in after all.

I'm terrified.
Probably more scared than I have ever been.

As I have spent the past couple of weeks editing
and illustrating
and preparing the pages to send off to publishers,
my fears have only intensified.
I am so deeply in love with my character and his weirdly fascinating world.
I don't want to disappoint or fail with this.
But it's time.
I think that I'm ready for this piece of my soul and heart to be exposed.

I actually don't know if you can truly ever be ready for something like this,
but I will never know if I don't try.

Since becoming a Mom,
I have tried to set a good example for my kids.
Key word, "tried".
I want my children to know that it's okay to be scared.
I want my kids to know that sometimes,
in order to reach your full potential
and accomplish your goals,
you have to push past those fears 
and be brave.
And what better way to teach that then to demonstrate?

These stories and characters are something that I believe in.
Something that love.
Something that I am so passionate about.

I may fall,
and I may fall pretty darn hard,
but what if I fly?
What if some publisher out there decides that my work is worth it?
As they say on Angels in the Outfield,
"It could happen."

Monday, November 9, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude... Days 1-8

Instead of posting a blog
posting my gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving,
I decided to just do 4 posts in summary.

I love expressing my gratitude.
It helps me to really focus on,
and remember,
how blessed I am in my life!


I am so thankful for the opportunity to formula feed! I'm not really going to write a ton about this because I already did an entire post about this not too long ago. You can read that here. But seriously, formula feeding has been an AMAZING blessing!


I am so thankful that my children have such amazing grandparents. Obviously, we live closer to my parents as opposed to Spencer's parents, who are in Salt Lake, but my children really are so blessed as far as grandparents go. They are so loved and thought of often! 


I am thankful for the love that my children have for each other. I prayed all the time before Benson was born that Aniston would love him and not hate him. I feel like that happens a lot! My prayer was definitely answered! I know that their feelings towards each other may change, but right now, I am obsessed with their sibling love and the pictures that I have to prove it!


I am thankful for learning and growth. Aniston drew this picture all by herself and I was totally shocked! I didn't know that 3 year olds could draw! But Aniston loves to learn and try new things and I am so thankful for that and her ability to continually surprise me.


I am thankful for my king sized bed! Best purchase that Spencer and I have made during our married life together. Since I have a tall husband who sprawls, a king size bed really makes a HUGE difference!


I am thankful for a job that allows me to provide for my family and also work from home so that I can be a full time mom to my children. This job has seriously blessed my family in so many ways and I feel like I can never really be grateful enough for this job.


I am thankful for Benson's curly hair. I have absolutely no idea how both my children ended up with blonde hair, but Benson's little blonde curls are AMAZING! They make me smile every single day!
His big blue eyes aren't bad to look at either.


I am thankful that my parents live exactly 9 minutes away from us. It's so nice to be able to visit them and see them whenever we feel like it. They have provided so much love and support to us, and living close has been amazing for my children as well. It's basically their second home... and ours!

Friday, November 6, 2015

DAY 1520... Food Storage For Dummies

I am totally not the type of person who would have a food storage.
I grew up with having a food storage,
but it always seemed like a waste of money and food to me.

Plus it's totally against everything I believe...
to have boxes and bags of unopened food in my home.

I guess parenthood changes people.
As a parent I began to plan more,
prepare more,
just do whatever I can do to give my kids the best life ever,
even in a crisis situation.

That includes having a food storage just in case.

I had no idea where to start,
what to buy,
or how I was going to use my food storage.

To help those who are a lot like me,
I have created a food storage for dummies.
Can I just make a side note and mention that when I say dummies,
I mean people who have never done it before and don't know where to start.
Don't get offended.

Tip #1

Growing up I had thought of food storage as nasty stuff that I would only eat if there where no other options and I had to eat or I would die.
And maybe even then,
I still wouldn't eat it.

I thought of metal tins full of instant potatoes (which aren't all bad),
dry milk (dry heave),
and lots of canned fruits and veggies.

Okay, okay.
I would probably eat the fruits and veggies,
but everything else was definitely not my first choice.

It's important to me that my kids,
or my husband,
would eat what I have in my food storage.
Someday we may have a bump in the road that will force us to use food storage,
and food and eating should be a pleasant experience.
In my opinion at least.

I have this thing for food.

So let's talk examples.
Ramen is always something my family has on hand.
It's super cheap and everyone will eat it.
Pasta is another thing that I always have in my food storage.
We primarily keep Alfredo sauce and tomato sauce on the shelf to top our pasta.
I make sure to stock up on the canned fruits and veggies that my family will eat.
Rice is another amazing food storage item.
Dry beans also are great addition to food storage!
My children LOVE black beans...

Tip #2

I kind of hate budget's.
They just feel so restrictive!
But I can see how they are beneficial.

You can put aside any amount that you want.
$5 a month towards food storage can even go a long way!

Just remember, that you will not grow an amazing food storage overnight.
It takes time,
just like all good things.

I spend anywhere from $10-$20 a month in food storage.
It's as simple as eliminating eating out for 1 night,
and, presto, you have food storage.

Case lot sales are another amazing way to start and build your food storage!
You can get a lot of food, for a great price!

Tip #3

Grocery shopping is not cheap.

In order to make sure you are not over spending on food,
and in turn having the money for food storage,
plan your weekly meals and buy only what you need for those meals.

I use to throw away a lot of food...
I have a bad habit of shopping hungry.

Anyway, by taking 20-30 minutes to plan a detailed menu for the week (Pinterest is AMAZING),
and sticking to it (hard part),
I have been able to save a lot of money!

This means more money to put towards food storage!

You can also meal plan your food storage and keep a list close to your food storage so you know what meals you can make from what you have in food storage.

Tip #5

In order to save money and to buy more of what we really eat,
we joined Sam's Club.

We find that when it comes to meat,
especially chicken and hamburger,
Our money goes a lot further.

We have also been able to stock up on canned soups,
snacks for the kids... 
even though they're not a necessity, 
I food storage snacks for sure,
and other bulk items.

We are huge Sam's Club lovers!!!
Plus they always have the best grapes!

Tip #6

Once we got a Sam's Club membership,
we realized that our side by side freezer wasn't even going to be close to the space we would need to store everything.

We kept an eye out for freezers on sale,
knowing that we would most likely have to buy used,
because they are crazy expensive!

We ended up finding a 5 cubic foot chest freezer that works great,
it is just old.
We only paid $50 for it because we found it at a garage sale,
but it's perfect for our little family.

We keep most of our frozen meat in there.
We are meat lovers and meat can take up a lot of space.

Tip #6

You definitely don't want to forget about what you have in storage,
and more importantly you don't want it to go out of date.

Make sure you rotate through your food storage to keep things fresh.
You may end up with an unplanned meal or two in a week,
but it's worth it to keep it fresh.

Make sure you are also going through your freezer to rotate.
I am not good at this and have often found some amazing surprises in my freezer when cleaning it out.

Let's be honest,
It would be the worst thing ever if during the Zombie Apocalypse,
you went to eat out of your food storage and it was all bad!

Just rotate.
Come up with a schedule that can help you remember when to rotate.
Pick a birthday or a special event that you can remember when you last rotated your food.
Or better yet,
Just put it in your phone on your calendar and let technology do the reminding for you!

Tip #7

This one is my favorite!
I love to organize!

I think that organizing the canned food especially is really important.

Before I go shopping,
I like to know what I already have in order to avoid overstocking a certain item.
If everything is organized it's so much easier to know what you have and how much you have.

Keep in mind that you do not have to invest in shelving for food storage.
We bought our shelves from the people who lived in the apartment before us because they were not going to have room in their new place.

But food storage can go anywhere!
Even under the bed!
Don't use lack of storage space as a reason not to have food storage.
It's not a good enough reason.

Tip #8

This is something that I am currently working on.

I have begun to stock up on items like diapers,
paper towels,
cleaning supplies,
toilet paper,
aluminum foil,
and toiletries,
but only when they are on sale.

These are things that would be great in an emergency if you couldn't leave your house for a few days,
but not as necessary as food would be.

Let's be honest...
You can never have too much toilet paper,
especially if there's a pregnant woman nearby,
or a 3 year old daughter who can't get enough toilet paper.

I am no food storage expert,
but these are the tips that really helped me get started
and to have confidence to have food storage!

Good luck!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Everything You Didn't See... October 2015 Edition

October was a super busy month for us!

Both Benson and Aniston are obsessed with this blue dog. I probably should find one and buy it for them sometime.

Aniston thought it would be funny if she sat in brother's walker. 
Then she got stuck...

Aniston found this little baton at Walmart and proceeded to walk around the store using it as a cane.

We love getting dressed for preschool!

Aniston's latest obsession includes wearing all of Mom's shoes! 
All the time!

Aniston's first Build a Bear experience was a HUGE success!

Don't even worry... We totally bought this hat for him. 
Too cute to say no.

Aniston and Benson LOVE spending time with their Grandpa and Grandma in Utah!

I thought it would be cute to take pictures of Benson with leaves...
Then he ate every leaf he could get his hands on.
Parent fail.

My little rockstar!

 We went to Aniston's, Benson's and Spencer's very first hibachi restaurant. 
It was awesome!
Benson became super obsessed with rice at this dining experience.

Despite what this may look like, Aniston sure does love baby Romy!

Benson on the other hand was not so sure what to think.

 Aniston sometimes cannot grasp the idea that Mom has to work.
I think having my office attached to the apartment makes things harder.
Most days Aniston and Snow White bear spend a lot of time just staring at me waiting for work to en so that we can play.

Aniston got super sick!
It was the worst!

The only thing that made her feel better was painting her nails!
Such a girl!

Benson started crawling,
and now my floor is constantly covered in Cheerios and toys!

I'm a little bit worried about his posture...

I paused Back to the Future 2 during the time when it showed the date.

Aniston loves reading me and Benny the Tickle Monster book.
She is the BEST tickle monster!

I find the similarity between Danny Zuko and Benny in regards to hair AMAZING!

Benson is loving the fact that he is standing and learning to walk along the furniture.

We had a BLAST at the Straw Maze!

Every time I wear overalls,
Benson becomes instantly attached to me and does not let go.

We hit up the Drive In one last time before it closed for the season.
We were so excited for Pan, but guys...
It was AWFUL!!!

These people are my happy thought!

We love the 3 generation Trick or Treating tradition that we have.

All that glitter from Aniston's costume...
My bad!

Halloween was FREEZING!!

Aniston was obsessed with this slightly creepy 70's version of Minnie and Mickey.

To say that we're excited for the new Star Wars is probably an understatement.

Ani loved the big Tink during Trick or Treating!

Our new Halloween tradition!

Aniston is by far, Benson's biggest cheerleader!

Speaking of cheerleader...

Ani has started doing this dance,
her "poop" dance everywhere!!!
I cannot wait to show her future boyfriends this footage!

These two together are my FAVORITE!

October is definitely one of my favorite months!
I can't wait to see what November will bring!