Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mom Guilt at Christmas

The other day my middle child asked me if I took a nap the whole time she was at school.  I laughed at the thought.  
My days are full of housework and meal planning. Playing with my 2 year old is done 1-2 minutes at a time and then back to the tasks at hand. 
There are always more cookies to make, presents to buy, and Christmas cards to address. Tonight it's the cub scouts who need cookies.  

I love this time of year and I wish it didn't go by so quickly, but it's a really busy time of year as well. The calendar is full of parties and celebrations. 

This week I've been declining invitations and it makes me feel guilty.  I should be everywhere, supporting and fellowshipping.  But I'm afraid I can't keep up.  My body is tired and nearly 9 months pregnant now.  

I was happy to find this article on Mom Guilt: 

And this one was good too

I think I'll start today to put aside the feelings of guilt and overwhelm.  I can do what I can and I can choose to say no the other things.  All that really matters is that my family feels the spirit of Christ this season.  I hope we all can feel Him near and remember his humble birth.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Look for the Good

We are quickly out growing our house. I'm tempted to look around and find all the ways that this house is no longer serving us well. The size of the family room, the old carpet, the broken kitchen tile and the tiny bedrooms have all been the cause of my complaints in the past.
Yes, these problems do need to be addressed, but they don't need to irritate me. They don't need to darken my gratitude for this home.

The other night I took my youngest outside for breath of fresh air. She had been crying and needed a change of scenery. The cold night air quickly chilled us to the bone. We looked around at our Christmas lights and the neighbor's lights. We found the moon and searched the sky for a few stars. But it was only a minute or two before we both desired to return to the warmth of our home. As I stepped back inside I felt so much gratitude for protection from the cold. Our home offers us a great gift of warmth. 

It is a place were my husband and I can sit on the couch and admire the lights of the Christmas tree.

It is a place were my tiny children can sleep safely.

It is a place where we gather as a family to eat, study scripture, and pray together.

I will look for the good and by so doing I'll always feel grateful.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pres. Eyring's Advice on Family Unity

I was happy to stumble across this talk today. President Eyring gives some practical advice on how to knit the hearts of a family into one. Family unity is so strongly correlated with family satisfaction and family love. He mentions how he and his wife used Family Home Evening as a tool to bring the family closer to the Savior and therefore closer together.

I hope you enjoy his message:

Everything Alma and his people were inspired to do was pointed at helping people choose to have their hearts changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is the only way God can grant the blessing of being of one heart.

In Mosiah we read:

“And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church. …

“And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.

“Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

“And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.” 3

That is why Alma commanded the people to teach faith and repentance. That is why my children came to expect in every lesson in family night that I would find a way to encourage someone to testify of the Savior and His mission. Sometimes the parents did it. On our best nights we found a way to encourage the children to do it, either by presenting the lesson or answering questions. When testimony about the Savior was borne, the Holy Ghost verified it. On those nights we felt our hearts being knit together.

You can watch the full talk at:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Influence of One

I have always liked my grandfather. When I was 3 grandpa and grandma lived with us for a time in our tiny apartment in Oregon. Grandpa and I would wake up earlier than the rest, grandpa because he read his scriptures in the mornings, me because I enjoyed the mornings best. We would sit at the small table in the kitchen. I would eat while he read silently to himself.

One morning, I finished my glass of milk and I finished my cold cereal.  I asked grandpa for more milk and he took the remaining milk from my cereal bowl and poured it into my glass.  I vaguely remember protesting and refusing to drink it on the grounds of "grossness". But grandpa was economical. I learned at that early age that he would not allow waste.

Fast forward to my teen years. My family had grown and had moved to a 4 bedroom house in California.  Grandma had passed away and grandpa came for a visit on his own.  Both grandpa and I were still early risers.

I remember one early morning in particular. Grandpa sat at his favorite corner of the dining room table, the corner that allowed for him to move his dominate left hand freely.  I sat on his right eating my breakfast.  I don't believe I asked about grandpa's scripture study but he took a moment to tell me how he reads every morning.  He read two pages from the Old Testament, two pages from the New Testament, two pages from the Book of Mormon, and two pages from the Doctrine in Covenants or Pearl of Great Price. I enjoyed the insight into grandpa's studies but as a teen I had no intention of copying him.  He was a temple sealer, I was a kid. I was pleased with myself if I opened my scriptures to read one verse before I crashed into bed each night.

Grandpa passed away the day after I turned 16. These two stories of him, along with a handful of others, I hold onto and treasure.  I could have learned so much more if I had been given more time with him, but I know the Lord has a perfect plan and I do not doubt. I now read my scriptures each morning in the pattern following my grandfather.  I am not a temple sealer, or even a president of an auxiliary in my ward.  But my calling and responsibility in life is very important.  Can you guess it? I am a mother.  I have 5 children to raise and a sixth that is moving inside my belly as I type.  Like most parents I know, I do not want to fail my children. I want to do all I can to help them through life.  I hope to pass on the goodness of my grandfather to them, too.  I still feel his influence in my life.

It amazes me that we can have such influence for good over others.  We usually do not know how much our words and actions impact others. Who has changed your life for the better? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Ways to Save Money This Christmas!

Everyone could use a little extra cash over the holidays! With a family of almost 8 I have been practicing my money saving skills for years.  I'm sharing some of my favorite ways to save money and enjoy the season.

#5 Make your own Christmas wreath! I will be making one this year and posting the tutorial on A Home With Love soon.  Before I post you can go pick up the very inexpensive supplies.  The most important part of this wreath is the greenery.  Check out your local Christmas Tree sales stands.  They usually trim the bottom branches of the Christmas trees they sell and give away the trimmed branches for FREE!! I love this! I grab branches every year from the shops I buy from and I put them up all over the house.

#4 Handmade Gifts! These gifts have a touch of thoughtfulness that really add to the spirit of the season.  Check out I Heart Naptime to see 101+ inexpensive handmade Christmas gifts.

#3 Don't let your grocery budget go out the door.  It's so easy to grab a box of cookies for the office party and 6 bags of candy for the kid's school parties. It's easy to order your dinners out during this busy time. But all these treats and luxuries add up.  With a little planning you can keep your grocery budget down.  If you don't have a budget then check out this site for ideas of how to eat cheap.

#2  Buy second hand.  This one takes work.  You have to shop around and check out local garage sale websites a few times a day.  I like my local Facebook Online Yardsale sites.  I find great deals on kid and baby items there and I sell things I don't need!  I also find good things on Craigslist. If you are looking for specific items then consider asking your Facebook friends if anyone is looking to sell the item you are looking for.  You may have seen some friends post ISO: and then an item.  ISO means "in search of".

#1 I saved the BEST for last!!! My favorite way to save money over the holidays (and really everyday) is checking out the website  This website posts every few minutes.  You can find great deals online and in stores.  You have to go there! I'm sure you will find something exciting.

How do you save money at Christmas?? Please comment below and let us know.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, 5 things to do with your leftover pie

1. Eat it for breakfast

2. Freeze it

3. Give it to your neighbor 

4. Give it to a local fire station

5. Smash it in your face and put the video on YouTube 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The important things in life are not things

i like bread and butter... repost from happydotmom

... i like toast and jam.
Are you singing along with me?

Yesterday, my daughter insisted on spreading her own butter
and I didn't want her to.

It would end up being more butter than bread (and it was... as seen in the above picture).

But it got me thinking
about how "people are more important than things"

She is more important than the wasted butter.

My parents were always really good to us when we broke things.
I remember dropping dishes and feeling really bad when they broke.

But my parents would say things like:
"Things can be replaced."
"No need to feel bad, accidents happen." 
"I'm just glad you didn't get hurt."

In those moments they simultaneously taught me not to put too much value on temporal things
and to be sensitive to the feeling of others.
Oh, I just love them.

You'd think that their great example would naturally rub off on me!!
But no, I have to work at it.

All I know is that when I do remember to show my children that they are more important than things 
it just feels right.  
Now look at how cute she is buttering her bread.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The 2 year old

He held her hand as we descended the middle school stairs.  With my hands finally free I made it to the bottom quickly and watched them move down. One step at a time, lots of chatter on each step, a big smile on her face.

Have you taken a 2 year old down the stairs? You could see it one of two ways. Often, I'm in a hurry and I notice how terribly long it takes to get down.  But from my new perspective I could see my little one's face.  She was glowing with excitement and pride! How fun to go down the stairs with her dad.

I once heard someone say, "I hope I always have a 2 year old in my home."

It completely changed my perspective! How fun toddlers are!! They explore every tiny part of this world with wonder and joy.  They forgive so easily and move on with life so quickly. Yes, they require work and patience, but they offer so much more than they require. Why did it take me so long to see this? I too hope I always have a 2 year old around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Facing Fear: A lesson from the life of a 6 year old.

When my 6 year old got off the bus she looked a little sad. I asked her how the dress rehearsal for her school play went. She let her older siblings do the talking.

Every year at my children's school, every grade presents a play.  They perform in front of the school for their dress rehearsal and then perform again that same evening for the parents.  It turns out that this year my little girl had a bad case of stage fright.  The older children told me that as soon as the curtains opened they could hear someone crying, loudly.  They wondered who it was and then saw their little sister walking off of the stage to her teacher standing in the wings.

She didn't perform one bit. Didn't even try and sing along with the other kids.

That evening my husband and I considered what we should do about the evening performance.  Should we even take her to the play that night? She didn't want to go.  She was terrified. We didn't want to scar her, making things worse by forcing her to go. She wouldn't be missed seeing how she was one of the many choir members. Plus the parking is awful, and it's hard to find a seat. We would have all enjoyed a quiet evening home.

But we couldn't stay home.  We couldn't miss an opportunity to let our little one conquer her fear.  We had to let her try. I held her close and told her if she needed to walk off stage again that it was ok.  But she should at least go and try. She had worked so hard learning all the songs and dances. I let her know that I believed in her. Those simple words were enough to encourage her to go.

I walked her to her classroom where all her classmates were waiting for curtain call, everyone in costume and good spirits. She walked right in and started to talk to the kids. Her teacher met me at the door. Her teacher looked a little surprised that I brought her.  She emphasized that the dress rehearsal did not go well... at all.  In a bit of explanation I told her, "We had to let her face her fear. We had to let her try." An exit plan was arranged in case of tears and I went back to the gym to elbow my way into a seat, perhaps even one with a view of the stage!

The curtains opened to reveal all of the children standing on stage, mostly on risers. I held my breath as the music started, my eyes focused on the tiny girl in the yellow shirt.  She had been strategically placed right on the end, close to her teacher. I let out a sigh of relief as she sang along with the others. She sang and danced the whole performance.  She did it.

She was so happy when I picked her back up. She was full of pride and accomplishment. It was worth the parking and seating, worth the risk of embarrassment or potential scaring.  We didn't come to this life to hide in the wings. I couldn't let her hide or she would have never known the joy of success!

Some of us feel like we are not as happy or fulfilled as we should be in life. Sometimes we see others rejoicing in success and wonder why that never seems to happen to us.  Could it be that we are hiding in the wings?

I had to ask myself that question as we left the school that night? A 6 year old just showed me how rewarding it is to try again, to get back up, to face a fear.  A 6 year old just reminded me that success is worth the risk of failure.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Repost from Happydotmom

DYI: Coffee Filter Wreath

These coffee filter wreaths have become pretty popular on home design blogs.  I love the fullness of them and had to try it out myself.  The cost of supplies is only $5 and you just can't go wrong with such a inexpensive project.

 There really are only a few steps to making these wreaths.  
It took me about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.
I folded my filters in quarters before I hot glued them onto the styrofoam wreath.  You could try different folds to get different looks. I think rolling them would be pretty cute.
 The filters started to fill up the wreath quickly!
 And after I finished gluing the wreath was a hot mess :) But I knew that the next step was to trim with the scissors so I wasn't too worried.

 I glued a ribbon to the back and called it quits.  I love how plump it is! 

Once it was on the wall my husband told me it looked like a doughnut.  I was thinking the same thing myself!  I would suggest using a larger wreath base :)  Have fun making your own.  Leave a comment if you make one I'd love to see it!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Free Blog Help

Did you know I also run a Blog help site?  I have lots of links to Free Blog Buttons, Blinkies, Tickers and the likes.  You can learn how to change your background or header with one of my free tutorials and SO MUCH more!

Just visit me at

I also offer one of a kind design work for your blog for a great price.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Make Puppy Chow- an easy recipe for kids

Today I closed down an old blog of mine, It was actually hard for me to do! It had served as a family journal for quite a few years. I hope to keep our family life a little more private for the sake of the kids so I've started fresh. If you don't mind I will repost a few of my Happy Dot Mom posts from time to time. This one is from Jan 2011 and was a huge Pintrest success.

How to Make Puppy Chow- an easy recipe for kids

When we made our Puppy Chow yesterday we called it Snowman Poop for our party.  But a flower by any other name will smell just as sweet, right?  I've also heard it referred to as Monkey Munch on Jon and Kate Plus Eight.  This recipe is great for kids to help with... that is if you don't mind the mess.  You could change the amounts of the recipe and still come up with a tasty snack... the amounts are just done to taste.


8-10 cups Toasted Rice Cereal (like Rice Chex cereal)
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter over medium-low heat. (I like to use a large pan for melting, leaving enough room for the cereal to be added in step 2).  Stir constantly and remove from heat once the chocolate chips have melted.

2. Stir 8 cups of toasted rice cereal into the chocolate-peanut butter mixture.  Add more rice cereal one cup at a time, until all pieces of cereal are coated in chocolate-peanut butter mixture.

3. Fill a 1gallon or 2 gallon Ziploc bag with powdered sugar.

4. Add the coated cereal to the Ziploc bag. Seal bag and shake.  The cereal will then be coated in powdered sugar and ready to eat!

My kids just love this treat, and it really is so easy to make.  Leave me a comment and let me know if you make it.  I'd also be interested to know if anyone has some fun varieties of the recipe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Things will get better

"Everyone of us has times when we need to know things will get better." - Elder Holland

I love this little video! It's one of my sweet husband's favorites. It applies to all of us.  As my little family is budgeting, moving money around, thinking about ways to bring in more income, stretched thin with time commitments and usually out of energy this video gives hope. It also reminds me that I am not alone. We all have our struggles but we can all find hope.

Read the complete talk HERE.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mindful of Your Child's Personality

When raising children you have to be a mindful parent.
What works for one child will sometimes be useless for the next.

I once thought parents created children, personality and all. I thought all my children's accomplishments were directly related to my great parenting! Can you imagine the pressure this put on me? Because if that were true then all of my children's bad behavior was directly related to poor parenting.  

When my first child had a potty accident I was certain that I needed to immediately fix the problem. There was no time for accidents, no time for learning. My parenting ego was on the line.

As I had more children my mind opened to the idea that each child comes to earth with their own personality.  My first two children unloaded the books on our bookshelves daily. They didn't care if I shouted at them to stop.  They took little notice to the timeouts that followed.  They wanted the books and they went after them. But my third child was completely different.  As she took interested in the books I simply said "no, no" and she buried her face in the carpet to cry. It broke her little 1 year old heart to be corrected.

Seeing the vast differences in my children, even while being parented the same, gave me insight to how important personality is to families.  Our personalities shape our perspective.

My two children who unloaded those bookshelves daily now read for hours daily. They love books, learning and they don't take no for an answer. They are real "go getters"! My sweet third child loves to please her mom.  Yesterday, I asked her if I could have a piece of her Halloween candy and she brought down 8 pieces.  I asked her why she brought me so many and she said, "Mom, you know I love to spoil you." 

Our children can't always be parented the same as our neighbors, they can't always be parented the same as their siblings. We must look at them as the individuals they are.  We must be kind and patient with what we view as their weaknesses.  

Believe in your children. Believe that their personalities will bring joy and purpose to their lives. Be a mindful parent. Be willing to meet their individual needs.

I can see now, more than I could see at the beginning, that each child has a living spirit within them.  Just as each parent has their own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fears and Miracles

My niece went into the hospital yesterday for her second surgery on a sticky, uncooperative brain tumor. She is eleven. My sister's only daughter.

I can not tell you the fears that surrounded this surgery. It was a more difficult and dangerous surgery than the first and we all were nervous for her safety.

On those jittery days before the surgery as I was weakly hushing my own fears, I was introduced to an idea that really helped me. The idea is that fears are just the body's reaction to negative imaginations.  So, we imagine the outcomes of the future and when we imagine in a negative way our body reacts. For me this idea removed the all the power the fears held.

My scripture study reminded me again not to fear. Not because bad things don't happen, but because the Lord is over all. To us all he says:

Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace         and in the knowledge of the truth.
Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.
And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.
Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.
And the day cometh that you shall hear my voice and see me, and know that I am.
Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready. Even so. Amen.

While in surgery yesterday the doctors found that the tumor was too firmly attached to the brain to remove any of it.  However, they were able to remove the cyst, which was important so they were ready to close her back up. 

Until they got the idea to try at the tumor from one other angle, a more difficult angle. They found that it did pull away from the brain at the new angle and were able to remove 80% of the tumor!  The last 20% was attached to the hypothalamus and was too risky to remove.  The doctors again decided that it was time to close her back up. 

As they went to close her up they found that the tumor had moved itself away from the hypothalamus. They were able to remove the rest of it, it was a true blessing!

There were so many other sweet and tender reminders of the Lord's care over my niece. We are so grateful for this miracle! 

A true miracle that has humbled all who know and love my niece. I just can't stop sending up prayers of thanks. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Choose Love

Often people say the wrong things.
As we are expecting our 5th girl with only one boy I've heard some pretty thoughtless comments.

The commenters have said a variety of things from: 
"I feel so sorry for you." 
"Tell your husband to relax."  

I've heard things from older people and from children, from neighbors and complete strangers. Usually I can feel their intent. Often they think that I may have not wanted this pregnancy, which couldn't be further from the truth. Sometimes they are just trying to make me laugh. My response is always the same. With kindness, I let them know how happy we are to welcome this little girl into our family. I hope they feel my sincere excitement for this new life. I hope they choose to cherish life a little more too.

Often I say the wrong things.
I can't count the nights I've laid in bed and thought, "Did I really say that?" Tears fall down my face as I realize that my words may have caused someone pain. I get so much satisfaction from making people laugh but it's not uncommon for my words to have the opposite effect.

I know I regret the thoughtless things I say. And so I choose to believe that others regret the hurtful things they say to me. We can choose to love those we are speaking with. Even when their words are cold, thoughtless or unkind. We can choose to see ourselves as them. We seek forgiveness, love and patience, so do they. When we choose love our hearts are light yet full.  When we choose to hold a grudge we feel heavy yet empty.
If you come across someone who is unkind today, give them the benefit of a doubt. Let them know you hold no ill feelings. Choose love.
If someone's hurtful words are still ringing in your ears. Be understanding. Choose love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What's the deal with Family Home Evening (FHE) boards?

Why is it that every Mormon home you walk into has a Family Home Evening board? What is FHE and why do LDS families take it so seriously? The truth is that any of your Mormon friends would be happy to answer those questions. But since you are here I'll tell you how our family does it.

Last night ended as all of our Monday nights do, with Family Home Evening. My two year-old loves the singing. Everyone loves the treats. But it's the lessons and the simple act of setting aside time to be together that bless our family the most. We need this time to teach the children. Let's face it, the world they are living in is complex, they need guidance and our undivided time. Our family is strengthened through FHE.

The board simply keeps track of the jobs we rotate through. There are plenty of ways to rotate the assignments, if everyone in your family enjoys leading a part of the evening.

The church has a great site HERE to explain further the hows and whys of FHE.

Our family has added this "awesome attitude award" to our board just for fun. It is my duty to award the child by clipping it onto his/her photo. Notice who holds the award this week! Hopefully, the kids will step it up a bit so I can stop patting myself on the back.

Here are some great sites that have FHE lesson plans:

I would love to add to this list. If you have a FHE site you love or you run please email the link at

Monday, October 27, 2014


I usually don't need my shoes for school drop off.  I wait in the car drop off line, pull up to the back doors and then 3 kids jump out of my van with backpacks and milk mustaches. So today I grabbed the first shoes I saw... my church heals from yesterday. They didn't really match my pajamas but that didn't matter. I wouldn't be using them anyway.

Turns out I did need my shoes today, only 2 kids jumped out of the van and the 3rd started to cry.
After comforting her we pulled into the front parking lot and I clip-clopped all the way down the school halls to my first grader's class. I stood at the classroom door and explained to her teacher (while in my pajamas) that my daughter was a little nervous for the new math activity.
I'm not sure what her teacher thought of my appearance. But I can guess what my daughter felt because of my actions. I'm sure that my daughter felt safe and loved as I walked her to class.
She needed the extra patience and concern. She needed the 5 extra minutes with mom.

With my head held high I walked her to class. But now I am anxious for her return home. I hope she had a great day. I hope my shy little ladybug will sit by me and tell me all about her school day.