Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Celebrating Birthdays: What To Do About the Gluten-free Kid

Less than a week after Sophia was finally diagnosed with Celiac, she was invited to a birthday party. Though I had already been gluten-free for about a year, navigating the gluten-free waters with a first-grader who got much sicker than I did when she ingested gluten was a little bit scary.

I didn't know the little girl whose party Sophia was invited to, so I called her mom and explained about Sophia's new dietary restrictions. I found out that they would be having standard birthday party food: pizza, cake, and ice-cream—all of which usually contain gluten. I certainly didn't want to demand that she accommodate my child, so I offered to bring some gluten-free options for Sophia to eat so she wouldn't be left out.

Cupcake on blue background with sprinkles.

The mom was really nice when we arrived at the house, and even let me go into the kitchen to see if the ice-cream she had purchased was gluten-free or not (it was). I left Sophia there with a gluten-free brownie and a gluten-free bagel pizza we had made at home, confident that she would be okay and certain I had covered all of the bases.

I was wrong. Sophia got "glutened" (as we like to call it) at that party and I felt like the worst mother ever for not doing more to protect her. There was a pinata, and the pinata was full of candy. It didn't even occur to the party girl's mom to check whether or not the candy was gluten-free, and honestly, I wouldn't have expected her to. I know what it's like to run a party with a bunch of little girls, and worrying about special diets would be the last thing on my mind by the time I got to the pinata.

So Sophia ate a bunch of Kit-Kats, which are full of gluten, and she was sick for a few days. And I've been pondering ever since how I can better deal with the whole birthday party question as her mom.

But what if you are the birthday party mom, and you know that a gluten-free child is coming? Or a child with any sort of food allergies? Is there anything you can do to make things easier for the child?


Here are some important tips to help you plan for the kid that needs a special diet:

How to accommodate kids with gluten-free diets--or kids with any special diets due to food allergies--at birthday parties and other celebrations.

How to accommodate gluten-free kids at birthday parties

1. Invite the gluten-free child to the party
Let the decision of whether or not the allergic child attends a birthday party be left in the hands of his parents. Sophia has not been invited to a couple birthday parties because the hosts didn't know what to do about her dietary restrictions, and that's hard on a kid. Don't worry about the restrictions initially, because I guarantee you that the parent will contact you about it, and then plans can be made.

2. Special accommodations are appreciated, but not necessary

Honestly, I understand if the party hosts do not really want to pay a million dollars to provide my daughter with a special pizza that costs triple what a regular pizza costs. I understand if they don't want to provide birthday cake or other treats that are gluten-free. That is why I contact the parents and offer to bring a gluten-free pizza or other GF alternatives to whatever is being served.

I have some pretty wonderful friends who go out of their way to accommodate Sophia, and I appreciate it a lot. It makes her feel special and included and not "other." Some of the things that they have done have included:

  • Buying a GF cupcake for her at the local bakery (most bakeries nowadays have GF options).
  • Having GF graham crackers available for S'mores making (marshmallows and Hershey's chocolate are GF).
  • Asking for my favorite GF pizza crust recipe and making it (even though it required borrowing some ingredients from me).
  • Changing the entire party menu from pizza to grilled chicken and veggies (healthier for everyone!).

While these things are wonderful, they are unnecessary. I am happy to bear the burden of my own daughter's food sensitivities. So don't feel bad if these sorts of accommodations are impractical for the party you are throwing.

3. Approve all ingredients with the gluten-free parent

Make sure that you let the parent of the allergic child know the ingredients of everything you will be serving at the party. This will allow them to approve or reject the food and help both of you to know if other plans need to be made.

Usually, I ask the parents to call or email me when they know what they will be serving and we go from there. I then determine what Sophia can and can't eat and either offer to bring alternatives for her myself, or help the host to know which changes can be made to the menu if that is what they prefer.

4. No, seriously. Approve ALL ingredients with the gluten-free parent

I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not assume that something is gluten-free just because it seems like it must be. Ice cream, as mentioned before, is a common birthday party food that often contains hidden gluten. Vanilla usually contains gluten, unless it has been labeled gluten-free—this is one that I did not realize until Sophia kept getting sick every time we made what I thought were gluten-free cookies. Gluten can be found in some pretty odd places, so make sure you run every single ingredient by the parents. I'm sure the same goes for children who suffer from nut allergies or other food sensitivities—these allergens hide very well!

You can be confident that the parent is well educated on where gluten or nuts or soy lurk, and will help you know which ice-cream to buy or loan you some vanilla from their own pantry.

And don't forget the little treats included in party favors or pinatas! Ask ahead of time which candies are safe and make sure they are available at the birthday party.

5. Don't be offended

Finally, don't be offended if the parent chooses to go ahead and provide food for their child themselves—even when you offer to make accommodations. It's just that we can't be too careful, and sometimes it's just easier to be the one in control so that we know exactly what our child is eating. Celiac kids can get really sick, but in general, their lives aren't in danger. However, someone with a severe nut allergy that could go into anaphylactic shock is something I wouldn't want to play around with. I'm fine with a parent providing their own food in these cases because it gives me peace of mind, too!

Also, don't be offended when the parent wants to stay at the party to monitor what their child is eating. It really is scary not to be in total control when you know how sick your child can become if she eats even a little bit of gluten. I don't want to have to make the party parent worry about my child if it's easier for me to just stick around and help out with something I do on a daily basis anyway.

In the two years since Sophia's original diagnosis she's been to many more birthday parties. She's still been accidentally glutened once or twice, but for the most part I feel like I know how to deal with this situation much better than I did in the beginning. It's totally possible for kids who have dietary restrictions to attend birthday parties and have a great time without having to worry about the food.

So go ahead and throw that birthday party and don't be afraid of inviting the gluten-free (or peanut-free, or dairy-free) kid. Everything will work out just great!

Looking for other great gluten-free tips and recipes? 

Check out my other gluten-free posts
Follow my gluten-free board on Pinterest.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Keep Your Soccer Hero Hydrated with POWERADE® and Fresh Fruit

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SidelineHero #CollectiveBias

Keep your soccer hero hydrated with foods and drinks that have been proven to replenish the electrolytes lost during play. Also, make a fun mesh soccer snack kit to hand out at soccer practices and soccer games. #overstuffedlife

My 12-year-old daughter Chloe is obsessed with soccer. The long winters are hard for her, because she can't easily practice her soccer moves in three feet of snow. But, spring has finally come, the snow has finally melted, and she can finally get ready for her soccer season--which begins next week!

Not only is Chloe a soccer hero, she is pretty darn creative. When she learned that I was going to be doing a soccer-themed post for POWERADE® and Walmart Fresh Produce, she was all over it. She came up with the idea of mesh bags to hold the soccer snack. She wanted the mesh to remind the players of the soccer goal.

Our first line of business was to head to Walmart to pick up our supplies.

First, we stopped by the beverage (not juice) aisle to pick up a 12-pack of the 12-ounce POWERADE®. Chloe chose the mountain berry blast flavor.

Then we picked up some oranges. Chloe chose oranges because she had read that they rehydrate you faster than other fruits. And because they're round like soccer balls.

We also stopped by the craft aisle to buy some soccer-themed ribbon and some mesh.

Once we had all the supplies in hand, we went home to make a few fun soccer sideline kits for Chloe and her friends (simple tutorial is at the end of this post).

Easy mesh snack kit for your little soccer stars!

Chloe was so excited to go pick up her best friend and head down to the soccer fields so they could work on their moves for the upcoming season. It was a beautiful spring day, and even though the grass wasn't greened up yet and there was a little mud, the two of them had a blast together!

As a soccer mom, I always appreciate the parents who bring fruits and vegetables as a soccer snack instead of processed foods. The kids just feel better after all that hard play to eat something healthy and hydrating instead of crackers or fruit snacks. And POWERADE® is an excellent option because it helps our soccer heroes replenish the electrolytes they lose through sweat when they play hard on hot summer days (or even not-so-hot spring days!).

Keep your soccer hero hydrated with foods and drinks that have been proven to replenish the electrolytes lost during play. Also, make a fun mesh soccer snack kit to hand out at soccer practices and soccer games.

Chloe and her friend worked up a pretty good sweat out on the fields practicing together. They were very excited to get their sideline kits and drank up that POWERADE® almost before I could get a good photo! Their oranges didn't last long, either.

Keep your soccer hero hydrated with foods and drinks that have been proven to replenish the electrolytes lost during play. Also, make a fun mesh soccer snack kit to hand out at soccer practices and soccer games.

We are sure looking forward to our season starting, and Chloe is finally feeling like she's practiced enough and is ready!

Tutorial for Sideline Hero Mesh Bags:

Make a fun mesh soccer sideline kit to store snacks or other small soccer supplies in. Easy craft! #overstuffedlife

Step 1: Cut your mesh roll in pieces of approximately 10" x 16". Be sure to cut carefully between the meshing so that it stays put together better. Make sure that the selvage side is on a 16" side, as you will want that to be the opening of your bag.

Step 2: Fold your mesh piece in half. Sew the bottom and the side, leaving an opening at the top. Use the shortest stitch your machine allows--sewing such holey fabric isn't easy and the shorter the stitch, the better!

Step 3: Place your snacks in the bag to ensure that they fit well. This size fit a large orange and a 12 oz POWERADE® quite nicely

Step 4: Cut about 24 inches of narrow soccer-themed ribbon (I used 3/8" wide). Be sure to cut the ends at sharp angles to make it easier to thread in step 5.

Step 5: Thread the ribbon through the mesh holes around the opening of the bag. I threaded it about an inch or so apart. Tie up your bag in a ribbon and present it to your soccer hero!

If you want to make your own soccer hero sideline kit with POWERADE® and Walmart Fresh Produce, be sure to look for the coupon on the 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE® packages and you can get $1 off Walmart fresh produce when you buy two 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE®. Hurry this deal is only available while supplies lasts!

Visit POWERADE® online for more great ideas:


What's your favorite healthy snack to feed your soccer heroes?
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Friday, April 24, 2015

How Changing My Wardrobe Changed My Life

This post has been sponsored by Dressing Your Truth®  All opinions and experiences are mine alone.

"Mom, I don't feel very pretty in here."

These were the words my then 12-year-old daughter whispered to me while we were shopping at a big mall in Chicago. We live in a small town, and big shopping malls aren't something we get to see very often, so it is always exciting to have the chance to go shopping in a big city.

But her words rang true to me. I didn't feel very pretty in there, either. I was surrounded by stylish perfection: stylish mannequins, stylish shoppers, stylish clerks, stylish furniture. And I didn't feel like I measured up. I felt fat and frumpy and a far cry from stylish.

As a woman I have always chased after some sort of beauty "ideal." Unfortunately, I have too often looked outside of myself to find it. I found it so frustrating to try to dress like the fashion world told me to dress, or to copy others who looked amazing. It doesn't seem like that should be frustrating, because the fashion world knows what's up, right? And if I dress like my always put-together stylish friend, I would also be put-together and stylish, right?


Do you ever feel like your clothes aren't working for you? Maybe because they aren't. Learn how to create a wardrobe based on your unique energy type and stop wasting money on clothing that doesn't work for you!

While not everything was a miss, many styles and colors simply did not work for me. I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I tried so hard to dress like the other moms I hung out with who seemed to have style down, but most of the time I just felt frumpy and not myself.

And then, in 2012, something came along that totally changed the way I looked at my wardrobe. I noticed a few of my friends were talking about something called Dressing Your Truth on Facebook and Pinterest. I got curious, and started looking into it myself.

And what I found out not only changed my wardrobe, it changed my life. Dressing Your Truth isn't just about how you dress. It's learning about your specific Energy Type and how that affects every part of your experience. I took the free course to learn my Energy Type, and once I recognized that I was a Type 4 ,    I was finally able to understand why so many things I tried to wear didn't work for me. I was able to understand why I loved certain clothes in my closet and not others. Once I purchased the Dressing Your Truth course, I finally started to feel put-together and stylish--and it wasn't even that difficult once I got the hang of using the tools that DYT taught me.

Do you ever feel like your clothes aren't working for you? Maybe because they aren't. Learn how to create a wardrobe based on your unique energy type with Dressing Your Truth and stop wasting money on clothing that doesn't work for you!

Following are four ways that DYT changed my life for the better:

1. I've saved money

Any money I spent on purchasing the course has come back to me ten-fold because I don't buy things that don't work for me anymore. I can't tell you how many times I would buy cute clothes only to feel silly or frumpy in them. My Goodwill donation box was filled with these clothes way too often, and I always felt guilty about the money spent on things I never really wore. I still make occasional mistakes while shopping, but using the tools DYT has given me, I am more likely to say no to things that don't work before I buy them. This has saved me hundreds of dollars in the past three years.

2. I've saved time

First of all, it saves me time when I am shopping for clothing. I can quickly scan items and know whether or not they fit my Energy Type. This way, I don't spend any time trying on things that are the wrong color or style. My time in the dressing room is then mostly used to determine if things fit properly. The first time my mom came shopping with me after I started dressing my truth, she was absolutely amazed at how quickly I was able to find a lot of stuff that looked right on me.(I still actually wear most of the clothes from that shopping trip in February 2013!)

Secondly, DYT saves me time getting ready every day. I used to try on 5 or 6 outfits every morning before I found the one that I was okay with wearing to work or to church or to a playgroup that day. Not only was I taking forever to get ready, I was generally left with a mess to clean up after trying on so many different outfits! Now my wardrobe consists only of items that I feel great in, so I am usually happy with the first outfit I pick out. Plus, my entire wardrobe now coordinates with itself in a way it never has before, meaning I can mix and match pieces very easily. This also saves me a lot of time and has given me more use out of each piece in my wardrobe.

3. I feel more confident

I am sometimes amazed at how wearing the right thing for me boosts my confidence. Especially right now when I am dealing with health issues, dressing my truth always helps me feel better somehow. Wearing clothing that suits my Energy Type helps me feel more confident even though my weight isn't where I'd like it to be right now. When I wear things that do not honor my nature, I notice my weight issues and spend my day feeling fat.

4. I trust myself

I actually used to dress my truth naturally when I was in college. I absolutely loved to dress up. I've never been able to pull off the jeans and a t-shirt look the way others can. Since I was a vocal performance major, dressing up was something that nobody batted an eye at. But later, when I got married and started having children, people were always asking me why I was so dressed up and I began to feel self-conscious. I gradually stopped dressing the way I loved to dress and tried to conform with the other moms--moms who could pull off jeans and t-shirts and look totally put together. I just ended up feeling frumpy and awkward and like I never quite fit in.

This doesn't mean I never wear jeans and t-shirts anymore. It just means I know how to pick the right jeans and the right t-shirts and now I can pull off that look with the best of them. But it also means that I have finally given myself permission to dress up as much as I want to and don't worry anymore what others think.

And I finally feel pretty no matter where I am...even if it's a stylish shopping mall in Chicago.

This permission to be myself has leaked into other areas of my life. I feel more comfortable in my own skin and spend a lot less time worrying about whether or not I fit in with other women or if I'm saying the wrong thing. It's been very liberating.

That has been the very best part of the DYT experience for me. Learning to honor my own nature--and also learning to honor the different natures of others around me--has helped me to be happier and healthier in all aspects of my life.

Want to change your own life....starting with your wardrobe? 

First, find out which of the four Energy Types you are by clicking here: Free Energy Profiling Course.

Second, start your before and after once you have assessed your Energy Type. This used to cost $297 but is now completely free!

Once you've done that, you will want to purchase a style kit (I always have mine with me while shopping!) to help you while in the dressing rooms to make sure your choices fit your truth. You can purchase one here: Dressing Your Truth Style Kit

If you prefer to read a book instead of working with an online course, Discover Your Type of Beauty by DYT founder Carol Tuttle is the resource you need to get started.

I encourage you to find your Energy Type and find out how to dress for YOU. Are you a bright and animated Type 1℠, a soft and subtle Type 2℠, a rich and dynamic Type 3℠, or a bold and striking Type 4℠?  Seriously, go find out now, and change your life in the same way I changed mine.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean When You Don't Have Time to Clean

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PalmoliveMultiSurface #CollectiveBias

I love a sparkling clean kitchen. It has the ability to make me happy in a way few other things can. Unfortunately, unless I kick my husband and children out of the house and stop eating completely, it is only perfectly clean for a few minutes.

A dirty kitchen stresses me out and makes me very, very unhappy. There is nothing worse than coming home from a long day at work and seeing a sink piled with dishes, junk all over the counters, crumbs all over the floor, and the cheese left out to dry (can you tell my children just finished with spring break?). And I simply don't have time to be cleaning it constantly with three busy children, a job, and a very "overstuffed" schedule of my own.

clean kitchen | no time to clean | cleaning the dishes | cleaning the kitchen | how to clean the kitchen fast | 5 strategies to keep your kitchen super clean

So, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep the kitchen pretty clean, despite the fact that cleaning usually ends up being dead last on my priority list because I'm too busy playing chauffeur and grading papers. When I actually take the time--and it's minimal--to do these things, I'm so much happier!

1. Clean the Dishes in Real Time

In other words, if you dirty a dish, clean it immediately, or at least put it into the dishwasher. I don't actually have a dishwasher, so in order to follow this rule, I have to take an extra minute or two after eating lunch to wash my plate and utensils. Or, if I'm baking cookies, I will need to take an extra five minutes to wash the measuring cups and spoons, the mixing bowls, and the cookie sheet once they are finished. Sometimes it feels like it's too much to even do that, but trust me, a few plates and utensils have a way of piling up and overtaking your kitchen sink alarmingly fast. A few extra minutes now is much easier than a couple hours later (especially if you don't have a dishwasher!).

Related: 5 Reasons to Do the Dishes Immediately

How to keep your kitchen clean when you don't have time to clean: 5 simple strategies to help your kitchen stay cleaner longer!

Obviously, big meals make this a little bit more difficult, as a large amount of dishes are dirtied quickly. Make it a habit to clean as many dishes as you can during your meal prep, and then do all other dishes as soon as dinner is done. This is where we always get behind in my house. If there is something going on right after dinner and it makes it too hard to do the dishes immediately after eating make a commitment that you will do them first thing upon coming home. If even that is too hard, maybe using paper plates on the crazy evenings is the best idea.

Teach every member of your household this one rule, and it will be even easier. I'm still working on my children, but we're getting there.

2. Wipe Up Spills Immediately

Nothing is worse than spending ten minutes trying to scrub dried spaghetti sauce off of the counter when it would have only taken one second to do it right when it happened. We all spill stuff while we're preparing meals, and I have completely given up on being able to open a can without getting some of its contents on the counter. The difference is taking the one second--ONE SECOND--to wipe it all up as soon as it happens. It goes without saying, but teach your kids to do the same. I'm pretty sure most of the messes I spend my life scrubbing clean were put there by my offspring.

3. Get Rid of Clutter

I don't know about you, but I have extremely limited counter space. Something had better be used on a daily basis in order to earn a permanent spot on my counter. The three appliances that are left out are the KitchenAid, the toaster, and my blender—but even the blender gets put away during the winter when it isn't used as often. I've even moved several things down to the basement because they are used so little. Things that are used often, but not daily, are moved either to the top of the cabinets or put in a cupboard.

How to keep your kitchen clean when you don't have time to clean: 5 simple strategies to help your kitchen stay cleaner longer!
Other clutter that tends to gather in kitchens like mail, school papers, keys, etc. should be given a designated spot that keeps it out of the way. Junk drawers are great, too, as long as you organize them every so often and don't let them become truly "junky."

Whatever system you devise to take care of the clutter--stick to it. Follow up with your family often so that they learn to stick to it as well. Don't do it for them!

4. Set a Timer

While I don't have a lot of time, I do have some time. And so do you. Use the time you have wisely and set a timer. If we haven't been so great at keeping up with the first rule, I often set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes and do the dishes for that long. If I have been keeping up with the first rule, I set my timer and work on a deeper cleaning job like mopping or cleaning out a cupboard. Something about racing against the timer and knowing that I only have to do the job until it goes off makes me work faster and more efficiently.

It always makes me feel better to use my 15 minutes of extra time being productive than it does when I choose to waste it away checking Facebook. Not to say that I don't ever choose to waste the time, because I do. I'm just a lot happier when I don't.

I don't recommend using your phone as a timer—it's just plain too distracting. Instead, I use this timer which is cute, fun, and easy to use. To purchase click here: Cube Timer.

5. Have Versatile Cleaning Supplies on Hand

There is nothing worse than having to rifle through your cleaning supplies to find 6 different things to use to get your kitchen clean—especially when you only have a few minutes anyway. That's why I love to use cleaning products that work for multiple surfaces like the new Palmolive® Multi Surface. It's dish soap, so I can use it to clean all my dishes in my dishwasher-less kitchen. But it is also a multipurpose cleaner, so I can use the same sponge to also clean the counters (and scrub those dried-up spilled left by my kids), the floors, and even to wipe down appliances. It also kills 99.9% of bacteria (*staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica and E. coli ((157:H7)) from dishes and hard non porous kitchen surfaces, so even though I have little time to really deep clean my kitchen, I can rest assured that the germs are gone.

What's your best tip for keeping your kitchen clean when you're out of time?

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

How I Know I Married a Musician: Part 11

We've spent the last few days on tour with The Maestro's orchestra. We, meaning The Maestro, me, and Bria, who has been playing second violin in his orchestra just so she could go to Chicago with us. But she's loved it so much she wants to do it again next year, even though there is no tour next year.

I do love watching my husband in his element. He was born to be an orchestra conductor. But that fact just means more funny musical quotes from him!

We were at a restaurant the other night, and as we were paying our bill at the counter, he noticed these toothpicks:

The Maestro looked at them for a while, then said:

" I don't understand these. Why do they say cello wrapped? They have absolutely nothing to do with a cello!"

Then I explained to him that it was short for cellophane.

And here's a photo of my beautiful teenager playing in a grown-up orchestra.

How I Know I Married a Musician, parts 1-10

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

He Hears Me

I'm trying to be better with the Sunday photos. So, even though it's now Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, if I'm being honest),  I'm posting it. I wanted to make sure this experience was documented anyway, and there is no picture to go with it.
Last Thursday wasn't a very good day.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I was ready to go to bed by 3:30 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the day was just getting started.

I was just about to leave to teach my Institute class on campus when my accountant called to tell me that Joel's social security number had been used to file a fraudulent tax return. As I sat there on the phone with her, listening to her outline all the steps we were going to need to take to get our tax return filed on time and deal with the identity theft, I just wanted to cry. I just did not need one more thing to deal with!

I drove down to campus feeling completely defeated. It was raining, I was running late, and the building where Institute is held never has an open parking space. I'm always having to park two blocks away and I just couldn't deal with that at the moment.

And so I said a prayer, asking God to please just let me find an open space next to the building. It was a silly prayer, I know, maybe even a little bit selfish. I got to the building and drove around the parking lot and found that not only were there no open parking spaces, but about 8 cars had made up their own spaces. It looked like I was going to have to park somewhere else and I hadn't even grabbed my umbrella.

I started driving out of that parking lot and just then, a car backed out--and it was even parked in a real space! Gratitude and relief flooded my heart and it's highly possible that tears flooded my eyes. (But not too many, because I had to go teach a class.)

I know it was silly, but to me it meant so much. I believe that because we are here to be tested, our Father in Heaven doesn't just take away our trials when we ask. Trials are important for our growth. As much as I would love for my health issues and exhaustion to just disappear, that isn't part of the plan right now. And while it would be really nice not to have to deal with identity theft right now (or ever), God won't take away the agency of others, even if those others are using their God-given agency to cheat the IRS.

But he will get me a parking space when I desperately need to feel His love. I needed to feel like He was aware of me and that He knew how I was feeling right then. And he gave me that in the form of a parking spot. A parking spot that to me was a hug and a wink from Heaven, letting me know that I'll get through this. Our taxes will work out fine. I'll feel better eventually. Sophia will get over her tantrum throwing phase someday.

And through it all, the Savior will be right by my side.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

13 Quick Front Door Updates

This summer I updated my front door. It was a super quick makeover, and it has kept me smiling through the winter when I drive up to the house and see my bright red front door welcoming me home.

I'm now thinking I'll do a quick update to my back door this coming summer (it is coming, even though it snowed this morning, right?), so I put together a board of my favorite front door updates on Hometalk. I'm loving all the color and the way other people used vinyl in creative ways.

I can't quite decide what color I want to do the back door, but I'm leaning towards black. Maybe I'll do red, even though that's what I used for the front door, just because I love the red so much. No worries, though, I have plenty of time to decide!

To see my inspiration doors on Hometalk, click here: 13 Quick Front Door Updates.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Paper Planners: More Than Just a Schedule

As you all know, I love my paper planners.

The reasons I love them so much are many, but I think one of the biggest reasons is that they help to keep every aspect of my life in order. I know I could do this on my phone with a wide assortment of apps, but I prefer to do it in my planner.

Obviously the schedule is the biggest part of a planner. Without the monthly and weekly calendars I would be completely lost in my own life. But everybody knows that planners are schedules. What not everybody realizes, is just how versatile they can be.

Paper planners are so much more than just a schedule on a calendar. They are a way to keep every aspect of your life in order.

Here is a list of all the ways I use my planner, plus a few ways I should be using it!

  • Budgeting
  • Keeping track of thank you notes
  • Christmas and Birthday gift lists
  • Menu planning
  • Holiday planning
  • Goal setting
  • Note taking (I take notes at board meetings, church meetings, planning meetings, etc.)
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Keeping track of children's and husband's schedules
  • Writing (and crossing off!) to-do lists
  • Wardrobe planning
  • Family Home Evening planning
  • Weight Loss/Diet Tracking
  • Memory keeping (I will write down funny things my children say, for instance. I also often glue in important memorabilia or photos.)
  • Vacation planning
  • Lesson planning
  • Blog planning
  • Music practice log
  • Bill paying
  • Reading log (I will write down thoughts for book club meeting, or keep track of my scripture reading.)
  • Shopping lists

In order to do all these great things in my planner, I obviously need one that has enough of the right types of pages to allow me to do them! The Home Executive is a planner I used a couple years ago and really liked (you can see it in my great big post about planners, but keep reading because it's now been updated!).

The Home Executive Planner 2015-2016

I like that this planner isn't hugely thick or unruly. It very easily fits into a purse (even a smaller purse) and isn't heavy to carry around. The design this year is also so pretty!

The Home Executive Planner: Monthly View

One of the things I missed with this planner was tabs, but they have no been added! The monthly view leaves plenty of space for extra note taking as well as scheduling.

The Home Executive Planner: Weekly View

The weekly view is amazing! Each day has five blank options, plus a menu plan and shopping list. There are so many different ways to use the blank options! One for each member of your family, one for daily goals, one for daily task lists--the possibilities are endless! I like how it is formatted in such a way as to utilize space efficiently and let you use it in whichever way suits you best.

The Home Executive Planner: Thanksgiving and Christmas Pages

The Home Executive planner also has a nice section for note taking, holiday planning, gift lists, etc.

The Home Executive Planner: Notes

This planner also comes with two sheets of fun stickers for your scheduling.

The Home Executive Planner: Stickers

There are dentist appointment stickers, music lesson stickers, parent/teacher conference stickers, and many more.

Finally, it has pockets in both the front and back covers to hold all those flyers and other important papers you need to keep at hand.

To purchase a Home Executive Planner for the 2015-2016 Academic Year:

Purchase at TheHomeExecutive.com
Purchase at Amazon: Home Executive Day Planner

(Note: The ribbon bookmark only comes with planners purchased at TheHomeExecutive.com.)

Or, you can enter to win one below! (Giveaway ended 4/13/2015)

What is your favorite way to use a paper planner?
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Sunday, April 05, 2015

Putting the Fun in Easter 2015

I've had a bit more energy than usual these past few days. I decided that I'd better use that energy for good and make Easter weekend at least a little bit fun for the girls.

I'm not much of a fun mom, anyway, so doing a little bit of fun is a big deal!

I took Chloe and Sophia to a sock puppet making class on Friday night. We had a blast together creating some cute puppets, and Sophia loves hers so much she's been sleeping with it on her hand. #MomWin

Yesterday (Saturday) and today (Easter Sunday) was General Conference. I look forward so much to General Conference every year! The talks this time were amazing, as usual, and just what I needed to hear. I loved the focus on marriage, on Christ, and on faith.

I love watching together with my family. (Bria's knees are in this photo...)

And I love how my children are all old enough now that conference is something they appreciate, enjoy, and even listen to! #MomWin

This is a collage Chloe made while listening...this is how it looked on Saturday afternoon. She added more to it today. (I especially love how the Cadbury egg is front and center--like mother, like daughter.)

Last night while The Maestro went to priesthood session, I decided to actually color eggs with the girls. This may not seem like such a big deal, but I hate coloring eggs, so we don't do it much. I think it's been five years maybe since we last tried? Let's just say that Sophia had absolutely NO idea what to do with the eggs and colored vinegar I put in front of her last night. #MomFail

I didn't actually buy a kit, so I just used the food coloring in my cupboard.

We got some really interesting, but pretty, colors.

I especially like this photo of Chloe coloring her eggs. She looks a little bit like a mad scientist.

This morning one of the Primary children in our little branch was getting baptized, so we had a reason to put on Easter dresses, even though it's General Conference weekend.

But first, to find Easter baskets!

I don't know why Bria isn't in any of these pictures, and this picture isn't very good anyway. Is it totally weird that I put sparkling cider in their baskets this year? The girls thought it was awesome, though! They also each got a book, new socks, a new shirt, and a little tiny bit of chocolate. #MomWin

Between sessions, we went to our good friends' home for a lovely Easter dinner. Then we watched the last session all together.

I used up all the energy I had trying to make Easter weekend great for the girls. And while we had a good time, the thing that made it truly great was listening to our prophets speak about the reason we celebrate today. We felt the Spirit, we learned about the Atonement and Grace, and we were with the people we love most.


Happy Easter!!! (PS Aren't my girls GORGEOUS?)(Even though we can't get away with matching dresses anymore?)(I miss matching dresses.)