Friday, December 15, 2017

DIY Scented Gingerbread Family

When I was a little girl my mom had made these Gingerbread people to represent each of our family members. She would get them out each Christmas to display next to the Christmas tree. I remember they smelled of cinnamon and love and felt like soft corduroy and holiday happiness! So this year I decided to make my own versions of the Jackson Gingerbread family to display next to our Christmas tree. Each one represents one of our 6 family members, with a distinguishing characteristic to tell them apart. 
If you know our family well, you will be able to tell who is who (not that I didn't put them in birth order or anything...)
They are scented with rice-infused cinnamon oils inside their tummies so they'll smell delightfully delicious each Christmas season that I get them out. 
I love how they turned out! This was definitely one of my favorite Christmas crafts to make!
Here's what I did to make them:

ginerbread doll pattern
brown corduroy fabric
white Ric Rac ribbon
googly eyes
various colors of felt
hot glue/hot glue gun
white yarn
darning needle
polyester toy stuffing
squares of cotton fabric
Liquid scent of your choice i.e. Essential oils, warming oils, candle scents, etc
Fray away liquid fabric sealant

I started out by googling for a gingerbread doll pattern and found  this pattern on the internet. It seemed like the right size for what I wanted. I then printed it out and used it to cut out a corduroy pattern.
 I figured it would be easier to pin fabric to fabric rather than pin paper to fabric each time I cut out a gingerbread person. (and it was!) With the fabric folded in half, this pattern will make one full sized half of a gingerbread doll. 
Next I decorated the top halves to look like my family members. I used googly eyes, buttons, ric rac, and various colors of felt to make distinguising characteristics for each doll. It is much easier and looks way better if you decorate them first before sewing them together.

For the scented smell I made little satchels full of rice that I had soaked in Cinnamon Swirl warming oil for several days then filled about 2 tablespoons of rice into each satchel. I stuffed one satchel each into the tummies of the gingerbread people as I was sewing their sides up. I also stuffed each doll with polyester toy filling.
Note: This particluar warming oil is a skin and eye irritant if contacted with. I wouldn't use it to fill a stuffed animal that a child is going to be sleeping or cuddling with. I wouldv'e used natural Essential oils but I couldn't find one that smelled deliciously sweet like Christmas!

I used a blanket stitch to sew up the sides of each doll then went around the edges with a Fray Away glue to seal the edges from possible fraying.
And ta-da! The Jackson Family Gingerbreads were born!

Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

September Memories

There are more than 8 things I want to blog about before 2017 is over so I am going to attempt to do that in the next 18 days!
Fall is officially over with winter on it's way. However, we haven't had any snow, yet, which is very strange and unsettling for this time of year. Sure this warm-weather girl has been enjoying the sunny, 50 degree Fahrenheit weather in the middle of December, but the environmentalist in me worries about drought..i.e.. crop failures, drying rivers and streams, the rise of fruit and vegetable prices, and worry that there won't be enough water for human consumption. We need moisture/snow/rain/sleet/hail this time of year to supply us with enough water in the Spring and so forth.
The other day in the car with my two youngest kids I started making up metaphors for what winter without snow is like:
Winter without snow is like a door with no handle. 
Winter without snow is like a donut without sprinkles.
Winter without snow is like eating your favorite cereal without milk.
Winter without snow is like  a car with no steering wheel.
Then Malachi chimed in with,"Winter without snow is like a green light that has a stop sign and then you can't go."  (So clever!)
Then Jonah added,"Winter without snow is like sledding on dirt."
Heh heh! I explained that that wasn't a metaphor but was literally what winter is like without snow. We all laughed. We REALLY need snow so we can not sled on dirt this year, as well as all the other reasons.

Well, In the first of my 8 or more blog posts, I want to highlight some of my favorite memories from this past September. September is one of my hardest yet most favorite months of the year. I almost feel like September should be the start of the new year, not January, because it is the mark of so many beginnings. 
September is right after the end of August when the new school year starts and when we get all our kids settled into school. It's the beginning of getting situated into a new routine.  It's hard to start new routines and get everyone into the swing of a new schedule, so September is the time when I am working hard figuring out how to get everyone where they need to be on time, and fed, and happy.

My husband is a huge part of this organization and scheduling process. He is the master of making menus for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, buying the groceries, and cooking meals and making sure everyone has foods they like in stock. We council together in all the needs and wants of our children and try to make the best choices with each of them. 
For instance our eldest son wanted a paper route. So we ask, Is this right for him? Do we have the time for this? Will this enhance his life, take away from it, or enhance or  take away time and energy from our family as a whole? So, we think on it, we pray on it, we talk with our son and then finally decide that, yes, a paper route will be just fine.

There are so many little and big matters to take care of in raising a family, so making decisions with my spouse like this is  important in making everything function as a whole....i.e...Should we get a new refrigerator? Do we have money for swim passes this winter? Do we have time to help with soccer this spring? How should we budget our miscellaneous finances this year? How should we distribute chores for the little ones? Where should we go for summer vacation in 2018? How can we make scripture time more meaningful? How can we get our three year old to consistently use the toilet when he has to go poop?
And so on and so forth... These are the types of discussions that fill our days, our hours, and our minutes. 
I also like to start de-cluttering in September to get ready for Christmas. It's amazing how much junk earthly possessions you can accumulate in a family of 6. Plus the kids grow out of their clothes and shoes pretty frequently, grow out of toys and books, and just keep growing in general. I just took 3 huge garbage bags full of clothes, toys, books, and games to the thrift store to make room for more clothes, toys, books, and games.
I would love it if my eldest child could give his hand-me-downs to the second eldest, and then the second eldest could give his hand-me downs to my third child, but it just hasn't worked out that way for various reasons. One being that my second child has his own style of clothing he likes to wear and is kinda particular about what we buy for him and then my third child is so much smaller than my second that it will be years before he ever sees any of his older brother's clothes anyways, and then my eldest only likes to wear basketball shorts and cotton Tee's (yes, year-round!), and my second eldest doesn't want to wear his older brother's clothing that he sweated in (his words). Then lastly, my toddler is four years younger than my third child and needs his own clothing for at least 4 more years until he can fit into my third eldest's clothing. So, that leaves me buying clothes and getting rid of clothes for my kids more frequently than I'd originally anticipated. 

Back to September Memories, here' a run-down of things that happened in September:

1. The first weeks of school: New routines, new schedules, etc..
2. De-Cluttering and cleaning (wait, aren't I always doing this??)
3. Lots of wonderful, sunny, park days
4. Micah got his first batch of honey from his bees
5. Went hiking up in Crystal Springs
6. Zadok broke his arm
7. I started donating plasma weekly
8. Malachi started pre-school
9. We made tie-dye T-shirts for family night
10. I started the whole 30 diet and changed my eating habits (more on that in another post)
11. Jonah had a lemonade stand on our street
12. I organized a Salad Social for Relief Society
11. Read the book Cold Sassy Tree for Book Club
12. Started running with my dogs on the red rock trails during Mally's pre-school time
13. We all got really sick with an awful stomach virus for about a week.
14. We survived
Micah calming the bees down with smoke
A large honeycomb from a beehive

First drops of honey.

Hiking at Crystal Springs

malachi being cute

mama and mally

Running free at Crystal Springs

Jonah making the big bucks. 

Jonah at the park.


Sunny, park days are our favorite.


My pile of boys

The family that tie-dyes together.....

Super September Salad Social
Hanging out with some of my favorite ladies.
WE called him GIMPY as long as we could.

Jonah ART-It's a rainbow dragon fighting an army of bees!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stuff Mally says

Malachi is three and he says the cutest, darnedest, and sometimes most ridiculous things:
Mommy, I need something sweet in my tummy.
Mommy, you’re the only one that I love in this family.
Mommy, I always need to stay with you.
Mommy, I don’t want to die so I can be with you always.
I hate you mommy! You never let me do anything fun!!
I need one more push mom, just one more (swing) push from Mrs. Woolsey. ONLY Mrs. Woolsey can do it.
Mom! Jonah won’t stop Distirrupting me!  
This is my love hug. (wraps his entire body around my head)
Stop doing that! Stop breathing on me!
This toy doesn’t do anything! I need another one!
Can you buy me a abloon. (balloon.)
Can I be your little egg that hatches into a chow chow?
When you get out of the shower can I be your colorful rainbow party dragon?
Can I be your pet dog named Thunder?
Does that man have a baby in his belly?
That lady looks really funny.

Stuff Malachi tells strangers in public:
-My name is Malachi! M-A-L-A-C-H-I!
-When we found Pumpkin and Cotton Candy (our cats) I wasn’t alive yet. I was still in my mom’s tummy.
-Some fly traps got stuck in my hair so we had to shave it all off.
-Watch this! (Does his spins and tricks on the carpet)
-Guess what, I am 3! At my last birthday I was 2 and at my birthday before that I was 1.
-I'm really good at climbing up slides! My name is Malachi!
-Will you play hiding-go-seek with me? (said to a Grandma at the park)
-Hi random lady!




This child. He keeps me so busy! But I know that in a couple years when he has slowed down with all of his toddler craziness I won't remember all the exhausting and frustrating stuff, but only the adorable things that went by too fast.
He is the best hugger. He loves to wrap his arms around me and hold on tight. At 10pm, at 2am, at 6am, in the middle of the day--his hugs are always available.
He loves people. He has so many things to say and will talk anyone's ears off if given the chance. His big smile lights up my life.
I sure love my Malachi.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

DIY Catboy Costume from PJ Masks

This was a really easy costume to make for a toddler. If he was a little older and wearing this to school, I probably would've put more time and effort into the details, but I didn't feel it was necessary for a tiny toddler costume. This costume cost me $7 to make and countless hours of happiness coming from my Catboy loving three year old!
What you'll need:
Dark blue shirt
Dark blue pants
Light blue felt
fabric scissors
hot glue and gun
A needle and thread or sewing machine for small stitches

It's pretty self explanatory but I just basically cut out the various "lightening bolt" shapes and hot glued them onto the clothing. I followed the patterns on the actual Catboy costume photo ($20 from Amazon).
I sewed the cat-head onto the shirt because it was bigger and easier to sew on. I also sewed 3-4 small stitches onto the lightening bolts on various points to hold them into place in case the glue gave way.

Lastly, I got a headband from the Dollar Store and hot glued cat ears onto it.  I've seen other Catboy costumes with masks, but I knew my toddler wouldn't last a second wearing a mask over his face, so I went with a headband. It's perfect and he loves it!

I love making costumes like this--easy, inexpensive, and brings so much Halloween  joy to my boy!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Video Editing 101

I've been trying my hand at video editing! It's really exciting for me to take our family photos and home videos and turn them into something fun to watch. I've always wanted to learn how, but had to wait until my oldest child was old enough to figure it all out and then teach me. Haha! That dern younger generation and their natural knack for technology!

Here's one of Z getting his cast off:

Here's our  family vacation this past summer:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Looking for the Good

I don't journal as often as I'd like and I need to. Journaling has always been a way for me to release stress, organize my thoughts, and connect with myself and with God on a deeper level. Writing is usually exactly the catharsis I need when I am feeling down and out, but I also think that writing can be a preventative to finding myself in the dumps. 
I needed to be reminded of this and so was very grateful when my friend gave me a copy of the book Seven Steps to Vibrant Living where the author specifically addresses the importance of writing out your thoughts as a form of meditation, prayer, and self-connection. 
I am grateful for reminders in my life of truths I already know but forget about when I get too busy. This doesn't necessarily mean I am going to blog more (hahaha, my poor neglected blog), but more like take the time to write out my personal thoughts daily, to release stress and feel better. Sometimes those thoughts aren't very pretty and describe people and events that have disappointed me. I don't want to "air out my dirty laundry" as the saying goes, I just want to get the ugly stuff off my chest and start my day fresh and new.

This past week I felt really depleted of energy and joy. One disappointing thing after another kept happening and I was starting to feel like nothing was going right in my life. Then of course I start to turn the microscope on my own personal flaws and weaknesses, assuming that it's all I must be an unlikeable person, I must not fit in, I must be living in the wrong place, I must be seeking after the wrong people and the wrong things because I don't feel inspired. Where is my joy?

I will share one example of disappointment just to illustrate my point:
We were so happy to make friends with this sweet boy down the street. My boys are really shy and don't warm up to other kids very well, but this little boy was different. Special. We'd have him over to play several times a week, take him places with our family, invite him to birthday parties, had him over for snacks and lunch, and trips to the park. Then it dawned on us one morning, 5 months later, that he has been stealing from us. We never suspected it but it suddenly hit me hard when my son told me that his piggy bank went missing. 
We've had money and toys missing over the course of 5 months, but I assumed my kids had just misplaced their wallets and misplaced their toys and those things would come up as we cleaned and organized. But when the piggy bank went missing--(the piggy bank that had been sitting in the same spot for three years), I realized that something wasn't right. 

Of course the next step was to approach his parents and let them know our concerns.  We were a bit scared to take this step because accusations like this should never be taken lightly, but sure enough they quickly agreed that our allegations were correct as he had a history of this type of behavior. (I think they were just really optimistic that he wouldn't steal from us because he like us so much.) We were able to get most all of the toys back that we knew were missing and even some toys we didn't know were missing. Some of the toys were given away and we didn't get back. He also stole about $80 in cash from various wallets around the house. 

All in all it wasn't very much that he stole, but the feelings of sadness, betrayal, and mistrust in humankind are worse than the items lost. My kids also lost a friend, which my 9 yr old is pretty disappointed with. For some reason it affected me in a very negative way and made me feel emotionally depleted this past week. Sometimes we give and give and give and people just don't give back. Every once in awhile a person needs reciprocity to help keep them going, weather that reciprocity comes in the form of words of praise, or gifts of love, or services received back from another, it is much needed. I need it. You need it. We all need it. I'm sure even Mother Theresa needs it.
I guess I was in need of some reciprocity in my life this past week and I wasn't getting it. I was burnt out on people and service and helping and callings and planning and organizing to the point that I felt no joy. 
But, thank goodness for fresh starts and new days!

I am grateful for my husband and my children and the love we have in our family. 
We show up for each other!
We help and serve and love each other!
This is the culture we hope to create in our family.

-Our boys are doing great in school this year so far. Our oldest is learning to play the flute.
-Micah finished our kitchen and dining room remodel and it is beautiful. I almost feel too lucky to have this!
-I organized a big swap meet for all three wards in our building and it was awesome. We exchanged goods and everyone went home with something used/new!
I won a 6 month gym membership at SNAP fitness and have enjoyed lifting weights and getting stronger. 

Life is good when I look for the good!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I worked at Payless once

I worked at Payless Shoesource once. It was while I was engaged to my husband in 2003. I had never worked in a retail store before. I had worked as a nanny in someones home, at a concession stand in a movie theatre, at a restaurant as a waitress, at a lunch truck as a cashier, at a wilderness therapy program as a field guide, at an eating disorder treatment center as a care technician, and other odd jobs here and there, but never shoes. 

Was I excited to work with shoes? Not really. But I needed a job, so shoes it was going to be.

Here's a few long-lasting memories I have from working at Payless:

-This particular store was going out of business, but they still needed someone to work there until it closed down. I was promised a job for 3-4 months, which would have to do.

-Women with extremely large feet shop at Payless because they carry large sizes for women. I saw some of the largest feet you will ever see while working there. You would never know how large these women's feet were by looking at their faces. 

-One of my jobs was to re-organize the shoes in the boxes on the shelves after customers

came in and messed them all up. The left shoe lies on it's side, toe facing the top of the box while the right shoe lies flat, toe facing downward. This is the rigid order of the shoes that I organized over and over and over and over again. 

-I found my wedding shoes while I worked there. A new shipment of Espadrilles came in and when I opened the box I immediately knew--these were the shoes I'd wear on my wedding day! They were white, sparkly, beaded, and beautiful! I even got 15% off.

-One slow day at work my manager asked me to organize an entire closet full of shoes that were all mixed up by sizes, brands, and colors. It took me 4 hours of non-stop sorting, organizing, stacking, and labeling, to get the shoes ready to sell. I was really proud of myself that day for my hard work and dedication to get this task done. Yes, even Payless Shoesource provides workplace gratification!

-I worked the night shift the day before I went to the Temple for the first time. I was nervous about it so I eagerly confided in a co-worker ( whom I rarely knew) who was also LDS. 

"I'm taking out my endowments tomorrow," I said,"and I'm a little nervous that I'm not prepared enough." She looked at me blankly whilst twirling her hair and said," I don't know..I think there's like a scripture you're supposed to read or something. Yeah, there's like a scripture you're supposed to read in Moroni but I'm not sure. I can ask my brother if you want, he went to the temple before." 
"Never mind," I replied quite assuredly,"I'm pretty sure I've got this." 

-There were a lot of parents who let their children run circles around the shoe shelves in the store. The toddlers and babies were cute and endearing, but when the older kids did it I got irritated. Instead of making a fuss and talking to the parents about it, I just calmly, quietly stuck out my foot and tripped them as they ran past me. There was always a crash and an "Ow!" as they hit the carpet at full speed, never knowing what tripped them. Of course I would keep organizing my shoes as if I hadn't seen a thing. Sometimes I would even help them up and make sure they were okay because I was such a helpful employee.

-I hated working Sundays because I had to miss church, but I had no choice. Also, since I lived in a predominantly LDS town, the store was nearly vacant on Sundays, whilst most everyone kept the Sabbath day holy. It seemed too slow for business  to keep the store open that day but Payless corporate policy was to be open 7 days a week. Pity.

-One time a family came in on a busy Saturday afternoon desperately needing black shoe polish. They were headed to a funeral and they wanted their shoes to look their best. The only one we had left was the sample on the cashier's counter so I gave it to them.  It felt really good and right to help them out. I never asked my manager's approval, but she never  noticed it was gone anyways.

-I bought a lot of shoes those few months I worked there, and I'm not the kind of person that likes owning a lot of shoes. I ate a lot of Pizza when I worked at Pizza Bob's, too.

-To this day when I go into a Payless Shoesource I arrange all the shoes properly on the shelf in front of me. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spiritual Discipline Essay

A little over two months ago Power of Moms published another one of my short essays called,"When Prepartum Depression Meets Spiritual Discipline."
I wrote it nearly three years ago when I was pregnant with Malachi and submitted it to be published. I was thrilled when it was accepted and then nothing happened. I waited and waited then finally I decided to inquire about the article just this past February. They responded by saying, "Whoops! So sorry! We lost it somehow when we were making changes with the new editor, however we'd still like to publish it!" Yay! I got thrilled all over again!
So, here it is, better late than never: 
Spiritual Sundays: When Prepartum Depression meets Spiritual Discipline.

Reading this again was a walk down memory lane for me, remembering back to when I was pregnant with Malachi and trying to find answers to my depression episodes. It was  important then and still important now that I take time to nurture myself spiritually. I find that my spiritual cup needs to be filled daily, or I start to deteriorate into negative thought patterns. 
I've also discovered over the years that although my depression gets worse when I'm pregnant, it isn't going to go away. Depression is something I have, just like someone would have diabetes, Hashimotos, arthritis, or any other long-term, chronic condition.

In the past I've tried to convince myself that it (depression) would go away as long as I was: eating all the right foods, getting regular exercise, taking the right vitamins, seeing a therapist consistently, filling my daily spiritual cup, staying away from toxic people, and staying away from negativity that could trigger me, etc, etc...
All of those things are helpful and necessary but the truth is, the only thing that truly helps ME feel emotionally balanced, stable, and normally functioning  everyday is depression medication. Once I was able to recognize this and accept this truth I stopped trying to get off of it all the time, stopped convincing myself I was weak, stopped trying to find other failed ways to heal myself, and let the medication do it's thing. And it's been nothing short of miraculous! 
Depression medication is helping me be the best version of myself, and I'm a believer.
That is all.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Camping Season 2017 is in full effect!

School's out for summer! 
School got out for my husband and Jonah on May 24th and we went on our first camping excursion of the summer on May 25th thru 27th! We couldn't wait to get out there and camp. Some friends invited us to camp with them at Kolob reservoir, which is somewhere we had never camped before.  It was basically a  large reservoir surrounded by grassy, muddy banks. Here and there people had created camp sights up on small hillsides or directly on the edge of the water where they were fishing and enjoying the views of the lake. The entire lake is surrounded by private property fences so you can't wander too far into the surrounding forested areas. There's also a bouncy dirt road surrounding the circumference of the lake that people can ride their ATV's on or go for little walks around.
It was absolutely gorgeous but not somewhere we would've picked out for ourselves. We usually pick spots that have more of a variety of recreational opportunities like hiking trails or mountains to climb.
But, sometimes it's really good to do something different, especially if it involves great friends that you get to spend time with.
The water was freezing cold--too cold to swim in, but our friends brought some SUP boards to paddle on the surface of the lake with. We also brought a small raft, which turned out to have way to many holes in it because it was left outside all winter. However, Zadok had a blast pumping it up with air, paddling it around the lake, then coming back in when it was nearly deflated to pump it back up again.

Here's a few high lites from our weekend: 
*Roasting s’mores over the campfire
*Saying White Rabbit over and over when smoke got in our eyes
*Malachi pretend-shooting people with a stick while saying “Medium Puuume!” over and over and over. (as opposed to high puuume, which would have hurt too badly)
*Watching Abraham and Odin take 15 minutes to unsuccessfully light a fire
*Odin hiking up into the hill to gather firewood and making the fire second night
*Zadok standing on Micah’s shoulders to rope the hammock rope around a tall tree.
*The stars at 2am! Oh my there were so many gorgeous stars!
*Playing Mad libs with everybody and watching 6 year old Jonah laugh so hard at every single story.
*Malachi always asking,”Where’s Jose?”
*Zadok and Odin doing the SUP by themselves for the first time. Zadok fell into the cold, cold, cold water but was super tough about it.
*Zadok rowing our little raft all over the lake except the raft has little holes in it so he would have to come in and inflate it before he headed out again.
*Me rowing Malachi and Jonah to the other side of the lake and back.
*Micah and I doing the SUP together. Watching Micah have amazing balance and form while he paddles.
*Jose taking the boys out on the SUP, and later Micah taking the boys out.
* Helping Jonah collect bottle caps from around abandoned fire pits.
*Watching Odin and Abraham catch weeds with their fishing poles, using cherries for bait.
*Zadok being a total complete nut ball the whole time.
*Cuddling up next to Malachi to keep us warmer in the tent at night.
*Wondering how Abraham could possibly take a nap in the middle of the day.
*Watching people get stuck in huge potholes their trucks because the puddles are too muddy, and then getting towed out by even larger trucks.
*Malachi calling our tent his “little house” and inviting everyone to come play with him in his “little house”.
*Malachi being obsessed with the lanterns and wanting to carry them around everywhere with him. I had to explain that the sun was our biggest lantern so we didn’t need the little lanterns on during the day.
*Jonah being happy and smiley all day long out in nature!
*Doing nothing most of the day but still having fun because it was so pretty and quiet.
*Watching the tiny ducks dive down for fish. Malachi calling them ducklings.
*Reading scriptures with the Gonzales family.
*Getting out of there Saturday morning before all the crowds took over! 

My favorite thing about camping is unplugging from the rest of the world and taking a vacation from the stress of world news. Right before we left there was a terrorist bombing in Manchester, England. I feel like I can't even read about these things anymore because my heart becomes too broken. I don't understand how people can continue to be so cruel. It's happening more and more frequently and it's sadly, devastatingly, not going to go away anytime soon. 
However, camping for several days really relaxes me and helps me press my personal reset button on the world. When I'm out in nature with the sun shining overhead and the beauty of God's creations surrounding me, I know I can come back with renewed faith and hope in humanity.......or at least feel better that someday all the suffering will be over and we'll be wrapped in the arms of God's love. Sometimes that's the only hope I can hang onto.

All in all, I'm looking forward to an amazing summer of camping. Our plans this year involve 2 1/2 weeks in the Northwest at various campgrounds like Mt. Olympus and the Oregon coast, plus some one-on-one camping trips with our kids. Micah and Z just got back from several days in Great Basin. Next week I am taking J to Zion for one night, then in August Micah is taking O on a 4 day campout/bike riding road trip near Bryce Canyon. Besides that I'm sure there will be some great backyard trampoline camping (Malachi keeps begging me to sleep on the trampoline with him but I keep telling him to wait til it's warmer!)  in between all the road trips. 

Happy Camping!