Valentines Day Family Home Evening: Fill Our Home With Love

Ok, this was totally fun and we all had a great time. And it introduced a lead-up-to Valentines day activity that we are all thoroughly enjoying!
  Here is what we did:

Song: As I Have Loved You

Discussion/Lesson: Talk about how Heavenly Father and Jesus love everyone, even people who aren’t being very nice. Talk about how we are all brothers and sisters.
---Give examples of times someone has been mean. Like a friend not sharing. Ask if we should still love them.
---Each share times when we have really felt loved.
---Brainstorm together different ways to show love to all people. (smiling at everyone, brining meals to families in need, opening the door for a stranger, sharing with kids at the park, inviting kids to play our game at the park, etc….)
---Brainstorm together different ways to show love to our friends and family. (telling them you love them, helping little sister do hard things, helping keep the house clean, snuggling, etc….)

Craft: We made what we are calling “Love Mailboxes”. Take 1 paper plate and tape to it a half paper plate. Punch a hole in the top, decorate, hang up, and we now have the perfect size little spots to put love notes in! We write each other love notes on these cute little doily paper cutouts I got at the dollar store, stick it in the mailbox of the person we are loving on, and then (in our family) we ruuuun to that person and URGE them to check their love box! Then the read it, give eachother hugs and kisses and talk about how sweet that was, and then hang it up somewhere in the house with a piece of tape. Therefore “Filling out home with love”. And we are all having so much fun with it! And if we are good at showing each other love that day, then when we wake up in the morning there are little heart shaped candies waiting for us in our boxes :). I later added another “mail box” hanging on the bottom with the heart papers, markers, and the tape for easy access.

Activity: Scavenger Hunt. Before FHE, I cut out 6 hearts and wrote a simple location in the house that wouldn’t be too difficult for my four year old to figure out, look at the pictures below for examples. HE LOVED THIS. Each clue led to another clue, and the hunt ended at Mr.Bears reading corner who was holding new valentines day pajamas for each of the kids as well as a handful of heart shaped chocolate.
----Side Note----The kids needed new pjs anyways, I’m not just splurging to FHE
-----A Side Note to a Side Note------Old Navy is having a great sale right now, I got these ones and these ones for just 7.50 each in store (regularly $15). And of course stocked up a little on a bunch of other totally cute spring/summer clothes, all kids stuff is 30-50% off right now, go go!

Video: I ended up skipping showing this because we got started late, but I think it would be a good addition! Jeffrey R. Holland speaks on “How do I Love Thee?” and I also loooove this video, but wouldn’t be using it in a lesson with little kids.


p.s. Anyone doing/loving the Valentines Day Challenge? I am LOVING it!!!! I feel like between that and this our home is truly being
xoxo Filled With Love xoxo


Valentines Day Marriage Challenge

So this was just going to be our little thing, but then I started thinking, this is a good idea! I’m happy with this idea! And I searched on the gigantic world wide web for something similar and just didn’t find anything that I liked. So I’m sharing in case some of you like this idea too :) .
Here is how I’m making our Valentines day season, the season of looooooooove (in that deep sexy voice) extra special!
I came up with a “Challenge” for me and my husband leading up to Valentines Day. He helped make the list and is fully onboard:
The Attitude
---> Be in the mindset that you have to WIN OVER your spouse. (think about what this really means…no hideous pajamas...sweet nothings…etc. etc..)
---> Become fluent in your spouse’s love language. Speak it 100% of the time.

The Tasks
---> 30 distraction free minutes together each day (esp. no electronics of any kind!)
---> Keep a shared journal that we each write in daily (if you are both giving it 100%, then its bound to be more of a love story journal)
---> No criticizing each other (no matter how ridiculous you think the other is being)
---> Each read the five love languages book (not a part of the 30 minutes)
And my totally artistically gifted sister made this adorable perfect printable for me to put up where we’ll see it! Yay! Feel free to print it off and join in the challenge!
Whether you join in on our little challenge,  or create your own, I think you should do something to take advantage of the endless reminders of love this month….the store windows plastered in hearts, the pink and chocolate heart shaped candy, the cute little stuffed bears holding a big plush heart….
Instead of thinking of how every holiday has become SO commercialized, I’m going try and use these as reminders of how in love I am and how blessed with love I have been.
vday2I would love to hear in the comments what you are doing to focus on love this month!
I also have some fun little lovey ideas in store for my little munchkins that will be a separate post.


Our Icepocalypse Entertainment: Us!

Here is one of the many things we did to have fun while trapped inside in this strangely FREEZING Texas weather. I love a reason to get cozy, make homemade bread, have a fire, and go nowhere! Also the perfect opportunity to learn Atlas’s favorite song on the guitar and reveal to him that I have a Rockstar Guitar (as Atlas naturally refers to it as), I can’t believe that I haven’t brought it out in so long that my own child didn’t know we owned one! (I play the acoustic everyday, just my electric has been forgotten over time…)

So, I totally don’t expect anyone besides me to watch all precious 9 minutes and 24 seconds of this, and I thought about that while editing, but really, I wanted to make sure that I was making it for me, for our memory, remembering the different aspects of playing music with my little kids, and trying to do something as ridiculous as get them to sit still and cross my fingers that they will unleash all the cuteness for the camera. So of course I had a very difficult time cutting out anything. Be happy its not the original 40 minutes that it started out as.

Pardon the head cutting offs and the un-tuned guitars. Those are results of you know, attempting to make a video with munchkins.

Outtakes at the end.



MY SUNSHINE is four years old!!!!
When I think of how incredible the last four years have been, I feel selfish.
I am overwhelmed with how much this tiny/big little person has changed me.
How much my life has changed since he joined me.
How every little giggle that escapes his mouth make the angels smile.
How every day I somehow love him more and more.
How he has made me a far better person that I would have ever thought possible.
How he has managed to make the sunniest days even brighter.

I don’t know what I possibly may have done in the past life to deserve such a soul to be a part of my universe.

He is just…..the perfect child. And to all of you who know him personally, you know exactly what I mean. When I was pregnant, I would pray that he would be healthy and perfect with no birth complications. I didn’t realize the perfect part would be answer and granted literally.

I kill myself when I ever get mad at him. He is so full of love. Anything he does, he does for joy of life. Never because he wants to cause pain or difficulty on another person. Even those times when I have just put Urban to sleep and he bursts in, waking her up, with an armful of potential snuggle buddies for her, even when I’ve told him not to do that, how could I possibly be mad??? Everything he does he does with his eyes twinkling and taking in the whole world of positive energy. He soaks it up. He radiates. He loves me so much. He tells me all the time. Gently stroking my arm while we’re snuggling.

Excited always to help wash the dishes. Carefully sweeping up messes. Scrubbing and scrubbing Urban’s messy spot at the table. And its not that the novelty of cleaning hasn’t worn off yet, he helps me with these things almost every time we eat. I never ask him to. And he’s gotten really good at them. I often tell him he should go play until I’m done cleaning. He’s told me that he wants to be with me so we should clean together.

He brings me flowers, rocks, sticks, things that are special to him, not because his daddy told him to or he saw it done somewhere, but because he has something special that brings him happiness, and he wants to share that happiness.

He doesn’t even get mad when me make him stay at the table (for hours) until he finishes his food….he just….finds happiness somehow. Singing, playing with his hands, toes. Making funny clicking sounds. Anything.

He will find joy. And then he’ll share that joy with every person and thing that is so lucky to make his acquaintance.
Life is better everyday with him in it.


Written in Picture

A story of an everyday moment: a diaper and clothing change after breakfast.

--------No posing. No directing. Observing through the lens--------


***Leave a link in the comments to your story written in picture***


Realization. Priorities.

This last week, this first week of the year….has been amazing! And it is so painfully obvious why….

My goals have been at the front of my mind. And I’ve been doing them. In my “free time”, I have been doing things I actually enjoy and care about, as opposed to doing some cop-out-I-just-want-to-lay-here-and-not-function-for-as-long-as-possible….. I haven’t allowed myself to get caught up in the difficulties of being a home keeper and mother. Or the ease of letting my brain unwind while watching one (ahem…two…three….) episodes of Alias (recent addiction, thanks to Amazon Prime…)….
The craziest part…I have been energetic. And I have been going to bed at about 2am every night in order to do it all….

The magical solution to all of my life problems? Putting my Faith First and prioritizing my priorities!

Some of you may be reading this with one eyebrow raised because of the obviousness (I’m lookin at you General Conference speakers)….but I am so happy to have finally taken this “life secret” to heart! I can surely say I will think twice before skipping out on meaningful prayers and concentrated scripture study. And something that really sets me free--- journal writing. My chance to calm down and reflect on what the day was really about. The moments had, the lessons learned. Pondering in what way it can all be done better, or even repeated the next day.
And after the kids go to bed, writing in my book, learning new songs on the guitar, working on many other new year goal I made, using my talents, it is the most fulfilling thing next to being a mother and a wife. 

Besides priorities, I think its really helps me a lot putting my thoughts out there for the world to see, things I can’t back down from, not once I’ve committed to them in front of the world (or to ya know, the world as far as this blog and the small # of people that read it! Yay for you!).
When I say I’ve put my priorities first, that in no way means I’ve put my children or duties as a mother second. It means that somehow, when I balance everything the way it should be balanced, everything else just falls into place….its like…my daily clock has slowed down, allowing me to squeeze more into it…
But I’m not talking about squeezing more into it in a way that I’m pushing myself too far. I mean. I’ve had so much more quality time with my family. Its because when I’m playing with them, I’m present. My mind isn’t wondering when I’m possibly going to find the time to do things I know I need for self progression.
And at the “end of the day”, when little bodies are bathed, snuggled, and tucked in tight…. when the evidence of imaginative, magic-believing little people’s playfulness has been cleaned up and stored for tomorrows adventures…. when spilled milk has been wiped up and thrown pieces of bread taken away from the impending threat of ants…… I have still had time do these things.
You know that feeling you get sometimes (or for some of us, all the time) when you feel guilt at the end of the day for the things you didn’t accomplish, even when you were crazy busy all day? But maybe you didn’t pick the right things to be crazy busy with or didn’t do them efficiently enough? But really, maybe you’r daily clock can’t slow down because all you can think about it the things you wish you had more time to do ….. Were you really PRESENT for the most precious people in your life???
I haven’t had that at all this week.
Its magical, and I have no intention of letting it fade.
Somehow in my letting the “things that make my soul sing” slip by the wayside, these pictures never saw the light of day! Taken by me dear and talented friend Lori over a year ago! Look at my babies!!


Christmas Day

^^^I knew you would all want a family picture of us with Mike and I kissing^^^








Then we were so fortunate to join with friends for a lovely Christmas dinner. Here are just a few pix from the evening at their home:


Atlas asked for one thing this Christmas, for the last three months. A Ninja Turtle Skateboard. He even told Santa when he sat on his lap. And then Santa said, “well you make sure to clean up your toys Christmas eve so that I don’t trip on anything”. And it was so sweet that Atlas remembered this and made sure to tidy up after he set out the cinnamon rolls for santa (yumm!) and the carrots for Rudolf.
When I was a child, and found out there was no Santa Claus, I was shattered. I thought I would never enjoy Christmas the same again. 
Then I had children.
And then I realized how utterly wrong I was.
And now, creating the magic for them, encouraging them to see this world for what it wants to be, and not for what us hard hearted, practical, pessimistic, imperfect adult humans of this world have MADE it to be…. it is a magical place. This world wants to be a magical place, but we drag it down….
Seeing it through their eyes, I realized that I couldn’t have experienced the fullness of the Magic of childhood until I had lived both sides of it- through my own eyes as a child, and then through my children’s eyes, as a mother.
I’m realizing more and more every day why the Lord commanded us to multiply, we cannot experience the fullness of life until we give our own life to these innocent, magic-believing little souls….

We were so blessed by many loved ones, I was continually shocked by all of the kind, loving gifts we were so blessed to unwrap Christmas morning and even in the days before Christmas. I won’t list them all, but everyone please do know, you truly blessed our Christmas!

Here is what Mike and I did for the kids-
-Urban would not get out of this little car even to open a present or have some candy. Thus, we all sat around this little car most of the morning showing things to urban and giving her presents to unwrap without having to leave her precious little vehicle. Adorable. And since then, she spends most of the day that we are at the house stuffing as many stuffed animals as she can fit into the car, and little shelf of a trunk, then trying to climb in/sit on all of her little passengers, and then cruising around, but mostly sitting there in park, because its still kinda hard to go and all of her little friends fall out when she moves :). PERFECT, last minute gift given to us by friends whose child had outgrown it. It was just perfect. Atlas loves it as well, even if he does just barely fit.
-Mike made them a puppet stage and we gave them several nice puppets in addition to many we already had. We put on several impromptu puppet shows, the kids couldn’t be cuter standing/sitting right in front of the stage, talking back to the puppets, interacting, laughing, loving it.
-Mike gave the kids and I quite the surprise! For the last few days he had been slaving in his “office” “fixing the ceiling” (a major plumbing issue had left a large gap in the ceiling among other problems)….We were given strict instruction NOT to EVER EVER open the door because of “toxic chemicals” and yadda yadda. So when he opened the door for us to a bright, cheery, painted, new CRAFT/FUN room….we were all shocked! He gave up his office for us to have this beautiful, perfect space to do crafts, reading, learning, playing, whatever our hearts desire it to be! I have so many plans and can’t wait to share what we’ve already done!

I have so many more pictures and videos that I would love to share from our Christmas season, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten over the “stress out about documenting” phase of being a mother and so you know what….there is some Grammy Winning adorable material I’ve got that just might never really see the light of day. But the memories will live on in my heart forever.