Friday, March 31, 2017

What is Your Definition of Home?

What is your Definition of Home?
My beautiful mother, Maureen. 
I think I was eleven years old. I was out in my family's garage one day, and I saw a beautiful framed photo of a white baby seal. It may sound weird, but it really was a gorgeous white photo and it had a nice thick, black matte and frame. It was a large print (20X24) and I started to imagine how it would look in our home. I came into the house determined to get my mom to replace the broken glass and put it on our wall near our entryway. My mom brushed me off, but soon she realized that I was not going to be put off. She agreed to take it to a glass shop.

Finally the day arrived to pick it up. I was WAY more excited than my mom about putting it up. I was feeling very proud about how it would look. It was pretty heavy but after hammering in the nail it was time to hang it and then admire. I held the heavy frame in my hands and gently hung the mounting hardware on the nail. I let go to take a look and adjust and that is when it happened.

The brand-new, just-picked-up-from-the-glass-shop frame, fell to the ground and the newly installed glass shattered. I was devastated and extremely sorry for my hurried, prideful and stupid mistake. But because my mom is amazing, patient and loves me, she didn't make me feel worse than I already did. I knew that my mom had spent money on the glass, money she likely didn't have budgeted, but because she had a stubborn, design-loving daughter, she had given in. Although it really was a kind of tragedy to never hang that beautiful print, the real beauty was in the kindness, mercy and safety my mother offered me in that moment.

It was not expensive art or high-end furnishings that made me feel like I was home, it was my mother's love. I am so grateful that I have my mother who is grounded and real. She reminds me, without having to say it, that things are just that, things. Everything I own could be burned or stolen, but if I have my family, I have a home, a place of comfort, a heaven on Earth.

I hope that your home is filled with your favorite things, but more importantly filled with love for the people that dance, pray, eat and sleep there.

Cheers to happy homes!


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Learning on the Job

Embracing Motherhood
I went to a job interview on Monday. I was very excited about the type of work I would be doing (interior design), but after the interview I realized a few things. 1) No grass is as green on the other side as we think. The manager explained an understaffed, overworked workplace, and weekends were required for everyone. 2) Being a stay-at-home mom is truly a job even from a financial standpoint. The salaried pay from the job I sought would cover the cost of childcare for my children and leave me with a mediocre paycheck. For us, I save my family money, time and stress by staying home. This reminded me that I contribute to our overall family goals.  3) I have problems as a stay-at-home mom, and I pretty sure I don't want another set of problems at work. 4) My attempt to find balance through getting a job is not working, so I need to find different ways. 5) There are some perks of being a stay-at-home mom that I had not appreciated until they were being threatened. Specifically, I control my day and I didn't realize how much I love that flexibility. Even with morning and afternoon naps that keep me homebound most of the time, I still schedule the rest of my day anyway that I want.

So, as I drove away from the interview, with a second interview scheduled, I re-committed to embracing motherhood during this season. My youngest turned one this month and this first year of her life has flown by. I do not want to look back and wish I had been more involved during my children's lives.

The day of my interview I was pre-occupied with preparing and getting things done, and in the midst of this, Brooklyn fell and hit her eye on the handle of mini baby stroller. I hurried to her side, soothed her pain and calmed her. As I held her I heard the question in my mind, "Who would do this if you were not here?" I didn't even need to answer that question; I knew immediately that I wanted to be the one who held her close and made her feel safe and happy. Now, I do not always do a great job of being a mom, but I would rather be present than perfect. (Note: This is my personal experience and does not reflect on anyone else's choices.)

Although I have decided that a traditional job is not what I want or need right now, I still want to find ways to pursue my goals in a way that fits my family's lifestyle. Mostly, I want to find contentment, and true joy in being a mother, every. single. day. This is not something that comes naturally to me, but I know that I can do it.

Here are my questions for you. Please share your insights so we can learn together.

  • When do you feel the most fulfilled as a mother? What things do you do with your kids that leave you feeling joyful and content with your life?

  • How do you find balance between your own needs and the needs of your family?
  • For you more experienced moms with older kids, what do your kids remember most about when they were little? What have you learned means the most to your family? 

Here are the ideas that I have brainstormed for myself to embrace motherhood more.

1. Have at least one meaningful and/or fun activity, outing, chore or learning experience each day and also having a back-up plan that I can work with. I actually keep a list of things that are available to do on any given day at our house; this helps me when I can't think of anything to do with them. Summer is going to be glorious because the outdoors opens a whole new arena for activities.

2. See motherhood a little more like a professional job. I am committing to waking up each day to do a "morning miracle" routine before my little ones wake up. I need the encouragement, endorphins and direction that this routine can offer. What I do each day is by no means glamorous, but I want to show up for my kids and I can't do that well when I am sluggish and depressed when I start my day.

3. Stay connected to others. I always feel better when I connect with friends and family throughout my week. Having really small people for my constant company has the perks of snuggles and kisses, but adult conversation is non-existent.

4. I have written down one goal I have for each of my children. I can't do it all, but I can do one thing at a time. I made these goals about two months ago and I have actually seen progress. I don't feel overwhelmed of them. =)

5. Family home evenings, family prayer and family scripture study.

I love you moms! I hope you feel good about you. I'm so thankful for the many examples of mothers who embrace parenting everyday. I am inspired to be better when I see you. Here's to making wonderful memories with our families and reaching our dreams on our own terms.


PS. Basement progress: Paint is still unopened and painting supplies are sitting in the same spot. 😂

Friday, March 24, 2017

Worried, But Hopeful

Yesterday, I was reminded of some really important truths, and after I internalized them once again, I thought of my three daughters and the world they live in. Are you a parent? Do you ever get worried about your children? Are you surprised about what they encounter younger and younger? I want to help my children to have the tools that will be a guide for them as they navigate this complicated world we live in.

I know that my children are not old enough to fully understand my words right now, but I know they will eventually need these truths because I need them right now. I hope this letter will remind you of some liberating and hopeful truths you know and inspire you to think about what you want to share with your own children. You know just what your children need; they were sent to you for a reason. I know that you also want your children to be healthy and happy! We can do it, even in this chaotic and loud world.

My dear Daughters,

You have value. 
There is nothing that can diminish your worth. You have value because you were born and you take space in this world. Never, ever forget that you can lose everything and still be of worth. A boy you like, your friends, your husband, your children, your job, your education, money, fame--no person or thing defines your worth. The sooner you internalize this truth, the more resilient you will be and the more confidence you will have to change the world in your unique way.
Find joy right now
I am THE worst about enjoying the moment. One Christmas when I was probably in middle school, my dad gave each child advice as a gift. He advised me to stop and smell the roses. The shoe fit even then! I am always planning the next big goal or waiting for the next event and it robs me of enjoying my life far too often. Right now is beautiful; I am sitting on my warm bed next to your dad that I love and writing to you, my beautiful sleeping angels. Be grateful for what you have while still progressing. Chasing your dreams is wonderful, but not at the expense of laughing or soaking in life's goodness. The ever illusive perfect situation is just illusion. "Men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25)
For every good their is a bad. 
Joy is our purpose, but it is not a constant; hard times will come. Look for the good in life, but be aware that bad things can happen to good people. Don't let this truth surprise you; you will become more compassionate and capable as you overcome your challenges and weaknesses. The trials will hurt, but you are never alone in the battle if you don't want to be.
Listen to the voice inside you that prompts you to do good and be good. Listen to your family because they love you. Listen more than you talk and you will learn. When you hear a lie, name it and throw it away from you.
Be kind and serve others. 
You will not be able to please everyone and that is okay. But, you can offer others the kindness and mercy that you hope to receive. Remember, if you have worth, so does everyone you come in contact with...even the ones you don't particularly like or agree with. The best way to find ways to be kind and serve is to stop thinking about yourself for a few minutes. You will be surprised at what you will see when you do.
Consequences are a good thing. 
When you do good, there are rewards...maybe not always immediate, but there are promised blessings. Let this be a comfort to you and make choices that will result in positive consequences.
Anything worth having is worth working hard for. 
This goes for relationships, possessions and accomplishments. Don't be lazy and use your time wisely. I don't want to look back and see years worth of time wasted. There is a lot of "stuff" to fill your time, but you will likely know what things are most important.
Create beauty wherever you go. You have a mind capable of problem-solving and enhancing the world in small or large ways.
Hold tight to and stand up for your beliefs; if you do this, you will be a leader because you will not change with every fleeting trend.
Life as a woman is full of change. 
Change fosters growth so try to embrace your gender. The seasons of your life will take adjustment, but each stage can be great. This needs little explanation. You will simply understand as you grow into a woman.
You cannot go wrong when you are motivated by real love.

1 Corinthians 13: 
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 
I know that having charity is a tall order, but striving for this will bring you lasting joy now and forever. 
I LOVE you, my daughters. You fill my life with joy and I am so excited to see your life unfold.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Basement Makeover Plan

Mood Board for the Basement 

When we bought our home two years ago, I knew I wasn't going to be able to re-do everything right away. Of course, the kitchen and bathrooms will eventually get a complete makeover, but for now they work for our family and are aesthetically pleasing.

Meanwhile, I can't stand my basement anymore, and I LOVE the challenge of completely transforming a space on a budget. I usually start with some inspiration.

My Basement Makeover
This the the front of one of HGTV's paint pamphlets. I love the colors.
Here is the final picks for paint color and flooring. I knew that I wanted mostly white and then the Olympus white brings in a little blue/gray that I think will add softness and tranquility to the whole room. I am planning to paint only one wall the Olympus gray as an accent.

My Basement Makeover Plan
Snowbound and Olympus White with a rustic laminate wood flooring. I am going for a modern farmhouse look.

Here are a few pictures that will inspire the space.

My Basement Makeover Plan
This is an Instagram photo from Joanna Gaines'. I found it through Pinterest. This is not my image, just inspiration. 

My Basement Makeover Plan

Cody has already agreed to make me some built-in looking shelves for storage and a coffee table like the one pictured above. I'm grateful to have a husband that knows how to work with wood and metal. It sure does help me make my design goals easier to achieve. 

I have decided to save the "before" picture until the after is complete. You can guess where I will be in my spare the basement painting. =) 

I hope you have a beautiful day!


Lucy Jo

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Me Only Vacation: Advice for Moms

A Me Vacation: Advice for moms

This last week was extremely difficult for me. Cody went to Las Vegas for the Construction Expo and spent some time with his family. It is always hard to hear about the fancy hotels he stays at, the expensive fine dining and this time it was really hard to know that he was getting to spend time with his family. I was so glad that he was able to, but it made me feel 10X more lonely and anxious. While he is away I face sibling fights, routines and all the basic needs of my children by myself. For some this is totally manageable, but for me, this time, I didn't always hold up to the pressure. 

It was both a good and bad eight days. The good was that I had so many wonderful people reach out to help me and the bad was that I still wasn't coping well with Cody gone. I won't go into the details of my struggle, but I will gratefully say that I am currently writing in the peace and quiet of a hotel room, completely relaxed. It is truly lovely to be ALONE. I love my family so much, but today was a reminder that I am person and I can take care of me too. I have a new perspective just simply by getting out of the house and out of mommy/wife mode.

For any mothers out there that feel trapped at home or feel overwhelmed by the amount of care you give for husband and children everyday, I understand! I wanted to share with you about my Me Only vacation because I think every mom not only needs one, but likely deserves one. If you think moms are selfish, just stop reading and you can believe what you want. If you think moms give most of their life to their family, keep reading.

I started my day having breakfast at a restaurant. I felt so alive sitting in a restaurant not needing to have a little one on my lap, quiet Maurie or ask Jane to sit still. The waitress smiled, went out of her way to be pleasant and brightened my day. I ate a yummy meal slowly, read my scriptures, and booked a hotel room. I didn't have to talk to anyone or please anyone...just me. I was not bored and I didn't wish there was someone there with me.

I went to a therapy session. This appointment left me feeling lighter and hopeful.

I went shopping. I bought something for a friend, a shirt for myself and curtains and paint for my home. There were no deadlines and I felt like I was accomplishing something without the frustration of crying babies or wandering toddlers.

I checked into my hotel; I actually giggled at the silence of the room. Everything was clean and I spent a whole hour working on a project--uninterrupted! I had a new space to look at and I don't have to clean it!

Isn't this a lovely day? I have only shared up until noon, but you get the idea--alone and productive. It still isn't over and I have to admit that I am not looking forward to my vacation ending. I am most looking forward to sleeping--like a rock and waking up to silence. No one is going to wake me up in the morning! I am only gone for one night, but this one night is filling my bucket. I have had the time and space to really think about the kind of person I want to be and how.

Also, I have taken some wise advice and got someone to watch my children for a chunk of time weekly, and I am looking into having someone clean my house every other week. When I first considered both of these ideas, I felt like I was being ridiculous, but now the more I think about it, the more I love the idea of lightening some of my load. Could my pioneer ancestors work circles around me?.Probably, but all I know is that I feel like I may be able to better face my life after this vacation and a few tweaks to my weekly routine.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Photography Tips and Learning Websites for Beginners

Photography Tips and Learning Websites for Beginners
I love to share what I learn with others. My adult interaction is pretty limited these days and it is so refreshing to "visit" with you. Although I do not consider myself an expert photographer, I do feel like I am far enough into my learning journey to share a few tips.

I took a Great Courses photography video course that I really liked last year. The instructor is a world-class photographer who shoots for National Geographic. My biggest take-away from the course was that your camera's job is to tell a story. Learning the technicalities are important, but having a photographer's eye and patience is foundational!

  • First, decide what will motivate you to use your camera. Do you want to take quality photos of your children that you can display? Do you want to start a photography business eventually? Do you want to record your everyday adventures? Do landscapes inspire you? Again, like I said in my previous post about being a creator, if you know what your purpose is as an artist, you will learn faster and smarter. 

  • Second, start shooting without comparing yourself to anyone else. Every photographer you admire started just loving to take photos. They started knowing very little, but they had purpose and learned fast! Use your camera without worrying about the settings or the technicalities, at first. Train your eye to find beauty and to capture it without judgment. Give yourself time to feel comfortable clicking your shutter button. There are professional photographers who still use the auto setting occasionally so they can focus on the story of the moment. Of course, they know their camera inside and out, but the point is that you do not have to have tons of technical skill to capture beautiful and meaningful photos. One of my favorite pictures is not even taken with my expensive camera; it is taken with my I-phone camera and I love it. It is a treasure because it captured a moment that means everything to me. If you want to meet your photography goals, learn to capture meaning. I believe this goes for any type of photography.  

  • Third, whenever you can, learn about the basics of photography and be patient as you learn each concept. I have learned each basic concept and taken time to try and master it. I have plenty of room for improvement, but I was able to improve quickly because I immersed myself in the process and practiced each time I learned something new. As you learn more you will start to notice the limitations of your equipment, but exhaust all your resources before investing in more. This will force you to get creative and understand more before you move on.  

Below are my favorite websites for beginners. When I decided to take photography more seriously, I wanted to learn from someone who was a good teacher. There are plenty of super talented people in the world, but there are a limited amount of people who can teach their talent to others well. Use the resources available to you through your local library as well. I have done most of my learning for free, and I have learned so much. When you feel like a course will really be just what you need to meet your goals and you have the budget, invest in education.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Listen to the Kind Voice and Hold onto the Light

Listen to the Kind Voice and Hold onto the Light
I have not been myself lately. After a few months of internal, silent battles, I admit to myself that something needs to change. Now that I have, I feel God's love and feel so much more patience and kindness towards myself. Yesterday was filled with angels who were able to serve and love me the way Christ would have. These angels were friends, family and health care professionals. I have received text messages, meals, visits, childcare, listening hearts and compassion. I know that God knows me and loves me.

While I visited with a friend yesterday, I realized that I have been listening to the wrong voice. The longer we listen, the faster we believe what we are being told. It is very easy for me to gradually start listening to the voices of self-hatred and now I choose no.  I started to write down the negative thoughts I hear, but I don't want to write them down; they don't deserve to be written. And, sadly, I think many of you know what kind of thoughts I am talking about because you have heard that mean voice too.

I am a good mother who loves my children deeply, more deeply than I can express. I can serve them with joy.

I am a good wife. My husband is my favorite person, and I want his life to be filled with goodness. 

I am a good friend. I love my friends and strive to show my adoration through moments of meaningful connection and service. 

I am a good student. I love to learn and I am always looking for ways to improve.

I can be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. 

I have infinite worth and limitless potential. 

I am a daughter of God.

This, the above, is what I choose to listen to. I know that these positive affirmations will help me be the person I should be. These positive thoughts are not a declaration of arrogance; they are a proclamation of hope. I know that changing my thought patterns is an important step in being whole and I know that it is the start to making other positive changes in my life.

How do you dismiss or avoid negative thoughts? Have you had a good experience with positive affirmations you are willing to share?

I hope your day is filled with cheer.



Monday, March 6, 2017

A Ray of Color on a Gloomy Day: Flower Arranging

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Floral Arranging: A Beginner's Guide to Beautiful Bouquets in your Home

Flower Arranging
Our gracious hostess and talented instructor, Rachelle, demonstrated for us.

Yesterday was a really cloudy and overcast day. It certainly did not feel like spring. Thankfully I was able to play with flowers and hang with lovely ladies.

I am excited to share what I learned with you.

Floral Arranging
This is my bouquet after I cut away the plastic. I am ready to arrange now. Notice my blue plant food packet and my rocks at the bottom of my vase.

What to buy to make it work or what to have accessible:

1. Flowers: We used mixed bouquets from local grocery stores...Costco, Sam's Club and Pick n Save. I spent $11 on a bouquet called "Spring Delight". Mine was a bit too small, but there were plenty of affordable bouquets that could have worked well, and you could buy a small bouquet of filler flowers, greener or twigs too. For roses feel the base of the petals and if they are firm you know that it will last longer. It is okay if some of the guard petals on roses are a little wilted because you can pinch those off. Also check the health of all the petals and leaves of the flowers. Don't get a bouquet that will not last and if it is not looking good, it should be discounted.

2. Vase: The ones with a neck at the top are best so that you can flair the flowers. If the vase does not come together more at the top, you will need more flowers to make the arrangement look full. You can get vases anywhere, but you buy based on the type of arrangements you want to buy. If you want to put a few flowers that your child picked for you, buy small short vases. You will need a larger vase for a bouquet of roses from your husband.

3. Rocks: It is great to have some rocks at the bottom that will help keep the stems in the place that you intend. You can get a large bag of rocks at the dollar store. They also look pretty at the bottom of your vase. When you are done with the rocks, wash them with dish soap, let them dry and then store until you need them again. They will likely be pretty slimy after your bouquet is done.

4. Add water and the plant food that came with your bouquet. When you are at the florist, ask them for a few extra plant food packets and they will usually give them to you. Change your water when it starts to get murky. Carefully remove the bouquet so that you can just put it back in just the way it came out.

5. Flower clippers: Because some flowers have woody stems that are too hearty for regular scissors, it is best to have clippers- the dollar store also have some. Remember that you would need wire cutters for fake flowers. I will have a few notes on fake flowers later.

6. Bowl of water: This is super important and something that I did not realize. If you cut the stems of your flowers without submerging them in water, pockets of air with get into the stem and they will wilt faster. Always cut your stems under water...filtered water is best. The water should be room temperature or colder because warm water opens up the flowers.
Floral Arranging

Floral Arranging
This is a short bouquet. My friend does not like how the taller bouquets get in the way of her line of sight. 

Now here are a fews guiding principles as you arrange your bouquet:

1. Cut your stems diagonally at the bottom(under water)--this creates more surface area to work with.

2. You will start with the piece that you want in the center; you don't want a flower that makes the arrangement look top heavy. When my lilies opened I needed to re-arrange where they went in they went. The rocks will help you keep the flowers steady when you first begin.

3. Then you add a flower on the side and make sure it is cut so it sits lower than the center flower.

4. Even out the opposite side with the same flower and/or same color at a similar height. You will put in the flowers so they cross at the bottom and help to prop each other up and stay in place.

5. Now rotate the vase a little and begin filling in the next open side.

6. Even out the opposite side and continue adding flowers.

7. Pay attention the the height of the flowers. Make adjustments so the flowers are not at the same exact level. Your goal is to create height and depth to the arrangement.

8. Once all the flowers are in the arrangement, add the filler materials which can be greenery and filler flowers (Here are a few examples: Baby's Breath, Bouvardia, Bells of Ireland, Delphanium, Dusty Miller, Heather, Holly, Ivy, Ferns, Lily of the Valley, Lisianthus, Mrytle, Queen Anne's Lace)

9. Take a last look and make adjustments so their is balance and depth to the arrangement.

10. Great job! Now place your arrangement somewhere you can enjoy your flowers.

Flower Arranging

Flower Arranging
Notice how her stems are crossing at the bottom and they are being placed in the rocks to keep them steady. 

Floral Arranging
My arrangement

Floral Arranging

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Keeping Up with six year old!

© Lucy Jo. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.