Friday, May 31, 2013

How do you organize your master bathroom toilet closet?

Where do you store supplies when you have one of those little toilet rooms with no cupboard?

My husband calls that little room "the throne of shame."  Ours isn't a room, but a nook. So how do you store essential supplies when the toilet is all by its lonesome little self?  

You create your own cupboard. 

I bought this one from Walmart online.  

My sweet husband assembled and hung it for me. Another reason why I love him so much. 

The photo makes it look bigger than it actually is.

Look at all the stuff you can store in one of these babies. 

I wished there were more shelves, but I made up for it by stacking items or stacking bins to hold smaller items.  

There we go. Problem solved.  

Why did I wait so long to do that?  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"She is valuable, and I am not."

Sixteen years ago my newborn son was fussing on my shoulder. 

Bouncing him in the hallway outside of the class I was supposed to be in, I felt frumpy. 

I wore  stretch pants because I didn’t fit my jeans yet.  I also wore fresh spit up on my shoulder.  My husband was in the building elsewhere, wearing a nice, new suit. He was there as part of a mock trial competition at BYU law school. I was there feeling frumpy, discontent, and frustrated that, for one thing, I was missing out on the law students’ wives group. 

Just then a snazzy looking professional woman started walking toward me in the hall. She was wearing a pretty new suit and looked like a million bucks.  She was part of the competition as well.  As we passed each other, our eyes met for a moment. I had the distinct thought, “She is valuable, and I am not.”  I looked away in shame. 

My new little grand daughter Zia. She is one month old now! 


Where did I get that message?  Like from everywhere, for starters. Movies, magazines, TV, billboards, radio, internet, books, college professors, teachers who saw potential in me, other moms, you name it. 

There is this underlying cultural message that if a woman wants to be important and valuable she must contribute to society in some great way, make use of her brain, make money. Become a lawyer, a doctor, a professor, a famous musician.  

A woman is wasting her life away if she doesn't at least work from home so she can contribute to her family’s income and keep her brain alive.  These messages are lies. They also create  discontentment. 

I spent some years with discontentment as a young mother. 

I ached, I yearned to get out there and do something “important.” I told my husband, more than once, “How about I put on a pretty suit and go do something important, and you stay home to change diapers and clean up messes?”

How wrong I was. 

This is one of the reasons I stopped watching TV, reading beauty magazines, and even listening to most radio. I decided I didn't like feeling discontent with myself, my body, my family, my home, my clothes, and my life. 

I didn't like feeling that the only way to be valuable and beautiful was to have a dazzling career, have a size four body dressed to the nines, wear acrylic fingernails, and drive a Cadillac Escalade. Those were lies too. 

The more I watched and read those things, the more discontent I felt. The more I let go of them, the more content I started to feel in my own role as a full-time mother, in my own body, my home, my clothes, my family, and my life. I know God was happy with that shift. And so was I. 

I believed deep in my heart that motherhood was the most important career.  I loved and liked my children.  Yet it was a hard adjustment for me to move from getting A's on papers and tests in college, and getting a paycheck and praise at work, to getting to change diapers and trying to calm colicky babies.  I craved those feelings of accomplishment. Motherhood is mostly a thankless job when the children are tiny.  I also struggled with some hormone-induced depression off and on during my young motherhood years.  Thank goodness an herb called Vitex saved the day, and keeps things happy even now.  

Last week that 16-year-old son spent five days in Southern Utah at a leadership camp. I couldn't believe how much my husband and I missed him!  I thought about that lie I used to believe 16 years ago. I am happy to be wiser now.  

My 16-year-old son Adam holding his new niece Zia.

Now I know that the MOST important thing I can do in this life is to be a Christlike wife and mother. Not a perfect one. But a striving one.  I can do other, smaller things to contribute too. But the ripples in the pond from my one deepest mission are too valuable, too deep, too broad to pass off to someone else.  Because finding fulfillment as a young mother was a struggle for me, I have worked to help other mothers find it too.  This is one reason I started teaching seminars years ago to help mothers get organized. I knew that when mothers prioritize and put order into their lives, they can focus on what matters most, be better mothers, and even squeeze in time for other ways to contribute. 

Someone once said that motherhood is “the law of the late harvest.”  That’s for sure. 

You never know just how much your nurturing will pay off until your littles are older. I can say this because two years ago I sent my oldest daughter out of my nest, and I know first hand how fast those childhood years fly away. She has turned out amazingly well. In 1.5 years my oldest son will be on a mission for our church. I want to savor the days, the hours, the minutes that I have with him here. In my home. In my nest. 

I’ve grown to love my little nest.  

I love that I love being a mother now more than ever before. I am infinitely grateful that I committed to devote my full-time career to mothering 20 years ago. Nurturing in my nest has and is blessing my family.  

But mothering also blesses me. I didn’t realize how much until I watched my own daughter become a mother just one month ago.  Just like most of us as teens and young adults, she had a phase of self-absorption. I did too. 

The most amazing thing happened when little baby Zia entered my daughter’s life. It was like the flick of a light switch. She turned from being self-centered (just like I was) to being other-centered (just as I did) when that little bundle of heaven entered her life, entered her own little nest.

My daughter Malia and her husband Austin with their new baby Zia.
Having a baby sure turns your life upside down. But you wouldn't have it any other way.  

Motherhood has mellowed me. It has turned me toward God for those instruction manuals that didn’t come at my own babies’ births. I’ve been pushed to learn all kinds of skills, knowledge, and priorities I wouldn’t have before. Motherhood has helped to mother me into a better person.  

Me holding Baby Zia at a temple wedding recently of my daughter's best friend.
Zia only drinks mama's milk, so this is liquid gold in a bottle. :) 

C.S. Lewis said, "The homemaker has the Ultimate Career. All other careers exist for one purpose only-- and this is to support the ultimate career."   


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Never Underestimate the Power of One Mother

Have you ever watched the ripples in a pond after dropping in a rock?  

Last weekend I got to thank someone who has profoundly influenced my life since I became a mother 20 years ago.  Linda and Richard Eyre have written books, spoken around the world, and formed organizations all to promote the power of deliberate parenting. I have been one person who has felt their influence and have passed it on to many others over the years, in public and personal settings.

Me and Linda Eyre after the Power of Moms Retreat in Linda and Richard's beautiful home.
This retreat was put on by Power of Moms, a wonderful organization that promotes, encourages, and trains mothers for their most important career in the world.  Power of Moms was created by Linda’s daughter Saren and Saren’s friend April Perry. I highly recommend you check out their site for wonderful articles, tools, and trainings. 

April Perry, Linda Eyre, Saren Eyre Loosli after the retreat

Linda Eyre speaking at the retreat. 
Richard Eyre speaking at the retreat.

When April Perry was a new mother she visited a bookstore hoping for books to help her love and be successful in her new career of motherhood. She found many books explaining how to leave your children in the care of others and go off to do “important things.”  Feeling discouraged, she finally ran into Linda Eyre’s book A Joyful Mother of Children. It spoke to April’s mother heart and soul.  Linda became a mothering mentor to April 13 years ago, just as she did for me 20 years ago. We both feel so blessed by how much Linda and her husband have influenced our lives, long before either of us met them.  

Saren and April explaining how to get the most from the day's speakers and discussions.

Several years ago April met Saren, Linda Eyre's daughter. April and Saren had similar dreams of creating something great to support mothers, and those dreams melded into the Power of Moms. Linda has helped countless mothers, and now her daughter’s organization is helping another generation of countless more mothers. April also developed Mind Organization for Moms, a great system which I'll blog about later. I told Linda in all the years of public speaking I’ve passed along gems I’ve learned from her to countless mothers too. I'm sure many others have passed along her gems as well. 

The Eyre's home is a perfect place for a moms' retreat. 

This reminded me of ripples in a pond. When you drop a rock in a pond, you see circles rippling out from there. It seems impossible to see exactly how far out the ripples go.  Linda Eyre is like this. An infinite amount of mothers have been touched by the ripples of Linda's motherhood mentoring. Many like me, April, and Linda’s children, have felt those ripples and have dropped rocks that have created more ripples. It's impossible to know how many others have dropped more and more rocks because of Linda's influence. And how many more have dropped rocks because of those other people's influence. And on and on and on.

More ripples also come because so many of us have raised our children differently from Linda’s example, love, positivity, systems, and vision. Our children are having children (I just became a grandma last month!), and our children will raise their families differently because they were raised in ways influenced by the Eyres.

Elaine Dalton said, “I truly believe that one virtuous ...woman ... led by the Spirit, can change the world...” When I first heard this in 2008 I thought that was a nice principle but it’s not literal, just an exaggeration. I don’t any more. Linda Eyre is one who has proved Elaine Dalton right. 

P.S. To see one of infinite ripples from Elaine Dalton, see this one woman who is changing the world with an organization she created in response to Elaine Dalton’s influence. 

How to Tidy and Restock a Mini Van

1. Start with a messy van. 

That’s the easy part, right? 

2. Take the stuff out. 

Make piles on the garage floor, like trash, recycling, stuff to go in the house, stuff to return to a store, and stuff your kids better put away the first time you tell them or it's going in the trash. You know what I mean? 

3. Vacuum the van. 

Even the pockets by the back bench. Ewe, what’s in there?  It helps to keep a shop vac nearby and even leave it plugged in. Anything that makes the job easier is a good thing. 

4. Car wash. 

It feels so good to have it clean inside, might as well take it to the local car wash so it can have a shower on the outside too, right? Bring your son who loves to help dry off the van.

 Take that same towel and wipe the inside windows. I don’t know why, but that seems to work better than using the window cleaner and a clean rag. Who knew? 

5. Restock with the stuff you wish you had in the van when you're out and about. Like... 

Wet wipes, Kleenex, napkins, plastic forks and spoons and straws, reusable shopping bags, and a healthy snack. 

Water bottles. We have some great Camelbak water bottles that are reusable and BPA-free. These disposable ones are Plan B. 

These two bins tuck nicely under the middle van bench.  I LOVE bins. Have I mentioned that?

Grocery bags. Can you believe how many of those things you can stuff into a little bin under the seat? We use those for lots of things like trash, library books, helping the kids bring their stuff in from the van, or hanging a note or item from someone's doorknob if that someone isn't home and I don't want to go back. 

We use one bag for trash, and one for recycling. On road trips we hang a bag by the back bench so the kids back there have no excuse for leaving fast food wrappers on the floor, on the seat, stuffed into the edges, in those little pockets in the side of the van... 

Music, speeches, and audio books. Our all-time favorites for car rides have been Scripture Scouts and Alexander's Amazing Adventures

As some of our kids became teens, John Bytheway became a favorite for all of us. He was already a favorite of mine. I love this handy dandy little CD organizer. I cut the paper CD title page and stick it into the pocket and store the CD right on top of it.  

If you're lucky enough to have a bin in your door, this is a perfect place to store all the little necessaries you want to reach quickly, like pens, sticky notes, hand sanitizer, lotion, change and some dollar bills. Use plastic cups to hold coins, and a small bin for sticky notes. I have a ward congregation list of phone numbers and addresses tucked in here too.  Am I the only one who has arrived at the Wendy’s drive through check out, only to realize your wallet is at home?  Aaarggh.  BTW, that pink lotion below ... is my fave! 

The sticky notes are great to write yourself a note on your steering wheel (wait until the red light please) to remember to buy gas or to call your mom on the way home, or a thousand other things. If you're like me, you RELY on paper to be part of your brain. I can hardly think without a pencil in my hand. When my kids ask me for help with a math problem, I kid you not, I have to grab a pencil first. Then I can think. 

A bin between the two seats to hold the small stuff that you don’t want floating around. That's a nice place to add another healthy snack.

Emergency kits in the back of the van.  Soccer mom chairs and sun umbrella. Necessities of life, you know. 

The contents of the emergency kits are mostly smaller stuff kept organized in gallon ziplock bags.  

I LOVE my Blue Tooth in-car speakerphone that my husband bought for me.  I push a button, ask it to dial a certain person at home or on their cell phone, and it does all the work for me. All while my eyes are glued to the road, NOT my phone.  Brilliant invention.

 After. Why does a clean mini van feel sooooo good? 

To see more ideas for organizing, go here. 

My friend Tammy Ward has a gift.

My friend has an amazing gift. 

Tammy Ward  has a gift for organizing amazing, inspiring events for homeschooling families like retreats, camp outs, and field trips. Recently I attended three of her events.  I'm teaching an organizing seminar at her upcoming Moms' Renewal Retreat. She still has a few spots left, so come and join us if you can!  Tammy is so talented, you will be glad you came! 

Tammy's Mom and Super Son Retreat 

My dear friend Tammy Ward with two of her seven children. 

Here is the beautiful 9,000 square foot home next to Bear Lake, Utah. What a great place for a retreat, Tammy!  Perfect for a bunch of boys ready to have FUN!

One huge room had a basketball court, playground, teeter totter, golf putting, and ground-level trampoline! 

Games were everywhere!  Besides the room above, there was a game table, pool, and ping pong! 

 All three floors of the 9,000 square foot house had high ceilings. And if you didn't feel like taking the stairs down, you could take the twisty slide down between floors! 

If it weren't snowy we could have used the three huge twisty slides off the deck. You can see (kinda) Bear Lake in the background. 

Tammy Ward has a gift of planning these amazing events with just the right balance of structured activities and free time to play and visit. I haven't decided who had more fun...the boys or the moms.  

My kids thought it was super cool to meet Jacqueline Smith (on the right) who ran for Congress against Rob Bishop. My twin sons (almost 11 years old) stopped playing to sit and listen to and participate in a political discussion with her. 

We did super fun science experiments!  

The glowing slime worms were a hit.  

Climbing wall right in the family room, with a little cubbie on top. 

My Hyrum ready to head down the twisty slide to the next level.  

My kids thought it was REALLY COOL that we met Amy Kenney, the creator and director of one of our favorite movies, Stand Strong

Mother Daughter Retreat 

Tammy chose a beautiful retreat home (actually two homes across from each other) by Tremonton, Utah with a private lake/pond, small canoes, fountain, and even sand to make sand castles!  Moms and daughters attended from Utah, Idaho, Montana, and even Arkansas! 

Tammy had just the right balance of structured activities and free time. 

The program the first night was beautiful. She purchased a book and CD called "Beautiful" for each family, and played the recording of the story while we quietly read along. Then we enjoyed a touching discussion of the principles we learned from the parable. Afterward Tammy's daughter showed an awesome multi-media presention she created all about the importance of modesty. Way to go, girl! 

The girls had a ton of fun in the hot tub. Someone caught a video of them singing a spontaneous choir of primary songs in there!  Adorable! 

Nice, modest, good, clean fun, with good friends!  What could be better than that?  The moms are having just as much fun chatting on the shore -- you just can't see us 'cause we're taking the pictures. :)  

My Grace (second from the right) with her best buddy, Tammy's oldest daughter. 

My Grace roasting marshmallows!

All the daughters squished into the loft for a group pic. 

The moms didn't have to squish as much. 

A Field Trip Day with Tammy 

Tammy arranged a field trip day of two museums in Brigham City, Utah. One was all about fossils, minerals, and mining in Box Elder County. 

Another was about pioneer life in the area. This is an old fashioned sausage machine that was hand cranked. They're making a play dough version.

My daughter and Tammy's oldest daughter are best buddies. So after the museums, they and Tammy's next daughter did baptisms for the dead at the beautiful new Brigham City temple. We grabbed some groceries nearby, and then enjoyed the thousands of tulips on the temple grounds. Lovely! 

Tammy with some of her kiddos at the Brigham City LDS temple. 

The Grand Finale of the day was a trip with Mom to Smith and Edwards!

My husband's grandpa was the Edwards part of Smith and Edwards. He had to sell his part of the business when he was called to serve an LDS mission after having six young children.  (Can I just say I am GLAD the church doesn't ask people to serve missions while raising families any more!)  

My kids have heard about this store their whole lives and have felt pretty picked on that they've never been to the store themselves.  They thought they stepped into heaven when they finally stepped into their great grandpa's store!  

Gabe: "My friends all said this place had everything. I thought they were all exaggerating.  But they really, literally have EVERYTHING." 

So at the end of a super fun filled day, with two museums, grocery shopping, temple, Smith and Edwards, and an extended family birthday party at a pizza restaurant, I asked the kids what their favorite part of the day was. Guess what they said?  Smith and Edwards. Funny.