Friday, December 31, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 4: When I offer my life and whole heart to the Lord… He makes of me something much better than I could ever make of myself

The year before I got called to serve as a Relief Society president was a hard one for me. I had been struggling with some personal issues that stemmed from tragedies that were out of my control. Somewhere in the ensuing years, I had lost bits and pieces of myself - so much so that I could hardly recognize myself anymore.
Somewhere I had heard that service was the best cure for depression and though I didn't consider myself "depressed", I definitely wasn't happy. I decided that I was going to give a portion of my time to meaningful service. I believe that conscious decision was the first step leading to this calling. And it was a decision that has changed my life.

I was scared when I got this assignment, but I believe that the call came from my Father in Heaven and how could I possibly say no to Him? I knew that it would take a lot of my time, focus and energy, but again, I could not say no. I didn't realize then how much the Lord would give me in return.

Somewhere in all of the challenges, frustrations and time spent over the last three years I FOUND MYSELF. I can recognize the girl that I was so many years ago (with some added maturity and wisdom) and I can look to the future with hopefulness and purpose. I'm a better wife, mom and friend because of it. 

When I accepted the call to serve I, in essence, handed over my life, my heart, my time and resources to the Lord. And He has made me into something better. And here's the amazing part -- it doesn't have to end. I can continue handing my life and heart over to Him. I can continue to serve Him. Maybe not in the same capacity, but I can go on serving and He will go on molding me into something better and better than I could ever make of myself.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 3: The Greatest Challenges Bring the Greatest Rewards

When I got called to be the Relief Society president I was TERRIFIED! More so than I can remember being in a long, long time. I felt completely inadequate and I was certain that the Bishop was going to call me and tell me that he had made a mistake.... He didn't.

I think I worried about every imaginable thing... people were going to judge me, look at me, need me to have the right answers and expect me to be perfect. I was sure that I was going to let everyone down. Then e that very first Sunday. I had to sit up in the front of the Relief Society room so that everyone could see me. I must have been shaking and I felt like I was going to vomit. My 2nd counselor, Liz Kirkby, came and sat down beside me. And she put her arm around me. I literally felt buoyed up. I don't know that she knows how much that affected me and lifted me when I really needed it, but for the first time I felt like it was going to be okay.

I definitely did not raise my hand and volunteer for this assignment, but it has literally changed my life. Doing the hard things has given me renewed confidence in myself and taught me how to rely on my Father in Heaven.

Sometimes we are required to say things that seem to be out of our nature and to put ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable for us. But the hardest, most challenging things bring the greatest and deepest rewards. It was hard for me to be in charge. I didn't want it to seem as if I put myself on top of others or thought of myself as better. I didn't. Making decisions that affect others is scary, but I developed some of the greatest friendships I have ever had and I have seen lives change. That is so rewarding and sustaining and faith-building.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson2: He Lives

I can't count the number of times I have witnessed this truth over the last three years. I can't say that I witnessed any huge miraculous events, but I definitely saw His hand in many, many small and simple things.

At one time I kept thinking of a woman in my ward.For no particular reason, her name kept coming up in conversations and she kept popping into my mind. It turned out that one of my counselors was having the same experience. We scheduled an appointment to visit with her. At first everything was fairly casual as we caught up on the daily comings and goings of her life. But by the end, we knew exactly why we were there. She needed someone to listen to her and to love her. We couldn't fix her problems for her, but at least we were aware of them now and could support her through them.

As I went home that day, I felt the power and love of my Savior. I knew that He had a hand in this work. This wonderful woman needed to feel His love and He sent us to give it to her.

This experience has been repeated on several occasions with other women throughout my time in His service. The events may not have been grand but the accumulation of these experiences is more than I could ever create on my own. He Lives and He is a present and active force in our lives, We can KNOW this for ourselves simply by paying attention to these small and simple things.

I know my Savior lives.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In His Service - Lessons Learned in My Service as a Relief Society President

Lesson 1: You Love Those that You Serve

Nothing builds love quite like service. Think about your children. Who else do you devote more of your time and energy to than them? Sure, there might be a genetic link - blood ties - but surely that growing  love that continues to get stronger each day and each year is born of your complete dedication to your child.

That's the kind of love that comes from serving. When we serve someone, we become invested in a good outcome for them. When we add prayer and purpose to our service, the love and results are that much stronger.

I don't have many issues with many people. I really and truly get along well with most people that I meet. My feelings for each person aren't always equal, however. It's normal to "click" with some people more than with others. Before I got called as the ward Relief Society president, there was a woman who I didn't quite "click" with. It wasn't that I didn't like her... I just didn't know her very well. I thought she seemed nice enough but that she wasn't anyone I could really be friends with. As a Relief Society president, I was given a love for each sister under my stewardship. It was easy to love them. I could feel of my Savior's love for these women. But, that doesn't mean I "clicked" with all of them - including this one particular sister. Until, that is, I had the opportunity to personally serve her. My concern for her took over any other hesitations I had had previously. That service bore a great love and understanding of this woman that I am incredibly grateful for.

If there is someone that you are having a hard time understanding or getting along with - take the time to do some kind acts of service. Even something as simple as praying for them can truly go a long way at helping you to see past the minor irritations and annoyances to the deeper goodness that lies within most people.

When has an act of service caused a change of heart for you? Share your comments below... or write a blog post and link it up here for others to read.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Chapter and a Mixed Bag of Emotions

Today I was released from a church calling that I've served in for the last three years of my life. (For those that don't understand, a calling is kind of like volunteer work that we don't volunteer for. We willingly serve because we believe it is our duty to God.) This calling has been heavy at times and yes, I do feel some measure of relief. But I also feel incredibly sad, unsettled, anxious, excited, and more than anything - grateful.

I have had the amazing opportunity to serve the women in my ward, to learn from them, to cry with them, to pray for them and to watch them grow. In the meantime, it has been me that has probably grown the most. I have been so blessed. I have grown to love these women so much and I am incredibly sad for this chapter of my life to be over. I will miss visiting these women in their homes and caring for their needs. I know our friendship doesn't end with this assignment but the dynamics will surely change.

With this release will come a loss of divine inspiration that was definitely present and needed for me to be able to serve in this capacity. And oh how I will miss it. I have felt the love of my Savior constantly for the last three years. I know He still loves me and I know He will provide other opportunities for me to serve. I look forward to those opportunities because more than anything, I have learned the value of service. Whenever we give of ourselves, it is given back to us tenfold.

I am so grateful for the women I have been able to serve with. They are some of my very best friends. I have learned that we love the people we serve and we love the people we serve with. I love these women and am grateful for all of the wonderful memories that I get to take with me and the deep friendships.

I have put together a series of posts about what I have learned in this service. They are probably more for mine and my family's sake, but I hope you will oblige me by allowing me to post them here to share with whomever may wish to read them. I think there is something for everyone in these posts. And then we can get back to the laughter and mayhem of everyday living with four soon-to-be-five kids and one chaotic work-from-home mommy.

I wish I would have taken more pictures!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Signs of Aging -- Never!

So, the other day Lil' Mama and I are driving and she turns to me and says, "Ooh, mom, you have a gray hair. Right there, I see it."

.....Pause for dramatic effect.....

So, I did what any self respecting woman my age would do --- I DENIED IT, of course. And then I plucked it out when she wasn't looking!

Time to visit my hair dresser.

This, by the way, is a first for me. I guess I can't complain... I made it to 34, but oh how I'd hoped to hold out for a little while longer.

What do you do to hide or prevent those pesky signs of your true age from showing? Do you prefer to embrace it or deny, deny, deny?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm back

After trying out WordPress, I've decided to come on back to Blogger. I'm sure some of you will disagree but the truth is that I'm just too dang busy to figure out WordPress. Maybe one of these days I'll get it and want to switch again, but for now I'm all about keeping it simple. Blogger is simple enough for a techno-phobe like me.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be attempting to transfer over my WordPress posts and then watch for some new posts... I've got a couple in the works.

Hope to chat with you soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One last camping trip before school starts

The other day I fell asleep to the sound of my kids playing a board game (in a friendly manner, even). In the morning, they decided they wanted to play some more. This is what I love about family vacations - even if it's just a camping trip. It's that sweet time of unwinding and leaving all of our obligations behind. No housework, no bills, no catching up on work, no neighborhood friends knocking on the door at all hours of the day.
Don't get me wrong, we have a great arrangement in our day-to-day lives. My husband has decent work hours, I work from home and my kids' friends are fantastic. But there's something about not having the option of playing with friends that forces my kids to appreciate one another. And there's nothing sweeter than watching your kids enjoy each others' company and get along.
Here are some pictures from our camping trip:

Show-Off and The Queen getting along!

An exhausted Lo-Lo passed out in the canoe

Yum-Yum going back to his roots, LOL... he was born in the jungle!

A homemade swing!

What do you love most about family vacations?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Much Needed: Help Cleaning House

I've slipped again on my housekeeping. I've mentioned before that I can only seem to keep up on so many things at one time. My work is doing fine, thank-you, and I'm getting back into the swing of things with my church responsibilities. But my housework is SCREAMING at me... I need HELP cleaning house!

And now that school is starting soon, I can no longer afford to neglect it.
So, I'm jumping back on the bandwagon with a great system I found a few months ago at a blogging conference that I went to. I met an amazing woman, named Marie Ricks, whose business is geared to poor, pathetic, unorganized and distracted girls like me that need help cleaning house. She created the House of Order system to make getting your house in order a simple, manageable process.

I started using the system back in May and saw a HUGE difference in a matter of days. The system is relatively simple, but that's the magic. Even though I mocked the program for a long time (because it utilizes a bunch of index cards - one more thing for me to lose), it's pretty easy to follow and it makes a noticeable difference.

Basically, Marie gives you a few tasks that need to be done on a daily basis: tidy the kitchen, a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, etc. If you do these things every day, they only take a short amount of time and your house will stay presentable, at the very least.

There are also weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks for an even deeper clean and more orderly home. The beauty is that you can start where you are and build up as quickly or as slowly as you need to. I never got past the weekly tasks (and I didn't even always do those), but my house was getting more organized, I was finally catching up with laundry and I felt comfortable having unexpected visitors.

Some of you, no doubt, will think it's silly to need a system or help cleaning house. But others of us (and there's more of us than you would think) really need the guidance and structure. Marie is patient and kind and she really knows her stuff.

So, my new school year resolution is to pick it back up and get things in order before all of the school papers start to pile up again and take over our lives. I'll let you know how it goes...

What do you do to keep your home orderly without spending all day to do it? Really, please comment - I NEED all the help I can get.
(Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Discipline Tips: It's no fun being grounded!

Last night I pretty much grounded all four of my kids for the rest of their childhood experiences. Okay, it's only 2 days, but it feels like ETERNITY to me!! And that brings up an important point. Why do we like to torture ourselves so much?

Like when my mom used to tell us, as she was whipping our hynies, that it actually hurt her more than it did us. ???

Okay... okay.. I guess I can see that. I choose not to spank my kids, but seriously I think it would be less painful... to me, that is.

Because they didn't do their chores, even though I threatened them with all but their very existence, they are now confined to the INSIDE of the house (where I am) with only the company of their siblings. There is to be no TV, video games or computer time. What is there to do, you ask? Well, fight and bicker, of course. Oh and don't forget: Make. A. Bigger. Mess.

I HATE being grounded..... When does school start again?

Several new posts available

Hi Friends!

Just wanted to remind you of my recent move to Wordpress and a new domain.

I've got several new posts listed, for your reading pleasure :). Including:

Being Grounded is No Fun

I Want My Cake and I Wanna Eat It Too

A Pending Adoption, A Wardrobe Malfunction and A Sick Kid

Priorities: A Balancing Act

Check it out and save the new website. I hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Want My Cake and I Wanna Eat it Too... Confessions of a Work-from-Home Mom

I work from home and while that is a luxury I'll freely admit, it's still actual work. I think sometimes being a work-from-home mom is over glorified. Still, even I am guilty of making it out to be more than it is.

For instance, I like to get a regular paycheck, but I still want to act like a housewife. I'm learning, though, that work-from-home mom and stay-at-home mom are not quite the same thing, unfortunately. Since I'm home, it's easy to think that I'm available all of the time to do whatever I want to do. If my friends want to get together for lunch, dinner or anything else, I want to be there. If there is a field trip at my kids' school, I want to be there. When my husband isn't working, I want to not be working too. I want to sleep in, go to the gym, watch all of my favorite television shows, social network and blog whenever I feel like it. I also want to get paid. But getting paid means that I have to work - unfortunately.

So, even though I have more flexibility than I would at a regular job, I do have to sacrifice some freedom in order to keep my working obligations.

It means that I have to choose what's MOST important to me. For me, it's really important that I'm available to my kids when they come home from school. In order to do this AND work, it means that I have to sacrifice some sleep and get up early in the morning. Of course, getting up early means that I may not be able to stay out late with my girlfriends. And working in the morning means I may not be available for weekday morning visits or every field trip. That's the price of having a job - whether it's at an actual place of business or at my home.

Whenever I forget these basic truths (which is often, regrettably), everyone pays the price. I end up missing out on the things that matter most... like family time, after school chats and homework help. I have to be self disciplined enough to treat my home job as seriously as I would a real job - set up a schedule and stick with it.

In the end, being a work-from-home mom means that I CAN have my cake and take little bites of it now and then too. It's all about moderation, people.

Do you have questions about working from home? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments section or by email. I'll be following up in a weekly series for work-at-home moms and those who wannabe.

(Photo courtesy of The Guardian.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

A pending adoption, a wardrobe malfunction and a sick kid

So the other day we were driving home from a shopping trip. As we got closer to home, The Showoff says to me, "Mom, do you think we could walk home from here?" "Sure," I say. "But it will take a while." I had my husband let us out anyway, because really, how many more years do I have left before he doesn't even want to be seen with me? Needless to say, it was a long walk but I got to learn a few things from him (he's a TALKER). I learned that he really does like to read. He kept talking about The Five Ancestors, a series of books that he's been reading. I also learned that he has a HUGE imagination and he's a bit of a dreamer. (But who isn't at 11?) And I learned of his plans to adopt kids.

Throughout our walk, he kept mentioning about how he plans on adopting kids. At first I thought that it was just a sweet gesture. Until he said, "Well, I might have just one kid of my own. But that's it. I'm adopting the rest. Do you think that's ok, mom?"

"Well, yes. Of course it's okay. But, Showoff, I don't get it" I said. "Why do you care? It's your wife that will have to carry and deliver each baby."

"Because, mom. Ever since, I found out how you make babies, I decided that I'm just going to adopt. 'Cuz I'm not going to ever do THAT!" ...

Oh, how I hope that thought lasts for at least a few more years.

Of course, if he doesn't change his mind before he gets married, he definitely will after he makes "just one".


On another note. It turns out that Lil' Mama has quite the fashion sense. She has put together some cute outfits for herself and - I hate to admit it - she's had to counsel me a time or two. Like last week. I wore a brand new dress to church and I was pretty excited about it.
Here's a picture of me in the dress:

New hair cut + new dress has to equal fun, right?


The buttons kept popping open whenever I sat down, so I had to go home and change. But I didn't want to. I brought Lil' Mama home with me and I kept telling her how bummed I was. So, what did she do? She fixed it. Yes, my 9-year-old daughter is my personal stylist.

She simply suggested that I wear a black slip underneath the dress and leave the bottom half unbuttoned. And you know what? It completely looked like that's how it was made AND it was more comfortable, too. She saved the day and gave me yet ANOTHER new dress.

Here's the dress afterward:

Anyone in need of fashion advice?


One more: Lo-Lo was sick with a fever last week and it turns out that when his head is hot it turns on his talk button. He was laying down in my room, cuddling with me and telling me about everything under the sun. How this friend likes to play such-and-such and how another friend ditched him, what he thinks his new kindergarten teacher will be like and on and on and on. Then he heard the shower turn on. (Yum Yum had been in the bathroom preparing to shower.) Lo-Lo says, "Oh no, mom. Daddy just got in the shower and I don't think he wiped his butt!"

? ? ? ! ! !

Don't ask... I really have no explanation of where that came from, but I thought it was pretty funny that he came to such a conclusion.

You know, when I step back and really listen and pay attention, I discover that my kids are pretty cool after all. They keep me entertained, anyway.

We really can learn a lot from our kids. What do your kids TEACH you?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Priorities: A Balancing Act

I've been thinking a lot about priorities lately. Maybe it's because my life is usually very out of balance. If I'm caught up and doing well in one area, the other areas are likely to be suffering. I think it's been affecting me more than it ever has in the past. For instance, I may be trodding along with my work and doing well, while my house is slowly falling apart. If I'm on top of all of my housework, you can be sure that I'm falling behind on my work assignments. The same goes with my church responsibilites. And the more I fall behind, the more overwhelming the thought of catching up.

It's always easier, for some crazy reason, to take care of a big looming project with an immediate deadline than it is to care for the small and simple things that must occur on a regular basis. Ironically, these are the things that make life easier to manage and help those big projects to go more smoothly. I think that lately my priorities have been out of whack and I'm paying the price for it big time.

I listened to a talk by Julie Beck the other day and it brought it all into perspective. I can categorize all of my regular tasks into three areas: Essential, Necessary and Nice to Do. The Essential items are at the core of who I am, my values and my most important goals in life. The Necessary items are essential to survival and the Nice to Do are just that: nice to do, but I can afford to put them off.

I find that most of my time is spent in the necessary and the nice-to-do area. I have to work in order to help pay for our necessities (and some nice-to-dos). I have to eat (although maybe not as much as I do :)) and feed my children. I have to care for my home (for my health and my sanity). I don't have to watch television, but at the end of the day it's nice sometimes to unwind and relax with a good show.

Sometimes in my quest to fill the necessary and reboot, I find that it's my children and my husband that are neglected. These are the essentials in my life. My relationship with Deity starts to suffer as well. Ironically, these things don't often require big chunks of my time. They simply require daily deposits. Some days the deposits may be bigger than others, but there needs to be time invested daily. I believe that when I put the essentials first and the necessities close behind, I will still have time for many of the nice-to-do things on my list. But the essentials will never occur if I am upside down in my priorities.

This blog is one of the nice-to-do things on my list. I love it, it's a great release for me, and I get share some special memories that my children can come back to and remember. I get to meet some great people and interact with them. But it's all too easy to let it get in the way of the things that are most important to me (the very things that give me something to blog about, ironically). I'm still going to blog. I'm still going to interact with bloggers. But, I've accepted the fact that I may have to move at a slower pace than I had previously planned. If you don't hear from me here, it's because I'm busy tending to the Essentials and feeding the Necessities.

How do you find balance in your daily obligations?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Independence gone amuck

My kids are independent... and I love it. They get themselves dressed (although I sometimes have to face the consequences of that), they bathe themselves and my older two can even make breakfast. Of course, all of them are capable of pouring a bowl of cereal but my older two can also make pancakes, scrambled eggs and oatmeal. Even can though a part of me loves it when they "need" me, it's also pretty sweet when they can help out. Sometimes, of course, independence can get out of control.

Like today, for instance. I took my kids to the gas station (it's the local hangout in our small town - at least for our family) to get some slushies. Sure enough, The Queen (six-years-old) marched right in, grabbed a cup and started filling it before I could even catch up to her. When I did, I came upon a huge yellow mess and a slurpee machine spitting out all of its contents everywhere! Unfortunately the lever had come completely off, leaving the slushy contents to come spurting out both the top and bottom.

Photo courtsey of Apotheosis at
Note to self: Slurpee machines are not so kid-friendly. Note to gas station employees: Sorry for the embarrassing mess, thanks for cleaning it up, and I'll be sure to continue my loyal patronage to make it up.

I'm Michelle and my kids LIKE doing my work for me... most of the time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It takes a community ... to build a blog

I'm still relatively new to the blog-o-sphere and I'm learning that I still have lots to learn. Even though I need to figure out how to best  fit it into my schedule, I think I'll keep going. It's been fun so far, plus it's a great outlet for me and it lets me connect to others, including friends and family, in a way that I haven't been able to in the past. The good news is there's lots of support out there to help me get going. Bloggers, I'm learning, are community-oriented and they like to connect with other. Many are willing to help newbies like me figure it out. Here's a list of fantastic resources I've found that are a great starting place for me and anyone else who wants to take a dive into blogging. I suggest you give it a try... it can be very rewarding!

1. SITS girls

SITS stands for the Secret Is in The Sauce, but their motto is "the secret to success is support". And that's just what they do. Not only are there lots of good ideas floating around in their forum, but all of the members help to support each other in their blogging efforts. Right now the SITS girls are sponsoring a 31 Day Blog Challenge - and I'm participating in it. Although I am dreadfully behind, I'm still learning tons - and you can too. Sign up to be a member of their Blog Frog community where you can easily get lost in the wealth of free information.


2. ProBlogger

The challenge I'm participating in (see note above) comes from a book written by Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger. This guy is in the big leagues and he really knows his stuff. Best of all, his blog is full of great tips and information. He's totally down to earth and his material is super easy to read.


I met Vanessa Brown at a blogging conference I went to a couple of months ago. She taught a class about monetizing your blog. I was brand new to blogging (I think I had just one post), but her class was very inspiring. I decided to sign up for her 7 month course that really takes you from the very basics and helps you to build a successful blog. Bonus: She is a totally "real" person and a busy mom, at that.

Plus, there are many, many more blogs devoted to blogging. I think the above sources are enough to keep me busy, though, for the next while.

What sources and/or tips have you found to be most useful for your blog?
I'm Michelle- and it's official, I'm a blogger!

I'm Moving ..... to Wordpress

Rumor has it that Wordpress is the place to be if you're serious about blogging. So, I'm taking the leap and jumping ship while my blog is still new. I'll have to let you know what I think when I know enough to think anything.

You can now follow along with me at

All of my blogspot posts have been transferred over, but I'm still working on the design. The content will remain the same bits and pieces of from my miscellaneous life.

Come visit me soon!

Monday, July 19, 2010

And the LAME Mom award goes to ... ME

I should have stood up for my daughter yesterday. I should have had her back and I didn't. And I'm feeling pretty lousy about it. The reasons that I stood there and did nothing like an idiot are long and wide, but they're all pretty LAME excuses.

Without going into too much detail, she was yelled at by a complete Adult stranger for something that really amounts to nothing. (She rode her scooter on his driveway.) He was just being an old grump and she did nothing wrong. Besides, what happened to "if you have a problem with my child, come and talk to me about it." Especially when she's 6! You don't go around yelling at little kids you've never even met.

But, it turns out that I'm the big jerk because I sat there and did nothing because of my own stupid issues. Sure I held my daughter and consoled her, but I should have put Mr. Grumps in his place. How dare you yell at my daughter, scare her and make her cry.. right in front of me?

I do have rock-the-boat issues and I really don't like it when people have an in-your-face type of attitude about everything. While Momma Bear definitely needs to come out from time to time, we can't protect our kids from everything. I get it that sometimes other kids won't want to play with mine and sometimes they may not be nice to each other. I get it that there are consequences for our actions and that my kids need to learn them too. But we're talking about a full-grown adult and a father, at that. I promise myself, my husband and my children that I won't just sit there any more. Next time I'll speak up: "Dude, that's not cool. She's 6. She doesn't know that your driveway is some sort of sacred ground. Lay off."


Thursday, July 15, 2010

FYI: We Don't Want Your Yucky Clothes

I’ve had a couple of experiences in the last month working with donated goods… you know old, outdated flowery decorations, funky furniture and used clothes. It’s been quite fun to see the things that people actually wear. I’ve considered starting a blog called Yes, Someone Actually Wore This. It’s fun to imagine what it might actually have been used for or who wore it. I only hope that the original owner is never standing near enough to hear me when I get started. Oops. I apologize if I offended anyone, but consider yourself schooled. LOL … just kiddin’, kind of.
Anyway, I’m wishing that I would have taken at least some pictures because they would make a great addition to this blog post. Instead, you’ll have to be satisfied with these pictures I found online (courtesy of

Ok, so last weekend my neighbors put together a huge yard sale to benefit a neighbor who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I got assigned the lovely job of sorting through a MASSIVE pile of used clothes. Some of the things we found were nothing short of HILARIOUS. We found an old, bright pink baton-twirler outfit with huge shoulders. My Bishop (my religious leader) told me that if I wore it to church, he would let me sing a solo too. Seriously??? I don’t know what would scare people more, my cellulite or my singing. I’m thinking the singing.
Anyway, I digress. We also found some bright pink pants (to go with the baton-twirling outfit, of course) with blood stains on the legs, BONUS. If that’s not enough we also found a chewed off belt (for those skinny kids – like mine- that can’t fit regular-sized belts), silky pants with rhinestones and yes, dirty socks. EEEWWWW! I don’t even like to touch my own kids' dirty socks, people. But this was for charity, so what am I going to do? All I’m saying is, some things belong in the trash can… or your washing machine.
Well, let’s look on the bright side – I can now sympathize with the patient folks who work at DI (Utah’s version of Goodwill). And I promise not to be one of those offenders. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever donated… or found at a yard sale?
I'm Michelle and I follow Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, which inspired this post. Check it out and link up.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I don't feel like working today...

How many of you ever feel like that? That's how I'm feeling today and I must admit that I've been feeling this way for a couple of days now. While I've managed to get a little work in, it hasn't been near what it should be. I recognize that many don't have a choice... they have to go to work whether they want to or not. The truth is, so do I. I just don't have to clock in at any particular time.And I don't get paid if I don't do the work. (Whoever invented that rule??)

Since I have to work (especially if I want to go on that trip I've been planning), here's what I'm going to do:
  1. I'm going to take my kids to the gas station to get a treat (hey, that's all we have around here and it's the happening place)- This will get me out of the house for a few minutes, bribe my kids and give me a caffeine boost to ward off the headache that's coming. Talk about killing 3 birds with one stone.
  2.  Then I'll come home and turn on my favorite upbeat music and rock out like noone's watching (and let's hope that they're not). That should get the blood flowing to my brain so that I can concentrate, plus maybe it will burn off at least a portion of that Coke I just drank. (Crossing my fingers.)
  3. Next, I'll take my laptop to The Dungeoun (my office), so that I can work for at least a couple of hours with less interruptions.
  4. Lastly, since I got a late start, I'll have to accept that I may not get as much done today as I'd like to. Instead of beating myself up, I'll forgive myself for being a lazy bum and commit to doing better tomorrow.

I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, what do you do to pull yourself out of the doldrums?

P.S. For any of you that ever feel this way, check out this blog. It's about writing, but I think it applies to almost anything. A "just do it" kind of thing.

P.S.S. Also, check out How to Get Things Done When You're Feeling Overwhelmed, by Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Working from home: Sweet and Sour

It's 6:45 AM and I'm trying to wake up enough to start working. It's true what they say, you know, I do get to work in my pajamas and avoid the rush hour traffic. That's a sweet benefit of working from home, but that's not why I do it. I work from home because I want to be here for my children. I don't want to pay someone else to take my place, to be there when they come home from school and to teach them right from wrong. I want to raise them.

But, this morning, I really just want to be in bed. Asleep. I'm not ready to wake up, hence the reason that I am dragging my feet and blogging instead of doing my REAL work. I know, I know. At least I get to make that decision. You're so right. I really can go back to bed if I want to. My work is super flexible: I can work any time of the day that I want to. But, I find that some hours are littered with more interruptions (and distractions) than others. Trying to work and take care of my kids at the same time is quite the juggling act and, inevitably, one side tends to win. I'm ashamed to say that sometimes my kids (my very reason for doing this) are the ball that gets dropped. 
                                                                                                               (picture courtesy of

So, here I am again at this difficult place that I find myself in often: trying to figure out how to balance life between work, family and church responsibilities. The only answer I can think of is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. And drop the working in my pajamas thing. Mmmmmmm.... maybe tomorrow.

Okay, okay... I'm going to work now. Thanks for listening to me ramble and you can be sure that I will address this topic again. (I've been working from home for nearly 5 years with a few on-and-off stints before that.) So, Fridays will be Work-From-Home-Friday, where I'll discuss my ramblings, share things I've learned and things I'm still struggling with, offer insider tips and even some suggestions if you want to work from home. For now... do you have any suggestions for me? Like how to get motivated to jump out of bed at 6:00 in the morning?? Anyone?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This one's for Annie

You  know you've made it big when Hollywood spoofs you. Yes, Stephanie Myer has made the big leagues... just in case any of you were wondering. So, if you loved Twilight, stayed up till 3 in the morning to watch New Moon and Eclipse, and especially if you are affiliated with any specific vampire or wolf teams, then you will definitely want to see Vampires Suck. Check out the trailer... looks like it might be a blockbuster.

Disclaimer: I am not normally a fan of slapstick... so I take no responsibility if the movie fails miserably. With all of the Vampire Craze, I thought the preview was at least worthy of a coveted spot on my blog... joking, of course... kind of.

I'm Michelle and I like wolves more than I like vampires, but I like Annie the most of all (and the vampires are growing on me).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Am I really that bad?

So, I've been listening to lots of spiritual music lately because I'm trying to find a special song for a lesson that I'm teaching at church. I was discussing this with Lil' Mama and explaining what a difficult time I'm having. I expressed to her how I wish I could sing because this one song, in particular, is my testimony. She asked, "Well, why don't you just sing it, mom?"

I tried to explain to her that I wanted people to feel the Spirit and to be touched by the song, but if I sing it they'll all be feeling really uncomfortable, squirming in their seats and feeling incredibly embarrassed for me. She said, "Ya, that's kind of how I feel when I see you dancing."

WHAT???!! And, here I thought I was a good dancer. At least now I know how best to embarrass her, because isn't that the FUNNEST part of being a parent?

And she calls me embarrassing? This is her (on the left) today, walking around the neighborhood (in PUBLIC) after getting all dressed up with her friends. LOL

I'm Michelle and I like to embarrass my children. Plus, I can do the Running Man and The Roger Rabbit. That's right... take that Lil' Mama.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Team Riley, Anyone?

I think I may become a Twi-Hard after all.... nah, okay, maybe not. But I do have to say that I am SO GLAD that my friend dragged me out to see Eclipse. It did not disappoint! My adrenaline is still pumping. It is by far the best movie in the series, so far. There was action, romance and an intense love triangle. And Edward really stepped it up in this movie. I have to say, he gave Jake a run for his money. In fact, I'm a little torn right now. Edward had some really endearing moments. In fact, I may have even changed teams. To Team Riley, that is. HOLY MOLY. All I have to say is, He can hunt me down anytime!!

I don't want to give away too much information, so I'll leave it at this... if you haven't seen the movie, go watch it. My friend's husband came with us, and even he liked it. Let me know what you think.... Have you seen it? Do you plan to? etc. etc. etc.

See you soon... and good-night now (it's getting crazy late... or early?)!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Countdown to Eclipse.....

I wouldn't exactly call myself a "Twi-hard", still I am going to the Premier of the Eclipse film tomorrow night. Yes, I will be up in the middle of the night with hordes of vampire-thirsty women and teenagers, many of them dressed to resemble their favorite characters. I figure I'm participating in an historic event, right? In fact, I've never seen anything quite like the Twilight Fever. It's CRAZY. Of course, I wouldn't miss it for anything. Not just because I enjoyed the books, of course, but because one of my best friends is definitely a Twi-Hard and I don't want to be left out of the fun! Plus, who's going to say no to a girls' night out?

Today, I saw an article about Twilight's effect on marriages. People (and not just women) are actually choosing fictional characters over their real-life, warm-bodied HUMAN spouses. WOW! I always give my friend a hard time for her infatuation, but at least she's not this bad, I hope. Now, don't get me wrong, I get into a good book and little fantasy just like anyone else, but I wouldn't necessarily trade my real life for it (well, except for when I'm reading, that is). In fact, I think it's just a little creepy how intense this teen-age relationship is. Here's hoping my daughters are never this obsessed over a boy!!

So, which way do you swing? Are you on Team Jacob or Team Edward? After the last movie, I'm definitely leaning towards Jake. But, I'll let you know how I feel after Eclipse. Stay tuned.

For those of you who care, here's a thrilling clip from the movie. Oooh, it looks like it's gonna be so good!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our Soldiers' Wives.... True Heroes

Today I want to pay tribute to all the wives and moms out there who hold things together while their husbands go off to war. My hat is off to you strong women.

My brother-in-law left to begin a one-year tour-of-duty in Iraq last night. The night before we all got together for a BBQ and a chance to say goodbye for a season. As I watched my sister-in-law, though, I could see all of the anxiety in her face. And my heart breaks for her and her children. I can't imagine how hard it would be to be in her shoes. Not only for the daily worry and not knowing what is going on in her husband's life, but having to do this crazy, sweet and totally hard thing called parenthood all by herself. Not having her partner there to lean on when she's had a very long, rough day. I know that I have those days frequently and I've got help... every day.

I find myself wishing I could do more for my sister-in-law.To somehow make things a bit easier, if possible. I plan on taking her kids one day each week, but I wonder if there's anything else I should or could be doing. Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Is Business Dead in Eagle Mountain?

Yum-Yum and I decided to try a new restaurant last night. We chose one in Eagle Mountain, for a couple of reasons: 1. my neighbor had just been raving about the food and 2. it's close enough that I could leave Show-Off to babysit.

We went to China Express in the Ranches and I was really excited. We haven't had Chinese food in a while and my friend's descriptions left my mouth watering. I'm pretty picky about Chinese food because I come from California, where there's lots of diversity and lots of real Chinese people (as opposed to fake ones... thanks Shannon, that's a great line!).

There was one person waiting for his take-out when we got there and one other person came as we were leaving, again for take-out. Did I mention that it was a Friday night? Needless to say, it was pretty slow.

And that got me thinking. If we want businesses to come to Eagle Mountain (and it seems that we do, since business is a common platform for our local politicians), then we need to make a greater effort to patronize the ones who are here. I'm sorry, but empty stores and restaurants aren't very good advertisements. Think about it from a business perspective. Would you open a bricks-and-mortar business here?

That being said, nobody's going to patronize something unless the offerings are good. I wasn't as impressed with China Express as my husband was. I got the sesame chicken and he got the Mongolian beef. The chicken was a bit sweeter than sesame chicken I've had in the past and the chicken tasted old and dry. The fact that the food was done super fast made me think that maybe they just re-heated some leftovers. I was super hungry though, and it was "good enough". (If it makes any difference, Shannon loves it.) My husband's dish was more flavorful, with thin strips of beef, carrots, onions, cucumbers and a few chili peppers. We also ordered pot stickers and they were pretty good.

I thought the restaurant was a little pricey, although they have some excellent lunch deals. You can get your choice of 26 different main dishes served with 2 pot stickers and ham fried rice for $5.50 or $5.75. Not bad. Maybe I'll go back and try something else. I recommend you check it out... for lunch, that is. It's served between 11 AM and 3 PM.

What type of businesses would you like to see in Eagle Mountain?

Friday, June 11, 2010

My pajamas are ruining my life

I really love my pajamas. If I could, I think I would stay in them all day. In fact, I often do. I do try to get dressed at least before my husband comes home. (I need to at least look like I've been busy. Shhhhh... Let's just let that be our little secret.) It turns out, though, that my pajamas are doing more harm than good, regardless of how comfortable they are.

At the blogging conference I went to, I met a woman named Marie Ricks and I got to have a one-on-one mini session with her. My friend Liz, from Family Scratch, decided to tell Marie all of my deepest darkest secrets... ok maybe not that dark.... and it turns out that Marie had a lot of really good answers for me.

One of my biggest problems is organizing my time and being consistent (with housework and real work). And guess what she told me? ......

I need to give up my PAJAMAS.
At least when I get up in the morning, that is.

It was as if she had been following me around in secret. I mean, how does SHE know about my little issue? But she was right. It turns out that I'm not a bad housekeeper at all - it's the pajamas. I'm not overweight - it's the pajamas. I'm not a grouchy mom - that's right, it's the pajamas. Chocolate, caffeine, daytime television - you got it.... PAJAMAS. They're ruining my life!!!

Since I've started getting ready for the day when I first wake up, it has made a world of difference. I'm a nicer mom (don't ask my kids, though, just take my word for it), my paychecks have gotten bigger, my sex life has improved (again, just take my word for it) and YES, my house is clean(er).

And here's the bonus: I don't have to be embarrassed when my neighbors stop by and see me looking like this:
(the hat is to cover up my messy hair and the boots are because my feet were cold)

FYI: this picture was staged... but, I really did answer the door in an outfit just like this - only without the hat and with messier hair - a couple of weeks before my run-in with Marie... and I was COMPLETELY embarrassed

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farewell to an old Friend

Yum-yum and I met Rusti shortly before we were married. We all became instant friends, and she has been a presence in our lives ever since then. For 14 years, she has been there for us through all the good times and the bad. She was there when I was sick and puking through labor pains with Mr. Show-Off and she was there when Mr. Show-Off came home. Rusti was there for us when we decided to make the long journey to move to Utah, and for our all of our heart-felt hellos and good-byes with the family we left behind. She carried us when we were learning how to adjust to each new child and what it meant to go from one to two and two to three and three to four. Sure, there have been seasons of our life when we didn't call on her as often. But, Rusti, we came to learn, was among our most reliable friends. We always knew we could count on her. When our luck was down she was there. Oh, we've done our share for Rusti too. We've helped her through some illnesses, given her money when needed and we've come to love her in the process. We will truly miss Rusti. She was laid to rest this afternoon, the first day of June, 2010. May she rest in peace.

In honor of all that she done for us, we have decided to donate Rusti's organs, so that she may save little Civics like her from a similar fate. Rusti's final resting place? A junkyard in Orem. May her caretakers know what a loyal friend she was and treat her remains accordingly. So long, good friend.

P.S. For those of you who are wondering: Yum-Yum crashed the car last Thursday... into another car. Claim #3 in less than 6 months means that we are also mourning the loss of good insurance rates.

Finding my voice: Soul Searching at the Blogging Conference

I'm brand new to the world of blogging, but my friend Liz talked me into going to a blogging conference over the weekend anyway. I never imagined how much of an impact something like this would have on me. I thought I'd walk away feeling more motivated than ever, but instead I left with lots of questions ... that no "expert" could answer for me....

Is blogging a right fit for me?
Do I really have the time to give to it anyway?
Do I really even care about all this beauty stuff? (I have a beauty blog.)
What do I have to offer?
How do I write in my own voice? (I'm a journalistic writer ... ie. No Voice.)
What is my voice anyways?

Hence, the start of this blog. I've realized, as I've looked at other beauty blogs, that I'm not as passionate about beauty products as other beauty bloggers. I really don't care about trying every single nail polish and lip gloss imaginable. I don't HAVE to have the latest and greatest and be in on the most current trends. I do care about looking my best and I do know a lot about how beauty products work (thanks to my day job as a freelance writer). I still enjoy that much. So, I will continue my beauty, but I'm not going to try to be something that I'm not. Hopefully other people will be interested in my take on beauty.

So, as you can imagine, I don't follow a lot of beauty blogs. I'm more attracted to personal blogs. I'm a PEOPLE- PERSON. That is my passion, if it can truly be counted as such. So, this here is my people-person blog. My rants on my daily experiences and encounters and what I've learned from them. Welcome to my blog... I hope you enjoy the journey.