Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Great Paper Purge of '09 - New Leaf, day 8

Only two days left! I'm in the home stretch! But I'm starting to worry that this is ending up to be more than a 10-hour job. . . .

So tomorrow and Friday I'm going to hit it hard and Do This Thing!!

Only two days left to enter the giveaway, too. I've decided that for each comment you have made on a new leaf post, you get an entry into the drawing. I may do more than one prize, because I just wish I could send chocolate to all of you beloved friends, so we'll see how it ends up. :)

Today I spent an hour and a half on the top drawer of the file cabinet, throwing away almost a whole kitchen garbage bag full. And it's not even done yet! Crazy-ness. I can't believe how long some of that useless stuff sat in there and kept me from using the file cabinet.

I have realized something about myself. Maybe you're like this too, but I actually kind of LIKE filing stuff. It makes me feel happy when something has a designated home, and I put it there, and kiss it good night and close the door and feel all cozy. But if its designated home is SO CLUTTERED AND STUFFED FULL OF JUNK that I can't put it there, so I put it somewhere else and it becomes homeless and I can't find it when I need it, well, then I DON'T like filing stuff. In fact, then it's right up there with getting an IV or unclogging a toilet.

So the key is to keep my file cabinet useable!!

That's for stuff that has to be filed, like bills and bank statements and other joys.

Memorabilia stuff, well, that's actually turning out to be more fun than I thought. Now that I have been freed from the idea of having to save every. little. cute. thing ever created by one of my children--because I can take pictures of it, and because there are so many that I can just pick my favorites--there will hopefully be room to store those treasures in their individual totes.

Fluffy is so excited about his tote (hot pink and all) that he wants to look through it with me for his Super Kid date this Saturday. Awesome.


Gotta run pick up these cuties. . . .:)




Made me feel Heavenly Father's love today:

My wonderful visiting teacher Linda came and listened to me and taught me and we both cried.


Made me smile today:

PW says that rosemary is her "favorite herb on the face of God’s green earth."

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Leaf, day 6

Can I just say that ya'll are awesome? Your sweet comments have helped me SO MUCH!!! This morning I woke up feeling very unmotivated and "tired" and my first thought was, "Today's going to be a computer/blah day."

But then I remembered this New Leaf giveaway and my goal to finish conquering the Paper by Friday and I knew that I needed to get my toosh in gear. I couldn't stand the thought of having to report a wasted day.

So I spent AN HOUR AND A HALF today (to make up for Friday), and made it through this. . . . .


(Lest you think we live in complete squalor, that is NOT the floor in my house. We keep the file cabinet in the garage. I know it's a bit unorthodox, but it's better than having it in the living room, where it was before! :)

Now instead of being crammed so tight nothing else will fit, it is only about 2/5ths full!! YIPPEE!!! Now there will be room for what is currently stacked in the dining room and in the downstairs hall closet.

Only 4 days to go. . . .Thank you so much for every single little word of encouragement!


Bonus: A collection of paper-organizing tips :)

Here are some of the great tips that were left in the comments last week. I love these!!!

Amanda T - You do this! Have you heard of flylady? I have incorporated some of her ideas into our home with success.

I LOVE FlyLady! I use a lot of her ideas, including the morning and after-dinner routines and the zones. I think she is brilliant and such a generous person.

Mary D - I am very proud of you! Take it 15 minutes at a time and you will be amazed at your progress. For 15 minutes you work hard and then take a break, it really does help keep you motivated.

Becky Rose - Have you heard of She's LDS and has great systems and books on how to get organized. She'll even send you weekly news letters via Email. You Can do it!

I had never heard of this! Sounds great!

Stephanie Johnson - One thing I've done is create a notebook for each kid for each grade. I have tabs like: Report Cards, Artwork, Class Info, About Me, etc. Whatever artwork doesn't have a foot or handprint or something sentimental, then I take a digital picture of it, file it on the computer under their school year, and then throw the artwork away. Hopefully that's a way you can "declutter". Good luck! :)

This is nifty! I will probably use this later this week, when I attempt to condense papers from all the boys into their individual totes. It is torture for me to throw away paper that is in the least bit sentimental, so I love the idea of digitizing some of it!

Amy Kay - . . . . And yes piles of paper...hate them, and need to get them organized too. I am going to strive to work with you on this. And YES MUSIC is wonderful. Good luck! Love and Hugs, Amy.

Chris (he has to be blue :) - Hey, maybe we could go through papers for a date some time. We could have a big bon-fire with the trash and roast marshmallows for a treat!

awesome :)

llamitanan - I like Stephanie's idea of having a folder on the computer for your children's papers. It would be fun to put the best ones in one folder and have that as your digital scrapbook for your children to watch. They would LOVE seeing their favorites going across the screen. Just take a picture of them with your camera.

Amanda T - I don't know if the idea works for you or not, but I once read a suggestion to take good photos of the artwork your children create and then only save a FEW pieces. You have the photos to preserve the memory, but make room for new pieces and more prominent displays.

llamitanan - Good job, Michelle! I remember Daryl Hoole suggesting filing ten papers a night back before computer days. A few bites a day consumes the huge elephant. :)

Malauna - I do hope that your fair city has a paper recycling program and instead of putting the paper in the garbage it is going in the recycle bin ;) However, if it doesn't, throwing away is better than piling up!

It doesn't--can you believe it? We have had the biggest hassles when we've tried to find ways to recycle our phone books! Hopefully it decomposes quickly. . . .

Andre - I like cleaning the girls room and going through their papers when they are at school. It's easier when they have no idea that I threw anything away. I just went through Savannah's papers from last school year, too. They had been residing in her closet. Most went in the garbage, the ones I kept I put in a tupperware box that is just for her special school papers. I have one just for Dakotah, too.

Mary D - You are doing a super job, keep it up! I got a tote for each one of the kids and have stuff in there from birth all the way through graduation and now am putting college things in it. They love to go in there and see what they did when they were younger. As Bailey makes her own milestones Jeremy asks - when did I start doing that? And then I go into his box and find out and tell him. It is special. When it started getting full I would go through it and have to throw away things that were similar but that I only needed one of, not one each year. That way I keep it to one tote each.

I'm so glad to see how many people use the tote idea with success. That is what I'm switching to this week--although unfortunately the only ones Walmart had at the time were HOT PINK. So my boys will have their treasures forevermore in HOT PINK file totes! ha

llamitanan - Good for you--you took time out for the Temple! Now you will definitely meet your goal. I find I accomplish a lot more in my week if going to the Temple is one of the activities.

Becky - Just kick your trash! Hee hee. I mean, don't be afraid to throw things away. The trash can is YOUR friend!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 37 - { beloved Rosy }

 Rosemary name post 2

If you guessed that I was going to announce the name of our daughter, you were right! (I'm just so subtle and discreet. :)

Our daughter will be named for three very special women in our life:

DC's Mom = Mary Catherine

My Mom = Nancy Jane

and . . . .

my beloved friend Rosy Wright


Let me introduce you! :)

2004 0619 Saying good-bye to Rosy 2


100 days of gratitude tagThis is Rosy and Tommie Wright. Our friendship with them is one of the greatest blessings that came from our time in graduate school. We have countless precious memories of time spent together in Tallahassee.

2008-03-23 at 19-07-38


I served as one of Rosy's counselors in the Relief Society presidency, and she was like my sister, my mother-away-from-home, and my best friend all in one.



How can I describe Rosy?



She was born in Cuba, and emigrated to Florida as a teenager, having to leave her parents behind. She overcame incredible challenges, including earning a graduate degree while a single parent. image

Her husband Tommie is a pianist and master teacher. He is legendary at FSU for writing the fight song and providing the profile for the Seminole mascot, and yet he is the most cheerful, humble, likeable man you will ever meet.

They have three beautiful daughters, who are just as lovely inside as out, and incredibly talented.

2007-05-13 at 13-15-08 (1)


Their family life is Dickensian in its peacefulness and harmony (think the Cratchit family from A Christmas Carol). They just have a spirit of love and acceptance in their home that is magnetic. I loved every minute I ever spent with them, and DC and I have often talked about how their family life is an example for how we want ours to be.

Rosy is. . .

2004 0310 Tommie and Rosy Wright with Hyrum and Russell

. . . .generous beyond belief, in every sense. Not only is she giving in the traditional way but she also is one to always give someone the benefit of the doubt. You want to be what she believes you are!

. . . .brilliant but Christlike - she's department head at a major college, but I have seen her serving in the humblest of circumstances - cleaning cupboards of someone about to move, taking dinner to someone when she herself is ill

. . . .fun to be around - she has the most amazing stories to tell, and has an ever-present sense of humor, but is a great listener, too, and very sensitive 

. . . .thoughtful to the point that she gives new meaning to the word - she gave a shower for me and Fluffy just after he was born - she brought a beautiful cake in honor of Hummer's blessing day - when she couldn't come to Exacto's BD party she sent a gift and also money for me to buy balloons for the party - I could keep listing examples for pages. . . .


. . . .beautiful - I still remember when I first met Rosy. I was sitting alone, waiting for Relief Society to begin on our first Sunday in Tallahassee. I was 20 years old and had our two-month-old Exacto. She was Relief Society president at the time, and when she saw me she immediately came over and introduced herself. From the moment I saw her first smile at me, I felt this amazing love from her, and a feeling almost like we had always known each other. She is truly one of the most beautiful people I have ever known -- her spirit is positive and radiant, yet because she has undergone such significant challenges in her life she has this incredible depth as well.

2009-07-26 at 20-05-59


I have always wanted to name a daughter after her since I first was blessed to become her friend. Fluffy, Hyrum, and Benjamin were all in the running to be our "Rosy" until we found out they were boys. :)

2004-11-14 at 13-39-51


This being our first daughter after so many sons, we also definitely wanted to include both our mothers as well (don't know if we'll get another chance :)!) I was so excited when we hit on just the right name that incorporates all three.

And so her name is . . .

Rosemary name post

We love 'Rosemary' because it is old-fashioned, and also because it is the herb of remembrance. When Benjamin died, his Aunt Ginger sent a beautiful rosemary wreath, which still hangs on our door. This baby is a precious ray of hope after the painful loss of her big brother.

DSC04242 edit


We already call her Rosemary (perhaps a few of you have heard the beans spill :), and on this blog, she will be known as Rosebud.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 36 - { my mother }

197804 edit


"All that I am, or hope to be,

I owe to my angel mother."

~ Abraham Lincoln







I have thought and thought about how to write this post. How do you write your feelings about a person who is most precious to you and so close that you can't even think about yourself without thinking about her, too?

How do you write about the one who first taught you who you really are and who you are meant to become?

How can words ever express a love so strong and a gratitude so deep as what I feel for my mother?

I decided prose just can't cut it here. And so, a poem. This, to me, tells the sacred work that my mother has done in my life.


Two Temples


Out of all the blessings that I feel to thank Heavenly Father for, this is perhaps the greatest. Her influence on me for good for eternity is truly immeasurable.


100 days of gratitude tagMom post

New Leaf, day 5

<with downcast face, and voice lowering at the end of each sentence>

I had an off day.

I only did 20 minutes' worth of paper cleanup. And then I went to Hobby Lobby and had fun.

<lower lip poking out>

I need a spanking.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Leaf, day 4

Hi, again!

Yesterday DC and I made a quick trip to Memphis to worship in the temple. It was so wonderful! Like a Super Date. :) It barely fit into a school day for the boys. Sweet. I hope we can do it again sometime if DC has the day off during the week. . . .


Anyway, so I missed day 3 of attacking the Monster. It got one more day to sit in smug contemplation of the frenzied efforts that had as yet been futile.

But today I was Back.

I spent my allotted hour on this little beauty. . . .

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To my happy amazement, I was able to throw away a lot of it!! I thought for sure that all of it would be painstaking home-finding for each little paper. I had forgotten that when school got out last May <ahem> and the boys brought home full backpacks after cleaning out their desks, I had never gone through the piles. We had left immediately for AZ and when I got back all nauseated and cranky I stuffed all of it into the bags depicted above. Yeehaw, it felt good to throw away so much paper!!!

The rest of it was more difficult. There was even a stash of Christmas letters and cards from. . . gulp. . . .2006.

In a later post, I'll explain what my intentions are regarding the dreading Memorabilia stack. I do have a Plan! :)


P.S. In your wonderful drill-sergeant comments, will you please state your favorite TYPE of chocolate? (imported, dark, Hershey's, with filling, etc.) I am a dark, European chocolate sort of gal myself, but I know that not everyone shares that taste and I want to know better how to shop for the GIVEAWAY. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 35 - { my mother-in-love }

100 days of gratitude tag


Are you ready to play a guessing game? Are ya? Are ya? :) These next three Days of Gratitude posts will all have something in common, clues to a puzzle. See if you can figure out why I am doing these particular ones. . . .


Today's post is about DC's mom.


 20020423 Russell and Gma Baker

Can I just say that I have been blessed with the sweetest, easiest-to-get-along-with in-laws EVER on the face of this planet?

They have raised a ginormous family (DC is 3rd of 10 kids), and it has made them the most awesome people. Or maybe they were awesome to begin with, and raising such a large family only enhanced their awesome-ness. :)

Anyways. DC has never made me in any way feel like I need to "live up" to his mother. And it's a darn good thing:

For one thing, Ma Baker is patient. I have known her now for 14 years, and NOT ONCE seen her lose her temper or even come close. I have seen her in very stressful situations, and not a feather ruffled. If I ever learn her secret, I'll publish a book and be a millionaire! :)

Another neat thing about her is she is a FANTABULOUS COOK. Oh, I love her food. And she loves to cook for those who love to eat. From her enjoyment of watching us eat, it seems as though it's one of her favorite ways to show love. Very cool. I will include a couple of my favorite recipes from her at the bottom. . . .

Ma Baker is a delightful Grandma! Our boys just adore her. She always remembers their birthdays and has been at their baby blessings and baptisms. She even flew out on very short notice to be here for Benjamin's funeral. I love how she has continued to include him in many ways in our family, so that he is never forgotten.

She is a beautiful singer and seamstress. Her testimony and faith are so strong that you cannot imagine her without them. She radiates goodness and the Light of Christ.

Ma Baker is a loving listener. It is so soothing to be able to just pour out your heart to her, and know that she doesn't judge you. She just loves you. This to me is her single greatest attribute.

I am so grateful for such a wonderful mother-in-love!


My favorite words of wisdom from Ma Baker:

"Ice cream is the secret to a happy family."


Ma Baker's Classic Spaghetti with Meatballs

This is SO GOOD. It's worth making from scratch (and not hard)! You'll never want to go back. . . .

2 - 15 oz. cans tomato sauce

1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. basil

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning

Mix all ingredients in large saucepan. Cover and simmer for about 1/2 hour.


3/4 lb. ground beef (I use ground turkey and it works fine)

1/2 c. bread crumbs or rolled oats

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese.

Mix all ingredients well, and form into walnut-size balls. Drop into sauce. Cover and simmer for about 1/2 hour.


Ma Baker's Eggless Raisin Squares

One of DC's childhood favorites. He says the smell of this still takes him back to the good old days. . . .:)

1 c. raisins

1 1/2 c. water

2 tbsp. margarine

1/3 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1/2 c. chopped nuts (so optional in DC's book :)

Simmer the raisins, water and margarine for 1 min. Add to remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes.

New Leaf, day 2

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments!! I can't believe what good ideas ya'll have! I will be referring to your comments often in the next few days!

After the second day of working on the Paper Monster, I have gone through most of the pile that was on the counter from the past 6 months or so. (I wish I had gotten a before picture of this!)

All the bills / paystubs / medical records are tucked away (tightly) into the top drawer of the file cabinet. And all of the memorabilia type stuff (adorable drawings and notes that I can't stand to throw away) is in a new pile.

But that pile WILL be dealt with soon! I promise!

And then I can get to the bags and boxes and making the file cabinet not so tight. . . . urck.

This is a huge project. But already it feels better just to have that huge pile off my counter! Yay! Thanks so much for the encouragement! Today I bought the first of the stash that will be the giveaway. :)

P.S. Took some "before" pictures. . . Still working up the nerve to post them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Turning over a New Leaf. . . .

I'm experiencing a very unusual situation in life right now. Three of my children are in school, one is safe in heaven, and one is comfy in my womb. This means that I have Quiet, Long days.

When school first started, this was NOT a good thing. I couldn't stand the fact that Hummer was no longer my constant companion as he had been for 5 1/2 years. (I even started bawling in the library when I saw the storytime room - pitiful). And I sorely missed Exacto and Fluffy, too.

So I mourned for a day or two, then realized that the harder I worked while they were gone, the more attention I could give them when they got home! YES! FOCUS!

That worked for a couple of weeks. Then, after Labor Day weekend, I was in sort of a lazy funk. The weather was making me SO CRANKY - with high humidity and high temperatures and trying. to. rain. but. just. not. quite. sort of weather, and then pouring for days on end, right when I want it to be cool, dry autumn like in normal places. The computer got WAY too convenient. And suddenly I realized that the boys had been in school for a MONTH and I had very little to show for it, in spite of my "quiet, long days."

Over the weekend I did a lot of thinking. The time I have right now makes me feel, in a way, very wealthy! :) I just need to be wiser in how I'm using what I've been given. So I sat down and "budgeted" how to allocate these golden hours.

Lest you busier people (which is probably all of you) start getting a little jealous. . . a lot of what needs to be done is a result of nearly two years of neglect. My life was so completely upside-down after Benjamin died, and DC was so busy just keeping his head above water with me out of commission, things have been in survival mode for a long, long time. Maybe I'll get brave and show you some "before" pictures and then some "after" pictures when I'm done!

Anyhoo, I'm starting anew, with very specific goals and even a schedule for my time during the day. I'm really grateful for a chance to get things back in order before the baby arrives.

The first deadline I've created for myself is to organize all the paper that is all over the house in bags and piles (so embarrassing to even admit this), and get a working system going. I want to complete this by General Conference (10/2), and I think I can do it in 10 hours, so I'm spending an hour a day.

If I meet the deadline, I will reward myself with THIS sweet little number from Old Navy for our baby girl:

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                                               Isn't it adorable? I can't wait to put it on her!!

Why am I telling you all this? Because I'm hoping you'll be like my drill sergeants! (Nice ones, but strict ones. :)

Will you please encourage me? I'll report in periodically, and let you know how I'm doing. Even if I'm not doing well--that way you can give me a verbal kick in the pants!

And in return, I will host my Very Own Giveaway!! Wow, that makes me feel like Pioneer Woman, or something, to even type that! ha! Too bad I can't give away Kitchen Aids.

But if you leave comments on my "New Leaf" posts over the next couple of weeks, you will have a chance to win something nice. I'm not sure what yet, but very likely chocolate will be involved. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Articles of Faith and Ice Cream

About a year ago I designed this on Photoshop to help our boys keep track of their progress in memorizing the Articles of Faith. They loved getting to earn "super-duper ice cream sundaes", and Fluffy and Exacto earned them really fast! :)




Unfortunately, Ruby ate Hummer's chart, and when I went back to print out another one (months later -- ouch), the file had gotten damaged somehow. Arg! So anyway, I got it straightened out, and thought while I was at it, maybe some of ya'll would like access to it, too.

Let me know if you use it, and if you have any suggestions!

Note: It is two separate pages. I recommend printing it out on cardstock (may be more dog-proof that way!).

Memorizing the Articles of Faith

Memorizing the Articles of Faith p2

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 34 - { the Priesthood }

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

~ 2 Timothy 1:7


I've been wanting to write this post for several weeks now, to share with you all the miracle that has happened to me. . . .

To show you what was going on in my mind and heart before the miracle, here is a post I started to write at the end of July:

This pregnancy has been a totally different experience emotionally than the others. It is really hard to enjoy it and anticipate what's ahead when the fear weighs so heavily on me. While I am grateful, so SO grateful to have a new life growing inside me, I am trying to focus on each day. To notice and marvel at each movement. To remember to appreciate that sweet closeness that doesn't last no matter what the outcome is. And yet, not to look forward to the future, just in case it turns out like it did before. (No wonder my family thinks I'm a total basket case.)

I am completely disinclined to do many of the things that I've always done in the past. Already I have decided not to get out any baby clothes beforehand, and not to set up the crib. It just hurt too badly to come home to that empty crib last time, with the neatly stacked and folded baby clothes all ready on the shelves of the changing table.

And for once, I'm actually resisting the nesting instinct. Last time we spent weeks and weeks working on the entire house, and it was in impeccable order by the time we received the news that changed our lives permanently.

I should add, too, that the sickness and fear that was in my heart was affecting my friendships, especially with other pregnant women. I would hear someone say, "Well, I just hope this baby comes before the end of the year, so we can get the tax break." And I would freeze up, thinking, "I just hope this baby comes alive--I don't care when." And then I wouldn't know what to say without sounding bitter or paranoid, and that would end that conversation.

Any of you who were around me in May or June or July probably noticed I was antisocial, moody, hard to be around. (I am really sorry!) 

I was trying so hard to have faith, but I couldn't seem to just be happy about anything. All I was focused on was getting a living baby in my arms. And that wouldn't be happening until December--and maybe not even then! my mind kept screaming at me--so I had kind of stopped living my life normally.

I was sick inside.



When Christ was on the earth, he went about healing the sick. He laid hands on the blind and they could see. He cast out devils. He even raised the dead.

He comforted broken hearts and calmed storms.


Then he organized his Church, and gave this amazing power--the Priesthood--to his twelve apostles.



I am grateful, so grateful, to know that He has again given this power to men on earth!



When Peter, James, and John laid their hands on Joseph Smith's head, they gave him that same Priesthood power and authority that Jesus Himself had given them. And that has been passed down in the same way since through the generations. . . .to my dad.

When we went back to Arizona a few weeks ago, I asked my dad to give me a Priesthood blessing. I have such precious memories of his blessing me during my growing up years--when I fell out of a swing and knocked my front tooth out, when I was sick with an ear infection, and more recently, an indescribably beautiful blessing the night before I delivered Benjamin.

So, our last night there, he laid his hands on my head and through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, said the words that the Savior would have said if it had been His hands on my head.

The amazing comfort and reassurance that poured into me completely overwhelmed me. I wish I could talk to you face-to-face and tell you what I heard and what I felt. It was too personal and sacred to share in much detail. . . .

But it healed my heart, and I am so different now than what I was before!

I am able to have joy in this pregnancy now, and real hope for the outcome. I can talk happily with friends about their babies, and not find myself biting back bitter words. I feel that I can plan to bring this baby home, and have started the organizing and cleaning that is natural to me in my normal pregnant state.

The paralyzing fear is gone.

100 days of gratitude tag

The sheer generosity of our Father in blessing me just to enjoy this pregnancy overwhelms me. He loves me enough to care how I feel right now!

He loves you that much, too.

Isn't it incredible?