2017-01-02-08-04-06

My Etsy Shop is Officially Open!

In addition to starting a blog, I have been working on starting an Etsy Shop as well.  It’s taken me some time, and is still in the early stages, so hopefully everyone can bear with me while I get it fine tuned!

Naturally, the hardest part about this has been my drive for “perfect”.  It has held me up for months.  Today I finally decided I needed to take advice from Jon Acuff (you may remember me talking about his book “Start” here in this first post) and just START.  So I listed the few things that I have and here I go!

I’m not sure where I’ll go with my shop because I have about a million different ideas, but one of my main items will be paper pieced items for scrapbooks, cards, invitations, etc, so that is where I started.  I’ll be adding some examples and page ideas here on the blog to go with the items I’m selling.

Here are the first items I have listed:

Who Doesn’t Love Sheep?

Etsy Sheep

I gave a couple sets of these to people to make some examples of scrapbook pages for me that I could post on the blog.  This page that my mom created is adorable:

Etsy sheep example page

I love how she used it with formal portrait pictures and all the other embellishments that she added match perfectly.  My page turned out a little bit differently, as I chose a hodge podge of everyday candids for mine:

my-page

I have another friend that did a page, and sadly, I don’t have a picture of it yet!  She used her sheep in a completely unique way that I hadn’t considered.  While my mom and I were thinking babies, she used hers to do a page about her grandma that she loves.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get a picture soon to add because I loved that it’s different.

The Penguins are Coming…

Because I listed the penguins now, I decided to do a sneak peek of them here.  I have some pages coming for these also, but I will do them as a separate post later.

Etsy Penguin

More To Come

I started drawing these little characters on a whim after I got my new Cricut Explore Air and decided to try my hand at making my own cut files.  When I was younger, I loved drawing little cartoony animals and things, but to be honest, it had been a long time since I tried.  Drawing these and seeing them come to life has been SO MUCH FUN!  They have pop dots on them to give them a 3-D effect and I’m selling them as a finished product for now. (I may decide to sell them as downloadable files later, I’m just not sure.)

I’m currently finishing up a set of astronauts and aliens, as well as a scarecrow with some fall accessories.  If you’d like to visit my Etsy Shop and take a look, you can do so at this link:

WhimsySueDesigns

It’s a work in progress, but I’m so excited to get going!  Share it with your friends and spread the word…and I’d love to have your feedback.  If there is anything in particular you’d like to see in my shop, let me know because I’m open to suggestions.

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

On Being the Perfect Mother…

Once upon a time, when I was younger, I dreamed about how I would be the perfect mother.  I would be the inspiration for this right here:

pregnant_barbie

Except, of course, I would wear a longer and much more modest dress.

“Hi!  I’m perfect Mormon Mother Barbie!  I have a dozen perfectly well behaved children.  They never watch television, listen to anything other than wholesome, uplifting music, pray and read scriptures right on schedule daily, and they all go to bed like angels right on time.  Between their studies that get them straight A’s in school they excel at music lessons, foreign language lessons, volunteer for charity work and whistle happy tunes while they clean the house and do all manner of chores without complaint.  My house is immaculate at all times–there is no such thing as a stray dirty sock in the middle of the floor!  I cook perfectly healthy, nutritionally balanced meals and pack my children perfectly healthy and well balanced lunches every single day.  I photograph every accomplishment and record it in individualized scrapbooks for each of them, chronicalizing their perfect lives from the moment of birth.  Every one of them will grow up to be successful, well rounded, perfect adults that will wish there was an award they could give me for my perfect mothering skills.”

Those of you that know me, know, of course, that 24 years later this is exactly how it all went down.

Just kidding.

Recently I discovered this great new show on TV that I love called American Housewife.  I think the reason I love it to much is because that is me.  I completely relate. Yesterday I had one of those days where I started reliving my moments of motherhood failure, and lest you think I don’t have any of those, I submit proof:

Here’s the Proof:

When Savannah was a baby, she never wanted me to put her down.  When I say never, I mean N.E.V.E.R.  I thought I would lose my mind.  I loved her, but I couldn’t get anything done.  One time I had her in one of those little packs you wear on your chest in an effort to try and cook dinner, stood in front of the stove too long and finally realized her wee little socks were putting off a bit of smell.  I almost lit her on fire.  That was awesome.  This event led to yet another great moment for me–the discovery of the Teletubbies.

You know those kids of mine that were never going to watch TV?  When I realized that Savannah loved the Teletubbies more than life itself, her little bouncy chair became permanently positioned in front of the TV where I plopped her to watch the tape over and over and over again. (Yes, I said tape–I know I’m dating myself when I complain that I had to keep rewinding it!)  I abandoned that “no tv” rule about 30 seconds after my first baby opened his eyes and I discovered that I could actually walk away and leave him with the marvelous boob tube babysitter.

When Braden was younger, there was a day when he came home from school on the bus.  As the driver opened the door, I could already smell the really enticing smell of vomit that had been locked in a metal can for about an hour and it was lovely.  It was even better when I discovered it was my kid that was the culprit.  He had vomited against his tray, and, being in a tilted position, all that nasty had run down the tray into his lap and all over his wheelchair.  It was a nightmare.  Not sure what else to do, and knowing for sure I didn’t want to roll that disgusting mess into my house, I instead pushed him to the backyard where I grabbed the hose and…I’m almost ashamed to admit it… hosed him down.  Yes.  I hosed down my disabled son with ice water from the hose.  Not one of my proudest moments.  But in my own defense, I honestly didn’t know what else to do.  He didn’t seem to mind so much…I think.

When Dylan was young, he had difficulty sleeping and was a little afraid of the dark.  He would come in our room and stand next to me quietly, breathing and staring, until I popped my eyes open and wet my pants in fright.  There’s nothing like waking up to giant eyeballs right at face level, staring at you in the dark.  I was not a “come sleep in my bed” kind of mother, so I always sent him away, back to deal with the monsters under his bed all alone.  Actually, though, he didn’t go.  Instead he’d plod around to the other side where Patrick would gladly move over and let him in.  Clearly, Patrick was a better parent than me.

And last but not least, here’s one of my personal favorites:

Several years ago, Patrick got mad at my kids.  I don’t remember the reason, and the reason doesn’t even matter anyway, because the only thing important to this particular story is the fact that he swore at them.  He doesn’t swear often, so this was quite the scene.  It was some mild mannered curse word, like hell or damn…nothing big and ugly like the F word or anything.  Savannah instantly started crying.

Me:  What are you crying about?

Savannah:  Dad just swore at me.

Me:  You didn’t cry when I swore at you…

Savannah:  That’s because you do it all the time!

An award winning moment in motherhood right there.  (For the record, I’d like to state that I only use the mild mannered curse words and not the big ugly ones…in my own defense.  And I was with them all day while he was at work, so really, if you calculated the time/curse word ratio it probably isn’t as bad as she made it sound.  I’m just sayin’…)

I could literally fill volumes with examples like this and we could all have a good laugh at my expense.  But I think I’ll stop here.

A Proud Moment…sort of…

I did have my really proud moments though, like when I made a handmade Spongebob costume before Spongebob costumes were a “thing”.  I made it out of those big foam pads you use to make cushions for furniture, and the costume itself was all made out of felt.  It was freaking awesome!  I walked with Colby’s kindergarten class while they did their Halloween parade and heard some 6th grader expressing awe about what an awesome costume it was and felt like it was one of my better moments.  (Sadly, this also is one of those double-edged sword moments.  As Colby went trick or treating that night, that enormous costume was sort of heavy and he couldn’t really bring his hands together or put his arms down.  Finally he succumbed to the weight of it all and fell over and bounced.  Yep…he BOUNCED.  My sister and I actually laughed at him before helping him get back up.  So, yeah.  It was a good and bad moment for me all in one.)

So why do I bring all this up?

Today was one of those days where I woke up feeling a little down about the job I have done as a mother.  It’s easy when your kids get older to spend time looking back, wondering if you did everything right, reevaluating all the decisions you made and asking yourself if things would be different/better “if only”.

Sadly, it’s my nature to look back and second guess myself.  There is so much to learn along the way that once I learned it, it’s easy to look back and recognize my mistakes.  Maybe the worst part is, there is still a lot to learn, so some days it seems like the mistakes keep coming.

Despite our desire to be the perfect parent, it’s not possible.  We will all fail at it at one time or another.  Expecting that anything else will happen sets us up for disappointment.  It’s one giant series of lessons to learn, and lots of practice. There are definitely bad parents out there, but the truth is, if you’ve ever spent even a second of your time asking yourself if you’re good enough at the job, then it’s not you.

It’s inevitable that we will all spend time wishing we’d done things differently, beating ourselves over the head for past mistakes, and praying for do-overs.  But it shouldn’t be that way.

We are all doing the very best we can with what we’ve been given.  No two people will be the exact same at mothering, and there is not a single one of us that is perfect, We all suck at it from time to time, and that has to be okay.

I wonder sometimes, if I could go back, knowing everything I know now, and do things differently, how would my life look?  How might my kids be different if I had had all the answers back before I started?  (The ironic thing about that is that I still don’t have all the answers, even with 24 years of practice.)

I remember a night, many years ago, when all my kids were still young.  They were all in bed asleep.  Patrick was working, so it was just me.  I looked in at all of them and had this overwhelming feeling come over me that said “Holy crap!  I’m in charge!  These little people are counting on me to take care of them!”

It wasn’t like I didn’t already know that, but the actual realization in that moment was kind of horrifying.  I remember that night saying a prayer and telling Heavenly Father I didn’t even know what I was doing, and asking Him why he trusted me to do such an important job.  Sadly, I still don’t really know the answer.  The only thing I know for sure is I couldn’t have done it without His help.

When all is said and done, I’m happy with how things are turning out.  I wouldn’t change my kids for the world.  They are fabulous human beings, and in the grand scale of things, can we ask for anything more?  I like to think that I played at least some role in how great they are, but sometimes I think they got that way in spite of me, not because of me.

The relationship I have with my kids has definitely changed, and I’m loving it.  Sometimes it’s hard to relinquish the “I’m in charge” mentality, but it’s also kind of nice to just be friends and enjoy their company on a whole different level.  It makes all those difficult times SO worth it.

Now I just wait patiently (PATIENTLY, I SAY!  There is no rush here…) for the day I will be a grandma.  I bet I can make some really AWESOME mistakes as a grandma too!

 

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

Italian Meatball Sandwiches

I have to start this post by clearing stating that I am NOT a fan of meatball sandwiches…. There are many great sandwich shops that serve them and my family loves them, but I have just never been a fan.  Then there are the frozen meatballs that you can buy and just dump in sauce and heat for a quick dinner… I’m not even going to talk about those because it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

All that being said, you might wonder why I would write a post about a sandwich that I hate.  The reason?

meatball-sandwiches

Because these sandwiches are awesome!

Yes, I said it.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these sandwiches.  I originally tried making these just because my entire family loves meatball sandwiches so much, and I love my family.  I honestly did not expect to like them at all and decided it was something to endure.  Then I ate one.  It was delicious.  Suddenly I loved meatball sandwiches.  But only these ones.  I still won’t order them at a restaurant, and if anyone even mentions buying those frozen meatballs I shiver.

So, that being said, whether or not you like meatball sandwiches, you really need to try these.  You will be converted.  I promise.  These are great for hungry teenagers, too.

A couple of good tips

  1. These really deserve a good, chewy bun.  A soft, light bun is just not going to be as good.
  2. Be careful when handling ground beef as you mix the meatballs.  Meat that has been overmixed will start to break down in a weird way.  That’s why the recipe says to crumb the meat as you add it.  Then mix it gently.
  3. The sauce is a must.  Don’t substitute a jar of premade sauce, because…no.
  4. The recipe will make enough meatballs for about 12 sandwiches. If you feel like that’s too many, you can cut the recipe in half, but if you’re making them anyway, I would freeze them.
  5. A toasted bun and some cheese take the sandwich from good to excellent.  Use mozzarella or provolone, whichever you prefer.  I like to toast the bun, then add the cheese before adding the meatballs and sauce.  Keeps the bun from soaking up all the liquid.

A warning

Once upon a time I thought it would be a good idea to make the meatballs and then throw it all in the crock pot.  Don’t do it.  It might sound easier, especially if you’re going to be busy or not home, but this is definitely not a recipe for the crock pot.  Unless you’d rather have meat sludge sandwiches.

The Recipe:

PRINT RECIPE

For the meatballs:

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
  • 2 lbs. ground beef

For the sauce:

  • 2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz. size)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine everything except the cracker crumbs and ground beef and mix well.  Crumble the meat over the mixture and add crackers.  Mix gently just until combined.  Shape into balls approximately 1-inch in size and place on a broiler pan.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 350°.  Drain.  Meatballs can be frozen at this point if desired.

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For sauce, combine all ingredients in a large skillet.  Bring to a low boil and add meatballs.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Serve meatballs and sauce on hoagie buns and top with mozzarella cheese if desired.

2017-01-02-08-04-06

5 Reasons Why I Struggle Following Through

running-away-1

I’m sure I’m not the only one that does all my best thinking in the shower, right?  I get struck with some lightning of an idea—a new goal in mind.  It’s usually pretty fabulous when it first comes to me, and I fall instantly in love with it and jump right in without thinking.  Then I overwhelm myself, trying to do too much too fast…the feelings of self-doubt creep in and I start to think I was an idiot for starting, and maybe I even burn myself out because I let my wild ideas take over and run my life.  Years down the road, my life is now one giant tale of unfinished projects and unfulfilled goals.

I’m not gonna lie. I have started a blog before.  Three times, actually.

The first time was just one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants decisions that you make one moment when you tell yourself “Hey!  I have something to say and everyone in the world will love to hear from me.” So I jumped in and started it.  I wrote something here and there, a lot of rants about things, and some of it came out pretty good, and some of it didn’t, but I made the horrible mistake of looking around at other blogs way too often and it made me feel like I was less than adequate.  Slowly, the first blog got dismissed and left in the dust as I wrote less and less often, until I didn’t write at all anymore.

The other endeavor started after seeing all the food blogs out there and thinking that maybe that would be my true calling.  I posted some recipes but once again lost steam after realizing that I’m kind of a picky eater and my collection of recipes would be sparse.  So that one fell by the wayside too.

My third attempt was in collaboration with my sister and we started a blog about scrapbooking.  We started off pretty strong but slowly petered out on that one too.  I’m not even sure why, but I’m certain it involved some serious feelings of self-doubt because that seems to be a common thread with me.

The sad thing is, all three of these experiments involved things I feel very passionate about.  I love writing and telling stories…I love to cook (mostly baking)…and I believe that scrapbooking and preserving memories are one of the most valuable uses of time on the face of the whole earth—especially as I have gotten older and realize how fast life passes by.  I also think I’m pretty good at all three of them.  So why couldn’t I make any of them work?

1.      Fear that I can’t compete with others

Spending time looking at other blogs absolutely killed me!  I spent so much time comparing what I was doing to what others were doing that there was no way I was going to come out ahead on that one.  I came across a quote in a book recently that made me realize what I was doing wrong.

“Winners compare their achievements with their goals while losers compare their achievements with those of other people” –Nido Quibien

This has been me…behaving like a loser.  It wasn’t just the blog itself, either, it was what they were blogging about.  I see perfectly decorated homes, with perfectly organized cupboards, perfect food on perfect plates, or perfect scrapbook pages that someone manages to throw together in a mere twenty minutes.  I look around at piles of shoes by the front door or realize that I can’t even see the top of my kitchen table for all the clutter and this is followed by me sitting down to feel bad about myself.  While I’m busy with my pity party, time ticks away and pretty soon the family rolls in the door and I haven’t even begun to think about dinner.  So much for perfect food on perfect plates.  Time for frozen pizza on paper plates…except then I realize we’re out of paper plates and we’re rolling with paper towels instead.

2.      I believe I’m just too late and too old

The blogging craze started years ago and many of the most successful ones have been around since the beginning.  Is there really room in the universe for another blog?  Everyone has already picked their favorites and there is only so much time in the day, so that ship has sailed.  In addition, I look around at many of the blogs I used to read that post about scrapbooking and many of them have just stopped posting anything new.  Is it true that scrapbooking is going the way of all craftiness and people have lost their enthusiasm?  Did the window for this particular brand of blogging already close?  It feels sometimes like I’m a day late and a dollar short for everything.  Add this to the fact that I’m kind of old (this goes back to my earlier comment about competing with others) and I watch these young girls posting about perfect parenting of their perfect toddlers… My kids are grown and (mostly) gone from the house now.  I managed to get them to adulthood without killing them, either intentionally or through negligence, but I’m not sure that alone qualifies me as an expert.

3.      It has to be perfect

Perfectionism has long been my most wild adversary.  You know that saying “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”  I’ve taken that saying into a whole new realm and live with the adage “If you’re going to do something, do it perfectly, or don’t bother.”  I know I’m not alone here.  Admit it.  Let’s talk about an example:

A couple of summers ago I reorganized my pantry.  I’m going to pat myself on the back right here and say that for the first time reorganizing my pantry in my sixteen years of living here, I finally got it right.  Everything I did works for me, and my pantry has stayed organized and clean ever since then. (Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post about what I did and share.)  But here’s where the non-finishing dork in me shows up:  I bought all these really nice/cute containers for things, all done with the end in mind—I wanted them to not just be cute, but that had to work for their intended purpose, and I did good because everything I got really does work!  So now, here I am with a pantry full of baskets and containers, everything works, everything fits, everything is in its place.   All that is left is to create labels for everything. Here’s my thought process:

“I have a label maker, so that would work.”

“I also have a Cricut, so I could cut cute vinyl labels.”

“I have seen some people make tags to hang on baskets, so that’s an idea.”

“In the meantime, I’ll write on some masking tape and stick it on everything until I decide which idea I like best.”

Fast forward two years and guess which labels I chose?  The masking tape ones…because the labels need to be perfect and once it’s done, there is no undoing.  That means I not only have to create the perfect label, but before I can even do that, I have to decide which idea is best.  Which leads me to my next problem:

4.      Making decisions is too hard

This one kind of goes hand in hand with the perfectionism one.  It happens a lot when I scrapbook.  I search and search for the perfect paper to go with some pictures I want to use.  I’ll find plenty of cute paper that will work, but that’s not good enough because what if there is something BETTER out there, and in an effort to rush into things, I miss it?  I do this with absolutely everything I do, whether it is decorating my family room, organizing my pantry, or finding a new recipe to cook for dinner.  It’s easier to not decide than to make the wrong decision.  This boils over into my blogging ambitions as I try to choose a name, choose a theme, or just figure out what to write about.

5.      Self-Doubt leads me to believe I have nothing to offer

This could also go back with the whole “competing with others” scenario, but yet it’s much deeper than that.  It’s not so much looking at what others have to offer and thinking you can’t keep up, but it’s about doubting your own abilities regardless of what anyone else is doing.  We all feel inadequate at times, some more than others.  This all goes back to fear of failure.  What if I try and it sucks?  What if I try and because it doesn’t work out, it validates every single negative thought I’ve ever had about myself and I realize I never should have tried because at least then I could live with the delusion that if I really wanted to, I could do it?  What if everyone thinks I’m a dork for even trying?  Add this all to the fact that I don’t honestly know what I’m doing or how to do it, and when I start to research, I realize how woefully inadequate my (not so vast) stores of knowledge really are.

 

The truth is, whether it’s blogging or some other ambition you have in mind, we all struggle with fear.

In an effort to try to pull myself out of this rut, I have been trying to work on my personal development.  I’ve been reading a lot and came upon the following quote that has quickly become my favorite.  I am trying to read it every day and work it into my core beliefs so that I can overcome all of these challenges that keep me from living my best life.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson,  A Return to Love

So all of this leads me to this new place

Here I am, working on another blog.  I’m not sure where it’s going to go.  I want to incorporate all those things that I love, all in one place, so there will probably be a lot of mish mash and chaos, some silly stories, some recipes, and some scrapbooking stuff all mushed in together in some haphazard sort of way, but I have to stop looking at what everyone else is doing and just be me.  I have an uncontrollable junk counter, a pile of shoes by the front door, and the containers in my pantry don’t have cutesy little vinyl labels on them (plus they are mostly empty because I keep forgetting to buy stuff when I’m at the store… I think my list is somewhere on the junk counter.)    Hopefully somewhere along the way I’ll pick up some friends that will be happy to know they are not alone in their own personal struggles to follow through.  I’d love to hear from anyone that feels like I do…

What personal goal are YOU struggling to follow through on?

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

Open When Letters–Missionary Edition

Back before my dear Elder left on his mission, I was pinning things like crazy to my Pinterest board.  I found all kinds of crazy over-the-top things that I thought were worthy of my time and effort.  I was bound and determined that I would be the ultimate supreme-o missionary mom out there, winning all kinds of awards and whatnot.  This was before he actually got his call, of course.  When the call finally came, we discovered that he had only five weeks to get ready to go and that left us in a time crunch.  All my plans for what I would do before he left sort of went sailing out the window.

He’s now been out a year and, sadly, most of the things I pinned and planned have not happened.  It’s funny how time works.  I barely get an email written to him and BING BANG BOOM it’s time to write another email. Time is flying!  That’s the good news.  The bad news is sometimes I feel like I’m doing a less than adequate job supporting him the way I wanted to.  I know it’s just me beating myself up needlessly, but let’s face it, sometimes Pinterest does that to a person.

One of the things I saw when I was madly pinning things were Open When letters.  Most of what I saw were letters written by girlfriends to their boyfriends leaving for college, but I did see examples of letters written for missionaries as well.  I LOVED THIS IDEA!

What is an Open When letter?

open-when-letters-missionaries

If you’ve never heard of or seen this idea, here’s the premise:  You write a series of letters that are meant to be opened under a certain circumstance.  If they are having a bad day, there’s a letter for that.  Feeling unmotivated?  A letter to help get them motivated.  You get the picture.  I saw a lot of ideas and even found a huge list to choose from.

Some of the ideas I didn’t love—like “open after your first baptism”.  Since we all know there are many missionaries out there that will serve a full two years and never baptize anyone, that feels a little risky to me.  I also didn’t want to concentrate on him MISSING things and end up making him homesick.  One letter that I ran across was for after you’ve done something successful, and it went on to talk about the dangers of being puffed up with pride and how being boastful is bad. Seriously?! I REALLY hated that one–I feel like every missionary out there should feel good about the work they are doing and bask in the glow of even the smallest success.

My Own Personal Failure

As much as I loved this idea, I didn’t get them done.  They were supposed to go with him in his suitcase when he left.  The idea and the fact that I didn’t get them done has kind of haunted me since.  Especially at those times when I hear that he’s struggling and think that I might have done something to lift his spirits.

(Now, before anyone decides to tell me I’m being ridiculous to beat myself up over this, I totally get it.  I’m the Queen of putting too much pressure on myself and my expectations of myself are way, WAY higher than they should be.  Some days I say I’m trying to change, but that’s kind of a lie.  I don’t change…it’s just who I am.  Sometimes I think I revel in the chaos that I create for myself.)

Regardless of the fact that I have been sad about not getting this done, I still never did it.  Until now.

A few short weeks ago, my daughter decided to write these for her boyfriend that was leaving on a mission.  It reinvigorated me, and I realized that it was not too late to write them and send them.  After all, he still has a whole year left!  I’m sure he will still encounter disappointments and discouragement (not that I’m hoping he will, but per my experience in this life so far, it seems inevitable…).  Together, the two of us came up with a list of topics and started writing.

The Topics

As I said before, I found a list a mile long of ideas for the letters.  I whittled that list down to the following ideas:

  • You need a spiritual boost
  • You need some inspiration
  • You are lonely
  • You are short a few cents
  • You are discouraged
  • You are missing home
  • You are experiencing trials
  • You’ve had a hard day
  • You need to feel loved
  • You need something sweet
  • You need a good laugh
  • You are struggling to feel the Spirit

Savannah wrote a few more:

  • Your first night in the MTC
  • You reach your one year mark

So what’s in the letters?

Most of the envelopes had a personal letter, a card with quotes pertaining to the subject, and a talk from General Conference that tied in.  A couple of them had extra things too, if I found anything that went along with it.  Like this handy “Spiritual Directory Assistance” list that I included:

spiritual-directory

I also printed this cute reference card, attributed to Stephen Covey, about how to be happy:

12-things-happy-people-do

I printed both of them on a sheet of cardstock together, small enough that they could be cut out and would fit in the envelope.  I wanted them to be small enough that he could carry them with him tucked in his scriptures, so that was the goal when I sized them.

Just For Fun

One of the topics, “When you’re short a few cents” might seem like a letter that would include money.  I’m pretty sure that’s what my Elder expected too, if he’s opened it already.  I figured since I am funding his debit card, I already know he’s never short on money and sending him cash didn’t seem like a great idea.  So I turned this envelope into “short a few sense”…as in, common sense.  This was not so much a letter as it was a list of common sense rules to live by.  Some of them were funny, some were serious…for example:

  • You should not confuse your career with your life.
  • If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • Your friends will always love you anyway.
  • Doing nothing is very hard to do because you never know when you’re finished.
  • No one is really listening until you fart.
  • Never lick a steak knife.
  • There is a fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness”.
  • There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
  • Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
  • It ain’t the jeans that make your butt look fat.

For the “Need a Good Laugh” letter, I threw in some sticky mustaches, some jokes, and some cartoons that I printed on small cards that could be carried around or hung up somewhere.  One of my favorites was something I found that some might not think is funny, but is SO appropriate for my son there was no way I could not include it:

you_rock_u2

Here are some of the others:

mormon-lds-meme-funny-26

21-hilarious-funny-religious-humor-memes-4

21-hilarious-funny-religious-humor-memes-1621-hilarious-funny-religious-humor-memes-17

(This last one is only going to be funny if you’re a fan of The Last Air Bender, a show my children watched, and are still watching with a religious furiosity.)

And then there is the letter about something sweet. It’s pretty hard to include candy, cookies, or any other sweets in an envelope, especially when you aren’t sure when it will get opened.  Instead I included pictures of kittens like this:

kittenfluffy-kitten

Aren’t they sweet? Ha ha!  I’m sure he’ll have a good laugh about this.  Then he’ll probably go use that debit card I gave him to get dessert, just because he feels slightly disappointed.

In Conclusion

I included this pack of letters in with his Halloween package, only because I was shipping it anyway.  He wrote me the next P-day and told me he’d had a few rough days and had already opened two of them, and he loved them!  It made me feel a little bad that he didn’t have them earlier, but also glad that I finally did it.

Not only did I get to inspire him with the letters, but getting to write them was good for my own spiritual boost too.  I read through countless General Conference talks, found quotes that fit, and all the reading, typing, and bundling helped with my own testimony.  I have been so blessed to have a son on a mission, and this is just another way that my testimony has grown as I support and serve him.

 

 

 

2017-01-02-08-04-06

Halloween Fun for a Missionary

Guys!  It’s Halloween time… so of course I had to send a special missionary care package to Dylan for Halloween.  I had TONS of fun putting this box together.  It probably helps that Halloween is one of my favorite times of year.  I love everything about Halloween, so trust me when I say this box could have been much, much bigger.

everything

Before I begin showing the items in the box, I have to state a little bit of a disclaimer here:  I stole most of my ideas from someone else.  I can be pretty creative, but in this case I decided there was no need to reinvent the wheel.  I was sort of in a time crunch (although that didn’t stop me from overdoing anyway) and parts of it had already taken longer than intended. So I took what I saw online, gave it my own touch, and was so happy with how everything turned out.

To Treat, or not to Treat?

Dylan has told me emphatically that he is trying to eat better and not gain weight.  I have tried hard when sending him packages not to send nothing but junk food but it’s sorta hard.  Especially when we’re talking Halloween…because basically, isn’t that what Halloween is about?  I avoided buying bags of candy to send for this reason, and also because he can buy that crap anywhere.  I was going for some homemade stuff that he probably misses by being gone during holidays.

Cookies from your Mummy

mummies

I made these cute little missionary mummies out of Pringles cans.  First a word of warning:  Empty them, wash and dry them, and let them sit for a couple of days to air out.  You don’t want your cookies to taste like chips.  Especially those nasty cheeseburger flavored ones.  (If you haven’t tasted them yet, let me do you a favor and say…just don’t.  They went in the trash in my house.)  I intended to take pictures while making these babies, but before I knew it, they were done and I didn’t have any pictures, so instructions will have to do.

Instructions

I covered the Pringles can with black paper and glued it on.  I tried it with a glue stick at first, but that was sort of stupid because it didn’t even pretend to hold, so I ended up switching to a glue gun.  I had about a half yard of white fabric that I ripped into strips that were about 1 ½ inch wide.  You don’t actually want them to be very long because you want to be able to wrap them at an angle and switch angles often.  Once the black paper was on, I glued on the eyes, and then started wrapping them with the fabric.  I put dots of hot glue here and there to hold it in place as I wrapped, being careful to make it look like the eyes were peeking out.

The ties are just made of scrapbook paper and so are the nametags.  I did one for both him and his companion.

mummy-tags

I made a circle label to go in the lid with matching paper to the ties.  I stuck those labels in the lids with a small piece of double sided tape.

And then for the cookies…

whoopie-pies

I absolutely HAD to go with one of my kid’s favorites:  pumpkin chocolate chip whoopie pies!  These cookies are da bomb.  In an effort to not make this post horribly long, I will save the recipe for another day (but trust me, this is one you really want…)

I wanted to keep the cookies as fresh as possible and not have them all stick together, so I tucked little squares of wax paper between them and then rolled them up in some plastic wrap (plus I didn’t want to take any chances that the cans still smelled like those nasty chips!)

whoopie-pies-wrapped

I put them in the freezer all wrapped up like this.  When I was ready to box it all up, I pulled them straight from the freezer, put them in the cans, and shipped the box.  This worked incredibly well.  I asked him after he received the package and he said they were as fresh as if I’d just made them.

Something to Sink Your Teeth Into

caramel-corn-tag

The other homemade goody that I made for them was caramel corn.  I attached plastic teeth with a little packet of blood to the bags too.  Sending it seemed a little tricky because I didn’t want it to get rock hard, but I also didn’t want to put it in a Ziploc bag for fear it would get soggy.  I opted for cellophane bags.  Hopefully it was good and stayed relatively fresh, but I forgot to ask him!

Bugs And Kisses

bugs-and-kisses1

 

These little goodies are just a bag of Hershey’s kisses and rubber bugs. I got the chalkboard labels at Hobby Lobby and they have come in handy on more than one occasion.  I wanted something black and these were all I had.  I then made the mistake of using a white gel pen to write on them.  That was not a good plan.  I waited two days for the gel pen to dry and it never did, so I had to go over it with a chalkboard marker.

Wrap Yourself Up

toilet-paper-roll

I saw all sorts of other mummy references to go with this cute tag.  Some people had used candy bars, etc.  I decided I already had an awful lot of junk food (and he’s mentioned several times to go easy on the candy and goodies) so I decided to go with one of life’s necessities and send him toilet paper.  I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include some kind of bathroom humor in every package.

And for your breath…

Tic Tacs with little labels!

tic-tacs

 

Keep it Spiritual

As I am putting stuff together to send each time, I like to always keep the original reason why he’s out there in mind and tie everything back to the work he’s doing.  I loved the saying about pumpkins.

coming-to-christ-is-like-a-pumpkin

I also made these pretzel rod “ghosts” with candy eyes to go with this saying.

ghost-rods

My daughter made fun of my ghosts because she said they looked anorexic, but I thought they turned out kind of cute.

And, of course, the missionary Halloween poem had to be included too:

halloween-missionary-poem

Top it all off with a box of Booberry cereal, some apples with caramel dip, and a gigantic spider and the box was ready to go and cram packed!  I dumped a bag of candy eyeballs on top.

full-box-halloween

halloween-box-spider

This giant lovely spider building a web on top was the final piece.  I didn’t want to bother decorating the box sides, so this is as close as I was going to get.

I also included a packet of “Open When” letters that really had nothing to do with Halloween.  I will post more on those later because I think they are one of the best things ever to give to a missionary.

Other ideas that you might consider if you’re sending a Halloween box to a missionary could include some fun Halloween socks and/or a seasonal tie.  I didn’t choose to send either because A) I couldn’t really find any socks that I liked and B) My Elder is very strict in his obedience to mission rules (and I am so proud of him for it) and he would consider a seasonal tie to be outside the conservative-ties rule.

This was such a fun box to put together!  I really miss the fun of having little kids for Halloween, so this was definitely a project to fill my empty spaces.

dylan-spider

Apparently he likes his giant spider…

Happy Halloween!