Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Mom, I can't read this."

Today in Sacrament Meeting at church, Quartus reclined against me, held the program up in front of him upside-down, and said, "Mom, I can't read this."  It was especially cute because of the way he emphasizes the ending consonants of words.

So many questions!  If it was right-side-up would he have said the same thing?  Did he really expect to be able to read it when he opened it up?  Is he going to be one of those crazy kids that teach themselves to read at age 3?  Is he always going to be this adorable?

Monday, June 29, 2015

How I Keep Laundry Under Control

When we were newlyweds, Hubby and I would do laundry once a week.  We would take our load or two to one of our parents' house and spend time with family while washing clothes.  Then we would come home and fold and put it away together before bed.  This was a very special time for us and really strengthened our marriage.  For some reason we ended up having some of our most intellectually stimulating conversations during these "laundry chats."  Sigh, those were fun times.

Then kids came, number of loads increased, and Hubby worked full time.  I would take the kids one day a week to visit Grandma while I washed and dried clothes.  Sometimes the pile of clean clothes would sit for a day or two before being put away.

Then more kids meant more laundry and more busy lives.  Eventually we stopped bumming laundry machines off our parents and instead used the apartment complex's laundry room a couple times a week like real grown-ups.  And again, the pile of clean laundry would sit until I found the time to fold and put it away.

Then we moved into our house, had a fourth kid, and got even more busy.  The weekly laundry pile became laundry mountain.  I was really good (with help from the kids and Hubby) about moving the dirty stuff from machine to machine.  But then after coming out of the drier, the clean clothes would get piled on the living room couch and just sit there.

The only times the couch was empty was if we had someone coming over so I would call for "all hands on deck" and then we would get it all put away (or lazily move the pile to my bed).  Inevitably, as soon as our guest left, another load would get pulled out of the drier and Laundry Mountain would start to build again.

I have now learned that the only way for me to keep clean laundry from piling up (and getting spilled, and stepped on, and dirty again) was to put it away AS SOON as it came out of the drier.

We're fortunate to have a laundry room between the kitchen and school room so it's a very convenient location to stand and work while still being aware of what the kids are doing.

So I just stand by the open drier and pull items out one at a time.  They are either folded and put in a pile on top of the washer...

...thrown into a bowl (I have one for socks and one for each child-they organize and put away their own clothes)...

...or hung up.

(I installed a cheap tension rod by the door to my garage so I have a place to keep empty hangers handy.)

Then as soon as the drier is empty, all that laundry HAS TO BE PUT AWAY!  If the kids only have one or two items in their bowls, then those can be stacked, put out of the way, and worried about later when they're more full.  But piles on the washer MUST be put away immediately or else I won't be able to start the next load.  And those shirts and dresses hanging on the doorjamb by the kitchen will fall down if they're left unattended too long.

Putting laundry away is not as daunting a task if it's done a little (one load) at a time.

This totally works for me!  I'm often still behind with big piles of dirty laundry waiting to be cleaned, but those are hidden away in hampers in bedrooms so I don't feel too bad about that.

At this point I want to give a plug for this awesome blog I found.  This woman inspires me!  
This is a description of how she tackles laundry.

What are some laundry tricks that work for you?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How To Help Your Child Write a Talk For Primary

Since I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, that means I grew up giving "talks" (short sermons) occasionally in Primary as a 3-11 year old child and then in Sacrament Meeting from 12 to present.  Therefore my dad always teased that my siblings and I had better get an "A" when we took public speaking classes in college!  We should have had an advantage over our classmates and would be a disappointment if we didn't do well. 

Though, it was hard to get used to ending a speech without using the phrase, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  

My friend Ally (blogger at Millennial Mormon Mom) asked me to share pointers on how exactly one would go about helping their child write a talk.  So I decided to sit my kids down and have them prep mock-talks.  Not sure if they'll get a chance to use these, but it's good to practice, right?  

Before I get to that, though, it's important to understand my reasoning behind why I do it the way I do.  I am so passionate about this!

It is so good for children even as young as 3 or 4 to start having these experiences at Church.  We are a Church lead by lay-ministry.  Everyone has opportunity to teach and preach at some point.  

We like to say in the Church that when you are given a talk assignment from the Bishopric, it's not because you're the expert on the topic and therefore the Ward could really learn a lot from you.  Rather, you're given that topic because Heavenly Father knows you need to learn something about it.

It's the same in Primary with the kids.  The children sitting in the room aren't going to learn a stinking thing from the talk given!  There's too much distraction and it's super hard for them to focus on and internalize what another child is mumbling into the microphone.  Giving a talk is for the benefit of the child giving the talk.

Giving a talk in Primary gives the child a chance to practice public speaking, practice writing a talk, and test their knowledge and testimony of a subject.  

In my experience, most parents tend to forget that.  They think that writing Primary talks has to be harder or have a more awesome outcome than it has to be! 

It's common to see parents write the talks for their kid, or have them read a story from the Friend Magazine.  So they're missing potential benefit.  Also, the talks usually end up way too long!  As a former Primary President, trust me when I say, "Short and to the point is always better!"

So my kids have always written their own (with my guidance) and they are always so proud of themselves!  Sure, it can take a little more preparation than just having my kid choose and read a scripture story summary from the back of a Gospel Art Kit picture.  But I feel it is so worth it!

Now on to the nitty-gritty!

When Primus (age 9) has an assignment, she writes it all on her own now. We treat it like any other writing assignment.  She has her prompt and has to write at least 5 sentences: a topic sentence, a conclusion sentence, and three or more body sentences about the topic.  Her conclusion sentence should be her testimony.  "I believe that..."  And then every talk is always ended with, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  As she gets better at it, I'll encourage her to use more scripture references, personal experiences, and scripture stories.

With Tertius and Secundus, though, I still help them.  But their talks are mostly their own words.  I just ask leading questions to get them thinking and then I write down their best answers.  

Tertius is 5 and gave his first talk just a couple weeks ago.  He can't read yet, so I sent him to Primary with the talk we prepared and practiced at home.  Then Secundus stood next to him at the microphone and whispered a sentence at a time into his ear for him to repeat.  It was awesome.

In the following videos, I help Secundus (age 7) with the topic,  "I Can Follow Jesus Christ's Example."  She is a smarty-pants and likes to show off her knowledge of the Gospel.  I've been told by her Primary teachers in the past that she would be in heaven if they would let her teach the lesson each week by herself.  So this was a piece of cake for my confident girl.

In the next video, I work with Tertius (age 5) on the topic, "Jesus Christ Is the Son of God, and He Is a God of Miracles."  His talk ended up a little long.  Before giving it in Primary, I would probably edit out the part about us all being Children of God.

As you can see, his knowledge of the gospel is less expansive.  He would proudly answer "Jesus is the Lord," and, "Make good choices," to every question if I let him.  When write talks with him, it actually ends up being a discussion where I teach him a concept and then ask him to repeat it back to me.

Please feel free to share and comment!  
As always, even though I feel strongly about the benefit of doing things my way, you can disagree with me.  And that's ok.  We can still respect one another.  Ultimately, you do what's best for your family, and I'll do what's best for mine.  I firmly believe in that more than anything!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Feeling Crazy

I found this old, unfinished journal entry from December 2014.  I enjoy reading these little moments-in-time.  It's always a good reminder to me that "This Too Shall Pass!"

I'm feeling a year.

I broke me ankle near the fourth of July and it seems like I just can't get my head or house straight since then.  Because I was laid up with limited mobility for so long (the amount of time I spent in a splint and then a boot was ridiculous and a story for another day perhaps) the backyard in particular got totally out of control.  Normally, Hubby is in charge of mowing the grass and I keep the covered patio tidy.  Well, Hubby isn't a fan of yard work and tends to procrastinate it anyway.  The summer heat doesn't help, either.  The kids just weren't being encouraged to go play outside, which means less motivation to keep the grass trimmed.  And since the kids weren't playing outside, I procrastinated organizing and sweeping the patio even after I was more mobile.  Then it reached a point where we were reasonably sure that we had black widows in the backyard.  We get sprayed for them regularly, but we've had a problem with them in the past so if I don't keep the hiding places cleaned out, I start to worry about spiders making themselves at home.  So at that point, the kids were actually forbidden from going in the backyard, which means it just got worse.

Poor Secundus has a summer birthday, very close to my accident, so that birthday party just didn't happen.  I finally got off my butt and got to work making her a cake and pinata and planned a party at the beginning of October (!) at a park for family. And with the holidays and important events to think about, I feel like I'm still 3 months behind.

I finally got the backyard under control but not in time to do a fall Tent Town, we put a lot of time and love into helping with an early November wedding, we didn't harvest our pomegranates soon enough and lost a lot of them, I'm planning an anniversary party for the beginning of the year, I'm staying really busy with making chocolate dipped pretzels to earn Christmas cash, I totally spaced on Hubby's graduation coming up this weekend, the girls recently had tech week and performances for their theater class, and I just wish I could cancel school until February.

Now here we are, with Christmas only 10 days away and we still don't have our tree up.  It doesn't feel like Christmas yet but we're running out of time!  I feel like I'm on a train that I just need to stop!

To make matters worse, when I get stressed out like this, I fall back into my old co-dependent type habits and thought patterns.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Homeschooling Means...#7

...feeling pride when my 9 year old hears a DVD say, "Romulus and Remus went on to found Rome," and replies, "Well, Romulus at least.  Cause Remus was dead.  Romulus killed him."

(This new series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bridging Ceremony

At the aforementioned end-of-year party with our homeschool group, they did a "bridging ceremony."  Each kid walked across a bridge to the waiting parents one at a time to represent moving from one grade to another.  When they got to the end, they stopped and received a certificate and waited as a few sentences about their accomplishments was read.

Here is what was read about each of my kiddos

Primus, 3rd grade
Primus strives to always be truthful, responsible, kind, and fair. She is very helpful and when there is a chore to be done, we can count on her to be the first to complete it with no whining. Her favorite thing to learn this year was how to write in cursive. In gymnastics, she has been working all year on learning how to cartwheel and we are very proud of the progress she made. She loves to learn about fractions and was excited to see how easy it is to add and subtract them.

Secundus, 1st grade
Secundus is a good friend, independent, confident, and a natural leader. She's very smart and often impresses us with how fast she can learn and analyze new concepts. Something she was excited about learning this year was about money. She practiced her new skills at Christmas time when she did a fundraiser to pay for her ballet recital and helped mommy at a craft fair. We were especially proud of her when she was chosen to play “small Alice” in a production of Alice in Wonderland Jr.

Tertius, preschool 
Tertius is our energetic, stereotypical boy and a joy in our lives. Though he is wiggly, Mommy was very proud that he was able to sit and complete several workbooks this year. He's also good at puzzles. He started learning to read and is making quick progress. His favorite song at his music class is the introduction song when we go around the room and say hi to every child by name.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

So Proud of My Little Boy! Learning to Read!

Tertius is learning to read and I am just blown away at how well he's doing!

He's five and will start Kindergarten officially in the fall.  Right now we are on lesson 32 out of 100 in our curriculum (Distar).  If he keeps going at the pace he's going now, he could be starting his Kinder year as a reader!

This summer I'm motivating the girls to do chores, practice German, and drill math facts by rewarding them with media time and popsicles.  Tertius can get the rewards by doing chores or a lesson of Distar with me.  Some days he has asked to do 2 lessons in one day.

At the beginning of this last school year I was convinced that I would start with him.  But he wasn't ready to sit and focus with me.  Also, at the time I wasn't ready to give him the consistent one-on-one time needed each day to really make the lessons stick.  So we did a handful of lessons (maybe up to 15?) and then stopped.  When we started again a several months later, we went back to the beginning.  And then we got lazy and fell out of habit again.  But now we're going strong.  He and I are both a lot more motivated and encouraged to keep going now that we see him making progress.

Now he's doing so well with it!  He's able to stay focused and he's making quick progress. If he doesn't care about something, then good luck getting him to do it!  On the other hand, once he has his mind set on something, there's no way you can stop him!

I am so proud of him.  It's exciting to watch my little ones learn such an important basic skill.  Sometimes motherhood and homeschooling can be so rewarding!

Monday, June 8, 2015

For days when I feel like a goldfish trying to fight a dragon...

Sometimes I look around at the world, our political climate, decaying morals, and controversial topics in the news, and I get discouraged, disgusted, and frustrated by it all.  I really feel overwhelmed and dragged down.  I want the world to be a better, safer place for my children.

But how can I possibly make a difference?

There aren't enough hours in the day!

I don't have the time, energy, means, or influence to make a dent.

It feels like fighting an uphill battle, and that's exhausting.

Like David fighting Goliath, or rather, like a goldfish fighting a dragon.  Impossible.

It's times like these that I have to stop, pray, and remind myself that I don't have to save the world.  Sometimes all I can do at this stage of my life is focus on being a good mother.  I can't change the world, but I can affect the lives of these innocent children that the Lord has placed in my care.

can teach my children that they are children of God.

I can teach them to be responsible and respectful.

I can teach them the Gospel and the joy that it can bring.

I can teach them about Christ and the peace that the Atonement can bring.

I can teach them to give service and be examples for good.

I can teach them the value of having high morals and standards.

I can teach them to stay close to the Savior and follow His prophet.

I can teach them that when they feel discouraged or have temptations, questions, or trials, that they should turn to their Heavenly Father in prayer and read His words in the scriptures.

I don't have to fight Goliath. I just have to equip my children to fight the metaphorical goliaths that they will encounter in this tumultuous world.  And Heavenly Father will help me to do that, so I don't have to be so scared.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Transportation-Themed Graham Cracker Treats

 On a whim I decided to have the kids make these fun treats for snack at Grandma Cindy's house.   This day Grandma was babysitting two other boys so it was nice to share this project with them, too.  They really enjoyed it, as predicted.  And it was good practice for the kids in spreading with a knife.  That's so hard to do!

The little brown one is a traffic light on one quarter graham cracker, with chocolate frosting and M&Ms.

The yellow one is a school bus.  Full size graham cracker, yellow frosting, Oreos for wheels, M&Ms for headlight and tail light, Cinnamon Toast Crunch for windows.

Finally, that pink monstrosity was originally going to be a fire truck.  (You can use pretzel sticks to make a ladder and M&Ms for sirens.)  But I forgot to grab my can of red frosting, and using red food coloring in white frosting only gives you pink.  I even tried to add some chocolate frosting to darken it but that only made it look fushia.  Oh well, it's a pink car I guess.  The kids didn't mind.

So proud of the finished product!  

Quartus was just given one of his sibling's left over frosting plate with a knife, a handful of M&Ms, and a few graham cracker pieces.  That kept him busy and happy for quite a while.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Homeschooling Means...#6

...developing inside jokes with my kids based on Alexander the Great naming several cities after himself.

"You could call it...Skinnymandria!"

(This new series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Symbols of Christmas Ornament

My family is continuing a Christmas tradition from my childhood.  Every Christmas we take a plate of treats to our neighbors.

When I was a kid, some years we would only give a plate of cookies.  And some years we were more organized and ambitious and would include a Nativity DVD, ornament, Candy Cane symbolism explanation, quote, etc.

Last Christmas I picked up tiny little bells, ornaments, and present decorations at a Stuff Swap.  So I was able to put together the following ornament.  I made 5 for our neighbors and one to keep on our own tree.  I'm really proud of how it turned out.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Co-Dependency Reading List

I used to facilitate a Family Support Group for people who have loved ones in addiction.  It was one of my most fulfilling callings I've ever had.

Several months ago I attended a regional meeting to promote the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP), Family Support Group (FSG), and Pornography Addiction Support Group (PASG) to the leaders of many local congregations.  While there I ran into an old friend.  Pornography addiction had touched her family's life and we had a very good talk.  I promised to send her a reading list but that never happened.  I feel awful!  So I'm finally doing it.  Here it is!

He Did Deliver Me From Bondage- Colleen Harrison
This is the first book on the subject of addiction I ever read.  It's written by an LDS lady who struggled with food addiction, perfectionism, and had a husband with a pornography addiction.  She found scriptures from the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ, that related to each of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

That scripture study resulted in her writing this book.  Each chapter focuses on a different step, with study questions that you are supposed to ponder and journal about.

Healing Through Christ
When the FSG was started, it was considered a pilot program.  We were given a draft of this guidebook to use as we waited for it to be given final approval by the Church's curriculum department.  I love it.  It quickly became my favorite resource on the topic of codependency.  It's written in mostly the same format as the ARP guide.

But then the curriculum department pulled it.  They decided to go in a different direction.  So the original authors took back their book, added and changed some things, and decided to distribute it themselves.

Addiction Recovery Program, A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing
When Healing Through Christ was pulled, we had to use the same workbook as the regular ARP meetings.  This guide is a study and workbook.  It takes AA's 12 Steps and talked about each of them from an LDS perspective with many scriptures and General Authority quotes.

At first it was hard to feel like it really applied to codependents.  But soon I fell in love with the 12 Steps.  The 12 Steps are for everyone!  All they are is a plan for applying Christ's Atonement and following the repentance process.  Everyone needs that!

Spouse and Family Support Guide 
This is the workbook the Church eventually decided to come out with for the FSG.  Change is hard and I was upset at first that they had removed the 12 Steps.  But it has proven to be a wonderful resource that has sparked many wonderful discussions in our group.

Codependent No More- Melody Beattie
Melody Beattie seems to be a very well-respected expert in the world of codependency.  She has written many books on the subject, but this seems to be the one I hear the most about.  I have not read it yet myself, but a few women I know personally read it and loved it.

Hold On to Hope- Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone and Dr. Rick H.
This was a pretty easy read.  I loved it!  It was so full of interesting insight.  I found myself many times bringing quotes and concepts from the book into the FSG meeting to share.

Homeschooling Means...#5

...taking "Spring Break" and "Christmas Break" one day at a time as needed, spread out over 3 or 4 weeks.  We also work through holidays like MLK Jr. Day and take that vacation day when we really need it.

(This new series is meant to be mostly lighthearted and fun.  Some may be serious, but most will be silly, braggy, or of the keepin'-it-real variety.  Not every homeschool is the same.  And some of these things could be said by public school parents.  This is just to highlight MY experience with MY homeschool and MY children.  Enjoy these little insights into our life and feel free to share your own "Homeschooling means..." in the comments!)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Don't Waste My Time

There are few things I hate more than my time being wasted. If I choose to waste my own time (by being lazy, for example, dorking around on fb or youtube) then that's fine. But if someone else wastes my time, I get angry. 

There are only so many hours in the day!

Recently the kids and I attended an end-of-the-year activity with our homeschool group.  When we arrived, the two parking lots for the park were completely full.  So we had to park at an elementary school down the street.  It wasn't too bad but as the big kids ran ahead, I was left carrying my heavy, needs-to-be-cleaned-out diaper bag, Quartus who had just woken up, and my potluck contribution on a large tray.  (This is no big deal because I'm a mom!  Not the first time I've found myself in similar situation.)

As I walked up I noticed that there were no tables for food and I didn't see anybody else holding trays of food.  I was confused.  Another mom quickly stopped me and said, "Oh, you must not have heard!  The picnic benches here are all totally full so we're going to move the potluck portion to a different park down the street."  Annoying, but whatever.  She gave me verbal directions and it seemed like it would be easy to find the next place. 

So the first part of the activity went well.  It was really fun and a great experience.  Then I packed up my kids and my junk and trekked back to the car. I realized quickly that I had completely forgotten the name of the street that I was supposed to turn on.  But I wasn't too worried because I figured I'd be able to follow everyone else.  

I got behind a big group of cars that I figured were part of our group and got going.  But then we just kept going and I got worried that I had driven too far, "There's no way this second park is this far away!"

But then the big group of cars turned left and I happily followed.  Then I just kept going.  And going.  And the landmark I was supposed to be watching for to turn next never came.  I had driven a long way and figured everyone else was probably already at the park and eating by now.  I decided that we were not going the right way.  I got back to the first park and tried again, turning left sooner this time.  

This obviously wasn't the correct way, either.  Angry, frustrated, and embarrassed, I apologized to the kids, instructed them to open up the pigs-in-a-blanket to eat dinner, and drove home.  

I'm frustrated that the planners hadn't known sooner about the conflict with the first park.  When I got home I was curious and checked the event site to see if maybe I had missed a notification on there with the new address because I don't have a smart phone.  The only thing I missed was a comment a few minutes before I left the house saying to bring a chair to sit in to eat at the first park.

I'm angry and embarrassed at myself for being so bad at remembering directions.  This has gotten me into trouble so many times! 

I'm embarrassed that I was so dissappointed at Hubby (Mr. Introvert, homebody, doesn't like crowds, doesn't like heat, doesn't like eating outside) for not coming with us but then it didn't turn out to be as great as I expected.  When I came home I prefaced my venting to him with, "Don't tell me you're glad you didn't come.  I may explode.  Or cry."

But I'm especially angry at all the time and money that was wasted this evening.  I drove all that way (it was pretty far from my house) to get there, and spent all that money buying gas and our potluck contribution, to only be able to participate in the first half of the event!  I was really looking forward to this event-the whole event.

That was a lot of time spent to not be able to enjoy the party.  That was a big waste of time to me, which I can't get back.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Awesome Surprise Birthday Party

I have an amazing husband.  And amazing friends.

They threw me a surprise birthday party and it was awesome.

I do not advertise my birthday on Facebook.  I hate the obligatory and insincere birthday messages that get sent if people know it's your birthday just because social media told them so.  And I hate feeling obligated to go through each one and thank them all for wishing me a happy day.  And then I hate feeling obligated to wish each of those people a happy birthday to reciprocate.

I also just don't typically celebrate my birthday.  This year I spent my birthday baking a cake and making a pinata for my son's party.  To me, birthdays are for kids.

I don't feel this way about my birthday because I dread growing older.  Not at all!  I'm proud to say that I am now 30.  And I plan to embrace every wrinkle and grey hair as they come.  And if someone happens to know my birthday and wants to sing to me, I won't refuse to let them.  This year one of my brothers even called me on my birthday.  It was a nice visit.  But I don't expect to be queen of the day.  And honestly, if you didn't come from my womb, I will most likely not remember or recognize your birthday, either.  So I don't expect it in return.

I don't begrudge my friends having other opinions on the matter, though.  If you want me to babysit your kid so you and your spouse can go to dinner on your special day, then I will happily oblige.  If you want to throw yourself a party, I will definitely come.  Any excuse for a party is a good one in my book!  I will probably offer to make you a cake and I will absolutely sing the birthday song as loud as I can!

But I will definitely not be throwing my own birthday party.  I find other excuses for parties throughout the year, ones where I don't have to be the center of attention.

Well, I digress.  This surprise party (my first ever) was great.  My friend Ally (blogger at Millennial Mormon Mom) came up with the idea.  She consulted with Hubby who rightfully told her that I would discourage any celebration in my honor.  But he also told her that I would really enjoy a relaxed evening with a few girlfriends where we could just talk and laugh.  Another important note was that any day that I don't have to make dinner or clean up afterwards is a day that I feel special and loved.  Boy, does he know me well!

So on this day, at almost 5 o'clock Hubby got a call from his mom (I guess he roped her into it too, so he wouldn't have to lie if I pressed him).  After he talked to her for a bit he declared that he needed to go to her house really quick to pick up a birthday present she had intended to bring to Tertius' birthday party that morning but couldn't make it. (I should have been more suspicious considering this was a "friend party" and she had already given him a gift at the family party two months earlier.)  So he asked the kids if any of them wanted to go with him to see grandma and they all said yes.  Apparently he had prepared them earlier that day to ensure they would all want to go.

Hubby said I needed to stay home because Jeff and Ally were going to stop by that night to pick up a coffee table we were getting rid of.  He also assured me that it would be a quick trip and that he would figure out something for dinner when he got back.  I was exhausted from the earlier party so I happily thanked him for his thoughtfulness and settled on the couch to watch TV.

I was only about halfway through my episode when I got a knock at the door.  I opened it to find not Ally and Jeff, but Ally and 4 other friends!  They brought with them a veggie tray, crackers, hummus (mmm...hummus.  Ally knows me well.), lasagna, salad, and fancy french soda.

While we ate and gossiped, Hubby and Jeff took the kids to the mall to eat fast food and spend their piggy bank money on the carousel and toys (Hubby made it a total life-skills learning experience for the kids as they had to pay for their stuff themselves.  Homeschool!).  It was a really fun evening for everyone!

I'm grateful for my friends for making me feel loved.  And I'm grateful that I was able to enjoy a girls' night without having to do all the planning. :)  Maybe birthdays are a good idea after all.  Do you think I could get Hubby to plan a party for me every year?  :)