The Parable of the Christmas Mattress

Lately I’ve been asking friends and family to share their favorite Christmas memories! Here’s one of mine:

One of my most memorable Christmases was when I was about 11 years old. My mom was very sick that year, and while we never had much money growing up, that year seemed especially tight. I knew not to expect much for Christmas, but I remember asking my parents for my very own box of 64 Crayola crayons, complete with the built-in crayon sharpener. That Christmas morning, when I opened a package of brand-new crayons, that I didn’t have to share with any one of my siblings, I was thrilled. I also received a coloring book and a pair of gloves.

Knowing that Christmas wasn’t going to be very big that year, I was actually quite happy with my presents, until I saw my 6-year old sister open her gift.

Her present was larger in size than any other present under the tree, and my siblings and I all coveted it, because in our minds, bigger meant better. My parents had given her a foam, egg-carton mattress pad. I think it cost only a few dollars at the store, but in our childish minds, we were very aware that she got the best present that year.

My sister and I had shared a double mattress our whole lives, but I wanted my own bed. A few months before Christmas, I was rummaging through our basement and found a twin-sized mattress, box springs base, and two bed frames. At the time, I didn’t understand what a box springs base was. All I saw was two beds for two little girls… one soft mattress, and one very hard mattress.

After convincing my parents to let us change out our bed, I then did something that I still feel shame about. I wanted that soft mattress so much that I manipulated my little sister into taking the hard mattress… convincing her that it would be better for her younger, still-developing spine. She willingly followed my plan, and slept on the box springs without complaint.

I’m further ashamed to admit, that when I saw my sister open the biggest present on Christmas morning, a cheap egg-carton foam topper for her box springs bed, I was a little jealous. I saw the love my parents had put in to making my sister’s bed nicer, and I was aware that had I taken the hard mattress, I might be the one getting the foam pad for Christmas.

Later that day, one of my brothers asked why we all didn’t get foam pads for our beds. My mother, who had felt so bad about giving the mattress pad to her 6-year old for Christmas, lovingly explained that our sister had basically been sleeping on a wood and cardboard box, while we all had soft mattresses. And as I thought of this, I began to realize my mistakes. I had put my own wants and needs ahead of my sister, and had even tricked her into get what I wanted.

Christmas is a time of giving, but it’s also a time of getting, and it’s easy to let the entitlement creep in, making us dissatisfied and unappreciative of the love people put in to the gifts they give us. That year I had focused a little too much on what I was getting, rather than what I was giving. But when I saw the love my parents had given, my heart was changed.

After apologizing to my mom and sister, I helped place the foam pad on my sister’s bed, replace the sheets and bedding, and tried to help make it extra special by adding a few of my own stuffed animals. Later that evening, as I shared my new set of crayons with my sister, I felt peace, and I was glad that she, who had unselfishly let me have the softer mattress, had received the biggest present that year.

The best Christmas presents are the ones given with love. My parents used their limited resources on a box of crayons, and foam mattress, and while they weren’t expensive and shiny, they were thoughtful presents that my parents knew we’d love. And the lessons those two simple presents taught me about sacrifice and selflessness will continue to last throughout the years.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear about one of your memorable Christmases!

Love One Another

I keep this little sign in my bathroom because it reminds me that love is a choice.

So often I feel like love is something that I fall into, or that it’s something that I’ll feel, after I feel love from others first.

But I’ve been wrong.

John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you; that ye also love one another.”

I like to think that the Savior gave this to us as a commandment to remind us that because of the gift of agency, we can choose to love others even when they may get on our nerves at times.

Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “In order for us to more effectively serve others we must begin to see people through a parent’s eyes. Through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we more fully comprehend the true value of the soul. Only then can we begin to understand the love our Heavenly Father has for his children.”

One thing I know is true is that Heavenly Father loves you and me more than we know! I testify of the healing power of the atonement because I’ve felt it working in my life. I’m grateful for the gift of agency so I can choose to show love one to another.


Benchmark Reality

When I first got this bench, I had dreams about how amazing it would look refinished!





Now that it’s painted, I love it more than ever, but keeping the paint clean and nice has been a challenge. I think I need one more coat of poly to feel comfortable, but until that happens, I cringe every time someone goes near it!

In way, I think that relates to motherhood… you can get it right one second, but the next minute someone comes along with sticky fingers and messes it up again!

When my oldest was 5, my youngest (a set of twins) were born, making me the mom of 5 kids in 5 years. Those first 5 years as a mom were physically exhausting!



Now my kid’s ages range from 13-8, and while I’m not changing diapers, or chasing after them in grocery stores, I’m even more exhausted!


untitled-4 copy cropped

The challenges are less about helping them survive, and more about helping them mentally navigate this crazy world! And I feel like I know what I’m doing less now, than I ever did! Just when I feel a success, something difficult happens and we’re back to stress and tears again.


The one thing that seems to help, is strengthening my relationship with God. He’s like that extra coat of poly to protect my paint-chipped heart.

I pray that He will take my weak efforts and magnify them into something good!

I pray that He will support me.

I pray for strength to guide my children through this crazy world.

And I know he will.

Even if I fail… He will be there to refinish and refine each benchmark of motherhood again.

Women’s Conference Decor

Decorating the cultural hall of the church for a Women’s Conference and luncheon with a modest budget was intimidating at first. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I called my amazing, talented, friend Melissa, and loved getting to work with her on the project.

The challenge:

Decorate 31 tables and two church foyers for a luncheon to feed 200-300 people.

The kicker:

All of the table decorations must be a gift that could be given away.

I knew that our limited budget wouldn’t buy anything nice, so I tried to make a few things myself. That attempt resulted in almost cutting my finger off with the chop saw.

As I was laying on the floor trying not to pass out from the tiny drop of blood (yes I’m a wimp) a sweet friend texted and asked if she could come over. I’m pretty sure she was following promptings, because I was alone, and kept getting dizzy just trying to clean the cut! (I was in total shock from realizing how close I came to losing a digit.)

Not only did my friend clean and apply the bandaid, she smacked my emotional head and told me to ask for help. She convinced this oldest-child-syndrome, girl-who-does-everything-herself, that I couldn’t do it all.

After a little prayer and some wonderful inspiration from one of my favorite women, whom I’m so blessed to have as a mentor, I had a plan, and a committee!

Table decor:

Melissa did some incredible graphic artwork and we enlisted a friend to cut out our table decorations using the laser cutter at the library! These are made of wood, and we glued a base on them and painted them. Total cost for 36 centerpieces including the paint: $66. I’m so grateful for the time they donated making these for us!!

Our ladies spent countless hours cutting triangles for the pennant banners. But they added a fun whimsical touch. These old borrowed doors were my favorite way to create a unique photo booth. The bench and ferns made it bigger while letting people sit for photos.

Alisa W has some mad skills with flowers, and put together all of the florals. The floral hoops she created were a hit. People kept asking if they could take one home! The secret: the hoops are actually spray painted hula hoops from the dollar store!

Melissa K was our fabric girl! I’m always so impressed with her sewing skills and decorating gumption! She’s done some incredible events and her husband even built some stands for some of the old doors we used.

I’m always amazed at Tya’s talent with color! Her eye for decor and style helped us keep our colors on track! She also donated the beautiful, touching Kate Lee artwork for the foyers.

Whitney was our muscle!! It was so fun to hang out with her while she hauled doors, reached high things, and helped set up! She heard me utter a few choice words… and she still likes me! (Yes… I’m going to repent for swearing in the church.)

The theme of the conference was “On the Covenant Path”. This sign was also cut out of wood on the laser cutter.

Being the leader of this group of talented women, (all of whom could’ve done it themselves) was humbling. But the best thing I learned was to just let people run with their ideas. I had a vision, and was able to keep moving us all forward with our theme. I turned a few ideas down, but for the most part, found that if I let others be in charge of their idea they took ownership of it and it turned out better than I hoped for!

A few times I had to stop and realize that the people were more important than the event. I felt friendships grow and deepen and truly enjoyed working with these gals! Everyone seemed genuinely excited to help and lend their talent, and I amazed at how it all came out!


Balancing family, sick kids, funeral services, race training, church service, hubby’s schedule and kid’s activities leaves very little time for my projects these days!

But that’s just my season of life right now!

And while there are times that I’m tempted to doubt my choice to be a stay at home mom, hate the situation we’re in and give in to fear and sadness; I’m learning that balance is all about choice.

Choosing to let go of the selfish things I want as well as letting go of the emotions and feelings that don’t bring joy, and instead, choosing to focus more on my family and spirituality is what seems to bring the most balance to my life.

What brings balance to you?

I wouldn’t have it any other way…

My husband and I celebrated 19 years of marriage last week!

I’ve almost been married longer than I’ve been single! (Yes, I was a baby when we got married!)

During that time we’ve battled through 10 years of infertility, 7 big moves, 5 kids in 5 years, 11 surgeries and hospital stays, deaths, tough jobs, finishing our education while trying to raise a family and loads of other things that I thought would never happen!

I’m so lucky I’ve gotten to go through it all with my best friend.

Marriage is tough, and I can see why people avoid it, but going through all of that has made me stronger. And going through all that with my best friend has made us stronger.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Our Holiday Home Tour

This Christmas season has just flown by and I can’t believe it’s almost over!

Just wanted to share some of the Christmas decor we’ve done in our new home this year!

This garland is from a company called Grandin Road. I wanted some texture in the garland so I added some eucalyptus sprays and sparkly sprays.

I made the Merry Christmas blocks 3 years ago with my sweet sis-in-law! The other side says “Happy Halloween”.

Most of the ornaments on our tree are handmade. But we also have a bunch of fun white pieces we’ve picked up over the years. I built the tree crate last year, and love using it to hide the cables and tree stand.

I also built the star this year!

The high cupboard above the oven is a little difficult to reach so it stays empty. I think it’s only purpose is to hang a wreath.

This tablecloth was an old curtain that I found in the discount section of At Home a few years ago. Confession: I can’t remember why, but one year I cut a square out of it… but if I fold it just right, it works as a table runner and you can’t even tell!

Several years ago I was really into quilting. I had a lot of fun making the Santa Clause wall hanging and this felt like a good spot for it.

We’ve had this nativity for 16 years and I’ve always struggled with finding a good spot for it until now! It finally has a home on the table behind the couch.

My sweet grandmother made that little throw blanket about 11 years ago for my son’s birth. Confession: I haven’t told him that it’s his because I’m afraid he’ll want to keep it on his bed, and I really like it here!

This is one of the views when you walk in our front door. This shot was really tough to get! The wall color pulls a lot of yellow. Im still working on my photography skills.

This Room is designed to be the formal dining room. But my hubby was adamant that it should be the piano room. I’m glad I listened to him because this is a nice spot for music. Confession: I find myself playing the piano in here more and more often when I should be cleaning and wrapping presents.

I gave the front porch some flea market-style Christmas love, but had to bring it all back in when it started raining. A white rug on the front porch was a terrible idea as well, but it was fun for the picture!

The master bedroom has become the wrapping station. Right now it’s filled with boxes and tape and paper!

The girls bedroom is very dark and long. It’s tough to get a good photo. All of the kids have mentioned they don’t like how dark the bedrooms are, so I plan on painting sometime next year. Can you spot the real life in these pics?!

Last night one of my girls said, “So is this our home now?” I laughed so much, but I kind of understand. We’ve moved 5 times in the last 10 years and the idea of staying here long term still hasn’t sunk in! This feels like a nice resting spot that we’ll leave in a few months. I have to keep telling myself that this is real!

Thanks for taking this little tour with me! You’re always welcome to come for some hot chocolate and games!

Wishing you a wonderful, safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With You…

My husband and I have been pretty transient in our  marriage and have moved consistently every 2-3 years for work. For a girl who lived within a 2 mile radius her whole life, moving that much was tough for me!

The first move took us away from all our family, then another move left us renting our home out while we lived 800 miles away from it! The most difficult move happened when when the twins were only 3 weeks out of NICU!
After a while, I began feeling like putting down roots would never happen, and it was easy to get frustrated about being so transient. I spent more time than I care to admit, crying about how often we move, about leaving houses I fell in love with, and about not knowing where my kids would attend high school.

We’ve been here for 3 years now, and true to form, my husband’s company has been talking about where they want to send us! First it was Florida, then Arizona, then Tennessee, then Colorado, then Arizona again. And all the while I wanted to get closer to our extended family, or just stay here! It was an emotional roller coaster!  It was 6 months of being excited about one place only to have it pulled out from us again!

Then two months ago, I was walking through Hobby Lobby and passed a sign that had this saying:

With You I Am Home!

Those words touched me, and I began crying right there in the store! It was as if a million thoughts spoke to me at once and it made me realize what is really important.

The location of our house, whether we rent or buy, the decor, the schools, and even how long we live there just isn’t what’s really and truly important.

It’s who I live with that counts.

My home is about my family. The bond and connection I create with my husband and my children are far more important than the location of my home. If everything I owned was gone tomorrow and we lived in a box, we’d be home because we’d be together. It’s my family that truly matters.
I should’ve bought the sign right there, but my little DIY mind thought I could make my own and do it better! I found the wood at Lowes, painted it white and hand painted the letters.

I gave it to my hubby as a Father’s Day gift to show him that I’m willing to go wherever his work takes us. That I’m done crying over our transient lifestyle, and that the location of my home isn’t the most important thing.

These words remind me that it doesn’t matter if I live in a house for 2 years or 10 years.  As long as I’m with my husband and my family, I will be home.

Is it too much? 

I’ve been enjoying my little hobby business. I love watching the equity in my company grow. The profits are minimal, but growing nonetheless, and I love being busy during the day. Furthermore, the projects I’m working on are challenging and exciting and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I finish something.

I’ve been running this little business now for 10 months, and it’s just barely starting to get noticed. I actually have clients calling me for consultations and, my little dreams are coming true!
But now that school is out, my kids are home every day. And everything is changing. I’ve never wanted this business to interfere with my family life or take away from them at all.
But looking forward at the business opportunities that I have, the clients that I could take, and the projects I could do, I’m realizing how quickly this could turn into a full-time job. What’s more, a full time job that doesn’t pay very well! We’re not going to retire on painted furniture! Haha!

So when is it too much? How can I still maintain a teeny tiny business and be a stay at home mom at the same time?

The other growing pain I’m having is that I really need my own shop. I’m currently painting in our tiny study, and doing projects in the garage. Since neither of us want to park on the driveway, I have to set up and take down my projects the same day. That’s wasting a lot of time! You should see me pulling furniture around the house on towels!
And the final challenge I face is the weather. With temperatures hitting the 100’s and high humidity percentages, the weather is no good for painting, especially spray painting.
Someone one said, “Let your challenges be external, not internal.” I have to remind myself of that every time I think these challenges are some kind of sign. They are not!

I know I’ve been lead in the right direction. I know I will find the answers I need!
So I’ve decided to take a break through summer. I’m booking clients in September. I’m going to work on these business struggles, and enjoy my children!

Mo’s Kitchen – Part 2 – Alcoves

Part 2 of Mo’s kitchen transformation involves alcoves and architecture shelving. 
MO’s kitchen has an architectural shelf that runs a square around the room. Painting those areas were a little tricky, so it’s a good thing I’m little. 

Mo has been stressing about how to decorate those shelves for years, and asked me what I thought she should put up there. 

My advice was to take it all down and allow the alcoves to be architectural features! 

Design Tip: Having a lot of decor on top of cupboards or high alcoves can make the ceilings appear lower, causing the room to feel smaller. Furthermore, small items placed above the eye level can create a cluttered feeling. If you do decide to put something up high, choose one or two large statement pieces to create interest and avoid clutter. 

Mo was understandably surprised at this suggestion, and I totally get it! We are so trained to believe that every shelf needs something on it. Many homes designed in the 90’s incorporated architectural shelving for decorative items, training us to believe that we were required to place items there.
But it’s not true! Leaving a few blank shelves or placing just a few favorite items can create a clean, uncluttered, peaceful feeling. 

Try it for yourself:

1. Remove every item off just one shelf. Leave it alone and let it breath a bit. 

2. Now place just one or two of your very most favorite items on the shelf. 

The shelf is now highlighting something you love! As if it’s whole purpose is to showcase your favorite piece! 

How does that feel? 

It was a relief for Mo! I watched her whole body language just relax as she realized she didn’t have to decorate up on her shelf! 

We took all of her decor items down, and the room instantly felt larger. 

We placed a suitcase and plant on one shelf to trick the eye into thinking that the sheetrock continues past the beam, but that is all that we put on the shelving. 

Now the eye is drawn upward toward the gorgeous ceiling and MO’s kitchen feels clean and uncluttered!