Monday, October 31, 2011

Can You Help?

Let me get straight to the point.

A few weeks ago, I was invited by the presiding bishopric of our church via LDS Philantropies to come to Utah to learn about a new initiative our church is starting to help single parents get an education.

The meeting was amazing, attended by wonderful, vibrant female bloggers...


(See how much fun we had?)

...and the guest speaker was a single mom with a moving, inspiring story. Here, let me have her tell it....

(To hear the video, click the little speaker at the top right.)

I met Megan personally. See?...


(I think that blazer makes me look fatter.)

In fact, I got to sit right across from her at our table where we ate lunch together. I fell in love with her right away, and could see the light in her eyes as she told us the details of her story, one beginning with loss and despair, but ending in brightness and hope as she shared that she had just recently secured an internship in her field of study.

Here are a few statistics explaining why our church is focusing on helping single mothers get an education....
• 28 percent of children now live with just one parent.
• 40% of children under 18 experience a parental breakup.
• 90% of single parent families are headed by females.
• Single moms with children have the highest poverty rates.
• 60% of children living in mother-only families are impoverished.
• Single moms are more likely to be poor because of lower earning capacity.
• Single moms median income is only about 25% what a married couple make.

Students who receive scholarships use this money to pay for tuition, books and other fees. 100% of donations go towards these scholarships.

So here's how you can help. Click the "GIVE" button on the above widget and donate via Paypal or credit card. Even just a little bit helps. A lot helps even more.

If giving isn't possible for you at this time, click the "SHARE" button and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter or even on your blog, by setting up the sidebar widget using the "EMBED" option.

All of us seek to do good because we know that experiencing happiness in our lives steams from serving others. Please do help if you can, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this initiative.

For more information about this project, please go HERE.

Also, in the next post, I'm going to tell you how amazing it was for me to travel with no diapers in my purse, or wet wipes or crackers. I had the time of my life.

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homemaker Monday

I'm tending a sick husband this evening, so I will most likely get my Homemaker Monday post up tomorrow morning some time. Here's Linky, though, for those of you ready to link up! Thanks so much for your visit and links and have a wonderful Homemaker Monday! )

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten Ways to be More Likeable


Some peeps are just naturally likeable, but if you or someone you know needs a little help in this area, this is the perfect article. I actually wrote it with someone in mind. Love you, special someone! :)

It's HERE at Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's All Coming Unraveled :(

If you'll remember my post from Thursday of last week, you'll know how strenuously I have been trying to organize myself. I have my entire day lined out in writing, from waking up at 6:00 in the morning to start a load of laundry, to ending my day between 10:00 and 11:00 PM writing, reading or editing photos. Most of my day is filled with work, but during the down times while the kids are napping or after they go to bed, I get a little R and R, again, reading, writing, or editing photos.

And things had been going great. Each day I would wash and hang-dry 3 to 5 loads of laundry, take them down from the line, and fold them, and I would make bread, and keep the kitchen clean, and nurse Baby Hippo to sleep, and play the piano at the high school for chorus .... until today.

I think things started to go downhill on Sunday. I try to keep the Sabbath holy by not doing laundry, deep-cleaning or making the kids do inordinate amounts of chores, but even so, laundry still builds up, which leaves me with an extra 2 or three loads to do on Monday. On Monday, however, I spent the morning feeding company, then, in the afternoon, John and I went out to lunch, alone. While I was so happy to have company for breakfast, and go on a date with John, I got even further behind. Also, when I tried to hang my laundry after our breakfast guests had gone, it started to rain immediately after I had hung about a quarter of the days loads, so I had to directly remove the laundry items from their clothes pins, put them back into the basket and take them back inside.

Fast forward to today. I woke up feeling achy and feverish. I couldn't believe it. On Thursday I am scheduled to travel to Utah for a blogging conference, which trip will be the first I've taken without the kids in over a decade. I needed to avoid this illness going full-throttle at all costs, so I decided to do almost nothing the entire day.

Here's what I did do....

-I made the kids pancakes for breakfast, because, after all, they do need to eat. I used this recipe, though, and I already had the mix bottled in jars, so it was no biggie.
-I made fires in the kitchen and living room, because I was cold, even though I didn't think anyone else was.
-I put at least three loads of laundry in the washer.
-I put my makeup on, in case a good soul decided to come visit me. Two people did. But I didn't do my hair, and it looked like a scarecrow's.
-I stopped by the only restaurant in town on the way to school and ordered 8 quesadillas and 6 burritos for lunch instead of making one from scratch.
-We set up a picnic blanket on the lawn and ate lunch outside, since the kitchen was such a mess. It was quite nice...


-I asked my babysitter who cares for the kids while I am at chorus to come anyway, even though I was staying home, to help me with the kitchen. She willingly obliged, because not only are we employer/employee, we are friends, and she comforts me when I stand in need of comfort. (Mosiah 18:9)
-I nursed Baby Hippo to sleep.
-I put a movie on for the twins.

Here's what I didn't do....

-I didn't clean the kitchen ever, and fruit flies seemed to mate and have babies all over the bits of watermelon that were left out.
-I didn't make lunch for someone I always make lunch for on Tuesday, but commissioned a substitute instead.
-I didn't hang laundry, but tossed it into the dryer.
-I didn't do my hair or get ready for chorus because I didn't go to chorus.
-I didn't make bread as I had planned to.
-I didn't get up out of bed while Baby Hippo took his nap and the twins were supposedly watching a movie when I heard one twin playing the piano. I knew this was a bad sign because it meant that he was no longer interested in the movie and would soon be getting into mischief.

And I was right. When I rose from my sick bed, I awoke to several eggs having been cracked on the floor, even though I had locked the food storage room door where we keep them. (They've apparently learned to quietly move stools around.) I was also confronted with spilled water on the couch, sidewalk chalk thrown and broken all over the kitchen, and a few water-balloons broken on the floor.

The rest of the afternoon, I received two visitors and after they left, I simply wandered around aimlessly. Thank goodness the kids were so helpful and babysat and helped keep the kitchen clean.

No, the house won't be clean when I leave for Utah, but hopefully my illness will have abated because I didn't stick to my schedule.

And I really don't know why I wrote any of this. But thanks, as always, for listening.

Halloween Time!

The kids' grade school here in Mexico had their Halloween carnival last week, so I thought it would be timely to post pictures in case you are looking for inspiration. For even more homemade costume ideas, go to the article I wrote for Social Moms dot com.

So what are YOUR kids going to be for Halloween?

Here are the twins in random giraffe costumes we just happen to have collected from thrift stores over the years...


My favorite part was their makeup. The 16-year-old girl was disturbed and asked why I painted their faces like girls and that they look at Cindy Lou Who....


The 5-year-old boy was dressed in a borrowed clown costume and his brothers shoes. Again, I had fun doing the makeup. There are so many options for clowns. He wanted to be a happy clown, but I think eventually he became tired of doing the photo shoot...


Here, the 9-year-old girl shows no resemblance of her beautiful self in her skeleton makeup...


Her cloak was also borrowed...


The 11-year-old boy, who is currently obsessed with science, appropriately chose to dress up as Einstein. We borrowed his lab coat from the town doctor. We got this idea from my sister, who wore the same costume 25 years ago, and is now, in reality, a scientist....


And finally, we have Baby Hippo. He wore skeleton sweats we were given, but it was nearly impossible for me to apply his makeup with him squirming around. This was the best I could do. And when he looked at himself in the mirror, he whined and said, "Carey!"...


And here they all are together. Sorry, but this was the best photo I could get. What kind of a photographer am I?...


Thanks for listening!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Chores We Do of a Saturday Morning

If you've ever wondered how large families keep up with all the tasks that need accomplishing, here's how one mom, namely myself, does it. Let me explain something first. On Saturdays we have three types of chores: family chores, personal chores and consequence chores. Family chores encompass the common areas, such as living areas, bathrooms and the like, and personal chores include anything the kids messed up themselves, such as their bedrooms, bathrooms and dirty laundry. Consequence chores are jobs I've assigned as punishment for not doing assignments throughout the week or for unacceptable behavior, such as being disobedient, name-calling, and such. For more about that, you can go HERE if you'd like.

As you'll see, doing the family chores isn't that big of a deal. Each child is assigned only three chores, which can be finished in our to two hours. Personal chores, if they are kept up on all week, are manageable as well. It's the consequence chores that have been creating a problem for the kids in recent weeks.

One reason the kids accumulate consequence chores on Saturday is because they often do not do their one morning chore. Each child is assigned a quadrant of the kitchen to clean before they leave for school, which chore takes about ten minutes, but since the beginning of this school year, which was when I implemented the kitchen clean-up tasks, the kids have not organized their time in order to accomplish their jobs. Thus, each time they shirk their responsibilities, I do their parts of them, but then add two consequence chores to the Saturday chore list. This makes them pay me back for the time I spent in the kitchen, and it also gives them an extra chore to help remind them to improve.

I suppose when you see the chore list, you're either going to cheer for me, and thank me for being such an inspiration, or you're going to want to report me to child protective services. Anyways, this is it....

K - the 16-year-old girl
R - the 15-year-old boy
L - the 11-year-old boy
C - the 9-year-old girl
CC - Consequence Chore

Family Chores:

K Deep clean living room
R Deep clean dining room
C Deep clean hallways
L Deep clean entryway
K Deep clean big bathroom
R Deep clean green bathroom
L Deep clean game room
C Deep clean basement halls and food area
R Deep clean theater
K Deep clean music room
L Pick up stuff outside in play-place
C Pick up toys and trash in backyard, patio and basketball court area

Personal Chores:

-Deep clean bedrooms
-Deep clean bathrooms
-Fold nad hang up laundry
-Practice Piano
-Make your basketball shots (This is important because basketball is a big deal here, and if the kids aren't good at it, they aren't going to want to be involved. Conversely, if they are skilled shooters, they will enjoy being on the team, and going on trips, and basketball will be fun for them. Practicing something is almost never fun, but once you get good, it pays off.)

And just for fun, here's a list of my Saturday morning chores...

-Deep clean my bathroom
-Deep clean my bedroom
-Wash and hang laundry (usually 3 to 5 loads)
-Put away all laundry
-Get my church clothes ready
-Get kids' church clothes ready
-Plan and prepare Saturday and Sunday meals
-Organize something that has been neglected during the week

Consequence Chores:

R CC (Not sweeping kitchen part, Mon.) Clean white fridge
R CC ( " ) Organize, sweep and mop food storage room
L CC (Leaving beach towel on floor) Deep clean twins' room (He wrote here, "That wasn't me.")
K CC (Not getting ride to school, Mon.) Clean silver fridge (She wrote here, "What the heck?")
C CC (Not doing kitchen part, Mon.) Organize playroom
C CC ( " ) Sweep and dust mop playroom
C CC (Not doing kitchen part, Tues.) Deep clean 5-year-old's room
C CC ( " ) Windex inside and outside french doors
L CC ( " ) Clean kitchen cabinets for 15 minutes (He wrote, "I did.")
L CC ( " ) Clean trashcan, inside and out (He wrote, "I did.")
C CC (For arguing when I asked you not to) Clean wall behind high chair
K CC (Not doing kitchen part, Tues.) Make something good to eat
K CC ( " ) (I actually forgot to write something in this space. She got lucky.)
R CC (Not doing kitchen part, Tues.) Clean out fireplace in kitchen
R CC ( " ) Fill all fireplaces with wood
C CC ( " ) Babysit Baby Hippo for 20 minutes
C CC ( " ) "
R Just a reminder that you are grounded because you were suspended from school for a day for not having a school logo patch on your jacket.
R CC (For hanging out at the store after football when I asked you not to) Iron Baby Hippo's church outfit
The 11-year-old boy wrote this... "MOM MAKE FIRES IN THE MORNING"
L CC (For arguing when I asked you to stop) Babysit Baby Hippo for 20 minutes
K CC (Not doing kitchen part, Thurs.) Iron twin church outfit
K CC ( " ) "
C CC ( " ) Find twins church shoes
C CC ( " ) Windex all silver appliances
L CC (Leaving blanket in kitchen, Thurs.) Vacuum playroom stairs
R CC (Not doing kitchen part, Fri.) Sweep and mop laundry room, including under baskets and hampers)
R CC ( " ) Iron 5-year-old's church outfit
C CC ( " ) Deep clean broom closet
C CC ( " ) Vacuum basement stairs

These chores the children must finish before they can play outside, have friends over, use any media, or go anywhere. Every Sunday we talk about how we can avoid these consequence chores, so we'll see if yesterday's talk had any effect at all.

So what do you think of this? Am I Nazi or am I teaching the kids responsibility the right way? By the way, assigning consequence chores keeps me from nagging and yelling at my kids, something I've struggled with since they came into this world. I've found that if I simply say to my kids that they just earned a consequence chore, quietly go to my notebook and write it down, and wait for Saturday to come, I don't lose my cool. It really works.

One more thing.... You may ask why I save all the chores up for Saturday. The answer is because we are so busy during the week with a few afternoon chores, homework, extracurricular activities, and trying to have family dinners together, there is simply no time.

Anyways, I know this post was somewhat disjointed, but it's up, and thanks for listening! :)

And here's Linky! Thanks so much for your visits and links and have a wonderful Homemaker Monday!

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Average Weekend in Our Mexican Neck of the Woods

Since John usually travels out of town during the week, weekends are spent catching up on all that needs to be done at home, delivering supplies from the states to those around town, visiting family, grocery shopping and tackling myriad others tasks which can only be done on Saturdays.

Because the kids and I don't see him much during the week, we like to go with him where ever he goes, so when errands need to be run in the Big Town, I usually, and the kids always, tag along. Here is the routine of what we do.

First we go to the paleta store. Paleta means Popsicle in Spanish. Saturday's trip wasn't as idealistic as it could have been though, because the twins had fallen asleep in the car before we arrived at the store, and it was nearly impossible to wake them up and make them get out of the van. Why, you ask, did we not just forego the paleta store trip? The answer: John promised them we would go and if they were to wake up and realize we had gone to the Big Town and back without a stop at the paleta store, they would have realized a promise had been broken. John doesn't break promises, no matter how inconvenient it may be to keep them. So here's how they looked in the paleta store....


(Baby Hippo was chipper because he had taken a nap earlier and was well rested.)


Their surly moods didn't stop them from downing their paletas, though....


When that was over, we went across the street to the park. I don't know how many pictures of someone else's kids going down a slide you can stand, but here they are anyways...


But wait, there's more! We can't forget about the rock climbing wall that had only about 30% of the of it's rocks screwed in...


...or the slide with the two-foot crack in the bottom...


The kids really didn't seem to mind that the park was not up to par with U.S safety standards. The only unfortunate incident occurred when we turned our backs on Baby Hippo for a few seconds, then looked back to find that he had a lollipop in his mouth. These are also called paletas in Spanish....


We have no idea how, when or where he acquired this, but we figured it was too late to stop the integration of foriegn bodies into his system, so we let him finish it up. And then we left...


On the way home is a favored hill the kids love to climb with their dad. I don't always have the patience for it, so John usually climbs it with them when I'm at home, but as John pointed out, the lighting was perfect for photography, so perhaps we could give it a go. I agreed. The miniature houses in the following pictures dot many a roadside here in Mexico. Since I'm not Catholic, I don't know what they are used for, but I do know that people light candles and set them inside them. Here is the saint carved into the mountain that overlooks the hill we climbed. His name might be San Judas Tadeo, but I could be wrong....


And here are the kids on the hill, running up as fast as they could, to beat us...


...and running down...


...and stopping by another little candle house on the way down...


After all this adventure, we came home, gave the kids a bath, let them watch some Dr. Seuss videos on youtube, then put them to bed. Just another day in paradise! :)

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Have the Best Husband on the Planet....

....because he does things like crochet beanies for Baby Hippo while he's out of town....


(For some inexplicable reason, Baby Hippo's eyelid was swollen this day, and he was also in a bad mood (my attempt at tickling couldn't even illicit a smile), perhaps the latter being related to the former.)

When John came home and fitted this over Baby Hippo's head, I said, "You didn't make that, did you?" When he answered "Of course!", I was stunned, my mouth literally gaping open. I have no idea how to crochet. So anyways, sorry if you're jealous. Love you, John!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vegan Vanilla Squash Cake


I adapted this delicious recipe from the chocolate vegan cake recipe my daughter recently shared with me. I would never have left out the chocolate of my own accord, but we were having a guest over who can't eat chocolate because it aggravates his migraines, so I thought if I simply substituted the cocoa powder with flour, I would have a vanilla cake. I was surprised and delighted at how well this worked and how delicious this cake was. If you love a dense, rich, moist cake, you'll love this. You can frost it however you like, but I used THIS strawberry frosting recipe. Enjoy!

Vegan Vanilla Squash Cake

<p>A rich, very moist cake made with spaghetti squash.</p>

See Vegan Vanilla Squash Cake on Key Ingredient.


2½ cups flour
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla
½ cup oil
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degree.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

4. Bake in a greased 9 × 13 inches pan at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30 minutes or in a cupcake tin for 15 to 18 minutes.

5. When cooled, frost as desired.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Homemaker Monday

Hey Everybody! Thanks so much for your visit to Homemaker Monday today! I'm not sure when I'll get my post up, but here's Linky tools for those of you who are ready. Thank you so much!