Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party

I apologize for lack of pictures.  This always happens on party day.  I get so distracted trying to keep the pizza sauce out of my carpet and the ice cream sandwiches out of the bathroom, that my camera gets sorely neglected.

I did have fun throwing this party though.  It was just the right mixture of easy and detailed.  And it was a hit with the kids and adults.


IMG_3505[1] IMG_3506[1] IMG_3509[1] IMG_3512[1] IMG_3513[1] IMG_3517[1] IMG_3521[1] IMG_3523[1]

Here’s the details of the party:  I made ninja turtle balloons by wrapping streamers around a green balloon.  So simple and the boys thought it was so cool 🙂  Then I made a quick streamer wall and hung a ninja turtle banner.  I know, big on the décor this year, ha ha.

I made the ninja turtle cakes myself.  Will do a fondant tutorial later this week if anyone is interested.  Once again, super simple.  That’s my motto, after all.

I had some games planned, and even some face painting, but the kids were playing so well that all that got used were the coloring pages and wordsearches I printed out.

I made breadsticks and cut up apples slices, then bought some Costco pizzas and some green “ooze” punch.  Of course, didn’t get pictures of any of that.

I wish I could do a ninja turtle party every year because it required so little effort on my part.  If you want to throw a TMNT party, this is the way to go!


The Grief of Losing a Mother

For anyone who doesn’t already know, me and Andrea’s mother passed away on May 1st.  I don’t know if Andrea will get on here, but for me, I had to write a few things down about some strange things that have happened in Losing a Mother.


1.  “Losing” our mom.  I do feel like I lost her a little bit.  I am spending my days searching for her spirit to be near and wondering where she is.  I am comforted by the miraculous moments when I do know that she is by my side.

2.  I started out the whole process asking really stupid questions.  When my sister got the call, she came into the room and told me that my mom had passed away.  I said, Are you lying?  She said, no.  I said, Is dad lying?  She said, of course not!  Tara, no one is lying!  I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that nobody is lying to me.  That she really is gone.

3.  People will ask when it happened and I always say, oh, about 7:48.  And I know that answer is funny because you can tell that really, there is no “about” about it.  You know the exact second of the day when a loved one passes.

4.  My days pass in waves.  It happened at night, so we were all in shock mostly that first night.  Not much sleep, just thoughts being passed around the room and love sent to heaven as we all huddled into a hotel room.  Then the morning came, and I woke up with the startling realization that my mom had died the night before.  I couldn’t stop crying.  As the day went along, I cried, and then was comforted.  And all the talking and seeing people that had shared my love, got me through the day and I went to sleep.  Then this morning, I woke up crying again.  I wonder when the day will come that I won’t wake up, fresh with the grief that my mama is gone.

5.  I am walking around wondering if people are looking at me, knowing that my mom has passed away, and worried that there are people that don’t know.  How do I face this?

6.  One of the hardest realizations you have to come to is that she is in a better place, even if that place is without you.

7.  It’s not uncommon for my brain and heart to be at odds, but usually it’s my brain talking my heart out of irrational emotions.  For the past few days my heart is telling my brain that it is peaceful, and comforted, and whole.  My brain is trying to convince it that it is, in fact, lonely, and devastated, and broken.

8. The thing that gets me through this is the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and that my Heavenly Father loved us so much that He sent is Only Begotten Son, here to live, suffer, and die for us.  For me.  He knows the pain I am feeling.  And because of the Atonement, my mom is with Jesus now, serving on the other side, waiting for the day when we will all be together again.  When Jesus will come again and we will all be restored to our bodies and my mom won’t have a broken back, or weak lungs, or a broken heart.  Where she will be able to dance, and run, and shoot some hoops.  That families are FOREVER.  That there is a PLAN and I just have to be a part of it.

1 Year…Gone Too Fast

Well, it happened.

I knew that it would eventually happen, but it seemed to come much quicker than it did with his siblings.

Mason-man turned a year old.

He has been a part of our family now for 365 days!

I can hardly believe it.

As is usually the case on my kids’ birthdays, I have been thinking about the day that he was born.

Although he came very unexpectedly (3 weeks early), he chose to come at quite a convenient time.  He was born on Martin Luther King Day and Jon already had the day off of work. 🙂  He chose his time much wiser than Lizzie, who decided to come on the eve of Jon’s first day of school.  Bryce decided to make his debut while Jon and I were at a restaurant, celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary.  Needless to say, we barely made it to the hospital in time.  We didn’t even have time to stop by our house to pick up the hospital bags that I had so carefully packed in advance. 🙂

With Mason, my water broke at 1:30 in the morning.  It didn’t explode, but merely trickled enough to wake me up.  I immediately went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet.  It was then that the “explosion” happened.  I also lost my mucous plug.  I wasn’t expecting labor to happen so soon (I could have really used those three extra weeks to prepare), but I knew that the process was starting, whether I was ready for it or not! 🙂

I woke up Jon and calmly told him that my water had broken.  He started freaking out and I told him to go back to sleep and that I had no intention of going to the hospital until I was in hard labor.  I honestly thought that I would be able to go back to sleep too.  Well, as soon as I started trying to relax, the contractions began.  It didn’t take more than a half an hour before they were quite strong and only 3 to 5 minutes apart.  He was definitely on his way! 🙂

Jon’s Mom came over to stay with the kids while we went to the hospital.  Before we left, however, Jon just had to take a shower.  Seriously.  He did the same thing when I was in labor with Lizzie.  He showered and looked all presentable for the after-birth pictures while I, on the other hand, had sweat, blood, and popped blood vessels all over the place. 🙂

On our way to the hospital, I was very grateful that I had listened to my instincts that told me to birth Mason in the hospital, as usual.  I had been seriously toying with the idea of driving to a birthing center 45 minutes away for a different (and probably better) birthing experience than I had previously been exposed to at the hospital.  But it never felt right.  And on the 10 minute drive to the hospital, I was very grateful that I didn’t have to be trapped inside of the car for a moment longer, as would have been the case if I had chosen to drive to the birthing center.  It was quite uncomfortable!

We checked into the triage center at approximately 3:30.  At time of arrival, I was only 5 centimeters dialated.  We ended up hanging out in triage for nearly 2 hours before being transferred to a room.  By this time, I was 9 – 10 centimeters dialated.

In comparison to birthing Lizzie and Bryce, giving birth to Mason was incredibly peaceful.  It was almost relaxing even.  I know that sounds absurd (labor pains aren’t often described as relaxing), but it’s the only way that I can describe it.  I felt very calm.  With each contraction, I either squeezed Jon’s hands to death or else I rubbed his back (I bet that he really enjoyed that particular coping mechanism of mine).

The hospital seemed unusually quiet and peaceful as well.  I didn’t hear any other mother’s screaming in pain.  The halls were void of the usual busy movement.  It was almost like I was dreaming.

I do recall, however, that the doctor who got the credit for “delivering” my baby didn’t do a thing.  It was purely the nurse, whom was very nice and pleasant.  The nurse checked me, told me that I was dialated to a 10, and asked me if I wanted to start pushing.  For some reason, I didn’t feel the urge to push.  She convinced me that if I ever wanted see my baby, then I would have to push him out.  I agreed. 🙂

I’m a horrible at pushing babies out.  I can’t seem to push correctly and I end up bursting blood vessels all over my chest, shoulders, neck, face, and even in my eyeballs.  This is one of the reasons that I wanted to give birth to Mason in a birthing center.  I would have loved to push him out while standing in the squatting position, which is obviously more natural than lying down in a bed.  I mentioned this to the nurse, but she looked at me like I was nuts.

What could I do?

I was too tired to make a fuss.  I wasn’t about to ruin the serene feelings that I had been feeling by arguing with a nurse and creating a scene.  So I went along with the whole push-a-baby-out-while-lying-down routine.

And what do you know.  It worked…again. 🙂

Mason exited the birth canal at 6:30 a.m. on the dot!

For a baby who came 3 weeks early, he was very healthy.  He weighed in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce and was 20 inches long.


I was so overjoyed to finally see his face.  I had worried every single day of the pregnancy that something awful was going to happen (I had some very irrational fears) and it was a huge relief to finally be free of those worries.  I felt so peaceful.  I could definitely feel a piece of heaven in that hospital room that morning.


The kids got to come and visit him later on in the afternoon.  They were so thrilled (although Bryce’s excitement turned to jealousy fairly quickly)!



It’s hard to come to the realization that mytiny, precious, and completely innocent baby has morphed before my eyes into a real boy.






Part of me wishes that they could stay this small forever.


But I know that babies don’t stay babies forever.

They need to grow up.  They need to learn and experience everything that life has to offer them, both the good and the bad.

They need to take those steps into the unknown in order to fully reach their potential.


They need to develop their own unique personalities that God has blessed them with.


They need to take risks and be proud of their accomplishments, big and small.


Chances are, they will try some things…


and fail.


My hope, however, is that they will keep getting up each time that they fall.


That is my hope for my sweet little Mason-man, on his 1st birthday.


I feel so blessed to be his Mom.  I thank my Heavenly Father daily for the opportunity that He has given me to be a mother.

Happy Birthday, Mason!

Something About a 10-month-old

There is simply something special about a 10-month-old baby.


When Lizzie and Bryce were 10-months-old, I remember wishing that they could stay that age for a bit longer.

With Mason, however, the longing to keep him as a cute 10-month-old baby is so much stronger.


This kid has me wrapped around his little chubby finger.


He is nearly 11 months and I still nurse him a lot.  An awful lot.  This is new for me.  The older two kids were pretty much weaned by this age.  As far as nursing is concerned, I see no end in sight with this little man.  And he has eight teeth!  I’ll be honest, he bites so hard every so often that I scream.  Yet I still allow him to nurse because he loves it so much.  And, frankly, I love it just as much as he does. 🙂


He loves pushing things around the house.  This truck is currently his favorite push toy.  Sometimes it goes really fast, but Mason runs along with it until he eventually falls down.  Then he picks himself back up to start all over again.


Mason loves his toys.  He plays with all of them.  Toys that the older two kids barely touched have finally been adored by Mason.


Believe it or not, he is our first baby who refuses to leave our Christmas tree alone.


He’s fascinated with the lights and the sparkly ornaments.



He knows that he shouldn’t be touching the tree.  Whenever I try to reprimand him, he gives me this irresistible smile.


Truly, he’s too cute for words. 🙂

I give Mason a bath nearly every single night before I put him to bed.  He loves the water!

I was fortunate to get this picture of him.  He doesn’t sit still when he’s naked.  I struggle getting him in his pajamas every single night!


He is starting to eat normal food now.  I still feed him plenty of baby food (mostly veggies and fruit), but he loves big people food!


Often, when he is finished eating, I do my “witch laugh” at him.  He thinks it’s so hilarious for some reason! 🙂



When I was making lunch today, Mason entered the kitchen pushing this folding chair.



He also had a car in his hand.  One of his obsessions lately is standing up on chairs and rolling cars on top of the seat.



Oh, I just love this little man!


He is an absolute joy and I don’t know how I ever survived without him!

I am one extremely blessed woman.

I thank God every day for my three beautiful blessings.

General Conference Popsicle Stick Puzzles

I made these Popsicle stick puzzles to help keep my kids busy (for at least a few minutes) during General Conference.

Want to make some too?

Here’s how I did it!

You need:

Church-related pictures (I looked through old issues of the Ensign and found a bunch)

Large Popsicle Sticks

Mod podge

Utility Knife


1.  Find a picture and cut it to the right size (small enough to fit on top of Popsicle sticks).

2.  Cover the picture with Popsicle sticks.

3.  Place masking tape on the Popsicle sticks (this will be the BACK).

4.  Coat the back of the picture with an even layer of mod podge.  Place the picture on top of the Popsicle sticks and smooth out the lumps.  Apply a layer of mod podge on top of the picture as well to seal it.

5.  After the glue has completely dried, remove the masking tape from the back.  Use the utility knife to separate the pieces.  I tried going through the back but I failed miserably.  I found that the best way to cut and separate the pieces is to bend the pieces slightly and cut on the front of the puzzle (just cut on top of the line).

That’s it!  You can simply leave it as it is, or you can do what I did and attach magnets to the back.  I decided to put magnets on the back so that my kids can play with them on top of cookie sheets and the pieces will stay together better.  But that’s up to you!

Have fun!

Bucket Full of Thirty

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I don’t feel like I am the best mommy when I am not continually making myself the best person I can be.  I’ve been 29-years-old for a little over a month now, and recently I’ve been toying with the idea of making myself a bucket list of sorts that would contain items that I have wanted to check off before I turned thirty.  (A few FRIENDS episodes involving this very same subject come to mind so I know I am not alone in doing something like this).

I have started another blog to track my progress on my Bucket Full of Thirty.  Thirty things I want to accomplish before I’m thirty.  It won’t be updated regularly, but it will be updated when I check something off the list, so hopefully that will be often enough to finish it 😉

If you have any suggestions or contacts that will help me reach my goals, I would greatly appreciate it.  If anyone has their own list and it overlaps mine, please let me know and we’ll combine on a few.

Here’s to being a better person AND mommy by the time I’m thirty!

The Importance of a Latter Day Saint Woman

Last weekend, Rock Center with Brian Williams did a special on Mormon’s In America.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), I was intrigued and stayed up past my mommy bedtime to watch it.  While I found parts of it to be true to the facts and good journalism, there were other parts that I found to be quite the opposite.  While I won’t be addressing all of those issues (sacred vs. secret) on this blog today, there was one that I thought would be appropriate.  The importance of women in the church.

(Before I do address that, I would like to preface my opinion with these links:  LDS. org and Mormon.org are wonderful websites where you can go to get answers to your questions.  All of my quotes can be found on those websites.)

I know it is an issue for some people not of our faith that the women don’t hold the priesthood or some of the same responsibilities as the men.  The news special interviewed a woman who said she was a feminist in the church and that she does hope that someday women will be equal to men.

I have been a member of this church all of my life and I have never once felt unequal or unimportant.  On the contrary, I have only been lifted up and praised by the leaders of the church.  My father has always treated my mother and his daughters as special daughters of God, and now my husband treats me like a Queen.  I have never felt looked down upon.  I have never had a problem with the fact that I don’t hold the priesthood.

On Mormon.org they have a commonly asked questions page.  Someone asked why women don’t hold the priesthood:

 Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:

“Women do not hold the priesthood because the Lord has put it that way. It is part of His program. Women have a very prominent place in this Church. Men hold the priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this Church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women’s organization in the world… They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world…

“The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.”

On the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints official website, this is what they say about the women of the church:

Women are a necessary part of the plan of happiness, and that plan cannot operate without them. Women participate in the work of salvation, which includes member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work, teaching the gospel, and caring for the poor and needy. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, every woman in the Church is given the responsibility to know and defend the divine roles of women, which include that of wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. They stand strong and immovable in faith, in family, and in relief. Women participate in councils that oversee congregational activities throughout the world. They also have, by divine nature, the greater gift and responsibility for home and children and nurturing there and in other settings.

Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belong to and serve as leaders in the Relief Society. Women also serve and lead the Young Women organization for girls ages 12 to 18 years old and the Primary organization for all children ages 18 months to 11 years. Women also teach in the Sunday School. Women are given the opportunity to pray in the meetings of the Church and also speak in meetings on the local and general level of the Church.

When women serve as the president of the Relief Society, Young Women, or Primary, they participate in council meetings and decisions that are made concerning the members of the Church in their unit.

There are even many times that women are referred to as greater to men in the things we can accomplish and the tasks that are set before us:

“You are the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is no other organization to equal it. Walk with pride. Hold your heads up. Work with diligence. Do whatever the Church asks you to do. Pray with faith. You may never know how much good you accomplish.” (Gordon B. Hinckley)

In many talks given to the general congregation of the church, women are praised and thanked for their role in the church:

“Someone has said: ‘Be kind to the women. They constitute half the population and are mothers to the other half.’

“My dear sisters, you marvelous women who have chosen the better part, I stand in great admiration for all that you do. I see your hands in everything.

Well, you dear women, I say thanks to you. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and doing the things you do. May the blessings of heaven rest upon you. May your prayers be answered and your hopes and dreams become realities.”  (Gordon B. Hinckley)

Before women were fighting for their right to vote and work like men, women were important in the eyes of Jesus Christ and in the eyes of the members of His church:

“As we look at the history of this earth and at the history of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, it becomes obvious that women hold a special place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

“Through serving in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations—not to mention their private acts of love and service—women have always played and will always play an important part in helping “bring forth and establish the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:6).

The leaders of our church don’t tell the men to exercise dominion over us and treat us as if we are nothing.  They do the opposite:

“Brethren, I pray that we as priesthood holders—as husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends of these choice women—may see them as the Lord sees them, as daughters of God with limitless potential to influence the world for good.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

I know that my role in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is just as important as any male member I know:

“I believe the women of the Church today meet that challenge and are every bit as strong and faithful. The priesthood leadership of this Church at all levels gratefully acknowledges the service, sacrifice, commitment, and contribution of the sisters.

Much of what we accomplish in the Church is due to the selfless service of women. Whether in the Church or in the home, it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra, and the resulting symphony inspires all of us.” (Quentin L. Cook)

Like I said, if you have more questions, please visit the official websites.  This was a quote overload, and completely and 100% my opinion.  I just couldn’t sit quietly and let even one person who may read this blog think that I, as a member of the LDS church, feel repressed in any way.  Brian Williams should have looked a little harder for a woman of the church to interview.