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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Watermelon and Twenty-Five Shmacks!

When I was a little girl, I lived in Arkansas for a couple of years.  One summer, my family and I attended a watermelon festival.  People came from all over--traveling through neighboring counties and crossing state lines--to participate in the fun.  Festivities included a watermelon growing contest and a watermelon eating contest.  I saw watermelons that were HUNDREDS of pounds; I watched people eat large slices of watermelon in seconds!  It was a riot!

I have always loved watermelon!  To me, it is a symbol of sunshine and summer days.  I'm sharing a watermelon craft project on The Wood Connection's blog today!  See it here.  It would be the perfect summertime addition to your home decor.  It is bright and cheerful!

The Wood Connection has generously donated a $25 gift certificate to be given to one lucky "Mama Leisha" reader!  Entering is easy!  Simply fill out the rafflecopter below:

BONUS ENTRY:  Follow Mama Leisha on Instagram!  (It's lots of fun over there!)  Follow here:

Happy Watermelon Day (a holiday I totally just made up) and Happy Crafting! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Kind Of Friend Will You Be?

From the moment she walked in the door, I knew something was wrong.

My Lilly Mae threw open the door with gusto, tossed her Hello Kitty backpack on the couch, and snarled a, "Hi, Mom," at me.  She stomped up the stairs and slammed the bathroom door.  I was left standing in the living room--perplexed--and wondering why my seven-year-old so often acts like a teenager.

Eventually she came back downstairs.  "What's wrong?," I asked.

"I really don't want to talk about it right now," she replied.

I obliged, grabbing some Angry Birds crackers (because those are tasty!) and a juice box for her for an after-school snack.  I followed her to our basement family room and turned on The Princess Bride.  (Her current favorite.)  "I'm here for you, whenever you are ready to talk," I said.

After a full tummy, a lot of patience, gentle coaxing, and plenty of "As you wishes," I got Lilly to open up to me.  What she revealed simultaneously boiled my blood and made my heart sad:

"My best friend was mean to me."

Now, it should be noted that this "best friend" is frequently mean to my daughter--calling her names, ignoring her at lunchtime, and telling her her hair looks stupid.  Time and time again--and usually after this child has broken her heart--I have attempted to explain to Lilly that "good friends don't treat us badly."  I tried a new tactic.

I said to Lilly we were going to make a list of what it means to be a good friend; what good friends do, the way good friends act.  It was easy to brainstorm ideas.  Good friends are kind, good friends are forgiving, good friends love us unconditionally, etc.  Naturally, once that list was complete, we talked about the opposite.  The dreaded "Not-So-Good-Friend."  Lilly's conclusion was that, "Good friends don't call us mean names, and good friends don't hit us.  We should walk away from not-so-good friends and find a good friend to play with."

But here's the most important thing, dear ones--the item lastly discussed, that pivotal point worth emphasizing to my young and impressionable daughter:   

What kind of friend will you be?     

I admonished her to always, always be the good friend.  To find the one who felt left out, the one who was being teased, the one who was lonely.  Befriend those with lots of friends; befriend the friendless.  The good friend is the one who loves another as God loves us all.

Because the fact of the matter is we have a choice.  People can be cruel, hurtful, and judgmental.  We can choose to forgive them.  People can be caddy.  We can choose to be kind.  People can be thoughtless and stubborn.  We can choose to love them.  In murky seas of sadness, the good friend will offer the lifeboat.  In pain, a good friend is the balm.  In unintentional error, a good friend understands your preciousness, and that human beings are perfectly fallible.

(I hope to always be the balm and the boat to my children.)

As the gangly, awkward, frizzy-haired, brace-faced young girl, afraid of the loneliness of the crowded lunchroom, I made a choice.  And it was one I tucked inside myself and locked in my heart for all these years.  I chose to love and to try and to accept.

We have a choice.  We can choose to be the good friend.
And we can choose to be the good...

As we wish.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Pillow Covers and Gold Accent Pieces; A MAKEOVER!

Not too long ago, I was sitting in my living room dreaming of new pillow covers and gold accent pieces!  I knew it was time to make a change--to breathe new life into my home's decor--but I didn't really know how to do it.  I knew the PERFECT person to recruit for my "spruce-it-up" project...

My sissy-in-law, Danelle!!!

Not only is she kind-hearted and loving, she is also extremely talented.  The girl has an eye for style and design.  She's super crafty and not afraid to take on the big projects.  (She pulls them off with a BANG!)  Her blog/business, The Red Front Door, is as charming as she is!

McHubby gave us a budget of seventy-five dollars.  Challenge accepted, James!  Danelle took on our budget like a medieval warrior--keeping track of receipts and adding up totals.  It was awesome!  We visited Lowe's, Hobby Lobby, and Ikea for supplies.  Here are some BEFORE pictures:

 And here (oh my gosh, I'm squealing) are the AFTER pictures:

At the time this picture was taken, a couple of frames still needed to be painted and photos needed to be switched out.  We wanted to take this picture to show the gallery wall.

Here are a couple of "tips" I learned from Danelle:

*When decorating on a budget, use things you already have.  Old frames can be repainted, lamps can be switched around, and you can arrange old decor in new, different, and interesting ways.

*Don't be afraid to paint your furniture.  I have wanted to paint my little table for TEN YEARS but have not had the guts to tackle it...mainly because I have no idea what I am doing!  Danelle showed me how easy and fun it can be.  Don't be afraid to paint your furniture a fun, non-traditional color too.  I LOVE MY TABLE!

*Can't find pillow covers you're in love with?  Make your own, and at half the cost.  Also, mixing patterns is a way to pack a punch!

*Decorating, crafting, DIY-ing, and repurposing is ALWAYS more fun with a friend!  (THANK YOU, DANELLE.)


 Come on over, have a seat on my couch, admire my pillow covers and my gold accent pieces...

I'll be sure to pour you a Diet Coke! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Wrinkled Mama

I wish my Sundays were "a day of rest," but they so frequently...aren't.  I'm usually rushing to a meeting, rushing to church, rushing to pack a diaper bag, rushing to retrieve the favorite tube of plum lipstick buried at the bottom of the makeup drawer.  Rushing, rushing, rushing!

Last Sunday was no exception!  I found myself in a sweaty and hurried frenzy of nylons, makeup brushes, and bright pink, baby dresses.  Where were the goldfish crackers for Sunday school snack?  All over the kitchen floor.  Where were the baby wipes for the diaper bag?  Clogging the toilet.  Where were Lilly's church shoes?  OUT IN THE YARD!

As I ran from room-to-room and from kid-to kid--half-dressed and exhibiting symptoms comparable to psychosis--I thought about my lack of grace in this "motherhood thing."  I have silly illusions of being a pretty ballerina--light on my feet, graceful in my movements, navigating motherhood and poopy diapers and preschool field trips with pointed ease.  People, I am here to tell you that in reality, I am a mule.  A THREE-LEGGED mule.  That's blind.

In the epicenter of the Sunday madness, I decided it would be best to finish getting dressed.  (A tired and frazzled mama certainly can't make an appearance at Sunday services without a bra on!)  I threw on a charming, pleated blue skirt and....BLAST!  It was wrinkled!  No time to iron it.  I threw on my kelly-green cardigan and...BLAST!  IT was wrinkled.  I wanted to cry.

I shrugged off thoughts of looking disheveled and chaotic and moved on to dressing Cam.  I whipped a red polo shirt over his head and gasped!  That shirt had fallen victim to a preschool paint project (aka massacre) and had not survived the wash, even with blessed stain remover.  I cursed under my breath and reached for the shirt with the ninja warrior on it instead.

I helped him pull on his khaki cargo pants and gasped again.  Unbeknownst to me, he had ripped a ginormous hole in the knee!  As I dug through piles and piles of "laundry yet to be folded," I considered retreating to my closet with a doughnut.  I can't do this today, I thought.  I can't do this.  It's too hard.

I probably don't have to tell you that the rest of my morning went the opposite of swimmingly.  (What would that be?  Not-swimmingly?)  Bridget pooped through her dress and Lilly's hair was a snarly "rat's nest."  SOMEONE (no one would fess up to it) thought it would be a good idea to eat Doritos for breakfast; a catastrophe that can be summed up in three words:  Orange.  Powder.  Everywhere.  We eventually made it to church, albeit late and grumpy and exhausted. 

As I sat in a pew, in the middle of a brightly lit chapel, I thought about my morning.  My life.  My motherhood.  I looked at my wrinkled skirt.  I looked at my wrinkled cardigan...

I am a wrinkled mama, I thought.  I can't seem to smooth the surface of this powerful responsibility I've been given:  Mother.  Instead, I'm wrinkled.  I am running in circles.  I am bumpy and potholed, like a neglected country road.  I am wrinkled and imperfect.

I looked around the chapel and saw many women sitting in the pews by mine.  I saw that they were beautiful and good and brave.  Some were wrestling with wiggly, young children.  Others had arms draped across teenagers' shoulders.  Some were sitting with spouses; some sat alone.  I saw them through eyes desperately focused on heaven, and recognized them as my sisters.

And they were all wrinkled.

Not one of us is perfect, my friends.  And not one of us is expected to obtain perfection in a lifetime.  As Ariana Huffington says, "To become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly, and to embrace uncertainty and imperfection."  Embrace imperfection.  Because in imperfection lies compassion and growth.  Motivation for change.  Empathy.  Commonality.  Kindness.  In imperfection we become more patient and forgiving.  We become relatable, human, and real.  The more we relate to one another, the more actively we reach out to nurture one another.  The more we nurture one another, the stronger our community of women becomes.  And when we are strong, we start to see the "wrinkles" in ourselves and the wrinkles in others for what they truly are--

Marks of beauty.

Happy Mother's Day to Wrinkled Mamas Everywhere! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Baby Animal Days and a GIVEAWAY!

Oh my goodness, I love baby animals!  Who doesn't love baby goats and baby chicks and baby bunnies and baby sheep?!  They are so precious and sweet.

Utah State University Extension program, in conjunction with their botanical center, are hosting a FUN, family-friendly event in Kaysville, UT this weekend.  BABY ANIMAL DAYS!  I took Lilly and Camren a couple of years ago and we had a blast!  (I was very brave and held a baby chick.  I admit I was praying the entire time I was holding it:  "Please don't poop on me, please don't poop on me."  HA!)

In addition to seeing, petting, and holding a large variety of baby animals, you can:

*Eat yummy food

*Participate in activities for kids

*Ride a horse

*Watch a sheep shearing demo

*"Get your bounce on" in a number of bouncy houses

There will also be miniature train rides, a climbing wall, and baby reptiles.  It's a wonderful event you won't want to miss!  Bring your family and makes some memories.

The Baby Animal Days event will be held at the Utah State University Botanical Center located on 875 South 50 West in Kaysville, UT.  The party starts on May 9th from 2:00-8:00pm, and again on May 10th, from 11:00am-6:00pm.  I will be there Friday afternoon.  Come and find me and say, "Hi, Mama Leisha!"  If you do, I will give you a big ol' hug!

Utah State University Extension has generously donated a family pass to be given to one fantastic "Mama Leisha reader."  Entering the drawing is easy-peasy.  Simply follow me on Instagram here.  Then leave a comment letting me know you have entered.  THE WINNER WILL BE NOTIFIED BY 5:00PM ON MAY 7TH!

If you don't win, never fear!  You can purchase tickets here!  Use promo code BABY5 to receive $5.00 off a family pass.  Feel free to use #babyanimaldays on all your social media outlets.  It will be a party!!

I hope I get to see you there!

P.S.  Don't have an Instagram account?  Don't worry!  Follow Mama Leisha on FB instead.  That will count as an entry.)