"True love is a reflection of the Savior's love. In December of each year we call it the Christmas spirit.

You can hear it. You can see it. You can feel it."

Thomas S. Monson

This morning I started the early morning off with a long list of important things to do.  And then, after saying (an overwhelmed) prayer to see the most important things, decided just to follow my heart today, one moment at a time.  I've slowed down quite a bit, rethought a million little decisions about our day, and have begun to actually enjoy my day so much more.

December is the month that we prove to ourselves and those around us what really matters.  It is so tempting to put more on our plate.  Ironically though, the more we take off of our plate, the more we simplify, the more clearly we can hear--deep down inside of us--what really matters.  What truly makes us happy.  Peaceful.  And joyful.

This morning I have hushed the "rushed" voice in my head over and over and feel the reward that comes from this continual discipline: the calm satisfaction that everything is just right--imperfect--but just right.

Happy December 1st.  

the sleepy time gal

first thanksgiving at home...






IMG_6019 IMG_6025




IMG_6091 IMG_6102 I'm so grateful for family and food and slow downing.  There were the usuals: homemade place cards + apple turkeys.  Firsts were hosting Thanksgiving dinner in our home, trying my hand at whole cranberry sauce and Bobby's incredible turkey roulade he slaved over to accompany his roasted turkey breast.

I loved having nieces and nephews here along with my dad.  Stuffing ourselves and taking a log walk in the cool air.  Family helping wash dishes and divvy up leftovers.  Serving up pie and seconds of pie.  Board games out after dark.  And watching all the kids chase after Olive just to get a glimpse of her.


I'm feeling very blessed with my life, my health, family, and freedom this week.  


Hoping you had a memorable week yourself, friends.


the sleepy time gal









the weekend




{Revisiting the hand-print turkey cookies we made when the twins were babies--this time using this excellent almond flour (with a little cream cheese + almond extract) decorating cookies.}





{Family pictures.  Somehow, with me behind the camera--never a delightful experience posing your own people, setting up the shot, and racing down the hill to "jump in".  But I love being the one to sit down to edit them after all is said and done .}


{Always looking for ways to spice up the weekly breakfast yogurt bowls.  PB + jelly yogurt bowls were a hit with a heaping TBSP of low sugar strawberry jam + chopped, salted peanuts.  I add a little splash of half and half or milk to the kids' greek yogurt since its so thick.} IMG_5966

{What would the weekend be without this little one.  Finding new, warm places to sleep during the day, being carted around, and going crazy over the new house plant.  If only her claws didn't grasp so well into my long john PJs every single time she's in a playful mood... I'm telling myself this is the "kitty" phase.}



What did you do this weekend?  

Looking forward to Thanksgiving planning this week since it will be our first time ever hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Monday!

the sleepy time gal

3 ways we maintain order (and peace) daily


IMG_3734 It definitely is a challenge maintaining order over a household of seven.  And when your kids are home most days, 3 meals x 7 people of dishes, our projects, shoes + coats, and stuff can easily build up everywhere.  

After putting my whole heart and summer into "tidying" our home the Marie Kondo approach ([amazon_link id="1607747308" target="_blank" ]The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing[/amazon_link]), I've been quite strict that we don't fall back into our "cluttered" ways.

I have 3 tricks that have worked in keeping that order in every room of our house.  And helps keep peace between parent and child, child and child, and the unspoken calm from living in an inspiring, orderly home.


  1. Constantly remind all family members that everything has a home, a pre-established place to return all items after they have been used, played with, read, etc.

This simple reminder not only immediately gives the family members a visual of the location that the item needs to be returned to but doesn't require nagging.  It empowers the person to take responsibility to walk their book back over to the bookcase, put their shoes in the shoe closet, and put the yogurt back in the refrigerator.

This one concept resolves 80% of the clutter/untidiedness in our home.  My kids know very well that the more they are responsible for their items throughout the day, the less clean up there will be at the end of the day when they are responsible for one room in the house.


2. Create charts for those household tasks that tend to a) wear you out or b) wear you out in routinely asking your kids to do them.

The functioning charts we have in our home currently are:

  • Dishwasher Days Chart (see below) where two kids are teamed up each morning to unload while the other two kids practice piano.
  • Daily Tidying Chart that simply outlines each child being responsible for the tidying (vacuuming + sweeping if necessary) of one main-level room each day.  Rooms are rotated weekly.
  • Chef of the Day + Kitchen Helper chart (in first image).  It is an extension of our chef for the day (one child that helps cook/bake that day with me) with the addition of wiping off the dining table after meals and helping with meal clean up that day too.

Charts give my kids and myself direction which is so important in building confidence and establishing lifelong routines of important work.


3. Establish daily "rhythms" and routines for your kids and your family.

It took a little time, but now my kids know that breakfast is "ready" once their morning jobs are completed. (They each have a binder with these great responsibility pages from Modern Parents Messy Kids inside plastic page protectors so they can check them off each morning with a dry erase marker.)

Having everyone dressed, with beds made, kids' clean clothes from outside their door put away, dishwasher unloaded or piano practiced before breakfast has made life so much easier!  We can then all settle in for a morning spiritual thought and prayer before everyone splits off in different directions.

Why? Because we can get out the door faster right after breakfast and teeth brushed.  We can start into our own projects and play right after breakfast without the nagging.  (Realistically, there still is some of that. ;)) And, they know the routine and it gives them confidence knowing they are totally ready for the day.


Those are 3 of our tricks that really do allow for fun and creativity and learning during the day without feeling constantly overwhelmed by chaos.  My kids feel the difference when we've followed through with "maintaining" our home and I'm much more calm and helpful to my kids when there is peace and order.

Days are happier, more peaceful, and definitely smoother when we stay focused on maintaining the most important place for the kids and adults alike: the home.


the sleepy time gal

one simple question: do I want this?



"The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity."

James Hightower

In recently sharing some of the changes taking place in our household lately, one significant change has been my daily schedule or plan for the day.

Usually I change up my daily schedule format when it begins to feel too restrictive.  Sometimes the change goes from maintaining my day/week's plan on my iPad calendar to keeping my plan/goals using a big legal notepad.

Lately, though, how I plan (or don't plan) and see my upcoming days and weeks has changed at a deeper, philosophical level.


Let me back up.

I've recently come out of a "dark period" as I call it.  The past few months or so have been very intense with doubts, introspection, questions for myself--and God--about what really makes me happy, and what I deeply want for my life and our family's life.  And, most importantly, would I willing, confident, and strong enough to do what I feel strongly about--despite pressure to be someone I am not...

As this "dark period" (which has required unbelievable patience and faith) has recently come to a close with gradual light at the end of the tunnel, I have felt the clarity I've so desperately needed.  I've received just enough of that light and clarity to move forward with confidence and strong conviction towards my own personal direction.

And I see what I was intended to do in this life: live life with passion towards the most exciting goals for me + my family.

Needless to say, I've definitely shifted my approach, my focus, of each new day as my "bigger life picture" feels safe to chase.


It all comes down to one simple question I ask myself when I write my (now shorter) task list each day and when I make many of the decisions my day:

"Do I really want to do this? " 

In other words,

"Is this getting me closer to my most important goals or just using up my precious time?

Am I doing this for someone else's agenda, because I feel pressure, guilt, etc.?"


If I'm courageous enough, I will only have the most important tasks, goals, and activities in my life.  That means constantly weeding out the "good things" for the "best things".  That means constantly asking myself, "Am I feeling peaceful, calm, happy, satisfied, excited for life, and passionate for my path today?"  If the answer is yes (and it is always an empowering, thrilling feeling when it is yes) then I move forward, shutting off the temptation to feel any ounce of doubt and fear.

If the answer is no, I either scratch it off my list/schedule or if it is larger than a scheduled event, begin making plans to remove it from my life, a little at a time if necessary.


I know after you've read this you may be feeling that tug on your heart, that unsettled feeling about at least one thing in your life right now.  Maybe something on your schedule today or this weekend.  Perhaps something that takes up your time weekly, monthly, that isn't giving you the return on investment like you'd hoped.


Be honest with yourself.  Take those uneasy feelings towards that one thing and make one change.  Lessen the frequency of an activity.  Politely decline from an activity/program/event and use that free time for something that truly gets you excited.  Look for an alternative--which may require a lot of creativity and brainstorming--towards something that gives you a better relationship with a spouse, your child, a parent.  Switch out what is getting you nowhere towards your deepest, personal family/individual goals for something that will give you everything you've ever wanted.


I promise the more you rethink the habits in your day/life that you do unthinkingly that aren't satisfying you over and beyond your ideal life, the more your mind will be open and susceptible to new ideas and creating your own path for an incredible life on your unique journey.

Make your life 100% yours.  No regrets.  Live it for you.


the sleepy time gal

being honest with change...



"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

George Bernard Shaw

I've been experiencing quite a bit of change, that, to be honest with you, recently has scared me to death.

Each child growing up faster and faster.

Needing new parenting skills.

Wearing reading glasses for the first time.

New tablets for my kids.

Finding balance/trust with new tablets for my kids.

Intensity in our family's ballet schedule increasing.

Experimenting with new approaches to homeschooling.

Readjusting again our approach to homeschooling.

Shifting gears for a new blog/space.

Letting go of things that used to inspire more and pressing forward with the new.

The early morning routine--again.

Giving my kids more responsibilities and more freedoms...


I'm beginning to straighten my wobbly legs beneath me to hold on tightly to the progress that has come with much change and continue to readjust with the rest.  My, it takes courage to change.  Accept change.  And embrace it and label it "good".

Although I have been quieter in this space recently I am so very excited to be finalizing preparations for a new space online that will be launched soon.  The thing that is amazing about change and progress is that you have to look back at what you've become and the experiences you've had and thank them for the ride.  Then, with all the energy you can muster, focus dead ahead at the new.  The different.  And the future.

the sleepy time gal


{video} Q & A: what i eat


Q & A- What I eat I get asked quite a bit about my current eating plan.  It's similar to what I was doing a few years ago but has changed a bit.

In this video, I explain what a typical week of eating looks like based on my current activity level.

Here are some great links for more information:


More about a Keto/low carb diet and how to start:


Excellent Keto/low carb meal plan:

How to be vegetarian/vegan and follow a low carb/keto diet:

My popular low carb/paleo/primal Pinterest food recipe board:

How to lose weight following CarbNite Solutions (Keto diet all week, carb refuel one night):

If you lift, do strenuous exercise, and need more carb refuels, try Carb Backloading:

My health journey on my blog here:

Feel free to ask questions! I'd love to answer.


the sleepy time gal

back to {un}school: diy geometric notebooks


Page 1 With a greater family focus this fall on  m a t h, I wanted to kick off our first math night recently with some new materials.  These DIY geometric notebooks were the trick!




"Geometric" math inspired!


These geometric notebooks can be filled with anything, besides math equations.  Use them for:

Math notebook (for equations + problem solving)


Field journals

Notebook for your child's bookbag/tote

Notebook for your purse/handbag



What you'ln Need to make these notebooks:

white printer paper

scrapbook/cardstock (8.5 x 11 or 12 x 12)

sewing machine + thread


  1. Start with GEOMETRIC scrapbook paper.  I found this 12 x 12 paper at Michaels craft store.  (If you use 8.5 x 11 paper you can skip some of the "trimming" steps and follow this tutorial, just doing it horizontal.)


2. Fold one piece of 8.5 x 11 printer paper in half down the center.  Open the fold and use the crease to stack it onto a pile of 15 sheets of white printer paper.  Now center that pile onto the wrong side of one of your 12 x 12 scrapbooking papers.


3. While holding the stack carefully in place, line up the center of the stack, that crease, with your sewing machine needle.  Sew a straight seam down the crease, beginning and ending with a backstitch.


4.  Trim excess thread from the stitching and trim around the two sides (the top and bottom sides) of the book.  Fold the notebook in half on the seam you just sewed.


5. Repeat until you have a ton of notebooks.  (Remember these are awesome as gifts, having different notebooks for different parts of the house, one for the car, one per child, etc.)


6. If you've made these for a specific task (say, homeshooling or to keep as a sketchbook in your child's backpack) find a pack of cool mechanical pencils that have a clip to clip onto each notebook.  I found these geometric pencils at Target. Page 2

Now you're set!  I keep our "Math Night" notebooks together with their pencils to bring out weekly.


Next on Back to {Un}School: How to Create A Fun Math Night with your Family


I hope you try the tutorial and use up all that extra cardstock/scrapbook paper you have lying around.

I'm telling you--these notebooks are such a luxury to have for me and my kids.  You've got to try them!


the sleepy time gal


olive, our little kitten





{I embroidered this little black cat the day I knew we'd be surprising the kids and bringing the kitten home. And grabbed every black cat picture book the library had that day as well.  It all made sense to them that afternoon.}


There comes a time when you realize that your kids are really growing up.  And fast.


I never ever expected to own a cat.  It was always, "when everyone's a bit bigger we'll get a dog".  And as life and persistent children (specifically one--Johanna) would have it, I found myself beginning to contemplate a kitten after watching my older girls cat sit this summer.  I saw how nurturing, loyal, and ready they were for a pet.  And thanks to my hairdresser-by-day and farmer-by-night friend, he found me a two month old farm kitten.


Olive is her name.  She is our first pet ever and doesn't disappoint.

She's small, playful, all black with one wisp of white on her chest, and very loved.  It was the biggest surprise my kids have had, seeing me and Bobby walk in one afternoon carrying a tiny kitten.  DIY toys have been made (so far a plastic bottle rattle, cardboard ball, and fleece bed) and perfect attention to Olive's every single need by the girls.  And Rowan is the hero that found her one afternoon (after a house search and family prayer) nestled in my narrow sewing drawer.  (Where do kittens come up with these hiding places??)


Olive is here at the perfect time for all of us.  She's nurtured all day long by the kids. She meows and scratches the basement door when she hears us adults clinking around in the kitchen early in the morning.  So I routinely open the door and she joins me on the couch briefly, explores the dark + quiet house, always returns to me, and waits for the real entertainment that comes when the kids wake.

I'm feeling quite blessed and lucky.


the sleepy time gal

6th annual bake off




{Our entry this year.  Recipe link below and definitely a gem of a recipe.}




Page 2 IMG_5452 Page 1{First year competitor, Maya, takes home the trophy with her decadent chocolate cake + chocolate buttercream frosting.  She was quite proud of her work.}

IMG_5407 We are always blessed with the most beautiful, clear, fall days when it's our Bake Off.

This year we had new competitors, adorable entries, and family recipes entered into the competition.

The girls and I decided to use some of our apples from our recent trip to the orchard to incorporate into our recipe.  We were very impressed with these Gluten-Free Soft Batch Apple Cider Gingersnap Cookies.  Instead of putting applesauce in the dough (as it called for) we processed a huge honeycrisp apple from the orchard.  We were a little intimidated with the large amount of apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup since we doubled it) that the recipe called for but oh, did it make the cookies absolutely amazing!

One of my favorite parts of our Bake Off is watching the children hold their prized work and tell us about it: ingredients, the process, their favorite part, things they changed, their problem solving, innovative decorations, etc.  Once the tallies are in (which the oldest kids take care of) everyone is excitedly anticipating to hear the outcome.  Such good, happy competition!


If you want to host your own Bake Off here are all the details to start your own tradition!

Organize a Mommy/Child Bake Off


the sleepy time gal