Hitting the Wall...Motherhood's Refining Fire

Okay, you may laugh... I'm heaving a sigh of relief. This is the first time I've had a 2 year old in the house without having a newborn. Yes, for the last 13 years this 2 year pattern has defined our lives and taught me much about life... the important and the not so important. For the record, I never looked like that lady above pregnant... Never.

I have a dear friend who called me a day ago, sobbing. She has 3 kids, 3 and under... her newest just born a month ago. She's not the first to call while rolled up in a ball on her closet floor to ask me, "How? How do I do it?"
Motherhood is a tricky journey. We start out believing we know how to raise kids. We do what makes sense. For some it's a shocker, for others it takes a few kids to encounter the shock (my wall came with baby number 4).

We imagine we're going to get this:
And we become painfully aware that what we really got was a little more of this than we expected:
My hardest years of motherhood were the early years. At one point I had 4 kids 6 and under. The day my husband went back to work after our fourth I heard the door close and I fell on the floor sobbing in a state of panic, stupor, fear, and desperation. At that point in my life I became painfully aware that I could not do it all... not by a long shot.

After 6 kids and years of motherhood there are a few things that I have learned. The greatest thing was that I COULD do it! Sure it was exhausting; it required A LOT of sacrifice but I learned to stretch myself beyond anything I dreamed I could do.

These hard moments in life either break us or strengthen us. I decided breaking wasn't all that appealing so I sought to be refined; or made stronger. Each difficult season of my life I have learned to grow in knowledge, spiritual power, faith, and ability. Going to Costco with 4 kids 6 and under sounded like parting the Red Sea 7 years ago... now it's a blessing. (How? I put 2 kids in one cart, and pushed a double stroller with the other 2 while I pulled the cart... I have fantastic arms and NO ONE gets in your way! It's great!) I've learned so much about multi-tasking and managing BIG things because of these hard mothering moments. These are the moments when as mothers we grow and become great.

I'm joining Melissa at The Inspired Room for her Beautiful Life series... this topic: Motherhood defines my beautiful life... it's the hardest thing I've ever done but it's my most beautiful work... Ever.

Monday I'll finish this post with a few ideas of things to do when you've Hit the Wall in Motherhood.

I'd love to hear about your moments of hitting the wall. Do you have any mothering How To questions I could answer in upcoming posts?


Message Center Inspiration: Just in time for School

Every year I look for a new way to organize my life. Due to the constant ebb and flow of a growing family of 8 I have a personal quest to contain chaos... granted, I've been on that quest for 14 years. The reality is that I'd like to blame my disorganization on my new system that failed... husband figured me out YEARS ago and politely plays along.

So right in time for school, here are a few message centers that may just tame your chaos, or give you a new system to blame, or just look pretty (because you've got it all together):

This is my favorite. Who'd a thunk to make an old headboard into a message center?!?!! CentsationalGirl: I want to live next door to you. What a fantastic idea! Don't you just love it!

JunkmailGems made this darling magnet board out of a GoodWill cookie sheet. I love the tin can that sticks to the board to house pens and pencils.

Inspiration: I'm turning all of my newly painted cabbys into message centers and recipe holders. This shot uses cork. I think I'm going to glue in galvanized metal and cover it with magnets.
Here's a shot from Craftzine. Yet another chalkboard paint creation. I love that you can hide all of your uglies behind your cabinets. That way no one sees when you have tampons or Preparation H on your shopping list.

Love this creation. Message center using wine corks for the cork board. Now, I don't drink wine and honestly wouldn't have a clue where to get the corks... I'll have to raid neighbors trash... but I love the earthy feel of this center.

Now... I just need to finish that school shopping. Maybe after I finish that bag of chocolate chips:)


Organize that Car... Inspiring Ideas I wish I used.

Vacationing with 6 children is like arriving with the circus train and then setting up the big top... When the trip is over your car looks like the circus animals nested in it and you spend the next week sweeping up the pop corn, peanuts and poop... no joke... real poop.
We traveled 800 miles with a family of 8 and a dog. Each kid got a back pack for packing. The clothing is no problem to clean up after a trip. It's the "other stuff" that wrecks my car. I thought you'd enjoy my little photo trip down the car organization aisle... THIS is what I dream of but can't afford.
No, friends. This thrifty momma is going to have to figure out a way to make these car organizers out of cardboard and duct tape. Duct tape comes in different colors now so I'm sure it will be styl'n. I needed one of these side organizers for each front seat.

This front seat organizer would have easily fit between the 2 front seats of my Chevy Express 12 passenger Extended Van. Don't be fooled. It sounds like we have enough room in there for a swimming pool but really, when fully loaded with kids, dog and gear... we have enough room for air and a few cracks to stuff french fries in.

I call this genius a car purse. Every car should have one... mine needs about 6.

Cup holders... do they really hold cups? Ours were stuffed with chargers, sunglasses, half eaten fruit roll ups that were rejected by the kids and half eaten yogurt containers that were also... rejected by the kids.

I need a giant one of these on the back of each of my bench seats... big enough to stow 6 pairs of flip flops so I don't need to hunt for all the kids shoes for those 12 unscheduled potty stops along the way.
This wouldn't be bad either.

In addition to this I need a diaper pail, a bigger trash can and a throw up bucket. Yes friends, our trip home was accompanied with a rather nasty bug that resulted in MANY unscheduled stops to take care of unmentionable business... out both ends. Gross? Yes. Life? Yes. Life with 6 kids? Yes, and to be expected EVERY time you travel.

So, dear family, if you need me, I'll be in the laundry room, scrubbing out the car, sorting 24 pairs of shoes and in my spare time-- duct taping a series of organizers to keep me sane for next years ski trip.

I'm joining in on Julia's Hooked On Party over at Hooked on Houses. -- Of course, today I'm hooked on clean cars:)

How do you tame chaos on long family trips?


Organize Medicine Cabinets with Magnets

Here's the greatest idea I've found so far to clean up your medicine cabinet clutter. Anyone have an avalanche every morning of hairspray, tooth brushes, and Chapstick? What? Only Me? Oh, humor me people and PLEASE let me think that some of you struggle with an ugly medicine cabinet! (yes, I'm reposting... lazy me on vacation!)

True: I use magnets in my medicine cabinets. They hang small zip loc baggies with medicine and doo dads from inside the door of my cabinet. They are a dream for space saving and sorting small items!

Well, Marth Steward organized this one in Jan. of 2006. Check out instructions here.

In a nutshell, you remove the shelves, buy sheet metal and have it cut to fit the back of your medicine cabinet. Glue the galvanized metal in place. Use magnets to help store things vertically both on the back of the cabinet and on the door! Great for hair ties, clippers (ours always walk away), medicine, etc.

Notice though... to get your cabinet to look this good, you can only buy Clinique make-up and silver colored bottles... Don't even think of having a colorful tube of CREST toothpaste in your cabinet!!! If you're a matching nut I guess you could spray paint your toothpaste tube each month... I'll pass.


Of course, if your cabinet looks like this... you're laughing at this post. Yours probably comes with luxury parking for your lipstick, a Ben-gay garage, and Q-tip closet... standard... these cabinets hold things and look good.


A drawer? Wow, what a great idea! Carving... Oooo.... Ahhh.... Nope, this Pretty Organizer will have to wait for such luxury. Maybe for the laundry room expansion (questions??? see this post).

If you're looking for those magnetic holders, Cost Plus world market has several in their kitchen storage area... so does The Container Store (paradise for a Pretty Organizer) and I would guess Bed Bath and Beyond.... if you're looking online, this is an option.... I know, dork to copy the whole page... using the hubbys MAC- no clue how to grab an image.

OR you can be ultra cheap like ME! I'd run out and buy a bunch of magnets, glue them on to cheap boxes or old medicine bottles and recycle my stuff to work in my Ultra Organized Magnetic Medicine Cabinet!

I linked up to Melissa at The Inspired Room because this is an idea that I love and makes my life a little easier and counters a bit more beautiful.

Wendy at the Shabby Nest is hosting a Frugal Friday party and though I have not done all of the Martha Stewart item myself, I thought is was enough inspiration to spring board a few of you with less than 6 kiddos into action! Go visit my friends parties today for more inspiration and fantastic posts!


Guest Posting today... really...

Hey friends... due to both my and Jen's travel plans the guest post was a little longer in posting than either of us expected. It's up today!!

Well folks, you guessed it, I finally blew my top and got fed up with the Arizona 115 degree heat and headed for higher and COOLER elevation. It only took my family 16 hours to do a 12 hour trip with 8 people and a dog. While I'm recovering from our grueling drive and enjoying a little relaxation from our daily routines you can pop on over to my good friend Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and check out my guest post today!

Jen is a great lady with 5 kids and offers real solutions for thrifty families. I {Heart} Jen:) I think we were twins separated at birth...

The winner of the candles from Celebrating Home Giveaway (HERE) at Pretty Organized is Melissa D from Drop the Baby Weight. I'll be posting the winner of The $68 dollar giveaway as soon as I get the information from Tamara! Congratulations and thanks for stopping by.

If you didn't win and fell in love with one of the items you saw at Celebrating home please feel free to click on the Celebrating Home button on the right and do a little shopping!


Celebrating Home Giveaway and Freebie!

A few weeks ago I had an enormous package arrive at my house. The only packages I get are the ones relatives mail after we leave their house and most of them contain 1 lost shoe, a prized doll and a pair of eye glasses. Imagine how thrilled I was to open it and find home decor items (all of them new, not hand me downs) for me! Tamara Denke of Celebrating Home shipped me a few treasures. Included in my box of decor booty was this Bean Pot.

This big family calls beans our musical fruit... and yes we eat a lot of beans. I had to try this bean pot out on the family and behold... our 4th of July feast!
Ladies, this bakeware from Celebrating Home is fantastic! My new bean pot has now cooked rice, beans, and hid cookies from the kiddos... and it's a great looking pot. My baby loves her some beans... did I mention that the pot is just the perfect size?

My magic bean pot is one of those oven, freezer, fridge, microwave, ceramic wonder cookware items that real moms drool over... and it even has a little basket to carry it to a picnic so you look like you belong in a Jane Austin book when you show up to the garden party.

I visited Tamara's website at Celebrating Home and it's full of all kinds of home decor items. A few of my favorite are the dishes... all high end quality ceramic and beautiful designs for the dinner table or to fancy up a plain wall. Oh my gosh, I could go on gushing about the oodles of fantastic canisters and mugs....
Tamara was a sweetheart and sent our family Celebrating Home's Blueberry Sugar Cookies. At least I think she did because after I had 1 cookie they were gone. Not a crumb. My 11 year old had the presence of mind to squirl 2 away for dad and the rest have disappeared. In the words of Rachel Ray, "Yummo!" These are some of the tastiest cookies I've ever had and I bake All. The. Time.

Tamara has an ad here on Pretty Organized Palace and wants to get the word out about the great products
Celebrating Home has to offer. So, we're both doing a giveaway.

  • Leave a comment telling me what products you thought were the
    best over at Celebrating Home
    and you'll be
    entered to win this Baked Apple
    candle (Deliciously scented) and another candle
    that I will be sad to part with
    but happy to share with one of my great readers.

Crazy Good Deal Alert.... $68 Dollar Giveaway!!!

If you are looking for an even better giveaway, email
Tamara at
CelebratingTamara@live.com and
let her know what items you like and
you'll be entered to win this
wall hanging valued at $68 and she'll ship it directly to your house
Free is better than Craigslist friends!

Both drawings will be held on Tuesday July 21 and winners will be notified on Pretty Organized Palace as well as by email.

Now quickly pop on over to Celebrating Home and poke around. Then come tell me what you think would add a great touch in your home!

Good luck!


Christmas in July and a secret

Dear Family and Friends who read this post,
In an effort to have my act together for Christmas (A mere 5 months away) it has become necessary for me to begin making your gifts early. You see, while I am pretty organized... you ought to focus more on the "pretty" part of Pretty Organized... not the beautiful definition. I'm the one that means... fairly or moderately. In other words: I don't completely have my act together.

Then I found this gorgeous beauty and I thought, "Self, you can spray paint a ceiling medallion... you can spray paint 20 before Christmas!"

And... I can sew trim on to tea towels for neighbor gifts.
And... all of those beautiful memories of summer don't have to be tossed in a box, they saddle up fine with sparkly bulbs and glittery crystals or floral for a fresh earthy winter wreath.
Christmas on the brain already? Yes! Why?!?! Because right now there are NO Christmas parties at school to attend (times 4 kids), No crazy lines at JoAnn's, No sugar stuffed children rearranging all of the ornaments on the tree and I have the time.

I'm uber Pretty Organized... that is- fairly or moderately so, and I'm hoping to make this Christmas a little calmer than last. Why... okay, shhh... I'll let you in on a secret... Promise not to laugh, hate me, or shun me because I've consequently had to cut down on my chocolate intake.... I'm training for my first triathlon. {Konk, gafaw, snort... stop laughing family and friends} No worries though... it's a Sprint triathlon-- those are triathlons for chocolate bingers like me! Race day is December 5th.... so if you visit December 6th and there's no triathlon post it's most likely due to the fact that I drowned mid way through the swim portion and my relatives are reading the will to find out who has the "laundry for 7 life sentence". If that is the case, I'll be in heaven resting, eating heavenly chocolate and watching all of you do your laundry.

House of the Future...

This cracked me up! I give you... the house of the future...

Well, ladies we're there. That was 1957... fast forward to 2009. If you have enough time... there is an extended edition, complete with video intercom and plastic light panneling:) And yes, 1 million guests visited Disneyland in their high heels, dresses, and button down shirts... those were the days.




Back To School:: Organizing Treasures

So, my plan this summer was to clean out all of the closets. We have 7 closets. I have 7 more closets to go. With a vacation coming up and school starting the first week of August, Back to School shopping is pressing and ever more present is the Back to School organization that I need.
So how does a family of 8 win the paper chase and deal with all of the memorabilia? Well, my poor deprived suffering children all have to limit their treasures to a box. They will leave this house at 18 with a suitcase, a pillow, a good recipe book and 1 file box of their lifelong treasures.

Here's how the process works at this Pretty Palace: Each kiddo is given a treasure box for their room. It's unique and about the size of a jewelry box... yes, even the boys. These boxes are for things like MP3 players, packs of gum, prized rocks and tin foil... whatever they want to keep. They can keep anything as long as I don't see it out. This makes room clean up easier when you have all of those, "What-in-the-heck do I do with THAT?!?!"... misc. items to put away.
For school papers, scout awards, trophies and all other things prized and treasured each kid has a box. I use decorative cardboard file boxes that can be found at Wal-Mart. This is my children's lifelong treasure box. They can keep whatever they wish as long as it fits in that box. Yes, that means that they have to go through it and decide what is trash and what is treasure. Hopefully with experience and wisdom by the time they're 16 most of those items will be treasure.
This little methods has allowed my kiddos to have control over their stashes and keeps me sane and organized throughout the school year... well, mostly. Alright, it's pretty organized around here but please don't come peeking around my house around dinner time because it looks like feeding time at the zoo.

How do you win the paper chase?


French Linnens... a phonetic tribute.

Oh ello... dahhhhlings! Eets soo gude to av yew eer at my palAce. So. You want to see how mooch mooney ze Fronch pay for zer tabelcloss? You reemember zees peekture?

Wi. Zees is the $485 tabelcloss zat vill make you frans weep in envy and shem if zay speel zer wine on your tabelcloss. It is called Le Pivoines by Beauville. Zo. Eef you buy zees linnen, you must nevair sellve wine. Wine makies your 'ed woozy.
You like zat linen? Come, I sheau you more dahhhling... Ooo... zee spell cheque ees note too appy aboat my fronch. Oh well, I'm French and that enough. No?
Madam, if you are going to 'ave guests to your soiree, zees might be a gude idea if you are looking for somsing to accent your sweeming or ocean tseem. Love zee stahfeesh.

Een Fronce, vi love to decowate wees romantique fleau...ral pattans. Zees bedding is manifique... no? Wi. Si. Ooo wrong lahngeege, par don mi.

Zees flowairs POP. Preety no?

And... eef you steel av mooney leaft, zer ees a bootiful robe zat goes weeth zees towell set... for only $265 American dollars.

Vell... (cough, snort, choke) AHEM... This here palace is a come as you are, always welcome, not uptight, no worries if ya broke it, hope my 1 french looking linen is CLEAN kinda house. $485 is what we spend on repairing a fuel pump for our 12 passenger van and $265 is ALMOST what we spend on keeping this house 78 degrees while it's 115 outside in the Arizona sun. Still, it's fun to see how much my good taste might cost if I weren't so desperately creative.
No French were harmed in the making of this post... Characters in this post were fictional and any likeness to real French individuals is purely coincedental and highly unlikely given my poor phonetic accent.


Fancy Tablecloths

Well, can you guess which of these tablecloths holds the $485 price tag? My shweethaht friend Nester girl is doing a crash course on fabric so you might want to head over there to hear all about how NOT to spend a TON of moola on a table cloth and still have it look fabulous.

I like looking at the finished product. Isn't this dessert table cloth delicious? It's even ironed... I never iron my linens unless the President is coming and even then... well,.... nope. I'll iron my linens when Jesus comes.

I love a good clean line cloth... these tucks make round look modern unlike the flowing tablecloth below... which yes, I also love.

And... Ooops! How did that get in there?!?! Dinner for 8 anyone? Is there any wonder why I dislike taking pictures of my house? I mean, just to get that table clean took me half the night and the floor... well, Happy 4th of July to me... I'm still working on it. Ooo... but stay tuned this week because there is an empty basket on that table that houses the most WONDERFUL gift a reader sent me. I'll show you soon!

Ahh... your eyes can all rest at ease now. This table cloth is casually elegant... and I think I'll paint my chairs 2 different colors some day because I love this shot.
Spring green... love this fun print. Will someone please tell my what on earth those 2 green egg things are there on the ground? That's a far stretch for photo staging... a green chair, a plant, the Hulk... something besides 2 green blobs.

So which one of these table cloths rings up just below $500? Take your guess... I tell you tomorrow!
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