by Melanie

Family Home Evening Fix-Up

January 11, 2014 in Family Room by Melanie

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Every Monday night at 4018 is Family Night. We turn off the phones, ignore the doorbell, and just spend the whole evening together. Definitely my favorite night of the week.

A typical FHE looks a lot like this: We eat dinner when Mr. 4018 gets home. After cleaning it up bit (read: piling up the dishes in the sink), we gather in the family room.

Then we gather in the family room. Whoever is conducting that night gives us a warm welcome and calls on several people to choose songs for us to sing – usually our own family versions with crazy actions. My favorite is the melted snowmen dog pile on dad at the end of “Once There Was a Snowman.”

After an opening prayer, then comes the “family council” part of Family Home Evening. We pull out the family calendar and update the coming week and figure out how we’re juggling the chauffeur duties, church meetings, play rehearsals, practices, and games.

Next is the spotlight where one person tells us something awesome about themselves, shows us something awesome they can do (I make them play something on the piano), and then we all go around and say what we think is awesome about them. It’s awesome.

After a lesson, activity, closing song and prayer, we end with a tasty treat.

We’re good at getting together every Monday night, but it’s usually thrown together at the last minute and I think we could be doing more. That’s where this project comes in.


Our first FHE of the year was spent talking about changes we want to make and how we can make it better. We used this page to get the conversation going and take notes.FHE-pin

You can use this page, too. Just click on the image for the full-size version and then save it.

I learned some things I wouldn’t have guessed and had some suspicions confirmed. Joy requested that we never attend another sporting event for FHE. Ever. According to Bree, we need to laugh a lot because it’s a lot better than when we get “icy.”

We decided to focus more on scriptures for the lessons and that whoever is assigned the lesson, activity, and treat will talk to each other about ways to make them go together.

I’m calling part one of project FHE fix-up a success. What do you do for Family Night?

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by Melanie

Chicken Cordon Bleu Wraps

January 8, 2014 in Kitchen by Melanie

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I love sandwiches. Jason’s Deli and Cafe Zupas are some of my very favorite places to grab a bite.

But then there was this one time…

We went to Disneyland for a week, and my husband had this great idea to only eat one meal in the park every day to save money. It really is a GREAT idea, but unfortunately, he didn’t tell me this fabulous idea until we were already there. We had a bunch of stuff to make ham sandwiches on the drive, so every day we went back to our hotel and had ham sandwiches.



For an entire week.

Ever since that week, we don’t love sandwiches quite so much, and I have learned to be a lot more creative with our lunches.

This is one of my latest faves:


Start with a tortilla or a fancy wrap. Spread it with Ranch dressing and mustard. Layer sliced chicken, ham, and cheese like provolone or Swiss. Add lettuce – or if you really want it to be amazing, use arugula and spinach leaves – and tomato. Bree loves to add cilantro, too. And my motto is “everything is better with avocado.” Then wrap it up and enjoy. Simple and delicious. yum!

Have you ever eaten a food so much that you just couldn’t handle eating it anymore?

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by Melanie

Cuddle Up

January 5, 2014 in Great Room by Melanie

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cuddleI am so excited for tomorrow.

Ridiculously excited for a Monday.


It’s “Cuddle Up Day!”

Sounds to me like it needs to be celebrated in sweats on the couch with whipped cream-topped hot chocolate and some sweet daughters… until my favorite hunky husband comes home from work and we send the cute daughters to bed and do a little more cuddlin’. This may be my new favorite holiday.

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by Melanie

We Love to Celebrate!

January 2, 2014 in Great Room by Melanie

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chuckFirst of all, how did I NOT watch Chuck when it was on TV? Definitely my new favorite Netflix find. Plus as an added bonus, I get to catch a few glimpses of Matt Bomer while I wait for the next episode of White Collar. Win!

Now on to what’s really on my mind today… I remember an article floating around awhile ago about how moms that do too much need to dial it back a bit so the rest of the moms don’t have to feel bad. I went searching for the article and it’s actually a lot older than I thought – almost a year ago. Did you see this?

Can we bring the holidays down a notch?

I have to admit I’m really not a fan of this article. Yes, some people may go a little overkill, but why not? Life can be so hard. Why not take advantage of any excuse to celebrate?

If you’re doing it to keep up with everyone else, just stop. If you really love breaking up the drudgery of life with fun days, there’s no reason to take it down a notch. Just do what you love!

butterbeerWe like celebrating random days like having butterbeer on Harry Potter’s birthday and eating with our hands on disposable tablecloths on “no dirty dishes day.” Did you know National Kazoo Day is a real thing???

I love making fun memories with my kids while they’re little enough to think it’s fun to do silly stuff like that. In fact, I think I do more for the random wacky holidays than the big ones. Leprechaun traps and bunny tracks? Not for me. Waffles for dinner on Waffle Day? Absolutely.

Of course, there is already plenty for a busy family to do that takes up our time. So even though we like to add fun celebrations, we like to keep them simple enough that they don’t add a bunch of stress.

sleepOur New Year’s Eve celebration was really simple and really fun with plenty of yummy food, fun games, and LOTS of laughing. The girls tried to stay awake long enough to ring in the new year, but they didn’t quite make it.

Tomorrow is Festival of Sleep day. Maybe to make up for all the sleep we lost on New Year’s Eve? The kids have to go back to school, so we can’t sleep in, but I’m seriously considering an early bedtime as our choice of celebration. Does that sound fun to anyone else?



Friday, January 4 is Trivia Day and my kids are HUGE fans. Their favorite dinner conversation is “Family Quiz.” We ask each other questions about family members and learn lots of fun things about each other that way. Like “Who does Beth have a crush on?” and “What did Mom and Dad do on their first date?” Everyone guesses what they think the answer is, and then whoever the question is about has to give us the real answer. I’m not sure if Beth will give us the answer to that one, though. She’s pretty protective of the identity of her latest crush.

How will you celebrate?

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by Melanie

Happy 2014!

December 30, 2013 in Craft Room by Melanie

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I am a huge fan of fresh starts and new beginnings. I love the excitement of a new project… it’s keeping that excitement through to the end that is the challenge for me. Anyone else have that issue???

So it’s a new year in a few days and that means new projects! Hooray! I have all sorts of goals and lists and dreams and ideas for the year. There’s the usual eat healthy, exercise every day, lose a bunch of weight, don’t yell unless it’s to save a life, daily scripture study, do more service, more date nights with my husband…

Yes, the list is long, but I’m not the kind of person who beats myself up when I don’t do all of them perfectly. I figure any progress is good, so I make the list as long as I want and make whatever progress I can manage throughout the year.

I don’t believe there’s a magic switch that flips when the ball drops that will automagically make me perfect at something I’m not very good at, so this is really just my list of things I’m working on. Constantly. Continually. Always working on.

The projects, however, are the fun stuff. These are the ones I really focus on throughout the year. Of course they need their own cool graphic:


So without further ado, here are my top 5 projects for 2014:

40-eighteenMy number one project for the year is 40eighteen. I am so excited about this brand new blog. I have to admit I am a bit of a blogaholic… I’ve started many blogs – stuck with some longer than others – and have learned a lot along the way. So I’m taking everything I’ve learned and all the visions that are still floating around my head and focusing them right here. I am so excited for this new adventure and can’t wait to make all sorts of new friends along the way.

project-365In my dreams, I am an amazing photographer whose family snapshots are award-worthy portraits. Unfortunately, in the real world my photos rarely turn out like I want and I don’t even know how to use my fancy camera. This is the year all of that changes. I’m taking a photography class and committing to take a photo every day. Truly, my skills can only get better…

And let’s be honest here. This is going to be one heck of a challenge for me. I’m really great at having a camera with me all the time but absolutely HORRIBLE at actually taking it out and taking some photos. So this will be a bit of a miracle… Maybe that should be my motto this year: 2014 – the year for miracles!

Along with this, and while I have my camera out every day, i want to take more pictures of everyday life with my kids – and make sure to send more to grandmas who live far away and miss those cute grandkids. I have a good friend who has inspired me with her “Picture of the Week” email she sends out to friends and family every Sunday night.

It’s so simple – just a few pictures with a few great captions. At the end of the year, she prints all of them up in a book, and Voila! instant scrapbook, accounting for every week of the year. When I grow up, I want to be as cool as her. For now, I’m just going to try to start taking more pictures and hopefully sharing more, too.


2014-homeHere’s another miracle waiting to happen. This February will mark 2 years that I’ve been living in my new house, and my walls are still bare, rooms still need furniture, and some boxes are still packed.

I know, I know. I should get off the computer and work on my house. So I will, but I really hate it. I really love my house, and it seems like putting it all together should be fun, but honestly, it mostly causes me anxiety.

I have no idea how to decorate, I hate figuring out where every little thing should go, and I have a hard time sticking to one room until it’s done. That’s why I’m committing to this year’s project: 20♦1♦4 = 20 minutes of really good work at a time ♦ focusing on 1 room until it’s done ♦ using the 4-box method. I’m sure by this time next year my home will be ready for a fancy magazine shoot, right?

40-thingsNot just this year but every year we’ll be celebrating 40eighteen with a fun • 40 things • series. At first I thought I would post 40 things every month on the 18th, but then I realized just how long of a list that would be every. single. month. No one wants to read that. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So instead, I’m going to share 40 things throughout the year, posting 3 or 4 every month on the 18th and a big recap at the end of the year. You’ll have to wait until the 18th to see what this year’s theme will be… mwahahaha


FHE-fixupEvery Monday night is Family Home Evening. Our family gets together, turns off the phone, ignores the front door, and spends the whole evening together. We sing songs, have a lesson, eat a yummy treat, play games, and coordinate our calendars for the coming week so we know when everyone is coming and going.

We’re in a great habit of doing it, but I think we could do more with it to make it even better. So it’s time for a little FHE fix-up where we figure out how to make the most of this weekly time together.


That’s it! I just became the new music leader for the kiddos at church, so I’m sure that will be another big focus this year, too. What are your plans for 2014???

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