Operation Escalones Posts

Operation Escalones {#11} – Hang the Saying

Operation Escalones {#11} – Hang the Saying

Well hello again, Monday…

By 9:00 in the morning, this was my Facebook post….


Not a great start to my Monday. Just not a lot went right this morning, and we were all kind of falling apart at the seams.

But I’m pleased to announce that the afternoon is shaping up to be much better than the morning. By the grace of God, I did get a sort of do-over!

So…the tone of this post is decidedly much happier than it probably would have been had I written it around 11:00 this morning. So be glad you’re seeing me this afternoon instead!

*insert sigh of relief here*

This week’s project for Operation Escalones was hanging the vinyl saying that took forever in coming, but was totally worth the wait!

Ty and I decided about a year ago that the things that we say most should be made into a family “motto”. I mentioned it in my post here. Not quite a mission statement, but more just a quick “tagline” for our family. Words that sum up all that is important to us. We did the Scrabble wall with specific words that we hope our family displays or holds dear.

But this is different. This is something that we can sort of weigh a lot of decisions against, or that we can use as a sort of compass to guide us in our decision-making.


Love God.

Love people.

Do stuff.

First and foremost, the most important thing for us in raising our sons to be Spartans, is that they love Jesus. Nothing else really matters. If this is true about our children, we will have ultimately done our job. If our boys truly love Jesus, everything else will follow.

And if we love Jesus, and have committed ourselves to doing what He asks us to do, we will love people. We will be so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us that we will love anyone and everyone around us.  It is so important to us as we help our boys to become Spartans that they recognize that life is not about them. There is a lot of need in this world, and if we love Jesus, we must be aware of it and be willing to do what it takes to satisfy those needs in the name of Jesus.

Lastly, it is so important to Ty and me that we don’t just have things. We do things.

This is a part of our lives that is often either completely misunderstood, or not understood at all.

We are busy people, and our lives are full. I’ve mentioned before that I love having things to do all the time. I don’t like when life gets too busy, but we definitely lead a full life — and that is just how we like it.

My mom used to tell my sister and me, “You can either choose to have things or do things. We choose to do things.”

And this is the choice that Ty and I have made also. We choose to do things.

Yes, we have very nice things. We’ve been very blessed. But if it ever came down to a choice between buying something or having an experience, we will always choose to do things.

We have been so blessed to be able to travel many places, with and without our kids. As a family, we have driven and flown all over the country. Ty and I have been out of the country. We love to try new things (yes, I’ve been sky diving).

For Christmas this year, we asked our parents to give more experience-based gifts, rather than toys or more stuff. And our parents, thankfully, not only understood, but delivered big time. Our kids so very much enjoy the time that they spend with their grandparents, and they are excited to go on different adventures, either alone or together, with each set of grandparents. Have I mentioned how grateful I am for my kids’ grandparents?? 

In this family, we do things. I recently read a book called “Love Does” by Bob Goff. It only served to fuel and confirm this desire to do things. The basis of the book is that if you truly love someone, you will do the things that it takes to love them — not just say it. You will be with that person regularly, you will run to their aid, you will offer your presence instead of words, and you won’t talk of helping…you will help. Love does things.

So in this family, we will do these three things. We will love God, love people, and do stuff.

And now, our big picture ledge above the entry has become one of my favorite spots in the house. It reminds us every day that these are the things that this family of Spartans has committed to do. Every day.

Do you have a family motto? Do you like being busy and doing things as much as we do? 

Operation Escalones {#10} – Pull it Back Together

Operation Escalones {#10} – Pull it Back Together

Whew! I’m seriously exhausted.

This week was such a long week. I can’t believe all of the fun we crammed into last weekend!

We had my aunt and uncle in town, too! Extra fun!

Beware: This is a picture-full post…

Noah turned 5 this week. 

His basketball birthday party was a big success. There were kids and people everywhere (almost 60 people!!) and it was so fun! There was basketball all over the place. My boys are Timberwolves fans, so the Timberwolves were everywhere, too!

To be honest, as of today, I still had some of the decorations from the party up.

And a lot of leftover tacos….


…and leftover cake.

You know how much I love cake, right? 



That was what we started with. It was as big as Noah, and so cute!

This is what we still have left. I’ll have cake for a year in my freezer. Not that I’m complaining…


I had my birthday the next day. We went to lunch after church and went home to play with all of Noah’s new birthday toys — Hot Wheels, trains, and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.


Noah decided that the Potato Heads were going to a dress-up party, so they were making them costumes.

We went to a bowling/arcade place the next day, on Noah’s actual birthday since there was no school!

They had mini-bowling. Isn’t that so fun!


They had bumper cars, too — Noah loved ramming into Grandpa with all his might!


The boys loved the kid-sized air hockey with Uncle Blake.

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How cute are these guys?

This was not staged…I found them this way. All four with their arms crossed — even the same arm on top. Just the boys!


It turned into quite the celebration for Noah and me last weekend!

This is Noah at his Celebration of Life at school with his friends Ryan and Caison. He got dressed up for the occasion.


So today the big news is: the clean-up and decoration take-down is now complete.

As of today.

Noah was so sad that they had to come down, but I figured that 6 days was plenty.

We also had a weird drainage problem with our dishwasher this week. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, but there was water everywhere outside right behind the kitchen. I was afraid to use the sink and dishwasher until the plumber looked at it, so I still had some of the dishes from the party that I wasn’t able to wash.


Don’t worry, it wasn’t the smelly ones. It was more like the punch bowl and some of the bigger serving dishes.

But they were left on the counter nonetheless.

Now that the problem has been fixed, the dishes have been done!

I can’t believe it, but as of today, I have finally pulled it back together after the party.

The only evidence that is left that we had the party are the balloons that have now become volleyballs…for the whole family.


…and the big huge Timberwolves sign that my mother-in-law made for the garage door.


Yeah, she painted that.

That’s just migrated to the loft behind the basketball hoop. I’m going to have to figure out how to make it a permanent part of the playroom. The boys love it! Not to mention, it fits the theme of the loft perfectly. It even kind of matches the colors!

I smell a blog post coming about that sign….

What a relief to finally have my life pulled back together!

Is this how you throw birthday parties — with a week-long recovery? Do your kids beg you to keep your decorations up for a few days? 

Operation Escalones {#9} – New Chores

Operation Escalones {#9} – New Chores

Happy Monday!

Noah is turning 5 in a couple weeks, and Ty and I have decided that it’s time for Noah to start taking some more responsibility at home. While our kids do different things around the house to help out, there is really no formal structure to it. There isn’t any allowance given for tasks, or expectations for any chores to be finished.

Now that he will be 5, he’s asking about money and how it’s used, etc. We feel very strongly that money is something that kids must understand how to use properly.

As such, we have determined that he will now be responsible for certain chores around that house that he will need to do. There will be payment for some, and just expectation for others.

We believe that there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with just being a part of a family. Some chores should be done simply because you live here, too.

Then there are chores that you must do, but you can be compensated for that.

After that, there are optional chores that you can do that will make you more money.

We want our kids to have money to “practice” with before they get into the real world and have to deal with real money and real consequences.

I am hoping to write a little bit more about our philosophy on this in a future blog.

But for now…here is Noah’s chore chart for when he turns 5!

Chore Charts

Project complete!!

How do you do chores in your house? Do you have allowances? Do you have a chart, or do you choose your chores according to what needs to be done at the moment?

Operation Escalones {#8 } – Make New Year Goals

Operation Escalones {#8 } – Make New Year Goals

As the year winds down, I am looking back at what the year was like for our family and considering things that I’d like to change.  I’m not big on New Year resolutions….especially when they aren’t quantifiable.

“Go to the gym more” is not a good resolution. There’s no accountability built into the goal in the form of a measurement.

You will fail by January 3rd.

“Be more patient” isn’t really a great resolution, either. There is no measurement in this goal. It’s so much easier to slide off track and not notice if there is nothing holding you accountable.

Saying, “I want to eat better,” leaves a lot of room for excuses, delaying, and failure.

Saying, “I will stop drinking Coke and eating fried Twinkies,” is much more quantifiable. Your accountability lies in the fact that you know you’ve failed when you’re sinking your teeth into a Twinkie.

Nevertheless, making new year resolutions is a difficult task all around. Resolutions are so often fueled by feelings of inadequacy, followed by determination. They’re then so often followed up with guilt, regret, and shame because the motivator was a change in behavior that lacked accountability and enforceability.

So this year, rather than making vague resolutions, I am setting goals and giving the year a phrase of focus.

These are my goals for 2014:

1. Read at least 1 book every month.
2. Make at least 10 meals a week completely real food. (For our definition of real food, we pretty much follow the definition at 100 Days of Real Food. Check out the site here.) We also did a challenge during October (read a little about it here).
3. Have 1 date a month with each of my kids separately.
4. Tuesday is now a “no TV” day for the whole family.

This year, I would really like to just focus on one phrase. One concept that I will be able to keep reiterating in my family, when I wake up, when I am doing projects. A phrase for the year that I would like to constantly be an underlying current in my life, family, and home.

The word of 2014 will be this:
Love does. 

There is a book called “Love Does” by Bob Goff, and ever since I read it, I’ve lived completely differently.

I will be reading it again soon and posting my thoughts about it, but the main point is that “love” is not a noun. It’s a verb. Love DOES things. It’s not a feeling. It’s DOING something for or with someone.

Love is never stationary

So these are my goals for the year…and it can all be summed up in two words….


What will you do differently this year? Do you have any resolutions or goals? Do you have a phrase or word that you hope will sum up 2014?  Share it in the comments! 

Operation Escalones {#7} – Wrap the Presents!

Operation Escalones {#7} – Wrap the Presents!

Happy Christmas Eve! (“Merry” sounds too weird…)

My Operation Escalones project was delayed yesterday because I actually did the project last night, so I couldn’t write about it until today!

Tonight is the night that I usually wrap all of my presents. I usually sit down with a couple good Christmas movies (see some of my favorites here) and wrap. But then, I’m usually exhausted on Christmas because I was up late wrapping.

So this year, I decided to break it up a little bit. I did some last week (all the ones that weren’t for Christmas morning — staff, friends, etc.).

Last night I had two fun friends over to wrap. My friend, Laura, already had hers all wrapped. Overachiever! And she even said that they looked pretty! Instead, she helped my other friend, Brandy, wrap all of hers. We used the dining room table, which turned out to be the perfect space for three wrappers!

This is the first year that I’ve used a table to wrap my presents, too. I usually use the floor. I’m pretty sure I’ll be using the table from now on — much more conducive to wrapping large amounts of presents!

I’ve had people tell me left and right that they don’t really know how to wrap presents and that their presents always look like a child wrapped it (or an animal, or *insert your own wrapper here*) — especially after my post about fancily wrapped presents (see it here). So today I will show you how to wrap a box properly. I am only showing you a box today because, really…anything soft or misshapen is just a crap shoot…we’re all on our own for that! But the same concepts apply to all presents, and you should just be prepared for some bent paper, and compensating with bows.

Please disregard the Christmas mess (and whatever other messes) that might make an appearance in these pictures.

Also, I’m using reversible paper…I totally recommend it. One roll — coordinating presents! Easy peasy.


This is an important step, because it’s just as difficult to wrap a present with too much paper as it is to wrap one with not enough paper. Start with the box on one end of the wrapping paper, and roll it until you’ve had the box on all four sides. This ensures you didn’t cut too much, but that you also have enough.

How to Wrap a Present05 How to Wrap a Present06 How to Wrap a Present07

You’ll want to make sure that you leave enough paper on either side to cover the sides of the box. Slightly more than halfway up the box is just right.

How to Wrap a Present03

Once you’ve done the measuring, feel free to cut.

How to Wrap a Present08 How to Wrap a Present09


With the box upside down in the middle of the paper, pull one long side up to the middle of the bottom of the box and tape. This step is important, because it ensures that when you start to fold the sides, the box won’t slip farther and farther back.

How to Wrap a Present10

Repeat with the other long side of paper and tape.

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Turn the box one turn so that one of the open ends of paper is facing you. Fold one side of the pieces of paper in, staying along the bottom of the box. Fold the bottom into a crisp fold.

How to Wrap a Present12

Repeat with the other side, so that the paper looks like this:

How to Wrap a Present17 How to Wrap a Present13How to Wrap a Present14

Fold the top parts of the folds as crisply as the bottom folds, and bring the point toward the middle of the box and tape. Sometimes it’s easier to flip the box upside down quickly to make sure you have a hard surface on which to press the folds.

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Pull the bottom point up toward the middle of the box and tape on top of the other point.

How to Wrap a Present16


How to Wrap a Present18

If you are using ribbon, continue on to steps #5 – #9


Flipping the box right side up, place the ribbon flat on top in the middle. Wrap all the way around the box 2.5 times and cut. This box is square, but if you have a rectangle sized box, wrap around the longer side 2.5 times.

How to Wrap a Present19


Flip the box upside down, with the ribbon still on the box as shown above. Have both sides of the ribbon be the same length. Make sure the ribbon meets in the middle on the back, and then twist like this:

How to Wrap a Present21

Now your ribbon will be heading in perpendicular directions from the way it was before.

Flip the box back right side up. Bring the ends together and tie like you are tying a shoe. Pull the pieces tight (but don’t snap them). Tying the double knot is much easier if you have someone else to put their finger in the middle. If not…be quick!

How to Wrap a Present23

Double knot.

How to Wrap a Present24


Once the ribbon is tied in a double knot, cut some smaller pieces of ribbon (in the same or coordinating colors). I usually do two more.

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Slide the first piece under both sections of ribbon.

How to Wrap a Present26

Pull to equal lengths and tie a knot. Repeat with other pieces. Now it will look like this:

How to Wrap a Present27


Open a pair of scissors wide open and place one of the blades against a piece of ribbon. Hold the ribbon between the blade and your thumb.


Make sure that you have the scissors under the curl of the ribbon so that you are curling the ribbon in the way it already curls.

How to Wrap a Present28

*sorry for the flash…weird lighting*

With your thumb firmly pressed against the scissors, pull the scissors up the length of the ribbon.

The more pressure you put on the ribbon with your thumb, the curlier (probably not a word) the ribbon will be. I like to do looser curls, but that’s just me!

Curl all of the pieces.

How to Wrap a Present29


I like the look of adding a pre-made bow in the middle of the ribbon, but you don’t have to. If you are a good enough curler, or if you have too many ribbons, a bow might be unnecessary.

Peel the paper backing off of the bow. (Can you say blurry picture?!)

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Place bow right on top of the knot. Use tape if you need to.

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And there you have it!

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After repeating a few more times, here was my stack of presents! I didn’t do bows on this stack because these are for my kids and it just frustrates them and I’m the one undoing them anyway…

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See my misshapen and soft presents? Just…do the best you can…or find a box to put it in!

Happy wrapping!

What’s the weirdest shape you’ve ever had to wrap? Do you do fabric ribbon instead? When do you do all of your wrapping?

Operation Escalones {#6} – Spray Paint Basket

Operation Escalones {#6} – Spray Paint Basket

Welcome back!

This Operation Escalones project (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go here!) was super simple but made a big difference in Ty’s office.

Ty just moved into a new office last month and his personal space is much smaller than it used to be…which is a good thing. Much less space to fill and much more personal. It’s definitely the perfect size.

His mom found this odd plant (she calls it the Dr. Seuss plant) and thought it would be cool in the corner of his office. The basket it came in, though, was a little…boring.

So we took the plant out of the basket (no easy task) and we were going to find a new basket until I found a can of black spray paint. I decided to paint the basket instead! You know spray paint and me…we’re pretty tight.

I used the same spray paint tool that I used in this post. Again, I am so glad I bought this tool!! Seriously, it was like $3 at Walmart. Get one.

This is what it looked like before…



As soon as I sprayed the first patch, I knew it was a great idea to paint the basket.


I didn’t paint inside because it’s filled with all kinds of fillers and the plant itself.

It looks much cleaner and more suitable for the office.



Now look at the office all pulled together…voila!



Just a simple fix, but it made a huge difference!

Are any of you as obsessed as I am with spray paint? Did anyone buy the new tool yet? Tell me about it!

Operation Escalones {#5} – Christmas Has Arrived!

Operation Escalones {#5} – Christmas Has Arrived!

Wow you guys! This weekend flew by so fast…and now it’s Monday!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was awesome and delicious…

I will show you some pictures from the table that Ty’s mom laid out for our dinner, it was beautiful! I think that will have to be a post all on its own!

Instead, for today’s Operation Escalones post (don’t know what I’m talking about? Go here or here!) I will show you the beginning of our Christmas decorations! This year we are in a bigger house, so it’s hard to know where to start…but I’m so excited!

So far, only the tree is up. But let me tell you guys, it was a feat! What a beast this tree is. I knew as soon as I pulled it out of the bag it would be crazy.


This is me starting on the bottom of the tree. I wish that I could have a real tree, but living in Arizona, it gets way too dried out and it is way too much work for me! Plus, I like having the flexibility to leave my tree up and be lazy if I want. Yeah, I said it.


Setting up this tree took me literally three hours yesterday. Not to mention, all the time it took me to get it straight! This was Ty’s parents’ tree. We traded this year, because they said they wanted a smaller tree, and I said I wanted a bigger tree. I certainly got my wish. This thing is ginormous — and beautiful!


Here is the tree all done. The boys and I put all the ornaments on today, and it was so much fun. This is the first time the boys have been able to help me with any sort of significant contribution. And they loved it!

Again, sorry for the bad lighting. When I can put pictures from my real camera onto my computer, my picture quality will hopefully dramatically increase.

This tree is so special to me, because of all the ornaments that are on it. I have so many ornaments from when I was little, went Ty was little, and now from my kids.

Every year, Ty’s mom has given him a Santa ornament for Christmas. We have all 27 ornaments on our tree. It’s so special to have them all over our tree.


When I married Ty, she started giving me ornaments that were different depictions of Mary and baby Jesus.


She’s started giving our boys ornaments that have their pictures on them, so we can see how they grow over time.


She’s gathered them from all different vacations, places where they’ve lived, and special memories. They’re all so cool and so unique.

My mom shares my love of ornaments, and has given me so many special ornaments that are just so delicate, ornate, and beautiful.



She’s also given us so many ornaments for our family. Last year, she gave us all of our initials as ornaments. They look like gingerbread cookies, and they’re so cute!


This tree definitely means something to me! It’s so great to pull them out every year, and remember all the different times we’ve gotten all the ornaments.


This was one someone bought me during a really difficult time in my life, and this is such a special reminder that no matter what’s going on in my life, there’s always hope. What a great reminder during Christmas every year!

After we decorated the tree, Noah crawled right under the tree and laid down on his back, looking up from the very bottom. It’s so funny that he did that, because it’s something that my sister and I used to do as soon as our tree was decorated, too.

So this was a huge project crossed off my list! Let the festivities begin!

Do you have any special ornaments on your tree? Do you use white lights or colored lights? I’m strictly a white lights kind of girl — they’re so simple!

If you want to get these posts right away, every time, don’t forget to subscribe and any time I post anything, it’ll show up in your email!

Operation Escalones {#4} – Get SO Much Done!

Operation Escalones {#4} – Get SO Much Done!


For some reason, some of the pictures in this post are upside down if you are on a computer, and some random devices. They’re right on some, and upside down on others. I have the blog people on it…until then…stand on your head?

So sorry for the inconvenience!

*carry on*


Oh my gosh you guys! I have gotten so much done this weekend!

There have been a few projects that I wanted to complete, and for the most part they’re done, but I don’t have pictures of all of them! So I will tell you about the one I do have pictures of today, and hopefully I’ll pull it together soon for the other ones.

First, an update.

I just got off the phone with the Geek Squad…


Don’t know what that means? Check out my post here.

Okay seriously, I cried.

This is such a relief. Not to mention the fact that I’m finally getting my computer back soon! So happy!!!

Next, I DID dye my hair darker. Like, much darker. See my post about my options here. As I teased promised on Friday, here is a look at my new hair!

As a refresher, here is what my hair looked like before.

I realize that you can only see a part of it, but it shows really well how light it was. Plus, how cute are my kids when they’re sleeping?


Now, granted, that was dyed also. But, I haven’t been this dark pretty much ever. My natural color is a few shades lighter than this color I have now. And not as red. You can’t tell in the pictures, but it has quite a red tint in the light. I LOVE this new color.


Excuse the random picture, Noah was practicing his photography skills.

Here is another (blurry) picture of my hair, and it’s also picture of one of the projects that I was working on this weekend. My sweet friend, Natalie, just moved into a new house, and she needed some stuff on the walls! So we worked on putting some pictures and some new art in her brand-new house. I think it’s perfect for her and this new adventure in her life!

My hair didn’t turn out so awesome that night. I’m still working on the right style for the extra layers she added. But the art behind us on the wall turned out super super cute!


I bought some fabric quarters and canvases at Joann, and then used my dad’s staple gun to staple the fabric onto the canvases. I love the color combination!

Then, with a few more canvases, I just painted the background the three different colors from that flower fabric. The quote is from something I saw when I went shopping the other day, but it didn’t match the colors, so I figured I could just make something that would match perfectly. It says, “This house is filled with love, laughter, friendship.” Then she had some metal art that she spray painted white and green to complement the rest of the cluster.


**side note** those are some awesome girls! I’m so blessed to have such awesome friends!

One last picture of my hair, and (bonus) with Natalie!


Oops. I lied. Noah was sad he wasn’t in this haircut post, because he just got his hair cut today, too. So here he is with his new haircut. Isn’t he handsome!?


And there you have it! New hair, new house (for a friend), new art!

Did you get anything done this weekend project-wise? What do you think of Noah’s haircut? Let me hear about it!

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