Just Call Me “Walt”


This whole “working mom” gig is pretty amazing!  It has introduced all kinds of change into my life…good change.

It has been a long time since I’ve had a consistent Monday-Friday paid job and I think I’ve waited this long because I was scared…scared that I would be terribly unreliable and scared that my family would fall apart.  I am happy to report that neither of these things have happened so far.  In fact, I actually have a job that I love and look forward to every day.  I love getting dressed up in the morning, packing my lunch and my gym clothes, and commuting 15 minutes across my little valley.  I love having an office (even if it looks nothing like this) and a desk and an extension.  I love helping students prepare for college and apply for scholarships.  I love helping make dreams come true.  I love that Joe says I have a “happy job” and that Courtnee calls me the “Walt Disney of the high school.”  I love that I belong somewhere and I that I’m doing important work.  And I love that paycheck I get every two weeks, no matter how small it might be.

I also love that I leave for work after the girls go to school, that most days I’m home around the same time that they are, and that I have the same vacations they do…including the whole summer.  Love all of that, too!  In fact, I’m feeling pretty blessed that everything has come together so well.

Like everything, it isn’t perfect and I have so much to learn.  My girls tell me every single day that there is no food in the house, the laundry is piling up, and I’ve dropped the ball on some important date and events.  Somehow, though, we are all doing just fine.  And I think I just might change my name to “Walt.”


Happy Life Book Club–April 25



Time for another book club meeting and you’re all invited!  We will be meeting at my house again on Thursday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m.  Please come and join us.  We will be discussing the “April” chapter from The Happiness Project and Stephanie Nielson’s book Heaven is Here.  Stephanie is also known as Nienie and you can read her blog here.  She has a pretty amazing and inspirational story.  Her book is a quick read and will make for a good discussion that will contrast nicely with last month’s novel, The Book of Mormon Girl.  I love both books and both authors, but for very different reasons.

Remember this book club is all about being happy and enjoying life…so come be happy with us and enjoy life.  Come for the food, the friendship, and the discussion, even if you haven’t read the book.  Hope to see you here!

Email me at lori.cartwright@gmail.com if you need directions to my house.


Gorgeous image by Jose Villa

Once upon a time I had four little girls that looked just like this.  We spent days outside at the park, in the fields, at the beach, in the yard.  Life wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy, but it was fairly predictable and routine and comforting.  I knew what it meant to be a mom to little girls and I think I was pretty good at it…healthy meals, fresh air, lots and lots and lots of reading, lullabies and cuddles, puzzles and play-doh, crafts and pets, nap time, nature, and lots of love.

This phase of parenting is different.  It is loud and crazy and unpredictable at every moment.  A day does not go by that one daughter or another or all are mad at me. A day does not go by that someone doesn’t cry.  A day does not go by that I don’t tell myself that I’ve done everything wrong.  It is a hard parenting stage and full of regret for so many days that I will never get back and so many things that I wish I had done better.  It is full to the top of “if only.”

But something else I’ve learned about this phase of parenting is that there are lots and lots and lots of rewards and reminders that somewhere along the way, I made some good choices and did a few things right.  When the way gets rough and I get discouraged, I try and remember the rewards.  Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are little and sometimes they come all at once.

This week is full of big rewards that make my heart happy:  Halle is dancing in two dance competitions and ranked first academically in her entire 7th grade class.  Lainey is performing in Phantom of the Opera several times this week, and received the highest score on her standardized literature test for the entire 9th grade.  Riley is taking on the banking industry with her new job and planning to give college another try this fall.  And Courtnee and her husband are graduating from BYU this week!  Amazing rewards all the way around.

For all you parents out there who are struggling through the early years, hang in there.  I promise it will be worth it.  It won’t necessarily get easier, but you’ll start to see the results of your efforts.  And your children will amaze you every single day with the incredible people they are.  And at some point every single day you will realize that you are  a part of these amazing people…and then you will smile…and then you will cry.


Loft Update–the Daybed

loft daybed


It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything from my loft update, but I have a few favorite things I’ve been saving.  These are simple and very inexpensive projects.  The internet is abounding with so many fantastic DIY projects, but they can feel overwhelming sometimes if you don’t own the right tools or supplies or live far from great shopping areas.  This update consisted of a bed I already owned and a trip to Ikea.

You could get the same result by repurposing a bed you already own, purchasing one at a thrift store, or borrowing from family or friends.  The bedding could be purchased on-line or just moved from another room in your house.  Even adding a new pillow or throw can be a simple, but rewarding update.  The best changes are usually the simplest.

This update in the loft involved turning a small section in the room into a guest bed/reading nook/tv watching area. We have an official guest bedroom, but this Christmas we were expecting extra guests so we set up an area in the loft that would work as a bed for a guest as well as a cozy spot to read or watch tv.  The budget for this area was extremely tight because it was Christmas time, so we used a bed frame and mattress we already owned and dressed it up with a few items from the Ikea “as is’ section.  The only new purchases were sheets and pillows.  I wanted to keep the big things neutral so I was lucky to dig this gray gingham comforter and the floral shams from the “as is” bin.  The turquoise throw was a steal for $2 and the green velvet sham added the perfect festive touch.  I thought I would just leave it there for the holidays, but it looks so fresh in the room and the velvet adds just a touch of elegance.

Future plans for this area include adding some kind of frame, I’m thinking I might use some weathered pallets (I just happen to have several in my back yard), and some bigger pillows along the back to give it more of a sofa feel.  It will work perfectly for the future library I’m planning for this area…I’m hoping to at least add shelves and all of our books this summer.  This is definitely a room that is constantly evolving.

If you’re interested, here are a few posts about some of the other changes I’ve made in the loft:  DIY Ceiling Fan Update, DIY Art Update, DIY Graphic Desk Update.

Happy Life Tip 3-Make Your Bed

hl tip3-make your bed


Simple enough, but apparently this is a big factor in a person’s level of happiness.  I’ve actually been working on this for the past month and it really works!  I always feel happier in an orderly room, and because the bed is the biggest item in my bedroom, when it is in disarray, the entire room feels messy even when it isn’t.  On the other hand, when the bed is made, I hardly notice Joe’s pile of clothes or my overly large stack of books on my nightstand.  It also feels calming and restorative when I head to bed at night and my bed is nicely made.

Read this post by Amy Hackworth and the corresponding links.  Then give it a try.  The resulting happiness is definitely worth the effort of taking a few minutes each morning to make your bed.



Let’s discuss words today.  Not foreign words, or grammatically correct words, or even swear words.  Instead, let’s discuss words that are just wrong.  In our family, we don’t use swear words…at least no one but me uses swear words and the reactions are so over-the-top dramatic that it is only on very rare occasions that I use even the most mild of profanities.  We also work really hard not to use words like crap, stupid, dumb, shut-up, and hate.  But there are a couple of words that I’m embarrassed to admit we all use on a daily basis.  The words gay and retarded are the current swear words of choice in our home, as in “That test was so retarded”  or “My hair looks so gay today.”  We don’t mean either word to be offensive to people who are retarded or gay, but there is a definite negative tone to the way we use those words.

I know I’m not alone, but I’m an adult with a BA in English who should have a more expansive and eloquent vocabulary.  However, I spend the majority of my time these days with teenagers…at home, at work, at church, so I suppose it is inevitable that I’m going to subconsciously pick up on some of their language.  Luckily, Joe is here to remind me, and our girls, to clean up our language…I think his favorite and most used phrase is “We don’t say the word crap.” But even he succumbs to these two words occasionally.

After reading this article a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been rethinking my use of the R-word a lot.  Then I watched this video, (I don’t agree with everything he says, but I completely agree with his point) and realized that my use of the G-word has got to go, too.  So, we are adding these two words to the list of banned words in our home.  It might take some time, but we’re going to post a list of alternatives and remind each other to use one of those instead.  Wish us luck, please.

And now I’m curious, do you have any words that are banned in your home?  What do you think about the current use of the R-word and the G-word?

Happy Life Book Club–March 28

march bookclubI am so excited about this month’s book club selection!  And I’m afraid they are purely for selfish reasons.  The March section of The Happiness Project is all about work and with a new job on my plate, I’m especially interested in discussing how work contributes to happiness.  I read our novel for the month,  The Book of Mormon Girl last summer, and I wrote about it here.  Since then I have desperately wanted a great discussion on the book and all of the ideas that it provokes.  I’ve wanted to know how people of my own Mormon faith view Joanna Brook’s experiences and thoughts, as well as share my own.

My dream is coming true this month and I can’t wait for a great book club night.  Please come!  The more opinions, the better the discussion.  If you hated the book, come tell us why.  If you loved it, share that too.  There are no wrong or right answers, just differences, and those differences make everything in life great.  And remember, as Joanna writes, everyone belongs…and you especially belong here.

Simple Changes no. 7

Image at Murmured Musing

It has felt very spring-like here this past week and we are soaking up every minute we can.  We have been outside cleaning up the yard (mostly me), hand washing and detailing cars (mostly Joe and Riley),  jumping on the trampoline, climbing trees, playing basketball, scooter-riding, and playing badminton (all Halle).  Lainey and I took the dogs for a long walk and talk in the fields and we could smell spring all around us…warm, wet dirt and new growth.  I have also been driving with the sun roof open and sleeping at night with my bedroom window cracked.  I just can’t get enough of fresh air and sunshine right now.  We are supposed to get more snow next week, but I’m choosing to ignore that idea.  Instead, I’m planning on planting pansies and watching my daffodil and tulips grow a few more inches.  Meanwhile,

It’s a new week…are you ready for some simple changes?

Make some Embroidery Thread Wrapped Earrings…I love this idea and think it will make a great project with my girls.

Try some Real Vitamin Water.

Send a PostCarden…best gift idea ever!

Upcycle a Map or two.

Be inspired by some Daring New Ideas from Ted 2013.

Shake up your beauty routine with Tinted Moisturizer or BB Cream. Apparently I’m the last to the party on these products.  I wasn’t even sure what BB Cream was!  I’m trying out the L’oreal brand right now and I really like it. More thoughts on these products here.

Hoping you are enjoying spring-like weather,too.  If not, here’s hoping some is heading your way!

Project Life 365–Week 11

A (very) few images of what my life looked like last week..inspiration from Project Life 365.



in the middle#in_the_middle

More of my Project Life 365 images here.

Project Life 365–Week 10

Falling behind…super busy with the new job.  This is what my life looked like last week…inspiration from Project Life 365.  If you have some time, take a few minutes to look at the images on this site.  There are some really wonderful photographers contributing beautiful and inspirational images every day.


big personality#big_personality

daily commute#daily_commute

over there#over_there


More of my Project Life 365 images here.