Limited Edition Labor Hard T-Shirts + FREE SHIPPING!

Jump for joy

This is a personal post.

My brother is a very talented artist, he has done all the artwork for my site and for Paul’s site over the years. He releases limited edition t-shirts that he designs, draws, and silk screens himself. They sell out very quickly. He released one today.


Plus, if you are a MyLitter reader, you will get FREE SHIPPING. Yay!

If you have a hipster you are buying for…. they will LOVE these shirts, OR if you have an artist in your life, this is a perfect gift for them! Or if you just want to look cool and have a nice soft shirt, this is for you!

These t-shirts are so SOFT, which is the #1 requirement for me when buying a t-shirt, if it is soft and high quality, I am in! Go HERE to take a look!

Our Elf on the Shelf Tradition – Video –

A few years ago we started a new family tradition! That morning, the kids woke up to a big surprise! Someone…. had snuck into the house and decorated the kitchen table, brought mini trees to decorate and made a yummy breakfast. They also delivered an Elf to watch the kids and report back to Santa!

We had so much fun! I would highly recommend this for your family!

** I have 2 little videos you can watch… I want to warn you that I am in my P.J.’s and my 16 month old is eating off the floor… and that is they way we roll!

You can get your own copy of the Elf on the Shelf HERE

Halloween Rice Krispie Treas On A Stick Recipe

Guest post from Paul ( I Heart The Mart )

I posted earlier about all the options that Walmart had for making your own treats this year.

My wife makes all kinds of treats for each Holiday and really just about every week for one reason or another. That is why I look like I do! Today it rained and everything got cancelled so the kids and I made my favorite things in the entire world. Rice Krispie Treats. 

This is what we bought. I would just get the almond bark, and color that. It was the easiest to melt.

We also picked up this pumpkin pan, it was $9.97.

I made 2 batches of Rice Krispie treats. If you have not made these before they are really easy. My 12 year old made these batches. It took 2 batches to make what you see in the picture.

When the rice krispies were hot, I pressed them into the pan.

The kids helped by putting the sucker sticks into the treats. My wife suggested dipping the sticks into the melted chocolate first then sticking them into the treats. We let them harden for a little while.

This kid is a pro. He ate about as many as he helped fix.

While they were hardening a little more I chopped the almond bark and melted it on the stove. You can use the microwave but my wife gets set in her ways and so we do it this way :) Just heat it slowly or you will burn it.

Then get the kids and start dipping them. You can do whatever colors you like, dip them a little or all the way. We did both. The kids had an easier time just dipping the tops and adding sprinkles.

My kids do this stuff all the time with their Mom and so they were helping me!

We started getting fancy and adding the pre-made figures you can buy at the store.

My 8 year old (mini Martha Stewart) got the fanciest and was making Frankenstein. I thought it was Elvis, so it is a good thing I didn’t say anything and let her talk!

We bagged them in the $.97 treat bags and tied with twist ties. I am sure you can add ribbon but I am just able to tie my shoes, ribbons are too much trouble :)

My wife waked in as we were wrapping up and added the candy corn to the bags and they looked great!


  • Rice Krispies $2.68
  • Marshmallows $1.25
  • Almond Bark $2.98
  • Wilton Cookie Stick $2.88
  • Sprinkles $4.97
About $.75 a treat! (The more you make, the cheaper!)

I don’t have Pinterest, but Tiffany does if you want to pin this. Send us pictures of what you make this Halloween.


Tootsie Rolls for Emma!

Emma passalong card

As you might know our daughter Emma’s favorite candy was Tootsie Rolls. This Halloween many friends have let us know that they are going to hand out Tootsie Rolls in honor of Emma. We are so honored that they would do this. We are handing them out as well.

Emma’s site will be up next week. I can’t tell you all the awesomeness, but I can tell you it is a place where you can be uplifted and encouraged by doing good for other people. This is something Emma was a natural at. Most of the time she didn’t even know that she was doing it. We need a lot more good, kindness and awesomeness in this world.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 1.37.26 PM

Although Emma’s site is not quite done, it will be in just a few more days in time for Halloween, we had Caitlin make some cards to hand out with the Tootsie Rolls. Caitlin is a good friend who designed Emma’s funeral program which reminds me I need to share that with you, so look for that post next week. Check out Caitlins work at Creative Market, she is really talented.

If you would like to hand out Tootsie Rolls and a card as well, you can print your own sheet HERE.

me and emma

Thank you so much for all your kindness and awesomeness! You can read more about Emma HERE.

#EmmaStrong Shirts are Back!


The girls from Emma’s softball team designed a shirt in her honor. They sold out almost immediately. Kim G. worked hard and got another order of the shirts approved and they available to order! The proceeds are going to SMGSL in honor of Emma. We will be doing a scholarship in her name.

The back of the shirt says #emmastrong and it is so amazing to see someone wearing one at the ball park or in a store. We appreciate so much the support and your willingness to remember Emma. Thank you so much! Go HERE to order a shirt.

Missing Emma Terribly


Doing our “thing” each morning, like two little old people. Making sure everything looks nice, throwing away old flowers and checking to see if someone might have stopped by, if someone did, wondering who it was.

I am so grateful we have a spot that is a memorial to Emma. Some people have their child’s room or like us have a cemetery spot to go to. For me I feel closer to Emma here, for Paul it is at the house.

I am so sad the season is changing. I normally love the fall, with the cooler weather, excuse to wear boots and pretty jackets. This time it just means I am getting farther away from when Emma was here. Emma loved the fall as well, she loved pumpkin bread and soup, she loved jeans and jackets, she loved cool mornings and fall sports. How I wish I could hold her for just even a minute, to tell her again and again how much I love her and how proud I am of her. How all I ever wanted was a little girl named Emma, and how terribly, desperately I miss her.

How to make a Harry Potter Wand

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My kids were on a BIG Harry Potter kick, a couple years ago, about 5 years behind the times, but loving it none the less. We watched most of the movies in the car on the way to and from California and all over Arizona and Texas this year. They turn everything from straws. to sticks to  granola bars into magic wands.

I love listening to them and watching the big kids get completely involved and play along. In fact, we have made up a list of our own “Ivanovsky Spells.”

My Favorite? In place of one of the more popular Harry Potter spells “expelliarmus” the Ivanovsky version is “smelly lamas.” I am sure you can see how the rest of them go!

My oldest has a “real” Harry Potter wand he got one year from Santa, it was the pricy kind at $40 that is motion activated. The little kids drug it out and have been fighting I mean sharing it nicely all week. They had a lemonade stand earning $42 and decided to pool the money to buy another wand. Like that is  going to go well…

My crafty then 8 year old got online and found many different sets of instructions on how to make a wand. The other kids shook their heads and said “no!” She begged me to help her make one. Since I had just about everything I said sure, and we got started.

You will need: 

  • Glue Gun / Glue Sticks (about 3 large ones for each wand)
  • Craft Paint (we liked metallic and glitter)
  • Construction paper
  • Chop Sticks or wooden dowels
  • Elmers Glue
  • Marble or something to put at the handle end. We found a bag of wedding gems at Walmart for $3.50 that worked perfectly.

Place glue on one side of any color of construction paper.

Take your chop stick and roll from the corner tightly.

When I got to the end, I taped the corner down and we left them to dry.

Now, when they are all dry, you will need to cut off the ends so they are flat.

Working with one end, I filled the end with hot glue and stuck the end of the gem in. I turned it upside down and held it until the glue had set.

The bigger kids started to take notice and thought we might be onto something cool, so they started making their own construction paper tubes!

Once the top was set, I took more hot glue and make rings around the gem and tube reinforcing it even more. I needed them to be sturdy!

This is where your glue gun skills come in handy! If you lived though the craft phase of the 90’s you know what I mean! :)

Start from the below your gem/marble and start building up a few layers of glue. I tried to spread it down, and as it would drip I would roll it around, making some kinda funky patterns.

The thickest layers need to be at the top and get thinner as you go towards the bottom. Just keep in mind what a wand might look like with a handle.

Once you have the first 1/2 of the wand done and before the glue cools, use the tip and make designs in the glue. This will give your wand cool dimensions and areas to paint when you are finishing it.

Once the glue has cooled, you will paint a coat of solid black over the wand as a primer.

The black really pulls out all the 3D of the glue. They start looking really cool at this point.

By then, I had all 7 kids making a wand :)

Once the black has dried, you can start painting your wand. My kids liked the glitter and metallic paint for theirs. We used gold a lot for the accents.

They took a few coats because of a few mind changes. Plus a few hours of drying time. But once they were done I thought they looked REALLY cool!

The kids were really proud of themselves as well. The big kids were so impressed they wanted to have friends over to make some with them!

These are our finished Harry Potter wands. They are very sturdy and really neat looking! When you feel them it is hard to imagine that they are made of chop sticks, construction paper and hot glue!

I added a few more lines of hot glue at the end on the wands where I painted the gold you can see to give them more of a 3D look then they already had.

For the other end, the kids went out and grabbed a few little rocks and we glued them in. One of the kids use a small gem for theirs, and one of the kids didn’t want anything and I filled the end with hot glue. These really feel like they were made out of wood.

They spent all day playing with them.

One final step that I have not done yet but will when I can get them back is to take a few small drops of black paint and mix it in a lot of water to create a wash. I want to “antique” them some and so I will brush the paint water on and then wipe it off so it creates an antiquing effect.

Cost of a fancy Harry Potter wand: $40  x 7 kids = $280!

Total cost of our Harry Potter wands: $21 for 7!

I am assuming you have a glue gun in those calculations! I had to buy some paint, the gems, and more glue sticks. Total saved = $259. Now if I can just figure out how to make them light up!
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3 Things to Avoid Saying to a Grieving Parent

Things to avoid saying to a grieving parent

I wanted to share a few things that might give someone an idea what to avoid saying to a grieving parent.

First, the picture you see above is hard for me to share. It is most of the people I love in this world carrying my precious daughter Emma to her place in the cemetery. My husband Paul, my son Tucker, my brothers Ben and Tyler and my brother-in-law Jeff. This is a terrible and beautiful picture all at the same time. It hurts my heart so badly you just have no idea.

Death is a very confusing time. It is a time you expect the people you love and care about to rally around you for support. After our daughter passed away we found ourselves wondering where some of our closest friends and family were. Did they not know about Emma? Did we need to tell them? Why were they avoiding us? Do they not care? It was very confusing. Time and time again, we heard, “I didn’t know what to say” and “I didn’t want to say the wrong thing” as an excuse to not make contact with us.

Emma funeral Rush

My Husband Paul and my son Rush. 

When your heart has been shattered into a million tiny pieces and you are completely broken something else happens. Have you heard the expression that “your heart is softened?” Well, it is. What that means is that you feel more empathy then you ever have before. You have more love for those around you then you ever have before. It gives you the ability to hear things that are completely ignorant and not take offense. Your heart is not broken but truly softened.

We have an overwhelming feeling of compassion for everyone right now. This might be a gift you are given when you are in so much pain, but it is a welcome gift. There is really almost nothing you can say that we will take offense by. We are mostly happy you approached us and grateful to talk to someone. We feel grace and love for you and try to help you when you don’t know what to say. We know that whatever it is you are trying to say is coming from a place of love or concern.

You are not going to remind us that our daughter died and make us cry or be sad. We spend 24 hours a day thinking about how much we miss her. If we cry, it is probably because we are so grateful you asked about her or gave us the chance to tell you how amazing Emma was.

Emma funeral Paige Avery

My daughter Paige holding me, my daughter Avery, Paul and Rush. 

Because we have heard pretty much everything possible in person and online in the last 2 months, I thought I would give you an idea of how hard it is to say the wrong thing. To make it very simple I broke it down into 3 things to avoid saying.

NOTHING – Saying nothing might possible be the worst thing. We don’t know if you don’t know and we wonder if we need to tell you? Do you not care? We are not sure. Please don’t make us wonder, we have enough going on in our heads, from what you can see below you probably were going to say the right thing, even a hug is good. Just do not, NOT say anything!


What not to say to greiving parents

So yeah… this doesn’t go over very well for a number of reasons. First, it seems very predatory and in fact is very predatory to say things like this to someone who has just lost a loved one. Second, this is upsetting to other family members. Why are you claiming to hear things from Emma and they are not? Third, this is against what I personally believe. You are not a Prophet no matter what you think in my eyes, and it really sucks that you would feel that you can say these things to me. I have sadly got quite a few of these. Oh, and you are an idiot. Blue? Really? I only mentioned 100 times in public that was her favorite color.


MOVE ON – Move on? Really? I was sent this “kind” message about 3-4 weeks after my daughter died. I need to move on huh? I sure hope this lady doesn’t have children, how sad they would be to think that she could move on after losing them. You never move on when you lose a child. You learn to live with the pain, it doesn’t go away. A friend of mine said it best after reading this message, “Those that say such things have never been through it. You never move on. That raw, gaping, gut wrenching hole that makes you feel half of you is missing becomes, over time, something you adapt to wearing, and something people may or may not recognize in years down the road. It is an ever present grief. People trying to ‘fix’ you are showing how broke they are. Emma’s rich, full, and very brief life cannot be discounted so flippantly. Let their words be a reflection on who they are, and not what you should be or what Emma was, and the lives she touched that hurt so deeply in her absence.”

It is really that simple. There is not a lot you can say that will offend us. You have no excuse to not say anything.

Emma funeral Avery Andie

My daughter Andie, nephew Tristan in the pink, daughter Avery, and Rush.

There are a few things I am going to add just for you to think about before saying or typing it out. Others who have lost a child might feel differently about these lines, but for me I understand why people are saying them, although I wish they would not try and relate or “fix” me. These are not things I would say you should NOT say, I just want to give you an idea of what we are thinking as we get farther down this road.

“I UNDERSTAND” – Unless you have lost a child in the exact same way as us, you don’t understand how we feel. Just like I can’t possibly understand how you feel in your situation. We appreciate you wanting to relate with us, but you don’t need to. Just saying you are sorry, or a offering a hug is all we need.

“I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL” – “I know how you feel… I just lost my Grandma, my nephew is in the ICU, I miscarried, lost my cousin, or even dog.” Yes, someone actually told us they know how we feel, they just had to “put their dog down.” Again, we thank you for wanting to try and comfort us, and we do really appreciate it. But we don’t need you to relate. I have personally lost my beloved Grandmother, miscarried two times (one late at 19 weeks), and lost our dog this year. I can tell you that none of these sad and terrible events even came CLOSE to loosing my 15 year old daughter. Not even in the same realm of hurt, sadness and despair. I can tell you that I *thought* I knew was grief was when I miscarried, and I sure felt it, not saying I didn’t, but it is much different when it is your 15 year old. Please, again, we love you, but we don’t need you to relate with us, just comfort us.

“HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GREIF COUNSELING” – Or some version of suggesting grief counseling. Thank you. This is what I am thinking you really want to say… “I can’t stand to see someone so sad. Please get help so I can stop seeing or hearing how sad you are. It makes me uncomfortable” When you post a tirade about your Mother in Law do I suggest anger management counseling? Or when you post about how much your kids are bugging you, would it be appropriate to suggest family counseling or maybe you need medication? Probably overstepping a little by doing that. I am not sure why then, when you lose a child it is ok to constantly have people suggest counseling. Even the experts agree that you should wait and go after it has been 6 months to even 2 years after the loss. I know that it is coming from a loving place, and that people are worried about you, and that yes, at some point you may need grief counseling, but a few days/weeks after my daughter passed I don’t need to be told to go to counseling repeatedly. My AMAZING, AWESOME, SWEET, KIND, WONDERFUL daughter just FU*&ING DIED, yes I am probably going to still be sad!! Sorry, it makes you uncomfortable, just scroll past. Thank you.

Emma Funeral Avery & Paige

Paige, Me, Avery and Paul 

I hope that you can see what I am trying to tell you. There is basically NOTHING you can say that is the wrong thing to say. It has to be so far out of line that you are almost trying to be offensive, for it to be inappropriate. Saying nothing at all, might just be the worst.

Point is, say something. Less is more. A simple “I am so sorry” is perfect.

People who have lost a loved one need you. They need your support. They WANT to cry and talk about who they lost. They cry all day anyway, who cares if you make them cry again, they are probably just glad you said something and are touched that you did.

me and emma

Me and Emma 

You can read more about Emma by clicking the links below. 

Only Six Weeks Ago

Emma’s Playlist 

One Month Away From Emma

Visiting Emma

Emma Evelyn Ivanovsky

Emma Ivanovsky’s Playlist


Emma was so passionate about music. You could not find her without a book in her hand and earphones in. Music has always been played in our home and cars with the kids. We handed out a playlist CD (thank you Monica for doing this) at the funeral with her favorite songs on it. If you want to listen to it (and it is good!) you can hear it on Spotify. You can download the Spotify app and listen to it for free.

Piano Man is the last song she downloaded. She loved that song. Twenty One Pilots is her favorite group. Brown Eyed Girl is what we sang to her as a little girl. See You Again is the tribute song to Paul Walker. Emma loved the Fast and Furious movies and LOVED that song. Danielle, who was Emma’s friend from choir and a freind of Tuckers, sang it at her funeral. She did an amazing job, it was beautiful. 

rush & emma

It was too hard for me last month to listen to Emma’s music, much of it I would consider my music as well. Music can be so powerful and I feel really close to her when I listen to it, which also makes it really hard. For my husband, is was easy to listen to it. He won’t go anywhere without her playlist, for me it was too raw. People grieve in such different ways. He had to hear it, and it was torture for me. Finding a balance is something you have to work through.

Emmas playlist

Paul likes to sit out in a chair by Emma’s site and listen to the playlist. The other day when we were out there we had the chance to meet one of our “neighbors.” This man was doing the same thing while sitting by his wife. He was listening to George Strait. We told him to turn it up as Emma LOVED George as well!

Listen to her playlist HERE.

National Daughters Day


National daughters day huh? This is the first year I knew this event even existed. There seems to be some confusion as to when this day should actually be celebrated online. Some sites say the fourth Sunday in September, some say September 25th and some say October 1st. I think that anyone who has a daughter can agree that you don’t need a reminder to celebrate your daughter!

I have 5 amazing daughters. They are kind, smart, funny and beautiful. Each has a purpose and place in our family.

Andie is confident, kind, and adored by 8 other people in this family. There is no need to feel bad for her as the youngest of 7, she is the princesses and ruler of them all.

Storie is kind, caring, fun, and thoughtful. She likes to play with the boys and is the first to help someone in need.

Avery is artistic, spiritual, super smart, talented and a good baker. This girl is going places, and is growing into a beautiful young woman.

Paige is wicked funny, smart, analytical, thoughtful, and talented. Paige was blessed with such talent, she can think ahead and reads people perfectly. She is an amazing friend.

Emma is fearless, kind, generous, athletic and beautiful. Emma is her siblings second mother, their best friend and buddy. She is irreplaceable.