Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Party

Last year we planned our at-home "party". Other year's we just winged it, which usually meant I slept through a movie and tried to wake up to watch the ball drop. This year, I'm recycling a lot of what we did last year, like lighting a candle for each remaining hour at the beginning of our celebration. We blow one out on the hour until midnight. The games were fun and the activities are great to build on, they were goal oriented or reflected on the passing year. I also found a new game or two to add to the mix. My favorite one is Volley Balloon. I found it on the Family Fun website. That's where I found quite a few games last year too

I hope you kick off the New Year in a fun and meaningful way with the ones you love!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Next Year's Ornaments

I promise this will be the last post on ornaments for at least 11 months! But I've planned next year's ornaments. We'll paint the original wooden shapes I bought this year. I found them when I was cleaning up the wrapping station. So maybe some good will come from this year's frustration, I'll be more organized next year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hubby's Ornament

This year even my hubby made an ornament. In fact, we gave them to our family and neighbors this year to wish them a merry Christmas. I guess the idea of an ornament was mine, the design was Monica's and hubby programed the machine and did all the work. I don't think he has ever been so excited about giving gifts to his extended family and friends.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ornaments, Take Two

It's took us an unusually long time to complete this year's ornaments. As I wrote about earlier, we tried the dried apples that turned brown. So I decided to try something different. I had a few cute paper ornament ideas, but I was concerned about their ability to stay cute for years. Trying to find another idea just added to my already frazzled Christmas preparations, emphasizing my step backward in being organized and prepared for the holiday.

I finally decided to get wooden, pre-cut shapes from the craft store. We had done these a couple of years ago, but they were cute and the kiddos had fun making them. Unfortunately, when I had an hour to paint them, I couldn't find them!

After another errand, we picked up more and the kiddos chose their own shapes. Two or three days before Christmas, we finally finished our ornaments. How sad that I can't even remember which day. I'm glad we had a good time and have ornaments for 2009! I'm planning our ornaments now for next year to save precious time next year :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Drawer #24

Can you believe it's Christmas Eve already? I always say Christmas is my favorite holiday, but actually its Christmas Eve. Its the celebration (and food) of Christmas at the height of the excitement and anticipation! And for our family, the focus is on the Savior.

Today's drawer is the same as it is every Christmas Eve, "Christmas pageant". That is actually just part of our Christmas Eve tradition. We start off with an early dinner. This year we're trying something different. Our neighbor provided us with a beautiful roast and everyone chose a side dish to go with it. The meal is a little random, but its good to have everyone involved. Next, we watch "Forgotten Carols", and then perform our pageant. We finish off the night by sprinkling reindeer food in the front yard, drinking cocoa and putting cookies on a plate for Santa, we include some carrots for the reindeer too to go along with the oats sprinkled in the front yard. Each person chooses a cookie to leave for Santa. Sometimes we open a present from a grandparent, but not always.

I hope you have enjoyed our advent drawer tradition with us. Have a merry and joyful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Drawer #23

Today's drawer is "Temple lights". The temple is lit up every year with an amazing number of lights. They also have nightly concerts. This year we're bringing cocoa to drink as we walk around enjoying the lights and the feeling of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Drawer #22

Today's drawer is "Gifts to Jesus". Every December we have a Family Home Evening lesson about gifts. We end the lesson by reading last year's gifts to Jesus. I encourage the kiddos to choose a gift they want to work on until next Christmas, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the Christmas Jar. We leave the jar out all year and make time to read through the gifts a few times throughout the year, to keep us motivated on working on them.

I was very happy with how well I did on last year's gift. I chose to write in my journal every week. I don't quite get to it daily, but I do it most days a week; and I've built journal time into our nightly routine, so the kiddos are writing in their journals most nights too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Drawer #21

Today's drawer is our annual Christmas feast with our totally awesome neighbor! Every year, she spoils us with good food, generous gifts and most of all, her wonderful company. She is such a good example of generosity, that the kids decided to shower her with 12 days of gifts. We've exercised our creative muscles trying to come up with just the right ones. Saturday's might have been the most creative. We cut out cool paper snowflakes and taped them all over her front screen when she was gone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Drawer #20

Today's drawer activity is non-"Christmas"y. We are having Ben's birthday dinner. I think it's important to give those people whose birthdays are around Christmas a birthday celebration, not just a combo birthday/Christmas gift.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paper Plate Snowmen

We went back to our paper plate ways and whipped up these cute snowmen.

We used paper plates (obviously), construction paper, an assortment of scrap booking shapes, and I pulled out some my button stash. Once again, the outcome was extremely varied from person to person!

Drawer #19

Today's drawer says "Christmas Lights". Tonight after it gets dark, we'll take a walk around the neighborhood and admire the sights of the season!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Drawer #18

Today's drawer is another word game! It's from Activity Village again. Here's the link if you need it. They also had an easier one on their site under Christmas puzzles.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Drawer #17

Today's drawer contains a word game. How many words can you make from the letters in "Christmas Spirit"? One of my kiddos suggested it when I was asking for opinions and suggestions. I'll let you know how we do in the next few days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


We did make ornaments on Sunday. I'm not thrilled with how they turned out. I had heard they will last for years, and we'll keep the ones that didn't break. Some of them have too much cinnamon and cover the star in the middle. While we were making them, we talked about how the star in the apple reminds us of the new star on Christmas Eve and the light of Christ.

It was a cool idea, but to get the apple dry enough to not rot, the peels are pretty brown. I'm hoping to have time to come up with something else to commemorate Christmas 2009. I've seen some cool paper ornaments, but I don't think those will hold up too well from year to year. Any ideas?

Drawer #16

Today should be the last day that's crazy busy with non-Christmas stuff, so in the drawer is Reese's bells. That should be it for the chocolate unless I run out of other ideas to fill the drawers. I think I have them all covered except one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Drawer #15

Today's drawer said "Christmas Maze". I went back to the Activity Village website to print them out. They have different levels of difficulty, so there is something for most ages.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drawer #14

Today's drawer is chocolate! The kids are excited when they find a sweet treat, but I prefer the activities. Today is the last day for one of my kiddos to finish a big project so time will be short. I can't wait until they are on break so we can watch the 40 or so Christmas movies I've been wanting to watch with them!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Drawer #13

Can you believe Christmas is only 12 days away? Today's drawer is "making Christmas ornaments". My mom bought me an ornament every year. We continued the tradition for us and our children. I made some of our early ornaments, then bought them for several years. The last few years we started having everyone make their own. We've used a few kits and tried several other things. Some have held up better than others. We'll see how this year's do. I'll post pictures tomorrow :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Drawer #12

Today is a party! Our Ward (or church congregation) is having it's annual Christmas party. I love parties! I've always dreamed of being the type to throw fun parties. While I can pull together a pretty cool children's birthday party and I've been known to hold the occasional baby shower, I haven't thrown a full blown party party. The number one reason is the whole time thing. I think it's so sad that we as a society are so busy that we have trouble making time to spend time with our friends. I don't know about you, but spending a little time with friends is a big stress reducer which I don't do very often because I'm too stressed. Do you see the vicious cycle here? Which brings me back to why I love a party. I'm hoping tonight will reset my stress point (that and finally getting my Christmas cards out) and I will be able to take a deep breath and enjoy the season more fully.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mystery Christmas Drawing Game

We played the game from yesterday and had a bunch of fun.

The kiddos wanted to draw something else, but I didn't have anything else planned.

This would make a great Family Home Evening activity! It was pretty funny to see how everyone's pictures turned out.

Drawer #11

The paper in today's drawer says "Read the Christmas Blizzard". This is my absolute favorite silly Christmas story! (Not to be confused with all my other heart touching favorites.) I should get extra copies, so my kiddos can take one with them when they are adults. They definitely aren't taking mine!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drawer #10

In today's drawer is a paper that says "Christmas Drawing Game". I found this game at I changed the name, so no one will know what to expect. After dinner, I'll have everyone gather around the table with a pencil and a piece of paper. They will close their eyes and I will tell them the following steps.

Draw three circles on top of each other, starting with a small circle at the top and getting bigger each time.

Draw three buttons down the middle of the middle circle.

Draw two eyes, a carrot nose and a mouth on the top circle.

Add a hat.

Add to stick arms and hands to either side of the middle circle.

Draw a broom in one of the stick hands.

Then they will open their eyes and see how their snowman came out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Drawer #9

In today's drawer, we find "Christmas Crossword Puzzle". I found this puzzle at It's a good level of difficulty for grade school ages.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drawer #8

Today's drawer is candy again. I vote all meetings that interfere in my Christmas celebration should be canceled in the month of December. Oh well, since that won't happen we will enjoy our candy and continue to work on the jigsaw puzzle. The kiddos decided the round one I pictured in yesterday's post was too hard, so we started working on the other Christmas puzzle we have.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Drawer #7

Today's drawer contains a Christmas puzzle. I couldn't exactly fit the whole puzzle in that little drawer, so it's just a piece of paper that says "Christmas Puzzle". We've had this puzzle for years, but last year was the first year we actually put it together, instead of just using it for a decoration. Since it's 500 pieces, I don't expect to finish it today. It's something we'll enjoy over the next few days.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Drawer #6

Today's drawer is "Christmas Devotional". This is an annual event that occurs the first Sunday of every December. It is broadcast at 6pm MST, check your local listings or go to this link for a podcast,6609,4617-1-81-1801,00.html

I love the stories and the music. Every year, this devotional sets our minds and hearts on the truly important things of the Christmas season; the birth of Christ, love for mankind, and joyful hearts! May you enjoy the true spirit of Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Drawer #5

With shopping and parties, today's drawer once again holds chocolate goodness! Rolo's this time. Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Drawer #4

Today's drawer is paper snowflakes. We found some cool patterns last year and have the snowflakes hanging from our railing. Here's a link for even more cool patterns

I can't wait til tonight to cut and hang up more!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Drawer #3

Today's drawer is Christmas Word Search. Here's a site that has several puzzles, mazes and word searches
Other places on the site have coloring pages, crafts, and even an advent calendar. Now to get the kiddos to finish their book reports so they have time to do a word search! Why do book reports have to be due in December anyway?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm done!

I took my last test for my nutrition class today! It's funny how exciting it is to start a class at the beginning of the semester and by the end of the semester, I just want to be done. There are a few assignments left to be graded, but I'm fairly confident I pulled off an A!

Drawer #2

Today's a crazy busy day with carpools and book reports, so we falling back on the old standby - Candy! I'm sure we'll do this one a few times this month.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Drawer #1

December 1st marks the first day to open a drawer from the advent box. Today's is making paper chains! One of the kiddos is anxiously awaiting their turn to open the drawer this morning, and we will make the chains this afternoon. I have the construction paper strips pre-cut to save time for homework!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Perfect Christmas Tree

While the themed, color-coordinated trees are lovely; I wouldn't trade our family tree for a 100 of those "picture-perfect" trees. I love our assortment of ornaments collected and made over the years. Every year as I pull the ornaments out of the box and unwrap them, I give the kiddos a recap of where the ornament came from.

"I remember putting this one on the tree when I was your age."
"I bought this one after Christmas when I was a teenager."
"One of Dad's friends gave us this cowboy one."
"The neighbor made these two for us last year."

We have duplicates of some, either from when I was a kid or ornaments we made as a family. The kids like to put their ornaments on the tree. They remember what the ornament looks like from their first Christmas and the ones we made last year, and most of the ones in between.

While our tree won't be pictured in any magazine, it is my picture perfect Christmas tree!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent Drawers

Our wonderful neighbor gave us this cool advent box, that opens to show 24 drawers. The kiddos take turns opening the drawers. Some days there is candy inside the drawer and other days in a paper with an activity. Some of the activities include Christmas parties, making ornaments, or seeing Christmas lights. What's in the box depends on our time frame for the day. This year I'm thinking of adding in a word search or a maze.

I'm on the lookout for additional Christmas season activities. Please share any you have!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gratitude Tree Update

Our Gratitude tree filled up quite nicely. There were even more leaves added on Thanksgiving day, but I forgot to take another picture. Our neighbor liked the tree so much, she asked to keep it when we took it down. Probably because the kids put her on one of the leaves. This morning when we were packing up the Thanksgiving decorations, the kiddos put it on a piece of poster board and took it to her.

Now the Christmas decorations are up and the tree is ready to be trimmed!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pie Day!

In case you didn't know, yesterday was Pie Day, at least in our house. Every year, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the day I make the Thanksgiving pies. Yesterday I made two pumpkins and two Chocolate Mousse Praline Pecan pies. I know that last one has a long name, but it's worth every letter! I had a very special helper yesterday! One of my kiddos was a huge help, now that's something to be thankful for.

I also made rolls and cornbread for today's stuffing. I was exhausted by the end of the day - maybe that's how baker's stay so thin... I still need to make the peach crisp this morning before I start the Thanksgiving cooking.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Love Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving, and not just because it's the official kick-off to legal Christmas celebrations.
  • I love the parade
  • I love the food
  • I love having family and laughter fill my home
  • I love the after-dinner street hockey game
  • I love the pies (yes, that is different from the rest of the food!)
  • I love watching Louisa May Alcott's "An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving" on the Hallmark channel
  • Finally, I love watching "Elf"! (Its allowed after dinner)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Triple WooHoo!

WooHoo # 1 - Congratulations to YW for winning the 100th post giveaway!

WooHoo #2 - I finished reading my nutrition textbook!

WooHoo #3 - We finished our annual tradition of making Christmas cards as a family!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gratitude Tree

I've seen many versions of gratitude trees, so I thought I'd share ours. The older kiddos helped cut the out tree and the leaves. We've all been writing the things we are grateful for on the leaves and taping them to the tree. One of the first leaves put up at the top said "Heavenly Father", and I wasn't even the one who put it up there! I'm grateful for children with good hearts who know that their blessings come from a loving Heavenly Father!

The picture is from the first morning we put it up. It's already much fuller. I need to cut out more leaves! I'll post another picture before we take it down.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

100th Post Giveaway

I've such a blast with my little blog the last few months, I'm already up to my hundredth post! I thought I'd share the excitement by giving away this cute Thanksgiving tag . I had so much fun making it, I had to make myself one. I can't wait to scrapbook my Thanksgiving pictures! Everyone who posts a comment will be entered in a random drawing. I will post the winner next Monday. Good luck!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photography Club - Aperture

Last week we had another installment of our photography club. We learned about aperture. Aperture is how much light the lens allows. It works in conjunction with shutter speed, which determines how long the light is allowed to enter. It's pretty straight forward, except that the smaller the f-stop (the scale of measurement that is used for aperture) the more light that is allowed in the lens. This is a very simplified definition of aperture.

My pre-digital textbook discussed depth of field along with aperture. Depth of field is the range in focus. Pictures that have the foreground, the background or both out of focus have a shorter depth of field. On the film camera in the book, it was very clear the relationship between aperture and depth of field. I was having trouble translating it to the digital camera. Fortunately, we had a guest "speaker" to our photography club. Our good friend, Mary, came to visit with us. She's an awesome photographer and gave us some instruction on photography and my kiddos new camera. As far as I understand, depth of field is defined by aperture. Now I just need a little hands-on experimenting to completely get my head around it :) I'll post pictures after we have another field trip!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eating Disorder?

Last week I was reading a chapter on eating disorders for my nutrition class. I must admit I read with indifference. One look shows that I'm not anorexic. I really dislike throwing up, so I'm not bulimic (nor do I use laxatives or extreme exercise). There was a table with five columns about how people feel about food and their bodies. The first column was the unrealistic ideal, for those who have no body issues and food is strictly a means to nourish the body. The fifth column was for those who have serious, life threatening disorders. I was mostly in the second column, which reaffirmed this chapter didn't really apply to me. I read for the assignment and to see if anyone I love was in danger of a eating disorder.

Then I came to a part about chronic dieting. My first thought was "Something else that doesn't apply to me". I don't "diet", as in I'm not on or off a diet. I've never tried the Grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, or any other "diet". I've modified my lifestyle, by trying to eat less fats and sugar, more healthy foods and overall less calories. I remember a couple years ago I was trying to loose weight slowly by moderately reducing my calorie intake and moving my body more. I began making progress.

I had several people tell me that you couldn't be serious about losing weight unless you dropped your calories to around 1200 per day. I balked at that. I had taken a nutrition class and learned that 1600 calories was the baseline of what a woman's body needed. But I kept hearing the 1200 calorie thing and somewhere along the line I gradually reduced my calories to between 1300 and 15oo per day. That's Chronic Dieting!

About a year ago I gained back the little bit of weight I lost and its coming off even slower. Now I have an idea why. The University of Nebraska did a study that showed severe dieting (less than 1600 calories) causes people to loose more lean muscle tissue (that's the good stuff) than fat. A moderate decrease in calories (300-500 per day) and a moderate increase in exercise will help you loose more fat and keep your metabolism up, than significantly cutting your calories, with or without exercise.

In the labs I've finished for my nutrition class, I've been consistently low on my intake of important nutrients, from antioxidants to fiber to calcium. At first, I figured it was OK because I take a multivitamin. Now I think it's because I haven't been eating enough, especially of the right foods, since I exceeded the recommendations sugar and for some types of fats.

I think I'm going to take a break from logging my food and when I start again, I'll be going back to shooting for 16oo calories a day! How exciting to have the answer be to eat more!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shhh... Don't Tell

The Family channel has been showing Christmas movies and we've been watching them. Christmas generally is not allowed until after Thanksgiving, but it's fun to sneak a little in here and there!

We've also been practicing Christmas music on the piano, it takes me a looong time to get a song sounding decent. And besides, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. I need to get my Christmas shopping done!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scavenger Hunt

Last night for part of our National Young Readers Week celebration, I had a little scavenger hunt. Everyone got a list of random items. The twist was to find a book that talked about the item or had a picture of the item. One of the items was soap, so the scavenger hunter pulled "Becoming Naomi Leon" because soap has a major role in the book. I had dog on my list, so I pulled one of the McGrowl books. For ball, I found a picture of a football in "Pigsty" (a fun picture book).

Here's a sample list: String, Ketchup, Ribbon, Straw, Clothespin, Cup, Nail, Sock, Cereal, Napkin

We only had 10 minutes for our scavenger hunt. I was hoping to have more time, but life happened. The under 10 crowd got into the spirit of the game, while the older kids got overly competitive. If I were to do it again, I'd probably stick to the younger kids.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

National Young Readers Week

Happy Young Readers Week! Yesterday we read a couple more chapters from our book club book, The Prophet of Yonwood. I love some of the ideas on this website I'll let you know which we try later in the week!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Dumplings

I've heard of Apple Dumplings since I was a kid, you know, the Apple Dumpling Gang. But I wasn't exactly sure what an Apple Dumpling was, I guessed a dessert. I found a recipe that sounded yummy and I finally tried it for tonight's treat. It cooked in this sugar water that was on the border of being too sweet, but it wasn't. It was like an individual apple pie, only easier!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear Santa Letter Week

Dear Santa Letter Week is almost over! It runs from November 3 to the 7th - by my count that's only 5 days... but anyway. I was just thinking last week that Santa and his elves needed time to make all the wonderful things children (young and old) are wishing for this year. Wouldn't it be easier for him if he had his gift list down before December? Maybe even by Thanksgiving. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought the Jolly One needed some advance notice! I know what we're doing tonight :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Got Halloween Candy?

Halloween night, I go through the candy and throw away anything that looks suspicious. The inspected candy goes into community candy bowls, a chocolate bowl or a not chocolate bowl. Some of the kiddos and I don't like how the fruity candy infuses it's taste into the chocolate. Anyway...

So here's my secret - don't tell! When they go to school, I take out candy for their stockings and hide it in the freezer until Christmas eve. Right now mine is quadruple bagged in some inconspicuous, frozen place. Not only does it cut down on the candy available now, it saves me money in December. The kids have never missed it because I only pull the candies there were a lot of like, Snickers, Twix, etc.

I still have a ton of candy, maybe I should hide some more?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken Canning Fool

In the last week, I've canned 36 jars of chicken. Yeah! I'm have over a third of my year's supply of chicken. I think I have enough chicken in the freezer to do another batch. I also have canning hamburger in my near future. Maybe with the Thanksgiving sales, I can get some ham too. I think the meat is the most expensive part of food storage. While I may not have my year's supply of food, it's nice to know I could live for several months of it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Christmas Treats

Yesterday, I whipped up some caramels. I guess technically anything that takes over an hour to make, isn't whipped up. I figured since I was going to the trouble, I'd make a double batch. It takes a lot longer that way, and they seem to be going as fast as a single batch. I was hoping to stick the second batch in the freezer for Christmas, but somebody is already squawking. And the family wonders why I don't make them very often! Between the speed they are devoured and the numerous burns on my hands (and one to the eye), I don't see the incentive to making them early. They sure are good though!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creative costumes

Yesterday was officially the start of the holiday season! With the Halloween parties in the kiddos classrooms, I have the calorie intake to prove it :)

It's always fun to see the costumes parents and kids come up with. I love how creative and unique the costumes can get. One perk of this getting older thing, is having the kids in charge of choosing and putting together their costumes. I am happy to serve as their assistants. We spend very little money on costumes and use mostly things we have around the house. I spent about $5 this year on everyone's costume. We recycle costumes or take part from one to make another.

This year, we used fabric from a previous year's witch costume to make a no-sew bat costume. Our one "big" purchase was a headband with ears.

We also recycled the dictionary costume. It was a last minute substitution, so the "a" was drawn, instead of reprinted and glued. On the back there is even a UPC code.

I'd say poster board is one of my favorite materials! We made another costume out of poster board this year. It was a "necklace" of a big, purple, polka dot P. It's an inside joke with some people from church.

The funny thing will be to see who wears their costumes again today, now that it's actually Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mummy Dogs

To carry on the Halloween theme one more night, we had these little cuties for dinner last night. I've seen several different versions of Mummy Dogs. These use Rhodes frozen bread dough. I think this is the third or forth year we've had them. That should qualify as a tradition now!

I'd like to get a few more Halloween dinners to make the week more fun - as long as they taste good and don't turn my stomach looking at them :) Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to our celebration next year!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pizza Mummies

I found these cute pizzas on
The kids thought they were fun and tasty. Note to self: Read the package labels! They would have tasted better if the English muffins weren't honey flavored!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jungle Safari

This month's Cub Scout theme is Jungle Safari. A friend of mine made this cute cake for Pack Meeting. The boys did a fun activity matching the characters from "The Jungle Book" to the kind of animals they are in the book. They also went on a tiger hunt and learned about inventions that were inspired from different animals.

There's a website that has pages (around 50 of them) of ideas to go with the Cub Scout theme each month -
I think we'll do a jungle safari theme next summer for summer school and use some of their cool ideas!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Going Slow

A few days ago I finished a book called In Praise of Slowness. It's definitely food for thought about achieving balance in our activities and the speed with which we do them. I'm trying to not rush through my activities, and even enjoy them. If they aren't what I consider enjoyable activities, why am I doing them? The necessary ones are often to care for my family. Maybe I could look at doing laundry as a loving service to my family? I think I feel another article coming on :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Fun

Saturday our awesome neighbor treated us to a day of fun! First we went to the pumpkin patch and took a hay ride to choose the perfect pumpkins. The kiddos could choose one as big as they could carry :)

Then we went to the butterfly pavilion. As if that wasn't enough, we headed over to the zoo to pet the stingrays and watch the giraffes. She even took us out to lunch and sent us home with a ginormous chocolate cake. I don't know how we got so lucky, but we're glad to have her as an honorary part of the family!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hobbies Lead to Friends

When my photography club kiddo went back to school after fall break, there was a few class activities to share what the kids did over their breaks. My kiddo shared our camera shopping trip. A few other kids shared their intereste in photography too or had experiences that would have made great pictures. My kiddo has struggled a little bit to make friends and was excited at these new potential friendships.

It made me think of hobbies in a different way. I've always thought of hobbies as a way to relax or pursue interests. But now that I think of it, there is a often a social aspect to hobbies. I made some great friends through scrapbooking. Even a "solitary" hobby like reading builds friendships, through book clubs or exchanging information on good books with others that like to read. When my parents moved, my mom talked about how it was hard to meet people when you don't have kids at home and don't go to an office for work. They ended up buying a a sports car and joining a car club. And now, their calendar sometimes gets a little crazy too.

I'm grateful for the lessons my children teach me! It is always so interesting to look at life through another pair of eyes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Isn't It PRETTY!

OK, it's very similar to the picture in the post when I talked about shopping for a camera. But the shopping is done and now that camera is accessible! Although it's pretty funny to be taking a picture of a super-cool camera with my little PHD (push here dummy) camera. I am currently negotiating a "rental" agreement with my photography club buddy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I get cranky from time to time, shocking I know! Sometimes the kids set me off, or a rude cashier. Other times, I am grumpy and I can't figure out why. I usually assume it has something to do with my environment, or occasionally it could be hormones.

But maybe it's my diet. Irritability is listed as a symptom of thiamin and magnesium deficiency. And depression is a symptom of vitamin C, selenium, niacin, and vitamin B6 deficiency. Tuna is a good source of thiamin, niacin and B6. Beans, nuts and seeds are good sources of magnesium and selenium. We all know orange juice is a great source of vitamin C, but so are red and green peppers, broccoli and strawberries.

While a multi-vitamin is beneficial if your diet isn't what it should be, use caution when using vitamin supplements. There are many vitamins and minerals we can only achieve unhealthy toxicity levels through supplementation.

On that note, it's time for me to find some healthy food to put into my body!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Camera Shopping

I took my photography buddy (one of my kiddos) camera shopping yesterday. My kiddo isn't ready to buy, we were looking at features and prices. Mostly, we were trying to figure out which camera model and the goal amount to save. After a disappointing trip to Ritz Camera (they closed a couple of months ago), we're thinking the Canon EOS T1i. Hopefully it will be in my kiddos hands within the next couple of months!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh Fudge!

One of my kiddos chose fudge for a Family Home Evening treat, so I made a big double batch. I'll add fudge to my stash of no-bake and chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. This is the time of year I like to make extra goodies to freeze and get a head start on my Christmas baking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Year's Supply

Thanks to yesterday's shopping trip, I can now add Parmesan cheese and taco seasoning to items on the year's supply list! Combined with the brown sugar, chicken bouillon, macaroni, mustard, rice, salt, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, tuna, white beans and yeast - I'm making progress. It seems like a random list, but if I keep plugging away at a little here and there every month, we'll be set soon enough. I also need to do some serious canning. I have a bunch of meat in my freezer that I'm hoping to can in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream

We made homemade ice cream a couple of nights ago. One of my kiddos found a really easy recipe, but it was too sweet. It didn't make much and it was gone before I could take a picture.

A while back, we tried a recipe that had eggs in it. But when we cooked it - so did the eggs. We called it scrambled egg ice cream. It tasted OK, but the texture wasn't quite right. So far my favorite recipe was one I found in a cookbook from the library. Why didn't I make a copy of that recipe?

I need your help with a good homemade ice cream recipe, preferably without eggs!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paper Plate Owl Family

So one of my kiddos found several paper plate crafts for this fall season. They are cheap to make and a great way to be creative. I hope you enjoy our little family of owls! We're going to hang them right next to our pumpkins we made last week. I think we'll hang them in the tree out front on Halloween night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Have you heard of Carotenoids and Flavonoids? Flavonoids are my favorite - they are the healthy phytochemicals in dark chocolate. I like any excuse to make chocolate healthy! While these healthy phytochemicals are found many fruits and vegetables, studies are inconclusive of their effectiveness as supplements (you know, pills). One interesting theory is phytochemicals in foods actually stress our cells just enough to kick them into gear, whereas larger doses overwhelms the cells and do damage. It's almost like our bodies were made to live on all these foods that grow naturally instead of the processed stuff that lines supermarket shelves.

The biggest reminder I'm getting from my nutrition class is the more we learn, the less we know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Am Not a Speed Junkie

I don't know how it happened, but unlike the most of my family I am not a speed junkie. I'm not even an adrenaline junkie. Sure, I like to drive over the speed limit. OK, sometimes the posted 75 mph on the highway is a little scary and I catch myself only going 70.

Yesterday we went to the lake to play and ride a jet ski. I went on the jet ski a couple of times, but I don't really like the feeling of the wind hitting my face that fast. The best part were the parts of the lake that had 100 - 200 feet rock walls bordering it. There were a bunch of interesting caves and crannies blowing by as we sped through the water. I'm thinking it would have been much more enjoyable if we were cruising at about half the speed, stopping to take some great pictures!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I recently talked to a couple of friends who were not feeling like the best moms in the world. We've all had those days. They both brought up my blog, like I was this great mom. One of them even said she banned her kids from visiting my blog so they wouldn't feel jipped by having her as a mom! You know who you are - and you are awesome! The purpose of my blog is to mark my progression to becoming the person I'm hoping to be someday. It's been a long journey and I still have a long way to go, and sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm making any progress. Posting my progress helps me be more aware of where I've been and how far I've traveled. Sometimes it's a reminder that I haven't done much and I need to get moving again.

Do I have bad days full of insecurity and disappointment? You bet I do! I see my shortcomings and weaknesses all the time, and I don't really want to see them here. I want a place where I can review and feel good about myself. I want a place I can connect with others who struggle and sometimes triumph. Isn't that why all of us who have blogs love comments - to connect and feel understood. I hope that as I practice being positive with myself, I will learn to be more positive toward my family and those around me.

We are all trying to improve in our own way, and that's what is important - that we keep trying. Please know that I'm far from a supermom, I'm just pushing on like most moms. I hope that when I figure something out that works, I can share it with you and maybe it will work for you too. When we share and learn together, we are all uplifted!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Harry Potter Book Club

Wednesday, we had our family book club "meeting" for the last Harry Potter book. The kiddo that offered this book as a choice also chose the activities. We had a word search, a word unscramble and a crossword puzzle. We made up some spells of our own, "chocowent" for make a delicious chocolate cake, and "regigulus" for give everyone the giggles. You get the idea. We also did 7 word reviews - review the book in exactly 7 words. Here's what we came up with:
  • Harry beats Voldemort! He has two hallows!
  • Cool - happy - exciting - amazing - lots of wars!
  • Finally! It took Harry forever to arrive.
  • Harry defeats Lord Voldemort in the end.
Our final Harry Potter activity was the Magic Wand Game. We had a pair of dice that went around the circle, each person having a turn to roll them. When someone got doubles, they put on a witch hat and used their magic wands (chopsticks) to get as many Hagrid's magic seeds (candy corn) out of the jar as they can until the next person rolled doubles. We only played for 5 minutes to limit the sugar intake! To keep anyone from feeling bad for not getting to many seeds, we had some dementor therapy - chocolate.

The last part of the book club, is choosing the next book. I can't wait to read the kids "The Prophet on Yonwood", the third book in the City of Ember series.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Paper Plate Pumpkins

Try saying that three times fast! Tuesday we made these fun decorations. Talk about some super easy and cheap entertainment! It's always fun to see how different everyone does the same project. The best part about these pumpkins, even in the Arizona heat, they won't rot!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Decorating for Halloween

Monday, we finally put up the Halloween decorations. I didn't think we were way behind on celebrating the season, but some of my kiddos didn't agree. I think it's fun having the house decorated, it's definitely more festive. It's great that my kids enjoy helping and get excited about the holiday. But, there are parts of my house that look like a Halloween giant sneezed on them. My back door, for instance, has 10 decorations on it; one of them is over a foot tall and another is sideways. We have fake spiderwebs clumped on one of the poor scarecrows because my youngest doesn't get the concept. Since I'll be looking at those parts everyday for the next three and a half weeks (and repressing my OCD), I didn't take pictures of them for my blog. Here are a few pictures of my favorite parts of the Halloween decorations!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Birthday dinner

Sunday, we had a birthday dinner for someone really old! It was great to have so many family members join us for the celebration. There were birthday presents, lasagna, and the traditional Oreo cake. I was short a candle, so we improvised with a tea candle on the decorative Oreo cookie in the center. We finished off the evening with watching home movies from the birthday girls first birthday. (It's so nice to have them on DVD!) Now the younger kids want to watch some home movies from when they were actually alive :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Conference Weekend

I love General Conference weekend. The LDS church has a worldwide conference every April and October. We listen to the leaders of the church encourage and guide us. I don't remember exactly when we started making watching the Saturday sessions a priority, but I'm so glad we did. We get even more out of it, now that all the kids are old enough to sit quietly and listen. We do have some activities to keep everyone's attention focused. During the morning sessions, we have a bingo game that we do. We put an M&M on a word when one of the speakers talks about the subject, like family. When we get bingo, we eat an M&M, clear the board, and start again. In the afternoon sessions, we have a snack for 6 different random key words. Today, M&M's were for love. The kids loved Dallin H. Oaks talk! They also had word searches and mazes. We had mini bagels for breakfast, which we don't have often so it's a special treat.

While it sounds like it's all about the food, it is an overall special weekend where we enjoy not only treats but also being spiritually fed. Half of us record the speakers, their topics and our impressions throughout the weekend. It is refreshing to take time away from the world and turn our focus back to our Heavenly Father and the things that truly matter the most in this life.

I'm grateful for the gospel and peace it brings to my life. I'm grateful for our Savior, for the example he set for us and the sacrifice he made for us. I know that without Him, none of us can return to Him and our Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for modern day prophets who are the mouthpiece for our living Savior. I'm grateful that families can be together for eternity. I pray daily that I will be able to meet my Savior again and be united with all my family in His kingdom.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome Fall

It's under 100 degrees here in Arizona, that can only mean one thing, Fall's finally here! The 70 degree weather this morning actually felt pretty chilly. Around 5 pm, it was down to the 91. It felt so nice. Everyone outside of Arizona can laugh at us when it's 115 in the summer, but now it's time for our reward!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Honoring the Flag

I said the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in school, I knew you didn't let the flag touch the ground, and ... well, that was pretty much the total of all I knew about honoring our country's flag. I've been working with the Boy Scout organization for a few months and I felt very unsure of when to stand and salute. Fortunately, I was able to spend some time with a Wolf Pack and learn proper etiquette during a flag ceremony. The first thing I learned was when the flag is being carried into a room, stand as it passes you. Do not to salute a flag in the furled position, I didn't even know what a furled position was (in case you don't either - it when the flag is held to the pole, not waving). And finally, after the flag is unfurled, salute and begin saying the Pledge of Allegiance right away. I'm so glad my children have the chance to learn how to show respect to our country's flag!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Going Out of Business

I was planning on taking one of my kiddos for to get ice cream from a small local ice cream shop, only to discover they had gone out of business. Fortunately, one of the businesses a few doors down had purchased their small ice cream freezer and we were able to get an ice cream cone there. At least half of the shops are now empty in that shopping center, which led to the inevitable discussion of why stores go out of business. It was pretty challenging to give a brief, simple explanation to the under 10 crowd!

As the conversation came to a close, I expressed gratitude that we still have our family's income and have only needed to make comparatively few cutbacks to our spending habits. I encouraged my children to reach out to their friends whose families are having a hard time.

It's amazing how many lessons are ready to be taught from spending a little one-on-one time with our children!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I know I have a lot of room for improvement in the area of my diet, but I figured I was doing OK. As part of my nutrition homework, I had to figure out what percent of my daily calories come from sugar. I was shocked to learn that I average about 27% of my daily calories from sugar, some days it was over 32%! The nutrition guideline is to limit calories from sugar to less than 10% of total calories. What an eye opener!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Watching the Cars Go By

Last month, during a "date" with one of my kiddos, we treated ourselves to an ice cream cone from a local fast food establishment. We sat by a big window next to the drive-thru. During a lull in the conversation, I noticed that all three cars in line were all different makes and I pointed that out. Now, my little one has never shown much of an interest in cars, but started taking notice. We compared how there were more expensive cars going through the line and how many different car manufacturers there are, even one I didn't recognize.

It was most interesting to hear my child's opinions about cars, which ones were cool or "funny looking". We talked about the value of having an expensive car, compared to one that falls apart, or one somewhere in the middle. We talked about why there were more people going through the drive-thru with expensive cars, and were people with less expensive cars at other restaurants or not buying fast food at all? And finally we wondered about what was the most popular kind of car.

Who knew there was so much to think about while eating an ice cream cone, watching the cars go by!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup

I love all that I'm learning in my nutrition class! It's a rare occasion that I drink soda, even then it's the low octane stuff like Sprite. I'll be reading the label before I even do that now. The body digests High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) differently than conventional sugars, even corn syrup. This alternate way of digesting HFCS has two undesirable side effects.

1. It doesn't trigger the body to send insulin into the bloodstream, which balances glucose levels in the bloodstream.

2. It triggers the production of triglycerides, a form of fat, which at that point triggers the body to kick out too much insulin.

These "side effects" are suspected to be leading causes of the drastic increases in diabetes and obesity. The soda industry has voluntarily agreed to stop selling sodas in school. They must think these studies are going to continue to be confirmed. It's not just sodas to watch out for, cookies, crackers and other pre-packaged baked foods are using HFCS too.

This is another reminder to read those food labels and understand what we are putting into our bodies! Here's to your good health.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


For me, time has been a two edged sword lately. I struggle to slow down enough to enjoy my family and our activities. While at the same time, I can't ever seem to get everything to fit into the week. Maybe that's just two cuts from the same edge. I've known for a long time that life (and time management) is all about balance - it's the application that eludes me. But the most important things usually get done, I just might not be the most pleasant person at the time :)

I had a friend that needed some help, so we traded a responsibility until she was able to get back on her feet. When the time came for her turn, she would tell me how hard it was to meet that responsibility - repeatedly. I vividly remember the challenges I faced when I was helping her out. We all have the same 24 hours in the same 7 days in the same week. But how we use it, and the attitude about how we use it, is where the challenge lays.

I think I've learned the greatest lessons from the different ways people handle the same challenges, good and bad. I'm so grateful for friends that help me out and show me how to be the person I'm slowly becoming. Today's lesson is a reminder in balancing time and not using it as an excuse.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I finished my first test in my nutrition class yesterday - I did pretty good. One of the things we've been studying is the importance of fiber in our diets. I knew that fiber kept things "flowing", but there are also many other benefits. Studies show that fiber will attach itself to cholesterol and escort it out of your body! It also reduces the risk of diabetes and obesity.

The other thing I noticed, is that a diet high in fiber is also low in many of those things that aren't so good for you. Just remember all things in moderation (women should be shooting for at least 25 grams per day) and increase your water intake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Step Two

I finished the second step of my food storage project. I took an inventory of what food I have in my home matched up with what I need for a year's supply of dinners. I now have a list of what I need to buy (hopefully on sale) and how much I need. My goal is to add to my food storage every week. Now I have a better focus on what to buy and what sales to look out for!

I also realized I need to get canning! I've got a freezer full of chicken waiting to be canned. And according to my list I need a bunch of chicken, hamburger, beef chunks and ham canned!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Photography Club Field Trip

OK, it was a field trip around the neighborhood, but we thought we'd get out and see if we could put anything we have learned into use. We learned two things:

1. We need to learn more.
2. We need cooler cameras!

Nevertheless, we had a good time. Here's a couple of pictures we took on our field trip.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Library Additions

Author Shannon Hale, on her blog squeetus, talked about being on the library committee for her child's new school. She was asking for reader's submissions of their top five books to be included in the library's collection. I was thinking how much fun it would be to fill a library. Then I realized it would be hard to have fiction for all the different grade levels, plus meet the non-fiction needs, and stay in budget.

But still the idea of buying what you wanted to with someone else's money... Just for fun, if you had a $100 gift card to Amazon for books only, what would you add to your library?

Here's my list:
Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick $10.87
Three Cups of Tea by Sarah Thompson $8.09
The Actor & the Housewife $16.32
Gethsemane by Andrew Skinner $18.95
1776 by David McCullough $12.96
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini $18.97
Another Green World by Richard Grant $12.44
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser $8.00

OK, so I went a few dollars over. But, I wouldn't want to have money left on the gift card :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

August Review

I know we are a few days into September, but I always like to see how I did the previous month and set goals for the current month. I've listed many accomplishments here already. In addition to those, I wrote a few more articles for the Homemaking Cottage, did some personal writing and I've been plugging on with my piano practice. I got a little sidetracked with family history, but now I'm back on coarse :)

This month I'm planning on doing another 11 scrapbook layouts, at least 3 more articles, more personal writing, and more family history. All this is in addition to my nutrition homework, choir practice and cub scout training.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Step One

I've completed the first step of my food storage plan. I have a list of 17 "food storage friendly" dinners (ones that can be made from items in my food storage). I made a tally of all the ingredients that I needed to make those dinners 22 times throughout a year, then figured out the quantity in purchasing amounts. I needed to know how many containers of shortening to buy for my 681 tablespoons needed. The answer is three if case you were wondering.

Now I am ready to proceed to step two, taking an inventory of what I already have on hand and making a list of what I still need to buy. I should probably add breakfasts and possibly lunches to the list at some point too.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mission Accomplished

After much time, work and some manual labor I've finally finished rearranging and reorganizing our books! If I stacked all the books and magazines we're letting go, the stack would be taller than me. In the process, I saw something I hadn't since moving, empty shelves. It is so nice to have dusted shelves with no stuffed animals or other small toys lurking on the shelves. I can even see all the books on the shelves now that there aren't other books stacked in front of them. I still have a few areas I can go through and find things no one will use anymore, but for the most part everything just fits. Next time, I'll have to break down and find another book shelf and somewhere to put it.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Over the weekend, I did something special with one of my children. I try to spend one-on-one time with each of my children doing something they choose each month. My kiddo didn't choose anything too exciting, just to go to a warehouse store and enjoy the samples. While we were there we picked up a few few things we needed and added to the food storage. What could have been just running errands was made special because of the conversations we shared and the bond that we strengthened in those few hours.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food Journal

I have discovered that when I track what I eat, I generally eat less. I like to use a website like or These websites help me keep a running total of how many calories I've eaten and I have a better idea of when I need to stop eating. I even lost a little weight, just very slowly.

For my nutrition class, not only do I have to keep track of what I eat (and when) and how much I exercise; I have to turn it in. Somebody will actually be looking (and probably judging) what I eat every day! Now that is a great deterrent to 10pm bowl of ice cream. OK, I've still been eating ice cream at night, but it's a smaller amount than I would usually eat. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goal Met!

I finished my 11th scrapbook layout this month! It always feels so good to accomplish a goal. And since there's still 5 more days in the month...maybe I could even sneak in one more. We'll see if there's any time left between picking up kids, grocery shopping, homework and meetings! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nutrition Theory

I started a nutrition class last week. I think nutrition and how it affects our bodies is very interesting. In my textbook there was a section on Nutrigenomics. The theory is that what we eat, our lifestyle and our environment can alter our own DNA by turning off or on certain genes in certain people. They showed a certain breed of mice that are yellowish color and prone to large fat stores. By changing the diet of the mice, their offspring are born brown (instead of yellow), store less fat, and increase their life span. The theory is certain diets can trigger different reactions in people because of their DNA and somethings are beneficial across the board because of how it effects human DNA.

It will take decades for the researchers to proved weather it's true or not. But, it is interesting food for thought!

Monday, August 24, 2009


I think I will actually make my goal this month to finish 11 layouts in August, I already have 10 done! Saturday and Sunday I did a little scrapbooking with the kiddos. I don't work as quickly with them wanting my help to sort their pictures (again) or trim something or spell something; but I'll take what I can get. Not only did I spend time with my cuties, I also got back on track to finish my goal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Photography Club

We had another quick photography club meeting yesterday morning. We're still working through my old college photography textbook. We looked through a section of works from student photographer's entries into a photo contest and looked at them through the eye of the judges. Next meeting we'll start getting to the nuts and bolts of how cameras work.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

National Aviation Day

Yesterday was National Aviation Day. Since there was still school, homework, chores... we didn't devote too much of our time to celebrating. I found a new way to fold a paper airplane and made a couple. After I explained the holiday and my idea to celebrate, paper airplanes came out of the woodwork. I didn't realize we had a half dozen in various corners of the house! Then we took them outside to go for distance. The wind wasn't always cooperating Some tried timing throws to go with the burst of wind. There were even experiments with throwing them at the top of your jump on the trampoline. It was a nice change of pace and got everyone out of the house for a little while. After everyone settled down, I decided to add some color to mine :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails