Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review 2011



Wow what a great year this has been! 

2011 has certainly taken my family for a ride.


My husband was looking at new jobs in a new town far away.  He received a job offer and was laid off practically immediately after the offer.  So of course he accepted and we moved our family 4 hours from anyone we knew with less than a month notice. 


We were just settling into our new town and home.  The temperatures in the Winter here are a lot colder than we are used to.  Think –20 degrees F. in the mornings. BRRRR!!!!  We continued to Homeschool the same way we had been in our old house.


With the cold freezing weather getting out and meeting others was definitely a challenge.  We made the decision to enroll all the children in Public  School.  They all fit in just fine and made friends quickly, they all tested in at on or above level in all subjects also.  We also got our Chickens this month.


With the kids in Public School, I found myself with the urge to still homeschool them, so what I did was chose things that I wanted to work on with them and set up an afterschool type environment.  (In the end I found this to be somewhat detrimental for my children, they needed the time to be able to entertain themselves, etc.)  Toward the end of April Tyler broke his arm, falling down our stairs.  This all happened while my husband was traveling for work in North Dakota.


The weather really began to warm up around here and we started to discover our little town.  We went to our local chamber of commerce and got a ton of information about what our town offers.  We found tons of hiking and Petroglyphs.  We began to take advantage of this very much.


We went on a family vacation.  We went to Lake Havasu, AZ to see family, we saw the Hoover Dam, we also stayed in Las Vegas for almost a week.  It was such a blast.


We did our normal camping and Summer time fun this month. 


We also kept this a calm fun relaxing Summer month.


We did a week long stay-cation in our town.  It was a whole lot of fun.  We really learned so much about what our area has to offer. The best part of it has to be our river rafting trip we took down the green river. We also began school this month.  We tried out something new this time, K12.  


It began to feel like we are finally starting to settle into our new life.  Our homeschool is back into full swing also.  Reviews were also in total full swing this month.


My husband and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary.  We took a “honeymoon” since we never actually had one.  We went back to Las Vegas with out any kids this time.  I participated in the Gratitude Challenge, which was so much fun.  We also did some traveling for Thanksgiving. 


We had an amazing December. It has been such a special time for family.  I really let blogging sit on the back burner this month and while I have enjoyed the break, I am also looking forward to what next year holds.  I love writing this blog. 

We traveled to the city for my Grandmother in Laws funeral.  We were also able to see lots of family from out of town. We have also decided that we love our new life.  My husband loves his job, and we love our community. We put the house we left behind in the city, that we have been renting out, on the market.  So after almost a year of being here, I finally feel I am ready to really start my life here!

Whew what a year!!!  After writing this I realized it sounds like we travel non stop.  That is what it felt like too.  For 2012 we are definitely going to try and travel LESS.  

I wish you and yours a wonderful 2012!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time for changes….



The end of the year always leaves me reflecting on the past year.  Thinking about if I have been settling.  Thinking about what I could do better.  Thinking about what went well and what works perfectly. 

So I normally write down some resolutions.  I try to “limit” it to no more than 20.  I mean I could think of so many things to do better, then I would just get depressed at how much work I think I  need Winking smile.    

Years past it has always been things like exercise more, save more money, be a better wife, mother, friend. 

And while those are great goals, they are just too vague for me.  This year I have been thinking about ways to really make some changes for the better. 

Tim over at Families Again posted a great article about how to do just that. 

As soon as I read it, which was moments ago, I knew THAT is what I had to do.  So I will be setting up a few GOALS a month and then posting my progress on them.  Then each month I will be reflecting and seeing the progress as opposed to waiting a year and only seeing the resolutions that I didn’t make.  (Really the gym lasted a few months this year, and I still go occasionally, once in the last 6 months is occasionally, right?)

I have got my thinking cap on now as to which ones I would like to work on first.   

Let’s see……..

I am going to start out slowly so how about in January I focus on 2 things:

  • Eating out less, and having more healthy snacks in the house.  My dinners are planned pretty well with E-Mealz. I still struggle with breakfast and lunches. 
  • Keeping Laundry caught up.  I will do at least 1 batch every day, all the way through.  WASH –DRY- FOLD- PUT AWAY

I am going to start focusing now, a head start for me is always good.  Then check back in February to hopefully celebrate my successes!!! 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Handmade Personalized Christmas Gifts Tutorial


I have seen others do this with etching cream and contact paper, I read they weren’t dishwasher safe, and well, in my house if it can’t go in the dishwasher it doesn’t get used that much. Doing it this way the dishes are dishwasher safe.

Ok, I have never written a tutorial so bear with me here. 
Use a glass dish.  I looked for ones that didn’t have a lot of manufactures emblems and such on the bottom.  

Choose your font.  I use Word 2007.  Then print it out using T-shirt transfer paper selection on your printer.  Which mine HP 8500 does not have, so I choose to do a word art and flip it.  (much more complicated this way)  You need it to print in reverse.

Cut out and tape the design to the inside of the dish.

P1040320Flip the dish upside down.
Using a Dremel tool, etch the design onto the bottom dish following the pattern.   You are actually etching all the letters backwards.  That way when the dish right side up the design will show properly.

When done rinse off the dish and marvel at your creation!
When we started doing this we began with easier fonts.  Now we feel comfortable enough to do almost any.  For me the bigger the font size the easier it is. 
This is linked up to:
Tatertots and Jello Friday
Works for me Wednesday
Blue Cricket Design
Today's Creative Blog 
Not Just a Housewife
Katie's Nesting Spot 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cleaning out the fridge for dinner.



Every time I throw away food I just feel like I am throwing away cash.  It hurts! 

I was recently headed out of town for a few days and had a fridge full of vegetables.  Thanks Bountiful Baskets!  I knew that many of them would go bad before I would be back.  I decided to make famous Clean Out The Fridge Soup! 

Clean out the fridge soup


Any combination of the following:


  • meatballs
  • leftover chicken, cubed
  • leftover ground beef
  • any kind of leftover meat
  • no meat at all

  • peppers
  • onions
  • celery
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • tomato

  • chicken broth
  • beef broth
  • canned soups, i.e. cream of ?, french onion, fiesta cheese, broccoli cheese, tomato etc.
  • canned tomatoes

Sauté whatever veggies you want cooked. Then add your pre cooked meat and liquid. 


Whaaa La! You have created a meal, hopefully it tastes good Winking smile.


You can do this also as a pasta dish.  Just add cooked pasta to the cooked veggies and meat.

How about a stir fry.  Add some cooked rice to the veggies and meat. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011


In my life this week…  My Grandmother in Law passed away, so this has been a week of life school.  We are all dealing with it fine, we were ready for her to be taken from Earth.  Still funeral plans and clothes shopping and spending time with family is how we have been doing spending much of our time.
In our homeschool this week…  We were able to finish up quite a few units before we left that way we when we come back from our Holiday break we can start new units.  It wasn’t really planned out that way, it is nice that it happened that way.
I am inspired by… My Grandmother in Law.  She had a way of entering a room. Her sense of humor was divine!
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…  We have came to the city to be with family.  We will be seeing many of them. 
My favorite thing this week was… Even through everything we had a birthday party for my husband. Since out of town family was here, they were able to celebrate it too!
What’s working/not working for us… Pressure is NOT working for us. Pressure to get done by a certain time, pressure to live up to what I see other homeschool moms doing.  Pressure to live up to someone else’s standards.
Things I’m working on… Beginning to look into things I would like to work on.  Goal setting type things for the New Year. 
I’m reading…Well really I’m watching The Help.  I read the book quite a while ago and am finally getting around to seeing the movie.
I’m cooking…  Some Butter Rum Bundt Cakes,  YUMMY!
I’m grateful for… My Savior, Jesus.
I’m praying for… My Mother-in-law.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.  ~Seneca

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teaching your children to be self sufficient.


I want my girls to learn how to sew.  I do not want it to become a lost art.  I would also like my boys to know how to at least mend their own clothes. 


Here is Katey with her first sewing project.  We just did a simple purse with no pattern to teach her speed, backstitching, forward stitching, and some other simple explanations of sewing terms.  She loves her bag!  She is very proud of it.

Emily had taken sewing classes for over a year before we moved. I know it’s been almost a year, but it often feels like just yesterday. We haven’t found a teacher where we live yet. So I am having to take this on myself. Luckily she knows the basics. We finally set up a small sewing area, and I got a great light for it. We have been enjoying the time together creating.

I want all my children to know how to cook, which means following a recipe, using the appliances and cleaning up after words. 

I teach this by having them help me to prepare things for various meals and snacks.  I often let my oldest two cook on their own while I am in the vicinity.  We started with Macaroni and Cheese (from a box).  Now they can both make cookies, breads, cakes, breakfast foods and casseroles by themselves.  We will work on cooking pieces of meat soon as well. 

I would like them to be able to handle their own finances. 

While right now they don’t have a lot of opportunity to earn money.  They have some.  Emily has done lemonade stands and babysitting.  Tommy has done yard work and helped with extra chores.  Whenever Emily gets paid she puts most of the money she makes into a paper-mâché bank she made when we first began homeschooling.  Tommy also puts his into a bank.  They also each have bank accounts that they maintain.  Tommy has an account with Banzai also to help him with budgeting. 

There are more things I would like my children to learn before going out into the world. Good thing I have a few more years.  Winking smile  I will teach them those things as we move through the others. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


What is the best way to make something dreadful fun? Turn it into a game right!

I See Cards is a company that does just that.  They turn math into a game. 

They have sent me their fractions game to review. 

Fractazmic  is a card game that helps cement in the concepts of adding fractions.  For only $6.95 per deck you can’t go wrong. 

The concept can be simple or complicated.  There is an array of games you can play. 

I thought of a few others too. 

  • Fractazmic War
  • Fractazmic Go Fish (for very beginners, just have them find exact matches, as you get more advanced they could find equivalents.)

Fractazmic is suggested for ages 1st-8th grade.  However my first grader was only able to play the Go Fish game I made up with it.  My 7th grader and I love playing it Rummy Style

Here is my hand.  See, I have 1 whole with the greens, and another whole with the blues and 1/2 green.  I won that one!!  Here is our discard and draw piles also. 


He has won me also. 


We have come to the conclusion after playing this game that:

Look how cute the cards are.  There are pictures that help you to convert the fractions to like denominators. 

I would have to say that fractions and converting them to have like denominators should probably be taught first.  This is a wonderful tool to make studying converting fractions fun, and get a lot of practice in too. 

You can try this game for free right now.  Go here to play the online version.  YOU CAN EVEN WIN A FREE DECK! 

We have been able enjoy the I See Cards products before.  Check out my review of Pyramath here.  They also have other games.  Go, Go, Go check them out!!

I See Cards has a Facebook page.  Like them to stay in the now with all the great math games they have. 


To see what others though of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew I review products like this, which I receive for free in order to be able to write my review.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Getting the Chickens Ready for Winter.


About a month ago one of our chickens died.  We don’t know how or why.  We just found him in the coop.  It was very sad.  We were worried that he had froze to death since we have been having below freezing temperatures for about 8 weeks now. 

We weren’t getting any eggs at all for about 2 weeks.  We heard that chickens don’t lay when the days get shorter.  So we chalked it up to that. 


We decided we want to prevent that from happening again.  We purchased a water heater to go under their water so that it won’t freeze.   We put a heat lamp in the run and another one in the coop. 

We have also been feeding them our leftover vegetables from dinner.  They have been eating our leftover pumpkins from Halloween too.  I heard that the pumpkins prevent worms and are very healthy for the chickens.  Plus they love them.   


Since making all these changes we are back to getting 4 eggs or so a day.  (one per chicken)


We have really enjoyed having chickens and the eggs are delicious.  When we go out of town, our neighbors take care of them and we let them keep all the eggs.  The day to day things that need to be done are things like filling up their food and water and checking for eggs.  We have a big enough food and water container that they each last for a few days. 

Having chickens have proved to be more expensive than I originally thought.  Not to bad though. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winterland of Gingerbread

This week was the Winterland of Gingerbread Competition.

Tommy, Emily and Katey all were able to enter their own Gingerbread houses. 

They were all unique and showed their personalities.   We They had so much fun building each of them. 

During the competition we dropped off the houses and then went over to the ice arena to skate.  We came back and they had pizza for us and sticker gingerbread houses for the kids to decorate.  Tyler loved that!  The awards ceremony followed.


Tommy build a log cabin style house. 


It was not overdone and he put a lot of time into the roof and logs.  He knew from the beginning he was going to have a licorice wreath.  His house is built from a kit I ordered from Bountiful Baskets (where I get my produce, and have for over 3 years)P1040394P1040391

He entered in the middle category, where they judge your house based on design and looks only.  While he did not win a grand prize, he did win best log cabin design.  P1040425

For Katey’s house I just purchased a pre-built kit.  It was so nice for her to just be able to decorate it and not have to worry about all the waiting.  Her kit was just purchased from a craft store.  


She loved decorating it with all different kinds of things.  It was neat to see her vision come to life. 


She entered into the lower category.  Houses are not “judged” they all receive awards.  Her award was for the best snowman.  She had used a premade snowman that came with her kit.  She loved it. 


Emily had big dreams her gingerbread house was going to be from scratch and her theme would be A Gingerbread Bakery.  She was going to enter in the very highest category, in which your house is judged on appearance as well as a photo journal and a 100 word essay. 

She drew her design on paper and then cut and formed her house with cardboard and mixed up her gingerbread  then built it.  During the building process it broke.  Sad smileP1040370P1040371P1040374P1040372

Luckily I had a back up kit, which she ended up using.

She changed her theme to be a college football.  Utah Vs. BYU.  In our family we are HUGE Utah fans and her uncles are BYU fans so it is a pretty fun family rivalry.  She still decided to enter into the highest competition. 


Paul helped her by using the Dremmel to cut out some windows.  Then she melted Jolly Ranchers in a saucepan and poured them into the windows.  Half of the windows were red and half were blue.  Then she began frosting and decorating it.  When done she wrote her essay and put together a photo journal of her building it.  


She was the only one entered in the category for a while, and she was really hoping some competition would show up.  Finally one house did entered in the same category as her.  During the awards they called the Runner up for her category and right them Emily started going crazy,  “What does that mean?”  After she found out what it meant she was so excited that as soon as they called her name as the winner she went running up and grabbed her trophy so fast it was hard for me to get a picture of her.

Emily had also made a voting box out of Duck Tape so people could vote for their favorite team.  BYU had no votes at all.  I know there were BYU fans there, so they just must have not voted. 


Now her house went onto the state competition and if it wins there then off to nationals.  We had no idea the contest was a progressive one. 

It was a very exciting day for us all.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homeschool Mothers Journal

In my life this week…  I am beginning to feel stressed about not being where I would like to be as far as Christmas shopping goes.  Honestly I haven’t had the time, and I have to do most of it online.  There are not a lot of stores where I live. 
In our homeschool this week…  All the kids are moving along quite well.  We took a few days off to do our Gingerbread houses, and we are right on track to take a long Christmas Break.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…  Relax and enjoy this time.  If you are stressing, then change something.  Whenever I begin to stress I think about Unschoolers and how they are still learning even without a formal curriculum.
I am inspired by…  Tristan over at Our Busy Homeschool.  She has another blog Mason’s Spina Bifida Journal  and it always inspires me how positive she is.
My favorite thing this week was…
What’s working/not working for us… Doing ever subject every day is not working.  When we get back to schooling in January we will change to more of a block schedule.  Example:  History on Monday, Science on Tuesday, Math on Wednesday and Thursday, etc.  
Things I’m working on…  I am looking for some more things to sew over our break.
I’m reading… A Homemade Christmas by Alma J. Yates.
I’m cooking… some bundt cakes as gifts as well as some candy.  I really hope to make Peanut Butter Balls next week.
I’m grateful for… My marriage and my family.
I’m praying for… Marriages everywhere!
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
This is linked up to The Homeschool Mothers Journal.


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