Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teaching Kids About Money

Somewhere around 9 years ago I was wandering around my favorite local library and I came across several books about money education.  I remember very vividly thinking the books looked really good.  I even thought about checking them out then, but figured I didn't really need them with only a 2 year old running around.  I'd find them later.  You know, when I needed them.

I've been thinking about those books (and of course, I can't remember their titles) that I was so sure would be perfect for a year or so now.  Thinking I should really try and find something like them at my library.  Unfortunately, I'm occasionally a bit of a procrastinator.  Thankfully, technology often steps in to nudge me/help me get headed back in the right direction.

A few days ago, I came across a fantastic idea on Pinterest.  Laurel from the blog Ducks in a Row and I already agree on many things.  First, we also give our kids an allowance that is not tied to chores.  I'm a firm believer in not paying them for the chores that I feel are a part being a member of our family (although, I'm not opposed to paying them set fees to do extra chores).  Second, we also pay our kids $1 for every year of their age.  Unlike Laurel, we don't start their allowance until our kids turn 8, but after that it's just the same.

What I really love, something I've wanted to do, but wasn't sure how is her family bank.  She has a notebook with a register in it for her kids (along with their spending money).  A register!  That's such a GREAT IDEA!  Why is it that the super great ideas I never think up on my own are always also super simple?  I always think things need to be complicated.  Well, they don't!
My kids keep their money at the bank (it's a ton easier for me to just set up an automatic transfer every month), but it's hard for them to wrap their head around or keep track of exactly what they have and how they're really spending it. 
Right now during homeschool, we do real life math on Fridays.  We talk about how the math they're learning (or will learn) can be used in other areas of life and this will fit in perfect.  Every month we can sit down and go over what money they have and see what they're doing with it. 

I'm going to get started on this over the weekend and am looking for other ideas.  Do you know any great websites?  Good books?  Fun (and informative) curricula for teaching kids about money?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homeschooling Journey - 1

Recently I came up with a fantastic way to describe how I deal with change to my husband.  I am like an old GPS unit.  Have you used one of those?  The really cool ones that freeze up when you make a wrong turn (or don't turn when you should)?  Not only does ours freeze up, but it slowly and with an awesome monotone says, "Recalculating....Recalculating...Recalculating."  It's totally me.

When my plans get changed (aka: life happens), I always have a recalculating moment.  Sometimes it's short and I'm off on my way with my newly acquired plans, but other times it takes just a "smidge" longer.

This is one of the biggest reasons I can't believe I'm homeschooling today.  It was completely and totally not in my plans.  I was counting down the years until my youngest was in kindergarten (I actually figured out which year while I was pregnant with him, it would have been 2014) when I was going to finish my degree and get a job.  I was going to find something I could be passionate about, something I loved where I could make a difference.  You know, I'm laughing right now because that is exactly what I'm doing today...and it's not even close to what I thought would give me those feelings.

Somewhere around 2 to 3 years ago I was reading a magazine (for the life of me I can't remember exactly which one it was now, but that's not the important part) and in that elusive magazine was an article (or ad) about Bakerella.  Have you heard of her?  She's pretty awesome.  Her cake pops are adorable and so are her posts.  I quickly bacame an avid reader and while on her blog one day, I read about another blogger who'd named herself the Pioneer Woman.  Huh, I thought, interesting name, who's that?  So, I clicked myself over to PW's blog and took a look around.

Okay, I'll confess, I didn't do too much looking around that first day.  I looked at her blog with all her tabs and information and I thought something along the lines of, "Holy Cow!"  And then I closed down the internet and moved on to other things.  But, another day, when I was feeling a little braver (remember, new things take a little getting used to...yes, I know I can be silly), I got back on and started to look over her site.  Did you know PW has a homeschooling section?  It's fantastic!  I've never met Heather (a contributer) but I love her anyway.  She's been instrumental in my homeschooling story.

Looking through posts one day I came across one by Heather where she talks about a book she loves called The Well-Trained Mind (which teaches how to provide a classical education at home) and as I am a lover of books myself, I decided to see if my library had it and they did.  Yipeee!  If you've never happened across it before, it's GIGANTIC!  Sort of overwhelmingly large, but thankfully easily broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. 

The first section shows you how to homeschool kindergarten through 4th grades.  The second is 5th through 8th grades and the third is, you guessed it, 9th through 12th grades.  I skipped right over those sections the first time I checked it out (yes, I did just say first time) and only read the fourth and last section which is all about homeschooling and why you might want to (or not want to).

After I finished reading it, I returned the book and that was it.  Pretty much.  I didn't read any other books on homeschooling, I didn't really get on PW's blog much at all (not like my current daily stalking...shoot, did I type that out loud?) and the thought of ME homeschooling never crossed my mind.  It was interesting, sure, but SO not a part of my plans. 

Stay tuned for part 2 to see how masterfully my life and plans were changed a little recalculation at a time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Spiral Jetty

Steve has been wanting to go out and see the Spiral Jetty for a while now and we finally made the trek out yesterday. 

It was a little hazy yesterday, so you can't quite tell where the lake stops and the sky starts.

It even looks a little like the mountains in the distance are floating in the air.

The kids had a TON of fun trying (emphasis on TRY) to stay on the rocks and out of the water.

Ben and Makenna made it all the way into the center of the spiral with only a minimal amount of water getting involved.

It was beautiful and a lot of fun.  If you're ever in northern Utah, you should check it out!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks giving

This past Sunday we sat around as a family and talked about what we're thankful for.  After picking something we tried to think of a way we could SHOW our thanks.  I'm a big believer in setting achievable, mark off-able goals and for the most part, we were able to think of something that fit the bill. 

I didn't write down who said which and I can't quite remember them all, so I'll just list off the thankful item and our goal to show our thanks next to it.

#1. Family: Play together daily
#2. Earth: Pick up trash around our neighborhood and at the park near our home
#3. Books: Donate books we no longer use to a charitable organization
#4. Jesus: Serve Him every day by following His commandments
#5. Trees: Rake leaves and trim our trees to keep our yard and trees looking nice
#6. Learning: Learn how Thanksgiving really started and why we celebrate it today

We've already done a few of these, but still have a few more to go.  I love what happens to my life when I consistently have a thankful heart.  As cheesy as it sounds, while it's not always easy to be thankful, it's always worth it. 

I challenge all of you to find something you're thankful for in your life and then show your thanks.  You'll be happier for it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I love doing crafts with my kids.  To bad you can't tell by how often I do them.  I'm a, "If it isn't on a list, it doesn't get done," sort of girl and I don't have a normal craft time stuck on our daily school charts (or our daily chore charts), so it doesn't happen nearly as consistently as I'd like.  Maybe I should add it to our school charts.  We do have an art day...hmm, something to think about.

This Thanksgiving, I didn't want to not get around to doing any crafts again.  Thankfully, this year I have Pinterest.  Who loves Pinterest?!  I started out with a holiday board and ended up having to make boards for all the major holidays because I was pinning so many amazing ideas.  I went through my Thanksgiving board last weekend and picked out a few projects I wanted to tackle with my kids this week. 

I decided to start with the most involved project and, in hindsight, it's a good thing I did.  It took quite a bit longer than I thought it would.  I was surprised how much the kids loved EVERY SECOND of it.  I have to admit, I have a hard time just letting my kids do their own crafts, but I did my best to sit back and just watch/advise.  I'm so happy with how well it went and how GREAT they turned out!

The original idea is here.  I mostly followed the very well written instructions, but I did adjust a few things because I'm a fan of using what I already have around the house as much as possible.I did go and buy the small paper bowls for the turkey bodies, I couldn't figure a way to use anything I already had (and didn't care if it was destroyed).

Day one involved painting the bowls and toilet paper rolls then setting them aside to dry.  Day two was cutting out the feet (the kids hand prints, so CUTE), feathers, and hats and gluing on the beaks, eyes and gobbler. 

Last, we stuck it all together.  What do you think?  What was your favorite craft/project for Thanksgiving this year?

Happy Thanksgiving, from our turkeys to yours!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just for fun

I love to read to learn new things.  I'll read anything that has to do with almost any area of my life: cookbooks, budgeting/savings books, parenting books, marriage books, finding happiness/peace/joy books, gardening books, inspirational books, exercise/triathlon/cycling books...and I not only learn a lot, I usually have a lot of fun doing it.

Sometimes though, I need a book that's good for nothing.  Well, not really nothing, but a book where I don't learn anything reading.  A fluff book.  A turn off my brain and sit for hours living in another universe sort of book.

My favorite genre of books for this fluffy-ness has always been fantasy.  Who couldn't use a little more magic in their lives (no, I have never tried to psychically move my remote control closer to me, that would just be crazy)?    One of my very favorite fantasy authors is Mercedes Lackey.  She's written more than 100 books.  Yes, I did just say more than 100.  Is that as crazy to you as it is to me?  Who has that many stories in their heads?!?
Okay, okay, they probably weren't all their together clamoring to get out, but it's still an amazing accomplishment.  I've been thinking about Mercedes Lackey today because I got online to update my Amazon wishlist (for Christmas, only 36 more days!  I'm not panicing, nope) and discovered she has several new books out that I haven't read! 

First, that's a travesty, how could I not have known?  Well, not checking and being fairly oblivious to most of life outside my home are probably equally culprits, but still.  And second, I need to rectify this problem immediately.  Starting with the Collegium Chronicles...I thought there was only one book and their are FOUR! I must have missed the s on the end of chronicles.

I've been reading pretty non stop over the last few months and lately I've been feeling the urge to go fluffy (I originally typed brainless where fluffy currently sits, but couldnt' leave it because instantly 10 different sarcastic -yet loving- remarks my husband would make after reading it popped into my head). 

I'm pretty seriously excited.  Library, here I come. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Butterfly Circus

If you haven't had a chance to watch the short film The Butterfly Circus on youtube, you should. 

It's about 20 minutes long so plan for more that just a short 5 minute video.

My favorite part?  One line by the circus master (I'm not sure if that's actually his title, but go with me here), "The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

Awesome (in the awe inspiring sort of way).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Studying General Conference Addresses

I've had many goals over the years related to fitting the General Conference addresses into my life.  Some worked great and others sort of (really) flopped.  This conference was different for me.  I'm not sure why, but I was more excited to watch and be involved in the teachings that I ever have before.

My goal this time around is to learn purposefully.  To me this means to not just listen and read the talks, but to focus on what each one means for me. 

My first step, phase one of my plan, has been going on for a few weeks.  I work out every morning to a few different videos and even though I really do like Tony Horton, I don't enjoy listening to his banter the fiftieth time quite as much as I did the first.  My solution?  I downloaded the General Conference sessions to Itunes and listen to it much louder than Mr. Horton every morning while working out.  It's been GREAT so far (sorry Tony)!

Phase two started yesterday when I finally got my General Conference Ensign.  Yipee!!  At first I decided I would use two highlighters (I LOVE highlighters).  One to mark those bits and pieces that really stood out to me and the second to mark the Do's.  The main point the speaker was trying to make, as I read I ask myself over and over, "What does he/she want me to DO?"

As I've started reading it's been really cool because often those do's are connected with blessings.  When I find those great If/Then statements I use the same Do highlighter, but I also write if and then next to the section.

As I read today, I added two more pens.  First, I have a third highlighter (yes, one more), this one to mark those things that I feel will help me with my church responsibilities in the primary. 

The last bit I've added is a pen.  Just a regular ball point pen to write my thoughts and feelings in the margins. 

I am surprised and excited to feel inspired in all areas of my life.  In only the first two talks!  I am also surprised how much more I'm getting out of the talks by really taking the time to read slowly and more thoughtfully.

How do you bring General Conference into your lives?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homeschool Checklist #3

Makenna's checklist is very similar to both Ben and James, just even more expanded.  This is my first year homeschooling her,so we had quite a bit of adjustment waiting for us at the beginning of the year. 

It was a little rough, but thankfully we've worked through it and are both really liking it now.  Looking back, the three biggest things that helped Makenna's (and my) day run smoother were:

#1. Having assigned seats.  I'm laughing right now because this still seems crazy to me, but I know it made a HUGE difference in her day.  She needed to know that her seat was in the same spot every day.  I'm not sure why, maybe to make it seem more like regular school, but I do know she needed it.  How?  Well, when she asked me if we had assigned seats, I said, "Nope."  And then when I walked into the schoolroom the next morning, both boys told me excitedly that they each had their very own assigned seat!  I immediately looked at Makenna and she was grinning like crazy.  Another reason?  They're still "assigned" 3 months later.

#2. Having a slightly more regular schedule.  Makenna is used to having the same subjects at the same time every day and she really (REALLY) had a hard time when I told her that we had to be a little more flexible than that.  We compromised by making the checklist more routine-ed by attempting to work on the same subjects in the same order every day.

#3.  The backbone of our school day is...

...the schedule/checklist.  I love that it gives the kids a sense of control over their day.  They can look at it and see exactly what they need to do every day.  The know what's left and as we've gotten farther into school (and made a few changes to the checklists), they know how long each subject usually takes.  It's even better for Ben and Makenna because there is so much they can do on their own.  For example, Makenna's blue highlighted sections are ones she either needs to do with me on or are subjects that we do together as a family.  She knows that she can do everything else as quickly (or slowly) as she wants as long as they all get done before the end of the day.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous to have Makenna home this year.  Partly because she's older and has a more demanding curriculum but also partly because we are so very similar (in both good and unfortunately, not good ways).  What I've discovered?  I LOVE IT!  Every day isn't easy, but I love having her here with me.  I love getting to learn with her.  It is seriously fun. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Strategic Surrender

I'm not sure why I put strategic.  Maybe it makes me feel better about the surrender part. 

I have some sort of strange the world's going to end, survivalist impulses that express themselves in all sorts of strange ways (I also think it'd be fun to live downtown in a big city where you can walk everywhere, I'm full of contradictions).

For my blog this impluse has shown up in naming my kids by an initial.  Except I didn't do a very good job at it.  I knew that as I typed my posts I frequently spelled out their names, but I thought I caught them all and fixed them before posting.  I didn't.  Shoot. 

I'm a little OCD and the thought of having two different naming systems used irratically sort of wigs me out.  Not a lot, but probably enough that it isn't exactly normal.  Don't tell.

The point to my whole post and the surrendering is that I'm going to type out their names from now on.  Probably nothing terrible will happen.  Most likely.  Chances are.

M is Makenna, my darling (and only) fiesty, sarcastic 11 year old daughter.

B is Ben, my slightly spacey and completely loving 8 year old son.

J is James, my 5 year old Jimmy James (he actually wrote his name like that for almost a year) with the biggest most charismatic smile.

P is Josh.  Yep, Josh.  Okay, his name is Joshua Paine and having two J's wouldn't just been confusing.  Josh is 3 years old and is my, "Me, too!" kid.  He wants to do everything his older brothers do and just about worships James.

Just so you know.

Monday, November 12, 2012

General Conference Goal - Family Home Evening

For family night tonight, we picked another talk from General Conference to delve into a little more and set a goal from.  The talk we picked (okay, I picked this one) was from Sister Linda Burton of the Relief Society General Presidency.  I picked a simple and powerful talk.  An easy topic for all of my kids while still teaching an important principle.

The title to Sister Burton's talk is First Observe, Then Serve.  Enough said.  I tried to find something online that I could use, a pre-made family home evening or some ideas for teaching about the General Conference talks.  I couldn't find anything!  I think I'm still in shock.  Google let me down.  Google found me lots of super fun activities, coloring sheets and anything else you can think to do during conference.  I wonder if there are others who use conference talks to make family home evenings.  Cute ones.  Fun ones (but most of all simple).  There must be.  If you know of any, pretty please pass them along.

Until then, I'll just limp along on my own. 

Due to my super late start, today's really was barely even a limp.  I pulled up the talk on our ROKU (I love our ROKU!) and skipped ahead to where Sister Burton introduces the idea.  Just after talking about how observing and serving are Christ-like principles, she shares a few examples from everyday life.  We watching for a few of those and then we talked about them. 

After discussing her examples, we thought of ways we could serve each other everyday.  Or serve our friends in simple and small yet meaningful ways.  Tomorrow we'll add observing and serving to our monthly chore/goal charts so we can mark our progress.

I'm still loving the conference tree.  So great.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Top 3 Favorites

#1. B often asks me what I'm making for dinner.  I always say, "Food."  He always sighs and says, "What kind of food?" I tell him, "Yummy food."  He then sighs again, a little exasperatedly and walks away saying, "Mom!"  One of my favorite things is how he's changed his question.  He walks into the kitchen and with a smile on his face asks, "Mom, what kind of yummy food are you making tonight?"  So great.

#2. I love that P always wants to sit with me.  Today, I sat down on the couch to help J with a game he was playing and P ran over and sat on my lap.  Then he squirmed for a minute and slid off to one side.  He grabbed my hand and held it up while he rubbed his face against it....and then he moved my hand down to hold his foot.  I don't know what it is, but he loves it when I hold his feet while he sits with me.  I can't decide if it's cute or just funny.

(this is P, don't you just want to squeeze him?!)

#3. M is now old enough to watch the boys.  Today Steve (the husband) and I went out and did some shopping and didn't have to bring all four kids with us.  We didn't even have to take one of them.  We took NONE of them!  Oh my's amazing!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Goals and Chores

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away...) I made my kids chore charts.  They worked really well keeping all of us on track.  And then we started homeschool.

Our previous chore charts had four separate sections: my body, my home, my testimony and my brain.  Each category had different chores and/or goals to work on during the day, but after starting homeschool, some of the categories were redundant.

Combine that with the annual goals we make (we sit down together every January and talk about what we want to work on and get accomplished during the year in different aspects of our lives) and then hardly talk about afterwards and I knew I needed to revamp my system.  I just wasn't sure how.

After reading that Gretchen Rubin's most successful part of her Happiness Project (no, I swear I'm not a just seems like it recently) was her resolutions chart I got excited.  After checking it out, I finally had my plan.

I combined my favorite parts of both charts and came up with this.  I think it turned out pretty good (although the real test will be over the next few weeks as we're using them).  Our previous charts were weekly and I felt like I was using (wasting) way too much paper, thus the new ones are monthly (let's just hope we don't lose them).  I broke our chart up into three sections, the first two bringing in all the items we still need from the previous chore charts but organized in a way that makes better sense for us now.

The first section includes all the things that they should (ideally) get done before our 8:30am school start time.  But if they somehow don't get to all of it (read imagining slight sarcasm and a loving/exasperated smile), it needs to be done before they can play. 

The second section says before the end of the day and really means sometime before bedtime. 

The last section is another addition/change from our old chore charts and probably the part I'm most excited about.  We now have a place for some of those annual goals, not to mark when they're done, but to keep track of how often we're actually working on them.  To track our progress.  Plus, as we set family goals (which we've started doing a few times a month) we can write them in so we don't forget about them in the hustle and bustle of life.  I purposefully didn't type these in because I'm thinking they'll change depending on what each child is working on that month.

This is B's chore chart (you might have already noticed), but each of my kid's charts looks very similar.  The differences are in exactly which cleaning chores they are currently assigned to do. 

I was thinking I'd even have them make different marks to check them off depending on how well (attitude mostly) they get their chores done.  Then at the end of the month, we can look back and see what progress has been made, which is the best part.

I'll keep you updated on how well they're working out for us!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


While I know it's important to stop and smell the roses, M takes it to a whole new level.  She gets distracted and stares out the window or ends up dancing around the kitchen (yes, it is adorable...but I REALLY want my dishes done sometime before she's ready to move out in 6 or 7 years).

She always retorts that she can't, if she goes any faster, she'll just have to redo...{fill in the blank}.  And I will admit, that does happen.  Too often.

I then tell her that I didn't mean to go faster than she is capable, I want her to go as quickly as she can while still doing a good job.

We've had this conversation more times than I want to remember.  But I now have the solution. 

Today I found the perfect quote.  I either want to tattoo it to her forhead or stick it on her wall in super HUGE vinyl letters.  Probably the vinyl, I might get in trouble if I tried the tattoo.

"Hurry up slowly."

When I read this I immediately thought of Makenna.  To me it says exactly what I'm always telling her.  Do what you can to the best of your ability.  Do it as quickly as you can, but not so fast that you're messing up or getting frustrated. 

Now I just need a cricut.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More Checklists

The day we've all been waiting for...B's weekly schedule!

Okay, maybe you weren't all waiting.  Shoot.  Anyway...

B is my 2nd grader and his schedule is slightly different from J's. 

The first thing you'll notice is the yellow.  These are sections that B can do on his own.  He usually gets a start on these first thing in the morning while I'm helping J.  Next we move to the work M, B, and J do together (like I mentioned in my previous post about J's day) and then we do the work B and J do together.  After that's done (and J is finished up for the day), B and I do his last few bits and pieces together (only writing and grammar most days).  B generally finishes up his day reading. 

His favorite subject right now is math, but only because he gets to do it on the computer.  We are trying out Teaching Textbooks this year and we're all (especially B) liking it a lot so far. 

I am so proud of how far he has come and how hard he is willing to work everyday.  I've been homeschooling B the longest so it's easier for me to see how much he has grown.  Don't get me wrong, we have some rough days (B tends to get distracted by pretty much anything), but the good outweighs any hard bits.  A lot.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What we read...

I came across a quote while looking at Gretchen Rubin’s blog (the author of The Happiness Project) yesterday that I loved.  It made me both smile and think "YES!" 

Samuel Johnson: “What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression  If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.”
There are many books that I think I should want to read.  Books that I know are good and that I would learn and grow from reading, but I have a hard time making myself start.  When I do start, I have a hard time getting engaged, staying engaged and getting the book finished.  Then I feel guilty  for not being more excited to read books that I think I should (and yes I know that’s a little silly). 
This quote resonated with me because it offers an explanation.  And more than that, just by reading this and knowing that someone else struggled with some books (and others struggle, Gretchen did post the quote) makes me feel better. 
I will still try to get myself to read books that are outside my comfort zone, books that I KNOW are good for me.  I’ll just cut myself some slack when it’s hard, after all, only half my mind is available to enjoy it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Yesterday, at B's baptism, M gave a fantastic talk.  In it she taught a little bit about testimony and I kept thinking about it today. 

Today's sacrament meeting (one segment of church where we meet as a congregation and have the opportunity to teach each other by speaking and singing together) was fast and testimony meeting.  It's a little different than the other weeks for two reasons.  First, many choose to come to church fasting for a particular purpose (to grow in some fashion personally or for someone in need or for anything you would like) and second, there aren't assigned speakers.  After the normal opening, anyone in the congregation who feels inspired can get up and share their testimony. 

As I was listening to the testimonies, I thought about one comment that M made yesterday.  She said that when we're younger (like B), we have simpler testimonies, but don't worry, they'll grow.  While she's right, if B chooses to read his scriptures and live the commandments his testimony will grow, but I hope it is always simple. 

Knowing with the absolute certainty of a child that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us, that Jesus died and lives again for us and that Joseph Smith truly did restore the fullness of the gospel is life changing.  One woman shared that she wished she could get up with the same ease and enthusiasm as the children.  The kids SHINE as they share their testimonies.  I hope Ben will always be that way, that his testimony will both grow and stay simple.  Simple and powerful.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


My posting has been a little light this week because my parents have been in town.  I've been spending almost every spare second with them as I don't get to see them more than once or twice a year.  Thankfully, due to modern technology I talk to them a lot (my dad makes fun of my mom and I because we talk almost daily), but it's not quite the same as being with them.

In honor of their visit I thought I'd post a few pictures of them (and my family) throughout the years.








I've loved having my parents here and I'm already sad that they are leaving tomorrow.  Thankfully, they're only a phone call away.
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