Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Me on the Map

I was perusing Pinterest the other day and I came across something cool. 

Trying to teach kids about their place in the world is a little difficult (physically, everything else is beyond hard).  I mean, it's sometimes hard for me to grasp how huge the world is and how very different living in it is for everyone.  And I'm a grown up (just wondering if it's just me, or does anyone else ever feel like they're still just pretending to be a grown up and someday someone is going to notice?).

Anyway, when I found this super cute idea, I knew we'd have to use it.

Me on the map pinned on pinterest!

What I wasn't sure about was whether or not I wanted to make my own version or buy one of the varieties floating around the internet.  In the end, I bought this one here (made by Clutter Free Classrooms and sold on Teachers Pay Teachers) and it turned out great (As a side note, I was a little disappointed it didn't have my room and my house in the little flaps and if I do it again with my kids I'll add them with a little photoshop magic). 

You can tell she's older, a girl and takes her drawing seriously.  She's also slightly anal like me.  Her hands didn't end up straight and she couldn't stand the thought of any part of her being crooked or not even.  I like her solution. 

Ben is having a hard time holding up the world.  Wouldn't we all?

I will always love James smile.  His grin is so big.  Big.

Josh is old enough to want to be "involved" in everything the older kids are doing, but isn't quite old enough to understand how he's "supposed" to.  I've learned it doesn't matter, he has a TON of fun!

These go along with a book called, yep, you guessed it, Me on the Map, by Joan Sweeney.  I stuck the book on my home school wishlist on Amazon (because it's a pretty cool book), but I just checked it out from our library for our activity (by the way, does anyone else regularly have 70 books checked out or is that just me?). 

I love that it takes a child from hanging out in their room (the little girl even draws a map of her room) and step by step takes them all the way out to the whole world.  The room (with the girl in it), moves to the house (which has the room marked on it) and then out to the street (which has the house marked on it) and then the city, state, country, continent and finally, the WORLD! 

I hope that makes sense. 

We took about two weeks to do finish them, coloring and mapping out one section a day and then putting it all together at the very end.  I'm really glad I didn't try to rush it. 

It showed me that we CAN do projects and have FUN doing them, ONLY if I'm patient.  Somedays I really wish there was such a thing as the patience fairy.

This was more my 2nd and Kindergartners speed, although my 6th grader really loves to draw and had a ton of fun doing it. 

What fun projects have you done with your kids lately (or not so lately)?

Friday, January 25, 2013


Here it is.  I've hit a few speed bumps this week, but I finally got it done.  I really need some daily accountability for those things that I never seem to make time for and think this just might be the ticket.  I both really like to check things off and really hate to have an unchecked box staring at me.

Just staring. 

So here they are.  None of them are huge at first glance (or maybe second or third to some of you), but they are all pretty big for me and I'm excited to see what a difference accomplishing/working on them will make in my life.

What resolutions are you working on?  Do you want to work on?  If you've made some, but have slowed down or haven't quite had the courage to get to your list, you can do it.  No matter how many times you fall down, all you have to do is get back up again.  I tell myself if toddlers can do it, then I can to. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Have you ever had a week where it seemed that nothing could go right?  Not really because things didn't go right, but because even if they happened to, your mood didn't improve?

If you're like my husband, you read the above sentences with a puzzled look on your face.  He never has weeks like that.  I think that's one of the things I love about him. 

Unfortunately, I do have weeks like that.  I had one last week.  I just couldn't seem to get out of this yucky funk no matter what I did.  I got through my days by grumpily plodding along, but without any JOY!

Then, late last week I was perusing a couple blogs and I started to feel better. 

Heather Sanders (a Pioneer Woman contributor) spotlighted a blog called Small Things.  I didn't even get to the blog, just reading Heather's post and thinking about the small blessings that are truly a part of my every day life started to pick me up.  You see, when I get a little funk-ey (and not in the good way), I have a hard time looking around and really SEEING the beauty that my life holds. 

Like this little moment.  I can't see Josh's face, but I can tell he's got a HUGE grin on his face.  I need to learn from my kids to be joyful in the small things.

Then, while I was thinking about be joyful and how to really accomplish that consistently in my life, I read some Gretchen Rubin.  She said that our attitude doesn't affect what we do, what we do affects our attitude.

Do you ever read something and have to sit back and think about it for a minute?  It's one of my favorite things.  I thought about how when I'm not feeling good, if I can pull myself out long enough to laugh with my kids, my whole day seems to brighten.  Sadly, while I do have examples like that from my life, most of my experience come from the other end.

I know that when I act grumpily I only get more grumpy.  I KNOW it and yet I still do it.  Why do you think that is? 

Gretchen also talks about how we are happiest when we are on a journey.  It's not completing the goal that brings the most happiness, it's when we are progressing towards becoming our goals. 

We finished our 2013 goals as a family more than a week ago and I've stuck them in a pile on my desk (they're sort of buried right now).  I'm going to un-bury our goals and work on turning them into a list we can stick on our walls.  I'm also going to make my resolutions chart so I can daily keep track of my progress.

So, my solution to the FUNK? 

Step one: see the blessings everyday.  I'm digging out my journal to write down those "small things."  I know that the more I LOOK, the more I'll see.

Step two: remember and work on my daily goals with the help of a handy dandy resolutions chart.

Step three: I didn't mention this one before (cuz I just thought of it), but Glenn Beck says you need to tell your dreams/goals to the world to make them a reality, so I'll do that too.  Just as soon as I get the chart done.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over the past week we've been reading a book or two every day about Martin Luther King, Jr (my library had such a good selection, I couldn't choose).  My boys have been amazed that there are people in the world that would be mean to someone just because they are different.

Isn't that wonderful?  And sort of scary.  They are so loving and accepting right now, I'm not exactly sure how to keep them that way. 

Though, I do think that talking about people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and learning more about our history will be a good first step.

One of my favorite books we read is titled, I Have a Dream.  The book includes many exerpts from Dr. King's most famous speech AND beautifully painted pictures.
We're planing to listen to the speech today, but I know my younger kids (and maybe all of them) will have a hard time listening to the whole 20 minutes, so I love that they get a few bits and pieces in this book.
We also read a few books talking about what Dr. King's life was like as he grew up and why he made some of the choices he did.  His ability to stay non-violent in the face of the terrible experiences he (and those around him) had is awe inspiring.  
I would greatly recommend looking him up at the library, reading about his speech with your kids and taking a few minutes to discuss their dreams.
I found some very cute and simple paper I'm going to print out for my kids.  You can download it for free from Teachers Pay Teachers, find your own (there are TONS of great ideas out there), or have your kids design their own.
Did you do anything for Martin Luther King, Jr. day?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Story of the Orchestra

We've made it successfully through the first half of our school year. 

Yay!!! And a little yippee after that. 

Last year (my very first year homeschooling) I made myself start with a basic, bare bones curriculum.  I've mentioned before I have this tendency to take on too much and one piece of advice I read over and over while researching homeschooling was to take it slow. 

I'm very happy that I have, but this year, I wanted to add a little more.  Move outside the basics. 

I read some more and did a little more research before adding Art and Music.  One of my favorite finds has been Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine.
It has two sections (which I somehow didn't realize when I purchased it).  The first half is all about composers while the second half focuses on many of the different instruments found in an orchestra.  We started with instruments and have been loving it! 
The books breaks them down into which section of the orchestra the instruments come from (string, woodwind, brass...).  It has pictures, histories, and physical descriptions in a short and entertaining enough manner that my 11 year old loves it AND my 5 year old listens to all of it (almost a miracle). 
Our favorite part is the CD that comes with it.  After we talk about the instrument we get to listen to what it sounds like playing beautiful music while pretending we're the ones playing the instrument (sometimes a little wildly...okay, fine, all the time).
Even if you aren't a homeschooler, I highly recommend this book to any music or wannabe music lover!

Monday, January 14, 2013


Okay, okay, I have a confession.  Just don't tell anyone.  Really. 

So, um, do any of you watch completely cheesy shows?  Ones you know are cheesy and silly and sometimes even ridiculous?  Anyone?  Oh, well, um....

Anyway, I do.  Did.  Probably will again (some undefined day in the future...).  That's what I've been doing this past week.  You know, sort of why I haven't been posting quite as consistently. 

I know, it's a terrible reason.  It's all I've got though.  I was all consumed. 

It started out slow.  It's one of the many shows available for free on Amazon Prime (I LOVE Amazon Prime!!) and I started watching it a while ago.  Just an episode here or there.

Until last week.  All of a sudden I was watching it all the time.  In any spare second that I had (only a few non-spare seconds, I swear). 

Which show?  Well, um...  Roswell?

Yep, Roswell.  Have any of you watched it?  I'd seen an episode here or there as reruns years ago, enough to know the general story but not details.

Okay, the embarrassment comes from the fact that this is a high school show and I'm, well, not in high school and haven't been for quite some time.  It's full of all the very silly teenaged angst that my husband mocks pretty severely.

But it's also full of special, secret powers.  I'm a sucker for extraordinary powers.  I mean, they can touch a wall and CHANGE THE COLOR!  How cool would that power be?  No more hours and hours spent painting my house (and no more drips on the floor or anywhere else).

I finally finished it Saturday.  It was pretty darn fun.  Even worth the teasing. 

Friday, January 11, 2013


How many of you are members of Goodreads?  I have to say, I both love it and am overwhelmed by this amazing website.

I love it because I'm a huge fan of lists.  I love to keep track of things and, like I've mentioned before, mark them off.  With Goodreads you can keep track of what books you've read, what you're reading right now (although you'll probably remember that one on your own) and what books you want to read.

The want to section is where I get into trouble.  There are so many books I read about in blogs, see while browsing in stores and hear about from my friends.  I almost just typed too many books, except even though I find my list a little overwhelming, I'm not sure there can be too many books on my "to read" list. 

I know there can be so many I won't be able to read them all, but too many like I shouldn't add more?  Nope.  Never. 

As evidenced by my continual additions.  A few weeks ago, I got an email from Goodreads telling me all about their readers top picks for 2012.  They have top picks for every genre of book and then some overall categories as well.  I browsed through and ended up adding a few more books to my list (surprise, surprise).

Lately, as I add items to my "to read" list, I check my local library's website at the same time.  This way I can check them out and hopefully read them and get them off my "to read" list in a timely manner.  Sometimes it even works out that way.  Like a book I just finished last week.  I actually started it last week, too.  It only took me a couple days (like two) to read it.  It was pretty darn fun.
Divergent is the start of a dystopian series located in Chicago.  Right away, I was comparing it to The Hunger Games, but they're almost nothing alike.  They are both dystopian and the main characters from both are young.  That's about it.  Well, I guess not it, they're also both good and there are parts in both that are slightly disturbing.
In Divergent, the people of Chicago are split into 6 groups.  5 factions each epitomizing a different, admirable trait (the sixth group are those that belong to no faction, cast offs).  You see, they figured that if they only focused on being perfect at 1 trait, they would be able to remain more peaceful and prevent war.  They were wrong.  Of course. 
It was a super fun read for both Makenna and I.  We highly recommend it.
I also recommend Goodreads.  It's a great place to not only keep track of what you want to read, but to be exposed to lots of amazing books that may be outside your comfort zone.  I've loved it!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Little More Faith in God

After going through the Faith in God booklet (a program to help kids ages 8-11 practice the gospel principles they've been learning about and increase in faith) to make an index for the teachers, I decided I wanted to do something during our Sharing Time Lesson also.

Just a quick aside, I am in charge of the children in my local church (with a group of 3 other wonderful ladies) ages 18 months through 11 years old for two hours every Sunday.  Those 3 to 11 attend a class for one hour and attend Sharing Time for the other hour (our church is 3 hours long).  During Sharing Time we have an opening time that includes talks by the kids (and a few other short things), a lesson time and a singing time.  I rotate monthly with 2 of the other ladies for the lesson time.

Now, back to the business at hand.  In addition to asking the teachers to tie in the Faith in God program with their lessons, I wanted to do it during Sharing Time.  I knew I wanted to the activities to go along with the months theme and lessons we will be teaching as closely as possible. 

After thinking about it and going back over my index (I'm really loving that index), I chose one Faith in God activity for every month.  Then after thinking some more (no slow jokes, please) I decided the easiest way for all of us to remember what we're doing every month would be to make up some labels. 

I lose paper.  I try really hard to have everything organized, but eventually, I lose track of and forget stuff.  Every year we are give a booklet (the size of a magazine) detailing all the themes and lesson ideas to be used every month.  I haven't lost that (yet) and so I made some mailing address sized labels to stick on the pages figuring it would be the easiest way to not lose and not forget to include the Faith in God activities.

Here's what one page ended up looking like.  I put the month (of course), which section of Faith in God I found the activity in, and a short description.  We'll still need to look at our Faith in God books for the full description, but these labels should serve as a great reminder.

For my months, I plan to make up a little something to send home with the kids reminding them and telling their parents what they are working on.  While I'm aware that many of the kids won't complete each and every activity, I know that some of them will get done.  And just like with the teachers, I feel it is my job to provide the kids with as many opportunities to learn and grow as I can.  After that, it's up to my kids and their families.

If you're involved in primary (or have been), how do you use the Faith in God program?

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I love goals.  I love to set them and keep track of them and even better, check them off when I've completed them.  And that's how I see goals, as something finite.  Something I can work towards and complete, like finishing that quilt I started somewhere around 9 years ago. 

Resolutions are a more recent love and I think of them differently than goals.  Resolutions aren't quick as check off-able.  If I'm very specific I can usually still check them off, but it's more of an everyday check off.  For example, I could decide I want to be a better parent.  Now to be specific and therefor check off-able, I could say that being a parent takes time so I will measure my progress based on how much time I spend with each of my children everyday and set a goal to spend a certain amount of time.  Do you see what I mean?

I've found that whether I'm talking about goals or resolutions there are a few important steps I have to take to make them achievable.  And at the same time, more likely that I will do the work to achieve them.

#1.  I've already mentioned, make them something mark off-able so I can keep track of my progress.  This step also helps to break down bigger goals.  If my goal is to complete a triathlon, as I try to make it mark off-able I'll realize that I need to set smaller goals (I have done this, but only once so far).

#2.  Which leads to the next step, break down any goals into small daily (or weekly) achievable steps.  Back to my jean quilt example (which unfortunately should actually be one of my goals, I think that darn quilt is taunting me), I could decide I'm going to work on it for a certain amount of time each week. 

#3.  Pre-determine when exactly I will work on my goal (and the most important part, be realistic).  I think I mentioned before that I have a friend who asked if I thought she'd be able to do everything she wanted in life and I told her probably not.  Every choice we make to DO something at the same time chooses NOT to do anything of the other things we could be doing.  My point is to choose wisely, choose what makes you happier and then MAKE the time to do it.  For example, I could say that I will work on my quilt for 1 hour every Friday afternoon because Friday's are my slower, get done early day.

#4.  So, now I have a specific goal and I know when and how I am going to realistically be able to accomplish it.  Next, last and most important, I need accountability.  I mentioned in a previous post that my family sets goals every year and I take those goals and turn them into little signs that we stick in our bedrooms.  But it isn't enough.  After a while we stop seeing the signs and we don't talk about them often enough.  I have a new plan this year.  And part of it includes these super cute sheets I found on this super cute website.

The link takes you to one that is meant to be a place mat.  Yep, a place mat.  Isn't that AWESOME!  She has a bunch of colors and other formats available (even non place mat types) to download for free from her website, you should check it out (click the link above the place mat). 

In addition to our place mats, I will still make our normal signs to hang in our bedroom because I figure even if we do stop seeing them after a while, every little bit helps. 

We'll also put our goals on our chore charts.  Yep, I said our.  I posted about making my kids new charts a while ago (you can read about them here) but I never ended up making one for me.  I think mine will be titled something closer to resolution chart, but either way it'll be a daily way for me to "check-in" on how I'm doing.

And last we'll review our goals and how we're doing on them every month as a family.  We already have a family night every Monday, so we'll just add a quick review (and possibly a strategy session if someone is struggling with a goal) to the beginning of the first Monday's family night every month.

Do you make goals or resolutions?  What are some ways you keep yourself on track or what great tips are you trying out this year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I've signed up to receive a few different emails from a few different groups.  Some are monthly, weekly, and a few are daily.  One of the daily ones sends me a religious quote and I hate to admit it, but there are days I just delete it. 

I almost did that yesterday, but something made me stop and take the few seconds out of my day to READ the quote I signed up to get.  I knew I'd like them (whenever I read them, I do) and yesterday's was no exception. 

In fact, it was exactly why I started this blog.  Or at least, the purpose of the blog is to chronicle my journey doing what it talks about. 

So, without further ado:

"Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents. The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us."

--President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Regrets and Resolutions", November 2012 Ensign

This isn't always easy.  Not at all, but it is what I strive for. 

This quote makes me think of a picture I have on the wall of my living room.  It's of a man standing in the dark holding a lantern.  His lantern doesn't light very far in front of him, just far enough for a few steps.  I've always loved it.  Having the courage to take those few steps, hoping that the light will continue to show the way.  Having faith.  So great!

Do you have any favorite quotes that inspire you?
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