Friday, June 28, 2013

July Holidays

This month I'm out of town, so this will be much shorter than any of my previous months. 

Yep, that's right, I'm on vacation visiting my family.  Yipee!!

As you look through the month you might learn something about me.  In case you didn't already know.  I really like food.  In fact, I love it.

I love an excuse to find a new recipe or make a well-loved family favorite.  While there are food days every month, I was a little surprised at how many there are in July.  Maybe it's because it's in the summer?  Lots of picnics and reunions?  Whatever reason, it's going to be a yummy month.

Did you notice the 15th?  That's for my dad.  He has cows.  He communes with his cows.  Well, not really.  Or at least I haven't caught him at it yet. 

Hope you have a fun month! 

And hey, if I didn't add your favorite holiday, shout it out in the comments.  I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?

Has anybody else every gotten a catalogue from the Rainbow people?  I think I might have gotten one last year...or maybe I requested one late last year and so they sent me one this year. 

Either way, it looks pretty cute, right?  Jam packed with fun things to look through.  Just don't look at it from the side.  I made that mistake.

Holy Moley!!  This thing is bigger than a phone book (does anyone get those anymore?)!  My first impulse was to chuck it because there is just SO MUCH STUFF in it, but I didn't.

It did get me thinking about a friend who's just getting started in homeschooling.  She's feeling overwhelmed and doesn't know where to start. 

When we were talking about it, I asked her if she'd looked into different homeschooling methods and if there was one she liked.  Yes, she'd read a little but wasn't gung ho about any of them (by the way, my favorite quick overview is Lisa Whelchel's, So You're Thinking about Homeschooling).

So, where do you start? 

I would advise (even though the thought of giving advice still strikes me as strange, I'm still learning...does that ever stop?) thinking about what you like.  How organized are you?  Do you love to read classics (or wish you'd read more, like me)?  Do you like history?  Do you love science?  Where do you need structure in your life?  Or do you need any at all?

After talking, my friend loved the idea of her kids reading classics and using history as her spine (this just means that everything except math revolves around whatever period in time you are studying). 

Even after making those decisions, there are still so many options in types of curriculum (or even whether or not to buy "set" curriculum).  In the end, what it all comes down to is just choosing.  Use something as your guide and PICK (Cathy Duffy's 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum would work wonderfully and is a lot less overwhelming than that gargantuan Rainbow Resource catalogue).

I think we'd all like magical bells to chime when we come across that perfect curriculum.  You know, the one that our children and we will both love to work through.  The one that will teach them just what they need to know and will lead our kids to come back to us one day and say, "You were the best teacher ever, I'm so glad you homeschooled me, I couldn't have ever learned/done/been what I am today without you."  Well, I would...but I haven't heard any magic bells yet.  Darn.

Just know, that if homeschooling is what you really want, you can do it.  Just get started.  If something doesn't work, you'll adapt and try again.  And chances are, you'll find tons of amazing curriculum that will help you guide your kids down their (and your) unique paths of learning.

Yes, it sounds a little cheesy but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sharing Time - June Week 5 - Review

I've decided that five Sunday's are both a blessing and a little difficult.  It can be hard to figure out how to review all the lessons throughout the month in both an entertaining and spiritual way. 

We actually had Stake Conference this month, so the five separate weeks helped us stick to the Sharing Time outline a little better.

For those of you that didn't have time taken out (or who didn't take a Sunday off the normal schedule for Father's Day), I decided to make a Jeopardy game to go along with all our lessons throughout the month.

For each of the four categories, I came up with four questions. 

You can either have all the kids play together, or you can split them up into teams (depending on both your size and which you think fits your primary the best).

And you can either play traditional Jeopardy where you show the answer, letting them guess the question, or you can play ant-Jeopardy and just ask the questions.  Having to answer with a question is sort of hard to grasp (hopefully that's not just me), so I would ask the questions with Junior primary and maybe mix it up with Senior, having them try to figure out the questions. 

In the Renewing Covenants section there are actually five questions, but you won't use them all.  One question works if you are asking the questions and the other works if you are letting the kids come up with the questions like traditional Jeopardy.

Here's a cheet sheet that show's all my questions and answers for each week.

I also have everything on it's own individual sheet and I turned it all into a pdf so you could just print it out and stick them on a bulletin board on Sunday, I love simple.  I uploaded it to google docs, you can click on over and download it there if you'd like to use it!

If you did want to add a few more questions (or change out a few for your own), I used the syncopate font.  If you happen to have it, you could make it all match (I really like things to match...I'm sort of crazy about it actually).

Don't forget to share your testimony of these many wonderful gospel truths as you work your way through the game!

Hope you all have a wonderful 5th Sunday!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How will you use your beauty?

I finished up a book a week or so ago where the author relates a personal story when she visited a homeschool prom. She was curious how it might differ from recollections of her own prom night. Although she spent much of her time disparaging the girls modest attire, the dancing a foot apart and how very polite everyone was to each other, she related one conversation that stuck with me.

The conversation went contrary to the point she seemed to be making (which is part of the reason why I remember it so vividly) and it was also kind of awesome. She was in the girls restroom when a group of girls came in to fix their makeup and she started asking them questions. After discovering that one of the girls had recently attended a public school prom, the author asked her which she liked better.

The girl said the homeschool prom and when prodded to further explain her reasoning, she mentioned a few reason.  First, there was a lot more dancing at this prom which was more fun. And second, the boys treated her nicer and, in a whisper, she said that she felt like a lady (I don't have the book in front of me, it was a library book that I've since returned, but this is accurate to the best of my recollection).

She felt like a lady. That seemed to echo through my head as I read it. What was it that made her feel like a lady?

Then a few days ago, I came across this video on Facebook.

I love it.  I love the statistics and I love her journey of discovery that led to designing her own line of swim suits.  There are a few wonderful lines in it (well, more than a few, but these are my favorites).  First, "Modesty is about revealing our dignity" and second, "How will you use your beauty?"

I'm not 100% positive that this was the reason for the prom girl feeling like a lady at the more modest prom (in dress, action and probably music), but I would guess that it was. 

What do you think?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Growing, Growing, Growing

I'm having more fun documenting my garden that I thought I would.  It's pretty awesome to watch it grow (even though it's getting a little weed-ey...I've been working in other parts of my yard and neglecting my portions of the garden a little).

This is the first year I've planed my corn in stages.  I've wanted to for a while, but I was always afraid I'd plant some and never get around the planting the rest.  But I did it!  There are four sections and they're all planted about a week and a half apart.

The section above shows how much my beans have grown (I can't wait to eat some) and my tomatoes.  The one in the farthest cage is doing pretty good, but the closest one isn't.  I can't figure out why.  I've watered and told it how pretty it is and how much I'm looking forward to eating it's tomatoes (just like the other plants) and it still doesn't seem to want to grow.  Darn it.

This front section is my kids (that's why it's better weeded...mostly).  They love to come out and check how their fruit and vegetables are doing and excitedly want to show me any changes...all the time.  I should have given them their own plots a long time ago.

If you want, you can check out the progression of my garden in some previous posts.  This is when I just got started and this is a few weeks ago.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homeschool Planning & Tracking

After finishing up my second year of homeschooling, I've come to a realization.  I need to be more organized.

Now, I'm a really organized person.  I plot and plan and then triple check everything and no, I'm not crazy...well, maybe sometimes.

So, this begs the question, why in the world would I need to be MORE organized?!

Part way through last year I was finally comfortable enough with every one's curriculum and our daily routines to start adding in bigger projects.  I'm not a project-ey person by nature, I like things to be the same everyday and projects intimidatingly disrupt my normalcy.  But, I found to my surprise, I really liked doing them with my kids and, no surprise, they liked doing them too.  Even though I liked them, I didn't like how I was doing them.  It ended up being sort of haphazard, forgetting about holidays until they'd passed and not really knowing when things (like book reports) should be "due."

I also never knew how long we'd been in school.  We work our way through our curriculum and do plenty of school, but I wanted to know when quarters were over.  I wanted to be able to tell (more easily) if we were on track with our curriculum.

So, I began my search for the "perfect" planning calendar.

Unfortunately, I soon came to the conclusion there is no such thing.  I found a lot of really cool calendars with all sorts of different planning options, but none that fit all my needs.

I also found that the more I looked, the more I wanted to stick in my planning calendar.  Cool things that hadn't occurred to me, but should have.

So, I've come up with a list of things that I need (want) to keep track of and do for next year.

To help keep track of how long we've been in school, I've come across a few ideas.  One is an out and out attendance sheet that I would use to mark each child on a graph each specific date we have school.  The other is just a sheet full of numbered circles where you fill one in each day you're in school.

I think we'll start out with both, I'll take dated attendance and have my kids fill in a bubble for each day they are "in" school.  I'll be able to keep track of quarters and curriculum progression and they'll be able to see the days add up (plus, we'll know when we get to the 100th day, there are so many fun things to do!).

Project Scheduler
I'm thinking it would be best to use a monthly calendar to keep track of projects.  I can write in holidays we want to celebrate, figure out how many book and research reports the kids are going to do and space them out throughout the year.  To keep who's doing what separate, I'm thinking I'll write each child's projects in different colored pens (I've been looking for an excuse to buy some fun pens for myself).

Field Trip Planner
I'm not sure if this should go on the same calendar as the projects, or somewhere different.  I'm worried about having too much stuff on one calendar and about having too many different I'm torn about how to go about it.  I'll probably try it all on one calendar and then adjust if I need to.  Or maybe stick it on the one calendar, but also have a separate sheet with all planned field trips for the year.  Sort of a year at a glance sheet for field trips.  Shoot, I still can't decide.

Goal Setting
I want my kids to set goals specific to our school time.  I'm a big fan of goals and so I'm surprised this never occurred to me, but it didn't.  I'm not sure what these will look like, so I think I'll leave it up to my kids.  We'll brainstorm together in the beginning our our school year and then I'll give them some time to write out their own goals. 

I also think goals should be malleable, changing with us, and so we'll review our goals setting new ones at least every quarter (see, I need to keep track of how long we've been in school!).

Vision Statement
This is sort of related to goal setting, except they will be goals for everyone.  For our school as a whole.  I've actually been thinking about this for a while and I have a seed of an idea. 

Last year my kids made their own coat of arms for a history project. 

Each coat of arms represents each of my kids and as I watched them come together, I started to think it would be fun to make a coat of arms for our Homeschool.  We could talk about what we want for our school time and then figure out ways to symbolize that with pictures.  After we're done, we can stick it on the wall to remind us of the direction we've chosen to head together.

Reading Log
I found a reading log I LOVE (Tina's Dynamic, link below).  We tried to keep a log at the beginning of last year and failed miserably.  It wasn't fun for anyone, but I plan to use these logs to keep track of assigned books (the ones that go along with our history and language arts curriculum).  I'll write when they should be starting and finishing each book and they can figure out how many chapters or pages they'll have to read everyday day/week, marking them off as they go.  Then, at a glance, we can both see if they're staying on track.

Supply List
Another item I desperately need is a list of supplies for our various curriculum.  These are usually for History and Art projects and Science experiments.  While I do purchase some supplies at the beginning of the year, I collect others throughout and need a way to track exactly when I'll need what.  I hate getting all ready for the day and realizing I'm missing one part to a planned (not well, sadly) project.

Daily/Weekly Planner
This is actually the one thing I don't need and am so glad I already have.  I made a checklist for Ben part way through our first year of homeschooling and it was a real life saver.  Seriously. 

I made one for both James and Makenna this last year and it saved my bacon.  Or my sanity.  Maybe both.

For the upcoming year, I've thought about ways to give Makenna complete control of her schedule with her own planner, but I love the checklists too much.  Although, I know it's good for her to learn to make out her own schedule (and how to stick to it), so I'm thinking I'll give her a new schedule and a planner a few weeks before school to let her figure out how she wants to keep track of her schoolwork.  I know, I'm still doing part of it for steps. 

So, what do you think?  Am I missing anything crucial?  What is your very favorite planning or calendaring tool?

Oh, and just in case you would like to check them out, this is where I've found my favorite bits and pieces that I plan to use to make up my own planner thing-ey.

Weekly Homeschool Planner - not free, but you can look at a sample before buying
Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus - this is AWESOME (and free)!!
Living Well Spending Less - free
Confessions of a Homeschooler - not free, but adorable

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sharing Time - June Week 4 - Repentance & Forgiveness

The topic for this week is "When I repent I can be forgiven." 

There are a few different (but very similar) object lessons involving how sin can get us dirty and how when we repent we can be forgiven and made clean again.

One involves sticking dots (or maybe splotches) on yourself or someone else as you talk about sins we might make.  The second is to use a picture of a person (like the one found on Parenting in the Latter-days), making smears on it with peanut butter, frosting or something else gooey.  And the third is to use a volunteer hand and some syrup.  As you talk about the sins, squirt a little more syrup over the hands until they're covered (you'll need a bowl to catch the overflow). 

I like the splotch-ey dot idea best (I made them different colors because there are all sorts of different sins out there...).  Whichever idea you use, I like another idea from Little LDS Ideas to finish out and explain the object lesson.  Print out the phrase, "When I repent I can be forgiven" in a large font and then cut each individual word apart. 

Hide the words around the primary room underneath random chairs.  After affixing the dots (or covering something/one in goo) tell the children to look under their chairs to help figure out what can help you get clean again.  Have the kids bring them up, figure out the correct word order and read the sentence to the rest of the primary.

Next, we need to delve a little more deeply into what it means to repent.  I found a catchy idea on another post from Little LDS Ideas that talks about the ABCD's of repentance.  I always learn (and remember, this is the important part) new information better when I am taught some sort of trick.  This works perfect for that! 

While I really like the one I found, I ended up making my own because I wanted to change the letter C just a little bit.  It's important to talk about how we must do our best to make reparations for or "fix" our mistakes.  We can't always, but we should always try.

You could cover up each line (or cut them apart and put them up one at a time), but it might be fun, especially with senior primary, to see if they can guess what each letter stands for before telling them.  As you go through each step, make sure they understand what it means.

To help them remember, I would go over each letter each time you uncover one.  Then at the end, cover them up (one at a time again, or all at once) and see if they can remember what each letter stands for. 

To test their knowledge of the steps and how to use them in everyday life, I found a pyramid game on lds dot org.  Read a situation (or re talk about the situations you used earlier to add your splotches/syrup/peanut butter) and then roll the pyramid.  Ask the child who rolled to tell you what they should do in the situation for the step that is facing them.  Or you could do the step that's facing down if figuring out which side is facing them seems too hard.  The steps on lds dot org match up pretty well, but not exactly, so I adapted the pyramid for our ABCD's.

Simply right click to save it as a picture, print it out, cut, fold and glue where it tells you.

In closing, read the scripture mentioned in the Sharing Time outline, Mosiah 26:30 which says,

"Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me." 

If you didn't take the opportunity while going through the steps, make sure you talk about how Heavenly Father will forgive each time we sincerely ask for forgiveness (we have to MEAN IT).  Even after we've promised never to do it again.  We all make the same mistakes over and over, and as long as are truly sorry, we can be forgiven over and over.

Did you know there's a Forgiveness Day? Well, now you do and it happens to be this month (on the 26th)! I think it's very important that as we teach about seeking forgiveness for ourselves, we teach the importance of forgiving others. Kids need this lesson a lot less that we adults do, but it's good to mention that as we are trying to be like God, we need to work hard to forgive like Him.  In fact, we need to forgive everyone, not just those that ask our forgiveness! 

Challenge all our kids (and the teachers, too!) to think of anyone who's made them upset and to pray for help in forgiving for Forgiveness Day.  As we forgive, we feel more peace and joy in our lives.  I am always amazed at how following the commandments brings such abundant blessings!

Hope you have a wonderful week!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

April General Conference - Saturday Morning

Last November I wrote about some new goals I'd set for myself to help me get more out of General Conference.  One of my biggest goals was to read through the Ensign containing the General Conference addresses.  Not just read, but study them looking for specific To Do's throughout.  I didn't make it quite as far through the magazine as I would have liked and so I've re-set myself the same goal this time around.  One thing I've learned as I've gotten older and a little more experienced, for a lot of life you only truly fail if you stop trying. 

I've also been reading a book that teaches how to more effectively read and understand what you're reading.  One step is to discuss what you've read because it forces you to make your thoughts concise and understandable.  And that brings me to the purpose of this post (and subsequent ones like it), I'm going to discuss with you my very favorite quotes, To Do's and promised blessings from Conference one session at a time (well, I'm going to tell you mine, but I'd really love to hear some of yours also!).

"I'll kneel before His wounded feet;
I'll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
"My Lord, my God, I know."
Elder Packer

I want to be able to say that I will not know the Savior any better after meeting Him than I do now.  I can't, not yet.  But it's a goal I'm working towards.

I also love this To Do from Elder Packer, "Each of us must stay in condition to respond to inspiration and the promptings of the Holy Ghost."  Staying in condition reminds me of just after I ran my very first triathlon (and only, so far), I was so sick of training that I took a break.  I was amazed at how very quickly I lost the muscle and stamina I had worked so hard to gain.  I don't want to lose my spiritual stamina!

Bishop Davies talks about how we can keep in condition by striking a balance in our lives.  Balance is something I struggle with, partly because it seems to change from day to day.  I love a scripture he quotes, "In whom all the building are fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21).  As we execute our faith by praying, studying our scriptures, taking the sacrament and receiving ordinances, we will achieve that balance and be "fitly framed together."

A few years ago I had the amazing opportunity to complete the Young Women new Personal Progress program.  I learned how very important it is that we each KNOW with every fiber that's in us that "We are daughters [or sons] of our Heavenly Father, who loves us."  Sister Dalton tells us that "it will make all the difference."  To accomplish this, our To Do is to teach our children (AND ourselves) to "stand as witnesses of God at all time and in all things, and in all places" while we act well our part and return to virtue.

"If we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, [then] the enabling power of His Atonement strengthens us in our moment of need, and His redeeming power sanctifies us as we "put off the natural man." Elder Cardon

I love If/Then statements because of their simplicity.  With Heavenly Father there's no question, we simply know IF we complete His requirement, THEN we will reap the blessings.  And the blessings are always worth being sought.

Another great If/Then was quoted by Elder Ballard from the book of John, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37).  Our Savior is waiting for us to choose to drink from His living water! 

Elder Ballard also instructed parents to, ", share, and discuss what you learn and feel with your children, and let them watch and do the same with you, that your families might be strengthened..."  What amazing counsel!  This To Do teaches us to be open and to learn with our children, it's okay that they know we don't know everything (even though my husband tried to keep telling them he truly does :) ), they will learn how to learn and grow from us!

Elder Eyring finished out the session teaching about the importance and impact of coming closer to the Savior.  It's the basics.  Always the basics.  Those small things strengthen the roots of our tree of faith and allow for further growth.  And when you do those things, we are promised, "...there will I be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88).  What a phenomenal blessing.

Many of my very favorite quotes from the first session have been scriptures and I'm thinking I should make a list and start memorizing them, I keep hearing Elder Scott when he said, "Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high."  I could use some of that.

I would love to hear about your favorite parts of Conference and/or how you help bring these teachings into your life and the lives of your family (if you'd like to share).

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day

I found a fun (and slightly educational) idea on Pinterest for Father's Day this year. 

Well, I actually found two, but one's not at all educational. 

Not that that really matters.

I'm starting to ramble. 

The point is that I found a fun, easy and cute idea.  My favorite ideas usually involve photos taken of my kids, but I decided to go even easier this year and used another of my favorites, my kids writing.

Their original writing is always my favorite thing to save throughout the school year because it shows who they are and how much they've grown.  For Father's Day they've each made an acrostic poem.

I had them each pick different words for the base word so that their subsequent words would have a better chance of being different.  Does that make any sense at all?

Okay, I'll explain a little more.

Ben picked the word FATHER as his base word, while James picked DADDY and Josh picked STEVE.  Next, we sat around and brainstormed different words that made us think of their dad.  I made a point not to make sure the words were associated with any of their base words because they were getting bogged down with the attempt to match everything up.

Some of our brainstormed words included: love, strong, super hug, happy, easy going, bike riding, assassins creed III, and fixer.

After brainstorming, the boys matched their base words with the brainstormed list. 

I think they turned out pretty good (even though assassins creed III makes me roll my eyes...and wince slightly).

To fill in the extra room on their sheet of construction paper, the boys drew pictures depicting each of the words (well, the two older ones did, Josh drew some dinosaurs because he "draws the best dinosaurs ever") and wrote a little note at the bottom.

We're also going to give Steve a package of Reese's Pieces with a very cute printable that says, "Daddy, we love you to pieces!" 

They happen to be one of Steve's favorite snacks, the printable is fun and it was already done for me.  If you've got a Reese's fan in your home to, you can save your own copy here, easy peasy!

Hope you have a wonderful Father's Day this Sunday!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What's For Dinner?

Today, I thought I'd share one of my very favorite tips when it comes to dinner.  Dreaded dinner.  Well, it's not so dreaded anymore, but for a lot of years, it was.  Dreaded.

For the first several years of my marriage, I didn't cook very much.  And when I did cook, well, we ate a lot of Totino's pizza and Hamburger Helper. 

Then, my husband got his first job out of college, which didn't pay very well, and I was staying home with our beautiful daughter.  We didn't have money for going out and we were sort of burnt out on Totino's. 

I decided to try making a few more recipes from scratch.  But, making dinner every night meant I had to decide, every day, what we were going to eat.  Ugh!  I really didn't mind making dinner (most of the time), I just really hated trying to figure out what to eat. 

Finally, I decided to make it easier on myself and make a list of foods we all liked that I could use to help me pick.  Over the years my list has grown and changed and this is what it looks like today.

The last time I updated it, I put each meal into a category depending on what sort of food it is (chicken, beef, soup...) to make it easier to find and vary our meals.  I keep it on my fridge so I don't lose it and so I can make changes when I need to.  This is one of the best ideas I've ever had when it comes to meal planning.

And these are the other two.  To save money, I go to the grocery store as little as possible.  I shoot for once every two weeks (except for milk runs), which means I have to pick dinners for the whole two weeks at once, that's where the list on the right comes in.

By the way, I love these little yellow post-it pads (I've written about them before), they are AMAZING!  I use them for my dinner lists, my grocery lists and I have several pads floating around my house for any random notes or messages I need to jot down.  They even come in different colors (although I like the yellow myself).

As I make each meal, I cross it off so I can easily see what I've got left.  I don't always make it through my list of meals for a variety of reasons (we have left-overs, go to a friends, I decide at the last minute to make pancakes instead), but having it helps to narrow down my options and as I chose these meals before I went shopping the last time, I know I have all the ingredients I need to make them.

The list on the left is my running grocery list.  While we make meals throughout the two weeks, if we use anything up (or, ideally, get close to using it up), I add it to my list so I know exactly what I need to get without tearing through my cupboards or trying to remember (anyone who's met me is laughing at that last one).

These 3 lists have turned dinner making and grocery shopping from an onerous chore into something much easier.  I still don't always want to make dinner, but at least I don't have to agonize over what to make and then hope I have ingredients for it. 

Plus, as an added bonus, this gives me an easy way to try out new recipes as I plan out our menu!  I love to find fun cookbooks and websites that have simple and YUMMY food my family will love.

How do you plan for your meals?  And even better, do you have a "go to" cookbook or website for favorite recipes?  I would love to check them out! 

Happy cooking!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sharing Time - June Week 3 - Keeping Covenants

On lds dot org, there's a really great story about a 9 year old boy named Brian who learns about the importance of taking the sacrament.  I love how this story introduces the importance and blessing of the sacrament (plus, I have to admit, I remember thinking I would love to get baptized again as a kid and being so excited when I finally discovered I didn't need to, through the sacrament I could be forgiven every week!).

Follow up the story with a really good why question, WHY do we take the sacrament?

The reason we're going to focus on today is to renew our covenants.  For a quick review, ask for a volunteer to remind everyone what covenant means and then move on to ask what it means to renew. 

There are lots of different ways you could explain renewal, but I'd go with an everyday personal experience like this one.  My boys are always getting super dirty...really, really, dirty, but luckily when they take a bath, their bodies are renewed, refreshed and clean again!! 

Ask another review question, who remembers when we first made the covenants we renew during the sacrament?  Or will make them in the case of most of Junior Primary.

Then move into what, exactly, the covenants are.  This will be a partial review of the 1st week, but we all know that we need lots of re-enforcing with different methods, plus there are so many fun ideas out there!  Start with reading the sacrament prayers located in the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 77 & 79

As you read, ask the kids to listen for the promises and stand up when they hear one.  Then, before you move on ask them who makes that particular promise, us or Heavenly Father.  I also really like the idea from the Sharing Time Outline to have the kids come up with a sign to symbolize that promise.  Then, each time you come across another promise, have them repeat all the signs.

After going through the scriptures, take a few minutes to go a little more in depth about each promise (or you could do each set of activities before continuing reading the sacrament prayers).

Take Christ's Name Upon Me
To find out more about what that means, read Mosiah 18: verses 8-9

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the water of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear another's burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life -

Then do the fun object lesson found on lds dot org (scroll down to #3).  Line up several rocks in the front of the room and ask the kids what sorts of things might be burdens in someones life.  As they answer, put the rocks one at a time into a backpack.  When you're finished, ask one child (smaller would work best) to come up and pick up the backpack.  As they struggle, ask the children to give ideas how you can help another person with their burdens and as they answer, have them come up and help the first child hold the backpack.

Always Remember Him
The family home evening from Chocolate on my Cranium has some really good questions about Christ that would start off this section great. 

Why is Jesus, who lived 2000 years ago so important that we're taught about Him today? 
Why is His death so significant? 
What are ways we can remember Him (praying each day, reading our scriptures, think about Him during the sacrament)? 

To emphasize how important it is to think of Christ during the sacrament, you could do another object lesson asking the kids to write down one good thing to do during the sacrament and one not so good thing.  Put all the ideas into jar and draw out one at a time, having the kids pick and decide if it's a good thing or not (I found this idea on a really great family night from Parenting in the Latter-days).

Always Keep His Commandments
Earlier in the year (in our primary), we talked about how we can't follow the commandments when we don't know them.  Ask the kids where they can learn about the commandments and then follow up by asking them if knowledge alone helps them.  If we know that fire burns, but stick our hand in the fire, it will still burn us.  We have to act on our knowledge.  First is always learn, but second ACT!!

We May Always Have His Spirit to be With Us
Do a quick review of last weeks lesson.  Why is this a great blessing?  What sorts of things can the Holy Ghost help us with?  Is it worth working hard to keep the commandments to have Him with us?  If you didn't have an opportunity to share a personal story about the Holy Ghost last week, one would fit here great (or if you did, do another!).  Bare your testimony of His importance in your life.

If you have time left, do a racing quiz.  Choose two kids to come up front and race to see who can put the sacrament prayers in the right order first.  On pages 10 and 11 in the family night lesson from Parenting in the Latter-days, she's got them all typed up for you.  All you have to do is print them out and cut them into strips.

Send the kids home with this fun sacrament coloring sheet from the Friend found on lds dot org.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Organizing Our Schoolroom

After thinking about it (and then avoiding it for a while), I finally started to go through our schoolroom yesterday.  I still had projects hanging all over the white board, from the ceiling and stuck to the closet doors.  Plus, all their schoolwork didn't quite get put away in the rush to declare the year officially over.

Unfortunately, I'm not done quite yet, but I did get a dent in yesterday.  I also found some direction.  I haven't been exactly sure how to organize our curriculum, supplies and finished school work and while I'm sure this will adjust every year until I find the perfect system, I've found ours for now.

I found these bins a few weeks ago at Wal-Mart and they seemed like they'd be the perfect size to store all our "not currently using, but I'm going to need again" curriculum.  They ended up working pretty darn good.  In fact, I need to go get a couple more.

This particular bin is a Rubbermaid Cleverstore in the 32 qt size.  Here's a link to them at Wal-mart, although I'm sure you can find them at a lot of different stores.  I like that it's almost the perfect size for our textbooks, but they aren't so big that you can't lift them once they're filled.  The only down side is that they are thinner plastic and I'm not certain how long they'll hold up.  I'd be more comfortable with Rubbermaid Roughneck, but I couldn't find the right size and for now, size is more important.

I decided to sort my curriculum by subject.  As I just finished my second year of homeschooling, I don't have too much in the way of curriculum to store just yet, so I do have multiple subjects in one bin.  As you can see, this bin has Language Arts, History and Latin. 

I have a second bin with all our science encyclopedias (they supplement our Science curriculum).  I thought about keeping them out, but I just don't have the room.  My compromise is that I'm going to keep the bin accessible so we can pull them out if the kids want to look something up. 

I'm thinking I can fit everything else in two more bins, one for Math and Science and the other for my kids old schoolwork.  In Utah, we aren't required to keep any schoolwork by law, but I feel more comfortable keeping at least one year.  I plan to purchase some giant binder clips so we can stick each child's work together.  I've thought about using rubber bands, but I'm a little worried about them losing their elasticity.

Once we finish sorting, I'll be all ready for next years curriculum.  Well, the schoolroom will be ready, I think we still need a little more summer before the rest of us will catch up.

How do you organize all your supplies? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


My kids have daily chores and over the years we've gone through various incarnations of the dreaded chore chart.  Okay, my kids actually like their chore charts, they love to check things off just as much as I do.  Strange, huh.

Several years ago we started off with this version.  I love that it separated their chores into different focus areas.  I also added lots of pictures because no one except Makenna could read at the time (although, I ended up adding pictures to hers too because she wanted them).  Each week I'd print out a new set of chore charts and they'd gleefully cross off each chore as they finished it.

Early in the school year, I realized we needed a change.  I was tired of printing new chore charts every week and I wanted to make room for the kids to work on personal and family goals.  This one worked fairly well, as long as no one lost it half way through the month (like Ben, over and over).  But, as the school year ended and we headed into summer I started to want something new again. 

I wanted to be able to teach my kids new chores, but these chore would only need to be done once a week.  Plus, Josh wanted his own chart, so I needed extra room to add in pictures for him.  I thought and thought and was pretty much stumped.  Until I came across a new blog (well, new to me) called Raising Lemons and I found these.

Well, not these exactly, although they're very similar to Raising Lemon's charts (thank you, thank you!!).  I had plenty of room to add in pictures for Josh.

And room to add that perfect Daily Chore line to provide me with the opportunity to introduce my kids to a few new chores.  To avoid weekly printing, I stuck our finished chore charts into sheet protectors and the kids are checking them off with dry erase markers.  At the end of the week, we just wash them off and they're good to go for another week.

The one thing we've lost is the extra room to write in their own goals,  I haven't quite decided what to do for that, I'll have to think about it.  Maybe I'll print a second sheet and stick it in their first page protector making their chore chart double sided.  Hmmm, I think I like that idea.  What do you think?

How do you keep track of chores?  I love to hear different ideas (and I seem to be desiring changes more frequently lately) that help me to tweak my own!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homeschool Year End Review

Yesterday I started reading a book called The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling and have been laughing quite a bit.  Quinn has a moment in her first couple of day of homeschooling where she's trying to stop herself from hyperventilating after purposefully locking herself in her laundry room for some quiet time.  Thankfully, I haven't had any moments like that...yet.

Reading through some of her quirky stories has made me stop and think about my year.  This year marked a pretty big change for me, I went from homeschooling one child to three.  And one of those three is my oldest who spent her first 6 years in public school.

Makenna had a pretty rough time at first.  Actually, that's an understatement.  She cried, a lot, and I don't mean quiet tears, I'm talking about total melt downs.  It got so bad that I resorted to bribery, I told her if she could make it a week without a single melt down, I'd take her out for ice cream.  It took her a few months to manage to make it for an entire week straight. 

But even through the melt downs, there were things she liked about staying home.  She loved that she didn't have to wait for anyone else, she got to pick what to study more in depth, she didn't have any homework, and she got to hang out with me (okay, that last one might not have always been a bonus). 

Halfway through the year, the melt downs were pretty infrequent and long before the end of school, she stopped having them altogether.  She's even chosen to stay home again next year (I have to admit I was pretty panic-ey at first, middle school is a little more intimidating, but after having picked out curriculum, we're both really excited!). 

Both Ben and James were easy, even without comparing them to Makenna.  Ben is so easy going I'm pretty sure he'd go along with anything I asked him to do (as long as it doesn't involve too much handwriting).  He loves being home and hasn't ever asked about going back to public school.

This was James first year also, but as he had nothing to compare the experience to (he just finished Kindergarten), he adapted quite well to lessons and learned so much this year!  He did ask, about half way through the year, if he could go to public school next year just to try it out.  After I explained that he'd leave on the bus at about 7:50 in the morning, not get back until 3:45 and then still have reading to do, he changed his mind.  Okay, I admit, I was sort of trying to make it sound unappealing (although everything I told him is true).

My favorite part is getting to spend time with them.  I've found that my love for them has grown so much over the year.  I'm not usually a very physically affectionate person (I have my bubble and really don't like it disturbed), but I find myself wanting to grab them and squeeze them and kiss their cheeks until they groan and/or giggle at me. 

This is not where I ever pictured myself.  This is, actually, never where I wanted to be, but I am so glad that my life took this unexpected turn and even through all the hard bits and pieces I love it.  I'm not sure how long we'll homeschool, every year we talk and pray about it, but I know this is where I am supposed to be for now. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sharing Time - June Week 2 - Holy Ghost

This weeks focuses not just on the Holy Ghost, but more specifically that He helps us choose the right as we live worthily. 

To introduce the topic of the Holy Ghost, there are a bunch of fantastic object lessons to choose from.

1. The Sharing Time Outline has a great one!  Put a coin (or something metallic) into a jar and shake it around.  Ask the kids how well they can hear it.  Tell them the coin in like the Holy Ghost, we can only hear Him clearly when we are being righteous (you could mention keeping our baptismal covenants that we spoke about last week) and wrong choices make it harder to hear.  Ask for examples of wrong choices and each time someone gives one, add something to the jar, dirt or sugar or cornmeal (or anything you'd like), shaking it after every few spoonfuls to show how the coin gets softer and softer until we can't hear it anymore.

2. A Year of FHE has you make lots of noise, turning on a TV, radio, playing the piano... and then whispering.  Ask if anyone can hear you (they shouldn't be able to).  Slowly lower the amount of noise by turning off each noise-maker one at a time.  Just as before, this demonstrates that we need to keep out distractions if we want to be able to hear the Holy Ghost in our lives.

3. This is a reverse of #2, where you start out with a whisper and slowly add noise.  I like the added dimension of Parenting in the Latter-days both because it involves more child interaction and the noise makers are labeled with specific distractions.  The "Holy Ghost" reads Moroni 10:5 in a whisper and then continues to read as you add one child at a time who beats a plate that has something like "skipped morning prayers" on it.  You could use her labels, or have the kids write their own distractions on their plates.  Keep going until you can no longer here the whispering.

4.  The simplest of all only involves you whispering commands to the kids.  To work best, I'd wait a minute until coming into the room so the kids are talking a little.  Once you walk in the room immediately quietly whisper simple commands like: touch your head, stand up, sit down, pat your stomach... until they are following along quietly.  Compare the whispering to how the Holy Ghost communicates with us and ask them to tell you what sorts of things might get in the way of listening.

Holy Ghost Attributes and Blessings
1. Last year I did a sharing time about the Holy Ghost where we sang the song "The Holy Ghost" from The Children's Songbook (pg 105).  I actually asked one of my counselors to sing the song so I could "rudely" interrupt her when we learned something about the Holy Ghost (I didn't tell the kids I was going to, it was a fun surprise).  With each thing we learned, I added a prop to my wonderful counselor and the kids got a kick out of it. 

Verse 1
comfort us = a blanket around her shoulders
whispers = very big ears I'd printed out and taped to a head band for her to better hear with
hearts rejoice = a heart with a smile-ey face on it

Verse 2
guide us ev'ry hour = a clock (I just took one off my wall at home)
with his light = a flashlight (or lantern, candle...)
choice = a CTR shield

2. I also like the idea of talking about the fruits of the spirit with an actual tree.  You could print one out or draw one on a board (no, you don't need artistic skills, a stick tree will totally work) and then either have the kids tell you what they think the fruits are (label as you go), pre-labeling them and talking about the fruit as they're put up or combining the fruit with the scriptures in one of the ideas below.  There are lots of cute ideas for trees and fruit of the spirit to put on them on this Pinterest board

3. I found two different activities that teach about the Holy Ghost through the scriptures.  The first one is on Chocolate on my Cranium and involves matching phrases with scriptures.  You could look the scriptures up as a group, read through it and see who can figure out which phrase goes along with it.

The second one is also on a family home evening site, this time it's Parenting in the Latter-days and they have you fill in the blank on a variety of scriptures that teach about the Holy Ghost.  I really like both of these ideas and love that they are, again, getting the kids in the scriptures!

I love to talk about everyday use of the gospel principles we teach.  How are the kids going to use the gift of the Holy Ghost while at home, school, the grocery store and everywhere in between. 

1. Under Sharing Time Ideas, number 1 on LDS dot org there is a list of different ways the Holy Ghost can bless the lives of children everyday (about half way through the paragraph).  Have children come up one at a time to read through the situation and come up with a way the Holy Ghost could bless and help them in it.

2. One of the ways we feel the Holy Ghost the most frequently is as He testifies of truth.  I think it's important that the children realize while that is what the Holy Ghost does, He won't always do it right away, even if we're asking him to.  I LOVE this story from the Friend titled, Micahs Miracle.  With Micah, we learn how to gain a testimony through the Holy Ghost.  It teaches that Heavenly Father knows what's best even if it takes more time that we want. 

Testimony Challenge
Challenge the children to pray and ask the Holy Ghost to testify of the truth of: baptism or Jesus or Heavenly Father (or,through inspiration, choose your own subject) to them.  It requires faith (point to our shield from the Armor of God child) to keep the commandments and to listen to the Holy Ghost.  This is also the perfect time to bare your testimony of the gospel and help them to FEEL the Holy Ghost if you haven't done so already.

Good luck with your week!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Family Home Evening Plan

I love family home evening!  They're not always easy and some nights as I'm trying to alternately shush and talk over my kids who sometimes struggle with sitting still for more than a few minutes together I wonder if I'm going to make it until they all move out.  But, I know that through the struggles, we are helping to develop a pattern of righteousness in their lives.

I was recently perusing at a Deseret Book and read the jacket of President Henry B. Eyring's new book Choose Higher Ground.  In it he shares a story where he's frustrated at how hard things (life) seems to be.  His mother shares some wonderful advice with him when she tells him that if you're going the right direction, you're always going uphill.  I LOVE IT!  And it's applicable to so many of the seemingly simple (but not usually) counsel for our families, like family home evening.

Just a quick review of my family home evening purpose. First and foremost, our family home evenings are a place for us to be together, helping each other grow. To meet this purpose, I try to plan family home evening's that helps my daughter meet some of her Personal Progress requirements and my son pass off some of his Cub Scout achievements. In addition to this, we focus on teachings found in the most recent General Conference talks whenever possible.

Week 1
We always spend the first part of the first Monday talking about and checking progress on our 2013 goals. If you haven't made any yet, it's never too late! The kids love to set their own goals, see what everyone else chooses and seting a few for our family as a whole. It's a really great experience that we all love.

I was looking through some packets I've had for years, trying to find some inspiration for the month and two jumped out at me.  Both have to do with the influence we have over those in our home.  I don't know about your house, but we occasionally (or maybe not so occasionally) struggle with keeping a positive attitude and once one of us loses the battle, it's only a matter of time until it spreads.

I also really wanted to focus on a General Conference talk and as I was looking through my issue, I came across Elder Richard G. Scott's address and read, "It is important for parents to teach children to recognize how their actions affect each individual who lives in the home."  Perfect.

The lesson is titled Put a Smile on Your Face and teaches about things that can cause happy and bad feelings in the home and what we can do about them. 

It starts with a fun object lesson where you attached sad or smiley faces to either the bad or good feelings pictures with string (so the faces are dangling beneath), then you have a family member walk through the faces and ask them what happened.  You get smacked in the face by feelings in our home everyday (just like the dangling faces) and wouldn't it be better to get hit with good feelings?

You also evaluate yourself to see how well you think you're doing on the positivity front, set goals to do better and set goals to track happy deeds you've done for others in the family in the upcoming weeks.  Simple and exactly what our family needs!

Week 2
Wolf Scout Achievement 9 talks about being safe both at home and on the street.  There's a little bit about sidewalk, crosswalk and bike safety that Ben and I have already read through, so we're going to focus on home hazards and having a family emergency plan.  We made one years ago and never got around to making another one.  Shame on me, I know.

We're going to slowly start to solve my lack of preparation with tonight's family night.  We'll talk about dangers in our home, how to keep things clean and organized so we don't fall, label dangerous materials, and learn where the circuit breaker and water shutoff are. 

Then we'll talk about what to do in an emergency AND make a plan.  There are lots of great examples of emergency evacuation floor plans on google, but my favorite find is this emergency preparedness blog post.  It's got EVERYTHING you could think of for a family night: 72 hour kits, emergency plans, earthquake and tornado, floods and tsunami, tornado and fire, plus some word searches, crosswords and a board game to really bring all the information home.  We're going to follow the basic outline for the Make An Emergency Plan family home evening, but we're definitely going to work our way through more of these!

Week 3
This month, the youth are focusing on the priesthood and the priesthood keys, so I thought it'd be fun to do a lesson on it with our family. I found the perfect lesson on Parenting in the Latter-days that teaches about the restoration, organization, blessings and keys of the priesthood. This lesson is so BIG that if your kids are smaller (and have shorter attention spans) you could break it down into a few different family nights. She has pictures, puzzles and games to play to reinforce the concepts (and keep everyone paying attention).

Week 4
A few months ago while I was looking through a few different family home evening blogs, I came across several patriotic themed family nights on Chocolate on my Cranium.  The 14th of this month is Flag Day and, of course, the 4th of July is just around the corner, so I thought it'd be perfect to fit a few of them in. 

1. The Star Spangled Banner
2. Patriotism
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Preamble to the US Constitution

She made/adapted these from a pamphlet entitled Family Home Evening Lessons for the Bicentennial of the Constitution put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There are other ideas there so if you want to check them out, you can download a pdf copy from the link above.

We're going to do the Star Spangled Banner in June and another one next month in July (I'm leaning toward the Patriotism one right now).  Although, if you wanted, you could spend the month of June focused only on patriotic lessons, or maybe the week before the 4th, do a sort of walk through patriotic family nights to build up to it. 

Hope you have a great month!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June Holidays

Last month (May) I talked about how I printed out a blank calendar from The Calendar Spot and wrote a bunch of the holidays and days of recognition on it.  To show what I meant, I took a picture of the previous months (April's) calendar.  Yeah, so I have April's calendar on my May post.  Sort of strange. 

This month I thought, just to be different, I'd stick June's calendar on June's post.  I know, nuts right?  There are many more holidays throughout the month (these are just the ones that fit my family or I think are funny), if you want to check them out, visit Holiday Insights.

Aquarium Month
For aquarium month we are going to study about fish and their environment by reading some fun books.  I'll probably pick up whatever looks good at my local library, if you'd like a little more direction, I Choose Joy has a great list.  Then we'll use our knowledge to create a lap book or put one together that someone else has already put together for me!  I found two that look great, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids, both are found on Homeschool Share. 

The one for my older kids is the Amanda Bennett Oceans Lapbook, for which you can also purchase a unit study if you'd like.  The other version is called Hello Ocean and looks PERFECT for my 4 and 6 year olds.

After all this work (and fun), we'll reward ourselves by visiting a local aquarium. 

Candy Month
Mmmmm, candy.  I really love desserts of pretty much any kind (unless you taint it by adding walnuts, I'm sorry, they're just not very good).  I think the fact that it's candy month means we should make candy.  At least once a week.  And then eat it afterwards.  I actually haven't made much candy in my life, I spend most of my dessert making time in the brownie, cookie and cake area, but I'm happy to branch out a little. 

I already know I'm going to haveto make caramels and I have a recipe easy enough for just about anyone.  Six minute microwave caramels are PERFECT! 

We'll also make some peanut butter balls, because they're easy and I love them.  So darn good.  The secret is to use chunky peanut butter, yum. 

I would love some suggestions for the last two weeks, have any yummy candy recipes?

Fishing Week
The first full week in June is Fishing Week, I'm not a fisherman and I don't particularly like fish, but I know there are many of you out there, so take the time to go out and fish (I don't know many fishermen who'd need a whole lot of prodding), better yet, take a young newbie fisherman with you and pass on your knowledge!  Us?  We'll stick to studying fish for the aforementioned Aquarium Month.

1 DARE Day
DARE day or Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a day to teach and learn about the ill effects of drugs.  DARE's website has some fun games to teach kids, but I think the most effective deterrent is time.  I'm not an expert, so feel free to ignore me, but make today a date day, take your kid(s) out one on one and talk with them.  Laugh with them, make sure they know you'll always be there for them.  It'll end up being fun for both/all of you!

2 Rocky Road Day
This day doesn't really need any explanation.  You can run to the store and buy yourself a quart of Rocky Road Ice Cream or you can embark on a new adventure and try one of these amazing looking recipes I found on Pinterest, either way, heaven!

6 National Gardening Exercise Day
It's been proven over and over again that gardening in therapeutic.  It can also be really hard work, but it's always worth it when you get to stand back and see the beauty created by all that sweat (and sometimes a few tears).  Get outside and weed that flower bed or plant something new!

7 National Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Day
I'm sort of in love with chocolate chips.  I also happen to love ice cream.  A lot.  Put them together and all your missing is the cookie dough (oh wait, that was last month).  It's a lot of fun to make ice cream together as a family and I've found a super simple recipe on All Recipes (they have great recipes and with the reviews you can usually tweak them just about any way you'd like) for vanilla ice cream.  Wait until it's done, fold in as many chocolate chips as you'd like, my favorite are the little mini ones, and freeze until it reaches the desired firm-ness, unless you're like me and you can't wait.

Or, if you want to try something a little different, check out this YouTube video and give everyone in your family a chance to make their own ice cream with zip loc bags!

7 National Donut Day
Donuts, mmmm.  There's a donut shop not too far from my house that makes the very best frosted cake donuts with sprinkles.  They're huge and so darn good.  Take your family in a date to try a new shop, or run to the local grocery store, pick every kind they've got and have a taste test for breakfast (or lunch, dinner, snack, dessert...).  You can't go wrong with donuts. 

You could even try some glazed donuts as the buns for your hamburgers.  I know, sounds strange, but it's pretty seriously good.  They sell them at a local dive near where I live, so I know from where I speak.

8 Best Friends Day
Who's your best friend?  Your spouse, sibling, next door neighbor?  This is a wonderful day to do a little something extra for all those friends in your life.  A quick note, phone call, or some freshly baked cookies never go amiss!!

12 Red Rose Day
I love flowers.  I love smelling the beautiful perfume and looking at perfectly manicured beds (which mine, sadly, are not), so I think Red Rose Day deserves a trip to some gardens.  Just south of Salt Lake City, Utah is Thanksgiving Point, home to some beautiful gardens I've been wanting to visit for years.  I think I finally need to plan a trip. 

If you google gardens near where you live, I'm sure you'll come up with lots of options, and it may just be fun to walk around your neighborhood admiring the beautiful flowers around you!

14 Flag Day
Check out a few books about the American Flag from your local library and read about where it got it's start.  How it developed into the flag we have today, and what the colors, stripes and stars mean to Americans.  It's pretty amazing. 

Then do a project or two like these I found on Enchanted Learning and display them with pride on Flag Day!

16 Father's Day
We love Father's Day and we've done a variety of things over the years to show him just how special he is to us.  Every year I seem to add a few more things to my Pinterest Board that I want to try out, but my favorites are always the pictures. 

This is from 5 years ago, I can hardly believe they were all this small!  I did individuals also and put them together into a collage frame. 

I haven't quite decided what we're going to do this year, and I'd love to hear about any ideas you have!

19 World Sauntering Day
I just think this is funny.  It's not walking, jogging or running, but sauntering day.  I am not very good at slowing down and this might be good for me.  Go for a leisurely stroll for no other purpose that to enjoy the sauntering!

20 Ice Cream Soda Day
Yum.  Yum.  And then I think just a little more yum.  We rarely have ice cream sodas at our house (we never have soda around) and my kids LOVE them.  They especially love strange combinations (at least to me) involving Sprite and sherbet.  What's your favorite combination?

21 Go Skate Day
Do they still have local skate parks?  I remember going to multiple birthday and friend parties at skate parks when I was a kid. 

Although, I suppose you shouldn't limit yourself to only four wheels, Rollerblades are lots of fun as are ripsticks (although I have yet to stand on one longer than about .4 seconds) and the many incarnations of the skate board. 

Take your kids outside and have them give you lessons in their favorite form of wheeled transportation, they'll get a kick out of it (although, you might want to try strapping a pillow around sensitive areas if you're anywhere near as coordinated as I am!).

21 Summer Solstice
This is a happy/sad day for me.  I love the turning of the seasons, the beauties that come all year long, but I always long for warmer days and this is the signal that they are turning back towards winter when it seems we have barely made our way out from under it's grasp! 

Kids are get excited about learning hands on, so teach them what a solstice is that then get them to track when the sun goes down one night a week for a month!

24 Swim a Lap Day
Whenever I think about swimming I hear the Beach Boys singing in my head.  As a kid I love blaring their music while I was outside in our pool trying to stand on any sort of flotation device I could get my hands on.  Yes, Surfin' USA was a definite favorite.

If the weather cooperates, take your kids somewhere to get wet.  We have a spay park not too far away, but you could splurge and head to a water park for some extra special family memories.

26 Forgiveness Day
Forgiveness brings more peace and happiness to the forgive-er than the forgive-ee.  It's really a selfish act, but it is one that does not often come easily.  At times it's a struggle, but comfort can be found as we realize that it is not our job (thankfully) to judge.  And if that doesn't help, well, I would suggest lots of prayer (if you're so inclined), it has helped and does help me in my life. 

29 Hug Holiday
I love hugs.  I especially love them when I'm not feeling well.  I want my husband and kids to come and sit with me, hug me and then just stay.  Look for those who could use a hug today, it might just be a family member, but maybe your hug will brighten and change someones day!  Maybe it'll change yours.

29 Waffle Iron Day
Waffle Iron Day, how cool is that?!  I also happen to love waffles.  My favorite are the ones that are almost crisp on the outside, but soft and slightly squishy on the inside. Mmmmm, I'm pretty sure this calls for waffles for dinner...and maybe a viewing of Shrek, WAFFLES!

30 Meteor Day
Towards the end of this school year I started reading more about lap books and adding them into our schedule, Meteor Day is another perfect use for this great tool. 

After reading through a book or two from the library (or out of your home collection), complete a lap book showing what you've learned.  I found a few on space in general on Homeschool Share and some directions for another on meteorites on The Passionate Pastor's Wife.  If you know of any that focus more specifically on meteors, I'd love to hear about them!

I hope you have a wonderful month!
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