Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Spring

Once Christmas is over I am ready for Spring. I am not a lover of winter and cold. I like warm weather, sunshine, flowers and greens leaves on trees. Lately, something I look forward to after Christmas is getting my garden ready for planting. Living in Las Vegas we can plant and grow things almost all year long. My parsley survived the below freezing temperatures we had back in the beginning of December and it's still growing so well. I planted it in August. I just picked a strawberry today - since I planted my strawberry plants last February we've had fruit from it practically all year. Sometimes just one or two berries at a time, but it's fun to pick and eat your own. Today I worked in the garden covering my asparagus with dirt and getting ready for it to start growing soon. I usually get the first asparagus sprouts in February and it grows until about July. Tomorrow I am going to plant lettuce, spinach and some more herbs(basil and parsley since that is what I use the most in cooking). In February I will plant green beans and then in March I will plant Butternut squash, pumpkins and watermelon. I have not gotten those to grow yet, but I am hoping this year I can get something. I bought a peach tree last year and planted it in the fall and I just ordered a blueberry bush that will come in February for planting. If you don't have the yard space for a garden or if you're new to gardening you can try a container garden. Get a few pots, fill them with some good soil and plant a few things you like to eat. Some good plants to grow in containers would be strawberries, lettuce, spinach, herbs. You can even plant pumpkins, watermelon or other vine plants in a container. I also love planting flowers so I put some new yellow pansies in my front yard and I have some flower seeds coming in the mail that I will plant throughout the garden for some color. If you want to learn more about gardening BYU has a FREE online gardening class. Click here and then scroll down and click on the gardening link.
These are the strawberry plants I put in last February. The leaves are yellow and red from the cooler temperatures but soon they will green up and start producing white flowers and lots of strawberries. These plants will produce fruit for the next 3-5 years.

I planted this parsley in August in this little pot to see how it would grow. It survived the cold snap in December and is growing great. I love having it to toss into soups, Italian dishes and any recipe that calls for parsley. Fresh herbs just make things taste better. Some herbs can grow all year in Vegas - or when it gets cold you can bring your pots indoors and have a kitchen herb garden.
The lower portion I am going to plant lettuce (3 different kinds) as well as spinach, parsley and basil. The top potion is where my asparagus is. The asparagus starts growing in February here because of the warm temperatures. Asparagus takes 2-3 years to get established and then it will grow for about 15-20 years. It grows well here and takes very little care.

Friday, December 13, 2013

When you feel like a crap mom

Last night I felt like a crap mom. T was fighting with L and I was sick of it, so I didn't do anything about it. I just kept cooking dinner and told them to work it out. Well, they worked it out all right. Someone got hit, someone got yelled at and sent to their room and I ended up crying over the whole thing and wishing I had handled the situation differently. It's like that a lot with my first one. I didn't know how to be a mom when he was born. I was totally clueless. Throw in postpartum depression for the first 6 weeks of his life and I was a mess. He was fed and clothed but I don't know if he was loved like he should have been. It took me a while to learn to love him. It wasn't instant like people told me it would be. He was a stranger and I had to get to know him and get used to him and learn to like him. It's been a rocky relationship with us. There have been times when he was my whole world and my favorite thing was to just sit and hold him. As he got older I loved teaching him and reading to him and just being with him. But when more kids came along and more problems and issues I had more bad mom days than good. And now he's almost 11 and sometimes the last thing he wants is to hang out with his mom. I mess up a lot with him. I say or do the wrong things and then I have to make up for it later with an apology and an explanation that I've never had a ten year old son before, so I don't always know what to do. There are times when more than anything I want to go back in time and start over with him because now I know what I am supposed to do. If I could do it again I would be a better mom to him. I feel like he's my experiment and I feel bad about that. I wish he wasn't. I wish I had been given a practice child before him, one that wasn't real and I couldn't hurt, but I could learn from. But then I look at him and I know why he was born first. He is stronger than the other two and there are things I needed to learn from him before they came along. I was thinking about this last night and so I wrote him a letter. I told T how alike we are, how when I was in elementary school I also got teased because I wasn't good at throwing or kicking or catching a ball. I told him how I also liked to come home after school and go to my room and close the door and sit and read and not be bothered. How I started ballet lessons at the age of 10 just like he started karate this year. And then I told him what I see when I look at him. That despite his challenges with ADD and friends and self esteem that I look at him and see someone who is strong, faithful, brave, obedient and a protector of little brothers. I told him that his brothers look up to him and to them he is a hero. I told him that when I look in his eyes I see something so special and that I know that some day he will do great things. I left the letter in his room where he would see it this morning. And he did. When I came in this morning he said, "I read your note. Thanks Mom." He gave me a hug and I realized that even though I mess up and make mistakes there are times when I do just the right thing. And now I see that he's mine for a reason and that I am the mom he needed to become who he is going to be.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

An empty manger

One of the traditions we have for Christmas started a few years ago at a Christmas dinner our church had for the women. At the dinner they read a story to us called "The Last Straw". The story was about a family with young children and how their mother got her children to get along during the month of December by having them do kind things for one another. As they did their service for their family members, the children got to place a soft piece of straw in an empty manger. Their mother told them that the more nice things they did, the softer the manger would be for Baby Jesus on Christmas morning. The story focuses on service and love in our homes and how we can focus more on Christ at Christmastime. For a gift that night at the dinner, we each got a copy of the story as well as a little wooden manger to fill with straw and every year we focus on filling that manger. As soon as the Christmas decorations are up, we read the story to the kids and talk about all of the gifts we can give to Jesus during the month of December. We encourage our kids to be kind to one another and to their friends at school and when they do service for someone else they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. I love walking by the manger at Christmas and seeing the pieces of straw inside. I love that instead of telling them they need to be good because Santa is watching, we focus on reminding them that they need to try and be more like Jesus. It's all about Christ and the gifts we can give to HIM for his birthday. My kids have already been filling the manger. Logan drew a baby Jesus and an angel to sit by the straw and manger to remind everyone what we need to do. We have already had lots of little conversations about Christ and service and having more peace in our home this holiday season. I love this little tradition and the way it reminds us about the true meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 year-olds aren't dumb

Did you know that yesterday was Don't Send Your Child To School day? It was a protest created by parents who are against Common Core. I had read a little about it, but I don't think anyone here really knew, or even cared. And even if I did care, what would keeping my kids home for one day accomplish? I say, instead of keeping your kids home from school, maybe those parents can go to school with their kids and volunteer in their child's classroom. That is what I did yesterday. Every Monday I help in my son's kindergarten class. I have asked his teacher what she thinks of Common Core and you might be surprised at her answer. She loves it. She also loves that she now teaches full-day kindergarten so she can better cover all of the standards she is supposed to. When I told her lots of parents hate Common Core and are very opposed to it she asked me why. I told her the comments and articles I have read state that those who are opposed to it believe that Common Core "is dumbing down our kids" and that it is a "one size fits all curriculum." Really? If you think that, you might want to visit my son's kindergarten class. In the first 30 minutes of class yesterday this is what I observed: kids who were further ahead reading books and taking AR tests on the computer for the books they were reading; kids who needed a little extra help with sight words working with me while the kids who still needed a little extra help with counting, letter sounds, shapes, etc. working with their teacher at the front of the room. In 30 minutes, every child was getting what they needed at the level they needed. After that I saw kids on the computer with a program that adjusts to their learning level; kids who did not know their letters or sounds at the beginning of the school year sounding out letters and then blending those sounds to read words; kids who did not know how to write at the beginning of the school year writing 3 sentences and then drawing a picture to go along with their sentences; kids reading with their teacher books that were at their level. It's November and every child in that classroom is reading. Every.Single.One. They might not all be reading a the same level, but they are all reading. That didn't happen when I was in kindergarten. That didn't happen when my 10 year old was in kindergarten. Yes, I remember painting in kindergarten and playing with clay and coloring more and playing games and doing puzzles, singing songs and having recess. And that was good and fun, but to see my 5 year old reading books way earlier than I was reading books is amazing to me. I don't know everything about Common Core, but I have looked up the standards for my children and the grades they are in. I have also looked up the standards for the areas I used to teach. I don't see anything scary or horrifying or evil. It's going to look different in every state in every district in every school and even in every classroom because they are STANDARDS not CURRICULUM. There is a big difference. If I thought it was horrible and terrible I would take my kids out of school and teach them at home. But I don't think that. I love the school my kids go to and I love their teachers. I go in their classrooms and I help, I watch, I see what they are learning and how they are learning and I am impressed. They are learning more right now than I did when I was there age. They are smart and they can do it. My son's teacher said to his class yesterday, "What do we say when people tell us, 'A 5 year old can't do that'?" and the class said in unison, "We can do it!"

Thursday, October 24, 2013


It was time for new family pictures and I decided I wanted to do them at home. We're a family who likes to be home. We like sleeping in on weekends and being lazy, staying in pajamas and not making any plans. We like quite nights reading books together all cuddled on the couch or our big bed. We like family movie nights in the TV room and game nights around the kitchen table. I'd rather invite friends over for dinner, dessert and games than go out for a night on the town. I love when our kids bring their friends over to play. I enjoy being home and the feeling when we're all here together. Our house isn't always clean (and right now it's seriously a mess) and we don't always get along, but if I had to pick my favorite place to be it would be home. Here are some of my favorite pictures...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin pancakes and Buttermilk Syrup

Last night I made breakfast for dinner and I've been wanting to try these Pumpkin Pancakes from Pioneer Woman. I changed the recipe just a little and made Buttermilk Syrup to go with them. Before we ate I didn't tell the kids they were pumpkin because I didn't know if they would think that was gross or what. But after the first bite all I heard from them was how yummy they were. I think Colin's words were, "I don't know if it's the pancakes or the syrup, but this is the best thing you've ever made." Really? Wow. To get a food compliment from that boy is HUGE. Logan loved them as well and ate a ton of them (5 or 6) and Trevor raved, like always since that boy will eat anything. This recipe is definitely a keeper and something that will be fun to make in the fall for special breakfasts or for a fun dinner. Here are the recipes:

Pumpkin Pancakes (this recipe made 30 silver dollar pancakes)
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh pureed pumpkin)
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients and spices. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and mix until well blended. Mix into dry and stir until moistened. (I added chocolate chips to half the batter).

Buttermilk Syrup (tastes like caramel)
In a sauce pan melt 1 stick of butter. Add 1 tablespoon corn syrup, 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup milk). Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from heat and do not allow to come to a full boil or it will curdle. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. It will foam up, so make sure the pan is big enough. Serve while still warm.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

It always seems like as soon as fall is here people start thinking about Christmas. Forget Halloween or Thanksgiving, it's all about the shopping and gift-giving. In years past, my husband and I have done Christmas shopping in different ways. Sometimes (when the kids were too young to get it) there were just a few presents under the tree and we kept things simple. In more recent years we have wandered around the store trying to figure out what to put in the basket to make sure each kid was getting the same amount of stuff. Not a lot of thought went into the gifts and it was more about filling the space under the tree than anything else. But last year things changed. I read this blog post about how one family decided to change the way they did Christmas. I loved it. I wanted to do it. So Dave and I sat down and made a list, took some gifts back to the store and let the kids know that Christmas was going to be different. Instead of the pile of gifts under the tree everyone was going to get 4. Just 4 gifts. At first the kids were a little upset, but when we explained to them how we need to focus on what Christmas really was about and not so much on getting stuff they were okay. And they remember. Trevor keeps suggesting things he might want for his "read" gift this year or his "want" gift. The boys asked the other day if they needed to start making a list for their 4 gifts. Makes me happy that they are okay with getting just 4 things and that they don't mind when we keep it simple. I love that they don't expect to be showered with gifts or that they don't spend the whole year asking for things. We have made lots of mistakes as parents with our boys and have messed up a little here and there, but one of the things I think we did right was teaching our kids it's not all about them. They have never wanted for anything, but they also know they can't have whatever they want. So think about trying it this year. Before you start your shopping, maybe see if you can do the 4 gifts this year: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. It might mean for a smaller pile of presents under the tree, but they might be more thoughtful gifts, more meaningful. And just think of all the money you'll save :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I think in the 12 years I've been married I've made cinnamon rolls once, maybe twice. They never turn out very good. But I wanted some and so I decided to try again. I wanted them for breakfast this morning so I found a recipe you make the night before, put them in the fridge and in the morning you can bake them. Perfect. These came out so good. The dough was sticky so the rolls came out soft, the filling in the center was sweet and ooey-gooey and I had to top them with Cream Cheese Frosting. The kids gave them 11 out of 10 stars and we decided these were going to be our new "special occasion" breakfast. Or maybe just our "whenever we feel like cinnamon rolls" breakfast. Here's the recipe. It looks complicated, but they are easy! Make some tonight!

The dough:
1 package yeast or 1 tablespoon
1 cup warm milk (I just heat mine in the microwave)
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar

Mix in order given. Dough should be sticky, not too stiff like bread dough. Place in a greased bowl to rise about 1 hour. I usually turn my oven on to warm for a minute, turn it off and then put the dough in the oven covered with a damp cloth. When double in size roll on a floured surface into a large rectangle. Spread with 1/3 cup softened butter. In a small bowl mix 1 cup brown sugar with 2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon. Sprinkled over buttered dough. Starting at the long end, roll the dough tightly. Pinch the seam to secure. Cut into 12 rolls and place rolls in a 9x13 greased pan. The rolls should be touching (I did 8 in a 9x13 pan and then 4 in an 8x8 pan). Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight. In the morning, let the rolls sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (do not over bake - you want your rolls soft and gooey). Frost with Cream Cheese frosting while still warm.

Frosting - beat until smooth the following:
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our "summer" vacation

Two years ago we went to Lego Land during the summer for a day with some friends. It was a fun trip but because of the crowds we didn't get to do and see everything we wanted. The kids have been asking to go back since then and this year we got to go. We decided to wait until AFTER Labor Day to go to avoid the crowds and we went at the perfect time. We arrived on Friday afternoon and got into the park around one. The park closes at 5 so in the 4 hours we were there we were able to walk around the entire park, go on 12 rides (most of them 2 or 3 times) and still have time to look at EVERYTHING. Saturday was a bit more busy, but we still had plenty of time to go back on our favorite rides as well as visit the water park and spend a few hours there going on water slides and playing in the pool. Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
We got to stay at the Lego Land Hotel!
Our room was Pirate-themed. The boys got their own area to sleep, their own TV and got to search the hotel for numbers to open the combination on the treasure chest in the room. Inside the treasure chest were some fun toys to bring home.

Lots of fun Lego characters and tons of things to play with and do at the hotel. 
They wanted to go see the Star Wars stuff first
This Star Wars ship took 5.2 million Legos to build!
The boys wanted to pose with everything

Logan wanted to touch and see everything made out of Legos. He wanted to get ideas so he could come home and start building.
They could not resist stopping and playing some Lego video games

Friday, August 16, 2013


I did not cry when Trevor went to school. He was ready and I was excited for all of the new things he was going to learn. And I still had Colin and Logan home with me so I was good. With Colin I was the same way. No crying on the first day of kindergarten. I didn't really get why some moms did cry. It seemed silly to me. But the weekend before Colin started first grade I cried, in the grocery store while talking to his teacher I had just met. Where the heck did that come from? I didn't even know why I was crying and I felt pretty stupid. But when the first day came I was fine and all was well. But this year is different. There are things going on that I wasn't expecting, things I was not prepared for. All summer I've been hearing rumors and seeing things that our school might have all day kindergarten this year. Not the tuition based all day kindergarten that some of the schools have, but free for every class - no choice for a half day. And when I started thinking about the possibility of all my kids being gone all day long it made me cry. Seriously. I was bawling some days thinking about being home alone. Dave thought I was a little crazy to be sad about being home alone. But he didn't get it. For the past 10 years I've been a mom with kids home with me. I've always had little people to take care of during the day and to do things with and to take places. And for the past 2 years, during school, it's been just Logan and me. He's been my buddy, my little friend. He's always been there and now he won't be. He didn't go to preschool last year because I wanted him home. I thought this year would be good for the both of us: half-day kindergarten to transition into him being gone all day. But now I don't even get that. I can't slowly get used to him being gone. I know there are lots of good things that can come from this and I want him to enjoy school and do well and be smart. I know I will enjoy having a clean house all day and getting to help in all the boys' classrooms and being able to start substitute teaching a year earlier than I had planned. But I also know that it's going to be hard to go from being a mom at home with kids to just being a mom at home. Things are changing and I wasn't all the way ready for this change. I know I need to enjoy the stages as they come and I think I will,  but for right now I am a little sad. I just hope I can hold it together on the first day and send Logan off to school without letting him see my cry.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Together Again

A while ago we gave Trevor his own room. Almost every night Trevor ends up sleeping on the floor in Colin's and Logan's room. At 4 this morning, after Logan had a bad dream, I came in their room to see Trevor squished in Colin's bed. He told me the floor was not comfortable but he did not want to sleep alone. So I asked, "Do you want your bed back in their room?" So the boys are together again. All sleeping in the same room. I love it. We put the desks in Trevor's old room so now they can draw and hang out in there. I told Trevor when he wants privacy he can still go in there, but now he doesn't have to sleep alone, or on the floor. I wonder how long it will last. Is it bad for me to wish that my boys will want to sleep in the same room forever? 
All the beds back in one room - I'm a happy mom

This will now be the "art room"

And the "I'm being lazy playing my DS all day" room

Colin is taking an art class this summer and the first class was all about good posture.

Typical 10 year old boy

Logan's favorite thing to do is build stuff with Legos. He wants to work at Lego Land someday
Logan's original creations

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Review: If I Have to Tell You One More Time

This is a parenting book. I found it through Pinterest and I wish I would have read it years ago when I was just starting out having babies. I have read parenting books before, but most of them had things in them that I would never say to my kids ("Oh bummer! Looks like it's time for the Uh-Oh song". Never in a million years), or they were just not my style. But this book was completely different. And the thing I liked the best was that it taught me how to be a more calm, positive parent. This book is written in a way that the techniques can be used for kids from the age of 2 & 1/2 up to teenagers. I love that I can implement the same strategies for my 5 year old as I can for my husband 10 year old and everything will stay the same as they get older. I hate parenting books that have different things to use on different ages. Don't you want to do the same thing for every child at every age so you're not always having to change the way you parent? As I read this book, I took notes on the different "tools" and wrote down examples on how to use them so I could share it with my husband. I know he won't read it, but he might read one little section I typed up on the When/Then tool: WHEN your chores are done THEN you can watch one TV show. Or the Either/Or tool: EITHER you turn off the computer now OR you will lose your game time tomorrow. I have been using some these tools since I started reading the book and guess what? They work! For real. Some of them are totally common sense (if you ignore a temper tantrum, your child will stop throwing them), but there were lots of new things I learned (the reasons kids misbehave is because they want to have POWER or they want to feel SIGNIFICANT). I make lots of parenting mistakes. I yell a lot, lose my cool, say things to my kids I later regret. But this book has really taught me how to be more positive with my kids, how to stay calm when someone is kicking and screaming on the floor, and how to discipline in a way that teaches my children and helps them to learn how to be more responsible and feel better about who they are. So if you have kids, any age, check it out. It's on sale at Amazon right now, but I just got my copy from the library. And take notes...you'll want to have something to share with your husband so he can get on the same page as you.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pinterest Post: Overnight No-Cook Oatmeal

I tried this recipe last night and had it for breakfast today. So good! I saw this on FB and Pinterest and it was a yummy, easy breakfast that would be great on a busy morning (school starts in 4 weeks!!) or before a morning workout. This is the recipe I tried today:
3/4 cup (6 oz) regular vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup oatmeal, not cooked
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
sprinkle of cinnamon.
Mix everything in a container with a lid, cover and refrigerate overnight.
This is a great recipe because you can make it a million different ways. Any flavor or type of yogurt (the original recipe called for Greek yogurt), any fruit mix ins, nuts, honey, etc. I made Dave taste it. He said it was okay. Logan would not try it, but I think Trevor might like it. If your kids do like oatmeal it would be fun to let them make their own the night before with their choice of fruit and yogurt. This was good to eat before I worked out (I hardly ever work out so don't be too impressed) and it filled me up enough so I wasn't starving after working out (so I didn't need to eat a brownie for my after-workout snack).
Husband rating: 3 out of 5 stars
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kid rating: My picky eaters were not interested and my kid who tries everything was not awake before I ate it all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Old Yeller

Long ago, when Colin was a baby and Trevor was 2 or 3, I remember yelling at Trevor for something and then going outside to get the mail. As I slammed the front door and walked down the driveway towards the mailbox I could hear through my open upstairs window Trevor crying in his room. I realized that my neighbors probably just heard me yelling at my kids and now heard crying and I could only imagine what they were thinking. You would think that experience would have stopped me from yelling at my kids, but it didn't. Dave always told me that when he first met me and during our first two years of marriage he thought I was the most patient person he had ever met. Then we had kids and that changed. I would always pray for patience, for anger control, to be a better mom and not yell at my kids, but it seemed the more I prayed the more I yelled. I think the Lord was testing me and I was failing, big time.
But I am happy to say that I am now a recovering yeller. I have not yelled at my kids in over a week. For real. Last week I watched a webinar on parenting. I knew the webinar was more or less just an advertising tool to get people to buy the book and pay for the online classes. But I watched it anyway, and one thing really stood out to me. The lady giving the webinar said that your parenting personality has a lot to do with how your kids behave. She said what you do will reflect what your kids do. If I'm a yeller and can't control my temper then my kids will be the same way. If I am calm and speak to them in a respectful way then they will do the same. I know I have heard this before and I know Dave and I have talked about it before but it finally hit me and this time it sunk in. So I've been trying it out and it works, for the most part. My kids still fight and throw temper tantrums, they still disobey and talk back, but there is a huge difference now. I don't yell. I don't argue with them. I don't pay attention to their tantrums. And their behaviors are changing. I don't know what it is but all those 10 years of praying must have finally paid off because I have never been able to control my temper like I have this past week. And right now as I write this Logan is sitting next to me yelling because he doesn't want to do his chores, "Mom! Mommy!! MOM!!! You're not listening to me!!!!" and I am just ignoring him, kind of laughing at him and happy that I don't have the urge to yell back like I used to. Keep praying for that patience, Moms and Dads, because eventually it will come. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Clean and Organized

I will be the first to admit that I am not the best housekeeper. I see all the things I have to do and I get overwhelmed and then I don't do anything. But this week that all changed. I've been a little obsessed with the blog A Bowl Full of Lemons for about a few weeks now. I stumbled upon it while I was on Pinterest and it's been a blessing. I found this great Daily Cleaning Schedule and tried it out this week. I didn't do everything on the list every day, but I did do a lot. Each boy got a "color" for the week and did that chore every morning and they did great. There were some complaints, but they got on board and it really helped. I love how clean the house was on Monday. My bedroom stayed clean all week (and the bed got made every morning). I woke up every morning to a neat and clean kitchen. There weren't as many Saturday chores to do today as there usually are. My kids were perfect angels all week (not really). I noticed that when my house looked good I was in a better mood. I was the nicest mom all week and never yelled at my kids (not really). I've really been in an organizing/cleaning mood lately and today Dave helped out too. Here are some of the things we've been working on:
We have a HUGE closet upstairs. We took everything off the shelves, threw away the crap and put stuff back nice and neat. We even had extra space for the holiday decorations that were in the garage.

When we got a treadmill upstairs in the TV room it was in the way of the book shelf. So I got a new shelf to fit under the window and put the books there. I love this new shelf. The basket is where we keep all the library books so they don't get lost. The shelf was $50 at Target and they had all different sizes and colors.

The playroom is always messy. Always. I threw away a bunch of junk, rearranged the shelves, and  table and brought out the toy canisters that were in the closet. Now everything is out to play with AND half the closet is now empty!

More room to play now, every toy is out and organized in it's own bucket or bin. I put the little table and chair in here along with the white board so Logan can play "school".

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book page wreath

via http://jonesdesigncompany.com/
I've been wanting to make this Book Page Wreath (click for tutorial) for forever. When we finished painting our bedroom I thought it would look great above our bed because of the contrasting of colors. Over the weekend I found a blog called A Bowl Full of Lemons. It's all about cleaning and organizing your home. I found a great cleaning schedule on the blog and got all excited to clean my house. Once the house was clean yesterday (the kids each chose one thing on the cleaning list to help with) I decided I needed to add something decorative to my bedroom. I went to Michaels and got all of my crafty supplies and after dinner I started making my book page wreath. Doing crafts in a house full of boys is not always easy. They ask a ton of questions ("Why are you tearing up that book?!"), they touch the glue gun even when I tell them not to, they look at what I'm making with strange expressions on their faces. When I first started this project I was full of great expectations at my crafting abilities. Partway through I wondered if I was just crafting disabled since my wreath looked pretty crappy. As I continued on, burning myself with the hot glue (and thinking of my sweet friend Erin who had a tragic hot glue gun experience as a kid....love you girl!) and slapping pages on my wreath, I could see it transforming. The more pages I added the better it looked and I realized that I AM crafty! I finished my wreath in 4 hours (I think the tutorial told me 2 but that is a big, fat, lie) and hung it up before I crashed into bed for the night. I love it. Dave said it looked fine (not the "Amazing job, honey! You're the best crafter ever!" I was looking for). When the boys all woke up this morning and found their way to our room I asked what they thought. They're just like their dad. "Oh, it's nice." Ugh. I get no appreciation around here.
My wreath. Maybe it's my reader/English teacher/writer self that makes me love it so much. There are lots on Pinterest so go look and get inspired.

I love how it looks above the bed. Super simple, but it adds a little interest and texture to that big, empty space.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Worst Summer Mom Ever

My son was crying the other day. Whining about what a horrible summer it's going to be. I had just put up a 3 month calendar and schedule for the summer and he was freaking out. "Summer school! We have to do school in the summer?" I got the idea from my friend, Pam. Her kids are super smart (probably because they inherited their parents' smart genes) and I asked her once what she did with them to make them so smart. She told me she did Mom School in the summer. When she told me what her summer school schedule was it sounded very similar to the homeschool schedule I had for Trevor. The more I talked to Pam about it the more I realized I could totally do it. And I am going to do it. Even if my kids complain or cry or whine or throw super bad temper tantrums. We are going to do summer school this summer. End of story. But what about having fun and giving them a break from school and letting them run and play and be free and be KIDS? They will get to do all of that. Before starting homeschool, I didn't realize how much teaching and learning could get done in such a short amount of time. There will be plenty of time for my boys to swim and play and relax and enjoy their days off from school. But I don't want them to forget what they learned. I don't want their reading levels to plummet over the summer or for them to go back to school in the fall not remembering the math skills they worked on so many months before. It's not going to be all day, every day, but it is going to be a good chunk of our summer. My kids are smart, but they are not the best students. I know where they struggle and where they excel. I know I want them to work on certain things over the summer so they can go back to school and feel confident and smart. I want them to start off the school year knowing their stuff and not falling behind. I want them to enjoy school because I taught them at home how to enjoy learning. And it's not going to be all books and worksheets and tests. One of my favorite new websites is X-tra Math. It's free and it's all about memorizing simple math facts so kids can do their math easier, faster and in their head. The website even tracks your child's progress and sends you a weekly report. Each session only takes about 5 minutes so it's quick and easy for your child to do every single day. Another site I love is Easy Peasy - All in One Homeschool. This site is so awesome. I used it a lot with Trevor and we both loved it. It's broken into subjects and grade levels so you can find lessons and activities for your child. Everything is on this one site. There are links to videos, worksheets, books, games, puzzles, music. There are even great alphabet videos and activities for preschoolers or younger kids.
My kids might not like the schedule they see and they might fight me on "summer school" in the beginning, but this summer I am not backing down. When the going gets tough I am going to have to be tougher. Even if my kids think I am the worst summer mom ever I am sticking to what I think is best for them. And by the end of the summer I hope they will have learned more than just reading, writing and math from me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Homeschool: The good, the bad and the ugly

As we come to a close for the school year there are lots of things I learned from doing homeschool.

THE GOOD: I loved the time I got with Trevor. We learned a lot of things together. I was able to use my skills as an English teacher to really help him improve in his writing. I loved how we were able to do a lot in a little amount of time. He wrote 17 essays in 3 months. We passed off scout requirements that went along with what we did in school. There were TONS of things I got online to enrich his schooling. We did art, music, US history, health, science, etc. If there was something he struggled with we kept working on it until he got it. He mastered things before we moved on to something new. He gained a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities and finally felt smart.

THE BAD: It was sometimes hard to keep a schedule. Lots of things would interrupt the school day (phone calls, Logan, days I babysat, an online job I did for a month). Lots of times Trevor finished his work so quickly for the day (what I planned to take 3 hours only took 2) and had lots of down time. The lesson planning took a lot of time so sometimes I felt overwhelmed with everything I needed to do and not enough time to do it. He missed his friends. I felt like I neglected Logan too much. I felt bad that we were all home and Colin was not.

THE UGLY: My house is ALWAYS messy. I tried to keep up with cleaning but it was hard. With school, lesson planning, grading, doing stuff with the kids, babysitting on occasion, etc. it was hard to have a good cleaning schedule.

All in all it was a great experience and I am so glad I chose to homeschool Trevor for a few months. Would I do it again? Absolutely, if I felt like my child needed to be home. Am I looking forward to all of my kids going to school next year? You bet. Logan will be in kindergarten and I'll get 2 and a half hours to myself every morning. Now I'll be able to have a clean house again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Adding Branches

Our church is big on families and doing family history work. We believe that families can be sealed together forever, which means that after death husbands and wives will still be married and they will be with their children in the next life. One thing our church does is temple work for people who have passed on. Those of us who are living can step in for those who have passed on and we can do their temple work for them. We can seal their families together. Yesterday in church in the adult women's class, we talked about how important it is to go to the temple and do the work there that needs to be done. One of the tools we have is a website called New Family Search. Last night I went onto the website to look at my family tree. My dad had completed some family history charts a few years ago, so I just wanted to see if everything matched up. As I searched, I found a mistake. When I looked up the name of Charles William Ashley I noticed that someone had entered the wrong name for his wife. What I had on the records my dad wrote did not match the family tree on the website. His daughter's name was there instead of his wife's. It took me a while, but today I figured out how to correct the mistake. As I worked, I was able to put Charles with his wife Elizabeth on my family tree and I was also able to add their children to their branches. As I worked to get this family all back together in the right place I felt the spirit of this sweet mother close to me. I knew that she was happy. I knew that she was excited that someone had found the mistake and was making the corrections. And now, Dave and I can go to the temple and stand in for Charles and Elizabeth and they can be sealed. Then we, along with others attending the temple, will be able to have their children sealed to them. It was so fun to look at my family tree and to click on names and to see how far back our family goes, to see the different directions the branches go, and to realize that no matter how big it gets, we're all connected.

If you want to look up your family tree go HERE. The website is free and you can search and see if information for your family has been entered. If there isn't anything there you can start making your own family tree, do research, look for records and find family members. Try it out and see what you can find.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bedroom make over

When Dave and I decided to finally paint our bedroom and get new bedding I had visions in my mind about what I wanted. I wanted something like this:

I wanted something light and airy. I wanted pale walls and maybe some splashes of color. Lots of pillows on the bed, fun accents, wispy curtains. But what I wanted and what Dave wanted was very, very different. He wanted something bold and dramatic. When we went shopping for paint colors, the ones I wanted (pale blue. grey, butter yellow) were quickly vetoed. I decided that since I had painted the guest bathroom, boys' bathroom and Trevor's room the way I wanted, I would let Dave have his way. And I have to say that I really do love it. When I put the first stroke of paint on the wall I was a little concerned, but I love the way it turned out. Our room is big so the dark color is not overwhelming. I think it's calming and at night it looks pretty with the lights. We're not totally done. We still want to get a few more things, we still need to figure out what to put on the walls to decorate a little, but so far I am very pleased. I didn't think I would like a dark color in my room but I really do love it. Here are the before and after pictures:
 This is our old bedding from when we got married and the color of the room when we first moved it. A sage green and a pale yellow. I thought I liked pale colors, but not this.

Here is the new color. Super dark green and I love how it turned out. A dark color really added drama to the room, but does not make the room feel small or closed it. Simple bedding and a punch of color from the pillow. I realized I don't like a ton of stuff in my room, on my bed, on my dresser. I like things simple, neat, clean. 
AFTER. LOVE the dark color. I love that we did not go the safe route and do a neutral color with an accent wall.