May 31, 2012

Bad Dream Blues, Clean Car, Grocery Budget

Our Beautiful Children!

Bad Dream Blues

I woke up at 1:30 with a crying boy at my side. Noah has been having bad dreams for about 8 months now. It happens at least three times a month. We have tried everything from a father's priesthood blessing, prayer, talking about it, rubbing the back, new bedtime routine, music through-out the night, night light, everything! Let me just say that I freakin' HATE that stupid movie Coraline! That movie started the whole thing and it has broke my heart. Well, last night I did something different. After trying to go back to sleep with him at my side and knowing that it wasn't working I decided to take him to the kitchen for a snack. He drank some milk and ate a peanut butter cliff bar. While he ate we talked about his dream. I then had him write down anything he wanted on a piece of paper about his dream. He happened to write "My bad dreams are dumb!" I loved it. I then asked him to crumple up the piece of paper, stomp on it, put water on it to make the marker go away, tear it up and then I took him outside and had him throw the ruined piece of paper over our backyard fence. (I picked them up today and told him to never do this again because it IS littering) He threw it over the fence and yelled "Go away bad dreams!" Then we went back inside, finished his snack and talked about what we'll be doing the next couple of days. Then, we went back to bed and read "The Friend" magazine as we drifted off to sleep together. Then, at 3:45 my other little boy came and crawled into bed with us too. Let's just say it was a long night and I'm tired but I'm so happy to know that my children (especially my boys) know that they can always come to me for anything. I hope they will always remember that. I will stand beside them forever. I've also decided that I will not only try to go to sleep earlier tonight because I am so tired but I will start giving "fairies" out before bed again. I quit doing it because I wanted the kids to experience prayer before bed not "fairies." But I think in the end, it doesn't really matter and I'm sure Heavenly Father enjoys imagination too and understands. So, my kids will be putting imaginary "fairies" that I happen to catch in midair, under the pillows for good dreams. I think it will help. Fingers crossed!


Our car is the cleanest that it has been in NINE YEARS!

SEE! It's CLEAN! ANNNNND... NEW!!! (Well, used but New to us!)

So, Why did we get rid of our Honda Odyssey Minivan for this Honda Pilot?
Because our transmission went out and would've cost us an arm and a leg. So we decided to put a head in there too and get a full coverage warranty for 3 years, less miles, not one but TWO extra seats, four wheel drive, four manual doors (because we were sick and tired of the electric doors breaking and freezing shut)and a couple years newer model. It was something that needed to be done because our minivan was just getting too old and having way too many problems and our warranty ran out. So, we thought this would be the best thing for our family. So here are more pictures! We really like it!

I'm a big fan for storage spots!

A secret hiding spot! SHHHH!

More Storage!

DVD player for those long road trips!

Second Row!

More storage if no one is sitting there! TAH DAH!

Third Row Seats... Look! We can fit one more person!

The outside!

Grocery Budget

With a family of six we have had a pretty high grocery bill. We usually spend a little over $200 a week. Now, this does usually include the cleaning supplies and any school supplies we need as well. I'll be honest and say that while I do look for the cheaper prices I am also very lenient and willing to get whatever looks good at that moment. However, after Chris and I sat down a couple days ago (before we bought the vehicle) we decided that we (or I) can no longer do that. Thursdays are our Grocery Days and I am proud to say that for the first time in a LONG time I only spent $111 on groceries today! YES! I saved a whopping 100 bucks today! I got what was on sale and went to two different stores to find the best deal. Next time I will go in the store with COUPONS in hand. Yes, coupons. I will be using coupons from now on! I am so excited to be on a mission of saving money for our family so we can get out of this debt hole!

May 30, 2012

Power of Play #2

My favorite thing to post! Cute pictures of my kiddos at play! While I love entertaining them, I believe it's important for them to have free range and the ability to entertain themselves. This is what their busy minds and bodies have been up to lately! I LOVE IT!

Setting up an Air Force

Playing House

Splits in the MUD!

Mud is FUN!

May 29, 2012

My Top Ten Homeschool Must Haves

I'm jumping on the band wagon and joining other homeschoolin' mom's in a top ten journey on Tuesdays! This week I want to share the "must haves" of our homeschool!

1. Prayer and Love!

I pray personally for patience, flexibility, and the ability to teach my children what they may need to learn every day. I also pray that our family will continue to love to learn and love each other. I know I wouldn't be able to do it on my own and I'm so thankful that my Heavenly Father is watching over and guiding me and constantly reminding me why it is that I chose to homeschool. We also have prayer before we start and when we finish our structured days.

2. Printer/Ink, Computer/Internet

I'm allowing these to go together because I think they go hand in hand.
I print things off of the computer all the time. It helps with review and visual aids. We go through ink like crazy and I hope that one day we can upgrade our printer or have an unlimited supply of ink.
Thank goodness for youtube for the spanish and sign language videos and the awesome songs my kids have learned from there that helped them learn the presidents and the 50 states! You can also find several documentaries about social studies, history or science. We also have many educational websites that we visit daily. Computer work comes in handy for review and learning. While I am busy doing lessons with one child the other's have something fun to do and everyone is happy.

3. Our Math and Language Arts Curriculum

We use Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL) for Language Arts. I love how it is Christian based and offers some scripture study within it. It’s also very “hands-on” which offers lots of cutting, pasting, drawing and making. The object of the curriculum is to basically offer dissection of a paragraph, poem, or book. You study that piece of literature to learn spelling, grammar and reading comprehension. It’s a mix of the Charlotte Mason and Montessori approach by using hands on activities through-out and lots of “living books” as Charlotte Mason would. It provides the basic needs and we take our time and keep reviewing as we go. Before using this curriculum we used "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" along with "Bob Books."
We use Saxon Math for our math. I like it because it tells me exactly what to say and how to teach math. Coming from someone who doesn’t like math, this curriculum has been a blessing for me. The kids catch on quick so we don’t always review over and over as it asks because we don’t have to. I also like the hands on opportunities that it provides and the timed math problems before each lesson.


Reading the scriptures for Language Arts.

Liberty enjoying cutting and pasting parts of a story.

4. Books and Bookshelves!

All homeschoolers know that you can never have too many books (although we might) and that having our own little library always comes in handy for those budding questions! Our books are the first place we go to answer questions and if that doesn’t help then we go back to the internet. Books can be a kids best friend and take them places they have never dreamed of. We love reading around here!

5. Baskets and "To Go Bags"

Both of these things keep everything tidy and together.
I love our work baskets! The kids grab them and set them at their feet and keep all their work in it (like a desk). Each basket holds science, history, social studies and spanish notebooks, saxon work book, LLATL work book, paper folder, journal, clipboard (to take their work outside), Nature notebook, flashcards and a box of pencils, scissors, glue, ruler, pencil sharpener, crayons, notepad, and erasers.
During those days when we have errands to run, doctor's appointments/therapy appointments for my daughter or while we're traveling I tell the kids to get their bags and we're out the door! Their bags are filled with math and phonics/reading/vocabulary flash cards, mini chalk boards and chalk, word searches, card games and any fun little manipulatives like counter chips and dominoes along with a book to read.

Harmony's to go bag that she decorated. Each child has one and each child decorated their own tote bag.

The baskets in the "cubbyholes."

6. Library Card, Library Visits and Library Box!

We visit the library once or twice a week. Not only can you get free books, dvd's and cd's but you can also participate in the many events and activities they hold. I've found that having a designated "library box" helps keep library books from disappearing which has saved us on late fees. We love the library!

7. Magnetic Whiteboard , Individual Wipe Boards and Dry Erase Markers!

It's magnetic! So I post each child's “job for the day” on our magnetic job chart along with 3 stars for each child that they want to try and keep through-out the day and big golden stars if they show outstanding behavior that day! It's a whiteboard! So I write the date, journal topic and any other things we learn through-out the day, which allows "daddy" to see what they learned that day and review during dinner. I love it and the kids do too as they write on it to practice math problems or spelling which makes them feel "grown up" writing on something that mommy does! The dry erase markers come in handy just by themselves too. To change things up a bit, sometimes I allow the kids to draw on the table, cuz hey, they just wipe off! We also use reusable dry erase wipe boards to practice spelling and handwriting which saves us on paper and allows us to “go green.”

Nephi practicing his name. He's got the "h" down!

Harmony practicing hyphens on the kitchen table with a dry erase marker!

Noah solving a math problem on "mommy's dry erase board."

Our magnetic job chart and reward chart.

8. Kitchen

The kitchen is a wonderful place! A place where you can experiment with science, bake goodies for service to others, adapt cooking skills and self reliance, learn about nutrition, learn how to read by reading recipes, learn math with measurements and fractions, learn science in cooking and incorporate dishes into social studies and history. My preschooler this year has even made a snack for each letter for his "letter of the week" curriculum. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen making messes! This is also a great place for my aspiring 9 year old chef and aspiring 8 year old chemist.

Nephi in the process of making a rainbow fruit salad. Learning about the colors of the rainbow and many different fruits in the process.

His masterpiece!

9. Art Supplies Closet

We have a whole closet full dedicated to art stuff! My kids love making things and I certainly believe in free imagination and play so I try to keep our art closet stocked full of art supplies. Play doh, clay, water color paint, acrylic paint, finger paint, paper of all textures, sizes and colors, scisssors, tape, string, yarn, modge podge, pom pom balls, popcicle sticks, old magazines, coloring books, chalk, crayons, colored pencils, markers, goggly eyes, straws, recyclables (paper plates, coffee filters, cardboard boxes, bottles, bottle caps, egg cartons, poster boar, old game pieces, old puzzle pieces and anything else you can reuse), beads, pipe cleaners, stamps, plaster paris, glitter, paper clips, clothes pins, stapler, stick glue, elmer's glue, glue gun and sticks, old fabric, feathers, cotton, buttons, old plastic flowers, how to draw books, stickers, art and craft idea books, pens, pencils, wooden pieces, pastels, and anything else my kiddos can think of stuffing in there while trying to keep it organized. All of these things come in handy during our projects for any subject. It's nice to know we can make anything to go with whatever we are studying to make it more enjoyable and memorable. It's also great for our aspiring 7 year old artist.

10. My Husband!

He should actually be at the top but I’m surprising him by keeping it down here, when he reads this. He supports, loves, compliments, advises, encourages and uplifts me which helps me get through those tough days. He's the best "principal" any school could have! I love you honey! Thanks for everything!

Honorable Mentions:

My Camera!
It might not have a fancy lens but it is waterproof and shatterproof which comes in handy most of the time. I LOVE capturing those learning moments on camera and it’s great for record keeping to remember what you did and studied that year.
Crystal Light!
I drink it in the morning and love the different flavors through-out the day!
Maps and Globes! To track characters in stories, current events, and military travels in our family and provide awareness of the many different cultures and people in the world.

Thanks to this website for the rules and organization of the top ten lists!

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

May 28, 2012

Week 7

I am no longer considered extremely obese! Just obese! So I have a ways to go, but hey, this is a big accomplishment for me! I have lost a total of THIRTEEN POUNDS! I am so doing the happy dance right now! WOO HOO!

The Ratings:
1- What happened? Just do it already!
2- I can do a lot better
3- I can do better
4- Doing good, Keep it up!
5- Check! AWESOME! (because I like the word AWESOME)

Watch what I eat (Eat for FUEL)- 4

Watch my servings (1 cup of cereal not 2)- 5

64 oz of Water Daily (I need watered just like a flower!)- 3

1 hour of exercise (at least) M-F- 3

Move More (do more than just sit on my butt)- 3

Family Fitness (hikes and sports) - 2

Take care of myself (hygiene, vitamins, medical)- 5

Calm Down (take it easy = less stress)- 5

ME time! (reading, bubble bath, friends, crafts)- 5

7 hours of sleep (sleep gives you wings, not red bull)- 3

Use time wisely (finding balance to work and play and limiting internet time)- 3

Find my information and motivation (learn and share more)- 3

Read Personal Scriptures Daily (it's the best "meditation" and brightens my day)- 3

Personal Prayer Daily (I am not in it alone and am thankful for my life)- 3

BMI Scale for my height and weight- 39 I am no longer extremely obese!!! Just obese! I have a ways to go!
Thighs- Once a month
Tummy- Once a month
Hips- Once a month
Arms- Once a month
Minutes Exercised- 4 hours
Minutes Moved (family activities, cleaning, other stuff)- 3 hours

May 27, 2012

Family Update: Trampoline Camp, Backyard Swim, Eating Out

Our Family Update for the Week of May 21, 2012

Trampoline Camp! Forget paying for a campsite and putting up a tent! It took a year before the sun burnt a hole into our trampoline's net so we had to remove it. So, we decided to make our trampoline a tent, complete with sheets! We left the top open for star gazing but all the rest was enclosed with different colored sheets blowing in the wind. We all slept on the trampoline together after soda, popcorn, licorice, story telling (we would all take turns adding to a story), star watching and shadow puppets. It was a blast and although we woke up early due to the cold wind, we will never forget this experience. I believe the kids will be doing this off and on by themselves. FUN!

Backyard Swim! It's official that the swimming pools are open now! Since we are trying our hardest to save money, we decided to get some good use out of the swimming pool Nephi got for his birthday last year! The kids had fun just the same and I wasn't embarrassed about sunbathing on the side of the pool in our own backyard. I got a little tanned and the kids practiced holding their breath under the water.

Eating Out! No, not out on the town, but outside! We've been spending a lot of time outside in the evening! It's perfect weather here in Tucson, once the sun goes down. We've been having great luck with the watermelon lately! It's perfect and juicy! We've also been enjoying the typical summer meals like grilled burgers and hotdogs and BBQ chicken and corn on the cob.

We've been pretty busy this week.

Noah had a pack meeting and we are so proud of him for accomplishing everything to achieve his wolf badge and his golden arrow and four silver arrows. He's also working on lots of belt loops at this time. Liberty has been working hard with her therapy and I am always amazed with the exercises her therapists assign her, especially her occupational therapist. She's been doing great! Chris has been working hard with his school work in his psychology degree. I am very proud of him.
Of course there has been lots of playing with the neighborhood kids, especially in sprinklers. We spent this weekend cleaning out the garage and storage and weeding the backyard. It was a big job but it was very productive and I love working with my husband around the house. Noah passed his audiology appointment. He was scheduled one for his passing out episodes he's been having for the past two years. It's nice that his ears aren't a problem, but he passed out right after his appointment which led to an ER visit. We'll be having more and more appointments in the near future and I'm hoping and praying that the doctors can figure out what the problem is.

May 26, 2012

Family Flag Symbols

This is our family flag! Thanks to my mom who helped by sewing it all together! Although "Joyful Spirits Academy" is our homeschool name, we consider this to be our family flag forever even if by some chance we stop homeschooling (you never know). I think our symbols help gather everything about life and remind us as to why we are here and how special we are.

Stars- Each star represents a member of our family!

Hearts- Each heart represents those in which we should love. #1 The Godhead... our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. #2 Ourselves. #3 Our family and friends. #4 EVERYONE!

Bees- This comes from Gordon B. Hinckley's talk and how we should be. We picked the three be's out of the six that we want to focus on as a family. #1 Be True. Be honest with ourselves, others, and with our Heavenly Father by keeping his commandments and being faithful and loyal to the church. #2 Be Grateful. Be happy with all the blessings that we have. #3 Be Prayerful. Always remember to say our prayers and that we are never alone.
For the rest of the be's check out...

Earth- We should love and take care of the Earth by keeping it clean and beautiful and respecting the plants and animals. We should take the time to admire the beauty around us.

Butterfly- As a caterpillar turns into a butterfly we are able to become what we want to be as we follow our dreams and reach our goals.

Happy Face- If we do all these things we will be happy.

Tree- The family tree. The importance of our family in our home and extended family.

I would like to add a very small owl in the tree to represent our school mascot and to remind us to be wise/smart.

About once a week we go over our family flag. The kids caught on quick and loved learning about symbols and making and understanding their own. I love our flag!

May 25, 2012

Mommy and Me in May

For the past 7 years (basically since we've had more than two kiddos) we have decided to make it a point to have quality time with each of our kids. I love this tradition. At one time we would each do something with the kids each week, even if it was in our home, just in another room alone, but that got to be too much. Now we've finally found something that really works with our busy schedule! One month it's "Daddy's Month" and he takes each child out for quality time and then the next month it's "Mommy's Month" for me to do the same. There are some months such as December or other busy months in which we do not do it and focus more on family togetherness. Most of our things are free or very cheap. We try not to go overboard and most of the things that would cost a lot of money would be something that we would all want to do together. This month was "Mommy Month" and I had a lot of fun with my four terrific kiddos!

I took Nephi roller skating! It was his first time going and at the beginning he was all over the place but by the time we left he was cruising pretty good! I loved the roller skating we went to because it had a small section divided off just for beginners to practice. So I would teach him in that area and then we would go out to the big rink. It took us 3 songs to go around the big rink the first time, then the last time we were able to go all around the rink in about 2 minutes! This might become our own little thing because we both want to go back again!

I took Noah to buy some marbles and a new NDS game which the total only cost two dollars! We then went to Dairy Queen for ice cream and then went to go look at the airplanes on base. He told me, "You look beautiful." I thought that was so sweet and told him that once he's old enough to date then that is a nice thing to say to the girls he dates. I think it's good to prepare him even at this young age! Only eight more years until he's 16 and dating age and this first eight years went by way too fast! It was fun looking at the planes and reading about them on the plaques. We learned that one was dedicated to soldiers who died from DM AFB and Fort Bragg. We thought it was sad but also pretty neat that we have lived at both places.

Liberty and I went to a play called the "Seussical." The tickets were on sale for 12 dollars a piece which wasn't too bad at all. Liberty loves music and I love Dr. Seuss, so it was a perfect fit! We still sing the songs we learned. It was amazing how they rolled so many Dr. Seuss books into one story and to tell you the truth, the play brought tears to my eyes! We had a great time and I know it's something we will never forget.

Harmony and I went on a picnic breakfast to a park and then painted with water colors. We were able to really talk which was nice. We also saw lots of ducks at the pond which made us giggle at them when they stuck their heads in the water and stuck their butts in the air. We had a great time and thank goodness the weather wasn't too hot when we went!

I can't wait for my next month! July!

May 24, 2012

Learning: Postage History, Nature Notebook, Library Lovin'

This homeschool week was great as most of the time! Hey, I'm not gonna lie, there are some rough weeks as a homeschoolin' mom! Here's what we've been learning...

We went to the Postage History Foundation Museum. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful museum! The kids were able to start their own stamp collection with a book and handful of stamps. They were able to make their own bookmark using old stamps. They also listened to a book about a postman who still delivers mail by mule in the grand canyon. They also had fun with the hands on poster to match up the letter/stamp with each city in Arizona! I was very excited to find out that they give out FREE worksheets! They have worksheets good from preschoolers to history, social studies, politics, science, pretty much everything! What a great idea to use stamps on a worksheet! I grabbed a few for Nephi to learn how to write his numbers. It was a wonderful experience and we decided that we're going to have a new "Write letters on Wednesday" to write to our friends and family far away. I will also be ordering new worksheets in the near future and Noah is determined to get stamps from all over the world all because of a hidden FREE gem here in Tucson, Arizona.

We've had a nature notebook a while back and I have missed it! So we decided to start it up again! Our goal is to record in it at least once a week. I allow the kids to draw or write about what they hear and see. They can write or draw as much details as they would like or write about their feelings while outside in the nature. They are also able to collect things around them and put in a ziploc bag in the back of their binder. The only rule is that they can only record things that are NATURE. No cars or airplanes allowed! I was amazed at how much we were able to see and learn even from a close neighborhood park. We heard many prarie dogs and birds. We saw a white butterfly, a bird fly into a cactus hole, a dried up leaf, sand and rocks and we found two different dead insects, yellow flower, prarie dogs, lizard, and even a snake! I say "we" but really it's all that the kids saw and heard and recorded. I would like them to eventually research what they found to learn the correct names of the plants and animals. Since this was our first time in a while, they just recorded what they saw and stopped there. They were so excited about it that I don't want to give them too much and push them away from such a great learning opportunity. We're taking it one step at a time. I'm very excited about this and thank Charlotte Mason who thought of this method of learning and showing the importance of it! I love the Charlotte Mason Method of teaching!

Well, the library is nothing new to us. We go to the library at least once a week. This year we've been participating in a preschool story time for Nephi (and Harmony likes it too). The two of them usually sit up front with the other kids while the two older kids read their library books. I love story time at the library! It's not just cute stories but songs and crafts! This week they made penguins and we signed up for the summer reading program. I love the summer library events! We're really excited for the extra activities we'll be participating in for all of our ages, including me!

May 23, 2012

Power of Play #1

I've noticed that most of my posts involve pictures! I like that! It's like a digital scrapbook, so even while I'm not scrapbooking, I'm somewhat doing it online! Anyway, I LOVE taking pictures of my kids hard at play. Yes, PLAY! It's my favorite thing to capture on camera. I'm a huge advocate for playing. Even as I type this now the kids are busy playing "store." So our living room is filled with items all over the couches and table that you would buy at the store and they are using pillow cases for bags. I absolutely love it with all my heart. This is why I don't allow television or video games 4 days out of the week and purposefully plan our busy days on the video game days. ;) These are my favorite pictures of the power of play this week. Just look at their faces, you can see their minds at work and their little hearts so innocent. It is amazing!

Science Projects Galore! Using a "recipe" of science from a library book.

Figure Skating... In the living room... On blankets.

Headstands! Nephi is always coming up with "cool moves" for his break dancing.