Monday, December 19, 2011

R2D2 Cake

Sam's birthday is today and I stayed up late and made this R2D2 cake (with the help of some very talented friends, Carisa and Brittney).  It took us from about 9pm-2am...I gotta learn to start earlier! 
Here are the pics:

  The cake is made from 4-8in cakes stacked on the bottom, a dome shaped one on the top and rice krispie treat legs.  I used the middle of a sugar ice cream cone for the little projector thing, iced and rolled in sparkly sugar, a cinnamon candy for the red eye thing, and lots and lots of icing.  I hope it's yummy, but at least it's cute:)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Moving Christmas

A few days ago, I was telling the kids that if we got any video games or the like for Christmas, we would have to wait until Monday to play them, because we don't do any screen time on Sunday.  Levi suggested that we just wait until Monday to have Christmas.  He and Natalie are both "in the know" and Sam and Seth don't worry about the calendar too much, so it could work.  I thought this was a CRAZY idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I loved it!  Spend Christmas day actually focused completely on the Savior?  What a great idea!  So, I think I will add one more thing to my to-do list and plan a very spiritual Christmas day...and then we will spend our day after Christmas enjoying the "presents" part of Christmas.  We'll see how it goes:)

The To-Do List

Things to do this weekend and this next week:

  • Make a fabulous R2D2 cake for Sam
  • Make pool noodle light sabers for Sam's party (can you get pool noodles in December?)
  • Make Christmas treats
  • Deliver treats
  • Zumba party
  • Clean the church
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Plan and do a cub scout meeting
  • Plan the next unit study (about China)
  • Make 4 photo books online
  • Buy some last minute presents
  • Wrap all presents
  • Attend 2 Christmas parties
  • Do visiting teaching
  • Do more Christmas crafts with the kids
I love this time of year!  I am only a little stressed.  Making the cake makes me nervous, as that is not a talent I have.  Luckily, a few friends are going to help me out:)  After the cake is made and Scouts is done, the week will be less stressful and more enjoyable. I hope you all enjoy your 8 days before Christmas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Turkey Day...not for the faint of heart:)

Logan, Joseph, and Levi holding a big turkey they caught.

 *Note:  There are chicken/turkey pictures that might be disturbing, just so you know.  But I left out the really gross ones!*

My older two kids plus 4 of their homeschool buddies went to an outside science program that was turkey butchering and anatomy.  I was worried that some kids might freak out so I asked Grandma to babysit and took the kids myself and stayed for the program.  This was an amazing program.  They divided the kids into 3 groups.  One group did the catching/butchering first.  The next group did bird clean out and organ identification while the third group did bird anatomy and how and why birds are built the way they are.

Tyler proud of his's still alive though it looks like it's headless.

 First, the kids went out to the pens and caught chickens and turkeys.  Natalie  caught a chicken on her own and Levi caught the BIG turkey with 2 other boys.  They loved this part!  They carried the birds upside down and they were so calm.  I was amazed.  The kids laid their heads on the chopping block and the birds just laid there.  It was quick and hopefully painless.  The kids were thrilled when the chicken and turkey bodies ran around and flapped with their heads cut off.  This may seem disgusting, but I was really impressed on how calmly and almost reverently was done.  We said to each bird how thankful we were that they gave us their bodies energy so that we could continue to live.  When the bodies calmed down, we then dunked their bodies in boiling water to make it easier to pull out the feathers.  This was quite a big job.  I think there were about 8 birds in all!
Joe caught a chicken by himself and was oh, SO proud.

Bird clean out going on here.  A little bloody, but very interesting.
 Second was the bird cleanout.  This was actually the first place my group went and I was amazed at how willing all the boys were to stick their hands in, pull things out, and inspect all the organs.  I had to chuckle after all the organs had been pulled out and our teacher said it was done, Ty says, "But where's the organ?":) The staff here keep all the birds and organs for eating throughout the year. 
The girls just kept saying, "Eww, gross!"

Cute pics of boys before we went outside. Ty's face showed how he felt before he went out.  About halfway through the process, he turns to me and says, "I LOVE this!!!!"

Had to have a picture of the girls too.  Kailey on the top, Sophie on left and Natalie on the right.
The last part of the butchering day was learning the anatomy.  This was done by a lady who knew her stuff and it was fascinating.  She talked all about why birds had this and that and what it was all for.  The highlight for the kids was when she pulled on the tendons of a foot and made the claws move.  Natalie cleaned out the gizzard on her bird.  That girl is not grossed out by anything.  I believe that she looks for the gross parts!  Maybe she gets it from me?  I didn't watch the chopping, but I was extremely interested in all the rest.  The blood just doesn't bother me. 

By the end, I was so impressed with the staff and the facility.  This was a great learning experience that the kids really want to do again next year.  And I want to go with them:)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween 2011

 Here are my cuties for Halloween this year:
Levi-Darth Vader
Sam-Red Ninja
Natalie (sorry about the red eyes)-angel
Seth-Tigger (again:)
We have already had 2 Halloween parties and will have 2 more and trick or treating on Monday.  
Piles of candy, here we come!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pictures I Love:)

Brothers, ya gotta love 'em!

Happy 33rd Birthday, Geo!

If anyone understands and tolerates my moody Sam, it's Grandpa.

One HOT superman!

Game night:)

Just pictures...

These are mostly from the Indy Children's Museum trip. Fun, but tiring! I went with a friend and between us we had 9 kids. We only lost 1 kid once. We thought that was pretty good:)

Kids participating in an Egyptian baby shower.

This is a random summer picture with our friends, Emily and Meghan. I LOVE this picture!

Honey Harvest

As many of you know, my father-in-law keeps bees. He not only keeps bees, but loves them like he does his grandchildren:) It was so much fun to help out with the bee harvest this year with almost all the family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles and a good family friend were all in attendance. It was wonderful....and extremely hot! I believe it was 100 degrees in the garage we harvested in. My husband and his siblings all helped the entire time and it was so much fun to go into the garage and hear four-part harmony of a variety of songs happening. Cute! I believe they harvested about 20 gallons of honey, when all was said and done. Only 2 last year, so this was AMAZING! Here are some pictures of the awesome event.

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Maryland pictures:)

Trip to see my sister!

Kids in front of the Christus at Washington DC temple. The kid in the shirt and tie was with a wedding party and latched onto Levi. I couldn't get him to leave the picture, so I just told him to look at the camera:)

In July, my sister in Baltimore, Maryland calls me and says, "Matt (our brother) and Megan aren't coming to visit me after all (Megan is pregnant and was pretty sick, then). Oh, and I am pregnant and not feeling great, so I think you should come visit me instead." Well, if any of you know me very well, you will know that I LOVE to get together with my family and will plan any trip and am about willing to do anything to see them. Liz (my sister) knew I just needed a little prodding and she would have me out there:) Well, she was was Wednesday and I decided to leave on Sunday, drive out without George (he has work to finance my vacations:) and spend the week with my sister and her family. Awesome!!! It took us 13 hours to get there and it was quite the trip. The kids were SO GOOD! I mean, we had our moments, but overall, they were very helpful, and happy, and wonderful! I loved this trip! It was so much fun to just hang out with my sister and her kids. We went to the beach, we went to the Washington D.C. temple, we went to Chick-fil-a:), and went to a cutie shaved ice shack. The kids had a ball playing all together. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Chasing seagulls

Liz looks so good! It was hot on the sand...we really enjoyed the umbrella!

Ugh, you will never see me in a swimsuit again!

The beautiful temple...what a wonderful trip!

Local summer fun

We had the opportunity to swim at a friend's pool this summer. Too fun! I am glad the kids have taken lessons and I am getting more comfortable with them in the water. Natalie and Levi are actually pretty good. Seth? Ah, at least he keeps his life jacket on:)
Sam and our friend, Emily

Kids at the zoo, but that tall boy is not mine. Thought it was Levi in the thumbnail view of the picture, but that's our friend, Nathan.
Not a great picture of me, but I loved Seth's look:)

More swimming at our friend's pool. Yay for summer!

Natalie and Ballet

Over the summer, each child got to "do" something. Levi went to Lego Robotics camp, Sam went to Farm camp, Seth went to "train" camp (the kids did this at home for him-they built him a train out of chairs and drew pictures of trains for him to hang next to his bed-so cute!), and Natalie took a ballet class with a little friend of hers. She loved it and they got to perform for all the parents at the end. I love these relaxed classes and Natalie always has so much fun!

2 month blogging vacation....

Yeah, sorry I am so bad at blogging. Really, I WANT to be better, but it just doesn't happen:( I am uploading some pics and hope to post them this morning. Here are some things that have happened lately:

  • Potty Training finally took. Seth just had to decide it was HIS idea and then, no problem. Seriously. My kids have some iron will. It's gotta come from George! :)
  • I have had quite the "homeschooling mid-life crisis" lately. This really deserves it's own post, so I will try and do that.
  • It's 7am and REALLY dark. It must be fall. I am excited, though my life seems to be flying by. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Natalie's birthday, Sam's birthday, Christmas and the year is over! Woa.
  • We are spending lots of time doing field trips and park groups and other things while the weather holds. I remember what it's like to be cooped up from December-March. It's not pretty. We're getting as much in as we possibly can before that happens!
  • I am excited to head home tomorrow to see my parents and brother and family. Seems like it's been a while.
  • Sam's doing preschool with a little friend. That has been fun to do, though he is fairly resistant. Sam is my toys-only boy. He does not want to stop for things like learning! It's fine with me, but I do feel funny doing preschool with just the friend. Luckily, Natalie and Seth both like to join in.
  • I got my hair cut and highlighted. I like it...I think. I asked George if he liked it about 5 days after I got it cut and he said, "I'm not's different every day." And it really is. Life of a curly girl:)
  • I really have a hankering to go on a vacation. I said that to someone, and they said, "Didn't you just go to Taiwan?" I think I got spoiled:)
All right. Pics are done uploading on the computer, so to post some! Yea!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More summertime fun to post...

but it took me forever to get the pics on the computer, and now I need to go to bed. So hopefully, that will come soon. For now, read our school post:) Can't believe the summer is over for us and the school year has started! It is a good thing:)

Polaris Press: The Beginning

We have started! We actually started on August 8th. Our first week was half-days with our Unit Study on Chocolate (from Amanda Bennett). Too fun! The kids slowly got into it and I would say 2 really good, positive school days. The others were a little rough. We topped the week off with a trip to the local chocolate factory where we didn't see any Oompa-Loompas but we did sample many tasty treats! It was yummy though I must say, gourmet chocolate is wasted on me. I like cheap chocolate just as much, or even more!

This week, we are starting in on a regular routine...which will probably change a million times between now and the end:) Here's the daily plan:

Start with Read Aloud (goes with the unit study) and 2 vocab words a day (on index cards on a ring to keep throughout the year)

Unit Study (Amanda Bennett's Download and Go's) This includes writing, reading comprehension, history, science, art projects, etc....

Recess and Lunch

Spelling and Grammer (All About Spelling)

Natalie-Alpha Omega Life Pac
Levi- Math U See with drills on the computer

Silent Reading (30 minutes)

*George is teaching Chinese on Wednesday nights
*I would like to fit in copywork using scripture mastery scriptures as soon as get the scriptures prepped and ready to go so that will fit in somewhere

So this is the ideal day. But there are many days when this just doesn't work out. Like Monday, we went to the zoo to kick off our rainforest unit study. Only reading was done at home. Wednesdays, we soon will start gym and swim classes at the YMCA and will have Lego Club and that will fill up the day. Thursdays, twice a month, we meet with our co-op group in the morning and that is in place of our unit study. And Friday is a field trip day, if we have one planned. Can I tell you, I just LOVE homeschooling!

A new post because I am so sick of seeing...

Potty Failure #2. So I will add potty training failure #3 to the list. This time, I wasn't taking no for an answer! The program was "Potty Training in One Day". It involved the usual rewards and such, but the new thing was a consequence when accidents occured. Potty Practice Runs we called them. 5 times, from different places in the house, the mom and PT-ing child run to the potty and practice. This worked once. From then on, he just collapsed and I had to carry/drag him around the house. Boo. We started Wednesday and on Saturday, I said, "Diapers or Underwear?" He said, "Diapers!" so that's where we stand at the moment. This was a huge power struggle and I wasn't up for it. He started having bad behaviors in other ways, to assert his independence and show his power. It was ugly. We are better now, though I am taking advice for PT round #4:)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Potty Training Failure

OK, this was time #2 and it didn't take. Granted, I had to prep for a camping vacation on Wednesday, so I put him back in a diaper, but this was after he played outside in poopy underwear for 30 minutes at Grandma's. I mean really. How can I potty train a kid who has no problem sitting in his feces for that long??? So, I think I will wait until he leads. It's just not worth the fight! Plus, with my oldest two, I waited so long that they just potty trained themselves. Maybe I am just lazy? Probably:)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update on PT

Seth woke up this morning and said, "Do I potty train?" with a dry diaper!!! Yay!!! Maybe we have turned a corner here. Let's hope so:)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just a quickie...

Potty Training this week. Yes, it's the second time for this kid. And hopefully, the last:)


I know I need to post, really, I do. But, I don't have the motivation to get the pics off the camera and who wants to read a post with no pics??? So, I will give you an update of what we have been doing with our summer and post pics later:)

Our summer will be about 6 weeks long. We plan to start back to school on August 8th. Here are a few things we have had fun doing this summer, in no particular order:

  • Visiting with my brother and sister in law and their cutie kids last weekend. We always have so much fun getting together with them. My brother just makes me laugh and laugh!
  • 4th of July! We had a packed day. Started with a church breakfast, then a neighborhood bike parade (complete with bounce house, pizza and a ride in the Hostage Recovery police tank thing), cotton candy with our good friends the Hansens (they made it!), on to canoeing in a near-by lake with Grandma and Grandpa Jones, home for dinner and then back out to the in-laws for root beer floats and a kickin' fireworks show. We may have overspent on fireworks this year, but, in my opinion, TOTALLY worth it! I love fireworks! We came home, put the kids to bed and went back out to light the rest of the big stuff. Awesome!
  • Lego Club. This is our school year activity that we have continued and it has been great for the kids because the group is smaller than usual and nice for me, because I get to spend 2 hours chatting with my Lego mommy buddies! Love it!
  • Parks. We have met homeschool and church friends at lots of different parks and splash parks. This has been so much fun to do and not have to worry about how we are going to get all of our school work done:)
  • Went to the local public pool for the first time and the kids seemed to really enjoy that. Seth only had to pulled out of the deep end 2 times (he did have on a life jacket) so I consider that a success!
  • Library trips. We have gone to a few summer programs they have put on and also have just enjoyed going and finding books. The kids are doing the summer reading program and have earned tickets to see the local minor league baseball team later in the summer. We love doing that as well!
  • Planning a camping trip. We are going on Thursday and I hope it will be great. My family has camped since I was little, but we always went for 1-2 weeks way up north in Wisconsin. I don't even know what it's like to camp here, where it doesn't cool down at night and surprise thunderstorms in the summer aren't unusual. Plus, getting everything out for only 2 nights? I AM excited, I just hope it's worth it:)
  • The kids have done lego camp, farm camp, and ballet lessons. Seth didn't get to go to a "camp", so the kids made a "train camp" for him one morning. They lined up all the chairs in the house to make a huge train. Then they all drew really cool train pictures that he got to hang up on the wall by his new big bed (he's on the bottom of bunk beds with Sam now). So cute!
  • Hot Air Balloon competition. Friday, we went to see these hot air balloons in a city north of us. It was amazing! They stretched the balloons out all over this small airport and then filled them. They were probably 100 feet away from us. It was awesome! We met up with some friends who had saved us front row seats and it was seriously one of the most impressive things I have seen. I loved it! We didn't stay too long, but plan on going next year and staying for the whole evening.
  • I helped bring a baby into the world. A miracle that I was so blessed to witness! I have to figure out how to become a professional doula, because honestly, this is my calling in life!!! I am so grateful my friend Abbey wanted me there!
  • Girls nights. Movies, hanging out, eating, parties. Fun, fun, fun!!
So, that's what I can think of so far! I am sure that I have forgotten a bunch of things. My favorite part is being able to hang out with my friends and family. I miss this during the school year! Makes for a fun summer:) Hope you all are enjoying your summers as well!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

So, I say...

"Are you going to start my movie without me (Larkrise to Candleford...a BBC miniseries)?"

George: YOUR movie?

Haha! I love that he loves these movies:)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dream Vacation

George and I had the chance of a lifetime! A few years ago, we decided we wanted to go on a trip to visit Taiwan. George had served his mission there and loved it. He hadn't kept in touch with anyone really, so we were just going to see everything we could. Well, this year, George's dad retired and made it sound like he would be happy to keep our kids for some amount of time:), so we decided to do it! My parents watched 2 kids, and George's parents watched 2 kids. Everyone was exhausted by the end...including us!

I am going to attempt to tell about our vacation through the pictures. Nothing will be in order because I can't figure out how to switch pics around on blogger, but you'll get the idea. And if you get tired of all the details, sorry! This is also my only journal entry:)

About halfway through our trip, we visited Taroko Gorge. This was an amazing adventure! It was also a 2 hour train trip to the eastern coast of the island of Taiwan. This was a view outside of our train window...a rice paddy full of scarecrows! And they were needed.

This was another view out of our train window. An island in the Pacific Ocean called Turtle Island. Can you see the turtle? Hard to tell which end was which:)

The food situation was a little bit depressing for me. I had done some research about good restaurants and had a big list of places in Taipei. There were a few problems. #1-We were too tired to "go" anywhere to eat. Once we were at our place to visit, we would go until we were starving and then have to find somewhere really quick. #2-Geo's chinese speaking skills are really good. Vocabulary and reading skills, slow and not as good. Which means, if we went to a restaurant with a sizeable menu (which all of them were), I would want George to read me the whole menu and this was just too hard. So, he could tell me what the main part was, usually pork or chicken, but not much else. #3-Nice sit down restaurants were expensive and we were trying to eat cheap. Anyway, the first night, we ate at a nicer Teppanyaki place, got food we didn't care for and it was even more expensive than we would have paid here in the US! Sad. So, I was a little disappointed, but I did find some things I loved, and that helped:)

The above picture was the "mission" reminiscent meal. We went to the local grocery and Geo picked up a curry package, rice noodles, and frozen dumplings and fresh pineapple. He cooked it all up and it was the only meal we ate in our apartment. Very good!

This was one thing I loved...a sweet bread filled with red beans. Sounds crazy, but oh! So GOOD!
I also had what looked like a huge cinnamon roll that was filled with red beans. Yum! George did not go for these, too weird, I guess. That was ok. More for me!

This picture is a little disgusting, but this was another one of our faves. It was called cong zhua bing. It was like an onion bread in a pancake shape. They fried an egg, put cooked lettuce on top, put that all on the pancake ad folded it like a taco. We liked it best with no egg or lettuce, just the pancake. We ate these 3 times:) Some of the other things we ate: Ba-lah (I loved this...a fruit like an unripe pear covered in a spice that I have no idea what it cinnamon? I could have eaten this all day!) Beef Noodle Soup- we found this on some back road alley (really, it was like walking into somebody's back door into their really small kitchen). Bao-this was a steamed bun with stuff inside. Very tasty. Subway and McDonalds- we couldn't help this..we were starving for familiar food on day #1 so we found a Subway and we met up with George's brother at a McDonalds and were pretty hungry, so we ate there.

This was a picture of a "may-may", the Chinese word for little sister. George has these wonderful memories of little may-mays and how cute they were. This little girl was twirling in the rain, so I took her pic. Her mom gave us permission, but she was not thrilled. This was the reaction we got from most children in Taiwan. But when they smiled, oh, how adorable these children were!
These pictures were of a very touristy Taiwan temple called Longshan. It was interesting to see the worship of this totally foreign-to-me religion. People go here to pray to and worship their ancestors and also some other Gods and Goddesses. This was not a Buddist temple, though we did see some of those. The statues here were of Heavenly Mother and the goddess of the sea, I believe. People would bring food on special plates and put it out on long tables for their ancestors to eat the "spirit" of the food. After a specific amount of time, they could then take it back home and eat it. This was so strange to me. I saw plates of fresh fruit, cookies, and Doritos. I guess you would buy what you would want to eat in the end. They also all were burning incense. This represents prayers going up to the ancestors or gods. When you walked back to where there were many people worshipping, the smell was really intense!

This was a place you would stick your incense sticks in so they would stand upright and continue to smoke.
This is a symbol of good luck. We saw these everywhere...also at our local Chinese restaurant here!

We rode a glass bottomed gondola up and over a few mountains. This was amazing. It was so rainy (EVERYDAY!) and cloudy, but the mist was amazing. We just disappeared into clouds. Really cool!
When we got to the top of the gondola ride, we got out and walked for a very long time on a windy road. We were looking for a temple. Turns out, we were on a loop and had gone the wrong way...we could have gotten there eventually (you know, 8 miles later) but we settled for this Buddist temple pictured above. A man came out and spoke some English to us. He was surprised that we were not from Europe, for some reason.

These two pics are from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial building. The marble lions are everywhere! They are to protect important buildings, temples, and bridges. We saw a lot of them. They were very cool. This was an interesting plaza. There was some manner of religious ceremony being led here...televised and being performed by many men and women following some guy in a blue suit. They were all in clear ponchos, except the man leading them. He had a guy holding an umbrella over his head. On either side of this very serious service were multiple groups of young teens practicing for a hip-hop dance competition happening on another building on this plaza. Modern meets ancient. It was fun to watch!