Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reading Parties

To keep my kids reading during the Summer, we have had reading parties.  I let the kids stay up an hour past their bed times (this is probably why they like it so much).  We get our pj's on and everyone gathers on my bed with a book and we just read silently...awwww, favorite part about this whole arrangement.

It sounds too simple to be exciting but the kids really enjoy it.  I love it too because it gives me a chance to read my book.  In fact, the other night we were going to watch a movie and Aaron requested a reading party instead. Yeah!  I love anything that will encourage my kid's love of reading...even if it means letting them stay up an hour later.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

Back in my college days- my room-mate, Tara, made this and it became a quick favorite...and 10 years later it is still one of my go-to recipes.  So try it out - it is really good!

Chicken Tetrazzini:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 6 oz. uncooked spaghetti noodles
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes 
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Paprika
In a large skillet, melt the butter.  Add onion and celery and cook until soft.  Arrange shredded chicken on top then layer the spaghetti noodles on top of the chicken (lay all in one direction to make it easier to serve).  

In sauce pan mix soup, water, and bouillon.  Heat and stir until warm and smooth.  Pour over noodles covering all.  Lay mushrooms on top (I leave these out because we are not mushroom lovers..or even likers). Sprinkle Parmesan on top and finish it off with a sprinkle of paprika.  

Cover and let simmer until sauce is cooked down and noodles are soft.  Watch carefully not to burn the bottom.  You want it to be moist, not runny...usually about 15-20 minutes.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't Eat Pete!

"Don't Eat Pete" is one of my kids favorite games.  Probably because it involves eating candy...just a guess though.
Here is what you need to make your own game:
  • A paper with 16 different pictures on it - each picture in a separate box (you could even give your kids a paper divided into 16 squares and have them make their own).  I laminated mine to protect it from my kid's sticky, slobbery fingers.
  • Some little candies like M&M's or Skittles.
  • Some kids who like candy...hard to find, I know.  
The object of the game is to eat as many M&M's (or little candies) as you can, but Don't Eat Pete!

Directions:  Place one M&M (or small candy) on each of the sixteen squares.  Select a person to be the M&M Monster and send him/her out of the room.  The remaining players then select one square to be “Pete”.  (Do not tell the Monster which square is “Pete”—it’s a secret!)  When the Monster returns, he eats the M&M’s one at a time but the minute he touches “Pete” the group yells “Don’t Eat Pete”!  His turn is then over and another person is selected to be the M&M Monster.  Play continues until all have had a turn.

Here is a printable copy of our "Don't Eat Pete" if you want to use this one...just print it double sided so that the directions are on the back.  This makes a fun gift and party favors as well...have fun!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Ere Thou Art...

Here is a short little quote that holds a lot of truth:

What ere thou art, act well thy part.

Short and sweet...but that is what I try to live a Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Teacher, Employee...whatever hat I am wearing that day I want to do my best.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Honey Do's

Today's triumph is that Eric can cross off one of his "honey do's" from his list...I have several big projects that I want to get done this summer like making garden boxes, refinishing our deck, and repainting our front door and trim.  We have a South facing door which gets the brunt of the weather - hot sun, wind, rain, snow.  So this is how our front door and trim were looking:

We sanded off the chipped paint and cracking trim:

We painted...after having a fudge-pop:
(Just a tip about the paint...use an oil based paint vs. acrylic for doors and trim because it is more durable and covers is harder to clean up, but I think it's worth it)

And Te-duh:  A front door make-over.

Next I think I will make a monogrammed wreath like this that I found over at seven thirty three for the finishing touch:

So Honey...what do you want to do next???

Monday, July 26, 2010

Letting Things Go

Having a baby sure changes one's least for me.  Over the last four months since having my adorable baby, I have let some things body, my housework, and my poor gardens that are now overcome with weeds.  The housework I tackled over the last few weeks and the body will take a LOT more work.  I guess it is time to focus on the gardens.

When I had my baby in April, I just decided that I would let my flower and veggie gardens go this year.  I didn't plant a thing and I haven't pulled one weed...and man, oh, man, the things are taking over!!!  So it is time to pull out my gardening gloves, knee pad, and shovel and tackle this infestation.  Heck, I may even burn a few calories while I'm at it!  Then tonight, I will indulge in a big bowl of ice cream and shovel those calories right back into my thing at a time...right?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

All is Well! All is Well!

Doctrine And Covenants 58: 2-4:  For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings.  Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

This scripture describes the pioneers who were faithful in tribulation.  Just as the pioneers were faithful, we can be as matter what.  And through it all we can join with them in saying, "All is well!  All is well!".

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:  Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. Always, there is a Devil’s Gate, which will swing wide open to lure us in. Those who are wise and faithful will steer a course as far from such temptation as possible, while others—sometimes those who are nearest and dearest to us—succumb to the attraction of ease, comfort, convenience, and rest. Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!” (Hymns, no. 30).

And how will we feel then, as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the great pioneers of Church history? How will they feel about us? Will they see faith in our footsteps? I believe they will, particularly as they view our lives and experiences from the expanded perspective of eternity. Although our journeys today are less demanding physically than the trek of our pioneers 150 years ago, they are no less challenging. Certainly it was hard to walk across a continent to establish a new home in a dry western desert. But who can say if that was any more difficult than is the task of living faithful, righteous lives in today’s confusingly sinful world, where the trail is constantly shifting and where divine markers of right and wrong are being replaced by political expediency and diminishing morality. The road we travel today is treacherous, and the scriptures tell us it will continue to be so until the very end. But our reward will be the same as that which awaits worthy pioneers of all ages who live faithfully the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, make right choices, and give their all to build the kingdom of God on earth.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pioneer Heritage

Happy 24th of July...aka Pioneer Day-commemorating the day that the Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.  To honor my pioneer heritage today, I want to share the story of one of my pioneer ancestors who sacrificed and suffered much for her faith.  These quotes come from her personal journal.  I am amazed at all that she went through for the freedom to worship in peace.  I am also very grateful for all that the pioneers did, so that I can now enjoy those same freedoms.  She is an inspiration of strength, devotion, and faith:

Elizabeth Whitear Sermon Camm, her husband Joseph, and their four children were members of the Martin Handcart Company - one of the last groups of pioneers in 1856.  They pulled and pushed a handcart carrying all of their belongings and supplies from Nebraska to Utah.  They got stuck in severe winter weather and many died.  Here are some of Elizabeth's journal entries:
 “One day I got into a slough, having the children in the cart, I could not get out.  One after another passed me by and left me; brothers and sisters passed neither had hardly sufficient strength to get along themselves.  When the last cart came along, a sister ran out of her cart and helped me out.  Then of course, I could not catch up with the company so it was late and dark before I got into camp.  The wolves were howling around me but they did not come too close and I got in all right.”

 “At Devil’s Gate John’s feet began to freeze severely.  I cannot remember the names of places.  It was after wading a very wide river.  The freezing commenced.  We had no wood, only sagebrush.  I went out and cut the sage to keep a fire all night.  Covered you all with your feet to the fire and heads covered over.  Then I went out and cut more sagebrush and kept the fire as well as I could.  My clothes were frozen stiff like starched clothing.  Well, we got through the night.”

 “We had to go back to one quarter pound of flour very soon and he (her husband Joseph) failed fast under this short ration and hard strain on his bodily strength.  I think he would not have died if we could have gotten food, but he was spared the trial.  We went to bed about 3 o’clock, he put his arm around me and said, “I am done”, and breathed his last. We sewed him up in a quilt with his clothes on.  In the early morning your father was buried with eight other men in one grave.  I stood like a statue bewildered, in tears, the cold chills even now as I write.  It creeps over my body and it seems I can still hear and see the wolves waiting for their bodies.  As they would come down to camp before we were very far away.  I again went into the harness and pulled the cart; all that could had to work to get to the wagons.” 

       Her nightly schedule:  “When we got into camp, I would clear the snow away with a tin plate, gather my wood, get my bed clothes from the wagon.  I was too weak to haul much.  Then I would get my allowance of flour, then pack the children to the fire and make their bed on the ground.  The tent was so frozen and the ground so hard we could not set the tent up.  I think it was 2 weeks we were without a tent.” 

      Elizabeth had to cut off parts of her 4 year-old son, Robert's,  frozen feet with her scissors until most of his feet were gone.    Robert later wore leather pads on his knees and learned to walk on his knees.  The Martin Handcart Co., along with Elizabeth and her 4 children, was eventually rescued.  

       Elizabeth later wrote:  “My faith was still in my Father in Heaven.  I never lost my faith in Him.  It is as sweet today to trust in him and my prayers are that I may always trust Him.  He is a friend that has never failed when asked.  You may perhaps say 'Why not have asked Him to serve you then when you needed it?'  I did and He spurred me through many trials to my family.”

       What an amazing woman!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stupendous Stromboli

Stromboli is a fancy word for a baked sandwich.  These are very easy to make and SO GOOD!!  I love to make these as a party food with other finger foods that you can eat while you play.  This is also a great recipe to get your kids involved...Kaylee loves to help me roll out the dough and put all the toppings on.  You can fill these sandwiches with any flavor are our favorites:

  • 1 loaf Rhodes frozen bread dough, thawed but still cold
  • Possible sandwich fillings:
    • 2-3 Tbsp Dijon mustard, thinly sliced ham, swiss cheese
    • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 2 cups shredded chicken, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/3 pound pepperoni, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce to dip in once cooked
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder
On a lightly oiled surface, roll bread dough out into a 10x15 inch rectangle.  Leaving 1/2 inch boarder on each side of bread dough, spread with mustard or BBQ sauce.  Arrange meat and cheese on dough, leaving 1/2 inch space along edges.  Starting along one long side, roll Stromboli up "jelly roll" fashion.  Pinch edges together to seal; fold ends under.  Place Stromboli on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, seam side down.  Brush the top and sides with beaten egg.  Using a sharp knife, cut 1/2 inch slits along the top.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Cover with plastic wrap and let raise about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  Cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve warm.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oobi Eyes Glove Puppets

Puppets are a great way to spark kid's imaginations.  Just by putting something on their hands, they become a new and exciting person or thing.  These puppets add some creativity into the mix as well because the kids can create their own puppets using these items:

Oobi Eyes...found here.  They are pretty inexpensive.  When I bought them, I ordered more than we would use and then made several sets to give away as Christmas gifts...they were a big hit.  The eyes just fit around one of your fingers, and have a hand puppet.  But to add some personality..include these items as well:

An assortment of gloves...rubber gloves, snow gloves, gardening gloves...anything works in a variety of colors.  We often use the yellow gloves to make Big Bird, the red gloves for Elmo, and the green gloves to make a frog.

An assortment of hair scrunchies...are they still called scrunchies???  That word brings back so many memories from the 80's and my big permed hair....Anyway, any hair ribbons, fake hair, bows, and bands that can go around a hand work great.

Now for the fun part...let your kids pick and choose which eyes, gloves, and accessories to make their personalized puppet and assemble:

Nathan made a frog on one hand and a ghost on the other.  He didn't quite understand the whole talking thing...

so he made them fight and eat each other

And Kaylee made a beautiful princess puppet.

The possibilities are endless.  Let your kids go crazy and have fun creating their own puppets!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cleaning and Snowing

Okay, I know that I have had a lot of posts about cleaning...and I promise that this will be the last least for a while.  It is time to move on and focus on something else, but for today here are a few quotes about cleaning:

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing" - Phyllis Diller

Awww, snow...this looks SO refreshing!
"Sometimes we assume our children know how to clean because they are such experts at making messes.  Cleaning is a skill all people need to learn, so teach your children." - Tamara A. Fackrell 
"I guess the bottom line is that there's nothing like sitting back together after a Saturday's hard work and taking pride in the ownership of how the house smells and looks, and how beautifully manicured the yard is, and realizing that we've done it all ourselves--we've worked so hard and now we can really play.  That kind of work give a high that I want my kids to have more of.  
I believe the teaching kids hard work is the secret that will help them weather the storms they'll no doubt face in life.  If we teach them to deal with them by working hard and facing difficulties full-on - taking ownership in what's hard and tackling it - they';ll be well-balanced and better for the wear." - Shawni Eyre Pothier from A Mother's Book of Secrets

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chore Charts Revamped

The "Never Leaf Your Chores Undone" chart is now off the wall and the new and improved charts have been hung on the cabinet with care, in hopes that their allowance will soon be there.  My goal for this chore chart is to have an assortment of skills..not just household chores.  Here are some of the things that I included:
  • Make bed / Brush teeth
  • Homework - Read for 1/2 hour
  • Talent Time - (Kaylee practices piano, and Aaron chose to practice basketball.
  • Do a good deed
  • Household skill that I want them to learn.  For the next few weeks Kaylee and Aaron each have 3 days each week to unload and load the dishwasher.  Once that is mastered, I will change it to learning how to fold laundry, vacuum, clean toilets, helping me with dinner....
  • 10 Minuted Clutter Cleaners - For 10 minutes each day we clean up a specific area together as a family.
  • Secret Missions - About once a week, I tape a note to the back of my kid's bedroom door saying "Your mission should you choose to accept it is to ______"  I also leave their "weapon" to attack the chore with.  For example - the mission may be washing the car and the weapon is a sponge; or weeding with gardening gloves.
  • Having a good attitude during chores
My wonderful, tech savvy hubby made a spread sheet for each child.  Each day is broken up into the chores that need to to done that day.  When they complete a chore, Eric or I initial in the box.  10 initials earns them a quarter.  They are paid each Monday and also receive a new chart for the next week.  It has seemed to work so far.  I like it because it gives them ownership of their chores.  They are responsible to look at their charts and do the work without reminders...of course I am there to help them if they need help.  If they forget a initial and less money at the end of the week.  Nathan (2) and I do his chores together...his chart is a simplified version.

I found some other great ideas for chore charts over at Buzzing the Day Away Live, Laugh, Love and Mads Memories.

I really hope that by doing this my kids will learn the value of work and responsibility, learn new household skills that they will need when they are living on their own, improve their talents, have fun, have good attitudes, and yes...have a cleaner home.  Hey...a mom can dream right?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Never Leaf Your Jobs Undone!

Chores...need I say more??  Oh, what a bore!  They are something that I like my kids to do - but also something that I have a hard time following through with and being consistent.  Here is an example of our latest attempt:

I made up a cute tree that says "Never Leaf your jobs undone!" Kaylee and Aaron each had 30 leaves in their envelope.  If their chores were completed by the end of the day they got to put a leaf on the tree.  Once the leaves were all on the tree, they received their allowance.  Instead of an allowance, sometimes we also went on a fun family activity once the tree was finished.  Great right?  This chore chart worked for about 4 rounds until it eventually fizzled out.  Now the jobs are "leaf"ed undone.  I must confess that this poor tree has been like this in our hallway for about 9 months.

It is time to chop this tree down and come up with a new system.  We will say goodbye to the tree for now.  Tomorrow I will share the new and hopefully improved chore charts that our kids have been trying for the last week.  I am really trying to be consistent and to come up with a system that puts the responsibility on the kids so that I don't have to be a naggy mom...stay tuned!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Value of Work

In my quest to organize our household chores and work to keep our home clean, I came across these great scriptures and quotes from President Hinckley:

Doctrine and Covenants 42:42 - Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread not wear the garments of the laborer.

Proverbs 19:15 - Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

Gordon B. Hinckley said:  "I believe in the gospel of work.  Work is the miracle by which talent is brought to the surface and dreams become reality.  There is simply no substitute under the heavens for productive labor.  It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.  I suppose that we are all inherently lazy.  We would rather play than work.  We would rather loaf than work.  A little play and a little loafing are good.  But it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or a woman or a boy or a girl.  Children who are taught to work and to enjoy the fruits of that labor have a great advantage as they grow toward maturity.  The process of stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands lifts us from the stagnation of mediocrity."

"The labor and thrift of the people make a nation, a community, or a family strong.  Work and thrift make the family independent."

Saturday, July 17, 2010


My kids and I just finished the greatest book...The BFG by Ronald Dahl.  It was a fantastic read aloud because we all enjoyed it...including me!  It is a story about a little girl named Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant and their adventures together.

 For those of you who aren't familiar with Ronald Dahl, he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, and lots of other very entertaining books.  He is one of my favorite authors.

Here is a little excerpt from The BFG.  We were reading this part and my kids were laughing so hard that we had to start over because they couldn't hear what was going on:

"Burping is filthsome," the BFG said.  'Us giants is never doing it.'
'But with your drink,' Sophie said, 'what was it you called it?'
'Frobscottle,' said the BFG.
'With frobscottle,' Sophie said, 'the bubbles in your tummy will be going downwards and that could have a far nastier result.'
'Why nasty?' asked the BFG frowning.
'Because,' Sophie said, blushing a little, 'if they go down instead of up, they'll be coming out somewhere else with an even louder and ruder noise.'
'A whizzpopper!' cried the BFG, beaming at her.  'Us giants is making whizzpoppers all the time!  Whizzpoppong is a sign of happiness.  It is music in our ears!  You surely is not telling me that a little whizzpopping is forbidden among human beans?'
'It is considered extremely rude,' Sophie said....
'Redunculous!' said the BFG.  'If eneryone is making whizzpoppers, then why not talk about it?  We is now having a swiggle of this delicious frobscottle and you will see the happy result.'...He removed the cork and took a tremendous gurgling swig....
For a few moments, the Big Friendly Giant stood quite still, and a look of absolute ecstasy began to spread over his long wrinkly face.  Then suddenly the heavens opened and he let fly with a series of the loudest and rudest noises Sophie had ever heard in her life.  They reverberated around the walls of the cave like thunder and the glass jars rattled on their shelves.  But the most astonishing of all, the force of the explosions actually lifted the enormous giant clear off his feet, like a rocket.
'Whoopee!' he cried, when he came down to earth again.  'Now that is whizzpopping for you!'

Friday, July 16, 2010

Taco Pockets

Here is a fun twist on tacos.  My kids love to help me make them...and they really love to eat them!

Taco Pockets:
Ground beef or turkey
taco seasoning
refrigerated biscuits
sour cream

Cook the ground beef and add the taco seasoning.  On a cookie sheet, smash each biscuit until it is thin and round.  Put about 2 Tbsp of the meet in the middle of the smashed biscuit.  Fold the biscuit in half and pinch the sides together with a fork.  Bake according to the biscuit directions and top with your favorite taco toppings.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Our Not-So Lazy Days of Summer

Awww...the lazy days of Summer.  When are they going to be here??  Summer is half way over and I have not had a nap yet.  Whoever made up this saying was definitely not a mom!  We have done some thrilling things this summer so I wanted to share our not-so lazy days of summer:

Yearly Cabin Trip:  Eric made up a new game for the kids.  We held a rope over the trampoline and the kids had to jump over it without touching the rope.  With each successful jump, the rope would go a little higher.  They loved it!  It almost makes we want to get a trampoline...I'm not quite convinced though.

Family Reunion:  Every year we travel to a little town in Idaho for a family reunion.  We camp in tents and play games and eat.  It is a lot of fun, except for this year...Nathan, Aaron, Travis, and I had to miss out due to hand-foot-mouth disease.  Here are some highlights from Kaylee and Eric:

Playing with cousins

Minute to Win It game

Slip n' Slide with tarps


Launching home made paper rockets 

Boondocks Family Fun Center:  Aaron decided to go here for his birthday.  We had a great time together. The first arcade game that he played, he scored the jack pot and won over 400 tickets.  He ended up with 1,000 tickets...lucky kid!

Aaron waiting and waiting and waiting for all of his tickets to come took about 5 minutes and then I had to carry them around.

Miniature Golf

Cooling off at the Bumper Boats

Lagoon Day: Yesterday we went to a local amusement park and had a blast:

Yeah for those not-so lazy days of Summer!