Thursday, May 30, 2013

Behavior Charts

UPDATE: Here are my updated charts that have the links so you can print them.

My kids like structure and they thrive from the structure we try to create in our home. To help with that I have created a chart that allows my kids to know what is expected of them each day. This way they know what they need to get done and I only have to remind them one or two times each day. I thought I'd share them online so that others can use them or get ideas for their own chore charts.

Instead of calling them chore charts I saw on Pinterest an idea to title them "This is how I contribute to my family." I liked that idea, so that's what I used. I have some non-readers so I used both pictures and words on all three charts.

Click here to see the new, better, and updated versions. 

They each get stickers (star stickers I get at Walmart in the office supply section for much cheaper than those expensive fancy ones) to put in the boxes they complete each day. For the older two my husband and I decided that we need to instill in them a since of serving others. We added the "extra" boxes so that they would think of something kind to do for others each day. We have had these up for a week now, and it is proving a tad challenging for them to figure it out. We have been pointing out nice things to do throughout the day so they begin to understand what type of things we are expecting.

We don't stick to this 100% everyday. For example, we spent one day in town and came home in time for my daughter's t-ball practice. Therefore, we had no time to complete many things on this chart. In that case, they get their stickers anyway because they never had the chance to complete the task.

Lastly, as a reward system if they get all their stars, they get one piece of candy. If they get 5 days of all their stars they get to pick a fun activity to do. Things like paint nails for the girls, watch a short movie, or have a picnic are all favs in our family.

One more thing, sorry. During the school year I wanted my kindergartener to know that school and home are connected. There is a relationship between school and home and if she doesn't follow the rules there, it will carry to home. We used the chart idea at school too. After talking with my daughter's teacher, we sent a behavior chart to school with her in her folder that is checked daily at school and home (all the students have the folders). If she got a no for behavior she didn't get a sticker at home. She didn't have too many no's throughout the year, but I wanted to her to start off young knowing that school carries over to home. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

YW Revelation Lesson

I'm so lucky! I get to teach young women (YW) for a few weeks in a row this summer because of vacations and such. Don't worry, the other councilors will make up for it when I go on vacation.

For the last lesson in May, I decided to choose the one on personal revelation. You can find it here.

Whenever I plan a lesson for YW I read through the lesson and then see what fun and cute ideas that others have come up with. I enjoy looking and reading other people experiences because it is one way that helps guide me to what exactly the girls need. Then I like to make it my own by adding something to it.

I usually go to Sugardoodle first and that is where I found this cute idea. That is when I came up with a theme for the lesson. I don't usually do "themes" but I felt really good about this one. It focuses on the idea that there is a recipe to receive personal revelation. Throughout the lesson by incorporating the ideas that are provided within the lesson itself, we will learn what that recipe is.

I will start the lesson off with the thought that if you don't follow the recipe you won't get what you want in the end. A cake that has too little sugar. Cookies that have too much salt. Bread without the yeast. You get the idea. Throughout the lesson we will come to realize that in order to receive personal revelation it is important to have faith, study the scriptures, pray, obey, and be meek and humble. Without those items, it will be hard to get the answer you want in the end.

I changed the handout from the candy corn to popcorn balls. I made some popcorn balls that will be part of the table set up and will be given to each of the girls at the end with the recipe for the popcorn balls and the recipe card for personal revelation.

Hopefully the girls will love it too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer Days Schedule

Summer time is finally here. We live up north where kids are still needed for planting season which was going strong until we had 4 days of non-stop rain. This means that we still get out of school early. Kind of like how they did when there were one room school houses that dotted the country. We are some of the first that I know of to get out early and that just means that I have to get my summer act together so that the long, hot days don't get too long and boring for the kids and I still have some sanity when school starts again.

Last year at this time I was prepping for a major surgery (Like really major, hospital at least 4 days and no lifting anything over 10 pounds for 6 weeks! And I have 3 kids... you get the picture.) and wanted to make sure that when my help arrived shortly before my survey that it was not a chaotic wreak they were walking into. I came up with a summer weekly schedule for our family. Hey, we are on a schedule during the school year that works, why not during summertime. It worked so well last summer that my hubby and I decided to do it again. And, because I started this blog, I get to share it with you. YAY! =) (I can feel your excitement through my computer! Ha!)

If you want to skip all my blabbing, you can click here to get our schedule. It is very simple since I made it in Word, but it works for us. The kids even start to ask, "Okay, what's next?" while staring up at it posted on our fridge.

For those of you still with me, here we go.

I like to get exercising done first thing in the morning so I wake up and start exercising. My kids usually wander in through my exercise time and they usually join in. Next we do breakfast. It gets pretty hot here in the summer time so we work out in the yard. I give each kid a specific job to do while I work in the garden. When they are done, they each pick so many weeds out from the garden. Then they get to play outside. I usually am working, cleaning, or organizing something outside while they ride their bike, draw with chalk, or whatever they choose. We usually have a snack around this time too.

After this, its into the house to wash up and have piano time. While each child gets one-on-one time with me at the piano, the others can read or color. Finally (at least it feels that way for the kids somedays) it is lunch time.

After lunch its nap time. My youngest still takes a nap, but my others don't. I still make them lay down a bit and relax or read. After nap, my kids' favorite: School Time. This year I have specific goals for each child. My youngest who is starting preschool needs to snap his pants on his own, count to 20, write his name, and begin to write the alphabet. My kindergartener needs to tie her shoes, begin reading and learning sight words, and work more on number recognition. My 1st grader (tear, can't believe she is in 1st grade) needs to work on not being so bossy, reading chapter books, and more complex thinking skills and reasoning in math. Can you tell I'm a teacher? =)

When school is over, we alternate cleaning time and art/craft time each day. Then its time to make and eat supper. Each night we do a different family activity. Monday=Wii night, Tuesday=Game night, Wednesday=Movie night, Thursday=Family night (we have a bible lesson or discuss things that our kids need help with socially), Friday=Free time.

Finally, (for mom its usually with a long sigh) its bed time.

This year we are doing swimming lessons and t-ball which will through off our schedule a bit, but we don't stick to it like glue. It is just merely a guideline. If it is really really nice out, we would probably stay outside longer. This year, I hope to run more with our dog, so I will probably move around the exercise time. The idea is to have something planned so that its not a summer full of "what can we do?" This tends to get rather annoying and usually drives me crazy.

This is from last summer. This is my once a year every year do the same pose picture. 

Enjoy, and have a happy summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graduation Time

With the end of the year here it is now time to celebrate with all the graduates. We have a good family friend whose daughter graduated high school this year. We ended up making her graduation cake and I am here today to show you the process and the finished product.

My hubby's grandmother made and decorated cakes for years and apparently she passed down her talent to my husband. He has always liked to pretend to decorate cakes for all our birthdays, but when this opportunity came up for him to make a cake for someone else, he jumped all over it.

I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous because he has never made a "professional" type cake before. But it all turned out great and the mother and graduate were happy with the final product.

I don't know the actual terms, but these are a few that my husband or I have heard throughout the years. So pardon my non-cake terminology.

They wanted a swirl cake, but after trying several different methods, we just couldn't get it right. So we ended up doing a zebra cake which gave us much better results. Here is the link to the recipe and directions for the actual cake.

Because he had never used fondant for embellishments (we used it for the flowers) we had fun experimenting with various patterns and tools. That was my job, the flowers.

Crumb coating it. Hubs had never done this before, but it helped to create a hardened layer that would not lift up the cake when he tried to frost it.

They didn't want fondant, which is good, because the hubby is used to playing around with buttercream frosting. 

Making it all smooth.

Starting the decorations. Here is the picture he was working from.

Adding the finishing touches. 
And the completed cake. This sucker was heavy!!! And to top it off, my husband hurt his back, so guess who got to lift this thing in and out of the fridge and the car for delivery? 

It was fun to help out, but I wish my husband would stop saying that WE have to start on the next cake. This is HIS thing, not mine! Ha! I'll post those pics of that one too when we are done.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Freezer Meals

I have always wanted to try making some freezer meals like I see constantly on Pinterest, but I wanted to do it with some friends because spending so much time in the kitchen seemed like it would be much more fun with friends than by myself. I rallied some friends together and we spent several hours in the kitchen. Our final product? 45 freezer meals. In case you are wondering what that looks like I graciously snapped a picture for you. 

Aside from the pizza and tinfoil wraps on the top shelf, that freezer was empty. 45 meals sure takes up some space! But I love it. Below, you will find our version of how beginners successfully completed the Pinterest freezer meal craze. 

It all started one day when I must have lost my marbles and ventured a question to my Facebook friends: "Anyone want to get together to try making some freezer meals?" I got 2 hits. See? I'm not the only one whose gone crazy. We set a date, time, and place. 

Then we had to come up with a plan. We decided on each of us coming up with 5 meals. To make sure no one overlapped on the same meal, we each took a different protein. To accommodate for food allergies we had ground beef, turkey, and other beef/meatless. 

Thinking that it would be easier to have one person do all the shopping, and then divide the bill into thirds, we got the list of necessary ingredients together. My list was two full pages, typed. Massive. The longest grocery list I have ever encountered in my life. It was interesting to compile though. Why on earth do recipes call for things like tablespoons when the product comes in ounces? Okay, don't answer that, they weren't expecting me, the math non-genious, to calculate for tripling several recipes that require that same ingredient thus needing an insane amount of tablespoons and turning it into ounces. This was only one example, there were so many I actually had to create a cheat sheet: ounces into pounds, cups into quarts/gallons, ounces in a cup, etc. etc. etc. you get the picture. The funny thing is that I became rather good at it. Except for the pasta, the pasta was a pain. The hardest part, however, was when some recipes called for one large onion or 2 cups of chopped onion. You know, since they don't sell pre-chopped onion, I had to guess on that. I think I did pretty good though. 

Shopping day finally arrived. I had to take out the third row of seats in my vehicle to make sure I had enough room. Because I live an hour away from the stores where I got the groceries, I needed some coolers, and no kids (Well, 1 kid out of 3 wasn't bad. She was a great trooper and helper!). I got most of the groceries from Wal-mart, and most of the fresh veggies and meat at Sam's Club. 

From this angle, it doesn't look like that much. It was though, it was a good 3 hours (at least) at 2 stores, 3 packed coolers, and tons of bags. 

The night before shopping day, I knew I would need room in the fridge for cold stuff so I cleared out a shelf and a half hoping that would be enough space. I also cleared off the counters and made sure the kitchen table was empty. By the time we got home from shopping, I dropped the non-perishable foods on the table, and shoved the perishable items in the fridge- totally unlike me if anyone knows me I like to be organized. I didn't even take the stuff out of the bags! Eek! But I was so tired, it didn't keep me up that night. =)

We planned to meet in the afternoon the day after shopping day. It just so happened that the genius that I am, I locked my keys in my car 30 miles away from home and was an hour-ish late to my house (And I didn't even get into my car until the next day! UGH!). Luckily, my friends knew how to get in, and they got started. I feel badly that they had to come home to a mess, but this is what I came home to. Such great friends!

After getting everything lined up, we chopped, diced, precooked the ground beef and noodles and had everything ready to grab for each recipe.

After all the amazing organizing, it was time to figure out how to complete the task of creating 15 meals tripled. The easiest way we could think of was to mix all the ingredients in a huge bowl. Because there were three of us and my hubby even stepped in after a while, we usually had about 2 recipes going at a time. 
We used those giant bowls to combine and mix all the ingredients. Without those huge things I really don't know how it would have worked.

The rest was fairly simple: combine, mix, put in a freezer bag or tin baking dishes.

The final product was about 47 or 48 meals (we had extra of a few recipes) in 6 hours which turned out to be $8.73/meal that feeds at least a family of 5. You can't even take the family out for that price. We each got 15 meals.

To add to the lovely chaos, we also had 6 kids running around. Luckily for us it was a beautiful day, and they spent much of it outside.  

Would I do it again? Heck ya. I tried to get them to commit to another round 15 days from then, but they didn't take. However, I do see that they are both pinning more freezer meal plans so it's looking good for me! 

Oh, and I can't not add this picture in:

I told ya we used a ton of stuff! 

Tips, Tricks, and Suggestions:
  • Because we got everything ready ahead of time, our noodles did start to dry out, but if you soak them in cold water before you use them, they soften right up.
  • Don't start in the afternoon. Start earlier, much earlier. 
  • If you are going to take on this huge of a task, you need to have a very large collection of bowls. Mixing bowls of various sizes, bowls to store stuff in, to chill, to set. Seriously, I have many many bowls an most of them were used. I was shocked at how many bowls I actually had. I've never seen them all used at once.
  • Do not use recipes that require you to cook milk and butter into some kind of cream sauce. It is way too temperamental and we burnt it the first time after spending about 20-30 minutes waiting for it to slowly simmer.
  • Don't leave the recipes that require some cooking of ingredients together until the end. 
  • Don't buy ingredients you already have. Between the three of us, we had most of the spices. Don't waste your money on that kind of stuff.
  • Make a cheat sheet for when you go to the store and take a calculator if you are not good at mental math like me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Party in a Box

I came across this idea from none other than Pinterest. My mom's birthday was coming and I wanted to throw a party for her. The only problem is that she lives in Las Vegas and I live in the middle of no where North Dakota. The solution? A party in a box as she likes to call it.

To start, we wrote messages on strips of paper. We settled on writing happy birthday in many different languages. Then we wrote the names of the different languages on strips. Once that was done, we filled each balloon with one strip of paper. Then, on the outside of the balloons, we wrote letters for her to try to put in order to make a saying.

I typed up the letter that explained the games. I included a fill in the blank spot for the message from the letters on the outside of the balloons, and I included a key for the languages so she could check to see if her guesses were correct.

Filling the box with all the balloons was so fun for the kids. The little buggers were so static-y that it was hard keeping them in the box.

Because it was mainly balloons in the box the cost was pretty inexpensive. I did have a small gift in there too. 

I have an amazing mom who knew I'd want to put this online so she took some pictures for me on her end. I did have my kids help write the languages hence the "kid" handwriting and the guidelines on some of them.

The box was so big that my younger brother asked if he could be shipped back to us. I love this picture!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teacher's end of year gift

I am one of those moms who loves to create things for my kids to give to their teachers for all the work they do. I have been a sub for 3 years, and in the meantime I earned an elementary education degree. I have a pretty good idea of just how much these teachers invest in my children emotionally, physically, and educationally. Giving small gifts throughout the year is a small way to say thank you.

This year I had a Kindergartener and a Preschooler who had two teachers. I needed 3 gifts. Earlier in the year I found this on Pinterest, and I know some people who have old wood so I thought I'd give it a try. Because of weather I haven't had the chance to pick up this wood yet, so I had to improvise.

I know that subway art is crazy in right now. I like the look of it, and thought maybe I could give it a try. I started by goggle-ing subway art to get some ideas. My favorites were the ones with gray and a mustard yellow colors with the chevron pattern in the background. Though it isn't what I envisioned, I think they turned out pretty dang awesome.

If you want to try one, I will do my best to walk you though my process.

Supplies I used:
Microsoft Word
8x10 White picture frame (or a cheap black one painted white, and any size you want)
White scrapbook paper cut to 8x10 (or whatever size your picture frame is)
Color printer

1. Google the chevron pattern to find the one you like. I used this website. Right click on the pattern, click copy, and then open Word and either right click again to paste the image or hit the control and v button on your keyboard. For a Mac like I have hit command and v. This is the shortcut for paste. I use this all the time. For me it is just easier than all the clicking. Resize by dragging on the corner of the image until it covers your entire page. You can try different formatting, coloring, and filtering by clicking on the image and then clicking on the format picture tab at the top of the screen. That is how I got my chevron pattern a little blurry.

2. It is easier if you make all your images so that they show behind or in front of all the text. This allows you to freely move the image anyplace you want to despite the margins or text you might have. To do this click on the image. Click on the format picture tab at the top. Then click on wrap text. I choose in font of text, but behind text works too.

3. Create a box in word. Recolor it to whatever color you would like. Mine is plain white. I created a glow effect to give it soft edges. You can do this by clicking on the box or image, clicking on the format button at the top and adding the glow or any other effect you'd like to try. You can customize the effect by right clicking on the box or image and clicking on format shape. This should open a new dialog box that will allow you to adjust the size and color of the effect and a whole lot of other things. Don't be afraid to experiment. With the undo buttons in Word, you can pretty much do anything and undo it if you don't like it.

4. I wanted more than just a white box behind it. It just looked like it was missing something. So I googled a ton of different backgrounds until I settled on a rustic looking lined paper. I made this slightly bigger than the white box. Again, play with the format by recoloring and filtering and adding a glow or shadow. It takes time, but it will help give you different ideas for what you want.

5. To make it easier for me when I started working on the wording, I grouped the three backgrounds together. This is a step that is totally optional, but if I accidentally moved the background while working on the words, it was easy to put back because all three were connected into one. To do this you need to click on one of the background images. While holding down the control button on the keyboard on a PC or the command button on a Mac click on another background image. Repeat this until all of the background images are clicked. You will know you have all of them if each image has a little circle on all corners.
I know that this is an image of the words, and a preview of what is to come, but I wanted to show you what I meant by all the images have little circles on the corners. This is what it should look like if all the background images are clicked.

6. Once you have the backgrounds done how you want them, you can move onto the words. I started by typing my quote one word at a time into a text box. You don't need to worry about the size or font yet. Just get the words. These are the words from the pin I found on Pinterest.

7. The next part was one of the harder ones for me. I liked so many fonts. I started by choosing two that looked schoolish. Then I went to find some that matched those, but didn't seem to find what I was looking for in word. I went to this site that has many fonts to download for free. I fount two I liked. The downloading process is different for each computer and software you have, so if you need help with that, I suggest googling it. It is usually pretty easy once you have the directions in front of you. 

Then, working text box by text box, just change the font and size. It doesn't have to be perfect yet, just eyeball it. For example, I knew I wanted child to be big so I made it really big. 

8. After this I started coloring the words. I knew I wanted a yellow in there so that's where I started. Then I rotated the other colors through the rest of the words. There were some spots where the color didn't look right with the font so I either changed the font or the color. I used purple, green, yellow, orange, and blue. You can customize your colors too if you don't like the selection they have. You can also add shadows and different effects to the words which is what I did to create the glow look around each word. Play around. Have fun. Don't be afraid to try different things.
This is what I had as a final product until I made another one and added an image. Then I redid this to add an image.

Here are the final pieces:

The most important advice I can give you is to try different things out. It can always be changed back. Have fun!


I was asked to provide the fonts I used. If you want to give it a try yourself the ones that were already on my computer are chalkboard and chalkduster. The ones I found online are scretch and teenage angst. 

If you would just like to use the ones I made, go for it. For some reason, however, the words only work if you open them as docx files. You should be able to have the choice of how to open them after you click on the orange download or print button.

I also wanted to share what my daughter's kindergarten teacher did with hers. She had each of the students sign the white frame on the front and wrote the year and who gave it to her on the back. I thought that was such a great idea. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

If you're happy and you know it

We have recently been having a few consistent issues at our home that my husband and I feel is not acceptable such as taking and hiding things from others, lying to mom and dad, and name calling. To attempt to remedy this, my husband and I decided to have a lesson on things that make everyone happy.  We have what we call family night once a week where we have a lesson on scriptures or something that we need to discuss. At this particular family night, we covered many topics and decided if those topics would make them happy, others happy, and mom and dad happy. 

I googled pictures of things that my kids do such as folding laundry, vacuuming, helping others, etc. as well as things they do that are not so great like hit, calling names, lying, etc. I cut them out into little squares. I also googled a happy face and a sad face and taped them onto two envelopes.

During the lesson, I had all the squares flipped over picture side down, and the kids took turns choosing one of the squares. We would figure out what the picture was showing and have a talk about how that was good or bad behavior and how it made themselves, others, and mom and dad feel and why it made them feel that way. Then we would decide if it went in the happy face envelope or the sad face envelope. 

We hung our envelopes on the fridge for the week and decided to shout "happy face" whenever we saw something that would make everyone happy. I also thought about having more pictures of things that my kids could or would do throughout the week and if they did it I'd give them the picture for them to put in the appropriate envelope. I didn't do that, but it's a good idea to help reiterate the concept.