Thursday, May 30, 2013


My rules for a successful "MOM ADVENTURE"

1.  Have fun and forget your to-do list.
2.  No nagging.
3.  No friends, just us. 

This week I recruited our 9 year old to help me.  When it comes to knowledge of animals he is like a walking text book, so I knew he was just the expert that I needed.  He studied the zoo map and wrote a scavenger hunt for us go on at the zoo.  He never ceases to amaze me, he wrote it so that the younger kids could do it on their level and older kids were able to do it on their level!  (I'll admit I had to ask him for help on some of the questions!)  We didn't tell anyone where we were going, we just jumped in the car and they enjoyed the suspense!

Our first stop was a new IMAX movie.

Following the movie we got our paperwork and started looking!

 Even the 2 year old worked so hard!

Fabulous Floating!

 We finished off the afternoon with ice cream on the front porch!

 Hooray for our first "MOM ADVENTURE!"

Confessions and Solutions

It happens every year.  During the first week of 
Summer vacation . . . I feel overwhelmed.  

Summer Day #1  Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A sudden sense of panic hits when I realize running to the grocery store, the mall, or visiting teaching isn't quite as easy with everyone home all day.  I realize the house gets messier and more food gets eaten.  The toddler who usually sleeps two hours each afternoon realizes that she will miss out on the fun if she sleeps and abandons her usual nap time.  When I sit down at the computer (as I usually do in the afternoon)  I am asked by more than one boy if they can play computer games.

After the first week I always ease into life without as much paperwork and homework and it becomes quite wonderful to have everyone home more and to let life be more spontaneous.  By the end of summer, I burst into tears at the thought of everyone going back to school.

Today was our first official day of summer, so this morning  I gathered all the kids around and wrote out a bunch of chores that I need accomplished each morning and just before dinner time.  They each helped decided what they want to do in the morning and afternoon to help around the house.

Today I needed to go to the local sporting goods store to have the kids that are participating in swim team see what size of racing suit they need.  As we sat in the car before going in I went over the rules of shopping with 6 kids.  (don't touch anything, talk quietly, stay by me . . .)

I mentally prepared myself to smile and in my head practiced my routine response in a cheerful voice, "Yes, they are all mine," "No, this isn't daycare [smile],"  The good news is that we survived our first summer shopping trip!   We did enjoy a trip to the library and spontaneous trip to the park.

I realize it is up to me to let my structured school year schedule slip away and enjoy the green grass, reading stories, and free time that comes in the summer.

Summer Day # 3

I am getting into the groove and enjoying summer so much more.  Today was our first official "MOM ADVENTURE" of the summer and our first day of stations.

We won't do stations everyday, just a couple of afternoons a week when we have had a busy morning and need a quiet afternoon for Ellie to nap and so that I can accomplish a few tasks.  This is what we are doing for stations for the 5 oldest kids.  Each station lasts 20 minutes.  They are all in a separate room doing their own activity.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Easy Cold Lunch Idea

I realize, I didn't post this before school got out, but it is a good lunch idea anyway.  
Water Bottle 
(FYI- I found these water bottles at Old Navy and they are my favorite, because they are dishwasher safe!!) 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ready or Not, Summer is here . . .

We have been very busy with "end of the school year" activities and are just hours away from the beginning of summer.  I have been thinking a lot about what my expectations and goals are for this summer.  I anticipated jumping into the summer with lots of enthusiasm and excited, but instead I have a sore throat, stuffy nose, and feel completely drained.  Fortunately, this next week is fairly slow so  hopefully I can have a few days to feel better before jumping into the fun activities that I have planned!

It is amazing how each summer takes on a slightly new twist due to the fact that change happens and kids grow up!  I realize now that the truly carefree days of summer where I don't have anywhere we have to be, are over.  My kids are getting older and are involved in different activities and so this summer will be different from past summers in many ways.

(below: a carefree summer day playing with the Teeples in the backyard)

It seems I will be spending much more time in the car shuttling from swim team, library classes, basketball camp, and soccer camp.  Amid the busyness of activities  I hope to find time for traditions that we have had in past years as well as some activities that  I would like to start this year.  Here is my plan:


Reading is so important!  I have three different plans for this summer based on their age and reading ability:

Older kids:
- Book type of the week - Historical, fiction, animal, classic, mystery, choice
- Book report- draw a picture and 1 page summary- Due Monday

Middle kids:
- read 15 min. Per day.  1 paragraph + picture about chapter books

Younger kids:
- 1 lesson in "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons"

- Mom Book of the week- I also plan to read some books to them; chapter books and classic picture books from our Five in a Row list that we can put on our map from last summer.

- Attend library weekly

- Workbook pages occasionally


- Timed test day- Tuesday

- Test Day- Wednesday

- 2 projects per month- Friday

- Hymn and scripture of the week- Daily - sing me a scripture
- focus on one aspect of "For the Strength of Youth" each week


My favorite tradition is MOM ADVENTURE.  We set aside one day a week that we do a fun activity and I just focus on the kids (no cleaning bathrooms, running errands, and no friends on that day)  Here are some of my favorite Mom Days from years past:

Last year we spent lots of days at the pool and the park:

Art lessons under the playgroup equipment at the park.  Random, but lots of fun!

One Thursday the kids and I traveled to Harmony, MN to find out what life is like for Amish people.
This is the home of a wonderful Amish family with 6 sons.  We bought dried apples from them.  Our kids stared at each other while I visited with the mother.  Look at all of her laundry on the line! 

We also visited a purple Angora goat farm.
(The goats are not purple but everything else is.) 

This little adventure also led us to find a place to have our custom Amish table made. 

Some Thursdays were spent at home and I had one on one dates with each kid.   I read books,  I played dolls,  I played legos,  I drew silly pictures, and I sewed with them.  

On another Thursday we ventured back in time the birth place of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin, WI.  We saw the replica of the "Little House in the Big Woods."  Some of us have read the book and the rest of us have listened to the book on tape.  We all loved this adventure!

Most Thursdays we had a picnic.  Every time we ate lunch together I would say, "Oh, I hope you look back and remember this!" . . .and as a mother I would memorize their little faces and try to somehow save the moment forever. 

We painted in the backyard with shaving cream.  

We all turned white!

We ate ice cream on plates without spoons!

We had silly hat day.

We did science experiments.

We fed goats and watched otters.

We pretended to be pioneers.  

We ate more ice cream!

We went to the park.  
. . .and to me it was Heaven on Earth.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grab the Camera

Busy day.  Many events.  Lots to do.  

She was coloring.  I walked downstairs to quickly look up a recipe and came back to find my little helper:

My reaction was to grab the camera.  

Marjorie Pay Hinckley once shared profound advice:  

"The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it.  You either have to laugh or cry.  I prefer to laugh.  Crying gives me a headache."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

What a great day!  Tonight while I was typing on the computer one of our kids asked me to tuck them into bed.  I responded, "I am sorry, today I am off duty.  You will have to ask Dad."  

Yes, I felt a bit guilty, but it sure was nice to have a day off!  I took full advantage of Mother's Day and my family really spoiled me!  Especially my husband!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grocery Shopping Do's and Don'ts

Facts about Feeding our Family

Fact #1:  Feeding a lot of people is a big, never ending job!! (Our kids eat a lot!) 
Fact #2:  Eating healthy is important to me.  

Here is a list of my do's and don'ts:

I don't:

Clip Coupons:  I have many friends that have a lot of success with coupons.  It doesn't work for me.  If I do find great coupons I usually leave them in the car or forget to give them to the cashier because I am trying to keep kids from crying :) If it works for you great, you could save a lot of money.  

Price Match:  A few of my friends shop at Walmart because they will match the prices that are advertised at other stores.  Again, I am usually shopping with too many young children to remember to tell the cashier that I need to price match certain items:)

I do:

Always write a menu before I go shopping.

Always write a shopping list and try to stick to it!  

Cook from scratch.  Over the years I have learned to cook from scratch and buy less prepared and processed foods.  (make my own rolls. . . and they taste so much better!)

Incorporate food storage items.  I have learned how to cook dry beans in the crock pot, I used a wheat grinder and use wheat flour almost all the time.

Less snacks.  I don't buy endless packs of fruit snacks or chocolate granola bars.  We try not to eat too many snacks so that the kids will eat their meals, but we do love to eat popcorn, fruit, cheese and wheat thins, nuts, dried fruit for snacks. 

Schedule shopping.  I go shopping at Sam's Club the first Wednesday of the month.  I stock up on frozen chicken breast, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, cereal, meat. . .  the other Wednesdays during the month I shop at the local grocery store.  I would say that our "staple" items are fruit, milk, eggs, cheese, carrotts, and bread.  When I end up making a quick run to the grocery store for 1 or 2 items I always end up spending more than I think I will, so I try to only go once each week.  I do throw in a Walmart trip at some point durning the month to stock up on deodorant, toothpaste, or hairspray.  

Think ahead.  We don't just go out to eat when I don't feel like cooking.  I recognize that some nights will be busy and so I try to plan ahead for nights that we need dinner in a hurry.  When I make brown rice I always cook enough for 3 meals and freeze the extra in freezer bags.  If I am making a casserole I will try to make one for the freezer.  When we have homemade pizza I 4x my recipe and keep extra pizza dough in the freezer.  If all else fails we eat canned Campbell's soup!  

Hope this helps.  What are you thoughts or ideas?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Picking a Preschool

Picking a preschool is a big decision!  I have learned a lot of lessons about preschool quite by accident. When Abigail had just turned two years old we lived in Palo Alto, CA.  Justin was doing a Fellowship at Stanford's Children's Hospital.  Our apartment was across the street from Stanford.  Many of my friends or their husbands had attended Stanford or even Harvard.  As a parent of a two year old there was a lot of pressure about what preschool your child attended.  After all, they might not get into a great college if they didn't attend a great preschool :) (at least that is how I felt)

I didn't feel like I was ready to have our oldest daughter be gone so I opted to teach her at home and we switched off with a couple of other moms one day a week.  We moved and the next year and I did the same thing.  

The year before she went kindergarten I felt a tremendous amount of guilt because she hadn't attended a formal preschool.  It seemed that every other kid around me had spent years in formal preschool before setting foot in a kindergarten classroom.  As a mother I felt guilt.  To make matters worse, my husband was applying for jobs and it didn't make sense to enroll her in a preschool when we knew we would be moving; and to top it off money was tight.  More guilt. . . how would she do socially, academically when she started school? 

Guess what happened?  When she started school she excelled!  She made friends  and she did well academically and was even taken out of kindergarten for more advanced math.  

The day she started first grade and was gone all day I cried as I realized that she would be gone for so long every day.  I was so grateful that  I had taken full advantage of the years that I did have her at home and so I decided that the preschool years are mine, all mine.  I don't send my kinds to any kind of preschool.  I love being the teacher.  So far I have had four kids graduate from my preschool and they have all in turn started elementary and done well!  

The most rewarding thing I do in a day is teach my children and I have learned that the best way to learn to read is one on one

I recognize that this situation doesn't work for everyone, but so far it has worked for us.  

A few curriculums that we have used over the years are:
-I have also adapted the kindergarten curriculum to teach preschool.

Over the past 9 years we have had the opportunity to be in 7 fun preschool groups with other moms.  We also have some years that I just teach our kids one on one.  

I guess the best lesson learned 
is to not worry about any outside pressure that you receive from "what everyone else is doing" just do what works for you and your family:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails