Posted in Craft Corner

Fall Storybook Kid Craft

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This month I decided to hold weekly craft days for my SURF Club which is made up of 21 neighbor girls ranging in ages from 3-17 years old. (SURF stands for: Sweet, Unique, aRtistic Friends.) Because of the high number of girls, and different dates of availability, I’m holding two hour craft sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after school in my Craft Cove.

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Can you tell this is a well loved copy?

For this first week, I did something different with the girls. I read them a fall story called Pumpkin Town! from my family’s library, and that became the theme of our craft.

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For this craft I provided the following supplies:

  • Printed copies of a full page pumpkin outline on cardstock (my own drawing)
  • Orange markers and crayons
  • Orange tissue paper, Mod Podge and paint brush (optional)
  • Green chenille stems
  • Brown construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue (Elmer’s/craft glue, glue sticks, glitter glue)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pre-cut foam rectangles and triangles (any colors, small enough for the inside of the pumpkin)
  • Tiny flat buttons, Pom poms, pony beads, and sequins (optional embellishments)

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First the girls colored their pumpkins orange and then they cut them out. They cut their own stems out of the brown paper and used the green chenille stems for the vine. A fun activity was threading pony beads onto the “vine” and twisting it. Homes were made from the foam shapes and pumpkin seeds were glued on to represent the town from the story. Embellishments were added as the girls chose.

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♥ It’s always a delight for me to see each girl’s creation. 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog today. My posts have really slowed down because I am sharing my computer with my daughter so she can use my Photoshop for a video she’s putting together for a class assignment. She is in her final semester of university and soon will have her English degree. I’m so proud of her, and for all you homeschooling moms out there, she was homeschooled. She has done exceptionally well in college. She also took a gap year. ♥

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Posted in Homeschooling Corner, My 52 Stories

My First Homeschool Conference

I’m not sure why I didn’t write about this much sooner, but it is still relevant and I hope it might help a homeschooling mama considering whether or not to attend a similar conference. In all of my nine-plus years of homeschooling, I had never attended a homeschool conference until September of last year (2017). I just never took the opportunity until then, but I had always wondered what they were like. Now I know!

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This conference took place at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee.

This was a Wild + Free conference. I had never heard of Wild + Free before I signed up for this event. My lovely friend, Audria, told me about it and before I knew it we had each booked our tickets, months in advance. I definitely recommend going to something like this with a friend. It makes the whole experience sweeter, plus you can figure things out together. 🙂

The location for this conference was a lot of fun, and it was my first visit to Tennessee so that was exciting, but what I want to focus on is the experience itself: There were dynamic speakers and talented musical performances. The focus was on building one another up. There were hundreds of other homeschooling mamas, from all backgrounds, in attendance. Honestly, it was thrilling to be there because I felt a part of something bigger than myself. I realized that I am not alone on this journey, and that was my biggest take-away.

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The speakers tackled a variety of parenting, family, and homeschooling topics. Some were addressed to the entire group while others took place in what I’d call “workshops” which we chose to attend in smaller groups. Each was motivational, yet realistic. By that I mean that the speakers were down-to-earth and relatable. There was also musical performances which were upbeat and energizing. I came away feeling encouraged and supported in my homeschooling. And that is why I’m glad I seized an opportunity to attend a homeschool conference.

♥ If you homeschool, have you attended a homeschool conference? I’d love to hear about it! Thanks so much for visiting my blog today. ♥

Posted in Craft Corner

Halloween Kid Craft Party

This past Friday, I hosted a SURF (Sweet Unique aRtsy Friends) Club Halloween party for sixteen neighbor girls between the ages of 5 and 15.

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With that many girls I decided to create three craft stations and divide them into three rotating groups. In my Craft Cove, the girls made Halloween wreaths. I set up the table with pre-cut paper plates, paints (purple, orange, black, green), brushes, markers, pom poms, ribbon, gems, googly eyes, chenille stems, scissors, and glue.

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At the second station the girls decorated foam cauldrons (from Dollar Tree) and created monsters from pre-cut monster shapes my son created for me, with pom poms, gems, googly eyes, feathers, markers, and glitter glue.

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I didn’t take a picture of the kitchen table, which was the third station, but the girls decorated sugar cookies there. I made the cookies the day before. There were witch hats, brooms, cauldrons, pumpkins, ghosts, bats, cats, spider webs, coffins, skulls, bones, and tomb stones. My daughter made up plates of cookies, covered them with gallon zip locks, and labeled them with the girls names ahead of time. I thought that was a great idea! For decorating, we provided vanilla frosting in black, green, orange, purple, white, and blue, Halloween perils, writing gels, and plastic knives.

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When I give these parties, I’ve learned to provide a space for the girls to keep their projects together. I lined the bar side of my kitchen island with kraft paper and used a pencil to draw lines so that each girl had an equal space. As the girls arrived, I sent them to the counter to select a space and write their names. Another trick was to have the girls names on paper cups and have an assigned place for their cups so they could get drinks as needed.

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It worked beautifully.

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Is it just me or does this cauldron look a bit like the Kool-Aid pitcher?

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I didn’t have time to take any more pictures. Hosting is a full time job! Luckily, my two sons stuck around to help me. They each took a station. I served the girls mummy hotdogs and mac ‘n’ cheese in jack ‘o lantern cups. They watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and munched on Halloween Chex mix. My son made up an orange punch for them with gummy worms in it. I also had a Halloween scavenger hunt to keep the girls busy between their craft rotations (some girls finish quickly, others take their time).

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The best part for me was decorating for the party. I love to decorate my house for holidays and I especially enjoy decorating around my fireplace. But I have a Halloween town and all sorts of decorations throughout the main rooms of my home. My kids think I’m nuts! But the girls loved the ambience. We even had Halloween music playing in the background while the girls crafted. Oh, and the girls all came dressed up as well.

♥ Do you host a Halloween party at your house? When my children were young and we lived in Washington, we were the neighborhood rest stop on Halloween night. We’d have several of the neighbor families take a break from trick or treating to eat chili or sip cider or hot cocoa at our house. It was a lot of fun. Here in the country, we don’t get many trick or treaters on Halloween night because of the distance between houses. So this was fun to have my crafting girls over for an all-out Halloween party. It was a LOT of work, but worth every effort to see all the happy faces. Thanks for stopping by! ♥

Posted in Movie Corner

The House with a Clock in its Walls (Movie Review)

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My daughter and I saw this movie with a friend and her daughter, right after it came to theaters. Our verdict? We were hooked the entire time. It was a jumbled mix of creepy mild horror (see my age recommendations below), magical high jinks, and laugh-out-loud humor.

This movie is a Universal and Amblin Entertainment effort and stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. It has elements of Goosebumps and Harry Potter, with a sprinkling of Matilda. It is rated PG and according to Parent Previews, has five lines with mild profanity (somehow I missed three of them). Otherwise, I call it a clean family movie, as long as the children watching it can handle the darker side of the movie.

Because of the mild horror, I definitely do not recommend this movie for any child under the age of ten, and even then, parents should consider their child’s sensitivity to a dark evil villain. It’s the villain’s creepy backstory (told through flashbacks) and eventual reappearance which make the movie edge-of-seat scary for children and some adults (for me, this is as scary as I like to get). My friend’s daughter is ten and she sat next to me during the movie. She hid her face in her jacket a couple of times, and came away claiming the return of the villain scared her the most. Luckily, she did not suffer from nightmares afterwards.

The basic plot line is that a ten-year old boy named Lewis is sent to live with his unconventional uncle Jonathon after his parents pass away, and soon discovers that both his uncle and his uncle’s house are hiding secrets. Lewis also meets his uncle’s neighbor and best friend, Florence. Much of the humor comes from the biting, friendly banter between Jonathon (Jack Black) and Florence (Cate Blanchett). I have to say that I found their performances to be great fits for their characters.

If you are a fan of Jack Black and Goosebumps, you will enjoy this movie. I personally found it worth seeing and would add it to my movie collection. Plus, it’s perfect for the Halloween season. 🙂

 

 

Posted in Faith Corner

The Sweetest Missionary Ever (8th Month Update)

My daughter has been out on her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for eight months now. She is the third missionary in our family (our immediate family), following in the footsteps of her father who served his mission in Santiago, Chile, and her big brother, Zach, who served his mission in Calgary, Canada. In our church, elders serve for two years and sisters for eighteen months.

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This was taken at Sacsayhuaman. Aren’t these just the cutest group of sister missionaries? Marissa is on the far left. Most of these photos were taken on her weekly p-days (personal days). Since Cusco is full of amazing history and tourist sites, she has been able to experience some of these things as part of her mission. On the other six days of the week she teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ and gives service.

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In July she got to visit the coolest park which I didn’t even know existed in Cusco.

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She “met” Groot and Baby Groot!

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Can you tell what Marissa is holding?

This was taken at a baptism. Marissa and her companion taught the two boys who are dressed in white. In our church, children may be baptized at the age of eight and older. Eight years old is considered the age of accountability. If you’d like to learn more about our beliefs about baptism, especially concerning babies and children, please click here. Our beliefs come directly from scripture and revelation.

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Marissa loves all of God’s creatures and plans to pursue a career with animals after her mission. Her nickname is “Mouse” because of her love for cheese and Minnie Mouse.

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Marissa painted this picture for each boy. She loves to paint so this was a fun way she could use one of her talents on her mission.

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Marissa was actually baptized in Peru because we were living in Arequipa as a family when she turned eight-years old.

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Just a few weeks ago Marissa got to visit Machu Picchu for her third time. Missionaries get to visit once per mission, but Marissa saw Machu Picchu when she was eight and again when she was seventeen.

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Marissa has recently been transferred to Juliaca. She was very excited because she recognized Juliaca from our time spent there when she was a young girl.

♥ Do you know a missionary? Have you ever visited Peru? Thanks for stopping by! ♥

Posted in Family Corner

My First Walk MS

Two years ago, at the age of 23, my oldest baby was diagnosed with MS (Multiple sclerosis). I will never forget the array of emotions that swept over me upon his diagnosis: Fear; Anger; Overwhelming Sadness; More Fear; Complete Helplessness; Wishing it were me instead; Did I mention fear?

I would start weeping around friends and family as I shared the news and sometimes in their efforts to comfort me they would say something hurtful. That wasn’t their intention of course, but it stung to be given the advice: “You mustn’t cry! You have to be strong for him.” Why is crying perceived as a weakness? First of all, I’m his mom! What mom would not weep at their child’s diagnosis? Second of all, I am naturally an emotional person. Ask my kids to tell you about the time we watched Toy Story 3 at the drive in. I didn’t stop crying until halfway through the second feature. 😛

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My amazing first born and me.

So naturally I was emotional today at my first Walk MS event. You can tell in my smile. Shortly after we arrived we picked up our t-shirts and wrist bands and prepared for the three mile walk. This took place at a lovely park in Ogden, Utah.

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When the call came to begin the walk, we were some of the first ones to cross under the big orange inflatable arch, which I didn’t take a photo of because I was too busy weeping with a smile on my face. I couldn’t help it. I guess it was hitting me why we were all there. We were all walking for someone we love who has a disease which attacks their central nervous system; a disease which has no cure. YET.

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There were painted rocks along the Walk MS path.

This walk was dedicated to the memory of Alex Hatch. I never knew Alex. I bet he was a wonderful person who gave MS a good fight.

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Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

By the way, did you know that this weekend (September 7th-9th) is National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life? We all know someone who is struggling with mental illness or suicidal tendencies so let’s pray for them now and every day. Along with prayer, reach out to them and give them unconditional love and support. We all need one another. I’m a big believer that we are not meant to go through the challenges of this life alone. We are all God’s children and we are His hands here on earth.

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MS often causes a whole host of symptoms from fatigue to balance issues to numbness and tingling to memory issues to speech issues to you name it really. It affects each person differently. There is no known cause and often times symptoms were present months to years before the diagnosis. It was a relief, although a bittersweet one for sure, to find out why Zach had been struggling at college with his reading and memorization when he had always been a strong, avid reader before who could remember what he read long afterwards.

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♥ Besides our family, with two members missing, we were joined by one family on my husband’s side, and I am so thankful for their support. Next year I am determined to advertise early in hopes that friends and other extended family will come out to this event. We even plan to make up our own Team Zach t-shirts. Because “Together We are Stronger”. ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum & Schedule


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September is here and for us that means the start of a new homeschool year. We follow the traditional school calendar (September thru May) because of the awesome distance program we use for Marcus’ core subjects.

This school year got off to stressful start because of driver’s ed. Sigh. To avoid dual-enrollment, I put Marcus in a seven-night driver’s ed. course which began last week and just ended last night. It’s a shame he couldn’t have taken the only other summer course which was in June, but that coincided with a youth camp. Honestly, if I’d known it would be this time consuming with the four-hour classes from 5:30 to 9:30pm, and the hours of homework assigned for each class (he basically rewrote the driver’s handbook), I would’ve made him trade his summer camp for driver’s ed. And, he’s still not finished because he has all the driving-with-instructor time to get in. One is scheduled for this afternoon for four hours, another for next Thursday, and then two more need to be scheduled after that.

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The book on the left is for history; the rest are for our own unit study. He’s studying Doctrine & Covenants this year in Seminary.

So, up ’til last night his schedule looked like this-

  • 6:40am wake up, get dressed
  • 7:10am leave for Seminary (20 min. drive + traffic)
  • 7:40-8:30am Seminary (this is a four-year scripture study program for youth)
  • 9:00am breakfast, set up for class
  • 9:30ish-am online American History II (1860-present; live-streamed)
  • 10:25ish-am online Earth Science (live-streamed)
  • 11:25ish-am online English (live-streamed)
  • 12:25ish-pm online precalculus (live-streamed)
  • 1:30pm lunch
  • 2pm-5pm driver’s ed homework (at least two solid hours worth); math or chores as time allows or sometimes we snuck in a quick devotion/scripture study; quick dinner
  • 5:15pm leave for driver’s ed
  • 5:30-9:30pm driver’s ed class (carpool home)
  • 10pm second dinner because he was hungry, even with snacks at driver’s ed
  • 10:30pm shower, brush teeth, get to bed
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English books: The Bronze Bow; The Hiding Place; The Screwtape Letters; The Merchant of Venice. His grammar comes from The Good and the Beautiful.

Driver’s ed. made us feel sorry for the public high school kids taking it. We know two girls in band, and band practice is after school for an hour and a half and then they had driver’s ed for four hours. These girls were at the school from 8:30am to 9:30pm! We were wondering when in the world they found time to do their driver’s ed homework? Or just breathe? We are so glad we homeschool. One morning we skipped Seminary for some much needed extra sleep. We can do that when we need to and to make up the absence, Marcus completes a worksheet the teacher emails him.

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Math book.

I don’t have any science books to show because all the resources will be provided by the teacher.

Aside from the time and stress of driver’s ed, which I realize is both necessary and temporary, we are excited for this homeschool year. Even though I don’t personally teach Marcus’ core subjects, we still make time to do other types of learning together, and I read all of his novels for English with him. But on our own this year we plan to make time for:

  • an early Church history unit study
  • a unit study about C.S. Lewis, including much of his poetry
  • fieldtrips to museums
  • hiking, biking, nature walks
  • art lessons
  • poetry tea time
  • meal planning and dinner prep
  • finishing six merit badges and his Eagle project
  • visiting his dad in Montana at least once a month

♥ Are you homeschooling a teenager this year? Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog today. Are you seeing signs of fall where you live? Here, not so much. Not yet. ♥