Highlight Reel Catch Up: Thanksgiving

We were going to go to a church turkey bowl on Thanksgiving. We were told there would be donuts, hot chocolate, and activities for all ages. But when we got there, it was justΒ  flag football. Miscommunication, perhaps? So…we went to Krispy Kreme instead πŸ˜‚. As we parked the van, I said, “I think we just started a new tradition.” My husband replied, “heck yeah we did!” I doubt we’ll have any objections πŸ˜‚. It was such a fun way to start the holiday!

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Everyone loves watching the donuts!Β  Even our littlest.Β  She kept reaching toward them excitedly πŸ˜‚

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We took our donuts home and ate them with hot chocolate or chocolate milk.

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IΒ  had a maple bar, custard filled, and peppermint hot chocolate.Β  Perfect start to any holiday!

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Most of our extended family lives in other states, but one of my husband’s sisters and her family live about an hour away. We went over to their new house for Thanksgiving dinner. We split the cooking in half.Β  Our portion of the food:

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We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with them!

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So. Much. Delicious. Food!

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And the baby was mostly interested in their dog’s water dish πŸ˜‚

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We took all of Thanksgiving week off from school. It was great! We needed the break. Parts of it were really stressful, but we also spent a lot of time relaxing together as a family.

We got our first snow of the season on Saturday.Β  We had a blast playing in the snow!Β  We decked the halls with our Christmas decor last night. We were missing a box, which we found later. We’ll decorate with the items in that box soon, but I love how it’s coming together so far!Β  Pics of snow and decor coming in a separate post; plus, they’re on my phone and I’m on my computer right now.

Today is very much the Monday after a break. Getting back into the school routine was a complete battle with my SPD 8.5 year old. And most of this week will be abnormal because my oldest’s birthday is tomorrow, my middle is getting cavities filled on Wed, and I’m helping decorate for our Relief Society (women at church) Christmas party on Thursday during the day. I have to take the kids along. We’ll see how that goes! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I keep trying to slow down, and my body is telling me to do just that by giving me cold symptoms, but I have too many commitments this month that have to be addressed. I’m ready for November to end πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.Β  We’ve had ups and downs, but it’s been a very busy month.Β  Even so, we are so blessed and have much – more than much – to be grateful for.

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Highlight Reel Catch Up: Appointments, Party, and Fraud

November has been full of appointments. Oh so many appointments! Mostly dental. And we’re not done with them yet! All the kids, besides the baby, had dental check ups. Two of them need fillings. That same day, I had an emergency dental appointment right after the kids’ check ups. I literally left their pediatric dentist’s office to go to my appointment. My husband met us at the kids’ dentist and took the kids home while I went in for my appointment.

The kids’ dentist has a fantastic play area!Β  The baby kept going up and down the slide.Β  She loved it!

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And the big kids mostly played on the tablets πŸ˜‚

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One of my premolars broke during dinner 2 nights before, so I had to get it taken care of ASAP. Even if it meant spending over 5 hours at one dentist or another (mine and the kids’). Of course, it was more complicated and expensive (even after insurance) than anticipated. C’est la vie. An extraction and temp bridge later…

My littlest turned 15 months! She had her well check and she’s doing great! She weighs 20 lbs and is 30″ tall now.Β  She has a molar coming in, so she’s been extra clingy and fussy.Β  She woke up with some serious bedhead that morning.

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We were invited to our nephew’s birthday party at a trampoline park. It was fun! At first, I didn’t want to go because I’d had a really really hard day. I’m glad I did, though. We had a great time and it was just the sort of lighthearted fun we needed.

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We got to do the obstacle course with our big kids.Β  So fun!

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I got my permanent bridge right before Thanksgiving. I’m still having some pain from it. Ibuprofen is my friend these days.

While I was at my bridge seating appointment, my husband called me to inform me that there was fraud on our bank account. Because, you know, life isn’t hard enough, right? We got it resolved, cancelled his debit card, changed the password for the store site that got hacked, etc. We thought it was done. But no. Last night, my card got fraud, too. We’re in the process of fixing it. We’ve done our part; we’re now waiting for our bank to give our money back. And I’m changing passwords everywhere. I know it’ll work out, but it’s still so stressful! I really don’t understand how anyone can do things like that to others. And unfortunately, it’s extra prevalent at this time of year. Also, none of those charges can actually clear because they’re for more than our current balance.Β  So, nice try, thieves?

I have some cavities to fill as well, and one tooth still needs a crown, so I get to go back right before Christmas.Β  Yay?Β  At least it’s getting taken care of, right?Β  Plus the kids who need to get fillings.Β  Three more dental visits between now and Christmas.Β  So.Β  Many.Β  Appointments.Β  Thank goodness for insurance!

Highlight Reel Catch Up: Halloween and Fall Fun

It’s been a whirlwind of a month+ since my last post. Oh, where to start? I can’t possibly write everything – I don’t even remember all of it πŸ˜‚ – so I’m doing a series of highlight reel posts, focusing on the most notable moments. There were great moments and stressful ones. And in between was everyday life. I will say I’m looking forward to November ending because it’s been a rough month!

Halloween was fun. We went trick or treating around our neighborhood. One of the families in our ward (church congregation) grills hot dogs for the neighborhood, so we trick or treated our way over to their house. We ate and enjoyed being with friends. They had a guillotine they made as a prop for a play and they let people pretend to be beheaded. It was a wonderful night!

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That Saturday, we winterized our yard.Β  Well, mostly.Β  We mowed the front lawn, put away hoses, covered the faucets, and put outdoor toys in the shed.Β  We mowed the back lawn the next Saturday.Β  My 8 year old wanted to rake the leaves so he could jump in them.Β  We had tons of fun playing in the leaves!

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My 8.5 year old intentionally piled the leaves under the tree so he could jump down into it.

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They took turns burying each other in the leaf pile.

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The kids took turns helping Dad mow the front lawn.

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Even the baby got a turn to be buried in leaves!Β  She loved it!

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Climbing up in the tree to jump into the leaves.

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We voted! My voter’s registration didn’t go through when I switched over my license, so I had to stand in the provisional line. The same thing happened to a lot of people here; they added a form for registering to vote. Apparently the DOL didn’t have that information?Β  They changed it between when my husband renewed his and when I renewed mine, so it was still in a transitional period.Β  In any case, about an hour and a half later…I was able to vote.Β  It was crazy, but I’m glad I did it.Β  I’m grateful to live in a time and place where I can vote.Β  Some things went how I wanted them to and others didn’t, but that’s OK.Β  Now I’m signed up for absentee voting.Β  I’m all for simplifying my life wherever possible!

Pumpkin Patch 2018

We went to the pumpkin patch today. It was so fun!! We went late in the day because we wanted to get a bunch of chores done before we left.

The baby fell asleep in the car. She even stayed asleep when we moved her to the stroller. She fought naps all day, so she desperately needed the nap.

We played in the straw maze. We love their fun and easy maze!

Then we searched for pumpkins in the patch. They were pretty picked over, so it took some time to find the ones we wanted.

Little miss woke up as we were finishing our pumpkin search. She loved holding her pumpkin!

After we bought our pumpkins, we headed back to the maze. Since the baby slept through the maze earlier, she didn’t get a chance to explore it the first time. On the way there, the 3 year old pushed the 8 year old in the cart with the pumpkins!

Then we took some family pictures at these cute decorated areas. Guess who hates having his picture taken and purposely makes “dead faces” (his words…) for photos?

We had so much fun! We love our annual trip to the pumpkin patch ❀

Social Media Fast

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. During the women’s session of our recent General Conference, our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, encouraged each woman to take a 10 day fast from social media and to prayerfully consider what other media we use. I started my social media fast that night.

Facebook is the only social media I use on a regular basis. I rarely get on Pinterest – and usually only when I’m looking for something specific. I don’t have Twitter or Instagram. I couldn’t decide if blogging counted, so I stayed away from here as well.

In some ways, it was easy. But in some ways, it was hard. Facebook is my default while nursing the baby. Breaking myself from that habit took conscious effort. I didn’t open the Facebook app once, but I did find myself browsing Amazon a lot πŸ˜‚. I also caught myself reading comments on YouTube videos before I realised what I was doing.

So, I did it…but I could have done better. I should have used that time more wisely. I should have put more purpose and prayer into my social media fast. I should have spent more of that time off social media in the scriptures. I don’t feel like I gained what I should have from it.

President Nelson also admonished us to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. I’m reading it, but not yet at the pace that will get me to that goal. I know I can do better. In 2005, President Hinckley gave a similar challenge. I read it with my mom, which was an amazing experience that brought us closer together. My mom struggled with activity in the church and I know that made a huge difference in her life.

I should do the fast again, but with more purpose, prayer, and time in the scriptures. Yes, I did it, but I feel like I missed the mark a bit. I plan to do it again, but when I’m ready for it. I’m not sure exactly when, but I don’t want to delay too long because I know I’ll forget πŸ˜‚

So, I did it, but I need to do it again in the nearish future.

Settling Into Our Groove

Now that we’re almost 2 months into our school year, we feel like we’re pretty well settled into our groove for the year. It’s going really well! Everyone has adjusted to our schedule changes. We’re all now used to doing school again. My boys still complain, probably every day, but it’s not as bad now that school is routine again. Well, usually πŸ˜‚ – we all have our off days.

I love our groove for this year. We read scriptures, read a poem together, and read from our current read alouds. Then we do whatever our subject of the day is:

  • Monday – science
  • Tuesday – history
  • Wednesday – art and music
  • Thursday – history
  • Friday – technology

We do our formal math and language arts lessons Monday through Thursday. This is our fourth year using Math U See and we love it! We’re now in our second year using TGTB’s language arts curricula, which we also love.

Well, at least my oldest and I do πŸ˜‚. My charming son and his story about poop…πŸ’©πŸ˜‚. My boys just want to play all day, but I’m a mean mom and make them learn anyway πŸ˜‚. The only subject they want to do is art. Here’s a few of our recent art projects. Can you guess which one is mine?

Oops, forgot to rotate this one πŸ˜‚

We get a lot of our art projects from the Usborne Art Treasury. It’s such a great book. It has a famous piece of art, information about the artist, and instructions to make a similar art project. So fun! Here are the books we’re reading on Wednesdays:

The three smaller books are our current daily read aloud books. We finished TGTB history unit 1 (year 1) yesterday and will start unit 2 tomorrow. I’m loving it so far! My kids like to do coloring pages while I read the lesson, so I printed a bunch of coordinating coloring pages from supercoloringpages.com. I’m printing them one unit at a time, so I printed the additional coloring pages for unit 2 yesterday.

On Fridays, we do fun math and language arts. It varies. Some weeks, we do math puzzle books or logic books. Others, we play math board games like Money Money. Or we’ll do activities in a Magformers math workbook. For language arts, we may play Tapple, do activities on Education City (thanks to MTH), etc. I’m planning to play Bananagrams this week, but I’m still waiting for it to arrive. It was supposed to be prime…πŸ˜’

Because I have yet to be able to purchase the Lego set we’re focusing our tech class on, we’re doing activities from Engineer Academy. I’m ordering those Legos once our first reimbursement check comes in. One of the tech activities from that book involved making balloon jet engines. They didn’t really work, but it was fun to try.

The last thing we do each week are our learning logs. The boys still complain, but they’re getting used to it. Learning logs are worth the hassle for all the benefits we gain from MTH. And really, they’re easy. Especially since I made myself a little table in Excel for notes throughout the week. I print one off each week and jot down notes as we go. It makes remembering the details much easier when it’s learning log time! I am all about making my life easier and simplifying when I can 😊

All in all, we’re happy with how our school year is going thus far. And we have so much more coming! I love this homeschooling journey 😍

Of Budgets and Blessings

I’ve mentioned previously that we’re on a very tight budget. Unexpectedly needing to replace our furnace earlier this year has had a long term impact on our finances. It will continue to do so until our next tax return. We were unable to pay off our credit cards or pay our car insurance in a lump sum as planned. We paid over half the furnace cost when we bought it but we had to finance the rest, so we have a monthly furnace bill. It’s only $75/month, but when added to credit cards, car insurance, and our other monthly bills…altogether, it puts us in a tight spot.

I’m not saying that to complain or to seek pity, but to give some background information. It is what it is and we’re learning from this experience. We plan to prioritize better with our tax return in the future. Pay off credit cards and the furnace first, build up some savings, pay car insurance…that sort of thing. All things we had planned to do earlier this year with our tax return, but we focused on our fun projects first. It was immediately after we finished our family room that the furnace went out. I don’t regret it in the least because now we enjoy our family room, but in hindsight, we could have saved ourselves a lot of stress. We’ve certainly learned from this experience. Next year, we’ll prioritize better.

But! That’s not to say we haven’t been blessed. Far from it. Miraculously, we’ve somehow had enough. All our monthly bills are paid. We have food. We have the school supplies we need. And it’s not because of our budgeting skills. No, it most definitely is not. We’re pretty OK at budgeting, but there’s only so much you can do with x amount of money. And somehow, it’s being stretched beyond mathematical reasoning to be enough. I know it’s not us. The Lord is watching out for our family and blessing us. We pay our tithing…and it is enough.

He’s also blessing us through other people. Fresh produce from a neighbor’s garden. An offer of homemade applesauce that, when offered, the giver learned how tight things are and gave us a laundry basket filled with canned goods, pasta, and boxed foods – in addition to the box of canned applesauce. A plethora of spaghetti sauce and 3 lbs of ground beef from another neighbor. An unexpected Target gift card from my husband’s work, which enabled us to buy enough groceries to hold us over till payday. And this is just this month. The ground beef was just last night. Until last night, we had all the ingredients to make tacos, except ground beef. Once our kind neighbors gave us the beef, we knew exactly what to make for dinner.

The baby loved it! They were delicious. The tomatoes are fresh from another neighbor’s garden. This meal would not have been possible without the generosity of our neighbors.

That’s not to say we don’t have food. We do. We’re making it work with limited resources. But it’s definitely through the Lord’s hand. Our friends and neighbors didn’t know the details of how tight it’s been. But they felt the prompting to reach out and help. That’s not us. That’s divine assistance.

Our budget is what lead me to consider MTH, the distance charter school we joined this year. We’d homeschooled on our own for 3 years until now. Getting reimbursed for our school expenses made it worth pursuing. It is opening up doors we couldn’t possibly access on our own!

The reimbursement window opened this week. I’d heard that it can take a few weeks to get reimbursed after it opens since so many people submit for reimbursement at the same time. I submitted by 9 am the day it opened. I meant to do it right at midnight, but I forgot and went to bed.

I expected a long wait…but all of our submissions have already been approved! What a blessing! I was not expecting it so soon. I’m still waiting on the money itself, but it shouldn’t take long now that it’s approved.

I hoped to submit for a larger reimbursement, but we didn’t have enough money to buy more in advance. I’m waiting for that reimbursement money to buy the aquarium pass and Lego set we’re pre-approved for. And then I’ll submit those receipts for reimbursement πŸ˜πŸ˜‚

Yes, living on such a tight budget is hard, but we’ve been so so blessed. Our needs are being met. There’s something satisfying about sticking to a small budget. It forces us to prioritize, especially while grocery shopping. Do I want to go through this again? No. Definitely not. But we’re learning so many valuable lessons about money, priorities, faith, trust, service, and charity. Those lessons make all the stress and hardship worth it. But the blessings we see falling from heaven are the best of all.