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 ❤

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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 😂. 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 😂

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 😂 – 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 😂. My charming son and his story about poop…💩😂. My boys just want to play all day, but I’m a mean mom and make them learn anyway 😂. 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 😂

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…😒

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 😁😂

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.

After Church Shenanigans

We had some silly fun after church yesterday. I was taking pictures of the baby in her pretty dress – a simple white onesie with a homemade skirt sewn on. She was more interested in everything else, of course. Like climbing into the box of wipes in her closet.

Then we were joined by the 3 and 10 year olds. They, of course, added to the silliness.

Then we joined the older boys and Dad, who were making magic bars in the kitchen. Graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, coconut, drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. Bake for about 15 min at 350. Yum!

I may not have gotten the perfect picture of our baby in her dress, but we had a fun and relaxing Sunday! I’d like to get that picture, but making memories and enjoying time together as a family is more important ❤

Changes

Change is part of life. It’s inevitable. Some changes are big, such as getting married, having a baby, moving, starting a new job, the loss of a loved one, or choosing to homeschool. We’ve experienced each of those, some multiple times.

Some changes are small, but even the small changes have an adjustment period, a time to recalibrate, a learning curve.

We’re in the midst of a few of these small changes now. My husband was recently released as a ward missionary at church and called as the cub master. Ironically, not long after I posted that we don’t really care about scouts…now I guess we kind of have to 😂

Although we’ll see how our 8 year old son responds to this change. He didn’t want to go to his dad’s first pack meeting as cub master. I’m not going to force the issue; it’s completely his choice.

When my husband got set apart last week, I got released as an activity days leader. It was officially announced today. I have mixed feelings about it. I loved being an activity days leader! It’s such a fun calling and I adore the girls. They are amazing girls. Planning and hosting activities for them was a joy. Having my own daughter in the group was fantastic.

But at the same time, I’m exhausted. I’m burned out. At present, I’m between callings. I don’t expect it to last long. They’ve already hinted as much. But I have no idea what I’ll get next, which kind of makes me a little nervous. Is it bad that I hope it’s not massive and time consuming? Or taking care of young children? Don’t get me wrong, I love children, but…I’m caring for and teaching my own children all day every day. Moms need breaks, too. I need time with other women, and church is really the only place I get it.

I have no idea what’s coming, but I believe it will be what I need and where someone else needs me. It’s interesting to note that I learned of my release the day after one of the girls moved. Maybe she needed me to be her leader? I don’t know, but the thought keeps coming back. Not in a prideful “I’m so wonderful” way, but in a ponderous one. Part of her life reminds me of my own childhood. Maybe she needed a leader with similar experiences?

Whatever I get called to next, I hope I have the faith to accept it and get to work. Not having a calling feels weird. It’s a sort of temporary displacement. But I wouldn’t mind a little break in between 😂

Lucky 7

Seven years (and one day) ago, a redheaded baby boy came into the world. From the very beginning, he has surprised us in so many ways: he’s our sooner-than-planned-for baby, our 6-days-early-after-2-due-date-babies baby, our in-labor-name-change baby, and the one and only redhead currently in all our extended family.  We have deceased redheads in the family, like my grandpa and my husband’s great uncle, but our middle son is the only living redhead in the bunch.

And oh does he have the personality to match! He was my easiest pregnancy (or should I say, the only one I didn’t have all day sickness with) and our easiest baby. But he more than made up for it as a toddler and beyond!

Like the time we were about to leave for church and found him sitting on the kitchen floor, eating chocolate pudding when he was 2.5. Naturally, his clothes were covered in it and we had to change him before we left. We were late as a result.

Or a few weeks before that, when he climbed to the top shelf of the boys’ closet and threw all the toys down. A wooden barn he threw hit his big brother in the head…a trip to the ER, glue, and steri-strips were required.

Or when he was running around on our bed at 3 and tripped over a pillow and hit his head on the nightstand. He got his own set of glue and steri-strips.

And many many more crazy stories of this child’s antics. Thankfully, those incidents have slowed down as he’s grown. He’s not as extreme in his mood changes as he used to be. Well, usually 😂. He certainly has his moments. But he’s mellowed out a lot in the last few years.

It’s hard to believe he’s 7 now. He’s an amazing kid. He’s sweet, funny, smart, and he adores his baby sister. He loves Legos, video games, swords, and building things. He says he wants to work for Nintendo when he grows up.

Learning to read is a longer journey with him than it was for his older siblings, but that’s OK. He’ll get there. Every kid is different and will learn at their own pace and in their own time.

He had a fun birthday – especially since we took the day off from school and chores 😂. We relaxed at home, played video games, went to the park, and celebrated his birthday with cupcakes and presents. We let the birthday person choose their birthday dinner. The kids always pick white cheddar mac and cheese!

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All in all, he had a wonderful 7th birthday.  Happy 7th to the cutest little redhead!