Saturday, June 8, 2013

Teaching My Boys to Cook

This s meant to be an ongoing cookbook.  Each summer I intend to add on more favorites that we can practice making together.  I try to give each son a night to pick what they want to make and they are in charge of helping me make dinner.

My cookbook is found here: click here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

More Sewing

I've had some fun doing more sewing for my littlest munchkin!  Here's what else I've accomplished so far:
Lots of easy T-shirts!!  The middle one could go for PJs but they are play clothes.  I love that you don't even have to hem knit!  The other two I had the shorts for but he needed a good matching T-shirt.  I used the pattern from Sewing For Boys.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Love Baby Gifts!

I have had so much fun sewing for my new little niece.  I made the bag from Bunny Hill's pattern using some fabric I already had by Riley Blake and finding others at Joanne's to go with it.  I made the bapron from CINO's pattern.  I added some fabric to the front of the clothe diapers to fancy up some burp cloths and then made a changing pad (no- it's not a sleeping bag!) from my own design.  I used that water proof stuff in the Baby Boutique section and it seems like it will hold up really good.  Next time I won't use such thick batting because it's a little too bulky but it'll sure do the job!    

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Teacher Gifts: Flower Pots

My boys asked me if we could do the same teacher appreciation gifts this year as last year.  Since they had so much fun making them last year and their teachers really seemed to like it we went ahead and did the same thing.  I got some clay flower pots and they painted them with paint pens.  Then we put some cactus plants in them and stuck these notes on a wooden stick in the dirt.  They turned out cute, are inexpensive and my boys loved making them.  Plus it is something that THEY made and I think they teachers like that.  Here's the flowers I drew with: "If teachers were flowers, I'd pick you!" printed on them. 

Family Tradition: End of the Year Award Ceremony

We had our end-of-the-school-year celebration and awards ceremony on Monday night for Family Home Evening.  This is a new tradition we're starting.  My husband and I picked out 6 things about each of our son that they have accomplished or done in the past year.  Some of them were funny and some were more serious.  Then I had fun finding little things to go with each of them.  Our boys loved it!!  They were so excited to find out what their awards were.  Some of our awards were:  Torpedo Award (fast swimmer on swim team and I got some torpedo toys to play with in the pool), Hardworking Speller (smarties), Bookworm Award (gummy worms), Best Giggle (Laffy Taffy), Musician Award (play recorder), Best Pet Owner Award (swedish fish- we have a fish), etc.  The Dollar Store comes in really handy for these kinds of things!

Then we enjoyed these graduation cupcakes. (I snagged the plain cupcakes from Walmart for 40% off and added a Reeses, cut up Hersheys and Twizzler)en we enjoyed these graduation cupcakes. (I snagged the plain cupcakes from Walmart for 40% off and added a Reeses, cut up Hersheys and Twizzler).

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Summer Outfit

I am finding that the hand-me-downs for my third son are pretty sparse at this age.  (He's two.)  I think my older boys were hard on their clothes at this age.  But that's okay- it gives me an excuse to get sewing!!  I was inspired by a lot of the posts from a few weeks ago when it was sew for your kids week or something like that.  I got out some of my scraps and knit fabric stash and started putting some outfits together.  I have a T-shirt here or pair of shorts there for him without a matching counterpart so I was able to put those together.  I had fun planning and cutting out the outfits and now it's time to get to work!  (Before he outgrows  what I cut out!)  

Here's my first product.  

The pattern came from this book by Rob Merrett 
that I purchased over a year ago and this is the first thing I've made from it but I think it turned out really cute!  I actually cut out size 3 because even though L* is 2, he's pretty tall for his age.  And it fits perfectly.  If I made it again I would just use elastic in the waist instead of a drawstring.  There were a lot of details and buttons on this so it took awhile to make, plus the instructions were a little hard for me to follow in some parts, but I might make another one because I like how it turned out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lifesaver- How to get crayon out from a load of laundry

I know I am very lucky that in the 9+ years of raising boys I have never had a crayon sneak through my wash.  But today broke my lucky streak and it wasn't pretty!  I am really bad about checking pockets for things and evidently a yellow crayon was hidden away somewhere in my piles of sheets and miscellaneous lights.  When I was folding them I thought it was paint splotches (my kids have been working on teacher's gifts) but when I saw the empty crayon wrapper it hit me these were melted crayon spots all over my laundry!!  (Which is probably a good thing that it wasn't paint!)  So I googled it (what did we do before internet?  Probably bugged Mom more often!) and found this great and simple solution at Diary of a Doctor's Wife.  A true lifesaver!  We probably would have just lived with yellow spotted sheets and T-shirts but now we don't have to!  This worked perfectly.  I did have to repeat all steps twice.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fun ABC Magnets

Awhile ago I saw these adorable magnets over at servingpinklemonade.  I pinned the idea and have had it in my project to-do drawer for many months.  I thought it would be a great thing to whip out while I'm making dinner and my preschooler is begging for attention, not to mention a great learning tool!  So I finally finished them and all of my boys have liked playing with them.  Probably my preschooler least of all, but I'm hoping that will change once I sit down and play with him.  But we'll see...  Part of parenting is figuring out what works with each child since they are all so different!

Anyhow, I had fun coloring them with my colored pencils while watching my favorite TV shows, "Elementary" and "Castle".  But you can also print out a colored version or let your kids have fun coloring them!  Then I modge podged some cut up magnets- you know the kind you get tons of advertisements on in the mail, etc.  And then I laminated them. I think they turned out really cute!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Felt Playhouse

I had a blast making my little one a felt playhouse for Christmas and I imagine we will have a blast playing in it in the months to come!  Already all three of my boys think it's lots of fun!  Even my 9 year old gets excited about it- though my older boys' ideas of playing are a little different than mine.  (Think robbers breaking in to steal carrots compared to picking apples from the orchard and eating them at our pretend table.)

We had a little knit house that covered a card table growing up.  I remember pretending all kinds of things inside our "house."  So I've wanted to make one for my kids for awhile but never seemed to find the time. 

Then I saw this adorable felt house at homemadebyjill and was inspired!  I loved the idea of having a garden and apple tree where they can pick fruits and veggies.  I also loved how she put mesh in the windows since it can get a little stuffy in a felt house.  I copied a lot of her ideas with a little personal twist of my own.

 My lettuce leaves are a little too plumb : )  But I think the pumpkin vines turned out pretty good.  I still need to finish the actual pumpkins!
  Here's the other end of the garden with one loan corn stalk.

I had fun with my flower garden!

I decided to leave off the dog since my son has lots of stuffed animals he can carry in and out of the pet door.

In the future it will be fun to put some mail in this little mailbox.

I still need to finish the pumpkins and a few more apples and tiddy up a few thing- I think mine is a little too loose around the edges but all in all, I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  And it was really a lot of fun to make!!  

Friday, January 18, 2013

After Dinner Chore Chart- Spinner Style

I think the time has come for me to pass on some of my dinner chores!

 Hallelujah!  This is why I had children, right?  Just kidding!

But I have hoarded dishes and dinner clean-up for myself long enough and I think I'm ready to enlist more help.  This is not only for myself (though part of me thinks this will probably not be any easier for me) but for them, too!  I think it's important that my boys learn how to do some housework.  It will make them better husbands and men.  (And my daughter-in-laws will thank me someday.)

So I got this idea to make an after dinner chore chart with a spinner.  Nothing fancy- I made in the Paint program.  I laminated it, cut out the circle and arrow (spinner) and attached the spinner with a brad in the center.  Every night each family member takes a turn spinning the spinner and where it lands is their chore for the night.  I'm hoping the game aspect of it will make this more fun, at least at first.  

We  presented the spinner at our Family Council on Sunday.  And so far the boys are excited to take part.    


Well, I am VERY HAPPY to report after almost 2 months, it has been a huge success!  At least with me : )  No, really, my boys were actually pretty excited to do this at first. And though they've certainly lost some of that enthusiasm and there have been a few complaints, we have stuck with it and it has become "the norm."  The spinner has made it more fun, eliminates fights over who gets to do what or anyone getting tired of the same chore, and everyone gets to learn how to do all different chores.

What I like best about it is most nights we are all in the kitchen working together on cleaning up.  Even my two year old tries to help.  And when we all work together it goes fast and I feel unified instead of like the exhausted, unappreciated maid who has spent too many hours in the kitchen.  Not all of my kids can do all of the chores and they still require some help from my husband and I but I know they will eventually get the hang of it.  Meanwhile we are all learning some valuable lessons.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Will You Measure Your Life?

I just finished reading How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen and found it inspiring! I don't consider myself to be a practical, business-minded person, but maybe I am more than I think.  I liked how he applied business and management principles to real life.  As a homemaker, sometimes I feel like running a family is like running a business- just because there are so many different aspects to it, but of course it is more than that.  Despite the successful business background, I found Christensen to be compassionate, as well as honest and very smart.  Overall, for me, I felt like he was stressing the importance of living life on purpose, with a definite and clear purpose- being more deliberate and focused in everything I do.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Real strategy in companies and in our lives is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about where we spend our resources.  As you're living your life from day to day, how do you make sure you're heading in the right directions?  (p62)

"With every moment of your time, every decision about how you spend your energy and your money you are making a statement about what really matters to you. (p75)

"You will be constantly pressured both at home and at work, to give people and projects your attention.  How do you decide who gets what?  Whoever makes the most noise? Whoever grabs you first?  Overcome the natural tendency to focus on the short term at the expense of the long term." (p80-81)

"Our default instincts are so often just to support our children in a difficult moment.  But if our children don't face difficult challenges, and sometimes fail along the way, they will not build the resilience they will need throughout their lives... You should consciously think about what abilities you want your child to develop, and then what experiences will likely help him get them.  So you might have to think about engineering opportunities for your child to have the experiences you believe will help him develop the capabilities he needs for life." (p155)

"When the kids come home for a family reunion, I like to listen to their banter back and forth about the experiences they had growing up, and which had the greatest impact on their lives. I typically have no memory of the events they recall as being important. And when I ask them about the times when Jim and I sat them down specifically to share what we thought were foundationally important values of our family, well, the kids have no memory of any of them. I guess the thing to learn from this is that children will learn when they are ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them….Your parents most likely weren’t thinking consciously about teaching you the right priorities at the time—but simply because they were there with you in those learning moments, those values became your values too. Which means that first, when children are ready to learn, we need to be there. And second, we need to be found displaying through our actions the priorities and values we want our children to learn.” (p137)

I think my favorite part is when he talks about setting a culture in our family.  We all worry that when we aren't there our kids won't make the right choices and even though they will always have their agency to choose for themselves and they may not choose what we think they should, we can instill certain habits and "autopilots" in our families.  This is through consistency, repetition and basically stating "We want our family to be known for kindness" or whatever else you want your culture to be.

Christensen says: "It's not as simple as setting family rules and hoping for the best.  Something more fundamental has to occur- and it has to happen years before the moment arises when our children are faced with that difficult choice.  Their priorities need to be set correctly so they will know how to evaluate their options and make a good choice.  The best tool we have to help our children do this is through the culture we build in our families. (p159)

"Forming a culture is not an instant loop; it's not something you can decide on, communicate, and then expect it to suddenly work on its own.  You need to be sure that when you ask your children to do something, or tell your spouse you're going to do something, you hold to that and follow through.  It sounds obvious; most of us want to try to be consistent.  But in the pressures of day-to-day living, that can be tough.  There will be many days when enforcing rules is harder on a parent than it is on a child. (p169)

"'s easier to hold on to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time.  The boundary- your personal moral line- is powerful, because you don't cross it; if you have justified doing it once, there's nothing to stop you doing it again.  Decide what you stand for.  And then stand for it all the time. (p191)

"I came to understand that while many of us might default to measuring our lives by summary statistics...the only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people." (p203

Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday Cakes

We have three birthdays in our family within 18 days of each other, intermixed with Christmas, New Year's, my Mom's birthday and our anniversary.  So the end of December/beginning of January is PARTY time at our house!  That also means lots of CAKE.  
I thought I'd share some of those with you.

My husband always loved ice cream cakes growing up.  The price tag on those store bought ones can be really pricey so this year I found a recipe at for Ice Cream Crunch Cake that I tried and- WOW! it was good!  It really was easy - you just need time to freeze each layer and room in your freezer.  Mine doesn't look as beautiful as theirs but I'm sure it tastes just as good!

My second son requested the Motor Cross cake again this year.  I know he had it at least one other birthday, as well as my oldest son, and my oldest son made it for his Cubscout Blue and Gold Banquet last year.  So this is certainly a favorite around here!  I like it because it's pretty easy and even if you have crumbs in your frosting, you cover it up with cookie crumbs and cocoa puffs and all other kinds of goodies.  We never seem to be able to find the chocolate donut holes so we use peanut butter cups instead.  This year it got a little lopsided but my son thought it was awesome!  Plus he likes that he gets a motorcycle to keep!

On my youngest son's birthday this year I came down with the stomach bug and we'd just returned from traveling to visit family so I didn't have ingredients to decorate a cake.  My sweet hubby ran to the store and got some Elmo cupcakes and of course my son loved them!  

But I thought I'd share his cake from last year.  It's from Betty Crocker I thought it turned out cute.  Super easy- I really only do easy- and yummy!