Friday, October 9, 2015

"The Big Disconnect" by Catherine Steiner-Adair

This is a life-changing book for me.  I have been feeling uncomfortable with the way screens and technology are changing our lives.  Taking over our relationships, our time, our thoughts.  My oldest is turning 12 and got a chromebook from school and it's made me look at what boundaries we need to set with.  Then it made me look at my own habits and wonder how I would like my children to pick up those habits.  How would it change our family relationships?  I didn't like what I was feeling but felt helpless as to what to do about it.  This book has helped put into words that uncomfortable feeling and backed it with research and real-life experiences.  It is inspiring me to look at my own screen habits and to "unplug" or "disconnect" more often and focus on being present.  I've always heard and believed how important it is to be "at the crossroads" with our children.  And I've tried to physically do so- to be home and available when my children come home from school or go to a friend's house or activity, just in case they need to talk or so I can be alert to any cues that something is going on.  I had never thought about how my smart phone/texting/emails/blogging takes me away mentally.  I need to be here mentally at the crossroads as well.

I miss those simple days when we spent our time outside as much as possible without a phone.  I miss the days when my husband and I could have a conversation without one of use scrolling through an article or email or texting on our phones.  I miss those days when I wasn't having 3 texting conversations and trying to listen to my 4 children and follow a recipe on my phone.  I miss those days when I would sew or read a book in the evenings instead of perusing blogs and gardening articles, pinterest, emails, facebook while watching a TV show- only halfway doing anything and getting really nothing done.  I miss the days when I accomplished more because I wasn't checking facebook and email and texting every 30 minutes.  Boy, am I telling on myself now!!

My husband and I were one of the last people I know to get smart phones.  Our 3rd child was about 2 years old when we got them.  That was when my life changed- and not for the better.  Yes, it's nice to text sometimes and have mapquest to tell me where to go, etc.  But is it worth the sacrifice of the rest of me?  Maybe I'm being a little dramatic.  Last year when  had my fourth child and the every two hour 20 minute long feedings began, I started getting on my phone even more.  I was on facebook all the time.  I googled every question I had and filled my head with the "wisdom" of the world wide web.  Now I cringe to think about all that wasted time.  I could have spent that time reading to my 4 year old or reading good books to myself or gazing upon the perfection of my newborn.  I so wish I could take back that time.

This week I have vowed to take back my life!  I am trying to get away from my phone, in particular, and focus on my family and building back those relationships.  This paragraph struck me: "The unlimited possibility of the World Wide Web speaks to all of us with its potential for creativity, new knowledge and new relationships.  It offers us an immediate escape from our daily world where so much of what we do is tedious.  But it also imprisons us in its world of infinite access.  It has added a new workplace boss-- not a person but the expanded job demands made of us round the clock with no regard to our need to be separate from work and connected to our self and our families.  In a much larger sense the medium itself has become an even more demanding has no boundaries...We feel compelled to connect and we struggle with the guilt, the lost time and the exhaustion that come with it."  SO TRUE!!!  I have greatly enjoyed the relief from taking back my life.  My phone still calls to me.  Sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes I don't know what to do with myself but it feels good to get away from it all. 

I can't possibly write down all the quotes I liked from this book but here are a few so that I can remind myself if I start slipping back to my old ways:

"Our expanded ability to be technologically connected on screens to the world almost anytime, anyplace, is unquestionably pulling us away from making families primary in children's lives and in grown-ups' lives.  Without being aware of it, we've shifted our attention from the primacy of nourishing family connections in the ordinary ways children need it, and turned instead to self-interests, work and other sources of fulfillment. Left to their own devices, our children will do the same."

"Neurologically speaking, empathy takes time and practice to sink in...the speed and superficiality of the tech experience have thinned the neural experiences that create empathy.  In contrast, activities such as reading books or other substantive content create complex arrays of neural pathways, the necessary rich weave of interconnectedness that develops empathy and allows it to deepen."

"We know that from birth to two the brain is learning not just what to think but how to think , and we know that tech and TV pose risks for your baby's healthy development.  With convenience and consumerism driving the conversation, empirical research can seem so remote, so out of step with what's popular...When we give babies stimulants instead of calming attention and offer tech distractions from ordinary life instead of guidance through it, we teach them at a very young age to deal with life's ups and downs by plugging into external sources to self-regulate rather than develop those skills within."

"As parents, we must find the social and emotional head space to calm ourselves and react to all of these minimoments in nuanced ways.  In our everyday interactions with our children, from doing errands to playtime to bedtime, we are teaching the same thing repeatedly-- self-regulation and social and emotional skills-- but we have to be able to focus on these tasks with genuine interest and presence."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Week

I love these cute crafts for apples:

And these are so cute for A is for Animals:

C Week

C is for Cloud
Read "Little Cloud".  Go observe the clouds in the sky.
Make cotton ball clouds
Do this from preschoolalphabet:
Blue Skies & White Clouds
  1. On a white piece of paper, use a white crayon to draw cloud shapes all over the paper.
  2. Give the kids a “blank” cloud paper and a cup of watered-down blue paint.
  3. Have them paint a blue sky over the whole paper, revealing all of the white clouds!
Eat blue jello with whipped cream. (clouds)

C is for Chameleon
We tried this idea.
C is for cow

C is for Cookie
Love these ideas! We did the cookie counting game except with chocolate chips instead of M&Ms.

C is for car
My son will love these ideas!

B Week

I got a lot of my ideas from

B is for Bat

Read about bats and look at pictures of bats on the internet.
Go on a bat hunt.  Hide bat cut outs with googly eyes and a fact about bats written on them in white around the house like these.  Give your preschooler a flashlight and let them find the hidden bats.  When they find them, read the information about bats together.
Love this idea:

B is for Butterfly

We made butterfly cutouts in the shape of a B and then he painted them with water colors like these.
We also made a large flower cutout with a hole in the middle and put it over a cup with juice.  He put a straw through the whole to sip the "nectar."  We also made these butterfly cut outs and listened to the song found here.

B is for Baa Baa Black Sheep

Lots of fun from preschoolalphabet.  My son liked doing all of these.

B is for Bear

Again, lots of great ideas from preschoolalphabet.

And I love this idea to add sound effects to "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."

B is for Books

Go on a Book Scavenger Hunt (idea from here.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Bucket LIst

I love that my kids are driven and that they like to do projects and create things.  They have a summer bucket list but here are a few more ideas from pinterest for them...

Salt and paint

Balloon powered Lego car



Family History

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Summer Goals

Dinner Nights- Tues thru Thurs the boys will be in charge of helping with dinner.  That means the week before they need to decided what they are making so that when I shop on Friday I can get ingredients.

Library events- I want to take the boys to lots of events at the library this year like the special ones about dragonflies, etc.  And of course, sign up for the reading program

Reading Programs-  Speaking of which there are lots of reading programs- Barnes and Nobles, Half Price Books, library.  Every day as part of their chores they need to read at least 20 minutes.  We're going to have a Reading log and they need to fill this out for at least one book a week.  The log will ask the following questions:
What is the title and author?
Who are the characters?
What type of book is this?  (nonfiction, mystery, historical fiction, etc)
What is the conflict?
How is the conflict resolved?
What was your favorite part of the book?
Did you like this book?  Why or why not?
Summarize the story.
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highly recommend) how would you recommend this book?

Exploration- Every week I want to focus on a different topic.  Throughout the week we will check out books about the topic, find info on the web about it, do activities and organize what we learn into a notebook.  There will be certain questions they need to answer in their notebooks to write about it.  They can draw, cut out pictures, etc. to include as well.  Some of the topics we will take field trips to learn more about.  Topics: dinosaurs, diamonds, the moon, bees, butterflies,

International Dinner- Once a month we will visit a foreign country and eat what they would eat.  I will let the boys pick what country they want to visit.

Art- I would like to have some art projects (once a week?).  I also want to frame the art they've already done and hang it up nicely in our play room.

Day trips- (On top of our longer planned vacations) 50 cent movies, beach, Brazos Bend, Lone Ranger Train?, Austin, Outdoor Theatre, Science Museum- free night, zoo

Schedule- Quiet Time everyday between 1-3 in their room to let Evie get  a nap and Mom accomplish things or take a nap, too. :)  After 3 we can play with friends, go swimming, have media time, etc.  I would like to start out quiet time with Mommy reading hour right after lunch I want to read out loud to them for 30 minutes.  During lunch I would like to read part of For the Strength of Youth and repeat the articles of faith.  (I'm kind of thinking backwards here.)  Breakfast will probably be whenever they get up and are ready so no set time.  But I do want to have some sort of exercise in the morning.  I haven't figured out how that will work yet.

Bored?  Do indexing!!!  Dallas said he wants to learn to do this this summer.

Chores:  Once they finish chores they can one hour of media time- computer games, cartoons, Wii.  Watching another play counts as their time!  Here are the chores:
Dress, teeth
Make beds (do better job)
Put away clothes
Weed 100 weeds or do garden chore or Trim under trampoline
Read 20 mins, Fill out reading log once a week
Practice piano
Do vocab practice on computer
Do TEA website
2 a week work on Exploration Notebook
2 a week do a WS page from school books

Piano lessons:  I am going to teach all my lessons, including Dallas and Levi on Mondays.  I have some goals for my students:  1 Min Race; Banana Split practice incentive; Recital in July; Find Curriculum about ear training and study; Visit music store to find some fun sheet music

Marriage:  Plan weekly dates; Have Sunday night planning/companion study

Personal:  Get 3 month food storage; 30 minutes a day in my scriptures;  I want to do strength training and 30 minutes a day exercise; Eat more protein and less sugar- Drink a green smoothie everyday; Practice my piano, too; Make more homemade bread; Stick to a budget; Finish my sewing projects; Continue to keep up the blog; Plan fall garden and start seeds

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thinking ahead...Future Garden Plans

This year I thinned out my strawberries big time.  I'd grown sugar snap peas around a teepee trellis in the garden where I grow my strawberries and I only had a few strawberry plants left at the beginning of spring.  Now the entire bed is covered with plants.  I took out 20 or so plants to put in the holes of my cinder blocks but they just keep making runners and multiplying.  We have gotten quite a few strawberries, too.  I put some in pots and those have done okay.  They haven't made all that many strawberries.  I think it was beneficial to thin the plants some.  Next year I should probably add some compost to the bed.  I also need to remember to cut off the runners from the parent plants so that they put their energy into making berries instead of runners.

This fall I want to plant more dill to let flower.  Especially in the front flower beds.  I also want to plant basil in the front this summer and lots of chard and kale in the front flower bed this winter.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Kale Salad

My friend made this delicious kale salad for us one night.  Kale does fabulously in my garden so it's nice to have some good recipes to use it. (I always half it.)

1 large bunch of raw, rinsed, stemmed and chopped kale (yields about 6 cups)
1/2 cup canola oil (I have used vegetable oil)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (I’ve used white vinegar)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tsp minced onions (in lieu of shallots)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 handful craisins or dried cranberries
1 handful roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) (I’ve used sunflower seed kernels)
1 handful chopped or slivered almonds (roasted or raw) (optional)
pinch of salt & pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: slivers of candied ginger to taste (I don’t like it, but it’s in the original salad)
Mix all of the ingredients except for the cranberries and seeds together in bowl with a whisk until well combined. Pour on top of kale and mix well until all leaves coated. Sprinkle on the cranberries, almonds and pepitas. Let salad sit for at least 1 hour in the fridge so that kale softens up a bit. Best if eaten the next day!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Menu & Goals for the week plus sale trends I've noticed

I need to keep track of when things go on sale.  The past few weeks pork shoulder roast has been on sale for 99 cents a lb.  Around Easter butter went on sale for $1.99 and eggs for 99 cents a dozen.  Strawberries also went on sale for 88 cents on week.  Pot Roast is on sale right now for $2.49/lb.

This past week was a crazy one with my hubby having surgery and multiple doctor appointments so I'm a bit behind but here are my goals for the week:

Fertilize all plants & plum tree
Get more cinder blocks to finish lasagna garden.  Plant strawberries in holes.
Make trellis
Keep on look out for snails and slugs
Weed around border
Take pictures!!!
Make fall garden plans

Kitchen goals:
Make yogurt
Make pinto beans
Make granola
Make Rosemary Olive Bread (from theprudenthomemaker)

Exercise daily
Read a book
Practice the piano

Keep up with scripture reading
Family trip to the temple grounds

Family History:
Update blog

Monday- White Bean and Tuna Salad with homemade Wheat Crackers
Fruit and Cottage Cheese

Tuesday:Fauxtiserie Chicken (our best bites), Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (in freezer from smothered pork chops), green salad or green veggie

Wednesday:  Baked Chimichangas

Thursday: Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili, cornbread

Friday- Pizza Night

Saturday- Baked Spaghetti

Sunday- Kalua Pork

Monday- BBQ Pork

Tuesday- Jambalaya

Wednesday- Stuffed shells

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Carrot Cake

I'm in the mood for this!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Garden Goals & Goals for the Week

I like the idea of documenting my goals for the week like the prudent homemaker does on her blog.  I think it keeps me more accountable and helps me organize my time and be able to look back and remember what I did at certain times of the year or what was accomplished.  (Wow!  That was quite the run-on sentence!)  So here are my goals for this week:


  • Plant Armenian cucumbers, bunching onions in the blackberry bed and lima beans, pole beans, and jade bush beans in far sunny bed.  Also plant nasturtiums around tomatoes and a few sunflowers in front flower bed and butterfly garden.
  • Weed around plum tree.
  • Weed butterfly garden and far sunny garden.
  • Add border to blackberry garden.
  • Fertilize tomatoes, strawberries, plum tree, front flower bed, and peppers.  Fertilize pomegranate with whey from homemade yogurt.
  • Spray peppers for slugs and set out snail trap.
  • Deadhead blanket flower and keep for seeds.
  • Trim rosemary, bulbs and tidy up butterfly garden.
  • Take pictures!

Frugal goals:

  • Cut boys' hair
  • Make granola, homemade yogurt.
  • Cook beans and freeze for future.
  • Plan menus for two weeks.
  • Go through clothes for next size for Levi


  • Finish baby gift.
  • Maybe start Evie's sundress.
  • Find a bonnet to make for her (free pattern?)

Family History:

  • Catch up on blog


  • Help boys catch up on scouts
  • Play games with Levi; guide him in his chores daily
  • Start planning summer goals/activities


  • Record scripture study and impressions in journal.  Look for patterns as to what the Spirit is teaching me and specifically ask what I need to learn.


  • Make flashcards for piano student.
  • Find and make copies of Primary songs for students.


  • Do exercise daily.


  • Update 72 hour kits
  • Create a cleaning schedule that will work

Monday, April 20, 2015


I've tried some delicious new recipes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe this past week.  My family loved all of them!!  We tried Skillet Taco Pasta with ground turkey, Smothered Pork Chops (these were a little extra work in the morning but a great crockpot meal and SOOOOOO good!), and crockpot Beef Stroganoff.  We also tried Chicken Ceasar Wraps that were super good but I like my version of Pioneer Women's better.

This week I want to try this Baked Potato Pot Pie. So here's my menu for the next 2 weeks:

Monday- Baked Potato Pot Pie (see above link)

Tuesday- Chicken Salad Wraps

Wednesday- Korean Beef and Rice, carrots

Thursday- White Bean and Tuna Salad with homemade Wheat Crackers
Fruit and Cottage Cheese

Friday- Pizza Night

Saturday- Mexican Haystacks

Sunday- Fauxtiserie Chicken (our best bites), Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (in freezer from smothered pork chops), green salad or green veggie

Monday- Taco Shell Pasta

Tuesday- CHicken Taquitos  (Best Bites- make ahead)
Corn, Black beans
Start beans in crock****

Wednesday- Bean Burritos

Thursday- Tuscan Pasta

Friday- Pizza Night

Saturday- Baked Spaghetti

Sunday- Kalua Pork

Monday- Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili, cornbread

Tuesday- BBQ Pork

Wednesday- Baked CHimicanguas

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Q is for Q-tips and Curly-Q piggy tails (Number 3)

Q is for Q-tips!  So easy.  We started off painting a letter Q using Q-tips.  I also had these pictures for them to paint if they wanted:

For the number 3 we focused on The Three Little Pigs, I found lots of variations on the story from our library but first read the basic story so that we could practice it.

We had fun acting out the story.  I planned to make piggy noses from egg cartons for the 3 pigs but didn't get around to it.  They wanted to act it out over and over again and got really good at the parts like "little pig, little pig, let me in...not by the hair on my chinny chin chin..then I'll huff..."

Then we experimented building our own houses out of different things: pretzel sticks, marshmallows, Legos, and used a blow dryer (big bad wolf) to see if the it could blow them down.  I got the idea here.

We then used these pictures to sequence the story.

And we made puppets for them to use to tell the story.  I printed them on cardstock.  They colored them, I cut them out and glued popsicle sticks on the them.

T is for Teeth

We had fun learning about T for Teeth.  We had a yummy and fun snack that the kids thought was so fun.  These apple smiles with marshmallows for teeth! :)

I got these books from the library to read.  I especially loved Clarabelle's Teeth!  Such a cute book!

I used these cute flannel board pictures to talk about how to take good care of our teeth by eating good foods.  They liked playing with them afterwards.

Then we "practiced" brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste on a picture of a tooth I drew on construction paper.

Their favorite part was this fun game.  I cut out a mouth shape from pink paper and drew 16 small circles inside.  They placed a mini marshmallow on each circle.  Then they took turns rolling the dice and whatever number they rolled, they got to eat that many marshmallows.  The person to "loose" all their teeth first, won!  A great way to practice counting to 6.
The kids loved this fun treat!  Apple slices with peanut butter and marshmallow teeth.

Monday, March 16, 2015

R is for Rainbow/ St Patrick's Day

Our preschool day landed on St Patrick's Day so we combined the holiday with R is for Rainbow.  There are so many fun activities to do with both themes and I only had one day to do them but I plan on doing more of these with my son throughout the week. Here's the plan for our 3 hour preschool group (but not necessarily in this order):

Gathering:  Lucky clover rainbow necklaces
While they worked on these I helped each individually make a 4 leaf clover hand print


Game: Pot of Gold (Played like hot potato but with a pot of gold chocolate coins)
This link also has some great St Patty's Day printables

Art:  Suncatchers
Easy paint rainbows (this is a maybe)

Science:  This is something I will probably just do with my son on our own because I think it would be quite a mess with 6 preschoolers and my infant.  But I know he will like it.
Rainbow Jar
Magic Rainbows and Magic Milk Rainbows

Snack:  Rainbow fruits and veggies; Rainbow goldfish

Optional: Edible rainbow playdough

I also want to do these this week:
Color Hunt
Planting a rainbow:
Rainbow art collages
Rainbow transperencies

Great printables for practicing letters

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March menu

Tues 3/3- Quiche with swiss chard, Berry Salad
Wed 3/4- Chicken Salad with grapes and cashews on multigrain rolls, Kale Salad
Thurs- Blue and Gold Banquet
Fri- Pizza night
Sat- Chicken Brocc Casserole
Sun- Mel's Spaghetti Pie with chopped spinach in freezer, Breadsticks
Mon- Drumsticks and Red potatoes
Tues- Salmon Patties
Wed- Beef Stew
Thurs- Cafe Rio Salad
Fri- Pizza

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cleaning Schedule

I have made this so many times and not kept to it or lost it so here goes another try.  At least I won't loose it this time!
Mon- laundry
Tues- wash sheets and towels; clean bathrooms (bathtubs every other week)
Wed- Dust and vacuum
Thurs- Kitchen
Fri- bills and papers
Sat- Vacuum, help boys with rooms, grind wheat, make granola and granola bars

Other projects:  organize a closet, wash windows & mirrors, doorknobs, light switches

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February Menus

Thurs- Fried Rice with Broc, Peas and green onions from garden for Chinese New Year
Fri- Pizza
Sat- Leftovers
Sun- Fauxtiserie Chicken with cauliflower and butternut squash with apples
Late Snack- Zucchini Potato Pancakes
Mon- Split Pea Soup
Tues- BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Wed- Puerto Rican Stew (start beans)
Thurs- Costa Rican Beef and Chayote with Refried Beans
Fri- Pizza
Sat- Lasagna Casserole
Sun- Mexican Pork Burritos
Mon- Peanut Pasta
Tues- Salmon Patties

Taco Soup*
Tator Tot Casserole
Chicken Pot Pie
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos
Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Lasagna Casserole
Fauxteserie Chicken*
Crockpot Baked Potatoes*
Cowboy Beans*
Red Beans and Rice*
Kalua Pork*
Peanut Pasta
Crustless Garden Vegetable Quiche
Mexican Pork Burritos*
Cafe Rio Salad
Split Pea Soup*
BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Zucchini Potato Pancakes
Lentil Veggie Hamburgers
*Crockpot Meals

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Preschool Bird Week

Great Preschool Packet here!

Read "Migration"
Make Winter Birds art project (need white paint, brown, red construction paper)
Talk about different birds
Bird Flashcards to play a card game

Where do birds live?
Read "The Best Nest"
Fingerprint Egg Nests to practice counting
Watch :  and make Paper Nests (need paper bags)
Make edible nests: (need chow mein noodles and peanut M&Ms)
Birdhouse Puzzle to practice number sequence

What do birds eat?
Read "There's a Bird on your Head"
Make bird feeders :
Hang up to watch throughout the week.
"Eat like a bird"  (mini tongs, goldfish, spaghetti for worms, berries, sunflower seeds, dried fruit)

Read "Wild Birds"
Sort Feathers & Paint with Feathers :
(Need paint, feathers)
Make Cheerio Worms (need pipe cleaners, cheerios and googly eyes)

More Bird Books:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Make Granola and Breakfast Burritos to freeze

Spaghetti Pie

Stuffed Shells
French Bread

Tator Tot Casserole

Pesto Pasta
Kale Chips

Quiche with leftover Ham
Sauted sugar snap peas


Crockpot Philly Sandwiches
Tator Tots or Potato fries

Black bean/zucchini Enchiladas (make extra to freeze)

Crockpot Potatoes with the works with ham
Broccoli & cauliflower

Hawaiian haystacks (make extra cream of chicken X6)

Chicken Taquitos (make extra to freeze)

Tuna Noodle (extra to freeze)


Fried Rice
Egg Drop Soup

Sunday Chicken
Kale Salad with cranberries and poppy seed dressing