May 1, 2013

I'm back for my semi annual blog post!

It's about that often that I start to feel guilty about how I've slacked as our family photographer and documenter. (I looked it up, it's a word.) So here I am trying to resolve to be better and hoping that keeping a blog will motivate me. I would hate to sit down to look at our family photos in 20 years and have one of my boys ask about the 2012-2015 pictures, and I'll say, "Oh I think there's a couple on facebook." and then they'll say, "what's facebook?"

Our little sweeties love being together. We had them each in separate rooms for a while but they asked almost every night to sleep in the same room. So we tried it with Leland and Cai and they didn't make any holes in the walls or tear down blinds or curtains, so we made it permanent! Jerrick isn't quite ready for the responsibility of going to bed when his playmates are around so he's in his own room for a while yet.

Each of the boys have a truck or as Jerrick calls it, "Fock." He can really say that clearly. Leland's is actually a bus and he's very possessive of it. They race those things back and forth the living room/dining room/kitchen screaming and laughing. I love to see them playing together. 

I try to do new things with the boys to keep their world fresh and exciting. I rotate games and toys so they don't see some things for months and then when they get to play with it, it feels brand new. I do the same with activities like playdough, and building blanket forts. At one point all three of them were having fun in their fort but I didn't get a good picture with J in there.

An injury from the blanket fort play. He pulled a chair down on his face and I was completely responsible because I was doing this:

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August 14, 2012

I took a break from blogging. Here's what you've been missing:

Jerrick is 14 months old but he is still our baby. He still sleeps sucking on his bottom lip, with a corner of his blanket in his hand by his lips. He puts himself to sleep by tapping the corner on his mouth. Once I was holding him before he went to sleep and he was tapping away, but then he paused and watched my lips for a minute, and decided I could use a few taps of his corner. It was so sweet.

Spaghetti night! Leland slurps up each individual noodle.

We let Jerrick go for it. Messy messy messy...

Sophie was playing upstairs with the boys and when I called her she came with a bra tangled around her tail.
Sometimes when I tell people we have 3 little boys they act apologetic and I say, "It's okay! Our dog is a girl!"   HA. 

Fat Neal AND Fat Neil!!!
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August 13, 2012

At Home Preschool

A month or two ago, I decided Caius needed some more structured time during the day. I found some workbooks for preschool aged children and we started by doing a page a day from each book.

Here are our supplies. Crayons, and this is Cai's brand new pencil case which holds his pencils (A new spiderman pencil and an old wolf man pencil Neal used as a kid), a pencil sharpener, a glue stick, and his scissors.

For Cai's birthday he got a few of these brain quest decks, which he has a lot of fun with. I have had fun seeing how he observes. He is at an age now where he is learning from everything around him. I'm always thinking, "How does he know that?! I didn't teach it to him!" Going through these decks, I see that he knows more about his world than I assumed. 

This is Cai's new workbook which has ABC's, 123's, Phonics, Vocabulary, Shapes and Colors, Sorting and Matching, My World, Science, and Fun and Games sections.

Caius seems to grasp the 123's and Science activities easily.

The workbooks we started out with. Now I choose 5-6 activities from these books and the Brain Quest activity book to do everyday. I think Cai's favorite is cutting.

The book I am reading, preparing to use with Cai when he's ready.

One of our ABC charts.

Numbers! We are working on recognizing the characters and associating them with the correct number.

Since Leland is phasing out of naps, he is joining Cai and I for activity time. We work on recognizing and saying the right name for colors, and the ABC's.

It has been more difficult to get Leland to sit and follow instructions. He is at a very defiant age. Yesterday was a particularly hard day. That morning Neal woke up at 4:30 to find Leland had been up turning on all the lights, getting food out of the refrigerator, and he was running around with Neal hacksaw. We put a baby gate in front of his door, but he just plows it down. In nursery (I am a nursery teacher) Leland was one of the most difficult to get to sit down during lesson time and snack time and singing time. THEN at dinner time he absolutely refused to take a bite of his food. I made him sit at the table until he took a bite. Around 9:45 he finally fell asleep. Never took a bite. I am reaching the end of my rope. I try to remember that Caius was like this too, and he has become an obedient, responsible and caring little boy. I just have to stick it out I guess.

When Caius was 2, I was pretty sure I would not be homeschooling him.  As he has gotten older and better behaved, I am interested. I have been so lucky to have a number of mothers around me who have homeschooled their children, or who are homeschooling now. My questions have been endless, so I really appreciate their willingness to talk with me so openly about their lives. I think the most attractive aspect of homeschooling is the freedom these families enjoy. The freedom to travel or vacation whenever they want. The freedom to choose what their children are learning. The freedom to find out and use the best learning styles for each individual child. The freedom to explore together and teach children to love learning.

So preschool at home is my way of testing the waters. If I feel like we come out successful, I will probably continue to teach at home. I'm still adjusting my methods and trying to find the right balance of workbook and hands on leanring. So far, Caius has been wonderful and adapting easily to changes! 
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August 10, 2012

Command Central Binder Part II

The whole point of me trying to be organized is to create balance in my life. Sometimes at the end of a busy day or a really busy week, I finally get a minute to sit and think. Too often, I have thought, "who am I?" When I look at what I've done that day or week, I feel like a machine. Like there was no thought or feeling behind any of it. When I journal, I discover my feelings. I keep my journal right next to my binder so I see it all the time, and I will be more likely to write in it. It has been really beneficial for my mental health to acknowledge ALL of my feelings and to release them. Of course, it doesn't fix most things, but it helps me cope.

A tool which has helped in organizing my house is a label maker! We've labeled all kinds of things and there's a lot we haven't yet. This thing is pretty cool.

We have a cabinet that has been really difficult to keep organized but last week Neal decided to take everything out and relocate some things. Now there is more space and everything fits nicely. All of the boys art supplies and puzzles and games are stored here.

"Books and learning" 



"Arts and Crafts" (crayons, playdough, playdough molds and rolling pins)

I also labeled my scriptures and my George Albert Smith book. 

And the boys' scriptures! This has been so helpful, because we could never tell them apart, and I was always afraid they would lose them at church, but now we can tell by just glancing at them.

This is our antique desk, which we found at a garage sale in our neighborhood. We plan to refinish it, but haven't settled yet on a plan. It has been really helpful in our organizing! We had a desk before, but there were no drawers. This desk has small drawers, which is great because we can't stuff them with non-essentials! There is only room for the things we use frequently.

This is the home base for our laptop and I keep pens and markers in one drawer, my binder and journal in the center, along with all our aplans for our house renovations.

We are turning our downstairs sunroom into a laundry room/mudroom!

(The rocking chairs are some of my future projects!)
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Command Central Binder

A few months ago, I decided I needed to get it together. 'It' being, my house. I looked up home organization and found a few blogs to help me get started. A common recommendation on these blogs was to begin with paper clutter. I didn't think we had a huge issue with that since I bought a folder system to separate our mail, but it was pretty....empty. I sorted through 3 separately located piles of mail and random papers we had accumulated and found a lot of expired coupons, invitations to events we forgot about, and junk mail we should have tossed.

Through I learned about creating a home reference binder. The site calls it the "Command Central Binder" which I kind of liked. It's for the whole family to use. I put our daily, weekly, and monthly calendars in it, so if Neal (cuz he's the only other person who can read) ever needs any of that information, he can just look it up. I don't, but you can create an emergency family plan section, with doctors numbers and things like that. There is a lot less pressure on me to remember everything. We also use this as a place to keep important mail that comes in, coupons we need to use, etc. I've taken pictures of every little detail!

So here it is:

"Let there be order!" sang the robin. And a picture of me and my 3 little birds. (We had an old children's book which was half destroyed so I cut it out of what was left.)

You can get directions from by going here:

You have to give them your email address, and they will send you a pdf with all the details on how to organize your own binder. It's free!

I keep a collection of post-its and a pad of paper in the front of my binder. I use both pretty often for making grocery lists, and for writing down information when I'm on the phone.

This is my daily goals page. This was a free printable from

This is where I write down my daily check list, people I need to contact, and places I need to be.

A Peek at the Week is a little more general. I have this sheet in a page protector. I write directly on the plastic and it wipes clean with a little lysol. I could use a dry erase marker but I don't want things to get wiped off prematurely. I used to do this with my daily goals sheet, but found that the extra step of wiping it clean every day was discouraging me from using it at all. So now I print out 14 daily goal sheets at a time and use a new one every day.

Behind a Peek at the Week, I keep our monthly calendars.  I only print and keep a few in the binder at a time.

I don't use this as often lately, but this page is to write down and check off our home improvement projects. We have a ton, not all of them are written down yet, but checking this stuff off feels SO rewarding.  

This is a calendar of community events through the summer for families, and they are all free! I went through and marked the ones that would be interesting for our family then I put them down on the monthly calendar.

This is a page protector made for cards. It's so convenient! I had probably 20 cards in various pockets of my purse before I organized them. These are the important ones.

The next pages are mostly things we have received in the mail, and need. This binder is more for things we need to be able to reference or use soon after we aquire it, so we don't keep anything in here for more than three months usually.

Got a bill for a speeding in a photo enforced area...seems fishy. Looked it up and it's legit but totally unconstitutional. So we'll be contesting that...

A bumper sticker I need to put on my car...after I clean it. I should probably put, 'Clean Car' on my daily goals sheet.

My Visiting teaching list and supplies. (I have a letter route, so I send out 10 letters with a newsletter every month.)

A coupon for a free shutterfly book.

Our utility bill.

Invitations to Relief Society Activities.

The schedule of articles we will be studying in Relief Society for the next few months, from the ensign.

The Ensign! I love these things! You can put any magazine or small book in your binder, without having to go get it professionally drilled. Maybe some people don't mind that. All I know is, for the first time ever, I know where my conference issue of the Ensign is, at all times!

In the back pocket I keep stamps, envelopes, a thank you card, and a blank card.

I flip through the binder almost daily, so everything I keep in there is a reminder to use it, and if it doesn't get used, it gets tossed. As for my issue with making piles of paper...I don't have that problem anymore. If it's not important enough to go in the binder, it's not important enough to keep. So it gets tossed (recycled). A good tip I got from these organizing blogs was, when you sit down to open your mail, do it with a trash can right beside you. If you don't need something, get rid of it immediately! All other paper, like the titles to our cars and our house, birth certificates, passports... they are all stored in a portable file bag.

This is my collection of permanent Sharpie markers. Making lists is more fun when I do it rainbow style.

Here is a link to all of the free printables from iheartorganizing:

You can also buy a fairly inexpensive package from her on etsy with monthly calendars and some other things. Since I'm kind of poor right now, I just use whatever free stuff I can find. But MAN, would I like some cute calendars!
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