New Placemats and Bowls

New Placemats at dinner blog

I love placemats! They add a fun new look to the table without having to buy new dishes or cups. I have rugged denim ones, red ones that match my walls, and I have been on the look out for something new and fun. I found these black and white polka dot ones at Hobby Lobby. I have been waiting for them to go on sale, and they finally did  this week. I love them because they are lightweight and reversible. I love the polka dots for a more dressed up look or a fun playful look, and the flowers for a fresh summer twist. I am already imagining the flowered side with hot pink accents, flowers, and summer salads and corn on the cob! I can’t wait for the warmer weather.

Reverse Placemats blog

I also found these big green bowls at  Target on clearance for 48 cents! I love a good sale!

New bowls blog Such a good deal called for a special dinner so we could use all this great stuff. On the menu:

Tortilla Soup

  • 2 Large cans of chicken broth (32oz each)
  • 1-2 cans of Great Northern beans
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • Cut up cooked chicken breasts (1-2)
  • Garlic powder to taste (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • Parsley or oregano (about 1 tsp)
  • sour cream
  • cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips

In large saucepan or in a Crockpot, combine broth, beans, onion, chicken, garlic, and parsley/oregano. If using it in the Crockpot let cook on low for a couple of hours. When I forget to put it in the Crockpot in the afternoon, I just cook it on the stove and it taste just as great. Cook until onions are soft. When serving add sour cream to make it a rich white sauce. Top with cheddar cheese and eat with tortilla chips.


Erika’s First Day of Pre-K

Erika by school sign blog

Pre-K here is  on a lottery system. The spring before you fill out pages and pages of paperwork, ranking the top three schools that you want your child to attend, and then just wait. Weeks go by and every parent of a Pre-K age child anxiously awaits to get a letter saying that their child was chosen to attend Pre-K. Well, that day came and went last spring, and Erika was put on the waiting list. She was okay with not going, and I was okay with her not going. She had Abby to play with at home, and it has been an fun experience watching them play together so nice each day. They are little mommies to Scott, carrying around their babies, pushing their strollers, and showing him the “right” way to play house.

Yesterday, almost 10 months after she was on the waiting list their was an opening for her at a school nearby. It wasn’t the same school that the other kids attend, but with an opening and a five year old that was getting a little stir crazy, we jumped at the chance. I am still not so sure of the all day preschool, but we shall see how the next weeks go.  It will only be for a few more months, which I think will be just perfect.

We walked her to her class to meet her teacher, and she immediately went right to playing with the other children. She loves getting to bring her backpack and lunchbox to school like the big kids, and already knows which hallway and classroom are hers. I asked her how she knew and she said, “My classroom is the one with the snowmen on the wall by it.” 

Erika close up big smile blog

After picking her up from school I asked her the best part, and she said was too busy digging in her lunchbox for a snack to even answer. She was scarfing down every last part of her lunch- I guess Pre-K makes you very hungry!

Having her at a different school has made our daily drop off/pick up schedule interesting. Luckily, on everyday but Thursdays Aaron can take Brianna to school. On Thursdays though, we take Brianna to school which is right next to Erika’s school, then have to go to drop off Austin and Brooke because it still too early for Erika to go to her school. After we drop them off at their school which is closer to our house, we have to go back over to Erika’s school and drop her off, then back past the other’s kids school to go home. Pick up is just the reverse. It makes for a lot of car time for me and Abby and Scott, but it’s worth it. I love having the extra time in the car to talk to the kids after school, and I use it as a time to listen to NPR and catch up on the news or read the mail while I am waiting in line to pick them up.

I have to admit that the house was a lot quieter today. Not good quiet or bad quiet…. Just quiet.

Abby played quietly by herself, and Scott followed close behind trying to play with whatever she was playing with. She read stories to him, and carried around her baby. He brought her the big box of fishes from the pantry, and she put them in a little line on the bench for him to eat.

At naptime, I was getting ready to put Abby in her bed, when she said, “Why can’t I sleep in your bed with you? Erika’s not here.” Yeah, why can’t you? So Abby became my new naptime bed partner. We climbed under the big fluffy covers, read a book from the library, and cuddled close as we took our afternoon seista.

I remember when it was just Brianna cuddling with me.

Then Brianna and Austin.

Then just Austin.

Then Brooke.

Then Brooke and Erika.

Then just Erika.

Now just Abby.

I am not sure I will know what to do when all my kids are too big for naptimes with mom.

Naptime just won’t be the same.


Family Goals for 2010

Family Goals blog

For Family Home Evening tonight we talked about setting goals and set some family and personal goals for this coming year. We set each goal for three months, and at that time we will set new ones or continue these if we need to. We also put a reward with each goal and talked about what we were each going to do to encourage the others to achieve their goal. We put it on a fun chart so we could hang it up for us to see everyday. Hopefully it will be a reminder for us to be able to accomplish our goals.

Our family goal was to be kinder to each other. We are going to track this with our {LOVE} jar. Every time someone is kind, we get to put a gumball into the jar. Once we get the jar full of love, (I’ll post more on the jar later) we will get to go do something fun as a family.  The kids loved this idea. Some of the other ones we talked about were to being on time to church, memorize a scripture, and get ready for school on time and without complaining. If we accomplish our goal will decided to go to Jumpin' Jax to play on the big blow up toys and drive the go karts.

Here are our individual goals for 2010:

  • Aaron-My goal is to write in my journal daily, when I complete my goal I will receive a new iphone app or accessory. Austin and Brianna both decided to help him accomplish his goal by reminding him to write before they go to bed at 9:30. I am going to help Aaron accomplish his goal by writing at the same time each night together in our own individual journals since my goal is the same.
  • Monae-My goal is to write in my journal every day. When I complete my goal I will get to have an afternoon to go shopping. Austin and Brianna will reminder me as well-before they go to bed.
  • Brianna-My goal is to read 3 pages a day of scriptures so I can finish reading the Old Testament by the end of the year. When I complete my goal I will get 50 fun shape bracelets. I will help remind Brianna after school to read and I will make her a chart to track her reading.
  • Austin-My goal is to read 30minutes everyday to reach my AR goal at school. My reward is to get a grappling hook. Brooke is going to help Austin by reminding him at parent pick up after school if he brought a book home to read. I will help by making him a chart to track his reading.
  • Brooke-My goal is to get a green everyday at school. My reward is to get my nails painted with mom. I will remind her by putting notes in her lunch to encourage her. Austin will help her by encouraging her at school if he sees her in the hall.
  • Erika-My goal is to stay in bed at night. I will put a sticker on my chart. When I complete my goal I will go to the inside pool to swim. We will all help Erika by being quiet so she can go to sleep.
  • Abby-My goal is to stay in bed at night. I will put a sticker on my chart. When I complete my goal I will get to pick a new movie. We will all help Abby by being quiet so she can go to sleep.
  • Scott-My goal is to fold my arms for prayer time. When I accomplish my goal I will get to get ice cream at McDonalds. We all decided to help Scott by showing him how to fold his arms during prayer time.


We broke down our three month goals into smaller goals for the kids. On their charts they go for two weeks and then we have a small reward-go get a treat at the store. Then another two weeks-go get Krispy Kremes donuts. Another two weeks-a pick of movie at movie night. Two more weeks-go to the dollar theater. At the end if we accomplished our goals we will get our big reward that we each picked. The kids are excited to start their charts and love having a small reward all along the way. I will report how we are doing in a couple of weeks. I think that this way of goal setting, with everyone helping everyone else is going to be such a great way to grow and learn.


Aaron’s 37th Birthday

Aaron's Birthday group blog

In celebration of Aaron turning 37 this year, we spent a few days away for a couple date at Callaway Gardens. He treated himself to a shorter day at work, and we left for an early dinner at Houlihans here in Columbus. We have only eaten there one other time, and are blown away by how good their food is. We made it just in time for the lunch menu-Aaron ordered the fish tacos , Caesar salad, and potato soup. I had the French dip sandwich, and the tortilla soup. There was so much food, we had a hard time believing it was a smaller portion lunch meal. I think that it is our new favorite restaurant. Aaron was treated to a birthday desert on the house-banana cream pie. We got an order of the dinner menus Pot Roast to go, but when we left we were so stuffed we wondered if we would even be able to eat it later.

After a great lunch, we went down to the Riverwalk for a while. In all the years we have lived here I have only seen small portions of it, but have never went for a walk there. At 62 degrees in January, I think that we were both thinking that living in Georgia was definitely a good thing. We had a great, quiet walk with time to talk about our family goals, our lives as parents, our lives as a couple, and how it feels to both be one year older. We love how comfortable being in our 30’s feels. We are happy to be who we are, and love who we have become as a couple and a family. I have a hard time thinking life gets better than this, though I have to attest that up until now we’ve seen it all gets better with age.

We made a stop by Barnes and Noble for our ritualistic date night treats-double chocolate cookies, and Aaron picked out his birthday book.  We took the short drive up to Callaway Gardens for the rest of the night. We stayed at the Lodge and Spa at Callaway, a nice resort nested in the woods. It was nice to have a peaceful night away, to reconnect and relax.

On Saturday we enjoyed our opportunity to sleep in for a change. Our usually 7:30 wake up call from Scott was nonexistent, and we managed to sleep in and happened to  miss breakfast. After checking out we went to the Country Store and Restaurant to eat. Unfortunately, our hankering for breakfast went unmet-we were 10 minutes too late. We passed by the tables of others eating pancakes smothered in syrup and hot sausages and bacon, only to have to settle for an item on the lunch menu. Despite our disappointment, we enjoyed the window view, and had some good ol’ time country cooking. We browsed around the country store on our way out, and found these cute old fashioned glass bottles of Sprite. We always see the Coca-Cola ones, but never the ones with Sprite. We picked up some for the kids to go with Aaron’s birthday celebration when we got back.

Saturday night was our Family birthday celebration, and by the time we got back no one could wait for the festivities to begin-especially Aaron. We had wrapped all of his presents at Family Home Evening on Monday, and they have been sitting on the front console table all week. In the mornings while taking Brianna to school, he would try to guess what they were. He thought he had them all figured out. He was holding up presents and evaluating the sizes of them, and was excited as one of the kids.

Aaron's presentslog Birthday table blog

Aaron had picked a chocolate mouse pie for his cake this year, which was so good, and so easy. No baking, meant no having to wait to party! We set the table with plates, confetti, his yummy cake, the presents, the little Sprites, and his birthday card from the kids. We let him open his presents  first, each of the kids getting their chance to give him their present.

Aaron with Austin blog

He guessed most of them, but even Daddy wasn’t quick enough to guess all of them. The kids loved to surprise him with all his presents. He got a lot of new white Sunday shirts and ties, a new pair of brown Sunday pants, clear protective films to put on the front of his iphone, a car holder for his iphone, a garbage container for his car, a book from Grandma Bonnie, and lots of hugs and kisses.

  When it came time to blow out the candles, all the kids wanted to help. Aaron couldn’t just choose one, so everyone got a chance to help the birthday boy make a wish. With 3 candles in the middle and 7 around the outside, there was plenty for everyone to make a wish for daddy.

Birthday Candles Group blog

While we were away, Becky helped the kids make a special card for daddy. Here are all the sweet things they had to say:

I love you Daddy because-you are very understanding. I love it when you take me to school. I love it when we are able to talk together. I love you and that you have a job and get good money, so mom’s able to stay home with us. I appreciate that you work so I can get cool stuff and that we are able to have Christmas and celebrate birthdays with you. And I love that you don’t have to go far away for a long time for work. I love that you love me and you love me ‘cause you know that I love you!  

                                                                                                                                     Love, Brianna

I love you Dad because…you wrestle with me and help me with my inventions. I like the time when we tried to catch the goats. I liked it when you helped me hang my pulley. You are the best dad in the whole world! I loved it when we went to the airport and got stuck, it was a huge adventure! I love that you remind me to read my scriptures and say my prayers. I would miss you if you weren’t here because we need all the boys in the house (because there are so many girls!)     

                                                                                                                                       Love, Austin

I love you Daddy because you are the best at pushing me on the swings. I love that you play outside with me. I love that you help me read the scriptures. I love that you help us by buying us a house to live in and that you help us buy food too. I love it when you tickle me! When I see you smile, it makes me happy. I know in my heart that you love me.

                                                                                                                 Love, Brooke

I love you Daddy because I love you so much. I love that you push me on the swing. You are really kind. And I like you. I like when you talk to us at the table. I like that you draw pretty. I love it when you come for scripture time. And that you love to watch movies, like me.

                                                                                                                                            Love, Erika

I love my daddy ‘cuz he has glasses,’cuz you gives me hugs and kisses, that you watch movies with us. I like that you help get me dressed. If I hurt myself you pick me up, stop me from crying, and read me stories. I know that you like me and I love you.                                                            

                                                                                                                                              Love, Abby

I love my daddy because I think he is a superhero! He feeds me french fries and keeps me safe-who could ask for anything more.

                                                                                            Love, Scotty-boy

Austin drinking sprite blog

Undoubtedly the hit of the night was the cool Sprite bottles. Austin was so excited to use his pocket knife to open the top of the bottle-the only time he has gotten to do that he informed me. The kids kept them around for days, refilling them with water so they could keep drinking out of them. We promised them that this summer when we go camping again by Callaway we can go get some more.

Here’s to another year honey, we love you!!

Cheers to dad blog


Recipe Book Present

Brianna was invited to one of her friends birthday this week, and was really excited to make this cute recipe book for her. She included all kinds of yummy treats to make. We printed it out on cardstock, tied it together with ribbon, added a table of contents, and little tabs with the treat categories on them. When Brianna gave it to her friend, she said, “Even her Grandma liked it and hugged me.” She has already made several of the treats, and even brought some to school in her lunch box and shared with Brianna.

Recipe book blog Recipe book table of contents blogTabs blog


100 Days of School

Brooke with 100 Day booklet blog

100 days of school down-only 80 left to go! In Brooke’s class, she made a cute booklet all about her 100 days of school so far. She drew pictures of all of her classmates, drew 100 colorful balloons, wrote her numbers all the way to 100, and drew what she would look like at age 100. Here are some other 100 questions she answered.

I would spend $100 on – a Nintendo DS

I would like to plant 100- apples on three trees

I would like to catch 100-butterflies

I wish I had 100- treats

I wish I had 100 -toys and books

I wish I had 100 -coloring stuff

I wish I had 100- lipsticks and gum

But I’d never want 100-boy stuff!

The class mates and teacher that have been with me for 100 days…

100 Days classmates  blog


Letters From The Great Beyond

Boys leaving on Trip to Arizona 1-15 blog


Letter from Scott 1-15 blog   

                                                 Letter from Scott 1-16 blog

Letter from Scott 1-17

                                                      Letter from Scott 1-18 blog

Letter from Mommy 1-19 blog 

                                                 Letter from Scott 1-19 blog


Girls Weekend

The boys headed off to Arizona to visit Aaron’s sister and family, so it was a fun filled girly weekend.  When I picked up Brooke from school she thought that I meant a girls party with all of her friends. She was ready to go to the store and get balloons, and treats and invitations. She was a little disappointed to find out that we were the only ones that would be attending. She said, "Well, can we at least get some cute plates?" That's my girl.

We went to the library and checked out some books and videos for movie night, headed over to Wal-mart to eat at the Subway there, and then to the treat aisle and I agreed to buy them each a treat that they didn't have to use their allowance money for, and then home to party! Abby chose a big bag of dum dum suckers for the all night movie-fest. As we started the first movie, I noticed that she kept coming in to talk to me by the computer-each time with a different sucker in her mouth. I looked at the table and she had unwrapped almost all of the suckers. All 30+ of them. We put them in a cup and they looked like her own little sucker bouquet.

We ate treats, and watched movies until 12:30am! I had got my Project Life kit today, so I was putting it together by the computer. I was happy to work and let them stay up instead of fighting for an early bedtime. The thought if sleeping in tomorrow makes it all worth it.
We watched girl movies, had friends over to play, went shopping for Daddy’s birthday presents, and missed our boys!!

Abby with suckers 1-17 blog


10 Wrinkly Little Toesies

This morning Abby and Erika took a bath before we took the kids to school. Becky had come over to go walking together, and got here before I had to leave to take the kids to school. She watched the little girls and Scott since he was still asleep. When I got back the girls were still swimming away in the tub like little fishes. Becky said they wanted to stay in and play. Usually bath time is always a quick thing, and they never get a real long time to play. They loved getting to swim for over forty-five minutes! When they got out, Abby’s toes were shriveled up like little old lady feet. So cute!Abby's wrinkly toes 1-14 blog


Baby anyone?

For Christmas each of the kids got some money, and today was the day to go shopping. While looking at all the fun toys at Target, Abby spotted a pack of 6 jumbo balloons.  She spent her $2.50, and was so excited to go home and play. When everyone else came home from school, they were just as excited. That night after dinner we were all laughing so hard as they each put on big shirts and made their tummy’s fat. We stuffed one  in Scott’s shirt and he loved it! He kept pounding on it like a little drum. The girls were hobbling around like they were pregnant, and Austin was using his like a shelf to hold his book while he walked around reading. Abby made us laugh the most, she looked like one  of the Whos from Whoville.

Group picture with balloons blog


Dirty Laundry

These little dirty socks have been in my laundry room for weeks. I just can’t bear to wash them. Erika is notorious for either not wearing socks or going outside and taking her shoes off and running around in her socks. She had put on these new little ankle socks and had been running outside in them. When I found them in the hamper then were shrunk back to their tiny sock size, and had perfect little imprints of her feet on them. I think I had secretly hoped that by not washing them that I could keep her small forever. The sad part is that I am realizing that my kids are growing up too fast right before my very eyes. If only holding onto small, dirty socks could keep them young and carefree forever. For now I guess  I will just enjoy making memories of my kids by gushing over their little dirty socks.

Dirty socks 1-4 blog

I did finally wash them, and was a little happy inside when I saw that the bleach didn’t totally get out the mud stains. It makes me smile now every time I fold up this small pair of socks. A gentle reminder that the sweet innocence of youth never really does go away, maybe just fades a little as we grow older.

Family Mission Statement

We worked on our Family Mission statement tonight for FHE, which was fun, and so funny. We have tried for years to write a Family Mission statement and always get a good start, but nothing that sticks. We have tons of ideas and they are hard to narrow down, or everything seems too cliche, or it is already taken by someone we know (not that there are hard fast rules about that. We just wanted something that feels individual to our family). We are determined this year to have one. We started out by explaining what a Family Mission Statement was, and I thought that the kids were really grasping what it was. We started the brainstorming session and were on a good roll with some really uplifting ones to choose from.
  •  We will Return Home Together
  •  Building Our Heavenly Home
  •  Home is where we want to be
  •  Homeward Bound

Then the Family Mission statement got a little confused with a sign that may hang outside the front door. It then turned into:

  • Carnivores and Herbivores welcome
  • Friend or Foe are welcome
  • No eating Family Members
  • We hope our ties will be together forever (Austin had just been tying up the girls with his new ropes, so I think tying was on the mind)
  •  We stop for everyone
  •  Starbuck table for 8
  • We will return to our Heavenly home To Get Her (together)
  • We want the comfy chairs (This one was a play off of one our friends have and I have loved for years. "No empty chairs". It comes from a song by Orrin G. Hatch and Music by Janice Kapp Perry about not having any family member left out when we all get to heaven.) We decided that we not only wanted no empty chairs, but we want the celestial ones that were really cozy and soft. It was funny, but seemed to lose the spiritual tone we were hoping for, so it got vetoed off the list.
  • Free Refills-of love, time, and whatever else you need

 By the end we were laughing so hard, and still undecided about one. We are dedicated to giving ourselves another week or two to finally narrow it down.


Taking Down the Christmas Decorations

Putting decorations away 1-2

We spent the most of this morning taking down all of our Christmas stuff. I love having all our Christmas decorations up, but when the New Year hits I am also anxious to take it down. I love how clean my house eels. The kids helped us take down all of our lights off of the fence and the house and we safely packed everything away until next year. I was determined to have everything organized for when we moved, so I meticulously labeled each bin with exactly what was in it. I love organizing things!

 Lights on short fence 2 blog
As we were taking down the lights outside, it made me happy that we had taken the time to put them up. I had bought a ton of the larger outside lights last year at after Christmas sales. They were so cheap, and we had visions and big dreams of filling our back yard with hundreds of lights and turning it into a magical winter wonderland. After deciding to put the house up for sale, I debated about how many decorations I wanted to deal with this year. Aaron reminded me of our vision, and we were glad that we could spend one last Christmas here in our home. We have had so many wonderful Christmas memories here, and I was glad we could add one more year to it. We put lights on the fence, but our winter wonderland stopped there. With lack of outlets outside our house, we were blowing fuses like crazy, and decided that the fence was good enough. We were surprised how much it lit up the back yard, the kids could have gone out and played much past dark if they wanted to. We used red bows on all of the fence posts, added some small lights to the front bushes, a few more large lights on the house, and viola!..our winter wonderland was complete.


Joining The Ranks of His Fellow Climbers

Today Scott learned to climb up on one of the small playroom chairs. He bopped up and down on it so excited by his newfound skill. What a way to start out the New Year, by learning new things. I think it's safe to say that nothing is safe anymore. He can now get to all the girls coloring supplies on the playroom table, and he has shown us that he not only can climb up the chair, but also up on the kitchen bench, so that means nothing on the kitchen table is safe either. He at least has not figured out how to push the chair across the floor to get to things to climb up on-I'm sure within the month that will happen too.

Scott climbing on chair blog

           Scott standing with pen blog       Scott standing 1 blog      Scott standing 3 blog

Scott on tip toes blog