Friday, January 18, 2013

Paige's Bedroom Makeover-15th Birthday -1 month ago

This is Paige! This is her on her Birthday! Her 15th Birthday! She just spent all day at Childrens Hospital and is not happy about it-though she always wears a smile.  
While Paige was at the hospital, I was very busy at home with lots and lots of friends.  We were transforming her room from a yellow craft room to 'Paige'! Lots of pink combined with beautiful walls of gray.  It turned out spectacular.  

Lilly wrapped Paige's bedroom door.  This is the reveal!
Do you see the chandelier?  It's new! Curtains? new! Bedding? new!
Wa La! Do you see the ode to Blake Shelton?  It's her favorite!

A new vanity with mirror and amazing wall hooks for jewelry, flat irons and hair dryers. 
Her pink wall with her dresser and best friend framed

 See the chandelier?  It's new :)
A new curtain to cover the closet...

 Dry erase board over the keyboard.  Perfect!

This is my older daughter Kylie, who is clearly enjoying taking photos.  Funny!

Kylie's Bedroom Makeover-from 18 months ago :)

For Kylie's 15th birthday we gave her a bedroom makeover! We painted her walls, built her a queen size bed, added curtains, bedding, a desk, and lots of great accessories.  Here are the results! (I know that this was 18 months ago but better late than never?)

I built this Farmhouse bed for Kylie.  Plans are HERE.  The bed cost $120 in supplies and about $30 in paint and stain. 

 It's hard to tell but this is an awesome Snail on a spring so Kylie can make it bounce up and down.  That is her Harry Potter Bookends behind the snail. 
Lilly (little sister) built this dry erase board for Kylie.  She purchased a shower lining board at Lowes for $8.00.  We had Lowes cut it down to size.  She painted trim she purchased for $12.00. We then screwed the board into the wall and added the trim on top.  It's one of Kylie's favorite items. Every month, she starts with a fresh board and adds her favorite quotes, statements, funny moments, events and people.  At the end of the month she erases it and starts over.  It's awesome! The bucket to the right is filled with dry-erase markers.  

Karma and I made this reversible curtain for Kylie's closet door.  We painted the mirror that we've had around forever, hung a flower necklace holder and added Tangled Movie Stills (she LOVES Tangled). I trimmed out the lampshade of the bubble lamp with the  same trim as the closet curtain.  If you look in the mirror you can see her cute corner desk and pink chair-both from IKEA.

 Kylie's corner desk with more Tangled stuff.  Her ribbon board from when she was little, a candy jar filled with Chocolate Covered Almonds and cute flower pens. I trimmed out the magnet board with leftover closet fabric.

That green thing is a receipt for the Tangled DVD to be picked up on release day.  Exciting!

 See that pig on the top shelf?  Her dad brought that back to her from Hong Kong when she was 5.  See that bunny on the middle shelf?  I made that for her for her first Christmas-out of bunny fabric no less. 

Ikea curtains, Ikea mouse, bedding from Fred Meyer ($20).  I ran out of budget and couldn't afford the Pottery Barn bedding we wanted but this has been sufficient.

HAPPY 15th BIRTHDAY MY BEAUTIFUL KYLIE! I LOVE YOU!!!(FYI: Kylie turns 17 in March!  my bad!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Food Experiment Follow Up

The month is over and I thought I'd report how my 'Once a Month' cooking experiment went.  I've done freezer meals for years, but normally only 1 or 2 meals a week.  I've never planned breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with about 80% of the food prepared ahead of time.  As a side note, our microwave broke the day we began this so we were microwaveless for 3 weeks.  It was tough...

Egg McMuffins: F - epic fail! though we had to reheat in the oven from frozen and it took too long and over cooked everything.  I'm willing to try again with  microwave reheating.
I also never got around to pre-making pancakes but we did do muffins and they worked
Other breakfasts: Smoothies, cereal, pancakes

Mummy Dogs: A+ .  They actually are so much better when you bake them from frozen. 
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: B .   Good, but took longer to reheat then it would to grill fresh, so no point in making ahead.
Pizza Cups: A...Definitely a keeper!
Chicken Nuggets: A.  They take time to make but SOOOOO worth it!
French Bread Pizza: A+.  Best discovery of this month.  So convenient, yum, cheap and kids loved them!
Bean&Cheese Burritos: I didn't try-my bad...but they seem awesome and convenient
Chicken Salad:  A.  Everyone loves
Other lunches: ham sandwiches, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

Cheese and Crackers: A+
Fruit Smoothie: A+
Granola Bars: C : too much honey in them.  I need to find a better recipe
Yogurt Parfaits: A+.  The kids favorite snack.  Clear cups, frozen fruit, greek yogurt and granola.  They ate these alot.
Chocolate Pudding: A.  It doesn't get easier than this
Soft Pretzels: A when fresh.  B when frozen and reheated. 

Cranberry Chicken: B.  I really enjoyed this.  The kids not as much.  They kept expecting it to taste like BBQ chicken because of the look but it didn't
Teriyaki Honey Chicken: A.  Everyone loved this
Twice Baked Potatoes: A.  Yummy,
Ranch Chicken Parmesan: A+.  Sooooo good. Everyone loved
Greek Chicken: B.  I overcooked it so we'll try again. 
Other dinners: Spaghetti, Taco Salad, Burrito Bar, Soup

I had vegetables cut up in the fridge daily for consumption.  I had a basket of fruit available every day for them as well. 
The other

So...did it work?  Yes!  We only did take out 1 time for the entire month. 
Cost effectiveness?  Saved $400 on our food budget-which is HUGE.
Quality of food?  We ate soo well.  Excellent vegetables, fruits, meats, breads, cheeses etc.  Our meals were well balanced.  The snacks were nutritious
Convenience:  A!  Kids were able to handle all of the meals if needed
Time?  We did the cooking over the course of 3 days.  One really long night and two shorter stints over 2 days.
It took me much longer to plan the food menu, recipes, ingredients and shopping list.   
Was the time worth it?  Yes! Because when it came to daily schedules, we had great food available.
Will I do it again?  Yes! Yes! Yes!  I'm working on this months menu right now
Do I recommend this type of cooking? Yes!

Do I have a file with all of the recipes, shopping lists and menu? Yes thanks to Kristin!  Love you woman!
The end!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


My days are busy! and I mean busy! I have five kids I'm homeschooling. Two in High School, one in middle school and two in Elementary. I go from child to child to child teaching, mentoring, helping, playing, re-teaching etc...all day every day. I also have kids in lessons, clubs and actually do have some interests of my own. This is my choice and I love it! But...I've come to realize a few things about the all important subject of Food. My children need to eat. You would think that would be a given, but on busy days I often forget about food because I don't have time. They don't forget though. Also, when my kids don't eat they get grumpy, tired, and lose the ability and desire to work/think. If I stop what I'm doing, which always has something to do with the kids, to go make food, then the kids stop what they are doing. And then they have to stop what they are doing to actually eat. It's not a win-win situation for our days. But my kids still need to eat. I haven't been organized enough to tell an older child to 'go make lunch.' They always get frustrated at that if they want to make something more than peanut butter sandwiches. I realized I needed to make a PLAN.
I follow a blog 'Once a Month Mom.' The premise is that you make a plan for the month: breakfasts, lunches and dinners and complete all of the cooking over one or two days at the beginning of the month. Then, when you are hungry there is a plan and food already prepared. Just re-heat. OaMM provides 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 15 dinners. I decided I needed to do this but on a bigger scale. So, this past week I've taken the time to make our own menu utilizing food that I know my kids love. I've planned breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner for every day but Saturday. It's been quite the job. My kids have been intrigued and even excited about this. I shopped all morning and afternoon for a months supply of grocery items-(I even made a grocery list of exact amounts so I wouldn't waste budget)
On a budget note: I realized after completing shopping that this plan will potentially save us over $400 a month on groceries. I should only need to shop for milk and fresh vegies and fruit every week.
Tonight, we began assembling meals-enough for 8 people. Thanks hubby for helping. We made 12 Egg McMuffins, 32 Mummy Dogs, 16 Broccoli/Ham Twice Baked Potatoes, 2 meals of Cranberry Chicken, 2 meals Greek Inspired Chicken, 4 meals Honey Teriyaki Chicken, 1 meal Ham Fried Rice, 2 meals Ranch Parmesan Chicken. We also cooked up enough chicken for chicken salad, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chicken Crescent Rolls. Now all of the dishes are NOT chicken based but I had purchased a 40 lb box of chicken breast and had to take care of it right away so I didnt' need to figure out a way to store it. Tomorrow, pancakes, muffins, fruit smoothies, mac and cheese, pizzas, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast cookies, granola bars and yogurt parfaits will all be made. The kids are helping a ton. Lilly is helping with breakfasts, Kylie with Lunches and Paige with dinners. Steve has been washing dishes like crazy to keep me stocked with pans, knives, measuring cups and spoons and clean cutting boards.
I'm really curious about this experiment. I believe it's going to be extremely beneficial. Something else I know about myself. I love to cook...but only on about 6 days of the month. I'm just to busy, tired or distracted to stop what I'm doing to cook every day. This plan should solve that.

If you'd like my plans, menus or budget, let me know. I'm happy to share.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A surprise

Kylie has been sick all month. Her coughing finally got so bad that I took her into the doctors. Sam's leg has been hurting. So much that he's had difficulty sleeping. I took him into the doctors at the same time. Kylie's lungs and heart were listened to. They sound clear, though she has terrible bronchitis. It's viral-not so much a surprise.
Sam got an x-ray on his leg-we'll know tomorrow if it's anything but while he was with the doctor he coughed. The Dr. decided to listen to his lungs again and again and again. He then pronounced that Sam has pneumonia. We could get an x-ray to confirm but the boy has pneumonia BAD. That was a surprise!

I just got a free trial of Netflix. I have it streaming over the Wii. I could really use another Wii or xbox 360 so each sick kid can have control over netflix. I tell you, Kylie has no interest in watching 360 episodes of Power Rangers and Sam has no interest in watching Dr. Who from the beginning! Does anyone want to lend one of these out for a week? But not the Montano's because somehow I can never return things to them in a timely manner. It's terrible I tell you! Terrible! but to show how great they are, they still call us friends! Though they should never lend us anything again ;)

Some of my favorite learning sites

Because I homeschool all 5 children, I am familiar with ALOT of different educational programs. I thought I'd share what is being used in the house this year and what I absolutely love...
is participating in an online high school through K12. I've used K12 for many different grades. It is challenging, engaging, easy to use though time consuming and most of my children have had success using it. Kylie is taking Comprehensive Biology, Honors English, Computer Literacy and Modern World History through K12.

Math: Algebra II through Thinkwell. Thinkwell is by far my favorite online math program. If you have anyone that struggles with math or needs to be challenged check it out. It goes from 6th grade up through college level

Foreign Language: Spanish via Rosetta Stone online. It's a good year for her.

Online high school through K12. She is taking Physical Science, Computer Literacy, Literary Analysis and Comprehension, Modern World History.
Her math is through Thinkwell and Spanish through Rosetta Stone. A very similar schedule to Kylies.

Math: Mathwhizz This is an online math program that is constantly testing, teaching, re-teaching until mastery is achieved. Lilly really likes it. You can get a free trial to the program. It covers K-8th grade. It is for kids who have difficulty in math or are missing chunks. I like it because Lilly likes it :)

Reading: Ticket to Read I can not say enough about this site. It's super cheap-I think $30 for the year. It covers reading speed, comprehension, vocabulary etc. It's fast, engaging and has made a huge difference. For 3rd grade on up. AMAZING!!!!!!!

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone-Swedish

Science: Supercharged Science is a full and engaging online science curriculum. The experiments are fantastic and WORK. It is laid out in an incredibly easy way to use. Works from K-12th grade. I can't say enough about how great and impressive the experiments are. You can sign up for a 1 month trial for $1. It's how we got hooked :)

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing. aka IEW. (not an online program) I'm a HUGE fan of this curriculum. It teaches every aspect of writing in a fun, engaging way. You watch a video lecture by Andrew Pudewa (who is really funny to my kids) and then you have assignments that take up the rest of the week. I've learned so much. My kids have learned even more. It's worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY in my book.

Spelling: All about Spelling. (not an online program) Did you know that Y makes 4 different sounds? Can you name them? I could name 3 quite easily but it wasn't until I started teaching spelling using this curriculum that I learned the 4th plus so many other amazing things. If you have a kid doesn't retain spelling through rote memorization then teach them the rules and principles. I really like this program

Art: online drawing program Mark Kistler. You can do lots of lessons for free at the site. When you get ready to buy, buy it through Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Math: Khan Academy (which is free-really! check it out) and TenMarks. Sam is really quick in math so I'm always needing to find ways that he can work ahead and at his pace. Both of these sites allow for that. Khan Academy is just fun for him to see how many of the subjects he has mastered. TenMarks moves quickly, methodically, teaches well via video and we like it. It's reasonably priced which makes ma happy.

Reading: Ticket to Read (see above recommendation)

Spelling: All about Spelling

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing (aka IEW)

Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears This is the only program I use for teaching handwriting. It's efficient, logical, no-nonsense, easy to learn and memorable. It teaches through first time printing through cursive. Love it!

Explode the Code. My kids do explode the code from level 1 through level 8. It reinforces and teaches handwriting, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension etc. They do a lesson per day. It makes me happy and gets in extra practice in those tough to learn skills that need to be developed through repetition and work.

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone French

Science: Supercharged Science

History: BrainPOP Sam can spend hours on this site watching animated movies about almost anything you can think of -History, Science, Math, Language Arts etc. He is a fact quoting machine partly due to this site. He loves it and chooses to go on it even when it's not school hours. A mothers dream :)

Math: Destination Math. This is an online program that I found via Homeschool Buyers Co-op (it's where I do most of my online purchasing because it is so much cheaper) You can get a free 1 month trial through the co-op. It aligns with Saxon math. Sarah really likes it and spends quite a bit of free time using it.

Reading: Reading Eggs. This is THE GREATEST SITE OF ALL TIME! Did you hear me? THE GREATEST SITE OF ALL TIME!!!! It is fun, engaging and the kids LEARN! You can sign up for a free trial. I dare you to! You will then buy a 1 year subscription to it. It is worth far more than what they charge. Right now it is for K-3rd grade. It offers phonics lessons in a very logical order. Spelling tests, Writing contests etc. They are expanding their website in November to take their curriculum up through 7th grade. I can hardly wait! If you do nothing else, go check out Reading Eggs. (I'm talking to you Kristin ;)

Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears, Explode the Code level A B C

Phonics/Spelling: All About Spelling and a lot of lapbooks made using Homeschool Share
Lapbooks are one of the best ways to teach and engage children. It incorporates writing, cutting, coloring, math, critical thinking and great literature. All great combinations. (Kristin you would LOOOVE lapbooking )

In our home, we do a lot of art projects, a ton of reading aloud (I am currently reading The Lost Hero aloud to the kids during our lunch hour) Sam reads aloud everyday to me. I read aloud to Sarah every day. Paige, Lilly and Kylie all read to themselves daily.
We also cook and bake A LOT! Here is the list of baking from this week alone:
Cinnamon Rolls
Cheesy bread knots
Cinnamon rolls
Owl cupcakes
rice pudding
We clearly bake a lot of bread items...but I have 5 kids home all day-they have to eat something ;)

So favorite things in no particular order:
Online programs and resources:

Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Thinkwell Math
Khan Academy
Reading Eggs
Ticket to Read
Homeschool Share
Supercharged Science

In your lap programs:
All about Spelling
Explode the Code

Thanks for letting me share and for those with kids under 7, to check out Reading Eggs now!

Monday, October 17, 2011

How does a year fly by so quickly?

Here is our family status/updates:
Steve graduated in June with his Masters degree from Seattle Pacific University. We are very proud of him and glad we got through that 3 year stint of no hubby or dad on many nights :)

I had the craziest summer ever and am still trying to recover-way too much volunteer work and not enough family time. I just got back from a General Conference Trip with Lilly-it was such a lovely time. Lilly is a lovely, lovely girl!

Kylie is doing online High School and is loving it! She is a Sophomore It's good to have her home with us this year. Kylie is also writing songs and is fiercely good!

Paige is also doing online High School this year. We moved her up a year and she is all of a sudden a freshman in high school. Craazy! She loves early morning seminary. She has been running cross country for Jackson HS and has done great. Paige is a gifted pianist who can play anything you can hum. She can be found at the piano playing and singing constantly.

Lilly is homeschooled-7th grade. She and I were in Utah for a several days for General Conference. We attended 3 sessions. She got autographs of John Bytheway and the actor who played Levi Savage in the 17 miracles DVD. She also got to steal her best friend Elana for a couple of days and we headed down to Moab to Arches. We hiked to Delicate Arch. Amazing!!!

Sam is homeschooled-4th grade. What a kid! Smart, insightful, creative, imagination like you can't believe and a little charmer. His Little League team won the division championship this year (his dad is the coach). It was a really exciting time. Their record was 18-1-1. Championship game? We stomped :)

Sarah is homeschooled-Kindergarten. She is funny, smart, a good friend and the big news is she taught herself how to ride a bike! (Holly Moore gave her a 5 min. tutorial using a magic bike and Sarah was riding on her own 2 hours later-no joke!)

So since last year things I would like to remember and sometime document?
Funeral of Barbara B. Smith and children meeting the prophet
Halloween dinner
Thanksgiving and reuniting with Andrew-a truly miraculous time in our lives
Harry Potter in the snow and the adventure getting back home from Seattle alive ;)
Singing in the Forgotten Carols
Christmas Eve-new candles, friends and chimes
Building a bed for Kylie's Christmas present
Glass Blowing Studio field trip
Paige's diagnosis of a bone tumor and all of the difficulties, tender mercies and soul changing effects this is still having on us
Trek Choir!!!!!!! Come thou Fount, How Firm a Foundation-I'm the luckiest girl in the world to be able to direct those great kids.
Birth of Isa ( I acted as the doula for my sisters natural childbirth-it was awesome)
Chisholm intervention
Lilly graduating from Primary and entering Young Womens
Baptisms for the Dead with all 3 daughters in the SL Temple
Andrew and Karens wedding

Things like this! Whew! Posted before the year mark...way to go me :)