Thursday, December 27, 2012

Daily December 27--signing off

I am signing off for 2012.  It has been a great year, and thank you for joining me!  Hope to see you next year!    Love, Jen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Daily December 26--shopping today

Going shopping today.  Our first order of business on December 26 is Christmas ornaments.  We get new Christmas ornaments every year, but we always buy them the year before and the day after Christmas--when everything is 50 to 75% off.  So the ones we buy today will be our 2013 ornaments.  I also stock up on all my Christmas wrapping paper, bows, gift tags, tissue paper, etc.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Daily December 25--Merry Christmas

Good tidings we send to you and your kin. . .
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
With love from our Family to yours!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Daily December 24--gingerbread houses

We do gingerbread houses at my mom's every year.  My 2 sisters and their families were here.  It was a lot of fun.
Technically they aren't made of gingerbread, but of graham crackers, but they are still awesome!

I watched

Miss E helped her little cute cousin.

Miss A and Miss O worked on one together.

Mr J did his own,

and then had fun being a orange nosed reindeer :)

The girls' finished project

Mr J's house with is chocolate ball fence.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Daily December 23--Our Christmas letter

Every year I write a Christmas letter to update our family and friends on our year.  Here is what I shared this year. . .

We hope this finds you all healthy, happy, and enjoying the season.  We are doing well.  It has been a busy year, but we are happy to say we are all well and grateful we can be together.  A huge highlight of our year was participating in the Kansas City Temple Open House, and Miss A and Miss O participating in the Youth Temple Cultural Event.  That was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.  We are so grateful for our Savior and His Gospel in our lives.  Another highlight was visiting 3 National Parks this summer—Arches, Canyonlands, and Captiol Reef.  National Parks are the best.  As usual, reading is a big part of our lives, and we wanted to each share our favorite book we read this year with you along with some highlights from our year.

Ben * physical therapist at a nursing home in town  *called to be the early morning seminary teacher, has 4 students (including Miss A) and is teaching the New Testament every morning at 6:10 in our basement * does not love getting up at 5:30 *favorite books Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Jen * busy mom, taxi driver, cook, seamstress, PTO secretary, school volunteer, counselor in the Young Woman’s at church * most busy trying to keep up with 4 kids in 3 different schools * loves to blog at * does not like doing  laundry * favorite book The Invisible Wall by Harry Berstein

Miss A *15 at Christmas * freshman in high school (gulp!) * loves running * broke a middle school 2 mile record * in high school this fall she ran varsity cross country and medaled in every race * in the school madrigal choir *straight A student *enjoys reading, playing the piano, singing, being outside * national winner in writing contest * does  not enjoy cleaning her room * favorite book Moon  Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Miss O * 12 * 7th grade at the middle school * enjoyed her first year of church girls’ camp this summer * played volleyball this fall and did a great job * is very musically talented and plays both the piano and guitar *a straight A student * loves reading, making things from fancy duct tape, being with her friends * does not love making her bed * favorite books The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan

Miss E * 10 * 5th grade * loves school * gets all A’s * in an African Drumming Circle group * played soccer in the spring and did a super job * a super reader and loves listening to audio books on her MP3 * does not like feeding our chickens and gathering eggs * favorite book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Mr J * 7 * 2nd grade * loves math and collecting stickers * is really getting into reading chapter books now which is always fun * still loves trains, which we love *does not like picking up his dirty clothes * favorite books The Dragon Slayer’s Academy series by Kate McMullan.

 We wish you all the very best of holidays and a great New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Daily December 22--last Christmas book post

 For my last Christmas Book Post, I wanted to share an adult book and an older kids' chapter book.

Christmas Jars by Jason Wright can be read any time of the year.  January would be a good month to read it, and then you have all year to build up your own Christmas Jar.  I loved this book!  He has written several others, but this is my favorite.  He has a sequel to this, but the original is the best--aren't they always?  

We actually listed to the audio book of this on our trip at Thanksgiving.  I have been a fan of Ann Martin for years, and this was a fun Christmas book she did.  The audio book was great to listen too.

I know it is awfully close to Christmas, but you can put these are your "to read" books for next year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Daily December 21--Christmas Program take 2

Miss A had her high school madrigal choir Christmas program recently.
It was very good.  I love their outfits.

The girls got to sing with Santa--too cute

Miss A had a solo and did amazing

It was a great concert and lots of fun!  They all did awesome!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daily December 20--north pole news

Breaking news from the North Pole from reporter Mr J. . .

I was at the schools helping this week, and Mr J's class was making a North Pole Newspaper.  This is the article he wrote :)  Love it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Daily December 19--comfort in music

I think music is extremely powerful in both positive and negative ways.  The right kind of music can comfort, bring peace, uplift, and inspire you.  Lately I have been focusing a lot on a hymn called "Count Your Blessings."  These are the words. . . .

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many Blessings,
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many Blessings
Every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the day goes by.

When you look at others with their land and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

And I think this is my favorite verse. . .

So amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged God is over all.
Count your many blessings,
Angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

I especially think of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and friends who lost a loved one, a child, in Connecticut, and I hope and pray the last verse will comfort them.  God is over all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Daily December 18--great read aloud book

If you haven't read this book lately, I would highly suggest it.  I have read it several times over the years to my older girls (thus our well worn copy), but Mr J had never heard it (that he can remember).  We started it last week.  It is short and very entertaining.  Mr J has laughed out loud many times.  We are about 3/4 of the way through it.  A great modern Christmas classic that is perfect for a read aloud!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daily December 17--week 50

Continuing my daily December posting, for today here are some pictures of what we have been up to this past week. . .
kids singing at church party

These crazy people who like to jump on the trampoline when it is super cold out--love Mr J's socks.

Miss O reading our nightly Christmas story

I got these beautiful flowers this week--they just made my day!!!  Thanks C & L!  We love you!

Miss O helping to fill Christmas food boxes for the needy at Church.

The kids making Ukrainian Pzanky eggs with my mom.  She does cool things like that.

The kids' awesome eggs they made.  We have little hooks for the tops so they can attach them and hang them on the Christmas tree.

Thanks for visiting and hope the Christmas season is going well for you and yours!!

Chic Homeschool Mama

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daily December 16--Meatloaf

I think meatloaf gets a bad wrap.  I personally love meatloaf and always have, but that is probably because I have only had my mom's meatloaf, and it is wonderful!  This past week we had a crowd for dinner one night (10) and I whipped up my mom's meatloaf, and the plate was (practically) licked clean.  Ben said, "That was really good.  We haven't had that in a while.  You need to make it more often."  Yes, I think I do.  So here is my mom's wonderfully magnificent meatloaf.  Give it a try, you will love it!

Mix together:
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
-Stir in 1 pkg onion soup mix
-Stir in
2 lbs hamburger
1 1/2 cups oats ( I use the quick oats, but regular work also)

Mix above well together--might have to use your hands to get it really mixed well.

Place in loaf pan.

Bake 350 for 1 hour, then take out dump grease if any and cover with brown sugar and ketchup glaze*
Bake 15 more minutes, take out and cool 5 minutes, then eat!

*my mom has no recipe for this glaze--I use about 1/3 cup brown sugar and just squirt a bunch of ketchup over it.  It should be pretty thick, and it tastes divine!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daily December 15--a great Christmas book

** I had this post ready to go earlier in the week, and with the events of Friday in Connecticut I just want to join with others in prayers and thoughts for the families, friends, and community.  It is hard to wrap my mind around what happened and why and how many are affected.  It is so sad--beyond any words I can express.  May God bless and be with those affected at this time.  My prayers are with you.

There are no shortages of great Christmas books. I could do a post on them everyday and still have tons to share, but this one is really special.  My sister-in-law and her family gave it to us early for Christmas this year, and we have enjoyed reading it each Sunday.  It is wonderful.
The Life of Our Lord was written by Charles Dickens to his children to teach them about Christ and his life.  It was read each December in the Dickens family and was not published until after Charles Dickens died.  It has been beautifully reprinted and illustrated recently, and is a great addition to our Christmas reading repertoire, as it would be to yours.  A big thanks to the L&C family for this!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Daily December 14--my favorite food site

I cook a lot.  We don't eat out much.  In our small town there is not much to choose from.  Pizza or hamburgers?  They get old really fast, so I cook.  I am also a menu planner.  I plan my menus for a month at a time.  My ultimate favorite site for recipes and food ideas is Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Love, love, love her site, and all her recipes, and I have made a lot of them.  I haven't made one we haven't liked, which says a lot.  It isn't easy to find a recipe all 6 of us like, but Mel is good at it.  In just this last week I have made no less than 5 of her recipes.  Check them out. . .

Breakfast for dinner is always a favorite at our house.  I did her wheat blender pancakes for dinner.  I had made different wheat blender pancakes before and not liked them at all, but Mel said these were good, so I tried them.  Way good!  I do have a great Blendtec blender, though, and I am sure that helped.  

I had printed off her Crispy Southwest Chicken wraps recipe a while ago, but hadn't scheduled it on my menu yet.  We did them with brown rice cooked this way, and they were so good!  I have been hesitant to switch to brown rice.  When I have made it before I just thought, "yuck!" but this way to cook it makes a big difference!  Yum!  And in these wraps you wouldn't know you had the extra healthy brown rice anyway :)

I have never really ventured to make homemade mac-n-cheese.  I am a Kraft girl, but when I saw Mel's skillet creamy macaroni and cheese, I decided I would give it a try.  So good!  Even Ben who is not a fan of mac and cheese loved it!

I love french dip, and love this super easy recipe for it, but when I saw Mel's Slow Cooker Italian Beef for sandwiches I knew I needed to try it.  So yum!  We had it for Sunday dinner.  I just put everything in the crock pot Saturday night and put it in the fridge.  I took it out Sunday morning and put it on low.  It was ready for dinner.  It has a great flavor!  Get some really good rolls to go with it, and we put Monterrey Jack cheese on ours.

We love chicken enchiladas at our house, but not the red sauce kind.  We only like the creamy white sauce kind, and my mom has a recipe that we love and is a family favorite.  When I saw Mel's I decided to give it a try so we had another option in the enchilada field.  oh yum!  These creamy green chile chicken enchiladas were a hit, but I must say I am a huge wimp when it comes to hot and spicy, so I always half the green chile's or spice at my house, but we loved them!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Daily December 13--family pictures

Getting family pictures taken is one of the most stressful things, I think.  Ugh. . .first trying to find a time to schedule it, then figuring out what everyone will wear because no one ever likes what Mom picks out, but too bad.  Mom and Dad pay for them so you wear what they say :)  Getting hair done, and tough if you don't like it curled, but I am paying for it, so your hair is being curled.  Lots of love going around before family pictures.  It makes me laugh.  Yeah, we try to look happy after all the fighting before to get the silly things done.
and then how hard is it to actually look at the camera and smile?

have a normal face????

So you hope after all the blood, sweat, fighting, and tears you have at least one out of the hundreds they took that looks good.

Man, if you only knew the real story behind the picture. . .

Family pictures--got to love them.  At least they are done, and you don't have to do them again for another year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Daily December 12--Christmas program

Love the school Christmas program!  It is so fun, and the kids always do a great job, and they are so fun to watch!

Miss E got to sing

She got to play the alto recorder

and she also go to play the xylophones.  Being the oldest in the school has its privileges.

Mr J got to be a toy soldier

doesn't he look thrilled?  He was so serious.

At the end of their song they were supposed to fall over--so fun!

If you need a pick-me-up and a laugh, attend a school Christmas program!  What a great way to celebrate the season and lift your spirits!  (p.s. the kindergartners are hilarious!  So cute!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Daily December 11--Our Christmas Chain

I love the magazine Family Fun.  I have been a subscriber almost since it first started publication 15 some years ago or so.  One of our favorite Christmas traditions we got from there.  They used to have a column called "My Great Idea," and so many years ago they had one called "The Christmas Chain."  about a mom who made a countdown to Christmas chain, but she did it a little differently.  On each link of the chain was a different activity to do that day--take a treat to your neighbor, go caroling, make a Christmas card for a friend, see a live nativity, etc.  I thought this was a great idea and decided to start it with our family.  I think Miss A was 4 at the time, so this is our 11th year doing it.  Ben and I make up the activities with help and suggestions from the kids.  One of our favorite that we got from the article was celebrating Sinterklass Day which I posted about over here.  The ideas are simple and easy.  Nothing too big, and things people would normally do, but I think sometimes we get so busy we forget to do the simple things.  This way we for sure get them done because they are scheduled and written down and the kids are very good to remind us "we still need to do ....... today from the chain!"  I make the chain as I look at the calendar and try to judge how much time we will have each day depending upon other activities and what we will do.

Getting this year's chain ready.

Some of our chain activities this year are star gaze, watch The Nativity Story movie, go see Christmas lights, each kid has a chain that says they get to pick their favorite Christmas story and song to read and sing together that night, make a Christmas card for a friend,  watch The Polar Express and have hot chocolate, take Christmas cookies to a friend, have a candy cane hunt, and Sinterklass Eve (of course).  There are thousands of ideas and things to do, but the main thing is keep it easy and doable for your schedule.  Don't make it a chore, make it fun, and remember to put service activities in there too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Daily December 10--Week 49

Enjoying the month.  We had the elementary Christmas program this past week.  So glad we live in a small town where it is still a Christmas program, and you can still sing songs about Christ and the real meaning of Christmas.  I am so grateful for that.  Still doing my daily December blogging, so stop by often.  Here is a look at our week. . .

Sunday evening treats are a big tradition in our house.  Mr J helped me make chocolate chip cookies.  I posted the recipe in yesterday's blog post if you are interested.

School Christmas program.  Mr J was a toy soldier. So cute!!!

Miss E sang, played the alto recorder, and played the xylophone.  She did awesome!!!

Another Christmas tradition at our house--Celebrating Sinterklass Eve.  More about that in this post.

This evening we didn't have anything going on.  We were supposed to do 'star gazing' tonight which was the activity on our Christmas countdown chain (more about that tomorrow), but it was cloudy.  It was pretty warm out, and Ben decided it would be fun to do a bonfire and sing carols while the kids burned sticks.  It was a very nice, relaxing evening that the kids really enjoyed.  Ben and the kids built a fire pit in our backyard several years ago which we love, and it was so nice to enjoy this evening.

Mr J and I made some Nutter Butter reindeer cookies for a church party today.  They are the easiest Christmas cookies to make ever!  

Our church Christmas party was this evening.  They had the youth sing some songs at the end.  Good food, good company, and great music always make for a wonderful evening!

Thanks for visiting and hope you had a great week!

Chic Homeschool Mama

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daily December 9--Sunday treats

 A very important tradition at our house is Sunday night treats.  We don't usually have desserts most days, but Sundays is the exception.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but is has to be a good, yummy treat!  

Today we made chocolate chip cookies.

Mr J was my helper and normally he does not sit on the counter top, but he just needed to today to get those cookies out

I think if I had to choose one favorite treat it would be chewy, soft, classic chocolate chip cookies and the cookie dough.  So a lover of cookie dough ever since I can remember, and I think my kids inherited that love from me too.

Here is our current favorite (it changes every once in a while) chocolate chip cookie recipe. . .

1 cup butter, soft
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbl vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tes baking soda
3/4 tes kosher salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars and then add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix on high for 4 minutes, scraping down bowl if necessary.  Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping spoonfuls on baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes (we like our cookies soft and almost underdone :)  enjoy!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Daily December 8--New Christmas Books

Love, love, love books at our house.  May have something to do with my mom being a librarian or my degree in English, but whatever the reason, we love books.  We especially love Christmas books.  I have seen some cute ideas about how people wrap a Christmas book to be read each day in December--new and old.  I have never done that, but think it is a cute idea.  We have the tradition of buying a new Christmas picture book each year to add to our collection, and then we display our collection all over the house so Christmas picture books are in easy reach wherever you are.  Even though I have some older kids (almost 15, 12, 10, 7) they all still like picture books.  Who wouldn't?  I still love picture books.  So this year we got 2 new Christmas picture books instead of one, and then I wanted to share an old favorite of ours also.

This is one of the new books we got this year The Christmas Train:  A True Story by Thomas S. Monson.  When I first saw this advertised I knew I had to get it.  My 7 year old boy Mr J loves trains, and I knew he would love this!

This is our other new book this year Christmas Oranges retold by Linda Bethers.  I didn't intend to get this one, but during Thanksgiving we watched a movie of it at my in-laws. We all really enjoyed it and decided we needed the book.  A heart-warming story about orphans and how for Christmas they get just one orange.  Made my kids appreciate their oranges after watching the movie and reading the book.

This is a Christmas book we have had several years, and it is one of our favorites.   How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow.  My brother and his family gave it to us in 2005.  My kids love it!  They can each look at it every day and just read it for hours.  It has lots of pictures and little captions for them.  Lots to look at and explains how Santa works really well.  A super fun Christmas book!

What are some of your favorite Christmas picture books?