Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Fantastic Ideas

A bunch of my friends got together this weekend and shared our “favorites” at a Favorites Party. There were some AWESOME ideas shared. Many of them were new to me, but I totally trust the women who shared them so I am going to post them for you as well as a “to do” list for me. I know this blog entry is SO long, but I think you'll be glad you read it. I sifted through and picked my favorites of all of the favorites. I've categorized them as well. It's good stuff!

Handy Hints:

Sugar Cookies – When making sugar cookies turn your cookie sheet upside down and roll your dough on the bottom of the pan. Cut out the shapes and remove excess cookie dough. Then put the pan in the fridge for ten minutes before cooking. Your shapes will not get distorted from transferring them to the pan and they will not expand in the oven. Perfect shaped cookies every time.

Increase your kids piano practice by making them earn TV/Video game time 1 minute of TV for each minute of practice time.

Save money shopping online by googling the website’s name with “coupon codes” before checking out. More often than not you will find some sort of a discount.

Instead of having kids order paperback books out of the Scholastic Book orders have them take the order into the library as a book list.

If you get something stuck on your iron or simply need to clean it turn the iron on a medium setting and wipe it off with dryer sheet. It will come right off!

Family History – Take family history classes at home at research helps tab, then select online classes. Also BYU independent study has free online family history classes go to

Melatonin is a natural herb that helps you sleep. It is found in super markets. (There are also drops in health stores that I use on “special occasions” for my children.)

Chicken – When you buy bulk chicken, when it is on sale, grill a whole bunch of it and cube it before freezing. Then when you want to make something that has chicken you just have to grab the bag and the worst part of the job is already done. You can also can chicken at the Cannery in Preston.

AMAZON – Buy your dippers on Amazon (and everything else) joining Amazon Mom gives you 15% off, choosing “subscribe and save” saves you another 15% so a box of 228 (size 2) Pampers is around $30. They are delivered monthly to your door AND you get free 2–day shipping on ALL Amazon Orders. If you don't need dippers you can become an Amazon Prime Member and get free 2-day shipping.

True Stories – Tell your children about your life (or theirs) at bedtime. It is one time that they are still and want to listen to whatever I tell them. This is often the best part of the day and when I teach them about the person I am and want to be, and tell them what kind of people I believe they are and will become. It is a great time to teach them the gospel.

Shave your legs with conditioner. It’s a great way to use up cheap conditioner and your legs will love it.

Knock back some serious fruits and veggies by making a smoothie from nothing but fruit, veggies (if you’re up to it), crushed ice and a little vanilla yogurt. Mmmmm.

Blog – Print your blog using Monitor who views your blog using and follow others’ blogs by setting up Google Reader. Find stock photos at

Red Box Online – Before you go (or send your husband) reserve your movie online and you will know what box has the movie you want to see. You can get the most popular movies without leaving it to chance.

USU Students are awesome inexpensive resources. You can post off-campus jobs for just about anything you don’t want to (or can’t) do. Go here. That place is dripping with talented people desperate for money!

Salt Lake City Connect Pass – This pass is AWESOME for a family adventure go here. For a one-day adult pass it is $24 and includes 13 venues in the SLC aria. Our family favorites are Hogle Zoo, This Is the Place Haritage Park, Lunch at The Lion House Pantry, Discovery Gateway, Clark Planetarium, Thanksgiving Point, Utah Museum of Natural History, and The Snowbird Tram. For $24 dollars you can do a whole lot in one day!

Glasses – Get your next pair of glasses for $10 or less at There is a huge variety. You put in your prescription and they are so inexpensive.

Get in Shape - Rip 60 – It is a great new work out video/system! The Master Swim Class at Sports Academy – It is for adults of all swimming levels. You don’t have to be a member and it is well worth the fee!

Bountiful Baskets - This is a favorite of a lot of people! If it is available in your city give it a try. Each Monday you sign up for a basket full of fruits and vegetables that you pick up the following Saturday. It can be a blessing to families on so many levels.

Favorite Products:

Li’Lash. Eyelash Stimulator. It make eyelashes grow like crazy (or not fall out) Put it on nightly like a clear eyeliner. It costs allot, but your licensed beauticians can get it for about $85. It makes for awesome lashes.

Econoheat – They are ceramic heaters that heat a room. You can put on a thermostat and they cost a fraction of other electric heaters to run. They look nice and are not hot to the touch.

Ceramic Curling Irons – They are much hotter than normal ones and a they suck the moisture out of your hair so the curl stays in. Chi makes them, but Brazilian Heat ones are much cheaper and work just as well.

Hiking in Cache Valley – Get the little blue book entitled “Cache Trails” at Al’s Sporting Goods for planning.

Pampered chef batter bowl – It measures 8 cups, and is just the perfect mixing bowl, for anything. Pop on the lid and store whatever you need to in the fridge. It is also the perfect container to cook a Barbie Cake Dress in!

Calmoseptine is the best diaper rash cream. (In Cache Valley you can get it at Shopko in the pharmacy section.)

Upholstery twist pins. Hate making bunk beds? Twist these little things in through all the layers of bedding into on the bottom side and the wall side edge of the bed. They keep all the bedding in place and makes the bed making process quick and easy for the kids, and it looks great every day.

Vitamin D3 Supplements – are AWESOME for helping you to stay HEALTHY and HAPPY in the winter. Go get some today!

Hamburger Press – Check out the one from Taylor Gifts (online). Not only does it press them, but it stacks them for storing or freezing.

Nasal Spray – Where have you been all of my life? Why am I 33 and just learning about this stuff? I can actually breath when I have a cold. It isn’t a glamorous process, but it is worth it.

Great Game - Wacky Six

Holiday Traditions:

Valentines – Fancy Dance. Get dressed up really fancy. Do the girls hair and make up. Have a candlelight dinner and Martinelli’s. After dinner clear the front room floor for some dancing with your family.

Valentines – Cut out hearts and write specific things you love about each child and spread them on the floor.

Easter – The week before Easter have an activity each night that can relate to Christ’s ministry and mission. For Example – learn to make bread and read about the bread of life: light an oil lamp and learn about the 10 virgins: have your husband be the donkey and act out the Triumphal entry, etc. The Easter Bunny comes on Saturday and on Sunday have a special egg hunt where each egg tells part of the Easter story.

Anniversary – Celebrate your anniversary as a family. Make it, for example, Kirk Day. You can check out my friend’s blog to see how she does it: Badgett Day.

Christmas – Every Christmas morning before opening presents her dad would give the children all a letter that he wrote as his gift. She has kept them all.

Christmas – Let the kids sleep under the tree or if your up to it even the whole family can join it.

Christmas – Limit gifts to:
1. Something they need
2. Something they want
3. Something they will cherish
4. A book

Websites and Blogs: – I agree that this is an AWESOME resource for tracking family expences. I have used many and this one is best and free. You can get apps for it too. or – Before going to any movie, purchasing books or video games check out the content. – Go for the four and five stars and read some of the comments for ways to improve them. – Find out what friends are reading and get ideas. – Can help with FHE for teenagers. – bulk, inexpensive herbs – A way to enjoy and get more out of scripture study by doing it with a group. classifieds – Split Disneyland park hopper tickets, finish your basement, buy a timeshare. You can find it all! or – Listen to the music you like and let Pandora DJ. – purchase audio books. - This sites five star system will help you know what deals at the grocery store are really good deals. The site is confusing to get started, but once you are in the right spot it is awesome. Go to "State Forms". Scroll down to select your state. Scroll down to go to the store where you shop and then click the link to view the current list or ad.

Freebies2deals – A blog that can help you save. – When you try a new recipe from this blog you will feel like you have cooked it before because they give you lots of helps and hints. is a great resource for calorie counting and tracking exercising. will give you some fresh ideas for doing hair. – You can listen to conference and listen to Ensign articles. Your kids can even listen to some of the Friend articles. The stake and ward directories are awesome. Plus all of the great stuff that has always been there. – a billion LDS ideas

Must Read:
The Anatomy of Peace (The Arbinger Institute)
Change your Questions, Change your Life
Accountable Kids
The Parenting Breakthrough
The Power of Positive Parenting
The 5 Love Languages
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
Financial Peace
The Total Money Makeover
The Secret
The History of Joseph Smith by his Mother
Raising Up a Family Unto the Lord
Man’s Search for Meaning
Christlike Parenting
Bonds that Make Us Free

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Big Five

Cara had the milestone birthday of 5 years old today. It is at age five that my kids get their first friend birthday party. Somehow the cake (not my greatest talent) has become a big part of the party preparation. We had lots of help with Cara's My Little Pony Cake at the pre-party.

Her party was on Saturday. We had a spaghetti lunch and a few simple games.

She most looked forward to the pinata. Andy was not the big hitter of the group. He refused to hold the correct end of the bat.

The girls were adorable.

Cara blew out the first three candles without a problem. Caleb couldn't resist helping her with the others that she was having a hard time getting out.

She received some great gifts. This morning she was excited to get a few barbies to add to the ones she got on Saturday. She also got her own easel. Caleb made her the beautiful crown she is wearing. She also got a jump rope and hula hoop, which are skills she is going to need to work on, from the Kirks. Grandma Iva and Grandpa Neil got her a nice jewelry box and some jewelry to go in it. She was a very happy birthday girl.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Birthday Pictures

Part of birthday season is getting everyones individual shots. It is always fun for me to share pictures of my cute kids.

It took a lot of work from everyone to get a few good pictures of Andy. I wish his pictures could capture what a joy he is. His 1/2 birthday is in March when everyone else celebrates their birthdays. He is 2.5.

Cara's pictures are always so sweet. Age 5 on Tuesday. By here rules she will be 5.5 on Wednesday.

Isn't Caleb growing, 7 already!? Next year he will get baptized!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1 Year Pictures

Today I took Ali in to get her birthday pictures. Isn't she beautiful!

If you think you see tears it is because you do.

In classic Ali style she didn't make this process easy. I took Andy as well and we didn't even get one single shot of him! Thank goodness for a patient photographer. At one point they were both crying and I was ready to cry myself.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where did that year go?

My baby Ali is 1 year old today. It has been a fun and crazy year. She was a perfect for her first 6 months and not so good for the last 6. If something is bothering her, usually her ears or her teeth, the whole world just as well stop. But when she is good - she is so good. She loves to be held so she is usually good if she is in arms. She has been my high maintenance baby.

We have been having fun celebrating her birthday. Saturday Grandma Iva brought a great present as well as a small cake just for her and a larger cake for the rest of us.

She was really happy about her new set of wheels except when Caleb turned a little too quick. She is very slow to become mobil. She just started army crawling this week. Her main form of transportation is rolling and pivoting. She has no interest in walking or even crawling for that matter.

She had no problem making a mess and enjoying every bit of cake that she could get into her mouth.

In fact she got to have cake twice on Saturday because the Kirks came over for a barbecue and we got to celebrate with them.

Today she woke up talking and happy (not her usual). I think she must have known it was her birthday. She gets lots of attention from her brothers and sister and after an early nap we even went out to Firehouse for lunch.

She got a bouquet of helium balloons and new cloths from us. What more could a 1 year old want and need.

Caleb also made her a hat that read "Happy Birthday Ali." I guess he likes to celebrate everyones birthdays not just his own.

This is what happens when I take a shower and leave Andy to tend his sister. Yes, those are Cheerios all over the floor!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Caleb can Party!

Caleb turned 7 last week. Somehow he talks me into celebrating his birthday over and over. He picked karate for his party theme sometime before Christmas. It may have even been before Halloween. He thinks about his birthday all year! He has also been asking to go bowling for his birthday for nearly a year. I was hoping I could get away with one party or the other, but not with Caleb!

The Karate party with his friends was held on Friday after school. It actually ended up being quite simple. We had 7 boys and they were perfectly happy playing. They all got karate belts when they came and then we had Skyler, a friend of our friend's come and teach the boys a karate lesson. Skyler was great, but the boys were off the wall hyper. The idea of having a karate lesson was enough for them. With presents, pizza, pop, cake and ice cream the party was a success.

In true Caleb fashion as soon as the party was over he was asking when we could go bowling with the Low Boys, Isaac and Dawson. I consented to go cosmic bowling on Saturday afternoon. My parents and Connie met us and Caleb got a great present of Night Vision Goggles and Walkie Talkies from my mom and dad. What more could a 7 year old ever want?!

Sunday we celebrated his birthday with the Kirks, and then Monday was the official big day. He received attention from his teacher and class and I took Rice Crispy Treats in to the school. One week before his birthday I officially decided what to get him. I have asked him several times if he is interested in playing Soccer or Base Ball in the spring. He always replies, "I just want to play Tackle Football and take Karate." Once again the Monday before his birthday I asked one final time and he very firmly gave me his typical reply. These contact sports are not my sports of choice! I talked around and found a gym only about 7 minutes from our house that offers a full Youth Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training course. It includes Boxing, Wrestling, Gymnastics, Karate for MMA, Thai Boxing, and Jiu Jitsu. Caleb can go to as many as two one hour classes a day for just $30 a month. (Of course the gear was expensive to get him started.) On the morning of his birthday I had put into gift bags the names of each of the classes he can take as well as the gear he would be getting. He was so cute with all of the gift bags and let Cara and Andy open as many as he did. He was beyond excited to get started.

I am hoping this is just a phase, but I rationalize by telling myself that he just as well practice Martial Arts in an organized fashion rather than in the basement. The coaches seem to be good, and the gym is new and very nice. In fact the owner is Rulon Gardner an Olympic Gold Metal Wrester. He will be helping with the coaching when he returns from being on the reality TV show Biggest Looser. It is good for Caleb to burn off some of his energy and there is research showing that joint movement helps with impulse control. I hope that he will also learn some discipline. In the mean time he loves his boxing gloves. He has slept with them every night since he got them and he likes to give them to Cara and have her punch him. It gets a little out of control. On our way to his first class he was all smiles as he said, "I'm probably going to get beet-up tonight."

He loved all of the attention. Here he is receiving words of praise from his class mates who had a lot of very nice things to say about how friendly and nice he is.