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Family Trip Prep List

Family Trip Prep List PDF

I found this in my kitchen clipboard when I was looking for something else. I thought perhaps it might be helpful to some of you who are getting ready to go on trips and want to include your whole family in the team effort trip prep! Just click on the image for the printable PDF. And bon voyage!


Home Repair: Have you seen this?

Loved this!

To see more awesome videos like this one, go here.


So today I ran my first 10K. It was a perfect morning to run it (with the exception of being sick with some sore throat/ear thing that is going around which made it harder to sleep this week). The race started late, meaning that under the beautiful sunshine, the temperature was rising fast. All in all, my stamina was not what I hoped. BUT I prayed before and during the run and went out determined to run the 6.2 miles without stopping.

I did it. 🎉🎉🎉

I felt help from heaven to complete it in about an hour, and sprinting at the end was hard, but I did it. I have to sprint to the end!  I always think of my mission president telling us to sprint to the end. So I honor him and his wife by doing that. There was a wierd thing with the time recording. Maybe this is the way it always is with races? I’m too inexperienced to know. The big timer by the race gate time and the chip time were not the same: by the timer, I was under an hour–about 57 minutes–but the print-out chip timing paper said 1:01:34. My phone tracking app said I ran 6.40 miles in 1:02:12 (that was when I stopped the tracking after I crossed the line and had walked around for a minute or so). Who knows? That’s why I said about an hour 😄 . I averaged about 9:42 according to my phone, and 9:55 on the chip–interested in those discrepancies (being detail-minded)–but either way, I was happy with my pace. So, I have room to improve! But I felt happy that at my age (46) and after all my body has been through, by the grace of God, I did it.

Now that I have showered and gotten my children off on a road trip and eaten, I’m enjoying the quiet of sitting in bed resting and typing.

My hips ache, which is a normal post-run thing for me. I guess one hip is higher than another, so when I run longer distances, they hurt, along with the SI joint on one side. But I’m learning to stretch better, and cross-training has been really helpful. I didn’t do much of that last week with our family reunion and feeling sick, but this coming week I hope to get back on track.

I feel very soul-satisfied at accomplishing a pivotal part of my 2016 goals, which was to improve my stamina and physical fitness by exercising 5-6 times a week and to run a 10K. Ironically, my desk is such a disastrous mess that I have no idea where my goal binder is to mark the date on my page. Ha!

Now that I finished that goal, I picked another one: I signed me and Sarah up for a sprint triathlon. Yikes! She told me it’s time to start doing bricks: bike to run training.  OK. Ready on Monday.

Enough of exercise reportage. 😴 That kind of journaling can be BORING to anyone besides myself. On to other topics! 😉

NEWSFLASH: Nate got a hair cut!

I came home, tidied up a bit, hung the washed beach towels (well, 12 of them) on the kitchen chairs to dry, showered, took Peter and Nate to get hair cuts and grabbed some groceries for their trip. Home again, I watered flower pots and fruit trees, had a family prayer with the children, resolved disputes, and tossed out last-minute mom instructions on their road trip to Idaho, where they will see their cousin before he takes off on his mission next week. Hopefully we’ll get to see him before he goes, since we aren’t that far from the Missionary Training Center. (And I won’t get their family sick by going today!)

I had a quiet lunch by myself (Lane is toiling under the hot sun, weeding, fixing the tree shredder and sprinklers and who knows what else–his work stamina is just incredible) and came up to rest. All around me is evidence of having played with extended family for over a week. Unfolded, clean laundry is stacked on my rocking chair and ottoman with another basket full next to it and a fourth pile on my bed. Eeek! Piles of papers (bills) and unread newspapers and magazines are on my bed for perusal tomorrow. Bags from trips to the pool and other adventures on my dresser needing to get put away.

But back to solitude! I’m delighted to push it all aside to read a few verses in the Book of Mormon, to remember the Anti-Nephi-Lehies who buried their swords–

And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands. (Alma 24:18)

I think of seeing some of my siblings again last week and then watching my own children interact today and wondering if I have taught my own children to get along, andif they understand how utterly critical it is that we speak kindly one to another. The seed of kindness is the foundation for happiness in families! If we can only be kind to each other, in our words, in our actions, then there is SO MUCH beautiful fruit born in the end. You WANT to be together, because it is so NICE to be together. No one is afraid that anyone else is going to hurt the other person with their criticisms or sarcasm, with unhealed wounds hiding beneath the words. It is such a safe, calm feeling to visit together and have people be patient one with another, tolerant, positive and praising. It is just heavenly. There is so much room for laughter and enjoyment in the midst of kindness, with no one leaving sad or troubled. No bitter-tasting leftovers.

Being with (some of) my sisters was truly fun, and watching our children have such a fun time together was so rewarding! Cousins are the BEST! They played for hours happily! We had such a great time swimming, hiking, watching the parade, playing games, singing at the piano, painting fingernails, helping Grandma clean out and pack up her house, putting on a garage sale, cooking, eating, chatting, cleaning up the kitchen, repeat. Writing a play and putting it on. We went to see “The BFG” (which I thought was charming, except for the green fizzy drink and consequences, because spotlighting bodily functions in movies are so hackneyed and coarse these days). Listening to my niece play “

It’s all recovery time: recovery for me, for my house, for our sense of order and sanity. Hooray for A/C that got repaired this week and is working so nicely!! First world life. I feel like apologizing when I write about my life because of what so many around the world live with every. single. day. The millions of refugees in tents. People who toil under the sun all day, every day. I am in awe of their patience and stamina. I hope that I am doing something good with what I have that can in some extremely small way help them.

Tomorrow we have the viewing of our neighbor who passed away. I won’t write more. Some things are just private, but the journey their family has been on the last month has been so ever present in our minds each day that it bears mentioning. I have learned much being an observer of the outpouring of love and compassion toward them. I learn so much from my neighbors. I live amongst people of such good character. No one here is perfect, but I feel blessed to be amongst those who care deeply about those around them.

My mom is arriving with jars of pickles. My life is so funny! Probably not to anyone else, but to me it’s like a curio case of odds and ends of comical, serious, inane and banal. Every day is different. Full of variety.

Just the way I like it, I suppose.





Summer meal plan

My simplest meal plan so far

This is my newest meal plan.  (To download the PDF, click here.  For a PDF with the Wednesday part in a darker yellow, click here.)

It’s my simplest so far. (I ❤️ SIMPLE.)

The left side is for when I want to be more creative, and the right side is for when I just need to get the job done without a million different options.

I cut up the two plans and laminated them back to back, with a piece of cardstock in the middle to make it easier to write on (see below). I’ll display the side that I feel up to that week–the more creative side where I choose different recipes, or the specific plan when I don’t have time or desire to plan. (I can still write down adaptations according to the week’s needs on either one). I’ll keep a photo on my phone of my list in my Notes app so that if I can use it if I forget or don’t have time to make a specific shopping list for that week. The list will look similar to the one I had yesterday (below) except that I won’t come up with something new for each day at the end of each week:

fridge meal planning card

Here is “my simplest meal plan so far” (on the non-creative side):Simplest meal plan so far

I’ve written about meal plans so much because I am constantly trying to simplify. I started out with very detailed lists and now am down to one week pattern, with meals that basically any one of my family could make.

You see, I like doing so many other things besides planning, shopping, and preparing meals. I absolutely love my family and enjoy eating, but it is not my passion nor great joy in life to prepare meals. I want to get it done well, but I also want to get it done with the least amount of stress possible.

That’s my job! Since I have nowhere near the budget to subscribe to a fresh meal plan delivery service for a large family, where the food arrives in a nice box with a recipe and instructions. (It sounds kind of dreamy, I’ll admit.) So I need to do my part. That’s reality. The good news is that I get to reap the satisfaction that comes from doing the work and the happy feeling that comes from healthily filling the tummies of those I love. It’s one of those mental and emotional benefits of work that you just don’t get when someone else does the work for you!

In a sense, posting this is kind of funny, since I have never been able to use other people’s meal plans/shopping lists. BUT looking at other’s meal plans has helped me learn how to make my own. I hope this helps you have ideas of how to solve your own grocery budget/meal planning challenges.



Keeping math going during summer

Summer math IXL

I pay for a subscription to a math website called IXL.com for my children to do math during the summer. I like this particular website because it is progressive and tracks everything they do. I get email reports of what they have mastered, how much time they have spent, etc. With so much going on, following up on each child can be a challenge. I take at look at their summer scholar journals and get this. The best thing, though, is that they like to work on this website each day. 15 minutes is a short time (they often go longer because they are enjoying it), and it keeps their math knowledge base maintained and growing.

Xtra Math website summerAnother great website is XtraMath! Anna used this is third grade and it was great! It is FREE. I haven’t looked into it recently. I need to do that to save money! I’m embarrassed to say when I couldn’t remember it after googling/looking for it, I defaulted to IXL because we had used it in previous years and liked it. I may try the mobile app and see how that goes, just for waiting moments at the dentist or wherever when my children are waiting without a book on hand.



Click on this image to go to the video at values.com.

Click on this image to go to the video at values.com. (Want to have a fun date or family night? Spend an hour watching their great commercials!

Last night, Lane started out our FHE lesson with this commercial for love–lasting love. It was his lesson on setting attainable goals, but he started out with this commercial to make a point: most people don’t want to spend their lives alone. Most people have the desire to find someone to love and cherish for all of their lives. But strong, lasting love doesn’t just happen. You have to work, sacrifice, learn to be selfless, and repent and forgive to have that kind of love.

That was where goals came into the conversation, and he shared some absolutely great thoughts from President Kimball, Elder Ashton, and President Uchtdorf. He asked the children what big goals they have, and one of them said eternal marriage. So we talked about the steps needed to obtain that goal. He reviewed the “SMART” goal acronym and invited each child to set one goal for this summer that is a “SMART” goal that will help them obtain a bigger goal that they dream of attaining.

I especially liked the clip he shared from Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk on how focusing on a tiny lightbulb caused an unnecessary and tragic airplane crash, and the question that Lane asked us each: What are the “lightbulbs” that get in your way of accomplishing your dreams and goals?




Planning page for season changes

Click on the photo to go to a printable PDF.

Click on the photo to go to a printable PDF.

When we’re getting ready to transition to summer or from summer to fall, I pull this laminated page out and start making up the new schedule. Then I keep it posted on my kitchen white board until we all have the schedule in our heads (especially me!). Then I rinse it off (I write on it with wet erase markers) and put it away for the next time I need it.

Visual communication is helpful for me and the rest of the family. No one can read my mind (except God), so I need to communicate what is going on somehow, right?


Finding our summer balance


Note: This is the second in a series on our summer theme “Balance.”

Our FHE lesson for this week is on setting attainable goals. We’re talking about “SMART” goals before, so we’ll review the acronym and why it’s helpful. We’ll invite the children to set a goal for the summer that is SMART and reflects their priorities.

I changed the sign on the table to a laminated sign so that I could just write a new reminder quote on the right side and wash it off the next week.

jenga game

This week’s surprise? A JENGA game.  I’ve heard from my children about how fun it is to play, so I’m excited to try it out with them tonight!

Here is the balance table sign, just in case you’re interested in printing it out:




Scripture Journals

scripture journals 2016

A week or two or three ago, I had a prompting to get a scripture study journals for each of our children to use during the summer. I came across an article in my personal studies that was a young man sharing his experience using a scripture study journal; reading it affirmed my desire to follow through on this idea.

So I found some at Seagull Book last Monday and brought them home. I had prepared a bookmark with some scriptures on it that we are going to “ponderize”/memorize together each week this summer. I let each child pick the journal s/he wanted and gave them a bookmark as well.

They are using their journals during their personal study and sometimes we use them during family scriptures, too. I love summer! There is sometimes a little more time for study, and it just makes it easier to feel the Spirit when we’re not in a rush to get out the door for school.

Here’s the bookmark and list of scriptures, for those of you who are snoopers. OH I’M TOTALLY KIDDING! That’s what a blog is all about, right? Sharing! And I love to share!

Scripture bookmark

SUMMER 2016 Scripture Memorization bookmark

chocolate cake birthday 2016

This beautiful chocolate cake was made by a daughter for Lane’s birthday dinner tonight. She said she learned not to put strawberries in the middle or it will crack the cake. We all agreed that this recipe is amazing no matter what happens to it in the decorating stage. You can find the recipe under “Desserts” in our family cookbook (under the “Feed ‘Em” tab). Or just click on the photo!

It was Lane’s birthday last week, but we decided to do his birthday dinner tonight. He really didn’t want us to do TL’s, because he is NOT a spotlight kind of a guy. (What are TL’s? “Tender loves” are comments that we make about each person on their birthday–things we love about the birthday person.) I decided to record and share the comments that our children made this one time.

DISCLAIMER: You might think that we are sitting around being super serious and loving, but actually it’s more like love interspersed with some bickering or arguing, ample interrupting, a couple of jokes cracked, and all varieties of distracting comments being made the entire time we have this “TL” session. It’s kind of a hilarious/annoying/heartwarming experience. At any rate, here are our children’s TL’s for Lane:

“I love Dad because he works so hard. [He only takes a little time for himself.]…All the rest of his time is spent helping and serving others. He works hard fixing so many problems at [work] and when he comes home, he cooks food if we need it, or helps people with homework….He will make time for things that are really important…so, thanks, Dad.”

“I love Dad because he has so much faith in me for doing so many things, and treats me like I’m smart, and he doesn’t waste time on things that aren’t important….He always takes time to explain something I don’t understand…so I can know, too…He expects things from me, and I want to make him proud….Even though he’s super busy,…he’s really good at listening.”

“I love Dad because he always fixes things and…he’ll let me look at the news with him, and he’ll let me go wherever he goes with him, and you’re super nice….”

“I love Dad because he shares his peanut butter chocolate chips with me…He’s always kind to me…He takes me places…He lets me help him, even if it’s really late at night [they worked together on fixing a sprinkler until almost midnight last night]…During the school year on Saturdays, after we’re finished working, he would sometimes ask me if I want to go get corn dogs, so he’d take me to Weinerschnitzel and get some. And on my birthday, he always takes me to Panda Express, ’cause I love it, and then we’d go to his office and watch a movie…”

“I love Dad because he is really funny, and I love his laugh….And I love that he loves to cook, and I love to cook (“It’s a competition now,” Lane commented.) He has such a strong testimony and is a worthy priesthood holder. He is really good at talking about history, and I love history, and he’s really good at giving history lessons. And I love how Dad is such a hard worker and gets up early to do things and is always so concerned about Mom.”

“Dad, I love many things about you, but one thing I have appreciated lately is that Dad has very high expectations of each of us, and I was talking with another student recently and how we have a professor who has really high expectations, and how that has helped us. And going along with that,…Dad always wants to be a part of your journey towards those expectations. He doesn’t want you to do it alone. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations….He is the last one to go to bed, first one to get in the morning, getting up early to make sure things that need to be done in the family get done–just seeing how he manages to do so many things. He still keeps his priorities. It’s something that I’m learning, that I really admire in Dad.”

“What I love about Dad is that he actually cares about you and everything you are doing, whether it’s in school or church or with friends or just like your own habits, and he…wants to help you get to the best place that you can be, and he sets those goals with you so that he can attain those goals with you. I also love that he is super loving towards his family. I know some families don’t show that…Since I’ve grown up in a home where I can go to you to get a big hug or to Mom, I’m just really grateful that I can go to you for a hug when I need it.”

(I didn’t record my TL because I can’t talk and type at the same time. But basically, Lane is my best friend, and I love him more and more ever year we are together.)

And what about the peanut butter comments? That was a slip of the tongue that I made at the beginning of our TL’s, when everyone was making little comments so that we could hardly even start. I meant to say, “And no comments from the peanut gallery!” But I said, instead, “And no peanut butter comments!”

And so it goes. You just have to translate what I say into what I mean. LOL. 😂


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