Merry Christmas 2016!

14615635_1792811907656586_5277820693401175672_o-1Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!  The year 2016 has been an adventure for us.  It seems as though it all came and went in the blink of an eye!!  We are super excited for 2017 to begin.  (Perhaps this is why my blog is no longer updated regularly!  Life is just too busy!!)  A lot of apprehensions are combined with that excitement as well, as there are a lot of firsts for our family!

Our oldest, Dalton, is a Senior this year.  He turns 18 in February.  He has been keeping super busy!  He started the summer off with farm irrigating!  Oh what a joy it is to see your children have to do something hard and undesirable!  I think we had to chisel some of the mud off from him at times, and he had to learn to walk with toothpicks holding his eye lids opened!!  I think everyone should have the experience of working on a farm!!  I am grateful for neighbors and friends who can offer this type of work to our children.  I hope it gives them the drive to work harder for the better things in life that they desire.  He is in the peak of swim season and getting stronger!  His times are steady, but he is definitely a much stronger swimmer then what he used to be! He is taking lots of USU courses through the school and loving Jazz Band and socializing (dating).  He loves political science and has been told he would have a good career in that area.  He has an incredible gift of writing and is actually working on a novel!!   He is a music lover like me.   He will be doing the school’s Dancing with the Stars this April!  We are so excited to see him get this opportunity!  Graduation comes in May and then the plans are a mission and then college, of which he has already applied and waiting to hear back!  He wants to go to Ricks college (BYU-I) where he is near the mountains!   He is working hard and trying hard to prepare for these wonderful things in his life!  We wish him the best!
Alexis (Ali) has just turned 16!  She also just passed her driver’s test and we are waiting until January to go and get her license!  She needs a little bit more time driving before I turn her loose on the roads!  She is a Sophomore and is completely enjoying the social aspect of school!  She is swimming as well and continually keeps taking time off her races!  We don’t know how or why but she seems to be really good at it!!  She auditioned for Jazz band, ON A VIOLIN NO LESS, and made an alternate this year, but within a month, the bass player had to move and she got the spot!  So she has been transitioning from violin to bass and doing a great job at it!!  I look at all those strings and my mind gets confused!!  I will stick to the piano!  She has a gift for picking up music quickly… we just need to keep working on counting… it will be her downfall!    It has been fun to see both of these two cheer each other on in swimming and spend so much time together in school.  I know that she will surely miss her brother when he leaves this year!
Ethan took on Cross Country this past summer!  He is turning 14 in April.  His Dyslexia gets the best of his reading, but his mind is incredible at solving math and other puzzles.  He has figured out how to do the rubix cube and he now wants a “mega mynx” which is a weird shaped rubix cube!  I am amazed at his hard work ethic!  He wants to be a farmer and build a cabin in the mountains some day!  He is the one that will keep our house afloat if anything should happen to Ed.  He just goes and does the chores without being told!!  Now, cleaning his room is a whole different ball game!  I think he has put on about two inches just since school started!!  Hopefully he will not be short all of his life!!  He looks forward to 9th grade because then he will be old enough to tackle swimming!  Hopefully Ali will swim next year and then those two can swim together!!  He loves playing his trombone, although, many have laughed and mentioned that his trombone seems to be bigger than he is!!!
Garrett (Gary) has just turned 12 and is in the 6th grade.  He graduated from primary and is now a Deacon!  I get to send FOUR children to mutual now!  Wow!  Over here, 6th and 7th grade are in a  separate school.  He is the only one in our family in that school and I think it makes him feel pretty special!!  He has come a long ways!!  He is still a little hot-headed at times (he must have gotten that from the red-head in the family, ahem!)  but is learning how to keep things under control a lot better!!  He has a sense of outdoor adventure that compares to no one else!!  If there is a ball in his hand, look out!! He has to throw it!!  He LOVES any kind of sports.  He loves 4-wheelers, shooting shotguns with Ed, hunting, camping, hiking!!  He loves them all!!  He ran with Ethan this summer in Cross Country and wants to do it again this summer!!  It was great to give him an “out!”  With the exception of Cross Country, (which is for 6th to 8th grade) we have our kids wait until 9th grade before they can participate in school sports.  It is just far too much to be going every which way when they are younger!!
Rhiley is in the 4th grade.  He has truly got to be the most sensitive child I have ever seen. While many laugh at this, I believe he has been blessed with an amazing ability to understand the needs of others and to be more caring.  I am sure it will be a help to him as he grows and matures in life!!  He is in Cub Scouts and working on his Bear.  This child will also do anything with art!  He has such a creative mind it blows mine away!  He is always making, glueing, or stapeling something together!!  He is definitely a creator!  He is getting taller by the day and I bet his height will rival Dalton’s some day!!
Brock (Brockers) is in the 1st grade and is six years old.  He is such a huge bundle of energy!!  He gives the best hugs ever!!  He loves his teacher at school and I think he will be one of those ones that school comes easy to… much to the chagrin of his siblings!!  Our goals with Brock include learning to sit “STILL” for longer lengths of time!   Those little legs and arms are just always on  the move!!  Hopefully warmer weather will come soon and he can go run and play outside to his little heart’s delight!  I have to laugh at how hard some in our family work for things and how easily things come to others!!  Our goal is to help all our children learn that we are all on the same team and that when one succeeds we all succeed and that we should all celebrate everyone’s successes!!
Mattie Lorrain (Raindrop or Rainy) is my ray of sunshine!  She is four, turning five in March! Yes, my baby will start school this Autumn!!  Where did those five years go?  Her picture on the wall is still when she was only a few months old!!  I guess I have to change that one soon!  I have told her how much I will miss having her go to town and to the grocery store with me and she has “pinky promised” that she will tell the bus driver to go faster.  With Mattie, when she pinky promises, she does not break her promise!!!  I am amazed at her ability to communicate so well and the reasoning that goes on in her little mind!  I can explain the dangers of something to her and that she should not do it, and she will absolutely NOT do it!!  I will truly miss having her here at home with me all day long!!
Ed continues to stay busy!!  He is serving on the High Council and his assignments include working with the teacher (14-15) aged boys and the single adults.  He spends a lot of time doing scouting things as well as monthly talks!  I try to go listen whenever I can!     He is my rock and my very best friend!!  It takes a very brave man to marry a hot-headed, red head; and, he did marry me, knowing full well what he was getting into and he loves me regardless!!
I am trying to stay on top of things as well!! I have felt as though I needed to put a Taxi sign on the mini van this year!!  We just also finished up the Messiah.  This is my third year of playing for it and I hope to be able to do it as long as I am able to.  Sometimes it is the only time I really get to sit down and play!  I am so grateful for opportunities to serve!  The Lord gives each one of us talents.  How will we use them to further his work?  Being older, I feel arthritis settling in and it does cause pain in my arms and wrists at times!!  I have to keep telling myself and I am not going to let my age get to me!!  It has been fun to watch our children grow and participate and to learn to do new things.  I am learning new things as well!  I am now working as a counselor in the primary and trying to learn what the Lord needs me to do help these children.  My thoughts always turn to the scriptures.  Teach them the scriptures.  Teach them that the answers to life and the examples on how to deal with things in life, can be found in the scriptures.  That is something that Ed and I focus on really hard here in our home with our own children!  It is something that EACH ONE OF US needs to know.
The Lord has unconditionally blessed us and we stand in awe at His love towards us.  He came to this earth and atoned for our sins…. for MY sins.  How could someone love me so much??  What can I do to repay him??  Nothing seems good enough!  All we can do is just ALWAYS remember Him!!  To NEVER forget Him.  To always HONOR Him.  We hope that each one of you will always remember Him…The Messiah…  Our Savior….  Our brother!!  May you all have the most joyous of holidays… A beautiful Christmas and an amazing New Year!
Love
Ed, Amy, and Family!
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Hamburger Birthday Cake!

Next week is my little one’s birthday.  He is turning SIX!  My goodness how the time sure does fly!  A few years ago, he informed me that he wanted a hamburger cake for his birthday.  I stood there with my mouth dropped…. what could he possibly mean?  Did he want cake or did he want hamburgers?  After a little bit of looking around we came up with the best of both worlds!

Ta Da!!  Hamburger Birthday Cake!

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This was the funnest thing I have EVER done for a cake!

The bun was simply a cake mix cooked in a round glass serving dish.  The patty and the bottom bun was cooked in a small round baking pan.  The patty was covered with chocolate icing; however, if I were to do this again, it would be made out of a brownie mix.

My husband and kids had the funnest time trying to come up with ideas for the “condiments!”

We used red, white and yellow icing for the ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.  For the onions and tomatoes, we used white and red large gumdrops.  We just took a rolling pin to them and flattened them.  The lettuce was greed colored coconut.  We took white icing and made the sesame seeds for the top of the bun.

For the fries, we took a pound cake from the store, cut it up, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on it and baked it in the oven for a short little while.

The look on my son’s face was the best thing ever!  Hamburger Birthday Cake!

If you want to try it out, send me your pictures!  I would love to see how it works for ya!

Our Laundry Method–for NINE people!

I all too often, as I’m sure many of you do, find myself wishing that I had an AMAZING laundry room like this one on the left!  One filled with TONS of room, counters, folding tables, built-in ironing boards, and wash basins.  Some even have those fancy little desk areas in them!  I wonder if they really use those rooms for laundry or if they are just for show and tell…. really!

However, I don’t!  I live here on Earth.  We have what’s called Real-Life, and it sure as tootin’ isn’t that type of a laundry room.  It’s a real work room.  If I had a dime for every load of laundry washed, my husband could retire as a rich man.  So, I find myself wondering often about different ways to do laundry.  I’ve tried many, trust me!  However, there is a method that I have been doing for a few years now, and it is simply the easiest for our family of nine!  It has become even more easy since the purchase of a few more little wire shelf units and a drill.  I’ve always been told, that if you don’t have the floor space, go up.  It is so true!  It’s amazing how good things work when you can get them up and off the floor!  I was so tired of not having room to do my laundry  IN MY LAUNDRY ROOM!  I would always wash and wash and wash, then bring all my loads into the family room to fold.  Man, was that a nightmare!  It would sometimes sit in there for days, OR worse, my kids would get a wild hare and start throwing clean laundry at someone or burying themselves UNDER the laundry in an effort to hide themselves, and before I knew it, it was either a Mount Everest, or a Tsunami wreck in my family room.

So without further delay, I am going to show you my laundry room in all it’s working glory…. please don’t mind the paint… someday I want to change it!  Also, don’t look at the nail holes that have been filled but not repainted over yet — I’m terrible at finding studs…. Lots of “Oops!” moments!

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This is a taller shelf…. I put the empty baskets up there when they are not in use. The spray wash, laundry soap, and dryer sheets are kept on the lower shelf for easy access.

The laundry soap is kept on the shelf for easy access.  I just refill it as needed.  I also keep the dryer sheets and the spray wash right on the same shelf.  I’m trying to help the kids to know that if a stain does get on their clothes, that when they take it to the laundry room, all they  need to do is just grab the stain spray and spray it right then and there, before putting it into the laundry piles.  It is a work in progress, and I believe it will take many years before I see any fruits of my labors.  Laundry can be a full-time job if you allow it to be.  One thing that helps is to make sure you don’t have more clothes than what your kids can wear.  We’ve been blessed with a lot of hand-me-downs.  Every so often I go through things and get rid of the unrepairables and take out the duplicates or the unused clothes and send them to the donation pile.

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This is our spare sock basket… When I have spare socks, I just put them in this basket. Every so often I go through it and have a sock matching party. It has helped out a lot! I’m so amazed at how easily socks get lost!  The green paper is a basic washing instruction list for the kids… in case they have questions!

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With three shelves, I have room for 9 different piles if necessary. Three to a shelf. I can also use hangers to hang clothes on these shelves if I need to hang something up!

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Just another view… again, don’t look at the nail holes… ahem! You can see some of the hooks on the other wall. I have two sets of those and they are used for clothes that need to be ironed or air dried!

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There’s another shot at it. No fancy iron closet but this works for us. It’s easy access and works great.

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More shots of the upper shelf unit holding baskets.

Over the years, I have acquired these baskets either at Walmart or the DI, rather cheaply.  I have one for each ROOM in the house–it lives in that room’s closet so as to not be seen–plus I have three extras.  Ed and I are the only ones that have our own baskets.  I have two sets of boys that are nearly the same size and share rooms, since they share clothes, they share a basket.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, each basket is to be brought to the laundry room for washing.  In case you’re wondering, there is a chore chart that assigns a child as a laundry helper — so each child gets the chance to take a turn helping with washing and sorting end of things as well!  Hopefully they’ll learn to do it right!!!

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Here, all the baskets have been brought down and the clothes piles have been put in their baskets. I should say that each basket has a name on it written in marker. If I find shoes out, or belts or any other of their miscellaneous belongings that belong to the kids, they get put in their basket as well. At the end of the day, it all goes to their rooms.

When the clothes are washed, they are folded, IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM, and placed on these wire shelves I’ve installed–I know they are not custom built-ins, but this has helped me out so much!!  I never knew how nice it was to have a place right there to put folded clothes on. The hooks on the walls are for shirts which need to be ironed or anything that might need to air dry.  When they get done in the dryer, all ironables go on the hook to be ironed on my iron day… usually on a Tuesday or Thursday, when I don’t have quite as much washing to do.  When the baskets are not in use, they sit above my washing machine.  When the clothes are all folded for the day, each child’s pile is put in their basket and sent to their room at the end of the day with any other of their other belongings that might be hanging around.  Each child is responsible for putting up their clothes and making sure their basket goes back into their closet.  We usually do sheets on Thursday, and play “catch-up” on Saturdays.  In essence, my laundry machines usually go every day of the week, when I’m on top of things.

So this is how things work for me!  Tell me how things work for you and if you feel like giving this method a try, let me know how it goes!  Hang in there!!!

Sock Bun Curlers

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Alright!  I do not EVER, nor have I EVER proclaimed to be a hair officinato…. I’m not going there!  My hair has been my Achilles Heal all my life.  It minds just about as well as some of my kids do!  My poor daughters!  However, we lucked out the other day!  Ali has fine middle length hair.  It holds a curl as well as the Sierra holds a snowflake!  One big sock bun is simply too big for her hair.  The sides won’t stay in it all night long.  I had Ali wash her hair and we put some product in it, and then blow dried it nearly all dry.  Just barely damp.  I sectioned her hair into five small pony tails and secured each one with a very small rubber band–not too tightly.  I took about five of my little toddler’s socks (no matches found), clipped the toes off and made sock buns out of each one of them.  I then put each pony tail into the middle of a sock bun (shaped like a doughnut) and started rolling it up.  I pinned each one in place with a bobby pin,  and had her sleep on them all night long.  Sunday morning came, we undid the sock buns, and look how it turned out!  Wow!  A simple, easy hairdo!

Extra! Extra! You’ve been caught going the EXTRA mile!

Sometimes, my greatest thoughts come to me while I’m cleaning!  Today was no exception!  I have a brilliant plan that hit me today…. I certainly hope it works!

If you already know of something like this, than good for you!  Let me know if it works!  My kids are not allowed a lot of gum…. Having said that, it is a real treat when we do get it!  I had asked my older ones to help me out this morning…. School starts tomorrow and so we have been working like crazy to get the house back in order before then.  I couldn’t help but notice how some started on chores without being asked…Some went the extra mile in doing their chores, and others did ONLY what was asked of them and not an inch more…. In desperation, I started thinking of what I could do to encourage them to go above and beyond what they have been asked to do WITHOUT yelling and lecturing… and YES… I sometimes yell…. a lot!  I’m still learning!

It was as if someone turned a light switch on in my little old head!  I know, that can be terrifying at times!  Why not create an EXTRA MILE award!  Tonight, for family night, we will be doing our beans, which was explained in another post earlier.  My husband always calls on his way home for work to see if there is anything I need in town, so tonight I am going to have him bring home a few packages of EXTRA gum.

When my children are caught going the extra mile, they will be given a stick of gum…. (only one stick… an entire pack could break the piggy bank fairly quickly once they catch on to it….)  I intend to give this out during dinner time or right before family prayers…. that way, EVERYONE will be present and can see the positive behavior being rewarded!  Knowing how my children are with gum, I am sure this will catch on fairly quickly!  I might go as far as creating a small 3×5 card with some cute saying with the stick of gum attached to it, but that is just more paperwork for me to have to deal with right now and with the onset of school and five children going, I really don’t have the space, time, or patience for more paper!  If you want to, go ahead and do it!  Wish me luck…. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Children and Beans!

Bean Bag Peg Board…. Still needs a new paint job and some vinyl letters that say “Have I Done Any Good?”  It might take a few years so I’m posting now!

If I had a dollar for every “rewards” system we have tried in the past, my dear darling wouldn’t have to work another day of his life!  A while back we tried a system that seemed to work better than any others we had tried.  My neighbor gave me the idea.  It was amazing, but short-lived, partly because… I wasn’t consistent.  I had extreme fatigue and morning sickness causing me to be lazy…. (BIG mistake)… however, since we are only a few weeks away from school, we have instituted this program once again.  It is really quite simple and it truly focuses on the positives.  Let me give out a disclaimer… I AM STILL LEARNING… and SO ARE MY LITTLE ONES!!  I fear that this will be a learning process we will have to practice on until they leave the house!

However, I do know from experience that children will crave ANY attention that they can get, rather it be good attention, or bad attention.  It’s important for us as parents to be there at the “crossroads” so to say, to help encourage the good behavior as much as possible.  I have one little one in particular who loves to get the bad attention… (He is the one we prayed for patience with…. and we’re being tested on…. DAILY!)

I have taken an old jean pocket for each one of my kids and positioned it onto a peg board.  When I get some more time, I intend to put something cute on the board in vinyl such as “Have I done Any Good Today?” or something cute like that.  It takes me years to get my vinyl projects.  I’m sure you could do something even more clever to make it look really cute.  My focus is to get through the day…. not too much on the cutesy end, I’m afraid!  Each day I fill my pants pocket or apron pocket with a handful of dry beans.  On Sunday evening, I place 5 beans in each child’s peg pocket.  I tell them it is because I LOVE them so much!  Now, this is where you need to look for the positive in each day.  Anytime your child(ren) get caught doing something good, give them a bean for their pocket.  If someone picks something up without being told, give them a bean!  If they do something good in town, give them a bean when you get home.  If someone shows a little bit of kindness to a sibling, give them a bean!  If they clean their rooms up in the morning, give them a bean!  I think you get the idea!  They can also loose their beans…. hitting (fighting), lying, and taking things that aren’t theirs (stealing).  Also, if they have been asked to do a job, and they don’t do it, then their bean either comes out of their pocket if I have to do it, OR, if a sibling does their job, they then “pay” their sibling a bean.  We try not to make too many rules…. Keep it Simple….

Now for the fun part.  Each Sunday evening, we have a family planning meeting of sorts (just to make sure we know what is coming up for the week with everyone’s schedules).  Then we start counting beans.  For every 10 beans they earn they get to choose a  “reward” card.  I turn them over so when they are choosing they can not see which card they are picking.

No, they are not going to get financial rewards, such as money or clothing articles, but they are going to get to choose from the following SPECIAL TIME awards:

A board game with Daddy!

An Ice Cream with Mommy!

Stay up 30 min later and have a dessert with Mom and Dad!

Play an outside game with Daddy!

Pick the Friday Night Family Movie!

A bike ride with Mommy!

A bike ride with Daddy!

A board game with Mommy!

Play an outside game with Mommy!

An Ice Cream with Daddy!

Make a dessert with Mommy!

Choose from the Prize Box!

(This one is only very simple things such as a packet of gum, a tie tac, a CTR ring… a mechanical pencil, small paperback book, bookmark, etc., very simple things)

There are many ideas to choose from.  This is what works well with us.  Our kids LOVE the one on one time with us.  It gives us a chance to talk to them only (and in a house with this many people they love it)…. not to mention it forces Ed and I, as busy parents, to take the time to spend one on one with a child.  It makes them feel pretty special.   It’s all about the positive reinforcements.  As I said earlier, we are still learning… and yes, I still mess up…FREQUENTLY!  This is my first time of being a mom, you know!  There’s still a learning curve!

If you have some fabulous ideas that work for you, let me know!

Letter to My Little Ones!

This is for my Little Ones….
Welcome to the Griffin Missionary/Life
Training Center Grounds!
Here, you will be taught the skills necessary to make your journey into the world.  Please understand that your trainers have just barely graduated themselves, and are still learning the ins and outs of teaching!  But know this… they love you more than life itself!  They would never embark on this journey if they didn’t love you.
There will be struggles during your time here.  There will be pain.  Times when things are done and said that will cause pain and anguish.  There will be times when property is damaged. Please know that your learning experiences are worth more than property.  Property can be replaced… sometimes at a painful cost, but understand that your learning experiences are far more valuable to us.  We look at it as part of the training course.  Your trainers may get frustrated but please realize that they are still learning,
as well.
During your study course here, there will be occasional times of testing.  Times when we must leave the training grounds and practice our learning in public places.  Please understand that during those tests, it is easy for the trainers to get frustrated if things do not go as instructed.  Fortunately, you both will have the opportunity to relearn these skills back at the training grounds.  Remember, your trainers are still learning to be trainers as well!  Please show them some patience as well.
There will also be good times.  Memories will be made that you will never forget!  You are training with an amazing group of fellow students.  Some groups are small, but we are lucky enough to have seven amazing students and two trainers in our group!  However, with such a large group, understand that this training course will require EVERY ONE’S cooperation!  There may be times when you feel like giving up.  Do not lose sight of our goal!
There NEEDS to be much studying.  There MUST be much prayer.  There WILL be a lot of fun.  There may not be much funding, but we will make it work with what we have.  If you will give everything to your study course here, I guarantee that your Father in Heaven will bless you and make this the most wonderful time of your lives!
We are so excited to have you in our course.  We love you and want only the very best for you.  Best of luck to you and your trainers!  We’ll see you at the finish line!