Monday, December 21, 2009

I Love Christmas Shopping!

I took the little ones Christmas shopping last night. We all went to Walmart and I got them each a reusable shopping bag. As they found gifts that they wanted to buy for each other they just stuck them in their bag so that no one could see what we were buying for each other. It was lots of fun.

Wolfman had to be reminded several times that we were not shopping for ourselves, we were thinking of other people. When he found a cool child size baseball hat with Transformers on it, he thought that he should buy it for Calvin. But when I told him that it was too small for Calvin and that it was Wolfman-sized he waved the hat in the air and shouted, "Who wants to buy me a hat?!?"

Smart kid. (I told him, "That's not the way it works." Strangers were chuckling.)

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas from The Supercool Family!

I quit mailing out Christmas cards about 20 years ago. This is it.

Merry Christmas to all! I miss my blogfriends, but I'm still thinking of you! Thanks for your love and support!



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Soup for My Soul

So many great answers lately. Every day. I guess when you're praying for answers every day, and then studying to find them, they're right there. It's amazing. The other night I was having a hard time, so I was praying. I was getting really frustrated and decided I'd better get out my scriptures and read. First I opened to the glossary, then opened it again and my answer was right there, "Fear not, I am with thee. Be not afraid..." So I quit perseverating on my frustrating situation, and went right to sleep - completely comforted. It's so nice to have the Lord on my side.

On Tuesday I had class and expected Calvin to come right home and help the Princess and Arthur watch the babies until DH could come home. DH said he'd be home in about an hour and feed the kids. So I left the babies with Princess and went to class expecting that everyone would be taken care of. I got home at around 7:30 p.m., only to find that Calvin had just gotten home and Daddy still wasn't home. The babies weren't fed, and no one had even made dinner. I whipped out a couple of boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese, slamming cupboards the whole time. Just after we'd finished, my visiting teacher called to see if she could bring us a bowl of soup that night and we could have it later in the week. I had to tell her that she'd been inspired (even though she was 20 minutes late.) She said that she'd been praying about her huge to-do list that morning and asking what the most important thing to do was. Her promise to bring me dinner one of these days popped into her mind. She had the soup ready by 6 p.m., but ... wanted to make some bread to bring with it ...and figured that I had it all together and the kids would have already made dinner by that time ...and ...and (just like we all do). It made me really wonder how the Holy Ghost knew at 6 a.m. that my plan would fall apart by 6 p.m.

What I DO know is that the Lord loves me and is taking care of me. Our service answers prayers.

(She brought me the loaf of homemade bread the next morning.) I love my visiting teachers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Classic Black Friday!

Camping out at Old Navy! Waiting to get a free Lego Rockband Game with a $20 purchase!!!!
Our Group was the first there! My sister, Maria, got there at 9:00 p.m. and claimed our territory with a table, chairs, and she even brought her RV so we'd have a potty in the parking lot!

We got 11 of the 26 games! SCORE!

Julie brought snacks and drinks. Her friends brought cupcakes and homemade rolls! This is Me (black and pink) with two of my sisters (Maria, far left, and Julie, far right) and two cousins (Kimm and Debra).
Most of the group went to breakfast after our 12 hour Black Friday shopping spree! We hit Old Navy for their opening at 3 a.m., then Target at 5 a.m, and after we got everything there, we headed to a couple of Walmart's for their great deals!

We truly have it down to a science! Woohoo! We don't need no stinkin' football!

(Thanks for the pictures Debra!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cake and Catching Criminals and Cockroaches

I am lovin' my job. Today my aides baked me a cake and then we caught a criminal.

Last week we had a big adventure and caught an escape artist. Then on Friday I had an observation. After observing my lesson, the woman from the District said, "You are a Rock Star! I can't imagine anyone else teaching these kids. You are a master teacher. It was a pleasure to watch you teach."

Oh yeah! That's the part of working that I missed. Yeah, going to work every day is still hard, but I really love my job, my coworkers, and my students. I enjoy teaching, and it's nice to hear that I'm good at it too.

We also found a giant cockroach in the cupboard today. However, it didn't reduce my enthusiasm. I am going to get some roach motels though!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I'm sorry, I have no thoughts. Since I've been going to school, teaching, and everything else my thoughts are spread so thin...I was going to say it's as thin as margarine on toast, but it's more like splatters of Pam on a pan - not even covering an entire surface. I spend half my time making lists, the other half I spend, standing around trying to remember what I was going to do and why I'm: looking in the fridge, standing in the kitchen, on the computer, looking in my purse, etc.

Today at church, someone asked me how I'm handling everything. I have just given up everything optional. I've missed the last couple of Bunco nights and GNO's. My house is just passable. I don't watch t.v., use the computer, read for pleasure, or do any crafts. I barely see the family. Monday through Thursday, I wake at 5:30, get people ready, drop off the babies, go to school/work, pick up the babies, drop them off, go to class, tuck in the babies, go to bed, and wake up to do it all again. Wednesdays, I have young women's instead of class. Fridays, I'm so exhausted we just have family time instead of going on dates. On the weekends, I do marathon loads of laundry, make sure people have 5 days worth of outfits set aside, make menus, go shopping, cook meals for a week or two, do homework, and try to spend some time holding the little ones.

The classes I'm taking are actually really worthwhile and I enjoy them, but it would have been nice to spread them out. I'm doing the National Board Teacher Certification Pre-Candidacy class which is very (hhhmmmmm, can't think of the word...I've strained for 5 minutes and still can't think of the word I want...yeah, see what I mean?) The other class I'm loving is "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Sadly, my favorite part is that there's no homework. However, it's great information and goes so well with our Book Group choice, "Bonds that Make us Free". (Which I haven't had time to read except 5 minutes at a time).

Validating. That's the word I couldn't come up with. The whole object of the National Board certification process is to verbalize why what I know about kids determines my actions in the classroom and how that benefits students, and then to show evidence of how that helps my students. Very worthwhile. However, not something I'm going to attempt when I can't string 10 words together in a coherent thought. Maybe next year.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Randoms from this Week

It's finally getting cold here. Well, you know, we wear jackets in the mornings and turn on the air conditioning in the afternoon.

One of my students was deciding what everyone in class should dress up as for Halloween. At first he just told what movie their character was from, then he told what character we were: His sister, was from The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Quasi Modo; I was flattered he said I was Mulan, until I asked what character from the movie, and It was Yao. Yes, "King of the Mountain".

The other day I was going to use my last cash to buy a cola to kill the caffeine headache that had been plaguing me all afternoon. I stopped at Walmart to pick up a birthday present and when I got back in my car, a woman with a small child asked me for some money to "help them out". I gave her my change, honestly wishing that I could do more for them on that cold, windy day. I thought, "Darn, there went my headache money." I rushed through the rest of my day not thinking about it. In the middle of the night I woke up and thought, "Hmmm, I don't have a headache", then realized, that was my blessing for giving that woman the last of my money.

Last week they were giving students the AIMS test at school. As I was driving past the front of the school, I saw a convertible in front of the school. It had a giant Red Bull can on the back of it. They were parked there, giving every student who passed by a free can or two of Red Bull. I really wish I could compare their scores on the AIMS to the students who didn't get the free overdose of caffeine that morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How are the classes going?

Just finished 3 credit hours (yes, college credit hours) in one weekend - gotta LOVE University of Phoenix continuing education courses! Of course, there IS an outside assignment to finish in the next 3 weeks, but really...

When I am done with this semester, I am buying myself an entire Wonder Woman outfit - complete with go-go boots, lasso, and invisible airplane.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Handcart Trek Pictures

Our son Calvin is on a pioneer handcart trek reenactment with our Stake. In order to go the youth had to be between 14 and 18 years old. Everyone had to wear period clothing and each person could only bring 15 lbs of personal property. They keep their clothing and personal items in 5 gallon buckets and have to pull them in their carts. They are hiking 25 miles over 3 days, camping out in tents, and cooking for themselves. The 200 youth are split up into families of 8-10 youth with each group supervised by a married couple (Ma and Pa).

One of the handcarts from above.

Calvin has been so excited. He got his clothes together and packed, and was even up before my alarm went off at 4 am, ready and waiting to head to the church at 4:30 am on Thursday.

Calvin is walking at the back, farthest right in black hat and suspenders.

DH and I got to go yesterday and help with some of the activities. I was there to teach the youth how to sew on buttons. DH helped them learn to use a cross-cut saw. Others were there to let them try things like milking a cow, making butter, washing clothes in wash tubs, throwing hatchets, shooting black powder guns, playing pioneer games, braiding rugs, splitting wood, etc.

Calvin is between the trees to the left.

Last night they made camp, fixed their dinner in dutch ovens, and then had a dance. They had all been taught to square dance in preparation for the trek.

Calvin farthest right, at back of group.

Today they're hoping to make it to "Salt Lake", and then they'll take apart their handcarts, and then they'll climb back into their vans and suburbans to come back to reality.

Calvin is far right of picture pulling at the front.

It was such a great opportunity for them to get a little taste of the 1,300 mile trek that our ancestors made about 150 years ago.

Calvin, bottom left.

All of these pictures were taken by an Arizona Republic Photographer and published online at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Pioneer Heritage

A statue commemorating Mormon handcart pioneers on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

Our Stake (A group of congregations or wards, generally about three thousand to five thousand members in five to ten congregations.) at church is getting ready to take the youth on a handcart trek. My son Calvin is the only one old enough to go. I was telling him about the ancestors that we have who were among the original handcart pioneers. He claimed that I'd never told him the story. So I decided that I'd better put it here, in writing, for the rest of posterity.

"Peder Mortensen and mission: Peder Mortensen never expected to be a Utah Pioneer or a survivor of one of the most infamous and ill-fated handcart companies in the history of the western Mormon migration.

Peder’s livelihood and destiny had been carefully scripted by his patriarchal ancestors. As a devout Lutheran, he made a living as a cooper, shoemaker, and landowner in the village of Harbolle, Denmark, located on the southwest end of the Island of Mon.

Although Peder was a cripple, he and his wife, Helene Sandersen, and their eight children, created a comfortable middle-class lifestyle on the inherited farm from his father’s line.
Their thrifty and industrious lives drastically changed in 1855 when missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Soren P. Guhl and Elder Scoby, visited their village of Harbolle.

Morten, Peder’s oldest son and a biblical scholar studying for the Lutheran ministry, listened to the missionaries with great interest. Morten first thought he could entrap the missionaries into declaring their “Golden Bible” to be a fraud. Instead the missionaries baptized all the Mortensen family members over age eight; Peter (50), Helena (47), Morten (28), Anna (24), Anders (22), Hans (18), Lars (13), and Mette (10). Seven-year-old Maria and four-year-old Caroline were baptized later.

Soon after its organization, leaders in the LDS Church asked the church members to gather together first in Independence, Missouri, then in Nauvoo, Illinois, and finally in Salt Lake City, Utah. Peder and his family responded to the doctrine of “the gathering” by selling their farm and traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark to await passage to America.

During a month-long stay in the Danish capitol, the Mortensen family became acquainted with Scandinavian Mission President Hector C. Haight, who asked Morten to remain in Denmark and serve as a missionary.

Haight, recognizing a hesitance to split the family, made a solemn promise to Peder that Morten later recorded in his journal. “If you will consent to his staying and filling a mission, I promise you in the name of the Lord that you will, everyone of you, reach the land of Zion in safety, and God will protect you on sea and on land,” Haight said.

Morten stayed in Denmark as a missionary and the Mortensen family sailed to America aboard the steamship Thornton on May 4, 1856. Once in America the family traveled by both train and steamship to Iowa City, Iowa where they joined a company of 500 people, 120 handcarts and six wagons under the direction of James G. Willie.

The Willie handcart company is listed as the fourth handcart company to arrive in Salt Lake City as part of a new, cheaper method of people-powered travel proposed by then LDS Church President Brigham Young and financed by a revolving endowment known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Wooden handcarts, modeled after carts used by street sweepers, measured six to seven feet long, carried 500 pounds of trail provisions, and could be alternately pushed or pulled.

Still possessing sufficient funds from the sale of his farm to purchase ox teams and wagons for his family to ride to the 1400-mile trek to Salt Lake, Peder Mortensen gave his money to the Perpetual Emigration Fund allowing his family and three other families to make the handcart journey.

Peder, disabled by rheumatism, rode the entire trip on a handcart pulled by his children. Peder’s daughter Mette wrote about the journey in her diary. She described walking to the point of Fort Laramie as “monotonous.” But after Ft. Laramie Mette said, “They cut the flour rations and it began to snow.”

All but two of the ten handcart companies deployed between 1856 and 1860 completed the trail with few problems. The fourth and fifth companies, known today as the Martin and Willie companies, left winter quarters in August 1856, too late to begin a trip across the plains. The blizzard of October 1856 caught both handcart companies west of present day Casper, Wyoming. Despite heroic efforts by company members and Utah rescuers, about 200, or one-sixth of the companies died and dozens were maimed by frostbite and deprivation.

Every member of the Mortensen family survived the journey west without lasting injuries from the cold. Mette wrote she believed their safe arrival in Salt Lake fulfilled the promise they received from Hector C. Haight, Morten’s mission president, and Morten’s willingness to serve the Lord.

On December 1, 1856, Peder Mortensen and his family settled in Parowan, Utah." Morten is my great-great grandfather. We come through his daughter Diantha Elizabeth Mortensen.

(Thanks to for posting this story. I've had a hard time finding it online, so I wanted to post it where we'd be able to locate it.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Canned Cheese?!? That's gross, and cool, at the same time.

"Canned Cheese?!? That's gross, and cool, at the same time." - Calvin

How to do it. . .

1. Get wide mouth pint jars - be sure they're clean and dry - put them in the oven on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 200 degrees to sterilize them.

2. Boil lids and rings.

3. Grate any kind of cheese (cheese that gets better with age is best, like cheddar. Monterey Jack or Colby will work but won't last as long, so use the freshest date possible). Do not use pregrated cheese from the store (they coat it with something to keep it from molding quickly), buy a horn of cheese and grate it yourself. (44 lb block of cheese = 48 jars of cheese, or about 1 lb per pint jar).

4. Place grated cheese in jars - Pack it in well (you can press it down with a glass or bottle), and place in pan of water (3-4" deep). Water should be no higher than 2/3 to the top of jar. You don't really want water to get into the jars - it won't necessarily ruin it, but it's better without any.

5. Boil water and add more cheese as needed to fill jar to 1 inch from top (if you've pressed it down well, you shouldn't have to add any).

6. Melt cheese completely (15-20 minutes). With the flat of a butter knife, press the edges down, to move the center cheese out and get the entire jar melted. You don't really want to stir it, as that will allow air bubbles to enter - the idea is to get the air bubbles out, and get the entire jar evenly melted. Also, try not to get any cheese on the lip of the jar.

7. Remove canning jar from the pot and place the lid and ring on, then hand tighten.

8. Set aside until you have enough jars ready to place in steamer. (Add 2 T. vinegar to the water in your steamer, it will keep the calcification from the water off the jars.)

9. Place jars in steamer and steam for 40 minutes. "Do NOT shorten the time."

10. When you remove the jars from the steamer, turn them upside down on towel, and let them cool with the cheese touching the lid and the 1" gap at the bottom. This will make cheese removal easier when you are ready to use it!

11. Let cool and store at 75 degrees.

This is not a cheese sauce. It is like a lump of cheese. There is a slight texture difference, kind of grainy. It can be grated, eaten plain, or melted in recipes just like cheese from your refrigerator.

Cheddar has a shelf life of 3-5 years.

Thanks Roxy for the awesome class!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Once-A-Month Cooking!

Yesterday, I purchased, prepped, and froze meals for the next month. (I know it sounds intimidating, but it probably won't once you read the menus.) I usually try to do the prep work on the day I do my grocery shopping - I brown and freeze any ground beef, or saute, chop up, and freeze chicken breasts that will later go into recipes. That way, whether it's me, the hubby, or kids who cook, half the meal is already done to toss into a dish.

So, what can you whip up in 20 minutes or under if you've got the meat already frozen?

Taco salad
Hamburger helper
Gravy with Hamburger or Sausage
Stir Fry
Chicken Packets
Spanish Rice
Layered Enchiladas
Linguine Alfredo with chicken
Fried potatoes with Hamburger
and a bunch more I can't think of right now

Here are my menus for the next month, for your viewing pleasure, and for me to refer to (just in case the list on the front of the fridge mysteriously disappears):

9/13 - 9/19
M- bread pudding (frozen in aluminum lasagne pan) with buttermilk syrup (which would make dirt taste delicious)
T- "ham" salad sandwiches
W- corn dog muffins
Th- spaghetti
F- Mexican Rice Casserole (I also love Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice, add precooked/frozen ground beef - gotta double it for my family)
Sat- stir fry chicken (bag o' frozen stir fry veggies, chicken is precooked, chopped and frozen, minute rice)

Sun- lasagne (all prepared and frozen in aluminum lasagne pan with directions to thaw and bake written on tinfoil cover)
M- biscuits and sausage gravy (sausage is cooked, and frozen in gladware. McCormick mix is delish if you don't do homemade.)
T- beanie weenie (I'm lovin' Bush's baked beans, toss in after frying some hotdog coins, add a little extra brown sugar)
W- chicken packets (chicken filling is cooked, chopped, doctored, and frozen in gladware)
Th- ravioli (frozen bag of premade stuff, add can of sauce and precooked frozen ground beef)
F- Rhodes dough pizzas (defrost loafs of Rhodes in the morning, quick homemade pizza that evening)
Sat- tostadas


Sun- chicken ranch pasta (crockpot in the morning, ready when you get home from church!)
M- hamburgers & fries (yes, I bought the premade, frozen patties and a bag o' fries to bake while I'm frying them)
T- ham sandwiches (mixed, filled, and frozen in tinfoil, just toss in the oven for 20 minutes)
W- Kielbasa and Potatoes (kielbasa chopped and frozen in gladware)
Th- enchiladas (frozen in aluminum lasagne pan, just add sauce and bake)
F- pancakes
Sat- soft tacos (hamburger cooked and frozen in gladware, tortillas soft fried, and frozen in a gallon bag)

10/4- 10/10

Sun- quiche (frozen pie crusts; bacon, onions, etc. frozen - no thawing required, but I precook my crust about 5 minutes before adding eggy mixture and filling)
M- fried potatoes with bacon & onions (bacon is chopped, cooked, and frozen with onions - just chop potatoes, saute them til tender, and toss in meat)
T- Easy Crustless Quiche (precooked sausage, add green chile and onion)
W- penne pasta lasagne (I had a bunch of lasagne filling left, so I cooked up some penne, tossed it in the cheesy filling, put it in a baking dish, and poured on the rest of the can of sauce. Can't be too bad, right?)
Th - baked potatoes with hamburger gravy
F - homemade Mac & Cheese
Sat - Time to Go Shopping and Cook Again. I'm going out to eat.

Everything for these meals is either in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. I like to package and freeze parts together, so they don't accidentally get eaten before their time. (For example, if you were having french bread pizzas, you could wrap your container of homemade meat sauce, bag of mozarella, package of pepperoni, and loaf of french bread together in saran wrap, before you stick it in the freezer. Get the package out the night before, defrost in the fridge, and you're all set to whip it up in about 15 minutes!)

By the way, I spent about an hour at Walmart, after I made up a list of meals in the parking lot. I spent about $200 (and that included milk, bread, cereal and some other necessities, but not a bunch of snacks or anything). My goal is to spend about $1 per meal, per person. The prep work (cooking the meat - hamburger and chicken, assembling lasagne, ham sandwiches, enchiladas, and making filling for chicken packets, etc.) took about three hours. (And just in case you're wondering, I figure I spend about $400 per month on food for 7 people (5 adult/teen, 2 picky littles. Also, I do have a separate full-sized freezer, but I think I could probably keep all the prepared stuff in the kitchen freezer, as long as I didn't have a bunch of other junk in there.) Another tip: I keep a list of the stuff I have prepped in the freezer, on the front of the freezer, so we don't forget to use it.

I also did laundry while I was doing my cooking. I didn't fold, just moved loads through the washer/dryer to the couch. By Saturday night we were ready for our "Laundry Party!" (which makes little kids beg to be allowed to come, and big kids groan). At our "Laundry Party!" we turn on fun music, and everyone sits in special spot of their choosing (just like Christmas morning!), while I throw laundry off the pile at the owner, and they fold their stuff. Each of the big kids usually has to do their own and a small sibling, while little kids fold dishtowels, and little things. I do mine and DH does his own. Whoever isn't busy (because all their laundry is still on their floor) gets to do towels, sheets, or whatever I throw at them.

(Here's BittE and her new babydoll, Spamela)

Have a productive week! (And if you're all inspired to go for it, try starting with just a week or two.)

Got any good tips for me? I'd love to hear what works for you! Thanks!

Oh, By the way, I don't do the cooking most nights. The kids (16, 13, 11) are still doing it. They just go by the chore chart as to when their cooking day is, then they make the meal on the menu calendar. Yup, life is good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

no big events to report

Now that posting has become a weekly event for me, I somehow feel that it should be an event, not just random nonsense about my everyday life.

Too bad.

Today I hit the super sale at Saver's for the National Holiday! 50% off of fabulous used crap! Can't beat that!

I scored one of my all time favorite thrift shop scavenger hunt items - A Dick & Jane 1950's era New Basic Reader ($1.50) ! LOVE them! It's so exciting to just stumble upon something that you actually collect, yet weren't really searching for.

I also got the coolest little travel iron, circa 1960, for my students at school ($2.50). (Since we are a functional program, they need to learn real-life skills, and ironing is one of those skills.) I plugged it in as soon as I got home, and it worked great! Plus, it is super heavy (for a 6" iron), has a tiny spritz bottle connected to it, and one of those old black/white cords that make it look very cool and antique-y.

Besides that, I found some Born shoes for DD for only $4.00, a brand new Spiderman backpack ($3) for Wolfman - which he'd been begging for, some name brand jeans for people who are growing faster than I can outfit them ($2-6), darling school shirts for the kiddos, and some like new shoes for the littles.

I'll say it again, there is nothing like getting a screamin' deal!

This evening we had a great picnic for FHE at the park with all the family! So fun for the kids to play and run wild, while we sit and chat. I love my family!

Happy Labor Day!

Oh yeah. Have I mentioned that I am taking the equivalent of four college courses this semester, in order to maintain my certification? Um, yeah. Meaningful posts (as well as blog hopping) may just be a thing of the past for awhile. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Miracles never cease

So, our miracles have not ceased. Our water heater has been leaking pretty heavy and steadily for several weeks/months. I've been praying daily that it will last until we can afford to replace it. Friday was payday. On Saturday, Bro Ellertson was driving down 6th Street and saw one at a garage sale. They said it works great and were selling it for $20! I ran over and asked them to hold it for me while I ran to the bank for cash, and so it has been proven again - the Lord is mindful of our needs. Plus, it's even bigger than the last one we had. Woohoo!

He has definitely been mindful of me. The day before school began, I was all stressed. All of my work time had been taken up by stupid meetings and trying to schedule my students. I had no idea what to do with the students or even what their needs were. I had been reading the most recent conference issue of the Ensign, but for some reason it wasn't in the bathroom, and the only one there was from November 2008 (October Conference). The article that I opened up to read that morning was meant just for me at that moment.

You can imagine how moved I was when in the first sentence I read "...I wish to encourage (those) who at times feel overwhelmed with their responsibilities." And then"... Most of you have discovered that your ... duties will stretch you to the point that you wonder if you can stretch that far." "The more faithful service you give, the more the Lord asks of you... Your smile is a happy one because you know that He increases our power to carry the heavier load. The tough part of that reality, however, is that for Him to give you that increased power you must go in service and faith to your outer limits."

Yeah, I was completely reassured that this job is something I can do. That I'm serving some of his most courageous children, and that I can handle the increased pressure and responsibility - that my back will be strengthened to bear the burden as I serve him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.

Here are a few more passages from President Eyring's talk, "O ye that Embark":

"It is like building muscle strength. You must break down your muscles to build them up. You push muscles to the point of exhaustion. Then they repair themselves, and they develop greater strength. Increased spiritual strength is a gift from God which He can give when we push in His service to our limits. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our natures can be changed. Then our power to carry burdens can be increased more than enough to compensate for the increased service we will be asked to give." When those feelings of inadequacy strike us, it is the time to remember the Savior. He assures us that we don’t do this work alone.
Also, for the past three weeks, I've had a toothache. Seriously, it has been miserable. For a couple of days, my cheek was actually swollen up like Alfafa's and I was down in bed the whole weekend before school started. I took some antibiotics and had it under control, but as soon as they ran out, it was killin' me again. I had it pulled on Friday and have wasted another weekend in recuperation. Thank goodness I was finally able to get it taken care of though...Walking around my classroom with an ice pack on my face was starting to be really silly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

YW Spa Night

Tonight for mutual the Beehives (12 & 13 year old girls) planned a spa night. They chose the activity, planned it, and even brought the refreshments.

We did a chocolate face mask, oatmeal scrub, sugar scrub for hands, pedicures, and manicures.

I got the recipes for the chocolate mask and oatmeal scrub online, but didn't save the source. Sorry. However, here are the recipes:

Chocolate Face Mask - 1/3 c. cocoa powder, 1/4 c. honey, 2 T. heavy cream or sour cream, 3 tsp. ground oatmeal; mix well, apply to face, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse with warm water.

Oatmeal Scrub: 1 T. baking soda, 2 tsp ground oatmeal; mix with small amount water, scrub face gently, rinse with warm water.

We made our sugar scrub at Girl's Camp. Essentially it contains white sugar and mineral or vegetable oil (about 1/2 cup sugar, 2 T. oil, and some essential oil scents - a couple of drops). Here's a recipe.

And Thank goodness the girls had planned the refreshments well! We had Brownies, Ice Cream, and homemade Hot Fudge Sauce! (Otherwise I'm afraid that we'd have resorted to eating the rest of the face mask by the spoonful.

Tips for hosting your own spa night: bring lots of washcloths and towels. Bring headbands to keep their hair back. If you're doing it in the kitchen, bring mirrors so the girls don't have to walk through the building with their chocolate faces to use the mirrors in the bathroom. Lots of chocolate and good tunes are a must! Enjoy! Thanks for the great night girls!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hello. I'm too tired to blog.

But I wanted to check in anyway. We survived the first week of school. I think I'm really going to like my class. They cross the full spectrum of autism - from non-verbal, still havin' an accident once in a while to the kid who is taking Algebra II with general ed students, and can calculate how many minutes left in the class period practically instantaneously.

I'm still trying to figure out how to teach functional academics in high school. Everything we work on is supposed to have a real-world application to prepare the students for adulthood. Math is all about money, paychecks, time cards, banking, etc. Reading is about ads, newspapers, menus, etc. Writing is about shopping lists, letters, job applications, personal information sheets, etc.

Here's a cute story. One of my guys has the total stereotypic version of autism - high academics, low social skills, perseveration, stimming, etc. He can quote complete scenes from his favorite movie, and loves to sing the theme at the top of his lungs (sometimes at inopportune times and places). His favorite computer program has an application that he loves - he can sing into the microphone and hear himself through the headphones, which of course are designed to keep the rest of the class from being distracted when it's his turn on the computer. The other day two groups were working on Math, one student was writing a letter, and he was having his turn on the computer. The aide noticed that he was going to his favorite program...the one where he likes to yell. So I placed a piece of tape over the mike at the top of the screen, then added a sticky note over it that said "Quiet! It's time for Math." It must have worked, because he didn't even try to yell into the mike once during his turn. Bwahahahahaa!

Have a great week.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why didn't I think of this before!?!

Knowing that I'm going to be swamped when I go back to work full-time next week, we had a family meeting. We talked over what it would take to make it work. Since we were pretty successful with 10 kids here, we discussed what we had done differently that helped make that week easier.

Our list:
  • woke up early and got dressed right away
  • ate breakfast together
  • everyone cleared and washed their own dishes (from 2 years and up)
  • wiped the table right away
  • kept the toys to a minimum and put them away constantly
  • swept and vacuumed daily
  • did dishes after every meal (every meal made a full dishwasher load)
  • no t.v. or movies after dinner
  • played for an hour after dinner then had scriptures and prayer
  • read little ones to sleep
So we decided to continue those habits and split the daily jobs up fairly. Since none of us like doing the same job every day for a week, we have a revolving chore chart. Each of the older kids has two or three jobs daily (empty dishwasher, sweep, vac, trash, water, fill dw, cook, laundry, etc.) Every day they change though, so they don't have to get into a rut.

The best part though, is the cooking. I really assigned it, so they could help with the cooking. However, they all want to cook all three meals themselves. The first day Arthur cooked all three meals. Calvin was planning his meals ahead, and woke up at 7 am to make everyone waffles! He had a stir fry and rice all planned out for dinner tonight. They are lovin' this!

I have always shied away from chore charts, since I am not one to enforce that kind of structure (making me appear lax when it all goes out the window after a week or two). So I am thrilled that they have taken on these responsibilities so willingly. Man, I have great kids!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Industrial Arts

I went and picked up my classroom keys today. My classroom is very industrial, but it's really big. It's actually in the industrial arts building. I'm right across from the welding shop and wood shop. I'm hoping if I make friends with those teachers, they might let me use their tools. I could make some awesome Christmas presents. Or maybe I'll make friends with some students and just have them make my ping pong ball guns for me! Hmmmm, I wonder if schools are allowed to let their students make weapons nowadays?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Entertaining the Masses...

Since we had some extra playmates this week, (and we have no internet, cable, or video games) one might wonder how we entertained ourselves.
This week we... Played Games,

Learned to sew,

Played in the clubhouse,

had a tea party,

Made a massive blanket/cardboard box fort,

worked in the kitchen,

Read and studied,

went for a walk,

played with the cats,

and found numerous other ways to keep busy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Midnight Muffins

I'm up late baking pumpkin muffins for breakfast. I am realistic enough to know that there is no WAY that I can possibly wake up before all these kids and make a batch of muffins from scratch in time to feed the starving hoard. But cold muffins and canned fruit salad will still be a delicious and kid satisfying breakfast.

I also sorted a batch of beans and put them on to soak. That, and a few loaves of Rhodes Bread, will be a great dinner when I get home late from my class. And just in case you're wondering the rest of the week's menu: corn dog muffins with chili, spaghetti & meat sauce, and creamy ranch chicken over fetuccini.

I'm feeling very on-top-of-things. I even put outfits for the littles in their weekly clothes thingy! (There is a spot for every day of the week. Everyone had one when I was teaching before, then I gave all but one to my little sis when she went to work. But obviously I'm feeling the need to get organized again, since I'm going back to teaching.)

Also, I have to mention a couple of miracles that have happened to us recently - huge tender mercies from the Lord, and people who are paying attention to promptings:

Our washer broke. During the spin cycle it started wheezing, whining, and smelling like burned rubber. Then it died. I asked my hubby to look on Craig's List and he found a 3 year old washer, that had been listed just 3 minutes before, for FREE! It just needed a little duct tape to fix the switch and we were back in business!

About the same time that happened, the starter on my vehicle crapped out. It's been dying a slow death. However, my sister (the one I'm babysitting for) found out and asked her hubby to take a look at it. He came to my rescue and put a new starter in it the very night she asked him, even though they were both preparing to leave for camp. I love having family we can count on!
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