Friday, September 4, 2015

A Little Bit of Crazy

I spent the first half of this week trying to be a mom of six.  This included getting the two oldest to and from school.  How do you moms do it?  I could do it for three days, but how do you do it five days a week for an entire school year??  It sure made me grateful for our decision to homeschool.

My kids enjoyed having friends over so much.  We made a trip to the splash pad one day and a trip to a new park the next.  They thought they were in heaven!  During the day I was able to accomplish more than I thought I would because having a buddy to play with meant they didn't need to pester Mom! 

I'm so glad I was able to help out a good friend.  I know she would have done the same for me.


Yesterday was a good day because we had our daddy home all day.  We started off with a hike.  We went two miles.  We really had a lot of fun. Add to that a lunch date, some grocery shopping, and stake volleyball...perfect day.



Today was a little rough to start.  I crashed while running and the road ate me for breakfast. Dang it!  Still, the tractors are digging a huge trench through our front yard today (they're installing a water main) so the kids should be adequately entertained,  They've posted up camp chairs by the office window.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Apps and Resources for Pre-K and Kintergarten

I've had a few requests lately to know more about the apps and resources we use at home to aid in our kids' learning.  I decided to write them up in blog form so that I can just refer people here.

First of all, there is so much out there!  There are so many good apps, websites, books, etc. that can help you teach your children.  You may be a homeschooler (like us), doing a mommy-swap preschool (also us), or you may just want to have fun, educational ways to spend a few minutes with your toddler (you guessed it, us!).  You don't have to look far!  In reality, it can be a little overwhelming!

So, here are the apps and resources we like best.  Please share your favorites in the comments!  We love trying out new apps and games!

Apps:

This is by far our favorite app out there.  We use it mainly as our math curriculum, but there is so much more!  Computer programming, art history, lots of fun stuff to learn!  Tony and I use it ourselves, but we also love that we can help Hyrum do it (math starts as simple as "How many rabbits do you see?").  You can do it all online or you can download their iPad app.  We love both!  FREE

  • My Little Phonics Speller Workbook - by Andrea Perrin
This is a letter tracing app that we use on the iPad.  It has both uppercase and lowercase.  There is a free version, but the ads are really annoying, so I gave in and paid the $1.99 to upgrade to the ad-free version.  Totally worth it.  Hyrum has used this app a bunch and Lindi tried it out for the first time today.  "I want to do it myself!"  FREE or $1.99 ad-free in-app purchase

  • Eggy 100 HD - by Blake eLearning
A fun sight word game for the iPad.  It's a great way to get your pre-reader familiar with common sight words.  FREE

  • MarcoPolo Weather - by MarcoPolo Learning
This one is just a fun, interactive game for kids to explore weather.  They can control things such as temperature and weather types.  Then they can dress the little character in appropriate clothing.  Hyum has learned little tidbits such as "Rainbows have seven colors!" from playing with this one.  FREE

  • Drawnimal - by Lucas Zanotto
Another fun one for kids to learn their letters.  Each letter has an animal associated with it.  Kids (or parents) draw the features of the animals (tails, ears, etc.) on a piece of paper that the phone is sitting on and then the animal does a funny animation.  Works best with iPhone, but can do on iPad.  $1.99

  • BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week - BrainPOP
The free version of this app has weekly videos that teach about different subjects (muscles, tsunamis, etc.).  There are also quizzes to see how well your child listens and retains subject material.  Hyrum is excited to see what the new video is each week.  I think you can pay for access to more videos.  FREE

  • JFK Challenge - by John F. Kenedy Library Foundation
If your kids are interested in the space race, the peace corp, or you just want them to learn more about a really neat guy, this is a great app.  It is very interactive and is a fun one do together.  FREE

  • PBS KIDS Video - by PBS KIDS
This might be Hyrum's favorite app.  He loves Wild Kratts.  Lindi loves Curious George.  There are plenty of kid friendly shows to choose from.  Kids are sponges, too.  Hyrum knows all about predators and other such things thanks to the time he spends on this app.  FREE

Websites:

If you live in the Garland Independent School District, ask your library about this awesome "Kindergarten Ready" resource.  You can have free access!  It has an extensive library of videos that model different activities to help improve literacy and math skills.  Simple activities that take little or no prep time on your part!
Free online access to tons of children's books.  I have fallen away from using it much because I prefer to read from a physical book.  I think it engages my kids better.  However, this is still a great resource.

Sometimes Hyrum wants to play "games on the computer" and this is a great way to let him feel like he is getting play time while still helping him learn.

Not all the games and activities on PBSkids are educational, but it's a good, clean place for kids to play.


Don't forget the value of the public library!  We love going and getting new books, music, and movies each week.  Don't be afraid to branch out and look in different places.  We love finding kids' non-fiction books.  This week my kids are loving Hurricanes by Gail Gibbons.  Tony and I have learned some new facts from it too!  There are an almost unlimited supply of good non-fiction books that are great for even the youngest kids!  Check out the videos, too.  We've been learning a lot from the Magic School Bus series lately.  There are all sorts of movies that teach kids about different cultures, science, language, and more!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fruit Table

As far as Bryton's wedding goes, we had two big responsibilities.  Number one was the family/friend luncheon after the sealing.  Grannie made like 14 dozen homemade tortillas (she's the bomb!) and we did sweet pork, cilantro lime rice, beans, salsa, and other fixins.  It was delicious!

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my momma and sisters, cutting, cutting, cutting, and prepping the fruit table.  It was fun to hang out together!






Dad was awesome and danced with his girl and made a trip to Walmart for a few things we needed.




It turned out pretty good!

Monday, August 24, 2015

How do you use your time?

How do you use your time when all three children simultaneously take a nap?

We went visiting teaching this morning.  Jasmin told us to come in our swim suits and we enjoyed their pool while we visited.  I think Hyrum must have worn himself out racing Jasmin across the pool a few times because as soon as he had his PB&J in his belly he went over to the couch and did this...


Naps probably happen once every three months for him, so I took advantage of the rarity and put the girls down.  But then what was I supposed to do?

I cleaned the bathrooms.

Lame.

I'm pretty sure that's what I did last time I had three sleeping kids.

How do you use your time?  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does something like this!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dinner with Friends

The worst part of moving to Texas was leaving family and friends behind...

We always do our best to meet up with Lindsay when we go back.  She's a very good friend.  She might miss having me around more than my family does. ;)



This go around we met up with her and Cole and had Smashburger for dinner.  We caught up on how life has been.  It was an enjoyable evening, even if Lindi ate ketchup for dinner and spent a majority of the evening sitting under the table.  She's two.  You know...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Saving Money on Groceries

This post is written mostly written for my sisters. Keila just moved across the country to start a new job/school program as a Caterpillar Diesel Technician. Seriously cool! Ashley just married into the family. She and Bryton are starting the "poor married college students" life. They both could benefit from saving a quarter here and there. Maybe you can too!

I am by no means a "Crazy Coupon Lady."  I just like saving money on things that I need and buy anyway.  So, here are a few tips from my own experience.

Tip #1: Never go grocery shopping hungry.  You'll buy more than you need.  Period.  End of story.  Especially don't go shopping with your husband if he is hungry.  You'll really buy things you don't need.

Tip #2: Never go grocery shopping without a list.  I usually sit down and make a list of five or six meals that we want to eat over the week.  Then I make a list of all the things we'll need to have on hand to make those things.  Don't forget to add your staple items, too.  Eggs, milk, bread.  The basics.  If you go shopping with a list, you are less likely (though not certain) to get everything you need.  Plus, you're also less likely to buy what you don't need.  You won't buy that package of cookies because you won't even need to go down that aisle.  I look at my list, put my blinders on, and head for the next item.  Don't let the grocery store win by luring you into buying what you don't need!

Tip #3: Buy store brand.  Generic brands tend to be cheaper and usually just as good.  There are only a few things we are particular about and buy name brand.  Find out what those things are for you, but save on the rest!

Tip #4: Use coupons and cash back apps wisely.  Don't use a coupon unless it will save you money.  Doesn't sound like it makes any sense, does it?  But really...coupons are usually for name brand items and sometimes it won't save you any money if you usually buy store brand.  Also, don't let coupons influence you to buy something you wouldn't buy without the coupon.  Make your grocery list before you look at coupons and only use coupons for the items already on your list.  The best way to use coupons is to use them in conjunction with cash back offers!  So here's what I know...

I use Coupons.com to find and print coupons.  You can print two per item, per computer.  I don't pay for the newspaper to get the coupon inserts, but if you have access to them, by all means, use them too!

Next, cash back apps!

First, Walmart Savings Catcher...


If you shop at Walmart, this is a great way to get some money back.  Simply download the Walmart app. (iPhone or Android links here).  After you shop, open the app, tap "Savings Catcher," then "Scan a Receipt."  They'll check prices at other stores and give you back the difference (as a Walmart gift card) if there is a lower price elsewhere.  I still price match my produce at the store because it doesn't work on Savings Catcher.

Next favorite, ibotta!

Ibotta is awesome.  You look at what offers they have available, unlock the ones you want to do, shop, scan the items and receipt that match the offers, and then get cash back!  Not only that, but you can create a team by linking to Facebook and get bonus cash when you and your team reach monthly goals.  There are other bonuses and incentives for specific offers too.  Make sure to use my referral code to get a referral bonus! (vqwtlkq)

Next, SavingStar.

My favorite thing about SavingStar is the weekly produce deals (20% back) and the freebies!  Think free candy bars, free baking soda, free ice cream, or whatever else is the freebie offer. (iPhone and Android links here)

Checkout 51:


Again, pretty self explanatory.  Choose an offer, shop, scan your receipt, get cash back.  Love it! (iPhone and Android links here)

Groupon has a cash back app called Snap. 


It works the same as all the rest.  Use this referral link: https://snap.groupon.com/app?ref=2851882b9b28f408

Shrink is another.


It's not my favorite.  The products they have aren't things I usually buy, but they usually have some generic ones to (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.).  They'll give you $1 if you use my referral link: https://bnc.lt/m/6jjCFasu4l  It's worth a try!

Shopmium:


Similar to Shrink.  They have good offers from time to time.  They'll give you a free Lindt chocolate bar if you use my referral code (YFCFEGQR).  You know you want one! (iPhone and Android links here)

Mobisave is a newer one and there is a waiting list, but it's worth the wait!

Image result for mobisave android

They have great offers I things I use all the time. (They are currently available on iPhone but they're working on Android.)

So there's what I know.  Cool things start happening when you combine things.  For example, I ought diapers on clearance, used a printed coupon, and then got the cash back offer on Mobisave this week and guess what?  Free diapers, plus coupons inside to use next time!  You won't always get free items, but I promise the quarters really do add up!  Just on ibotta, for example. I have got $167.60 back and I've been using it just over a year.  It works!  I may be addicted.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Phoenix Arizona Temple

While in Arizona, Husband and I added temple number 21 to our list of temples that we have performed ordinances in together.  


It worked out perfectly because the Phoenix temple was only 20 minutes away from the resort we were staying at for the week!  We left right after I fed Ellie and had plenty of time to perform some sealings and sit in the celestial room for a little while.



It was the perfect way to start the beginning of a crazy week full of wedding shenanigans.  It had been a while since Tony and I were able to be in the temple together.  Plus, it had been ages since I did sealings because I can't kneel down while I'm pregnant or I pass out.  I love doing sealings!  I love forever families!  The temple is a beautiful place where we make wonderful promises to our Heavenly Father.  He, in turn, gives us blessings that last into the eternities!