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  • “I’m Bored, Mom…”

    Julie on June 23rd, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    When I hear those words coming from my kids, I know it’s time to get my butt in gear and stop wasting time.  When I am lazy, my kids are lazy too.  My kids have watched WAY too many episodes of iCarly and Good Luck Charlie lately (NETFLIX can be a bad thing).  And it’s gotten to the point where all I am hearing are quotes from the shows, and everytime I turn around, they are sneaking the TV back on.  It’s summer.  We should be outside, enjoying the warm weather, doing things we don’t get to do during the school year.

    Last night my sister and I had a conversation about this very thing…about how when you let your kids watch TV first thing of the day, it sets them off in this lazy funk, they cop attitudes with us, are mean to their siblings…both of us noticed this from our kids, yet when they know what to expect, when there is a schedule, something to look forward to, attitudes seem much more positive…it totally makes a difference.  Today is our first day on the new schedule and job rotations.  It started out a little shaky, because we had to have a meeting this morning and there was a little resistance (but not a lot) and then we made up the job charts and so we were a little behind so we skipped a few things. But we discussed that we might not always follow the schedule EXACTLY because we may go to the lake or go to a friend’s house.

    So I should say that I have done job charts in the past, used them for a while and then gave up.  Mostly because they required a lot of time from me.  We’ve tried job sticks, job cards, and our kids have accounts set up on myjobchart.com which works very well for us for earning rewards.  But, if the kids don’t take the time to check off their jobs at the end of each day, they don’t get credit for it. And, personally, I think it works best when the job chart is in front of them on paper and they can physically check off their jobs.

    So after chatting with my sister about how her and I need to get something in place (because dealing with grumpy kids all day is NOT enjoyable), I searched around on some blogs to see what other people have done with their kids.  No sense in reinventing the wheel, right?  So I happened to stumble across this blog post and was excited about the way she had jobs for her kids on a rotation and also she had assigned Zones for her kids to clean and tidy.  Two things I haven’t thought of yet, and I think it could work.  I took her summer schedule and changed it a bit and then made up the job rotation.

    Here is our summer schedule…and as I said, it is subject to change, depending on what’s going on that day.


    7:30  Wake up, family scripture, get dressed, make bed/clean room
    8:00  Breakfast
    8:15  Clean up Breakfast, morning jobs
    8:30  Morning Exercise – walk, ride bike, run, jump on trampoline, etc.
    9:00  Clean Zones.  Pick up house.
    10:00  Read/Quiet time
    10:30  Outside play or swim
    12:00  Lunch
    12:15  Clean up Lunch
    12:30  Brain Fun:  Board Games, friends, building toys, play outside, crafts or art activity
    2:30  Jasmin Nap/ Wii free time, computer time, DS
    4:30  Pick up house
    5:00  Dinner time jobs – Set table, unload dishwasher, dinner prep
    5:30  Dinner & Clean up.
    6:00  Play with friends, play outside, special adventure
    7:30  (on days when we are home) – Movies for kids who were kind, courteous, and civil to their brothers and sisters…violators go to bed.

    And here is a link to her job rotation that she used:


    So I adapted that and made up some simple check off charts for each of my kids.  Jasmin is only 3, so I may make her a different version that is a little more simple and easy for her to understand.  I velcroed them to the side of my cupboards, but they aren’t staying very well, I am thinking some plastic hooks & some clipboards.  The nice thing about the plastic sleeves they are in is that you can use a dry erase pen on them and we can stick their reading logs from the Summer Reading program, at the library, in the back.  I wanted to make these really cute and crafty, but I just wasn’t feeling too inspired today, maybe later.  The idea is that they check off the tasks as they do them, the weekly task can be done anytime throughout the week, or on Saturday, and there is also an extra job for Saturday.  Each night we will check the charts and if all the boxes are filled in, they get a sticker for the day.  The kids and I are working on proper rewards for earning stickers.  (We are thinking like 1 sticker could be a sucker or a stick of gum, where all 7 would be something really cool like a movie or a new book…but we are still working on it)  So after the sticker is given (or NOT), we erase the chart and have it ready for the next day.  We will change to new rotations on Monday…so like, this week Savannah is on rotation 1, next week she will be on 2, so we will just erase her name on 1 and write it on 2 and next week she will be doing the jobs on rotation 2.  Here is a PDF of the 4th rotation:  ROTATION4JOB

    So, anyway…we will see if it works.  I just had to send Max to his room for talking back to me and fighting with Karson.  I don’t know what the answer is to keeping peace in the family during these few months at home…but I am hoping (deparately) that this helps.  :)


    Stickers are just what the World needs

    Julie on June 17th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    In my web searches one online sticker company kept coming up  with the BEST sticker prices and quality Sticker Mule this place is giving 10% off your order if you order before June 30th (use code SM05) – they even fix art work..

    So go get your sticker on!

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    Making Potions

    Julie on June 13th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    Ok…I had a babysitter today because our school gets out later than my kids’ school.  So I left a list of fun stuff for her to do with them.  They decided to make some potions.  I got the idea from Squashed Tomatoes.  They didn’t quite do it the same way, but here are a few of their potions…and man, they smell good!!!












    Julie on February 8th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    please take a moment to read the articles I linked to here if you aren’t familiar with the story…

    My heart breaks for Chad and his family and this horrible, horrible event.  The past couple of days I have been in constant prayer for Miranda, Chad and his family.  I asked God for a miracle, as did thousands of other praying people around the world, connected through facebook.  I have not prayed this much or this hard in a long time, if ever.  My heart has been continually crying out to God, crying over the awfulness of this whole situation, pleading to God to make it better and to heal Miranda, to give us a miracle, so that Chad could hold his daughter, watch her grow and be the daddy he dreamed of being.  I don’t understand.

    Here’s what I do know.  God is powerful. He works in mysterious ways…meaning we don’t always understand his purpose.  It’s beyond our understanding.  Chad has displayed amazing strength and steadfast faith through this tragedy.  His life is an amazing testimony to the power of God, giving us strength when we need it most. I am thinking that something about this whole thing is making me understand the power of God and the importance of prayer.  More than 25,000 people coming together in one day, to pray for Chad, his daughter and his family…that’s power.  That didn’t happen just because of Facebook, it happened because people’s hearts were turned towards God.  Someone posted that maybe the miracle was really just having sweet little Miranda to hold and touch and love on for a few days.  I am sure in some way, even though we all so desperately wanted her to open her eyes and show signs of life, the time that allowed Miranda’s family to love her and hold her and kiss her was healing to their aching hearts.  Though we hardly knew her, we will miss her.  We will miss what we hoped she could be.  But her heavenly father is holding her close, along with her mommy.

    I am amazed at the outpouring of love and support that is being shown in our community for this family.  Every post I read is full of love and encouragement for Chad.  So many people are hurting for this family.  As someone posted, “I am in awe over the lives that have been touched in such a short amount of time! It’s a real testament to our awesome God and your walk with Him.” and “Miranda – truly one who is to be admired – you have drawn more people to look at Jesus in your few days of life than some do in 80 years.”

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    Slumber Parties Rock

    Julie on January 22nd, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    Some of the greatest memories I have of my childhood is our birthday slumber parties.  I don’t remember exactly when I had my first slumber party, but I’m going to guess it was my 7th birthday.  I only remember that one at our house in Grand Ledge…that was the year I sneaked a peak at my birthday present before hand and had to try to act surprised when I opened my new Chatty Cathy doll.  I had been dreaming of that doll and had asked for it for my birthday…I will never forget the guilt I fell for those few days before the party.  I promised myself I would never sneak to look at presents again.

    When we moved to Flushing, we had a nice big farm house to live in.  Slumber parties were the best there.  Cyndi and I occupied the entire upstairs.  A bedroom on each side and a really long room in between the bedrooms with a big dormer window which was mainly storage for the hundreds of books my mom and dad had and a huge playroom for us.  Another thing I loved about our house was the room in the center of the downstairs.  Basically what a hall would be, but it was a square room, with 7 doors leading to 2 bedrooms, our bathroom, the upstairs, a closet, the living room and the dining room.  I remember at one slumber party we all went in separate rooms and we would have a mailperson deliver notes to us under the door.  It was silly, but we had so much fun.

    At one party, early on, my mom got out a bunch of fancy clothes and hats and scarves she had and we dressed up and did fashion shows down the stairs.  Our stairway had a landing and at the top there was a little balcony over the stairs.  The judges sat up there with cards 0-10 and we would parade down the stairs in our outfits.  It was so fun that all our friends would come to our parties (Cyndi’s too) and always want to do the fashion show.  It became a tradition that we even would do up into high school! My mom even let us dress up in her wedding dress.  It was awesome!

    Oh and I remember pillow fights too!  Those were great.  Someone always got hurt, but it was fun.

    Slumber parties now are quite different I am finding out. We’ve only had 2 birthday slumber parties.  One when Savannah turned 7 and the one this weekend for her 11th birthday.  Her first party was a puppy party. Perfect for 7 year old girls.  The girls adopted a puppy from the pet store I set up in the basement playroom.  They got toys for their pets, made dog beds and collars for their puppies, I made adoption certificates for them and we had scooby snacks and peanut butter crunch in dog bowls for a little snack.  I think we watched Hotel for Dogs or something…can’t remember exactly the movie.  They all had fun.  But for a couple of them it was the first time they had ever spent the night at a friends and one friend wouldn’t stay the night.

    Savannah and I planned this party, but I got lazy with the invites. I wanted to make them, but didn’t have an idea and then I made them last weekend.  But…Monday there was no school and Tuesday was a snow day, so they didn’t get passed out until Wednesday.  That’s usually not a great thing…most parents like to plan ahead for birthday parties, I know.  So Wednesday, Savannah took her invitations to school…but then found out before she passed them out that a friend of hers was having a birthday party the same night.  She was one of the girls Savannah wanted to invite, and most of the girls were already going to her party.  Savannah was so upset that she decided to not even pass them out.  So we debated about changing the party to the following weekend (which I was really tempted to do because it meant I didn’t have to get my house cleaned up till next week).  But in the end, we decided to just keep it the same day.  She passed out her invitations on Thursday and 2 of her friends from school and her cousin, Caroline were able to come.  So…she wanted a sock monkey birthday party but it’s really hard to find sock monkey stuff and birthday decorations…forget about it.  Oh you can order them, people make sock monkey birthday party decorations…for babies, and you have to order them weeks in advance.  Not happening.  Savannah and I decided to have banana splits (after all monkeys like bananas, right?) and to make sock monkeys.  I’ve made sock monkeys before.  Not the traditional ones, just some with cute old socks we had around our house.  They aren’t too hard.  My idea was to find some socks at walmart or something and let the kids design their monkeys how they wanted.  When I got home from work, Sam decided he was going to go shopping for the party (this is at 4:30 on Friday, mind you) and I told him to get some socks.  He thought they had to be the traditional red heel socks…which we couldn’t find in stock, and they were 15.00 a pair.  So I just told him to get any kind of fun socks and it would be fine.  He came back with these awesome sock monkey kits he found at JoAnn’s.  I was really excited! The girls were too! The kits came with a pair of socks, and everything except the stuffing that you need to make the sock monkey that is pictured on the front.  3 of the girls were experienced at sewing and we taught the one who wasn’t.  They really enjoyed making them.  I told Savannah today, that I think it worked out great that only 3 girls could come.  We would not have been so successful at this project with 8! So needless, to say, the sock monkey project occupied a lot of time.  We never got to the clothes or the stuffed bunny, and one friend had to leave before we had the ears and eyes sewed on.  But maybe we’ll get back together again and finish them up.

    Besides the sock monkeys, the girls played Wii.  Mostly they danced to Just Dance and Zumba.  They had a lot of fun with that.  Jasmin even joined in on that excitement before she got tucked in for the night.  We had pizza at about 8:00.  The girls decided they wanted their banana splits at midnight.

    Seriously, they wanted to take the first bites at midnight.  They set a timer on Savannah’s ipod and everything! Too funny.  After the sundaes they wanted to watch Despicable Me.  We started that a little after midnight.  Maddie fell asleep right away, Savannah lasted maybe 25 minutes…but Emma and Caroline giggled and commented throughout the entire movie.  I think it was a little after 2 before the were sleeping!

    This morning we got up and worked on finishing up the sock monkeys and I made the girls sock monkey pancakes!  I  love how they turned out.

    It was really funny to observe the girls and what they spent their time doing at the party.  They really wanted me to find the Bean Directory, because apparently prank calls are the thing to do at slumber parties? Who knew?

    Slumber parties are definitely different now than they were when I was growing up.  At the slumber parties I went to I remember watching MTV (which I wasn’t supposed to do), listening to music, playing games like spin the bottle, spoons (during which we all received some serious claw marks), hide and seek and “playing” light as a feather, stiff as a board.  I loved my own slumber parties the best.  Many times I felt uncomfortable at my friends’ parties.  I chose not to participate in some of the more questionable activities, but you know, I wanted to be accepted too, so sometimes slumber parties would bring on a little anxiety.

    I hope that Savannah has good memories of her slumber parties and that maybe we can have them a little more often.  Even for the boys, though I think I might not enjoy those quite as much.


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    Caricature Artist…I am now.

    Julie on January 17th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    So this past weekend, Sam and I spent our time at the Amway Grand Plaza at the MAFE (Michigan Association of Festivals and Events) convention promoting our Pirate Island show.  We had a booth where we had a video playing, promotional materials to hand out, etc. to let people know what we do.  We’ve been doing this for four years, so we decided to change it up a little and offer free caricatures done by me.  I did the caricatures of people as pirates, complete with a pirate name! They went over big and we were busy all the time.  We figured out (by the amount of paper I had left) that I had drawn 77 caricatures over the 3 days we were there.  That’s a lot, especially considering that I had never even done this kind of thing before.  We really just decided to do this  a week ago, so I watched some youtube videos and read a book I have, and practiced a lot to prepare.  It turns out my caricatures are a little more detailed than the typical caricature artists, and I am not as fast as them either (I had it down to about 6-8 minutes, though).  But everyone loved them and I truly believe it helped us with what we were there to do.  So, if you get to any of the fairs we go to this summer,  you may just have to come and get your caricature done by me.

    We didn’t actually take any pictures, but Sam caught a couple on his phone.  I’ll see if I can get them posted on here later.

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    New Arrival!

    Julie on January 12th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    It’s finally here.  I understand you are probably not even half as excited as I am, but we are now the proud owners of a brand new Kenmore bottom freezer refrigerator.  We have been wanting, maybe needing this for years.  And we are so excited.  This is the best (& most expensive) appliance we have ever purchased.  It was partly a gift from Sam’s dad for Christmas, partly a purchase from our tax return for this year.  Look at all the space in this thing.  Loading it up was slightly reminiscent of moving into my kitchen (in this house) for the first time.  SO MUCH space…where do you put everything.  In our old fridge all this stuff pretty much filled it up.  The new one has completely empty shelves! And its so bright! One of the things I really love is that our fridge opens into the doorway that leads to the dining room.  Before, you couldn’t even get past the door if it was open.  Now you can open it up and still walk through the doorway.  That is just awesome, I tell you.  Lovin’ it!  Also, with the bottom freezer, the items in the fridge that are so desirable to a three year old are just not quite as accessible.  That’s a good thing!

    We did have to sacrifice a cabinet in order to fit it in.  Here you see our new fridge, open, but can you see the molding on the doorway that is missing? The cabinet we had to remove was above our old fridge.  We soon found out that no fridge is made that small anymore, and since the cabinet was basically resting on the old fridge, it had to come out.  We considered rebuilding it and just chopping off the bottom, but after the work it took to get it out, we decided it wasn’t going back up.  Hopefully within 3 years we will be redoing our cabinets anyway, so it’s just temporary.

    My kitchen is currently a disaster area. I did take a picture of the mess…but I am not posting that! Our counters are completely filled with boxes of food that used to be in that old cabinet we tore out.  So tonight, after the fridge was loaded I cleaned out completely two of our cupboards to rearrange a bit.  Our old “spice cupboard” next to the stove is now the cereal cupboard.  The old cookbook/baking, sprinkles, food coloring, colored sugar, etc. cupboard is now home to all our lovely spices (- four which I couldn’t fit in).  Now I have about 20 cookbooks and all that baking crap that I basically only use at Christmas and Easter to find a place for.  I’m thinking of eliminating some of it.  And the rest may go in the cupboards that are above our “peninsula counter” which are kind of hard to get into. I’m thinking there because we rarely used them.  But my kitchen is still a mess.  This is going to take days to clean up…I think.  Of which, this week, I have very few.  So I may be living with the mess for a week, maybe.  That doesn’t make me very happy.  There is a snow advisory tonight and many are hoping for a snow day.  Wow, that would be SO nice right now to have a bit of extra time to get this place back in order!


    Turn a Negative into a Positive

    Julie on January 4th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    Well…I’m feeling like I should be able to come up with something great for this challenge from MeYou Health but I’m not feeling it. But I was thinking…(or not)…last night I was supposed to prepare a Powerpoint and print pictures for a lesson today on Pop Art with my 5th graders and I totally didn’t even remember about it until I got in bed at 1:00.  So this morning when I got up, in just enough time to do the regular routine things I have to do each morning, I thought…well, I can just pull an old lesson out and do that instead, on the fly. Dang! though…I really wanted to do this lesson.  I thought the kids would love it.  So when I got to work at 8:30, I got on my computer – (maybe I should mention that my room was at least 90 degrees this morning, because my district insists that leaving the blowers on the heaters will make them last longer???!!! – so Positive spin on that? I got to have my windows in my room open all morning just to cool it down…and downloaded the images I needed for the pictures I needed to print and made up a Powerpoint and saved it to my flash drive and hooked my laptop to the projector and ran down to the computer lab (twice) to pick up my pictures, cut the pages in half and had it ready to go in 30 minutes!  It was a little stressful trying to get it finished – especially when I was saving the power point at 8:57! But the kids enjoyed the lesson.  I think they learned something.  By the end, they could tell the difference between Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol’s artwork, too.  And one girl, whose class I was working in today, made it a point to tell me she really liked the project we were starting in Art.  And that made it all worth it.  That, and I am really glad I have the ability to make something good at the last minute!

    What Negative thing can you turn into a positive?

    Unresolved feelings of bitterness and resentment have been linked to a host of medical problems, including insomnia, depression, and emotional instability. Stepping back from a negative event or situation and reframing it, or looking at it in another, more positive light, helps us let go of stress and resentment.

    from meyouhealth.com

    Here are some examples of the project we are working on, just in case you are curious. From artsonia.com.

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    New Year’s Resolutions & My Bucket List

    Julie on January 3rd, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

    New Year’s Resolutions…I usually keep them for about a month! This year one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to keep my resolutions! How about that?  Actually…I did make some serious resolutions this year.

    1.  To get healthy & lose weight

    2. To do more art

    And honestly, I have never made a bucket list…but here are 5 things I’d put on my bucket list:

    1. Travel to Italy with Sam

    2. Take the family to Disney World

    3. Get caught up on my Scrapbooking

    4. Open a private art studio & teach classes there

    5. See the Grand Canyon

    These are things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I’ve thought about them all for years.  Getting caught up with Scrapbooking probably will never happen…but I can only improve from where I am now.  The rest of them…I don’t really have a lot of control over.  They are just dreams.  No idea if they will ever happen, but they are fun to dream about.  However, I should say, Sam and I are working on learning Italian! It’s fun!

    Something else Sam and I are working on together is getting healthy.  I was reluctant to commit to it. I really enjoy sweets and carbs and didn’t want to give them up. But we decided we need to get healthy in order to do (& enjoy) some of the other things we want to do, like going to Disney World with the kids.  So we started on New Year’s Eve.  Sam & I have both lost weight already.  We are keeping each other accountable.  We even are doing Biggest Loser for the Wii together…it’s been a fun challenge so far.  Mainly we are using the Lose It! app on our iPhones to keep track of calories consumed and burned.  I also signed up for the Daily Health Challenge which is why I am actually even writing this post.

    What Resolutions have you made for 2011 and what are you doing now to accomplish your goals?


    DECEMBER DAILY….the first snow!

    Julie on December 1st, 2010 | Filed under Being Mom, December Daily, Jasmin Joy, Karson, Maximus, Our Kids, Savannah, scrapbooking

    OK…so this year, I am doing a December Daily album.  It’s small…nothing fantastic.  But I am hoping to record our holiday memories from now until the end of the month.  It’s really supposed to be for the 25 days till Christmas, but our Christmas vacation (from school) is always filled with all kinds of fun, so that has to be included too!  I got the idea for the December Daily album from Ali Edward’s site. Her albums are amazing…I have low expectations for myself on this project (maybe, then, I will actually complete it).

    Anyway, the other day I compiled a list of ideas or activities to do with the kids each day leading up to Christmas.  I’ve seen all kinds of super cute homemade advent calendars to use with activities like the ones on my list.  Problem is I just don’t have the time (or the $) to make one…so I still just have the list.  And today, well, we didn’t really have a chance to do one anyway with our crazy schedule.

    The special thing about today was it was our first snow…ok, maybe we’ve had snowflakes before now, but this snow has stuck and it has been snowing all day.  It’s not even an inch, but the kids are excited and Max made a snowball tonight when we got home from church.

    I also made the kids hot chocolate in our Christmas mugs…OK, they aren’t really mugs.  They are like expresso cups or something, but they are perfect for kids and they have little Christmas reindeer and Holiday messages on them.  They loved it!  I made a big pitcher of hot chocolate and I think the boys each had like 5 refills!  Savannah missed out on the fun.  She was with her dad all night at Magic Club.  We missed her!