Friday, January 29, 2010

Jack-Jack turns 3!

This little man has grown up so much this past year! He is a wonderful part of our family. He is our little joker and makes the silliest comments at just the right time to get everyone laughing. He is best buddies with Rex and would do anything for him. Jack-Jack is a great older and younger brother. He helps out with anything that he is asked and smiles most the time. He is very creative and loves to explore. With the help of his older brother, he can do some pretty crazy things for a kid so young! He is very independent and always wants to show us how he already knows how. He cracks me up with his little comments here and there. Recently Mr. A told him to get back on his bed and go to sleep. He quickly got up on his bed and then told Daddy to leave so he could get down! He definitely keeps us on our toes! We love him so much. Happy Birthday Big Guy!

We threw Jack-Jack a birthday party with our family here in St. George. I made him a monster truck cake in green since he loves trucks and dirt. Mr. A drew a large picture of Eeyore on newsprint and then made tails so the kids could all play pin the tail on the donkey. Our kids weren't much up for it except for Katie who had multiple turns. Jack-Jack was showered with lots of fun gifts and Grandpa B is known for his creative way he wraps his present for the kids. It was fun to see Grandpa laughing so hard when Jack-Jack finally gave up after opening the third envelope! There were still two more to go but he figured nothing was worth that much work, little stinker! All in all I think my little man was thoroughly spoiled and celebrated!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Craft: Birthday Banner

We are approaching Jack-Jack's 3rd birthday this weekend. I always like to have a banner up for birthdays and thought it would be great to make a banner that we could reuse throughout all these birthdays we have coming up. If it lasts several years we are all that much better off!

Well since you asked. Here are the directions:
  1. I bought 12 sheets - 9x12 of felt, 2 of each color, at Joann Fabrics. I cut one of each color in half and the addition of two others leaving you with 16-9x6s and 4-9x12s.
  2. I folded the 9x6s in half the same direction I originally cut and then cut the fabric with my rotatory cutter from the top outside corner to the bottom inside corner leaving you with a triangle once unfolded. I continued this until I had 14 triangles. Leaving the 2 extra-9x6s for later use.
  3. I cut out letters in cardboard to trace on the extra 9x6s and 4-9x12s. I made sure to use the complimentary color for each triangle so that the lettering would stand out better. I continued by tracing each letter out and cutting them. You can print the letters off of the computer and trace from those. I added a star between Happy Birthday to separate the words but that was just my preference.
  4. Pin letters onto triangle, make sure the triangle are facing downwards. Then stitch on to fabric directly. I used a straight stitch but you can use a zigzag stitch.
  5. Add 3 yards of bias tape or ribbon to the top sew about 12" from edge so you'll have room to hang it. Add any extra details you want or change the wording to your liking. I overlapped my banner because I was short about 2' of bias tape and liked the look anyway so I just tried it out.

This project can also be done using regular fabric as long as you use some sort of backing to stiffen the material but felt was heavy enough without this. Let me know if there are any questions. Hope that helps!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Baby is 11 months old

Our little man is now 11 months old! He is a very busy guy as he has found many different things to get into. He stands up on his own and crawls all over the place. He squeals when he wants attention and loves having his cousin over to play during the day. He has his dad wrapped around his little finger and he knows it! We absolutely love our little guy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Activity Days: Modesty

We had quite the crew today with 10 Activity Day girls! I started out reading from the Strength of Youth pamphlet regarding dress and appearance:

Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it's "the style," it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.

Immodest clothing includes short shorts, tight pants, and other revealing attire. Young women should refrain from wearing off-the-shoulder, low-cut, or revealing clothes. Young men should similarly maintain modesty in their dress. All should avoid tight fitting or revealing clothes and extremes in clothing and appearance.

As Latter-day Saint youth, you can also show respect for the Lord and yourselves by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what's appropriate, ask for guidelines from your parents, advisers, and bishop.

I then showed the girls pictures of women wearing immodest clothing and asked them what was wrong with what these women wore. They quickly caught on with things like: her shoulders are naked or her skirt is too short. I think it helped to see the models instead of just talking about the clothing.

Next we had the girls pair up, this was done with assistance as two girls both wanted to be partners with the same girl. They traced out one of them on newsprint and were told to create a modest outfit using scrapbook paper, crayons, glue, glitter, yarn, pipe cleaners, etc. They worked together in these little teams which was great. Everyone seemed to get their creative juices flowing. It was a good activity which kept them happy while learning at the same time.

This idea came from

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preschool: Color Red

I had preschool again this week. We started out by reading two stories: Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon and The Little Red Hen. The kids really seemed to get into the Little Red Hen story as one child left to the bathroom and they all had to wait to find out what happened next! After reading the stories we played the game where you have several items on a cookie sheet, everyone gets to look at them, the items are hidden and then they have to remember what items there was. The kids enjoyed the game, I had my little guys help me find numerous red items and we displayed them. They all had a hard time not stopping and playing with the items but I only have about 1 hour so we move a little fast. Next we went into the kitchen and got aprons on. I had each child dip their hands in red poster paint and then make hand prints all over their papers. They giggled and played all over their papers until it was time to wash up which they enjoyed just as much. I've been using the regular bar soap for hand washing rather than liquid and they really seem to enjoy playing with the soap while they wash. I know a silly thing but kids enjoy the simple things, I think I need to work on that a little more. Next we played twister which has red circles on it. First, we went through our right and left because that can be a challenge for them. They all seemed to enjoy falling on each other and stretching their little bodies all over the mat. Surprisingly a couple of them were tall enough to reach all they way across without falling. Next I drew a large picture of Clifford the Big Red dog which we colored and ripped up red construction paper and pasted it all over Clifford. They really liked decorating the dog and worked together on the project rather than an individual project. I had other ideas but parents arrived so I wasn't able to do anything more. It would have been fun for them to play with red play dough and shape it with Valentine cookie cutters. I would have liked to have red balloons too but I always seem to plan out more than we have time for.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boys Quilts

Since January is going more quickly than I can grasp onto. I wanted to show off my hard work before I forget. I was so excited that I actually finished them all up for the boys this past Christmas. I have always loved rag quilts! I found the instructions at These quilts have been a long time coming since I have collected a huge amount of used jeans to gather enough fabric. I also purchased a soft flannel for the backing. I think they look great! Mr. A was full of compliments and even helped me finish up the edges which was a lot of cutting. I broke a couple pair of scissors in the process, so next quilt I'll spoil myself and get a new pair of scissors to make the job that much better. Jeans are much harder than the usual soft fabrics used in quilting!

Jack-Jack's quilt has construction vehicles all over the backside and Rex has dinosaurs of course!

Tater's quilt backing is recreational vehicles! I purchased the fabrics for under $20 per quilt since I got the jeans for free. 3 twin size rag quilts for $60 a steal of a deal plus a lot of man hours!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Preschool: Letter K

Today was my turn for preschool. We studied the letter K. I started out with reading Katy No Pocket by Emmy Payne, a story about a kangaroo that doesn't have a pocket for her baby. We talked about the different K words that you can put in your pocket. I suggest a pocket filled with pictures of K words: king, keys, kiss, Kermit the Frog, kernels and any other K words you can think of. We used wheat kernels and made the letter K on construction paper with glue. The kids loved this especially when I showed them they did not have to do each kernel individually. One of the little girls tried but I showed her it would still look neat after you dump off the extra kernels. Next we ate popcorn because they start off as kernels. Who doesn't like popcorn. Okay, one of them didn't want any but everyone else liked it! Also kool-aid would be a fun drink but I didn't have any on hand. All the kids showed off their karate moves. This was fun and most of them wanted to show off several times. Next we made kites using instructions from and This ended up being more of me doing it for each child but they loved the end results! We all went outside to see how well our kites, it was lots of fun for the kids. They ran around trying to catch a breeze. More fun on Thursday with the color red.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recipes: Refried Beans

Recipes found on

Frijoles Refritos

Pinto beans, prepared Mexican style, are such a staple in our house a week rarely goes by without my mother making up a batch. Although beans have a relatively long shelf life, the older they are the longer you'll have to cook them to get them to soften. Find a source that supplies fresh beans. If you have some that have been sitting around for more than a year, they'll be tough and not as good, you'll need to cook them longer.

"Refried" is actually a misnomer. In this instance, refritos means "well fried", not "refried", though you can certainly reheat the beans as you go through a batch. Before frying them though you'll need to cook them, in water, to soften them. There are basically two ways to initially cook the beans - with a pressure cooker and without. Since we make beans so often, we use a pressure cooker. It greatly cuts down on the cooking time. Here are directions for both methods.

Refried Beans Recipe


  • 2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans (about 1 lb or 450gm)
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)


1 Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans.

2 Cook the beans in water.
Pressure Cooker method Put beans into a 4 quart pressure cooker with a 15 lb weight. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes - until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open.
Regular method Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water - about 3 quarts for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open.

Strain the beans from the cooking water.

3 Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. (Note the onions are optional, you can skip them if you want.) Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese if you want. When beans are heated through (and optional cheese melted) the beans are ready to serve.

Note that many recipes call for soaking the beans overnight and discarding the soaking liquid. We don't. We discard the cooking liquid and just add some water back into the frying pan when we are frying the beans.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Years Resolutions

Well since we've been ringing in the new year I guess it is about time I make some New Year resolutions. So here they are in no particular order:

  • Attend the temple with Zack once a month, this is always a challenge for me when I have a nursing baby but since Matthew is getting older I think he'll be just fine.
  • Grow a garden - this will be a good experience for us here in Saint George as the weather permits two growing seasons rather than just one. I am hoping to be able to live a little more off of our land and enjoy our harvest.
  • Play with the kids more - Who couldn't use a little more play time in their life, well those under the age of 18. I could use a little more in my everyday life so I figure I'll be playing with my kids a little more each day!
  • Attend the library story time with the boys! It is a great free activity that gets us all out of the house. The boys love it and it is completely geared toward their ages.
  • Exercise regularly - I am pretty good about getting into a routine but a few days of sick kids and I am completely off schedule so I am going to be more consistent even when there is a little more chaos at home, it really makes me a better mom anyway
  • Family scripture reading - we have been doing this for quite awhile but our stake presidency asked us to start over and read the Book of Mormon as a family. We got a little mark off chart to keep track. The kids are really good about it so we have started over and will be reading at least one chapter a night in hopes of getting the whole thing read by the end of the year!
  • Date my husband - are we the only ones who really struggle with this anymore? Between the cost of a babysitter and dinner it is hard to get the motivation to go out! We are going to take this challenge to a creative level since things are rather expensive to do anymore.
  • Household projects! I will refrain from posting what projects we will be doing this year but just plan on working to make our house a home a little more everyday - the little things make the most difference to me

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Activity Days: Articles of Faith

Our new years resolution for Activity Days is to focus more on the Articles of Faith. I've found this past year that we have fulfilled many of the areas for the Faith in God award but have somewhat neglected our focus on the Articles of Faith. We have added two girls to our group making our current roll call up to 10 girls ages between 8 and 9 years old and what a crew!!! Today I focused our attention on the Articles of Faith by first giving the girls the challenge to memorize all the Articles of Faith by the end of the year. I offered them a small treat at the beginning of each of our activities if they can recite one article of faith perfectly to me. I am hoping that after a few people start passing them off the others will feel the motivation if needed. We then played an Article of Faith matching game. I found this activity in the October 1996 Friend magazine which I printed off and glued to card stock, it was a bit small so I would enlarge it if you plan on using it. After our experience with the girls not really quite knowing the Articles of Faith yet, the idea at of using just the Article of Faith number and a keyword would have worked out better, especially with the review at the beginning. I also made flash cards of the Articles of Faith for the girls to use at home. This seemed to take up most all of our time and we weren't able to get to any other activities but there are plenty more games/activities using Articles of Faith that you can find.