“Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally ‘ripe’ for learning.”
- Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Monday, July 25, 2011


I love this article from Dr. Laura about why You Don't Need Preschool for Your Kids.  There is really no need to push little kids to learn, they will learn so much just from playing and exploring.  I'm so glad that I've learned this fact.  My oldest son has always been a really fast learner, he has an amazing memory.  My three year old doesn't know a lot of things that his older brother knew at 3 years old, but I'm totally okay with that.  He learns differently and has different priorities.  I have been blessed over the past 4 years that we have been homeschooling to see that my kids thrive much better in a stable home environment where they are free to learn the things they are passionate about.  They aren't pushed to learn things too early, and I love it! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Favorite Vegan Chocolate Cake

A couple of years ago I tried making a vegan chocolate cake for my sons birthday.  It didn't turn out that great, and so I ended up just using regular cake for the next few birthdays in our family.  My son turned 7 last month and I was searching for a different vegan cake to try.  I found a couple of recipes, but I was worried about trying them in case it didn't turn out, and I didn't want his birthday cake to be gross.  Then it occurred to me that I already had a vegan recipe!  When I was a kid my mom would make chocolate tidbit cake, and it was always one of my favorite treats.  I even made it the night before I had my first baby, because I wanted one last hit of chocolate. :)  Anyway, this cake doesn't have any eggs in it, and I totally forgot all about it.  So I made it for Gage's birthday last month and it turned out great!  My mom told me that she actually got the recipe from The Friend magazine back in the eighties.  You mix the cake in the same pan it bakes in, and I am always a fan of less dishes!

Chocolate Tidbit Cake

1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. sugar
3 Tbs. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. vinegar
5 Tbs. oil
1 C. cold water
1/2 - 1 C. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a fork, combine the first five ingredients in a square baking pan.  Make a well in the middle of the pan and stir in the vanilla, vinegar and oil.  Carefully pour water over everything and stir well.  Sprinkle the top evenly with chocolate chips.  Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.

To make it healthier you can use applesauce instead of oil.  I found some extra dark chocolate chips that didn't have any milk in them, but you could also use carob chocolate chips, or whatever vegan kind you like.   You can even leave off the chocolate chips if you want to, but why would you do that? More chocolate is never a bad thing. ;) We had visitors so I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9x13 pan.  I still baked it at 350 and it only needed about 5 more minutes of baking time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Practically Green

I heard about Practically Green last week and I think it's a fun website!  When you first sign up you take a quiz about all the different green things you are doing and then they give you a rank:

I am "adventurously green"!

After you get your score they give you a bunch of recommendations about things you could do to live healthier and greener.  You can check off the things you've done and you can add things you want to do to your plan.  It makes it easy to see what you are doing that is good, and it gives you lots of ideas for new things. Right now on my plan I am going to start composting! :)  I'm really excited about it for some reason.  I have put it off for a long time because I don't have anywhere to do it in my yard, and the bins for vermicomposting are pretty expensive.  But I finally realized that it is very easy to make your own bin, so that's what I'm going to do and then I just need buy the right kind of worms.  I'm so excited to stop throwing out all our produce scraps!

Over the years I have slowly built up the amount of green things that I do.  I started four years ago by switching to reusable shopping bags.  I used the cheap dollar bags for a long time, but recently I splurged on a set of envirosax.  This is one of my cute bags:

They are more durable and way cuter than the plain black bags I was using for so long.  They are waterproof, washable, and very roomy to fit lots of stuff, but they roll up to a very small size when they aren't being used.  I am very tempted to buy another set because they are so cute, but I rarely need more than the five bags I have because they are so big!  They have a lot of really cute styles you can buy if you feel like splurging yourself. ;)

Some of the other green things I did after switching to reusable shopping bags was:
  • Making my own cleaners - all you need is borax, castile soap, baking soda and vinegar. 
  • We eat a plant based diet at home.
  • We bought an energy efficient washer and dryer.
  • We switched to paperless billing.
  • I made cloth napkins to use instead of paper.
  • I stopped buying paper towels and just use rags now.
  • I stopped dying my hair and let my natural color grow out.
  • Replaced the burned out light bulbs with CFL's, now that's all we have and they should last a long time.
  • I recycle our paper/newspaper/cardboard.  If we owned our house I would order a recycling bin, but that's not an option right now. 
  • I switched to glass food containers.
  • I've tried to replace the majority of the plastic in our kitchen.  Especially the kind with BPA.
  • We bought a set of stainless steel cookware to use instead of the toxic non-stick variety.
  • We started using bar soap rather than liquid soap in plastic containers.  I am thinking about trying a recipe to make your own foaming hand soap with castile soap, and that way you can reuse the same container.  The foaming soap seems to be easier for little kids, but my boys don't seem to mind the bar soap.
  • When my husbands car broke down we didn't get a new one for him, so we became a one car family.  Sometimes I still wish we had two cars, but for the most part it is better.
  • I try not to buy products with high fructose corn syrup.
  • We bought some house plants to help eliminate toxins in our home.  Only one of them survived, but we will try again. :)
  • We planted our first garden last year!
  • I use the local food co-op when it works with my schedule.
  • We didn't use any air conditioning last summer.  Partially because we were too lazy to hook up the a/c unit, but it did save a ton of energy and money!
  • I started cloth diapering.  Right now I do it part time, and I still use disposables when we are not at home, but I'd like to get into the habit of using them even when we are running errands, because it's really not that much more difficult.
  • I switched to a DivaCup for that time of the month.  It seems kind of weird at first, but it is way less messy and it's reusable and it's pretty much amazing.
  • I just got some reusable produce bags.
That's all I can think of right now.  I didn't do all of these things at once.  I've added one thing at a time over the last several years, and there is still so much more that I can do!  You will also notice that all of the things I do are also things that save me money!  For about a year I tried to buy mostly organic, but we honestly can't afford that right now.  I try to buy it when I can, especially produce on the dirty dozen list, and someday I hope to be able to buy more organic.

I know that there is so much waste, toxins and unhealthy things in the world that it seems like one person can't make much of a difference, but I truly believe that the actions of each individual can add up to make a big difference.  I am also glad that I can make life more enjoyable and healthy for my family.  :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasure of the other.”
Emma by Jane Austen

Monday, January 24, 2011

2010 Reading List

Why do I have this blog?  I obviously never write anything on it, and obviously nobody reads it - because there is nothing to read. :)  I think my trouble is that I have made a lot of "unique" choices for my family, and I am very happy with those choices, but I don't want other people to think that I am trying to push my choices onto them.  I am a very firm believer that we are all capable of making our own choices, and that the same choice isn't right for everyone.  I am very happy to not own a TV, to be homeschooling, to rarely eat meat, to use cloth diapers, to be a Mormon, etc. but a lot of people think we are crazy for at least one if not all of those weird things we do.  Anyway, I respect everyone else's choices and I need to just write about what I feel and not worry about offending anybody.  I'm not forcing anyone to read this blog, so I should stop worrying about talking about my weird life, right?

So, I had this strange idea that I would have no time to read after I had the baby in June, but instead I started reading SO much more.  With my first two babies I mostly watched TV while I nursed, but that wasn't an option anymore, so this time I did TONS of reading.  Most of it mindless, fun reading, but that's what you need after you have a baby and are barely functioning.  I discovered Meg Cabot, and read almost all of her books.  She has a lot, so there are still a few I haven't read - mostly because I'm too lazy to put them on hold at the library.  She's a great writer though.  I also loved The Hunger Games trilogy.  Before the baby was born I read Birthing From Within and HypnoBirthing - both great books that I highly recommend if you are having a baby.  So here's my reading list for the year, the bold books are ones that are classics or educational.

2010 Reading List (listed in the month the book was finished)
~ Family Reading
* With Kyle

*The New Testament (King James Version)
The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkein

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening – L.J. Smith

*The 5,000 Year Leap – Cleon Skouson
The Vampire Diaries: The Struggle – L.J. Smith
Divinely Designed – Rachael Renee Anderson

HypnoBirthing – Marie F. Mongan
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
Being Sixteen – Allyson Braithwaite Condie
The Vampire Diaries: The Fury – L.J. Smith
The Vampire Diaries: Dark Reunion – L.J. Smith

~Little Britches – Ralph Moody

Birthing From Within – Pam England and Rob Horowitz
*Doctrine and Covenants
The Sunflower – Richard Paul Evans
The Looking Glass – Richard Paul Evans
Once Upon a Marigold – Jean Ferris
My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions – Becca Wilhite
The One O’clock Chop – Ralph Fletcher
The Luckiest Girl – Beverly Cleary

*Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
Jack and Jill – Louisa Mae Alcott
~Stuart Little – E.B. White
The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
Cheaper by the Dozen – Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Thwonk – Joan Bauer
Fifteen – Beverly Cleary
Truth or Dairy – Catherine Clark

Sister of the Bride – Beverly Cleary
Wurst Case Scenario – Catherine Clark
When You Wish – Kristin Harmel
The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot
Princess in the Spotlight – Meg Cabot
Princess in Love – Meg Cabot
Princess in Waiting – Meg Cabot
Valentine Princess – Meg Cabot
Princess in Pink – Meg Cabot
Princess in Training – Meg Cabot
Princess Present – Meg Cabot
Party Princess – Meg Cabot

Sweet Sixteen Princess – Meg Cabot
Princess on the Brink – Meg Cabot
Project Princess – Meg Cabot
A Modest Proposal – Michele Ashman Bell
The Mediator: Shadowland – Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Ninth Key – Meg Cabot
Princess Mia – Meg Cabot
*Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer
Forever Princess – Meg Cabot
Hometown Girl – Michele Ashman Bell
Teen Idol – Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Reunion – Meg Cabot
All-American Girl – Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Darkest Hour – Meg Cabot
The Mediator: Haunted – Meg Cabot

The Mediator: Twilight – Meg Cabot
Ready or Not – Meg Cabot
Airhead – Meg Cabot
Being Nikki – Meg Cabot
Runaway – Meg Cabot
Bright Blue Miracle – Becca Wilhite
Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Jinx – Meg Cabot
How to Be Popular – Meg Cabot

Girl in Development – Jordan Rotter
When Lightning Strikes – Meg Cabot
Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
Pants on Fire – Meg Cabot
Hot Lunch – Alex Bradley
Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys – Kate Brian

Fake Boyfriend – Kate Brian
Along for the Ride – Sarah Dessen
The Princess and the Pauper – Kate Brian
Confessions of a Not-It Girl – Melissa Kantor
Sweet 16 – Kate Brian
The Boy Next Door – Meg Cabot
Boy Meets Girl – Meg Cabot
~ A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BBT: Film to Paper

Even though it’s usually a mistake (grin) … do movies made out of books make you want to read the original?

Of course!  There are a lot of books I've read because of seeing the movie, and usually, of course, the book is way better.  However, I appreciate the movie for making me aware of the book.  I recently read Cheaper by the Dozen, and that's a very amusing book.  The only similarity the movie has is that there are twelve kids.  I still like the movie though, just because it's fun.  I would like to see the original movie, because I've been told it actually is based on the book.  I've also been reading The Princess Diaries series which is way better than the movie.  The movie, again, has hardly anything in common with the book besides Mia finding out that she's a princess, and the second movie has nothing in common with any of the books.  The only thing I've read recently that I think isn't as good as the screen adaptation is The Vampire Diaries.  I watched the first season of this show and really liked it so I decided to read the books.  They are okay, but the TV show is actually way better.  The characters are better and the conflicts are better than in the books, and I actually like all of the changes they have made.  I guess it has an advantage because it is a TV show and they have plenty of time for character development and conflict, whereas a movie always has to leave things out because there just isn't enough time to fit it all in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BTT: Illustrious

How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?

I actually really enjoy illustrations, especially when I read classic fiction.  I don't want pictures on every page, but I like it when there's about one per chapter.  I have a hard time visualizing things, so I often can't picture a setting or a person based off of the description that the author gives.  That's why I appreciate it when there are illustrations that give me a better idea of what's going on, or what something looks like.  I recently read The Hobbit for the first time and I really enjoyed the illustrations that showed what some of the different characters looked like.  The map at the beginning was also very helpful in understanding where they were traveling. 

Illustrations are also great when I'm reading to my kids.  We usually read a classic youth fiction at night as a family.  Most of these books are a bit ahead of our kids understanding, but they learn great things from these books!  I like to have illustrations to show them that help them understand what an animal or place looks like, and give them a better understanding of what's going on.

While we are on the subject, I also love pictures in cookbooks!  I usually won't try cooking something unless I can see a picture of what it's supposed to look like. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

"President Brigham Young was a learner.  Althought President Young only had 11 days of formal schooling, he understood the need for learning both the wisdom of God and the things of the world.  He was a furniture maker, a missionary, a colonizer, a governor, and the Lord's prophet...

"Perhaps President Young was such a consummate learner precisely because he was not constrained unduly by the arbitrary boundaries so often imposed through the structures and process of formal education.  He clearly learned to love learning."

- Learning to Love Learning by Elder David A. Bednar, February 2010 Ensign

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, March 1, 2010


We haven't had a TV for the past couple of years.  When we got rid of the television it seemed like a pretty drastic thing to be doing.  My husband has never been much of a TV watcher, but I watched WAY too much TV, and my son was getting into the habit of watching a movie almost every day.  We knew that it wasn't a good thing though, and we wanted our home to be an environment of learning, so we finally got rid of the TV!  I do watch a few shows online, and we use the computer to watch movies.  My boys get to watch one movie a week together, and every now and then we have a family movie night.

I borrowed a TV from my parents so that we could watch the Olympics.  We decided that the Olympics would be a good learning opportunity, and it was!  Gage learned about all sorts of different countries and sports and he really enjoyed it.  I was surprised though at how little of an impact the TV had on our home.  I was worried that I would be tempted to turn it on all the time, like I was two years ago.  This time though, it just sat in a corner and was only turned on for a few hours each day (or some days not at all) to watch the Olympics.  I can honestly say now that I am glad we don't own a TV, and I'm amazed at that. :)  Yay for me! I actually found the TV kind of annoying.  I am used to watching my favorite shows online.  I usually have to wait until the day after the show airs, but then I have the convenience of watching the show whenever I want to.  The other bonus is that there are way less commercials.  I got tired of watching all the commercials during the Olympics, or feeling like you have to channel surf during the commercials.  There were often beer commercials or McDonald's commercials, and all sorts of commercials for things that we don't promote in our home.  It was annoying to have my son fascinated by those commercials and think that a McDonald's happy meal is a good thing.  I know that I can't shield him from everything, but I really don't want to have to battle all those tricky marketing schemes that are on TV to make kids want things that they don't need.

So this was a good experience for me, to prove to myself that I don't want a TV.  We've thought about having a TV again at times, but really it's easier not to.  Our home is more peaceful without a TV and we all learn better without the distraction.

In other news, I joined a food co-op and got my first order last week!  I got all this produce for $10: 

That's a great deal for 10 bucks!  I was really happy with the experience and plan on getting an order every month!  You should definitely see if your area has a food co-op!  You basically get to skip the price hike of the grocery store and can buy the food at wholesale price.  If you live in Utah, check out The Community Food Co-Op of Utah.  There is also another food co-op called Bountiful Baskets that I haven't tried yet, but they have distribution sites in Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Washington, and Las Vegas.