Wednesday, February 29, 2012

33 years and counting!

Sorry about not posting those last Valentine's.  It's been horribly, crazy around here, as usual.  Last week was midterms, and that combined with "mom" duties, well, time just got away from me.  I will get around to it.

The 27th was my birthday -33 years old!  Cade asked me if I felt old.  pfft.  Old! Heck, it's only been 3 years since I turned 30, and I didn't feel old then.  Why should I feel old now?  Couldn't be because I've started college in those 3 years, or the fact that we've added four additional children to our family in those 3 years, or that we're all packed in this house like a bunch of sardines.  Nope, don't feel old at all!

We had a little celebration, in my honor, at the in-laws on Sunday evening.  Cade roasted a big prime rib ($100 sucker -that's how big!) for dinner.  I must say, it was divine.  Sitting around the dinner table, everyone was trying to convince me that I was really turning 34!  How rude -adding a year on.  As if 33 isn't old enough! 

If anyone knows anything about me, it's that I don't like cake.   I don't care what my birthday dessert is, but it better not be cake.  My sweet mother-in-law made me two pies (one peach, one apple), and she was so kind, and only stuck 5 candles in it (that almost made up for her accusing me of being 34). 

We celebrated my birthday on Monday evening, at my parents house.  Mom made me her home-made fried chicken and mashed potatoes, just as I had requested.  She also made me pie for dessert!  See, my family knows me. 

Presents consisted of $$$ (which I had asked for -have some things in mind that I would like to buy), and ducklings.  Yes, ducklings.  Cade said he was "listening", and heard me say that ducklings were cute.  Being the thoughtful husband that he is, he went and bought three of them.  Now, let me tell you, I was only telling Roxie that ducklings were much cuter than chicks.  Not that I, in anyway, desired to own ducks.  The ducklings will be here March 9th, so we have approximately 9 days to figure out a pond situation, and how to keep ducklings warm, and in our yard. 

The girls were overzealous (the word "excited" just didn't quite explain their emotions) to give me the gifts that they had made for me.  You have to love the creativity of kids.  They had made these gifts about a month ago, anticipating my birthday.  Every few days they would say to me, "Mom, how many more days until your birthday?", and I would tell them.  They had these things made, and wrapped in gift bags awaiting the day that I could open them. 

The first item I pulled out was a popsicle stick wrapped in yarn.  That's it.  I don't know what it was, and no one else seemed to know either!  The next item was a popsicle stick with blue flat marbles glued in a line down it.  Cade suggested that maybe it was a back massager, and Roxie (who had made the stick with marbles) ran with the idea.  She even started giving me a massage with the marbles on a stick!  Roxie had also made me a necklace that was made from a piece of ribbon with each end glued to a single circle of green paper.  On the green paper were little buttons, which she had also glued on.  It was beautiful!  I also got a bouquet of flowers, which was made from pipe cleaner and pieces of artificial flower.  I was honored to wear the matching bracelet, also made out of a pipe cleaner and artificial flower.  Kelly made me two books marks using two popsicle sticks and markers.  The last item was a friendship bracelet (although Ethen says I can't call them that, because it sounds too girly) in my favorite colors, from Ethen.  As you can see, I made out!  Who could possibly ask for more?  Not I. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Saturday. My Valentine week is coming to a close.

I still have Roxie & Colby's Valentine's to show you, but first, you get to see mine! Yes, even I had a Valentine, or two, to hand out.  I did a Valentine exchange with a group of friends, and remember those marble magnets that I made a few weeks ago?  I found a good use for them!

I ended up ripping off the lace on the edge of the tin.  Cade said that it looked "90's", so to the trash it went!  Unfortunately, I forgot to take new pictures with no lace on it.

Materials used:
Marble Magnets
Empty Altoids tin
Spray Adhesive
Scrapbook paper
hot glue gun

For the top of the tin, I traced around the tin on the red scrapbook paper, and cut it out.  After I made sure that the edges lined up nicely, I took the tin outside and sprayed the top with some spray adhesive (be careful! This stuff is sticky!), and stuck the red paper on.  I had some scrapbook paper that had the hearts already printed on it, and that is what I used for the To & From tags.  I applied them to the top using hot glue. 

For the inside of the tin I used more scrapbook paper, which I had printed the words on, and again, traced the lid of the altoids tin, and then cut it out.  I used a few dots of hot glue to keep the paper in the top of the lid. 

Then I placed the three magnets in and it was ready for it's recipient!

I made something similar for my sister-in-law's, and the kids teachers, but I used this template that I made:

I printed the template on red card stock, cut out the heart shape, and using a glue dot, I attached a magnet to each one. 

Stay tuned tomorrow to see my final Valentine's for the year!

Friday, February 17, 2012

You are the CREME of the crop!

Ethen handed these out in his class for V-day.  I figured that since this would be his last year *tear*, that we would go all out.  I was going to do those little cans of soda, but holy crap, they're pricey in comparison to the regular sized cans!  I ended up buying two twelve packs for around $5 -not too much more than I would have spent had I bought the paper valentine's from the big-box store and some candy to go with it. 

We used Shasta Raspberry Creme Soda and Shasta Creme Soda.  I printed the tags on card stock using the computer.  They say, "You are the CREME of the crop! Happy Valentine's Day!  From: Ethen".  He wouldn't let me say "love".  Silly boys that think they're too cool. 

Ethen & I cut the circles out, I attached them with glue stick to bigger circles of some red scrapbook paper that I had on-hand, and then Ethen punched holes to stick the twine through.  We strung the twine through the pop tab on the top of the soda can, stuck the twine through the hole on the tag, tied a double knot, and then a bow, and called it good!

Only downfall to this Valentine?  His sisters had to help him carry all of the soda cans to his classroom that morning. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cade's belated Valentine gift to me...

I won't go into the gory details of why his gift to me was belated, but I finally got my gift today.  He is such a good man.  I love him. 

I woke up this morning to a card and a whole pile full of Cadbury eggs -creme eggs, caramel filled eggs, the mini versions of both of the previous mentioned eggs, plus the mini-mini chocolate cadbury eggs (There goes that diet I've been working on!).   Plus there were donuts and chocolate milk for the kids for breakfast, so that I didn't have to make them anything (not that cold cereal is hard to make, but still...). 

Cade took all of the kids and dumped them off at school, and the one's that aren't in school went to his parents house (don't worry, they survived).  Cade and I went to breakfast at TJ's, a local cafe.  Then, to burn off our 320,303 calories from breakfast, we went gallivanting around the county.  Oh yes, the gallivanting definitely led to some calorie burning, read on. 

So we're driving "The Beast", aka our '87 2-wheel-drive Suburban, around in the desert, and we come upon a patch of sand.  I guess "The Beast" doesn't much care for sand, because he wasn't going to go through it.  We got stuck.  We got stuck for precisely 1 hour and 20 minutes. 

My man is so resourceful.  While I sat in the Suburban (perusing Facebook on my phone), he went trucking down the dirt road looking for something, anything, that could be shoved under the tire to get some traction.  What does he come back with?  He shows up with some logs, then some rocks, and lastly, a big water man-hole cover...yes, you read that right.  A man-hole cover.  Did I mention that we were in the middle of nowhere?  Hey, don't ask me! 

At this point I was starting to feel like this was something out of "Survivor Man".  I needed to see first-hand how a man-hole cover could be used to get out of rut like we were in!  Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I was starting to think of how we could survive the night in this place.  We could use pieces of the nearby yucca plant to weave a blanket, and then we could sleep under that big bush over there for shelter, and I wasn't too worried about food.  We had water, jerky, and Cade had brought his gun, so we could just track down that Mountain Lion that we knew existed from the evidence of it's giant paw prints scattered around the area. 
Okay, so we weren't really that far off the beaten path.  We still had cell service, and the highway was maybe 3 miles, if that.  But we really were stuck.   We dug (well, mostly Cade dug), we hunted for rocks, or wood (which is hard to come by in this part of the desert, believe it or not), or anything that could be shoved under the tire really.  Then Cade would shove that stuff under the tire, get in and rock the Suburban back and forth trying to get it to move, while Jen (yes, that's me) is jumping on the back bumper, trying to help it get some traction.  Ahhh, I can only imagine how ridiculous we looked.  Finally, finally we got it out!  I had faith. 

We spent the rest of the remainder of the day trekking around, exploring old decrepit houses (found a treasure that we brought home, too), shooting Cade's gun, eating lunch, and checking out some mine's around Silver Reef.  It was nice. 

A few more pictures from our day:

 *Did I mention that the man-hole cover did not work for getting un-stuck.  If you ever come across one, and you're stuck in some sand, don't bother hauling it back to the truck.  It won't do you any good. 
**I was also going to mention that I think Cade rather likes getting stuck.  He did say something, approximately 5 minutes before we got stuck, that led me to believe he enjoys a little hard labor, a challenge so to speak.

dun, dun, du-dun, Valentine of the Day!

This was Tajia's Valentine!  I was pretty stoked to find these pens on clearance at Walgreen's, 10 for .50 cents!!  I was looking for pencils, but I couldn't pass up the price of the pens (which were cheaper than the pencils), plus they were red -perfect!
I found a heart template online, saved it to my hard drive, uploaded it to Picnik and added the text, and saved it to the hard drive again.  After that I inserted the picture into a Word document, adjusted it to the size I wanted them, and printed them on red cardstock.
Once the hearts were all cut out, I used my handy-dandy X-acto knife to cut a couple of small slits to slide the pen through. eeeeeeeeeasy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Cards -Day 3

According to Asher, his Valentine's were a huge hit.  He said that all of his friends were thanking him for the bouncy balls (I'm sure his teacher appreciated the balls much more than Kelly & Cailin's teachers appreciated the chewing gum!). 

Of course, I got the initial idea from pinterest.  I love, love, love pinterest, and could waste half of my day on there if given the chance.  It's a good thing I have so many kids (and college deadlines) to keep me in line!  Here is the link that pinterest lead me to for the creating of this card:

Materials Required:
bouncy balls
black cardstock
silver marker
scissors and/or X-acto knife

The first thing that I did was cut out (way too many) hearts, using the black cardstock. 
Then I wrote the words "You're out of this world!" with the marker (I actually have about 6 different colors of metallic markers, so we had a variety of colors going on).  I let Asher draw all the dots (stars) and small planets (circles -or in Asher's case, oblong shapes), and his name. 
While Asher was drawing stars & planets, I used an X-acto knife to cut a circle out of the middle of one of the black hearts.  My goal was to make the circle just big enough to shove a ball in there, and have it remain there without falling out.  I'm proud to say that I only made one too big!  Once I had the circle size that I wanted, I used that as a template for all of the others.  I placed the original on top of the others, traced the circle with a pencil, and then used the X-acto knife to cut out the circles on each one. 
Once the holes were cut, we were ready to put the balls in, and they were done! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! For real this time!

Do you remember how cool Valentine's were when we were little kids?  The cards that you can buy at wal-mart today don't even compare.  I've seen a couple of unique ones, but most of them are so dumb

The kidlets all had a fantastic day, complete with bags of candy.  They're currently running around outside, wearing off their sugar high. When they got home from school today, and asked what snack was, I pretty much gave them permission to eat as much of their candy as they wanted.  It seemed like the best option in my eyes.   Let them eat it all at once, and for tomorrows snack we can have carrot sticks and apple slices! 

As promised, more Valentines:

Please forgive my crappy pictures of pictures.  These are the cards that Cailin & Kelly handed out to their mates today.  I took their pictures, uploaded them to my computer and then did a bit of editing and added some text on picnik (r.i.p. -so sad to see picnik is closing).  I had them printed at Walgreen's (even found a coupon code for buy 25, get 25 free. woo-hoo!), and then we stuck the cheap packs of gum (20 in a pack for $4 and some change at Wal-mart) on with a glue dot.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Okay, so I'm a day early!  Sorry!  I need to get a head start.  Having 8 kids, 7 of which will hand out cards at school, I made a lot of Valentine's this year!  Yes, I did say "made".  What can I say? I was feeling ambitious!

Every night (hopefully every night) this week I will post at least one of the Valentine's that we made.  And by "we", I mean me. 

These are our neighbor and grandparent Valentine's.
In case you are blind, the tag says, "Our Grandparent's are dynamite!", and the other says "our neighbors..."  I hijacked the idea from, isn't it great?  I'm so glad other people are more crafty than I am, and come up with swell ideas for me to copy. 

Materials Needed: 
as many rolls of SweeTarts that you desire
red paper
black pipe cleaner
hot glue gun

I started by cutting the paper the length & width that I needed.  Sorry, I can't remember the size.  I just measured length, cut, then rolled it around the sweetarts to measure how wide, marked it and cut again. 

Then I rolled the paper around the sweetarts, hot gluing the seam down.  (I first tried to use double sided tape, but they were all coming undone, so don't use double sided tape!)  If I was giving only a single dynamite, I inserted an entire pipe cleaner along the length of the sweetart before hot gluing the seam down.  For our neighbors that have many kids, I used three rolls of sweetarts, and only inserted a pipe cleaner in one of the dynamite. 

Once I had the dynamite assembled, I trimmed the pipe cleaner to the length that looked appropriate.  If you wanted to use a little less pipe cleaner, you could probably cut each pipe cleaner in half (or maybe even thirds) and only stick one half in the paper before hot gluing it down. 

Wrap a piece of twine around the dynamite, string a tag on, tie in a knot, and you're done!  If you do three of them together, wrap the twine around all three, string a tag on, tie the knot. 
(Cade doesn't want you to notice our nasty, ugly, overly dated wallpaper, so please ignore it!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Busy, busy week!

I don't care for weeks like this one.  Too much stuff going on, and not enough time to do what I want...which would involve laying around, watching tv, playing with my baby, wasting time on, being lazy is overrated anyway, right?! 
I took Calum to the pediatrican today for his 1 year checkup.  *sobbing* The little dude is only in the 9th percentile for weight and the 33rd percentile for height, but get this, my kid is SMART!  His head is in the 93rd percentile!  lol  Poor little kid with a big head.  So ya, I'm pretty sure his head has to be so big to hold his giant brain.  ;)  That's what I'm going to tell myself anyway.  I don't think his head looks disproportionate, but I could be biased. 

In other news, I realized that tomorrow is my sisters birthday.  She's going to be the big 2-0!  Lucky girl!  No other time in your life like the twenties!  Unfortunately for her, I kind of forgot that it was her birthday.  WHOOPS.  Blame the lack of memory on having too many children.  Today I pulled out the craft box and whipped together a little something for her. 

The lovely model is my daughter, Cailin.

I made one of these for my neice for Christmas, and it took me about 4 hours.  The one today only took about 1 hour -not bad.  I stole the idea from .  Today I didn't follow the instructions quite as closely as I did the first time (hence part of the reason why it didn't take me 4 hours).  The first one that I made did turn out a little bigger & fuller, but I actually wanted this one to be a tad smaller. 
Now hopefully my sister chooses not to read this blog before she gets it...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Magnetize Me

I've been wanting to make these marble magnets, and when I was visiting Dollar Tree last week, I found these big honkin' flat marble things, and grabbed a bag of them with the specific intention of doing so.  I've seen tutorials all over the internet & pinterest, but took some pretty specific instructions from this blog: 

These were so stinkin' easy!  Roxie and I did about 14 of them in one hours time (and that's something, considering a 5 year old was helping!)

In honor of Valentine's Day, I printed off a bunch of random vintage-y looking  Valentine clip art on white card stock, using my regular, old, crappy printer. 

I then took my marbles and traced a circle around the image, and using scissors, I cut just inside the circle.  This ensured that there wasn't much overhang around the marble. 

Next I had Roxie paint a little Mod Podge on the flat side of the marble.  Then I pressed the card stock image onto the Mod Podge.  We set them to the side for a bit, so that they could dry. 

After the Mod Podge was dry, I used some peel & stick magnetic strips that I had, and applied them to the back.  I used the stick & peel magnet because that's what I had on hand, however they don't hold the magnets real well.  I would suggest picking up some of the stronger round magnets that you have to attach with Gorilla Glue (or something equally strong).  I've bought the round magnets since we made the marbles, but haven't had a chance to attach them yet. 

I took a few pictures, but they all turned out like crap.  I'll show you one anyway, but check out the link above - they have way better pictures and tutorial!  ;)

Told you the picture sucks.
  I don't know why my camera wouldn't cooperate.
I tried it with flash, without flash, outside, inside. 
 Nothing was working for me. lol

So what do you think, good enough to give to some friends for Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Handy-dandy Sock Bags

Yes, sock bags.  What, never heard of them?  They're pretty similar to a lingerie bag.  In fact, they're pretty much identical.  In this house, they're called sock bags, and each child has one with their name on it. 

We were having some serious issues with socks here, and a solution was a must.  I literally had a big laundry basket full of socks without mates.  I'm sure their mates were somewhere in there, but who wants to dig through ten peoples worth of socks just to find two that match.  I knew it was bad when I saw my daughter wearing two mis-matched socks to school. 
The kids and I finally sat down one night, for two hours, and had a sock matching/folding session.  It sucked!  Who wants to match socks? NOT ME.  After that night I came up with an idea...

I bought cheap lingerie bags, and using a permanent marker, wrote each of the kids names on their own lingerie bag.  (I bought my lingerie bags at Ikea.  They were like $2 for 2 of them, or something.  I also saw them last week at Dollar Tree for a buck each.)

I sat all eight of my kids down at the dinner table, and did a demonstration, while instructing each of my kids on how to use these "sock bags".  I used pretty simple four-year-old terms, so that they could each completely understand how to use the "sock bag" system that I developed. 

#1: Take your socks off of your body.
#2: Take your sock bag out of your dirty hamper.
#3: Unzip the zipper on your sock bag.
#4: Place dirty socks IN the sock bag.
#5: Zip the zipper on your sock bag.
#6: Place the zipped sock bag on top of the dirty clothes in your dirty hamper

That's it!  Easy right?  Some of you may be doubting the usefulness, or the ability of my children to follow these instructions...I'm happy to report that we've been doing this for a couple of months now, and for the most part, we've had no issues! 

On laundry day, I have the kids empty their hampers into my big hamper in the laundry room.  When I wash my load of whites, I just throw the bags (still zipped, with socks in it) into the washing machine, and then the dryer.  When they're done drying, I pull out the bags one by one, fold the socks inside and put them into the appropriate child's bin to be put away.  I also place the sock bag in their bin, so that they can put it back in their hamper.  Easy-peasy, and the best part is that now my kids are usually wearing matching socks!

*I found out after the first couple of times of washing the sock bags, that certain kids take their socks off in little munched up balls -they don't get clean that way (obviously, lol), so they were later instructed to make sure there are no "sock balls" in the sock bag. 
**If, for some reason, socks don't make it into the sock bag, they don't get washed.  I leave them on the laundry room floor and tell my child to come collect them, and put them into their sock bag.  If I don't know who it belongs to, I make them all come figure it out.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On a Winters day

Cade & I got out of the house yesterday for a little "date". *insert angels singing from the heavens here*   "MIRACLE!"  (A big shout out to my father-in-law & mother-in-law for tending the kids for a few hours.)  We went up past Apple Valley and tried to traverse some muddy dirt roads in our 2wd Suburban -not such a good idea.  Luckily we didn't get stuck (this time), but we had to turn around at one point, and we weren't able to go the exact location that Cade had in mind.  It was still a nice time though, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous!

We were attempting to go up by Dutton Pass (don't ask me - no idea where it is, or why we were trying to go there), but ended up somewhere west of it by maybe 3 miles.  Cade was having a grand time thinking that we were in a small Jeep.  I think that he thinks that "the beast" can do anything a small four wheel drive vehicle can do. Not so.  We were skidding all over the place, sliding in the mud & snow.  It was nuts.  So what does he do when we start getting stuck in some mud?  He reverses, making me think that we are going to turn around and head back, but no, we're not turning around!  He guns it, and we go flying through the mud, sending showers of the red stuff everywhere!  (Ethen had a good time kicking the mud off of the mud flaps this afternoon. lol!)  It's a small miracle that we didn't get stuck...and it would not have been the first time that we had done so. 

We hiked around, saw a lot of rocks, some footprints of a little bobcat maybe, and even spotted a few arrowheads.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous!  There was a bit of snow on the ground (mostly on the north side of the hills, or behind the shadows of brush), but it was probably close to 60 degrees.  I only wore a t-shirt & a jacket, and actually ended up taking my jacket off, because I was too warm. 

I'm so lucky that I have an awesome husband that thinks of cool places to go explore!  I love hiking around our beautiful part of the country with him.  <3 
 Cade & Calum

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

At it again.

I see that it's been almost an entire year since the last time I blogged.  I've decided that I need to get back on the wagon, so here I am...  I will try to be better, but I'm not going to commit to too much.  lol  When you have eight kids, a husband, a puppy and are a student, you'll understand why I'm reluctant to commit. 

A few days ago we took the kids out to "hunt" for dinosaur tracks at Warner Valley (if you want to know more, go here, and there is even a map: )
The kids thought it was pretty cool, for like 5 minutes, and then they were over it. We took the puppy, Vespa, and I'm fairly certain that she had a more enjoyable time than any of us!  Well, I take that back.  Vespa and Calum had the most enjoyable time.  Calum will sit in his little pack on Cade's back all day, just chillin'.  He loves it.   I love being out of the house, hiking (or when you're with kids, I prefer to just call it "kicking up dirt", because there really is no hiking involved), and enjoying each others sillyness.
Roxie's foot in the dinosaur footprint

See, doesn't Vespa look thrilled?  :)