Fritz Happiness

Fritz recently harvested his first vegetable from the garden he’s growing with his daddy. A very delicious cucumber!


And he earned a silver star at taekwondo. Kids get to bring in good papers from school. Fritz brought in 7 100% correct pages of 100 multiplication problems. We timed him doing them and the fastest was in less than 3 1/2 minutes!


On top of all that, today was his first ever swim meet and he got 3rd place in backstroke and 5th place in freestyle in his heats. It’s been quite an awesome couple weeks for the middle boy.

My Bullet Journal

I’ve been using a bullet journal (aka my brain) for a few months now. I love it! I tried using a digital calendar and to do list on my phone, but it just doesn’t work for me. Paper works much better.


I use a large Moleskine dotted (8.5×5) with an orchid cover. I’ll need a new one in a couple or three months. I think I’ll get a blue one next time.


I don’t use my Bullet Journal exactly as the guy who made up the idea outlines. I make it work the way I need it to. Inside the front cover is my To Do Schedule. I have specific things I do every day, once or twice a week, or once a month. I color coded my to do lists. Green is on my computer, blue is on my phone, and red is in real life.


I have lots of pages spread throughout my bullet journal of random things I need to remember/keep track of including blog ideas (complete with date the post will go up and a checkbox for when it is written), a page to record the time each day I hit 10,000 steps, a coconut tortilla recipe I adjusted to use one full can of coconut milk, lesson plans, books people have recommended to me, cute things my kids have said or done, things I am grateful for, notes I took at Time Out for Women and General Conference, and school planning for next year. The back page is an index telling me which page(s) a certain category appears on. I only need to consult my index occasionally, but it’s a major timesaver when I need it.


I have several planning/scheduling page spreads. Two pages cover the taekwondo schedule at the school we go to. I color coded everyone (I love my 4-color pen!) and put stars for which classes people in our family generally go to.


Another page lists the regularly scheduled things we do (other than taekwondo). There’s space in each day of the week to change them as needed (for example, at the beginning of next school year, the day of the week we have youth activities at church will change). The page facing this one is holidays/birthdays divided by month.


I have a two page spread for future planning for the next year. Since this particular notebook started in March, I made squares for the months of April through March of next year. I write in appointments and things in the appropriate month block until the block gets too full and it becomes time to move those appointments to a future planning space where I can write more specifics.


The more specific future planning section covers four months (however, I’ve found I really only truly need two months out at any given time). I use half a page for each month and write the numbers of the days of the month down the page. I underline every Saturday just to help me easily see how the month is laid out. On the 28th of every month I create the month schedule page for the following month.


The month schedule page has the numbers and days of the week written down the side (with a small line under each Saturday). I transfer scheduled appointments, regularly scheduled things, birthdays, and holidays onto the page. I do not write when we’ll be going to taekwondo since someone is there at least once a day Monday-Saturday. At the bottom of the page I put Must Do’s for the month. Things that really need to get done sometime during the month but not on any specific day. I use Washi tape to make certain pages in my bullet journal. Most of the time the tape goes on the long side of the notebook. The Washi tape on the monthly schedule pages goes at the top to make it very easy to find quickly.


I plan all our meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a week at a time. After I plan them and make my grocery list (the grocery list I do using an app on my phone), I write my menus in my bullet journal.


What takes, by far, the most space in my bullet journal are my daily pages. I put the date at the top of the page in black. Under that, in green, is what we’ll be having for meals. Next is that day’s schedule in blue. Under that goes the day’s school assignments in red. Each of those sections is separated by a black line and there’s another black line under the school section. Under that is my to do list divided by colors as outlined on the To Do Schedule page. Everything had a checkbox next to it. I check things off with a black checkmark.

As the day goes on, if there is something I need to make a note of, I do that using black ink. I note things like books I finished reading and things that happened during the day that I want to remember. If I don’t get to something on my to do list I cross it out with black ink. If it’s something that happens every day, I don’t worry about it until the next day. If it’s something that doesn’t happen every day, but can’t wait until the next time it’s regularly scheduled, I add it to the next day’s to do list.

I really love my little bullet journal. It keeps me organized so nicely!

Lesson Planning

I am one of the very weird homeschoolers who plans lessons a year ahead of time. On occasion I have to rearrange things, but I plan enough 4 day weeks to make that easy and possible.

I divide the year into four 9-week sections starting the day after the local schools start and going for 36 weeks with a week off at Thanksgiving, two weeks off at Christmas, and a week off in March for Spring Break. We basically follow the public school schedule for our district. We take off all federal holidays (since Jamie is off those days). We end up finishing school for the year about a week before the public schools.

I initially make my lesson plans in Word using tables. Then I copy a quarter’s worth at a time into my bullet journal.

Every day when I write out my daily to do page for the next day in my bullet journal, I write in the things the boys will be doing together and then the things Adrian will be doing (marked with Ad). Next school year, only their together work will be in my bullet journal and Adrian will get his own notebook like his big brothers have.

The older two boys have spiral notebooks for their daily assignments. The stars indicate things they can do on their own. I write their schedule so they know what they will have to do that do. At the bottom is their to do lists. Fritz requested that I put pray and brush teeth on his in addition to his morning chore. I add things they are learning (such as Fritz learning to tie shoes) and things they don’t do as a regular chore but needs to get done (like straightening rooms or mowing the lawn).

I work best when I am very organized and that definitely applies to school, too. The notebook method is extra useful when I have to go somewhere, like visit teaching or taking one of the kids to the orthodontist. The boys left behind can complete their starred assignments without me around and have them waiting for me to check when I get home.

School’s Out! Scream and Shout!


I had planned for our last day of school to be next Wednesday, but then earlier this week Fritz got some major motivation and finished most of what he had left for the year. So I decided to move some stuff up and we finished yesterday. School year 2014-15 is officially over!


This year went very well and while I am really, really happy to be off for the summer, I’m looking forward to next fall. I’ve already gotten almost everything we’ll need for the next school year and we’ll have some really fun stuff.


This year we had a lot of trouble finding the right math. Math-U-See seems to be a hit. The kids like watching the video and then doing the work. They are understanding math and enjoying it (as much as math can be enjoyable that is). The things I chose for English (Peace Hill Press: Writing With Ease, Writing With Skill, First Language Lessons) worked especially well and I’m looking forward to using the next levels of each with the boys next year.


We learned a whole lot about chemistry this year (REAL Science Odyssey) and the early modern period (History Odyssey). We learned about the orchestra and some composers and some artists. We’ll study more composers and artists next year and move on to physics and the modern period. It was truly a good year! (Ani has been sick and didn’t want me to take her end of the year picture until she’s feeling better.)

Swimming, Swimming, Swimming

This time last year Fritz wouldn’t put his head under water. He took a few weeks of swimming lessons last summer and by the end he was really swimming. He totally fell in love with swimming.


This week swim team practice started. There are four other little boys his age from church on the team, too (nearly his whole Cub Scout troop/primary class).


Fritz is in the group that is learning how to do the strokes properly and gain speed swimming the 25 meters across the pool. He still lets his feet drop when he takes breaths. But he’s improving every day.


Swim team practice is 5 days a week, about 45 minutes each day in the pool, swimming constantly for most of it. After every practice Fritz is exhausted, but he loves swimming more and more each day.

pH pHun

On Friday we tested the pH of various liquids.

Cameron mixed citric acid with water. The litmus paper was brighter red than the 1 on the scale.

Then he took a swig of the citric acid water. It was super sour.

He tested his saliva before drinking the citric acid water (bottom) immediately after drinking it (middle) and then 2 minutes later (top). It’s really cool how the human body returns things to normal as quickly as possible.

Fritz tested milk. The pH was close to neutral. He also tested rainwater since it happened to be pouring rain that morning (I didn’t get a picture of that test strip). The pH was around 6.

Cameron tested pee (yes, I totally have boys). It happened that Adrian had used the bathroom a few minutes before and hadn’t flushed so Cameron took the opportunity to dip the litmus paper in the toilet. It was just a little on the acid side of neutral.

Adrian tested lemon juice. It was right around 2.

Adrian also tested water from our reverse osmosis filter (we have super hard water here so it gets softened and then run through the RO). It was a perfectly neutral 7.

Cameron mixed a crushed up Tums with water. It didn’t dissolve very well. Mostly the test strip came out neutral because of the water, but as it sat the areas on the litmus paper where there were bits of Tums turned darker showing it was slightly basic.

Gluten Free Muffin Success

My friend recently gave me a gluten free baking cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. Normally on Fridays I buy some frozen gluten free blueberry muffins for breakfast. They are yummy. They are also very expensive ($4.50 for 4). Today I tried out the blueberry muffin recipe from the cookbook.

First I made gluten free flour blend according to the directions in the cookbook. They give instructions using King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill flours as well but recommend making the blend using their instructions for best results. I wanted best results so I made the blend (and now I have several cups of it in my refrigerator waiting to be used in the future).

I followed the directions exactly. I even used my nice digital scale and weighed the ingredients that gave both cup measure and weight measure.

Fresh blueberries got folded in at the end of mixing. At this point the batter tasted like muffin mix, but was grainy. For the next 30 minutes the batter rested, mainly to allow the grains (mostly rice) to hydrate properly.

Ready to go in the oven. I even topped them with turbinado sugar like it said to. The frozen muffins I normally buy have sugar on the tops, too.

Fresh out of the oven, the muffins were slightly torturing us. They needed 20 minutes to cool. And they smelled really good.

The muffins came out of the muffin tin nicely. Only one broke. I sampled the bit that fell off. I was pretty sure I have a success at that point, but we still had 10 more minutes in the cooling process to go.

So delicious and no graininess at all. Perfect with butter on them, but good plain, too (the ones I get from the store absolutely need butter). Cameron ate 5 1/2 of the dozen muffins. He thinks they were even better than the ones I buy. He is suspicious of anything gluten free, so that’s a real success.

I’ll definitely be making these again. Even with buying the blueberries, the total cost was about $2.25 (the majority of that for the blueberries). That’s a huge savings over the muffins I regularly buy.

Mr. Chat and XMA

Mr. Chat (blue Power Ranger from Lightspeed Rescue) was in town this weekend. The big kids took advantage of that and ended up training with him for over 5 hours over the course of two days.


Mr. Chat founded XMA (Xtreme Martial Arts). XMA is a kind of combination of martial arts and gymnastics. It’s fun to watch flips and tricks combined with martial arts moves.


To prepare for Mr. Chat’s arrival, Ani and Cameron took two one-hour XMA lessons from our regular instructor, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. They made a whole lot of progress in those two hours.


Cameron was able to work up to 5 one-handed cartwheels in a row and Ani improved her regular cartwheel and was able to land one-handed cartwheels for the first time.


On Friday, the had a private lesson with Mr. Chat. It lasted almost two hours. You would think they’d be exhausted at the end of that, but Ani especially was in heaven. They made even more progress under Mr. Chat’s direction. He gave them some combinations for competition and to continue to work on on their own.


He also encouraged the to try other weapons. Ani has been sticking with nunchucks and Cameron with kamas. Ani tried double bo staff and felt pretty powerful wielding those. Cameron still loves the kamas, though he’s testing out the double sword. Ani is thinking she may want to switch to those staffs.


On Saturday, they joined 38 other kids for some VIP training with Mr. Chat (17 of the 40 were from our taekwondo school!). This one lasted 3 1/2 hours. You would think that would wear them out, but no. When we arrived to pick them up Ani had the biggest smile on her face. They did combinations and flips. They even got to jump on a mini tramp and flip in the air onto a crash pad. Cameron got it figured out and flipped perfectly one time.


It was a lot of hours of taekwondo/XMA over a few days, but the kids loved it. They were sore on Sunday, but in a good way. These lessons are definitely something they want to repeat in the future and keep improving their skills!

At One With My Washing Machine

Ani tells me I have a special relationship with our washing machine. Somehow I can always tell exactly when the machine completes a cycle. She is a bit puzzled by this because she totally tunes out the sound while a load is washing. I told her when she’s the mom and doing the laundry she’ll discover she has a special relationship with her washing machine. She insists this will not be the case and will be sure to buy a machine that buzzes when the cycle is complete.

Books Referencing Other Books

One of the things I love most about reading – and I tend to read a really eclectic mix of books (the only thing I don’t like at all is romance) – is noticing references to other books in the books I read. For example, I read The Hundred trilogy this week. The second book, Day 21, has a flashback scene where one of the characters says she just wants the book so she can know if “she ends up with the boy who called her carrots.” I laughed when I read that because a week or so ago I read Anne of Green Gables and that’s the book that scene is referencing. It’s like some books have word easter eggs just waiting to be discovered. Finding them makes me want to read even more to find the ones I’m missing!