Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pinterest Success - printable monster drawing prompts

My kids had lots of fun this morning with these printable monster drawing prompts from Picklebums.

They came up with lots of scary, fun monsters and Hadley decided to add some pom-poms and hairy yarn too.

Another great Pinterest find!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

cleaning with dice

I'm all for making cleaning/tidying the house a little more fun. Growing up we would play snakes and ladders to get the house clean, and I often have to just set the timer to motivate myself to get housework done.

Being a family with 5 kids, our house has no shortage of messes. Add homeschooling to the mix, and keeping the house clean becomes a constant battle.

So this morning, when I was faced with a messy livingroom, I decided we needed a fun, educational (so I could justify putting off "school" work for a bit), and fast way to get the livingroom back to normal. Or at least to sanity-keeping level.

I grabbed 3 dice and made up a little game:
1. roll the dice
2. add up two of the dice (I used 2 red to help differentiate)
3. subtract the third dice (the white one)
4. put away that number of things

This worked great for Brian and Elijah who are in Grade 1.

For older kids:
1. roll the dice
2. multiply two of the dice (red)
3. divide the total by the third dice (white)
4. put away that number of things

This worked well with Hadley - although some end up being a little difficult to divide because they aren't fully divisible.

You could obviously make up any combination of things to do with the numbers instead to fit your child.

We all worked together at it and pretty soon the livingroom looked a lot better and the kids got a little math practice along the way. Double win.

Friday, October 24, 2014

my favourite authors

So I'm doing a little friendly post today to share with you some of my favourite authors. They are my favourite because they are family! That makes them pretty cool, I think.

1. First up is my oldest brother, Eric Freeze.

You can check out his website and read all about him and his books here. He is currently living in Nice, France (yup he's cool), and is a professor at Wabash College in Indiana. He has his PhD in Creative Writing and just had his second book published by University of Nebraska Press. Both books that he has published are collections of short stories. His most recent book is called "Hemingway on a Bike" and can be purchase here.

2. Second, is my sister-in-law, Nicole Hillyer. 

She decided to write a children's book and had my other sister-in-law, Heidi Carter illustrate it for her.

 The book is called "What Happens in the Barn", and is a fun little story about a cat's perception of what all the animals do in the barn. Heidi did an AMAZING job with the illustrations. You can buy their book on Amazon here

What a talented family I have!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

upstairs bathroom reno

When we bought our house, there was only one bathroom. The bedrooms are all upstairs and there was no bathroom, just one on the main floor. We knew this was going to be a problem, but luckily there was a random room upstairs (directly above the main floor bathroom), that was probably intentionally there to become a bathroom, but for some reason the previous owners never put it in.

This is the one reno that we hired out because it involved plumbing and lots of fixing old plumbing, and John was gone to school for 3 months and we needed to get it done. John's cousin and uncle did a great job and we are so happy with the results.

This is the best "before" shot that I could find. They had started framing the wall and put the tub in and the plumbing. Before that it was just an empty room which had a weird alcove in the wall that we just covered up.

They put in the wall, tub, shower, tile, and moved the vanity and mirror from the main floor to this bathroom. I put in the flooring (go me!) and painted it the same colour as our main bathroom.

I also got a vinyl window covering to put on the window (since it is right in the shower...)

The mirror barely fit with the sloped ceiling. I got the tile on clearance at Rona for about a dollar each. I love it.

We still need to put in a toilet paper roll holder and towel bar, but we love having a bathroom upstairs! It is kind of a necessity with 5 small children.....and 1 pregnant woman.

And just cause I love a good before/after pic

 If only it always stayed that clean....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

Since my blogging has been pretty sporadic, I thought I'd do a little update.

1. We are homeschooling. I love it and love that it is working for our family. I've always liked the idea of homeschooling, but thought that it would send me to the loony bin. John has always wanted to homeschool and after a year of seriously contemplating it and lots of prayer, we decided to take the plunge. So far we are all loving it, and I think I'm still sane.

2. John started his own appliance repair business. He started out slow just doing it on the side after he got his Journeyman certificate at the end of last year, and since June, has been working on his own. His business is called "Yer Appliance" (get it...Hill "Yer"), and it has been going pretty well. He enjoys it and it is nice to have the freedom that goes along with owning your own business.

3. I'm pregnant with our 6th child and it's a BOY! We are super excited and can't wait to meet this little man.

4. Hockey season has started. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. Sam is going to be starting "Ice Cubes" and is super excited about it.

5. Our home renos have come to a bit of a standstill. We used up all of our extra money that we got with our mortgage to finish some stuff, so there's not as much drive to get stuff done. There is still lots to be done, but at least the major things are over with.

6. Last spring, for the first time in my life ever, I was waking up at 6 to exercise every day. I went running with 2 of my friends 3x each week, and then I signed up for a bootcamp that was 3x each week also. Aside from feeling sore everyday, I loved it and loved getting up early. Then I found out I was pregnant. I finished off the bootcamp, and ran the 5K we were training for, and then stopped all together. Lame. I wish I would have kept with it, but just didn't have the motivation anymore. I hardly had any morning sickness though, so maybe the exercise helped with that.

7. I love eating apples with peanut butter.

8. I finally hung up some pictures in our house after living here for over a year.

9. I can't think of anything else to say....

10. Yup, still nothing...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pinterest Success - Pancake Squares

I don't enjoy cooking....or baking. I do it to feed our family. And I do it to eat something yummy, but the amount of mess and time it takes, is not something I enjoy. I do get bored of eating the same things over and over though, so I have a pinterest recipe board full of tasty things to try. I'm always reluctant to try something different, because I don't like wasting time and energy and money on a flop! So, I thought I'd share a recipe that worked and that everyone (even my husband) enjoyed.

Pancake Squares by Big Red Kitchen. They were delicious, and I liked that I didn't have to sit at the stove flipping pancakes. I was worried they would be too sweet and taste like cake, but they were just perfect.

I doubled the recipe to fit in a 9x13 pan, and our family probably could have eaten 2 plan accordingly!

Pancake Squares
3/4 cup milk
2 T. melted butter
1 large egg
1 T. sugar
1 cup flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, beat together milk, butter and egg. Add sugar, then gradually beat the flour in. Carefully stir in the baking powder and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4-6.


We ate them just as is with a little butter and syrup, but they would be yummy with berries and whipped cream too (of course.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make Photo Memorybooks for Free

Back when I had Hadley (my oldest), I started scrapbooking. This eventually turned into digital scrapbooking and then after seeing a few photobooks that my sister made, I decided that that was how I wanted to document our photos and memories.

I've used a couple different photobook companies, and the one I prefer is Shutterfly. They have a lot of templates and you can really personalize your pages quite easily.

To get them for free, all you need to do is go to the Shutterfly homepage and sign up for their promotional offers that they send you via email. The deals they send are pretty good, sometimes 50% off photobooks, and occasionally they even offer a free photobook (you just have to pay shipping.) The free books are usually for the 8x8 sized books, so that is the size that I make all of mine.

After making them for a few years, I have figured out a process for making them that works for me:

1. Decide what your photobook is going to be about - I do one for each year of each child's life (at least that's my plan for now) so if I'm making one for Hadley when she was 6 years old, I know that the pictures I'll need will be from Dec 2011-Dec 2012.

2. Decide how many pages you want your book to be. If you are getting a book with a free coupon code with Shutterfly, only 20 pages are free. Each additional page is $1. For this reason, all my books are only 20 pages.

3. Write out what you want to have on each page.This is how I did Hadley's last book that I made. I always have a title page and then the last page is just a collage with pictures that didn't make it in the "scrapped" pages, but that I still wanted to document. I try to go chronologically through the year, starting with their birthday, but sometimes I have to fudge things to match up the single paged topics.

4. Look through all your pictures for that timeframe/topic and write out the file names of the ones you want under each topic heading. The underlined dates are the folder name, and then the numbers listed are each picture that I want in the book (not all the pictures make the final cut).

5. Go to Shutterfly and sign in or create an account. Choose the photobook and layout that you want. Some layouts cost more, so make sure yours does not (unless you want to pay a little more.)

6. Upload the pictures you want, using your handy paper as a guide.

7. Go page by page selecting the pictures you want for that page and then changing the format and styles until you are satisfied with the final result. I like to add a short written part to document things a little more.

8. Save your book and wait until you get an email with a free photobook coupon code. (Or order it right away because your too impatient and are willing to pay $30...)

*you will still need to pay shipping when you use a free coupon code, but it's not much. Shipping to Canada is $8.

Our kids LOVE looking through these books and I love that all those cute pictures aren't just hiding away in the computer.

Here are two that my sister made to give you some more ideas. One she made with pictures from one of our family reunions. The other was from a mom/sister trip that we made. She included journal entries along with the pictures.

There are other companies that offer great deals on the books too. A month ago, I got an email from snapfish for a buy 1 get 2 free photobook deal. So look around and just sign up for the promotion emails and be patient!