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The saga that was September

October 5, 2015

or the post you’ve all been waiting for!

When last we spoke, A was about to start seminary and we were prepping for the start of the rest of our schoolwork.  As if that weren’t enough, on August 21 (two days after I last posted) we finally decided since we had finished all the work we were going to do on our house and with no luck attracting a buyer on our own, we would list our house with our agent.  He came over late Friday afternoon to sign a contract, didn’t even walk through our property or take pictures or anything, put it on the MLS at a higher price than we had been asking all summer and by Saturday night we had an offer in hand.

That’s the short story.  Short story #1.

Slightly longer: It had been a crazy week with very little down time and DH had some rare time off on Saturday, so we let the house go and watched a movie in the afternoon before he had to go back to work, after telling our agent that no, we didn’t really want to show the house on Sunday mainly because even though we’d be at church during a showing, Sunday mornings are crazy and I didn’t want the added stress of trying to get the house showable on our way out the door.  So we knew we had a showing for Monday scheduled.

An hour after DH left for work, our agent called and said, “I’m really sorry to bother you again, but there’s this guy out with his agent looking at houses in your neighborhood right now and wants to know if he can come over in an hour.”  Um, sure??  The house was a disaster, relatively speaking, but boy, have we gotten good at putting a house back in order!  And I really, really wanted to get it sold.  If that means pulling it together in an hour, then that’s what we’ll do. So we did our best work and barely made it out the door before he showed up.  It was right at dinner time, so I took the kids to Noodles and Co.  An hour later, we drove back, and he was still there!  So we went to the park down the road from which vantage point I could see him drive away ten minutes later.  He must have gone over every inch of our house.  It’s just not that big.  But apparently he liked it enough to put in an offer that night, with a closing date of September 11, a mere 2 ½ weeks down the road.  Our agent emailed us late, but I didn’t even see his message until after church the next day.

We ended up showing the house again twice on Monday while we negotiated price with the original offer and by Thursday morning we had a signed contract.

Short story #2: He paid cash and wanted to close in a week, so we packed up the entire house into four storage units while simultaneously house hunting and ultimately ending up homeless on Friday,  September 4.

Thursday morning we were under contract.  Thursday afternoon, our agent called me with “this is a good problem to have. . .”  Apparently every single closing he’d had all summer long had been delayed for one reason or another, so he was thrilled that for once, a buyer wanted to expedite the process.  But he was worried about us and where we would end up, and if we could even pull off moving out in the space of a week.  Less than a week actually; the buyer wanted to close the next Wednesday.  I didn’t think that was possible, but neither one of us wanted to do anything to lose the deal, so our agent said he thought we could hold off on closing until Friday, and I joked that if we had to, we had an 8-person tent, and could end up at the KOA.  The weather was nice, so why not?

DH was all for it, at which point I told him he’d better take the week off work, or there was no way I was going to be able to do it myself.  Friday and a good part of Monday we also spent house hunting from Bountiful to Riverton and points west.  We made an offer on a house in West Jordan, but lost out in a bidding war, looked seriously at a house in Herriman, but ultimately made an offer and underwent negotiations on a house out in Stansbury Park, signing a contract the same day we closed on our house downtown.

It’s been a whirlwind, I tell you.

From downtown (and four storage units) we went first to Springhill Suites for a night, then to Grandma and Poppa’s house through the Labor Day weekend.  Then since DH couldn’t drive his work car there due to the distance, and because A was still enrolled in seminary at East High, (and despite jokes about ending up at either KOA or the homeless shelter) we moved back up to Sandy into the Residence Inn for 11 days so we could try to replicate our life somewhat.  There were several big conventions in town that week and we couldn’t find a single hotel room closer to the city.

Our neighbor had actually offered to let us stay in his rental house which had just gone vacant, and while I truly appreciated his offer, it would have been weird to stay next door to our old house, plus we had just packed up all the household stuff and would have had to sleep in sleeping bags on floor and either unpacked stuff again just to be able to cook and eat, or eat out a lot.  Honestly I just couldn’t do it. That was one very stressful week trying to pack up and move out, and Residence Inn had a breakfast buffet every morning, king-size beds, and a pool, not to mention maid service.  I needed to be pampered a bit.  Plus we had 1 ½ months of mortgage payments we wouldn’t have to make and we were going to make quite a bit on the sale of our house so this was (sort of) like a vacation we felt we could afford.  And boy, those 11 days of just waking up and walking down to a hot breakfast were so wonderful!

All in all, it wasn’t quite like a vacation.  DH had to go back to work and we had to drive downtown to pick up A at seminary every other day, as well as for scouts and several other activities, but it worked.

Things worked amazingly with our loan too, and a mere 14 days after signing the contract, we had another closing and received the keys to our new home.  A home which was an incredible deal for us as it had been sitting empty since February when the previous owners had to move out of state and had been slowly dropping in price ever since.  If we had sold our other home any sooner, we probably would not have been able to pick up this place at a price we could afford, so all things have worked out well.  We’re just so grateful to be settled (if you can call being surrounded by 3287 moving boxes settled) and somehow it’s now October!

There’s more to tell, and pictures to share, but those will have to come later.

2015/2016 School Plans

August 19, 2015

We’ve been working on a new jigsaw puzzle.  In the end, one piece is still missing and another one has been eaten by Little A.  Well, she sucked on it.  When it dried out we were able to figure out where it fit in, although one tab is gone.  So the puzzle is kind of, sort of finished.

Kind of like our school year plans.  I feel like I’m working on a puzzle where I don’t even have all the pieces yet; the ones I do have aren’t quite fitting together, and I’m still not sure what the end product will look like.

Each year just seems to get a little more complicated.  This year A is in 9th grade which means he goes to seminary for the first time.  We’re also juggling 7th grade, 5th grade, kindergarten, and a child who will turn two in January.  As I’ve heard it described having a toddler is kind of like running the blender without a lid.

So . . .

For the past eight (!) years now, we’ve followed The Well-Trained Mind recommendations for chronological history.  We’ve been through two complete cycles of world history and would normally go back to Ancients this year, but we’re kind of throwing that to the wind and doing something completely different.  A and C will both take history classes through Liahona Academy‘s distance education program and A will also be doing chemistry with them.

Liahona is an LDS private school down in Pleasant Grove that was started by Brent DeGraff.  I heard Bro. DeGraff speak some years ago at a homeschool conference and have been looking forward to having the boys learn from him eventually.  Finances worked out this year so we’re trying it out.  DH and I feel that Liahona’s mission statement is very close to what we’ve always been striving for in our homeschool:

The mission of Liahona Preparatory Academy is to assist parents in educating their children in the fundamentals of the arts, letters and sciences while integrating the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We strive to provide a challenging academic education by infusing secular knowledge with LDS doctrine and values in order that students might understand all knowledge in the context of the eternal. 

A will do the accredited option where he turns in all of his work and gets an official grade; C chose to do non-accredited where I am in charge of assignments and grades, just to see how it works.  I’ve been listening to another workshop by Susan Wise Bauer on preparing for high school and beyond and realized we should have done some more outside classes or online learning before it actually counts for high school credit for A, but it’s a little late for that, so wish us luck!

So here’s where the juggling comes in:  Despite all our efforts, our house still hasn’t sold, so I finally resigned myself to enrolling A for seminary up at East High.  We’re technically in the boundaries for Highland High, but East High is so much closer (a 4 ½ minute drive–we timed it!) so that’s where he’s going.  At some point our house has to sell and we’ll have to move and re-enroll him . . . wherever we end up.  Chemistry is online at 8:30 a.m., A’s history is at 12:25 p.m. four days a week.  Seminary will be second period every other day (A/B day schedule) from 9:12 to 10:54, so twice a week he’ll miss out on the end of chemistry and have to catch it online later.  Thank goodness the classes are archived.  Then C has his history class to watch at 11:25.

Three subjects down, so many more to go!

Chemistry looks pretty tough and I’m not sure what kind of workload the history class will involve, so although A and I had quite the list of electives for this year, we’re not going to tackle them all at once or even this year.  Of course he’ll have math, which we’re a little behind with.  He’s still doing Dolciani algebra with me, and then will move into geometry, probably using the Jurgensen text with some online self-paced something or other I haven’t decided on yet, hoping to finish up by next fall.

For English he’ll use the last year of MCT Magic Lens and 4Practice grammar books, plus Jensen Punctuation exercises and Writing with Skill 2, with reviewing some of the different writing exercises from level 1.  While we’re not exactly doing ancient history, I still want to follow the 4-year chronological literature cycle as we’ve done in the past so A, C, and I are going to read The Iliad, The Odyssey, and some of the Greek dramas using Roman Roads Media dvd courses.

For electives, A will do German I independent study through Rolling Acres School, and is already working on the KidCoder Web Design programming course.  Once a week with everybody we’ll work on geography with Mapping the World with Art.  A will also finish Second Form Latin at a leisurely pace, then we’ll decide if he wants to continue with Henle next year which is more of a high school-level course or stick with German.  That adds up to 7ish credits plus seminary.


Moving on . . .

C (age 12, 7th grade):


D (age 10, 5th grade):

Even though A and C are going with Liahona for history, I had planned on going back to ancient history with D, but ultimately decided to wait until next year when E will be in first grade and ready for Story of the World 1.  So I let D decide what to do this year as far as social studies.  He chose to do a year of world geography.  So we’re using the Trail Guide to World Geography which also includes a literature study for Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, which we’ve read before but will be a fun review at the end of the year.  We’ve never focused on geography independent of history before, so I think this will be an interesting change.

For science, we’re using Science in the Beginning which approaches science topics as they tie into the days of creation.  It’s for grades K-6 so it will work for D and E, and I’m sure C will listen in.  (I’m really just trying to see how many different pairings of students and subjects I can work with this year!)  D also loves tigers so he’s going to do a short unit on tigers from Amanda Bennett Unit Studies.


E (age 5, Kindergarten):

With a new baby sister and trying to get the house ready for sale, E didn’t get a whole lot of my time last year for school, and he preferred playing anyway.  But lately he’s really starting to get interested in letters and numbers so working with him is going to be a priority this year.

  • Kumon Numbers and Letters books for handwriting practice
  • Singapore Math 1A/B: I’ll do the writing for him, but I think he already has a pretty good head for numbers
  • Explode the Code primers
  • Then when he’s ready, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
  • Five in a Row weekly literature units–we started homeschooling with these books and I’ve always loved them for preschool/kindergarten.
  • Science with D
  • Kindermusik Young Child I class


I feel like we’re going in a lot of different directions this year and there isn’t much that will include everyone, but we’re still in the planning stages for a book club with some other families.  While A has seminary, we are going to be following along at home with a study of the Old Testament, and we’ll continue memory work together.  I also want to use Gospel Principles as part of our morning devotional.  We did that using the old GP manual with some online plans (that have up and vanished, how sad!) that had us reading just a section each day and singing a Primary song the year A was in kindergarten and it was such a good experience.  I think it’s time to do it again.

Other than that, the boys will continue piano lessons with Poppa and we need to add some physical activity but I can’t handle another structured anything until we move.  I am dreading having to start another year of homeschool still in this house with most of our stuff in storage and trying to keep the house clean and showable while still living in it, especially with the aforementioned toddler, but here we are.  Seminary begins on Monday, and everything else will commence August 31!

Vernal: part 2

August 18, 2015

One other reason we wanted to go to Vernal was to visit my 90-year-old great-aunt again.  We haven’t seen her since before E was born, so I called her Monday morning.  She said she thought I probably had bad news when I first told her who was calling, so she was quite relieved and delighted that we were in town and wanted to stop and see her.  So after our day with the dinosaurs, we dropped by after dinner and had a nice visit.  My cousin was also there and took the boys out to see the woodworking shop and to pick apricots in the orchard.  He also gave them some rhubarb from the garden and had them all try it themselves before going to feed it to the sheep next door.  I actually have memories of eating rhubarb at Aunt Dorothy’s house as a child myself.

D in the apricot tree:

The next morning DH got up early and took A and C to the temple before breakfast.  One of my dad’s cousins is in the temple presidency and came down to the baptistry to say hello.  Aunt Dorothy must have given him a call to tell him of our plans!

We are thinking it would be a good goal to visit every temple in Utah with the boys before A goes on his mission.  That’s quite a few, although most are within two hours of home for us.  Monticello and St. George will take some planning, and we’ll have to come back out to Vernal after D turns 12.

After the temple and breakfast, we headed to the natural history museum in Vernal.  I didn’t realize that you can see more of Earth’s geologic history uncovered in eastern Utah than you can see in the Grand Canyon.  It’s just more spread out.  C is going to be studying geology this year in science so this was a fun preparatory trip.

E uncovering dinosaur bones:



Little A digging for bones:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

C and D acting out dinosaur attacks from Jurassic World:



In the lab behind the worker, was a pair of mammoth tusks.


The boys with the dinosaur:


With a change in perspective . . .

Ready to head for home:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABetween a large breakfast in the hotel and snacks in the car, no one was ready for lunch and admittedly there’s not a whole lot to pick from between Vernal and Heber anyway, so we let Little A sleep and finally stopped for “lunch” in Heber around 2:30 mainly for Little A’s sake.  It was her 18-month birthday, so we celebrated at Kneader’s.  The boys had cookies and smoothies.  DH and I shared one sandwich.  (We ate a few too many snacks in the car as well!)

Little A enjoyed her lunch of grilled cheese, grapes, and a cookie.

She is such a delight.  All of my children are.  I can’t think of a better group of people to explore this wonderful world of ours with.




August 18, 2015

DH was adding up all the days off at work he must use or lose this year.  He has accumulated a ton already and it’s only August.  Last year he was able to quit working after December 10th.  I think this year he might get the entire month of December off with pay.  But a better solution would be to start using them now.  That’s easier said than done however.  But I was in dire need of a break back in July so with a couple days’ notice we planned a quick vacation out to Vernal to Dinosaur National Monument.

And that was a month ago, but better late than never!  I really feel like catching up on summer photos before I can blog about our school plans.  And I took a lot, so this vacation post may stretch into several!

I don’t think I’ve been to Dinosaur Nat’l Monument since junior high, although I remember DH and I went to the Vernal Temple once before we had children.  We didn’t tell the boys we were going until after church, although they were suspicious when they saw all the snacks we had bought late Saturday night, or as D put it, “You never buy that food unless we’re going on . . . a road trip?”

We came home from church, ate a quick lunch, and told everybody to pack.  You’d think after staying overnight every other week at Grandma’s house this summer, we’d have the packing down to a science, but apparently not.  I thought we’d never get out of the house.  But finally we were on the road, DH convinced we need a bigger car for us and all of our gear.

It was an uneventful drive, but oh, so nice to get out of town!  We stayed the night at Springhill Suites, which will barely fit all seven of us in one suite.  When Little A is out of the bassinet, we’ll have to start getting two hotel rooms.  As it was her bed fit nicely in the closet and the boys took turns sleeping in the second bed and the couch bed.

A in the closet

Monday morning we were up bright and early to go see the dinosaurs.


The older boys saw Jurassic World earlier in the summer and have been talking about dinosaurs pretty nonstop ever since.  They are highly enamored of the movie magic dinosaurs, C and D especially, and I’ll admit, I was worried that seeing the real thing might be kind of boring, but they were suitably impressed with the wall of 1500 dinosaur bones still in the rock in the new Quarry Exhibit Hall.


Dh and A hiked the fossil trail back to the visitor’s center while the rest of us rode the shuttle bus with Little A who screamed the entire way.  I don’t know if she was worried about not being in her car seat or what, but she could not get off that shuttle fast enough.  C and D worked on their junior ranger badge workbooks while we waited and did enough to get their badges!


Then we set off to see more of the monument, which I don’t think I’ve ever done.  All I remember is going to see the dinosaur bones.  Along the way we saw some petroglyphs and then had lunch by the Green River.




After lunch the boys wanted to do another hike.  DH said he’d stay and watch Little A so I could go too, but E didn’t last very long.  Well, long enough that we were well past where DH could see us.  The hike was a loop so we sent his brothers off on the trail by themselves and waited awhile where it looped back around, but then E wanted to go clear back to Daddy.  So I just hoped his three brothers would be fine out there alone (at least there were three of them together, right?!) and we hiked back to the car.  DH started to worry about how long it was taking the others but by the time he decided to go meet them, they were back. Murphy’s Law, right?

They were so exhausted and hot!  It was actually really nice weather while we were out there, but it’s still the desert in the summer.  A was ready to be done for the day, but we decided to drive the rest of the Cub Creek Area road.

Part of Split Mountain:


Turtle Rock:


There was more to see, but Utah is too wide for my camera.  After drinking enough water and sitting in the car with the air conditioning cranked up, the boys revived and so we got out at the end of the road to see the Josie Morris cabin.  Josie settled there in 1914 and lived by herself way out there until the 1960s when she was 89.  I can’t even imagine!

Her cabin is empty, but we looked around inside, then hiked the Box Canyon trail where she would pasture her cows.  It was quite shaded and really nice with a breeze blowing.





That’s D way out there in the grass so you can get an idea of the size of the canyon’s rock walls!




I had really wanted to get over to the Colorado side of the Monument, but everyone was tired.  Little A was asleep in the car, so we headed back to our hotel for a nice swim before dinner.

Part 2 to come . . .

Mini-vacation #2

August 3, 2015


People will think all we do this summer is hike to waterfalls.  But Daddy was with us on this one and it also involved a small forest fire. . . so this one was different!

My parents invited us to their ward pool party on Friday night, so we went down on Wednesday as usual for Thursday cello lessons, then stayed over one more night.  The boys wanted to sleep outside, so we brought the tent and all the sleeping bags for an extra layer of fun.  Daddy caught a ride down late Thursday night so we could spend Friday all together.

E decided he didn’t want to sleep outside after all Wednesday night, but decided to brave it on Thursday , and only froze “a little bit.”  They were all dressed for summer, but Grandma’s house gets a really nice canyon breeze at night and the weather was a little cooler than usual in July.  I thought it felt wonderful, but they were a little chilly.  We had plenty of extra blankets though and they had fun in the tent.

Little A really wanted to sleep outside too, but I was pretty sure that was a bad idea.  She played outside in the dirt for a very long time though Thursday night and had a grand time.

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She was absolutely filthy at the end of it and had a nice bath and went to sleep almost before 8:00 for the first time in ages.  She’s teething molars at the moment and sleep has been . . . sporatic at best.  I joined A, C, Grandma, and Poppa in a rousing game of Quiddler.  Grandma won, which I hear she does frequently.

On Friday we decided to take the kids hiking since we missed out on hiking club this week due to coughs, colds, and snotty noses.  We headed up the canyon just a couple miles, came around a bend, and there were six cars or so pulled over and people were out beating a small wildfire that had started on the side of the road.  DH pulled over and jumped out, grabbed two blankets we keep in our car, and started helping wet them down and beat at the grass. The fire was almost out, then whoosh!  The wind picked up and blew it in a new direction and it suddenly went out of control.  There was nothing more to do but watch, and wait for the fire department to show up.

And take pictures, naturally.

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It started by the bush at the very right side of this photo.  It was really quite terrifying how quickly it spread through the dry grass.

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Then we continued on our way to the Grotto Trail.  I’ve never seen so many people there before!  Of course we usually hike it in the fall in the middle of a school day and have the trail to ourselves.  It’s a fairly short hike, maybe 1/3 mile, but longer than probably any hike we’ve done this summer.  Little A walked it almost entirely by herself holding Daddy’s hand.  When we reached the waterfall, the boys all wanted to take a trail that would lead them above the falls, so DH went with them and I played with Little A in the water below.



C and D waving at us from up above:


On our way back down the canyon we checked on the fire which looked to be out, but was still being watched for hot spots as the firefighters dowsed all the surrounding trees and grass.  What an adventure!

After lunch A and D had piano lessons that Poppa hadn’t had time for on Thursday, then we went out for ice cream together.

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I bought a box of pick-up sticks which the boys had never played before.  A’s competitive nature kicked in as we played a few rounds back at home.  Then we moved on to Rummi-kub before needing to leave for dinner and the pool party.

It was nice to have DH completely off.  He has worked an incredible amount of overtime in the past couple of weeks and we’ve needed some downtime.  It’s always good to spend time with Grandma and Poppa as well (more than flying in, teaching cello lessons all day, and going back home again.)

It would be lovely to go on a long vacation again; we had talked about going back east to visit the other grandparents this year, but we’ll have to settle for some short vacations until we get this house sold.

**Mini-vacation #1 photos forthcoming…

Hidden Falls

July 28, 2015

Thank goodness for hiking club; we’re getting to know all kinds of new places we haven’t explored before.  Two weeks ago we met up with three other families and hiked to Hidden Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, though it wasn’t much of a hike.  It’s just a few hundred feet off the road–the canyon road in the middle of a curve that you must park on one side of and cross to the other safely with all small children in tow.

Beautiful scenery, scary road crossing–



Whew!  We made it!



Though short, this was actually a hard hike.  The trail just ends and if you want to get to the waterfall, you have to go through the water, while holding an 18-month-old!  Little A did not want to get down in the water this day.  She wanted to be held and it was tough going on the slippery rocks.

The spray from the falls felt good though, once we made it.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA D in front of an abandoned mine tunnel:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Looking down into the tunnel: (I’m really glad we didn’t have to go in there!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Now Little A wants to play, now that it’s time to go home!



We have hiking club again this Wednesday, but almost everybody here has head colds and/or allergies, so we’ll see.


July 14, 2015

One of my blogging friends was in town this past week for a baby blessing, so she invited us to get together to do some geocaching, which is basically a giant world treasure hunt by GPS.  A was at youth conference (which I completely forgot about until Sunday when he came home from church and said, “We’re leaving tomorrow at 11:30.”  And I said, “Leaving for where??”) but the rest of us met up at Mueller Park in Bountiful.  We had a hard time getting a gps signal in the canyon so we never did find the cache we were looking for, but the kids all had a glorious time anyway hiking on the trail, and through the trees, and in the creek.  Even Little A wanted down to play in the water, and was thoroughly wet through by the time we left.     I need to remind E not to wear green when we go hiking.  I had a very hard time keeping track of him in the trees, especially when he decided to hike on ahead of us all on his own.  I just can’t seem to impress upon him the importance of sticking with the group at all times. After we got home, the boys wanted me to find out more about geocaching, so we got on the website and downloaded the app, and were amazed at the number of caches hidden all over our city.  There was even one on our church property, so we walked down the block and found our very first geocache.  I think we’ve found a new hobby.


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