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How To Host An Amazing Home School Grad Party

Analaea and Brock grad

The last song had just been played at our yearly family Masquerade Ball and I had started cleaning when another home school mom approached me.  Her son was the same age as my oldest, and like my eldest was home schooled.  She asked me what I was going to be doing for my son for Grad.

I had never really thought about Grad for my kids.  Both my husband and I went to public school, and both of us decided to skip out on our own prom and so I have to admit that the thought of a Grad for my home schooled kids never really crossed my mind.

talia analaea cotton candy grad

I told my friend that I didn’t know, but if she was interested in doing something I was all in.

After contacting a few other mom’s who’s kids were graduating a date was decided, assignments were made and our first Home School Grad was on it’s way to becoming a reality.

Mom's eating grad

I wasn’t sure how the event would turn out considering the fact that I have never attended a Home School Prom, and in truth, when I researched it I did not come up with any inspiring idea’s.

Gratefully the whole evening was a smashing success.  The decorations totally rocked, the banquet was stellar, the dance hilariously fun and in short, everyone had a blast.  Now that I have already done a Home School Prom, I am totally going to do them for each of my kids!

Grad 2017

Here are some things I learned about doing our Home School Prom and hope to remember the next times I do one (which with my family of 11 may be often).

First, gather a committee.  I have found, after putting on a ton of events that the best success happens when you have a group of dedicated helpers.  The best helpers are those who care the most, which in this case was the mothers of the graduating kids.

In our group of kids we have a few long-time home schoolers who went to highschool for their last year.  Because these were kids who were important to me and to my kids, I approached their mothers about helping us do a Grad Party.  All of them were thrilled to be a part of the event.

little girls grad photo

Next we asked the kids what they wanted, after all, the party is for them and all about them.  Almost all the kids requested that there be no speeches, that their specific names to not be on the invitations, and to not call the event a “Prom”.  Being home schooled was not a label our kids wanted to parade around in.  They have worked hard over the past years to grow confidently in our community and have their friends and neighbors see them as people and and a educational choice.  I totally got it, and was pleased that they all could articulate their needs so clearly.

Ethan grad invite

Then we discussed our budget (every mom being able to contribute a different amount depending on their situation), broke up the event into area’s for each mom to be in charge of and put a mom in charge of each of those assignments.

In our group, when we divide up assignments, we do not expect those who are in charge of an area to do everything.  We all just expect a person to be in charge of organizing and delegating mini-assignments to others.  From putting on numerous events, I have found this to be the easiest way to manage the whole thing.  When we all have our own area of responsibility but are willing to help in the other area’s it just helps make the whole thing work better.

Moms in the kitchen grad

The different assignments were food, decorations, invitations, music, booking the place and planning games and prizes.

After dividing up the assignments we had to pick a date.  Since my sister, who’s daughter was being honored as well, was leaving in April, we choose to do our party early, before she left.  This worked out great because it did not conflict with the local high school’s grad and was completely an unexpected party for the kids.  I will definitely pick a date in the future that is before all the other schools proms.

grad group

Next we made a guest list.  You need at least 28 people to have a fun dance.  We did not have 28 home school seniors.  We did not even have 28 home school kids in our area who were fourteen or older so we invited kids from public school.  This worked great because in our daily lives we don’t normally categorize people into ‘public school and home school” groups.  We just like people in general and have always had a ton of friends who have all sorts of different educational and life philosophies.  This is something our family feels is very important and so it was natural that our kids were allowed to invite friends they knew from other churches, soccer, drama class and next door.  Finding 28 people to come was easy and we would have invited more if we could have afforded the cost.  We couldn’t and so we stuck to 28 for the dinner and made it clear that others were invited to the dance if they wanted.

group grad

We made sure that the invitations said that the event was a formal event.  This was super fun.  My girls were so excited to go and buy a used 20.00 prom dress.  They all choose dresses that were definitely fit for prom, but could be used on other occasions, like a special dinner or date.  It was fun shopping with them, hearing them giggle and not feeling the pressure of purchasing a dress that was 100 dollars or more.

grad cotton candy and kids

I got the “booking the facility and planning games and prizes”!  My budget was a bit tight but I luckily had a bunch of left over fancy chocolates and candy from my Candy Store and was able to bring those. For the facility, I just found the smallest church gym I could find and booked it.  The cost was free.  I also brought my cotton candy machine which the kids loved (and looked great for the pictures).

patrick and date grad

The decorations were amazing.  One of the mom’s had a friend who decorated weddings as side business and she volunteered to do the kid’s prom.  It was amazing!!  The kids were totally blown away when they walked in the gym and saw it transformed into a magical wonderland.  We all helped her decorate and take down the decorations after the dance, even so, it took us about 8 hours to transform the room.  The decorator even had a 2017 banner for the kids to take pictures by.

grad dessert

The food was the crowning part of the evening.  The mom in charge was incredible!  She arranged with her husband to have BBQ’s at the church and they BBQ’d the most divine steaks for each of the kids, with fancy veggies and salad.  The cost for the food, for about 35 people (mom’s and helpers got to eat) came to about 500.00 . This was our biggest expense but it fit within our budget so was worth it.  The kids were so impressed.  Even at the high school proms they don’t get fed that well.  It was a ton of work.  The kitchen was a swarm of activity with mom’s, siblings, and helpers working fast to make sure everything was perfect.  Depending on the budget in the future steak likely won’t be on the menu, but since it was, we enjoyed every flavorful bite.

grad food

The activities I planned were okay.  We had told the kids that if they dressed up as a famous couple the best costume would win a big prize.  There were four couples who took up the challenge and had to be judged.  We called the couples up, asked them questions, made them dance and all choose a winner.  One of the couples was really a three person group “Larry, Curly and Moe”.  They did a dance for us and everyone was dying laughing.  I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun the kids had with this activity.

laea and talia grad

After the judging, (which happened just as dinner was ending), we got all the graduates to come to the front.  In this invitation we included all our kids friends who were graduating in one form or another that year.  There were about 8 kids who were graduating and each of them were given a huge round of applause and a box of delicious fancy chocolates in a golden box.  The kids just soaked in the attention!

gabs lily brittney grad

We had a few more games and then the dance.  I was worried about the dance because there were only about 40 kids (a group showed up just for the dance) but it was a blast.  The kids stayed to the very end (11:00pm) and just enjoyed the whole thing.  The dance music definitely needs to be improved in the future and at future grad parties I will look for some more dance games because they make everything so fun.

grad brock and date

At the last minute I got one of my sisters to be the designated photographer.  This was a great idea.

 

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Our Move

After 9 years of living in one area, our family has decided to move.  A lot of things lead up to this move, and even though I feel good about the move, it is hard.

Sunflower Sunday 2014 no liam or simon or violet or robyn
Sunflower Sunday Before Our Adopted Kids

When Steven and I decided to become the Private Guardians of a sibling group of 4, we knew our lives would never be the same.  It hasn’t been, but it has been infinitely more fulfilling than we could ever imagine.  It has been almost 2 years since they have come to our family and what a delightful two years it has been.  The hardest thing that we have had to deal with thus far is political.  We were initially told it would take a year to make the Private Guardianship final.  We still are waiting for this to happen.  It is frustrating and hard on the family, but we are hopeful that we will finally be over that hoop by the end of this year.

 

kamilah dancingOur new home is just outside a very large city.  We are on an acreage, but there are houses all around us.  Thankfully there are trees in our backyard, something I have missed incredibly.  The kids are delighted.  They go for walks every day that the winter weather allows them to.  We were hoping our trees were birch so we could tap them for birch water, but our landlord says they are poplars not birch.  What ever they are, they are gorgeous and we can’t wait to see them covered in leaves.

drive to our new house

Living in a rental after owning a home for nearly 10 years is strange.  I have way more time on my hands that I can remember having for ages.  There are no renovations to do (something we have been doing solid for the last two years as we try to make our home fit our expanded family-size).  We only brought up the simplest of furniture because we are making our farm home as a vacation rental this summer. There isn’t much laundry, no neighbors dropping by, no animals to care for except our dogs, and few social activities to plan or be invited to.  It is very strange.

benji and ca

We have called this home our “Winter Cabin” to romanticize this move.  It is very difficult for my oldest daughter, but the other kids seem to have adjusted well.  We light the fire every day, we tell stories, play board games, learn dances, cook, and spend hours on school.  It is wonderful to watch the kids play so well together, not being distracted by peers.  It is great to be that parent that actually has time to spend hours playing with her kids.  I feel like I was forced into retirement early and am just adjusting to the slower pace.  My oldest just got his first non-family job at A&W!!!

ethan at a&w

Steve is loving his job.  He has sacrificed his career for so many years in order to provide a home for his family in a place that was best for him.  Many times he had flirted with us moving so he could ‘advance’ in his field.  He never has because the life on ‘The Land’ was so beautiful that no amount of money was worth moving us away from there.  The kids are older, and the timing was right for this move.  I am grateful to see how much he is enjoying his work.  I love him so much.  He is such a wonderful person.  I have to admit that having him gone all day has been very hard for me to get used to.  He really is my best friend, and I have loved that he has been able to work from home for so many years.

 

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Best 12 days ever!!

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. We are doing the most exciting project of the year, and I just have to tell you about it!!! Full details can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/best12daysever

But the gist of the project is this. We have found a couple who is astounding in their goodness and we want to suprise them with the most spectacular christmas of their lives. The lady has been living with MS in a a not very wheelchair friendly house and we want that to change! So we are going to do major renos on the house each day of the 12 days of Christmas! What do you think? Will this be the #Best12daysever ?!!!

Day 3 Kitchen
Day 3 Kitchen
Day 4 Father-law-suit
Day 4 Father-law-suit
Day 5 Doorways
Day 5 Doorways
Day 7 Deck
Day 7 Deck
Day 8 Heating
Day 8 Heating
Day 9 Laundry
Day 9 Laundry
Day 10 Fans
Day 10 Fans
Day 11 Garage
Day 11 Garage
Day 12 Decorate #Best12DaysEver
Day 12 Decorate #Best12DaysEver

BEST12DAYs

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12 Best Days Ever!!

My kids are involved in doing the 12 days of Christmas for neighbor.  They picked this couple because this couple have been so kind to the kids.  Here is the beginning of the campaign. . .

best12daysever
bearsbest12daysever

day12 day11 day9 day8

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Day One-The Bombs Are Falling

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My kids have been preparing for our latest ‘experiment’ for the last month.  My younger kids are excited, but the two older ones are not too impressed.  They do not think it will be fun and let me know that often.  I am not going to make them participate if they don’t want to.  It makes it so much less fun when you have complainers.  I haven’t told them that I am letting them off the hook, tomorrow they will find out.  Steve too is not enthused about this ‘experiment’.  I think he thinks I am weird 🙂  Took him long enough to find that out.

blindfolded blog
Today during FHE, unbeknownst to Steve and the three oldest, I had a surprise planned.  I told the littles because I didn’t want them to be scared.  They were so excited to have a ‘secret’ from the big kids.  First I blindfolded Steve and the three big kids.  I had the Proffitts over to video tape.  I told those blindfolded that each of the little kids were their ‘guide’ to a special place.  They had to listen to their guide and under no circumstances could they take off their blindfolds.
As soon as the four of them were in the living room I pressed play.  I had created a huge list of bombs going off, firecrackers, glass smashing and other loud noises.  I got some of the neighbor kids to come and yell, sprinkle water in their faces and shake the ground.  Then I yelled for everyone to get down “NOW”.  They did and removed their blindfolds (after I told them they could).  It was then I told them that the bombs had blown up all the roads and for at least one year there would be no buying groceries.  Their looks were priceless.  The little kids were giggling but the older (including Steve) were unimpressed.  I got everyone to go collect all the money they could find.  If the trucks ever did stop coming to town because of a disaster, the stores have about 3 days worth of food.  I told them that we needed to spend the next day taking inventory, and after dividing it in 12 portions (for each month) decided what we should go to the store and get.  The total amount we got was 316.  That included everyone’s savings (my 11 year old cried when he donated his money) except my 15 year old.  He swore he would not do it, said his life was over, told me that I was torturing him ect. . .  He had just got 100 dollars from his aunty and the idea of giving it up was more than he could bare. Finally we made a deal.  If he gave us his money, then I would split any money we had left with the three oldest kids (because they all put in 80-100 dollars each).  The idea that he could Make money won him over and he finally put it in.
We ended the evening watching the first half of Sound of Music.
Emergency Preparedness, Family Fun, Food, One Month Without Groceries

So Much For Preparation. . .

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I was planning on starting our ‘No groceries” experiment in October.  I was waiting for our chickens to start laying and for us to butcher the roosters.  Unfortunately our neighbours dog got in the pen recently and killed 50 of our chickens.  I was devastated.  Those chickens that are left will likely be so traumatized that they won’t be laying for awhile.  Since the weather is nice, I think I am going to try and do the experiment asBaby than planned.  If I can get a chicken coop close to my house made this week, then I think I will go and buy 10 hens that are already laying, and move the rest of the chickens down.  I was really counting on at least having fresh eggs and milk.  Good thing my boys like to fish. . .  Hopefully we will be able to survive. . . .592
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A Month Without Groceries (items sold at a grocery store)


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Every now and then I like to spice my life up trying out new experiments with my kids.  I think my experiments are fun and they add a little extra interest to our daily routine.  My first one was a “Can we go a week without electricity”.  The kids and I loved it, I learned a lot of things but my husband hated it and we had to end it after only 3 days. The kid’s favorite was the ‘junk food’ one where I let them buy all the junk food they wanted (and we never got) for three days.   They got corndogs, chips, pop, candy, white bread, cereal (sugar kind), and a tone of other treats we don’t normally get.  We only lasted a few days on that one because the older two were literally eating themselves sick.  My son (only 9 at the time) was popping stale jelly beans in his mouth at a steady pace as he laid on the couch moaning because he felt so sick.

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My latest experiment is going to be longer than the rest.  For one month we are going to try and see if we can go without groceries.  I am going to try and divide my food storage into twelfths and only eat one twelfths of what we have.  That means if I have 12 cans of pineapple, we would only be able to use one of them.
Three billy goats gruff
Three billy goats gruff
I am excited.  I think it will be really fun.  I had hoped that I would be able to spend the whole summer building up my food storage, raise chickens and plant gardens.  That didn’t happen.  Instead I have spent the whole summer trying to get siding on my house, fix my fences, and put a driveway in.  The only thing I have planted are potato’s and a couple of pumpkins.  I did plant a ton of tomato’s but my son’s goats ate them.  At this rate I am going to end up eating them.  This is going to be very interesting. .
Ponderings, Uncategorized

Family, Excommunication and The LDS Church

Some have said that the recent potential excommunication of Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) and John Dehlin are un-Christlike and should not happen.  They argue that a loving Father would NEVER force his child out of his home.  While I don’t know all the facts about the cases (and either does anyone else since the ONLY information we are getting is from Kate and John) I do know some things about how a family works.

I am a member of a large diverse family. My family (thinking of just my siblings and their spouses) consists of 8 biological children and their spouses and 3 adopted First Nation siblings who happen to LOVE to argue–I mean discuss things passionately.  While we all have the same end goal (to return to our Heavenly Father) we definitely act out those goals differently.

Some of us homeschool, some don’t, some have gone on missions (girls and boys) some have not, some struggle with FASD, and mental illness’s and some don’t, many suffer from clinical depression, many don’t. Some have left the church, and some have never even come close to a ‘crisis of faith’. Some live with pornography and word of wisdom addictions. Some struggled with same-gender attraction. Some are caucasion, First Nation, Hawaiian, and American (I am canadian  ).

Some are unmarried, some are married. Some have been on the brink of divorce, and some have not even seen that as a possibility. ALL have wrestled with what they believe and why (and likely do on a daily basis). Here are some things I have learned in working in this loving, accepting, kind,crazy and incredible environment.

1) God makes all kinds of different people who all have weakness’s and strengths and each one is a gift to us. Our weakness’s and strengths can both be used to uplift and challenge those around us. This is a good thing (they can also bring us down)

2) We are all God’s children and priceless to him and ALWAYS will be, no matter what we do, what we say and what we believe. The Savior cared enough to die for each of us collectively and individually.

3) A family is the best place to make mistakes, to foul up, to learn and to grow. If we don’t feel safe making mistake around those who should love us the most, it makes life a very insecure place to be.

4) All of us make mistakes, from the parents to the child. Oldest to the youngest.

5) It is the relationship that matters most. Who cares if someone has an addiction, leaves the church, is in jail or can’t read. We are all part of each other, what one can or can’t do, did or didn’t do should never trump our relationship. Even if someone is terribly wrong, how can they even imagine to be able to repent, change or grow if we don’t let them know that we care, and that they are infinitely more than their actions.

6) Sometimes it is appropriate to let people just get their ‘natural consequences’.

7) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my families life and it was so painful) it is best for everyone to ‘let go’ of someone who is trying to leave. To admit that as painful as it is for us, we each need to walk our own path of faith-even if we know that the sibling is walking into the lions den unarmed and without much faith (unlike Daniel, much like the prodigical son). On these occasions you need to be sure to be so close and ever aware when the moment of pain is so great that humility is found and your sibling returns. That is NEVER the time to gloat, instead, killing the fatted calf should be expected.

8) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my family, and I was the person who had to do it) you need to prayfully open the door and tell the brother (who already ran away from home and was wanted by the police) that it is time to go, knowing he has no other option but literally camping. Sometimes, the kindest thing is to admit that this place that I call home is really a prison for my brother. Sometimes the only way someone can learn to fly is help lovingly push them out. This could be for their good, or for the good of the other children in their home. If this ever has to happen, I promise you that it is not easy for the one involved to make the choice. It is not done lightly and pride is not usually to cause of this.

9) If you ever do have to have someone leave your home, it should never mean they are not still loved and part of the family. You can still love, support, pray for, be kind to, and help someone who is ‘ex-communicate’ from the protective wall of your home. This is not an ultimatum, it, in some cases is a healing process. In our case it has been an important step to ‘facing reality’, learning important life lessons, and can truly be the most Christ-like option.

10) Lastly, it is so important that other family members, who do not intimately know the details are so careful about judging other and and passing judgement. Out of respect to my brother, I choice not to disclose some personal reasons why I asked him to leave even though I had community members, family members, and even church members not only question my actions, but criticize and malign me. My heart still breaks when ever I think of my poor brother who I adore, snuggled to bed, wiped his tears and had live with me for years.

With these things in mind, I doubt that those who are participating in exploring the possibility of excommunicating Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are doing so lightly.  I am sure their knees have been worn with wear and their hearts full of concern for all who are involved.  Does this mean I support the excommunication?  I don’t know, with the information I have thus far, I am willing to trust in God and humanity to do the right thing (since I have no control or influence in these cases that seems the right thing to do) and try to be careful about passing judgement on anyone who is involved.

My farm, Uncategorized

Our Llamas!! Officially a Farm!!

 

Mama and baby Llama at Aunty Bears Farm
Mama and baby Llama at Aunty Bears Farm

I am delighted to say that I think I am officially a farm!!  To date we have:

5 Dogs, 2 Cats and 13 kittens

Mama and Puppy At Aunty Bears Farm
Mama and Puppy At Aunty Bears Farm

 

2 Cows

62 Chickens

Catching Chicks At Aunty Bears Farm
Catching Chicks At Aunty Bears Farm

3 (for now) Rabbits

6 Sheep

Feeding Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm
Feeding Lambs At Aunty Bears Farm

2 Goats

and as of this week. . .

7 Llamas!!!

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

 

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

I got Llamas because they are edible (so they say-I haven’t tried them yet), cheap to purchase (50 dollars each), and you can graze 4 on the same place you would graze 1 cow (but they give 1/6 the meat).  My son wants to teach them to pull him on a sled and to be pack animals so he can get them to carry his pack when hiking 🙂

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

I am loving life.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

Most of my fences are up.  My dogs are well behaved most of the time.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

My cows get along with my Llamas.

Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm
Llama Farmers at Aunty Bears Farm

My bummer lambs are thriving.  Our goats milk taste yummy so what do I have to complain about?

Sunday Walk at Aunty Bears Farm
Sunday Walk at Aunty Bears Farm

Who cares that my siding isn’t on yet, that I can expect tonnes (literally) of mud to be tracked into my house for the next month, that only 1/3 of my trees survived the winter, that my toilet overflows every day and we can’t seem to fix it ect. . .  For now, for this moment, I am going to relish the little things and magic of being a farmer.

Lady Bugs at Aunty Bears Farm
Lady Bugs at Aunty Bears Farm

I just love working outside and visiting my animals.  The Lord has sure blessed this little piece of heaven!.

 

My farm, Uncategorized

Most Economical Meat To Raise

Wading the Irrigation Ditch at Aunty Bears Farm
Wading the Irrigation Ditch at Aunty Bears Farm

I live on 5 acres, but c0-own another 80 acres with my sisters and sister-friends.  In the past year I have fenced in about 7 acres for my personal use.  I have a fence backyard (about 2 acres), 2 two acres of fenced pasture and a two acre fenced dog run in the front of my house.  I also have a fenced 2 acre pond area (with little kids I had to make sure the pond was fenced).

Red Fox and Black Labs at The Farm
Red Fox and Black Labs at The Farm

With all these fenced area’s complete, I finally have the luxury to buy animals!!!  I am so excited.  It is a much nicer feeling having an area fenced before buying animals vs buying the animals first and frantically trying to fence them in (like we did with our dogs and cows).   Since finances are tight, I am trying to figure out the most economical meat source to raise.

Kissing the Lamb
Kissing the Lamb

My math formula is “cost of purchase + Cost of butcher + cost of packaging / average lbs of meat”. . .  I haven’t taken into consideration the taste of the meat.  Rabbits seem to win because I got the rabbits free and don’t have to pay much for feed.  I got my chicks free as well, but the feed is about 5 dollars a week for 6 months for 30 chicks. . . .

Baby Llama At Aunty Bears Farm
Baby Llama At Aunty Bears Farm
Llama– 30 (purchase) + 75 (butcher) + 78 (processing 100 lbs) / 100 (amount of meat) = 1.30 /lb

Mini Cow– 600 + 75 + 156 \ 300lbs = 2.70/lb
big cow– 1400 + 75 + 312 / 600lbs = 2.98 /lb
sheep–  50 + 50 + 32 / 60 = 2.68 /lb
deer– 0 + 75 + 78 / 150 =1.02 lb
rabbits–20+0= basically free
chickens– 120 (feed 30 chicks 6 months) / 78 lbs (2.6lb meat per 4 lb bird) = 1.53

 

Baby  At Aunty Bears Farm
Baby At Aunty Bears Farm

It seems that raising a few milk goats vs a milk cow would work better for us as well considering the cost of purchase (which is high for both of them) and gestation times.  Unless of course our baby yearling heifers are fertile, and then I would have plenty of milk and the equation would look like this.

300 (purchase and milk replacer cost) +75+312/600=1.14 which is cheaper than my llama.

Mama Llama At Aunty Bears Farm
Mama Llama At Aunty Bears Farm