Sunday, April 21, 2013


My TWS is finished and sent in!  It's like the huge project that everyone has to do to graduate and it's done, done, done!  Can you tell I'm excited?  I wanted to work on it gradually and it totally didn't happen.  Funnily enough, I wanted to be able to give my kids the attention they needed.  I managed to do that today, even when it was crunch time and the only reason I could was because Scott was there to help with the kids and then my sisters came and got most of the kids, so Scott, Josh and I went out and took a break and then my parents fed us.  My family is GREAT!  My sister gave (Gave!  She's so awesome! And I'm so grateful!) us the money we need to pay bills and get gas (you know, the important things)!  So sweet!  It was such a relief for me that I just sobbed afterwards!  I had no idea how I was going to pay the bills!  I'm so ready to start applying for jobs, and can't, because I'm waiting on another reference letter.  I hope I get it soon, but I really don't want to bug anyone for a reference letter.  It might not turn out well!
On to my kiddos!  I'm pretty sure Josh is getting another tooth in, but he's doing well with it.  He's pulling himself up without a problem and starting to walk with a little help.  He cruises on the edges of things and can stand for a few seconds on his own.  It won't be long!  Although I'm desperately hoping I get to see it!  Cecilia is adorable with her curly-haired self.  She is getting awesome at talking and will talk in full sentences!  I'm excited, because the last couple of girls didn't talk well until much later!  Apparently Cecilia doesn't want Kira talking for her.  She's all about electronics and Elmo!  She will gladly tell us her happy thing every night and it's usually Elmo!
Leah is such a Daddy's Girl!  It's cute, but sometimes I feel bad for poor Scott!  She wants to snuggle with him, sleep with him, get piggyback rides from him...  She's such a snuggly little girl!  She's getting a lot more independent and I'm looking forward to when she can buckle her seatbelt by herself!  She's getting there!
Emma desperately wants to be noticed and is quite the artist.  She is all about quantity, and I have a TON of cute drawings from EMMA WESTHOFF to Mommy WESTHOFF.  She still writes in caps.  I'm working on it.
Kira is loving being nine!  She's getting awesome at doing her chore and getting her homework done, so she can watch something on netflix.  She also loves doing extra chores, so she can pick a prize from the box.  She and Emma both got miss Quiet time to spend time with a parent today.  So, they got watermelon and got to play outside!  Very happy campers!
Ben loves to read and especially loves Dino Squad!  He was thrilled when we found it on Netflix!  I'm not looking forward to the day that he runs out of episodes!  He is expensive to keep in books, but luckily he has rediscovered some books in our garage bookshelf and is a pretty happy camper!  Phew!
 After Emma threw two skeeballs into the other lane!
 Isn't she pretty?

 He just turns and cheeses, no problem!
We've been doing this for years.  It is one of our traditions!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A whole lot scared

Here I am a month from finally graduating and I'm a whole lot scared!  I've been in school (off and on) for 12 years.  That's two years for every kiddo.  We've never had enough money, although family, friends and our Church have helped us to get bills paid.  A lot.  I would love for us to be making enough to not be in a poverty bracket!    Sometimes I almost cry when I see all that my friends are doing.  They're going cool places and they're able to go out and do fun things without worrying (or expressing worry).  Some save money in order to do cool things (which I think is awesome).  We have the requisite $5 in our Savings in order to keep it open.  Their kids are in Sports, dance/music classes. My kids watch Netflix.  I'm happy for them (especially knowing all they had to go through to get to that point), and I wonder if we will get to that point.  Where we can take our whole family to Disneyworld/Disneyland.  I was a teenager when I went, and I went to EuroDisney/ Disneyland Paris.  I went once on a school trip and once with my family by saving gas  stamps.  We slept in our van at a gas station and drove a loooong time.  Super fun memory!  We got tickets for one day.  I'm not sure why we don't have pictures.  Strange.  We have pictures of the Eiffel Tower.
But, even as I work super hard to be an awesome teacher, without sleeping enough (ever), I've still got that niggling doubt that I can't leave my kids in order to work.  I'll have to find someone great to watch them, because Scott will possibly have an awesome job for him (an Interpreter position at an elementary school).  I haven't done well at getting my preschooler in preschool.  Technically my toddler could even be in Early Headstart.  I am not as willing to give my kids over to someone I don't know.  I have loved knowing my kids were with someone I trusted.  Family.  Then there's the crazy expense.  CRAZY!  It might be completely awesome for my kiddos though.  It's hard for me to imagine having enough money to pay for someone to watch my kiddos plus pay student loans and bills.  It's possible, right?  Even on a teacher's salary?  I remember looking at what nannies were charging and thinking, "Yikes!"  They want to make more than what my husband will make.  Per kid.  I think it's crazy ridiculous.  Especially since they'll be at my house using all of my supplies.  Maybe I'm just undercharging them?  Or they're overvaluing themselves?  I can't imagine getting a teacher's degree and then thinking I should charge one family like I was a teacher.  Anyway.  I've got a lot of worries, so I've had a hard time putting them aside and really put my all into teaching.  I have people telling me how awesome I'm doing, and I feel guilty, because I know I could be doing so much better!
Anyway, enough rambling.  I love my kids and I love teaching!  It's finding the happy medium right now when all of my kids are not in school!  It's being prepared enough that I don't think I'm doing everything last minute.  It's not having so much stress at home that I could scream.  Or having enough energy to get my house clean and do lesson planning.  Yes.  It's being able to read to my kids at night with their rooms being clean.  It's being able to craft (at least once a month) and make something fun, so the girls remember I love them. It's spending one-on-one time with each of my kiddos, so they know the real reason I'm doing all of this is for them.  It's paying the bills I can and praying that the rest don't get too mad while they wait.  One of my friends is in the same boat, except her husband still isn't making money.  She's stuck at home all day everyday.  I feel for her!  I want to help her out too!  So many thoughts.  So little time.  I need to work on time management.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Return of the Mystic Gray Book Bash

This is the second book in the Crater Lake series.  I LOVED the first book (that I borrowed from a friend) , so I was incredibly excited when the author emailed me to review the second book!

Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
First of all, you HAVE to read Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island.  It's the first book and essential for understanding the second book.  Here is the link to the Goodreads page for it.  I loved it and gave it five stars!  

About Steve Westover (from his website)

"My wife and I have lived in small town, rural Missouri for 12 years and have 4 entertaining and wonderful childrenm, but I never expected to be living on a farm with chickens, cows, kittens and a dog. I don't particularly enjoy animals, but I do appreciate them for their utility... and the kids love 'em.

When I'm not writing my life revolves around spending time with my family and serving in our church. Being a father and a husband are the most important things I can concentrate my time on and I enjoy it.

I have always enjoyed writing, but I had never even considered writing a novel until one morning I woke up with the idea for some characters in my mind. I was curious if I could write a book so I thought I'd give it a shot as an experiment.

After a long process of writing, nearly giving up mid-way through, editing, shopping for a publisher, changing the title and editing some more, my first book,Defensive Tactics, was published through Cedar Fort on the Bonneville Books imprint,  in August 2010. The sequel, Gold Clash has a release date of December 2012.

My second book, Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island is a youth/fantasy book written with my oldest daughter and son in mind. They are avid readers who turned me on to books like Fablehaven and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which I really enjoy. So, as a father trying to please his children, I wrote Crater Lake for them.
Good question. I have a lot of work to do. It should come out next year around the same time. It will be the culminating battle between Chief Llao & Chief Skell and all their minions, of course including the kids heroic efforts. There will be reunions with family but maybe a little sadness as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out:)
Crater Lake: Battle For Wizard Island is book 1 in a series of 3. Book 2, Return of the Mystic Gray, is being released in April 2013.

Book 1 of my new Young Adult dystopian series will be released in September 2013. Book 1 is called, A Nothing Named Silas.

LIKE and Follow my Facebook fan pages for Gold ClashDefensive Tactics, andCrater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island

You can also follow me on Twitter @StevenWestover

I asked him when the next book should be out and he said:
Good question. I have a lot of work to do. It should come out next year around the same time. It will be the culminating battle between Chief Llao & Chief Skell and all their minions, of course including the kids heroic efforts. There will be reunions with family but maybe a little sadness as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out:)

Me too!  Me too!
Return of the Mystic Gray by Steve Westover

About Return of the Mystic Gray by Steve Westover

I will have to give this one five stars as well!  I felt like it was cut short, but that is probably due to the fact that there will be a third book.  The good news is that he published the first book in July and is already putting out the second one, before a year is up.  I have high hopes the third book won't be terribly long in coming!  
What I liked:
-how we see things from different characters' Point-of-view!  It's not confusing, because you can easily tell the difference between their thoughts and actions!
-how they have to make hard choices, a lot
-the amount of characters is great, not too few that you're concerned for their ability to conquer and not so many that it seems overwhelming
(I'm trying super hard to not give anything away!)
-the amount of action.  There was plenty of talking versus fighting.  It wasn't all fighting (and I desperately hope the next one isn't either.  I'm hoping for an afterword with plenty of tied up loose ends.)
-the lack of romance!  I really think middle graders don't need romance!
-You-know-who(s) gets saved/are alive
-We really know who the good and bad guys are!  They're defined in this book!

What wasn't my favorite:
-that bad things had to happen in order to get them where they went.
-that they felt like the friends were their only family
-that there was so much conflict!
-that they don't try to contact their family.  What's up with that?

Either way, the favorites way outnumber the not-favorites, so it's still a five star read!

You can buy it on Amazon for $11.69!  And here's the link for buying the first book (it's even got a Kindle version)

Sunday, April 7, 2013


We've had a super hard time adjusting from Spring Break to back to normal.  And it was only a week!  I wasn't getting enough sleep and still not getting everything done!  Josh got croup on Thursday night, so we went to the ER after midnight.  I had to miss school the next day, which was super hard on me.  I desperately wanted to not miss any days of school/teaching, but my baby was sick (and didn't sleep much).  Luckily it was only a couple day thing, and it turned into a runny nose and regular cough!  Phew!  I really don't like when my kids are sick!  I'm a worrywart!

Let the countdown begin!

I LOVE being a student teacher, but I'm counting down to graduation!  I graduate on May 12th!  I'm super excited!  I've already bought my graduation gown (it was $5 at the Thrift Store)!  And I ordered my cap, tassel and honor cords (because I have good enough grades)!  I won't be sending out graduation announcements or anything (it was $70 for just 25), but it doesn't take away from my excitement of finally graduating!  It's been a long twelve year journey and I'm so incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped me make it this far!  I wouldn't be almost done if it weren't for the many times my family and awesome friends were able to help me out (sometimes last minute)!  Having six kiddos is hard in general, but there's no way I would be graduating and be a mom without all the help!  I know that Heavenly Father has blessed us immensely as we have went to school and I have no doubts that we have tried to do His will and that he'll help me/us get the job(s) that we need!  My kiddos have had to take a back burner some days and put up with a lot of easy dinners (sometimes late) and help out more with chores.  They help me out (sometimes) and I'm so glad that I'm able to show them how important getting an education really is!  Now, here's hoping I'm able to get a job quickly, so we can start paying off mounting bills!
I LOVE all of the cool teaching blogs that give me great ideas and templates (etc) and right now there's a huge link up here.
In the meantime, I try to do something really fun with my kids at least once a month (I already told you my poor kids had a back burner) and some months have more fun things than others!  Last month was a fantastic month for them!  This month, so far, they have got to hang out with lots of cousins, see baby ladybugs, and fly kites.  They were excited!
The bad news is that our washer isn't spinning again and Scott's car battery died.  
The good news is that my dad kindly paid for a new battery!  Then my sisters were kind enough to take most of our kids!  I got to sleep in this morning, which was awesome after the 4:30 wake up.  I'm full-time teaching and loving it!  I have an awesome mentor (just like last semester)!  My principal observed me a month (or so) ago and when we conferenced on Friday, she said I did really well!  Phew!  And I'm getting better all of the time!  At least, I'd like to think so!