Weekend Family Fun


We had a mini family vacation this past weekend, in downtown Salt Lake City. Here are the highlights-


We stayed at a hotel near City Creek Center. There were lovely fountains there. We did a little shopping, too.


Early Friday morning, the kids staked us out a spot for the Days of 47 parade. July 24th is a holiday here in Utah. It’s Pioneer Day, a day to celebrate our pioneer ancestors.


Halfway through the parade, Darcie fell asleep!


My baby girl.


Friday night we watched a Bee’s baseball game which ended with an awesome firework show.


On Saturday, we slept in before enjoying brunch at a local restaurant. Then we met up with friends and did some shopping before driving back home. All of this was an early celebration of Darcie’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Darcie Doll!


Nature Day!


Our last official day of Camp Musketeers was on Monday. It was Nature Day! The kids started off by making a craft.



I guess this was more of a recycling craft than a nature craft, but the kids enjoyed turning an empty plain can into something pretty and useful.

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Afterwards, the kids went on a nature scavenger hunt. They each had a list of items to find, such as something bumpy, something they thought was pretty, something soft, something that makes noise, something red, etc. It was fun to see what each child gathered.


Then we loaded up two cars and drove to a little zoo a half hour away.



My favorites animals at this small town zoo were the two reindeer.






It was a bright and sunny afternoon, so after the zoo we went for ice cream.


Now, these cuties are back home with their mommy. It really was a joy to have them with us for ten days.

Weekend Fun


It has been such a joy to have four cousins in our home for the past six days. We told the kids this is summer camp and we’ve been following a routine, complete with yummy meals, story times, morning and night devotionals, with occasional movies in our theater room, crafts and games and a lot of outside play.



Saturday was Minecraft Day! It was the first and only time I allowed the boys to play with their Kindle-Fires. I thought they’d give me an argument about turning in their electronics at the start of camp, but they actually handed them over willingly and they’ve only missed them for a few minutes here and there. They’ve been waking up and playing a board game together in the morning instead of each reaching for his Kindle, and doing his own thing. I love the interaction that is going on as siblings and cousins.

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While the boys played Minecraft, the girls made these adorable sack puppets. There’s an elephant, parrot, frog, cow and lion.

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Saturday evening, the kids toasted hot dogs under the supervision of my oldest son who came home for the weekend. He walked in the door Saturday morning just as we had sat down to homemade waffles, which is a weekend tradition in our family.





On Sunday morning we all dressed up and went to church. The children were so reverent during sacrament meeting! We kept the youngest entertained with her doll, coloring book and Goldfish crackers. After church and a snack of chips and salsa, apple and orange slices, the kids each created a wagon as their Pioneer Day activity. (The last wagon broke down!)

FullSizeRender - CopyWe have really enjoyed having this little honey in our home. I miss having littles so this experience has truly been a blessing for me. I get to enjoy it for three more days.

Weekly Nutshell- Summer Camp Edition


This has been a crazy busy week and it’s not even over yet! We are hosting my sister’s four young children for several days. To make it an extra fun experience for them, we set up Camp Musketeers! Every day has its own fun theme.


On Monday, the day before my nieces and nephews arrived, we got some chores done.


Then we tried out our new fire pit by toasting hot dogs and making smores.


We used Tuesday as a day to settle the kids in. The girls enjoyed some outside play time with chalk.


The littlest one loves our neighbor’s horses!


That night the two oldest boys went fishing with my son’s boy scout troop. My nephew was the only boy to catch a trout!


Which Marcus had to cook as part of his merit badge requirements.


Of course my picky boy wouldn’t try it, but my youngest nephew liked it just fine.


Wednesday officially kicked off Camp Musketeers with Mad Scientist Day. First the boys shot off Marcus’ rocket.


Then they experimented with magnets and made Elephant Toothpaste.


That evening on the way to our city park to run off some energy, we spotted our neighbor’s colorful hot dog stand.


Of course we had to support our neighbor’s new business! Besides, who can pass up bacon-wrapped hot dogs?


Climbing fun.


Thursday was Little Chef Day! The kids formed two teams and each decorated their cake in different kitchens (one upstairs, one downstairs). Team Triple Threat made a strawberry fantasy design.


Dynamite Duo made a beach and ocean design. The judges declared it a tie.


That evening for dinner each child made their own mini pizzas.

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Today (Friday) was Great Outdoors Day. We spent a good part of the day at an awesome park we recently discovered. The weather was perfect, only in the 70’s.

Canyon Fun


One thing I have to give Utah, it has beautiful canyons that make for lovely drives and scenic picnic stops.




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Curriculum Finds- Music Appreciation


I have always wanted to include music appreciation in our homeschool, but until now we have only skimmed over the topic. Mostly we’ve made homemade instruments and we did see The Nutcracker a few years ago, plus recently we enjoyed five Broadway musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera.

So I am excited for this upcoming Happy Hearts year because we are going to formally include a music curriculum for the first time. In fact, it just arrived yesterday on my doorstep. I was probably more excited than the kids to open the box and examine its contents.


After researching and reading reviews, I chose Maestro Classics Stories in Music. These are children’s stories, such as, Peter and the Wolf, The Tortoise and the Hare, and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, brought to life through classical music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. As an added bonus, each CD comes with a CD-size activity booklet, featuring tidbits about the composer and the instruments. After some deliberation I decided to splurge and order the entire twelve story collection. So far, I have no regrets. I am sure we’ll be very happy with this set.

Music Appreciation

I could’ve chosen another popular curriculum choice- Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades, by Elisabeth Tanner and Judy Wilcox, which I’ve read also works well for middle school ages, but the Maestro Classics appealed to me more.


I did purchase, however, this little gem. I acquired it before I discovered Maestro Classics, but we have already begun to use it and it’s actually a neat book. The Story of the Orchestra, by Robert Levine, is a handy book for introducing four music eras and fifteen famous composers to children, as well as giving tidbits about several orchestra instruments. It includes a CD which features classical selections by each composer.


And then there is a series written and illustrated by Mike Venezia, entitled, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers. There are fourteen little books altogether. We have only purchased The Beatles so far, just to check it out. It’s a quick read, but packed full of fascinating history, real photographs and fun cartoons. With this curriculum you’d have to find music selections yourself, but the books are fairly inexpensive, usually less than $7.00 each.


If you don’t have the budget for a music curriculum, check out these freebies-

52composers.com features nifty composer profile pages.

Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool includes free music studies. (Just scroll down until you see her music offerings in the column on the right).

What music curriculum have you used in your homeschool? I’d love to hear all about it in my comment section. 🙂

Weekly Nutshell


This counts for two weeks worth of highlights in a nutshell. 😉 Marcus spent all of the last (full) week of June at a boy scout camp in Idaho. While he was having all sorts of scouting fun, Marissa-girl spent three days at a stake youth conference held at the University of Utah.


I ended up on the food committee and delivered lunch to Marissa and the rest of the youth and leaders last Wednesday. I brought 300 sandwiches, cookies, chips and bottled water on ice, all packed in the back of my little SUV. Later that afternoon my sunglasses fell into a toilet! So I have bid farewell to those particular sunglasses, ha ha.


Marissa visited the state capital during youth conference.


The grand staircase in the state capital.



Fast forward to this past holiday weekend. On Friday, David took the kids to Cascade Springs while I spent some time with a close friend of mine at Lava Hot Springs. (That’s kind of funny when I think about it!).



On the evening of the 4th, we found a spot to sit and watch the annual cruising parade. We saw a lot of vintage/classic cars.




In case you’re wondering, yes, we did finally start our Around the World in 80 Days geography unit. More on that to come. It was good to have David home this weekend. Now the kids and I need to prepare our house for a major upcoming event! We’re taking care of my sister’s young children for eight days in mid-July. We are going to treat that time like a camp, with themed days and lots of hands-on activities. Meanwhile, stay tuned for my planning post for Happy Hearts’ seventh homeschooling year. I’ve ordered a wonderful music curriculum that I’m really excited about. 🙂