My Tech High Reimbursement Tracker 2.0

My original tracker is still up and running and updated to reflect current budget amounts as of 29 July 2020, if you’d prefer to use that one, or want to understand more about My Tech High and the history of this tracker click here.

I have been maintaining this tracker for a couple years now and I’ve been so happy to see it help so many people! This year as My Tech High announced funding increases for their students I decided it was time to update my reimbursement tracker too. I started by just updating the formulas to reflect the new amounts. I tried to convince myself I was done then… but then I spent a week totally revamping the whole process and basically rebuilding the whole thing. So let me tell you what’s new and how to use it 🙂

New Features

  • Multiple Students in One Workbook: This was by far and away the biggest add. You can now manage the schedules and budgets for all of your students in one workbook (assuming you have less than 20 students, if you have more than 20 students then I really hope you have better organization skills than I do and heaven bless you!)
  • Budgets Categorized by Class instead of Budget Block: Maybe no one else ran into this but it would bother me all the time. In my old workbook all expenses were matched up with their budget block. So if you had a combined custom core for Math/English/Science that was one category. This was fine unless you changed your Science class from being custom built to being 3rd party. Then you’d have to go in and change all of your expenses to be associated either with this new 3rd party science class or with the new “Custom Core – Math, English” category. Now you simply select the subject the expense is associated with and it will follow that subject into whatever bucket you have it in at the time.
  • Custom Formatting: This may not have been the most important, but it was the most satisfying part of the process! I’ve changed the font to be a little prettier, added lots of color coding and generally made the whole thing more visually pleasing.

So let’s jump in to how to use it. If you don’t want to read through all of this I’ve made a little video tutorial that you can watch that shows you all of the steps.

The first thing you need to do is make a COPY of my spreadsheet. I frequently get edit requests for the master spreadsheet from people who miss that step, and then you have to wait until I see the email and respond to it… and I will tell you to make a copy 😛  So save yourself some time and don’t skip that step! Ok, here’s the link to the Google Sheet- MTH Reimbursement Tracker 2.0.  Let’s start with how to make your own copy.  To do this you go to File->Make a copy…

After you do that a box will pop up asking for a name for this document.  I usually name it something like “MTH [school year] so that I don’t my workbooks mixed up in future years.

Once you click OK your copy will pop up and you’re ready to begin filling it out.  I’ve tried to lock as many of the ranges that you shouldn’t be changing as possible so you don’t accidentally mess up something that you won’t be able to fix, so if you get a warning box saying not to change something – please try to heed it! The first thing you will do is enter your students’ names and grades in the Students sheet. You can also pick a color for each student which will just make the rest of the workbook prettier – and making it pretty is what’s most important right? Once you’ve done that go to the bottom of the page and click the “Schedules” worksheet.

You will see that your students’ names have already been populated and options corresponding to your students’ grades will show up. I like to go to the bottom and hide all of the schedules that are for non-existent students – just to make the experience a little bit cleaner for myself. To do this simply select the first row of empty schedules and then select all the way down to the last row. Then right click and you will see the option to “hide rows”, click that and all the extra schedules to disappear.

In the first column the only selection you need to make is whether your student is doing History or Science this year. Don’t change anything in the 2nd column. In the 3rd column you will select whether the classes are going to be custom built, 3rd party or My Tech High Direct. You will notice that as you change these selections that the funds in the second column change to correspond with the budgets you will receive from My Tech High. The 4th column is optional but it gives you a space to write out your course descriptions. You can use this as a place to take notes of things you want to do or to write out your official course descriptions that you will submit to My Tech High. If you use it for writing your official descriptions you might notice that in the last column there is a character counter. It will tell you how many characters you have left before you exceed the course description character limit in InfoCenter. You’re welcome to write more characters in the worksheet, no one will see this other than you. Ok you’ve finished the hard part now on to where the magic happens! Open up the budgets worksheet and we’ll continue on 🙂

On the right it shows a budget breakdown for each of your students. At the top it tells you how much money you have remaining to spend. You will not need to make any changes to these columns because everything will be calculated automatically. Here’s what my kids’ budgets look like right now. You can see that I’m over budget for Sam in a couple of categories but it doesn’t take those negative amounts away from the total available to spend because you can’t spend over the limit for any particular category.

Let’s go on to the purchase list. Here you will simply enter in the items you have purchased, the price paid and then select the student and subject the purchase is associated with. As you do that you will notice that all of the “remaining” balances will update to show you how much is left in each category. If you select a subject with a student that doesn’t have that subject on their schedule the item will turn red and you’ll get an error message off to the side so that you can make sure to put that expense with a valid student/subject combination. Ok one last worksheet to go! Go ahead and click on the “Reimbursement Cover Sheet”

You won’t need the reimbursement cover sheet until it’s time to submit your receipts but I find this to be really handy. At the top of the page you can select a student and a budget and then the rest of the workbook populates with all of the purchases for that period. I will print this page to a PDF and then use it to help me make sure I have all of my receipts together before submitting them at reimbursement time. I use the free program PDFBinder and put the cover sheet first and then add all of the receipts in the order they’re listed on my cover sheet. This makes it easy for MyTechHigh to see at a glance what all of my expenses were and help me get reimbursed faster. Once you’ve already made one submission and you need to make another then if you go back to the Budgets worksheet and check off the “Submitted?” boxes on the expenses that you’ve already been reimbursed for, then when you go back to the Cover Sheet worksheet you’ll see that it only displays the receipts that you haven’t yet been reimbursed for. So that can be handy for helping you keep organized.

One last tip for anyone who considers themselves lightly advanced. If you want to sort your purchases – Select all of the purchase list cells by clicking on the “Item Purchased” cell and dragging your mouse until you are down to the submitted column on your last row. Then go to the “Data” menu and select “Sort range”.

Check the “Data has a header row” box and then you can sort things however you like. I usually like to sort by student, then by subject and then by cost high to low. The sorting won’t stay as you enter in more items, but I find this to be handy as I’m trying to keep organized – especially when I’m getting ready to submit.

And that’s it!  Hopefully this helps you to better keep track of your MyTechHigh expenses and budget in the coming years!  If you notice anything that I’ve missed please comment below so that I can get it fixed!  If this is useful to you consider making a donation to my site, or making a purchase through one of my affiliate links to help me keep this site going.  If you’re looking for more ideas on what curriculum you want to use check out my curriculum recommendations post or if you’re looking for ideas on how to schedule your day check out my homeschool scheduling post. Happy Homeschooling 🙂

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet again, just so you don’t have to hunt through the article to find it – MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker 2.0.

Side note: Everything above shows actual items I’ve been reimbursed for and course descriptions I’ve had approved.  Feel free to use the descriptions and purchase list for inspiration for your own child’s schedule.  Just a quick plug for a couple of things we’ve especially loved –

  • Kiwi Crates – these have been SO much fun for all of my kids and they’ve learned a ton from them.  I’ve gotten 1 subscription and made my three kids share it and it’s been great. I thought I was going to like the Kiwi Crate but it’s been so much better than I’d expected.  If you use my referral link you get $10 off of your subscription 🙂
  • Tuttle Twins these books are AMAZING at teaching your kids about the role of government and how laws work. They are definitely from a libertarian perspective and they’re very engaging – I’ve even had lots to think about and discuss after reading them! As of the time of this writing promo code FORTY works to get you 40% off of the retail price.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with My Tech High other than as a parent to students within the program. This tracker is provided free of charge and without warranty. I intend to keep all formulas and information current and accurate however I accept no liability for any faults in the program. Use at your own risk.

MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker

UPDATE 7/30/2020:  After seeing a few requests for features I decided to rebuild this tracker almost completely so that it will support multiple students on the same workbook as well as making it a lot prettier to work with.  It was a HUGE project but I’m pleased to announce that the result is live!  I will continue to maintain this older version and it will still work but if you would like to see the new and improved version click here – My Tech High Reimbursement Tracker 2.0 .

UPDATE 07/22/2020: This post is a couple years old but I have been maintaining the spreadsheet still.  I made a couple of updates to reflect the changes in reimbursements, as well as making it so that you can associate expenses with subjects instead of reimbursement buckets! The post below has been changed to reflect these updates 🙂

For the past 3 years I’ve been homeschooling my kids.  One of these days I’m going to blog the what, why and how of our homeschooling, but today I just want to share a resource that I put together to help other homeschoolers who use the same charter we do – MyTechHigh.  MyTechHigh has been the most amazing resource for our family.  They function as a provider through a charter school that helps facilitate home education.  The best part is they are very hands off – I’m required to provide course descriptions for my sons’ academic curriculum for the year, turn in weekly learning logs (2 sentences per subject of what they did that week), and either have my boys take the state tests or opt them out.  In exchange I can be reimbursed for their educational materials and classes between $600-1900 each year so long as I get my expenses approved and turn in my receipts on schedule.  What a deal!  They also provide additional academic resources, meet ups, events and field trips that we can take advantage of during the year.  It has been an amazing resource for our family.   If you would like a really great run down for how it works you should check out ToriAnn Perkey’s webinar – it is hands down the best use of your time if you’re considering the program.  She is like a MyTechHigh super ninja 😉

The trickiest part in all of this is managing the receipts for reimbursement for my kids’ classes.  I’m given a certain budget for each class based on meeting certain criteria – $225 for custom built classes, $300 for 3rd party classes, math/english/science can be combined if they’re all custom built, but other expenses have to stay in their category, some expenses can only be reimbursed through the tech allowance, certain classes take money away from the allowance etc.  It gets to be kind of confusing to keep track of how much I’ve spent on each kid and each class.  So I came up with a Google Spreadsheet solution that makes the whole process nice and neat that I wanted to share with my fellow MyTechHigh parents in hopes that it will help make other people’s lives easier too 🙂

Alright, so let’s get to the good stuff, how do we use this spreadsheet.  The first thing you need to do is make a COPY of my spreadsheet. I frequently get edit requests for the master spreadsheet from people who miss that step, and then you have to wait until I see the email and respond to it… and I will tell you to make a copy 😛  So save yourself some time and don’t skip that step! Ok, here’s the link to the Google Sheet- MTH Reimbursement Tracker.  If you’re going to head off on your own, thanks for joining us and best of luck!  For everyone else, you can stick with me and I’ll give you a step by step of how to use it 🙂  Let’s start with how to make your own copy.  To do this you go to File->Make a copy…

After you do that a box will pop up asking for a name for this document.  At first I was going to try to make this easy to use the same spreadsheet for multiple children, but it was complicated enough as it was.  You will need to make a separate copy for each MyTechHigh student you want to use this for – so name your spreadsheet accordingly!  I also recommend adding the school year so that you don’t get them mixed up in future years.

Once you click OK your copy will pop up and you’re ready to begin filling it out.  I’ve tried to lock as many of the ranges that you shouldn’t be changing as possible so you don’t accidentally mess up something that you won’t be able to fix.  You will want to start by filling out the current school year, the student’s name, their current grade, and checking whether they are a returning student.  Don’t worry about the Reimbursement Sheet inputs for now, we’ll talk about those later.

You’ll notice as you enter in the fields that the numbers at the bottom will start to populate with your technology allowance.  This will also help generate some of the fields that will make sure you choose the right course types.  You’re now ready to start filling in your schedule.  For each period select which type of course your student has (Custom, 3rd Party, MTH Direct, Kindergarten or None) and you can enter in your course description.  To the right of the course description I have a character counter too, just to help you when you’re writing your descriptions to make sure they’re the right length.  The course description isn’t necessary, but I like having it there so that as I’m looking at my expenses I can remember what I have in my course description to make sure that I’m submitting things that are going to fit within those parameters.  You can also just put vague notes as far as your curriculum there for your own reference.  It’s completely up to you, you can even leave it blank, it has just helped me in the past to remember what I’m actually planning to do.

When you select the course type you’ll notice that more numbers start to appear.  In the column labeled “MTH Funds” you will see your maximum allowance for that period based on the course type you selected.  The total tells you the maximum allowance based on the courses you have. Make sure you select whether you’re doing Science or History so that the information gets filled in properly as well.  Here’s what my son’s would look like with his schedule for this year –

The next part is the spending totals.  You don’t need to worry about changing anything here.  This section will update as you enter in your expenses and will tell you how much you have left to spend in each category.  The next section is where you will enter your actual expenses.  As you purchase items during the year enter a description of the item or items on your receipt, the total and then select the period description.  Don’t put an X mark next to the items until after you’ve submitted the receipt to MyTechHigh for reimbursement, you’ll see why in a minute.  Here’s what my son’s looked like for this year when I put in all of his expenses –

You might have noticed that even though I was over for his custom core and tech the total at the bottom of spending total is 0 – that’s because if you submit for too much they will only reimburse you for what you have allowance for.  Also, if you were over in some categories but had extra in others it would only calculate the extra in the others since you can’t borrow from different periods to make up for deficits in others.  You’ll also notice that I split his Thanksgiving Point membership into two line items so that I could be reimbursed for $180 as his custom built science and $100 from his technology allowance.  I would recommend as you input expenses on these sheets that you take pictures or save copies of your receipts in a single folder on your computer, phone or Google Drive so that you can easily find them when you’re ready to submit.

In and of itself I feel like this is a super handy way to keep track of what you’ve spent for each period and know what you have left to spend, but I decided to take it a step further.  This spreadsheet will also generate for you a cover sheet for submitting your expenses.  This makes it really easy for the folks at MyTechHigh to quickly review and approve your submission, as well as making it easy for you to know that you have all of the right receipts to submit!  If you go back to the top of the page and click on the box next to “Reimbursement Sheet to Generate” you’ll be given a dropdown box of all of the submission categories that you have.  Pick whichever one you would like to create a cover sheet for.  You can then enter any special notes that you might have about this period that they will need to know at MyTechHigh – however usually I don’t put any additional notes.  Then you will want to open up the sheet called “Reimbursement Cover Sheet” by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

This will open a completed reimbursement cover sheet for you which will include the student’s name, which course the submission is for, a list of all of the items and their costs, and the total amount you are requesting to be reimbursed.  You don’t need to do anything with this sheet except save it as a PDF, or copy the data into Word – whatever you want to do in order to submit it.  If you make multiple submissions you can have items previously submitted removed by placing an “x” next to the items that have been reimbursed on the expenses list on the first sheet.  When I go to submit I will save my cover sheet as a PDF and then use Adobe Acrobat Pro to combine that cover sheet with the uploaded receipts that match it so that I have a single pdf file to submit for each period.  You can do essentially the same thing by selecting all the text in the cover sheet spreadsheet and copying it into a Word document (or Google Docs or whatever your word processing software of choice is) and inputting your receipts on subsequent pages before saving as a PDF.  Here’s a sample of what that cover sheet would look like –

And that’s it!  Hopefully this helps you to better keep track of your MyTechHigh expenses and budget in the coming years!  If you notice anything that I’ve missed please comment below so that I can get it fixed!  If this is useful to you consider making a donation to my site, or making a purchase through one of my affiliate links to help me keep this site going.  Happy Homeschooling 🙂

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet again, just so you don’t have to hunt through the article to find it – MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker.

Side note: Everything above shows actual items I’ve been reimbursed for and course descriptions I’ve had approved.  Feel free to use the descriptions and purchase list for inspiration for your own child’s schedule.  I’m planning on posting reviews of some of the things that we’ve loved in the future but I’ll put in a plug for the one thing that we’ve REALLY loved this year which is our Kiwi Crate – it’s been SO much fun for all of my kids and they’ve learned a ton from them.  I thought I was going to like the Kiwi Crate but it’s been so much better than I’d expected.  If you use my referral link you get $10 off of your subscription 🙂

Temple Symbols

cover

Last June my mom shared with me a booklet she was putting together for their stake youth conference.  I thought it was awesome and asked if I could share it on my blog.  She sent me the files and it has sat in my inbox for nearly a year waiting for me to post it.  I decided it was finally time for me to get around to posting it.

The booklet was for the youth to be given to conduct a self-guided tour of the temple grounds.  The booklet points out some of the different symbols they would encounter.  My mom was asked to be careful not to give specific meanings for the symbols as symbols can have many layers of interpretation.  If you give someone a concrete “this is what this symbol means” it takes away their opportunity to discover the meaning for themselves and also might remove some of the incentive to try to work out other possible meanings.  So the booklet contains quotes, scriptures and questions which might help people find some interpretations for the symbols.  For me it was really helpful just to have some symbols pointed out as symbols.  For instance, I’d never thought of the fence as being anything more than a fence to even consider that it might have symbolic significance.

This booklet was made specifically for the Los Angeles Temple, but if you go to any temple you will find many of these symbols in other temples.  We tried to go through and make sure there were pictures and information so that if you are unable to go to the Los Angeles temple you can still learn from reading it.  I think anyone who is trying to get more out of the symbolism of the temple can gain some insight from reading this.

Most of the quotes are from General Authorities and can be found at LDS.org, but one article that is referenced a few times is Symbols in Sacred Architecture and Iconongraphy by Camilian Demetrescu from The Institute for Sacred Achitecture.  There are also a couple references from Studies in Biblical and Semitic Symbolism by Maurice H. Farbridge as well as Temples to Dot the Earth by Richard O. Cowan.  These are all excellent resources if you’re looking to deepen your understanding of the symbols found in the temple.

You are welcome to redistribute this provided you leave the credit on the back cover in tact.  I’m providing several different files to make distribution easy.  First I have the printable files.  The booklet was made to be half pages front and back.  We’ve worked out the pages in order so that you can print the file with the front sides and then the file with the back sides and have it be pretty straightforward.  I’ve also included a pdf with all of the pages in order so that you can easily read it on your computer (or print it whatever other fancy way you’d like).

We would love any feedback on the booklet.  Let us know what symbols you’d missed before or any insights that you’ve gained.  We hope this helps you draw closer to the Savior in your temple worship.

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread Banner

My neighbor brought me an Amish Friendship Bread start and I was able to make some for the first time!  I remember my mom making it once when I was little and I was excited to get to do it myself.  It was a fun thing to do, but when I went to deliver my starts to my friends I realized that my copy of the recipe was all dirty.  I didn’t want to photocopy it in that state, so I did the only logical thing and redesigned it to be cute and prepared it to post on my website 🙂  Hopefully this will save the next people from having to decide between photocopying a dirty recipe and having to recreate the document themselves.  You can get the printable copy here – Amish Friendship Bread Printable.

Also, if you’re like me and got to the last day and discovered that your instant pudding boxes are 3.9oz instead of the 5.1oz called for, I’ve done the math for you so that you can use the right proportion of the 3.9oz boxes.  Just combine 2 3.9oz boxes of pudding and remove a generous 1/3 cup of pudding mix and set aside.  The remainder is what will go with your bread.  If you would like to make pudding from that 1/3 cup of mix (because, pudding is delicious), just mix you 1/3 cup of pudding with 2/3 cup of milk and whisk for 2 minutes.

By the way, if you’re going to make this I HIGHLY recommend using Baking Pam.  I don’t usually splurge on ingredients, but my husband brought this home once after being sent to do the grocery shopping and I gave it a try.  It really is like magic for baking.  Everything I make with the Baking Pam just slides right out of the pan with no fuss whatsoever.  It is one splurge that I feel like is very worthwhile 🙂

Here’s a text copy of the recipe as well if you just want to see what this is all about.  Don’t be scared by the 240 hour prep time… the vast majority of that time is spent with a ziploc bag sitting on your counter!  If you want to print it though, use this version, it’s much prettier!

Amish Friendship Bread
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5.1oz box instant vanilla pudding, other flavors can be used but not sugar free
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional: add nuts, raisins, chocolate chips etc.
Instructions
  1. Day 1: Receive the bread start. Do nothing.
  2. Day 2: Knead the bag
  3. Day 3: Knead the bag
  4. Day 4: Knead the bag
  5. Day 5: Knead the bag
  6. Day 6: Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, & 1 cup sugar in a bowl. Add to bag. Knead to combine.
  7. Day 7: Knead the bag
  8. Day 8: Knead the bag
  9. Day 9: Knead the bag
  10. Day 10:Combine in a large bowl—batter from the bag, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour & 1 cup sugar. Combine well and put 1 cup of starter in 4 gallon sized bags. Keep one for yourself. Give this recipe and 1 starter bag to 3 friends
  11. To Make the Bread: Mix 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar together, set aside.
  12. Spray 2 smaller bread pans with cooking spray.
  13. Sprinkle the pans with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  14. Pour batter into pans.
  15. Bake at 325°F for 45-60 minutes.
  16. Let stand for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Amish Friendship Bread printable recipe here.

Dinner Chore Chart

dinnerchart_banner

For those of you who know me personally this will not come as much of a shock, but here’s my confession for today – I am a terrible housekeeper.  I really do try to keep up with the house but it just doesn’t happen.  I am not someone who enjoys cleaning and trying to keep a house clean that still has three young children in it seems like a near impossible task.  However, I am trying.

My biggest pet peeve is keeping my kitchen clean.  It seems like the most critical room in the house to keep clean but three times a day everything’s being pulled out and despite my best efforts I am rarely on top of it.  The dishes are my greatest nemesis and it’s hard to keep everyone in the kitchen and helping me until the work is done.  So I’ve finally come up with a solution – meet the dinner time chore chart!

It’s really pretty basic, I’ve come up with 5 chores and each person in our  family will be assigned one chore for the week which we will change on Monday nights as part of our Family Home Evening and night time privileges will not be granted until that chore is done.  Anyways, I spent some time creating a cute chart and I wanted to share it with anyone who would like to use it.

All of the artwork came from Susan Fitch and you can find the original files for free on her site here and she graciously agreed to let me share these job charts with my readers using her artwork. You should check out her blog and Etsy shop, she has a lot of great things.  The background papers came from Shabby Princess’ free kit Celebrating.  The fonts are Pea Sweet Caroline and Pea Cookie’s Doodles from Kevin & Amanda’s Fonts for Peas.

Ok, so I have two different files that I’m providing here and you’ll have to decide which one you want.  The simple one is just a PDF which you can print out and write your family member names on the tags and be done.  However, I hate my handwriting, so I’m also providing the original Publisher files so you can customize the tags if you’d like.  To customize the tags you’ll just need to go to the tags pages and change the names to the names of your family members.  For mine I wanted pictures of the family members (since some of my kids are still pre-reading) so there are tags that have blank pictures on them but are formatted nicely.  To swap those out for pictures of your own family members all you have to do is right click on the picture, then find the picture you want to use from your computer.  The new picture will be dropped in to the same formatted space.  To re-center the picture I’ve found that I need to de-select the picture and then re-select it (I don’t know why, I just know that’s what happens) then under the Picture Tools->Format tab select Crop and you can now re-size and move the picture around within the frame.  But don’t worry, there are also simple picture-less tags that I’ve included so you can just fill them in.  You will need to make sure that you have the two fonts that I specified above installed on your computer to have the same result on your computer.  If anyone really really wants I could fill in the tags for you and send you a pdf of just the chart you want and your family’s names and pictures if you want to email me the names and pictures that you want.  You can email me through my contact page and I could provide that for a small fee – but I’d encourage you to be brave!  It’s not too hard!  You can do it!  (Assuming of course that you have a computer that can run Microsoft Publisher, and has it installed)

To create my final chore chart I printed the pages out on regular printer paper and then laminated it.  If you don’t own a laminator I’ve really liked the Purple Cows Hot & Cold Laminator that I have.  I got mine for pretty inexpensive from Costco and I think they have them there pretty regularly, but I’ve found that I can get the laminating pouches for a good deal from Amazon.  One trick I learned early on is that you have to be sure to cut out the little pieces you want to laminate (in this case the name tags) before laminating and then laminate them with enough space around the edges to not break the seal of the lamination.  I then used a bunch of these little sticky magnets on the back of the chore chart and on the back of each name tag.  The magnets aren’t super strong so I put two on each of the name tags and six on the back of the chore chart itself.  For now it’s hanging on my refrigerator but I’m planning on getting one of these magnetic boards from Ikea and hang it on my wall… as soon as I can get the kids in order to go (hahahahahah, yeah right).

Anyways, here are the two files.  Let me know if you like them and get any use out of them in your home!  It always makes me happy when someone finds the resources I post useful 🙂  And of course, don’t steal them and sell them or pass them off as your own.  That’s just not cool guys.  I hope this helps you get your kitchen routine more in order too!

Dinner chore charts – PDF version

Dinner chore charts – Publisher version

DadLibs: The Adventures of Super Dad

DadLibs: The Adventures of Super Dad - A FREE printable Father's Day Questionnaire

As Father’s Day approached this year I was excited to do something fun with my kids to give to their dad for Father’s Day. I *love* all the little questionnaires that you can find where you ask the kids questions about their mom or dad and then fill in the responses. The answers the kids give are hilarious and awesome. This past Mother’s Day my five year old did one in his preschool and one of his answers was that his mom “weighs medium”. It’s fun just to see what’s going on in those cute little heads of theirs!

As I was looking up which one I wanted to do this year I thought it would be really fun to put those answers into a little story, like a MadLibs. There wasn’t anything I could find quite like this and I finally decided that I had the skils to make one up myself.  The story is about the superhero Super Dad, because let’s be honest isn’t that who every kid thinks their dad is? The story is a little cheesy, but I thought it was a more fun way of doing the questionnaire than just the straight questions/answers.  I made it so that you could change “Dad” to be “Grandpa” or “Uncle” or even “Mom” or “Grandma” or whatever you might like!  Just be sure that if you make the story for a woman that you check the box that says your recipient is female so that all the pronouns are correct.  Also be sure to select the right gender for your child so their pronouns are correct as well 🙂

I’m a bit finicky about layouts (job hazard of working with some awesome designers) and I’ve never liked not having enough space in the questionnaires to write all of the child’s responses, or having to squish it in and look wonky. So I’ve made this into a little web application, you can fill in your child’s answers and it will put them right into the story without having to squish answers or use your very best handwriting. Yes, I’m finicky enough that I decided I’d rather spend a couple days writing the code to make it a web application than have to handwrite the answers in 🙂  Your child’s answers will be highlighted in blue so you can still tell which parts are the form story and which parts are your child’s responses.  If anyone would like a copy with just blank lines so you can handwrite your answers, let me know and I’ll put the effort into making a printable version too.

The background for the printable and for the banner graphic for this post I created using Julie Billingsley’s Masked Marvels digital scrapbooking kit. I contacted her for permission to use her designs for this project and she graciously obliged, thanks Julie!

You’ll have to enter in your answers to be able to see the story, but the background basically looks like the graphic at the top of this post, except that it’s portrait instead of landscape, and obviously the story is on the inside instead of the promotional text 🙂  Anyways, I’ve rambled long enough…

Click here to fill out your own DadLibs!

Oh, and if anyone has their own fill-in-the-blank story they would like to share feel free to send it to me and I should be able to create another similar page without too much trouble now that the heavy lifting is done 🙂  Any suggestions for improvements will definitely be considered so let me know if you have any ideas to make it better, and feel free to share this with your friends!

Christmas Stories Books

As the Christmas season rolled around last year I found myself trying to think of something that I could make or get for friends and family that would be both meaningful and relatively inexpensive.  I decided I didn’t want to stress over making a treat as I lack culinary genius.  As I thought through some Christmas-y things I remembered a Christmas tradition my family had for years.  Many years ago my Grandma Shana made a book with a different Christmas story for each of the days in December leading up to Christmas and gave it to our family.  Every night from December 1 through Christmas Eve we would gather around the Christmas tree in our pajamas and listen to one of these stories and get in the Christmas spirit.  It’s one of my very favorite Christmas traditions and one that I was excited to share with my family.

I decided to find a similar Christmas book and get it printed.  I figured with the internet it would be really easy to find something like what my grandma had made for us and be done with the project with relatively little effort.  I was right, except I forgot to factor in one small detail – I’m a picky person with gifts I give.  I had a few requirements that none of the books I found could match.  I wanted to avoid copyrighted material as much as possible and focused on Christ and the spirit of giving and family more than presents and Santa Claus.  I was also pretty picky about having a book where all of the fonts/capitalization etc were in the same style and free of spelling errors.  Almost every book I found had at least one story that was photocopied from a newspaper clipping or a magazine, or had stories in completely different fonts, or weird page breaks, or poor spelling.  My last qualification was the one that was completely impossible to meet.  A few years ago Elder Eyring gave a Christmas Devotional talk where he related the story of their nativity play which included Samuel the Lamanite and the events in the Americas.  I really liked the idea of including these events in the nativity play I did with my family and wanted to find a copy of the Christmas story that combined both the events in the New Testament and those in the Book of Mormon.  I found a few renditions that were put into colloquial speech and made into a play script, but I really just wanted to have the scriptures from both stories combined into an easy to read, single story with minimal extra narration.

So, after failing to find what I was looking for I finally decided to just build it myself.  As Sam would only nap on my lap at the time I moved my rocking chair in front of the TV and hooked my laptop up to the huge monitor and used our wireless keyboard and mouse to work the book while Sam would sleep on my lap.  I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I think it was pretty close to the beginning of December.  It took me right up until Christmas Eve to finish off putting the books together exactly how I wanted them.  But in the end I was very pleased with the results.

So, since I put so much time and effort into these books I figured I ought to share them with everyone.  I’ve attached the files for both Microsoft Publisher and Adobe PDF for those of you who might not have Publisher.  Feel free to make changes to fit your needs, but please give credit back to me and include the URL to my site somewhere in the book. If you to change the stories that are in your personal collection please note that the table of contents and page numbers are not automatically generated, so you will need to go back and manually update the page numbers at the bottom of the pages as well as the titles and page numbers in the table of contents.  All of the graphics in this book come from Precious Moments’ free clip art collection.  The stories all come from different sources but I tried to list those sources and give credit as much as I could find them.

You are free to print these and distribute them to your friends as Christmas presents or just print one for your own use.  I printed mine and just put them in 3 ring binders like these ones.  Although if you’re going to do a lot it might be more economical to invest in a comb binding machine and buying a bunch of comb binders and bind them up that way.  I was surprised at how quickly the cost of binders added up!

I have really put a lot of time and effort into getting this collection to be as close to perfect as I could.  If you notice any errors or have any suggestions for improvements *please* post them in the comments below.

Christmas Stories – Adobe PDF Format
Christmas Stories – Microsoft Publisher Format