Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Welcome, Fall!

One by one the leaves fall down
From the sky come falling one by one
And leaf by leave the summer is done
One by one by one by one
-"The Leaves Fall Down" by Margaret Wise Brown

     The first day of Fall has arrived! I love celebrating and enjoying the seasons. One memory I hope our children have of our family and their childhood would be that we celebrated the simple, ordinary moments. That a season changing from one to another wasn't just a natural phenomenon marking the passage of time, but a reason to celebrate. It's a reason to do a few things special to embrace the moment. It's a reason to have joy and share that with one another. 

     As our family has grown in the last few years, I've considered the notion of family culture and the traditions that comprise that culture. Family traditions are those acts that are done repetitively, whether it be through generations or through a single family unit. They are part of the shaping of one's identity. They  are a part of forming the foundation upon which the remainder of life is built. Family traditions create a closeness and place of shared familiarity within the unit. When you consider moments that stood out the most in childhood, simple traditions will probably be fondly brought to memory. What traditions will my children think of when they are grown?

     I want my children to think of how Mama put forth an extra effort to make things special. How even the smallest touch of decor brought warmth and joy to our home. How simple activities drew us together. And, of course, how we spent so much of our time delighting in festive books. 

     I've learned over the years that traditions are developed, and decor, activities, books etc. are collected. Each year I aim to add another piece of decor, an activity, and/or book to our collections. There is an element of excitement that is found in that new piece. Unwrapping a new seasonal book on the first day of the season is part of what makes our celebration special. Sipping a delicious pumpkin spiced coffee out of a new mug certainly makes it a little more special for Mama! It's the little things that when made significant, really matter most. 

Pumpkin spice season, indeed! On this particular
morning we enjoyed pumpkin scones (and coffee favored
with pumpkin spice creamer for Mama). Yum!

Leaf garland adorning the shelf in our kitchen

I swapped one everyday decor piece on each of our
nightstands for a seasonal one. On mine is a ceramic
pumpkin I painted when I was a teenager.
On David's nightstand I simply replace the candle for a "fall harvest" scented one. 

A simple door decoration to greet any guests to our home
Homemade play dough scented with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg
Lots of fall themed books for us to enjoy together

Further reading:
* Our Fall Book Collection
* Our Fall Activities (coming soon)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Menu Plan: Fall (Oct. 15-21)

This week's menu plan:

- pancakes
- egg in a hole
- whole wheat waffles with peanut butter and banana
- yogurt and pumpkin bagel

- leftovers or sandwiches

- crackers & cheese slices
- popcorn (Friday night movie night)
- Little Debbie snack and apple cider (Tuesday Teatime)
- popsicles (Greens juice frozen into popsicle molds. Anything made into a popsicle is always a hit with the children!)

- (slow cooker) lentil shepherd's pie
- roasted root vegetables and polenta
- beans and rice
- fish tacos
- homemade hawaiian pizza

- ??? 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Menu Plan: Fall (Oct. 8-14)

     This week's menu is full of many of our favorite meals- quiche, chili, shepherd's pie, sausage biscuits..yum!

      I've also included a couple fall-themed foods. Pumpkin scones will make a delicious afternoon snack (hello, pumpkin everything season!). Apple pie continues to be the planned it has been for the last three or more weeks. I've just not had the time to cut all those apple slices and assemble a pie. But, maybe this week will be the week. If not, then perhaps the children and I will use our fall cookie cutters and make some sugar cookies.

This week's menu plan:

- pancakes
- eggs, biscuits, bacon/sausage, fruit
- oatmeal with raisins
- sausage biscuits, fruit

- leftovers or sandwiches

- banana with peanut butter
- yogurt with granola
- pumpkin scones
- crackers & cheese slices

- quiche (make one, freeze one)
- chili with chips and cheddar
- lentil shepherd's pie
- chicken parmesan, green beans
- Salisbury steaks, mashed potatoes, green peas

- apple pie or sugar cookies

Thursday, October 5, 2017

September 2017 In Our Home

    Our school time has fallen off quite a bit this past month. We seem to have entered a time of tantrums and sibling squabbles, so much so that resolving those matters has taken a lot of my time and energy in the day. I've felt guilty for the lack of a school lesson, but try to remind myself that character training and relationship building are valid and valuable lessons. Also, reading is perhaps the most valuable forms of education, and we do plenty of that in our days. So, a message to myself- "breathe Mama, you're doing okay." 

A Little More Fun To Our Days
     After feeling like we were caught just going through the motions last month I decided we needed to add in some fun. It didn't need to be anything elaborate, just a little effort to do something out of the ordinary. I looked to my favorite resource, The Dating Divas, for ideas and came away with two great ones. 
     For the family, we had a water gun fight! It was so much fun. The feeling of playfully chasing each other around the yard and the sounds of so much squeals and laughter. It was most definitely worth the $6 spent on water guns! 
     I also planned an in-home "date night" for David and I. Again, nothing elaborate, just a simple something to pull us beyond the ordinary. We played a version of "The Newlywed Game," which was a lot of fun. I think in marriage you can easily get so comfortable that you neglect continuing to learn about your spouse. (Am I right?) It was good to see how we answered the questions and why. This particular game activity involved a lot of cutting of pieces, but it was well worth the effort. Plus, since we didn't use all the questions at one time we'll be able to play many more times. 
     These two activities really meant a lot to me. My love language is absolutely "quality time," and so such as this certainly filled my heart. (I have a pretty good suspicion that at least one of my older children, if not both, respond most to quality time as well). I hope to continue to do at least one activity for Family Fun and one for Date Night each month. Thankfully, The Dating Divas website makes that really easy (just requires a bit of prep). *Note: I'm not affiliated with The Dating Divas. I simply have enjoyed the resource want to pass along the recommendation. 

Welcome, Fall!
     Despite the near 100 degree temperatures outside, we gladly welcomed the Fall season! Each new season is an exciting opportunity to celebrate. We did a few fun things on the first day of the season, which I will share more about in another post soon.

New Furniture
   We purchased furniture for our bedroom this month! We had previously had a worn out dresser and nightstand that we found very inexpensively on Craigslist back when we got married. Our bed was simply on a metal bedframe and without any sort of head or footboard. Not only did we want to have some additional pieces and nicer pieces for our room, but the boys' room also needed a dresser and nightstand. (I needed more storage and always love reading by soft lamplight in the evenings). Our plan has been to find a set for our room and then move our old set into the boys' room. Not wanting to go in debt for something like furniture, we have kept a watchful eye for furniture on Facebook Marketplace. We eventually found a set with all the pieces we desired- headboard, two nightstands, and a dresser. The couple who were selling it were eager to sell it and even negotiated the price for a few damaged places. In the end, we got a very nice set for so much less than it would have been new. We actually paid cash for it! 
     I'm loving how the room looks and feels now! I'm also loving having adequate storage for the boys' clothing and a surface to now have a lovely lamp by which to read at night. 
      It took us seven years to have these nice pieces of furniture, bedding, and nightstand accessories. Seven years of making do with whatever we could. In the end, that waiting and saving was well worthwhile! We have a nice set, and didn't go a bit in debt for it. I wish I could encourage every young person and/or couple enough not expect to have everything in the early years and certainly not to go in debt over something like furniture. Save your money. Be patient. Be creative. Be content. Things will come together. It just takes time and that's okay. 

Blogging and ... a business?
      We've been discussing the prospects of starting an online business for our family (not necessarily a blogging business). The ideas are thrilling, but also overwhelming. The first step towards that goal will be to simply determine if adequate time can be found to put towards a business. My plan is to use this blog as a means of creating or establishing time. If I can create adequate time for blogging each week, then I can do the same for a business later. My greatest opportunity to work on things is at night after the children are asleep. Unfortunately, that time is also a struggle because my mind has already gone to sleep for the night. In fact, I'm having trouble staying awake just to do this post! haha

Books We're Reading
   I ordinarily like to purchase a new book for each of the children each month. However, I purchased a huge box of used books back in June, and so we have plenty to keep us busy currently. We also check out fourteen books from the library for read-aloud/snack time. A complete list of books we've read can be found on our online Bookshelves. A few in particular this month:


  • (Read to Tennyson) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne*
    • I wasn't sure how well he'd enjoy this particular type of book. To my delight, he seems to enjoy it! He'll ask for it at bedtime or during outside playtime (two of my favorite times for reading aloud). I checked out a copy from the library, but I'm fairly certain I'll be purchasing it for our bookshelves so that we might enjoy it again and again!
*Note: I am a personal affiliate with As such, I receive a compensation for items purchased through the provided links. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced or sponsored. 

Tennyson- 3 1/2 years old
Annelise- 2 years old
Huxley- 7 months old

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Menu Plan: Fall (Oct. 1-7)

-yogurt, toast
- cereal
- eggs
- french toast
*This week's breakfasts are a little less planned than normal. We always eat cereal on Wednesdays and french toast on Saturdays. (No real rhyme or reason, it's just the pattern we've fallen into). Beyond those days, it's open to choice. "Winging it" is not my preference, but that's just the way it's going to go this week. haha. 

- always leftovers or sandwiches

- popcorn, orange
- dried apricots, almonds*
- hummus, carrots, cherry tomatoes*
*We ended up not having these last week, so now they will be for this week!)

- potato soup
- ham, asparagus, corn, whole wheat rolls
- vegetable macaroni and cheese (simple boxed pasta and with handful of frozen mixed vegetables) 
- (small group) roast, carrots, green beans, potatoes
- white beans and cornbread
- pasta with tomato basil sauce
- open*
*We always schedule one "open" meal occasion so that if needed we can choose to eat out. Sometimes not having cooking or cleaning to do can be a big help. 

Rice Krispy treats

Monday, September 25, 2017

Menu Plan: Fall (Sept. 24-30)

    Last week, I had the grand idea of making healthier breakfast and snack options. The selections were great in theory, but in actuality they didn't get made. I have a really hard time going beyond the basics for these eating occasions. Not only is extra time and attention required to prepare the food, but then there is also the clean-up to consider. Spending so much time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning is certainly worthy, but one that I find a bit of a challenge at this time in life. So, this week we're going back to basics of a protein plus fruit/vegetable for snack times. Breakfasts will be ones that can be made ahead and therefore clean up kept to a minimum each day. I often feel as though we get in a rut with breakfasts and snacks, but a more limited and repetitive approach works so well for us. So, this week we'll be having:

- fried eggs, bacon, biscuits with gravy
- apple cinnamon baked oatmeal
- banana bread, hardboiled eggs
- cereal
- repeat

- leftovers or sandwiches

- crackers
- yogurt, pear
- dried apricots, almonds
- hummus, carrots, cherry tomatoes
- repeat

- (small group gathering) "Mexican stacks"
- (make ahead) breakfast quesadillas
- pork fried rice
- broccoli and cheese soup
- chicken, mashed potatoes, peas (from our garden!)
- pizza

- Rice Krispy treats

Friday, September 22, 2017

Our Fall Book Collection

  I once thought it frivolous to collect seasonal books. Why spend money and precious storage space within the home for items you can only use once a year? Well, because it's fun. I so thoroughly enjoy celebrating occasions with books. There is just something special and exciting about welcoming the first day of a season with a stack of seasonal books. It is a practice I now highly recommend. 

    Purchasing books for use for such short periods of time could be expensive. However, there are several affordable ways to build a collection. For instance, nearly all of the books in our collection were found at either a consignment sale or for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Finding a set of used books is a fantastic way to build a home library! You can always pass along any books that you may not want. Another fun way to build a seasonal library is to purchase a new (new-to-us, of course) book to be read on the first day of the new season. For instance, this year I purchased the book Apples and Pumpkins for us to read on the First Day of Autumn this year. Of course, there is always the public library! We will certainly be checking out as many books on the season during our weekly library visits.  Even as the children grow older, I hope they'll still want to read the same fall books because of the memory of the tradition that has been established. This is one really simple way to celebrate and be excited about the upcoming season or occasion with the children. 

     When I'm looking for books for our collection, I'm specifically focusing on the fall season and the characteristics of that season such as apples, pumpkins, harvest, leaves, festivals, hayrides, etc. Although often mixed, I try to leave Halloween books separate from Fall books. The lists below include books that are currently in our library, and books that we don't own but might be interested in later. (I will update the second list weekly if we find books from the library that we really enjoyed and would recommend). I've included product links to Amazon* so that it might be easy to find out more on a particular book. 

*Note: I am a personal affiliate to As such, I receive a compensation for purchases made through the links within this site (thank you!). All opinions are my own. 

 Our Current Fall Bookshelf::
  • Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson
    • This was the first book about the fall season that I purchased when Tennyson was little. It's a very simple book, and perfect for the youngest ones.
  • Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
    • This story is a little longer than the other books we have in our fall collection. As such, it will probably be enjoyed more when the children are a bit older. I read it aloud anyways because it is a rather a delightful story. I really love how the problem become the purpose for a gathering in the end. Such a great lesson!
  • A Pumpkin Prayer by Amy Parker
    • A sweet little rhyme about the many beauties and wonders of fall. This is one of my favorite fall books we have! I wouldn't mind having more books like this one. 
  • From Seed to Pumpkin (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Wendy Pfeffer
    • This science series is fantastic! It provides great detail of the entire process of a seed to a pumpkin, without being too detailed or difficult for a young preschooler to understand. 
  • It's Fall by Linda Glaser
    • This was the second fall book I purchased for the children. It wonderfully takes you through all the changes that occur during the season. The illustrations are stunning. 
  • The Biggest Pumpkin Ever- by Steven Kroll
    • A cute little story about two mice who unknowningly each care for a pumpkin and subsequently produce the biggest pumpkin ever. Once each mouse discovered the other, they worked together to accomplish both goals for the pumpkin. 
  • Leaves Fall Down: Learning About Fall Leaves by Lisa Bullard
    • A great little book about the process of leaves changing colors and falling from the tree. Simple enough for little ones, but yet detailed in some of the terms.
  • How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor
    • This book is wonderfully imaginative. It repeatedly asks what you would do with a very large pumpkin, and then answers with solutions that would be fitting according to characteristic of various states. In the back of the book is additional information on the states and their individual characteristic that is highlighted in the text. The illustrations are beautiful (Wendell Minor is one of my favorite illustrators!). There are a few images related to Halloween, but they are more background than foreground in the illustrations.  
  • Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane by Victoria Sherrow
    • This is a lovely nature book narrating the activity of a chipmunk in the fall. It's a nice addition to our collection to bring in a topic beyond pumpkins, leaves, and harvests. The illustrations are realistic and simply beautiful. 
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
    • This book is not necessarily Halloween, but is intended to offer the "spooky" feel. I will soften some of that sentiment as I have at least one child who would be a little nervous about the suspense at such a sweet age. Nonetheless, it does provide a great lesson in being brave and even giving something perceived as scary a positive purpose. It may be a book well enjoyed more in the future when the children are older. 
  • Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
    • This is our new book for fall this year! I intend to bring it out on the First Day of Autumn (soon!)
  • We All Fall For Apples by Emmi S. Herman
    • This is a simple first reader book all about apples. The characters visit an orchard and then make several foods using the apples. It's a perfect little book to enjoy together with some apple bread or apple cider! 

Books We Don't Own, but Might Be Interested In Later:
What fall books do you enjoy?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Menu Plan: Summer (Sept. 17-23)


     Last week we unexpectedly were so busy that we ended up with a "standard American diet." Blah. As a result, we'll be doing two things: 1) gather some freezer/pantry meal ideas to prepare on day so that we have something on hand when time is tight and 2) eat much healthier this week. Our meal plan this week is:


- strawberry crepes

- spinach frittata

- blueberry fritters

- banana bread, hardboiled eggs


- leftovers or sandwiches


- graham crackers with peanut butter

- homemade strawberry yogurt popsicles (also part of our "tot school" unit on the color red)

- "triple berry chia pudding"

- "ricotta berry swirl"

- "crunchy almond yogurt"


- (small group) beans n' rice

- bbq chicken quesadillas

- Soup Day * soup (trying out a recipe that was a part of one of the books we checked out from the library)

- lemon-pepper tilapia, asparagus, barley

- southwestern salad (greens, tomato, cheese, raisins, roasted corn, tortilla chip pieces)

- pork chops with apples, broccoli, potatoes or grain?

homemade apple pie

*Note: I personally am an affiliate of As such, I receive a compensation for purchases made through the included links. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

August 2017 In Our Home

Mama enjoys drawing with chalk just as much as the children!
     It's difficult to know what to write for this past month. August was just heavy. It seems like we allowed ourselves to give in to stress and exhaustion, and consequently live in "survival mode" during the month. These are the times in which Instagram is actually helpful because I can look back at so many daily posts and am reminded of all the good moments we have together. This is one purpose to maintaining this particular social media account. It's like a photo journal of life. Photos always make my heart happy. I truly love our family and the life we have together, regardless of how "heavy" it may feel at times. 
Making cookies together. At one point,
 Tennyson lifted his spatula
 and said it was his "shovel."
They then proceeded to "shovel"
the cookie dough (pre-eggs) into their mouths! haha

      I feel like we are getting into a better rhythm in our days. It's been very helpful that Tennyson and Annelise will now have "room time" and "play pen time" willingly and contentedly. During these moments I can nurse and lay Huxley down to sleep, or have the opportunity to have some time individually with each of them. Huxley is also doing his part in learning independent playtime. He is quite content to be in the play yard or a bedroom with a few toys. He'll crawl to a desired spot, sit and play with a toy, and then go back to a crawl to find the next exciting spot and toy. He continues to be such a happy little guy. 

Big 6 month boy is crawling!
     I was able to complete a couple new home projects this month. I'm still focusing on decorating our dining room. I have a vision for the space and a list of projects. It just might take a few months to complete the project and room in my spare time (haha)! So far, I've managed to paint the large mirror in the room and a pole that will be part of the curtain rod. (Since we move so much, I prefer to take a DIY approach to curtain rods so that they can easily be adjusted and reused in any home). Up next will be to hang the rod and curtain, cover all our chairs, and find a wreath to hang over the mirror. Simple little touches, but ones that will hopefully make the space look and feel a little more cozy. I've thoroughly enjoyed these little projects and decorating our home. It makes feeds my creativity and makes me happy!

Sweet siblings!
     I typically include a list of new books we've read. However, I'm still working on the same ones I was last month! I haven't prioritized reading as much, and so I'm moving through books at a snails pace. I miss the activity though, and look forward to picking up reading more in the coming month. We read through too many books with the children to list them all here. Instead, I record all our books onto our online bookshelves through Goodreads if you're interested in following along with the books we're reading with the children. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Our 2017-2018 Homeschool Plan


     This past year we've done "tiny tot school" with Annelise using a curriculum heavily adapted from ABCJesusLovesMe, and "tot school" with Tennyson using the "All Aboard the Animal Train" curriculum from My Father's World. We are now at a point in deciding what to do next with each of them.

     I had previously assumed that we'd naturally just move forward, but have recently begun debating whether that was the best decision. Moving ahead would allow Tennyson to remain in step with his peers and one step ahead of his younger sibling. I also know that he would be able to grasp the concepts, to which many he has already had ample exposure. Annelise could then move into the "Animal Train" curriculum, which I know she would enjoy. However, moving ahead would also mean adding more to our already full days. Running our home and caring for three children three years old and under is no small feat! In fact, it takes quite a bit of time and energy to just accomplish the basics of life many days. I do have to be honest with myself in acknowledging that we are still firmly in a season of life with babies and maybe even a big move (both events are a "if the opportunity presents itself" kind of thing), and so there is a degree of limitation. I've also considered what it is we hope to gain during these precious little years. I'm coming to savor slow and invest in that which is most important to us as a family. 

     After discussing our options with my husband, he encouraged moving ahead to the next curriculum level. And so, our plan will be to continue using materials from My Father's World. We enjoyed using this resource for "tot school" and decided to utilize their pre-k materials as well. I really enjoy how concepts and activities are well blended and balanced. It also doesn't have a strong academic presentation but instead creates a playfulness within activities. (And during this very busy season, an all-in-one package is extremely helpful to me! I need something that says "do this today" to help me be more intentional. Otherwise, I have a tendency to get caught up in daily tasks). So, Annelise will go through "All Aboard the Animal Train" and Tennyson will go through "Voyage of Discovery." We will continue our approach of progressing very slowly through them. (I typically don't aim to complete one or two activities per day and try to blend them into our day as much a possible). Other areas of focus will be:

     1. Practical life skills-
          I've come to realize that in the name of getting tasks accomplished and keeping us all moving in the day that I've not done a very good job at teaching independence. It's easier for me to get everyone ready one child after the next. Or, it's easier for me to clean while they are preoccupied elsewhere. But this does not teach them to be a part of the natural care of oneself or the home. And so, David and I sat down and listed tasks that we believed each child was capable of accomplishing. We'll work through that list little by little. 

     2. Imaginative play- I love imaginative play! Play food, tool sets, baby dolls and many others are wonderful for fostering imaginative play. I would like to begin adding a few costumes to our toy collection, particularly those that are simply animals or careers. I will be keeping an eye out for post-Halloween sales or resales of costumes we might be able to use. (And if not then, then perhaps a Christmas idea!)
     3. Constructive play- Items that can be used for constructive purposes so Legos, wooden blocks, Lincoln logs etc. I've recently seen that waffle blocks are now available again. I remember building lots of houses as a child with these blocks! It would be fun to share that enjoyment with the children (perhaps a Christmas idea!). 

     4. Cooperative play- Games! Active outside games like "Stoplight," "Tag," and equipment like a baseball set are wonderful learning tools in addition to being fun. Board games are also excellent (and one of my favorite activities). Many games geared towards two and three year olds incorporate academic learning such as colors, shapes, numbers and letters but presented as a fun game. The idea here is to include activities that involve cooperative play. 

     5. Character development- Daily life provides us so much opportunity to learn and grow in character. It's a matter of modeling, teaching and practice. If we need to skip "school time" to focus on an area of character that needs development then that's precisely what we do. I believe character will get you much further than life than academic learning. 

     6. Books! It's no secret we are book obsessed in our home! Cultivating a literacy-rich home and life is so very, very important to us. I believe (and many books, articles, and studies will concur) that reading and books will get you the furthest in life and learning. Therefore, we try to incorporate as many books into our days as possible. In addition to our own home library, we love to visit the public library and check out books each week. 
"Tot School" is a simple as a teddy bear tea party

    We will likely focus on the above six areas and some inspiring Pinterest finds just as much as the curriculum. The curriculum, in my opinion, is supplemental at their tender ages. (I prefer to have it simply to make things a little easier on myself as all materials are fully planned and prepared). Truthfully, I'm more interested in a child pretending to make road with construction trucks in the mud than I am he matching words to pictures or counting to 20 (okay, that's a lie. I really can't stand mud messes, but it is great play opportunity). I'd rather a child run outside than sit at a table completing a paper-based task. My greatest desire is for this time with a two and three year old to ultimately be about stories, playtime, and family life. 

I did a quick Facebook video sharing our homeschool preschool curriculum:



Monday, September 4, 2017

Menu Plan: Summer (Sept. 3-9)

- chocolate chip muffins, hardboiled eggs, banana
- yogurt parfaits
- oatmeal with raisins
- cereal

- sandwiches or leftovers

- apple slices, cheese slices, crackers
- popcorn
- banana with peanut butter

- pulled pork, cole slaw, pork n' beans
- baked spaghetti
- veggie mac n' cheese
- summer veggie meal (an assortment of cooked vegetables, beans, cornbread etc)
- pulled pork pizza 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Menu Plan: Summer (Aug. 27- Sept. 2)

- pancakes
- scrambled eggs, biscuits, bacon, grapes
- oatmeal with blueberries (baked? stovetop?)
- cereal
- french toast

- leftovers or sandwiches

- kids trail mix (cheerios, pretzels, raisins)
- apple and cheese slices
- chocolate peanut butter smoothies (chocolate milk, peanut butter, banana)
- popcorn

- steak quesadillas (leftover pork steak, salsa, cheese)
- veggie enchiladas
- chili with corn chips and cheddar
- big salad (greens, mandarin oranges, candied walnuts, raisins, apples, toasted almonds)*
- honey-orange chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
*The children don't really eat much of the greens, and so I will give them plenty of the toppings. 

Nothing planned for this week 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Menu Plan: Summer (Aug. 20-26)

     Menu plans are so very helpful for many reasons. Each Sunday, David and I will create a menu plan for the upcoming week. I've seen lots of different menu planning pages online, but none that quite fit my needs. So, I created my own! I make a copy each week, fill it in, and then keep it on the front of the refrigerator to refer to throughout the week. When finished, I store it in one of our recipe binders for future reference.

    I hope to begin sharing our weekly menu plans on the blog, and using that as a convenient way of storing and retrieving them. It's rather nice to begin planning a weekly menu with the menu from the same time last year as a reference for ideas!

- cereal, hardboiled eggs
- cereal
- egg-in-a-hole, fruit
- french toast
*Note: I typically plan only 3-4 different breakfast meals, and then repeat each of them during the week

- (we typically make a double portion of dinner meals to also use as lunches for the next day. Currently, we aim to make a meal serve 6. However, when we don't have leftovers we will simply have a pbj lunch)

- cottage cheese with pineapple
- banana break with cream cheese
- cookies n' milk (special treat)
- yogurt parfait
*Note: I typically plan only 3-4 different breakfast meals, and then repeat each of them during the week

- taco style nachos
- chicken pot pie biscuits (Trying something new with this one. It's essentially pot pie filling that is cooked and served on top of cooked biscuits. I thought the children would enjoy this version)
- creamy alfredo pasta with peas
- hot dogs with chili, veggie tater tots
- bacon and brussels sprouts pizza
- pork chops, sweet potatoes, green beans

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Daily Schedule Picture Chart

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A daily schedule is essential to our days. Everyone doing whatever desired whenever desired is a sure recipe for disaster. Behaviors will become less than desirable. The house can be a complete mess in mere minutes. I simply can't keep up with everyone and everything singlehandedly. In the end, we're actually not enjoying each other or our home without some direction.

     I've long utilized a schedule and routines for our days. I have a copy taped to the side of our refrigerator (which tends to serve as a "command center"). However, I began to realize that I'm the only one able to follow it as I am the only one able to read! In order for a daily schedule to be effective, all individuals need to participate. For my children, that meant that I needed to offer them a version that was better suited for them. 

     I looked at various options online, but was not satisfied. I wanted a picture chart that was relevant to us and our day specifically. So, I decided to create my own!

     I began by taking photos of each element in our day. (Yep, there's even an image of a potty. haha). I then formatted the photos by combining some, adding a caption space, and labeling each image with the task(s). I printed them at a nearby 1 hour photo service (they probably wondered why someone was having photos of a potty printed! haha). I ended up with ten images to show our mornings, five for the afternoons, and five for the evenings. 

     I used colored poster board cut down to fit around each part of our day. So, the morning is yellow, afternoon is blue, and evening is gray. This is a nice visual of the various parts of the day and the tasks therein. 

     Each photo is attached with photo corners. This allows me to insert new photos or move photos around when we might need to modify the schedule. For instance, in the summers I move our card for "outside playtime" to the earliest part of our morning so that we can better avoid the sweltering heat. In the winter, however, I will move that card to as late in the morning as possible to allow the temperatures to warm up a bit before going out. I believe schedules should create structure, but that structure be a little flexible.

     The way I have our day organized allows me to easily move elements around as needed. I purposely created the two halves of our day to repeat. This helps us come to know exactly what comes next. For instance, a general flow includes: wake & get ready, eat & story, school time/ room time, cleaning time, outside time, wash hands & meal etc. I'm more focused on the order of events than I am the timing. With a baby, there are many times in the day in which I must stop to feed or get the little guy to sleep. We do what we need to do during those moments, and then pick up where we left off on our schedule.I've shared our current schedule in this post: "Daily Homemaking Schedule (3yr. old, 2 yr. old, 3 mo. old)"

    Below each photo are two Velcro dots. Each child has a painted clothespin with Velcro on the back. As we go about our day we move the clips from one place to the next using the Velcro dots. This has been a wonderful way to keep up with where we are and involve them in us all moving along in the day.

     So far, we are loving the new visual chart! The children enjoy looking at the photos and moving their clips. It's been a big motivator for staying on task (especially for Mama!). Whenever we encounter a struggle for what needs to be accomplished next, we can direct them to the chart and they will usually comply. I imagine to the young child it's a difference in being told what to do all the time and getting to see and have a part in what needs to be done. 

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