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. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July 2017 In Our Home

We spent this particular morning outside pretending to ride on a train drawn in chalk. 
  The biggest event for our family in July was my father being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It was a rather emotionally conflicting time for me personally as my relationship with my family isn't exceptionally close. Family relationships are always a delicate matter. This situation opens up a new aspect to navigating those relationships. Fortunately, his prognosis is good. He will undergo chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for the next couple of months. David and I have discussed traveling back to visit sooner than our typical annual summer trip. However, we won't all be able to make a trip of that size for a second time in the year so it will probably be just the baby and I. It will be the first trip I've ever made by myself, but it's important and if it's important then you find a way. Prayer has been my companion through this.

    Another big event this month for our family has been an increase in David's work schedule. That has meant a lot more time as just the children and I. I'm getting a lot of practice in managing everyone and everything on my own. Honestly, it's been quite a challenge. It's hard to be apart so much and still aim for a close-knit family. The children have the hardest time with his work schedule though. We've had some pretty epic meltdown moments. It just breaks my heart as I'm reminded of my own childhood.

     These situations feel significant, but are merely hills we must climb. They are not insurmountable by any means. I can be grateful my father's cancer is localized and he is expected to make a full recovery. I can be grateful my husband has a steady job that provides for us. I can be grateful that I have the opportunity to spend so much time with my children.

      One resource that has really helped me along this past month has been the writings of Sally Clarkson. Sally Clarkson is one of my favorite authors/speakers. She writes and speaks extensively on motherhood, the home, and the family. I love how she encourages idealism and excellence, two ambitions which aren't always exalted in society but are fitting to my personality. She demonstrates a life lived in following Christ. Her books, blog posts and podcasts have been such strong motivators and encouragements to me. If you have not read or listened to her materials, then I highly recommend doing so.

     In regards to the children, they seem to have grown by leaps and bound lately!  We have long been working with Tennyson on how to properly respond when he's upset. If he react towards someone, then we have him say he's sorry and give him/her a hug (or otherwise make it right). Finally, those lessons seem to be clicking! Now, he catches himself making a poor choice in behavior and immediately follows up with the apology and hug. You can see that he genuinely slipped up and knew it. Interesting to look back and see how much behavior was genuinely due to immaturity from such a young age. First child teaches mama a whole lot in parenting! I've also noticed growth in his pretend play. It is so fun to enter his world and play along with him. He's also grown in size, or rather height. Every bit of size he gets goes straight towards height. He's now up to my waist! He's quite the long-legged boy. 

3 1/2 years old!
He got to "meet" his favorite book character- Backhoe Joe*!

    Tennyson and Huxley continue to be best buds. Tennyson loves to play with Huxley and make him laugh. That's not a difficult task as Mr. Huxley is such a happy little guy. He grins and laugh readily! He also happily plays when he wakes, even all through the night! With the effort of cutting more teeth, nighttime sleep has returned to being rather fitful. His front teeth gave him quite a bit of trouble coming through. Now that they're through (teeth count at 4 currently), it appears as though he'll soon be cutting four more very soon. Phew! He's nearly 20lbs and wears 9 month clothes. He's practicing getting up on his knees and working on crawling every chance he gets. 
5 months old! He's the happiest little guy!

      Miss Annelise is quite the busy little girl! It seems like the house can never be cleaned enough and things put up high enough. She can be quite a mischievous one! But yet she also makes for the cutest little toddler! Her speech is growing by leaps and bounds. That is, in large part, to her desire to copy big brother's every move and word. She follows him and mimics his every action. It's rather adorable, and fortunately Tennyson doesn't seem to mind at all. (This is also very helpful to me when we're out somewhere like a play area because I know they'll stick together). She's gotten into a habit of sneaking into our room in the middle of the night. It's not an ideal situation (but we're often too tired to resist. hah), but I must admit that she's pretty cute tip-toeing down the hallway. 
2 years old and all spunk!

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!
    I'm going to try to begin blogging more often. Honestly, I miss it! I miss getting to reconnect and reaffirm what we do and why. Most importantly, I miss the main aspect which is that these posts serve as the pages in our story. I love having that storybook of our lives together. I also enjoy connecting with those of you who continue to read this blog page. If you are on Instagram, then follow me there for daily posts. I've tried Facebook Live videos but then end up second guessing myself (..."I looked silly," "that was so disorganized no one will makes sense of it," "did that even accomplish anything productive?" ..you get the picture). Funny how one of my reasons for beginning to do videos was to encourage confidence! Clearly, that still needs some work. Perhaps next month I can attempt a video again. I do intend to have more weekly posts on the blog in the following month (August)! 
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