Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pictures from the Week of::

Caught asleep while reading
January 26

School Daze
January 27

Sleeping Beauty
January 28

Barefoot, Pregnant and Cooking
January 30

So I have a little issue with the editing and posting of my 365 photos. Seriously, what's a buys Mom to do? However, rest assured I am taking the photos, but as life gets in the way of all my various hobbies....well you know how it goes. Some things just must wait!

We've had quite the busy week, that didn't go off without a few meltdowns {on my part}, but all in all having a happy, healthy, loving family such as I do....makes it all worth it. And keeping track of each day through one little photo has been a fun way for me to keep track of all the goings on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Once-A-Month Cooking, Revised and Expanded: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Every Day
By Mary Beth Lagerborg, Mimi Wilson
see related


This is my second time doing the OAMC (Once a Month Cooking) and of course, I've learned even more! If you are interested in the maiden voyage of my cooking adventures you can read OAMC Part I . I shared some quick tips I had learned from doing in the first time, now doing the meal planning and cooking a second time I've learned even more!

It took me about a week to plan all the meals, write out ingredients, make a calendar of what we were to have when, and then shop. I found a great website for printing FREE meal planning worksheets called Mom's Budget. Not only do this site have printables but recipes for fun things like making your own laundry detergent, and Febreeze! As well as meals, financial planners etc. It's a great place to look around! These are the worksheets I printed out::

I found out last month that even though the meals were planned for the month, weekly shopping trips were necessary for milk, bread and fresh produce. So the weekly Meal planner is great because even though the whole month is planned, each week you can add to the list on the right hand side and do your fresh foods shopping a lot easier! You are only planning once a month, even writing your weekly shopping trip so you aren't racking your brain as you are untangling your toddler from your ankles! And as the week goes by, if your list is posted on the fridge you can easily add things you think of or run out of. Time and sanity saver!!!

For myself the whole reason Once a Month planning and cooking sounded great for me was the idea of thinking about meals once a month (in terms of planning the whole process from shopping to menu writing) but also buying in bulk. We are big fans of both Costco and Sam's club. I literally spend at least half as much to a third of the original price of an item buying it in bulk! For instance, I needed thin sliced steak for Stroganoff and Swiss steak this month. Buying it at it's cheapest at our local grocery means $10 in meat per meal for a family of 6 (with at least once Leftover) at costco, I got enough meat for 4 meals (instead of the 2 I planned~some to bag and freeze for the next month) for $14....that is a deal. Also buying fresh produce is so much cheaper there, and if you are cooking meals for OAMC that require lots of onion, Bell Pepper, Broccoli, etc, buying it at the store would be a lot more expensive. Usually buying some of these would be a waste and I would end up throwing away rotten produce, BUT if you are using half of it too cook and freeze and the other half to have on hand fresh, it's not a waste! You CAN shop and freeze your own fresh produce like broccoli, carrots, Bell pepper, onion, etc. We even freeze bread and cheese if we know we aren't going to use it all before it goes bad. It's a matter of planning well and thinking about your freezer space!

Questions I've gotten::
What about freezer space? Do you need a stand up freezer?
We don't have one, though we are looking on craigs list and would like to invest in one because we do shop in bulk a lot. But I find a well planned month of meals and purchases doesn't require a separate freezer. Also, plan meals you have room for. I have only one shelf in the freezer for frozen meals so I chose some meals that will require freezing in a disposable tin and some that I can lay flat in ziplocks and freeze. Additionally, all your meats can be put in freezer ziplocks and rolled flat to freeze and thaw a lot easier! Learned that trick from my Momma!

What if your monthly budget doesn't allow you to shop all at once?
Trust me when I say I understand this one! We have just rearranged what gets paid when to allow for once a month main grocery shopping, and then smaller grocery trips during the week. It will save you money buying as much as you can in bulk, like I said freezing what you don't use, or if it's dry goods like pasta or diced tomatoes!

Do you plan freezer meals for the whole month?
The answer is No. I plan about 8-10 frozen meals (usually all different) for the entire month and the other 10-20 meals are made fresh or leftovers. I don't need to have 30 dinners frozen, but it is wonderful to have days where all I have to do is thaw the main meal and make a veggie on the side. It makes a few days a week easier but still allows for our menu to have some "home cooked" meals in there.

How much do you spend for the entire month?
I haven't added in the weekly grocery shopping though last night I did the nerd work of figuring out how much each meal cost, figuring how many meals and left overs it will make (my meals MOST of the time give Dave at least one lunch, sometimes more~saving us the cost of him eating out) It came out to $1.30 per serving! So a dinner on average costs about $7.80 give or take a little. That's a steal for a family of 6!!!

What I've learned THIS month::
Some tips from my adventures this month.....

  • Something new I did was first hunt online and in the papers for coupons before I started meal planning, I found a few great ones that lowered the price of our meals. I also googled coupons I wanted and actually found a few! Take a look at the blog Money Saving Mom. She's got great links for coupons and deals and lots of great links!
  • Invest in some disposable pans. They are recycleable, and at Costco they cost $6 for 3o of them. It's worth the .25 per tin. If you really want to, wash them out! But they make the meal so much easier!!!!
  • Don't try and shop and cook on the same day. If you do want to get started, doing all your chopping the first day and throwing together the meals that don't need any actual cooking works well, but save the cooking for another day that you have set aside!
  • Do NOT add frozen chicken to marinades that are fresh and thaw them together. I buy chicken in bulk, already frozen. Last month we had some disasters because I stuck the frozen chicken in the marinade, but when it thawed, all the juice mixed with the marinade and YUCK. The grillables are fine, the ones you bake....not so much. So just make the marinade or sauce, freeze it separate in a smaller ziplock and make sure you buy the right amount of chicken. Then thaw the chicken separate and add to the sauce before baking!
  • If planned right you can double or triple things like spaghetti sauce (I made mine from scratch) and then froze one bag for spaghetti, made a lasagna to freeze and stuffed shells to freeze. Worked great and I ended up with 2 spaghetti meals!
  • Making a weekly meal chart (the one I mentioned above) is a big help as well as using a prep worksheet. I went through and filled it out for each recipe so a quick glace would tell me what needed to be chopped, browned and sauteed!! I didn't have to flip through the recipe book trying to remember ALL that had to be done!
  • Do more than one thing at one time. While I was shopping a big pile of onions, brown the meat for the spaghetti sauce, etc. If you've got to cook and chop together (which you'll probably have some of) chop AND have something cooking so you can get a little more done at once.
  • Unless your kids are old enough to help....KEEP YOUR KIDS OUT OF THE KITCHEN! Mine is small so it's a good rule if you don't want to step on any toes...literally. Let your husband know what day all this is happening and get his help! And don't plan anything else major on that day!!!
  • Don't cook anything difficult that day for dinner or use a frozen meal! There is nothing like the chaos of trying to premake 5 meals and cook another one!!!!
This Months Menu looks like this::

Spaghetti x 2
Upside-down Fettuccine Bake
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Italiano
Salsa Verde Pork
Zanzibar Chicken
Stuffed Shells
Chicken Dijon

Lentil Soup
Ham Pizza Pockets (made fresh)
Pasta Primavera
Swiss steak
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Chicken Devon
Charsiu Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork
Chicken Fajitas
Mexican Lasagna

Let me know if you have any other questions! I have been having a great time on this adventure. Yesterday I was tired after doing all the shopping but I still managed to bang out 5 meals in about 2 hours so it was worth it! Let me know how you do any OAMC if you do, and any tips or tricks you have learned!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Master schedule in Play

Okay I've got 3 minutes to bang out a new blog on scheduling and GO!

After reading the book, writing down all the activities we need to accomplish during the day, cutting and pasting and rearranging the times and activities and then creating the actual Master schedule last night. I've come to realize I already DID live by a schedule for the most part, it was just in my head on not on paper. I'm hoping that will make the so called transition a little easier for us.

I always thought I was an artistic soul, but honestly even though art is my passion and it was my major, I am so logical minded it scares me. Though maybe that's just my way of dealing with the chaos of our lives without totally losing my sanity! I wish I were more spontaneous. I wish I didn't feel like I had to accomplish certain things each day but honestly, I am prone to dissapointment and depression when things are not getting done! When the laundry piles up, the toilets are dirty,meals aren't prepared. I don't feel like I am doing my part and taking care of my family the way they should be. Good or bad, that's how I am. I find it hard to concentrate on being joyful and thankful. Patience is hard to come by, walking in the spirit doesn't happen because I am too obsessed with trying to keep everything else all together! It's easy for me to feel down hearted and downtroden. And I know about such eternally meaninless things. But that is who I am!

I don't think everyone needs to be on some strict schedule, every Mom has a routine, you get breakfast made, lunch, laundry done, dinner, baths etc. And some do a fabulous job, get everything they want to accomplished and excel without needing a schedule. I think that is great. I don't have any grand delusions that my life will be better or more organized than the next Mom's who thrives off of flying by the seat of her pants and having her kids hold on tight. That is the beauty of motherhood! We are all so different and God wonderfully made us that way! but for me it just wasn't working!

I'm encouraged by these verses::
Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.......

I Cor. 14:40 "Let all things be done decently and in order......"

I Cor. 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial......

Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me!"

II Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

II Tim 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of sound mind."

Some of these may seem like I am stretching it a bit, but YES even in keeping the floors and toilets clean and school on target, it's Christ who can strengthen and encourage me and give me the power to do it. It may seem menial to some, but that is what my life is about right now. In this moment, serving my family and taking care of ALL he's given me is my "job".....maybe I take it too seriously, but it's something I value greatly!

I'm trying to take this all in stride though as we give it a go the first day. Already there have been many kinks in the plan, but I know we will work this out and make this doable!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Snaps from the past week

Early Alphabet Lessons
January 21

Gracia's First Painting
January 22

Little Soccer Hero
January 23

The "Best Breakfast Ever"
January 24

Master Schedule
January 25

Okay....I need to start doing this everyday....maybe I should have put that into the Master Schedule!!!

I did actually finished my Master schedule though. So I'll be posting about that soon! Oh how interesting I KNOW.....

Multitude Monday

holy experience

To start with the simple.........

1. My children's hearts, open to God right now as we learn together what it means to live for Christ.

2. For quiet times while the children nap.

3. For a faithful God who allows me to stay home with my children and teach them.

4.For God meeting me in the mornings....even on the mornings I don't want to get out of Bed!!!

5. For praise and worship songs written by a 5 year old, straight from the heart, praising God.

6. For the precious prayers that come from my children's lips.

Friday, January 22, 2010

{The making of a Godly Mother}

It's been heavy on my heart to be a Godly mother. I can honestly say it is one of the true desires of my heart, something I want to put my whole heart into. But how does one do that? Maybe to some the answer seems quite simplistic, straightforward and obvious. But living that out day by day is not. The decisions, actions, behaviors of a Godly mother and wife do not always come easy even when the answer is staring you in the face.

For me it's begun with a look at not what a mother is or should be, but how God views Children in our lives. Because maybe if I view children as my heavenly Father does, perhaps then I'll get a glimpse of what it is to be blessed with that awesome responsibility.

They are a responsibility, a fiscal responsibility, takers of your selfish time, dependents on you for everything, trouble, stress, an inconvenience at times, importers, leeches, hardships.......offensive isn't it? And yet these terms and hundreds others have been spoken by both Christians and secularists alike. This view is steeped in complete and utter selfishness. I think a view stemming from our turn in society, a turn towards selfishness covered over with the mask of "leaving a carbon footprint", "over population", "we can't afford kids".

Some give advice or silent opinions and think it's Godly, "Well you should decide how many kids you can afford and then stop." or "The Good Lord has given you some beautiful children but you know, the Good Lord also gave you some sense in that head to know when to stop!" Or jokingly they remind you of their quite childless homes that they "get" to return to, the free-time they have, the extra money they have to spend on pedicures and massages. The snide comments about one of you "getting fixed" as if we were stray dogs.

But what does God say about children? How does He view them, view you and me, since we are HIS children. Throughout scripture it is CLEAR that God views children as a blessing, a joy, a benediction from the LORD to grace our lives with fulfillment, meaning, happiness and satisfaction. Parenthood is God's gift to us!

"This is true even in a fallen world, infected with the curse of sin. In the midst of all that 's evil, children are tokens of God's lovingkindness. They are living proof that God's mercy extends even to fallen, sinful creatures." ~John MacArthur

The Lord is the source of children, even Eve recognized this and regarded her children as a gift and as an emblem of God's grace to her. The running theme of scriptures is non other than children being a blessing from the hand of a loving and merciful God. Children signified blessings from God and they STILL DO. Despite over population, despite your income, despite your belief! The are designed to bring you joy, happiness, contentment, satisfaction and love.

Psalm 127:3-5
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate."

Did you catch some of that language?

Blessing:: a special favor, mercy, or benefit, a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness, the invoking of God's favor upon a person.

Reward:: honor: bestow honor or rewards upon, benefit, strengthen, support.

God's rewards of children are not necessarily based on your actions, though I think they can be as we see in scripture. But he rewards those who are non believers as well, those who abuse and mistreat children. But that is not what His blessing is meant for. God has the power to open and close wombs, to create life and take it. It's all in His hands whether you use the best birth control or non at all.

It's up to us as parents to view children and handle parenting with correct Biblical perspectives in order to fully enjoy the benefit of those responsibilities. If you are a parent, you know there is NO love like the one you have for your child. Nothing can even compare or come close to that type of love, that depth of love. I LOVE Dave, I've never loved anyone as much as I love him. We share a blessing and a bond I don't think many married couples do.

But the love we have for our children, is unexplainable to those who don't have children. It's not even in the same ballpark as the love you feel for your spouse. It would be like explaining a rose to someone who had never seen in their life. Oh sure you could come close and they could touch and smell and get an idea of what it was like, but they will never fully know what you are describing.

Suddenly as a parent, you understand a little more the Love God has for us, His children. The heartache and joy we give him. You understand a little more why he would have any desire to save us, to extend his mercy and Grace upon us when we clearly don't deserve it. I see glimpses of that everyday in my own relationship with my children.

For me the making of my own role as a mother has to start here, with viewing what God has really blessed me with, and how I will respond to that. To gain a right perspective of what these little souls are in my own life, help drive the way I then respond and treat them. When I am failing to view them the way God does, I allow behavior in my own life that is unworthy of that blessing. I am often amazed and literally cry out to God and ask Him why? I don't feel worthy to be a parent. It's the hardest job I've ever done, hands down. But if I could just see my children the way God does, as His inheritance!!!! Than maybe making those daily decisions to treat them as rewards, as gifts, as precious will come easier.

Because it isn't's almost never easy.

John MacAurther has some very deep and important thoughts on the subject.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Textured Photos

WOW....I just spent a really good half an hour on the internet learning about how to add textures to photos! The kids are playing "explorers" outside, probably making a muddy mess of some~fun~sort and you know what it's WORTH it! Look at what I just did!!!!!

I don't play around a whole lot in photoshop because it's a little intimidating, but this was easy!

I found this sight with free textures (as well as so many more on the internet or you can create your own!)
Then I found this tutorial on how to add textures......and wahlah!!!

Before~ no editing Added texture

The possibilities are endless....but just a warning, this woman is going to play!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Major 365 Catch~Up

Six months Mini
January 20

January 19

The princess pose
January 18

Adventuring pals
January 17

Early morning beach
January 16

A room with a view
January 15

Okay so it's been a while....I've been snapping away but sitting at the computer is not always possible. I'm happy to report I love using my manual setting. I was a little worried that I had forgotten all about that! Alas....manual is beautiful!

I do have a confession to make, January 17th's photo was NOT taken by me, but by Dave. I was trying to take it easy having had contractions from the day before (saturday) being so busy and all that day and then most of Monday. So I was sitting on my toosh, though I love this photo he took of Jonah and his buddy Kody.

MOTH Reviews {Parts I & II}

MOTH Review Part I

MOTH stands for (Managers of their Homes) written by Steve and Teri Maxwell. I recently read through Teri's "Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit" and looking for more I went and ordered this book/kit.

I've always called myself a "routine" person, not a scheduler per se. But we have a routine around here that is pretty consistent. It's always helped me be able to figure out a little more what needs to be done and about when to do it. But with Homeschooling being added this year as well as another little one, I am still looking and longing for more. I'm about halfway through the book and so far it has highlighted the benefits of the schedules family and how much easier life is and how much MORE free time you will actually have. I am willing to give it a try and let you all know how it's working for us.

For the most part we start school at the same time each day, have breakfast and lunch and dinner about the same time, go down for naps....but it's the stuff in between that has been tripping me up lately. Of course life is unpredictable that way and that's what brings in excitement and fun, but it's also how things dont 'get done day after day after day! And after seeing the chore charts work and the workboxes work well....I though this would be an interesting endeavor.

I admit I am a little nervous about trying it out and trying to stick to something day after day, but reading through this system makes it seem doable, and hearing the testimonials from Mom's who have WAY more children than I have spanning teen years to newborns is encouraging that they could work with this system as well. The key seems to really personalize it to fit what you need and want to get accomplished during the day. It gives you ideas but it's up to your family and your routine in order to set what your schedule will look like. And of course the schedule is made to change with your family and it's changing needs and ages!

We'll see!!! Click the above link for more info!

MOTH Review Part II

SO i've been taken over by this bug to completely streamline life and our activities in it in order to make things run more smoothly. BUT...what I don't want is to be so caught up in order and chaos that there isn't time for spontaneity and FUN! It's a balance that I will strive for, but for now....i'm dealing with ordering everything!

Things that have worked so far and I'm loving:: menu planning ONCE a month has been a life saver and something that has alleviated a ton of stress in my life! Granted it's only been 3 weeks, but not having to decide what to cook each day or plan and shop for a new menu each week, it's amazing! AMAZING! Why didn't I try this years ago??? Seriously! I went so far as to plan each day for the whole month what we are having for dinner. Now of course sometimes things need to big deal because I know I have all the ingredients for what's on the menu! A few other tips I've picked up from MOTH::
  • Come up with a Master grocery list, type it out, hang it on your fridge and check things off as you run out of them! I made one for Costco as well since we do a LOT of shopping from there and it's almost always the same items. Leave spaces for additions and extras, cross off what you don't need. When it's time to shop you aren't rummaging through your cabinets, you can add to your list, grab it and go!
  • Make a weekly lunch and Breakfast Menu that changes everyday but stays the same each week, kids get variety as well as you know what is being made each day!!!!
The chore charts have been awesome! Again going on week 3, not only do the kids LOVE crossing things off on their charts, they love getting a little allowance and watching the money grow. Most of all we've had GREAT attitudes even from Jon. The kids jump up in the evening and hurry through their chores. More tips from MOTH::
  • Have a specified time each day when chores are done, unless certain chores are done at certain times (like dishes, etc) then everyone is working at the same time.
  • Make sure the chores are appropriate for each age level.
  • Keep the chores the same for at least a year so the child becomes good at performing that chore!
  • Take at least a week of training the child to do the chore correctly. Be patient and try not to do the chore for them! It's tempting but hold off! They will get it right, if they need more than a week stay by their side or maybe switch to an easier chore!
I'm working on our Master schedule right now for MOTH, the process includes coming up with a list for each person on the schedule of item you think God would have you accomplish during the day and including how much time you think that activity should take. Then working it out on a schedule until everything works well. I'm hoping to have it worked out by next Monday so we can get started on it. At first it seemed a little daunting but now I am getting more and more excited about everything working together! A few more things I really liked about MOTH::
  • Schedule time for the kids to play one on one together as special time, with special and Gracia get half and hour together to play nicely, while Mom works with Ellie or spends some time doing a special activity! I LOVE this idea! I think it's great and I can't wait to use it!
  • Have the olders teach the youngins something simple like their letters or phonics or numbers! Yesterday i tried it out with Ellie and Jonah. Jonah was SO excited he was going to get to be the teacher!!!! The sat across from each other and Jonah would hold up a flashcard and ask Ellie what the letter was, he could give her clues as to what the picture was of and then finally give her the answer if she didn't know the letter. They did really really well. I think this will work really well with file folder games and things like that as well!
  • Have your kids pick a special activity once a week from a long list (playdough, fingerpainting, sandpainting....) I've really gotten away from the messy art this year but the kids really miss it! So once a week I'd like to get them to choose something they would really like to do! And wouldn't ya know, Jonah wanted learning Italian back on that list! I love that kid!
SO here is a little update I suppose.......I am really enjoying getting the house more and more in an I mentioned before routine was my middle name, but time always slipped away from me in the long run. I am really hoping some of my artistic hobbies can make a comeback and maybe even squeezing in a little room for exercising! Slow and steady though. Trying to implement a million changes doesn't work....but slowly adding some of these things has been hugely beneficial to me so far! It's encouraging! Even Dave has been more than impressed with dinner being on time and the kids all helping to keep the house neater and cleaner, and being better stewards of God's blessings. Don't get me wrong our house wasn't trashed before (though not perfect either) but now the whole family is getting in on the action instead of JUST me!!! And the more babes we add the more organization we need in order to have a mom that isn't frazzled all the time. We've given over to God the size of our family and trust He'll not overwhelm us or give us more than we can handle, but on our part it's what we do here with what He's given us!

And for the record I HAVE kept up on my 365...but it's hard to post them everyday! We were at a company party for my Dad doing photos this weekend and I think I am just now recovering from a crazy weekend! I'll update with those photos a little later when I have another break!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby Talk

Ellie really loves talking to the new baby. She is so sweet about it and just can't wait for the new baby to get here. Almost everday she talks to my belly, rubs, kisses and hugs our awaited arrival. I love it. I love that she is and always has been a very affectionate little girl. She was never Gracia's rival, never went through the jealousy phase of having a new baby in the house. And now I see it all over again. At an age where it's would be easy to understand the jealousy, when the world centers around "me"...but not Ellie. Such a sweet little love she is......

Baby Talk
January 13

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

{Incentives for littles}

Honestly I am not one that is BIG of rewarding good behavior with THINGS, or bribing them for being good. But I think I've found a way to have the kids work towards something special each week that helps them do a little better on their school work without me coercing them and reminding them constantly. I've come up with "Field Trip Fridays, Funday Fridays" or something to that alliterating affect.

They are still very young and really neither of them are even old enough for formal schooling but it's hard for me to get away from my teacher training! ( which by the way, I think in some ways is a blessing that I have an educational background and in some ways hinders the process) I do expect them to behave like they would in someone else's classroom, and I know they do in Sunday school and Awana and MBTA (for Jonah) but because it's ME, they tend to fool around a bit more and complain a bit more about not wanting to do things.

So for doing things such as sitting nicely during a lesson, completeing work without complaining, listening, particiapting, raising your hand, etc........they get little stickers for their chart. When the chart is filled up they are rewarded! Each week the kids will either choose (or maybe we'll pull things from a reward bag, I haven't decided just yet) one of these little rewards:

  • Special Movie time
  • Walking up the road for Shave Ice
  • Speical Time Baking treats with Mom
  • Puzzle Time
  • Special Craft Time (i've got a whole box of craft kits they've yet to work on!!)
  • Game Time with Mom
  • A Menchies frozen yogurt treat
  • Lunch and afternoon at the Playground
  • Special Fieldtrips like to the Zoo, Hoomaluhia Gardens, the Art Museum and other free or really cheap activities!
And if you have any other cheap or FREE ideas PLEASE let me know. I am not looking to buy them things, but reward great behavior with FUN things to do together. And of course all of these things we do anyway, but these are the special things I KNOW they enjoy! So far in 2 weeks of talking about all of this with them and coming up with ideas (mostly from them!!) already they've started to settle down and work easier during school. It's made life a little less stressful during those times! And besides I have about 2000 stickers I need to find a way to use before they end up stuck to the floors and walls!!!!

Do you use any kind of incentives for your littles, if so what sort of ideas do you have??

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm still here snapping photographs. I didn't take any Sunday, though I need to start taking my camera with me everywhere. I just need to. But I did manage to come through on Monday and today.

Prioritizing has really taken up a lot of my time lately. Not that I had my priorities totally out of whack, but I've been working harder on making this house run like a well oiled machine, and THAT takes more energy.

I've gone back to my Moppin' Mondays, Toilet Tuesdays, Washy Wednesday routine as well as employed chore charts that MUST be done before we go play with friends or have free time in the afternoons. I've also started peeking in on the Flylady website again. If you've never visited it's a must, it's interesting to say the least. I don't think I could ever adopt all of her ideas and routines but...I do love Kelly's missions and the Zones even if I don't do ALL of it. It's a little extra motivation!

With the help of the workbox system I've gotten school pretty well organized and plan the next day as soon as the current school day is over. I love the workboxes. No digging, no searching for supplies, it's all there ready to go!

Future Worship Leader
January 11

He writes his own lyrics to songs. They are so enduring.
"God you are Glorious, for you made me so special"

January 12

Lately she is so worn out from school she falls asleep at her high chair. I think I'm giving her too much homework!
I hope you know I am kidding.....she plays while we do school.....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Beach Day

Only in Hawaii can you go to the beach in the middle of winter!

It was a beautiful day and we spent it with some great friends and their adorable twins! It's so nice to sit and enjoy the company of those you feel you have so much in common with!

In fact I was having so much fun I only grabbed the camera once to take some photos, I wish I had taken the time to snap a few more. I had visions of a big pile of sandy feet, but when you are enjoying yourself....some of these things are left out!

Winter Beach Day
January 9

After a long day, this little princess was a little tired!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Knittin' pretty

Crayola Longies
January 8

I've only been knitting for 2 years now. And I don't have tons of projects hanging from my needles. They take me a long time to finish, technically because I don't have the time to sit and knit! I try and get a few rows in while we are driving to and from church, or late at night if we are watching something on TV. But just sitting and knitting isn't an option.

But I love it. It's quiet, slow and peaceful. My favorite things to knit are covers for cloth diapers. I've made longies, shorties, skirties and plain ole covers! My yarn of choice is pure Merino wool, natural so that I can dye it what ever colors I feel like. I have only dyed wool using kool~aide. It's fun and yummy smelling.....

I've been working on these since crayola longies for Gracie. I've got to finish them before she grows out of them!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sisters in the Morning

Our bed is the meeting place in the mornings. As each child gets up they climb up on the bed and snuggle in with us, usually Ellie at around 6am (or earlier) Gracie doesn't awake until after 7 and then Jonah a little later. With a growing belly (that I MUST photograph soon!!) it gets a little squishy with 5 people trying to fit on a queen size, but it's such a sweet time. This morning Ellie was especially tired and Gracia was enjoying just being near her sister.

I don't want to make it seem like I don't photograph Jonah, I do. In fact today he got ready to go play outside by putting Dave's enormous shoes on his little feet. I loved that they didn't even match AND they were on the wrong feet.

As you can already tell most of my photographs will be about my little munchkins. Unashamedly they are my life. I like it that way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Morning Rain

Okay it's been 2 days, I've reread my camera manual and have committed to shooting in manual whenever possible (in other words unless I need a flash which won't fire in manual)

You know it's actually harder for me to choose just one photo than it is for me to TAKE the photo. But already it's made me grab my camera more times in 2 days than I probably have in a few months. I'm keeping it out and charged and ready to go!

(January 4th)

Morning Rain
January 6th
This little girl will do anything to get into the rain, just like her daddy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

365 Photo Project

It's certainly not a new idea, however it's new to me.

The beginning of a new year always brings aspirations, resolutions, goals, changes. One of those for me has been to get back into photography for myself as an art and release. It used to be that until life and the chaos of it took over and I put my camera down.

So i'm picking it up again.

I can't promise fine art or stunning photographs. But my goal is to stick with it throughout 2010. The good, bad, artistic and ugly. It'll be here.


Lessons in Becoming a Drill Sargent

Okay so my goal is not to be a drill Sargent exactly, I don't want to be yelling in people's faces and telling them to drop and give me 20 BUT......I have decided that Dave and I do entirely too much around here and the kids certainly can help a little (to their ability)!!!!! I've been listing and brainstorming for a while now, asking Dave for advice, etc....and today I will hopefully have enough time to complete chore charts for everyone (including Jon!!!)

I first noticed this a few months ago when Dave and I would spend 30-60 minutes in the kitchen cleaning it after a meal while the kids played and goofed off, (ie making a mess) in the living room. I thought to myself, "Hey now! This doesn't seem to be so fair!!!" So I asked Jonah and Ellie to clear the table, Jon wipes and sweeps (or wipes) under the table, the chairs and the high chair....that literally cut off about 20 minutes for us~! That was my first taste of success and it won't be the last!!!

It's really not that I don't want to serve my family or that I want to make them my little slaves, but I do want to help them in learning team work, responsibility, being good stewards of what we've been given as well as service. Adding to the family always brings more mess and more to do and honestly I just can't keep up with it and homeschool and have the responsibilities that I do at church. I've been focusing so much on schooling, meals and the house that I haven't been doing a great job in other areas....

So I've come up with daily (attainable) chores for each of them to do. I'm not sure about allowance just yet. We did it earlier but then it only resulted in more toys in this house and I don't think that is a good way to spend money. So maybe saving up for something would be a better goal (something for later on to consider anyway).

Well I'm really just kidding here but the girl can help clean up her toys and put her dirty clothes in the hamper (which she does well and enjoys!)

Still a wee bit young but.....she can still::
clean her room
empty the recycling (1xwk)
clear the table
put her own laundry away (as needed)
{help} rake/pick up leaves (2xmonth)
{help} wash the dog (2xmonth)
{help} clean out the car (gather toys and put them away)
{help} straighten the backyard (toys and misc)
clean the downstairs bathroom mirror (this girl loves this job, I think she just may like looking at herself in the mirror!!) (1xwk)

clean his room
empty bathroom trash (3xwk)
clear the table
Vaccum the living room (he really loves this job too, promise) (1xwk)
bring the kids laundry hamper downstairs to the washer (1-2xwk)
put his own laundry away (as needed)
{help} rake/pick up leaves (2xmonth)
{help}wash the dog (2xmonth)
{help} clean out the car (pick up the trash)
{help} clean up backyard (toys and misc)
clean the downstairs bathroom sink and counter (1xwk)

keep his room/things neat
fold his laundry (1-2xwk)
pick up doggie poo (everyday)
unload the dishwasher (every morning)
take out kitchen and office trash (as needed or when asked)
vaccum upstairs (1xwk)
fold kitchen towels (as needed)
{help} rake/pick up leaves (2xmonth)
{help}wash the dog (2xmonth)
wash the van or SUV (1-2xmonth)
{help} clean up backyard area (toys and misc)
clean the downstairs toilet and shower (1xwk)

So next step is to make the charts and then have a little family meeting and have a little talk. For a long long time the kids have done little more than clean their rooms and pick up their own toys. I then added the laundry a little while ago after getting the littles their own little laundry baskets that they could lift and carry on their own. They actually have really great attitudes about helping and often offer, ask and beg to help me do things like vacuum and mop! Or wiping the walls with the magic eraser! They love that one! They also love charts!! So hopefully we can get this family going in the right direction helping us ALL keep the house in better shape than what I have been able to accomplish on my own.

Do your kids have chores?? If so what do you have them do? I'm always looking for ideas!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Generic Resolutions::Organizational Solutions

I actually have a serious post for what I really resolve for this New Year......but that is for tomorrow....or the nexy and yesterday I've been thinking and working out some new organizational ideas for the new decade. Adding to the family with Jon as well as with the new little one in May always adds a little bit of chaos for a while, so way BEFORE that happens again. I am revamping my household happenings!

First things is the menu! For long enough I've heard about Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) been intrigued, and have never gotten farther than gathering recipes. Then one day at church a friend came in and showed me the 2 cookbooks she found at Sam's club and we started chatting about the whole thing. I told her I had heard about it and really wanted to try it out and just hadn't. The next week she gifted me with a copy of the book! I was so excited about her kindness I knew I had to try it!

Resolution #1:: Menu/Meal Plan Once a Month for the WHOLE month

Yes sirree. Can you believe I've been meal planning and shopping every week for years???? Okay Costco and such is not once a week, but man.....52 weeks of meal planning! There were times I would do 2 weeks at a time and that was helpful. No more. I want to do this only 12 times this year. I know, sounds a little out there. But I really believe it will make my life SO much easier. I do realize that I will still have to run to the store for quick consumables like milk, fruits and veggies, etc. But the bulk of what I need will be done in one trip instead of 4! Exciting! Cutting down on lists and driving, loading and unloading! Priceless! At least it was this first month!

This month I planned (and made and froze!!) 9 meals in two days. I broke it up because I just couldn't fit it all in one day with it being New Years and it seemed easier to break up the cooking part. I tried to chose a few meals I was only making the marinade for and adding frozen chicken or meat to freeze, and a few meals that needed some cooking before freezing. All the meals only need to be thawed and baked or reheated though! Those I will save for the days I am really tired and just want something easy to do instead of doing all the chopping and prep on that day. I have enough for at least 2 per week during the month. I am thinking that should REALLY take a load off. It did take a little while to plan, to make shopping lists, sift through the cabinet to see what we had. But now that I am done it was totally worth it!

A fwe hints I've already learned from doing it once::
  • find recipes that have some similar ingredients to save money. ie. Once recipe called for Bread crumbs, find another one so they don't go bad before the next month....
  • do all your chopping of similar ingredients together, onions, peppers etc. then add only what you need at a time.
  • Make sure the kitchen is clean before you start.
  • Use the same utensils and pots and pans washing in between, and cleaning as you go.
  • Visist Mom's Budget website and print yourself out a planner!!
  • Write notes on that planner about anything extra you'll need to do or temp and time info for reheating and baking.
  • Buy everything you can in bulk, it will save you money in the long run I promise!
So this months Menu looks like this::
Frozen Meals
Chicken Broccoli casserole
Sour Cream chicken
Chicken Supreme
Smothered Burritos
Southwestern Chicken
Pepper Steak stir fry
Spinach Soup
Ham and Cheese Bake
Carribean Jerk Chicken

Fresh Meals to be Made

Beef Broccoli
Chicken paremesean
Spam and rice
Stuffed Bell peppers
Sweet and sour pork

So all I have yet to do is fill out my little calendar and place it on the fridge for easy use!! I'm writing in my planner each last week of the month to get started on the next month's meal planning as a reminder. With so much going on in our house and family I am hoping this is one way to help ease a little stress of the day. I'm on a mission here folks.

Stay tuned for more resolutions for this new year as I explore a new book "Managers of their Homes" or MOTH as well as how I going to become a drill sergeant and whip this house and those in it into organizational shape! I've decided Dave and I do entirely too much around here while the others sit and watch us try and catch up with everything. I've been coming up with ideas to get the whole family to work together.......


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