Monday, November 16, 2015

Cutting the Monday Madness

Mondays never really seem to be very fun, but I have found that it helps if I am prepared for the day.  I may not wake up bright and chipper every day, but I do wake up with goals in mind of what I want to accomplish each day.  I usually have a list of things I need to get done, a list of what extra things I would like to get done that day, and a list of on going projects to be worked on.  It sounds like a lot to do, but I am really just talking about breaking down the to-do list and making it manageable.  My Monday might look like this:

Have To Do:
A load of laundry (notice I just aim to get 1 load done, I try to do one load a day)

Would like to also work on:
Take out trash
Cleaning the mirrors and glass doors
Go through mail from the weekend
Zone Mission (I use the FlyLady system for cleaning so I follow her mission plans, check it out.)

On Going Projects:
Cleaning out the pantry
Craft projects
Rearranging the cabinets
Deep cleaning a room

I have found that separating what has to be done from what I wish I could accomplish in a day takes a lot of the stress off of me and I don't feel the need to be Super Woman and try and accomplish everything all in one day, especially on a Monday.  Mondays are the day everyone tends to drag and just feel sluggish.  They use to be horrible for me because I tried to get a week's worth of things done in one day and never accomplished half of the things on my list.  I just set myself up for failure.  I realized, I can't do it all.  Even the tasks I have listed I don't do all by myself.  I do have my kids help me with chores.  It isn't wrong, it is teaching them how to care for their home someday and it teaches them responsibility.

One of the tasks we have on Mondays (and every week day during our school year) is school.  This year I knew I needed to do a better job of staying on top of our school and being ready.  If I am ready for each school day and I have my part ready to go, it encourages the kids to have their stuff ready to go for school.  We do school, for the most part, at our dining room table which is right in front of our patio door.  We do have a room in our basement we use too, but I have found it easier and less distracting to work at the table for everyone.  I started something this year that is really working for me.  We use our patio door as our "chalkboard" all the time.  I used to use window markers on them, but I didn't like the way they clean off the glass or rather that they don't clean off the glass very well at all so I started using washable markers instead.  The washable markers clean off the glass well and don't leave near as much residue.   Anyway, every morning before school starts (or sometimes the night before if I am really on it) I make a list of what books/subjects each child needs to bring to school for the day.  This way there is no guessing, no forgetting to bring a book, or lost time spent searching for the books we need.  This has cut a lot of the madness out of our school days.  The kids know exactly which books they need and which subjects we will be working on.  This is what our patio door looks like on school days:

I am finding that it is the little things of being prepared that are really helping our days to go smoothly, especially on Mondays.  It doesn't seem to take as much time as I thought it would to plan ahead and it really is a huge blessing to have things already ready.  Next week I will share another way I help our days go smoother.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Recap

It has been a crazy busy week here, but a fun one.  Remember when I posted my menu plan for the month I had a couple of special meals and top secret meals on there?  Those meals were because I knew we would be out of town.  My hubby had a business trip to Cincinnati and we were able to go with him on it.  We took our school and did school in the hotel room during the day and then played in the pool when we were done.  We also spent one day going to our (okay, MY) favorite places to check them out and stock up on items.

This trip was unique because we surprised the kids.  They actually earned their surprise earlier this year, but because of timing and cost it did not work out until now.  First I will tell you how they earned their surprise.  We made a goal of reading 100 books in a year as a family sometime in the middle of 2014.  We decided that we would pay a certain amount for each book read to a jar and build up a little slush fund.  As we got closer to finishing our 100 books, we decided we wanted to do something fun with our fund we had accumulated.  The kids decided a trip to Great Wolf Lodge would be the motivation they needed to get the books read.  My kids do read a lot for school because our curriculum is highly reading based, but I like to see them read for fun too so our goal encouraged them to do so.  We met our goal of 100 books in the Spring of 2015, but like I said the timing and cost of Great Wolf Lodge did not work out until this Fall.  The kids were okay with it because we have done some other fun stuff throughout the year.  So the kids thought we were going to stay in just a regular hotel and we let them think that.  They had no clue that we were going to the Great Wolf Lodge and that was a fun surprise.  As I got out of the car to check in at the lodge, my son just kept saying, "Are you messing with me?"  They couldn't get the car unpacked and their swimsuits on fast enough.  They were super excited.  That was our Sunday afternoon through Tuesday evening when we traveled back home.  Thank goodness for homeschooling and being able to take our school with us, we didn't get behind and they got work done before the pools opened each day.

While we were in Cincinnati I took the opportunity to go to Jungle Jim's, which I first posted about a couple of years ago.  It is an international supermarket that is just super cool in my opinion.  I stocked up on a few items that I just can't find around here or at a very good price on the Internet.  The look on the cashier's face was priceless as she rang up the items I had multiples of.  I am not sure she got the fact that Cincinnati is a once or if I am lucky twice a year trip for me.  We also went to Trader Joe's.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this store, but all of them around me are at least 2 hours away.  So whenever I get near one, I stock up on items.  They are reasonably priced and they have so many items that fit into my eating plan.  Our other favorite stop in Cincinnati is Ikea.  I so LOVE that place.  I am pretty sure that I could buy one of everything in the store, but I showed great restraint and did not buy one of everything...this time.  I only bought a few items that I had really been looking for, mainly because we were out of room in the rental car.

Wednesday was back to school and a church night for us.  We heard a great message in our teen room from a Veteran on Veteran's Day.  Thursday was school and errands.  I might have been to Michael's Craft Stores a couple of times this week.  I am participating in a few Christmas craft swaps this year and had a couple of 25% off coupons that I needed  wanted to use.  Just because we were out and about near a Starbucks and they were doing a BOGO deal, I picked up coffee for hubby and I.  The bonus came when we were at the window paying and the clerk said they had made an extra cup of coffee that was not what a customer wanted, would we like it?  SURE!!!  The kiddos had fun splitting a Peppermint Mocha.  On to today - Friday - we are finishing up school for the week, having Pizza Soup for dinner, and just hanging out on this cold, windy day.  It has been a crazy busy week, but definitely a good one.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

17 Years and Counting

Seventeen years ago today, I told this man "I do."  I pledged to love, honor, and cherish him for all the days of my life.  We made a commitment in front of God, family, and friends.  We blinked that day and here we are 17 years later.  I still do.  I love this man to pieces.  He is a rock for me, he leads our family, he is Godly, he is kind, he is helpful, he is hilarious, he is wonderful, and he is mine.  I am SO grateful that God chose this man for me.  I love my handsome hubby and I can't wait for the next 100 years with him!!!
(This photo is courtesy of Photography by V, from our Fall photo shoot last year)

Friday, November 6, 2015

November Menu Plan

I admit it, I am not consistent at menu planning at all.  I go through phases where I plan for a week or two and then something throws it off and I stop planning and just wing the dinner menu plan.  Just winging it leads to eating out, going over the food budget, and wasting what is in the fridge.  It becomes frustrating.  So on Sunday morning, my hubby asked if we had a plan for lunch and I had to admit, I did not have a all.  My hubby is all for planning and that is a quality I love about him, because I am the one who likes to wing it and gets caught in a mess more often than not.  I knew I needed to stop being lazy about it and put together a menu plan for the rest of the month.  Once I sat down and started figuring it out, I actually created a dinner menu plan for the rest of the year, but I am just going to list out November's plan for now.  Never fear though, I promise to put up December's menu plan as that month gets closer.  I created our menu plan based on what we have in our freezer and recipes that we love or want to try from Pinterest.

Here is our menu plan for November:

2 - Salmon with zucchini and butternut squash fries
3 - Potato soup
4 - Green Beans, Potatoes, & Kielbasa
5 - BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
6 - Pizza (Fridays are always pizza nights and I make some sort of pizza each week)
7 - Enchilada Bake
8 - Special plans
9 - Top Secret
10 - Top Secret
11 - Pretzel Dogs
12 - Skillet Chicken and Spinach Parmesan
13 - Pizza
14 - Just Like Real Lasagna
15 - Vegetable Beef Stew
16 - Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole
17 - Tilapia
18 - Hamburgers
19 - Nancy Soup - a recipe named for the friend who created it
20 - Pizza
21 - Tacos
22 - Taco Soup
23 - Cheeseburger Soup
24 - Beef & Broccoli
25 - Burrito Bowls
27 - Pizza
28 - To Be Announced
29 - Ham & Bean Soup
30 - Zuppa Toscana

You can find some of the recipes here on my Pinterest board, titled November Menu Plan.  Not all of the recipes are there because some of them don't require a recipe and some of the recipes are something I decide the day we have it, i.e. pizza.  Our Friday night pizza and what kind of pizza I fix depends on how we are feeling and what kind of pizza we are craving.  Also some of the recipes you might find on my other Pinterest boards.  I have listed some Top Secret Days, I do have a plan for those but I can't share it just yet with you.  Lastly our menu around Thanksgiving is very flexible because I am never quite sure how long family will stay and what we will be doing. While I always think it will take forever to menu plan, it really ends up saving me time and money because there is no guessing what will be for dinner, no unplanned trips out to eat, and no throwing away food because we didn't use it.  For now I just planned out dinners, but I want to get better at planning lunches and breakfasts too, but one step at a time....right?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Fun

I LOVE FALL!!!  I love the changing of the leaves, pumpkins, cooler temps, sweatshirts, and tall boots.  Bring it on!  I can't believe how quickly this fall is passing by.  Tomorrow is already Halloween and Sunday is November, really?  Really...sigh...  Today I thought I would share some of the fun fall things we have been doing and lately I have been getting most of my ideas from Pinterest.  I LOVE that site, (you can follow me and my crazy number of pins by following the link in my sidebar) I get lost there in a good way. 

We had a lot of fun coloring these doodle pumpkins this week.  It was fun to see how each one of the kids colored them differently and they turned out very pretty.  I used these stained glass fall leaves when I taught the preschool class at home school group last week.  They were very easy to do with the 3-5 year old class and my kiddos were asking to make some too.  So I would say they are perfect for any age and they will be pretty on your windows for fall.  We also spent some time the week painting pumpkins which is one of our favorite ways of decorating the pumpkins on our porch.  I really wanted to use this crayon technique on my pumpkin this year, but when I painted my pumpkin we were at our church teen Harvest Party.  So I ended up painting my pumpkin with black chalk paint and white glow in the dark paint.  It turned out pretty cool in my opinion.  (I will try and post a pic of it).  I also love pumpkin drinks which are available now in pretty much every coffee shop, but I like to make my own at home versions that are cheaper and I can usually make many from just one can of pumpkin, here is one I have tried the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Here is also one of my favorite pumpkin pancakes recipes.  I have to admit though, I eat it year round.  There are a ton more pumpkin recipes, crafts, and projects on my Pinterest boards that I want to do, but just haven't gotten around to them yet. 

Let me know if you check out these pins or try any of them.  I would love to see how they turned out for you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weight-loss Wednesday

I have been on a journey for a little over a year now and I think it is time that I share my journey with you.  The journey I have been on is not for everyone and some will say that it was not necessary, but it was necessary to me.  The journey I have been on is a weight loss journey.  In July of 2014 I knew that I needed to do something about my weight.  Many will say I was not that overweight or not that heavy, but the truth is my weight was really affecting my health.  My weight was affecting my asthma, my energy level, and my ability to keep up with my family.  I had discussed my need to lose weight with my doctor and she did agree that losing weight would help my health and she provided very sensible ideas for me.  The ideas she talked about lined up with an eating plan that a friend introduced me to.  My friend had been introduced to the plan by her friend who saw much success and my friend was having success on the eating plan so I decided to find the book and try it.  I really had nothing to lose (but weight) and I was at the point that I knew I had to do something.  So I jumped in....

In July of 2014 I started on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  This plan is super easy, once you figure out the basics, and it doesn't require me to fix separate meals for my family.  They can eat exactly the same meals as I do and they like the on plan meals I fix.  The basics of the plan are to cut out the white things in your diet - white sugar, potatoes, white bread, white (regular) flour, base your meal on protein, and load up on the veggies.  Trim Healthy Mama focuses on keeping your blood sugar levels even so they don't spike (high or low) and cause big crashes which cause cravings, overeating, and lead to grabbing the first thing in front of you which in my case it used to be a not so healthy option.  I love that on the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) plan all of the foods are normal foods and many of the foods I already kept in my pantry and fridge.  The THM plan focuses on one meal at a time and if you have an "off plan" meal, you don't blow your whole way of eating and have to start all over.  If you go "off plan," you just jump right back in with your next snack or meal.  I am not hungry all the time anymore and I don't crave sweets ALL the time like I did when I was addicted to regular sugar.  I am very happy with the results I have had so far and I am very fulfilled with the food I eat.  I can eat at home, on the go, and at my favorite restaurants.  It is easy and I don't feel deprived at all.  The THM plan is not for everyone, but it does work.  I am not saying you should run out and try it, I am merely saying it is working for me.

I have lost almost 30 pounds and I am feeling much better.  The doctor is very happy with my results so far and she knows and has approved me losing more.  It took me almost a year to get the 30 pounds off, but I am okay with that.  I have learned a lot along the way and I feel by it coming off slowly, I will be able to maintain my weight loss.  You will see in my side bar that I am an affiliate for the Trim Healthy Mama store.  This just means when you shop through my link I earn a little extra money to buy my own products from the store.  Please feel free to check out the store through that link and order if you would like to.  Let me know if you decide to try THM for yourself.  I would love to cheer you on through your journey.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Funday

Fridays!  Oh how I love you!  I LOVE Fridays.  They mean the weekend is coming, family time, and a relaxed schedule for the weekend.  No setting the alarm clock extra early on the weekend and no going to bed early to be up at the crack of dawn the next day.  These are just a few of the reasons I love Friday.  I also love it because school usually takes us a little less time on Fridays.  We almost always finish our school by lunch on Fridays (we don't eat lunch until about 1:00).  Fridays are just an all-around laid back day for us.  It is the day my hubby can usually be home earlier and the day we just get to chill for the evening.

Friday is also officially "pizza night" in our house.  We started this tradition earlier this year and it is a blessing to me because I know what will be for dinner on at least one night a week.  Sometimes we order pizza on Fridays, but more often than not, I make some version of pizza at home - calzones, thin crust pizza, deep dish pizza, pizza casserole, cauliflower crust pizza, or some other variation.  I guess now I will have to share some of my pizza recipes sometime.

Fridays also tend to be a game night for us.  Some of our favorite family games right now are Tenzi, Skipbo, Phase Ten, Uno, Yahtzee, and Farkle.  We own tons of games, but it seems we have been in a dice and cards phase lately.  We usually eat our pizza and then throw down some games while listening to music or watching TV.  It is a fun, family evening.  I am happy we have this tradition in our family.  It gives us something to look forward to all week.  What do you do for Friday Funday?