Monday, April 30, 2012

40 x 40 - Not a complete Fail

Last week I turned 40, which is really not that traumatic as most people think.  It probably helps that I'm the youngest of 4 kids which means that all of my brothers turned 40 LONG before I did (and, dare I say it, one is even knocking on the door of 50 .. now THAT's old! HA!) I should also mention that all of my sisters-in-law are also older than me so being the last of the group to hit "big" numbers kinda makes it anti-climatic. 

When I first started this blog way back in the day, one of the trends I noticed on other blogs was writing goal lists such as "30 x 30", 40 x40, or even 101 in 1001 (101 goals in 1001 days) so it got me thinking at the time that I had about 1 1/2 years to accomplish 40 things on my to do list.  Now that I'm past that mile stone, I thought I'd do a full recap of what I accomplished, what I didn't, what I couldn't and what I wish I had completed.  This will probably be a slightly long post so skip it if you would like :-)

The Final Update:

1. Make a Rag Quilt - I can honestly say that when I wrote this list I was positive that I would get this done.  Well, that didn't happen.  This is still something I would like to accomplish . . . eventually.

2. Learn to Belly Dance - I never did order the disc I found, not sure why, but I still want to accomplish this eventually too.

3. Take a Ballroom dancing class with my husband - This is just not the time to accomplish this idea.  We live too far from town and with little kids it's hard to do something in the evening.  Maybe someday but I'm ok if it never happens too.

4. Be Completely current on all scrapbooking projects - THIS IS DONE!! WHOO WHOO!!  I still have pages to print but they are done and that is all that matters.  I'm currently working on March 2012.  Yes, you read that right.  I have pages printed through September 2009 and in an album.  The company I use for page prints has a sale twice a year - the next one is in September so I plan on saving money through then and order as many pages as I have money - with the sale I'll be able to get at least 25-30 pages "free". 

5.  Finish my first quilt -- This is done and I love seeing it :-)

6.  Eat in the 1913 Room - This restaurant closed.  I can be honest and say that after looking more at the menu for the place I did not want to go.  Instead we went to Charlie's Crab and loved it. 

7.  Learn to make the perfect cheesecake - This one seemed so easy HA  I just never made one . . .how lame is that??

8.  Reach my goal weight - Oh well.  We can't win them all!!

9.  Read through the Bible in the year - I never made it all the way through but I did make it further than I ever had before. 

10.  Plant a Vegetable garden - Done!!

11.  Can beets, pickles, tomatoes, salsa and jam - Done!

12.  Re-learn Claire Delune on the piano - I did work on this but never spent the time that I really needed to on it.  Practicing piano is just now making it back into the priority list.

13.  Go to a regular seasons Lions Game - Tickets are so expensive . . . one day we'll go!

14.  Go to a bra specialist - Done (guess what, you can do it at home and get the same measurement.  This really wasn't that big of a deal)

15.  Renovate my kitchen from top to bottom - I ended up dividing my kitchen into a few phases and phase one is almost done so I'm counting this as DONE!!!

16.  Put myself on a bone morrow transplant list - still need to do this. 

17.  Attend a Sandy Patty concert - Still waiting for her to come in concert somewhere local.

18.  Walk on the treadmill 4 days a week for three months - I thought about it, does that count???

19.  Be making $1000.00 a month from home - I thought this would be "easy" but everything I've looked into hs not worked.  I'm still working to find that one thing that will help us out!

20.  Take a cooking class - I'm still looking . . ..

21.  Tae a photography class - DONE!

22.  Learn to make jewelry - This is one project I just didn't get into . . I'd still like to do it but right now I have other projects that take my time and money.

23.  Ride on one of the two Great Lake Boats - I looked into this a few times but it just didn't work into our plans .

24.  Take a train to Chicago and stay overnight downtown - this is STILL on the list. 

25.  See Wicked - this one is also STILL on the list!

26.  See the Rockettes live - if they come back to Grand Rapids, I will go!

27.  Watch the Harlem Globetrotters in person -I'm hoping that maybe this coming January we can go - the boys will be big enough to enjoy it now.

28.  Sew an Apron - I got one for Christmas - that was easier than sewing :-)

29.  Cook clean for one week - Tried it. . .well read about it . . not happening HA!

30.  Attend a concert in the Park - Darryl's schedule just hasn't allowed this to happen but I'm hopeful we can do it this coming summer.

31.  Do a sole sensations treatment on my feet - if there is ever a spa in Michigan that does this, I will figure out how to get it done!

32. Join a Book Club - Done!  Not my favorite thing though.

33.  Get a German Shepherd - We still plan to do this - the timing just hasn't been right.

34.  Invite Lisa LaPlante for dinner - I tried; she declined.

35.  Make Three specific photo books - I made some progress on this but it isn't done.

36.  Learn CPR - DONE!

37.  Eat at the longest breakfast table in Battle Creek - I am planning to do it this summer - we have a family party that day but it will only take us about 30 minutes out of our way so I plan on doing both!

38.  Potty Train both of my children - Apparently my boys can read, saw this and said "NO WAY MOM!"   Now I'm just hoping they are out of diapers by the time they leave home :-/

39.  Win a Makeover from one of our local stations - I tried.  many times.

40.  Take my husband to see the Christmas lights and ride the train at Crossroads Village - He did ride the train but we have not make it to see the lights!

So, that's it.  I do plan on writing a new list .. now sure how I will "theme" it yet but I'm working on it . .. something to work towards.  What can I say? I'm a planner!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Carry Me To The Cross

The other day, while driving to get the boys haircut, I heard this song on the radio by Kutless.  I've always been a Kutless fan and this song did not disappoint. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekly Menu - April 27th

Last week I had quite a few new recipes to try out.  One I shared on Friday and another one I hope to share next week.  These all came from searching Pinterest so in true Pinterest style I did want to share one that wasn't so great.  The recipe comes from Just Get off your Butt and Bake and is for Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu.  One of my goals this summer is to use my crock pot alot so I'm trying to experiment with recipes like this one.
So, I want to say first that this recipe tasted fine.  It just didn't really blow my socks off.  My "thing" with crock pot meals is that I shouldn't have to do all of the work first and this one required a lot of prep.  Now, if there are tons of steps, then it had better rock my world.  See I had to 1)Pound the chicken 2)wrap the chicken (which is not as easy as it sounds 3)brown the chicken 4) make the sauce.  WHEW  Too much work!!  Oh well - they can't all be winners, right?

So now for this coming week.  We are coming up on a vacation so this week I'm trying to cut way back on my grocery budget to allow for some extra money on vacation. 

Saturday: My kids are going to hang with my mother-in-law while Darryl and I go out for the day for my Birthday (which was Friday)

Sunday:  This is going to be a "simple" day as I have a concert in the afternoon and don't want to have to squeeze in cooking around getting ready.  I'm planning Pot Pies for Darryl and I and Chicken Noodle Soup for the kids.

Monday: Oven BBQ Chicken Thighs, Beefy Noodles, and Corn (Remember - I said I was going to make this every week HA!)

Tuesday: Simple Spaghetti and Garlic Bread with Green Beans.  (Simple just means open a jar - not home made.  If I can get 1/4 pound of ground beef, I'll add a that to the jar otherwise it will be meatless)

Wednesday: Pancakes and Bacon

Thursday: The second bag of Teryiaki Chicken that I made last week, Rice, and Rolls

Friday: Chicken Tenders, Mac and Cheese, and Peas

Saturday:  Normally I don't go past Friday but in planning the grocery list this week I want to include Saturday and Sunday before we leave.  We are going to do Burgers on the grill and Corn on the Cob

Sunday: I've planned breakfast - Biscuits and Gravy - since I can make the gravy on Saturday.  We'll eat this, clean up and head out!!!   

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food Friday - Homemade Shake-n-Bake Pork Chops

I mentioned last week that I found some of my Pinterest recipes that I wanted to try and this is one of them.  The blog named this "The Best Pork Chop Recipe Ever". . .I changed the name because it really did remind me of good ol' Shake-N-Bake. 

Homemade Shake-n-Bake Pork Chops
adapted from Crazy Horse Ghost

This is a great recipe.  I cooked mine at 350 degrees for 1 hour and they turned out perfectly.  I noticed that on the original post that the suggestion was made to shake off the extra Ranch Dressing but I didn't notice any problems with mine - they turned out crunchy. 

For Your Pork Chop Recipe You Will Need.
1. Ranch Dressing In A Bottle.
2. 3 Cups Fine Dry Italian Bread Crumbs.
3. 1 Small Package Dry Italian Dressing Mix.
4. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese.
5. 1 Tablespoon Dry Powdered Garlic.
6. 6 Large Loin Pork Chops.

You will want to mix ingredients 2 - 5 in a large bowl and mix together very well. Now pour a layer of ranch dressing out into a plate. Take one pork chop at a time and coat it on the plate with ranch dressing and then put the pork chop with the ranch dressing on it into the large bowl with the bread crumbs and coat it well on all sides. Add more ranch dressing to the plate if you need to.
Have your tin foil lined baking pan setting there ready. Spray the tinfoil with vegetable cooking spray. Place your breaded pork chops onto the tinfoil covered pan and once you have all your pork chops on the pan place it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the thick part of your pork chops reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. As soon as your pork chops are done remove from the pan and serve as soon as possible.

I served this with baked potatoes, Macaroni and Cheese, Pickles and Olives. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I'm Reading - for Real

I figured it is time to get back to sharing some books! 

On Little Wings by REgina Sirois is a fantastic book.  It is one of those books that reads like you are in the story and you become part of the family.  It is a story of a young girl who discovers a photo that opens up her family history and sends her on an adventure to restore many hurts.  I will say that as well written as it is there were a few slow places that I had to get through and the end, sorry to say, I found slightly anti-climatic after the build-up throughout the book.  I wanted more and didn't get it but maybe she'll write more later. 

Just recently I started reading Saving Hope by Margaret Daley.  The premise is surrounding a large prostitution ring in Texas that targets young girls.  The main character in the book runs a home that takes these girls in and tries to help them recreate their lives.  Several of the girls begin to face some desperate situations and a Texas Ranger becomes involved in solving the case.  So far it is a pretty good book - it isn't as well written as some but I haven't stopped reading it yet :-)

I actually have some non-Kindle books that I'm going to read next - my mom brought me a book in one of my favorite series along with another book she said she couldn't put down. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Wedding Day

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a wedding for a good friend.  Jeremy, the groom, and I have known each other for close to 20 years so, needless to say, to be able to watch him marry his true love was a joy.  On a side note, this was the first big event I attended since getting my new camera and I was thrilled to be able to "play"! 

The did something I've never seen for the Unity Ceremony; they did a Unity Tree.  Yes, that is a live tree and, instead of lighting candles, when it was time for the Unity portion of the service, they each poured a vase of dirt onto the base of the tree.  The pastor talked about how the roots of tree grow deeper through the years and, when it is watered, it bears fruit each year and gets stronger.   I'm assuming that they planted it in their yard but who knows!

I love all of the creative ideas people use now for the ends of pews.  Personally, I made big white, green and gold bows and loved them but, had I known about this idea with the frames, I might have used it.  The bride found this idea on Pinterest and it was too cute.  Each frame held a photo of the bride or groom.  Such an adorable way to show off photos. 

 I had to include photos of the couple :-)  I love this last one above - this was after they had poured the dirt on the tree, while a song was being sung, they took time to pray. (At least that is what I think they are doing!)
 I'm not sure if you can see the little frames on her flowers in this photo but those frames held photos of special people that are no longer here, such as the groom's dad. This is another idea that she found on Pinterest and, after looking through her posts on some of her wedding boards, I think she also got the idea for her bouquet from there as well. 

 The kiss (of course - a favorite photo of everyone!!) and the big celebration when they were pronounced husband and wife. 
 I know that the bride spent a lot of time creating these table numbers and she was so excited about them!!  Can you guess where she found this idea?  (ummm Pinterest).  The bonus is that their Monogram ("B) on the front is attached with velcro so it can be removed and then be used by someone else.
 These were the centerpieces on the table.  Again, her inspiration came from Pinterest - but not one specific idea that I found.  They were beautiful and simple.

As is popular right now, they did a cupcake stand for dessert.  What they did differently was that they did the "famous" cake feeding activity before the meal was served.  That way, once people were done eating, they could just get cake. 

They did some other great things during the reception - the bridal party was introduced and each couple did something creative as they entered.  The bride and groom walked in with big glasses and the bride showing off her awesome green tennies.
When they got to the center, on the dance floor, a song started and they danced an awesome routine.  I mean, it was fantastic and everyone loved it.  I wish I could have recorded it.

One last thing that the bride has done that is really truly one of the best ideas I've heard.  All of those things she used - the frames for the photos on the pews, the items for the centerpieces - from vases to the mirrors, the lanterns that hung from the ceiling at the reception . .. she sold it all on Craig's List.  She listed it the week after the wedding and most of it was gone within a week.  Such a smart idea!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Too Cute Not To Toot

So, folks, I'm digging for new ideas!!!  Lets see how we do!

One of those "out there" projects I've wanted to put together are quiet bags for the boys - bags full of fun stuff to do to keep them quiet or to entertain them in the car, at the doctor, or even if we are at some one's home.  I love this idea that was shared over at Craftomaniac for using up Easter eggs (did I share this idea already???).  Well, even if I did - the tutorial here is fantastic so I'm sharing it anyway!

A friend of mine posted this next idea in facebook and it is from Chez Beeper Bebe.  Even though it is for something she has created and sells in her Etsy store, I love the idea.  You could easily modify this to make it something you could make at home.

Wow, this is really a dry spell.  I'm just not finding the ideas that inspire me lately.  I've run into this a few times in the past and it usually happens when there is a BIG space between holidays.  Oh well!!  At least I have less projects to want to make :-)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Painted Mason Jars with Photo Flowers

I recently posted about my niece's Bridal Shower, sharing lots of photos of all of the decor and some of the games.  Being unusually crafty, I made most of the items for the shower so, over the next few weeks, I'm going to share everything :-)

Several weeks ago, I shared two ideas in a Too Cute Not to Toot post which inspired this idea.  Those two ideas looked like this:

Obviously, the Mason Jar is pretty self explanatory as far as an idea.  The flowers are great, aren't they?  Notice that mind look nothing like that?  There is a reason for that.  Homespun with Love gave a really good tutorial that I followed to the letter but . . .for the life of me, I could not get the flowers to work.  I was pretty much at my wits end and was ready to go buy flowers to stick in my freshly painted vases when I came up with an idea. 

I then had a brainstorm and went on search for pinwheel flowers and found the perfect craft over at Alphamom.
Now THIS I could do but I wanted it to be more grown-up which is when I got the idea to print off black and white photos onto colored card stock.  (Thankfully my niece had posted her engagement photos on facebook!) 

I really thought I took photos of the process but . . .apparently I just  thought I did but I will try to explain it anyway.

1) I spray painted the mason jars avocado green - it ended up being much more lime green then I thought it would which was a GOOD thing!! 
2) Print out photos on card stock colors of your choice. Tip:  Use double sided paper since both sides of the paper will be seen.  I only copied the photo on one side thought.
3) Using the template provided from Alphamom (link above), cut out the pinwheels. Tip: When I folded the edges, I went every other direction so they folded both to the front and back since, again, both sides would be seen.
4) Hot Glue a stick to one side of the pinwheel.  (I used lollipop sticks). 
5) Create a "center" to the flower on both sides.  I used mini-cupcake liners, buttons, flower cut outs, and some sparkly dots.  Hot glue them on (this also covers the stick) 
6) Once the glue is dry, stuff the jars with shredded paper and stick the "flowers" into the jars.  (the paper will keep the flowers in place)

This project is pretty simple and is very inexpensive especially if you have mason jars and scrapbooking paper at home :-)

wednesday's wowzers

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Bridal Shower

I decided I better get this post up about the Bridal shower I recently co-hosted before the wedding gets here in just two short weeks! 

My niece, Alicia, is getting Married in May and we are all beyond excited about the big day.  My mom, Sister-in-law, and I worked together to throw the shower at my parents church on Saturday, April 7th.   This shower is unique because my Brother and his family live in Brazil and my parents church is their sending church.  They happen to be home this year on furlough; my niece graduated from Cedarville University almost a year ago and comes "home" periodically to my parents church.  Because of living in Brazil for so many years before college, that church is really her "home" church.  We had a great turnout and had a lot of fun. 

I'll begin with the decor and food and then share the fun photos!!

 The centerpieces on the table - all homemade :-)  Her colors for the wedding are Lime Green with some accents (like black)
 I did a dessert bar - not a "cake" so instead I made this "cake" for the table and it was also part of my gift to her.
I managed to find wrapping paper that matched the decor so I wrapped a couple of random boxes to use for height on the table.  I made Mountain Dew Cupcakes as one of the desserts.  The cupcake toppers and wrappers were from PrintCreateCelebrate and they were fantastic!! She was wonderful to work with, was able to customize what I wanted and her turn around time was quick!

 The dessert Table :-) We had cupcakes, cookies, a Chocolate Trifle, Brown Sugar Coffee Cake, and Texas Sheet Cake.  Plus we had set out some candy too. 
 The Gift table
The kisses on the table with little messages on the bottom of each one.
 Props for some of the activities
 The food!!  We had Chicken Pasta Salad, Caramel Apple Salad, Bread sticks from a local Italian place, Veggies and Dips, Pickles and Olives and then the dessert table.  The punch was my favorite - my Sister-in-Law's Green Kool-aid Punch!
Part of the decor on the table - The Bride and Groom's  (to be) Monogram.

Now for a few photos from the actual shower itself.  This is my sister-in-law (the bride-to-be's mom) Debby.   
And . . the Bride-to-be - my niece Alicia  
 The ladies were so generous!!  Alicia received so many nice, practical and fun gifts!! (That is my mom helping her . . .making a great face HA!)
 I had to share this photo - my mom quilts.  She makes beautiful quilts and, considering the fact that she "Said" she couldn't sew buttons on when we were growing up, well, she makes profession level quilts.  This was her gift to Alicia - the photo doesn't do it justice!
Finally - three of my nieces - Marisa, Kate, and Alicia.  Such fun girls!

The shower was fun - my favorite line of the day came from Marisa (who is 19) . . "Aunt Jackie, if you are still alive when I get married, you need to plan my wedding".  Seriously, Marisa, do you not plan to get married until you are 60?  I mean, I do plan do be around for a LONG time.  And wait, it gets better.  Then she said, "I don't care if my parents are still alive as long as you are so you can make everything" HAHAHAHAH  Oh, Marisa - that is why I love you!

So now, the wedding!  We are working on trying to get the boys to understand the importance of being ring bearer's as the final touches are being put together with the wedding.  It will be a great day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Weekly Menu - as thrilling as it is!!

This week, when I sat down to work on our menu plan, this is what was on the table with me - two grilling books, a recipe book from a restaurant we visited in Tennessee several years ago and the Live, Laugh, Love cookbook.  Then, I made one small mistake.  I went out to Pinterest and looked at my recipe board where I spent the next hour of my day printing off recipes.  Seriously. Why the grilling books?  I told my husband that this summer I don't plan on using the oven.  I will use the crock pot, the grill, and the stove top.  That's it.  The oven heats up the house way too much.  With that in mind, I pulled out those recipe books and went in search of some crock pot recipes to add to my recipe binder.  The other recipe books just have some recipes I'd like to make but, honestly, none make the list this week!  Pinterest seemed to win out on all fronts!!

By the way, remember last week - I "submitted" to my husband and made the grocery list based on the ad . . .guess what?  I stayed under budget.  Stink - he was right HA!  It also helped that it was the store's monthly "buy 10 for $1.00 and get the 11th" free sale so there were a lot of good things for $1.00.  We'll see how this week goes!

Saturday: Even though it is Friday night while I'm writing this  - this dinner is up in the air.  I don't know if I feel like taking the boys out to the store tomorrow so if I don't, we'll have pizza, if I do, we'll have Hamburgers and French Fries :-)

Sunday: Ummm . ..well . . .my husband has to work and then has a concert so I will either throw something fun on for the boys and I or . . .we'll get Taco Bell :-)

Monday:  Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Blue, Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli (also known as Trees).  This is a new recipe found on Pinterest - hoping it is good so I can use it this summer!!

Tuesday:  The Best Pork Chops Ever, Mac and Cheese, Veggies and Bread.  This is another Pinterest recipe and yes, that is the name of it.  We really like pork so I've been looking for some new chops recipes - we'll see how this one goes.

Wednesday: Chicken and Waffles.  Yes, you read that right :-)

Thursday: Teriyaki Chicken in the Crock Pot, Rice and Asparagus.  Yep, another Pinterest recipe but this one is also a freezer meal.  The recipe makes two batches so I am going to cook one and freeze one.  Hopefully it is good!!!

Friday:  Lasagna, Garlic Bread, and Salad.  (Or . . .. Jet's Pizza - we'll see!)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Food Friday - Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Usually, I have a about 10 recipes written up and ready to post so, by the time you read about it, it has been months since we've eaten that item.  Well, this week is different.  We actually had this for dinner last night.  See, I had planned pork for dinner tonight but had gotten no further than that.  Originally I thought I would just have my husband grill but I couldn't think of any seasoning to put on it.  Then, I ran across this recipe while going through Pinterest and, low and behold, I had everything I needed (that seldom happens).

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin
adapted from C+C Marriage Factory

I love this recipe first and foremost because it is a crock pot recipe.  Secondly because the flavor of the glaze - it reminds me of something you would get in a fancy-pancy restaurant.  My husband commented and I agree that this glaze would also be great on chicken and would be FANTASTIC on pork or chicken on the grill because it would crystallize and get all crusty.  The recipe provides specific seasonings for the pork loin . .. next time I personally would not use sage but rather I would just rub in some Nature's Seasoning (my seasoning of choice) into the meat and then follow the directions for the glazing at the end.

1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce


Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I'm Reading . . .well, not really :-)

I don't really have any specific books to tell you about today.  I've read a few books, stopped reading a few because they were awful . . .but instead of that I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things today and get back to the books next week :-)

Guess what? Tassimo has finally gotten my favorite drink back on the shelf!!  We stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond on Tuesday because I heard a rumor they were heading back into stores and I was so thrilled to see that wonderful package!!  It was the best thing ever to make a cup of coffee on Wednesday morning :-)

I forgot how much I love Tomato Soup :-)  This has become my lunch of choice lately and I just love it.  I had it for lunch for all 6 weeks I was in the hospital while pregnent with Josh (and sometimes I had it with dinner too)

I have discovered Sprite Zero and love it.  Here's the truth - I'm not a water drinker; I love the fizzy goodness of a soft drink and that is when it hit me.  It isn't so much that I love Pepsi (which I do) but rather I love carbination!!  Sprite Zero is perfect .. it is light and lemony and . . .fizzy :-) 

I had forgotten about Skinny Cow frozen treats but they were on sale last week so I picked up some ice cream sandwiches and they are so good.  Plus it is a great way to have portion control!

Kinda funny that most all of the things I'm loving are related to food :-)   I was really getting bored with some things I was eating/drinking so I went back to the basics and found things I really love :-)

What about you??  What are some of your favorites???

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time Management

To be honest, this is the post I was going to write for Monday but, Sunday night, I was tired :-)  Better late than never, right  It is kind of fitting considering the topic is Time Management . .:-/ 

Courney at Women Living Well is hosting a 5 week series around Disciplines.  She is picking one descipline a week to work on over the course of the 5 weeks. This week she is working on Time Management.  If you have read this blog for long, you probably know that I'm a list maker; a scheduler; and am always trying to find new ways to make things more effecient.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm really not that effecient but I like to THINK of ways I MIGHT be HA! 

Time management is something that I struggle with now that I have kids.  Before kids, I could write my To Do list with all of the items I needed to get done, attach a time to each item and get everything done.  Now, I can write that same list, and get nothing done!  I'm also good at making excuses like "I can do it tomorrow" or "I just don't have time" even though I'm sitting in front of the computer reading facebook status' when I say that excuse!  The other thing I've found that I do is I write up a great schedule (I did this recently) that fits everything in perfectly but it is so unrealistic. (This most recent schedule had me getting up at 5:00 AM . . .that is not happening - no way, no how!)   With this in mind, I've been working to create something that will fit my life and embrace the fact that I have the privilage to be a stay at home mom which means I actually have freedom with my schedule - there is no "work" schedule to have to work around. 

I had a couple of "light-bulb" moments.  One, I am not a morning person.  Now, this is not a new thought at all.  I've known I'm not a morning person since I was born, I think.  (For the record, I come from a long line of non-morning people, my husband is not one and it appears that neither of my kids are either!!)  I really do not function well until about 10:00 AM.  That doesn't mean I'm not up accomlishing what HAS to be done, but it does mean that really trying to have a strict schedule prior to that just makes my grumpy!!!  Two, kids will make everything take longer because they are needy  . . . .and I love it :-)  Most days HA!  My boys are getting old enough to understand that there are things that I have to get done as long as the trade off is that I'll read to them later or play outside or whatever.  Plus they are becoming more and more independent which is nice too!  Finally, for me, Time Management, means that I need to not waste time doing things that aren't really important.  There is a fine line between doing things I enjoy and wasting time doing those things.  For example, I really enjoy Facebook - I enjoy the interraction with friends and family and seeing what people are up to.  I find some days, though, that after "catching up" (a 5 minute task), I sit in front of the computer and just keep clicking to see if anything new comes up . . .or writing "just one more comment" and pretty soon, 30 minutes has passed.  I also love to read and reading is a great way to take a break and relax but some days, I put off doing other tasks in order to read one more chapter - it's a great excuse . . "I'll do (whatever needs to be done) as soon as I finish the chapter" . .until the morning is gone! 

With all of that said, I am, and have been working, on coming up with a schedule that works for me and this is the current state of that affair!

7:00-10:00 AM - Get up and wait for the Munchkin to Arrive.
-- Both of my kids get up during this time from and eat breakfast
-- I eat breakfast, check facebook, read blogs, take my shower and get ready
-- I get the boys dressed and also get the Munchkin up from his morning sleep
** This time allows me lots of freedom - if the boys sleep late, after I put the Munchkin down for his nap, I'll kick back in the recliner and watch the morning news until they do get up; I'm able to catch up on computer stuff without feeling bad; and it allows me time to wake up and my kids to wake up before we really have to function.  One item that I feel like I don't have time for is my quiet time but I usually sit at the table and eat breakfast while just reading my Kindle - I had the realization as I wrote this that I could actually have my quiet time while eating breakfast.  I like my kids to see me reading my Bible as an example so this would be perfect.  That is something I need to start incorporating!!

10:00-11:00 - Daily Routine Items
-- Do the Daily cleaning
-- Do Daily Routine Items (I.e. Monday is Pick up and Put away day; Wednesday is the day I write the menu and so on)
-- Make sure my morning routine is done
-- If time, tackle any odd items on my to do list
** I have assigned a room a day to clean (I.e. Monday is the bathroom, Tuesday is the kitchen and so on) and I have a detailed cleaning list to do each week that takes about 30 minutes to get through each day.  This is also when I start laundry on laundry days - which now that my washer is working like a dream again, I only do about every 3 days.  During this time I do dinner prep, if need, such as getting dinner in the crock pot or gathering stuff for the meal so I know I have everything.  Finally, I always have a to do list so if there is time left in this hour, I will start to work on some of those items.

11:00-12:00 - Kid time, prep for lunch
-- Focus on the kids by reading, playing, coloring - whatever they are doing. 
-- Starting the Afternoon routine which begins with getting lunch on the table by about noon.
** There isn't a lot of explanation here.  Some days the kids are very into playing something together so then I use this time to catch up on computer stuff, fold laundry, or doing something on my to do list. 

12:00-1:00 - Lunch Time
-- We eat lunch, clean up, and this is free time for me - if I have time I read or whatever until 1:00

1:00-2:00 - Project Time
-- Work on projects on my list
** The kids are usually pretty content during this time so I like to use it for projects - everything from painting in a room (like the kitchen!!) to doing craft projects or working on some scrapbooking - it all depends on what has hit my to do list for the week. 

2:00-3:00 - Down time
** I have learned to give myself some down time in the afternoon.  This time frame is when I have no motivation - consistently.  (And, as I thought back to even when I really "worked" ;-) this was the worst time of day for me - as a matter of fact, eventually, I moved my lunch time to this hour so I could come home and chill !!)  I put the munchkin down for his nap and then will often use this time to read - either inside or out depending on where the boys are.  I've even been trying to not use this time for the computer but sometimes - it is also a great time to write future blog posts.  If I happen to have lots of energy for some reason - I will work on a project, fold laundry, or clean. 

3:00-7:30 - The Crazy Hours
-- Snack time, get the munchkin up (3:30), and get everyone content again - this time seems to be when kids get cranky as they need something to eat!
-- Prep for dinner, cook dinner, eat dinner (usually at 5:00 or 5:30) and clean up
-- Family time, bath time (6:30) and bedtime for the kids (7:30) 
** I call these the crazy hours because, well, they are.  From about 3:00 or 3:30 I go pretty non-stop until the kids go to bed.  Between the Munchkin leaving, my husband coming home, getting dinner on and then cleaned up, putting away the last load of laundry on laundry day, clean up, bathtime and bedtime - I feel like I've run a marathon on some days!  This is also the time that I tend to run the vacuum - while the kids are starting their bath and the floor is cleaned up of toys. 

7:30-9:30 - Adult, Relaxing time
-- Relax :-)
**  This is when we kick back in the quiet, watch our favorite shows, play on our computers and chat.  I've been trying to go to bed closer to 9:30 but it doesn't always happen. 

The one thing that I have not fit in yet is exercise - I've got some creative ideas I'll share when I actually do them but it is a work in progress.

We do have things that change our schedule - errands and such.  Those items just replace something in a time frame . For example, last Thursday, we ran errands from 11:00-12:00 so that was our fun time (and yes, the kids had fun).  Plus 2-3 nights a week my husband or I have commitments - he has practice for the group he is in, I have choir practice and right now, I have photography class.  We just fit that stuff in and it works.  I've learned it is ok if something gets missed on a week :-) 

Yes, my plan is evolving but it is actually working.  I started this plan about a month ago and it has really helped me stay focused better.  I no longer feel like there isn't time to get certain things done but rather am accomplishing more because there is time for it!!  I already know that our schedule will need to change slightly this fall as I'll be starting some preschool things with Josh that will need a specific time frame but it won't start before 10:00 :-)  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Too Cute Not To Toot!

I'm having some issues with blogger . .. or maybe it is just my Internet connection tonight . . either way I'm not having a lot of luck with sites opening up correctly but we'll try this anyway!

This idea from Life with both hands full is not a new idea to me but I like how she explains both the creating of the journal and how/where/what she writes.  I attempt to do this right now through scrapbooking pages but eventually want to start a journal for each of my boys so I can record prayers, hopes, dreams, and those special memories.
You know I love wreaths, or at least the concept of wreaths, so when I saw this one from The Silly Pearl, I had to share it.  I'm not sure if this one is really on my "to make" list only because of how I have to hang wreaths on the slider but I still love the concept!

I'm sharing this next idea because my sister-in-law made these for Easter dinner and we loved them.  I'm not sure if this is the exact recipe she used but it is close enough not to mention that I think I need to spend some time exploring Five Little Chefs . . .I might find some useful ideas to do with the boys!
Another short week!  Right now I'm noticing a lot of the same ideas, or at least similar, to what I've shared in the past.  I'm not surprised by that - the "in between" holiday times are when people catch up on either older posts or catch up on making crafts.  Hopefully we'll start to see more patriotic ideas coming out soon!