Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Be Great. Serve

When I graduated from Northland Baptist Bible College now known as Northland University many years ago, each graduate was handed a towel that says "Be Great, Serve".  Northland pushed service from day one so the towel was a reminder for each graduate as we left the teaching, preaching, and leadership that we had daily.  For years, this towel was laid out in my home as a reminder of what my life should be.  Quite a few years ago, though, I packed it away because it just didn't have a place.  Recently, though, it has come back as my almamater when through some shaky days and some drastic changes.  I was reminded of what I was taught and what I loved about my time at the school.  Now, I'm proud to say, that my brother, Ken, is on the board of the school and through him I see great potential for the school to impact so many lives in the coming years.

Back to the towel.  Why did I pull it back out?  In the midst of a not so fun day at home with the kids, I was ready to "throw in the towel" as a little voice spoke in the back of my mind saying, "Jackie, be great. Serve.  Who are you to serve right now".  Talk about conviction??  Wow.  I looked at those two little faces and realized that I needed to serve my kids.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that I am to be their servant to do their every wish and command but, rather, I am there to serve them.
I then went digging and found this towel and set it in a prominent space in my dining room where I walk by it every day, all day long.  I added a photo of my boys (I've actually put a 5x7 photo of them in place of the 8x10) as a constant reminder of who I am to serve in this season of life.  As I've changed my focus I've found that my days are easier; on the days that aren't, I take a lot of deep breaths and say to myself, "Be great. Serve, Jackie, that's all" :-)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Too Cute Not Too Toot

Welcome to another week of ideas :-) 

When I planted my sad little garden in May, Nate asked when the pumpkin pie would grow :-)  So this first idea from Hands on as We Grow is for him - 40 ideas to do with pumpkins.  (Ironically, I did not plant pumpkins this year.)
This next idea is for a quilt which, honestly, I don't know if I will ever make but I love it so much I just had to share.  The idea comes from Awaiting Ada.
I'm waiting to start seeing more fall, winter, and Christmas ideas . . .they will start popping up soon!

Monday, July 29, 2013

K-4 - Week 2

This week started off much better because we could actually work at the dining room table.  It is easier for Josh to work there and, while he is working on something, it allows me a little more freedom to switch laundry, get snacks, or even work on stuff for future weeks of school.  Being confined to his bedroom last week for class was a little . .. boring. (at least for me HA!)

This week our main focus was review of numbers, colors and shapes. All of our basic curriculum from this week comes from  Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Here are a few snapshots from our week.

 Josh loved using the little white frogs to do counting.  I picked them up over a year ago and never used them . . .I needed something to use for counting and remembered these little fun frogs.  They were a huge hit!
 We did clothespin matching again this week with numbers instead of letters.
 More counting practice - this time with Cheerios :-)  Don't you love Nate's face in the background - it made me laugh when I took the photo too.

Learning how to spell the numbers was fun too.  Great review of both counting and lowercase letters.
 Josh, working on his Daily Notebook.  He loves this part of our day (the first thing we do) because He can do most of it by himself.
This week we are reviewing shapes and colors so we used our shape pieces to match a pattern board from the curriculum.  Nate had to sit and watch - he is so ready to start school I almost feel bad for him!!

We ended our week on Thursday since we plowed through our review lessons this week.  It helps that Josh is pretty confident with his numbers (1-20), colors and shapes.  Our last game was a dice game where he had to throw the 2 die, count how many dots were showing and then find that number on the game board.  Needless to say, the boys had a lot of fun throwing the dice around.  So, this week, we don't have school on Friday which is actually where I would like to be with lesson plans in September since we will be attending Friday School with a local homeschool group.  :-)

On another note, I've been making lists lately - lists of things I need to get done before we start school with all three boys right after Labor Day.  Everything from the last pieces of our curriculum, to our schedule, to workboxes to binders.  Lots of final details to throw together over the next few weeks!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I have a Plan

My kids are gone for the week to enjoy some time with Papa and Nana and attend their Vacation Bible School.  This is their first time attending and I am so excited for them!!  I know they will love it.

With that in mind, I have formulated a plan over the last several weeks to complete a few outstanding things I need to get done.  I thought I would list them here.  I'll still be babysitting this week - since I'm "working" anyway I decided I would "work" at home and get things done.

Here's the plan:

Monday and Tuesday - the focus is 100% the basement.  It really isn't as bad as I make it seem but I just need to reduce and de-clutter.  I will be going through every bin, box, bag and container.  There will be a few options: 1) Throw it away 2) Go directly to Good Will 3)Try selling on a local garage sale site (I will list it for one week - if it doesn't sell, it is going to Good Will) 4)Keep it because of whatever reason :-) With that in mind, here's the plan:
1) On Monday I will haul every container upstairs.  Yes, every single one.  I have picked up 4 of the new clear, locking lid bins that I found and want to use to store what I'm keeping.  Yes, I will also be reusing some of the old bins I have too but for things that are actually being "stored", I want clear bins so I can see what is in them.  Some of the other bins will be spray painted a certain color so I can spot what I need right away (I.e. All Christmas bins will be red)  I plan on sorting through the bins on Monday and, hopefully, spray painting some of the bins as well.  With all of the bins upstairs, it will make it easier to organize the odd piles that are sitting around in the basement and clean it to get ready to move the much fewer bins downstairs and also to move the desk from the "playroom" into the basement section. 

2) On Tuesday I want to clean the playroom/laundry room areas first.  With the desk moved out, I should be able to set up the playroom area to be used as is for now and then I can work on making it more fun at a later date.  Then I will finish putting stuff back together on the other side of the basement so it is neat, organized and easy to find things.  I also plan to have one or two bins to use as drop points so that when something goes down there, it has a home.  That has been half the problem!! 

3) If there is time, I will list some of the things I want to sell - if not, that will have to wait a few days. 

We'll skip Wednesday for now :-)

My other goals are packing up some stuff in the classroom so that we can get ready to pull up old carpet and put down some new-to-us carpet; cleaning and doing some rearranging in the living room; cleaning the boys room.

1. Thursday - My first focus will be the boys room and Living room.  These two rooms are much easier to clean when my kids are gone :-)  I have plans for toy storage in their room but for now I just need to take time to sort through toys, remove broken or out-grown toys and make sure that everything is matched up again and has a home.  The same idea goes for the living room too.  I'm hoping to do some rearranging but we'll see.  If there is time today, I will also do some work in the classroom :-)

2.  Friday - I'll finish up anything from Thursday, including the classroom.  Then I want to focus on prepping school lessons.  I'd like to finish up the next 3 weeks worth of lessons for Josh specifically so everything is ready to grab.  Then, if time, I'll work on the first 3 lessons for the other two boys.  My goal is to always have the next 6 weeks of lessons complete and ready to go before that 6 weeks starts.  It doesn't always work but if I can at least be ahead, that is a good thing :-)

I'll let you know how it all goes in a post next week :-) 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fun at the Fair

We live in an area that hosts "The Largest Free Fair" but we very seldom make it to the fair on a yearly basis despite the fact that it is literally in our back yard.  Last year it was so blasted hot the week of fair that we didn't leave home; the year before we had planned to go but it closed early due to a late season flood.  Well, after the awful heat this past week, we were blessed with a beautiful day and made a trip to the fair.  The boys were so excited and couldn't wait to ride rides!

 When we rounded the corner to where the young kid rides were, Nate's eyes got huge and he started jumping up and down - ready to ride.  We quickly bought some tickets and the boys both raced to ride the cars.  Their smiles tell it all - they loved it.  (Especially honking the horns on every single ride over and over and over again!)

 It was the funniest thing ever.  When we moved on to the tractor ride, Darryl told the boys to pick the fastest tractor.  Well, Nate wanted the blue one so even though there were empty tractors and the blue one already had someone in it, he climbed right in HA!  He then proceeded to try and engage his riding partner in a full conversation but that kid wanted nothing to do with it. 

 Every zoo we have visited in the past year has NOT had any elephants yet, here at this fair with the little circus they had elephants.  When we got home I asked him if he loved seeing the elephants and do you know what he told me?  "Mom, I loved the camels best." Totally surprised me :-)

 When we told the boys we were going to the fair Nate instantly asked to ride the ferris wheel so when he saw it in person, his eyes lit up and he couldn't stop looking up.  Once Josh saw that the ferris wheel didn't go very fast, he was on board with riding it too.  I chose to stay on the ground just to save a little money on tickets but also to take photos.  Darryl said that if he hadn't been keeping Nate in his seat, Nate would have been standing up leaning over the side of the cart to get the full experience.  That kid has very little fear.

We let the boys pick one last ride before we left and they wanted to ride in the race cars.  Nate told me that he wanted to ride in the same car with Josh so when it was time to load up he jumped in right behind his brother.  Just as the ride was starting he called out to me and said, "Mom, I don't want to ride in here, I want my own".  It was too late and he was so sad.  The photo of his pouty lip just breaks my heart because he had so much fun up until this moment . . .

Yes, we did enjoy some fair food - we did not plan to buy much, if any, but Josh asked specifically if they sold lemonade anywhere so we bought some fresh squeezed lemonade, Fresh, hot Fries and some snow cones.  What?  It was HOT on the midway.  When we left, we were all so hot that we took a little drive in the A/C to cool off.

We are already looking forward to next year's fair and plan to pick up wrist bands early while they are sale so the boys can ride all the rides they want :-) 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Food Friday - Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich
adapted from Pioneer Woman

I must confess, I am not a sandwich eater so when I see a recipe for a sandwich that makes me say "I would eat that", I just try it.  I saw this on an episode of Pioneer Woman and thought it would be perfect for a picnic at the beach and, since we've been going to the beach every Sunday, I figured adding to this weeks menu would be perfect.  Granted we didn't go to the beach this week, we went to the fair, but it was the perfect meal after the fair.  Even without the Sun-dried tomato mayo (since I forgot to buy Sun-dried tomato's) and the wrapped slice of cheese (since I forgot to buy GOOD cheese) it was an awesome sandwich.  My husband said, "This is better than you would get in a restaurant".  If you are looking for a great dinner sandwich - this would be perfect! 


  • 12 slices Sandwich Bread
  • 4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Prepared Basil Pesto
  • 1 Tablespoon Prepared Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (or Just A Couple Of Pureed Sun-dried Tomatoes)
  • 8 slices Bacon, Cut In Half
  • 1/2 pound Shaved Ham
  • 1/2 pound Shaved Turkey
  • 4 whole Avocados, Peeled And Sliced
  • 4 slices Cheese (swiss, Mozzarella, Etc.)
  • Romaine Or Green Leaf Lettuce

Preparation Instructions

Toast bread in toaster until light golden brown. Set aside.
Fry bacon until just barely crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
Mix together 2 tablespoons mayonnaise with prepared basil pesto; in a separate bowl, mix additional 2 tablespoons mayonnaise with sundried tomato pesto.
To Make One Sandwich:
Spread two pieces of bread with basil pesto. On one piece of bread, lay ham on top of pesto mayo, then top with cheese and lettuce. On other piece of bread, lay the slices of 1/2 avocado on top of the pesto mayo. Top avocado with bacon. Lift the second slice of bread (the one with avocado and bacon) and place it, ingredient side down, on top of the first piece of bread.
For the second layer: On the top of the top piece of bread, spread the sundried tomato mayonnaise. Spread one side of the third piece of bread with sundried tomato mayonnaise. Place ham, cheese, and lettuce on top. Place other half of the avocado slices on the other piece of bread. Top with bacon slices. Place this piece of bread, ingredient side down, on top of the first piece of bread.
Use a sharp knife to cut the sandwich in half (on the diagonal) then again in fourths.
Serve with chips!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weekly Menu

I didn't think that I would have any food prep this week.  We had stuff left over from last week to use up and I just didn't buy a lot of extra stuff.  I actually went to the store twice - once on Thursday, my normal day, and picked up enough to get us through a few days.  The heat index was over 100 so the thought of loading, unloading and putting away all the groceries was too much.  Instead, on Saturday morning the boys and I went to the store on a much cooler morning and finished up the weekly shopping. Well, I did have prep after all so here it is!
Ok, our fruit this week is grapes, strawberries, blueberries and (for me) raspberries!  We actually struggled to eat all of the fruit I bought last week so I tried to hold back a little this week.  Also in the photo is leaf lettuce prepped and ready to use and also 2 bags of Chicken Thighs and Two bags of pork chops.  I've been trying to buy meat that is on sale, in family packs, each week.  By doing that I am stocking my freezer and when there isn't any meat on sale, I won't blow my budget.

We are taking the boys to my parents for the week so, this coming week's menu will look a little different.

Friday - Baked Chicken Thighs, Potatoes and some veggie off the pantry shelf. 

Saturday - We are eating dinner at my parents house :-)

Sunday - Corn dogs and Tater Tots :-)

Monday - Marinated Chuck Steaks, Sweet Potatoes, homemade garlic bread

Tuesday - My husband doesn't know this yet but we are going out to dinner to one of our favorite restaurants

Wednesday - Our Anniversary is Sunday but my husband has to work all weekend; he has this day off so we are going to take off and celebrate today.  He doesn't know what we are doing but I do :-)

Thursday - I'm going to make some fun food for tonight.  A big plate of nachos, a new cocktail shrimp recipe (yes, a recipe!), and our favorite Bacon Crescent Wraps.  Sometimes it is fun to have snacks when the kids are gone :-)

I would like to make  Southern Praline Pecan Cake for something sweet and then some sort of cookie - not sure what yet :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Planning, Planning, Planning

If you are stopping by from Jenna's Journey, I'm glad you stopped by for a visit! 

A week or so ago, I posted this photo in one of my Too Cute posts:
This idea supports the concept that it takes 21 days to make a habit (I've also heard that it then takes 21 days to keep that habit . .. ) It got me thinking about some habits I would like to establish as we start moving towards fall.  For me, summer is my hardest time for being consistent in anything.  There are multiple reasons but the biggest one is the heat.  I love it when summer consists of 70 degree, non humid days.  I'll take an 80 degree day here and there just so we can go to the beach but for daily life, I need 70 degrees.  I tend to do a lot more of "nothing" during the warm . . .hot . .humid days of summer then I do during spring, fall or winter which means I lose some habits and let some things go that I may have established through the other three seasons.  On the hottest of days (and weeks) we are "trapped" in the living room/boys bedroom because that area is cooled off by a window a/c unit which means I get even less done. Well, I get a lot of reading done if that counts for anything! Summer is also the time I start thinking of new ways to organize my daily schedule, cleaning schedule, goals and more because, lets face it, I have a lot of down time on my hands.  Putting thoughts onto "paper" (a blog counts as paper, right?) sometimes helps me think through things and it might offer you some inspiration too.

1. Daily Dues.  My daily dues are balancing the checkbook to the online account, updating our daily budget records from my husbands job and spending, and making the to do list for the next day and thinking ahead for the week and even the month so I know what is coming up!  I had this fully under control until June.  Then it is like my brain dumped that portion out and I haven't kept up with it for two months.  I've already started working on this to get back into the habit of making the first thing I do after the boys go to bed is . . my Daily Dues.

2. Daily Schedule - Several Months ago I posted my "new" schedule for each day.  It worked great until I started babysitting again.  I gave myself a month to get used to that new change in our day and then it was, well, June and I went into summer mode.  I'm already thinking of my new plan for the fall especially since I'll be homeschooling three boys in two different levels.  I want to go back to a goal I had a few years ago of "Simplify" and work on cleaning more stuff out and lightening up the look of everything in our home whether that means cleaning off surfaces or updating some paint . .. I just want a fresher, more modern look.

3. The basement.  My nemesis in this house.  I think if it were a pretty basement, I would keep it clean and neat but since it isn't, I have a harder time with it.  I do have my plan, though, of cleaning out, selling, and organizing things.  For instance, back in middle and high school I won an award almost every year in youth group - a plaque.  They take up one storage bin in my basement and it drives me nuts because they will never go on a wall anywhere.  I plan on taking a photo of each one, the whole group, and maybe even typing up the information for each one so I can add that stuff to a scrapbook and then, yes folks, tossing the plaques.  My kids can see what I won but they won't take up a spot in storage. When all is said and done, I will have color coordinated storage that is hopefully cut in half of what I have now.  I'm also hoping to earn a little money selling some stuff through an on-line "garage" sale in my area so I can pick up the new stuff I want to set up our office/classroom/craft room.  My kids are going away for a week so the basement will get done that week if it kills me (which it won't - it really should only take a total of about . . 4-5 hours to get it all done and another few hours to do some moving and get the "play room" set up finally)

4. Cooking - My husband has said over and over that my cooking has improved so much since we got married.  He's right.  Actually, since I quit working to stay home, my cooking has improved because I have time to cook.  I've been more and more inspired recently by watching various cooking shows to improve and venture out into some more creative things.  I'd like to master a few things like . . .cupcakes and cakes.  I struggle with those for some odd reason.  I also want to refine my recipe book even more and get rid of things I won't make, the things we don't love, or the things that flop and have a recipe book full of recipes that we love.  I'm still hoping to find some simple cooking classes along the way too.  I've also been working on making sure that I have healthy foods to eat for my breakfast and lunch so I am continuing to refine recipes that are easy and that I can make ahead and eat throughout the week.

5. Devotions and Prayer Time - I think most of us struggle with this one.  I have some things I want to do concerning the boys within this time - scriptures verses to pray for them, journals to keep, and my own quiet time.

6. Budgeting - I have a budget; I have a savings plan; now I need to stick to it.  We have plans for this fall, goals for next year, and dreams for 5 or 10 years down the road but without a budget it's hard to achieve anything, isn't it? 

I like to have my plan in place by the beginning of September so that I can start the fall strong!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Too Cute Not To Toot!

If you are stopping by from Jenna's Journey, welcome!  On Tuesday's, I post craft ideas (or recipes or other inspirational ideas) that I would like to try and complete.  Please feel free to poke around this little old blog and don't forget to let me know you stopped by :-)


When I think about how many of these posts I've done, it kinda blows my mind.  I've shared a lot of crafts, recipes, and inspirational ideas over the past few years (and re-shared several, I'm sure).  Then, when I think about how many I've done, I realize I am sad, sad, sad at following through. hahaha  Granted some things I've posted that I thought were great but later realized were either more work than they were worth or, I didn't really like them anyway.  I still love looking for new ideas though and for me, this is a great place to store them and share them!

Sometimes the inspirational ideas can be the best so I thought I would share a link to this article from Living Well, Spending Less.(I did read the article already and she has some great things to say)
This next idea comes from a blog called Coast where the author gives a really great tutorial for making rock monster magnets.  You could make them yourself (so they are all neat and stuff) for the fridge OR make it a fun project for the kids and get some really awesome, handmade magnets to use.
And the well has run dry this week.  Some weeks are more inspiring than others :-)

I've got plans to make August my "crafting" month and have picked out my projects.  Here's hoping I get them all done!

Monday, July 22, 2013

4th Annual Commenting Challenge by Jenna's Journey

Welcome to 'The Unworking Mom".  If you are visiting from Jenna's Journey, I'm glad you stopped by! 

A little about me :-)  I started this blog about several years ago after being impacted greatly by a blog that I read.  I realized that I, just maybe, could have an impact on someone else by sharing things from my life.  I called it "The Unworking Mom" because, as a stay-at-home mom, that is the impression, isn't it?  In reality, I work harder now then I ever did as a supervisor in a financial institution.  I enjoy this outlet of "adult conversation" in the midst of lots of little ones running around. I do kinda work as I babysit for a friend - so we have a 3 year old and a 6 month old in our house every weekday too!

My family consists of my Husband of 12 years, Darryl, who is a Cab Driver and a musician.  We have two boys, Josh and Nate, who are 4 1/2 and 3 1/2; best friends, brothers, and always on the move.  We also have two animals - our Dog, China, who is about 12 years old (we rescued her so we aren't 100% sure of her age) and our cat, Misty, who is 17 years old.   

I enjoy trying to keep my sanity by scrapbooking - I try to attend at least one crop a month as it gets me out of the house and into a room with adults.  Reading is another favorite activity and I love my Kindle :-)  As a family, we love to go to the beach.  Living within driving distance of the great lakes makes it easy to head to the beach on the weekend and enjoy the sun, water, and cooler temps in the summer.  When I get time, I enjoy playing the piano and singing as well but that often takes a backseat with the little's around all day.The other big thing I do is homeschool my kids.  This year we are doing k-4 and preschool so it is busy!

The only way I connect with my readers is through this blog :-)  I'm not into twitter and haven't set up a facebook page yet for the blog :-)

I'm a "schedule" blogger - I have my blog schedule ready to go a month in advance so I hope you enjoy reading my regular posts after this "extra" post!

K-4 - Starting off with a bang!

I picked a perfect week to start school.  Why?  Because the tempurture every day was out of this world hot so staying inside was our only option.  As I mentioned previously, I only started Pre-K with Josh this week, much to the chagrin of the other two boys.  They kept asking, "Is it my turn too?".  I do know I made the right decision though because this is allowing me to get Josh into a routine, work out the bugs in our routine, and spend time helping him focus.  When the other two boys start in a few weeks, he'll need to be able to do some things on his own while I work with the others.

In case you are new to this blog and are wondering why we started school now . . .I have chosen to do a 6 week rotation for school.  We do 6 weeks of learning and then get one week off.  This allows us to take a break, gives me time to catch up on everything from cleaning to appointments, and helps us all not to get bored with the daily routine.  By starting now, we will be able to take most of December off and also finish up somewhere around mid May.  If we happen to get behind on some lessons, we can always work into December a little or even go longer into May and wrap things up.

Our first week is review.  We are only doing our general K-4 work that I purchased from Confessions of a Homeschooler for a very reasonable price.  I really love this curriculum because it fits my style of teaching.  She also has made everything so easy to use, print, and incorporate into our day.  This was truly the perfect choice for us and, honestly, I wish I had used her Pre-K unit with Josh last year.  (I'm using that unit with Nate this year.)

Here are a few snapshots from our week.
 We started our lessons with a puzzle.  Our review this week is of Upper and Lower case letters.  Notice who is sitting on the table?  He wanted to be part of school so much!
 Lots of activities this week verses worksheets.  Here he is matching clothes pin letters to a letter wheel.
 During the afternoon, while the munchkin and princess were napping, the boys and I hibernated in their room (which was at least comfortable in the heat thanks to blowing cold air from our bedroom into theirs).  We used various alphabet manipulative that I had to match letters to a game board.
 On Tuesday, we had the A/C running in the boys room and living room so I set up the card table in their room to use as a work place for me as well as the place to do school. 

 I told my husband that sometimes Pre-K will make me want to poke my eyes out.  This one of those moments.  I had made two sets of spoons - one set with uppercase letters and one with lowercase.  Josh had to match the spoons to the board.  He did great but it took about an hour . . .between singing the alphabet song over and over, seeing if he could balance the spoons on his nose and more . .well, I'm surprised I can still see straight HA! 
This is where we "live" right now :-)  The boys and Darryl are playing cars and trucks.
 What do you do when you can't go outside and play because it is too hot?  Turn your kitchen set into an indoor slide HA!
 Josh and I worked on his gaming skills.  Here's the real deal - Josh has a hard time playing games.  He doesn't like to follow the rules OR bends them to make sure he wins and he doesn't like to share or take turns.  He is a 100% first born and always has to be in control.  I'm using little games like this one to help him learn how to play.  Today, besides reviewing letters and counting, we worked on taking turns and counting the right spaces.  He actually won fair and square which was good for him.  Next time though, he really needs to learn the art of losing . ..

So, he is smarter than the average bear.  With this activity he had to match the clothespin letters to a wheel based on the beginning sound of a picture.  He started with a few he knew as I had laid out the pins in random order.  Then, after looking back and forth at the wheel and pins he said, "I'm going to put these in ABC order mom".  He did, then he started with the "A is for Apple" and had it easy as he just went around the wheel one pin at a time.  To his credit he did say the name of each picture before he pinned it.

There's a snapshot of our week!  We did more than what is pictured but this gives a general idea of the activities we did.  I had planned some other fun afternoon activities but those were post-poned due to the heat so hopefully we can get to them next week.