Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking the rest of the week "off" from Blogging :-)  My kids are gone this week so I'm working like a crazy woman on some organizational projects, decorating for Christmas, and getting some paperwork done.  I haven't even thought about a menu for next week nor do I have a recipe to share this week since I haven't done much (exciting) cooking lately.  When we finally sit down at night, I'm enjoying evenings with my husband now that he is starting to feel better - we have watched a lot of football lately which is something we enjoy and are even going out to dinner tonight because, well, we can.

So with that said, Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you have a wonderful week with your family!  I'll be back next week with lots of photos to share of everything from what I organized to how I decorated for Christmas!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Homeschool Corner - December Plans

This week I just let me kids play.  On Monday they played with playdough from 9:00 am until 4:00 PM.  Seriously.  They got it back on on Tuesday and on Wednesday they just played all day.  Instead of focusing on class this week, I've been working on the beginning plans for December.  When I set up our school schedule this past summer, I plan to leave December "open" so that I could plan some fun things to do and I plan on sticking to that schedule.

1. Daily Books - I tried to do this a few years ago but my kids were just too young.  I tucked the books away and decided to try this again this year.  I picked out 15 (or maybe 16 HA) books that I want to read my kids throughout December.  Why 15?  I know that we will not read one every day so picking 24 books is just crazy.  If we can do 5 a week I'll be happy plus I like to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve.  How does this work?  I will wrap each of the books.  Then each day that we are able, we'll pick out the next book, unwrap it and read it.  Yes, I will be putting them in a certain order that I want them read.  Once we read the book, we'll do a craft or have a special snack to go along with the story.  I'm really looking forward to this because my boys are really getting into reading books (well, being read too!)

2. Advent Study - I'm still up in the air between two studies.  Last year we started Truth in the Tinsel.
I was really impressed with the whole program which includes Scripture to read, crafts to do and more.  We did not finish it . . .why?  I got so unbelievably sick about 2 weeks before Christmas that I spent most of December and January on the couch.  Since we didn't complete the book I'm debating redoing it this year with the boys.  With that said, I also just came across a Free Gospel-Centered Advent ebook from Verge Network

I haven't read through it yet but it sounds pretty simple which is always good ;-)

3. Weekly Studies - I still want to incorporate some learning so I've scrounged Pinterest and my own personal documents that I've been saving as I find them and am pulling otu some Christmas related studies.  I think we are going to start with a unit on the Polar Express and, of course, end the week with watching the Movie.  My kids are NOT big movie watchers so it will take work to get them to watch it :-)

4.  Countdown!! - Last year we did our Grinch Countdown for the first time and I really enjoyed it. 
I'm looking forward to pulling this out, adding some little gifts to each pocket and counting down to Christmas with the Boys.  I'm hoping to watch the Grinch with the boys at the end of the countdown on Christmas Eve.  Again, we only got half way through our countdown last year due to illness so hopefully this year we will all stay healthy!!

That's the plan and I'm working on gathering supplies, little gifts, craft supplies and more over the next week and a half.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Things My Kids Say

* We were visiting my parents and attending my brother's church.  After church, we were sitting in the living room when my sister-in-law walked in; Nate looked at her and said, "Hey, you were at church with me!" .  He hasn't quite made the connection that the "lady" at church is also his aunt!

* Trying to get Nate to eat fruit is not an easy task.  He has told us for months that he only likes Blackberries.  At Sunday dinner with my family, Josh noticed that his Aunt Lynnette had made a fruit salad and said, "Look Nate, it's your favorite, Blackberries!" And gave him one.  To his credit, Nate took a tiny bite but then said, "My teeth are just not ready to eat this yet." HA!  When we got home he told me his teeth will only eat them at home.  That Stinker!

*  We drove through a terrible storm recently.  Josh informed me that what was happening was simply that the clouds had upset tummies and were peeing on us.  Nice.

* Josh also thanked me for driving through the storm, it was something he had always wanted to do.  For real??? Well, until we were still in it 45 minutes later and he informed we should have stayed at the church where there wasn't a storm ;-)

* I was reminded recently that Josh used to call Nate, "Eat".  I'm sad to know that he figured out how to pronounce his brother's name right.  Nate calls Josh, "Dosh" :-)

* Nate wanted me to open a can of play dough; Darryl offered to open it but Nate said, "No, I want mom to open it because she is my favorite."  I will take that any day of the week!!  He then told me that I am his best buddy :-)

* At dinner one night, I said something in passing about the boys eating their dinner; Josh piped up and said, "Did you just say I'm in charge mom?" LOL  (Remember last week - he thinks he gets to be in charge.)  I reminded him that no, he is not in charge, dad is in charge.  That is when Nate piped up and said, "No Mom, YOU are in charge."  Again, I'm not about to argue that one!! HA!

* Josh's new favorite thing is to say  "actually".  For example, I will say, "Josh please do not hit your brother again."  Josh will say, "I actually did not hit him".  Well, of course, I saw him hit him so I will say, "Yes I saw you hit him".  But he will reply, "No, you actually did not see me hit him, my arm just got in his way.".  Well, son, actually, mom is right. ;-) LOL

* Nate saw me changing the cat litter one day and just wanted to watch.  Then he got all excited because I was going to add more "Cat Lish" to the box.  I tried not to laugh out loud . . . he'll ask me periodically if I need to add more Cat Lish to the Cat box now. . .. I just smile and enjoy mispronunciations for now :-)

* My husband and I have always joked that when the boys are older, Josh will be the "instigator" and dare Nate to do things to ensure that He (Josh) won't get in trouble for doing it first.  Nate, of course, will try anything (well, except fruit HA) and has no fear.  Well, I heard it one morning last week (11.21.13).  I was sitting in the Living Room one Morning when I heard this conversation coming from the boys bedroom.
Josh: Nate, go see if it is daylight out yet.
Nate: What?
Josh: Go on Nate, go look and see if it's daytime.
Nate: Ok, I'll look under the door first.
Josh: No, open the door and look.
Nate: . .. . Ok . .. (and the door opens) HA!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I was recently contacted by a fellow blogger and asked to help spread awareness about a health battle that she has faced.  Each November, the anniversary of her diagnosis, she works on 30 days of gratefulness and this year, has taken it to blogland asking bloggers to share something they are thankful for and then to help spread the word about Mesothelioma, something the was diagnosed with just three months after the birth of her daughter.  Heather was given a short time frame to live but she has outlived that date by years.  You can read her complete store HERE.

So, what am I thankful for?  I was going to try to be really creative and come up some unique idea but in the end there really is only one thing that I am 100% truly thankful for and that is my family.  I'm thankful for my husband and his great sense of humor, is caring heart, and his ability to keep me grounded (in other words, to talk me off the ledge since I am just a bit high strung sometimes HA).  I'm thankful for Joshua who is quirky and fun; is creative but loves to be in charge and can make me laugh like none other which is pretty amazing considering he is five.  I'm thankful for Nathan who has an imagination the size of New York, who tells me I'm his best buddy and is so tender!  

Thank you Heather for asking me to Share your Story and to take just a moment and remember what is truly important!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Food Friday - Marinated Veggie Salad

Marinated Veggie Salad
adapted from . . .a friend

Are you looking for a super simple yet tasty salad to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner?  This is it!  Even my husband likes it and he is not a fan of raw vegetables.  I make this every few weeks to eat with my lunch or even as a mid-afternoon snack.  It is so much easier than veggies and dip but tastes so good!  This time when I made it, used Greek Dressing (because I did not have any italian dressing in the fridge) and it was just as good!

1 head of cauliflower -cut up
1 head of Broccoli - cut up
1 can of whole Black Olives
Cherry Tomatoes - as many or as few as you want
Feta Cheese (add as much as you want . . .or as little as you want!)
Italian or Greek Dressing (about 3/4 cup)

Just toss it all together and enjoy.  


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weekly Menu - The One With Thanksgiving and No Kids.

So, this week we don't have the boys - they are enjoying some fun time with Papa and Nana.  That means I really don't cook much :-)   The week ends with Thanksgiving and the plan, at this moment, is to go spend it with my family!

Friday - Day one without kids :-)  I plan on ordering a pizza and making sure my husband has whatever he wants to eat!

Saturday - I'm going shopping today!  I'll eat out for lunch and then I'm not sure about dinner - I was thinking of bringing home some chinese and figuring out what my husband can eat besides rice ;-)

Sunday - What if I say that I have no idea?  I was thinking of Trying a Pioneer Woman Fajita recipe but leaving some of the chicken unseasoned so Darryl can eat it on a tortilla. 

Monday - I'll get something out - probably Taco Bell.  I'll make Darryl whatever he wants :-)

Tuesday - Lets see, whatever I feel like HA!  Maybe I'll cook something we have on hand.  Again, without kids, I can plan things last minute!

Wednesday - Now our tradition is to have lasagna and garlic bread the night before Thanksgiving.  Something 100% NOT Thanksgiving.  I might be cruel and make a pan of it for me (especially since I love leftovers too!) and make some Darryl some plain pasta. 

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day!  I think we will be with my brother and his family and my parents unless my husband's health deems otherwise.  I do have a back up plan and can shop on Wednesday if needed ;-)

Wow, that's an easy week ;-)  The truth is, we'll eat whatever we feel like this week since we don't have kids; yes, I'm sure I'll eat out a few times and will probably cook a few times but no matter what, it will be easy!!

I have nothing extra planned - I really have a lot of tasks to get done so I don't want to spend time cooking!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


For several months, the plan has been in place for the kids to visit Papa and Nana's house starting this coming Friday through Thanksgiving day (My husband and I will join up with them on Thanksgiving day, don't worry!).  Anytime I have a planned timeframe like that, I start thinking about what I want to accomplish without kids around!  Lets face it, it is always easier to accomplish big tasks in less time without "helpers" :-)

After much changing, re-thinking, planning, and changing plans again this is what I'm planning:

1.  Organization - I have big plans for the boys room, the play room, and our school supplies which may or may not include such things as new toy storage shelves, playdough playing tables and shelves to hold the big trucks.  Plus clearing off bookshelves (and taking the books to a used book store) and setting up a storage area for craft and school supplies in the basement. 

2.  Shopping - Saturday is reserved for some shopping!  I have some Christmas Shopping to do for the boys, clothes shopping (thanks to a gift to do so!), and an open house a friend is having for new scrapbooking supplies. 

3. Cleaning - This goes hand in hand with the organizing - those three rooms will get super cleaned while the organizing is happening. 

4. Planning - I want to prep all of our December activities from our Grinch countdown to our books to read to the crafts to do.  To be honest, some of this will happen this week as I need to go through the Christmas books I bought a few years ago and see if I have 15 I really want to use :-)  I might also start looking for and printing craft ideas so I can pick up some supplies at Hobby Lobby. 

5.  Decorating - My kids love to help decorate for Christmas BUT I love to have things up a certain way so I plan to do some decorating for Christmas.  I will leave things for them, don't worry, like their room with their trees, and even a box of decor items that they can put out anywhere they want.  I also want to get our Christmas lights/outdoor decor put up.  For the first time, we aren't cutting down a tree - my husband's health just won't make it happen this time so I picked up a decent fake tree to use this year (it may get moved to the boys room next year if we do a live one at that point again).  I want to have that put together and the lights on that as well.  We'll wait to decorate it until the boys are home :-)

I know that seems like a lot but in reality, I have 5 1/2 days without the boys here and I have 5 things to get done.  Here's the overall plan.

Friday (1/2 day) - Work on that planning - specifically to have a list of anything I might need at Hobby Lobby.  I also want to get all of the books packed up to take to Baker Bookhouse so I can drop them off while in town.

Saturday - Shopping

Sunday - Start with the organizing/cleaning.  My main goal today, inbetween Football watching, is to get stuff put together like the shelving units, storage things etc.  I might try to get the boys room put together/cleaned as well as that is the easiest of the rooms to work on. 

Monday - My husband has a doctor's appointment that I may or may not need to take him to depending on how he is feeling.  Otherwise, I will be working on two things - 45 minutes working on Organizing and Cleaning, (a 15 minute break), then 45 minutes working on that planning and putting everything together for our activities (followed by a 15 minutes break). 

Tuesday - I will finish up everything for the Organization/Cleaning part that is not done (if anything).  Then I'll finish up any planning.  Finally, I will start with the decorating!

Wednesday - Today will be all about Decorating.  :-) 

That's the plan - we'll see how it goes ;-)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I love Christmas Music

I think Christmas Music is some of the most beautiful music around.  Our local Christian Station has been playing Christmas Music on the hour since the beginning of November - so basically at the top of the hour, I get to hear my favorite music!  I thought I would share a link to a song today; a familiar carol but so wonderful - I need to start singing this with my boys again!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Homeschool Corner

This is how our week went:

1) Monday - My kids were unexpectedly at my in-laws from Friday-Monday.  I also didn't babysit on Monday so no school!

2) Tuesday - My parents were here so I could go scrapbooking and then take my husband to the doctor. No school!  (Well, Josh helped Papa do some work so what better "class" is that?)

3) Wednesday - Seriously, I needed to clean my house.  It was insane.  Josh helped me clean the bathroom - that is learning right there! 

4) Thursday - My mom was over again so I could Darryl in for an Ultrasound so no class once again. 

5) Friday - Ended up taking the kids to meet my mom during the early afternoon so they could stay at my parents for the weekend as my husband was scheduled for a CT scan on Saturday morning. 

I was even 60% ready for preschool last week  . ... oh well.  Good thing my kids are smart ;-) 

With that said, I've spent some time over the last few days working on Christmas plans for the kids.  I'd like to do some fun Holiday based units (Like Polar Express and then watch the movie!) and some holiday crafts and treats.  Added to that is our book a day that ties in with a craft and reading through the How the Grinch Stole Christmas as our advent Calendar.    Added to that, it is REALLY time to start some chores around here.  Nothing big - but we need to add some little habits for the boys :-) 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Things my Kids Say

* One night recently my mom came over and, while walking up our porch steps she fell onto the porch.  Nate happened to be watching, laughed, and said, "You really need to watch that last step." That made me laugh out loud!

*  Recently, Josh looked at me and asked, "Mom, am I in charge now?"  I said No, of course.  So then he said, "Will I be in charge when I'm 10?"  Guess what I said ;-)  Then he said he wanted to know when he was the one in charge.  I just told him he has a long time until that happens HA!

* Nate loves Mac and Cheese.  Last week he walked into the bathroom (where I was cleaning) and informed me that we would have "Mac and Cheese for lunch today and after one sleep we will have hot dogs.  That is what I want and you just need to do it."  Then he turned around and walked out.  Really??  Geesh!

*  Our water softener stopped working recently (I'm so glad we rented one - they have to fix it!!) so I told the boys no baths because the water would be icky to which Nate replied, "I just need to wash mom, I just need to wash".  I offered him a quick shower but he told me he didn't have the time. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tell Your Time

At the end of October, I told you about my New BFF known as Google Calendar.  I have totally embraced this online calender to set up everything from my cleaning schedule to my blog schedule to the fun activities I do plan to do with the kids.   Around that same time I came across a great post at Homeschool Creations on budgeting time written from her perspective with her homeschooling family.  It actually took me back to my "Life on Purpose" days; ironically before I came across either idea I had printed off some of the original worksheets from Life on Purpose in order to "simplify" my scheduling.  Using all three ideas, I've found something that is really working for me, for now ;-)

Following the example of Homeschool Creations, I created a wonderful weekly schedule.  I love documents like this because it allows me to see where I am overbooking my life and to cut back.

A few things about my schedule:
1) The white areas are just that - "blank".  I don't have anything specifically scheduled so it is kind of like free time.  It also gives me cushion in my schedule to get things done. 
2) Yes, that is "rest time" that you see from 2-3 Monday-Thursday.  I know that once kids are down for a nap and my kids are playing or watching their favorite cartoon, I'm ready to sit down and do nothing so I planned for it.  
3) This is an average schedule.  There will always be things that come up like doctor's appointment, scrapbooking or visits from friends and that's ok.  

This schedule is concrete - it helps guide my daily and weekly schedule because now I can plug the stuff I need to get done into the correct areas. 
This is my blank weekly schedule.  This is one of the documents from the original Life on Purpose workshop.  Basically it divides the day into Early, Mid and Late Morning and then Early, Mid and Late Afternoon.  This allows you (and me!) to plug stuff into a general time area not a time "slot".  For me, mid-morning is from about 9:00-10:30- which is dedicated to school when we are having class.  

Generally, I fill this in with pencil on Sunday.  I use my Google Calendar to list my planned cleaning chores, events, even what blog posts I want to write.  Then, I leave this on my desk next to my computer and have easy access to what I need to get done.  The blank spot on the bottom?  I've found that I list things that I need to remember to do the following week.  

Finally, I downloaded a copy of the book Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule so You Can Live Free It is just a short little book for a small price that came recommended.  I'm currently reading through it and have found it to be full of little ideas and great plans especially if you are a first time planner.  I really like how the author breaks things done such as breaking down what your roles are; Nonnegotiable vs Negotiable Activities and Fixed vs. Flexible Activities; Plotting your sleep because, we all need to sleep!  This guide is very easy to read and, with only 32 pages, easy to print, highlight, tape to your forehead, whatever you need! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Food Friday - Pineapple Cheese Ball

Pineapple Cheese Ball
adapted from a friend

I have several cheese ball recipes that I really like but this is a new one!  Several weeks ago a mom brought this as the "mom treat" for Friday school; I could have taken the plate, sat in the corner and ate the entire thing.  It was so good that I went to the store, bought the ingredients and made it at home within just a few days.  For me, this cheese ball is the perfect combination of salty and sweet plus it is a softer cheese ball so you can just dig that cracker right in to the yummy goodness.  This would make a great appetizer/snack to take to any upcoming Holiday Party or Potluck.

12 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 small can crushed pineapple, very well drained
2-3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
4 Tablespoons chopped green onion
4-6 Tablespoons Diced Ham (or finely chopped deli ham)
1 Cup chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients except the pecans and mix well.  Form into a ball (it is very soft - a spatula is able to do most of the work!) and chill.  Roll in crushed pecans; Refrigerate until served.  Serve with crackers. 

On a totally seperate note - I've started looking at Christmas Cookie Recipes!  Every year I think I will make all kinds of goodies and every year . . .I don't :-)  It isn't like we need it but it sure is fun.  I'd like to come up with some that are "tradition" so that as the boys get older we have those fun things on hand.  While looking through recipes, I also started looking through my own "recipe book" I created on line years ago when I used a Rol-a-dex to store my recipes .. .. I need to go through all of those because I've found some recipes we loved that I haven't made in years since those recipes never got reprinted to go into my new recipe binders.  All of the looking at recipes makes me hungry though!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Menu

Well, we had a curve ball thrown at us this past week - my husband is having some pretty severe stomach issues and was put on, first, a clear liquid diet and then slowly moved to a bland diet with very little "real" food.  He's been eating banana's, animal crackers, and baked potatoes.  I'm at a loss of what to cook most days for myself and the boys are enjoying their favorites - Mac and Cheese, Hot Dogs, and Pancakes.  So, writing a menu for this coming week is a little difficult.  I decided to focus more on what I wanted to eat and then just make Darryl what he can  eat (things like plain chicken, plain rice, baked potaoes ect)

Friday - This is normally Taco night but we'll going to skip tacos for now.  I am going scrapbooking for the evening so I'll leave Mac and Cheese for the boys :-)

Saturday - This is "mom's night off".  I'll get either McDonald's or Taco Bell for the boys and I; Darryl will get a baked potato and some applesauce

Sunday - We are heading to my parents house for the day most specifically to see my niece before she heads to Brazil to see my brother (her dad) and sister-in-law (her mom).

Monday - This is soup night!  This is easy - I'll be making some Meatball soup.  This is one of my favorite soups!  I'll add some homemade bread, which both the boys and Darryl can eat. I think Darryl can also eat the broth and orzo that is in the soup since it is a mild soup.

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken sounds good to me!  (I'll cook Darryl a plain chicken thigh).  I'll add rice, which everyone can eat, and broccoli.

Wednesday - This is breakfast night so I think waffles, which everyone can eat, and sausage/bacon.

Thursday - I'm going to try something new tonight - Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets.  I'll cook up a plain piece of Chicken for the big D.  I was trying to think of what to cook with this dinner that we could all eat so I think I'll do baked potatoes and  green beans  I might bake some biscuits too.

For snacks this week I'm going to make a great cheese ball recipe that I love (and Darryl doesn't HA!) I'm not sure about a sweet treat at the time of writing this . . .:-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Harvest Party and Presentation Night

It's hard to believe that our Fall Semester at the Home School Co-op is done!  Considering the fact that it only goes 10 weeks and we missed 3 I guess it is no wonder it went fast!  We had a couple of activities that wrapped up the end of the semester so I wanted to share some fun photos!

So, my boys were beyond thrilled to get to play with all of the other kids in the straw.  It was fun to see their personalities.  Nate just ran to the straw and starting playing - even crawling up three bales and jumping, not caring what he landed on.  Whereas Josh looked at me and said, "Mom, can I go play anything over there? I mean anything? Really?"  He is my more cautious kids for sure!

 Nate took a break after running and running and running AND running!

To say they had fun that afternoon would be an understatement.  Even when the rain started, Josh played outside with kids while Nate went inside and played with the big kids.  They both slept well that night!

Presentation night is the night where the kids get to show what they learned over the semester. 
 Nate's class did played the sticks . . ..

 And then danced to the bean bag song. 

 And also sang the "Hot Dog Song"

 Josh's class sang their ABC song from the semester. 

On the way home Josh said to me, "Mom, next time, I am not going up front to sing.  I do not like to do that at all. " HA!  Nate on the other hand, he did not want to leave the front . . .he loves to "perform".

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Josh's Birthday Photos

In October, we had Josh's Birthday Photos taken and this is the first chance I've had to share them!

 My photographer purposefully take a closeup photo that we can turn to black and white for my wall.  I just love that smile!
 This is my favorite over all photo.  It makes him look so grown up!

 Of course, we also got some together photos of both boys - they are best friends!

This was just a fun shot of Josh with a guitar.  By this point of the shoot he was about done with photos :-)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homeschool Corner

Welcome back to Homeschool Corner!  My original plan was to get back into school this past week . . and we did; just not as much as I had hoped!

I had fully planned to start school on Monday morning but the boys asked for Play Dough.  What they didn't know is that my cousin had given me a full bag of Play Dough supplies back at the beginning of October so I got out all of the play dough stuff.  The boys played with the play dough for 3 full hours.  I think it was a huge success.
Tuesday we actually got some school work done.
We used cars to make "O"'s.  It was a great race track :-)

Then, we enjoyed a concert.

 Josh loves to play the piano.  I have a preschool piano book that he uses; he is not ready for lessons yet . . I've tried.  He is still very much about just playing what he wants to play.  I try to teach him concepts through just conversations and hope that maybe sometime next year he'll be ready for a little more "teaching". 
 While the concert is going on . . .Nate uses a wooden pizza cutter on his face :-/  HA

Notice the tongue?  The higher the notes, the further the tongue sticks out. 

The rest of week was a wash.  On Wednesday the boys were playing so I let them play.  Thursday we took my husband to a doctor appointment.  Friday was the last day of Friday school but the boys actually went to my Mother-in-Laws for the weekend.