Saturday, January 30, 2016

Family Fun - Christmas Program

One of my favorites things about the Christmas holiday is seeing the boys participate in the church Christmas Program.  They practice beginning in September and really enjoy being part of the program.  The lady in charge does a great job with assigning parts as the kids grow and mature.  I look forward to seeing the boys do more and more in the years to come.

 This years program was set in the old west so the kids dressed the part.  Josh had a speaking part so he got to even wear a cowboy hat.
 Josh had several lines in the program.  He did great.
 Nate knew every single line in the entire play.  For real.  Without trying.  He was too young for a speaking part though . . .one more year!
 He still had all of his teeth :-)  Love this kid.

 Nate was part of the Nativity.  He knew his part too - a verse that he said loud and clear.  A big change from last year when she put the microphone in front of him and he zipped his lips and shook his head no!
 Josh loves to sing - can you tell:?
 Nate, the cutest shepherd ever taking his final bow.
Josh and his final bow. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekly Menu

Last week was great.  I hardly had to cook at all.  It was a nice.  In an attempt to cut out as much unplanned spending as possible we had, up until this past week, eaten at home every single day in January with the exception of one Saturday where we order pizza.  I was sick of cooking.  For real.  I feel like I can pick back up as we head into February and not feel the need to eat out for several weeks, at least :-)  We also did a little shopping again at Trader Joe's :-)  We don't get their often but we have already figured out things we love.  Our favorites?  Smoked Gouda - straight from Holland.  It's so good.  I love the Tomatoless Corn and Chili Salsa.  We have also found that the Trader Joe's Crackers (we've tried quite a few) and cookies (the Butter Cookie Cookie Butter Sandwich cookies are to die for) are awesome.  I bought a bag of Tortilla chips to go with my salsa and didn't realize that they were unsalted until I got home . .. they are awesome.  I love that they are unsalted because then it doesn't change the taste of the salsa :-) 

After all of that, it's time to move on to planning another week of menus :-)

Saturday - After just saying I would cook . .. the plan is to go to town and use some Christmas Gift Cards.  The boys each got gift cards to Toys R Us as well as some money so we are going to take them shopping.  We got a gift card to Red Robin - which is a family favorite Restaurant.

Sunday - Sunday Dinner :-)  Roast, Carrots, and Noodles.  Yum!  There is something in this meal that every single person loves.

Monday - Hard to believe that Gymnastics is starting up again but it is.  The boys enjoy it still and I'd really like them to learn how to do a cartwheel!  HA!  Dinner needs to be fast and easy.  Last week my mom made a beef stew out of a leftover roast dinner my dad made so I'm stealing her idea.  Throwing in the leftover roast, carrots and noodles to make stew.  Add some biscuits and life is good.

Tuesday - I have a meeting so again, dinner needs to be easy and quick.  Chicken Thighs cooked in our favorite sticky marinade, Mac and Cheese and Green Beans.  The chicken make take an hour to cook but sitting in the oven for an hour doesn't cost me anything HA!

Wednesday - Tacos.  AWANA nights are always a little rushed so having something simple that we can eat in stages is good since Darryl sometimes doesn't get home until after 5:00 and we have to leave by 6:00

Thursday - Steakhouse mac and cheese.  This is a new recipe that a friend tried this week and recommended.  There will be salad . . .and probably chicken and fries for the picky eaters HA!

Friday - Crock Pot Chicken and Stuffing.  I've made a similar recipe in the oven that we really liked but I haven't made it in years (I think we got tired of it ;-) ) Well, I love my crock pot so this is worth a try. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

52 Week Photo Challange

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a photography challenge from over at PetaPixal.  I like the set up and feel it might give me some more practice with my camera.  I'm also hoping to home my skills by reading more tutorials online for how to set up photos better.  Once a month (hopefully) I'll share my photos here.  If you "know me" on Facebook, you've already seen these.

 Week 1:  A Selfie using the timer on the camera. 
 Week 2: A Landscape. 
 Week 3:  Something Red
Week 4: A Selfie of someone else (My sweet pooch!) 

One thing this challenge has caused me to do is to be on the lookout for great photo opportunities.  I'm working on looking within our daily lives instead of thinking "oh I wish I could go 'here' and get a shot (i.e. the lakeshore, a light house, the frozen waters of Lake Michigan) 

My goal is to complete all 52 weeks and then turn these photos and the stories into a coffee table book to enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What we are Eating - Chick-Fil-Lay Cole Slaw

Chick-Fil-Lay Cole Slaw
adapted from . .. well, Chick-Fil-Lay gave it away! 

I know, I know this is the same photo of the Chick-Fil-Lay sandwhich I posted last week but do see that cole slaw poking out from under the bun?  That's this weeks recipe and it was so good.  Apparently, Chick-Fil-Lay is not going to be serving their cole slaw anymore so they actually posted the true recipe on their Facebook page for all to have.  What a great idea!  Best cole slaw ever.  It tasted perfect on the sandwich and it tasted perfect as a side dish.  


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Family Fun - Christmas Tree Cutting

Cutting down a Christmas tree was always part of our Christmas traditions but the last two years we weren't able to do it because of Darryl's back.  I purchased an artificial tree to get us by until we could do this tradition again.  Needless to say we were all very excited to head out to Uncle Charlie's Tree Farm . To make it nicer for Darryl - it wasn't very cold and there was no snow :-)

 Notice how beautiful it is outside?  The boys set off looking for the perfect Tree.
 Josh found it!  It was a great tree even if it was super prickly!

 Darryl cutting down the tree.  I have to give this guy props.  He doesn't have the strength he had several years ago so this took a lot of work.  He did not give up and chopped that baby down. 
 The boys took over hauling the tree back to the main house.  We did learn that Uncle Charlie's will only be around another year or two.  Uncle Charlie himself is 75 and is ready to be wrap up the tree farm and turn it into farm land. 

We had a lot of fun with the lights before Darryl put them on the tree for us. 

It was a great day all the way around!  The boys did a lot of the decorating of the tree too.  Christmas gets more and more fun as they get older. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekly Menu - The one Where the Kids are Gone

The kids are away :-)  My kids had requested some extra time with Papa and Nana after Christmas but due to an impending storm (that was kinda a fizzle) and the fact that my parents were tired, even though they always so yes to those boys, we decided to put off their stay until January.  Well, it's January :-)  The boys have been counting down the days and, well, so have I HA!  What?  I enjoy a break too!  I usually get extra stuff done around the house like cleaning out stuff that Josh, my resident hoarder, doesn't see and pick out of the trash!!  I also take a break from cooking.  For real.  So, here's the plan for the coming week :-)

Saturday - Darryl and I are going on a date.  I don't know what yet but I will arrive home from the ladies seminar around 3:00 and we'll head into town for some shopping (Good Will HA!), Dinner, and maybe a movie or just enjoying a coffee shop.

Sunday -A couple at our church are doing a special meal after church so I don't have to cook - we get to eat her food HA!

Monday - Our favorite - just going to Applebees for Burgers.  They are cheap on Mondays and they are good!

Tuesday - We've been craving good Chinese food so the plan has been for weeks for Darryl to bring home Chinese food :-)

Wednesday - The kids will be home!  Easy peasey Pancakes and Sausage/Bacon.

Thursday - Back to reality.  Amish Chicken, Noodles and Green Beans.  This was on the schedule a week ago but, it was on a Saturday . . .and the boys and I went shopping . . .between two stores and the bank we were gone for 4 hours .. .i was tired. . .and forgot to take the Chicken out of the Freezer so Darryl brought home pizza.  :-)

Friday - I'm going to say I'm not sure.  I'm going to see what's left in the house - Meat in the freezer; rice or noodles or Mac and Cheese; whatever veggies . . .leftovers :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spirit Filled Kindle

I love to read but trying to keep up with new reading material without breaking the budget is hard somethings. Recently I had a link for "Spirit Filled Kindle" show up on my Facebook page.  I clicked on it and have been pleasantly surprised with the free books I've been able to get daily.  I have one firm rule about free books - they have to be at least 225 pages long.  Too often I've grabbed up a free book only to discover it is "mini book" of like 100 pages.  Not worth it.  This sight offers both fiction and non-fiction titles too.  I love having my Kindle stocked with good, Christian titles by some of my favorite authors even!

Check it out! Spirit Filled Kindle 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What we are Eating - Chick-Fil-lay Chicken Sandwiches

Chick-Fil-Lay Chicken Sandiches
adapted from Centless Deals
I decided to try these chicken sandwiches because we love the copy cat Chick-Fil-Lay nuggets that I've made for awhile.  Well, these were a huge hit.  My husband said that it was the best chicken sandwich he has ever had and wants them for his birthday dinner so that says a lot!  

  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • ½ cup Pickle Juice
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Celery Salt
  • ½ tsp Basil
  • 1 cup Peanut Oil for frying
  • 4 Buns (buttered and toasted)
  • Pickle Slices!
  1. Put chicken in zippered bag and pound gently with the flat side of a mallet until about ½" thick.
  2. Cut each breast into 2 equal pieces.
  3. Marinate chicken in the pickle juice for about an hour.
  4. Beat together egg and milk in a bowl.
  5. Mix together the flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
  6. Heat the oil in a skillet to about 350.
  7. Dip each chicken piece into the egg covering both sides, then coat in flour on each side.
  8. Fry each chicken piece for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.
  9. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  10. Then serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teaching Tuesdays

We had a great week last week.  One of the great things is we went on a field trip.  For real.  We went bowling and it was awesome.  The boys had never been bowling and they loved it.

There was also a pro-bowler there and he took an interest in the boys.  He gave them pointers and let them bowl on his lane to try and get him a spare. 

We also had a snow day last week.  Last Tuesday the local public school was closed so the Munchkin was home with us all day.  The boys were having too much fun playing together so I called a snow day and just let them play.

Despite that, we did get lots of school work done.  Josh is completely done for the semester - he has nothing left to do this coming week.  We are going to focus on learning sight words and AWANA sections.  Nate finished up his December writing (yes, we didn't do it in December) and we worked diligently on his work.  My goal is to have all of his lessons done by the end of the day today.  Then we will focus the rest of the week on his January writing and AWANA review - Nate finished his first book last week and now we have to review that book. 

I mentioned last week, I think, that the boys started back into Tae Kwon Do so I wanted to share a photo of their new uniforms.
Just this weekend I printed off the registration form for Gymnastics which needs to be sent in this week; registration for T-ball which is due by the end of March and I'm making calls on some swimming lessons for the boys to start in March hopefully.  Busy, busy boys!

Monday, January 18, 2016


I haven't posted my  January Goals as of yet.  I've been debating posting the full list now or waiting and posting it at the end just to show the accomplishments.  What I did at the beginning of January was write my goals for the year.  This list is pretty basic but lists where I want to be at the end of the year in each of my categories.  From there, I wrote my January goals.  Anyway, here is my basic list (see, I decided to post it after all)

Now, as you read these, remember they are goals . . .even I know that I will only accomplish about 25% of these even part way but it does help me to stay focused during the week and not just sit around all day :-)  Each night I look over the list and write my to do list for the next day.  For the record, I have accomplished some of these items and have made great progress in the basement HA!  

January 2016 Goals
1.     Do the Women in the Bible Bible Study Daily
2.    Scripture memory – Find a memory program and work on memorizing 1 verse a week (so 4 total for January)
3.    Read 4 “Soul” books – books to help make me better
1.     Walk/ride bike for 30 minutes, 5 days a week every week this month
2.    Incorporate the beginning Couch to 5K (See pinterest)
3.    Find a rotation of 5 different breakfast items that I can eat that keep my sugar in check
4.    Get Nate to eat one new food this month
1.     Finish scrapbooking 2014 (on my desk currently)
2.    Scrapbook January 2015 using project life
3.    Order one month of 12x12 pages and put them in a scrapbook
4.    Go through 3-4 (so 2 years) of photo albums and make sure they are complete
1.     Keep an excel spreadsheet with Darryl’s income/expense, money spent, bills paid,
2.    Start the Christmas Savings Program and the Kids Savings Program
3.    Put $20.00 away for Darryl’s clothes budget
4.    Make a list of wish items for the Tax Money
House Goals
1.     Work in the basement weekly sorting into my four bins.  I’m not even sure if I’ll finish what I want to get done but I just want to work downstairs 5 days a week – a little each day.
2.    Make a brainstorming list of things to do in the spring/summer in the yard
3.    Room by Room deep cleaning
a.    Kitchen – Each day go through one cupboard or deep clean one appliance
b.    Dining room – Go through every item and clean stuff out, get paint to do touch ups, clean up homeschool stuff and organize the piano better and rehang some of the wall art that is hung off center
c.    Living Room – Clean out the filing cabinet, dust, clean stuff out that we don’t love, cobwebs, ect.
d.    Bathroom – Just clean the whole stinkin’ thing
4.    Go through Lego Catelogs and put into binders and then put new ziplock organization into a crate for easy project redos
All about me
1.     Purchase new clothing item (approx. $20.00) such as socks  or a new shirt
2.    Buy me something each month (Focus is chapstick, pen and paper)
3.    Paint my fingernails weekly
4.    Paint my toenails
5.    Send Kate a birthday card on time
6.    Pinterest
a.    Each week print/read/do 10 items in my January focus (so two a day).
7.    Learn How to put my make up better – find You tube videos to teach about mary Kay Foundations
The Family
1.     Plan Summer activities
a.    Parks
b.    Activity
c.    Food item
d.    Craft
2.    Plan a family outing – January – take the boys shopping with their money and go to Red Robin (Gift Card)
3.    Get Family photos done this month
4.    Plan Darryl’s birthday fun
5.    Purchase kid item – January find new rain boots for each of the boys at the best price possible
6.    Put the boys fish tank together and let them each pick out some fish
7.    Find some swimming lessons
9.    Create a Routine/chore chart for each boy with $ incentive
10.  Purchase and mail Kaleb and Erins gift
11.  Map the trips we want to take
12.  Research some kid cooking classes.
13.  Watch for Tickets for the Circus in March and the Motor Cross (or whatever is in march)
Reading and Music
1.     Make a list of books I want to read from Pinterest and what I already own
2.    Pick out a chapter book to start reading to the boys
3.    Build an older library for the boys – pick up 3-4 books.
4.    Practice one piano song this month (well, actually two, one to play in January and then start working on one for February)
5.    Purchase “How Can it Be” and practice it to sing
6.    Review the “must” sight words with the boys and make sure they are on target for all areas in school
Joyful Thanksgiving
1.     Find one book that relates to this in my life (40 days of Joy?) and read it.
2.    Find resources on how to discipline, teach and train using verses and Biblical examples
3.    Have the family learn 4 verses talking about Joy and/or Thanksgiving – work on them at dinner.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Family Fun - Christmas Parade

Over the past few years, I've tried to be very intentional when it comes to Christmas and the activities that we do.  One of the wonderful things of living in a small town is things like an awesome Christmas Light Parade.  We have never attended because it has either been rainy or so unbelievably cold that we didn't want to go!  This year was perfect though - it was clear, only just below freezing, and we actually felt like going!  The boys were beyond excited because the Munchkin and Princess had talked about it so they planned on finding each other and, guess what?  They did! 

 The evening starts out with caroling around the tree.  The city puts a HUGE tree right in the middle of town - it sits in the middle of the intersection for the entire holiday season and it is amazing. 
 The start of the parade. 
 The boys loved seeing all of the the trucks decked out with lights.  Not to mention the candy.  I had no idea they threw out candy so we did not bring bags - my coat pockets were saggin' down to my knees.  I swear, they got more candy then they did at Halloween!

 The three friends -Josh, Nate and the Munchkin.  Sometimes I think we all forget that these boys are really best friends - they have been together since the Munchkin was 12 weeks old.  Crazy.

My attempt at a photo of the boys in front of the giant tree.  This is real life.  That's all. 

Once we left the parade, we went to McDonald's for a treat . . which in our family means Chicken Nuggets and Fries HA! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Menu - The One I haven't Planned

I'm. tired. of. cooking.  Uuuugggg.  I'm tired of chicken, food that doesn't taste good, and cleaning up after dinner.  For real.  With that said, we are not eating out - we are eating at home and I'm still cooking, still cleaning, and we are not starving HA!! 

One of my goals this year is to get Nathan to try one food each month. Just one.  He has a very, very limited number of items he will actually eat but he refuses to try anything.  Well, month one was a success!  He has a game on his Ipad where he "makes" food and one of those recipes was Homemade Mac and Cheese.  He begged me to make it, so we did.  Too his credit, he tried it.  At about a 1/4 of cup of it and even said he kinda liked it but . .. then he said it made his stomach hurt HA!  He has a pretty sensitive stomach so I'm thinking it might have been too rich for his little tummy BUT he tried it!!!  Whoo whoo!! 

We tried several new recipes this week and two of them were a huge success - I'll share the success' (and failures) in the coming weeks.  But now, it's time to think about this coming week.  This past week I cleaned out my recipe book - took out all of the recipes that I've made once and will never make again.  I only want the stuff we love in that book - and stuff I'll actually cook!!

So . . here's the plan:

Saturday - Amish Chicken, Buttered Noodles, and Green Beans

Sunday - Roast, Carrots, Potatoes, and Rolls - a classic Sunday Dinner

Monday - Stuffed Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, and Biscuits

Tuesday -Tacos - we haven't had them in awhile

Wednesday - Sausage and Egg McMuffins (homemade), Waffles, and Hashbrowns

Thursday - Double Orange Crunch Chicken, Fried Rice, and Crescents

Friday - I'm heading to Linden to attend a Ladies conference on Saturday so the boys and I will grab something on our way out of town. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Teaching Tuesdays

We are back in the swing of things once again and I would like to say that this is our mantra:
Image result for School fun

But it is not HA! My boys sing, "I hate school, I really do. . ..except for Math" HA!  Oh well.  That's ok.  They still get their work done.

We are wrapping up the first semester and, after weeks in November and December where we were over a week behind so I changed their schedule some, we are now so caught up that we will be done a week early with their semester work.  Josh is even further ahead and could be done today, if I let him, but we are just going really slow so he has an assignment each day at least.  I'm not complaining at all, after struggling so much at the beginning of the year with trying to stay on top of the boys work, it feels good to be in a better place and actually spending time on their lessons instead of just pushing through to accomplish tasks on time.

Our plan for the week is simple:
1) Nate has some journaling assignments from December that we need to finish up this week. 
2) Wrap up almost all, if not all, of the lessons for this week and next week with the goal of working only on Live Lessons, Sight words, and Nate's January Journaling next week.
3) We have a field trip this week that we are very excited about - we are going bowling!! 

We started Tea Kwon Do this past week which the boys are thrilled about.  Gymnastics starts in February and T-ball/Baseball is just around the corner plus I'm still trying to find some place affordable for some swimming lessons for the boys. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Family Fun - Thanksgiving

So, I realize Christmas has just passed but I haven't posted any Family Fun posts since before Thanksgiving and wanted to start there so here's a recap of our Thanksgiving.

We spent Thanksgiving with my parents.  We arrived Thursday morning and enjoyed football, fellowship and, of course, some awesome food. 

It has become tradition for the boys to help my dad put the tree up and then help decorate it.  Papa had two very eager helpers as he put the tree together and worked to get the lights all working on the tree.  

Darryl . . enjoying some down time after working lots of days in a row. 

The boys watching Papa try to find the light that isn't working.  Notice the shirtless kid?  He is always hot and almost always shirtless. 

My dad.  Taking a break from all of the work.  

Quality time with Nana . . playing games on the Ipads.  HA!  What did we do before we all had something to play a game on???

The boys helping to hang decorations on the tree. 

The crazy kids, posing, shirtless, and just having fun.

Joshua :-) 
We had a great time at my parents and then we left the kids!!  Another tradition - they boys always stay for a few days after Thanksgiving while Darryl and I get to take off for home and enjoy some "kidless" days.