Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that we are at the end of the year.  

I'm a little behind on some things but I will catch up after the new year including the birthday celebration and Christmas!  Plus I have quite a few recipes too share too not to mention all of those goals HA! 

But for now, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, a fun and safe New Years Eve, and a great New Years Day!  We are looking forward to spending it with family! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Weekly Menu

I always find that the week or so after a big holiday, I really struggle with menu planning mostly because I don't want to cook anymore and the budget is trying to recover from all of the holiday fun.  I like to try and keep things simple and keep the meals something that everyone enjoys so I'm not fixing anything extra :-)

So here is the plan for the coming week including New Years!

Friday - Scallop Potatoes and Ham - still using leftover Ham from Christmas :-)

Saturday - I actually think we are going to get Taco Bell for dinner.  I know, why?  After all of Darryl's dental issues of the past six months, he is finally ready to eat Taco Bell again and is craving it so, this is as good of an excuse as any to eat it!

Sunday - We will be with my moms  celebrating the new year :-) Our tradition is soups mid afternoon followed by snacks throughout the evening.

Monday - Happy New Years! My mom is cooking today which is fine by me!

Tuesday - Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta, Salad, and Bread

Wednesday - We are back to AWANA tonight so the boys and I will grab something to eat while Darryl is at practice.

Thursday - Asian Sesame Sliders and French Fries. 

I really am amazed that we are entering a new year - 2018.  Time just keeps moving faster.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our Week in photos #25

Sorry I've missed a few posts but between lots of sickness and the busy days of December, it just has been hard to keep up!  Here's a look back at the last two weeks!

 Two weeks ago, we headed out to get our tree.  The boys got to help Darryl cut it down. 
The boys :-)  
 Having fun in the trees :-)  

 We took time to drive around to all of the homes "competing" in the Festival of Lights and check out the lights.  This house was my favorite.  It was a very fun night and we got the opportunity to see so many pretty decorations! 
 And this finally happened - a snow storm!  We ended up with about a foot of snow by the time it was done.  The kids enjoyed playing outside and they also helped a lot with shoveling! 

 Gingerbread houses!  This is a fun tradition that we all enjoy. 
 Nate's house. 
 Josh's House. 
 This is Josh's snowman that he built all by himself.  (Just a little bit of help lifting up that middle snowball!) We thought we had charcoal but actually had real wood charcoal pieces that we had to make work! 
 We visited the library to hear Santa read a story and make some crafts. 
 The boys in the Michigan State Police shirts they got as a gift from my brother :-) 
 Our pretty Christmas tree! 
 This is a picture of the picture taken at the Library.  Nate would not get a picture done BUT he did have a full conversation with Santa about Pokemon. 
 Of course we had to make and decorate Christmas cookies too! 
 At that's what has kept us busy the last few weeks.  We had to miss a few things - visiting my in-laws for a Christmas Cantata, Darryl's family Christmas, and my choir concert.  Yet, I feel like we have some great family time and we are looking forward to the festivities over the next few days.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Weekly Menu

Sorry for being MIA - it's December.  That's all.  It's very hard for me to believe that Christmas is less than a week away.  It's also really hard to believe that a year ago we were in South Carolina for the holidays.  I feel like Thanksgiving is all about food . . .and Christmas is more about family so I'm trying really, really hard to not overplan anything.

So, here's the basic plan for the next week

Friday - Today is Nate's birthday.  It gives me a fabulous break because lunch and dinner will be served up by his favorite places to eat (As of this writing it is Olive Garden and Red Robin but that is subject to change at any moment)

Saturday - My mom arrives today and, break #2 - she is bringing dinner.

Sunday - Christmas Eve!  I have a couple of things in mind.  We always enjoy snacks on Christmas Eve but out church Candlelight service is late - 7:00 - and they serve snacks afterwards so I'm aiming more for some "light lunch" type of foods to have late afternoon.  Stromboli, Meatballs, Cheese and Crackers, Fruit and Dip, and Christmas Cookies.  I plan on taking some Roll-ups and cookies to church too.

Monday - Christmas Day!  First up is breakfast - tradition is eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, cinnamon rolls and fruit.  Later in the day is Ham, Cheesey Potatoes, Fruit Salad, Creamy Pea Salad, Green Bean Casserole, Mac and Cheese, Baked Beans and Rolls.  Of course there will be dessert.

Tuesday - Two optoins are on the table - total leftovers or going out for dinner.  I haven't decided which direction I want to take it yet HA!

Wednesday - Two optoins once again - doing something with leftovers (Like pancakes, eggs and ham) or Taco bell.  Seriously.  Depends on how many leftovers we've eaten.

Thursday - This is totally up for grabs.  Tacos? Spaghetti? I'm not sure.  I'll decide on Wednesday and make sure I have the food in the house in time for dinner!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Our Week in Photos #24

What a fabulously fun week of Christmas fun!

Saturday was a busy day with Christmas program practice, some fun Christmas activities, and a concert

 We stopped at Denny's Farm Market for some fun.  Josh enjoyed seeing Santa again :-) (I didn't make Nate pose for a photo this time HA!) 
A local potter had a Christmas Ornament decorating station set up.  The boys loved painting their ornaments  To make it better, all of the ornaments were hand made by the artist  So cool! 

 A stop at the grocery store meant a photo shoot with Sandy the horse (and a chance to win $100!) 

Finally, the boys sang in a concert with the Local Choir.  It was fun to see them on stage having fun singing. 

On Sunday,  the boys had their annual church Christmas program.  They have been rehearsing for months and it is always so fun to see the final program. 
 I loved Josh in his little sheep hat!

This guy, Nate, begged for a bigger part!  He had the whole play memorized and was secretly hoping the guy playing the lead would get sick HA! 
 One of my favorite photos - they love to sing!
 The final bows.
 On Wednesday, we went on a Field Trip with our on-line school to the movies and got to see the movie "Wonder".  Wow.  What an amazing movie.

 Finally, on Friday night we went to a "Bethlehem Village" - it was put on by another local church.  They did a interpretive dance of the Nativity - it was really quite impressive.

 The boys were able to create a neat ornament for the tree.
 And of course there were animals. :-)

And I love this donkey :-)  If I had a farm, I'd have a donkey.  (Not really - but I wish I could live next door to a farm that had a donkey  . . and a cow.  So I could see them but not have to clean up after them HA!)

That's our week! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekly Menu - the countdown to Christmas

I'm working on putting our Christmas menus together.  All of the different events and activities that require food all coming to an end on Christmas day with dinner!  BUT, before that happens, we still have to eat dinner for a few weeks.  I'm working really hard to plan meals around events so that we don't spend money we don't need to spend on eating out.  (Even when it would be so much easier HA!)

Here's the plan for the coming week.

Friday - We are going to a Bethlehem Village that is set up by another church in the area.  They will have food (like chili) available so I'm just going to make Tacos - it's easy and "light" so if we want food later, we won't be stuffed.

Saturday - Today is Christmas Tree day!  Before kids, we always had lots of snacks to eat while decorating.  I've learned that with kids, they just want dinner HA!  I want something easy!  So . .we are going to grab something while we are out (Now, that's easy!)

Sunday - The boys and I are going to my mother-in-laws church for her Christmas program and then eating dinner at her house.  Sunday evening, I'm going to try a new pasta dish!

Monday - Tortillini and Sausage Soup.

Tuesday - Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday - Tonight is Awana so I'm planning on the boys and I eating out :-)

Thursday - Chicken in the crock pot, potatoes and veggies

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Countdown! Having fun as we count down to Christmas!

On Monday I wrote about our advent activities as we learn about the true meaning of the season - Jesus. 

Today, I'll show you our fun countdown activities.

 First up is our Grinch Calendar.  You can find the original idea over at Chica and Jo.  It's such a fun little calendar that allows you to read through "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".  It was really easy to put together and this is our third or fourth year using it so it holds up well.  I will admit that some of my ribbons are falling off - I'm going to add a "tickler" to my holiday folder for next year to get some nice fluffy ribbon and update this.  One of the great things this year is the boys can read the cards themselves and they love that!  They pull the card, read it, and then open their gift.  The gifts are always a struggle for me - I don't like to buy clutter to add to the house but I don't want to spend a fortune on stuff either!  Day one they opened a Christmas long sleeve t-shirt which I just loved!  I'm trying to stick with both fun things they like (such as little Minecraft figures) and their favorite treats. 

Our other fun countdown is a Christmas Countdown Calendar.  The last few years they've done Lego countdowns but my mom found these fabulous Crayola Countdowns and the boys are really enjoying them.  Each day offers another craft supply and I believe at they end they will get to make something. 

There are so many great ideas out there! 

Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great little countdown with all kinds of fun activities to do throughout the season.  I really like this one and might try to incorporate it next year.
Several years ago I tried doing the "Book a day" by wrapping up 24 books and the boys opened one each day.  Neither the boys nor I were really that interested in it.  Instead, I plan on using The Christmas Carol next year as a read aloud and using the information from Confessions of a Homeschooler  (Can you tell I like her blog??)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent - Preparing for Jesus

I love to plan as much fun as I can around the holiday season but, I also find it of the utmost importance to always bring the focus back to the reason of the season - the birth of Jesus Christ.  I've done a variety of different things through the years depending on the boys ages and, after searching through a bunch of Pinterest ideas, I narrowed it down to two simple things things this year.  How did I pick?  Ultimately I wanted . . .free :-)

 The first thing we are doing comes from 1 plus1 plus 1 equals 1, a great resource for homeschooling all year long.  This is the Jesse Tree.  Each night we read the Jesse Tree card.  There is scripture reading you can do as well but for this year, we are just reading the "story".  Then, there is an ornament to hang on the tree.  Since we do this at bedtime, the ornament gets hung on the boys tree in their room and I hang the story cards in their room as well.  Ideally, if you do this, laminating the ornaments for future use is a great idea but I was out of lamination sheets so I'll have to do it later :-)

Secondly, we are doing this idea from Activities For Kids.  It is so super simple.  Just print each of the verse sheets (provided for free) on your choice of colored paper.  Each night we read the verse of the day (the kids are reading them!) and add it to the chain on their tree.  I considered putting together the chain and then removing one each day like a "normal" countdown chain but, instead we are adding a "link" each day and wrapping the chain around their tree.  Such a simple way to incorporate the Christmas Story. 

Don't worry that it is already December 4th, you can start these now and just double up a few days.  I can almost guarantee that we will end up missing day due to plans or activities away from home that bring us home late - it's not about being perfect and never missing a day; it's about doing something to focus on Jesus!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Our Week in Photos #23

Some weeks start out and I think we won't have much "to show" at the end of the week.  Yet, every week it's fun to look back and see what we've done!

 This week in school, Nate had to create a "still life" art piece with real things at home.  This is what he created and yes, he was very proud of his work. 

 On Tuesday, we went to see Santa.  Yes, we go early :-)  Several years ago, I wanted until just before Christmas and the boys (and I) were so sick that we couldn't go.  I learned  my lesson - go early!  Not to mention it was 60 degrees on Tuesday so, as you can see, we didn't even need coats!  This Santa House is about15 minutes from us - it's awesome.  They boys got to sign the "Naughty and Nice" list before seeing Santa! 
 Josh loves the guy in the big red suit!  He walks right in, sits down and tells him what he wants. 
Nate does not enjoy this at all.  He appeases me, albeit without a smile, by standing in the doorway.  What he didn't know was that Santa was sneaking up behind him for this perfect shot!!! 
 On Thursday we were able to meet some family for dinner including my oldest brother, Kel.  The boys had been planning for WEEKS to "make" him taste all levels of hot sauce because, well, Kel likes hot sauce.
 Uncle Kel did not disappoint!  The last one (from the Mexican restaurant we were eating at) was the hottest and made him sweat just a teeny bit HA! 
 All of the sauces!
 It really was a special treat to see my brother and sister-in-law as well as my nephew, his wife and they little guy! 

 December 1st brings lots of new fun.  We started our Grinch countdown; the boys got to open day one in their new advent calendars from Nana, and we did our first day of our Christmas Story Advent as well. 
 Josh and his cat.  Why is the cat sitting with Josh?  For one simple reason - the cat loves spaghetti and that is what was for dinner!!!
 Then we headed downtown for the parade!  We ran into our friends (we thought they weren't coming!) and the kids were all thrilled!
The Tree sits right in the center of town.  It's pretty cool 

 A couple of my favorites - the trucks decorated with lights!
The boys in front of the tree!  It was really a great night (and not even that cold!)