Thursday, January 17, 2019

What I'm Reading

Since we are midway through the month I thought I'd share what I'm reading.  I talked earlier this week about my book club book and my book study book but this will include other books I've finished this month as well as what I'm reading right now.

 My mom and I had the opportunity to hear Beverly Lewis speak at a book signing last fall.  I picked up this book at that time and just haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I'm looking forward to reading it! 
 This is one of the books that I started in a book study years and years ago but never finished it.  I just never seemed to have the time to really read it and apply it.  Since I focus so much on not letting anyone steal my joy, I wanted to get back to this book so I could understand the importance of being positive with my kids too. 
 I love Liz Curtis Higgs.  I also love the story of Ruth.  Put those two together and I'm hoping this is a homerun! 
 This is my next book club book.  I've started reading it already and it has my full attention.  

As an Amazon Prime Member, I usually get one free "new release" book each month.  In January they gave out two!  I picked the two above.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not - but they are free so that's ok!  These are downloaded on my kindle ready to read!

Since we are already half way through the month, I'm not sure how much I'll get read but these are my January goal :-)  We are considering switching from Cable TV to Hulu and I've already learned with the trial of Hulu that it's not as easy to watch TV without cable . . so maybe I'll read more ;-) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Holiday Planning Binder

Several years ago I decided that I needed to start writing things done related to holidays because I never remember everything I want to remember!

Well, last year I was determined to do it and never did so . . . at Thanksgiving I did it.  I just started writing down notes.  Everything from our menu, to what worked or didn't worked and even a reminder that we always go see a movie the day after Thanksgiving.

Christmas included lots of info from reminders of things for the kids Christmas program to when to the boys annual PJ's.  I think it is so much easier to write things down while it is happening as reminders for next year.  Here's a small sample from my Holiday Planner for Christmas.  As you can see, it's just a simple list of ideas - nothing fancy.  I really call it my "brain"

Christmas Program at Church
·         Saturday practice begin the first Saturday in November.
·         Program is normally the first Sunday after Thanksgiving
·         If the boys need “Toga’s” (sheets) they can’t use what they used in the past (twin sheets); either purchase fabric or get Double Bed Sheets
·         Need to take a snack for after the Program
Christmas Cards
·         Take some very specific photos for our cards – go somewhere if I don’t have professional photos done by Barb.  (Meaning, go to somewhere pretty and take great photos of the boys and one of all of us together
·         Pick out and order our photo cards in November (or have them ready and order them on sale – also remember that I can design a college card like I did in 2018 for a lot less money
·         Write our letter
·         Address and mail them all by the first week of December

o   Find out all address updates EARLY!

I also made simple notes for New Years Eve/New Years Day.  Nothing fancy but just reminders of what we did and ate and a few ideas for future years.  (Granted by the time New Years comes around, I'm usually tired of planning HA!)

Next on my list is planning for Valentine's Day.  I try to keep it simple but some of the items on the list will include:
1) Letting the boys pick out what Valentine's they want to make and get the supplies EARLY.
2) Making our Valentine's box for our Co-op party
3) Planning our meal (We usually have Spaghetti!)
4) What small gifts to pick up for the boys - the key is small.  :-)

You get the idea, I'm sure. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Book Study - It's not Supposed to be This Way

Over the years, I've joined quite a few different book studies and, if I'm honest, most of them (maybe all of them) I've never finished.  I get a chapter or two behind and never catch back up.  This time around a friend of mine decided to do a book study on this book and I decided to join her facebook group and see if I can actually finish strong!

This book caught my attention because I think, for the most part, many of us find ourselves in a place where we realize that the plans we had for our life are not turning out the way we, well, planned.  In reality, that's to be expected because none of us know what curve balls will be thrown into our plans through the years but, how do we respond to those changes is what really defines us.  I'll be honest, I'm not a huge Lysa Terkeurst fan but decided to put that aside and instead look for what I can learn from what she has walked through the past few years.

We've just finished Chapter One and I can honestly say that I already like it.  Does everything apply to me and my life?  No, but I think in a book study, you can glean what does impact you and use that to learn and grow from.  Plus I enjoy reading what others in our group are learning as well.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Club Book - The Two Family House

After several months of missing for miscellaneous reasons, I finally made it back to my book club yesterday!  I think I've been meeting with this group of friends for 2-3 years and we've read a lot of books, enjoyed a lot of coffee and probably spent more time just chatting then we ever have talking about a book!  I will admit, I've read a great variety books - many of which I would have never picked on my own so it's been a great way to get exposure to new authors and different styles of writing.

The book we discussed this time was "The Two Family House" and it was a really good read.  It's the story of two families, brothers, who live in one else.  In a cold, snowy evening, both wives (sister-in-laws) each have a baby in the same apartment, at the same time.  In a split second, through a silent agreement, they make a decision that will ultimately determine the course of their relationship and families.  The story unfolds and tells the tale of each woman and, really, how their lives are impacted by that decision.  This story was a quick read but it was one that I couldn't put down (for real - I started reading it at bedtime and didn't stop until I was done HA!) 

"The Home for Unwanted Girls" is the book we read for December.  It was another great read and is based on true events.  It's really quite eye opening as you read about these orphans who were used for experimental testing and treated as less then human. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Worship- Living Hope

This is another song that I recently heard while driving and I just loved that it was easy to sing along with and has such great words!  Music speaks to my soul.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Our Week in Photos #2

I really focused on trying to get photos this week to share!  Here's our week in review!

 We started our week saying goodbye to our tree.  I love the lights but, in order to get ready for school to start, it had to go :-( 
 Both boys helped undecorate it - but Nate posed for me. 
 Almost done.  This year, I had to take it down on a day Darryl was home because our tree was BIG!  I loved it!  The last few years we've gotten trees that were shorter than me so I could drag them out. Not this year!  It took two of us.  I'm also soooo thankful I bought a tree bag - what a huge mess saver!  
 Josh asked me if I thought he could squeeze in here . . .I said no.  He proved me wrong. 
 Finally back to AWANA.  We missed some weeks due to having one car and then it was Christmas break.  
 The cats favorite place - laying on anybody.  He really loves Josh. 
 Nate's favorite place - under his blanket on the couch HA! 
 What's this?  On Thursday my great nephew and niece came to spend the day with us.  It's easy to forget how many toys a toddler can get out in one day!  They were great fun though and we always enjoy having them spend the day with us. 
We had a full week of school as we try to wrap up the semester.  Josh had to take his MAP tests this week. These are tests the boys take 3 times a year.  Neither one loves them and I don't really either but it is one of those requirements so we just do it.  

So, that's our week!  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Weekly Menu

Last weeks menu didn't go as planned but we did eat well every night.  I just seemed to have slightly different twists on the daily menu in order to use up some food we had in the fridge/freezer.  We also ate out a couple of times which is totally out of "character" for us but . . .we were celebrating finally having a second car HA!

Here's our plan for the upcoming week.  I'm more focused this week on trying to stick to the plan so we will see how it goes!

Friday - Today is grocery shopping day and laundry day so between the two, dinner needs to be easy.  I love the idea of pot pies for the adults and chicken nuggets for the kids. 

Saturday - Lemon BBQ Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, and Biscuits

Sunday - Ravioli, Green Beans and Garlic Bread

Monday - Sweet and Sour Meatballs, rice,  and green beans

Tuesday - Meatball Soup and Yeast Rolls

Wednesday - This is AWANA night and Darryl usually has practice so there will be one of two options - leftovers or something easy at home OR Taco Bell :-)

Thursday - Baked Tariyaki Chicken, Amish Butter Noodles and Broccoli

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Co-Op Class Description and Plan - Oragami

This semester I am teaching a class on Origami at our Homeschool Co-Op.  I'm not really sure how I came to the idea of teaching this other than after teaching Michigan History last semester (which, honestly, I did not enjoy) I wanted to teach a class that didn't require, well, real teaching.  In this class we are totally going to focus on creating fun projects.  My basic overview is to have 1-2 simple origami folding projects each week which we will then turn into a fun displays.  For example, we will fold fish/whales and create a 3-d piece of art showing them in an ocean or we will fold flowers, put them on stems (straws) and then display them in some vases.  There is also a wreath I plan to try as well as making a "Dragon Eye".

This class requires some basic supplies that each student will need.

The two items above are what will be used in the class.  

Josh actually got this kit for his birthday over a year ago.  He is taking my class so I'm hoping it will spark an interest in it! 
(all of these items are available on Amazon)

I will also be supplementing with some other supplies such as 8x8 scrapbooking paper for the wreath so the students can have patterned paper for that project.  Plus there will be "practice paper" which is just white typing paper cut to size.  I only have 6 students with two helpers besides myself so they should be able to accomplish what is needed with the help provided. 

I plan on sharing weekly/bi-weekly what projects we complete (and the success/failure of each one as well HA!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Our Favorite Recipes - Stuffed Shells!

I love sharing new recipes I try but I decided I would also share some of our favorites.  Some I may have shared before but many will be "new".  I used to link recipes up so you could easily find them in the "archives" but over the last few years I got a little lazy with that feature - hopefully I can get back into the habit :-)  That also helps when I'm posting the menu - when I'm really on top of things I can provide links within my menu.

I haven't figured out how to post a "print recipe" option so I just try to post them in a way that you can easily "copy and paste" the recipe and print it that way.

Quite a few years ago, before we had kids, we used to go on vacation HA!  One year, while we were in Tennessee, we made a drive to South Carolina to see some friends.  For dinner, she made Stuffed Shells with Ricotta Cheese and they were amazing.  Once we got home, I went on a recipe search and found the perfect recipe.  It's been a long standing family favorite forever.  It's super easy, fairly inexpensive, and I love that I can put it all together in advance (like on a Saturday) and then cook it later (throw it in the oven right after church and dinner is ready in about 40 minutes).  I have no idea where I found the recipe since it has been so many years but I'm pretty sure that it is pretty standard this dish.

2 dozen large pasta shells
2 teaspoons salt
24 ounces part skim ricotta cheese *
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs, Italian seasoned
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 egg, slightly beaten
Pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the shells in boiling, salted water, following the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cool water.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine the ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley and egg; mix until well blended.

Cover the bottom of of a 9x13 baking dish with a thin layer of sauce.  Carefully spoon cheese mixture into shells; arrange shells, open side down, in the tomato sauce in the pan.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the shells. Cover with Mozzarella cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

* I usually buy the smaller container - I think it is 16 ounces - but keep the rest of the ingredients the same and it tastes fine.  It makes a slight smaller batch and I put the shells in a 9x9 pan instead.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Our Christmas Eve Gifts

I've learned through the years the often the best gift ideas come from other blogs - tried and true gift ideas from other parents and the gifts they have given their kids!  So, I thought I would start sharing some gift ideas and, when Christmas returns next year I will try to remember to post these ideas once again!

Christmas Eve - I have always tended to over think these really creative ideas for Christmas Eve gifts and, honestly, they don't go as well as I hoped they would.  For example, one year, the boys got a book called "The Monstore" and each a set of supplies to make puppets. I thought it was awesome . .. the boys, not so much HA!
 (In all fairness, this did become a favorite bedtime story book!  )
(These puppets are actually super cool - my boys just weren't into them.  I would recommend them to someone with kids that love to be creative with toys like this! ) 

This year, I decided to keep it a little more simple.  Naturally, I picked up some new PJ's for them.  I found them the week of Thanksgiving at our local Meijer when they had them on sale for "buy 1 get 1 half off" which made them super affordable. (Not to mention, they didn't ring up correctly but, when I explained it to the cashier, she was so fed up with the sales not being in the system correctly, she gave me an additional 25% off of the 15% already given so I got them for a steal!) I then got them each a set of Pokemon cards because they both love Pokemon and then I found these awesome logic games.

They can both be found on Amazon and in Meijer -- my boys had fun with them both.  Each game comes with cards.  The cards show what colored cat/dogs to use in the puzzle and the area they need to fit.  Using logic, you solve the puzzle.  Don't worry, there are also answer keys!  The Dog Pile game seemed to be a little harder and Nate and I did have to look at the first clue to figure it out but then Nate was able to complete several others without help.  Both of these puzzle games are great for quiet play and are small enough for easy transport anywhere.

These games were a perfect hit.  Both of the boys played with the game they got after opening it and they enjoyed the game!  Yeah!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Back To School

Today we return to school after about 2 1/2 weeks off.  It's been wonderful.  The boys and I worked really, really hard the week of December 17th to not only finish all of the work scheduled for that week but also to push ahead and complete just a couple of extra lessons so that I was comfortable not returning to school until today.  Technically school resumed on Thursday but I know between it being the end of the week and our little friends still being with us all day as they also return to school today that there was no way we would do school on that Thursday!

We have two weeks until the end of first semester so we will be pushing hard to accomplish all that is required.  Using the online program does force our hand a little because there are actual deadlines.  There is coursework that is required to be done so we will make sure it is done!  Outside of regular daily lessons, Nate has one paper to finish up while Josh has one paper, a social studies project and 3 reading journals.  My goal is to have the extra work done by Friday so we are just wrapping up lessons.  The good thing is that next week we just have a handful of lessons to finish and we will be done.

Our Homeschool Co-op picks back up in just under two weeks also.  This semester will be different as alot of the boys friends are taking the semester off.  Josh will actually be one of the oldest kids this time around which is odd since he is only 10!  I think we are all ready to get back together with friends though.

In all honestly, I find it hard to believe we are almost at the halfway point of school.  To make it worse, the second semester always goes faster!  I like to push to have as much of our work done by May 15th as I can so we can enjoy an early start to summer break.  (Who wants to do school when the weather is perfect!)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday Worship - "Nobody Loves Me Like You "

I always enjoy sharing music on my blog.  I think because music speaks to my soul.  A song can bring forth so much emotion on all levels.  I heard this song sometime last fall and actually sat in my vehicle in the driveway until it finished because it was so good.  Such a great reminder of the simple fact that God loves us more than anyone else every could.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Our Week in Photos 2019 #1

I decided to start "Our Week in Photos" over a #1 for a new year.  I got a little behind last year but hope to keep up better this year!

These photos aren't technically from this past week - they are from the week before but, honestly, I didn't take a single photo this week.  New Years Eve and New Years day slipped by quietly and that's ok.  It's in the 40's here with lots of sunshine, which is beautiful but it also means I'm lacking any great snow photos too!  Next week we get back to our normal routine so hopefully I can remember to grab a picture or two of our week!

 The traditional opening of the Christmas Eve gifts. 
 This cat has to be in the middle of everything - he is such a people loving animal :-) 
 The traditional Christmas PJ's - this year, unbeknownst to me they came with nightcaps and the boys love them.  They wear them to bed most nights and I find it to be the most adorable thing ever. 
 A long standing tradition in our family - the kneeling, facing the tree photo.  My mom took this photo of my brothers and I ever single year until my brothers ruined it got to old to do it anymore. HA! 
 And yes, the both still believe in Santa.  Ironically all year long Nate will tell me Santa isn't real but let me tell you, on Christmas Eve Nate is the first one to write his note to Santa and he is the one to make sure that plate of cookies gets put out!! 
 Time for stockings! 
 We rubbed cat nip on Harley's stocking . . .Harley attacked Josh when he tried to take the stocking HA!  It was awesome! 
 I may have taken more photos of the cat this Christmas . . .again, he had to be part of everything. 

 Christmas was a day of fun and lots of gifts.  It was a relaxing day with my mom with us too.  

We had one last family celebration with Darryl's family last Saturday.  These are the only two photos I took.  

I think I need to practice my photo skills again this year.  Maybe do some online classes or watch some Youtube videos to take some better pictures!!  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Weekly Menu - The Official First Menu of 2019

I've been planning Menu's and meals for a very long time.  All the way back to when I was single!  Crazy!  No wonder I get tired of planning and cooking sometimes!
I know that in 2018 I got into a serious rut when it came to cooking and meal planning.  I'm going to work to get out of that rut while trying to trim our grocery budget a little more.  I've thought, again, about going back to planning a month at a time so I can shop sales.  I did this at Thanksgiving and Christmas and saved between $50.00-$100.00 around each holiday plan by shopping only the sales for the two weeks before the event and then picking up the final items.  I'm wondering if I can do that with a month of meals.  I'm not sure though - it takes a lot of time to plan like that and put together a master grocery list.  I've also thought about using 2019 as my planning year and making the weekly menu planner in a way that I can use it every year.  In other words, by the time I get to the first week in 2020, the years menu would already be basically planned.  But again, I know that takes a lot of work too!  So for this week, I'm just planning this week and then I'll go from there.  Not everything has to start on week one!

I've decided to focus on family favorites and comfort food in January.

Friday - Stuffed Shells, Green Beans, and Garlic Bread

Saturday - Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Mac and Cheese, and baked beans

Sunday - BBQ Stuffing Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, and Crescents.  (A good Sunday Dinner)

Monday - Amish Baked Chicken, Buttered Noodles, and Cooked Carrots

Tuesday - Might as well start of the year right - It's Taco Tuesday!

Wednesday - Tonight is a good leftover night - I'll pull together whatever is left from the other meals and have dinner. 

Thursday - Chicken and Dumplings (with plans to make Chicken Noodle Soup on Friday with the leftovers!)

I feel really good about this plan for the coming week.  I wonder how many items I can get my kids to successfully try?? :-) :-) :-)

Thursday, January 3, 2019

January Goal Focus

January brings a fresh start.  It's clean and clear; the first month in a new calendar and the first month is a new year of goals.  I know not everyone is goal oriented (Like my husband!) but I am.  I love my goals; my lists; my plans . .. even when they don't work out or get done.  I love having a way to measure what is being done (and, honestly, not done!).  It also shows me what is important.  If something is on the list but never gets done it is either not important or too big of a project.

I mentioned in my first goal post about an accountability group I'm part of and that focus is picking one main item for the month and focusing on that one item.  Then focusing on individual items daily.  I'm not going to follow that to a tee but I like the overall concept.
My January focus is
Strengthening our Family Finances
Why did I pick this for January?  Because it sets the temperature for the rest of the year.  If we can start strong, we can carry on through the year but if we start behind, we can never catch up. 
Here is what I'm focusing on this month:
1) Become an active Shipt shopper.  For me, this means grabbing 2-4 shops a week.  I think this is doable between evenings and days Darryl takes off since I can only do this while he is home.  
2) January will be a "no spend" month.  I've written out a calendar budget of all things planned.  Beyond that there is no spending outside of groceries and fuel.  No buying Kindle books, grabbing coffee, or picking up dinner :-)  Just trying to curb the spending and maybe even get a little ahead this month. 
3) Cut the grocery bill.  I feel like I've made some progress on this but I would like to use the weekly add more paired up with mperks coupons and Ibotta.  Ibotta is a great way to earn money just for shopping.  I've managed to earn almost $100.00 and that's with not using it consistently.  I would like Ibotta money to become my scrapbooking fun so it motivates me more to use it ;-) 

I know it doesn't seem like a lot but I feel like if I can do these three things consistently this month, I can establish a pattern or habit that will continue throughout the year.  

If though that's my main focus, it doesn't mean I'm not looking at the other items on my list - I am.  I have goals for those items as well which might fall more into the "daily" goal concept. 
1) Add exercise to our daily routine.  I'm looking to just take a walk daily  
2) Since this is a no spend month, projects are off limits so instead I want January to be a time I focus on working in the basement cleaning stuff up and out. 
3) Get back to our school routine including Math Minutes and Cursive Writing.
4) Have one movie night at home this month
5) Find one activity to do this month as a family. 
6) This is a no spend month, right? So I technically can't spend on getting one item for our grinch calendar 2019 but I should earn some Mperks rewards so I will plan to use that to pick up the first item. 
7) Make sure the Holiday Binder is up to date through New years. 
8) Scrapbooking - Use what I have here to finish up a few projects.  Also, use this no spend month to work on organizing photos on the external hard drive.  
9) Do the Flylady routine daily, weekly, for the month. 
10) Work on the first song to sing at church
11) Play piano - just play.  Not really measuring this but I just want to sit down and play. 
12) I do need to reserve our camping spot for the Family Reunion so I do plan to use Shipt money to do that as soon as I get my first pay day.
13) This should have technically been number one but I want to work on planning my day.  Taking time the night before and writing out specifics that I want to get done the following day.  This helps me so much on daily focus.
14) A must - make sure that I'm two weeks ahead on my Co-Op class as I may not always have a vehicle/way to get to Friday School depending on when we are able to find a car to purchase.  I need to leave the next weeks lesson with my stuff at school each Friday that I am there. 
15) Read, read, read.  First, I need to make my book goal list for the month and then I need to read.  I also want to start out this month reading outloud to the boys.  Maybe at lunch . . .I'm not sure yet. 
16) Create a lunch schedule rotation that not only keeps my boys happy but doesn't repeat lunch and dinner options (such as chicken nuggets) .  Along with this, I want to work on their ability to eat a few more food items.  This is not an easy feat, trust me, but it's time to start stretching them just a little ;-) LOL  (I'm a little "picky" too so it won't be too crazy!) 
17) Complete our Taxes and file them by the end of the month.  
18) Help Josh with his gold AWANA sections daily.  He has a goal and I want to help him accomplish that goal! Also, finish January with all things current in school. 
19) Think about February plans - Valentine's Day and Darryl's birthday.  Lay out a plan, budget, etc.  Don't wait until the last minute to do things for these events. 

I got to thinking as I wrote out the first 15 goals - wouldn't it be great to have 19 goals each month for the whole "19" concept??  Well, it worked this month!  So maybe my focus for "19 in 19" is to try to accomplish 19 goals each month ;-)  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Strength = 2019 Goal Overview

It's time to think about goals for the year.  I have a few friends who are as goal oriented as I am if not more!  Actually, my friend Tracy is an amazing planner and organizer and she always sets up great Facebook groups related to monthly challenges that she creates.  I love it because it puts many like-minded people together who encourage each other along the way and also provide accountability.  Last year, one of my favorite and most productive challenges came in September when we got rid of "the date" - in other wards, on September 1st, we got rid of one thing, September 2nd, 2 things and so on until we hit September 30th and 30 things had to go!  I cleaned out every cupboard and drawer and all the little areas in every room!  It was amazing.

Now, Tracy is a math teacher and planning 19 goals is hard because it is a prime number but . .. I'm just like, "What? it's 19" HA!  She decided to do 12 monthly goals + 7 daily goals = 19.  Great idea but I still tend to focus more on my list of goals and then try to work on them throughout the month!  So yes, it's ok to have different ideas with the same end result!

For my yearly goals I'm trying (key word - trying) to focus on some big ideas that I can break down into smaller ideas to work on throughout the year.

1) Stengthen our Family Finances - What can I do to help us being better of financially?
            -- I can finally start doing Shipt Shops.  Set a goal to do a certain # each week
            -- I can possibily get a part time job when my mom is living in the area
            -- How else can I save money on areas that we currently spend?
            -- Make one month (Januray!) a "no spend month" - spend nothing outside of fuel, food, and pre-planned items outside of bills.
2.) Strengthen my Health - How can I make "me" the focus this year - sounds selfish, but is it really?
           -- Schedule all of my appointments from Dental to Vision to yearly doctor appointments
           -- Add excercise to our daily routine - I don't know why this is such a hard thing to do!
           -- Continue to look for ways to eat healthier - not only for myself but work towards having my boys eat better as well and be willing to try new foods
3. Strengthen our home - I view this as cleaning, organizing, and updating. Finances always play a part in planning goals.  So, this year I'm trying to focus on things I feel I can accomplish.
           -- Finally get the shelf I want for my scrapbooks, organize them, and make sure they are current with what I have here.
          -- Paint the Dining room - we have the paint so it's just a matter of doing it
          -- Find a couple of art items for the bathroom
          -- Honestly I have a long list of items for our home that will be done based on funds.  Items from a backsplash in the kitchen to a new washer and dryer to replacing the garage door.  So we will see what the year brings.
           -- The basement and garage are always on the list :-)
4.) Strengthen our schooling - Homeschooling is an ongoing plan.
           -- Decide if Connections Acadamy continues to be a good fit for our family or find something different
          -- Always evaluate whether our homeschool co-op is meeting the needs of our family
          -- What other extra activies can/should we be involved in
          -- Get back to our routine of Math Minutes (practice) and learning cursive by the end of this school year
          -- I'm not sure this fits here but I really want to take the boys to read to the shelter animals, make trips to the library for books to read, and do other fun educational items that come up.
5) Strengthen our Family - This includes activities for our family that builds the feeling of togetherness
          -- Camp for the boys - Day camp and a "week camp" is what they would like to do.
          -- Look for one activity to do each month as a family (Going to the cat cafe is one of those items I really want to do!)
         -- Strive to actually have movie nights - even just once a month.  The boys both got Movies for Christmas plus we have access to movies through Amazon so I feel like we can find good things.
          -- Read.  I need to read more.  I have a basket full of books to read (I might go back to my old reading challenge !).  I also want my kids to read more.  Whether I read to them or they read alone, I need to figure out how to make this happen.
6) Strengthen our Holidays - this is a stretch but since my goal is "strengthen" I wanted to put it here!
          -- I finally started my holiday journal in November 2018.  It's my "brain" for the holidays.  So I want to continue writing it/updating it as we go through holidays
          -- Purchase 1 item for our Grinch countdown a month  - find neat and intriguing things to add to it that are inexpensive yet fun.  By doing this, it takes care of 12/24 days.  The other 12 will be candy, $1.00's, or activities.  This will take a financial piece away from December!
         --  Purchase birthday and Christmas gifts EARLY.
         -- Remember to purchase Halloween Costumes EARLY
         -- Try to find grade shirts and holiday themed shirts EARLY (get the idea - early is the key!)
         -- Keep the meaning in Christmas - I feel like we lost a little this past year because of unexpected car issues and only having one car (the boys and I couldn't do little extra things like library events); I also didn't do our normal advent readings or quick lessons at bedtime.  I think I let "life" steal some of my joy and I don't want that to happen again.
7) Strengthen my Scrapbooking :-) - Yes a big stretch again - but it works!
         -- I have a lot of goals.  One of the main ones is to be current with 2019.  That means ordering pictures on the first of each month for the previous month and then scrapbooking throughout the month.
          -- The other goals just include trying to get the years I'm behind on done - sorting albums, ordering photos/page prints and just finishing.  If I can get busy with Shipt, I feel like I accomplish this more.
8) Commit to Flylady (Ok, "Strengthen Flylady" just didn't sound right!) - I put in alot of effort back in September really decluttering our upstairs so I'd like to implement the Flylady cleaning plan again and really work on staying on top of it all!
9) Finally, I have other goals that don't really fit into any category and really don't fall under "Strengthen" but still are things I'd like to accomplish
           -- Play the piano more - As my kids are learning, I want to play more.  I've found some great links to free music on line that is more my "speed" - stuff I can just sit down and play.
           -- I only sing at church 2-3 times a year so I'd like to pick out 2-3 songs that I maybe already have on hand and learn them well so I'm ready to sing before it's even time.  I'd also like to pick out one Christmas song to work on and have it ready for next year.
          -- Plan and schedule camping trips - I'm not sure how many.  Money always determines this but we do have a family reunion in June that I want us to go to so that is in the works.

I'm sure that more things will get added throughout the year but right now, this is a good plan.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!!

From our family to yours : 

I am looking forward to a good year which is a good place to be at the start of a new one!  
I hope that you all are able to enjoy a quiet New Years day as you prepare for the coming year!
I'm hoping to be a little more active on this blog this year - I've taken time to read through lots of my old posts and I really miss posting!  
We'll see how long I can keep it up :-)