Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meal Planning for the Month

I can't believe it has taken me so long to figure out that meal planning for the whole month is where it's at! I have never been a good meal planner but since October (with the exception of January...I just never got my stuff together to plan more than a week at a time) I have been planning a full month of dinners.  Here's how I got started.

I started by making a binder for all my printed out recipes. There were a lot. Then I looked through all of those and my recipe box and wrote down all the dinners that I knew our family likes. That sheet stays in the front of the recipe binder.  I organized them in these categories: Crock Pot, Soups, Pasta/Hot Dishes, Salads, Sandwiches, Meat, Grill. Sides, and Breakfasts.  We have more than enough to fill a calendar for a month.  I printed off some blank calendars I found here.

Sooooo, at the end of the month, I sit down with my binder and clipboard to plan the next month's meals. It seriously only takes about 15 -20 minutes. I know what nights of the week an easy meal is needed so I usually start there. Fridays are usually pizza nights. On the weekends we like to grill. See, it's filling in already! I try to think about my picky eater and make sure there are a few meals he really likes scattered throughout the month. Wherever I have a hole and can't think of something, I grab a Pioneer Woman cookbook and fill it in.  I also plan for one 'leftover' night a week.  That's it! Now I don't have to think about dinner for another month. Whew!

I don't let the calendar stress me out. Just because tacos are on the schedule for Wednesday doesn't mean I can't switch. Or if my husband surprises us with a dinner out on a day I'm supposed to be making meatball subs doesn't mean we can't go.  Going out is like a night off and I'm probably not going to pass that up!  When I'm planning the grocery list for the coming week I simply look at the week on the calendar and gather the recipes to determine what I need to pick up.  If we have supplies for a dinner we didn't get to last week, something will get bumped from the calendar.  Breakfast and lunch are pretty low key here. Eggs, cereal, pancakes, waffles, muffins...Sandwiches or finger foods, sometimes something to change it up.

That's it! I think about dinner for 20 minutes, one time a month. Then I have about 30 days where I never have to worry about what to make that night and that feels really good. Oh, and I'm keeping the meal plans when the month is over. I will use them for that month next year either as they are or make a couple of changes. Either way...I'll save even more time and who wouldn't love that?!

Homeschool: Changing Things Up and Finding Our Groove

I have been wanting to write a homeschool post for a long time now. I have even started to write only to delete the whole thing. Now here we are, half way through our second year and I have figured out a few things about what works best and what doesn't work at all for us. We have recently changed a few things up and I thought I'd share a little about that process.

Throughout the first semester of this year, I felt God leading us a different way as far as school goes. I was becoming a seeker instead of someone who confidently followed the path they were on. I was constantly searching for new things but wasn't making any changes. That is exhausting. If you are always seeking, you are never content. You are never fully doing what you are meant to be doing.I prayed for God to lead and soon realized that He's always leading. I just wasn't listening. I wasn't following. Once I quieted myself,  He made it clear what my kids need and really laid out what my passions and strengths as a teacher are.  By January I knew what changes we needed to make. I found a co-op that fit our needs/wants and learning styles a bit better and changed some of our curriculum. These are the changes we have made. I don't go into detail about what each of these subjects looks like on a day to day basis but plan to do so in later posts. 

I looked for a co-op where our oldest, Kayla, could make some choices. Where Noah would be fine at home with me every day, Kayla needs more 'go and do'.  She needs a little of 'this is my thing that I do on my own without Mom.' I get it. The one we joined offers choices. She is taking a geography class, an art class ,and a sewing class. That is SO up her ally! She is a creative child and does so well when she has some freedom. In the geography class, she will get to cook food from the countries they are learning about an bring it in for a project. Perfect for her.  The kid is great in the kitchen! Noah will be taking a history class that uses Legos (big win there), an art class, and a P.E. class. 

We have started using Beautiful Feet Books and their Early American History Primary Study.  Beautiful Feet uses great literature to teach history. Since we are very literature based in our school, it is a great fit. I'm using it with both kids who are 7 and 10, even though 10 is a bit past their timing. I'm doing this because I don't want her to miss out on the great books in the study. It is working well because It is a higher level read aloud.  I seriously couldn't love this curriculum more. It incorporates copy work, Bible, narration, and writing among other things.  We are about to start the second book.  I plan on writing up a detailed post on how we are using Beautiful Feet soon.

A few months ago I discovered Brave Writer and have decided to jump in with Jot it Down. Since we haven't done this program before,  I'm going to use it with both kids and just modify the requirements for Kayla. I know that after a while she will need to move up but we will start together and go from there, but doing a few fun writing projects together will get us going. Once we have a few weeks under our belt, I'll share what this looks like in our school.

Making changes to our school (even though it's in the middle of the year) has made such a positive impact. There is a peace about it all for me that wasn't there before. I was worried and reluctant to change things up when it meant doing things differently than most of my friends. In reality, I think I was really concerned about what they would think and that's just silly.

One of the best parts about homeschooling is the freedom to find what works for you and your kids.  Find it. Then do it. Don't wait. It might look different than what your friend is doing, but it's yours and if you are really led to do it, it will work. Don't be afraid to change things up as long as you are seeking His help. He called us to do this and He will equip us!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Days and a Birthday

This weekend we celebrated Baby Joe's first birthday. To say he has been a blessing to our family would be an understatement. God has used this little baby to teach us so much about love and patience.  And we are so thankful.  Over on Instagram last week I shared a little about all the feelings I have as he turns one.  It's a mixture of joy and sadness. Being a mom is the best thing I have ever done and I wouldn't give it up for anything.'s also the hardest. Yes, there are the hard days, but there are also the quiet hurts that you go through. The sad feelings that don't always make sense as you are celebrating.  Watching your kids grow up can be hard because that involves letting go.  As they grow and learn to be who God made them to be, they need you to let go and give them some freedom. And sometimes that's hard to do. 

We also got to play in the snow! We had a little in Alabama but there was more in Tennessee!
We all had a blast with my parents and my brother and sister in law.  Mike definitely gets the 'coolest uncle ever' award for pulling the kids around on their sleds all morning.

 Here are some pictures from our action packed weekend. 

Have a great week!

Friday, November 27, 2015

DIY Thieves Floor Cleaner

Hey there! It's been so long since I wrote up a post! My journal has a long list of blog post ideas and I couldn't wait any longer.  This season in our family is crazy, busy, and doesn't leave a lot of room for writing (or other creative outlets) but that's ok.  That's what this is about. Sharing the crazy lives we live, things that work, and lessons I'm learning.

I love coming up with natural cleaners that I can easily make with simple ingredients I can have on hand. BUT....they have to work better than the cleaners I typically buy to win me over.  I finally came up with a floor cleaner that works great! Adding Thieves essential oils not only makes the house smell great but it adds an antiviral and antibacterial boost to the cleaner.  

Note... This is technically a tile floor cleaner. I have used it on my wood floor a couple of times with no troubles. However, I don't know for sure that it is safe on wood. Just sayin'. 

I use a spray bottle that I had on hand. It holds 17oz .

Thieves Tile Floor Cleaner
1 tsp hydrogen peroxide
2 tsp vinegar
1-2 drops Thieves

What are your favorite DIY cleaners?

Try my DIY Grout Cleaner to get that grout under control again!

sharing over at 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pottery Barn Knock Off

What? It's almost the end of September?! It feels like just yesterday it was August and we were starting the school year. Whew.  I've caught my breath and we're in our rhythm.  (Now that I say that...something will change) 

I have had the chance to paint some signs and work on a few projects that I'm excited to share!

This Pottery Barn knock off was so fun to paint and couldn't have been easier to do.  This isn't a detailed how-to... more like a 'this is how I did it' kind of post.

Did you know that Lowe's will make your cuts for you?  For free?  How awesome is that! I use this service all the time. Thank you Lowe's guys!

The hardest part of this sign is spacing. I knew I needed 4 lines for words, so after I painted the board navy, I used chalk (I'm very visual) and sketched out and roughly sketched the words out. Then I measured to figure out the height  of the letters and how much space I wanted in between the lines. Once I had what I needed, I wiped the board clean and measured it out again, marking with chalk in several places. Using a straight edge, I made guide lines to work with and wrote the words in chalk, erasing and fixing anything that didn't look quite right.

Once the sign is laid out, lightly erasing (but not completely) gets rid of some of the chalk dust. This makes painting over the chalk letters easier. After a few touch ups I added a coat of wax for protection. Add hanging hardware to the back and you're done!

Hope you are all enjoying the beginning of fall! We're ready for some cooler weather around these parts. Bring on cozy fires and hot chocolates!