Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Keeping It Simple: Lunch

 If I've learned anything in almost 11 years of mothering and 6 of homeschooling it's that simplicity is key. If something is just not working for me or our family, then something has to change. On the other hand, if something IS working then I stick with it. Don't fix it if it ain't broke people.

Over the last year or so I've been much better at creating supper menus for a couple weeks at a time. This served me well when it came to the daily 'what's for supper?' routine. I would make my menu, jot down my grocery list and stock the cupboards as needed. Taking the time for this seemingly small task from start to finish has really saved me time (and money) in the long run every few weeks.

The thing I've struggled with off and on is lunch and snack time. I seemed to find myself on the cusp of each of these daily events without a clue as to what I was serving. When summer neared its end, I knew I had to figure out a new way.

I sat down with the plan to write a month worth of lunch menu ideas and I did it! I started with our favorite choices, scoured Pinterest a bit and created a simple calendar in Word. It has changed my days immensely. It's like "real" school where the menu is there for the student to look at and no need to ask what we're eating. It also assists a kitchen helper to know what to get ready/how to help mom as well. Depending on what's on hand, I'll add fruit, veggies or other items to go with the main item that's on the menu. (click the picture to see it in more detail)

So far, I really like it. After creating the menu calendar (you'll notice I have a couple 'free' days yet to add any new favorites), I then made up a two week grocery list. List #1 is for weeks 1 and 2 and List #2 is for weeks 3 and 4. I did this in the event I don't do monthly shopping for lunch, but want to be ready to go every two weeks. I can just print up the list, check the cupboards and head to the store.

Here are a few links if you are looking at my menu wondering what they are:

PB Banana Granola Wraps

Pancake Bites

These are mine, which I just use my favorite pancake recipe for the batter and then add the fillers.

Homemade Mini Corn Dogs

Ham And Cheese Pockets

Now, if only I could come up with more snack options as it seems my kids are always hungry lately and desiring food intake. 

Tell me, what kinds of things do you serve or make for snack time at your house? 
I'd appreciate some inspiration.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theme Thursday: TEXT

I walked past my son's bedroom door and this caught my eye:

If you knew my son and his humor, you'd find this hilarious. Trust me, I laughed really hard when I discovered it.

The reference is to the scene from Star Wars Episode VI when Admiral Ackbar tells the rebel pilots "IT'S A TRAP..." when they are attacking the Death Star.

And I agree with Jonah, growing up is most certainly a trap. I hope he stays eight forever.

There's more TEXT over at Clan Donaldson this week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ten On Ten: September

I haven't participated with a bit of sunshine for a while in her Ten on Ten project and I happened to actually remember yesterday. 

One photo an hour for ten hours on the tenth of the month.

Starting off the day right....

Don't let that innocent face fool you, she's a busy, busy girl from sun up to sun down.

Signs that a toddler lives here.:things are forever on the floor wherever I step.

SHHH....students at work!

It seems the next meal is always right around the corner. Next up, LUNCH.

Signs of summer fading away.

Frogs have become my late summer terror each time I enter the garden. Those things scare the dickens out of me every time.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the hair salon I go. A little bit of new highlighting color is in order for this mama.

Every day has a drama and/or trauma, doesn't it? Today's was a scrape on the toe that demanded a band aid and a screaming/crying fit to accompany it.
She just wanted you to see her band aid, so Lily photographed this while I was gone.

This little dear is the owner of the band aid toe. Although Lily took a quick snap and the composition isn't perfect on this one....well, the photo is still PERFECT
And it made me smile, so I had to be sure to add this as my last shot of the day.

Click on over to Rebekah's place to find out what everyone else was up to yesterday.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sometimes I'm A Crazy Person

I felt something come splash across my face and the whole left side of my body.

A quick glance began a sequence of less than perfect mommy moments.

She was only trying to help and doing as she's told like she had a bazillion other times. But this time when she brought the almost full milk jug out of the fridge it somehow slipped and came crashing to the floor.

My initial reaction was that it wasn't so bad, just a puddle on the floor that somehow managed to reach me a couple feet away. But then, then, I saw it every.where. and I freaked like the inner crazy woman I am.

Whoever coined the phrase 'don't cry over spilled milk' has never stood in their kitchen witnessing streams of milk trickling down an entire wall, floor and cabinets. 

I won't lead you through all the even and angry words that spewed forth like a lunatic on a rampage, but I was upset. I had so many other things to be done that I was already in the midst of that day and I just didn't have time for this inconvenience .

It got better, eventually, when I was done with my inner meltdown and the crabby exterior that clouded the next couple of hours.

It was this minor incident that led to endless opportunity for analysis on me and my human imperfections. Sometimes it's things like this that call me out as a better mom, wife and person when I actually stop to reflect on them.

Just recently I had been striving to live more faithfully my vocation each day and roll with the punches. How I wish that I were better at being a saint, remaining calm when in peril and generally being less human.

On my hands and knees soaking up milk and scrubbing the floor, I was caught off guard at the lesson that was intricately woven in a jug of milk. Smack dab right there in it was the reminder of my need, my quest for His grace each day and my dependence on those around me to help me daily win heaven. It's the choices, the virtues I exhibit and cultivate along the way that are not always easy for little me. 

It was a lesson in humility, forgiveness and the realization that I'm still a very long way away from the best me I can be.

If I can attain the life of virtue, being a good Christian/Catholic and a living witness of Christ, I won't be crying over things like spilled milk.

Or exhibiting my inner nut case.

But sometimes I need the spilled milk to give me the reality check my soul really needs.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Anniversary Baby

  Twelve years ago today I married the man of my dreams that God placed upon my heart to pray for and set my standards high.

I sure got me a good one and God's timing was perfect for both of us.

Twelve years, same town, 1 house, 5 children later.....

We're still the silly couple who fell in love during a whirlwind romance 
and we wouldn't change a thing.

When you have twelve years you've shared and hardly another thing you'd want or need, what kind of gift do I give an amazing man?

I was stumped.

What is one of the biggest symbols of our love, our marriage?

The first thing that came to mind was our children.

And so a little Pinterest searching sent me on a quest for a homemade gift to represent just that.

Now, don't think me weird or out of touch with what a man would really want for an anniversary gift. Over the years I've found that my guy appreciates the sentimental, the heartfelt.

I settled on some monogram pillows for our bed. I thought they would fit in perfectly and again, in a place that was 'us' and our space.

After a quick trip to JoAnn's in which I used coupons to add to the already sale price pillow forms, I was able to grab everything I needed at once. 

I used this simple tutorial as my guide and started cutting, sewing and creating.

For the monogram letters I found a font in Word that I liked, enlarged it to the size I felt was adequate, printed on paper and then traced on fabric. As suggested by the JoAnn's employee, I used Heat n Bond Ultrahold to adhere them on to the pillow fabric.

One pillow for each child, including our little Natalie in heaven. I felt that she needed a different size pillow that set her apart from the rest.

Cute, don't you think??

A little closer look

I think that they will make a great addition to our cozy homemade quilt my friend made for us a few years ago. They will also add another personal touch to our bedroom haven.

And what's an anniversary without cake, huh?

Happy Anniversary to the most amazing man that God could have created just for ME! 

I am one blessed lady.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Five Finger Prayer

 All the credit goes to Pope Francis for this one. I found it on Facebook last night and shared it, but I couldn't help but share it here too.

In Pope Francis style, super simple and attainable. I'm grateful to have this little reminder as I struggle to find make time to pray and the needs/prayers for so many seem like a multitude in my brain.

I think this would be a great little way to teach my children to also pray using something they already have: their five fingers!

Maybe this will help you out too or inspire you in a new way how to pray. While you're at it, don't forget to pray for Pope Francis (and Benedict too)!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Five Favorites

 Five Favorite snacks. Easy pleasers to throw in your freezer or your pantry. I'm finding that accessibility are key to snack time, so I am trying harder to have good choices at the ready.


Frozen Grapes

I recently rediscovered the idea of frozen grapes when they were served at a meeting. How did I forget about these? I cannot tell you how refreshing a handful of frozen grapes were last week when it was so hot outside. De-stem, wash, throw 'em in a Ziploc freezer bag and you've got a snack.


Frozen Yogurt Bites

Again, could snacking get any easier?  And how on earth didn't I ever think of this before I saw it on Pinterest? Duh. I really need to broaden my horizons.

I tried it with both vanilla and strawberry yogurt and they were an instant hit with the family. 
I bought big containers of yogurt, lined my cookie sheet with wax paper and then drop the yogurt by dollops on the wax paper. Pop it in the freezer for a couple hours and then easily pull them off the wax paper and put in Ziploc to store in freezer. 



A little bit of an indulgent splurge, but I figure it's worth it in order to avoid the potato chips.  These are even a hit with the kids, so sometimes I have been known to hide them a little in the pantry. 
Hey, don't judge, you do it too. My favorite flavors are the Ranch, Sweet Chili and Chocolate. 



I made a batch of these and practically had to snatch them out of everyone's hands to save a few to freeze. Easy to make, then I froze them on a cookie sheet (I was afraid the jelly would run too much if I just stuck them in a Ziploc bag) and then bagged them a little later.


I don't have a photo for some reason, but I'm guessing it's because we are too busy consuming them that I forgot. I've made these several times and every time they turn out well, PERFECT. I double the recipe so we have a bunch to eat over a few days and still have more to put in the freezer. 

Find all the other great Favorites at Hallie's ~ they are always a fun read.

**Note: Did anyone notice how many times I mentioned Ziploc bags in this post? Hello, Ziploc, I'll take some free bags please.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


 If you are wondering why I've been hidden over here for the last few weeks, read on.

If not and you are like I have been with minimal time to read catch up posts from estranged bloggers, click on past since there's really not a whole lot monumental in this post.

Sometimes our vocation calls us away from the online world to draw us back closer to our real world. Much to the chagrin of the blogger, we back away and hope to return soon.

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things here in order to reconnect. The chapter of summer is closing and routine is resuming, so hopefully my days and weekends will allow for time again to nurture my own spirit (and hopefully yours) with more writing again.

When July's calendar was awfully full, I eagerly awaited to turn the page on August thinking it wouldn't nearly be so bad. What awaited me were a number of unexpected things that really didn't fill my calendar, but did consume parts of my days and parts of me.

It was little things like finishing off my lesson plans for school that demanded extra attention and uninterrupted times to get accomplished. Thankfully, I was able to plug away at the lesson plans during naptime, evenings and finally on a Saturday when hubby sent me to his work office to finish the last bit of it. Sure, with the help of my Homeschool Tracker, I can plan more easily our hodge podge of school subjects from numerous sources, but it's still time consuming.

Right around that same time, the unexpected event of potty training entered the scene. While the end goal and big girl underwear was a welcome step, the actual potty training has never been my favorite season as a mom. Gianna was ready and we pressed on. Looking at it on this side, with several days now without accidents, her actually telling me she needs to go and her sweet little bottom in BIG GIRL UNDIES....well, it makes it all worth it. Sure, there have been setbacks and less than perfect days, but we have come a long way and have much more success. In a month, I'd say that wasn't bad.

It seems that the enticement of stickers and M&M's (3 for every time she went potty) worked for Gianna. Oh, and as with all my kids, the ultimate goal of a Potty Party. Coming soon!

Last weekend we had our summer's last hurrah and we picked the perfect day to go to a local water park. It was well into the 90's and unknown to us until we arrived, it was the last day of the summer season at the pool which entitled us to 1/2 off admission. Extra hurrah!

While we've been preoccupied with life in our household, my extended family has been dealing with their own set of life changes. My dad and his siblings decided that it was time to move forward and make the difficult decision to put my grandparents into the nursing home. While this was an inevitable change that was in the future, it wasn't until the last two weeks that it became evident the time was now. In only the recent months have my grandparents needs and health changed enough that they could not be cared for by just family members at home any longer. My grandpa's hospitalization earlier in the summer and another more recent one, began to put into motion plans to move he and grandma sooner rather than later. While I am not nearly affected so much in this decision, it does mean changes for everyone and some that my grandma especially, is not ready to make. A prayer or two would still be appreciated as everyone makes this transition and hopefully things get a little easier.

And here we are, Labor Day weekend. How did another summer whisk us away so quickly?

I'm looking forward to Tuesday knowing that it's not our first official day of school for once. We're already 8 days in and still getting our feet wet rather than me scurrying about still fretting about the 'perfect' first day.

Time moves on and another summer passes while we move into a new and yet familiar routine.

As we settle back in I'll be looking forward to hopefully reading more from each of you, commenting when possible and posting a little more again

We'll see what happens this week as I have a very special project for hubby (our 12th anniversary is next Sunday) I need to get busy on. I'm sure I'll share it when it's complete. *wink*

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tick Tock, Time For School

 Several weeks back, Patty talked about how she schedules her homeschool year and that she usually starts prior to Labor Day. While we don't have the Texas heat to contend with, we do tend to get those winter *blahs* mid-school year.

Following the knowledgeable Patty, I started to work through our calendar tweaking this way and that so that our school calendar allowed for more 'give'. Still allowing for our full 180 days, I found that starting even just a bit earlier allowed us to still take off when daddy's home (government holidays), Holy Days (if on a school day), Christmas break and a couple quarter breaks as well. And really, we were all kind of ready to get started any way.

A starting date and ending date were declared and I worked feverishly to complete the lesson plans for the days and weeks in between. Mission accomplished last week allowed me to realize that our first day of school on August 21st was achievable.

We began our SIXTH homeschooling year yesterday. Somehow that seems like a lot of years.

Each student received a book and a snack with a little note on their brand new desks.

While we started early, I thankfully learned last year that a 'soft start' made for an easier start for student and teacher. We'll again be slowly settling into schooling over the next several weeks and gradually adding in more subjects as the weeks go on.

The schoolroom helpers kept entertained with new books and long forgotten toys near the schoolroom.

My FIFTH grader:

My THIRD Grader:

My, how time flies! I keep thinking that I've got lots of time yet before the little girls start up, but in reality I'll be there before I know it.

Keep on enjoying these summer days. I know that we still will, even with the mix of schooling thrown in.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Last Minute, Eleventh Hour Wife

At the strike of roughly 4:00 pm my wifely instincts kicked in.

I hadn't baked in near a week and to delight the palettes of husband (and kids), I should whip something up.

Totally doable if my pantry is well stocked. But it wasn't.

A quick click over to Pinterest led me to a couple recipes that inspired me to just make it up as I went along. 

I had a box cake mix, a few eggs and peanut butter.  What can't be done with those three, I ask you? 

I used the cake mix, the water called for in the package directions and only 2 eggs (it called for 3). I then added about 1 cup crunchy peanut butter.

Next, whip it. Whip it good.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Then sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips all over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick  comes out clean.

This is getting good, don't you think?

And looking good, right?

Lastly, enjoy the chocolate/peanut butter smell of your home as hubby enters the door and pretend you've been slaving over that stove all day long.

You did it! And now it's only 5:02 pm. You are Super Wife.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's That I Hear?.

Christmas Music!!

Last week began Week One of roughly four more months of hearing my kids practicing their Christmas recital pieces. Uh huh, I will be hearing O Come, O Come Emmanuel in my sleep, people.

And, if history repeats itself, Jonah will still be practicing DAILY his piece well into next April.

I better keep working on my Swagbucks toward Christmas gifts now that I'll be reminded each day how swiftly it's coming. Or not coming.

Maybe I'll even splurge and get a pair of earplugs. Not that their playing is bad, but the repetition of Christmas tunes in the August heat gets old pretty fast.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

At My Door Unexpected

 Pope Francis arrived at our house last week.


Well, we have this really nice seminarian who became transitional Deacon this June.  He studies at the PNAC in Rome and via email this spring I happened to mention how the girls are infatuated with Pope Francis. In his spare time, he went on a quest in Rome to find a children's book that had the new Pope in it. No such luck. Although he did find that they are in the works and should be out soon, so be advised!

Any who, he thought the girls needed a picture of the Pope for their very own.

I can't tell you how excited they were when I pulled it out of the package.

Seriously, I wish I had a camera handy. They grinned from ear to ear and simultaneously shouted


They love that guy.....

And tell him goodnight and blow him kisses at naptime and bedtime since the picture is hung in their bedroom. 

The cutest.thing.ever.

I sure hope he feels the love from our home to Rome.

Friday, August 9, 2013

When Blogville Meets Real World

You know when bloggers meet we have to tell you all about it, right? It's because we're bloggers and we blog about this kind of stuff.

Well, as I mentioned, I had a little blogger meet up planned this week.

Mrs. B and I met a few years ago when our blogging and infertility paths crossed via the internet. We connected in many ways, but our MN roots also interwove our bond.

Then, in 2011, my family prayed the St. Andrew Christmas novena specifically for Mr. & Mrs. B. A few months later, pregnancy news was revealed and we joyfully celebrated and waited for their little Elizabeth to arrive. 

Fast forward to recently when Mrs. B became an Usborne Books consultant and emailed a few friends. I sent a quick reply letting her know that if she was willing to make the drive, I'd gladly host a show at my home. 
It was kind of my ploy to actually get to meet in person, but the book show would be great too.

With that, we've been planning on her and Elizabeth making the two hour drive, coming to play, having the book party and just plain old visiting. 

It couldn't have worked out any better!

Yes, IRL, Mrs. B is exactly as she comes off in her written blog: fun, a bit spunky, a good conversationalist, smiling, a faith filled woman with a generous heart and a wonderful mom.

Here we are, unedited:

The girls enjoyed the new playmate and she even stayed overnight, double bonus!

It came morning time and a couple of the girls were less than eager to sit still for photos.

And the cat next door kind of lured them together for this shot.

Again, Jonah is the only boy, but he doesn't mind it too much.

A very good visit indeed. Thanks Mrs. B and Elizabeth for visiting our humble abode!

It's always amazing to me how we all bond through a computer and our blogs. Friends of the heart whose lives are intertwined together through technology.

Now if we could only all live in some little blogging bubble so that we wouldn't have to wait so long to meet.

Happy Weekend Friends!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Theme Thursday: STATUES

 There's always just enough time to join Cari for Theme Thursday, isn't there?

 Popping in with some STATUES today.

Unbeknowst to me when I took this photo Sunday morning that this week's theme was statues. There's nothing quite like some girls with their Mary, right?

Taken with my little point and shoot, so not the greatest.

These two were taken recently at a local Mary Garden. Again, nothing like Mama Mary and beautiful vines and flowers to surround her.

Hopefully you are having a great week and enjoying the summer beauty around you. 

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