Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Working out during the holidays

Yesterday was my first run/workout since the 4 mile Turkey Trot race I did on Thanksgiving day. I could tell, too. Why haven't I worked out in a week? I don't know...but I was regretting it today when I was on the treadmill, huffing and puffing and sweating like nobody's business. And I'm still nursing a sinus infection, which makes me want to do nothing at all.

It's always so hard to work out during the holidays. And we always eat too much. And by we, I mean me. Holiday food is just so darn good. Turkey and dressing and casseroles and bread and pie and wait, what? I was talking about something....

Oh, right. Working out. Since we eat so much during November and December and tend to want to stay inside more during the winter because its so cold, its soooo important to keep active during the winter months. Get out and walk, run, go to the gym, or even do some type of dvd at home (there are tons out there, and most are inexpensive; Netflix/renting is also an option), if you don't want to leave your warm house. There's always something you can do to stay active during the holiday season. (I'm speaking to myself here too. I have not been feeling well enough to do anything, let alone work out!)

And if you fall off the wagon, you can always get back on. Tomorrow is a new day, as the saying goes. And don't forget about New Years coming up. Resolution time! Jan 1st is just around the corner and what better time to start a new workout regimen.

Now, if I could only take my own advice and tear myself out of bed before the sun in the morning to go work out....

Menu plan!

Menu plan time! This week I planned my menu around what meat was on sale at Kroger. I don't normally do that, but when chuck roast is on sale, I don't want to pass that up!

We don't eat a lot of beef, but I do love it so. Most of the time the better cuts are just too far out of our budget, so we eat a lot of the lesser expensive meats, or no meat at all. But with the chuck roast on sale, I wanted to have roast this week, yay! I was able to get 2, so I will be able to make 2 dinner meals with it...while saving over $9! (And chicken was originally on sale also, but they were sold out when I got there...bummer!)

Breakfasts will consist of oatmeal, eggs & toast, cereal; and lunches will be pb&j sandwiches, tuna, egg salad, or leftovers. And here is my dinner meal plan for the week:

Small group tonight, the kids and Ross will eat something easy

Cod fish sandwiches and spinach salad (this got bumped from last week)

Crock pot roast, potatoes and carrots

Spaghetti (with ground turkey) and homemade breadsticks


Crockpot beef stew with veggies (fresh zucchini, squash, broccoli) and bread

Chicken and rice

Small group night - will take something

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How we spent our snow day

This may the the first time its snowed in November in a long time, if ever. I'm not a huge fan of the snow, but the first snow of the year is always exciting. The first thing Jude wanted to do when he woke up was go play in the snow...and that's just what we did.
They lasted about 30 minutes before wanting to come in. Their toes were cold and they were soaking wet. But they had fun, and I had fun too!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The most wonderful season of all

We were so excited to get our Christmas decorations up last night and today. Even though we're all nursing sinus infections, we got most of it done. This is our favorite time of year, especially Ross's. There's just something magical about it. Jude has been asking us for weeks, "Is it Christmas time yet???" Now we can say, yes, it is! We watched 2 Christmas movies last night and all morning long, Christmas music was playing in the house, the tree was lit up, and the boys were completely infatuated with the decorations. 

Speaking of decorations, it's easy to get crazy with the spending when it comes to getting your house all pretty for Christmas. Wreaths alone can cost an arm and a leg. It doesn't have to be that way though. You can make your house beautiful, Christmasy and not spend a ton of money. Let me share some suggestions that I've done and some that I have found:

  •  Buy dollar store glass vases and ornaments and fill the vases with ornaments to set around your house. It is such a pretty and inexpensive way to Christmasize your house (yep, I made that word up);
  • Decorate with ribbon. I have some beautiful ribbon a friend gave me that I decorate my entry table and bookshelves with. Its inexpensive and adds Christmas color to the room!
  • Nativity scenes are lovely to look at this time of year
  • Find branches outside and spray paint them gold or silver; put them in vases around the house
  • Hang ornaments from an entry way or curtain rod with ribbon
  • Paint and hang up wooden letters from the craft section - JOY, PEACE, etc
  • Find pine cones outside to decorate your house with
  • Don't underestimate the dollar store decor. Sometimes they have really cute stuff, or you can make it cute by combining or adding something different.
  • You can buy canvases and make your own holiday wall decor 
  • Take unused picture frames and put pretty or fun wrapping paper in the windows for display
  • There are a number of ways you can make your own wreaths. I have not done this, but may try in the future. 
  • There are so many DIY Christmas decor websites you can find. Google is your friend! So is pinterest. :) 
Get your creative, crafty pants on and try some new (inexpensive) things this year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Refereeing boys

In my opinion, being a referee is probably one of the most exhausting parts of being a parent. I love having boys, and I love that they are so close in age. Building and playing in forts, dog piling, playing in the dirt are all things this mama loves doing with her boys. What I don't love? The constant competition between them, the fighting over toys, hurting each other on purpose. No kidding, Ezra busts out in tears at least 40 times every day. They really do love each other and play together greatly, but they do the thing where they play and then they fight. And then more playing and more fighting. Play, fight, play, fight. It can get tiring trying to deal with that a billion times a day. I'm find myself thinking that I should just let them duke it out. They are boys after all. 

We are constantly trying to teach Jude how to be kind to his little brother, and to his friends. Anyone who thinks people are inherently good has not had little kids. Jude can be flat out mean. No one had to teach him this, but his mean side most definitely comes out, and more times than I'd like to admit. 

I've been praying for Jude and with him that God would help him to be more kind. It sometimes seems like we're getting nowhere. There are many days I get discouraged, so discouraged that I want to just give up all together. But then I came across this book today:

I have no idea who gave us this book or where it came from, but I've seen it around our house and have never taken the time to read it to Jude. I don't know why, honestly. We read tons of books from the library, but we don't read much of our own, for some reason. 

But I'm so glad I read this to him. This book is so cute! It's about the little boy (Seedling) and how he's mean to his kitty cat and the cat runs away to hide from him. But at the end, he learns how to be sweet to the kitty and they become snuggly friends. And at the very end of the book, it has a verse that I wrote on our white board that I will remind Jude of every time he is mean to his brother, or to anyone else. 

"Let your gentleness be evident to all." Philippians 4:5 

I am so encouraged by this answer to prayer, that the Lord gave me this to help in training and teaching both of them. Maybe this will help keep a little more sane too. What do you think? How about you mamas out there? How do you teach your children to be kind and gentle to others? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rantings on life and change

Life is tricky. It seems that as soon as you get to a comfortable place, things change again an in an instant and you're having to get used to a new routine, or a new way of life, or a new something-or-other. Unless you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person, which I'm not, you like comfort. I guess its never good to be too comfortable. How can you grow if you're always in the same place, never moving forward?

This is on my mind because we are currently job hunting. I have no idea what God is going to do with this, but change is coming, I can feel it. Nervousness, excitement, dread, anxiety, sadness, joy, readiness, how can one person be feeling so many things at once? Change is good, but it can be hard. Especially when you have little ones. The Lord is preparing my heart for change though, He is helping me to view it as a delight and not a duty. Most people dread change. I don't want to dread the future! 

On a totally unrelated note, there is going to be no menu plan post this week. Obviously with Thanksgiving coming up, we're going to be with our family for most of the week. A few things got bumped from last week, so I won't even grocery shop until we get home. I am so looking forward to being with family and eating lots of yummy food, like this:

Turkey, gobble gobble!

Who doesn't like green bean casserole?

Hashbrown casserole might just be one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes

And especially this...

What I am responsible for cooking this year:
Zucchini and squash casserole (I made this either last year or the year before, and my sister suggested I make it again; I'll post the recipe this week)
Corn with salt and lots of butta (Ross doesn't like casseroles, so I like to have some simple veggie options for him to eat)

I wish I could encourage you to eat healthier or less on Thanksgiving, but I would be a big ole hypocrite. This is my favorite time of year to eat and I will not hold back much...I will probably just run/exercise more. :) 

Friday, November 18, 2011

DtD Challenge #6 - PLAY!

Kids are fun. I forget how exciting new experiences are and how easily amused they are. It is a really sweet thing when their eyes light up and you can hear lots of giggling. You can see the wheels in their heads turning and there's pure curiosity and enjoyment there. It makes me wish sometimes I was back there, to an easier time. And then I realize how crappy the teenage years were and there's no amount of sentiment, or money for that matter, that would make me go back in time. I am surprised grateful I survived it. 

I have been attempting to think outside the box as far as activities to do with the kids during our learning time. I came across this website, called Play at Home Mom, which is really neat. If you need some good ideas of fun things to do, check it out. BUT, be aware, their website and some of their activities can be somewhat overwhelming. They have had time to develop a great art center at home for their kids, which I think is so great. On the other hand, we don't currently have the funds to grow our art supply cabinet quite yet, but we do have some things. But I love their ideas, especially this one

So, here bodes the question, did I get back on my homeschooling groove this week? The answer is yes and no. I decided that I was trying to do too much structured learning and not enough learning through playing and sensory activities. So, I have decided to do less of the subject type learning stuff and more of the hands-on experience type learning. Learning should be fun...not just something to be checked off the list and drudged through. We've been doing a lot of reading, crafting and even did some puzzles this week. And this idea below of playing with water beads from the Play At Home Mom website, and decided to try it out. 

I got these water beads at the Dollar Tree in the flower arranging/vase section. I dumped them in a big bowl with measuring cups to scoop and dump.

They were like, what are these weird feeling things?!!?!

They loved scooping, dumping and letting the beads fall through their fingers. 
Of course throwing them was really fun. (this is Jude's throw face)

Ezra enjoyed throwing them too. We also stomped on them and threw them again the house. I thought it would be a fun experiment to do different things to them and see what happened. Throwing them against the house and watching them explode into a billion pieces was Jude's favorite thing. 
I will add that if you do this with your children, watch them closely. You won't want them putting these in their mouths. 
We also did puzzles this week! (I never realized how hard it was to take photos in my kitchen. The lighting is horrible!)

Even though I always feel like I'm being lazy on this part of being a stay-at-home-mom, I'm going to try to do more crafty things, hopefully doing that contact paper tree activity this week, and we're starting our nature study group the Monday after Thanksgiving. I'm really excited about that! Hopefully this next week will be more productive in the learning/playing department.

I probably won't do a Challenge next week because it's Thanksgiving, so I may just share some ways I've incorporated healthier/more eco-friendly practices in our daily lives. Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fun wives unite!

I saw this on pinterest today and I laughed out loud and teared up at the same time.

Ok, I might be a little weepy, I am likely to cry at the drop of a hat these days. These last few weeks have been hard on this girl. But, this made me a little emotional because I think its awesome. Beyond awesome. And I was convicted when I saw this. 

Wait, I know what you're thinking. This girl probably has no kids and has no idea what it's like to have kids at this time of day, to be with them all day long and then to PLAY with my husband when he gets in? Riiiiiiight. That'll never happen. 

I want to be the best wife to my husband that I can be, and that God wants me to be, but I have to admit, I've not been the most fun wife these days. I've been stressed, exhausted and emotionally spent. I don't think I actually realized that until I saw this pin on pinterest. And then I was reminded of a book that I love (that I will post on sometime) on marriage and on being a great help-meet to your husband. She talks about how men are attracted to smiles, to a merry heart. And she suggests greeting your husband when he comes home from work with a smile. Then I realized, I haven't been very purposeful in doing this. I can't remember the last time I smiled at Ross when he came in from work. I may not be able to nerf gun fight with him when he gets home every day, but I can have fun with him in other ways. And I can smile and him and tell him I'm glad he's home. 

Sometimes we get so consumed with our kids and their needs, we tend to forget about our husbands and their needs. I know I do. I need to remember that I'm a wife first, mommy second. When we pay attention to our marriages first, our parenting flows from that, and is better because of it. Let's die to ourselves, make an effort, and be fun, attentive, loving wives. 

Now who's with me?

Monday, November 14, 2011


Confession time: I am horrible at time management. I am not even sure I should be writing a post on this. I can admit I've never been good at this, but especially since being a stay-at-home-mom. I love to be lazy, sit around and zone out. Thankfully, God is changing that part of me and after lots of prayer and relying on Jesus for His help every minute of every day, I think I am a little better at it. Not great, mind you, but better...and I thought I could share some things that have helped me. 

1. Get off the computer and/or tv. I used to spend so much time on the computer, it was hindering my ability to take care of my family properly. Don't get me wrong, I still spend some time surfing, blogging, facebooking, but not near as much as I used to.

2. Try to get as much done during nap times as possible. If your kids are too old for naps, it might be good to implement some kind of "quiet time" or play-alone time in their rooms in place of a nap time. This is when I get my blogging done, laundry, shower, mopping, dusting, most of whatever is on my list for that day. Thankfully both mine still nap, but I think Jude is getting ready to give it up. That makes me sad. 

3. Knock out easy tasks first thing in the morning. Making my bed, getting laundry started on laundry days, putting clean dishes away can all be done not long after you get up and start the day.

4. Fold laundry while watching a show - it will help you fold quicker. Or, I heard an even better suggestion today. Pray for your children and husband while you fold their clothes. Pray specifically for them, as they go about their day, where they will go and what they will do. I love this idea and think I'm going to start doing it! 

5. Make a chore list, gals. And while we're at it, let's not even call it a chore list. That sounds like a list of duties and not delights. Let's call it a delights list. I want to share with you my delights list, because I was lost before I made it-and put it on my refrigerator where I will see it every day. HERE is mine, and that's just an example. Make one that works for you and put it somewhere where you can see it every day. I have to look at this thing every morning to see what needs to be done. My personality type is so that I like to check things off when they are done, so I have a little box beside each chore to check it off when I'm done with a task (which is why I have make bed on my delights list. Because, let's face it; if it wasn't on the list, I wouldn't do it) And be specific in your delights list. If you just write "Kitchen" on a certain day, things like wiping down the cabinets and appliances may get overlooked. Also, don't worry if you don't get to a certain delight on the day its supposed to get done. If I don't get to something, like mopping my floors, I either fit it in on another day, or save it til the next week. Things can get overwhelming if you keep stacking until you have 40 billion things to do and you give up doing any of them because its just too much to do! This way, if you want to have someone over unannounced for dinner or coffee, then you won't have to worry about running around crazy trying to get the house presentable.

6. Make a flexible daily schedule. I've found that if things don't get written down, then they won't get done. So, I schedule a time for just about everything. Even if we don't get our stuff done in the allotted time, its always good to have a goal, to have something to go by. I am not a militant, organized person by any means. Notice I said flexible. If anything, I am probably too laid back. But, I'm more likely to remember to actually do things like "outside play time" or "music time" if they're written down. (I also schedule outings and such. Tuesdays are our library days, Fridays are our field trip or play time with friends days, etc). 

I'll stop here for now and save the others for another day. I need to make a disclosure here: I have not totally mastered this. My house is not spic 'n span, in fact, there are clothes sitting in the hamper waiting to be folded and put away right now. I don't want to seem like I have it all together and everything is perfect at my house. And don't even get me started on how kids can mess up a house in 5 seconds flat. I live this every day. But with God's help, I work hard at it, and running a household, whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home-mom is work, ladies. It's not drudgery work, or at least it doesn't have to be. You can be purposeful about your household/daily delights and be a planner, I promise things will go a lot smoother and your husband and kids will appreciate you more because of it. 

I found this thoroughly inspiring today as I write this post:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Menu planning

It's that time again, time to menu plan. I know this is probably a real boring post to read, but it has definitely helped me in my grocery shopping and dinner making. I don't buy extra food we don't need and therefore end up wasting, and if I need to know what we're going to eat that night, I just look back on here. I'm forgetful, I'll admit it. I'm also able to look ahead if the thought strikes me and thaw meat out the night before, so I am better at planning. And, I've found there's something that makes looking for new recipes and cooking more enjoyable It really has made the whole cooking thing less of a duty and more a delight. 

Weird, I know. Cooking as a delight, not a duty? I'm working on it! ;)

Here we go:

BBQ Chicken sandwiches (cooking the chicken in the crockpot smothered in bbq sauce to ensure extra yumminess) and corn

Tuesday (shopping day)
potato & broccoli soup and bread

Small group

Fried Fish sandwiches (Cod) and sauted veggies

Homemade Chicken & Spinach Calzones or quesadillas and salsa, haven't decided which, and spinach salad

Local beef cheeseburgers and baked beans (IF I get the beef. If not, I will have to substitute something here, maybe pork chops or pork stew) 

leftovers or roast beef wraps

I just realized we're eating quite a few sandwiches this week...oh well! Ross approved the list, so now we'll just have to see if the kids approve when they eat it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

DtD Challenge #5 - FOOD!

I am really glad I have this blog to help me stay accountable. Even if only three of you read this, its super helpful to keep me from being lazy (mostly) and do the things I say I need to. Don't get me wrong, I'm still more lazy than I'd like to be, but it does help change some old bad procrastination, negligence, not doing certain things because I simply don't feel like it. I hope I am not the only one!

So I said last week that I wanted to cook 2 new recipes this past week, PW's Caveman Pops and this new salmon pasta pesto sauce dish. I am happy to report that I actually DID cook them both, and something even better than that is that my kids loved both dishes! Even my picky husband liked both dishes (the pops were a big hit all around). This is a huge accomplishment, and really can only be a blessing from and an act of God. So glad when things turn out better than you planned. In life, this doesn't happen too often, so I am grateful when it does. I even got a few photos for ya.

Raw turkey legs. I had to get very intimate with these legs to get that rub in there. I normally try to touch raw meat as least as humanly possible, so I just had to close my eyes, say a prayer and put my big girl panties on. 

After baking. The middle got a teeny bit over done, I was worried about it. Ross said it did not take away from the taste and in fact was delish. Hope he wasn't just being nice for my benefit...but like I said, he's usually pretty honest about everything. He knows I can take it.

Next week: I've got to get back into the schooling groove. I've gotten some ideas from a few websites, and I want to read/teach a new concept of odd and even numbers, so I need to get some materials and things together to actually start doing it. Who's with me? 

Proverbs 31:27 "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." This is what I want to live by this week. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You CAN do healthy for kids

Something I have learned in the almost 4 years I've been parenting: Cooking for 3 1/2 year olds is hard. Cooking for 21 month olds is even harder. Does anyone else have a hard time cooking for their little ones?

Nope? Just me then? ;)

I think it is hard. Unless you are a chicken nuggets and french fries kind of person...which I am not. Finding cookbooks that carry recipes that kids will eat is even harder. My kids are just plain picky. They won't eat veggies, and sometimes they skip dinner altogether. I will admit, for lunch, I usually feed them pb&j because I know they'll eat it and it's not all together unhealthy (I make my own jam and we eat peanut butter just about every day around here in some form or fashion). But they don't graze all day, they are not offered anything other than what I have cooked for dinner, and I always offer veggies, even though they rarely ever eat them. Feeding my family healthier food options does take a little more time, energy and money. And my kids don't always cooperate. One day they'll like something and then the next, they won't. But it's worth it. Once in awhile we'll have a box of mac n cheese, or processed hotdogs and I don't feel guilty about that. But I have honestly enjoyed cooking healthier for my family. It's been a great journey, and what I've realized most is that it CAN be done. You can feed your family healthier and actually enjoy it. My hope is that you will realize this too, sometimes you just have to be creative and think outside the box. 

If you are like me and constantly have to tell yourself things like: they will eat if/when they're hungry; its not the end of the world if they never ever eat greens (or if you have to be sneaky about getting their greens in their diet somehow); milk is good for them, even if its all they ever eat or drink; then you are not alone. And listen up, because I came across this super awesome cookbook that has yummies that adults will eat, as well as kiddos.

I actually found this from the library for free, but you could buy it if that blows your skirt up. It's worth it. (Let me say that I received no compensation for plugging this cookbook. Cooking Light has no idea who I am and probably wouldn't care if they did. I know you all were wondering... :)) Not only does it have mostly kid-friendly recipes that are actually healthy, it has jobs that younger chefs can do as well as older chefs, if you like having your kiddos help you in the kitchen. 

A huge perk to this cookbook is that there's more than just recipes in it. There's a whole section on the different food groups, what are the best choices of foods in that food group, what are ok choices and what to limit the amount given to your kids. There's a meal plan, which is good to have as a goal, but I'm not going to stress myself out if my kids don't get the set amount every day. And this was one of my favorite things, they have a whole section on physical activity, how important it is, how much is needed for different ages, and examples of great activities that will help them get their energy/exercise out! Activity isn't just about using up all that energy these kiddos have. I always thought it was. It's also about living a healthier lifestyle, and to be healthy, you have to incorporate exercise somehow. 

Also things I love about this book: There's a page on how to get your kids involved in living a healthier lifestyle, with things like, exploring new foods, take them shopping with you, plan meals together, start a garden, be active together, consider a screen time limit, and more.

The practical things I will take away from using the cookbook:

  • Make more smoothies. My kids will eat anything if its in liquid form, and they loooove smoothies. 
  • Eat more popcorn as a snack. Popcorn is actually somewhat healthy. I should probably pop my own instead of getting the bags. I may do that in the near future.
  • Cook with beans more. Ross doesn't like beans, but my kiddos do. They're chocked full of protein, and dry beans have WAY less sodium.
  • Consider letting Jude help me in the kitchen. I will admit, it is way harder to cook with him in there with me, so most of the time, I send him out. Sometimes I need to get over it and let him help. They actually learn a lot, and its a fun way to learn!
Can you tell I love this cookbook? I love just about anything that is helpful, that I can actually implement, and will make my life somewhat easier. This does all of those! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Too much info!

I was at the library last week with my boys, looking for cookbooks. First, I want to say that this is frustrating. There are 40billion cookbooks out there, but most of them have things like vegetable curry, or pan seared chicken shallot something-or-other. The dishes have so many ingredients and half of them I wouldn't even know where to look for them in the store. Not to mention my kids would never eat that mess. However, I did find a cookbook that I love and will share with you tomorrow!

Anyway, off of that soap box and onto the next. 

While I was looking for cookbooks, I came across this book:

I thought it looked right up my alley, since I've been looking for ways to live more chemical/crap-free. I was pumped to start it...and by page 5, I was thoroughly freaked. I think I'm beginning to understand the term that you can know too much. 

I'm not an "ignorance is bliss" type person, but I definitely don't want to know everything there is to know about what all can harm you...especially when there's nothing I can do about some of it. 

In this book, she talks about how our furniture has chemicals in it, our mattresses, our clothing, our floors, in just about everything. Don't forget that we shouldn't use candles because of the toxic fumes they put off. Cook with non teflon pots/pans, and never, ever microwave any of your food in a plastic container, unless you want a heavy dose of BPA in your food. And this isn't even the half of it.

Whew. That exhausted me just writing about it. I was left thinking, this is just crazy! Who has that kind of money/time/energy to do ALL of this? Am I going to get cancer tomorrow because I burn candles in my house? I understand the need to be more aware and more wise with our choices, but there is a point where it can be taken too my opinion. And she cusses a lot in the book. I don't have anything against a cuss word or two, but when bad language is used frequently (even the word GD was used), I find it very distracting, and really just pointless. I'm not trying to judge, but personally speaking, its a turn-off. 

I will say that there was a lot of helpful information in this book. I did not realize that our kitchen sponges carry more bacteria in them than our toilets. There are lots of helpful tips on how to have your own vegetable garden, and kill pests the natural way. There is a whole write-up on how to compost (which I may try some day). And I was reminded of things I had forgotten about, like how important it is to clean your makeup brushes.

Overall, I don't recommend this book, unless you want to be totally freaked out and grossed out. Or you are just a glutton for punishment. We do need to be more wise with how we live...we do not, however, need to go crazy with it. 

I want to leave you with the sweetest image ever. I love watching these boys love on each other!

And congratulations to my sweet sister and brother-in-law on the birth of their second baby today. Welcome to the world, Lainey Adele! I am so excited for them and can't wait to meet her...hopefully in a few weeks! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Informal playtime

I have lost my homeschooling mojo. I haven't devoted the time to it that I would like. I need to do that this week; just get some crafts and lessons together. Even though we haven't done anything "formal" (and I'm really not stressing myself out over this), we did do some reading and playing today. 

These books are awesome:

There are others also. We have the animals one that we are going to read tomorrow. Jude and I went through this one today and he loved it. He loves being able to find each picture and I am sure it works on cognitive skills somehow. I know it helps them pay attention to detail, which Jude is not very good at. He did well, though, finding the different pictures. We also read a couple of other story books too, and he liked those as well. 

We played hide and seek, which they loved, and was Jude's idea. And we wrestled, of course. Can't have playtime without wrestling! 

This book was really cute:

There was some rhyming in it, which my kiddos always like. I personally loved the story and the ending. I always love children's books where it seems as though things are a certain way and then it turns out they are not. It makes me think of how we perceive things, and how that perception is usually wrong. Living in reality is always best!

Today is a bread making and laundry day, so that's what I've been doing besides tending to the kiddos. Its been a busy day, but a good one...for a Monday!  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

DtD Challenge #4 - Spending habits!

Isn't this centerpiece idea gorgeous? I love fall colors and I love this centerpiece. BHG has some great ideas...(I just wanted something pretty in this post)

Wow, this weekend has been busy. I was retreating with some awesome ladies from my church, and I was one of the speakers on top of that, so I was extra busy. Not to brag that I am awesome because I was busy, but those things made it hard to write this weekend...and my boys were having mama withdrawals, so they got most of my attention. So did the hubs, don't want to leave him out.

On with the post...

This week was kinda hard, I'm not gonna lie. I knew it was going to be hard though. I love to spend money, mostly on small things because we don't have a lot of extra money to spend on random stuff these days. And I did cheat......a little. Hey, I never said I was perfect. :) 

So, I was able to refrain from buying a bunch of random crap (what I usually do) and stick to the budget for the most part. Notice I said for the most part. I did buy 2 small things that were not necessarily needs, one being a set of pens from Office Max that are my very favorite pens ever; but let me justify with the fact that all my others had run out of ink, therefore I was in need, and I was already given permission to get them before I decided not to spend any money for a week. So there. The other thing was I bought a bottle of witch hazel to put in my almond oatmeal facewash to help with my breakouts. So, I guess $10 isn't all that much extra, although I am a little disappointed that I failed in my mission of not spending anything outside of wants. I won't harp on it too much, but I will be more aware of spending in the future.

Laundry - Still using the laundry detergent and LOVING it.
Hair - I started doing a baking soda wash every 3 days and I like it more than the Castile Soap/coconut milk mixture. We'll see how it goes, which will determine if I continue to do it or not.
Skin - still doing the almond oatmeal homemade wash in the morning and the honey wash at night. Love it!!

Challenge for next week:
Using 2 new recipes this week. They're on my menu plan that I posted the other day, but sometimes things don't turn out the way you plan them, so, this is me holding myself accountable. Going for PW's Caveman Pops and a new salmon pasta dish. I'll let you know how they turn out! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Healthy snacks!

I received this email today from Runner's World and I thought it was worthy to share. I know we all get hungry between meals from time to time, and, well, I always want to grab the easiest thing I can find. Or the thing that tastes the best. Definitely not the most healthy option...I mean, who wants to eat celery, or raw carrots? Blech. And most of us wonder what in the world we should feed our kids for snacks?! There's so many snacky foods out there, but most of them aren't healthy. What I love most about these suggestions is that you can also feed them to your little ones, (except for maybe the peanuts, depending on their age). 

Here are my 2 snacky options that my kids and I frequently have:
I enjoy a cup of Greek yogurt (usually plain and I add a little honey myself) and granola (I LOVE Cascadian Farms Oats and Honey organic granola cereal. I can't get it every grocery run because of budgetary purposes, but when I can get it, it's my favorite). We eat yogurt 3+ times a week in my house. It's almost like having a little dessert. 

We also make smoothies. You can put just about anything in a smoothie and its usually pretty good. My next one to try is PW's pumpkin smoothie, yeah! 

I also liked the suggestions in this article, so here they are!

High in fiber and low in calories, popcorn is also a heart-healthy food. In a study presented at the 2009 American Chemical Society national meeting, University of Scranton researchers tested a wide range of whole grains for polyphenol count. Polyphenols are antioxidant plant chemicals that may protect your body from cell and tissue damage linked to heart disease and certain cancers. Researchers found that among snack foods, popcorn has the highest polyphenol level.

Plain kernels contain no extra calories and taste fresher. Add herbs, spices, or nuts.
Choose prepackaged popcorn that's 90 percent fat-free. Or go with nonbuttered brands and add a touch of butter spray.

Juggling family, work, and training is challenging, and too much stress may raise your heart-disease risk. According to a 2009 study, dark chocolate may help. Researchers gave participants 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate (the size of a matchbook) daily for two weeks. The chocolate reduced stress-hormone levels in anxious participants. There's also evidence dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure—another key to reducing heart-disease risk, says Shulman. But keep an eye on calories. "It's like red wine," says Nisevich Bede. "It can provide health benefits but should be consumed in moderation."


The higher the percentage, the more antioxidants.
Also called Dutch-processed, alkali destroys nutrients.
Bars with vegetable or hydrogenated oils are of poorer quality.

A study published in the journal Food Chemistry discovered that the longer peanuts are roasted, the higher their levels of antioxidants. The extra-long roasting preserves more manganese and vitamin E (which helps protect your bones and red blood cells, respectively) than lightly roasted or even raw nuts. Peanuts are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats—three nutrients that help keep you feeling full. Store small bags of peanuts in your desk drawer, or make your own trail mix with peanuts, dried fruits, cereal, and pretzels, says Nisevich Bede.

Other methods that add oils or sugar up the fat and calories.
Peanuts with their skins contain high levels of antioxidants.
Presalted peanuts often have added oils.

Tart cherries have been shown to help relieve soreness; they might also be good for your heart. In a study in the Journal of Nutrition, participants drank about eight ounces of tart cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for two weeks. Researchers found the juice reduced oxidative damage, which can contribute to heart disease. The juice's protective qualities come from its high level of antioxidants. "Your body creates antioxidants," says Shulman, "but it's important to eat and drink foods rich in them, too." Although juice lacks the fiber of whole fruit, "it's an excellent source of carbohydrate," says Nisevich Bede, making it a good choice for recovering after a run.

Tart cherry juice is often blended with sweet fruits. For the most cherry antioxidants, choose brands without other fruits.
Buy "100 percent fruit juice" so there's no added sweetener.

Turns out the breakfast of champions can help speed recovery after a tough workout. In a study published in 2009 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, cyclists rode for two hours and then ate whole-grain cereal with fat-free milk or drank a carbohydrate sports drink. Several days later they repeated the test. Researchers found the pantry staple replenishes energy stores equally as well as sports drinks. Milk also provides quality protein, which is ideal for muscle recovery postrun, says Shulman—making this less-expensive (and less-processed) option a smart postrun snack.


It should have at least three to five grams of fiber per serving.
Look for whole wheat or other whole grains in the ingredients.
It should have fewer than seven to nine grams per 100 calories.

EAT BETTER: When buying cereal, skip brands that have sugar listed as the first or second ingredient. Those products contain too much sweetener to be healthy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Menu planning

Two things have come to my attention recently. The first thing is that I'm a bad menu planner. Is anyone out there with me? I normally just go to the store, pick out some stock ingredients and meats and put something together every night based on what I bought. This brought me to the second realization, that we eat ENTIRELY too much chicken. Chicken is great, don't get me wrong. It's healthy, inexpensive, and there's a billion things you can do with it...IF you plan right, which I just confessed that I haven't been. So, that tells me a change needs to happen. I decided that I needed to be more intentional with what we're eating and only buying ingredients that we need for that week...which also might reduce the amount of food waste that we have every week. And it'll force me to look for new recipes, because we are so darn tired of eating the same stuff. It's a win-win, right? I sure hope so. 

With that being said, here is my menu plan for the week!

Homemade chicken pot pie

I will be out of town, so I am getting something easy for Ross to fix for the boys

Homemade pizza

Broccoli cheese soup, bread and spinach salad

Salmon pasta with a pesto sauce and corn salad (new recipes!)

PW's caveman pops (roasted turkey legs), mashed potatoes, green beans and leftover spinach salad

We eat dinner with our small group, so I will take something

Chicken tacos

Want to menu plan with me, or already do so? Share your ideas with me, I'd love to hear them! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post Halloween tiredness

I had a hard time getting up this morning. I think it must have been all the candy we ate last night. Sugar hangover, anyone? Well, that, and the fact that Ross and I stayed up way too late watching our new favorite show, The Walking Dead. But man, do I love the candy. Turns out, so do my kiddos. They went to bed with their tummies full and their faces smeared with chocolate. (not really, I did actually wash their faces and hands) We had a great time with great friends, and there's tons of leftover candy to last us all quite awhile. Hopefully my waist line won't change too much...although I'm thinking it probably will. 

Jude enjoyed being a pirate. Here he's making a pirate face...

Ross and our little blonde headed mini-pirate

Jude and his little friend Peter Pan, aka baby Warren

We had a slow start to the day today, but I have done some laundry, the boys and I cleaned their rooms, we eventually read our Bible story, read a couple of library books and Jude colored and painted Ross a cute picture. I need to be more motivated to get some school stuff together so we can do some actual learning this week. Maybe tomorrow?

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Helpful Sites

The Frugal Girl (frugality, repurposing, etc)

The Pioneer Woman (recipes)

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Coffeeshop Blog (photography, digital design and PS freebies)

Digital Photography School (photography)