Goals for 2016: Update

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A while back I posted my goals for 2016.  It is quite the list!  I wanted to share an update with y’all and let you know that I have been trying to live intentionally.

And it’s so funny — when I decided to make “living intentionally” my goal for this year I was amazed at the amount of times I saw that phrase in my life.  Social media, friends, fellow bloggers, my Bible study… everything seems to lead me back to that.

yearly goals

Goals for 2016 with Update

Spiritual:
1. Read the whole Bible.
~ Incorporate daily morning Bible time.  {I still struggle with this but it’s getting easier.}
2. Complete at least three Bible studies this year.
~ Colossians (a BoldTurquoise study).  {Working through this one now.}
~ Intentionally Focused (WLW study).
~ War Room{Working through this one now in a group.  Powerful stuff!}
3. Write in my prayer journal two or three times each week.  {I’ve made it the beginning of my quiet time.}
~ Set up journaling pages in Homemaking Binder.  {DONE!}

Children:
1. Finish K5 program with C by June 30th.
2. Begin K4 program with J by February 1st {We started in the middle of January; just a few days a week right now.}
3. Begin 1st grade with C by August 8th.
4. Read at least 52 new chapter books. {We’ve read Hooray for the Golly Sisters and one other I can’t remember right now.  We need another library trip!}
5. Arrange monthly outings or field trips (to library, park, museums, etc.). {Crazy month but we managed to get to the library and a park.}

Marriage:
1. Monthly dates and regular time together.
~ Do something with just the two of us a few days each week. {We have been pretty good about this.}
2. Send him a love letter (via text, email, or whatever) each month.

Financial:
1. Save $4,000.
~ Get $20 cashback when I go to the store and set it aside.
2. Get my vehicle note balance down to $5000 or less by end of year.
~ Schedule about five extra $100 payments throughout the year. {Already scheduled one each for January and February.}
3. Sit down monthly to assess financial situation. {New budget in place for February!}
4. Plan England trip and set aside money.
~ Passports need to be completed by April 1st.
~ Tickets need to be purchased (or at least researched) by February 1st. {Tickets have been researched; we’re planning on purchasing soon.}

Self:
1. Read twelve books this year.
2. Spend one day a month researching genealogy. {Failed at this in January; hoping to have two afternoons this month to make up for it.}
3. Learn sign language.
4. Have an afternoon off for planning at least twice this year.

Health and Fitness:
1. Lose a total of 36 pounds this year.
~ That’s about three pounds a month.
:::: Weigh 190 by June 30th.
:::: Weigh 175 by December 31st.
2. 20,000 fitness minutes this year.
~ That’s about 385 minutes per week.
:::: 10,000 minutes by June 30th.
:::: Gym two or three days a week.
:::: ST at least twice a week.
3. Improve fitness test stats by 5% – 10% by year end.
~ Initial fitness test January 4th.  {Done.}
~ End of month assessments to check progress.
~ Mid-year test for check-up.

Homemaking:
1. Reinvent my Homemaking Binder. Make it functional and beautiful.
2. Establish working homemaking routines, one per month (except July).
~ Evening (before bed) routine is January’s routine.
:::: Line out new evening routine by January 1st and implement. {Done}
:::: Reassess on February 1st and tweak as necessary. {Done}
~ Morning routine is February’s routine.
:::: Line out new morning routine by February 1st and implement. {Done}
:::: Reassess on March 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Afternoon routine is March’s routine
:::: Line out new afternoon routine by March 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on April 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Meal planning is April’s routine.
:::: Make meal planning a priority and make it a weekly or monthly habit.
~ Making my calendar work for me is May’s routine.
:::: Read Make Over Your Calendar.
~ Decluttering is June’s routine.
~ School planning is August’s routine.
:::: Get a routine in place to keep me organized and ahead of the planning.
~ The rest are TBD later this year. (Also, any of these can be moved around as I see fit.) 
3. Set up school room/office by September 1st.
~ Declutter 15 minutes, twice a week. {I’ve been decluttering a few times a week and I love the results so far.}
~ Paint office by June 1st. {One wall is completed!  I’m taking it slow and steady.}
~ Hang white boards by August 1st.
~ Work out storage solutions by August 15th.

 

7 Ways to Find Time for Bible Study

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As part of my goals for this year I’ve decided to get more intentional about my life and the things I do.  One of the big things I wanted to change was to become more intentional about daily Bible study.

I used to spend hours in God’s Word, soaking up everything I could and writing pages and pages of journal notes about my experience.  And oh, how I long for those days!  But at this point in my life it is hard to find that kind of time.  I’ve gone for far too long with little to no Bible study because I’m waiting for the “perfect” time of the day to do it.  I’ve tried getting up at that mythical hour before the rest of my family gets up.  It’s pretty much impossible right now.  My daughter is a rise-with-the-dawn kind of child while my son is generally up for a time in the 4 – 5 am hours.  That just makes for a cranky mama.  And nobody likes a cranky mama.

So while I would love to have my quiet time consistently before the kids get up, that usually doesn’t happen.  And that’s ok.  I’m telling you now that there is no perfect time for Bible study.  You don’t have to do it first thing in the morning.  You don’t have to spend an hour a day on it.  You don’t have to wait until you have that perfectly quiet and uninterrupted time.

Because how often does that actually work out, right?

The main thing is to have a yearning and a desire for Bible study and time talking to Jesus.  To set aside what time you can to learn more about Him and to grow closer to Him.  

So here are a few practical tips for taking time for Bible study and getting more out of your quiet time with God.  Some of them may work for you and some of them may not.  Keep trying until you find something that works for you.

  • Set aside a specific time each day for it.  If twenty minutes is all the time you have today, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning.  Utilize the baby’s nap time (cleaning can wait 20 minutes) or another block of time you have.  Just go into the day knowing that at a certain time you have to stop what you’re doing and get into the Word.
  • It doesn’t have to happen all at one time.  Only have 10 minutes right now?  That’s ok.  Read some now and come back to it when you have another 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Keep your Bible open in a conspicuous place.  Every time you walk by throughout the day, stop to read for a moment.  Meditate on what you read between times.
  • Try listening to the Bible instead of reading it.  There are several apps and websites to go to where you can listen to the Bible.  Pop in your ear buds and listen while you wash dishes, fold clothes, take a bath… whenever.
  • Use sticky notes for Scripture memorization.  Are you trying to learn a particular verse or passage?  Write it down on several sticky notes and post them around the house.  No, it’s not chapters of reading at a time.  But on those days when that’s all you can do, at least you have had some meditation on God’s Word.  And don’t forget to switch out your sticky notes every week or so.
  • Wake up 30 minutes early.  Yeah, I know it won’t always work.  But (in my case) my day seems to go better if I’ve started it off in the presence of God.  And if you do get interrupted?  At least you tried.  And maybe it’ll be easier to get back to it during the day if you start it off that way.
  • Have accountability.  Join a Bible study (online, with a church or elsewhere).  Call an accountability partner each day to discuss what you’ve read.  I know I’m way more apt to do something if someone is counting on me.

While I was writing this a question came to me.  What if you don’t have that yearning for daily Bible study anymore?  What happens when you’ve been gone for so long you’ve forgotten what daily fellowship with God feels like?

Friend, I’ve been there.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you an easy answer.  It’s something you’ll have to deal with yourself.  But making the time and the effort to talk and listen to Jesus daily is a step in the right direction.  It’s a habit like any other — the more you cultivate it the easier it is to do. 

how to series

How To: Start an Evening Routine

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how to series

I’ve been focusing this month on implementing and sticking with a new evening routine.  I’ve written before on my morning routine (and how to build one), but I haven’t really spoken about my evening (or before bed) routine.

If you’re familiar with the teachings of Flylady at all you know how much she stresses having a Before Bed Routine (or BBR).  For a long time I would get hung up on the words “Before Bed” and start my BBR… well… right before bed.  But that was too late in the day for me!  I was too tired to care what my kitchen looked like by that point and didn’t want to mess with it then.  And pick out clothes?  Wasn’t happening.

And so eventually (never mind how long it took before I finally had the epiphany) I decided to change the wording and change when I did things.

And that was when my Evening Routine was born.

If you’re just starting on an Evening Routine, don’t forget to start small.  Pick out just a few things — just two to four things — that you want to get done every night.  Start with those.  Give it a few weeks of consistency (don’t worry if you have a few off days — it happens) and then add something else.

For example, at this point in my life my bare bones Evening Routine would be:
1) Clean the kitchen (dishes, stove, counters and sink).
2) Pick out clothes for tomorrow (for myself and my children).
3) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.

On those crazy days when I’m running out of time that’s all I try to get done.  At the very least I “hit a lick at a snake” in the kitchen and check the calendar to make sure we don’t have to be anywhere early.

And on those nights, that’s ok.  Don’t give up when you have a few nights that don’t go according to plan.  Keep at it. 

On those awesome nights when everything goes according to schedule, my Evening Routine is a bit more involved.  I’m still very hesitant to add too much to it or it will overwhelm me.  (And then I just shut down and don’t get anything done.  And we don’t want that.)

My full Evening Routine goes something like this:
1) Quick tidy of the main living areas.
2) Clean the kitchen.
3) Set out morning items (cereal, bowls, coffee mugs, juice cups, etc.).
4) Make sure I’m prepared for school tomorrow (if I haven’t already done this; usually I have).
5) Pick out clothes for tomorrow.
6) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.
7) Make a quick To Do List for tomorrow.

As you can see, the majority of the things I do in the evening directly affect how my morning will start.  When I don’t do my Evening Routine, the next day is generally a write off.  I start the day cranky and have trouble finding my peace.

And you know what else?  My children notice.  They crave routine as well.  My whole house is happier when we follow a routine.

So what happens if you consistently are having trouble getting your Evening Routine done?  You probably need to step back and ask yourself a few questions.
Are you trying to do too much?
Are there some things you can try and do earlier in the day?
Are you waiting too late to get started?
Can you delegate some things to others in your household?

My husband and I work together to get the Evening Routine done (although I can guarantee you that he doesn’t know we have a “routine”).  While I’m cleaning up the kitchen after supper he is making sure the kids get a bath.  When I was trying to “do it all” (like clean the kitchen and bathe the kids) I would go to bed far too many times with a dirty kitchen.  There just wasn’t enough time in the evenings!

Do you have a “bare bones” evening routine in place?  Is it working for you?  What else can you do to make your mornings run more smoothly?

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This post is linked up at:

A Pinch of Joy
Tips and Tricks Linky Party
Titus 2sday Link Up Party
Roses of Inspiration
Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party
Wholehearted Home
Raising Homemakers
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Homemaking Party
Hearts for Home
I Heart Naptime

Goals for 2016: The Year of Being Intentional

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So hi there.   Long time, no see.  Yeah… sorry about that.  I really meant to post more last year but time just slipped away.

Which leads me to my word for 2016: intentional.

I want to be intentional in my spiritual life.  I want to be intentional with my children.  I want to be intentional with my husband.  I want to be intentional with my own health.  I want to be intentional in every area of my life.

I’ve prayed and thought (a lot) over the past few weeks about my goals for 2016.  God has showed me that I’ve not been intentional like I should.  I’ve not been purposeful with my quiet time or deliberate with the time spent with my children.  I’ve not planned time to be with and talk to my husband.  I’ve just been kind of flying by the seat of my pants.  And that really doesn’t work well for me.  I’m not that kinda gal.

So with that being said, I’ve set some pretty lofty goals for this year.  This is quite a long list so bear with me.

yearly goals

 

Goals for 2016

Spiritual:
1. Read the whole Bible.
~ Incorporate daily morning Bible time.
2. Complete at least three Bible studies this year.
~ Colossians (a BoldTurquoise study).
~ Intentionally Focused (WLW study).
~ One other TBD later.
3. Write in my prayer journal two or three times each week.
~ Set up journaling pages in Homemaking Binder.

Children:
1. Finish K5 program with C by June 30th.
2. Begin K4 program with J by February 1st.
3. Begin 1st grade with C by August 8th.
4. Read at least 52 new books.
5. Arrange monthly outings or field trips (to library, park, museums, etc.).

Marriage:
1. Monthly dates and regular time together.
~ Do something with just the two of us a few days each week.
2. Send him a love letter (via text, email, or whatever) each month.

Financial:
1. Save $4,000.
~ Get $20 cashback when I go to the store and set it aside.
2. Get my vehicle note balance down to $5000 or less by end of year.
~ Schedule about five extra $100 payments throughout the year.
3. Sit down monthly to assess financial situation.
4. Plan England trip and set aside money.
~ Passports need to be completed by April 1st.
~ Tickets need to be purchased (or at least researched) by February 1st.

Self:
1. Read twelve books this year.
2. Spend one day a month researching genealogy.
3. Learn sign language.
4. Have an afternoon off for planning at least twice this year.

Health and Fitness:
1. Lose a total of 36 pounds this year.
~ That’s about three pounds a month.
:::: Weigh 190 by June 30th.
:::: Weigh 175 by December 31st.
2. 20,000 fitness minutes this year.
~ That’s about 385 minutes per week.
:::: 10,000 minutes by June 30th.
:::: Gym two or three days a week.
:::: ST at least twice a week.
3. Improve fitness test stats by 5% – 10% by year end.
~ Initial fitness test January 4th.
~ End of month assessments to check progress.
~ Mid-year test for check-up.

Homemaking:
1. Reinvent my Homemaking Binder. Make it functional and beautiful.
2. Establish working homemaking routines, one per month (except July).
~ Evening (before bed) routine is January’s routine.
:::: Line out new evening routine by January 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on February 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Morning routine is February’s routine.
:::: Line out new morning routine by February 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on March 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Afternoon routine is March’s routine
:::: Line out new afternoon routine by March 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on April 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Meal planning is April’s routine.
:::: Make meal planning a priority and make it a weekly or monthly habit.
~ Making my calendar work for me is May’s routine.
:::: Read Make Over Your Calendar.
~ Decluttering is June’s routine.
~ School planning is August’s routine.
:::: Get a routine in place to keep me organized and ahead of the planning.
~ The rest are TBD later this year. (Also, any of these can be moved around as I see fit.) 
3. Set up school room/office by September 1st.
~ Declutter 15 minutes, twice a week.
~ Paint office by June 1st.
~ Hang white boards by August 1st.
~ Work out storage solutions by August 15th.

So there they are.  All neatly typed out for the world to see.  I will try to update a few times this year to keep myself accountable.  I would say I’ll update monthly… but I know better than to set a goal I have no hope in achieving. 😉

Have you made goals for 2016?  What is your focus?  Do you have a “one word” for the year?

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This post is linked up at:

heartsforhome

My Fat Story

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Encouraged by Tabitha over at Meet Penny, I wanted to share with you my fat story.

I have been overweight my entire adult life.

I didn’t start out that way.  As a teenager I wasn’t overweight, even though I thought I was soooo fat.  {At that time I was 5ft 7in and weighed 135 pounds.}  Add in a sedentary lifestyle, some really bad emotional eating habits, little to no exercise, absolutely no will power and about ten years and guess what you get?  An overweight, unhappy person who is very much in denial about what was happening to my own body.

The denial lasted a few years.  I had gone through a divorce and had no idea what to do with my life.  Did I mention I was an emotional eater?  Yeah, I didn’t even know what that was at the time.  Denial to the bitter end, I guess.

I eventually woke up and realized I needed to make some changes in my life.  I was in my mid twenties and weighed about 215 pounds.  So I joined a gym.  My job at the time was more active as well.  I began to eat more nutritious things and watched my food portions.  I got fit.  I got remarried.  I was so proud of myself.  I didn’t get anywhere close to the 135 pounds I was from the high school years, but I was happy with the direction I was heading.  I had shed about 45 pounds and countless inches.

And then I got pregnant.

And for some reason I used that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.  Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate ice cream was my favorite snack.  I stopped exercising as hard — what if it wasn’t good for the baby??  I’d had a miscarriage before.  I didn’t want another one.  And so I slowly stopped exercising altogether.  Unfortunately, I was still eating like I was exercising.  Oh and don’t forget, I could also use the excuse that I was eating for two!

By the time I delivered a healthy, happy 6lb little girl I had gained 60 pounds.  (If you’re doing the math, that’s 230 pounds.)  I was miserable.  I didn’t want to take any pictures of myself with my sweet little baby.  I hated that I had gotten to this point.  Oh, don’t worry, friends said.  The weight just melts off while you’re breastfeeding.

It didn’t.

I breastfed for a year didn’t lose a pound besides the weight I lost immediately postpartum.  So at this point I’m 220 pounds and in denial again.  I hated the way I looked but I didn’t do anything to change it.  I don’t know why.  I think I had a bit of PPD (I am prone to bouts of depression).  I was a full time homemaker by now.  My dream job.  What I’d always wanted to do for my whole life.

And I wasn’t happy.

I was happy on the outside.  And I did — and still do — enjoy my job very much.  I wouldn’t trade my time at home for anything.  But on the inside I was a mess.  I was so caught up in denial about what I was doing to my body.

I blamed everyone but myself for the way I was.  My parents didn’t teach me about nutritious eating and exercise.  It’s my body’s fault; I have a slow metabolism.  My husband loves me just the way I am.  I’ve tried to lose weight and I just can’t.  Why can she eat whatever she wants and not gain an ounce?  It’s just not fair.

I did exercise some.  And I did eat healthy.  Sometimes.  I did just enough so when the scale wouldn’t budge — or moved the wrong direction — I would get angry, frustrated and just give up.  Any excuse to not have to really try.

Eighteen months after giving birth the first time I was pregnant again.  This time I was sick with “morning” sickness for about five months but I still gained 25 pounds.  By the time I delivered my son I weighed 252 pounds.  The most I have ever weighed in my life.

Surely breastfeeding would work this time around! I thought.  But it didn’t, even though I breastfed even longer this time.  I’d had to have a Cesarean with my boy and used that as an excuse not to “exert” myself.  When I finally stopped breastfeeding (less than a year ago) I didn’t have any more excuses.

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I’m in my mid-thirties.  I can’t blame anyone but myself for the way I am.  I know how to eat.  I know that I need to exercise.  I know how to take care of myself.  I just make excuses why I can’t.  Yes, I’m busy.  So is everyone else on the planet.  Yes, I have a slow metabolism.  So what?  Get over it and keep moving forward.  Yes, it’s more expensive to eat healthy.  So are the medical bills if I don’t eat healthy.

I started exercising a little more.  Eating a little better.  And very, VERY slowly the weight has started coming off.

It’s now a little more than two years since I gave birth to my son and almost a year since I stopped breastfeeding.  My weight now is 212 pounds.

I set a goal this year to lose between two and three pounds a month.  No, it’s not up to Biggest Loser standards.  But it is realistic and it is doable.  And I feel good about it.

So if you’re reading this and you’re on your own weight loss journey — or if you’ve completed your journey — please let me know about it.  We all need some motivation from time to time.  I plan on sharing my progress along the way.  I hope my transparency will encourage others who may be in my shoes.

If you have been thinking about it but haven’t yet done anything about it yet, may I encourage you to just do it?  Start small.  Join a support group.  Ask a friend to go walking with you.  Give up desserts for a week.  Drink enough water for your body.  Just do something to improve your health.

losingweightishard

February Meal Plans

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A whole month into the new year!  I’m sure these months have started passing by more quickly in recent years…. but maybe that just comes with getting older.😉

But no matter how quickly time passes the amount of meals we eat stays the same!  I’ve been trying to eat more simple, wholesome meals and snacks (and the scale is finally moving in the right direction — slowly).  Freezer meals are always on my go-to list to help me on those crazy, chaotic days.  Have you tried freezer cooking?  I hate the prep work and cook day but love to reap the rewards later!

 

menu planning

 

February Meal Planning

Sunday, February 1
Breakfast:  breakfast burrito or blueberry muffins
Lunch:  with extended family
Supper:  with extended family

Monday, February 2
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  tuna salad (can of tuna, half cup low fat cottage cheese, shredded carrots, minced red onion, dill weed, pepper) with whole wheat crackers or bread
Supper:  bangers and mash (made with turkey sausage)

Tuesday, February 3
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  scrambled egg sandwich
Supper:  whole wheat spaghetti with turkey meat sauce

Wednesday, February 4
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  salad with fajita chicken on top
Supper:  leftover spaghetti

Thursday, February 5
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  veggie omelet
Supper:  baked cod, mashed potatoes

Friday, February 6
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  homemade pizza ~ turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, black olives
Supper:  breakfast ~ scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, hashbrowns

Saturday, February 7
Breakfast:  whole wheat waffles, turkey bacon
Lunch:  veggie burger patty with veggie stir fry
Supper:  burrito pie

Sunday, February 8
Breakfast:  breakfast burrito or blueberry muffin
Lunch:  with extended family
Supper:  with extended family

Monday, February 9
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  salad with fajita chicken on top
Supper:  salmon patties

Tuesday, February 10
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  leftovers
Supper:  beef and veggie stew, homemade bread

Wednesday, February 11
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  chicken salad (shredded chicken breast; diced celery, carrots, green onion; light Miracle Whip) sandwiches
Supper:  pasta salad

Thursday, February 12
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  leftovers
Supper:  chicken tacos, guacamole, Spanish rice, salsa, sour cream

Friday, February 13
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  homemade pizza
Supper:  breakfast ~ homemade bacon, egg and cheese biscuits

Saturday, February 14
Breakfast:  pancakes, turkey bacon
Lunch:  veggie burger patty with veggie stir fry
Supper:  steak, twice baked potato (hubby’s favorite)

Sunday, February 15
Breakfast:  breakfast burrito or blueberry muffin
Lunch:  with extended family
Supper:  with extended family

Monday, February 16
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  “roll-ups” (rolled up deli meat), cheese, crackers
Supper:  sour cream chicken enchiladas, refried beans, Spanish rice

Tuesday, February 17
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  leftovers
Supper:  rissoles

Wednesday, February 18
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  leftovers
Supper:  twice baked taco potatoes

Thursday, February 19
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  out with hubby
Supper:  broccoli/leek/potato soup, homemade bread

Friday, February 20
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  homemade pizza
Supper:  breakfast ~ omelets and turkey bacon

Saturday, February 21
Breakfast:  chocolate chip pancakes, turkey bacon
Lunch:  veggie burger patty with veggie stir fry
Supper:  pasta shrimp jambalaya

Sunday, February 22
Breakfast:  breakfast burrito or blueberry muffin
Lunch:  with extended family
Supper:  with extended family

Monday, February 23
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  chicken salad sandwich
Supper:  shepherd’s pie

Tuesday, February 24
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  leftover shepherd’s pie
Supper:  grilled chicken and shrimp stir fry, basmati rice, naan

Wednesday, February 25
Breakfast:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with chicken breast and sharp cheddar cheese
Lunch:  leftover stir fry
Supper:  taco salad

Thursday, February 26
Breakfast:  Special K Protein cereal mixed with bran flakes
Lunch:  out with hubby
Supper:  homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade bread

Friday, February 27
Breakfast:  protein smoothie (banana, strawberries, blueberries, protein powder, soy milk)
Lunch:  homemade pizza
Supper:  breakfast ~ eggs, turkey bacon, toast

Saturday, February 28
Breakfast:  whole wheat waffles, turkey bacon
Lunch:  veggie burger patty with veggie stir fry
Supper:  turkey meatloaf muffins, mashed potatoes

As you probably noticed, I didn’t add any fruit and vegetables — or any sides, really — on this plan.  I generally pull something out of the freezer or pantry to go along with whatever we’re eating.  I try and buy fresh fruit and vegetable that are in season, readily available and (let’s be honest) easy to prepare.  Our go to fruits are bananas, oranges, apples, pears, avocado, blueberries and strawberries.  For veggies we generally rotate between Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash,  green beans, spinach, kale (or other greens) and occasionally corn.

I most of the meals here (except the veggie burgers and the ones with added links, of course) are either my recipe or a family recipe.  If you have any questions I’d be happy to try and answer them.  I like to find a good recipe and then “healthify” it.  My auto-correct feature is screaming that healthify isn’t a word, but I think it should be.

Happy, healthy eating!

Our Homeschooling Adventures: K4

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our adventures in homeschooling

It’s been about 18 months since I entertained the idea of homeschooling.  My daughter had just turned three and honestly, I didn’t want to homeschool.  But sometimes what I want and what God wants are two different things… but that’s a whole different blog post for another day.  :)

We started on the God’s Little Explorers curriculum.  You know, just to test the waters and see if I could “do” this homeschooling thing.  And although we didn’t actually finish that curriculum — not because we didn’t like it; I wholeheartedly recommend it and will be starting it with my son this fall — I realized that I could be my child’s teacher.

It is a scary and thoroughly exciting idea to me still.  That I, who hate science and still can not comprehend most advanced maths, can actually be a great teacher to my children.  Not because I know everything, because that is certainly not the case.  I can be a great teacher because there is no one else in the world who wants more for my children than I (and my husband) do.  

Fast forward 18 months.  My now four year old daughter and I have been doing the K4 curriculum through A Beka since August.  I wanted a curriculum that had a couple of specific qualities.  It had to be Bible based and it had to be well laid out.  I was still very unsure of my teaching ability and wanted a curriculum that told me exactly what to do.

Our first few weeks were very strict.  I went exactly by the book and did not deviate.  As we found our groove and got more comfortable with schooling I became more laid back, which is (in my opinion) one of the great benefits of homeschooling.  You can make your own schedule, go at your own pace and make the most of your strengths.

We have been taking a lot of field trips (another perk to homeschooling) and just having fun with it.  The field trips have kind of put us behind the schedule I had worked out at the beginning of the year.  But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter.  My husband and I have since decided to homeschool year round so we can enjoy these trips and more relaxed schedule.

I’m expecting to finish the K4 program around June and start A Beka K5 with her in July.  My son will turn three in October so I’m planning on starting the GLE program with him in September.

If you’re just starting your homeschool adventures, thinking about starting or just have a question for me please leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I would love to help you if I can.  And if I can’t, I’ll try and find someone who can!

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Tools to Help You Get Organized This Year

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tools to help get organized

Most everyone does the whole New Years resolutions thing.  You know, the: lose weight, get healthy, stop smoking, or insert-your-issue-here.  Well, one of my goals for this year is to get organized.  Declutter my home, remember appointments and be on time for them, find a place for everything and figure out a workable cleaning schedule.  Piece of cake, right?

Now I realize that one can not simply achieve organization and be done with it.  You have to keep working at it.  You know how it is with house cleaning… it doesn’t stay clean longer than three minutes.  But for those three blissful minutes, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.  :)  Of course the same is true with organizing.  Once you are finished cleaning, decluttering and organizing you have to keep at it or pretty soon your house will look like it did before you started!

So now that we’re clear on all of that it’s time to get down to business.  How can I get my life organized?

Of course, it will be different for everyone.  But I hope you are able to take a few of these tips to help you along your way.

Find a Cleaning Schedule/Routine and Stick With It

There are probably some of you that can find your own routine and stick with it.  I can do that too… sometimes.  But for those of us who have struggles with this, there is help out there in cyber land.  Here are just a few cleaning schedules/routines that you might want to check out.

  • The Confident Mom has a great planner for busy moms.  This is the one I’ve used the past couple of years and I love it.  It reminds me to do things I might otherwise forget (like clean the light fixtures) as well as the normal weekly stuff like changing the sheets and stuff.  And the best part?  It’s free!  She also has a supplement pack you can purchase to go with it if you’re so inclined.
  • Motivated Moms has a planner and an app.  I haven’t used this one myself but I’ve heard some great things about it.  It might be a solution for you tech savvy moms out there.
  • Flylady is also a great resource to use.  She will show you the basics of cleaning and decluttering and helps you build from there.

The easy part is finding a great schedule or routine.  The hard part?  Sticking with it.  And don’t give me the crazy eye right now.  There are days (weeks?) where not everything will get done.  But SOME is better than NONE.  Start with one thing.  One thing.  That you vow to do every day.  And then do it.  No excuses.  Even when you’re tired, sick or cranky.  Just do it.  Next month add one more goal that you vow to do everyday.  By the end of the year you could have twelve new great habits under your belt!  How awesome is that?  {Need a goal tracker?  Check out this one or this one.  And for the techies, try this one or an app from your app store.}

Plan Your Day

Many times I jot down a several things I need to get done for the day but never actually plan where in my day to do these things.  It’s too easy to keep putting it off… then it’s past bedtime and I still haven’t done half of my to do list.  And wonder, what happened to my day?  What did I accomplish?

Nothing.

This is where having a morning routine helps.  Also, this year I got a new planner which works for me and I love, love, love it.  {And you can try it for free here!}  At this point in my life I need the structure of a day timer type planner.  Every Sunday get my planner and take a few minutes to roughly plan my week.  I add any appointments and jot down the regular stuff like church, school, meals/meal prep, etc.  Then each night before bed I look at the next day and fill in the holes.  If I have a free hour in the afternoon I might schedule that time to declutter the office or make my meal plans for the next month.

I have found that if I make a plan I’m far less likely to wonder where my day has gone and why don’t I have something to show for it.

Find Your Motivation

Yeah, everyone wants a clean house and an organized life.  But it has to be more than that.  Why do you want to be organized?  What is your motivation?

For me it is, in part, the peace that comes with being organized and on top of things.  There is waaaaay less stress when I know where I’m supposed to be, where everything is and what needs to be done.

I also enjoy an organized home because I feel more relaxed.  I can open my home up more readily to friends and neighbors if my home is decluttered and organized.  I spend less time looking for things and more time playing with my family.  I’m more apt to snuggle on the couch and watch Veggie Tales with my kids if I don’t have the nagging guilt of clutter and chaos around me.

That’s my motivation.  You should think about yours and write it down.  Keep it handy for those hard days when you feel defeated.  Look at it often and keep chugging along.

Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself

Repetition is boring.  We all know that.  So don’t forget to make it fun.  Reward yourself when you starting making those healthy habits or declutter the kitchen.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something special to YOU.

A few tips though.  Obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight don’t reward yourself with a food item.  Likewise, if you’ve just decluttered your kitchen don’t go buy another kitchen doodad.  Unless it’s something you absolutely need anyway.  And then I say go for it.:)

The Bottom Line

Basically it all comes down to this.  You can want an organized life.  You can even need an organized life.  But until you buckle down and follow through with all of your planning you’re not going to get an organized life.  

Hard punch.  Sorry about that.  But I needed to hear it probably more than you did.

Don’t give up.  Keep pushing.  It is worth it.  And once you reach that organized nirvana neverland, I’m betting you’re going to say it is all worth it too.  The peace that comes with organization is well worth the time I spend staying organized.  It makes me happy, it makes my family happy.  I’d say it’s totally worth it.:)

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Ducks in a Row

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Hello, happy homemakers!  How’ve you been?

Me?  Like all of you, I’ve been busy.  And in order to accomplish everything on my ever growing list of things to do I had to give something up.  That something was this blog.  I had hoped that over the course of a few months I’d be able to pick it back up again, and maybe I can again soon.  But right now it’s just not feasible.

On average I was spending at least an hour a day here writing, editing or promoting… and instead of using that time here I’ve been doing things like reading more often to my kids.  I’ve volunteered.  I also joined a gym.  I’ve tried out new recipes.  I sit and snuggle on the couch with my babies and watch a Veggie Tales.  I’ve been preparing for the next school year (C will be in K4!).  I joined a local home school group.  We’ve had a Thanksgiving supper with friends in June.  I’ve started Christmas shopping.  I planned a Hello Kitty birthday party for my sweet four year old.  I’ve enjoyed time with my in laws.  We’ve taken a few day trips to visit new (to us) areas in our state.  I’d like to say I’ve been cleaning more as well but that hasn’t really happened much.😉

The blog wasn’t the only thing I cut out.  I’ve also cut down on the amount I spend on the internet in general.  Facebook, emails, the whole she-bang.  I have 972 unread email messages right now and I don’t even care.  I read the important ones and get around to the rest (or delete them) when I have a chance.

Basically I’m trying to get my priorities in order.  Get all of my ducks in a row, if you will.

Do I miss blogging?  Yes!  I didn’t realize how much until I sat down to write this post.  But for right now, I need to concentrate on other things in my life.  I plan on posting occasionally, just not a few times a week like I had been doing.

So I hope you all have a great summer and I’ll see you when I see you!  Be blessed!

6 Easy Ways to Build a Morning Routine That Sticks

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This is the first post in a new “How To” series.  I plan to add more posts each month so stay tuned!
how to series

I began implementing a morning routine several years ago.  Largely pregnant with my first child, I realized that I needed to have a routine in place in order to get things done after baby arrived.   Aaaaand I think it lasted maybe one day after I got home from the hospital.

But I floundered along — sometimes getting things done and sometimes not.  Hey, it’s hard to stay on schedule when you have a newborn!  And I used that excuse until we moved and I got pregnant with my second child.

I was sick every day all day (who named it “morning sickness” anyway?) and had a two year old to look after all day as well.  Plus the laundry, cooking, cleaning… unfortunately all of that stuff has to get done no matter how bad mama feels.  We had this nice, new house and I enjoyed how it looked when it was clean.  I just didn’t know how to keep it that way.

And so in desperation (and with the help of Flylady) I built another morning routine.

But this time I did it differently.  I didn’t just make a huge list of things I wanted to get done each morning.  I didn’t overwhelm myself by scheduling a new task every five minutes.  I spent a few days to see what I normally did each morning and went from there.

So if you’re floundering, unhappy with your current “routine” — or maybe you don’t have a routine at all — here are six easy ways to help you build a morning routine that sticks:

  1. Give yourself time.  Don’t just go in half cocked trying to change your world.  Give it a little time to figure out what you want and need to get done in the mornings and build from there.  Also, give your new routine a few weeks before you give up and try something new.  Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get in the groove, so to speak.
  2. Keep it simple, sweetie!   If you have an hour to spend on your morning routine, you can’t try and squeeze three hours worth of work in there and expect to stick with it.  You’ll get frustrated and give up.  So save yourself the stress and guilt and:
  3. Start slowly.  Pick three to five things that you want to implement and do those for a few weeks.  When you feel like you have the hang of it, start adding a few tasks.
  4. Write it down.  Put it on sticky notes and hang them on your bathroom mirror.  Add a page to your homemaking binder.  Use index cards, a dry erase board or a plain old piece of paper.  It doesn’t matter what you write it on as long as you look at it.  You’ll find that as time goes on you’ll probably need to look at it less and less as your routine becomes a habit.
  5. Don’t compare.  Just because Suzy Homemaker mops all of her floors every morning doesn’t mean you have to as well.  Don’t try and be like someone else — YOU are the only person that has your life.  You need to do the things that are applicable to YOU, not someone else.  (I could write a whole other blog post on this subject, but for now I’m stepping down from my soapbox!)
  6. Revisions are okay too.  Life has a habit of changing on us — new jobs, additions to the family, added responsibility, etc. — and you can’t keep trying to use a routine that doesn’t work anymore.  It’s okay.  Routines are not set in stone.  If you find yourself in this situation, just start over with #1 on this list and make a new routine!

If there is one more thing I can add it is this:  don’t forget to give yourself grace as well.  There will be days that just don’t go according to plan.  You all know the kind of day that I’m talking about.  When the toilet backs up and floods the bathroom.  Or your baby is sick and you just need to give some extra cuddles.

Those things happen.  Regularly, it seems.  Do what you can and pick back up tomorrow.  It’ll still be there.:)

And while I firmly believe that each person should have their own routine, I know when I was first starting out I was looking for someone to give me a guideline — some sort of base to start from so I could see how “everyone else” was doing it.  You know, the “normal” people.  (As if there even is such a thing. :))

So here is my morning routine.  I have found that I do better if I do everything in threes.  It just works for me and I remember it easier.

1.  Wake up, make bed, get dressed.
2.  Drink water, read Bible, make coffee.
3.  Empty dishwasher, make breakfast, wake up kids (if they aren’t already awake).
4.  Eat breakfast, morning chores with C, my morning chores.
5.  Reading (or play) time, J nap, C homeschool time.

Your routine may look nothing like this.  That’s okay!  Do what works for you!

All I know is this:  my life runs so much smoother if I have routines in place.  I’m more productive, better organized, and happier.  I don’t run around in circles flitting from one job to the next — never accomplishing anything — and I don’t waste time wondering what I need to be doing.  It’s all written down in my homemaking binder waiting for me to check it off and go to the next thing!

You know what routines give me?  Peace and stability.  And I can always use some peace and stability.  :)

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