Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Slump

Peanut butter and jelly oatmeal and reading for breakfast this morning.

Considering that we only have two more days of February, I think I've done pretty well on making it through the month without my annual slump. The one that I get when we haven't been able to go outside and burn off energy. The thing is, I love winter. I love the cold and being bundled in my sweatshirts. I love the chance of flurries and the possibility of slick roads so we have to stay home. But living where we do, we don't typically have months of this kind of cold. Tennessee is good for a 60 degree day to pop in every few weeks for a bit of a reprieve that helps one endure winter with a bit more ease.

Heavy on the vitamin C.

When I feel the slump coming on, it's time for an easy day.
  • We did lessons this morning and I switched them up so I lots of time to work individually with everyone first thing (getting any schoolwork battles out of the way instead of saving them until later when I would be tired and might give in too easy).
  • We saved our favorite things until after lunch - reading aloud from Story of the World (volume 2) and These Happy Golden Years ("are Almonzo and Laura going to get married or not in this book?!?" ... and I won't answer the question). : )
  • We delivered a meal to a friend this afternoon and the boy and I took a small detour to swing by Grandpa and Grandma's where he got to deliver some cookies to them. So fun to be able to surprise your grandparents when you are a 3 year old boy.
  • We came home and since it was way too cold to play outside, we got a snack, curled up under blankets and watched the first Toy Story movie.
Tonight's Awana so while the kids spend time with other adults that love them and they get a hearty dose of God's word, I'm going to go shop for a one of the girls' little friend's birthday and quite possibly pick up something warm to drink. Back home with kids in jammies, maybe a little more Laura and Almonzo to read if we're lucky, and then everyone tucked into bed with me not far behind after a little hanging out with my favorite person in the world.

A slow day is sometimes the best antidote to the winter slump no matter what the reason on when the season.

I am so very much looking forward to this workshop from @heartofmyhome! #restoreworkshop2014

PS. One of my favorite homeschooling books of all time is Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. This book is out of print, but this winter, she has taken the time to turn a few of my favorite chapters into a six week workshop on both avoiding as well as battling back from burnout for the homeschool mom. I'm very much hoping to participate in this!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Quotes

"Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don't know what to say, when there are no words to say ... But it isn't about perfection, and it isn't about performance. You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you are too scared or too ashamed to open the door."

"The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. Its about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment. Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in the way they need to be fed."

-- Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist

Photo: my next book in my current food memoir reading bent. Free printable from here.

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's On My Plate, Listed

The other day a friend asked me what I have been eating over the last year with all the weight losing and running - what were top five things that I was eating now-a-days and to be honest I didn't have to think terribly hard. A quick scroll through the food pictures that I have taken have shown that I have some go-to meals, especially for breakfasts and lunches. I typically eat what the family does for dinner though I might substitute the starch, if there is one, for an extra vegetable.

In general, I'm eating lots and lots of veggies. Lean meats. Very little dairy. Very, very little carbs. (I miss carbs). Very, very, very little sugar. I can live without sugar. I'm definitely a salty over sweet person.

Anyway, here are five seven things that you will routinely find on my plate.

:: Brussels sprouts. Pan roasted in a bit of bacon grease or Pam spray. (Depends on how wild I'm feeling). Tossed with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

This photo I threw in a chicken sausage with the Brussels.


This one has an egg beater or two added. (Note: I'm not opposed to eggs at all and eat my share of those. However, someone in this house has had the occasional high cholesterol test and we keep egg beaters in the fridge. And, they cook super quick).

Breakfast is better on a polka dot plate.

:: Fish tacos. I buy fillets of tilapia at Aldi's and can pan fry them super quickly while I'm making lunch for the kids. I season them with whatever I find in the front of the spice cabinet - garlic salt, onion powder, Lawry's seasoning, taco seasoning, etc. Throw them in a corn tortilla with some peppers and onions and lunch is done.

It's a fish roc kind of Monday.

Sometimes a little lettuce or shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix is added if I have any around. Maybe a drizzle of ranch dressing.


:: Sweet potato fries. Weekly. I dice my potatoes and flip them with a little Pam and season them heavily with salt, pepper and Lawry's. Roast them in the over on 425-ish for 20 minutes-ish. Watch them near the end - the ones above are a little more done than usual. : ) Cook time depends on how think you cut the potatoes and sometimes I'm lazy (or really hungry) and don't take the time to cut them small. I've also just diced them in cubes, cut up some peppers and onions and roasted all that together. Makes a great lunch for me to take on our tutoring days. (A chicken sausage is a nice addition to this as well).

:: Spaghetti squash. I lived on this stuff this winter. While I made breakfast in the morning, I would steam them in the microwave and then by lunch they would be cool enough to shred and eat. I season them the same way I season Brussels: salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of shredded parm. (Shredded Parmesan + anything = yum).

A day that is stretching and wearing. Mitford, baked spaghetti squash, and 20 minutes of quiet are going a long way towards refreshment.

:: Last summer I survived on pan roasted asparagus. I would be super sad when my fridge would be empty of it! Same seasonings as everything else.

Two days in a row. Asparagus, egg beaters (not because I'm opposed to eggs), and chicken sausage. #pictapgo_app

:: Chicken sausage should probably get it's own listing. I buy the big pack from Sam's and cook up a link with whatever veggie I have in the fridge. There are tons of different flavors and seasonings and it's just the right amount protein. (The one below was thrown in with a scrambled egg). I also make turkey kielbasa with a bit of regularity.

It was 59* when I went to run (at 8am) and I hit another goal. Celebrating with eggs cause I'm crazy like that.

:: The banana pancake. Now that I think of it, I haven't had one of these in a while, but I ate these like crazy the first few months. With a smear of almond butter down the middle - so so good.


:: Bonus: favorite bread. Joseph's brand in flat bread and pitas. Just the right sizes if I want to make a sandwich (because sometimes the sandwich is just easier to tote places!)

This stuff is getting me through a summer of sandwiches. #vscocam

And there you have it. And now I'm hungry. : )

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This post is part of a list-making project called Lists With Friends 2014, an effort to document the year in lists of all types. I love lists and am excited to be taking part of this fun project. : )

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Lesson in Praise from Potty Training (and the Psalms)

I've got a new post up over on the Jelly Telly blog this morning ... a lesson in praise that I've recently picked up from potty training.

It’s easy for a grownup to get down on a child’s level and be excited with them over a big accomplishment. We let loose a little of our inhibitions and joyfully shout “Good job!” when the 3 year old shares his potty training news. Or the 5 year old loses their first tooth. Or the 6 year old takes off the training wheels and rides their bike down the block that first time. How wonderful would it be if we were so free and childlike in our praise of God? If we shouted aloud when God does a mighty thing for us in our lives?

You can click over and read the rest of it here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February Winter Break Daybook

Outside my window...

It's supposed to hit 63* today!! I may have broken out a skirt to wear even though I'll probably be chilly when I go outside. The sun makes me do crazy things!

Giving thanks...

For sunshine. For antibiotics for pinkeye (still trying to get rid of it in some of us). For a couple days of winter break. For girls happily crafting.


I am thinking about...

The faintest glimmers of thought are poking around in my head about next year's school plans. I'm doing my best to stuff the back for a few more weeks! I don't want to wish away the rest of this year too quickly.

In the Schoolroom...

We are down to our last six weeks in CC so it's time for those of my girls that want to test for memory master or memory cadet to get to work polishing up what they do know and working ahead on what they don't.


B and I have added a few lapbook elements into her first grade work and I'm having moments of regret that I didn't start that sooner this year with her. One of those things that got forgotten in my planning. We had a great time working and reading Another Celebrated Dancing Bear. We even made time for tea one afternoon and had brown bread and jam just like the bears in the story.


Truthfully, and just as I expected, my girls were not fans of the strong taste of the brown bread! However, that opened the door for a great discussion on how we act when we go to someone's house and are offered food that we don't care for. And, after that discussion, we broke out some ritz crackers and peanut butter. : )

From the kitchen...

We have had so many evening activities the last few weeks. I have been super thankful that I put the effort into a menu plan this month. I was pretty wishy-washy with what we ate in January ... just the leftover blahs of being tired from the holidays. I've done a much better job this month - lots more veggies on our plates and I've thrown in a few new recipes that have been winners. I haven't had any urge to get out and run of late (shame on me) so having a plan for what I want to eat is even more important or I just graze willy-nilly in the kitchen. Tonight I'm making lawnmower taco ... one of my girls' FAVORITE recipes. (I think someone even asked for it as their birthday meal last year). Super quick and easy.

I am creating...

I finished up two weeks of Project Life last week, and have another one waiting on me in the album. Just need to snatch a few moments to do my writing. Creating a notebook for the last six weeks of CC with all my tutor information (and any worksheets I want my kiddos to do for extra practice). I'm so glad that is something I've added to my prep time this year. It's a little work on the front end, but it was invaluable to be able to hand that off to my sub last week when we had to miss because of eye infections.

I don't ever want to forget...

52 degrees so we bolted for the park!

How excited this little boy is to be potty training. This is not something that I was planning on starting right now, but he was very interested so we jumped on board. He has done really pretty great and we are so proud of him. And, I'm glad that I didn't know that the last time that I bought a box of diapers was probably the last time that I would buy a box of diapers.

I am working on...

Being intentional. Thinking about how much time I spend checking off lists and staring at screens versus playing cards and airplanes and sitting and being still with one another.

I am reading...

Celebrating Presidents Day with a couple days of winter break. We stocked up on craft supplies at hobby lobby this morning and I've got a goal of finishing this book while the girls create to their hearts content and the boy enjoys a rare "school day" mov

After all the reading that I got done in January, February has been slow going. That said, I finished Wildwood Imperium (book 3 in the Wildwood Chronicles) and started Shauna Neiquist's Bread and Wine. I have a feeling that the food memoir may be my new favorite kind of book to read. A book where it is like you are chatting with me over coffee AND your favorite recipes? Yes please! Up next will probably be The Little White Horse for the March Reading to Know bookclub (I'm hosting!) and finishing Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. And maybe starting another C.S. Lewis book. Or one of the many, many others on my list that I want to get to. : ) The kids and I are reading These Happy Golden Years aloud right now ... it's been forever since I've revisited this one and I'm enjoying it immensely.

I am praying...

For decisions that we are making as a family. For a friend and her husband with some big medical needs.

I am struggling...

With exercising! It has just been so cold that I can't get excited about heading out the door in the dark to go exercise before the kids get up. And, I have been managing my time very poorly of late so later-than-normal bedtimes have also had a big effect on the getting-up-and-out-the-door situation as well.

I am hearing...

A movie playing behind me. (It's winter break after all). One of the girls is at the dentist with her dad right now and I'm thinking that when she gets home and we've had some lunch, we'll get outside for a bit. It's going to be in the mid-60s today after all!

Clicking around...

Rest Begins with Acceptance from Sarah @ Amongst Lovely Things
34 Gift Ideas for the Brand New Mama from Elise @ EliseJoy // so fun to read her list as a first time mama and nod and agree
What are We Doing to Our Boys from Circe Institute

Around the house...

Floors are crying out for attention, but I've been on a serious decluttering mission of late and in general, it's not too bad.

One of my favorite things...

Photos. Instagram. Savoring the days and stages of my kids in film. I haven't taken many pictures the last few days and while it's good for me to put the camera down every now and then, when I need a picture and end up scrolling through my files on the computer, I'm always amazed and thankful at the memories we have captured.

A few plans for the next week...

A well-check for a girl. A playdate later this week. A grown-up dinner out with friends.

A photo worth sharing...

These two make me smile. :)

These two make me smile.

Happy Tuesday. : )

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Quotes


By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

-- 1 John 3:16-18

Meditating on this verse this past week as I saw photos of Valentine crafts and treats that we just didn't get to and fighting off frustrations that none of my ideas of special things came to pass. This week was one where walking in deed meant adding potty training to a busy schedule. It meant practicing patience and contentment pinkeye showed up for three of the munchkins and we had to stay home from CC (and a Valentine's celebration) on Tuesday. It meant that my husband took care of something I forgot to do so that the kids and I could get some spontaneous (and much-needed) time with friends on Friday afternoon. It wasn't a week of chocolate and flowers, but one of looking to the needs of others as greater than our own. A lesson I need to learn much more than I need the chocolate. : )

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10 on the 10th :: February 2014

A few smattering of photos from our Monday. Mondays tend to be a favorite day around here. Although it's generally quite busy because we are finishing up work for CC on Tuesday or playing catch-up on the weekend's laundry, we are typically home all day. Those are my favorite.


Monday breakfast. Cinnamon roll waffles for the kids + a smoothie for me. (I haven't been making it out to run at all lately ergo no sweets for me).


Piano practice for this one. She has switched from violin to piano (same teacher) and we are thinking this is a much better fit for her right now. And she's loving it.


A fun Valentine's-y coloring page during our morning read-aloud time. We usually do read-aloud after lunch, but we switched the schedule around some today.


Exploding the Code. : )


Putting together the final touches on her IEW paper for Tuesday.


Labeling and typing. (Note: I ended up doing the bulk of the typing in for her though she usually does it. We were pressed for time today).


Mama needs refueling.


And on to math after lunch.


A few snuggles with the boy.


Pulling our next read-aloud off the shelf. Reading along with the Reading to Know February bookclub; technically they are reading Little House on the Prairie, but we are jumping ahead to the book in the series that we are on.

Monday in a nutshell. On Tuesday's agenda? We are home (unexpectedly) today from CC with a round of pink-eye so our afternoon will include an outing for some antibiotics. B had it over the weekend, and I had hopes that we caught it before it spread but no such luck! Ah, well. Thankful everyone is in good spirits although disappointed we are missing friends today and that it's not something worse!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sunday Quotes (on a Monday)


Funny how these verse always float up when I need them.

Photo: from Sunday morning when I was home with a girl with pink eye and boy that has decided that he may be done with diapers. (!) It's not how I would have chosen to spend my morning, but the sweet time with this two, and the time for me to do some reading (and a little extra laundry) was a pleasant place.

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Thoughts from a Blue Bike

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Last fall was a wild one for us. We kicked off September with a retreat at a nearby family camp and it seemed that the next time we blinked, it was Christmas. There was a one-day a week homeschool tutorial, a one morning per week Bible study, and three girls playing sports (which equaled three to four weekly practices and games between them). There was a husband with a full time job and a decent part (to sometimes seeming more like full) job leading music on Sunday mornings and starting up a church youth band. There was a mama who spent her days homeschooling three girls, doing laundry for an army, wearing out a busy boy, planning and cooking meals, tutoring at the homeschool coop, and working part time for her church. And doing quite a bit of chauffeuring and calendar management to make sure it all fit in. I’m guessing our fall was not so different from many of yours. Busy.

As I’m pondering a year of living intentionally, I have been very thankful that 2014 has started off with a much different look to it. While we can’t say no to work responsibilities because the house payment does need to be made, we have worked on paring down a few of our extra-curriculars for the next few months to give us a little breathing room. So far, it’s been a good thing.
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I just finished reading through Tsh Oxenreider’s new book Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. While her book feels like a memoir of sorts as she weaves tales of her family’s time living internationally throughout the text, her passionate message for living simply jumps off the pages. She shares choices that her family has made for intentional living in several areas such educational choices for their kids, media and entertainment choices for their family, the decision to eat mostly local and/or fair trade food, and many others. She’s passionate about the decisions that her family has made in these areas and enthusiastically shares them in the book.

But the thing I really like about her book?

She encourages the reader to find their own passion. Slow down. Make room in your days, weeks, months to think and pray about your dreams and goals for your family and what direction you want to be heading. And then, she says, “living with intention requires a blueprint.” (p. 197) Put pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) and scratch out a game plan on getting from point A to point B.

I’m a planner and a die-hard list maker. I love to look forward to events, plan celebrations, and anticipate holidays. But where I want to be in the next five years? Or ten? I could stand to spend a little more time on that. And those passions of mine that keep getting pushed to the back while I’m struggling to stay ahead of the laundry monster and the homeschooling beast? Write those down too. Give breath to them and acknowledge that one day, when my kids don’t demand quite so much of me and I have a little more room to breathe, there are some wonderful things that I want to do that I believe God has placed in me. Don’t hear that I’m wishing away the now. I’m not. I signed up for this parenting ride of sleepless nights and sippy cups. But in the quiet moments where I have an extra fifteen minutes, an extra half hour, an evening where a window of time opens, pull that blueprint out and pick one small thing that I can do to step towards that goal.

Intention means an act or plan, so living with intention actually means living with a plan. Making your days, choices, and relationships count toward something ultimately doesn’t matter if you don’t know what that something is. (p. 197)

Thank you, Tsh, for sending me a copy of your book and for encouraging me to keep on with what I’m doing. Slowing down, breathing in life now, and encouraging me as I look to the future to do so with a plan in mind.

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of, second only to coffee with Tsh and getting to know her in person! To learn more about the tour and join us, head here. Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. Even though it sometimes feels like you are swimming upstream, you and I DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy of her book here.

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Project Life ... An Invitation


I am not a big one for promoting sales and such on my blog. But as someone that loves, loves, loves Project Life and how it has helped me keep up with scrapbooking for our family, I feel like it's a shame if I don't at least point out that the neutral / yellow Baby Edition of Project Life is on sale right now on Amazon. This is a really great deal for this big kit!

Last week (I can't remember what we were doing downstairs) but the girls all started pulling out our PL albums from the last two years and flipping through the pages. (Right there ... incentive to keep going on this project after watching the kids look at the pages and reminisce). After they did that for a while, they each reached for their respective baby books, and a certain couple of girls (the two that were born fifteen months apart), both commented on how few pages there were in their baby albums compared to the oldest child and the only boy. Whoops. I decided to take the plunge while these kits were on sale and buy two of them. Before you think that I'm totally crazy, I'm not working on them now. At all. Even though I'm itching to. What I am doing, however, is dreaming of a little bit of free time this summer where I will work on tackling some of each girl's book - printing off some of those adorable pictures that are languishing on our hard drive and getting them in an album so they can look at it. I can't wait.


I really, really, really love this system. (Have I mentioned that before?) It suits my need to play with pen and paper and get photos into albums, but it also makes it much more doable with our life right now. I've been wondering ... would any local friends be interested in little Project Life party? Nothing major, but if you are (or would be) interesting in seeing what it entails, look at the cards / protectors / albums without having to buy anything, maybe we could plan a little something? An idea. And this wouldn't be just about baby albums. Anyone that has any kind of pictures can find something that suits them from the different PL kits and put together an album. I know scrapbooking is not everyone's creative cup of tea, but if some were interested, I could maybe be talked into a fun Project Life night.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday Quotes

Sunshine, coffee, grocery lists and more Skip-Bo. What Saturday morning is made of.

As an adult, my struggle isn’t recognizing the value behind the little things—it’s intentionally setting aside time, energy, and focus to breathe them in, deeply. Sucking the marrow out of life requires that I sit down in the silence, un-entertained. (p. 187)

A more intentional life purposely slows down enough to enjoy the very process of living more intentionally ... Do whatever it takes to increase your sensitivity to the little things in life you wouldn’t otherwise notice, much less savor, if your autopilot setting is hurry. (p. 206)

-- Notes from a Blue Bike, The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

Photos: from Saturday morning. Sunshine, coffee, grocery lists and more Skip-Bo. What Saturday morning is made of.

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.