Friday, August 31, 2012

Faith's Tote Bag For Preschool

Faith is off to preschool in a couple of weeks, and I couldn't find a cute back back.  My mom suggested we get a tote and decorate it, but while at the fabric store Faith and I found some cute fabrics she liked, so I decided to make one!  My first try at sewing a back was several years ago when she was born and I really didn't like how it turned out.  I didn't line it and it was really flimsy.  
This time, I lined it, made it reversible, and used some of that iron on liner to make it stand on it's own.  I am really happy with how sturdy this bag is, it will definitely be able to handle books and she will be able to use it for several years.
We LOVE how this turned out!

And did I mention that it was less expensive than one of those plastic back packs?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Legacy of Light

One of the factors of my decision to put the kids back in public schools again this year was that I want them to be lights for Jesus in their schools (Matthew 5:16 In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.).  With them being in a public school setting, it has made it all the more important to me that they learn all that I can teach them about the Lord, so that they are prepared to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15 But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.).  
Part of our new schedule includes a morning bible verse that we go over at breakfast, we started our school schedule on Monday, even though they still had a couple of days before school started.  I wanted everyone to get used to the new schedule as much as possible before the first day.  Today's verse was Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things with Him who gives me strength). I thought it would be fitting for today.  Our next verse goes along with our character quality of the week, it is John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  We will also be reviewing each verse on the ride home from school.
The other thing that we have begun, is an evening family story time.  Instead of reading whatever Princess or Scooby-Doo book right before bed, we are sitting together at the dining room table and reading a Character Sketch, it' s a collection of stories from the Bible and a story about an animal including all the really cool facts about that animal (the kids say it's like Wild Kratts!).  There are four stories from the Bible and four animals for each character quality. I grew up hearing these stories and learning about these animals, I'm really happy to have these Character Sketches that my parents used with us.  The kids are also coloring the matching page of each animal while I read the story, which they really enjoy.  Because Awana/Youth Group will be on Wednesday, we will be completing one character quality each week, this week's is character quality is Loyalty.
By the end of the year, each of the kids will have a book of 84 pictures of animals that they have learned about.  And we will have gone through 21 character qualities, and memorized at least 21 Bible verses.
See why I'm so excited about this?  
I'm am determined to leave a legacy of light in this world.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Hoot of A Baby Shower

My brother and sister in law are expecting their third child at the end of the month (she hopes sooner!). Stacey is one of these most precious ladies I know.  I have been so blessed to call her my sister, I really love her like flesh and blood, she is just so precious to our family.  
She and my brother have two babes so far that I love to pieces and have them over as much as I can.  Faith and Eliza are so fun to watch playing, they have such a great time together.  Simon reminds me so much of Zach as a toddle, he's so snuggly and sweet. 

I don't think I actually asked her if I could throw her a shower, as much as insisted.  I know they will have two in diapers for awhile and I wanted to help out a little with a diaper shower.  It was a lot of fun, here's what I did.

The doily garland I originally made for Faith's 1/2 Birthday Party, but it worked great for this, I cut large doilies in half and sewed them into ready made binding.  I used my Celebrate pennant garland and mini garlands, that I made to be generic, for just this reason, it works so well for so many occasions.   

The chalk board is a little metal tray I found at garage sale in the free bin, I painted it with chalk board paint, and hot glued twine and a button to finish it.  The little baby shoes were a garage sale find also. 

 My bird houses are found all over my house, they are just the little wooden ones for $1 at JoAnn Fabrics.  I dolled them up a little with twine, moss and paint.  A vintage vase with daisies to brighten it up. 

Wooden cut out letters, 
covered in moss.

Little plastic baby bottle with blue lids, perfect for holding peanuts.  I found the bag of the empty bottles at a garage sale for $1 for all of them.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Acorns, made from nutter butters, Hershey Kisses, chocolate chips and dipping chocolate for "glue".

Chocolate owls that I made in a candy mold that I found at a garage sale for 25 cents.  They were so easy to make.

Maple leaf cookies, with maple filling.  These I found just like this at Aldi (I love that place!).

My very first trifle!  It is caramel brownies, banana cream pudding, whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs, sliced bananas, then repeat, and top with a good drizzle of caramel.  I was so happy with how it came out, it was YUMMY.
This was my first stab at a diaper cake too.  Not edible, so my kids could not understand why I called it a "cake".  Stacey's nursery theme is owls, hence the owl on top.
I think baby shower games tend to be lame, so I tried to not play those, and picked a couple of fun ones.  Here we are playing Baby Pictionary, really just Pictionary, but with all words relating to babies.  We also played a mixer games, where I pinned the name of a famous mother on each person's back and then each person had to go around and ask everyone else one question about the name on their back until they could guess who they were.
We also wrote messages on diapers for a funny surprise when mom or dad are changing a diaper.

This is the quilt my mom made for Levi, she makes each of her grandchildren a quilt when they are born.  I LOVE this tradition.
This picture didn't come out so good, but these owl prints for the nursery were SO CUTE!  Stacey had pinned them on Pinterest from Etsy, and her mom got them for her, they were even cuter in person than they were on Etsy!
Here's the whole party.  I thought it was a lot of fun, and mission accomplished, Stacey got a lot of diapers!
I hope it helps, I sure had fun with these ladies!

Zach's Angry Bird Birthday Party

My little baby boy turned 6 years old on Friday, I absolutely cannot figure out how that time goes by so fast!  He is such a sweet boy, so tender hearted and loving.  I can always count on him for a good snuggle.  He will still be walking through a room and just out of the blue, say, "I love you, Mommy".  He can definitely melt this momma.  

He prays to his Heavenly Father like I have never heard a child pray, he reads between the lines when he hears a prayer request and lifts it up to Jesus with an eloquence beyond his years. 
 I am truly excited to see what God will do with him as he grows into a man. 
He was looking over my should one night while I was on Pinterest and saw a picture of an Angry Bird's party and decided that was what his party should look like, so I took that and ran with it.  
There is so much out there, I am going to try and post all the links that I used, but if I can't find it again, I apologize!
I really like streamers and balloons and I think they make a huge impact for not a lot of money.  I don't use helium, just your standard, inexpensive, 9 inch balloons in bulk.  The Happy Birthday pennants were sew easy!  I found the Angry Birds font, I have no idea the name of the site, but it was free, and I just Googled until I found it.
It wasn't hard.  
I printed on letter on each piece of colored copy paper (all of which I already had), then I cut the triangle on my big paper cutter, finally I sewed with my sewing machine, all the triangles onto gross grain ribbon I bought at the Dollar Tree.  One spool did it all.  It made a great impact, I think!  The birds on the corners, I blew up on my computer from an image that I found on Google too.
The little labels I placed on the food table and also used for the thank you tags were from HERE.

I opened the saved file in my Paint program on my computer and inserted whatever I wanted on them.  The pencil topped Angry Birds that we gave away for party favors, I got for 79 cents on clearance at Walgreens, that was total luck finding them, I was THRILLED, so were all the kids that took them home!
Right when you came in the door, this is what you saw, Zach and Ethan got this "real life" Angry Birds game for Valentine's Day, so I used it for decorations, along with a collage of pictures of Zach, I tried to make sure there was at least one from every year.  I loved looking through all the photos to find them all.  HERE is the link for the printable invite, again, I used Paint to add my own writing, then I downloaded it to and ordered 1-Hour photos, they turn out nice and glossy and totally professional, in just one hour!  
Angry Bird balloons around the window over one of the tables, 
I printed the faces HERE.
The cake table is an old desk from the garage, and yes, the distressing is real, from years of use!  I thought it was perfect for this.   Vintage Ball jars for holding forks, a white cake plate from a garage sale that used to be bright orange, and a wooden crate also from a garage sale.  The golden egg is on of those paper ones that I painted and it's sitting in a grapevine wreath.
The large Angry Birds that I used are plush and I also go them at Walgreens on clearance for just $2.99 each.  They all make noise too.  I baked the cupcakes and swirled some frosting on top, I thought it was funny how choosey the kids were about which pick they got.  I printed all the picks from HERE
I changed some to the number 6 in my Paint program.

The fabulous cake, I cannot take credit for, my very talented friend, Lynette, did this for Zach.  I am just amazed by her talent!  And it tasted soooooo good! 

For games, we covered cereal boxes in white paper and used a couple of Frito Lay boxes, along with some colored balls, we had kind of a life-sized Angry Bird's game!  The kids loved this!  
It was really fun to watch too.
The older kids set up the boxes after 
the little ones knocked them down.

Papa and Simon 
watching the fun.

Ethan and Zach in the Angry Bird's hats that Grace and Ethan found at the Farmer's Market in KC.  
They were so funny!

My brother Nick and his little guy, Simon.  
Is that boy adorable, or what?!?!

Opening presents.  Zach is like his Daddy, he LOVES cards.  He loves to get them, have them read to him and he wants to keep them FOREVER.  That is definitely unusual for a little boy.

Opening Mouse Trap, his new favorite game to play.  It has less pieces than I remember (which is good), and it is actually pretty fun to play!
Seeing his cake for the first time!
Singing Happy Birthday, then making a wish!
You HAVE to lick the candles.
What does all this get us?  A VERY happy, newly, six year old boy.  
My favorite thing was seeing his face when he walked in the house and saw all the streamers, balloons and other decorations and said, 
"Mommy, I LOVE my birthday!"

Crazy Week!

Starting off, Zach was promoted on Sunday to the Kindergarten class, he was SO EXCITED!  He just LOVES his new Bible and I've caught him just looking through it several times now.  
I had a horrible time getting a good picture of this, I'm still learning my new camera.

In case I wasn't stressed out enough about this week, on Sunday, I got full-blown sick with what everyone else in my house had a couple weeks ago!  Booooo!!!!  But, of course, I don't seem to do anything half-way, so I got REALLY sick.  This threw a lot of my plans and goals for the week out, but I did get everything ready for the parties and even took the kids skating.  I have a BAD habit of not staying down when I get sick too, so I over did it, over and over too.  
We invited Andrea, Josiah and the girls to come with.  I was a hot mess after skating.  
The kids all had fun though, and Zach is begging to go back as soon as possible.
Joy was so great to take Faith with her to limbo.
Exercise went to the wayside this week, with the exception of my awesome skating, which was even synchronized skating with Joy during the couple's skate.  Yes, we were amazing, truly Olympic quality.  Hahaha!  But, we had fun, and laughed, A LOT.
I guess I also did some crazy hard manual labor in "the pit" as we call it, which sounds terrible, considering it is actually a really great sunken in outdoor living room of sorts spot on the front of our house.  We built a pergola over it, but it needs more help.  
The kids named it "the pit" and for some reason it has stuck.  All fall it fills with leaves, and the kids help it along, because then it's really fun to jump in.  Well, since last fall all those leaves have never been cleaned out, so they were rained on several times and it was just generally disgusting down there, so I decided to clean it out Friday before Zach's birthday party (apparently I didn't have enough to do???). 
 Now THAT was HARD work!

I haven't weighed myself for a couple of days, but I had lost another pound that day, I think it was Wednesday?  Anyway, I was giving myself some grace with my crazy week.  But a pound lost, is a pound lost, right?  And my "skinny jeans", you know, the ones that only on a really good day fit, they are now loose and I had to wear a belt!!!!  
I have a tote full of jeans all the way down to Grace's current size of jeans, she actually nabbed a pair out of there, 
I hope to soon take them back now!

I lost Rob to the Olympics this past week, he claims he was avoiding my sickness, so I let him off the hook, and got caught up on some of my shows while blowing my nose about a thousand times, okay, so maybe I really wasn't good company, I'm definitely on the mend now.  I hope to get back in the swing of things this week.  Starting tonight we will be test-running our new school routines.  Grace is already groaning in prime teenager-style about the early mornings. 
I have noticed that I seem to have a "laundry fairy", this week, she is leaving me folded laundry where previously was just piles.  How can you complain about a groan or two when she does things like that?  Grace is truly a precious blessing to me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Busy Week Check In

I have been so productive this week!  It actually surprised me.  I wasn't planning on getting so much done around the house.  I made goals at the first of the week and went above and beyond, that was great.  This week has been successful in most areas actually.  I didn't realize that till I started thinking over the past week as a whole.  I have to say, checking in here once a week has really been good for me.

This week I worked out four times this week, which was GREAT (Yay me!), and I noticed my energy level was up BIG TIME, but I had a hard time in the eating department, so my weight loss was none.  I admit, I was not happy about that.  But, I saw my sister and brother in law today and they said they can see a difference, so that was really nice to hear.

Rob and I were really busy this week, and it started off kind of crappy.  Sunday night we sat down to write out a budget, sadly that is the first time we had ever sat down together to write it out.  It was so hard, and we fought.  I was really upset about it, we recovered the next day, but it was kind of a crappy note to start out a week on.  But I got a really sweet love note TWO mornings this week, gotta love that!

The kids were SUCH a struggle this week, I have decided that I may not be going about this the right way with them.  Rob and I are talking strategy, I will get back to you on that.  Sometimes what works for a bunch of other people, still might not work for you, I think. 

Something that was amazing this week was my time with the Lord.  I mean, WOW, I spent time with Him every day this week, EVERY DAY.  That felt great, I have started this book, "Praying for Purpose for Women" by Katie Brazelton, I am really enjoying the thought-provoking questions, it is really causing me to consider more seriously the direction and purpose God has for me.  In addition, I have been studying the scriptures on my own, and I am just so amazed at the scriptures I keep "stumbling" upon.

I am still thinking on some new goals for myself, I think a little goal for me this week is to have some more goals in writing, with dates by next weeks check in time.  I am finding myself to be more goal-driven than I thought I was, but maybe we all are, and we just haven't tried it yet.

This week is going to be a lot of preparation for the weekend, Zach's birthday party is Friday and my sister-in-law's diaper shower on Saturday, it will be a fun, family-filled couple of days, that's for sure.  I am really looking forward to it.  And I'm sure I will have some really fun pictures to post!  Until then...

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Organized Home?

Here are my ideas for organizing the home, I searched for ideas, came up with next to none that actually helped me, so I have just gone out on my own to create something that I think is/will work for us.  I don't know that I would call us an organized home yet, but I'm trying, and maybe soon I can tell you we are?

This week I have been working on a schedule for the school year, Rob has been wanting this for a long time.  He is a creature of habit, but for him it's a whole different ball game than for most people, he gets dressed in the same order, undresses in the same order and his drawer with his work stuff in it is just so.  For instance, if I were to switch his wallet and his keys around in the drawer, he'd not only notice, but be very irritated.  It's just one of his little quirks.  I, on the other hand am a lot more random.  We always end up being so skitter-scatter during the school year, so this year, I want it to be different.  So this is what we're trying.   For instance...

5:00 Dad-Up/Get Dressed
5:45 Dad-Go to Work
Mom-Up/Get Dressed
6:15 Mom-Quiet Time
6:30 Kids-Up/Get Dressed
7:00 Breakfast/Memory Verse Work
7:30 Leave for School
7:40 Grace-School
8:30 Boys-School
9:00 Faith-School
11:00 P/U Faith
2:45 P/U Grace
3:30 P/U Boys
3:45 Snacks
4:00 Playtime
Dinner Helper-Grace
5:00 Dinner
5:30 Chores/Homework
6:30 Family Playtime
7:00 PJs and Snacks
7:30 Family Story Time
7:50 Prepare For Tomorrow
8:00 1st Bedtime
9:00 2nd Bedtime

Obviously there is variation from day to day, and the thing that stands out to me is that I will be getting up EARLY!  I HATE mornings!  Seriously, you don't understand, I loathe them.  I am really hoping to somehow change that, but I really just prefer to stay up late and sleep late, I am more productive in the evenings than anytime, most days I don't feel like I've really woke up till 7pm.  I HAVE to change that.  Bedtime is going to be earlier for Rob and I, he is very happy about that.  He would be in bed, sleeping by 8pm every night if possible.

I plan to start the early to bed, early to rise "thang" a couple of days before school starts, just to get everyone (mostly me!) somewhat used to it.  Along with my new routine, all of the kids will be doing daily chores.  They have all done something previously, but this is my more organized approach to getting everything done every week, instead of just when I can't stand it anymore.
Load Dishwasher
Unload Dishwasher
Wipe Off Table
Help Cook Dinner

Vacuum Rugs


Quick Sweep Wood Floors
Fold Laundry


Put Away Laundry


Clean Kids Bathroom


Clean Master Bathroom


Clean Half Bathroom


Sweep Wood Floors


Mop Wood Floors


Empty Small Trash Cans


Take Out Trash
Take Trash Cans To Curb


Bring Trash Cans Back To House


Dust Furniture


Pick Up Toys Everywhere
Wash Laundry


Vacuum Bedroom


Laundry Schedule
Monday-Towels    Tuesday-Boys Clothes    Wednesday-Mom & Dad's Clothes
    Thursday- Girl’s Clothes              Friday-Sheets

Both of these are included in my Family Quick Reference binder and soon will be posted on the refridgerater also.  The Family Quick Reference binder looks very much like the binder below, but each family member has a section that includes their school calender, weekly chores list, insurance cards, shot records and medical release forms that are fill in the blank.  This is also where any school newsletters or birthday invitations are kept.  All the school calender and invitation information is also written on the big family calendar on the refridgerator.  

So, now you know, this will be my attempt at better home organization and maybe even bring a little peace to the current levels of cauos?  We shall soon see!
I guess also, while I'm posting some charts and such, I should let you in on my 5-Week Menu Plan that we have been using (and LOVING) since the first of the year.  This system I made, even has a binder!
In case you couldn't read it, this is the current menu that I am working with, I haven't decided if I will change it up in the new year or not. One thing that I will be changing, starting this week is I am swapping Mondays for Wednesdays.  Pizza night on the business night of the week is what seems to work best for us, during the school year, Wednesday nights will defnitely be the busiest.
Week 1
Sunday-Taco Bowls , Chips and Salsa, Corn, Spanish Rice
Monday-Pizza Night
Tuesday-Chicken and Stuffing with Green Beans and Rolls
Wednesday-Spaghetti Pizza, Garlic Bread, Corn
Thursday-Cheeseburger Pie with Green Beans
Friday-Pigs in a Blanket, Carrots
Saturday-Chicken and Noodles, Mashed Potatoes

Week 2
Sunday-Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, Green Beans
Monday-Pizza Night
Tuesday-Beef Stroganoff, Rolls, Broccoli
Wednesday-Salisbury Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, Rolls
Thursday-Lawnmower Tacos, Corn
Friday-Baked Ziti, Garlic Bread, Corn
Saturday- Chicken Sandwiches, Carrots, Baked Beans

Week 3
Sunday-Tater Tot Casserole, Green Beans
Monday-Pizza Night
Tuesday-Chicken Nuggets,  Mac N’Cheese, Carrots
Wednesday-Fettuccini Chicken Alfredo, Garlic Bread, Corn
Thursday-Meatloaf Muffins, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Gravy, Rolls
Friday-Hawaiian Chicken, Hawaiian Rolls
Saturday-Chicken Enchiladas

Week 4
Sunday-Grilled Cheese
Monday-Pizza Night
Tuesday- Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, Green Beans
Wednesday-Bacon Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Carrots
Thursday-Lasagna, Garlic Bread, Corn
Friday-Chicken and Cheesy Rice, Green Beans, Rolls
Saturday-Pot Roast, Rolls

Week 5
Sunday-Chicken Fried Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Rolls, Gravy, Corn
Monday-Pizza Night
Tuesday-Chili Dogs, Tater Tots, Carrots
Wednesday-Burritos, Chips and Salsa, Spanish Rice
Thursday-Chicken Pot Pie
Friday-Eating Out
Saturday-Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Corn

This has really been great for us, I have found my grocery bill to even be lower, I am still couponing, but I am using a slightly different approach now, because I know EXACTLY what my food usage is for every five weeks.  It has cut down on waste too.  Instead of the five weeks following a calendar month, I just roate through the five weeks, if I miss a meal because we have plans to be gone (a birthday party or family's home for dinner), we just skip that meal until the next rotation.  

I have had far less complaints at dinner time and the question of "What's for dinner?" is no longer argued.  I was nervous when I started, because I have failed miserably before at keeping to a menu, but with a little more effort towards preparedness, it has been working really well for me.  
Along with my menu I made the 5-Week Food Inventory and Grocery List that tells me everything and how much of each item that I need for the entire 5-week cycle.  VERY helpful.
For my menus and grocery list, and each of the recipes for each day, having my recipes in one place has been really helpful too.
I feel like the variety of meals in our menu has been key to making this work.  This post has been a little longer than I first thought it would be, but hopefully it's helpful to someone, or maybe now you just know how much I LOVE to make lists, schedules and binders?  Either way, there ya go!