Menu Tuesday?

Hi, readers.  I did not post menus over the last two weeks because we were staying with family for a few days during each of those weeks.  Meal planning was a little tricky, so I didn’t have actual menus prepared.  Here is how this week is stacking up:

Monday:  Chicken parmesan

Tuesday:  Pizza

Wednesday:  Steak salads

Thursday:  Chicken and broccoli stir-fry

Friday:  Salmon, “hot potato salad,” and spinach salad

Saturday:  Fajitas

Sunday:  Sauerkraut and Sausage Casserole

A note on Sunday’s dinner.  It’s not really my thing.  I don’t love kielbasa or sauerkraut, but my husband and my kids love both.  At least it looks pretty.  You can see it here.  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/make_ahead_casserole_recipes?slide=17#leaderboardad

Menu Monday

The day is almost over, but I made it back for Menu Monday!  As person who often struggles with follow-through, I consider this a major success.

Last week was vacation Bible school, so the food schedule didn’t go exactly as I had imagined.  A few meals got bumped up; therefore, Sunday’s steak is tomorrow’s dinner.  Here’s the plan:

Monday — Spaghetti and salad

Tuesday — Steak, roasted cabbage, and baked apples

Wednesday — Chicken and veggie pizza

Thursday — Meatball sandwiches and “Mary Salad” (tomatoes, cucumbers, and Italian dressing)

Friday — Spinach salads with chicken, strawberries, and almonds

Saturday — Someone is turning six!!  Birthday party food!

Sunday — leftovers

Our Dog: Worth Breaking the Rules

We are not rule breakers.  I guess you could say Cory and I are pretty straight laced.  We don’t sneak into movies, cheat on our taxes, or pretend our child is under five to get the free kid’s meal.

But we did get a puppy out of wedlock.  While I was living in a college-owned apartment.  Gasp!

That sweet pup became our beloved companion.  Hannah moved with us from our college town to Massachusetts, back to our home state, to Florida, and back to our college town.  She was gentle, quiet, and as low maintenance  as any dog could be.  Being a Labrador mix, she did have a pronounced puppy phase during which she barked at every squirrel and bicycle, and she once ate an entire loaf of bread but left the crusts.  She was a treasure.

This morning, Hannah died.  Her health had been declining, but I still feel sucker punched.  I was not ready.  I’m not ready to not see her first thing in the morning.  I’m not ready to not watch her streak up my parent’s back yard looking incredibly like a racing greyhound.  I’m not ready to miss her barks, her brown eyes, her shiny coat.  I want it to be yesterday again when I scratched behind her ear and told her to be good while we went to Grandma and Papa’s house for the day.

We are not rule breakers, but we took a risk and found a friend.

Miss you, Girl.

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Spring in a new-to-us House

We moved into our new house in November.  That evening, snow began to fall as our family carried in chairs and pillows and boxes and dishes and books and toys and all the things that make a home.  Winter seemed to begin on that day, even though the calendar wouldn’t be in agreement for several weeks.  We did not see much of our yard this winter.  Each time the snow began to melt and the grass peaked through, a fresh blanket would fall.  As spring approached, we wondered what might pop up in our yard.  Having never seen the property outside of fall and winter, we had little more than a guess based on sadly wintered leftovers from seasons gone by.  So…what did we find here?  What new life finally raised from hibernation?

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Spring carries a fun anticipation.  What will pop up next?

 

Easter 2014

I love Easter, especially when it comes in late April.  The parallel between the natural world and the spiritual celebration is a powerful illustration of the day’s deepest meaning.  The world is coming alive again.  With hints of color in our yard, green popping up, dead things falling away as new life sprouts, I am ready to feel the joy of a different kind of resurrection.  A capital R Resurrection. 

We had a rough winter, and the fresh air and sunshine feels like a perfect balm for a very sore spirit.  The story of Christ conquering death is the good news I need.  Everything is a live again–body, mind, and spirit.  It’s an exciting time, and the Easter weekend was the kind of celebrating that we needed.

Here’s a look…

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Room for Learning

Our days are structured around learning, so it is no surprise that the #1 factor in choosing our new house was (for me anyway) the place where we would “do school.”  Now, to be fair, our work happens all over the house, and much of it doesn’t look like school at all.  However, when I saw this sunroom, I envisioned cups of tea, good books, finger paintings, and sunshine.  Here is how our “school room” looks when it is all tidied up and ready to go.

You pass through the French doors to enter the sunroom.  The sweet rocking horse was given to us by the house’s previous owner.  She said that it was enjoyed by her children and made by her sister.  I love having it in our school room.

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We already owned the loveseat, and it fits perfectly at one end of the room.  To give you a sense of the size of our room, it is only a little wider (maybe three feet) than the loveseat itself.

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The big school table is actually a “retired” library table with two big drawers at the front.  I love that it came from an honest-to-goodness library.  We adopted it from a friend, and it couldn’t be more perfect for our purposes.  Bins beneath the table hold our books and supplies.  The wool, braided tote on the radiator holds our percussion instruments.

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The flowered tin is my sticker box from when I was a child.  I still have stickers in it from when I was six or seven years old, plus many new additions.  The little metal buckets are from the Target dollar bin. 

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The wonderful owl puppet was a Christmas gift to our oldest son from my parents when he was four.  He adored it when he was little, and the owl still brings a bit of charming wisdom to our days.  The alphabet puzzle is a Melissa and Doug toy from Aunt Kristy and Uncle Jake.

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We love to use magazines in our homeschool.  We typically use National Geographic Kids and Highlights.  The microscope is a “talking microscope” that we really enjoy.  It was a gift from my in-laws, and it is used very frequently!  The books are ones that we are using currently.  We did a unit on the library.  We’re slowly reading through the Little House books, and you’ll notice our Story of the World (Volume 2) history book and the accompanying activity book, plus some fables and a collection of Beatrix Potter stories, perfect for spring.

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This board is the Everyday Display from Creative Memories.  Unfortunately, it is no longer available, but I’ve seen them on Ebay for good prices.  The board is magnetic.  We made the rainbows  for a unit on refraction and shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.

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I hope you enjoyed your tour of our sunroom.  We love it!

A Change Is Coming

A Change Is Coming

These lovely paper snowflakes were made in a flurry (ha!) of excited activity at the start of winter. We made them as a little homeschool project, and they were a huge hit. As much as I love them, I cannot wait to replace them with some springtime art. We need a good dose of sunshine in these parts.

Grace

“Please remember to give yourself grace if things aren’t just how you feel they should be.”

These are the words sent to me by a new friend in my neighborhood, a fellow homeschool mom and a fellow Christian.  I sent her a word of encouragement via Facebook inbox one day, and she sent me a lovely note in return–saying exactly what I needed to hear on our first day back to school after our new baby’s arrival and Daddy’s return to work.  That was mid-January.  We’re over a month into “normal life,” and it’s been quite a roller coaster.  There have been plenty of high soaring moments–newborn smiles, visits from family, beautiful snow, exciting sled rides, the discovery of fun places in our new community.  But we’ve had lows–sinking, where-is-the-bottom kinds of lows.  We’ve had illness–nothing serious, but when my kiddos aren’t 100%, I’m terribly on-edge and praying for a return to good health.  I haven’t been myself either, and you know the saying.  When mama ain’t happy…

Homeschooling has been rough during this wintery back-to-school transition.  Because I haven’t been feeling great, I haven’t been very fun or creative in my school planning.  We’re covering the basics and waiting (not so patiently) for a break in the weather.  Simply being outside is education in itself, and I can’t wait to explore our new yard and begin a little gardening project.

For now, I’m keeping my friend’s words close.  I am not always generous with myself when it comes to doling out grace, but thankfully, I have a Lord who is exceedingly generous in that regard.

Babymoon

My first three kiddos are summer babies.  They spent the first three months of their lives in little Onesies.  They rarely wore socks, and we took them outside for walks every single day of their brand new lives.  Our current bundle was born on a very warm December evening, but since then, the weather has been mighty chilly.  Such a different experience!  And the whole fact of a newborn in cold-and-flu-season brings out the almost-germaphobe in me.  Let’s simply say that several factors have brought us to being inside a lot, and we are all feeling antsy.

I, for one, am craving the normal run-around of our usual life, but at the same time, these three weeks have been a treasure.  I know why people call the newborn period a “Babymoon.”  It is a period in time that you can never recapture.  It’s a process of falling in love, getting to know a new family member.  It’s a time to close out the rest of the world, trim down responsibilities, and just BE.

As sweet as this time has been, like any honeymoon, the hibernation has to come to an end.  Cory went back to work this week, and we returned to our (modified) homeschool schedule.  The meals from kind friends have come to an end, and I need to get back to meal planning and prep.  This is good progress, and don’t worry; we still have tons of cuddle time.

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Hello, Baby. Hello, 2014.

He’s here!  Our fourth child– joined the family on December 22 at 8:34pm.  He was born at a birth center in a quick, natural birth.  I was supported by my husband, a midwife, a nurse, and a doula named Amy.  We were a good team, and I’m thankful for all the hands that helped to welcome our son into the world.  I deeply wanted to give birth at home (planned this time!), but when we were making decisions about this birth, I didn’t know if we would have a home yet.  Therefore, we planned for the free-standing birth center, and I can now say that it was the next best thing.  The environment was simple and private.  That is pretty much all I need.

And now, I feel like our new life has begun.  For real.  We have our new baby, our new house, and a spankin’ new year ahead of us.  I wanted to share my New Year goals here, but I feel a little silly.  Let me simply say that my goals are specific, measurable, and attainable.  No crazy pie-in-the-sky aspirations for me this year.  I’ve divided them into 4 categories, using the aims of my sorority (Alpha Sigma Alpha) as a framework.  They are Intellectual, Spiritual, Physical, and Social.  As the year progresses, I’m sure that I’ll share little tidbits of my plans and my progress.

For now…feast your eyes on this bundle of Christmas sweetness…

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