Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday...Except It's Tuesday

I don't meal plan because it is fun, I do it because it makes my life easier, it helps our budget, and I don't get the "5 o'clock-What-Am-I-Going-To-Cook" blues.

Last week I was a total meal planning slacker.  Our budget and my waistline show it.  But, just like with my diet...every Monday is a new week, except that it's Tuesday.  Let's don't get technical.

I also no longer assign the meals to a specific day because sometimes things come up or just don't thaw out in time!  Of course it would never be because I forget.
Anyways, here goes.

Meatloaf Cupcakes, Corn Casserole, Sweet Peas I got the recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes
1.  Mine looked nothing like those and I used ground beef instead of turkey.
My husband doesn't believe in eating ground turkey and pretending its beef
2. We had "ketchup" icing, but I plan to try the mashed potatoes next time.
3.  I suggest you use the baking cups or be prepared for comments from your husband such as "what are those?"  or "interesting" which translates as strange.  (not that my husband would dare to critique my cooking...)
4.  They were super yummy.  I didn't  have the grated zucchini, but I plan on disguising veggies next time.  
5.  Super Easy Cleanup!

Deep Dish Baker Chicken (topped with fresh roasted tomatoes, then,smeared and slathered with that new Philly Cooking Cream stuff...we received it free in our food co-op.  Served with tri-color pasta and green beans.
Pizza, Fruit

Chicken Melts (chicken salad on bread, topped with tomato slices, onion, green pepper, and sprinkled with cheese, then toasted until bread is crisp) served with fruit and Sunchips.

Chicken Enchiladas, Black Beans and Corn Salad
Black Beans and Corn Salad is a mix of equal parts beans and corn, seasoned with a few tablespoons of your favorite salsa and minced onion!  This can be served cold or warm!

Roma Shrimp Alfredo (sauce that was on sale, fresh roasted tomatoes, shrimp, tri-color pasta)  Served with broccoli

And my favorite....Drum roll please........ Leftover Buffet!

Aa for Astronaut

The inspiration and most of the resources for Aa for Astronaut came from Spell Outloud and their ABC Themes!

I plan on using several of their units.

Check out our week as astronauts!!!

The Saturday before we began the unit, my hubby and I decided to make M his own Space Station Command Center or Spaceship...whatever his little heart dreamed it to be.  Using my idealistic imagination, partnered with my hubby's ability to execute and create most anything, we came up with this....

which turned into this.....

We began the unit by reading On The Moon by Anna Milbourne.

We created this TP Tube Astronaut
from DTKL kids after reading the book, and M played with him all week!

Later in the week we made our own flag...covered in "A"s and stuck it in our play-dough moon...just like in the book!

We also read "The Berenstain Bears On The Moon".
After reading, we went on a Moon Rock Hunt, just like the bears.  I wrote capital and lowercase "A" on some stones, along with some random other letters.  If the "moon rock" had an "A" written on it, M put them in his moon rock sack!

Thanks to Making Learning Fun, we completed the Astronaut Do a Dot.

The  Lowercase "a" craft was inspired by Creativity Abounds.  M was over the moon having his picture in the "a" ship!

M made his own Name Rocket!

We spent a lot of time exploring and playing in his Astronaut Sensory Tub!

 I used black beans from our food co-op for the ground.  I found glow in the dark stars and the Astronaut bubble jar in the Target $1 Spot!  I also found various space toys around the house. (Buzz Lightyear figurines, a light saber, Little People Construction Balls, stones, Toy Story puzzle pieces...)

We completed a lot of independent activities and games from Spell Outloud's Astronaut Printables.

 One of my favorites was the "5 Little Astronauts" game and puppets.  These can be downloaded from the Spell Outloud link above.  M wanted to sing this EVERY day!

We also completed:
-shadow matching
-pre-writing practice (tracing straight, curved, zig-zag lines)
-letter A tracing

Some days we visited the following websites:
Astronomy for Kids
NASA Kid's Club
Dress Me For Space Game

Let's just say it was a BLAST!!!!

Other Read-A-Loud Resources:
Where Does The Moon Go? by Sidney Rosen
The Magic Moon Machine by Jane Belk Moncure
Astro Bunnies by Christine Loomis
Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton
Quack! by Arthur Yorinks

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My HMG Part 2...Let's Do This!!!!

In Part 1 of My HMG, found here, I talked about finally getting my Home Management Guide together.

Having this little notebook has really helped me minimize some of the "crazy".

There is no right or wrong HMG.  It is yours.  You live in your home, so your guide should be what you need it to be.

I am posting about mine to hopefully share some inspiration and encouragement.  Encouragement to get you started.  I have no idea how I ever lived  without it.  Oh yeah, I do remember.  (not good)

Remember, it is a work in progress.  It simply begins with a notebook and some paper.

Let that be Step One:  Find a notebook and some paper and keep it handy.  
I leave mine on the kitchen counter.  Make it a habit to refer to it often, even if it is just to write down a to do list.  Just start using it!  (the notebook and paper that is!)

Step Two:  Write a list of all the areas where you need some mental/paper organization.
Just get them down, you can shrink/alter this later.  Keep this list in the front of the notebook, on the paper.  (Notebook, Paper, List).  When things come up, add them to the list.  My final list looked something like this...
-church: hospitality, bible study, serving schedule  (We had a church luncheon coming up, and I needed a place to list all the things I needed to do to get ready.  I made this list TWICE the week before, but I couldn't find it)
-contacts: family addresses, pediatrician, after hours, important business numbers, church directory
-food stuff: baby feeding guide, random recipes, weekly menu plans
-medical:  med dosages, articles, updated shot records etc.
-random house stuff:  cleaning checklists, shopping lists, m's chore charts
-homeschool stuff: articles, lesson plans, developmental checklists
-calendars: preschool letter of the week calendar, weight watchers calendar, 
-library stuff:  homemade book list, pines codes/passwords, due dates

Step Three:  Start putting things in there, just to give them a home.  
As you come across papers/things you use...put them in the notebook.  Just keep using it, and keep it out where you can see it.

I found a few great resources at The Organized Home.  Click the links below to find printables, you may find useful!!

Step Four:  Create Tabs.  These are what you need them to be.  Mine look like this....
1. Nutrition and Meals (meal plans, cooking tips, articles, nutrition guides, recipes)
2. Health (medicine dosages, articles, updated medical info)
3. Contacts (church directory, Family Yellow Pages (random phone numbers your family uses) Birthdays / Anniversaries calendar)
4. Church (hospitality stuff, discipleship group stuff, bible reading calendar)
5. Household (cleaning checklists, chore charts, blog ideas)

The following tabs are all based on Preschool/Homeschool Needs.
6. Homeschool...main tab for the following tabs (random notes, ideas/tips, websites, developmental checklists)
7. Lesson Plans (preschool simple lesson plans)
8. Calendars (school stuff calendars)
9. Book Lists/Library  (all the stuff to keep me from having to pay library fines

10. BLANK...just in case I forgot something.

Step Five:  Start going through random papers and information that has previously had no home.  Start putting stuff in there!  This is the part that takes time.  Work through this little by little.  You will truly enjoy having a place for things.

Remember, this notebook is always a work in progress.  It is constantly changing and being added to, as the needs of your family change.  It may take you a year to get it where you want it to be.  Or you may be a little more focused than me and only take a month, or a week!    I just urge you to give it a go!  Tell me how it goes in the comments, or if you have been using one of these for a while, please share your tips and tricks.

Happy HMG Making!!

Three Things My Baby Does, That Totally Gross Me Out.

I love Mr. L but here goes....

1.  The scritchy-scratchy sound his fingernails make when he's grabbing his diaper.

2. Seeing him sit like this.  Totally reminds me of the FIRST time I dislocated my knee sophomore year of high school.

3.  Hearing him spit up, while sucking his thumb, and then swallowing it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My HMG....Part 1 Where It All Began

Were you a Trapper Keeper Kid????    Me too!

Ahhh, Lisa Frank.

I remember the crackling of the Velcro as if it were yesterday.   That same crackling that instantly notified your teacher (during rest time/reading time/anytime you were supposed to be doing something important) that you were about to write a note to your best friend. 

I was also obsessed with my Sanrio Pop Out Pencil Case.

This next pic makes my heart flutter.  Wait for it.

Oh, all the organizational tools you could ever need....I mean a magnifying glass!   A pencil sharpener built right in.  Oh the shavings I got in trouble for leaving in my desk!  (I said I was organized, but not that organized.  I think I was a mere wanna-be at this point.)

There was even a place to write your schedule...before I even had a schedule.  I used it to write down our assigned lunch time and P.E.  ...that we had EVERY day.

A moment of silence for each!  So that's two moments.


Why did we love our Trapper Keepers?  It wasn't just because they were covered with unicorns and rainbows and the initials of our BFF's.  It was the fact that they did their job!  They trapped!  They kept!

They trapped all the important things we needed to keep!

Why haven't I continued to trap and keep all of my adulthood stuff? 

Three years ago when I started this Stay-At-Home Mom thing, I came across a blogger that I will forever be indebted to.  Her name is Heather and she blogger-lives at Want What You Have.  I dare you to check her out.  God will use her to change you.  He will use her because she is real.  She doesn't promise to have it all together all the time, because really, who does????  But man she really has it together when she has it together.

Reading her blog was one of the instruments God used to pull me from the dark place of discontentment three years ago.  I was discontent with God's provision for me and my family.  I took it out on our bank accounts, on our home, on my husband.  Basically, telling Him that all He had given me, just wouldn't do. 

But that is another post for another time.  It ends happily, instead of giving me what I thought I wanted, He taught me to Want What I Have not Have What I Want...which is the premise behind her whole blog!!!
Love her guts.

Heather also preaches that being organized absolutely saves you money!!!  I love this post about the things her family doesn't do to save money.

This one was posted yesterday.  Did she know I was blogging about her?????  I love me some organizational tips!

She also introduced me to the HMG  three years ago.  When you visit her blog, click on Inside the Guide at the top.  You will be amazed. 

So back to my question.........
Why haven't I continued to trap and keep all of my adulthood stuff?  I have been meaning to for a while now.

Three years ago, I started one.  It was a notebook with a couple tabs.  Mostly, our contacts, family addresses and such.  I mainly used it when I needed to address a card, invitations, or all our Christmas cards.  I would flip through it for our church contacts and important phone numbers.  I also kept recipes and other helpful tidbits that I didn't want to lose.  It was a work in progress...

Fast-forward three years.

About a month ago, I got serious about this.  I went through one of my overwhelmed spells.  So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I took it out on that binder of mine. 

Now I am just gonna tell ya that my Home Management Guide is NOTHING compared to Heather's.  So don't get your hopes up.  BUT it works for me!

Check back soon for Part Two where I will let you see inside my HMG!
I will show you how I started to get it together SIMPLY, without going out and spending any money.

It has changed me.  I spend a lot less time looking for things.  My favorite part of the HMG is the space to write down ideas, even blog ideas.  Ideas for church, homeschooling, you name it.  I have a safe place to keep these random thoughts...bye bye post-its!!!!!

After only a month, I can tell you that it has made me a happier gal.  I am serious.  It has freed me from trying to keep it all in the noggin!  Cause we all know this noggin filled up a long time ago!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WFMW Library Fine Prevention Plan....How NOT To Keep Your Library In Business!!!!

In the past 3 months I have paid $21 for FREE books.  You read that correctly.

How did I do it?  It was way too easy.

I consider myself to be pretty organized.  I haven't always been this way though, ask my Mama!

It is just that sometimes the old "stick it under the bed" ME comes out.  Usually organizing a drawer will shut her up.

Since we are on a tight budget and I am married to a man who would never let the $21 for free books incident happen......I came up with a plan.  (WARNING!  I know for some of you, this will scream redundant and simple...and yes some of you wouldn't need a plan...or two weeks to make it a habit.)


You will need:
1 library book bag
the sense to keep your due back lists (yeah, the ones they print for you)
a homemade Book List (see below)
contact info for your library of choice

Our library has been majorly furloughed, and their constant changing schedules made me nuts! I am sure their pay cuts made them nuts, so I am not complaining. Still, I had no idea when they were open for me to call and renew books.  And yes, I could go to the "physical" library to do this, but tote 2 kids to do this, in this heat...no thank you!  Whenever I thought to call=closed=adding up fines!

I started fresh.  They had to pry the money from my death grip, but I settled up with them.

Then, I picked the closest library to my house, instead of the one I preferred, thus finding that I actually like the one closest, and my hubby drives by there EVERY afternoon on his way home from work.

LIGHTBULB!!!  Remember when I said he would NEVER let this happen????

Step One:  I found M's library book bag.  I hung it where I will see it often.

Step Two:  I went to the library and made friends with the children's librarian...who wrote down my online password for the 2,000th time.

Step Three:  I taped the password into the LIBRARY section of my HMG notebook.
(a post for another time...but basically a notebook that houses all kinds of info that I would lose or parish without getting my hands on quickly)  I recommend this for EVERYONE!  I will post about it soon!

Step 4:  I KEPT the convenient print out they give you, listing all the books they have entrusted you with in the LIBRARY section of HMG notebook.

Step 5:  I also made a simple book list to inventory the books I need for upcoming units.  This way I can mark if they are in, out, or need to be ordered from another branch and take it with me to the library!  I also have a space for the author/call number.  This has probably been my most used tool for planning preschool!
Step 6:  Mark in my calendar when to call and renew books A COUPLE DAYS EARLY, just in case of schedule conflicts. If you would like a copy of this...leave me your email in the comments.

It has really been pretty easy.  Not all the books have the same due date since my hubby is picking them up as they come in from being on hold.  Because of this, the checking due dates constantly is making me a little nutty but I haven't paid a fine and have enjoyed reading tons of books with my boys!

What is your library plan????  Please leave a comment and share your tips and secrets!