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Sunday, September 21, 2014

What I'm Reading...

We had some excitement this week, when the wood cabinet warehouse across the street caught fire.  The boys were thrilled to watch several fire trucks come to put the fire out.  Luckily, no one was hurt!

I actually didn't get a lot of blog reading done this week.  Between school, food prep, and a wedding this weekend, I just ran out of time.  Still, there were a few good ones that I managed to find.

Use For Apple Peels.  This might come in handy if we end up going apple picking.  I'd like to do that and make a bunch of applesauce.  Now I have something to do with the peels too! (Little House Living)

Why Memorize Scripture? I know the point of this post was about memorizing Bible passages, which is awesome, but all the talk about memorized piano pieces from years ago made me happy too. (Holy Hen House)

3 Things To Declutter When You're Finished Decluttering. Good advice for if and when I ever feel done...(Organizing Junkie)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Using The Dishwasher Helped Me Change My Perspective

I have had a dishwasher for the past two years.  Before last week, I could count on one hand the number of times I actually used said dishwasher.  And before you think I'm crazy, I'll add a little bit more.  Doing the dishes is one of my least favorite chores, second only to cleaning bathrooms.

So why didn't I use the dishwasher more often?  I think a lot of it is that my mom, who likes doing dishes, rarely uses hers.  I grew very accustomed to seeing her finish dinner and go right into doing the dishes, so that's what I've always done.  And for a long time, there weren't that many dishes, so I figured it would be just as easy to wash them by hand.

But slowly, we started going from a small sink full of dishes to overflow on the counters and stove, to the point where I was washing dishes twice a day just to keep up.  Not fun.

I've felt really busy lately, like I have way more to do than I have time.  And Elizabeth isn't even born yet.  I know how life with a newborn is.  I can only imagine what life with a newborn and three other kids will be.  Plus homeschooling, cooking food, cleaning occasionally, and keeping up with church activities.  There's already too much on my plate.  My metaphorical plate of course.  Never mind the one in the sink.

I knew something needed to go.  So I started to evaluate.  I can't give up playing organ; I'm the only person who plays.  I can't stop cooking food; my family might revolt after about three hours.  I needed to save some time.  And so, as I was scrubbing yet another pot at the sink, it hit me.  Use the dishwasher.

Does it magically take all my busy-ness and stress away?  No. Not even close.  But aside from the rinsing and loading, which I don't mind that much, it saves me time.  It's one less thing I have to worry about.  And as a bonus, by loading dishes after every meal, I don't have cluttered counters or an overflowing sink.  Visual clutter gets to me, so anything that helps with that is wonderful.

I still have to hand wash a few things at the end of the day.  But what once took a long time now only takes a few minutes.  So this has me thinking: what other things have I been doing differently than I need to?  Where else can I save myself time and sanity? Just because I've always done things one way, doesn't mean I need to keep doing them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quick Project: Organizing My Side Table

One area of our house that I have claimed as my own is this side table next to the couch.  It's kind of my command center for hobbies, devotions, homeschool planning, and whatnot.  And it was kind of a mess.

Before:
 
Here's how it looked a few weeks ago.  Pretty typical, stacks of books and stuff, with overflow onto the couch.

Middle:
In the middle, a week or so later, not much had changed, except a few of the books got switched out for new ones.  Also, my devotion book always ends up near the bottom of the stack, which is a minor annoyance when I want to pull it out at night.  And I usually knock some of the books down when I turn the light on.  One of the big rules of organizing is to look at how things work well (or don't) and fix the problems.

End:
Okay, so not too much has changed.  But I put away some of the extra stuff, got my book stack down to one pile of to-be-read books, and my devotion book has its own spot so I shouldn't run into issues there any more!  Also, my red bag on the floor, which keeps migrating slowly around the table in these pictures, is a blanket that I'm knitting.  I work on that at night while Jesse and I watch random tv shows on Amazon (currently watching season 2 of The Wire, which is not as good as season 1).

And the green bin is library books that fit with our homeschool studies for the week.  More about that in a post later this week!  What quick organizing projects have you done lately?

Menu Plan September 16-30

I went shopping on Sunday afternoon.  It was nice, because I got the luxury of going by myself, but it was crazy hectic, because everyone shops on the weekends.  I like shopping on weekday mornings much better.  The good news is that I'm on track to be under budget this month!  Yay!  I haven't been for the past few months, but I've been very intentional about it this month and it's working.

Tuesday, September 16
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: BLTs (we have these a lot during tomato season because they're so good!)
Dinner: Gluten Free Spaghetti

Wednesday, September 17
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Crockpot Ham and Bean Soup, Baking Powder Biscuits

Thursday, September 18
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Leftover Ham and Bean Soup and Biscuits

Friday, September 19
Breakfast: Winter Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes

Saturday, September 20
Breakfast: Leftover Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

Sunday, September 21
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Beef and Broccoli
Dinner: Pinto Bean and Ground Turkey Taco Salads

Monday, September 22
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions, served over rice
Dinner: Taco Salads

Tuesday, September 23 (Jonah's 5th birthday!)
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Italian sausage
Dinner: Fried Chicken (from the grocery store deli), Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (with gluten free pasta), and Chocolate Cake, at the birthday boy's request

Wednesday, September 24
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Ham, Broccoli, and Cheese
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Thursday, September 25
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Apples, Carrots
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, September 26
Breakfast: Zucchini Apple Carrot Muffins
Lunch: Pizza Smashers (pizza sauce, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, and cheese between 2 slices of bread in our sandwich press)
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Refried Beans (from the freezer)

Saturday, September 27
Breakfast: Leftover Zucchini Apple Carrot Muffins
Lunch: Refried Bean and Cheese Tortillas, Apples, Baby Carrots
Dinner: Crockpot Jambalaya

Sunday, September 28
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover Jambalaya

Monday, September 29
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken Barley Soup, Biscuits
Dinner: Fish Fillets, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday, September 30
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Barley Soup and Biscuits
Dinner: Planned Dinner Out

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What I'm Reading...

It's been a busy, busy week for us.  We had our normal school and daily routines, along with my birthday on Thursday, lunch with friends on Friday, and a few extra meetings and errands to top it off.  Combined with some growing pains with Jonah about having school time before playing, I'm kind of glad the week is done!  Here's what I found to read this week...

Ten Strategies For Staying Motivated Toward Your Financial (And Other) Goals.  These are all really good tips. (The Simple Dollar)

Nursery Decorating Tips From A Mom Who's Done With Babies.  My favorite was the tip about the floors.  You don't realize how much time you spend there until you actually have the kids. (The Happiest Home)

Can Children Still Run Free In 2014.  I think the answer is no."What does it mean about our culture when I am more worried about whether something bad will happen to ME (for letting them go to play unsupervised) than I am about whether something bad will happen to my children?" (The Art Of Simple)

7 Important Things Slate Misses In Its Attack On Home-Cooked Meals.  There's a nice Luther quotation in here that I hadn't heard before, but it describes the role of serving your family really well.  And overall a really good response to an article that I just can't relate to at all. (The Federalist via Life Your Way)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What I'm Reading...

This week we started school!  The boys were very excited to see what I was doing the night before, when I started hanging a few things up.

Two Questions You Need To Ask If You Want To Make The Most Of Your Life. Basic, but good. (Money Saving Mom)

The Four Stages Of Financial Independence.  This reminded me a lot of Dave Ramsey. (The Simple Dollar)

Starting The Year Right. A good reminder for the start of the school year. (Simple Homeschool)

How To Homeschool With Little People In The House.  We're still working on this one.  Sometimes they want to be included, sometimes they want to be distractions. (Vita Familiae via Simple Homeschool)

Our Year Without Groceries.  This sounds really cool! You would definitely need an ample supply of local sources though. (Let's Gather via Money Saving Mom)

When You're Tired Of Being A Stuff Manager And Want To Enjoy Living. I like the description of being a "stuff manager". (A Holy Experience via Organizing Junkie)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

September Goals

With school starting this week, and a lot of other things popping up to take care of, I've had a goals list in my head, but not typed up.  And with how scatter-brained this pregnancy is making me, I should really get my goals written out before I forget them all...

Parenting:

  • Figure out a good order for homeschooling subjects.  We've tried a couple different ways, and there are some subjects that are more of a "fun" time or "break" time than others, so I'm trying to alternate those with the more structured ones.
  • Continue to teach Hannah to use a spoon.  Slow going with this one...
  • Make sure to spend some one on one time with Matthew.  Between Jonah getting school time and Hannah making sure she as the youngest gets her own "mom time", Matthew sometimes gets left out.
Personal:
  • Read three books for fun.  After all the reading I did this summer, three might be an ambitious number unless I really focus on setting aside time for it.
  • Clear whatever doesn't sell on the garage sale sites out of our bedroom by the end of the month.  I can only trip over the pile for so long.
Food:
  • Stay on budget!  The first half of the month is looking pretty good so far.
  • Decide what foods to compromise on and how to do it.  I've been making things like tortillas and crackers from scratch the past few weeks, and I appreciate the cost savings and the health factor, but it takes time.  It makes messes.  It's not exactly fun, especially with everything else I have going on.  So I need to figure out what is going to stay part of the food routine and what is going to have to wait for now, especially with Elizabeth coming soon.
  • Find a good homemade specialty coffee recipe.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to coffees and drinks, and I want to try several to see what's yummy and what's not so good.