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Monday, September 1, 2014

Menu Plan September 1-15

I made these Vanilla Cheesecake Baked Apples (and pears too, in my case). They were delicious! I may have eaten the entire plate by myself in one sitting...

This past week I also attempted to make tortillas for the first time using this recipe.  It actually went pretty well, and I plan on continuing to do that when we need tortillas, since it's pretty easy and a lot cheaper than buying a pack from the store (plus the ingredients list is a lot shorter!).

Here's the plan for the first part of September.

Monday, September 1
Breakfast: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and Apple Zucchini Muffins (made with all oat flour so they're gluten free)
Lunch: Leftover Mushroom Barley Soup and Biscuits
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Salads

Tuesday, September 2
Breakfast: Leftover Zucchini Muffins
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Salads

Wednesday, September 3
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Homemade Mac and Cheese
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake

Thursday, September 4
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Turkey Bacon Wraps
Dinner: Coconut Chicken Soup

Friday, September 5
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Turkey Bacon Wraps
Dinner: Coconut Chicken Soup

Saturday, September 6
Breakfast: Eggs and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes

Sunday, September 7
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Crockpot Refried Beans

Monday, September 8
Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon
Lunch: Taco Soup, Tortilla Strips
Dinner: Chicken Pasta with Peas (using gluten free pasta)

Tuesday, September 9
Breakfast: Blueberry Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Taco Soup and Tortilla Strips
Dinner: Cobb Salads

Wednesday, September 10
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Cobb Salads

Thursday, September 11 - my birthday!
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Chicken, Black Bean, and Mexi Rice Bowls
Dinner: Cheeseburgers, Sweet Potato Fries, and Black Bean Brownies with Frosting

Friday, September 12
Breakfast: Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Leftover Rice Bowls
Dinner: Chili

Saturday, September 13
Breakfast: Southwest Frittata
Lunch: Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Dinner: 7 Layer Casserole

Sunday, September 14
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover 7 Layer Casserole
Dinner: Chili

Monday, September 15
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Sandwiches, Soups from the Freezer
Dinner: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Biscuits

I took a look at all of the recipes we've eaten lately (plus a few we'd forgotten about) and tried to find the cheapest ones that still fit with our diet nowadays (aka gluten free or gluten free adaptable, lots of veggies and protein).  Since we're trying to save money, I'm really trying to stick with my grocery budget, something I haven't done very well with the past few months.  We'll see how this month goes, but so far we're on track!

I'm linking to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

August Goals Update

My goals were very school-oriented this month, and I managed to get everything ready in time to start!

Parenting:
  • Start teaching Hannah how to eat with utensils. We've started, and she's willing to use them when I feed her, but she has no interest in picking them up herself.  
  • Get rid of Hannah's pacifier. Done!
  • Continue weekly library trips. We go every Thursday afternoon!
Homeschooling:
  • Plan my first 3 Science Units. I planned my first unit, which will take us through September.  I haven't planned anything beyond that yet, but I do have other unit ideas and resources saved. It's just a matter of putting it into my weekly lesson plans.
  • Order my math curriculum and plan the first two months.  I opted to use the free math resources through Wittenberg Academy, and I have the first month planned out.
  • Plan A through D in Letter of the Week. Done! I'm excited to see which activities Jonah likes best.
Blogging:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Hannah enjoying some playing at the park. Unlike her brothers, she's not scared of getting dirty.

Look Up To Someone. I loved the quotation that started this post: "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't." (Becoming Minimalist)

The Preschool Years: Turning Mommy Guilt Into Mommy Grace.  I think I have had all of these questions and doubts over the past month or so, so this was really encouraging! (1+1+1=1)

5 Things I've Learned About Myself As An Introvert.  I pretty much could have written this post.  I sat and nodded through it as I read. (Andrea Dekker)

A Rich Life With Less Stuff: The Minimalists At Tedx. If you want to see a brief talk on minimalism and it's positive effects on your life, watch this video. (The Minimalists)

The Spending That Makes You Happy.  As we work on spending less and paying things off, we've been evaluating what we spend money on.  Some things have been worth it. Many have not. Figuring out the difference is helpful.  (The Simple Dollar)

Kathryn's Release From Social Media Compulsion.  I'd love for this to be my perspective.  It's definitely a work in progress right now. (The Art Of Simple)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Books I've Read: August 2014

There may be an extra book in this stack, because I thought I might get ambitious and read it.  Didn't happen, but I plan to read it during September!  But look, actual paper books!

Eve by Anna Carey. I read this book on my phone using my free trial of Scribd.  This was a pretty quick read, another dystopian fiction story.  Ninety-eight percent of the world has been wiped out by a virus, one that was not really explained well - where did it come from? how did it stop? was it cured, or did the surviving people just hide for long enough that the virus died? Girls are basically made into breeding machines to repopulate the earth, and Eve finds out soon enough to escape.  She started out really naive and by the end of the story she got better, but overall she was a little dumb.  The book kept me interested enough to want to find out what happened in the next two in the trilogy.

Once by Anna Carey. I read this book on my phone using my free trial of Scribd.  Stop the presses! I actually liked the second book in a trilogy the best!  I think a big part of this was that there was a twist in the story about a quarter of the way through that I wasn't expecting.  I love when books surprise me!  This moved the story along pretty well, although there were a few slower parts in the middle.  Overall, a good book though.

Rise by Anna Carey.  I read a paper copy of this book from the library.  This was an okay conclusion to the trilogy.  I kept waiting for something to happen, and it finally did in the last two pages of the book.  I wish that thing would have happened sooner.  (Is that vague enough to be spoiler free?)  This one got a little bit long for me in the middle, and then the end felt really rushed, like the author was just checking off everything that needed to be wrapped up without talking about any of it too much.  Overall, I enjoyed this trilogy though.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  I read the paper copy of this book that we bought from a local bookstore.  I've heard a lot about Dave Ramsey's methods over the past few years, but this is the first time I actually read his book.  We started our total money makeover on 8/20/14.  We are hoping to have our $1,000 emergency fund saved within a month, from leftover money from Jesse's paycheck and from selling stuff around the house.  Right now I'm excited about doing this, and Jesse is too, but I know it will be a long way to the finish line, so I'm glad that this book has success stories interspersed with the steps, because we'll need the reminders during the hard times.

Sugar, Salt, Fat by Michael Moss.  I read the paper copy of this book that I got at the airport on our Paris trip.  I finally finished it! This book was divided into three sections, one for each subject in the title.  Each chapter focused on a specific company or product, while also expounding on problems with the category as a whole.  I liked the combination of stories and anecdotes with facts.  Like in the chapter on Lunchables, in the fat section, I learned that "nearly one in four American adolescents may be on the verge of developing type 2 diabetes or already have it."  Scary facts, but facts nonetheless.

I think one of my favorite quotations was this one though: "There is a class issue at work in processed foods, in which the inventors and company executives don't generally partake in their own creations."  If that doesn't tell you something is wrong with our food systems in this country, I don't know what does.

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I read a paper copy of this book from the library, but I plan on buying my own copy at some point.  (And technically, I only finished the first two sections, but the third is high school, and as of now we're not planning on homeschooling for that)  This has been called the "homeschool Bible" by some, and I understand the distinction after reading it myself.  While this book doesn't say "do this for this amount of time for this year", it does provide several options for curriculum, as well as numerous supplemental sources, plus examples of schedules, examples of methods, and suggestions for how to include different things in the homeschool year.  It also weaves in a basic understanding of what it means to classically homeschool, which is more or less what we're planning on.

I like that this book was broken down into three sections (grades 1-4, 5-8, and high school) and spoke to what should be learned during each period.  I liked that there were several options for curriculum given for each subject/grade level, with enough of a description that you can still control what and how you learn, but you don't have to wade through the endless possibilities that exist from starting an online search when you know nothing.  Overall, this was a really good resource, and one that I'll be re-reading probably every year when I'm planning what to do next.  My only wish is that I had had more time to read, budget, and plan for this year, but I think we'll still do okay, and I have lots of ideas for next year!

Book Total for this month: 6 books read. Total this year: 19 books read.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Who I Am

It was the summer after 8th grade, and my family was taking the Disney World trip down to Florida.  We were waiting at the airport, and I watched her walk past.  Clack, clack, clack.  Her black heels slapped the floor with each confident step, her carry-on rolling behind her, her Starbucks in her hand.  She was calm and ready to take on the world at seven in the morning.  She exuded ease and self-assurance, and I wanted to be her.

Fast forward fourteen years, and here I am.  I am not a successful businesswoman, flying across the country to whatever important meeting or conference is taking place this week.  I am in the midst of baking muffins and changing diapers, reading stories and finding lost toys, planning math lessons and telling Bible stories.  It's not quite the same.

But I do have something in common with the woman at the airport.  It's taken me years, but I'm comfortable in my own skin.

A lot of the lifestyle choices we've made are not the usual.  I'm passionate about feeding my family real food, about teaching my children at home, about the importance of having space in my home and my life.  These ideas aren't for everyone, and it can be hard to explain and defend these choices to people who don't do the same.

For a long time, I've looked at being a stay-at-home mom as "what I'm doing for now", with the idea that there would always be something else to follow.  What that is, I've never been too clear on.  All of the roles I fall into as the believer, wife, mom, chef, financial manager, teacher, helper, maid are the things that fill my life, that make me me.  I've read that you're not supposed to identify yourself by what you do, because if that were to go away, you would still be yourself.  And that's true, I suppose.  But I also think that what we do does define us. It does shape us.

Will I always be the stay-at-home mom? Probably not.  But right now, that's who I am.  I'm not just a stay-at-home mom.  I'm not settling for this while waiting to move on to something else.  This is what I'm doing.  And I really enjoy all of the different hats I get to wear.  It's not a life full of Christmas-card-worthy updates (unless you are excited to hear how many times I've put the books back on the bookshelf today).  But it's my simple little life, and I like it.

One of the things that drew me to this woman in the airport was how sure of herself she seemed.  And while I may not be a career woman jetting off somewhere anytime soon, I do have that.  I'm confident in myself, and in my decisions.  I know what I like, I know what I'm good at, and I'm starting to embrace that my life is not in a state of "for now".  This is my life. This is who I am.  And I like it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A-Z Of Bookish Questions

My friend Wesley posted this trivia list on her blog the other day (go check it out for lots of good book reviews), and I thought it was lots of fun.  I enjoy filling these out and reading them, and hopefully you do too!  Here's your useless Katy trivia of the day...
The books I read sometimes look like this...

Author you've read the most books from: Probably Lisa Scottoline.  Back in high school I read every book she had out at the time.  I know there are several more now.
Best sequel ever: I tend to read trilogies, and I usually don't like the second book.  But I liked Once by Anna Carey (review in my end of the month books post later this month!)
Currently reading: The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer; Sugar, Salt, Fat by Michael Moss, and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
Drink of choice while reading: A good cup of coffee.
E-reader or physical book: I like both, for very different reasons.  I like the feel of an actual paper book.  I like e-readers for their convenience, space-saving capabilities, and the amount of free books that are available. But I've also started using the library weekly again, so there's pros to both.
Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school: Tobias aka Four from Divergent. He reminds me of my husband.
Glad you gave this book a chance: War and Peace. It was a huge task that took me I think 6 months to finish, but it was full of such strong characters.
Hidden gem book: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  I read this in one sitting at Barnes and Noble during my college days, and it stuck with me.
Irritated by: Books that drag out the middle of the story just to wrap everything up in two pages.  Pacing, people.
Just finished: Eve, Once, and Rise by Anna Carey.
Kind of books you won’t read: Smutty romance and 50 Shades of Grey.
Longest book you've read: War and Peace. 
Major book hangover because of: Harry Potter. I definitely wished for that series to keep going when it was done.
Number of bookcases you own: One! And of that one five-shelfer, I have three shelves devoted to fiction, one to non-fiction and photo albums, and two for kid books.  And if you can add, you'll realize that's six shelves - we use the top with bookends too.  But that's our limit!
One book you read multiple times: I don't re-read too many, but I've read all of the Harry Potter books a few times, and the first couple of both the Anne of Green Gables series and the Little House on the Prairie series a few times. One day I will actually finish those series...
Preferred place to read: A coffee shop
Quote you like from a book you read: Live like no one else so you can live like no one else. - Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover, which is fresh in my mind.
Reading regret: I wish I had more time to read! But I also know that I sometimes choose to do other things instead, which I'm working on.
Series you started and need to finish: Anne of Green Gables. I started early this year, made it halfway through book 5, and got distracted by other books.
Three of your all time favorite books: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for the story, Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman for the writing style, and The Seventh Princess by Nick Horn from my childhood (and I still have it!)
Unapologetic fangirl for: Young Adult fiction.  Most of the fiction I read comes from the teen section.
Very excited for this release more than all the others: I don't keep up on new books enough to know what's coming out.  I'm usually years behind, but at least I have the benefit of not having to wait for sequels!
Worst bookish habit: Getting caught up in a book during the kids' naptime, and then continuing to read all afternoon while they interrupt me every two seconds, instead of putting the book down and coming back to it later.
X marks the spot: I have a ribbon and button bookmark (read: kid-proof) that I use most of the time, and I also use a part of a box from a bakery in Paris. 
Your latest book purchase: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. 
Zzzz snatcher book: I can't remember the last time I was bored with a book.  I'm usually pretty good at picking things I want to read.  But if I ever really don't like something, I'll put it down for awhile.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What I'm Reading...

This week we've been reading through Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover, and we're starting at the beginning, with getting our $1,000 Emergency Fund.  That means gathering lots of stuff to sell!  On the right was my first pile, the "easy stuff" to find.  We have so much stuff!

How To Live An Exceptional Life, Even When Life Doesn't Feel Exceptional. "There is a backstory. Practicing and packing. Preparing and praying. Failing and trying again. And again. And again."  The exceptional stories we hear have a lot of work in the background, work that is full of unexceptional details. (The Art of Simple)

Why Today's Kids Need To Know Nursery Rhymes. My mom, who teaches preschool, has told me several times that the majority of her students don't know any of the nursery rhymes that she teaches until they learn them at school. They're important! (The Measured Mom)

Nine Strategies For Fixing Common Budget Problems. Pretty sure we've hit most of these already, and I'm sure some will come up again. (The Simple Dollar)

My Stress-Free Homeschool Planning Method. I do like to have things all set up, but I may switch to a checklist method to try it out after the first couple weeks are through. (Life Your Way)

The Pictures We Hang On Our Walls. "The pictures on our walls invite us to something better. They remind us of a life lived on purpose with meaning. And they call for us to focus on the very things that make us human." (Becoming Minimalist)