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Friday, October 31, 2014

Books I've Read: October 2014

I got on the really long hold list for three books at the library.  And of course, they all came in the same week.  I was able to finish two of the three, and I still have a couple weeks to finish the third, so I should get through them.  I was hoping for one at a time though.

Four by Veronica Roth.  This is the companion book to the Divergent trilogy, which I read early this year and really liked.  I enjoyed that this one gave a bit more depth to the character of Tobias, but I think I would have liked it more if I had read it right away after the other books rather than 8 months later.  Still, it was a quick easy read that brought back some of my favorite YA characters.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I expected to like this book.  I wanted to like this book.  And for probably the first 2/3 or so, I did.  But the ending left me unsatisfied, and a little bit disturbed.  It wasn't so much of a conclusion as I had hoped (is that vague enough to be spoiler free?).  The writing was really good, and the plot was mostly fast-paced, which kept me wanting to find out what happened next.

I think part of my problem was that none of the main characters were particularly likeable.  I wasn't necessarily rooting for any of them.  But I still didn't like the ending.

I am also about 2/3 of the way through Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (of the blog Money Saving Mom), which I have on my Kindle.  It's a good read, and something I think I'll need a refresh on in about 6-8 months when I don't have a newborn and I'm not truly in survival mode.  So far it's been a good reminder of what my priorities are, and making sure to cut things out that aren't as important right now, even if it's hard.

Still to come, The Fault in Our Stars.  Hoping to read that one next week.

Book total for this month: 2 books read. Total this year: 23 books read. My goal for the year is 25, so I should be able to hit that with finishing these last two, if nothing else.  Yay reading!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What I'm Reading...

I realized last week when putting together the What I'm Reading post that I didn't take any pictures that week.  Not a single one.  So when I saw the "One Day" challenge on Instagram (#OneDayHH), a challenge to document all the little details of one day, I knew that was the perfect solution to get back into taking some pictures of life.  It was a lot of fun, and I got several good ones.  The picture above is a sneak peek at a Christmas present I'm working on...

The Five Love Languages Of Homeschooling.  I love the concept of the love languages, and this post does a good job of showing how you can use your child's love language to help with homeschooling. (Simple Homeschool)

Pushing Past The Terrifying Dip In Motivation.  This is definitely where we are with the total money makeover right now, so we might have to try some of the things here to get us back on track. (Zen Habits)

How To Stop Clutter Before It Even Happens.  This post (and especially her description of collecting scrapbooking supplies more than actually scrapbooking) inspired me to do a massive toy and craft supply purge this week.  (I'm An Organizing Junkie)
5 Simple Bible Study Habits.  I think the hardest part for me sometimes is just getting started.  I've definitely used the "I don't have a good devotion book currently" excuse before. (Holy Hen House)

3 Ways Simplifying Might Save Your Sanity.  Another good read about how less is more. (Simple Homeschool)

Worms Eat My Lunch.  Vermiculture is actually something we've talked about doing, but haven't gotten around to getting yet.  (Kitchen Stewardship)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Homeschool: Learning Shapes And Counting

One of Jonah's favorite ways to learn is by using toys.
We make our letter of the week with Legos, and we often use cars for counting.  This week we took that to another level by combining counting with shapes.

I used painters' tape to make several of the shapes we have already learned on the floor.  (As far as I know and have experienced, painters' tape does not damage carpet in any way, but please test it out yourself before you make too many lines/shapes)
Then we put the same number of cars in each shape as the number of sides it had.  Both Jonah (age 5) and Matthew (age 3) enjoyed doing this.  Hannah (age 1) enjoyed disrupting her brothers' counting as much as possible and moving the cars.  Afterwards, they ended up playing with the cars and the shapes for quite awhile.  All in all, this was a fun quick way to review our shapes!

I am linking up to Tot School.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I'm Reading...

At The Heart Of Homeschooling. "If our homeschool has any hope for success, I must maintain my heart for my children." (Simple Homeschool)

Pre-emptive Answers To Your Questions About My Apparent Wheat Allergy.  Having dealt with Hannah's gluten intolerance for several months now, this post made me laugh. (Offbeat Home & Life)

But A Breath.  I can so relate to the "preggo problems" described in this post.  (Holy Hen House)

Holly's Story Of Shedding The Excess Stuff.  I think having every family member pick something to get rid of each day for a month sounds like a good idea. (The Art Of Simple)

My Thoughts On Intentional Free Time (And Why I Don't "Sleep When The Baby Sleeps").  I usually don't sleep when my kids do either, unless I'm really tired.  I'd much rather have a few moments to myself to relax or get something done. (Andrea Dekker)

The Latte Factor: 8 Ways We Often Overspend. I'm much more likely to overspend bit by little bit than all at once.  (Becoming Minimalist)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Menu Plan October 16-31

I got a chance to go through several gluten-free and allergy friendly ebooks earlier this week, so we're trying several new recipes from those (marked with a * below).  They all sound good, so here's hoping they taste good too!

Thursday, October 16
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Out to Eat
Dinner: Cobb Salads

Friday, October 17
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Out to Eat (yes, we went out 2 days in a row.  I'm pregnant. It happens.)
Dinner: Cobb Salads

Saturday, October 18
Breakfast: Eggs, Squash, and Mushrooms
Lunch: Pumpkin Chicken Chili
Dinner: Dinner with Relatives

Sunday, October 19
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Pumpkin Chicken Chili
Dinner: Ranch Chicken and Potatoes Casserole*

Monday, October 20
Breakfast: Eggs, Sweet Potatoes, and Bacon
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Italian Quinoa Soup* (we've never tried quinoa before!)

Tuesday, October 21
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chili, Cornbread
Dinner: Sweet Potato Zucchini Frittata*

Wednesday, October 22
Breakfast: Leftover Frittata/Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Chili and Cornbread
Dinner: Mini Turkey Loaves, Broccoli

Thursday, October 23
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftover Mini Turkey Loaves
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, October 24
Breakfast: Baked Strawberry Oatmeal
Lunch: Sandwiches/Soups from the Freezer
Dinner: Chicken with Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes; Mashed Potatoes (I'll make extra mashed potatoes for the soup for Saturday and Sunday)

Saturday, October 25
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Mashed Potato Soup
Dinner: Mexi Beans and Rice

Sunday, October 26
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Mashed Potato Soup
Dinner: Ground Turkey and Pinto Bean Tacos

Monday, October 27
Breakfast: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Lunch: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday, October 28
Breakfast: Eggs and Leftover Muffins
Lunch: Mini Pepper Nachos with Black Beans
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes

Wednesday, October 29
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Pizza
Dinner: Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

Thursday, October 30
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Southern Chicken Stew and Biscuits

Friday, October 31
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover Southern Chicken Stew and Biscuits
Dinner: Fish and Fries

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Pain, And Waiting, And This Season Of Life

My due date is 42 days away.  Still a little more than a month out, but I am counting every day.  For me, honestly, any time in November would be fine, although I expect I'll make it to Thanksgiving or close to it.

For the past 22 days I have been in almost constant pain.  While I'm sitting down, it's more of a dull ache.  When I stand up, it goes up a couple of notches.  After about 2 minutes, my right foot starts to go numb and I have shooting pains down my entire right side, alleviated only by sitting or lying down.

It's hard.

Today I had a physical therapy appointment, and got a support belt and some stretches to do.  It's only been a few hours, but I can feel a bit of a difference.  I can manage to fold two whole loads of laundry instead of part of one.  I even did the dishes without taking a break.  Such little things that even a month ago were just taken for granted as part of my day.

Whether or not the therapy helps, I'm adapting.  I've learned just how much I can do while sitting down.  All the veggie chopping?  Happens at the dining room table now.  Most of the school work?  The table, the couch, the bed.  And I've actually become better at utilizing the time I have, because I know that when I start to do something, I only have a few minutes to get it done.  And then I take a break.  I go back and forth between a task that I have to stand up for, like getting dinner cooking on the stove, and something I can do sitting down, like writing out my menu plan or balancing the checkbook.

And it hasn't just benefitted my productivity.  I'm starting to give the kids more responsibility.  Instead of doing everything myself, Jonah now puts most of the dishes away.  Matthew can put the laundry in the basket.  Even Hannah helps pick up some of the mass of toys she's gotten out.

These are good things.  And these are the things that are pushing me forward.

Part of me wonders if this is God's way of preparing me for life with four kids.  I know that will be hard.  I know there will be many times when I will question myself, when I will feel overwhelmed with all I have to do.  But then I can think back on these months, of all that I managed to accomplish little by little.  I can give myself the grace to take breaks.  I can (hopefully) be able to move without pain and so rejoice in that movement that even the mundane chores will seem easier because of it.

One more month.  (Okay, one more month plus another week or two).  I can make it, day by day, bit by bit.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Jonah ran his first race yesterday, a mile run/walk.  He even finished third in his age group!  I am so proud of this little boy!  Also, he's already five and he's accomplishing things that I have never done myself.  That is both motivating and frightening to me.

What You Own, You Carry With You.  Much more important than worksheets and facts. (Simple Homeschool)

Why Play Dough Is Important.  I think I need to print this out and stick it in the box with the play dough supplies so I remember as I'm peeling bits of pink and yellow out of the carpet. (The Measured Mom)

7 Beginner's Steps To Gluten-Free Survival Mode.  We did some of these right away, but this would have been a life-saver of a post to read when we first started going gluten-free with Hannah. (Kitchen Stewardship)

A Simple (Powerful) Hug.  I've actually been trying to do this more when my kids get on my last good nerve.  It helps! (Holy Hen House)

Focus On A Few Things You Can Actually Make Happen. "Dream up a few things. Not a lot. Then make them happen." (Life Your Way)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Menu Plan October 6-15

Because we were gone last week, I'm a bit late getting the menu posted for the first half of the month.  While we were at Jesse's conference, we did a mixture of eating out and eating in our hotel room.  I brought the crockpot along for two meals (beef and broccoli and a big batch of chili), and we also bought sandwich ingredients and snacks while we were there.  That helped us keep things a little bit cheaper, and it worked really well!

I made the beef and broccoli mix ahead of time and froze it, so it stayed nice and cold on the way there, and then I just stuck it in the fridge until the next day.  The chili came out of cans.  Easy peasy!

For more on how I menu plan, check out last week's post.  Here's the plan for the rest of the beginning of October:

Monday, October 6
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Fruit
Dinner: Veggie Spaghetti

Tuesday, October 7
Breakfast: Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Salads
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes, Bacon

Wednesday, October 8
Breakfast: Squash Hash and Eggs
Lunch: Chicken Salads
Dinner: Ham and Bean Soup, Easy Cheesy Biscuits

Thursday, October 9
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Ham and Bean Soup, Easy Cheesy Biscuits

Friday, October 10
Breakfast: Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
Lunch: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Ham, Mushrooms, and Mozzarella
Dinner: Chicken, Maple Glazed Carrots

Saturday, October 11
Breakfast: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Mini Pepper Nachos with Ground Turkey

Sunday, October 12
Breakfast: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Lunch: Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Cheeseburgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Monday, October 13
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Chicken Bacon Ranch Mushroom Pizza

Tuesday, October 14
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Egg and Cheese Biscuits

Wednesday, October 15
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Cheese Tortillas, Fruit
Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Jesse had a pastors' conference over in Bloomington, MN, so we tagged along.  Even though I can't walk much with my sciatic nerve pain, we were able to hang out by the Lego store and build a couple times.  The kids loved it!

My Homeschool Isn't Working. Here's a sentence that really got me: "I have been communicating - perhaps not so secretly - that 'school' is this dry, lifeless event full of worksheets that we must plow through." I know I feel this way sometimes, that school is just something to "get through" and to check off the list, and I know it comes through to the kids. (Vibrant Homeschooling)

On Being You.  Being comfortable in your own skin is harder than it sounds. (The Art Of Simple)

The Biggest Reasons You Haven't Changed Your Habits. This post has good advice for making good habits stick by telling you what NOT to do. (Zen Habits)

This Is How I Know I'm A Writer. "This is how I know I'm a writer, because I can't read or watch or observe without thinking about writing." (Gidget Goes Home)

The Importance Of Having A Cheat Day.  I've done cheat days with food in the past, but I never thought of it in terms of school. (Simple Homeschool)

Nested Cards: Extreme(ly Organized) Letter Writing For Your Loved Ones.  This is such a fun idea for when you're not going to see someone for awhile. (Offbeat Home and Life)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Goals Update And October Goals

September Goals Update:
  • Figure out a good order for homeschooling subjects.  I think I have a pretty good handle on the order for now.  I'm still debating spreading some subjects out to an afternoon session, so it may change again.
  • Continue to teach Hannah to use a spoon.  She's still good with me feeding her, and she will occasionally pick the spoon up, but she has no clue how to use it.  We are really baby stepping with this.
  • Make sure to spend some one on one time with Matthew.  We've gotten in some extra snuggles, but I still need to make more of an effort on this.
  • Read three books for fun.  I read two, and I would have finished a third, but I had to return it to the library. 
  • Clear whatever doesn't sell on the garage sale sites out of our bedroom by the end of the month.  It's still there.
  • Stay on budget!  Done!
  • Decide what foods to compromise on and how to do it.  I'm trying to keep track of which meals from our standards take less time and effort to prep, and also just not making things like crackers, because they drive me batty.  Tortillas have actually gotten pretty easy to do now that I've made them a few times, so that's cool.
  • Find a good homemade specialty coffee recipe.  I ended up getting good deals on bottled coffee, plus I got some other coffees for my birthday, so I haven't had the opportunity to test too many yet.  

October Goals:

  • Have patience with all of my children.  This is an ongoing struggle for me, and it's something I've been trying to work on.
  • Figure out where to put clothes for Elizabeth and get the first sizes out and ready to go. Baby month is next month! (assuming she comes more or less on time, of course)
  • Read three books for fun.
  • Keep myself on my self-imposed partial bed rest plan and hope my pain gets better.  I've had really terrible sciatic nerve pain throughout this pregnancy, but it has flared up in the past couple of weeks to the point that I need to constantly take breaks to lie down or I can't move.  It makes life interesting, to say the least.
  • Finish color-coding some of my organ music.  I have been making little highlighter marks in the upper corner of the page for each song so I know if it's good for preservice, postludes, communion, or weddings, so I can quickly find what I'm looking for. 
  • Make a plan for freezer meals for after Elizabeth is born (part will come out of this month's budget and part from next month's budget).
  • Stay under budget! This just needs to be a goal every month.