Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, we certainly did and we managed to stay in town all weekend long, kind of! We had a lot on our schedule as it was the first weekend that didn't bring frosty temps to the Midwest. It was time to scrub down patio furniture after pulling it out of storage, put new sand in the patio cracks and fix any blocks that may look worse for wear. It was a nitty gritty kind of weekend and we were ready for it! The kids knew that they had to work hard if we were to be rewarded and the reward was a dessert party at the Drive-In movie theater to see The Jungle Book and Zootopia! We had already seen the latter but it was still such a good movie that we were ready to see it again! It was all phenomenal and we had a lot of fun! What did you do this weekend?
Now it's time for Menu Plan Monday! I found this spectacular Monday-Weekend pad of paper in the Dollar Spot at Target and figured it was much nicer than having to print something out or the more expensive pads out there! I LOVE IT! It fits right into my planner for grocery day too!
 
Monday: Spinach & Feta stuffed Chicken breasts with Green Beans and a garden salad. Served with Iced Black Tea.
 
Tuesday: Lettuce Wraps & Raw Veggie Platter with homemade hummus (portable for a cross country event and late night) served with Lemon Water infused overnight in waterbottles and strained in the morning.
 
Wednesday: Veggie Lasagna with a Caprese Salad & Iced Green Tea.
 
Thursday: Grilled Salmon and Squash served with a garden salad and Lemon Water

Friday: Couscous Chicken Soup with Homemade Dutch Oven bread

Saturday: Grilling and Bonfire Party

Sunday: Kids have a cross country race and then we will go out to dinner with family to celebrate afterwards.
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wednesdays are for Organizing!

Oh happy is the day when the office supplies comes out. I love to get the highlighters in a row, the pens in a rainbow of colors and the pencils sharpened just so. I enjoy getting file folders and labels, fun index cards and stickers, paperclips and pins, bands and tabs. Office supplies put me into an organizing coma and it was time for one, in fact is was long past time for a day like this. It was time to get organized for our county fair projects for 4H. We already have a lot of our books gone through, marked up and ready to create our exhibits but this was our day to get due dates, judging dates, supply lists and such all set.
The only place to hold a meeting like this is Starbucks. This is the perfect place for the kids to work and not be distracted AND get good treats while we are there too! I have 3 kids and each of the big kids is taking 11 projects and my youngest is taking 6. This makes for a lot of project books, glue sticks and poster boards! This day was spent labeling a file folder for each project, putting in any notes and sketches as well as project books. On the front of each folder we have half for due dates and the other half is for the list of items they will need for their display. On the back of the folder is a list of what is required for that project. 
As we were working and chatting, I starting reflecting on our second year of 4H and how excited we were starting out and how we still remain excited to this day. We have had so much fun getting involved in such an awesome club and even better we have learned so much. My husband has just signed on to coach a robotics team for the 4H this year and he is very excited for what this brings to him. He is a man that works 70+ hours a week and now he is adding this on too? That's just how much we believe and love this organization! Are you or your children or have you ever been a member of the 4-H?
Enjoy every minute my friends!
 

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vintage Buttons Make Me Happy

I collect several things, but none so much as vintage buttons. If I see buttons, I have to have them all. I am someone that sees the buttons on a piece before I see the rest of the garment and have often bought things for the buttons alone and then torn them off, sewn on new ones and donated the unworn piece. Buttons make me happy, be it that they hold someone's history or the colors are so bright, the materials are so different or any other reason, I just enjoy seeing them.
I keep so many in jars that I cannot bear to part with, but I also craft with many of them. Button bracelets are one of my favorite things to make with them along with brooches, rings and of course putting them on clothing!
My children volunteer at our local history museum and this past weekend worked WWI days, where they work as village interpreters of children during that time. Here they are in the 1 room school house. Everything they do MUST be done in that time period, even the lunch and snack they bring. This of course sent mom on a scavenger hunt for the right drinking receptacles and lunch totes. They have been doing this for 2 years now and it has been such a learning experience for not only them but for those of us that go and see them too! Being on the hunt for certain items has led me to many vintage and antique shoppes and that has been so fun for my button addiction!
I was finally able to procure a basket with embroidered napkin for my daughter and a vintage lunch pail with lid for my son. They are using dairy glass jars for drinking and mason jars for their snacks, or they must be wrapped in brown paper.
At this past event, they had several vendors set up and I was able to pick up this super cute bag shown on the bottom left, I knew I loved it straight away but also knew exactly what it needed. I got right to work when I got home and added a line of buttons on the front pocket. Now it is absolutely perfect! This shout-out goes to The Hotsy Totsy Housewife for having such amazing goodies and I cannot wait for WWII days to see what else I will buy from her! The purse & the lunch pail were perfection but I also added on a skirt and wish I had picked up more!
Enjoy every minute my friends!
 

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Sunday School! Post #13

I really need to get better with posting on Sundays for my Sunday School post on the Catholic things we did in our classroom that week, but the weekends have just been insane lately! I still want to share these things and if I waited on them, the one Sunday post would end up being far too picture heavy! So here it is, Sunday School...on a Tuesday! All the other posts in Sunday School can be found HERE! In the photo above you will see a cross that we made out of metal clips. I love crosses as wall d├ęcor because they not only speak of our Faith, but seeing them everywhere is like a reminder that the Lord is always with us. I picked up these clips at Michael's with a 50% off coupon and really had no clue what we would do with them, I just loved them. When I figured that we should try and make something with them, my youngest thought a cross would be fun! After a lot of trial and error we came up with this and I love it. As we were working together, we discussed what we loved about being Catholic and what we still wanted to learn more about. This is a GREAT discussion to have on a regular basis, to see just what changes in and with your kids!
Why have we been so busy? My kids work (volunteer) their time at our local history museum and this past weekend was World War I days. My children dress as village children from that time period and perform different tasks as interpreters from that time. In this photo from my INSTAGRAM account, they are selling ice cream. They don't always work together, but I love when they do, because it makes for some great photos! I try to post daily over there, so feel free to follow me on INSTAGRAM and I will follow you back too!
One of my favorite things that we did this past week was make pendants out of cork from wine bottles! This was so much fun and we got to use up papers that would normally see the recycle bin! We use SETON as our curriculum and I absolutely love it, but one thing I don't like? Seeing all their gorgeous pictures hit the recycle bin as we finish a workbook. I try so hard to cut out the photos, but then my scrap bin begins to overflow and I have to think of what to do with them all...this was the perfect solution! I am even gathering enough supplies to do this with my Little Flowers Catholic Girls group! The full instructions are HERE!
With Divine Mercy Sunday being the Sunday after Easter, we had a lot going on in school but one thing that I absolutely loved doing was making a small chaplet for the kids to keep on their person at all times. It's small and portable, not only to serve as a reminder that the Lord is all around you, but to use in times of nervousness and stress. I like reaching in and praying along with it or even just feeling the cross if I get anxious over something. The beads move as you pray and I have also told the children to use them for keeping track of all the good you do in the day. Make it a point to do 11 good things a day and slide the bead as you go starting at the top (the Our Father bead) and working your way to the cross, which I likened to "working your way closer to God". I really enjoy hands on things like this, which allow us to chat as we work and then to also give them a visual aid once we are through with them.
One thing I speak about often is the need to visit church, even when we are on vacation. I turn this into a fun part of our touring plans as we are seeing a new place that is full of history and going to mass too! This church was in Mexico at the top of a LARGE mountain that had a VERY rough terrain to hike up as well as many wild dogs. This road is very rough on cars and shoes but in the end so worth the breathtaking views and vistas. They are remodeling the inside but what we saw was still amazing and the best part is that mass still goes on, even with the scaffolds and drop cloths everywhere.
Enjoy every minute my friends!
 

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Our Crafty Corner...

 
 The kids and I have been tucked away inside a lot this past week with the cold weather and rain oh and even some SNOW....is this really April or is this an elaborate April Fool's joke? While we have kept up with our reading and board game playing, we have still needed something to keep our hands busy and I figured we would try something out with what we had on hand. I grabbed a couple corks, a knife, eye screws, old magazines and some mod podge, then we were ready to create.
I cut the cork into 7 pieces (depends on how thick you want the pieces) and then let the kids screw in the eye screws into each cork and search through magazines for whatever they wanted on their corks. Optional items are markers and a circle hole punch to color the cork and make cutting easier but they are not necessary.
Some were colored and some were left blank but once the pictures were ready to be put on, they just needed a little modpodge first and then place the photo and then another coat over that. So simple and so fun! We had a blast trying to find pictures small enough and we had a few mistakes, which made the whole process even more fun! All in all, this could be done in no time or you can drag it out even longer! We had so much fun that the kids keep asking me to have some more wine so we can have some more corks! Hahaha! 
Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mexico, My Heart...

Adventure, it's the one word I used as a goal for our trip to Mexico and that is exactly what we got out of it. The kids and I took off alone across the country and then out of the country for nearly 3 months while waiting for my husband to join us mid-trip for a couple weeks. I told myself the entire time that it would be no big deal as I am a stay at home mom that takes care of my kids all day and every day, because not only am I a SAHM, but I am a HOMESCHOOLING stay at home mom...so I am literally with my kids all day and every day! How could this be any different? RIGHT?! The trip began in Dallas for a week before moving on and it was at that moment that I realized just what I was getting myself into!
The first issue was we 100% overpacked...this was only half of our luggage and almost every bag we checked was overweight! Having to lug our books around was ridiculous and that is what led to most of the weight. Before we came back home, I ended up hacking books and workbooks IN HALF to toss what the kids had already worked on and what had already been graded. The work that needed to be sent into our grading people was taken to an Office Max (Thank goodness for SOME sights of home!) and scanned, then e-mailed so that we could toss a lot of paper and weight. To do it all over again, I would go with 70% less and only bring workbook work that we could leave behind. I would buy all clothes and shoes while on vacation there AND we would do all of our text book work for that quarter in advance. Having to lug ALL of this luggage is NO BIG DEAL at an airport where there are carts and stuff like that....BUT I didn't think of the bus stations and the cabs to our hotels....we would need 2 cabs and I either would have to send my kids and some luggage alone or trust a cab driver with my luggage alone without any people....the dilemma was insane and I ended up having to wait  A LONG TIME for large van or SUV taxis or call private cars for help. This was also a pain when it came to getting settled into hotel rooms, we were 4 people in TINY hacienda rooms and then add in 16+ bags?! Yup, we were a mess! Adventure it was!!
 
The goal was at least 6 states in this amount of time and instead we did 8 and countless cities! It was a hellish schedule, but it was well worth our time and insanity. We never stayed anywhere longer than a few days and we were constantly travelling by bus. If there is anything I can leave you with from our story, it is to SPEND EXTA for first class and luxury class buses, they are 100% worth it...NO MATTER WHAT! 4 was the perfect number for most of this travel as I could put the 2 big kids on one end of the aisle and the little guy and I on the other side. We always got to choose our seats and we always went to cities large enough that the buses would run all day, this means that if the next available did not have seats next to each other like this, we would kill time in the surrounding area and wait for the next bus! This was the best part of NOT having a time schedule, just a day schedule and it worked in our favor each and every time. I must admit that I planned this trip religiously with a tabbed, torn apart, falling apart, highlighted, bookmarked and written in guidebook. This book was the BIBLE of our trip and though it was HEAVY, it was what we needed. My trip went almost 98% as I had planned and though we were overwhelmed, we were NEVER lacking things to do. We saw things most locals didn't know about and learned more than I could ever imagine. It was more tiring than our park commando touring schedule in Disney World where we go non-stop from park opening to park closing!
We climbed mountains, we walked miles, we hiked rock hills and every single night we slept like babies. We zip-lined, we whale watched, we took trolley tours and every single day we learned more things than we thought possible our brain could hold. We visited family, made friends, became close than we ever were before and every single morning we thanked God for this experience. It's not every sane person that decides to take their children away from their father and to a country that does not speak English for such a long time, but I am so glad that I did it. The things we said and did were not only amazing, they were life changing. I cannot tell you all enough how many times someone told me that I was creating memories that they would remember forever or that they wish they had the courage to do something like this. I cannot count how many times we were told how lucky we were and I know exactly what they mean. Not only is God 100% the one to thank, but so is my husband that works hard every single day to make all of our dreams come true. I asked him the things he wanted to see and do and made sure that HE WAS THERE with us for those things and then we just worked our schedule around that!
Though we were constantly on the move, we were always together. This meant that my kids and I slept in the same room, spent all day and every day together and ate together....you get the picture right? There was no play room, no friends houses, no upstairs/downstairs...no master bedroom....we woke up at the same time and went to bed together save for a few minutes of planning the next day late at night. It was all kids all the time and WOW, I never realized that even though I was a stay at home mom, how much of a break I got in the day. Going to the kitchen to prep meals or sitting on the screen porch to welcome the morning...there was none of that and though I did start to realize it, I  also saw something else happening. My kids were getting along...all the time! There were of course window seat spats, arguing over who gets the first cup of fruit that the man cuts or who gets the easy rolling suitcase and who gets the one the airline damaged.....but overall they were holding hands, hugging and best of all, they were talking! They would discuss what amazed them that day, they would help one another with their homework so we could get out there right away and they would giggle at night about what silly things we saw...
We traveled so much, I wish their bus lines had frequent rider miles! There was so much to see, I was glad for my guidebook and the maps that were readily available at bus stations. The one thing that many people from home were adamant about was the dangers of travelling to Mexico and let me tell you that I never felt it, not once and I am a 4ft10 woman traversing the country of Mexico with 3 kids all alone, with all of our luggage and backpacks it was obvious we were American, add in the fact that 2 of my 3 kids are whiter than Casper the ghost...and well you basically have signs on us that say we are tourists and are carrying money on us and are clueless....as if the maps didn't give that away! We never once felt unsafe or ill at ease. Were we travelling where the cartel was heavy? No, of course not, but we also did not take Mexico off our list of vacation places just due to what the media was telling us back home. I researched heavily and spoke to locals in each place and felt well informed.
We ended the trip with an all inclusive resort full of tours and delights abound. We chartered a boat to go whale watching and it was an experience that I will never forget, it made me so happy that we were able to show our kids this. We saw a mother, father and their baby and not only was it a bit terrifying as they would breach too close the boat but it was breathtaking. My husband and I had a go-pro and 3 camera between us and yet we found ourselves just stopping and watching. We ziplined in the forests of Mexico and not only was this beyond grueling, it was AWESOME! Our youngest did not want to go AT ALL, but we told him to take it one at a time and we could figure something out....well that did it, he had the most fun of us all!! It was amazing to see their smiles, hear them speak Spanish to the workers and listen to the screams and laughter as they would disappear from view and head down the mountain on a zipline...yes, it was definintely a trip of memories, love and laughter.
I am often asked, if I would do it again and just sitting there on the beach with my toes in the sand, the ocean in my hair and my family by my side, I know the answer...not only would I do it again, but I would go longer some years and for less time others. Next year we tackle Europe for one month but who knows where the wind will blow us after that. I have a true case of wanderlust and I can't say it's a bad thing. If there is only one thing that I pass on to my children, I hope that it is a desire to see more and do more. I never want them to grow roots so deep they are afraid to go, see and do. Never let anything hold you back, because you will hold onto that forever. Are we millionaires? Far from it, but we use our money on experiences, not on stuff. Any trip can be done with any budget, you just have to want it enough. Yes, I would do this again and I wish again was now. It was so hard being away from my husband and partner with these kids, but we spoke every single day in a way that we haven't spoken since we were dating. You know when you talk on the phone about anything and everything just so you don't have to hang up? It was pointless chatter but it was so nice. We would video chat as a family and discuss our days, we would snapchat all day long so that he could feel as though at least a sliver of him were with us and then every night we would talk until our eyes were heavy and maybe a few times we even fell asleep together on the phone. Yes, it was hard but in the end it was so worth it.
Enjoy every minute my friends, because it all goes far too fast.
 

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Menu Plan Monday!

I like to sit in my dining room with my morning tea and look at my wet bar, where I can see my little bit of Mexico splashing into my daily life. I cannot believe how long it has been since we have been there, the weeks flew by here and the months SAILED by there. Why does it ever have to end? So now I sit here doing the mundane tasks that are required of me as a responsible adult and they are no fun!
My Menu Plan for the Week:
Monday: Crock Pot Parmesan & Rosemary Pork Chops with Veggies and a Spinach Salad.
Tuesday: Homemade Pepperoni Pizza served with Carrot Sticks
Wednesday: Build Your Own Salad bar with Italian Vegetable Soup
Thursday: Steak Taco Bowls served with Chips & Salsa
Friday: Dinner out on our way to Archery!
I wanted to share a fun tip that I have shared several times before in previous years but felt it was time for an update! I have kids that not only eat a lot but love to sit in front of the fridge with the door open for what seems like hours and then just eat junk or whatever they can scrounge up. I decided in order to keep my family eating healthy and not throwing away moldy produce, I would prepare every grocery day. The middle shelf in the fridge holds a tray of to-go snacks that are perfect for everyone. I wash and chop everything and then put it in container and bags. The fridge tray gets filled at the beginning of the week and is replenished as needed. This week there are bags of carrots, celery, tomatoes and containers of ranch to go with them. There are jar salads and containers of Italian dressing to go with them, yogurt parfaits, boiled eggs and bags of grapes with strawberries and blackberries. The rules on fridge items are that everyone can grab what they like during snack times (in between meals) and they can only grab 2 items. I also have a basket that changes every few days or so that sits on the counter in the kitchen. This is full of snacks that don't need to be refrigerated and the rule here is just 1 a day. If they choose from the snap peas, pretzels, gold fish or cracker bag, then they can fill a small snack size Ziploc with some and those are found under the bag. The basket is also for snack time only and they must decide whether they want to pick that moments snack from the tray or the basket!
Enjoy every minute my friends! What are you eating?
 

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Sunday School...But On A Monday! #12



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Yes, I am back and Yes, I have been neglecting this here blog! I am so sorry but I have just been so out of it that I needed to unwind and then get back into the groove of heavy scheduling! Being out of the country for a few months can really wreck your schedule, even if we were still doing school daily and keeping on top of everything. The biggest thing that seemed to be the game changer, was having zero internet for most of our trip. It was amazing to see just how reliant I am on something so simple and yet so unnecessary. Coming back has made me want to change a lot of things we do but I also need to find a happy medium. This post should have gone up yesterday but I am realizing that our weekends are still overscheduled! I do have a vacation update post coming that will hopefully post tomorrow or Wednesday!
Our Little Flowers Catholic Girls group meets for Wreath II tomorrow and we are ready to start this new round! The girls had an absolute blast learning everything last Wreath and I know that they are eager to begin again! The first thing I did to prepare for the wreath was to prepare our Memory Verse cards. I like to do this so the girls have them all in one place but also so that they can work on learning them anywhere they go!
Wreath I memory verse cards: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16sHqX3gOkG67rFu8cQzh8Lie1-lrm9WQCxLCiHyPDZ4/edit
Wreath II memory verse cards:
These are the cards that I created, please feel free to use them for personal use, if you are reblogging or pinning, please give credit to my blog. For Wreath II, I shrunk them in my printer to make them cards but I created them bigger for a visual aid during the meeting.
These are our Wreath II Memory Verse cards. They still need to be laminated but we are running a bit behind schedule and I just wanted them done for the meeting. I will go back and do them in the coming days. I find that these verses also work well in our daily homeschool, so I print up some for my boys and we use them in our school as well!
I LOVE that I was able to find these totes at Family Christian for quite a steal! I bought one for each girl in my group and they can use them to transport their books, sash, bible and any miscellaneous items that we use on a regular basis. It's great to have it all in one place and they know just where it is on club day! Autumn hangs hers on a hook in her room, so there is never any confusion!
This is Autumn's bag with the pin that we made during the Getting To Know You meeting. This is a meeting that we hold before we begin learning anything. It is a preparation meeting where all the parents discuss our goals and possible field trips and the girls play Saint games and do crafts in order to get to know one another. Having the bible verses on a binder ring allow them to not only become portable but also allow them to be hung anywhere!
I wanted to share with you a fun game I was able to put together using the Behold Publications Little Flowers Wreath Stickers! I purchased wood discs from Michaels and painted them on both sides, then I put a sticker on each one and sealed it with mod podge. SIMPLE! Now these discs needed to be paired up with 2 of each virtue in 1 bag and they became the most beautiful and fun memory game.
How To Play:
1. Turn all discs on blank side
2. Make a Match
3. In order for that match to be your point, you must recite the memory verse or Saint that displays that virtue. If you choose to mention the saint, you must also share 1 fact of her life.
4. Girl with the most pairs wins and both win because they have learned so much more!
Here is one game tucked neatly into a small pouch to make them easy to tuck into a bag or purse! These embroidered pouches were made by my daughter in a class she took in Mexico. What a great gift for the Little Flowers in our group!
 

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