Menu Plan Monday - Week #3

Here is week #3 of my menu plans! Last week went great! I got the groceries in time and so had everything available for the nights I needed it! Also, the new recipes I tried last week - slow cooker lasagna, chicken stew w/ oat dumplings and alfredo sauce - turned out so good! Well...if you can ignore the part where the blender nearly killed me then leaked half made alfredo sauce everywhere but that just adds to the excitemant right?!

Also, you'll notice that there are a couple suppers that I have changed from the 'master plan'. I did this because they were meals that were not used in weeks past so I still had all the ingredients for them and simply could not justify spending money on more food when it wasn't necessary. Anyhow, I added the links to both meals in case you are interested in checking them out!

Monday

B: Toast and honey

L: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Yogurt and Kiwi

S: Baked Chicken breasts, homemade fries and carrots

Tuesday

B: Toad in the Hole

L: Alphabet pasta w/ pasta sauce, corn and banana

S: Chilaquiles Casserole w/ Salad (replacing Tandoori Tofu)

Wednesday

B: Blueberry Pancakes

L: Mini Pizzas, veggies and dip, apple slices

S: Corn Chowder and Rolls (replacing Minestrone Soup)

Thursday

B: Baked Oatmeal w/ Strawberries

L: Soup, Hummus and Pita, grapes

S: Chicken Broccoli Divan

Friday

B: Cranberry Muffins and Banana

L: Deceptively Delicious Mac and Cheese, peas and fruit cup

S: SlowCooker Roast Beef Dinner

Saturday

B: Eggs and Cereal

L: Roast Beef Sandwiches

S: *Pot Luck @ church* (aka undecided as to what to bring!! Anybody have a good hashbrown casserole recipe??)


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Tot School - Reaching New Heights...


Taitum, like her sister, has been a busy girl this week! I am astounded at how quickly she catching on to new things and becoming a 'big girl'! Where did my baby go?! Every minute is delightful though (even the cranky, teething ones aren't so bad when I think of how quickly this stage will fly by!) and I truly love watching her learn and grow!

We spent one whole evening playing dolls! We looked after this sweet little dolly together - I would say what the baby needed and waited to see if Tait knew what to do. I was amazed at how she knew what to do for each thing I suggested! It went something like this: "Tait, the baby is hubgry!" She puts the doll in the high chair. "Uh-oh! The baby needs food!" She goes looking for some play food. (I did have to help her find some in Piper's room.) "Baby is all done! Wash her face off!" Using a cloth I provide she wipes the dolls face, giggling delightfully. "Oh! Baby is tired!" Takes baby to the doll bed. Anyhow, you get the picture! But is was mesmerizing for me to watch my little 16 month old toddling around playing Mommy and knowing just what to do!

We spent time playing with this ball pounder, a hand-me-down from Piper, but it was the first time Taitum had used it (I finally found some of the balls that belonged to it!). As you can tell from the expression on her face, she loved it!

My babies have always had a huge attraction to the computer! I'm sure this is a normal baby thing - wanting to watch what's on the screen and push all the buttons on the keyboard!! For this reason, the girls are rarely allowed near the computer. They always find the one button that will shut down the computer or do something crazy to it! But when Piper was a toddler, I came across Kneebouncers.com. It has all kinds of fun games where all your baby has to do is press any key on the keyboard! Unfortuantely, they are going to start charging a fee to use their games but are supposed to still have a few free games available. 

We did some color matching with this activity. Piper and I rounded up some red, blue, green and yellow items and then gave them to Taitum one at a time to place on the matching color file folder. She needed quite a bit of guidance with this but was a very willing participant. The cutest thing was that when I would say the color she would attempt to repeat it everytime!

This pounding block has been a great learning tool! Not only does Taitum enjoy pounding away with the hammer but she is crazy about putting the pegs back in the holes after I remove them all! Talk about good practice for fine motor skills!


It amazes me how the simplest activities are so intriguing for the kids. Both Piper and Tait spent a long time playing with these stones, a ice cube tray, tongs and a yogurt container. Having tried them and found them too much work, Taitum left the tongs to Piper and happily placed the stones in the ice cube tray with her fingers. Then I pulled out the yogurt container. I had cut a hole in the top but it was small enough that you had to push to get the stone in. Initially, Tait was a little annoyed by this but once she figured it out she got SO excited each time she succeeded! Here is a little video to show you what I mean...

video


Many of the other things we did this week were the same as what I did with Piper. It makes my life easier to plan things they can both do and learn something from! Together they...
Balanced 'snowballs' on spoons and raced to get them in the bucket...

Joined in the cottonball snowball fight (her strategy was to ambush you while driving in circles around you on her princess ride on!)...

Played with our ice sensory box...

Enjoyed the indoor snow play (tasting it brought on some funny faces but how else is one to test just how cold it is?!)....

And helped make snow ice cream!

Taitum's biggest accomplishment of the week was eating a full meal without using her hands once! She knows how to do it but usually tosses the spoon and digs in with her hands! One morning we had cereal and she ate the whole bowl without dipping her hands in once! I am so proud of my girl! 

And this week's trial? Climbing. She has a passion for it. These are the mildest examples since generally there is no time to take a picture, only time enough to run and grab her before she crashes and breaks a bone!
Look at that face. She's loving the adventure! In fact, I found her later on standing on this same rocking stool, balancing as it rocked back and forth! ACK!

And this was when I caught her attempting to reach her favorite perch - that kitchen table in Piper's room! Oh me nerves!

Thanks for stopping by for our Tot School adventures! Its never a dull moment!


Tot School

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I Warned You There'd Be Ramblings!

I came across a post today that was so relevant to how I've been feeling lately. At the end of the day, I feel like very little has been accomplished. I get discouraged because the tub that I promised myself would be scrubbed clean by the end of the day is still as filthy as the moment I stepped in it this morning. The closet I aimed to organize that afternoon is still in shambles. My goal of having a clean kitchen floor is a flop.

The thing is, I don't stop all day long. I take an hour to myself during nap time to sip a coffee and catch up on FB and my blog but THATS IT! So what's going on?!

Thankfully, I have this amazing husband who comes home at the end of the day and draws out of me all the things I did do that day. And as I start to list everything, I become more and more encouraged that the day (or week or month) has not been a loss! Its just that, well, at this stage of the game reading to my girls or playing blocks with them is more important that the cleanest house. My time with them is important!

And the thing is - I do clean! I clean in increments throughout the whole day. I mentioned to Matt about that the other night too. My frustration: if I clean all day, why, oh why, is it still a mess! Ha! He kindly informed me that this is the season we are in. For now, I am in maintenance mode. I need to be OK with that. If we have clean clothes, clean dishes and healthy meals, that is a job well done with 2 young ones swirling around and demanding so much time and attention. All the other things will come with time. Not that I don't clean my tub, organize areas or mop my floors - I do. It just doesn't get done every week like I want it to. I realized that I am my own worse boss. I put way too much pressure on myself. So although I will continue to aim high with my daily goals, I am also going to strive to be content with having done the important things and not be brought done by the "so-called" urgent things in life. Because let's face it - although a perpetually clean kitchen floor would be nice, it really isn't that urgent of a matter. Taking time to cuddle my girls, have a coffee with my sweet hubby - now that's what matters.

I've rambled on long enough. I only meant to share this post - Fighting the Tyranny of the Urgent at Home. What can I say?...Blogging is therapeutic! ;)

P.S. I also read this post - Rock Bottom Mom - and found it very encouraging. Not that I've hit rock bottom, I actually feel pretty great, but some of the tips she gives are helpful, even for just those weeks when things are just not going the way you had hoped!

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Indoor Winter

What a great week we've had! Per usual, I had many activities planned and this week went so smoothly we were able to do almost everything! Thank goodness because with temperatures like -38C there was no way we were going to get outside very much! Come see all the fun we had inside!

I did up a batch of play doh and added some mint extract to it! It smells like winter to me for some reason?! Then Piper and I spent a morning building playdoh snow men. I hauled out our odds and ends craft box and we used things from that to add features to our snowmen - pipe cleaner for his nose, hat and arms, googly eyes, beads for his buttons, ribbon for his scarf and construction paper boots! Pipe had so much fun with this! She didn't want to squish him when we were done (she gets a little attached!) but once I explained thats the way of snowmen - they melt away until you can build them another day - she was alright!

She made a little pet for her snowman too which I thought was adorable!

We had a snowball fight using cottonballs! This was a blast! Who wouldn't like pelting another person with endless 'snowballs'?? I took this picture as I was retreating from a coming onslaught!

Next, we grabbed some spoons and worked at scooping the cottonballs up and spooning them into a bucket...

And finally, we ended this playtime with some races balancing a styrofoam ball on the spoon and getting it in the bucket without dropping it!

On another morning, we worked with these snowman number cards from Confessions of a Homeschooler Letter S Unit. Piper had to put the right number of paperclips on each card. We initially tried using mini clothespins I had bought but that proved way too hard for her. The paperclips were a perfect alternative.

The most important thing was which color paper clip to use! This made the activity way longer than it was supposed to be but it was important to her, so I patiently waited as she dug through the box, looking for just the right color! Oh, to be 3!

We also spent time playing with ice! This was extra fun since we had friends join us that day! I was so impressed with how colorful the ice turned out! I simply added a few drops of food coloring to each container of water before popping it in the fridge and voila! I also gave them spoons to use since that ice can get pretty cold very quickly on bare hands! For good measure, we threw in some Arctic animals and Inuit figurines!

Later that day we had a special snack...

I think Taitum was impressed with how big her snack was! haha! Bigger than her head!

During Tait's tot time, Piper worked on using tongs to transfer the rocks from the bowl to an ice cube tray and a container with a hole in the top. She kept getting frustrated because although she could pick the rocks up easy enough she kept dropping them on the way to the container! She kept at it though and really seemed to enjoy the challenge!

I gave this puzzle to Piper to work on while I was making breakfast one morning. In no time at all she had completed it! I was actually surprised since she had struggled with the one I had given her to do at Christmas. I left it at the table and she did it again multiple times throughout the day! 

She did a fantastic job at finding the colors for these snowmen! She has had a hard time with colors but is finally recognizing them really well! You might notice the one she had to correct (the green snowman) but I thnk that had more to do with being a little over zealous with the purple marker (its her new favorite color, she informs me!).

We read Stranger in the Woods: A Phototgraphic Fantasy this week, too. I love this book! It contains real life pictures of different forest creatures who are trying to figure out who the stranger in the woods is. When they are brave enough to approach him they find a snowman with seeds on his hat for the birds and his carrot nose for the deer! At the end of the story there is a 'recipe' of how to make your own forest friendly snowman. But since our snow was just not very good snowman making material we made bird feeder ornaments instead! 

Then we hung them outside on a tree in our yard! We have yet to see any birds eating them but with the crazy cold weather we've been having I can't blame them for staying away!




Piper tried a new type of activity - snowflake task cards. There are 10 different cards and for each she has to try and arrange her snowflakes the same way they are on the card. She needed some help but did quite well with this overall. I think next time I might put magnets on the back of the snowflakes and do the activity on the fridge since it was hard to keep the snowflakes in their proper place.

We made an 'S' snowman to go along with our letter theme. I plan on using the ABC crafts from Totally Tots but it just seemed like the wrong time of year to be making a snail!

Again, we went to Piper's preschool group at the library and their letter of the week was 'S'! Thus the crafty squid!

We had a snowstorm this week and were able to catch enough fresh snow to make snow ice cream! Piper requested purple ice cream so we put red and blue food coloring in and it made this cool tri color ice cream!
Finger lickin' good!

Haha! She liked the snow ice cream but doesn't deal well with the cold!


Now here is an activity that I think will become a regular pastime in our home during the winter! Indoor snowplay! Piper spent an hour playing right here with the snow and kitchen tools I provided for her! She built castles...

And a mini snowman!

She got so into the snow play! She kept thinking of new tools she needed for different projects. At one point she needed a butter knife. At another she requested the craft things we had used for the features of our play doh snowmen! I love to watch her come up with her own ideas and the places open ended play takes her! I also gave her some warm water to experiment with. I told her to be careful though, asking, "What will happen when you put warm water on the snow?". I was surprised when she answered, "It melts, Mama!" She has been listening after all!


This is the verse we've been working on. Its the Winter song from Songs for Saplings and the printables are from Totally Tots - In My Heart. I'm really enjoying this way of memorizing! I find Piper and I singing this randomly throughtout the day!

That's it for another week! I hope it inspires you to have lots of winter fun even if it is too cold to go outside!

P.S. We did get outside this week...for a whole half hour before we were too cold to have any fun! Thankfully, they are forecasting warmer days ahead!







Best toys for toddlers

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Pure Contentment




Photo by Piper Grey
Editted by Mama
 

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"Jesus Wants the Rose!"

Readng through the Old Testament as quickly as I am, I am amazed at how terrible the people God uses are. I mean, really! They are not even close to perfect! The drama is comparable to an episode of Grey's Anatomy! And their list of screw ups is pretty endless. Ever read the story of Samson?? Go read it now. Judges 13-16... Shocked?? I mostly remembered the censored Sunday School details myself. Then I read this story about this womanizing, blood-thirsty brute. Yikes! No wonder they censored it! In fact, I'm pretty sure most of these OT stories if put on the big screen would have an 'R' rating. They're pretty bad, even by today's standards. And yet God sees fit to work through these flawed, messed up characters to write His perfect plan of redemption.

The wonderful thing is, He still does - "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Reading about all these Old Testament men and women, I found myself comforted by the thought that despite my imperfections, despite being prone to wander from the God I love, despite beng rough around the edges, God still works out His plan for me and through me perfectly. He loves to use the messed up, flawed, hopeless, overwhelmed, unorganized, rash, despairing, don't-have-their-act-together kind of people. He gets the glory and we get the joy!

Then a friend posted this video on FB and I thought it fit perfectly with these thoughts:




Linking up to Mom's Toolbox

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I love motherhood.

We're a smiling family.

I'm a covenant keeper.

I love my husband.

I am above self pity.

I am a nation builder.

Motherhood=Adventure

Worth more than rubies.


“I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether large or small. He wants me to celebrate life ~ the life He has given me.”

~ Sally Clarkson







My Hubby

My Hubby
He's my bestest.

Piper

Piper
She is my compassionate, dramatic, fun to be around 6 year old. She loves to shop, get dressed up fancy and anything else that screams girly!

Taitum

Taitum
She is my goofy, snuggly 4 year old who loves to sing and dance and smile all day long!

Renly

Renly
She is our one year old smarty pants! She does all she can to keep up with her older sisters and to keep them in line!

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