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Safe and Sound~ {Dogs and Bikes}

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Who is still afraid of our dog Sadie?~
Yes, the bitty girls but safe in daddy's arms!!!

AND, who listens to their sisters when they say...
 It's time to learn to ride a bike without training wheels?~
Guess what?
They BOTH learned on a pink bike :)
They begged Scott to take training wheels off our boy bike and he did!
I guess we need another one now...
GREAT job boys!!!

Thanksgiving Two~

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The weekend brought more family to our house for Thanksgiving Two on Saturday.
Evie was SO excited my sister was home along with her family~
{A sweet bond I wouldn't change for anything!!!}

Out tables were full once again~

LOVED having BC here again too~
Such a happy little baby~
 Crawling and sitting up everywhere!
Having my big girls home was the best part of all~
Best thing about Thanksgiving being over...
Won't be long until Christmas when everyone will be home for a longer time!
Bring on December!!
The BEST time of the Year!!!



Through the Years Christmas Ornaments~

Friday, November 28, 2014

At Christmas I am often pretty nostalgic and bring out the many Creative Memories
albums I have made through the years.
One day last week I took photos of all our Christmases past and printed them.
I had also picked up some glass ornaments @ Hobby Lobby
and had planned to let the littles make a craft with them but~
 decided this was a WAY better idea.
I opened the pack and cut a circular template from the tray holding the ornament.
I placed the pattern on the photos and cut about 16 of them into circles.
Next I taped two back to back, rolled them so carefully, and squeezed into opening.
I used a pen to press them out flat~
After adding a little ribbon hanger, I had 8 beautiful
Through the Years Christmas Ornaments for my frame tree!
Inexpensive and easy peasy!!!

Thanksgiving One~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Amelia arrived home Wednesday and Savannah/family yesterday
along with my mom and dad and Thanksgiving One was on~
A kitchen full of love: people and food~
SO much to be thankful for this year...
The first for sweet HollyMei and Ben Curtis.
Becoming grandparents is about the sweetest blessing ever!
Thank you Josh and Savannah for giving us GRAND Love!!! :)
More family on the way for Thanksgiving Two on Saturday!!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Works for Us Wednesday~ {Menu Planning and Meals}

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Menu planning and grocery shopping has never been my strong point SO
the fact that I am even talking about this is major...
kind of makes helps me stay on track.
Savannah has certainly help motivate me to plan and shop accordingly!
Each weekend I sit down with two pieces of paper
to make a menu and grocery list~
{Scott shops at Cosco about twice a month for things we use in bulk}

It's sure not rocket science but makes a world of difference when you are feeding anywhere
between 8-15+ people each week.
{I make my grocery list in the order of the store I shop}

As I plan my menu, I pretty much make the exact same things each week for breakfast and lunch...
only having to figure out my dinner menus.
I also cross through the meal once it is done circling ones we didn't eat
and saved for next week!!!

The biggest tip I can give for lunches and snacks~
Keep your fruit basket full!

The second tip is keep kitchen organized and tidy~
One of the biggest things while prepping/cooking is to put ingredients
away as you finish with them and WASH the dishes!
{Sure makes for a faster clean up when the meal is finished}

I am taking the slack way to share just a few of my favorite recipes.
Basically just snapped  photos from my recipe book~
 This Cranapple Casserole is the FAV thing made on holidays at our house!!!

Spicy Tomato Soup~
1 maranara sauce
1 carton chicken broth
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
~Bring to a boil
* Serve with bread or make a pot of pasta and add some to soup.
Perfect and easy for a cold winter evening.

Cobbler~
1 c milk
3/4 c SR flour
1/2 c sugar
1 stick of butter
~Mix well and sit to side
~Pour can of fresh fruit or can of fruit pie filling to baking dish
~Add crust mixture pouring over fruit
~Bake @375 for 45 min.
*Cool and serve with ice cream!

My family does NOT like crockpot food all that much
and I only use it for making soups, sauces, and occasionally a roast.
The only other thing I love to make it is~

Salsa Chicken~
6-8 chicken breasts (we buy frozen ones in bulk at Cosco)
1 jar of med salsa 
1 taco packet
*Serve as chicken fajitas and NEXT day...
Tortilla Soup!

We sit down as a family for dinner every night and I generally cook from scratch.
I do have at least one picky child and if the menu doesn't work for her,
there is cereal or mac and cheese cup.
Our kitchen is pretty much the heart of our home
and many hours are spent here nurturing, bonding, and filling our bellies.
So even though meals are not my favorite activity,
I do realize how important it is for family to gather
and what better place than around the table!

“Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is.” 
– Irish proverb

Please share favorite ideas about your planning, shopping, meals, and recipes.
We would LOVE to hear what Works for You!!!

Next Week~ Organizing and Decluttering



Cranberry Thanksgiving~ {Silhouettes}

Our VERY Favorite Thanksgiving book is Cranberry Thanksgiving~
Can't you tell from their laughing happy faces?
I found a fabulous video to watch about How they Grow? Cranberries~
Then had a little taste test!

MY very Favorite part of this story is the silhouette page which leads us to make our own.
SO how do I do it?
Tutorial below~
1. Sit child in front of the window and grab your camera to shoot a photo from the side.
(Make take several tries... be sure to shoot close enough so whole head fills the frame)
2. Print the photo onto piece of copy paper
(I print black and white to save color ribbon)
3. Hold copy and black construction paper then carefully cut around the face
(Cut slowly so to get every detail you can)
(I let them glue the black and white copy in their journals)
4. Once cut flip black silhouette to back and completely cover with rubber cement then attach to white tagboard

5. Use washi tape on clothespins to create cute clips and hang on a strand of burlap~

Hang as a beautiful decoration for Thanksgiving~

"The days are long, but the years are short."

~ Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project





Date Day~

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Scott and I had a little impromptu date day~
which ended loving on this precious baby!!!
SO thankful to be a Grandmom!!!

Brain Games~

Monday, November 24, 2014

Found this awesome game for EK~
{SJ loves watching and learning the strategy}
We LOVE Unifix Cubes
and working our brains with the game!!!

Thankful~

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Even though this photo is not the best~
I had to post it because...
We are all SO thankful baby Original is home for Thanksgiving!
{Super thankful when they ALL get here}

New ABC Game~

I ordered this awesome Super Why ABC Letter Game~
and tried it out on Evie first.
It covers SO many skills including the obvious:
Letter recognition, rhyming, sounds, and short words.
In addition, we worked on spinning a spinner, recognizing numbers, counting spaces,
finding correct card, answering question, waiting her turn, and the joy of beating mom.
Planning to play one on one with the 4 youngest to get the rules down 
then move to helping boys play unassisted.
A great game to play every day working on big skills for these little ones.

Mindcraft Crazies~

Friday, November 21, 2014

These girls rock Mindcraft on their Ipads.
It makes me dizzy headed to watch them... vertigo sets in. :O
Also a new Fav is Toca Nature... actually ALL the Toca games are awesome!
Happy weekend!!!



Pilgrims & Turkeys~

Today we read The Story of the Pilgrims~
 While reading the bigger 4 worked on Domino Addition (random)
and the bitties cut and pasted a turkey in their journals.
I found a Thanksgiving Story Bracelet Poem
and each one made their bracelet to wear while I read~
(great color practice for bitties, listening practice for the boys,
and filling in missing words for comprehension for big girls)~
 I also have a Turkey Hand Poem I think I have used every year I've schooled
and thought twice about doing it again but what child doesn't want his hand painted!!!
This was Holly's first time and she was amazed!!!
 This year I let the big girls paint their own hands and the bitties were jealous. :)~
 Pilgrims and Turkeys~
made this Fun Friday a great success!!!
Next week two days on and we are off for Thanksgiving!!!

Evie and a Hole Puncher~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Night before last the littles were out of daylight 
and made a train complete with tickets~
So this morning Evie wanted her chance with the hold punchers
and punched all morning making a whole lot of confetti~
and thanks to a sweet friend's suggestion...
decorated our dinner table.
Such awesome fine motor work all for a great reason.
She was super proud of herself!!!

Ben Curtis Day again~

Yesterday we all went out to spend the day with BC
and he was SO awesome... all over the place and sitting up~
 Favorite thing was the Christmas tree and crawling under the coffee table!
Everyone loved playing with him, holding him,
and holding him!
BC we adore you and can't wait for the next day with you!!!

Works for Us Wednesday~ {Household Chores}

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Benjamin Franklin once said...
"An ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure."
I believe this is super advice when it comes to Household Chores.

An ounce of prevention at our house means...
~everything has a home and when done, put it back
~toys belong to the kids, kids have rooms, toys stay in that room
(I do let them bring toys to living area but have to be playing with them
and can only have one thing at a time... saves a lot of 'cure')
***Plenty of things to do around the house***
~School shelf, drawing, legos/magnaformers, activity cabinet in family room,
closet with home library, and shelves full of art supplies)~
~tidying throughout the day reduces clutter at end of the day
~keep all surfaces clean and clutter free
(sure makes cleaning a lot faster)
~touch things one time... mail (trash or pay pile), 
dirty dishes (put in dishwasher NOT sink), 
shoes (basket for every two people), etc.
Instead of a pound of cure where JUNK is everywhere!!!

Keeping things picked up each day
makes the cleaning time much quicker and more efficient
which Works for US!!!
Procrastination is not helpful at all!

Household Chores: {2 Trains of Thought}
  1. Clean in Segments (a little each day) OR
  2. Clean All at Once
Either way, a schedule can help make this big job a little smoother...
  • Monday~ Declutter and Tidy from the Weekend
  • Tuesday~ Floor: Vacuum all floors
  • Wednesday~ Dust all Surfaces
  • Thursday~ Bathrooms
  • Friday~ Vacuum/Mop Floors if needed
  • Saturday and Sunday~ Clean All @ Once if didn't clean each day
I am not hard core either way 
because different weeks makes for different schedules.
If we are going to be home most every day, I most likely clean in segments whereas if it is a week like last week, I end up cleaning all in one day.
I spend time teaching the littles how to help with the everyday chores 
and for the most part they are happy to help. 

I think sharing the ownership in our living space
helps them feel important in keeping it tidy.
~Teach them expectations.
~Do it right along side them.
~Clean as they finish playing.

3 Zones
~1. Floors: I usually vacuum on Tuesdays for the big floor cleaning. We use a swiffer vacuum on our kitchen floor and hardwoods almost everyday. I only mop every other week unless needed more.
  • I have taught EK and SJ how to use the big vacuum and they most always vacuum the upstairs for me. The boys and little girls take turns running the swiffer vacuum at night after dinner.
~2. Bathrooms: I have a caddy that holds all my cleaning supplies and can be easily carried to each bathroom. The BEST cleaning tool I use is a fillable brush: half vinegar and half dawn dishwashing soap... just scrub and rinse. I also use straight vinegar on my shower doors and strips them clean. 
***Best Shower Idea~ Spray it down and leave it until you are ready for a shower then clean while you are in there... couldn't be easier!
  • The littles are responsible for using a baby wipe to clean the sink when they brush their teeth and dry the counter after they wash their hands.
  • {Baby wipes are your friend! I keep them in each bathroom for a quick clean such as toothpaste in the sink or yuck on rim of toilet} 
  • I also keep clorox wipes behind toilets for times when I need to sanitize.

~3. Surfaces~ Dusting and Declutering: Gonna be honest... I use a swiffer duster and hardly ever pull out the pledge. 
Beds are a surface as well and making them up each day makes for a WAY cleaner room (takes one minute)!
  • The littles love helping with this chore (everyone has their own wand). 
  • We sometimes just put socks over both hands and wiped down furniture too.
  • Keeping counters and sink wiped down makes a huge difference for things being clean and only takes about a minute with a windex wipe.
There was a time when I worked out of the home full time and paid someone to clean my house. 
To be honest, I cleaned before they came and they never met my expectations. 

There are weeks when I am overwhelmed 
and I don't get everything done. I'm okay with that!!! 
Having the support of my family is huge. 
I would be remiss if I didn't mention my awesome husband who pitches in 
with anything that needs to be done when I ask! 
Couldn't do life without you!!!

Other jobs my kids help with~
~Loading and unloading the dishwasher
~Emptying trashcans around the house
~Making up their beds every morning
~Keeping their things picked up and put away
~Cleaning up after school and playtime

Remember that phrase for last week:
Work smarter, not harder!?
I hope something shared might make your Household Chore time
run a little smoother and grace your home with less stress.
PLEASE share what Works for You... 
I would LOVE to hear!!!

Next Week: Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

{Disclaimer}
The following system is exactly what the title describes~
What Works For Us... Our Family
but maybe through my words and posts,
 there might be something helpful shared. 
PS... I am a system and procedural kind of girl so my house runs better
if we have a system in place.
There is no guessing what's to be done or how it will be done.
That makes for a more relaxed and restful home, I believe.

Days are Shorter~

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SO... they have made a train to Crazytown and I bought a ticket. LOL

Reading Game with the Boys~

Monday, November 17, 2014

Last week the boys started reading an emergent reader called What Is It?
and their new sight words were is and it.
It has been super tricky for them but we are persevering. 
After we read through the book, worked on making words with clothespins,
and the sight word cards,
I gave then each a dice with the words: a, and, it, it, is, is
on it~
I sat the token discs out for them and they each rolled dice.
If they could read the word rolled, they grabbed a token.
If they couldn't, I read for them and they rolled again.
The goal was to empty the token container as fast as we could.
So again, the game wasn't against each other but against the token container.
The boys had great fun and learned their new words to boot!
They can't wait to play again tomorrow!!!

A Book of Blessings~

I had put off ordering our blog books all year long...
and today our 2013 book arrived in the mail.
I can't tell you how excited we all were to relive all the memories recorded!
EK has read the entire book!!!
366 pages of pure Blessings...
A Book of Blessings!
{I can't wait to order my 2014 the first of January in 2015!}
Books made at blog2print.com
and I would love to refer you if you leave your email address for me.
(I will get credit toward my next book... thank you!)

Love the Weekends~

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I love the weekends because we have a higher chance of seeing the bigs
and that was true for this past weekend.
Amelia surprised us with a Saturday afternoon visit
and lavished great love and attention on the littles~
SJ helped me make poppyseed chicken to celebrate and we all sat down
for a family style dinner together~
Today I was excited to be in Athens with Rosie for ZTA House Christmas decorating~
Lots of mom, dads, and girls had a million beautiful things to hang!
I loved spending time with Rosie of course~
and her big Michelle and family~
I would love to see it all lit up at night~
Maybe Rosie can send me some photos.
Merry Christmas sweet ZTA girls!!!
Loved spending the day enjoying your beautiful house!!!
That's why I Love the Weekends!!!