Monday, September 26, 2016

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, September 26, 2016

THE WEATHER THIS WEEK...

Current temperature is 67 degrees and the skies are cloudy, though rain is not expected. Temperatures for the week will remain in the upper 60's and may reach 80 degrees. Thunderstorms are expected on Wednesday but may come as early as Tuesday. Rain will continue through the end of the week.


AROUND THE HOME...

Woke up to a clean kitchen, but a messy living room. The boys have been busy playing with cars over the weekend. 


AGENDA FOR TODAY...

Week 8 of our homeschool year begins. We are doing an additional review of spelling, as my daughter seems to have forgotten how to spell words she has previously spelled correctly. We will begin a new math lesson later, though she is currently working on handwriting and wants to hurry up through the pages and get to the part where she learns "fancy writing". Because it is a cloudy day, I am looking forward to getting cozy on the couch and reading with the children this afternoon. 


A PEEK INTO MY WEEKEND...


They're having fun, I promise. The little one has learned how much fun it is to torture his older siblings with tickles.

A FAVORITE QUOTE FOR TODAY...


"How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God for the rain."
--Dieter F. Uchtdorf


ON THE MENU...

Sunday: Burgers
Monday: Peanut Noodles with Crunchy Celery
Tuesday: Southern Black-Eyed Peas, Biscuits, Greens
Wednesday: Vegetable Soup with Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Birthday Dinner---request of the birthday girl
Saturday: TBD

I AM READING...


  

I will finish The Hidden Fame today and look forward to beginning the third and final book in the Acts of Faith series, The Damascus Way

PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK...


Bridget will be turning 7 years old this Friday and is so very excited. She has put in her request for cupcakes and the grandparents will be celebrating with us. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Family Traditions {52 Lists}



Fall Traditions


The first day of fall is today, but I consider our summer season over the day we start back to school in August.

School. We start back the first week of August. We work on getting a routine going again and the children are usually excited to begin a new year with new material.

Apple picking. This fall with be only our second year doing this, but we had such a blast last year that we must do it again. An apple pie will follow.

Friday night movie. We don't do this every Friday, but now that we are headed into fall and winter we will be picking up on this tradition again. Sometimes the movie has to do with a history topic we are studying or it is a feel-good holiday movie. I like to have a picnic-style dinner in the living room, usually pizza, so that the movie can get started earlier (and end earlier so the children can get to bed at a decent hour). 

Thanksgiving Day parade. As I prepare the meal, I turn on the parade for the children to watch. Honestly, they are not too interested in it because they do not recognize the characters on many of the floats or balloons and don't know most of the songs. I try to keep them away from "pop culture" as much as possible, but I grew up watching the parade so it is nice to have it on. They do get excited for Santa at the end.

Thanksgiving dinner. This tradition has changed over the years. We used to go to my husbands parents house but because my family's diet is so different, it is easier to prepare our own dinner at home. Both sets of grandparents often join us. We do not have a turkey and I am oftentimes trying a new recipe to replace it. We always have mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and any other vegetable dishes I feel like trying. My mother-in-law brings a delicious sweet potato casserole and my mother usually brings some sort of dessert. My dad likes to make something savory to bring, and my husband often makes fresh bread or dinner rolls.

Day-After-Thanksgiving Cleaning. I loathe "Black Friday" and avoid shopping the entire weekend. Instead, I spend Friday deep-cleaning the house and putting away any fall decorations. Then depending on how quickly that all gets done, we bring out the Christmas decorations and put on a Christmas movie.

Winter Traditions


Technically, it is still fall when we do most of these things, but as far as I am concerned, the winter/Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving. 

Picking Out a Christmas Tree. This is done normally on Saturday after Thanksgiving. For the past 3 or 4 years, we've gotten a real tree, which I love. The smell, the unique and not-so-perfect appearance, and the fact I don't need to find a place to store it. I don't even mind cleaning up the pine needles.  One year, we got our cleaning done early and went on a Friday evening to pick out our tree, which was a magical experience to find a tree at night, bundled up in our winter coats and the children playing between all the trees and seeing their breath in the cold and crisp night air. 

Decorating the Tree. I usually wait for my youngest to be taking a nap before I attempt to decorate anything. The older two take turns holding the string of lights as I wrap them around the tree. Then I let the two of them put the ornaments on the tree while I sit back and supervise. The first year I did this, I moved the ornaments around after they were done. Last Christmas, I let all the ornaments stay where the children put them, because I saw how much thought and care they put into placing each one. The tree looked awkward to anyone who visited, but I truly loved it. This year, we will not be getting a tree because we'll be moving, but I can't wait to have the littlest one participate in decorating next year.

The Nutcracker. Bridget and I dress up and attend a showing of the Nutcracker ballet. We love the music and many of the dancers are teachers or older girls from her dance studio. Bridget has dreams of one day being Clara.

Baking Cookies. The children and Daddy often make cookies together and I get to watch while taking pictures. My husband sticks to either chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. Anything fancier than that, I usually do the baking. But this is a special time for him and the children.


Spring Traditions


Strawberry picking. My husband and I have done this almost every year, even before the children were born.

Daffodil field. There is an area off one of the country roads just outside our town that someone, many years ago, planted thousands of daffodil bulbs in a grove of Southern pine trees. Many locals flock to the area to take their Easter pictures in the field, while others (like myself) take their families to enjoy to beauty of the area. This is another tradition that we are not able to experience every year, as the daffodils are only in full bloom for a very short period of time.


Summer Traditions


Blueberry picking. We don't do this every year, as it is hard to tell when the blueberries will be ready for picking due to how cold and how long the previous winter was. Next year, I want to plan a peach picking trip.

Myrtle Beach trip. Each year after tax season and Bridget's ballet performance, we make a trip to Myrtle Beach where my husbands boss has a condo. This trip officially kicks off our summer season. The grandparents alternate each year and it is so nice to have two extra pairs of hands to help out with the little ones at the beach, the pool, and any activities we plan.

Linking Up With:



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New House Update #4

After the recent hurricane Hermine (which had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached us) came through, my husband and I went to check out the house and see how it did. The day before the storm, the roofers added paper on the roof which goes under the shingles. I don't know why they did this, as they knew the storm was coming. As you can see, the wind tore part of the paper off but aside from that, everything else was fine.


You'll have to excuse all the water. Coming in the front door, it was very obvious that everything was wet. Water was still dripping through the house, even though the rain had stopped hours before our visit. I'll do my best to give a "tour", but to most people I am sure this looks only like a lot of lumber and may not make much sense.

This is the view from the front door. Straight ahead, you can see where the back door is located. It's actually off center by a foot and a half. This has since been fixed. The living room is to the left of the back door and the kitchen is to the right. I'll have more pictures of that later in the post. To the right just after entering the house is our dining room. This is the only dining area in the house, as I removed the breakfast nook in order to expand the kitchen. To the left of the front door is the stairs and a coat closet.


This is a view of the dining room once inside the house. 


Across the foyer from the dining room is the stairs. These stairs have been the biggest headache so far. These are the stairs as they were first built incorrectly. The first step is supposed to be flush with the walls on either side, rather than having to walk thru a 2' alley to get to the stairs. The reason why these stairs are so off is because they were not following the plan. We requested 12" treads, and they instead built their standard tread of 10". For record purposes, we'll call this big mistake #1.


Moving on now to the kitchen. Standing in the middle of the kitchen and facing the back of the house. There will be cabinets under that window in the kitchen, which will wrap around to the wall on the right. 


This brings us now to big mistake #2. A corner cabinet cannot fit in the small space to the right of the kitchen window and the wall. As it turns out, the kitchen window is off center by 18". This is also why the back door was off center. This mistake has been fixed now, but it was my husband and my dad who caught it; not the builder.


Let us leave the kitchen for a minute and head in the direction of one of my favorite rooms in the house. On the other side of the kitchen is a small hallway leading to our homeschool room. Also in this hallway is the door to the garage and a full bathroom. If in the future we end up taking in a parent or two, or a pair of young married college students (being one of our own children and their spouse, of course) the homeschool room would be converted to a bedroom with access to a full bathroom. 


The homeschool room is a spacious room with a small closet and a lot of wall space, perfect for a large history timeline, bookshelves, and workstations. I do not intend to do all of our homeschooling in this room, as the couch is much more comfy to read on, but it is great place to store all of our books and work and shut the door to forget about on the weekends. Here is the view from the far end of the homeschool room facing the small closet and door heading back out to the kitchen and living area.


Back in the kitchen, this half-wall will have cabinets and our kitchen sink with a small bar overlooking the living room. 


A view from the living room facing the back of the house.


Another view from the living room, now facing the direction of the kitchen.


Heading upstairs, this is now a view from the doorway of the boys' room looking out over what will soon be a railing and the foyer down below. The room off to the left is a spare bedroom, or if the boys are unable to get along in the same room, one of them will be moved into the spare room. 

 
I did not get many pictures of the upstairs on this day, but here is a picture from the end wall of the boys room looking through the rest of the upstairs. First there are the boys' closets (which have become another nightmare I will discuss in a later update), and Bridget's room, her walk-in closet and the laundry room, then the master bedroom waaaayyy in the back. 


There you have it! It's not much to look at yet, and there are things that need to be fixed, but hopefully one day this will be a completed home, filled with family and love.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, September 19, 2016

It has been awhile since I started the week off with a journal post, and I remember how it motivated me on the first day of the week, when I needed it most. It surprisingly kept me on task!


THE WEATHER THIS WEEK...

Current temperature is 84 degrees and the skies are cloudy. We experienced a small rainstorm mid-morning. Temperatures for the week will remain in the upper 70's and lower 80's with the highest temperature expected to be 85 on Friday. It is so nice to feel the cooler temperatures as we head into fall. Scattered thunderstorms are also expected every day this week. Grass and ragweed pollen is expected to be moderate, though my allergies seem to be more affected by tree pollen.


AROUND THE HOME...

The kitchen counter is covered in dishes, but the rest of the house is clean and tidy. The children are finishing their lunch and the littlest one will soon be getting ready for his nap. 


AGENDA FOR TODAY...

We are beginning week 7 of our homeschool year. Last week was our week off and it is time to get back to work. We have already worked on handwriting, grammar, and science and will be covering history and geography during little brother's nap. I happened to misplace Bridget's math worksheets and test that she needed to complete this week. I'm trying not to be too aggravated about it, but it doesn't look like we will be doing math today.


A PEEK INTO MY WEEKEND...



A FAVORITE QUOTE FOR TODAY...


"No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it."


--Dieter F. Uchtdorf


ON THE MENU...

Sunday: Salad
Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
Tuesday: Turk'y Cutlets, Mashed Poatoes, Gravy, Green Beans
Wednesday: Chili w/ Cornbread
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: TBD

I AM READING...




PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK...

Maintain sanity. We have an onsite meeting with the builder on Friday. Wish us luck!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Favorite Places to Shop {52 Lists}



1. Amazon.com. This is where we do most of our shopping. From birthday/Christmas presents, curriculum, and books to toiletries and pantry items.

2. Book stores. My favorite for new books is Barnes and Noble. I now also love used book stores. I finally went to one in my town just yesterday for a book that has been discontinued and only sold used on Amazon (though I did not like the prices). The used book store did not have the title I was looking for, but I did leave the store with 7 other books. You can't beat $1 per book ($2 for hardcovers)! Thank you Tiffany for telling me about this place and enabling my book addiction.

3. When it comes to groceries, I often shop at Harris Teeter. I recently went to Publix in my husband's hometown and loved it (they will be opening a location in my town in the next few months). Whole Foods is also great, but I have to drive an hour and a half to the big city to get there. 

4. zulily.com is where I buy a lot of my daughter's clothes, and Sunday clothes for the boys. They have really cute outfits, often times at a really good deal. I hate paying for their shipping (usually around $12) so I make sure I have a large order.

5. For my clothing, I like MikaRose.com, TJ Maxx, and any department store that has a sale going. I hate paying so much for clothing.

6. Target. I actually don't like Target, but I despise Wal-Mart. We use Target diapers and wipes, so we make frequent trips to stock up on those items and other toiletries. I also buy the kids shoes there, as buying shoes online never works out for us.

7. Gift shops. I hesitate adding this to the list because I rarely buy anything from gift shops, but I do love browsing!

Linking Up With:


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Recipe: Hawaiian-Style Potato-Macaroni Salad

Right up there with spam, potato-macaroni salad (or macaroni salad) is a staple in Hawaii. You can go to any local restaurant and it is very likely that your order will come with a side of steamed white rice and macaroni salad. Fancier restaurants kick their recipes up a few notches by using Okinawan sweet potatoes, or dijon mustard, or other flavorful ingredients. This recipe is for your traditional delicious and refreshing potato-macaroni salad that you'd find at a potluck or family gathering.


Hawaiian-Style Potato-Macaroni Salad


1 lb. macaroni
4 russet potatoes, peels and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 c. vegan mayonnaise (I like this one
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, grated or finely chopped*
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
salt and pepper

1. Boil potatoes until fork-tender, drain, then chill in refrigerator. 
2. Prepare macaroni according to package instructions. If using peas, add them to the boiling pot of macaroni just before draining.
3. In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni, potatoes, onion, celery, carrot, and peas. 
4. Add mayonnaise, 1 cup at a time. Stir until all ingredients are well-coated**.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight.


* I prefer to use finely chopped carrots, as grated carrots will give your macaroni salad an orange tint. The carrots are simply added for color. If you detest carrots, you can leave them out.

**Hawaiian macaroni salad uses a lot of mayonnaise. The more mayonnaise, the better. I prefer to stick with using only two cups. Potato-macaroni salad tends to dry out in the refrigerator overnight, and if you choose to add less than two cups you may need to add a bit more mayonnaise the following day.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A New Look & A Fresh (Re)Start!

You may have noticed a lack in posts recently. No new recipes and very sporadic participation in link-ups. I have something I'm calling "blogger burn-out". 


I enjoy blogging; I really do. I enjoy sharing our weekly activities with family and friends, especially those that live so far away. This later branched out to sharing with fellow homeschool moms I did not know. I love having a network of like-minded moms to turn to, even if they don't know I read their blogs.


It was time to refocus and reorganize. I needed a new look, so this weekend I finally sat down and created something that I liked, which is a big undertaking for someone who lacks creativity. I wanted something simple, but pleasant. This is it.




I'm not completely done yet, as my menu bar links are still bare, but those will be a work in progress. I used to be much more proficient in code, but now I am having to really think about what I am trying to do, and that takes time.


I am also still in the process of combining previous blogs into this one, so as to keep everything in one place. This has been an ongoing project for months, as those posts were more personal and contained names and photos of family and friends and need to be edited for their privacy.


I will have some new posts up this week, and I hope that you'll stop by again to check them out!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Week in Review 2016: #36

Life

Our schedule really starts filling up again after Labor Day. This week, Bridget began her fourth year at the dance academy. We were able to schedule her ballet and tap/jazz classes back-to-back on the same day, so instead of taking her to the dance academy two days a week as we did last year, we only go once a week. My parents watched the boys and I had two whole hours to myself! Because it was Bridget's first day, I wanted to make sure that she knew to go on to her next class instead of coming to the door for pick-up. She also needed to change leotards (which she wore one on top of the other) along with her dance shoes, and I did not know if she'd need my help with that. (The academy assigns a different color leotard for the different dance levels. The pre-ballet girls, ages 3 and 4, wear light pink, then they move up to light blue. Bridget is still in a light blue leotard for ballet but is in the next level for tap/jazz so she needed to wear a navy blue leotard. We got this one in a camisole style to feel more comfortable under her short-sleeved light blue leotard.) I went inside to see if she needed my help between her first and second classes, and she did great on her own. She did not even know I had gone in to check on her. I really wish she wouldn't grow up so fast, though it felt good not to be needed.

I spent my two hours of alone time in the van. The weather was mild so I put the windows down and got a lot of reading and lesson planning done.  That never happens. Bridget was so excited when I picked her up. She told me she wished she could go to dance classes every day. She's been wearing her ballet shoes around the house, twirling around at every chance she gets. It's nice to see her so passionate about something.


I have been M.I.A. from blogging much these past few weeks before of our upcoming move. We have managed to clear out a lot of our belongings from the house and put them into storage (we're hoping to rent out our current house and didn't want there to be too much clutter when someone comes to look at the place). While packing, I rediscovered a number of games I had hidden under my bed. Mostly games with small pieces that I did not want the little ones getting a hold of. I hid them so well that I had forgotten all about them. George discovered the games with me and we had a great time playing mancala the other day. George then taught Bridget how to play and they ended in a tie. 


I happened to have my phone with me when this little guy woke up from his nap. I need to record him one of these days. He always wakes up so cheerful. He spends a long time in his crib playing and being silly before I finally get him out. His favorite thing right now is to be tickled. 


Homeschool

Bridget is powering through her math lessons lately. We had gotten a bit behind on math in first grade and she is still finishing up the Alpha book (Math-U-See). We have three lessons to go before we begin on the new Beta book. She has caught on very quickly and some lessons we're able to complete in one day (video, worksheets, and test).


She is also attempting to get ahead on her handwriting book this year, because half-way through the book she will begin to write in cursive.


Liam keeps himself occupied with coloring while I do school with the older two. He is a very serious scribbler.


Linking Up With:



Thursday, September 8, 2016

My Autumn Bucket List {52 Lists}

A fun list this week!! I only wish it would start to feel like fall. Temperatures were in the 90's today!

Our family takes advantage of the autumn season. It is our last chance for some quality family time before the holiday chaos hits and Daddy begins working long hours (he's a tax accountant).

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This year, my autumn bucket list includes:

A trip to the mountains. One of our favorite places! We love the Biltmore Estate and have seen it in all its seasonal glory. Last year, I experienced seeing the leaves changing colors and walking through their fall garden. This year, we received free tickets for another visit.

Apple picking. We did this for the first time last year and it was so much fun!!! We jump at any opportunity to harvest our own food (strawberries and blueberries grow very well in our area, as do many varieties of vegetables) and so we drove 5 hours to pick our own apples. It was an adventure in one of the most beautiful settings!

Pie. We don't do too much baking during the summer months, so when autumn rolls around I am more than ready to get to work in the kitchen. I will make an apple pie from our freshly picked Granny Smith's. I will also make a pumpkin pie, as the smell of pumpkin pie is one of my favorites at this time of year (though surprisingly, it is not my favorite to eat).

Soup. I love soup served with freshly baked bread. It is hardly appropriate to eat soup during the summer (unless a storm is upon us), but autumn is a time to plan to make all of my favorites from the year before.

Apple cider. The best apple cider I've ever had came from the apple orchard we visited last year. It was fresh tasting compared to store-bought. I will be picking up some more this year.

Hot wassail. My way of kicking the apple cider up a few notches. I prefer to use store-bought cider for this, so as not to waste the fresh apple cider (aka liquid gold) listed above.

Bid a not-so-fond farewell to the bugs! We live in the South, the utopia of all things creepy crawly. My poor older son gets eaten alive every time he goes outside, even for just a couple of minutes. I look forward to the temperatures getting cooler and the bugs dying off (or burrowing, or whatever they do) so that he may play outdoors without worry.

Raking leaves. I truly enjoy this chore activity. Where I grew up, leaves did not fall from the trees each year. Everything was green year-round. It was nice, but I always wanted to experience the seasons. Twelve years of living here and I still look forward to raking the leaves.

Watching the children play in the leaves. They love it as much as I do. They help rake, but kids will be kids and throw themselves into the big pile of leaves.

Collecting leaves and pine cones. The children love searching for the perfect leaf or the biggest pine cone. They glue the leaves to paper and put it on their wall to look at until the leaves dry out and crumble.

Read-Alouds. I do less reading aloud in the summertime with the children. We're always so busy and the children are active until bedtime (and sometimes after). Once the weather gets cool, they seem to calm down earlier in the evenings. My oldest two love curling up on the couch with me as I read some of my favorite chapter books. I am most looking forward to reading A Christmas Carol with them this year.

Getting into a routine. Summer is over and so are the additional activities and trips. Dance lessons have started back up, (home)school is in session, and it is the perfect time to get into a good rhythm for the school year.

Reconcile the year. I spend much of the autumn season thinking about things I would have done differently, or things that I could have done better. Most importantly, I think of my relationship with God and how it can be improved. The miracle of the season gets closer, and I reflect on all that my Savior has done for me. I use this time to make both personal goals and family goals.


Linking Up With:


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New House Update #3

So much has happened since my update less than a month ago. If you remember, they had just built the foundation. Soon after, piles of lumber arrived.


Framing began the very next day!!


By day two, they were already working on the second story!! By the fifth day, they had the second story almost complete and had almost closed in the exterior.


It is very surreal to see our house finally coming together. After this last picture was taken, Hurricane Hermine came through (though it was downgraded to a tropical storm by this point). After the storm, my husband and I dropped the kids off with my parents and went to the appliance store to pick out a stove, dishwasher, microwave, and refrigerator. I had intended on upgrading our oven to a double oven (storage drawer at the bottom essentially becomes the second oven) but as we were looking at them, I bent down to open the bottom oven and decided I really didn't like the idea of picking up a pan off cookies off the floor, or a heavy casserole dish. I'm getting too old for that. We decided to go with the standard package appliances, with the exception of the refrigerator.

After our trip to the appliance store, we headed over to the house to see how it did during the storm. There were some large puddles in the backyard due to large tire tracks from the equipment they're using, but they will be leveled out before we ever move in. We were able to walk around the house and I took a lot of pictures to show the children.

We also discovered a very big mistake in the house.

I will be including those pictures and more details later in the week!

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