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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Old School House Magazine: A Freebie!

One of the first resources I became familiar with when we were considering homeschooling was The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.   TOS is a quarterly magazine with articles and resources pertinent to homeschooling families.  In addition, the company offers a website which is full of helpful articles, product reviews and encouragement. I have always found the website helpful and informative, keeping me in the loop with new curriculum and other homeschool related products.  This year I have joined the TOS Crew, a team of bloggers who are given products to review.  I am excited to be a part of The Crew! 

Intrigued.. want to check out the magazine?

TOS is offering their brand new Summer digital edition of the magazine totally free with no strings attached.

Enjoy this free gift from TOS—no registration or email address required to view the magazine! Take a peek here. Then share the link with your friends by clicking on the share button at the top of the magazine pages.

Go take a look at the  of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Do You Do It? Start off Strong

This is the first post in a series entitled "How Do You Do It?" You can read the introduction here.

I decide to start out talking about having a morning routine because  for me it is the glue that holds the whole day together.  If the morning does not start out right, I struggle for the rest of the day.

Before I tell you what I do,  I must remind you that this is a work in progress for me.  The intention of this series is to encourage, not to discourage.  I am not perfect, I still have a lot of growing to do, but what I am highlighting is what works WHEN I put it in place!  Perhaps sharing it here will also add a level of accountability for me!

1. Get Up Before the Kids- I am NOT a morning person, I never have been but I am growing into one.    I can lie in bed until I hear the kids and then jump up, get dressed and organized and try and meet their needs all at the same time or I can get up an hour or two before them, take care of myself and then be ready for them when they get up.  The second scenario works out better for all of us.  On the mornings I am up before the kids I am less frazzled, more patient and much more organized.   We also have a rule that the kids are not to come out of their room until 7am. 

Getting up at 5:30 is not easy for me.  Here are some ways I have been intentional about it:
  • Accountability- One resource that has been helpful is Inspired to Action a website dedicated to practically helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world.  Through Inspired to Action's Maximise Your Morning Challenge, I am part of a Twitter accountability group (#HelloMornings) where I tweet each morning to let my group know that I am up.  Women all over the world are tweeting to their groups and getting up to maximise their mornings.  In addition, my husband is a great encouragement, helping me to fight for this time.
  • Getting up early starts the night before- I can't go to bed at midnight consistently and expect to be up and functioning the next day.  I plan to go to bed early and I think through what my morning will look like before I go to sleep so that I am ready for the morning. (however as I type this it is 1:30am... I told you, this is a work in progress :)

So what do I do once I am up??

2. First Things First-   The most important part of my day is the time I spend with God.  In the past I would go all day with the intention of having my Quiet time in the evening, just before bed.  I would fall into bed exhausted and quickly offer a prayer or spend 3 minutes reading a devotional book and that was my spiritual fill of the day.  God longs for more than that from us.  We were made to have a relationship with Him, in fact, His is the most important relationship we should have!  Doesn't it make sense then to begin the day in his presence?

What does my time with the Lord look like?  Each day can be different but generally I spend time listening to worship music, praying and  reading the Bible.  I am currently working through the book of Philippians using this plan.

3. Have a Plan- even once I am up, I am not fully awake so having a plan/ routine helps.  I can function on autopilot until I am fully awake.  Know what is for breakfast.  Start a load of laundry.  Put the dishes away from last night.  Get dressed.  Check emails. Having a routine or a rhythm in the morning helps with the flow of the day.

So there you have it!  I still need to build in a consistent exercise routine... that is one of my next goals!

Start strong... get up, get praying, get moving!!  Then you will have what you need to deal with the rest of the day. 

What does your morning look like?  Do you have any tips for me? Leave me  a comment below!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Series Intro: How Do You Do it?

"So how do you do it?"

"I don't know how you do it!"

I hear those words so often as a mom of four little ones.   I know those words are well intentioned and honest but what exactly is the "it" they are referring to?   I often think "Can't they see how frazzled I am?!"  So many times I don't feel like I am doing "it" well. Oftentimes I feel like I am operating at or just above survival mode.  I tend to dwell more on my weaknesses than strengths.  I minimize the things I do well and magnify my failures.  Do you do that?  God has been speaking to me about changing my thinking.

I have decided to write a series on "How I do it?"  What works for me,  how I manage 4 kids and all the other things that come along with that.  This is NOT to say I have it all figured out or that I am an expert in any of this.  As I remind my kids, I am still learning, I have only been a mom for 7 years!!  But what I do want to do is be intentional and this will help me to recognize the areas where I am being intentional and where there are gaps that need to be filled in.  Hopefully it will also encourage and even inspire someone else along their own journey.

As I write, I only have a loose plan as to where this series will go.  I have a few specific topics rolling around in my mind but hopefully that list will grow!  If you have any questions be sure to leave them in the comments section below or email me (email link is in the side bar).  

Thanks for following along on this journey!

   My life is an adventure!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mini Lasagne Cups

I love Italian food... tomato sauce, cheese, pasta, cream... in any combination... mmm!  One of my favourites is lasagne but it's not really a favourite of the kids so I don't make it very often.  When I saw a recipe for mini lasagne cups I though I might be able to convert them.  Look at these tiny individual lasagnes... aren't they cute?

Here's the recipe (Adapted from Kevin {and}Amanda)

Mini Lasagna Cups

For the sauce
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion (diced)
2 medium carrots (chopped)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb italian sausage
salt & pepper to taste
1 can tomato paste
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup apple sauce

For the cheese filling
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

48 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute onions and carrots in olive oil in a large skillet  until tender.  Add sausage and hamburger continue to cook over medium high heat,  drain.  Add salt, pepper, paste, crushed tomatoes and apple sauce.  Cook for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach,  salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Coat two 12 cup  muffin tins with cooking spray, and arrange a wonton wrapper in each cup. Fill each cup  in this order:
sauce (enough to cover bottom of cup)
a little cheese mixture
spoonful of sauce
a little grated cheddar
wonton wrapper- press down gently
grated cheddar

(there will be a little less than  half the sauce remaining... I will use it later in the week for spaghetti or it can be frozen.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers are golden. Cool in the muffin tin for 5-10 minutes before serving.
makes 24 lasagnes or 6 servings.

SO what was the verdict??  5 out of 6 of us liked it so definitely a recipe I will try again.
Even though there were lots of ingredients, it was an easy recipe (my version has more ingredients than the original).  They were fun to make... I even had the kids help fill the muffin tins with the various layers. 


Monday, July 11, 2011

Just the Girls

Last week the big boys were at camp all day so I got to hang out with Eden and Marcus. Since Marcus napped most of the morning it gave Eden and I some good mommy - daughter time. It was the most one on one time I have spent with her and I really enjoyed it. She is a fun loving, sensitive little lady who loves all things girly. Don't get me wrong, she can hang tough with her brothers but it was quite evident last week that she loves being a girl. We played with dolls, made pink strawberry playdough, built sandcastles, watched Angelina Ballerina and Veggie Tales Sweetpea Beauty and had a chance to talk to her about the difference between inner and outer beauty and what God values more.

I remember when I first knew I was carrying a baby girl... I was scared to death. I already had 2 sons so I knew what to do with boys but now God was giving me this little princess and it would be my responsibility to teach her how to be a woman... a godly woman. That still scares me! I pray each day that God will show me how to me a girl mama and I look forward to more "just for girls" times with my princess.