A Milder Monday!

I am so thankful this morning for milder weather! This weekend has been so nice, and today it is actually supposed to be in the 60s (I'll believe that when I see it, but one can hope. ;-)) It is warmer as I type this this morning (with no gloves, even!) than it was all week last week. Not only that, but I actually had some time this weekend to get some planning and preparation done for the week, so I'm enjoying feeling somewhat *ready for the week* this week, instead of *already behind*.

That's a good thing, as we have a busy week this week. We need to get most of our school and house *to dos* out of the way by Thursday, because we'll be out and about Thursday *and* Friday this week. Thursday is co-op registration, in preparation for six weeks of co-op starting next week. The kids are *so* excited. We have always been very involved in co-op up until year before last, when life got a bit crazy and we had to take a break. Last year we went back for one class in the fall....Billy taught a drawing class, which was a lot of fun, but the kids really missed getting to participate in first hour, too. So...this time around we are jumping back in with both feet, and the kids are really excited (I will be, too, once I get my class prep finished!)

Then not only is Friday our big shopping day, but we have out of town company coming as well. My mom's cousin, whom I have never met, is coming to Arkansas this weekend. She and my aunt will be driving in from Little Rock on Friday, so it will be fun to finally meet her.

In the meantime, we have a lot to do. Here are the plans for the week:

Bible Study/Child Training
1) Continue to work on chronological Bible reading.
2) Get back to the Bible study I have been working on on "suffering", and try to post some more notes here.
3) Read Part One of The Parenting of Champions.
4) We've spent a lot of time together as a family lately, and the kids and I do things *together* all the time, but I'm realizing that between the holidays and the craziness here since then, it has been a while since I have devoted a *chunk* of one-on-one time to each of my children just doing something *fun*. So...this week, I'm purposing to spend some time with each child, by themselves, doing what *they* want to do for a while...not something school-related or a *project*. I'm foreseeing Lego aliens, manicures, and Little People being a big part of the week this week!

Home Blessing
1) Dining Room ready to prime by Friday. Since we have a short week at home, that will be the main priority this week, other than routine cleaning and helping the kids work on the toy sorting project that we are very *slowly* finishing.

Must Dos/Procrastination Busters
1) Class prep for co-op.
2) Bulk Cooking plans for next week.
3) Secure a judge for homeschool art fair.
4) Pictures taken for yearbook.
5) Family page done for yearbook.
6) Plan Ammah Grace's birthday!

Creative Pursuits
I have completely washed out in this area since I first posted plans a couple of weeks ago. Between illness, the cold house, and trying to maintain at least a skeleton schedule and routines, my plans for creative pursuits have gone by the wayside. But I'm still determined! Here are this week's plans:

1) Class prep for co-op. (I'm teaching a book-making class, so hopefully this will be a good jump-start in this area. :))
2) Family page done for yearbook. (Again, a *have to* that will hopefully help get the creative juices flowing again.)
3) One of the two *stealth projects* that I still haven't gotten to. :-D I know that I won't get to both this week, but I'm hoping to at least get one of them finished.

Menu Plan Monday


*Tortilla Salad
*Crackers, Cheese, Carrots, and Dip
*Mac and Cheese

*Pork Chops, Hash Brown Casserole, and Green Beans
*BBQ Meatballs and Noodles, Salad
*Enchiladas and Rice
*Chicken Fettucini Alfredo, Veggies, and Garlic Cheese Biscuits
(Friday is kind of up in the air at the moment...so I'm not planning anything but leftovers or something easy from our store run.)

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked for the recipe for the Smoked Sausage Soup I mentioned. I'm sorry that I haven't gotten back to that sooner! This is one of those that has no measurements...just throw in enough of this and that to feed whoever you are feeding. ;-) (Have I mentioned that I am *NOT* a measurer?? :-D)

Smoked Sausage Soup:

Smoked Sausage, cut up into bite sized pieces
Cream of Mushroom soup
Green Beans (I usually use canned)

Combine the above and heat through, stirring often. Toss in a handful or two (or more :)) of grated cheddar cheese just before serving and stir well. This is really good with french bread and a big salad, and is a *quick and easy* meal for nights you are in a rush.

For more Monday Meanderings, visit Tiany at Less of Me, More of Him. To see what others are cooking this week, hop over to I'm An Organizing Junkie.


The Disappearing Post and a Bloggy Award

I mentioned earlier that I had typed a post on Wednesday and the Blogger Monster ate it...I'm going to attempt it again. :)

I've taken the opportunity with the start of the New Year to do some re-vamping. As I've said a time or two, we've gotten a bit of a rough start to the year with sickness, heating issues, etc., but we are slowly but surely making what I *hope* are going to be some lasting changes for the better. In pondering our schedule, I realized that I have always wanted to have a weekly schedule with specific focus days...laundry day, errand day, desk day, baking day, etc....but somehow that has never worked for us. It finally occurred to me while I was washing dishes one day (which is, of course, when all my best thoughts come ;-)) that the *reason* that has never worked for us is that our life tends to be divided into two week segments, not weekly ones. Billy gets paid every two weeks, which means I do our major shopping once every two weeks, which means I menu plan two weeks at a time. We usually go to the library every two weeks, and I usually pay bills every two weeks. In a lightbulb moment, I decided that perhaps what we needed was not a weekly schedule, but a *two week schedule*. I finally sat down and hammered it out, and I *think* it is going to work really well. We're just getting our feet wet with it, but so far, it's a keeper.

We'll be modifying as we go along, I'm sure, but here's the current version:

Week 1--Payday Week
Week 2--Non-Payday Week

Sunday 1--Worship/Planning and Quiet Day (Reading)
Monday 1--Laundry*/Zone Cleaning
Tuesday 1--Heavy Clean/Declutter
Wednesday 1--Planning (Menu/Grocery List/School, etc.)
Thursday 1--Projects/Home Redo (Co-Op Feb.-Mar.)
Friday 1--Shopping/Errands
Saturday 1--Family Day

Sunday 2--Worship/Planning and Quiet Day (Reading)
Monday 2--Bulk Cooking/Laundry*
Tuesday 2--Heavy Clean/Declutter
Wednesday 2--Bill Pay/Projects/Computer (Photos, etc.)
Thursday 2--Zone Clean/House Redo (Co-Op Feb.-Mar.)
Friday 2--School Enrichment/Catch-Up
Saturday 2--Family Day

*We do laundry almost every day around here, but the listed laundry days will be a time to focus on *special* laundry...things that need to be washed separately, handwashing, bed linens, and mending.

This will be our first *normal* two week cycle since starting the new schedule, so I'll try to report back in a few weeks about how it's working.

And speaking of schedules...I have mentioned a few times that I have been completely off of any semblance of one lately as far as the computer and blogging are concerned. Because of that, I am woefully behind in acknowledging a very special bloggy award from Julie at Joyful Days.
Julie has been such an encouragement and inspiration to me ever since we have *crossed blogs*. :) Her comments always bring a smile! (Even when she is trying to add to my laundry pile! :-D) Her sweet words with this award came on a really rough day and brought tears to my eyes. Had she not been the one to pass "The Daily Dose" on to me, she would certainly have been one of the first I thought of as my own *Daily Doses". Thanks, Julie, for making my day!!

The Daily Dose was created by Xandra of Called According to His Purpose. Here is what she says about it:

"...here's to all the blogs that you've discovered that you can't possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected every time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog."

I'll have to come back tonight and add my list of "Daily Doses"...once I narrow them down! For now, I've typed too long and I've got to get ready for church *fast*!

Back Among the Land of the Living...

That's how I have felt today! We went from Christmas straight into Bayley being the sickest she's ever been (a killer ear infection that had us up most/all of the night three nights running), and from there into a bad cold snap (which wouldn't have been such a big deal if our main heat source hadn't died right before Christmas, leaving us with two woefully inadequate space heaters...brr!) Despite the fact that I've been really working on scheduling/time management/productivity issues, we've pretty much been in survival mode for the past month. Blogging has been one of the casualties...most of my blogging is done early in the morning or late at night, while the house is quiet and people are in bed...and lately, it has been much too cold to be up early or late, much less typing.

Today, however, has been wonderful. First, although I'm sure it never got to the promised mid-50s, it *was* warmer than it has been in a while. The temps are supposed to be *much* better this week...even into the 60s, supposedly. This former cold-weather lover is *really* ready for some springy weather. Second, we had nothing to do today! Well, okay, not exactly. We had all *kinds* of things to do...but nothing on the calendar and no place we had to *be*. For the first time in well over a month (maybe several), I didn't set an alarm Friday night. No one got up here until after 8:30....which is pretty unheard of for us! Other than Billy, Peter, and Bayley going to my mom's to help her with a few things, and Billy making a quick run to the store, we didn't leave the house today. Billy and I each crossed a bunch of things off our to do lists, and the kids spent most of the day sorting toys and playing with things they found in the process.

Tonight was just a relaxing family night...we watched a movie online (we're loving Netflix's new unlimited online viewing policy!) and I finished cleaning off my desk and put the girls' hair up in rag rollers while Peter and Gracie played with the newly re-discovered Rescue Heroes and the Lego Duplo Mamoe sent home for Gracie.

My freshly cleaned and re-organized desk is *so* motivating...I am *really* hoping that the weather holds and that we don't have any schedule, health, or other surprises this week so that I can do the rest of the dining room. I am *sooo* ready to "get the show on the road" in here and get our new schoolroom/dining room in shape.

Once again, I have a whole list of posts I am chomping at the bit to finish...but I've stayed up *waaayy* too late already enjoying the fact that I *can* (without turning into an icicle!), and tomorrow will be a long day. I'm *really* hoping that tomorrow afternoon I will be able to post our 888 booklists, our new schedule, a *really* late birthday post, and maybe even another installment in the "2007 in Review" series. ;-) (I might finish that before 2008 is over...) I have a few other things rolling around in my head that I hope to get typed by the end of the week...a few of them have actually been percolating since before Christmas.

(Oh, and Julie...we ended up having frozen pizza for dinner last night...but tonight we had hamburger steaks and baked potatoes and tossed salad and green peas! Maybe I'll actually get a MPM post up Monday! :))



Well, I had *planned* to catch up on some blog posts this afternoon (more on that in a sec), but instead I've been taking a walk down memory lane this afternoon and feeling *very* old. There is nothing for making you feel that way like seeing photos of someone you babysat as a preschooler now competing in the Miss America pageant! In the process of checking to see how Miss Arkansas Katie Bailey is faring in the prelims, I ran across an old friend's blog, with pictures of lots of *other* old friends at the pageant, which led to google searching for some *other* old friends...and so on. :)

So...my list of long overdue blog posts will have to wait until later tonight or tomorrow. But I promise they are coming!! Billy was fussing the other night that "your blog is getting boring with no new posts" (he peeks in from work :)). So on Wednesday I dutifully typed up a post to catch up a bit...and somehow Blogger ate it before it was saved. :-( Grrr....

But for now...laundry awaits (and it might be nice if I figured out something to eat for supper, too...;-))


12 Years Ago Right Now...

Yes, 12 years ago right now we were in the midst of our wedding!
My parents...
Billy's parents...
Granny Kitty...Gilbert Baker playing the marimba at our reception...My wonderful, crazy maid of honor and best friend...

(See, I *said* she was crazy...I couldn't figure out why everyone was giggling while they were taking pictures...only later did I find out she had been wearing these Groucho glasses while doing my hair. ;-))
Leaning on a chair after all the festivities...my feet were killing me.
And by this point, I had tossed my shoes somewhere...:-DAs I was going through pictures to scan, it was amazing to think of all that has happened in that 12 years. Lots of things we planned and hoped for....and many more that we didn't plan and certainly never hoped for! It has been an incredible 12 years, and I am so thankful for the blessing of a godly husband who is a wonderful father to our children. I am thankful for all the ways he spoils me, for the ways he works hard to provide for us, for the ways that he goes above and beyond every day. For the thoughtful little details, the ways he makes me laugh, for always being there through the tough times, for putting up with *me*!

Billy...Happy Anniversary, and I love you very much!!


A Whole New Year of Mondays!

Wow! There is always something a little exciting to me about the first Monday after New Year's. As much as I love (well, love some years more than others ;-)) the holidays, it always feels good to get back to *real life*, and I always enjoy the planning and goal-setting that seems to go along with that.

I posted last week about my One Little Word for 2008. Shortly after that post, I began to think that I would really like to do a monthly focus word as I work toward making 2008 the year of *Haven* for our family. I was so excited to see this post by Heidi about doing that very thing! A key part of that for me is moving from being a *planner* to a *doer*. I am *great* at making plans and lists...but unfortunately, in the past few years, I've gotten in the *habit* of not following through on many of my plans. So...my watchword for January is *follow-through*. I am really trying to follow-through on the plans and lists I make, and actually work toward the goals.

I've certainly not crossed off everything on my *to do* lists so far this year, and I'm already behind in some areas as far as plans and goals are concerned. But even with a couple of major interruptions, I've *kept on keeping on* and made a *lot* of progress. (I'm involved in an online time management/procrastination busters challenge that has been a great motivator, too.) Hopefully this week will see even *more* things crossed off my list as we work toward a fully functioning schedule:

Bible Study/Child Training:

While we are continuing with some things that we started before Christmas, we are also starting out the year by getting back to the basics. I decided a few weeks ago to read the Bible through chronologically this year (and yes, I am already behind, but I plan to be caught up by the end of this week!). The kids and I are also going to read through the Bible chronologically.

In the area of child training, we are doing some *refresher* work on the basics of first time obedience with a good attitude, and being respectful. After a family session with dad on Sunday, yesterday went *much* better. I'm also planning to do some more detailed chore lists for the kids...broken down into the *parts* of a chore, in checklist form. My children already seem to be *list people* like their mom....so we're going to run with that!

Must Dos/Procrastination Busters:

I am loving the Procrastination Busters challenge I'm involved in right now in an online group. I have already knocked out some things that have been on my list for months! Here are this week's "must dos" (with Procrastination Buster items starred)

~ Kids' room clean so they have a place for Christmas toys. (Toss more than we are adding.) **

~Sort toys. (goes along with #1 but I'm making them two separate tasks, as there is cleaning that has to be done before we sort. **

~Decide on class to teach for our 6 week co-op this spring and submit info to co-op coordinator. **

~Latest photos burned to back-up disk. (I am *so* bad to procrastinate about this...ugh.) **

~ Meat cooked ahead for freezer/banana bread made. (I'm bad about letting bananas get *too* bad even for banana bread, and two weeks ago I had to throw away a package of meat b/c I didn't get it cooked in time. OUCH! **

~Christmas/birthday thank yous finished (this is for me *and* the kids)

~Library trip (our library schedule got way off during the holidays)

~School daily (T-F)

~One hour decluttering daily (T-F)

Home Blessing

This week's home blessing goes along with my Procrastination Busters...cleaning the kids room *well* and getting the toys sorted. I have some other things I would *like* to get to in this area this week, but I'm only going to *commit* to this one. :)

Creative Pursuits

I'm going to be making some changes in my Monday Meanderings categories over the next few weeks. One of those is adding a section for creative pursuits (hopefully I'll come up with a more creative title for that soon!) During the past few years, I have really sadly neglected this area, and that is one thing I want to change in 2008. Hopefully actually listing some plans in this area every week, whether they be scrapbooking projects, gifts, creative projects with the kids, being creative in making our home a *haven*, or something entirely different, will spur me on to actually get the creative juices flowing and *accomplish* some things!

~stealth project #1 (can't list details...it's a secret involving someone who might read my blog! ;-))
~stealth project # 2(different project, but ditto the above :-D)
~spend some time this week working with photo editing program to learn/experiment :)
~Order prints online for future scrapbooking!
~help Bayley finish purse we started a *long* time ago, now that I finally have the sewing machine working (so I can move on to new sewing projects)

Menu Plan Monday

Chicken salad
~Roast with carrots and potatoes
~Potato Soup
~Smoked Sausage Soup
~Enchiladas and Rice

*Sigh* I actually *started* this post on Monday, but the two days of sleep deprivation got to me before I got it finished and posted. So...I'm just now getting it finished on *Tuesday* morning. Maybe I need to start working on these posts on Sunday! :-)

For more Monday Meanderings, visit Tiany at Less of Me, More of Him. For great menu ideas, pop over to Laura's...I'm an Organizing Junkie.

(By the way, for those who have been following the 2007 Review posts, I hope to have part 3 up in the next day or two...:))


Random Images of 2007, part 2

Yesterday I started a multipart post on Random Images of 2007 . I decided that rather than reviewing things I *had* posted on my blog in 2007, I would review things that I *meant* to post and never did. *blush* This is the second (of several) installments in that post. These images are entirely random...with a bit of commentary as needed. :)

Strawberry Patch in the spring...

The many faces of Bayley...

We had some great field trips this year. Peter and Emlyn both *really* enjoyed the archery session at the Nature Center. They both hope to get more involved in archery this coming year. (They both did *really* well for first-timers!)


Great-Papa's birthday, Sept. 27, 2007. He turned 96! We enjoyed visiting with Aunt Marlena and Uncle Ken at the nursing home...

New cookbooks!! When we went to Hot Springs Village to visit Grandad and Nonny in October, Nonny had a whole box of cookbooks for me to add to my cookbook collection. Here they are, with a couple from the book sale we went to while we were there.
Fall Festival 2007...

Pet Show at Petco, October 2007. Mamoe entered Prissy...


Random Images of 2007, part 1

Many bloggers are doing year in review posts this week. I've seen some that are recaps of blog posts from each month of the year, some that quote the first sentence of the blog for each month, some that copy a picture a month...all kinds of variations. I had decided I needed to do a review of my own...but instead of reviewing what I *have* blogged about in 2007, I decided I would review some of the things I *planned* to blog about and never got to. :) So...here is the first of several installments of things that *should* have been in my blog this year that didn't quite make it...(they are in no particular order, and some are *random child photos* that I am posting because I just *like* them ;-))

Bayley in puppytails...
Bayley and Gloria-the-Evil-Cat...
Bayley and her friend Kaitlyn...they just *happened* to be in coordinating dresses one Sunday...
I took these "pictures of pictures" in November for a post I had planned to do in memory of my Granny Marks on her birthday, Nov. 12. From her I got my love of all things paper, tiny print fabrics, creating things, fried chicken and turkey and dressing, and my habit of being a packrat. ;-) I loved her dearly and miss her terribly.

The whole crew on a Sunday morning this fall...
Bay and Ammah Grace in their red plaid....
Mamoe with Prissy...
Ammah Grace and baby doll at Mamoe's on Thanksgiving...
Bayley at Mamoe's on Thanksgiving...
Our Thanksgiving brunch...yummy fruit salad from my friend Amanda...
...and sausage cheese bread, which has been a tradition since we got the recipe from my friend Kathy...
Bayley and Kaitlyn in their matching Christmas dresses...Bay's was a hand-me-down from Kaitlyn, and then another friend gave Kaitlyn one for this year...they were so excited about wearing them together!
Emlyn with Gloria-the-Evil-Cat. This cat is one of the most ill-tempered we have ever had....but she *loves* Emlyn. She follows her around like a puppy dog and sleeps with her every night. Emlyn is my true cat-lover and she and this cat are best buddies.
At Cracker Barrel with Mamoe on Thanksgiving...

Ammah Grace got a new Bible for Christmas from her wonderful Sunday School teacher, Mrs. JoAnn. Mrs. JoAnn has taught all of our children in Sunday School, and I was so glad when she came back to teach Gracie this year. Gracie loves her purple Bible...she carries it around and says, "This says, 'Holy Bible'," and "My Bible is precious". It is truly a treasure to her.

Christmas girls...
Bayley and Gracie in their "storybook coats"...
The kids in the back yard, climbing trees and enjoying a milder winter day...

Not long before Christmas, I took the entire refrigerator apart and gave it the most thorough cleaning it has had since we've had it. It was *spotless* (and we've done a pretty good job of keeping it that way.:)) I had planned to post these for a Tackle It Tuesday post, but didn't get to it. *sigh*

Ice Skating! Kaitlyn had her birthday party at the Jones' Center in Springdale. Neither Peter nor Bayley had ever ice skated, so it was quite an experience. They did really well, though, and I was proud of them!

A boy and his dog...