My 2017 Goals

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I apologize for being scarce lately. I’ve been trying to keep my priorities in order, and in all honesty, this is the first time I’ve sat at my computer in weeks. Life has been flying by, and at the end of the day, there is always so much that needs to get done, that I haven’t had much time for anything else.

2016 was a pretty good year on this end. We traveled quite a bit as a family, Junior made modest improvements in speech and language, I wrote my own social studies curriculum, Tater lost her last non-molar baby tooth, and we’re all alive and well to see another year.

I know everyone makes resolutions, and by February we all know those resolutions don’t stick. So this year, I’m making goals to achieve for 2017. The biggest goal this year is to be more present and more intentional with my time. Time has seemed to speed up ridiculously since I hit 30, and I know it’s only going to go quicker. I want to spend every second I can enjoying my family instead of letting the minutes, hours, and months pass by indifferently.

2017 Goals

-Spend more time being available to “mommy, will you play with us” and “let’s read”. The dishes can wait, the laundry can wait, but childhood can’t wait.

-Be the wife who is a joy to come home to. Sometimes I get exhausted by the end of the day and instead of being excited that my husband is home, I’m excited he’s there so I get a break. I want to show him daily what a top priority he is to me.

-Get Junior closer to age level in speech. He has gotten better, but is still a year or two behind where he should be. It would make his life a lot easier in a lot of ways if he were able to interact with people as a 4 year old, and not as a 2.5 or 3 year old.

-Get involved in a Bible study or mom’s church group. This one is a long time coming. I need a good network of like minded moms to encourage me in faith and life.

-Have more of a daily routine. Sometimes I don’t get everything done because I need a better schedule. I like freedom, so I don’t like rigid schedules, but it would be nice to have a better routine so I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to play catch up.

-Make more lunches at home. We eat dinner at home most every night, but gosh I struggle with eating lunch at home. It’s so much easier to grab something while we’re out and about. This year, for health and budget sakes, I want to eat lunch at home.

What are your goals for this year?

Cookbook Review: Food52: A New Way to Dinner

As a busy homeschooling mom with a special needs child, cooking and prepping ahead is a lifesaver for getting dinner on the table. So, I was intrigued and downright excited to see that the popular Food52 team put together a new cookbook based on the premise of prepping on weekends so you can spend minimal time during the week to get meals on the table.

The recipes are divided by season…Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each season has several different full week menus (5 dinners plus a couple of lunches) using fresh in season ingredients. Then, there is a “Game Plan” page, that lays out all the things you’ll need to do over the weekend to prep, and gives an approximate time you’ll be spending prepping (times range anywhere from 1.5-3 hours). Then, there is a grocery list, divided up by category (produce, herbs, pantry, spices, meat, etc.)

Each recipe begins with an introduction, typically where the author learned about the dish, or to explain certain obscure ingredients. At the end of the recipe, it tells you what to do the day of, since the recipes are meant for prep day.

Some of the recipes include:

-Oven Roasted Char with Herbed Mayonnaise
-Grain Salad with Asparagus, Baby Turnips, Feta, and Preserved Lemon Dressing
-Garlic Scape Pesto Quesadillas
-“Low-Maintenance” Fish Tacos with Pickled Onions
-Summer Squash Pasta
-Poached Tuna
-Baked Pasta with Sausage Ragu
-Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing
-Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine
-Oxtail Stew
-Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Sherry

I loved the premise of this cookbook. Prepping a few hours on the weekend to get 5 healthy, home cooked dinners on the table in no time flat? Yes, please! That said, I have a few little complaints:

1. The recipes are a little “gourmet” for us. Homemade Lamb Sausage, Couscous Salad with Pistachios, Brussels Sprouts Salad with Anchovy Dressing, and Oxtail Hash Over Toast are not the kinds of things that will make their way onto my weekly menu…ever.

2. As a result of this, the format becomes a bit challenging. Each menu was meant to be made in whole, so picking and choosing will affect prep time, ingredients (since many ingredients are reused over the course of the week in other planned meals), and prep instructions.

I still really liked the cookbook, and while I am probably not going to use as intended by making a full week of their recipes in one day, there are a few recipes I will probably try.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to give a review, positive or negative. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

 

Book Review: 365 Devotions for Rest

Oh a mom’s glorious life. It’s kind of like a version of Groundhog Day. Wake up, shower, make breakfast, do school, make lunch, go grocery shopping, clean kitchen, do laundry, clean bathrooms, clean living room, make dinner, clean up dinner, put kids to bed, go to bed, wake up, shower, make breakfast, do school….well, you get the idea. So, where in there is there any time for rest? God wants to give us rest, but many of us are too caught up in getting everything done to remember it.

So, it was perfect to receive a copy of 365 Devotions for Finding Rest, a new devotional from Zondervan Publishers. There are, of course, 365 devotions, one for every day of the year starting on January 1.

Each titled devotion begins with a Bible verse (verses are taken from pretty much every version you can imagine), followed by several paragraphs of devotional followed by a short one sentence prayer. The devotionals are all centered around the concept of rest (obviously), for mind, body and spirit. There are sometimes little anecdotes, sometimes commentary about a particular story from the Bible, and sometimes both.

Each devotional I looked at was like a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to making this devotional a part of my daily routine. It will remind me that I’m never too busy to sit down and accept the rest that God so desires for me to have.

*I received a copy of this book from Zondervan Publishers via BookLook Bloggers but was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Clutter Free Christmas Gifts for Kids

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If you’ve been a parent for longer than say, a week, you’ve realized just how much stuff little people can bring into the world with them. Newborn gear turns into infant toys which turns into toddler everything which then multiplies and multiplies as the kids get older until your entire house implodes under the weight of so much junk many treasures.

With each Christmas and birthday, many parents I know dread the influx of more stuff, and are looking for more creative things that take up less space.

I would rather my kids have fewer high quality toys and playthings than a lot of little toys. The reasons are two-fold. First, because I can’t stand clutter, and secondly because they appreciate things more than when there are just a lot of little things lying around.

Of course, kids are kids, and they will always be bringing little “treasures” into the house, but I try to do my part in being intentional about the things we purchase for them, and don’t fall into the “buying for the sake of buying” trap that many parents fall into around December.

Here are some of my favorite gifts for kids:

1. Outdoor Toys
I love outdoor toys because they don’t clutter up my house, and they get the kids out of the house to exercise or use their imaginations. Win-win!

-Sandboxes
-Water Tables
-Scooters (Such as this one)
-Wagons
-Bikes
-Outdoor playhouses
-Sports equipment

2. Books
Books have this horrible reputation for being “boring”, but there are SO many types of books out there, that you can find something for everyone.

-Favorite character books
-Coloring Books
-How-to Books (Like this sewing book I purchased for my daughter for Christmas this year).
-Other great “How-to” books include Drawing books, Lego design books, and Coding books.
-Activity Books
-FUN Reference Books. I say fun, because I’m not talking about Dictionaries and Thesauruses, haha. But, you can find some really neat coffee table quality reference books for any and all interests. Costco has beautifully photographed and fun-to-read reference books that cover Legos, American Girl Dolls, Movies, Animals, the Human Body, and Space that my kids really enjoy looking at.
-Magazine subscriptions…this is the gift that keeps giving all year long. And since kids adore getting mail, it’s like opening a new gift every month.

3. Learning Toys
So, when I said “clutter free”, you probably thought I was gonna go all anti-toy. Not at all. Like I said before, I would prefer my kids have fewer high-quality toys. Good quality learning toys fit that bill perfectly. But learning toys don’t have to be boring. Some of my all-time favorite toys are:

-Magformers
-LEGOs
-Wooden Blocks
-Puzzles
-Logic games
-Pattern Blocks

4. Experience Gifts
This is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some ideas:

-Movie tickets
-Gift cards to the ice cream store
-Museum passes
-Zoo tickets
-Tickets to see a special performance (one year we took my daughter to see Disney on Ice as one of her presents)
-Amusement park passes
-A coupon for an outing to go bowling/trampoline park/rock climbing/mini golf/laser tag, etc.
-Lessons for something they want to do…such as horseback riding lessons, ice skating lessons, karate, etc.

5. Consumables
Consumables are considered anything that stays in my house for a limited amount of time. Examples of this include:
-Art Supplies
-Favorite snacks
-Science Experiment Kits (my sister is putting together an awesome box for Tater this year with a bunch of printed out science experiments, all the directions, and all the supplies needed to complete it. She’s going to love it!)

6. Fun Clothes
Clothes don’t have to be boring. My kids love getting shirts or pajamas with a favorite character on them. This year, I purchased new warm pajamas and slippers for my kids because we’re going on a trip to the snow next month.

Hopefully these are some ideas to help you keep your Christmas stress and clutter free!

*this post contains affiliate links, but all suggestions are my own based on items I have purchased myself that we just really love! I have no affiliation with any of the brands mentioned.

Bible Review: NKJV Study Bible

I’ve had my current Bible since I was a freshman in high school…that was nearly 2 decades ago. But, like an old, trusty, reliable friend, I just couldn’t bear to replace it. The handwritten notes and underlined verses reminded me of special moments in my life, and helped to carry me through the difficult times.

But, lately, I have been considering getting a new, fresh Bible to write all new notes and look at passages from the perspective of this stage of life. Plus, the book of Micah fell out…

I couldn’t resist checking out this NKJV Study Bible from Thomas Nelson. First of all, the cover colors on this Bible are beautiful. The teal and dark blue on the imitation leather cover are one of my favorite color combinations (and my 8 year old daughter even asked me to buy a copy of this Bible for her because she loves the colors so much.) There are a lot of really great features in this Bible to help you study and get a deeper understanding of the Word.

Some of the information I ran across include: a chart showing the types of Jewish calendars as compared with our calendar, five pages of Strongs words (word studies from the original Hebrew and Greek), as well as many maps, timelines, charts, articles, and tons of commentary on each page.

The only thing I wish this Bible had was red letters for when Jesus spoke. That was the only thing I didn’t love.

As a whole, though, this Bible offers a lot of information that can help both the new believer and the seasoned believer to have a better understanding of God’s Word. I loved all the information it packed in, and I look forward to this Bible being one that I can use for many more years to come.

*I received a review copy of this Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a review, positive or negative All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.