Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy "almost" New Year!...

What the heck happened to fall? I blinked and it was gone and I cannot believe I have not updated the blog since the middle of AUGUST! Wow sorry about that! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! We did. :) I gave the kids time off from schoolwork (I love homeschooling.) for month of December. We made dozens and dozens of cookies,I made peanut brittle for my dear neighbors, we bundled up in hats and scarves and took a thermos of hot cocoa and headed out for a drive to look at Christmas lights. We attended a beautiful Christmas service at church, watched movies, played board games, and in general really celebrated the holiday by hanging out with each other. This year was a constant reminder to me to hold our loved ones close,as it seems as if I was constantly hearing stories from former classmates, or friends or people in our community about their loved ones finding out they were sick, or they lost a friend or family member and then 2 days before Christmas a teammate on my son's special olympics team passed away after a two month battle with pneumonia and had been in the hospital. It just made me want to put my children in a bubble and keep them from everything. However that is no way to live life. Or especially go through a season where we celebrate the birth of our great savior. So instead I chose to just focus on family and keep our outside commitments to a minimum and just work on creating good memories my kids will hopefully remember when they are grown. I want them to remember this as the season where Mom and Dad slowed down and we had fun and always talked about the true meaning of Christmas.

Now that I have waxed philosophical on you...:) I will leave you with a tip for all those extra boxes leftover..if you have not already recycled them. :) Why not fill the empty boxes with used toys the kids no longer play with so there is room for their new stuff...and then give it to a local favorite charity? Or even better why not fill up those boxes with supplies and a thankyou note and ship them overseas to our devoted soldiers? I am not going to promise to update too regularly (though I will try) because when I do that I always blink and suddenly it is months later! :) But I am going to try not to go that long again.
Until next time!
Encouraging Mom

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mom Binder!!

Ok so I don't know why I constantly say I will do better about posting and then a month goes by. :) I think I will not say that anymore and just post as often as I can.

So today I am posting about my sanity saving tool. My Mom binder (or as my kids call it my portable brain) I love this because it really helps me keep track of everything I do. I got the idea from the Flanders Family blog and even got some of my calendar pages through them. What is in my binder? Glad you asked. You can put anything in here that you want, especially stuff you want to remember. Here is what I have in mine and this is what works for me.

What you need to make a Mom Binder:
1 binder (bigger size not sure the inches)
dividers with pockets
anything you want to add.
I realize that leaves it wide open but I firmly believe that in order for the Mom Binder to work you need to put in it what works for YOU not me. If you design it just like mine and it does not fit your lifestyle it will be a big failure and I don't want that. I want you to be excited and use it to make your life easier.
Most important...decorate it, make it your own and add some style to it with stickers, paint, picture inserts whatever you want. It needs to be attractive and something you want to carry around.

First and foremost in the first divider I have my Calendar, by that I mean I have each month with good size squares in it, and I also have one sheet in the back with all the year calendars so I can tell at a glance what holidays are coming up. It was important to me to have one with good size squares for me to make notes in. I am a writer, I am not great with technology however give me a #2 pencil and or pen and I am good to go. I suppose these days you can call that "old school":)

The next section I have is my menu section. This is super important for me as far as shopping, our family's health, and saving money goes. The way I do it is I make up a menu for the week. Although there is meals planned on certain days I do not always follow it. What I do however is make sure I have all the ingredients for each menu item that way if I don't feel like making Pot Roast on Tuesday and want to choose one of the other meals planned out for another day I know I have all the ingredients on hand. It also helps that I have a pretty good variety. To make my menu planning easier I also keep at least a month or so worth of weekly menus in this section so I can refer to others. When making a menu I also like to put a note as to where I found the recipe...too often in the past I have went to make a new recipe and forgotten where I had seen it which takes a lot of time to find. In the front of this section on the divider page it has a pocket. I keep our local takeout menus in there as well. This is very helpful when I am out at my daughter's cheer practice, or running one of the boys to their activities and we do decide to order takeout then I have those takeout menus with me and don't have to call 411 to get the number. I also keep my coupons that I will be using at the next grocery store trip with me.

Next section is extra worksheets. As a homeschooler, I plan out the kids schoolwork and plan out how long I think it will take them, however often times they finish early while I am working with one of the other kids. Therefore I have a worksheet available to keep the kids busy. It is great for doc offices, therapy appts etc. Also it is wonderful for when we are going somewhere and the kids "forget" to bring their schoolwork along, I tell them "lucky for you I have some extra work" it could be anything, spelling, word search, crossword puzzle, or as in the picture math time sheets.

I am still adding to this binder. I am currently working on the medical section where I will have "copies" of immunization records, numbers for doctors, neurologists, therapy center, allergies etc. I will also be adding a household section where I keep notes of when we put in a new water heater, or chores that need to be done, etc. etc.

At the back of this binder I put in a legal notepad for jotting down notes, phone numbers, ideas for decorating, whatever. Grocery lists even.

I will add to mine as I go, my Mom Binder goes everywhere with me. Literally. Sports events, homeschool co-op, it is in the car with me always. For me it has been a valuble tool. Don't forget to check out http://wearethatfamily.com/ for more WFMW tips. ;)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well Blow me down! ..

I got my first blog award! How cool! Thanks to Holly at http://happysahmworld.blogspot.com/ she gave me the "Sweet Blog award". Holly has a sweet blog herself and you should definitely check it out. :) Thanks again Holly! Please bear with me as I learn how to do this whole link thing. :) haha. I am still learning. I like to think of myself as a late bloomer in technology and a work-in-progress.

Here are the sweet blog rules:

~Give this award to ten sweet bloggers

~Make a post about the award and include the picture and the person who gave it to you

~Put the award on your blog

~Let the nominated 10 know you awarded them by leaving a comment in their blog.

Here are my ten links:

She hosts the Friday Five Carnival and her blog is just fun and funny!

If you like Erma Bombeck you will love this blog. Deedee is a talented writer and great homeschool Mom...oh but don't drink anything while reading her blog ...chances are good you will spit it out all over your comp while laughing reading her posts.

~Enjoying the Small things http://www.kellehampton.com/

This is a very inspirational blog. The gorgeous pics not withstanding Kelle does an amazing job writing and her birth story about her youngest who was born with Down Syndrome is sure to make you cry but in a good way, and her two little peanuts are adorable.

I actually know these ladies in person and have tasted their amazing cakes and cookies and let me tell you...if you want inspiration or to order some fabulous cookies, cakes etc. check this page out!

How cute is the name of this blog? Ally is a fantastic cook and I have tried a lot of her recipes they are great! This is a fun blog check it out.

~Hartley's life with 3 boys http://www.hartleysboys.com/

This is an amazing blog. It details a Mom raising her boys and dealing with special needs and especially sensory processing disorder. As a Mom of an SPD child myself I have found great inspiration and tips through here.

Just as the name suggests there is some fantastic homemaking tips on this blog and it is one of my favorites.

~Love,Laughter,and Laundry http://julie-lll.blogspot.com/

This is a fun and inspirational blog following Julie and her 7 children. She recently adopted two of her kids and they are just the cutest kids. She is honest and funny and you just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her.

Awesome tips and tutorials for all kinds of craft projects here. :)

Great site with more tips and tutorials. Often when I am on these posts I get ideas and then start heading to the hardware and craft stores! :)


Five Question Friday and school musings..

Well another darn week has flown by and only this post from me. I have got to get better and I will, however the kids started their official school year this week. :) Why so early you ask? That is because my children are homeschooled, and what works for us is to do a 6 weeks on 2 weeks off schedule year round, with the exception of a month in June so they can decompress and I can as well as plan for the next year curriculum. Which brings me to a bit of advice....any of you homeschoolers out there ever go to a curriculum fair and actually bring your wallet? Amateur. JUST KIDDING! :) I have been homeschooling for going on my 5th year now and each year I love it more, however when I go to curriculum fairs, walmart, or any place that sells school supplies, hubby and the kids have made a rule that I am not allowed to bring my wallet, only a pithy envelope full of a predetermined amount of cash. I don't know why. I really don't. Maybe it was because of the time I came home with a giant moving truck full of supplies and a crazed look in my eyes, announcing that they were having a sale and I was heading back for more but needed to drop off the truck first? Oh wait I think that was an Ikea commercial, however when my kids saw that commercial they immediately all said "Look Mommy that is just like you at a homeschool sale!" Yep I am loved. However all kidding aside our first week went GREAT! We are still working out the kinks of our new school and house schedule and it usually takes a week or two...and maybe a really good Margarita. Just Sayin. :) Any of you homeschoolers out there start your year yet? If so leave me a comment and let me know how it went. I will try and do a post later about what we are using for curriculum. I love love love to see what others use for curriculum.

Until then here are my Five Question Friday answers!

1.What were your school colors?

Mine were Blue and Gold, although it is hard to get true gold in uniforms so most of the athletic uniforms were blue and yellow. :)

2.What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Hands down it was an old friend of mine who had come to visit and meet my kids for the first time and she told me that my kids were almost as cute as hers. :) Anyone who is a Mom understands that is a high compliment since all us Mom's think our kids are the cutest.

3.Do you buy cheap or expensive toilet paper?

interesting and revealing question...how am I to answer that without coming across as a snob or as the person who sentences her family to cheap tp? hahaha. I kid. Usually I buy the nicer stuff but always with a coupon.

4.Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you or have you thrown one for someone else?

I have thrown several but never had one thrown for me. :)

5.What is one material possesion you cannot live without?

Hmmm that is tough. I would say a tie between my wedding and anniversary ring, and my family pictures. I know it said one but I could not pick one. sorry. I tried. :)

Till next time!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Five Question Friday...

Wow where did the week go? I even had a few posts in mind for this week too, however playing cards on the trampoline with my son, picking up my daughter from summer camp and then staying up late with hot chocolate to hear her stories, getting creamed playing monopoly with my youngest son, planning lessons for homeschooling we are starting next week, Zumba classes, sitting on the back deck in the sun with our feet in the wading pool chatting in the evenings until late, and just enjoying the husband and kids got in the way. lol Last weekend was the best, the bday bbq hubby threw me was wonderful and we had so much fun. My girlfriend made me an AWESOME cake , and we all laughed and enjoyed the sunshine.

Here are my Friday Answers. :)

1. Do you collect anything?

Actually I do. I collect purses, and recipes. I am always trying something new.

2.Name 3 celebrities that you find good looking.

wow let's see if I can answer this without aging myself. haha. I would say : Matthew Mcconaughey, something about the southern drawl and gorgeous eyes, John Stamos whatever his secret is that man never ages, and Scott Baio...whatever leave me alone I still think he is cute. lol

3.Do you have any scars, if so what is the story behind them?

I don't actually. I must have not been the most adventerous child because not only do I not have any scars, but I have also never broken a bone either (knock on wood)

4.What is a food you like to eat that others might label weird?

Honestly right now nothing I am a pretty healthy eater (except for the pound or five of chocolate I keep on hand) I would have to say it was when I was preggers with my daughter and Pizza hut had the sicilian pizza..I used to get a sicilian pizza with pepperoni, pineapple and jalapenos on it. My husband called it a heart attack on a plate. lol

5.Have you ever seen a tornado in real life?

No cannot say I have. My husband has but he is from down south.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Five Question Friday. :)

This weekend promises to be a fun one in our household. :) Hubby is throwing me a big belated bday bbq bash at our house. I cannot wait, it is always fun to get together with our group of friends. You see our group consists of 10 other couples, all of us got married in the same year and now the number of people is obviously bigger too since we have had children. We always have so much fun, the kids play while us "grownups" and I use that term loosely when we all get together...play a whole host of board games while dining on various dishes because it is always potluck, and chocolate of course...yes we are a wild bunch! lol Then my sweet daughter who is growing way to fast for Mom and Dad's taste is leaving for church camp on Sunday. I will miss my angel but she will be back soon and renewed in the Lord's presence. Summer has FINALLY made it here to our area so we will be sure to enjoy that, we are taking the boys on a hike Sunday after daughter leaves. Oh and of course I will make sure I stop by my Zumba class. that is my new obsession..so much fun and I cannot believe how fast it goes by not to mention the slimming that occurs because of it. I love that my instructor is not 22 and a size minus zero too. Hope everyone has a wonderful blessed weekend! :)

My Little Life hosts this blog carnival, check out the questions there. There is so many creative answers. Fun!

Here is my answers:

1. What is one food you can eat everyday?

Right now it is spinach strawberry salad. YUM

2.Are you working in the career you thought you would be when you were 18?

YES, in fact not only did I think I would be in my career but so did anyone who knew me. lol Actually, I am shifting my career just a bit but will still be working with families. Just finished my certification as a family manager coach! woohoo!

3.What is something you wish you would have done when you were younger and you didn't?

Maybe be a little more assertive, I tend to be too nice and get stepped on a lot, however I really would not change much because I believe all our experiences along the way shape who we currently are...and I am happy with who I currently am and the way my life is going. It may not be perfect but I can live with that. ;)

4.What color are your kitchen walls?

Mine are cream colored, but with decor on them. :)

5.Do you remember what your very first favorite song was?

Hmmm I think it was Beat it by the late Michael Jackson. I know the guy had issues but he was and still is one of my favorite singers.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kitchen Tips

One area of being a family manager I have always enjoyed is the Kitchen. :) Now mind you I do not have a big kitchen it is tiny, but I try and always make sure that a lot of love comes out of that little kitchen. My hope is that someday when my children are grown they will think back and have fond memories of Mommy's kitchen.
I love to create new menus, try different recipes, find ways to sneak more veggies into my kiddos, make our food budget stretch, and make healthy easy to prepare meals. Here is some of the tips I have for doing that. These tips are in no particular order just a mix of different ones that I use for cooking, meal planning, and healthy meals.

~ to get more veggies in kids...put vegetable purees in sauces. It is an easy way with no fuss from the kids. Using a blender puree whatever vegetable you want with some water and presto you have a puree to stir into food.
~some of the purees I have used for different things are: squash in macaroni and cheese (this is one of my favorites..the kids think I make gourmet mac n cheese), pureed carrots, squash, peas, green beans, even beets (just a little it can be overpowering) stirred into spaghetti sauce, or other tomato based sauce.
~ homemade smoothies is a fantastic way to get more fruit in kids, especially if you freeze the smoothies into popsicle molds!
~ For easier meal prep try and do as much as you can ahead of time, a few ways to do that are: When I get home from grocery shopping I take all meat and do prep work before I freeze it.
-For steaks, pork chops, ribs, chicken ...I put it in a ziploc bag and then add my marinade to it and then freeze, when you thaw it out it will already be marinated and tenderized for you.
- For ground turkey, ground beef...I will first make any meat balls, hamburger patties, meatloafs ahead of time and freeze so all I have to do is pop it in the oven after it thaws. The rest of the ground beef,turkey gets cooked and seasoned and then frozen. On a night when we are super busy I can take out the cooked beef and make tacos, nachos, taco salad, soup whatever half my work is done already.
-Cheddar Cheese can be frozen after being grated.
~ This is a tip that Fly Lady taught me...always shine your sink before you go to bed. It really is nice to come down to that in the morning.
~ I also line my crisper drawers with paper towels for easier clean up
~ 1 cup of water in a microwave set on high for 3 minutes makes cleanup a snap.
~ Menu planning is key to staying on budget, I usually make up a list of enough meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 2 weeks (since I go shopping once every two weeks for big shopping) Then instead of assigning days to each meal..I just make sure I have enough ingredients for that many days worth of meals so I don't wind up running to the store because I am out of something.
~ I love to make homemade potpurri to put on the stove on low so the kitchen always smells good...especially when hubby comes home from work. I want him to feel comforted walking in the door.
My goal is to make my house a haven for my family.
What is your goal for your kitchen?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ok so my plans to blog regularly have been run over by the busy-ness of the end of school year and end of sports. :) Hopefully I can keep up more after that. Until then here is my Menu Plan for the week. ;)


B-Bagels and smoothies

L- PBJ Sandwiches, goldfish crackers, and fruit

D- Taco Salad


B-scrambled eggs,fresh fruit, and toast

L-PB & honey tortilla wraps, fruit, and cut up veggies

D-no cook for me the hubs and kids are going to a bbq! ( I am working and will have leftovers)


B- smoothies, hardboiled eggs, and cereal

L- mac n cheese (with pureed squash mixed in), green beans, and fruit

D- Chicken salad in pita pockets with carrot sticks


B-homemade poptarts & HB eggs

L- homemade hotpockets, and granola bars (also homemade)

D-Three Cheese Ziti


B-smoothies, toast and HB eggs

L- Tuna Casserole, green beans and strawberries

D- Hamburgers and fries.

Snacks for the week (here is what I have available that the kids can choose from)

celery w/pb


apple slices with fruit dip

homemade cinnamon pita chips

homemade beef jerky


fruit rollups (homemade and really is more like fruit leather but I call it that for kids)

homemade granola bars.

as you can see I do make a lot of things homemade and that is because I am trying to get our family back to real whole foods which requires a lot more baking and dehydrating etc. for me, however I usually make the snacks for the week on Sundays and then keep them bagged up or in freezer till ready throughout week. It is just easier for me. We also have a lot of smoothies because that is the easiest way to get the vitamins in the kids, lol and to be honest veggies for me. We have a vitamix which I totally LOVE LOVE LOVE. I will always sing it's praises.


Monday, May 17, 2010

I stumbled across a post over at "I'm an organizing Junkie" called Menu Plan Monday and boy is she a girl after my own heart! Great idea. So I am going to jump on board this week. :) I am also including 1 recipe.

Here is our menu plan:

Breakfasts: oatmeal, homemade blueberry muffins, hardboiled eggs, cereal, and smoothies. These will be mixed up during the week.

Lunches: mac n cheese, sandwiches, quesadillas, french toast & scrambeled eggs (breakfast for lunch), homemade pita pockets with tuna or chicken salad filling, salads for hubby and I.

Dinners: Tilapia w/orzo and fresh basil on a bed of fresh spinach, taco salad, green chile chicken enchiladas, homemade deli style sandwiches and fries, spaghetti and salad.

Snacks: carrot sticks, celery sticks w/pb, homemade pumpkin muffins, crackers, fruit.

Let me explain my menu planning strategy. I have spent so much time in the past assigning each snack and meal to a specific day to balance things out etc. However often times what I have planned for one day my family will say they really don't want and would rather have something else from a different day. So instead I come up with meals for the week making sure to balance out nutrition etc. and then make sure I have enough ingredients on hand for the meals I planned and then we can decide each day. It makes it easier on me, and I know that the I will have all the ingredients on hand. That said let me make one thing clear, I do NOT make an individual thing for everyone. Whatever meal I make is what is served that night. I refuse to become a short order cook. I love to cook but let's be reasonable. lol

Here is the smoothie recipe I make for my kids usually daily for breakfast along with something else. I love it because I put their vitamins in it and it is awesome! This recipe makes a LOT so if you have leftovers simply put them in an icecube tray and add a popsicle stick and freeze for yummy fruit bars after dinner. :)

15-20 frozen strawberries (I get mine in a big bag at Costco for a reasonable price)

3/4 cup frozen blueberries

3/4 cup plain yogurt (if you want a kick you can substitute a different flavor, we love peach)

3/4 cup orange juice

3 tbs ground flax seeds

2 whole bananas

mix it up in your blender and serve. totally yummy!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Frugal Friday!

I have two tips for Frugal Friday this week because I am just feeling generous today. ;)

First off Freezer meals. I know not exactly a new idea however a lot of people assume that you have to stand in a kitchen for a day or two all day long to make a bazillion freezer meals so you don't have to "cook" the rest of the month, except for side dishes etc. and that sucks the fun out of it. However there is another way you can stock up your freezer in less time. Are you ready for it? Next time you make a meal, double or triple the batch and freeze the leftovers. That is it. Seriously it does not have to be that hard. Another side benefit to this is when you say have a really really hectic day as we all do where the washing machine flooded the laundry room, and junior gets off the bus with a laundry list of homework to do, hubby comes home late, sister has cheer practice etc. etc. and all of a sudden the dinner hour hits and all these eyes are staring at you wondering what is for dinner and you realize that you forgot to make it, you can take out a meal and pop it in the oven, then you can play a family game or do whatever it is you need to do while it is cooking. most meals will cook in the time it takes delivery which is much more expensive and not nearly as healthy either, plus it is cheaper...errr Frugal. :)

My second tip today is a fairly new one and may not sound all that frugal but it is. If your local store that you shop at has a delivery service USE IT! Seriously. Before you jump on me about this consider this. When you shop online at the grocery store it eliminates the one thing that gets us all....impulse buys. For one thing you are at home and not at the store smelling all the wonderful french bread, or other bakery items, you are not standing in line with 50 other people who take an hour to check out, and deciding you need to throw in that 50 cent bar of chocolate or 5. Another benefit is that online you can see a running total of what you are spending so you can add or delete items as your budget allows which is a heck of a lot less embarrassing then standing in line with a red face when you see the total (because you forgot your calculator and your math does not add as easily in your head as it used too) and you have to sheepishly say ok take this back and this back etc. Most stores have fairly decent delivery prices and many of them are free after you spend a certain amount and quite frankly that amount is not super high anyway. Plus it is totally awesome when they bring the bags out of their van and into your house for you so all you have to do is put the groceries away! It saves a ton of time too. I do my shopping online after the kids have gone to bed and after I have done my menu planning. It is awesome because it really saves me time and ultimately money from not buying impulses, saving gas to and from the store or sometimes even several stores.

So there you have it. My frugal Friday tips for you. :)
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Hello there,

I decided to jump on the blog bandwagon. This is going to be a very specific type of blog in which I will share tips and "from the trenches" stories of womanhood,wifehood,and most importantly to me Mommyhood. :) I hope that people that read this blog come away with a tip or too, or at least a feeling that they are not alone in this whole family manager thing. Whether or not you are a single mom, newlywed just starting out in your life, seasoned mom, even a stay at home dad etc. no matter I believe everyone can benefit from a blog with tips and stories. After all isn't the blog world kind of like the new age "bridge group" ?

A little bit about me;
I am a proud wife and mommy. I married my husband almost 13 years ago and we have 3 beautiful kids who at times test our patience and will (just sayin)but always fill us with joy and great stories to keep the grandparents and others laughing.
I have always had a strong domestic gene that my mom says skipped over her and came straight to me from my grandmother who was the ultimate domestic goddess. Seriously she was always put together and polished and her house always looked like a showcase in a home and gardens magazine. Martha Stewart had NOTHING on her. Grandma had a strong affection for bleach to the point where all us family used to say "be careful she has bleach and she knows how to use it" Believe me I know...she bleached one of my favorite peach and white striped sweaters when I was in highschool and turned it pink and white. Nevertheless when it comes to running my own house I try and strive to be a cross between her and the proverbs 31 woman. :) Grandma passed on shortly after I got married but I still think of her often and remember her fondly.

In any case you will notice that I start off on one point and sometimes trail off on another lol. Back to my story, I currently am an "at home" Mom however I say that in quotes because honestly in this day and age even stay at home mom's don't stay at home. I currently am a nanny for two families in my home while I homeschool my own children, and run our home. Lest you think that I juggle all the balls in the air easily ...fear not I drop at least one of them all the time it seems, sometimes all of them. :)
Hang on for the ride and if you have questions or would like a tip on something your having trouble with feel free to drop me a line and let me know. I won't bite I promise (unless you have chocolate in your hand..and then all bets are off)