Thursday, December 26, 2013

Naomi's Vocabulary

This is very funny indeed. Daddy and Naomi practice their enunciation. (Hint: Naomi wins I think)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Gafford's


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toy Rotation Boxes

With Christmas coming I know I'm anxious about all the toys coming our way. I love and appreciate all the generosity but all the toys can be daunting. I've noticed the more toys the girls have out the more gets dumped out and none of them get played with. The girls get overwhelmed by the mess and then cleanup becomes a big chore instead of a fun game.

A few months ago I put together a couple toy rotation boxes which only contained puzzles or stuffed animals. When I wanted to rotate puzzles I had to get that one box and rifle though it to get out what I wanted. I never liked this rotation system. It just didn't fit our needs.



The 6 bins awaiting their toys!

About a month ago I got down 6 plastic bins from the attic and began sorting through the girls toys. I enlisted Daniel's help as I was very overwhelmed by the process and didn't really know where to start. I knew what I wanted to do but didn't know how where to begin or how to put my plan in action. Thankful for him! With a little talking about what I wanted from our toys and how the girls behaved if there were too many toys out we decided on our plan.

Here's what to do:
1. Get out the boxes you want to use, whatever you have on hand is fine.
2. If possible, chat with someone else about your plan of action. Two heads are better than one!
3. Start the process of sorting: Throw away broken toys and any trash that made your way into the toys. Put together the toys that go together. We found it best to focus on one group of toys (ex. little people, puzzles, etc). This is also a great opportunity to gather a donate pile full of toys that aren't loved anymore.
4. Place toys in the bins and and remember what works best for you and your kiddo's.


 
The sorting process, taken care of Daddy. :)

All done sorting. Now time to hike all the boxes up to the attic.


At the end of the process each of our bins contained different items. Most bins contained 2-3 puzzles, a few little people, some cars, stuffed animals, a board game and a few stuffed animals. In one bin we put our little people farm and the people and animals that matched, 2-3 puzzles, a couple stuffed animals, some flash cards and a board game (just to give you an idea).

The goal of each box was to put a combination of toys for the girls to play with when I got them out. When I get out the box they have a variety of toys to play with. The boxes weren't filled to the top but have more than enough toys to keep them occupied. I like that the boxes create "new" toys to play with for the girls, too. It's fun for them to see what each box contains.

The great news in all this toy rotation box stuff: no more cluttered floor, no more overwhelmed mama or girls, no more anger about the junk on the floor. The boxes really have helped not only my sanity but the girls too. Clean up is much easier and fun again. And the less toys that are out, the happier the girls are. 



Less clutter = more fun for everyone!
Note: I do keep some items out all the time. A few stuffed animals, the baby doll strollers, the basketball goal and balls, their building blocks, books and their kitchen/cooking toys. These items get the most play and always make the girls happy. As of right now, this is all I've had out for the past 3 weeks. They haven't asked for any other toys and seem content with what they have. Out of sight out of mind, right?
After Christmas I will put a couple new toys out that I think they'll enjoy all the time and the rest will go in the toy rotation boxes, hence the reason I left room in each box. I know I'll also go through the boxes and see if there's anything to donate. After a few months I'll go through each box again and continue to add to the donate pile. Keeping clutter to a minimum is good for this mama. :)


Do you implement anything in your home to keep toy clutter to a minimum?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Menu Plan: Dec 15-21

My organizing has gone to a whole other level. I whipped out the label maker and labeled everywhere
our refrigerator. I sent this picture to Daniel last week and the reply I got was, "You need help."
That's probably a true statement. But I feel more organized with it labeled. I'm putting food and drink items back in their proper spot. It's working out well. I think I do need help though. :)


It's winding down to Christmas... 10 days to go! Frankly, I'm ready for it to be over. We don't do a lot around here but with all the commercials and stuff, it's getting more nauseating with each year. Yes, I like presents and spending time with family and talking about Jesus but all the in-between things are just tiring! Anyone else?!?!

Moving on... our week is shaping up to be a busy one. Tomorrow night we travel down to Olive Branch to pick up our Azure Standard order. It's my last order with that group as I've found one in Arlington and only 15 minutes from our house. It'll be much better! I'll have to tell you how much I love Azure in another post! Wednesday is Daniel's office Christmas party. He started a new job last week so we'll go and meet everyone on Wednesday. I'm nervous but excited. I've already been consulting my sister on what to wear. This casual, stay-at-home momma doesn't have a clue! Thankful for her and her advice. And next Sunday is our church candlelight service and the preschool is putting on a short live nativity program. They did it last year and it was so sweet. I always love see what shenanigans the kids pull in those situations. It'll be fun as always!

Now, onto the menu!

Sunday-
bacon, yogurt, leftover donuts
leftovers
leftovers

Monday-
eggs with baked good, fruit
noodles, cheese, pepperoni, fruit
roast chicken {new recipe}, potato, vegetable (this will be my first ever roast chicken in the oven!)

Tuesday-
pancakes and bacon, fruit
grilled cheese or homemade pizza (I keep our freezer stocked with these)
breakfast for dinner

Wednesday-
oatmeal or cereal, fruit, yogurt
peanut butter sandwich, chips/pretzels, fruit
Daniel's work party

Thursday-
omelets or egg sandwich
leftovers
spaghetti, french bread, salad

Friday-
eggs with cinnamon toast, fruit
noodles, cheese, pepperoni's, fruit
homemade pizza

Saturday-
special breakfast day: donuts, french toast, waffles, omelets, danish, breakfast casserole and fruit
leftovers from Thursday night
company chicken casserole, 2 vegetables


As you can see I'm posting breakfast, lunch and dinner. I make the same things for breakfast and lunches each week but change up our dinner. I got so bogged down in planning all 3 different meals each week that I decided to keep breakfast and lunch the same. It offers us variety and I don't feel like I'm eating the same things all the time. I do switch foods up, as needed, if we're running low on certain things. This method has been working for us for a few months now and I'm happy with it. Do you plan breakfast and lunch?

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Naomi's 2nd birthday!

This past Saturday we celebrated our sweet, vibrant and feisty girls 2nd birthday! We had an animal theme since she loves the zoo and all things animals. Gigi bought these fun animal masks from our Amazon wish list. We all had tons of fun wearing the masks and changing our animal personalities. 

I bought 2 dozen cookies from a friend. She decorated them with zebra print and giraffe print. They were so cute and delicious! I highly recommend her goodies and if you're interested in her items I'll give you the name of her Facebook page. She bakes and decorates cupcakes and cakes, too. Her prices are very reasonable. And sometimes you just need a little help in party favors. :)



How cute are these?!?! They were delicious!
The birthday girl. She loves "zeebies."

Big sister, Nyla. She's half kitty cat and half leopard. :)

Sweet sisters!

We're singing "happy birthday" to her. She wasn't very thrilled with us doing this at first, she screamed, arched her back and waved her arms at us, while saying" no, don't sing to me." Yes, she's feisty. She got over it when I set the cake down in front of her. She's hilarious.

Blowing out her candles with help from mommy.

We did it!

Ready for cake!

Yum

Yum
We had a blast celebrating our little one's birthday. I made it through the party without crying. Go me. Though, her actual birthday I did sob. I always do on their birthdays. I love that they're growing up, they're doing what they're supposed to do but it's going by so fast. Such is life!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

She told me, "I hate you."

A couple nights ago I was in the kitchen getting dinner together, the girls were sitting at the table and Nyla turned around and looked at me and said, "I hate you." She had a little smirk on her face. I asked, "What did you say?" "I hate you" she said again.

I know she doesn't understand what she's saying. She's three. She's trying out words and seeing what they look like to her and seeing our reaction. I didn't overreact. I told her we don't use that word because it isn't nice. Then I turned around toward the counter and began to cry. That word from my precious, loving three-year-old. How can she already know that word?

I went upstairs and immediately hit my knees and prayed for her and for me. How do I handle this? How can I explain how hurtful that word is to me and to others?

The last thing I wanted to do was talk to her or even look at her. She cut me deep with one simple phrase. I know she doesn't know what it means but that doesn't make it any less painful to me. I never thought I'd hear, "I hate you" from my three-year-old, not this soon in our walk together.

Daniel sent her to her room after all this so we were both in our rooms crying. Like I said, the last thing I wanted to do was talk to her but I felt God pulling me to go in her room and hold her. He extends grace to me every single day and I knew I needed to extend the same to her. Forgive her. Love her. Hold her. So I did.

I scooped her up and we sat in her chair and cried together. I explained in few words that hate is a hurtful word that we don't use on anyone. We speak of love in our home not of hate. She told me she was sorry and we cried some more together.

While this isn't something I want to experience again, I'm sure I will. And just as I did, I'll extend grace and love, just as Christ does for me.





Sunday, October 20, 2013

Menu Plan Monday



Hello out there!

This blog has been quiet lately, minus a few videos are our precious girls. :)

We've had a lot going on in our family lately. Please keep my immediate family in your prayers, we're going through a tough time. God has us in the palm of His hand and He'll see us out of our bad time. It's still a hard time, though.

I've continued to menu plan the last couple of weeks, using what I have in our freezer and cooking a few old recipes. I've been changing my recipes around to suit my new "whole" foods journey. Some are good and some are not. Such is life and cooking. :)

Here's what we're having this week:

Monday- Three Cheese Garlic Chicken (freezer meal)
I put together and froze quite a few dishes when I had a big freezer cooking week awhile back. To stretch food in our family I put dishes that called for a 9x13 inch pan into two 8 inch pans. This has helped stretch our food and saved us money.

Tuesday- Pancakes and Bacon

Wednesday- Chicken Quesadillas, chips and salsa (freezer meal)

Thursday- Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (freezer meal)

Friday- Pizza (I make 4-6 pizzas at a time and freeze them, pull them out and cook them like frozen pizzas. It works out great for Friday nights and busy weekends)

Saturday- Club Sandwiches

Sunday- Trunk or Treat at our church, we'll eat there

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Basketball Kids

So this video was from March, but it's very funny to me for several reasons:

1.) Naomi STILL talks all the time like this, only now we can understanding almost all of what she is saying.

2.) Notice Nyla and how she gets herself lined up to shoot. We didn't teach her that, and she still does it today.

3.) 2 minutes of basketball is enough for them, and they move to something else.


-D

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Daddy Builds Excellent Towers...

.... but they do not last more than 15 seconds after completion!



-D

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: She




Write for 5 minutes on this week's topic. Go to Lisa Jo's blog for more info.

She.


GO.

She is a woman of faith, love, courage, compassion, wisdom, discernment.

She is me.

I am not all those things on a regular basis. I am human after all.

I am always a believer but I lack faith in some moments, some experiences.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend. I love. I don't love perfectly and I don't love well. I struggle with my selfish desires and my wants and let love slip through my fingers.

I have courage, well somedays. I have so much I want to tell people but I rarely tell them. The good or the bad. I'm not very brave but it's something I want to be. May someday.

I have compassion. I guess this has come with motherhood. I have more compassion especially for children who don't have it as great as my kiddo's. I think they have it pretty great anyways. I hope I show compassion to those less fortunate. I hope I learn more compassion as I mature and as I raise my girls. I want to raise compassionate women.

I am wisdom and discernment. These are new traits I've discovering about myself. I've been praying and reading God's word (a little more anyways), wanting and craving His discernment in my life. There are many things to want discernment for, especially lately. I'm hoping I can discern His voice in this life of chaos.

STOP.


This post is linked to Lisa Jo for this week's Five-Minute Friday.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

on becoming real




This little blog is something I love. It's something I've loved for awhile but neglected as life comes my way. And I'm okay with that. It's the stage of life we're in, as a family. 

But I see this blog as something more. I see it has a place to be real with my readers. I'm not saying I haven't been real but I haven't been real enough, for me. Does that make sense? I spend too long on some blog posts, fine tuning every. single. detail. when that isn't real life. It isn't my real life anyways. I don't know about y'all but I don't have all kinds of time to fine tune everything in my life. Yes, I'm an introvert so I am always watching and listening to others and hopefully learning from their mistakes. I look inward a lot and fine tune certain details in my life, but not everything. I have a long way to go.

My reality is messy, fussy, lazy, bored, selfish, dirty. 

My house is in disarray most moments. I thrive on organization and order. Messy is hard for me. 

The girls fuss and it drives me crazy. They are small after all but that's hard to remember in the moment.

 I'm lazy some days. I do a days worth of chores in 30 minutes before Daniel gets home just to make it look like I did something during the day.

I get bored with my life. I long for adventure and change, some days. I'd love to be traveling and seeing the world's great masterpieces and works.

I'm selfish. I long for a day or two of sitting in my house reading, writing and lying in bed until ten in the morning.

Life here is dirty. Old food is on the floor, crumbs are in the chairs and I haven't showered today. The girls need baths, their faces are a mess and it smells like poop.

This life is also a process of learning grace, compassion, mercy and love. I want to try and show that here on our little blog. So many times I've put on my mask and hidden behind it. I make you think everything is beautiful and perfect in our little lives. It's not. 

I get  upset with my girls, I even yell sometimes. It's not some of my finer moments and it's rare, but it happens. I'm ashamed to admit it but there it is. I immediately regret it. And yet, it happens again. Why?

My kitchen is not always sparkling clean. We don't always stick to our menu. We go out way more than I'd like. There's papers on the fridge that need to be sorted and put into their places. Our room is always the last to get attention. Toys are strewn across every. single. room. in this house. I pick up yet they're always there.

There are books on the floor, blocks to trip over and missing pieces of this and that hidden under furniture. It's my life. And I want to show it. 

From now on I'm going to be more transparent.

I struggle with finding time to read God's Word. I have my alarm set in the morning, before the girls get up. Laziness finds me and I switch my alarm off and go back to sleep until I hear the girls. I struggle with losing weight and winning the battle against food. Will I ever lose the 50 pounds I so desperately need to? I struggle with finding contentment in this wonderful, easy life I've been given. How dare I be unhappy with all that is around me?! I'm a selfish sinner saved by grace and love and mercy. I need to focus less on me and more on others. I need to focus less on me and more on Him. "He must become greater, I must become less." (John 3:30)

Get ready, my real life is coming soon to a blog post near you. 






Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Finding the Time

I struggle with finding the time to spend my own moments with God. Anyone else? I mean, we're all busy with life, raising kids, working, cooking, etc.

But then I wonder is it really time or lack of want to? Maybe it's just me, but I hear so few people talk about their struggles to actually sit down with God each day and spend time with Him. I mostly hear that people are doing it. But are we really? I'm not.

I have my alarm set to 6:20 am Monday through Friday. This alarm is set for me to get up, go downstairs and actually spend time in the Word and in prayer. Alas, I've silenced my alarm for the past 7 days, rolled over and gone back to sleep. Ouch! That hurts to actually write that out and see my laziness. I'm not really tired. It's just that initial "got to get up and get moving" that's the hardest for me. Someone please tell me they are like that too?

I know it's a process, a life-long process. I try not to beat myself up if I don't get up all 5 days but not getting up at all during those 5 days is unacceptable, for me at least.

Do you struggle to "find" time to read God's Word? If so, what have you done to prevent your struggle?

This post is linked to Read it With Me Wisdom Wednesday at Life is Good. Come link up and join the fun!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday-Sept 16






Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a good week and ate yummy foods.

We stuck to our menu pretty well last week. I've been enjoying cooking and baking lately (I go through phases) so we've been eating and freezing delicious foods. This week I'm trying some new dinners, mostly casseroles. The recipes call for each dish go into 9 x 13 inch pans but I'll be dividing them into 2 8 x 8 inch pans (or 9 x 9 pans), eating one for dinner this week and freezing the other for another meal. I'm hoping to stretch our food budget by making a few more casseroles for our freezer. And freezer meals are great to have when you're in a time crunch.

Monday- chicken alfredo pasta with steamed broccoli

Tuesday- pulled chicken sandwiches on homemade buns (delicious and ready in 40 min) and fruit

Wednesday- layered enchilada bake, made with homemade tortillas and homemade salsa

Thursday- baked three cheese chicken pasta and vegetables

Friday- homemade pizza

Saturday- chicken vegetable quesadillas with chips and salsa

Sunday- leftovers

What's cooking in your kitchen this week? Are you doing any freezer cooking to help you get ahead in the kitchen?


This post is linked to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.




Saturday, September 14, 2013

Acquire [Board Game Review]

This is going to be my favorite review to date. It’s not because it’s my favorite game - Agricola and Power Grid co-own that title. It’s not because it’s the best-looking game. It’s because it’s the first “real” board game I played. It’s the game that got me started in the world of strategy gaming. I can very fondly remember joining my dad and uncles when I was 10 or 11 to learn this game and was in awe that there were games that were like this.

The old 3M edition of Acquire - the version of the game I own
Acquire is a game for 3-6 players and takes around 90 minutes to play, though more like 120 minutes as you add more players. The goal of the game is simple - accumulate the most money through your investments in hotel chains (or technological companies depending on your version).



Photo courtesy dandechino @ geekdo.com
This is how your turn goes - you play a tile on the board and then purchase stock in any hotel chain currently on the board. If you create a group of 2 more tiles with your placement, you may "found" that hotel chain with one of the available color tiles. If you lay a tile that joins 2 (or more) chains together, a merger occurs, and the majority shareholders in the acquired hotel chain receive a bonus. As I always say, this is not a full explanation of the rules. That is what the rule book is for.

So what do I think of this game? It is great. Sid Sackson, the designer, was ahead of time really. The game is so elegantly simple in its design, but "mastering" the game is the challenge. Which hotel chain do you invest in? Which chains do you merge? When do you merge them? All things you have to consider. All key decisions you have to make. When you look at this game, you can clearly see its influence on other games - Airlines Europe immediately comes to mind.
If you are looking to take friends or family beyond Monopoly, Life, etc, Acquire could be a good start. It would be very easy to teach the game as you go. If you are a more serious board gamer, then this should definitely be in your collection


Happy Saturday!
-D

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Mercy


This week I'm joining Lisa Jo's Five-Minute Friday link-up. Come join the fun and read what others are saying about the word of the week. It's amazing to read what others think of when they hear one particular word! And don't forget, you only get 5 minutes of writing time!

GO.

Mercy.

Do I show mercy to others?

That's what I think of when I think of the word "mercy."

I'd like to think I've been shown mercy a time or two. Not by Jesus because I've definitely been given His love and mercy. Thank goodness for His mercy! But by others. We all do stupid crap. We all have tough times. Some would argue others have had it tougher. I'd agree with that. Honestly, I've had an easy life but I guess that's another topic for another day.

Do I show mercy to others?

Hmm. This is an interesting question and not one I'm sure I can answer. I'd like to say that my kindness and compassion comes out when I meet people. A few people in my life have described me as a "sweet spirit" and I hope that's what comes out and that goes toward showing mercy to people. There are so many who need our mercy and our compassion. Are we really giving it to them? Can we honestly say we love our neighbor and would show them mercy if they came across a tough time? I hope I would but I honestly don't know. I'm a selfish sinner who looks out for myself and my family. They are my bubble after all. But others? They get put on the back burner. Ouch.

STOP.

The Company We Keep

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17

I'm sitting here in the quietness of a late Saturday night, the sound of the fan whirring the only noise in the house. All of my ladies are asleep. I'm still awake, thinking about this verse in Proverbs.

What I take away from this verse is the advice that the company we keep, in part, molds us into who we are. Let's be honest here... our friends have a significant impact on our lives. Positively and negatively. Not that we all just become the same people, but think about it, we begin to value what they value. And vice versa. The ones we are closest to have a tremendous impact on the trajectory of our lives. 

Which can lead to some difficult moments if you get down to it. Do you really value what they value? Or do you just want to fit in with them? What matters most to them? What do they value? What is important to them? Are those values values you want to aspire to or hold onto? 

As I have grown through my 20's I see just how much this matters. The saying about being known by the company we keep is very accurate. Because once you get lumped in with a group of people, it can be hard to escape that. It can be painful to escape that. 

If your friends' ideas of the weekend include bar-hopping, partying, and staying out late, and then you decide that's not for you anymore, that's a tough spot to be in. If you are striving to grow closer to your spouse and becoming a better parent, but they don't, that's hard. If you're trying to grow in your faith but others around you don't care, that's a challenging position. The examples can go on and on...

So what do you really value? What are your goals? What kind of person do you want to be? Can you reach that with the company you keep right now? 

Up until now I've only spoken about the negative. But imagine the positive. And maybe you're here. If you're around people who want to have great marriages... If you're around people who strive to raise their children to be the best they can be... If you're around people who recognize that the journey of faith is a long, winding path and can be difficult at times... Your trajectory is that much better.

And with two little girls who will be teenagers before I know it, this verse, this idea, well, it makes me wonder... What will they value? What company will they keep? And then I think back to myself. Because I'm showing them what I value. I'm showing them the company I keep. And they watch. They learn. They see. They know if the people I am friends with bring me up. And they know if those people bring me down.

We're known by the company we keep. For worse. But hopefully, for better.

-D

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gratituesday: Little Moments


I don't always appreciate the little moments I have with my two little girls. They drive me up a wall somedays, sometimes all day. They ask a million questions over and over again, spill a drink or food four thousand times a day, are at my feet playing with dolls when I'm trying to prep a meal, color all over the table and not on their paper. This list goes on and on.

Sometimes it takes looking back at pictures, even from just a few days ago, to fully appreciate how blessed I am to stay home with these girls. I look back and these pictures and laugh at their antics. Naomi wants to wear my sunglasses all the time and I happily oblige. Can I get a picture of the two them together and smiling at the same time? Not a chance at this stage in life but I can tell from their faces they're happy.

I love that homeschooling them means I won't miss all these moments as they get bigger. If Naomi wants to wear sunglasses all day and she still gets her work done, so be it. If Nyla spills yet another drink but cleans it up without being told, I know I'm doing a good job as a parent. Training up young minds and learning life skills is what it's all about after all.

The days are long but the years are short. I like not missing a moment with these two crazies! :)


Yes, we're in the bathroom. ;)

Sweet girls

Cheese!? Or maybe not. :)

Our visit to the zoo last week

Before church this past Sunday. 

Nyla is getting so big. She was copying me with her legs crossed.

These girls love to color!

Naomi's first haircut

Nyla can write her name

A cool day in August meant a picnic lunch on our driveway

Having fun after bath time.





This post is linked to Heavenly Homemakers for this weeks Gratituesday. Come link up and share what you're thankful for in your life!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday-September 9


September 9-September 15

Happy Sunday! Can you believe it, I'm posting my menu plan again?! Shocking, I know. :)
I try and post here  and I have too many posts in my draft pile. Raising girls and running a home keep me pretty busy these days. And unfortunately, this blog is on the back burner for the most part. We're trying and we're here. We read your comments and are encouraged by them. Please keep stopping by!

Monday- chicken nuggets, twice baked potatoes (from the freezer) and veggies

Tuesday- slow-cooker chicken marinara over whole wheat pasta, breadsticks

Wednesday- turkey burgers, fruit

Thursday- italian chicken breasts (from the freezer), brown rice, veggies

Friday- pizza

Saturday- leftovers

Sunday- leftovers

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Hop on over and get more great ideas for your dinner menu!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Room Time

I bought over 100 e-books/pdf's a couple weeks ago and one of the books included was Jamie Martin's, Steady Days (she writes at Simple Homeschool and has her own blog, Steady Mom). I was excited to see it among the list of books I received and started reading it immediately. She is one of my favorites! She's real, funny and is a busy work at home mom who also home schools her 3 young children.

One of the things she mentions is having a routine, flexible to you and your family. She even gives printables at the end to fill out and make your own. I printed it off and started filling it out. So far, it's been very helpful. I consider myself a fairly organized person but our days weren't going like I thought they could, some days at least. I struggled to find productive things for the girls to do at times and just got frazzled. The flexible schedule has helped!

One of the ideas, in the schedule, that really struck me is what she calls "room time." This is a 30-40 minute block (morning or afternoon, whichever suits your family) where your kids go to their respective rooms and play independently. It's not punishment, it's just a chance for everyone to recharge their batteries. Let's just say the girls haven't taken to it all that great. I'm starting out in a 10 minute block of time (she says to start small if your kids aren't used to it) and that's worked well. We'll build up each week and hopefully it won't be an issue in a couple weeks. It's hard getting them up to their rooms, they fuss and think they're being punished. I explain, in a few words, it isn't punishment, but a time to play with your own stuff and not have to share. The girls spend ALL day together and some separation time is helpful to them. I know it'll be good in the long run.

Not only is "room time" good for them, to learn some independence, but it's good for this mama. I can catch up on emails, this blog, switch laundry, get lunch together or just put my feet up. I need a few quiet moments just like they do. Who doesn't?

I can see that this will be a good thing for all of us. We'll build up to the 30-40 minute block and I think they'll be disappointed when "room time" is over. At least that's what I keep thinking in my head. Who knows, maybe we'll do 2 a day.

What routines have you established in your home that make you feel less frazzled?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Airlines Europe [Board Game Review]

Hello again, readers. It is I, Daniel, back with another game review for you. You can check out the previously reviewed games here. This time, I will be taking you through the game Airlines Europe, a fun and relatively fast-paced game about, well, airlines in Europe. Imagine that.

Airlines Europe is the brainchild of Alan Moon, who also created Ticket to Ride. When you open the game box, you can see the similarities, both in the components and in game play.

Airlines Europe is a game for 2-5 players (although a quick search of the Google should yield rule changes for 6 players) and should take about 15-30 minutes per player. Ginny and I played a game Friday night that took under an hour, but a 5-player game could up to 2+ hours. The goal of Airlines Europe is to accumulate the most points through investing in airline companies and expanding their routes across Europe.

On your turn, you have four options: 1) Claim a route for an airline company, paying the money to the bank and advancing the company up the share track and drawing a share of stock into your hard; 2) Lay down shares of stock into your "portfolio," earning money for each share laid down; 3) Exchange shares of stock for shares of Air Abacus, a government-run airline company; 4) Receive money from the bank. Three times during the game, a scoring card appears, and you award points based on ownership in each company. Total all the points accumulated through each scoring round, and the one with the most points wins. As always, the rule book details these steps further.

What I like about Airlines Europe is the simplicity of the game yet complexity of the decisions. What airline do you expand? What stock do you add to your hand? What stocks do you add to your portfolio? When do you add them to your portfolio? When do you invest in Air Abacus? Those decisions make the game fun for me. The game can turn quickly if a scoring card appears right after (or before) you lay down stock into your portfolio.

This game is one of my favorites. It is easy to teach, easy to learn, and a lot of fun. If you've introduced Ticket to Ride to people, I think this would be a good next step game for them. I give it an 8.75 out of 10. A fun game that you should check out.

Happy Labor Day!

-D

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday-August 26



Y'all, it's been forever since I've done a Menu Plan Monday post! I've still been planning our meals they just haven't made it onto the blog. Raising two girls keeps me busier than I ever imagined. :)

I've been reading Nourishing Traditions  and it's changing my thinking of what we put into our bodies. It's A LOT to take in and will take me reading it a few times to really grasp all the information. It's more than a cookbook and much like a workbook full of good information. There are over 700 recipes as well as tons of information about eating real food. Real food is food that grows in fields and on trees, comes from animals and food we can recognize. This book has brought my focus back to making more from scratch using real butter, real fruits and vegetables, whole grains, real eggs, real meat, etc. I know I'll still eat junk and processed foods but if 95% of the time we can eat real food, that would be great!

Another book I bought back in the Spring, that I really love, is by Laura of Heavenly Homemakers, Oh, For Real: Real Food, Real Family, Real Easy. She uses much of Nourishing Traditions suggestions on real food but it's MUCH easier to understand. She's hilarious, love shortcuts in the kitchen but not at the expense of good food, has 4 boys that she home schools and has beautiful freezers stocked full of goodies! I've been a follower of her blog for quite a few years now and she makes me laugh out loud at her posts a few times a week. She's real and knows we're all strapped for time in the kitchen. Read her blog, you won't be disappointed. And buy her book, too. It's awesome!

Anyways, enough of that. I think you'll see more of our real food adventures in the future. On to the menu plan for the week. I have way too much food in our freezers and I'm trying to clean out so we're working on what my mama calls "old" food. :)

Monday- bbq chicken baked potatoes

Tuesday- italian chicken sandwiches, whole wheat burger buns, vegetables

Wednesday- lasagna and whole wheat breadsticks

Thursday-pancakes and bacon

Friday-pizza (I've found a new pizza sauce recipe and it's the best ever! I'll share it soon.)

Saturday- lunch: convenience meals
                dinner: turkey burgers

Sunday- lunch: sandwiches
              dinner: week's leftovers

I'm still following my breakfast menu for the girls and me, for the most part. As for lunches we eat leftovers, sandwiches, noodles, cheese, fruit. It depends on what's in the fridge and since the girls are older and a little more vocal, I let them choose a little more.

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nyla turns 3!


This post is only a month late, but at least I'm getting it done, right?!

On July 13, Nyla turned 3! And I actually made it through the day without weeping uncontrollably. I usually lose it on birthdays. I know that sounds crazy, but it's going by so quick! With each of the girls birthdays come big tears from Mama. I know they're doing what they're supposed to do but I can be a little bit sad. 

Nyla had a big day! The day of her birthday turned out to be KidFest at our church (a block party for the neighborhood to promote our children's ministries). It turned out to be a beautiful and perfect day for the block party. There was face painting, indoor carnival games, a train the kids could ride, petting zoo, pony rides, bouncy houses, sno cones, free hot dogs and chips, the Bartlett K9 unit demonstration, Shelby County K9 demonstration, Shelby County boat patrol unit and Bartlett fire truck and firemen. There was a lot going on and it was awesome! We had quite a few people from the community come and enjoy all the activities. Of all these activities Nyla did every. single. one. This was truly shocking ya'll! She's been scared of everything the past year and we thought we'd go, support our church and be gone in an hour. Turns out she had the best time of anyone. For some reason she got over all her fears that day. I guess that's what happens when you turn 3?! At first she didn't want in the bouncy houses but with a little pushing from Daddy and Mimi (our preschool director, her name is actually Kathy) she went in and loved it! And so continued the day of her surprising us! 

Be prepared for picture overload! We had a busy day.


This picture is out of place but I had to show a close-up of Nyla's birthday cupcakes. I ordered special Sesame Street cupcakes from a local in-home baker and  they were very cute! This is something I decided was fun but fairly pricey. I'll be baking her cake or cupcakes next year. :)

Daddy and Nyla enjoying the bouncy house.


Yes, Daniel loves the bouncy houses more than anyone. And he's not afraid to admit it. :)





The petting zoo. It had a llama, goats, sheep, horses, a donkey, bunnies, a duck, ferrets, turtles,  and chickens.
The baby goat in the cage was about a week old. He or she was so cute!


Nyla petting the ferret. Very surprising!


And Nyla holding the ferret. I flipped when she held it. It was shocked and so proud. This was a big deal!!!



The petting zoo came with the cutest little train that the little ones could ride around in. It was a hit!

The full train.


Enjoying her first sno cone.



Sitting in the fire truck. I forgot how tall they are!


Face painting time! She got a beautiful butterfly



This is pretty much the best picture I got of Naomi. She got a heart painted on her face.

Riding the horse, "Ladybug." Again, shocking!

Naomi's favorite thing of the day were the turtles.





Naomi and I tried to enjoy the puppet show but we left when the camel started talking. It freaked her out.


Beginning of the birthday party pictures!

The birthday girl! She wore an Elmo shirt and a skirt my mom and I made her (it has Sesame Street characters on it and it's so cute) and her birthday crown.



Excited for cupcakes!


The table!
The Ernie cookie jar, on the right, belongs to my sister, Erin. For some reason I started calling her Ernie when we were younger and it's stuck with her all this time. The girls even call her Aunt Ernie, which she loves!
 The lunch boxes on the left we had as well as the little snack boxes sitting below Ernie. I printed out Cookie Monster and taped him to the chocolate chip cookie plate. I bought Elmo napkins and cupcakes and I had the rest of the decor. 

Y'all, she was so excited about everyone singing her "Happy Birthday." She talked about it for two weeks, asking if we would. She really understood that it was her birthday and loved every minute of it. It was fun watching her face light up when everyone started singing to her!



I didn't get a picture of her blowing out the candle but she did it, all by herself. We didn't even practice beforehand either. She did great!



Her friend, L, enjoying a "Super Grover" cupcake. So sweet!



Mmm, Elmo cupcake.

Ernie likes Nyla's birthday crown.



I made the 3 out of two taped together posterboards (green, her favorite color). We wrote some of the funny things Nyla's said this year and put them in the shape of the 3. I had intentions of putting a current picture of Nyla at the end of the 3 but I never got around to it. She's grown so much from her going home picture 3 years ago. *tear*


A bigger view of the dessert/decoration table.


We had a great day celebrating Nyla! Now, I must go cry a little bit. My girl is getting too big!