Saturday, August 30, 2014

chocolate chip peanut butter bars {paleo}

So, I've been playing around with a recipe lately. 
Something sweet...but not too sweet. Rich...but not over-the-top.
A hint of chocolate and a whole lot of peanut butter. 
What I've ended up with is pretty yummy.

These bars are super simple to whip up and bake in just a few minutes. They are totally yum and fit nicely into a paleo lifestyle. And my kids l o v e them!
I experimented with creamy pb and the chunky variety. Both are equally delicious. It just depends on preference. The nuts in the chunky pb give them a great crunchy texture while creamy makes them oh, so tender. What can I say? Sometimes you feel like a nut.....yep. Sometimes you don't.  You decide;)

{chocolate chip peanut butter bars}

15 ounce jar natural peanut butter {the kind with nuts as the ONLY ingredient}
3/4 cup of raw honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Line a 10x15 pan with parchment and set the oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, add the jar of peanut along with the honey, vanilla, eggs and baking soda. Mix with a hand mixer until well combined.  Last, but not least, fold in the chocolate chips.

Carefully spread the mixture over the parchment. It is a little sticky so use a small spatula to spread it evenly across the pan and to the edges.

Bake for about 15 minutes. These bars will puff slightly and get a gorgeous light brown color when done. If unsure, use a tooth pick to check for doneness.


Friday, August 29, 2014

snippets from our 1st week

The first day of school is one of traditions in our house {as I'm sure it is in many of your homes as well}. A special breakfast is something my kiddos look forward to. Each year we have Monkey Bread with fruit and eggs. Nom-nom!
Taking cute pictures is an obvious first day tradition. Don't you just love to see all of the back to school pics all over social media at this time of year? Everyone looks so spiffy and full of excitement for the year that lies ahead. We take our pics on the front porch, which is sort of silly when you think about it. All we do is turn right around and go back inside to start our day. But the lighting is better than inside our school room so we'll just go with it;)
 One of my goals for this school year is to keep my vision focused on the main thing. I want my children to learn, of course, but I want to convey to them the rich treasures that are theirs through the wisdom, understanding and knowledge that comes from the Lord. I hope that by having Proverbs 24:3-4 displayed in our school room it will be at the forefront of my mind. Because we all know, we can't give what we don't have ourselves. I can't point the hearts of my children in a direction that I'm not aiming at myself. Praise the Lord that wisdom and understanding are from Him and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
And our week was full of memory work and cracking open brand new text books. Recitation and keeping that stick in the sand. Working out the bumps...of course there were many. But mostly laying down the rails for a good year.
We had an ah-mazing first day with our CC community and we left campus feeling encouraged and  excited for all the coming year will hold. I have all 3 of my children in Foundations this year with my oldest also in Essentials. We are all looking forward to a great year! 
We finished out our week will family traditions. We celebrate Fridays with Family Fun Nite. We have homemade pizza and spend time focusing on time together. You'd think a homeschooling family would spend enough time together each week, right? Well, we've discovered that it is essential to have intentional time together each week where we just enjoy being together. That's it. It's always pizza {usually homemade} and either time playing games or watching a movie. But we are together. We are goofy. We have fun. It is a great way to cap off the end of a long and busy week.

So those are some snippets from our 1st week of school. Did you start school yet? What are some of your family traditions? I'd love to hear about them!


Friday, August 22, 2014

made to thrive

For the past several days I've been struggling to get on top of things. A too full schedule has eaten up my margin and I am feeling the weight wearing down. 

We are due to start our homeschool year on Monday and kick off our Classical Conversations community during next week. My school table is covered with stacks of books and piles of notebooking pages. Workboxes to be loaded. Disarray everywhere. There are things I still want to do and time is winding down.

As I was out running errands today I couldn't escape my thoughts of overwhelming over load. So much I still feel I need to do. So many things to still cross off of my list in order to feel ready to begin a new homeschool year. So much I still lack and the thoughts of inadequacy that couple with that. 

Breath in. Breath out. 

Then a song began on my playlist and I found my thoughts lost in the truth of the lyrics. 

"So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You. 
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
with one desire.

Just to know You and to make You known.
We lift Your name on high.
It's time for us to more than just survive.
We were made to thrive."

"Thrive" by Casting Crowns. A song I've heard many times before but it fell on fresh ears. Like a timely word fitly spoken. 

Such encouragement for what I really need more of at this moment. 
Not more time, efforts or planning. More of Him.

And did you CC mamas catch the mission statement in there?

To know God and to make Him known. 
That is the basis of it all.
Everything we are about. All we are wrapped up in.
The reason why we do all that we do.

To know Him. To make Him known.

So I drink deep. Look at my piles and know that no matter how inadequate I feel or how much more I wish I could have done....I am meant for more than just surviving this homeschool journey. It's not a destination. It is so much more about the journey. 

And I am called to it. And I am enough. It is enough. Stick in the sand.

And we will thrive.

{if viewing in a reader, hop over to the post to view the video}

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CC cycle 3 week 1 :: the plan

This year I will have all 3 of my kiddos in CC Foundations and we are gearing up for our year to begin!

I like to keep things simple in our homeschooling. {stick in the sand as much as possible!}We use Classical Conversations as the spine for what we do. For us, that means focusing on the memory work along with Bible, Math, Phonics/Language, and Handwriting. {and we like to add a bit of extra stuff in for fun!}

We mostly like to read books that correlate with our weekly memory work but I also try to pull together a few ideas to add in.  Sometimes we like to dig in a little deeper or simply make something fun. We are a creative family and really enjoy adding extra fun to our school days. So I like to have a few options, just in case;)

Like I said, we love to read and choose to add lots of readers and read alouds to our studies. I absolutely L O V E Brandy at Half a Hundred Acre Wood and her book lists for ideas. Her site is an amazing resource! Here is a link to her cycle 3 booklist and reading plans. These are go-to resources for me personally.

Week 1 is so fun with all of the ideas for Columbus! The history buff in me is S O excited for cycle 3 to begin!

Here is a rundown of some things I plan to do::
{but let's face it...the plan doesn't always go as planned;)}


Here are a few Columbus ideas...

These fun activity sheets for the younger ones can be found here.

If we are feeling crafty... this finger painting of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria will be fun. 

Snack idea from here

Readers we will be using:



I am planning to draw a hop scotch board with chalk outside with the prepositions on the board and let the kids hop their way through review. 


CC Connected user Tara Guy has uploaded some great blackline maps broken down by week that we will use for review. 

This is a fun looking download which includes mnemonic devices for remembering the states and capitals. How fun! I am not sure if I'll dish out the $3 but it seems like a good deal to help drill the states and capitals. It can be found here

We will review OiLs at home in various ways but will also use the Draw, Write Now books. This week we will use Book 2, pages 10, 12, and 14. 

Here is a link for Cycle 3 match ups. 

This is what I'm thinking for us so far. I'll update if I find something else to share. You can also find me on Pinterest and check out my board CC C3wk1

Happy schooling!

Monday, August 11, 2014

our Essentials Student Notebook

It's hard to believe that we will be starting our school routine in just a few short weeks! {Where did the summer go?!}

For our family this will mean gathering back together with our Classical Conversations community. While my kiddos are enjoying the last lazy days of summer, I've been busy finalizing our routines and putting together our homeschool binders. One binder that has really helped my oldest is our Essentials Student Notebook.
He will be going through his second year of Essentials and I am excited to know a little more going in than I did as a newbie mom last year;)

I basically started by tweaking the notebook we used last year. {I wanted to keep his binder from last year "as is" so we can compare his progress with what he is able to do this year.}
I got a fresh, new binder {hey, this girl loves a good binder!} and added the items that we found to be the most useful for him to have his own access to.

Here is a breakdown of the supplies I used:
  • 1 1/2 inch Binder 
  • zippered pouch for pencils, fine tip dry erase markers, colored pens for marking dress-ups, etc in IEW
  • notebook paper
  • page protectors
  • 5-tab set of index dividers, with pockets is ideal
  • from  Essentials of the English Language {EEL} copies of pages listed
  • from Student Resource Notebook {download through IEW} copies of pages listed
  • U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, Student Manual {IEW} assigned work, vocab
  • English Grammar and Quid et Quo Trivium Tables
First, I labeled the 5 tabs of the dividers THIS WEEK, CHARTS, SENTENCES, WRITING, VOCABULARY with my label maker.
Next, I got busy making copies and loading up the binder!

In the front pocket of the binder are the English Grammar and  Quid et Quo Trivium Tables for easy reference.
The zippered pouch is the first thing in the binder.
In front of the first divider, we have EEL p. 18 {Scope and Sequence} and EEL p. 22 {Week at a Glance} so we can refer to them easily throughout the year.

The dividers....


  • In this section I will have a weekly Essentials task sheet for my son. I'll list what specifically he needs to work on for that week. He enjoys seeing what his week looks like all up front so this is helpful for him at this stage. (He is a 6th grader and is going through Essentials for the second time.) I also have notebook paper here. 

CHARTS {*in page protectors}

  • EEL p. 395 Grammar Mastery Charts*
  • EEL p. 398, 399 Chart A, Blank Chart A*
  • EEL p. 400, 410, 422, 428 112 Model Sentences*
  • I will add copies of additional charts as they are introduced 
SENTENCES {in page protectors*}
  • EEL p. 433, 434 Weekly Practice Sentences*
  • EEL p. 435,436 Analytical Task Sheet* 
  • EEL p. 55, 56, 57 Diagram Confirmation*
  • EEL p. 457 Punctuation and Capitalization *
WRITING {in page protectors*}
  • copy of suggested US History Writing Schedule {from your tutor}*
  • pages from the Student Resource Notebook from IEW available by download
  • p. 92, 93 Proofreading Marks/Symbols & Abbreviations*
  • p. 5, 6 Stylistic Techniques*
  • current writing assignment will be added each week
  • notebook paper
VOCABULARY {in page protectors*}
  • pages from the U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons
  • p. 240, 241Vocabulary at a Glance
  • p.242-248 Vocabulary quizzes will be added as we progress
  • All vocabulary word cards (found on the card stock at the back of the student book). I will cut them out as we get to each lesson, bound to a ring they will be kept in the pocket divider. 

And that wraps it up! I am sure we will tweak things further as the year progresses, but for now, this is the way it is lining up for us. There are tons of resources available and this post from Brandy at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood is a great one to check out. Like I mentioned, this is only our second pass through the Essentials expedition so I know there is a lot still to learn! If you do something different with your notebook or have a suggestion, I'd love to hear from you! 


{Making a Student Notebook is purely optional but something we have found that has greatly helped our Essentials journey. It is in no way meant to serve as a text or a replacement for the material found in the resource books. It is simply a tool to help organize the weekly work at home.}

sharing at: Trivium Tuesdays

Saturday, August 9, 2014

post-it! a rotating to do list

I recently had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on getting a good routine going in light of this back 2 school season with a Titus2 group at my church. I had a blast sharing with them some ideas on developing routines and organizing our time and resources.  I shared about My 24 {you can read about that in this post} and how it has been one of the most helpful things I've done in getting control over my routines. It really did make THAT much of a difference. I also shared the benefits of keeping a household binder and one of my favorite tools in my binder.

Wonder what it is?

the post-it! rotating to do list

I first read about this system on the Life as Mom site and fell in love with the concept. I am a major list maker and the idea of having all of my "today", "this week", and "this month" lists compiled in such a concise format was perfect! I love that a post-it is just the right size to write out 5-8 tasks for each day. {You really should limit your tasks to this number. You know what they say...if you can't fit it on a post-it then you probably can't fit it in your day!}

Here's how the system comes together.
Start out with this larger to do sheet where you will keep track of 3 different lists. They are marked "today", "this week", and "this month". One sheet will keep you organized for an entire month.

The post-it notes cover the sections for "today" and "this week" and will be switched out as the days and weeks progress.

At the beginning of the month, sit down and compile the tasks specific to that month. For August it may be things like needed items to purchase for school, appointments for physicals, house projects that need to be worked on, or upcoming commitments. List it all here so you can see in a glance what your month holds.

As the month rolls on and things come up, add them as tasks on the "this month" section. At the beginning of each week {I like to sit down and do this on Sunday evenings} jot down tasks that need to be done sometime during the coming week. It may be simple reminders for things that are going on that week or a task such as calling to make hair cut appointments.

Then each evening, take a look at the list for "this week" and decide what needs to go on the "today" list for the following day. Remember, only 5-8 items here. Make the list manageable.

Each morning, pull the post-it for that day and place it somewhere highly visible. My kitchen counter is a great spot in my home. I can see the list multiple times during the day and cross items off as I complete them. If for some reason, because life does happen, something doesn't get done; simply add it the the list for the next day.

The system is rotating because the post-it for "today" is replaced each day and the "this week" post-it each week. By the end of the month you can easily look and see if all of your tasks were completed.

Since using this system, I find I'm not forgetting the small tasks and I'm getting more accomplished on a larger monthly scale as well. I make copies of the list for each month of the year and file them in the "planning" section of my household binder. Nice, tidy and effective!

Click here to download the post-it rotating monthly list FREE printable!

sharing atThriving Thursdays

Friday, August 8, 2014

what's in your 24?

Ever thought about time being like currency?
When you think about it, it really is something that we spend.
We are all given the same 24 hours each day. The question is, how will you spend them?

Creating a time budget has made all of the difference in how I spend my time.

I want to live life well, to have joy in the journey. I want time for the most important things and to be available to those around me. The last thing I want is to be over-committed or over-whelmed.

So I must budget my time wisely.
It's kind of like giving myself an allowance for how I want to spend my hours.

It starts by evaluating my 24.
So, what does that mean?

I start by making a list of the things I HAVE to do each day. Not all the things I'd like to do. Notice the difference. Make your list and then give each item a time allotment. 30 minutes. 1 hour. Be realistic! Accurately see how much time your tasks take. And here is the has to total 24 hours. No more. No less. Seriously. It's not like you will have 19 hours in your Tuesday and then 32 on Friday. It must equal 24.

When I first truly evaluated my 24 it was a real eye opener for me. I found I was routinely attempting to cram too much into my days and didn't truly consider how much time each task took. No wonder I was running around ragged most days!! Considering my 24 has made a H U G E impact on how I order my days. I have noticed I am less stressed, more laid back AND more productive. Win, win, win!!

The beautiful thing about my 24? It is NOT a minute-by-minute schedule. There are no times assigned to when things must be done. The order can change. There is no specific sequence. It's a guide. I can be productive and responsible in my home without a rigid schedule.

2 keys to creating a realistic 24

Key #1--Make sleep a high priority. 
Seriously. You may think this is a no brainer but more often than not you are probably not getting enough sleep. I know I wasn't. So determine how much you need...not what you can get by with. You will feel better and be more energetic when you are well rested. And you will be more productive in the rest of your day because of it. Let's face it. So often we have bought into the lie that staying up late and getting up early in order to "fit it all in" will make us more productive when it really just leads to burn out.

Key #2--Make an allowance for margin.
Margin is having a buffer in your schedule. A cushion of time around all of the other things that must be done. I recommend deducting 2 hours from your 24 for margin.
It can be so tempting to fill every moment of our days...but what happens when the phone rings, when the baby blows out a diaper or you find a leak in the basement?
By having margin built into your schedule, you are free to stop and address the unexpected. You can give adequate time to the situation and know that you will still have time to get everything else in your 24 done. Margin also allows you to leave a few extra minutes early for appointments and not always be in such a rush. Spread your margin throughout your day. It's breathing room.

The best thing about margin? It allows me to stop and really enjoy my children and seize teachable moments. It gives me freedom to be spontaneous. {and type A personalities like me need that!} I can say yes to making cookies in the afternoon, taking a trip to the library, going for a walk around the block. I can meet other mom friends at the park or be a blessing by bringing someone a meal.

If I over-load my days and forget to add in margin, I will daily miss out on opportunities for fun, learning and blessing.

I must repeat to myself...busyness does not equal productivity. The reality is over-worked and over-whelmed.

I must eliminate the unnecessary. Sometimes this means saying no to a lot of really good things. This was such a hard lesson for me to learn. Once I was able to say no to some things in my schedule I was able to give a whole-hearted yes to the best things that God has called me to at this time in my life and mothering. It has made such a difference in the joy I have in the journey.  I must protect that margin in my 24 so I will be able to give 100% of my attention to nurturing relationships. And I'm learning that is so much more important than having all of the laundry caught up.

A few last thoughts... Know your limits and be mindful of them. I. can't. do. it. all. And guess what? No one expects me to.

I found these words in a devotional from Charles Stanley..."Unless we give serious thought to our goals and how to reach them, our time, money, and priorities will usually be determined by others.....
"The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9 That doesn't mean you are not supposed to make plans and set priorities. But it does mean that on occasion, you will need to adjust your focus as God reveals His purposes for you life."

So, what's in your 24?