8/29/2013

My Pregnancy Week 37

Ugh. Last week was a tough week. In more ways than one.

I can't decide if I want the next 4 weeks to by quickly or not. Not that I have a choice in the matter.

On one hand, physically, I AM READY FOR THIS BABY TO BE OUT. ;) I really want to meet him and I don't particularly enjoy these last few weeks of pregnancy; the sleepless nights, not being able to go anywhere where a bathroom isn't close by, not being able to sit/stand for long periods of time, and this time around I have a bit more pelvic and belly pain. And the ITCHING on my belly is getting worse. Pray for me!

I've been having about 10-20 Braxton-Hicks contractions a day and while they're not particularly painful, they do make me stop and catch my breath. Which is not something I have time for! So much to do!

On the other hand, I don't feel at all ready emotionally. I probably never will though. :) Middlest is going through the "Terrible 3's." I didn't think the Two's were terrible at all--for both girls. Anyone else have that?

There's been a few other emotional hiccups for me lately that have thrown me off a bit. But in my heart I know..
All things work together for good to those that love God. ~ Romans 8:28

I'm taking comfort in this Truth. I just don't know how people get through the tough times in life without the Lord. 

A friend called me a few days ago and gave me some great advice that really encouraged me. (So thankful for my friends!) She reminded me that this season of life should be beautiful--we are bringing a new life into the world! And the devil will do everything he can to screw it up.   

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:12

I realized that I was wasting my energy on feeling sorry for myself and focusing on all the things "wrong" with my environment and my relationships. 

All in all, I'm extremely thankful for this baby boy and I can NOT wait to meet him! I can't believe I only have 3 weeks left!!!!!

8/19/2013

How I Plan My Week and FREE Printables

Shortly after entered the inescapable blogging world back in 2008 after my first daughter was born, I came across the idea of the "Home Management Notebook." What a wonderful idea! I thought. This will help me to stay more organized! As a new mom, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and my life contained very little structure.

Since then I've come across post after post of Home Management Notebook ideas and printables and I've downloaded a gazillion printables to my computer. But that's about as far as they got. One time I printed some forms, stuck them in a binder, used it for about a week and never touched it again. It was just too much.

Turns out you have to actually USE these things to make them work. Who knew?

I never really found a system that worked for me. They were usually too complicated or just not quite what I was looking for. With really little kids (although Oldest just turned FIVE!) it's been difficult for me to keep up a HMN. Life changes so fast that I don't have the time or energy to sit down and organize a HMN to stay organized! Here’s what I need at this stage in my life as far as planners go:

1. SIMPLE
I've gotten to know myself a bit over the years and I've discovered that I really prefer simple. I don't want a To Do List that has every. little. detail. of my day written down. And quite honestly, I know how to clean my bathroom. I don't need a list of all the steps it takes. All I need is a reminder, "Bathroom."

2. FLEXIBLE
I don't need my day planned out in half-hour increments. That's too stressful and rigid for me at this point in my life. I also want to be able to move things around from day to day and not have it throw my whole week off. Maybe as our family grows, this will change?

3. WEEKLY
I like a Weekly To Do more than a Daily To Do because it's easier for me to plan my days based on what my week will look like. If we have an outing planned on a Tuesday, I may not get to clean my bathroom that day and will have to shift it around.

4. INSPIRING
I also have a spot to write a Bible verse that I’d like to memorize each week. There’s also one at the top to remind me why I do the things I do. ;)

I was sorting through and deleting the gazillion HMN printables on my computer that I didn't use and I came across one that looked almost perfect. Crystal at Money Saving Mom made it and it’s part of her Calendar/Planning Page printable set.


I used it for a few weeks but found the way it’s set up is a little counter-intuitive for me personally. I also needed just a few more reminders on mine such as what to do for dinner, bath night, and grocery shopping. I need those reminders every week so I don’t overbook myself on those days. Which I’ve been known to do!

Here is the planner I came up with:



I've kept each days To Do slots pretty limited--I'm finding that right now, with Littles and being pregnant, I just can't get more than a few things done every day.

I have a list of the Weekly Cleaning Duties I *try* to get done--doesn't always happen! But I just plug them in on the days when I know I'll have time. Also, I need to remember and save time for grocery shopping every week. So that's on my To Do This Week list. I would also add any phone calls, emails or errands that need to get done to that list. I also transfer things from my Master To Do to this list.

As you can see, Saturdays and Sundays have even less spaces available because that's when Husband is home and I don't want to overbook those days nor do I clean or do laundry on those days (unless I HAVE to).

Obviously I made that one to fit my needs, so here's a blank one just in case your life isn't identical to mine. ;)




I got rid of the notebook for now. I have the few sheets I use (the Weekly To Do, Master To Do and Menu Plan) on a clipboard that I keep next to my morning quiet time bag. Every Sunday evening, I take a look at my wall calendar and transfer all of my appointments for the week to my Weekly To Do. So every morning I take a quick glance, write a few things down and I'm good to go!

Here are my Master To Do and Monthly Menu Planner (which I've yet to use! I just can't seem to get menu planning done!) :







In time, I would like to fill my HMN with printables but mostly as an In Case of Emergency. It will have my weekly routines, emergency numbers, laundry routine, etc. But it will mainly be in case I'm not around to do it all. (Basically a help for the hubby or sitter.) :) For now, I'm happy to have my 3 sheets of paper and my clipboard.

Do you use a Home Management Notebook? Have you noticed that it's more difficult when your children are young to keep up with it or does it make life easier for you?

8/17/2013

Weekend Links

40 Maps that will help you make sense of the world - Twisted Sifter : I found this on Simple Mom and in case you don't read SM, I had to share it with you! It's SO STINKIN COOL!

15 grammar goofs that make you look silly - Homeschool Library of Links

Parenting with compassion - Mom Heart

How I raised a professional writer without a composition program - Higher Up and Further In : THIS is why I'm excited about the Charlotte Mason Method!!

Everyone fails often, but only those who live in grace survive - I Take Joy : I think this is my fave from the week. It was perfect timing for me.


Have a great weekend!
~Catie

8/15/2013

What We're Reading: Children's Edition (Non-Twaddle Books)

I love reading what other people are reading, so I'll assume you do too! I'm also always on the lookout for non-twaddle books. I think all of these fall under that category. :) My girls are ages 5 and 3 and all of these books keep them engaged, which is a bonus! I have to say that a few of these I found on Simple Mom.


The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman - This was a gift from a friend (you know who you are!), and since it was given to us we've read it every. single. day. Oldest absolutely loves it and almost has the whole thing memorized! So does Middlest, for that matter.


It's a story of seven children who will each only eat one thing and their poor, tired mother who makes them each their own meal everyday. I won't tell you what happens at the end, but suffice it to say, they all end up getting their way! It's wonderfully illustrated and fun to read aloud as well.


George and Martha Back in Town by James Marshall - We're new to the George and Martha series, and again, Oldest loves it. She asks to read it over and over again. Another one that's also fun for Mama. ;)

A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban - We currently have 5 Frances books checked out from the library right now. This is another series that both girls really enjoy. Frances is a little badger who sometimes has a hard time in life. I think these are great at teaching lessons without being too preachy or moralizing. 
 
What are you and yours reading these days?

8/12/2013

We Do *Very* Well

This morning a vacuum representative came to our home to clean our carpets. HOORAY for a FREE carpet cleaning!

She was very inquisitive, just trying to make conversation, I'm sure. Part of the conversation went something like this:

Your husband's at work?
Yes
What's he do?
Maintenance at a hotel.
You stay at home with your kids, then?
Yes, I do.
Well, your husband must do very well, if you're able to stay at home.

My first reaction was to laugh at her. I didn't of course, because that would be rude, but I honestly didn't know what to say for a second. I ended up saying something like,

Well, not really; we make a lot of sacrifices and God is really good to us.

Oldest and me on a date at our local zoo.

The thing is, regardless of being a stay-at-home-mom or a work-from-home-mom or a work-full-time-mom we all make sacrifices. At the end of the day, we choose what we deem most important in our lives. 

For some, it's that their children go to the best schools, they drive the best cars, live in the best homes, etc. I would say that time is sacrificed in those situations.

For others it might be time and money. I'm sure work-at-home-moms have to sacrifice some time to get their work done. I've been there and would like to contribute to our income someday soon again doing something from home.

And still for others, like us right now, we sacrifice a lot of the "niceties" (read: money) in life.

For example:
  • We don't own or ever buy new furniture. We bought our bed brand new about 6ish years ago and that's it.
  • We don't go on yearly vacations. 
  • We rarely buy new clothing.
  • We shop at thrift stores a lot.
  • Our home could use some TLC, but we just can't afford it right now. (i.e. walls painted, update bathroom, new carpeting, etc)
  • We live paycheck to paycheck. 

Oh sure, there are days when I get complainy about what we're lacking in tangibles. I would LOVE to redo our bathroom. (It's the size of a sardine can.) And there are so many a few things that I would love to buy to make my life easier.


Don't get me wrong, I buy an occasional coffee from Starbucks and we splurge on things here and there. Although, my husband recently took over our finances (of which I'm grateful) so I might be buying less coffees from now on...

Technically, we are considered at the "Poverty Level." Which is so funny, because I never feel poor We live paycheck to paycheck but really, we live like kings compared to a lot of the rest of the world.

The girls riding an elephant at the circus.

Oh sure, we make sacrifices, but the time I get to spend at home with my children is FAR BEYOND worth it. It's priceless. 

Because of the "sacrifices" we make, I get to be the one to hear first words, watch first steps or any other "first milestone" for that matter, and I get to be the one to kiss every boo-boo, read every book and just be with my children.

So, yes, Ms. Vacuum Rep, we do very well, but not in the way you might think. 


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:25-34




8/11/2013

{Late} Weekend Links

The weekend is almost over, but here are my favorites from around the web from the last week or two. :) Happy Weekend!

Are you FOMO-ing your life away? : The Minimalist Mom - This post on the "Fear of Missing Out" is so, so, so good.

You Keep Using that Verse : Get Along Home - Any girl that starts out a post with a line from The Princess Bride is OK in my book! I have to admit, I've taken this verse out of context as well. *says sheepishly*

11 of the Greatest Hymns in Church History : (in)courage - This is so interesting! Two of my fave hymns are on this list; Come Thou Fount and Be Thou My Vision.

The UnWired Mom 14-Day Challenge : Sarah Mae - I've already missed the first few days, but am going to catch up! Who's with me?!

Zucchini Pizza Slices : Angela's Adventures - These look SO yummy!

5 reasons it's helpful to know your personality type : Modern Mrs. Darcy - I completely agree with her. I used to take so many things so personally until I started to understand that... wait for it.... EVERYONE IS NOT LIKE ME. Profound, I know. ;)

A Mother's Law : Femina - Loved these tips on child-training.

The five of us. :)

8/08/2013

To School or Not to School, THAT is the Question

Oldest turned 5 a few weeks ago and all summer I've been asked the inevitable, Will she be starting Kindergarten this fall? This is kind of a loaded question for me. What I should do is give a short and sweet answer like, "Yes" or "No." 

 Oldest had been asking for a mask like this for her birthday for months! What a cutie.

But instead, I usually feel the need to explain that "we'll be homeschooling and yes, we'll probably start "school" but it won't be taken too seriously because I'll have a newborn and she's still quite young and really, she knows everything she needs to for Kindergarten because we learn everyday and the kind of homeschooling we're going to do recommends we wait another year to REALLY start and..." 

See what I mean? It's a loaded question. Don't say I didn't warn you.

We'll be using the Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling and Mason recommends starting actual school at the age of 6. Here's a great article on why to wait until age 6.

(Here's another link if you'd like to know more about Charlotte Mason.)

All of that to say... at the beginning of the summer I started planning out a light school year starting this fall. Baby #3 is due September 15th, so my expectations were VERY LOW. ;)

Initially, I wanted to start in August, take a break in September (when Baby comes), then pick back up in December or January. Unless of course, Baby is an angel, in which case we would start back up in November. ;)

So that was my plan.

Then I dropped the whole thing. I thought, What am I thinking?? I'm going to have a BABY right when school starts. That's insane! Also, I didn't want to push Oldest into school if she wasn't ready. I want her to play and just be little for as long as possible.

So then, there was no plan.

Now, I'm back to a plan, but it's going to be very simple and very relaxed. I had intended on a relaxed schedule in the first place simply because that's the Charlotte Mason way. Now my thought is, because we'll have a new baby in the house, a plan might not be a bad idea. I generally function a little better if I have some sort of idea of how our days should go. Of course, I realize that a plan is just that--a plan. I know things will still be chaotic and might not go accordingly, but at least I'll have something to fall back on.

Another reason to start this fall is because Oldest loves it. She loves "doing school" and will sit and write letters, read and draw all on her own. And honestly, starting some schooling with her will give me an excuse to spend time with her. Does anyone else have a hard time with that--making time?

The majority of our "schooling" will mostly be reading, reading, reading. I also want to incorporate Bible and Habit Training, for Oldest and myself. I need to develop better habits as well!

Here's another great article on what to do in Preschool/Kindergarten.

Based on this planning series from Simply Charlotte Mason, I made this weekly schedule:
(If you'd like one that's blank, let me know and I can send it to you. :) 



As you can see, I've left some spaces open for things that will change (habits, what books we're reading, etc.)

I realize I'm aiming high with this but I'd rather "aim for the stars and get the moon" then get nothing at all. :)

~Catie

8/06/2013

Pregnancy: Week 34


I can not believe how fast this pregnancy is going! I'm starting to feel the pressure! (figuratively and physically *wink*) I feel like there's so much to do and time is running out! If only I had more energy... 

How I'm feeling physically: Tired and BIG. I'm having a difficult time doing the normal stuff now like, helping the girls with their shoes, putting clothes on, sitting or standing for long periods of time--both become uncomfortable. My sleep is restless, but it could be worse. I'm starting to get more of the itchy rash on the lower half of my belly so I've just been trying to manage it, mostly with coconut oil. I do have a cream from the doctor, but I hesitate to use it because it's steroidal. :(

On the bright side, I can hardly wait to hold my little baby boy! I can't wait to kiss his little cheeks/toes/fingers!! *eek!*

How I'm feeling emotionally: For a while there I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, to be honest. Mostly because of some behavioral issues I'd been having with the girls. After talking with a few friends though and really praying about it and handing it over to the Lord, things have been getting better. I've been trying to let some things go, in terms of behavior. (This is a GREAT article from Femina that touches on that.) I've been trying to make sure that I'm not over-parenting and am just trying to deal with the major stuff. The "heart" stuff, if you will.

How'dya like the belly button? -->


To do before Baby comes:

  • Make cloth wipes. I have a bunch of PINK flannel receiving blankets that will make great wipes!
  • Finish cloth napkins and place mats (I have most of the napkins done)
  • Set up baby's room (not sure where that's going to be yet!)
  • Purchase cloth diapers - just enough to get started as I'm not sure which kind I'll like yet. There are SO many to choose from!
  • Find a dresser for Baby (on the cheap!)
  • I'd like to get some schedules in place; for the home (in case Hubby needs to know what to do) and for our LIGHT homeschool this fall. I'm trying to finish my forms, then I'll be sharing them on here. :) 
  • I'd like to get our living room ready for Hubby to paint, but I might be aiming too high with that one. It would entail taping, moving everything away from the walls and washing them. That might have to wait as just typing all of that makes me tired. *yawn*
  • Schedule a MASSAGE! Whoopie! Husband keeps asking what I want for my birthday and I really just want a nice, quiet, relaxing massage. That's all. ;)

Well, that's me. What have you been up to? 

8/05/2013

5 Things That Help Me to Be a Better Mama

Being a parent is no small task and it's certainly one that my husband and I take lightly. Our desire is to raise our children to the best of our abilities and to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls and minds.

There are a few things that have helped me thus far to be a better Mama. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Quiet Time
This is probably the most important one. It's not always easy or even possible though. No condemnation here! :) When you have a newborn or a toddler who just. won't. sleep. *ahem* it can be so difficult to wake up before your children. But if it's at all feasible, I highly recommend a morning quiet time.

During my quiet time, I usually grab a cuppa joe and read my Bible and/or a devotional and pray. (Right now I'm reading the Unglued Devotional and HIGHLY recommend it.) I'll also use this time to check my email/facebook/blogs on my Kindle. I've found that if I turn my PC on this early, I'm much more tempted to waste time on it all morning.


2. Journaling
I enjoy writing on my blog but I write in my journal almost every morning. I started journaling regularly shortly after Oldest was born. I had a horrible time those first few months breastfeeding and it helped me so much to write my thoughts down and get them out of my head. As women (maybe some men are like this too), it's easy to let our thoughts take over sometimes and I've found that writing in my journal can be a great, non-confrontational way to vent. It's so therapeutic.

My Quiet Time bag. Complete with pens, journal, Bible and devotional(s). :) ------->

I also will sometimes write my prayers out in my journal. Some mornings, especially if it's been a long *sleepless* night, I wake up discombobulated and can hardly keep a thought straight. Being able to write things down keeps my thoughts in order and coherent. :)

As a side note: The absolute best advice I've ever received regarding journaling is don't feel like you have to write in it on a regular basis. If I found a journal from my great, great grandmother and she had only written in it a couple times a year, I'd be happy with that!

3. Friends/Mentors
I read a lot of mothering books and blogs. A lot. However, no amount of reading can replace the advice or listening ears of a good friend. There's nothing like talking to someone who knows you personally; knows your strengths, weaknesses, history, etc. to help get you through tough times. 

My friends Amy (on right) and Linda (on left) and me. Love these ladies.

In fact, just recently I asked a close friend advice about a chronic issue I'd been having with my Oldest and her advice was just what I needed. I felt so much better afterward. I had a new plan of attack!  Don't ever forget that God can, and often does, use the people in your life to speak to you!


4. My Husband
I simply do not know how single moms do it. I rely on my husband so much as a Mama. Granted, we've had some things to work through (and I'm sure it will continue that way), but in general we are on the same page when it comes to parenting and it's so nice to get his perspective. Especially when *I* can't see the forest for the trees.

 Daddy with Middlest at the Milwaukee Zoo

And of course, the extra help in terms of housework and childcare is very much appreciated as well! I just can't do it all some days! I'm very blessed.

5. Having More Children
Now before you start laughing, hear me out! If I think about how I responded to Oldest when she was a baby I sometimes cringe! I was SO IMPATIENT and would get SO ANGRY. It's all I can do to not let condemnation take over sometimes. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 8:1

Just having TWO children (and being PREGNANT with two children!) has helped me to grow in so many areas not only as a Mama, but in my Christian walk as well. I firmly believe the Lord uses the people closest to you (Read: husband and children) to grow you and build character. It's not easy, but it's so good! (Romans 5:3-5)


By no means am I saying I've arrived. Oh no--I only have two children, but I will say that over the past few years I have improved some in my ability to let things go and am more patient in general. I still have my days but the Lord has helped me so much.

What has helped you in your role as wife or mother?

8/01/2013

Reading the Classics

I've always been a reader. I remember at a very young age just sitting and reading and looking at books. Before I could even read I remember paging through Dr. Suess's Sleep Book over and over again. The illustrations in that book are just wonderful! Another favorite of mine was Christina Katerina and the Box which was a gift from my Kindergarten teacher.  

What's even better is I get to read these great books to my children now. 

I read the Mandi series when I was a preteen. Then I devoured almost every single Nancy Drew book. Which at the time I think reached to 110 or so? Oh my goodness; loved those. As I got a little older, my mom introduced me to the author, Victoria Holt. I think I read around 20 or so of her novels before I finished high school.

In high school there was the mandatory reading of course, but since I was homeschooled and we used ACE, the books were a little different than what you'd find in the public high school.

One that was required was The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. That book will change your life. We also had to read Swiss Family Robinson and I couldn't put it down. I can not wait to read that to my kiddos!

There was never a time when I wasn't reading a book as a child. Of course, I love to read, but I think I also used it as a sort of escapism. It's wonderful to get lost in the world of books, isn't it?

There was a short period of time after I moved out of my parents home that I really didn't do much reading. It's kind of sad. I was more into partying in those days. But that's for another post.

As an adult, my love of reading has grown. I didn't read much non-fiction as a child (do other children?) but now I'd say I read about 70% non-fiction and 30% fiction. 

The funny thing is during all of my years of reading growing up, I hadn't really read any classics. It was never required in school and I was a bit sheltered so a lot of them I never even knew existed. I did read To Kill a Mockingbird in my early 20's and I think that was my first "classic." That is a classic, right?

So one of my reading goals lately has been to read some of "The Classics." I read Wuthering Heights a few months ago and "UGH" is all I have to say. I fell in love with the movie and I usually like darker stories, but the book was way too dark and depressing. There's absolutely nothing to like about Heathcliff. At first you feel sorry for him, but his cruelty is relentless so by the end of the book, you kind of hate him. At least, I did. I plowed through it and finished it. I had to take breaks from it though, so I didn't go into a deep depression.


I digress. 

Here's a list of classics that I'd like to read in the next year or so. I'm not giving myself a strict time limit because let's face it--I'll have three young children soon and I will be reading other books too.

~ Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - This is next on my list. Husband and I are watching the new version right now and are loving it. I've seen a few other versions and so far, this one is my favorite.
~ All of Jane Austen's novels starting with Persuasion. It's such a beautiful story. *sigh*
~ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
~ David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
~ Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery - One of my favorite movies and I haven't even read the books!
~ The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - My dad bought me this for my birthday and apparently it's the first great mystery novel ever written? Can't wait to start it!
~ Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
~ Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
~ Paradise Lost by John Milton (actually, I think this *may* have been required in high school and either I didn't read it, or it didn't leave an impression..hmm..)
~ The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
~ Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - I've seen several (all?) versions of the movie and this is one of my favorite stories. I'm sure (hope!) the book won't disappoint!
~ North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
~ A Wrinkle in Time (and the rest of the series) by Madeline L'Engle
~ The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (can you even believe I haven't read these?!)
~ The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald
~ Watership Down by Richard Adams


Tell me--what am I missing? Anything I should skip?

You can check out the other books on my To Read list on Goodreads. What's on your To Read list?