31 Days.



I can't believe I am committing to this, as I have always been a Monday to Friday, no weekends blogger, but I am joining in the very popular 31 Days, with The Nester.  I have decided to document my happiness as a Stay at Home Mom, well a mom really.  I am taking a break from organizing, printables, tips/tricks, recipes, and focusing the next month on motherhood. 

So tomorrow it begins!  I will be adding the links each day to this post, also each will have a label of 31 Days 2013.

Please also follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as I document the entire month!

Day One

Weekend Recap

This weekend was fantastic. For the first time in 6 years, we had a baby sitter come to the house to watch the kids. I found a sitter, who we now love, because my husband wanted me to attend an event in DC with him.  The event was the James Beard Foundation's Taste America.  It was an awesome event which the main focus was food.  Now, I am the furthest thing from being a "foodie", I am actually extremely picky.  I did manage to try at least every dish served.  Probably the coolest part of the event was the location.  It was held at the Italian Embassy.   


It wasn't my husband's first time in the building, he actually worked the MSNBC Party for the Inauguration back in January.  Me, well I never get out so I have never been here, and the building is amazing, and a great location to hold an event.  This was also the first time we have been all dressed up, out, alone, in a very long time!


The food was incredibly interesting.  Here are photos of the first 6 courses.  We left after the sixth course, missing out on the last to.  It was getting late and we needed to get home.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key.  Saturday I was back in my mama role, with errands and tball.




Sunday was L-A-Z-Y. Hubs and the big kid headed to church because someone {JD} decided to fall asleep 4 minutes before we had to leave.  The rest of the day was just relaxing, football watching and playing.  And Joshua decided to really start pulling to standing.


Story Time

Our bedtime routine always has and always will include reading.  It is my favorite part of the day.  My kids look forward to it.  It is a way for us to unwind as a family, ending our day together.  We have a TON of books.  However, it is always fun to read different things.  Every week we head to the library to pick new books for the week.  We usually come home with around 10 books.  My kids also know that the Scholastic Book Orders and Barnes and Noble are my weakness.  They have figured out that I am a children's book lover, and will never leave the book store without letting them pick a book (terrible, I know!)  So here are a few of our favorite series at the moment.  This list is all over the place because I have a 1st grader, preschool, boy/girl.  They are so great about loving any book.  So Matthew will sit and listen to Pinkalicious, while Lilly has heard her share of superhero stories.


1. The Magic Tree House Series - When we started reading chapter books, I knew this would hold their attention.  They love these books.  We get them from the library and usually get through 1 book every 10 days.  We usually have to reserve the book, because they are so popular.

2. Thomas The Train - We have been reading these books for years.

3. Arthur - Arthur is something I remember reading as a kid.  Although they can be a bit long, the kids love these.

4. Froggy - These are so funny, and so fun to read.  We make funny voices and sounds, we really love these books.

5. Dr. Seuss - I mean no explanation needed.  A Classic.

6. Pete The Cat - If we had to pick one series that is our favorite, this would be it.  Matthew read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes his first week of preschool, and we have been hooked ever since.  We own every book, and now there are even Pete the Cat Easy Readers that are so cute! And they are releasing a new Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving and we can't wait to read it!

7. Curious George - That little monkey is so cute, and hearing my kiddos say "and always very curious" is even cuter!

8. Maisy - These Lucy Cousins books are short, sweet and the perfect before nap time book for us.

9. The Berenstain Bears - I love the message each book has. 

10. Amelia Bedelia - I really like these books, because it keeps the kids on their toes.  They don't "get" all the humor yet, so it can be confusing, but when they do understand it is so cute.  



As you can see we love books around here, and there just isn't enough time or space to talk about them all, as I am just realizing I forgot Franklin, who we LOVE!!!!

Also at the moment Joshua gets his own story time (as he is a bit to wiggly right now) and Our favorites are Baby Einstein Board Books and Sandra Boynton Board Books

**Just so y'all know, this post has affiliate links!

One Thing I'll Miss

I don't really think about life without my littles too often (ok, maybe after a very long week, looking onto a longer weekend filled with sports, and birthday parties, and chaos), but today as I hung the latest works of art onto our pantry door, I couldn't help to think how bad I will miss when my house isn't covered it their creations.

To some it may look like clutter, and I guarantee you won't be seeing my fridge in a family home magazine, but it makes me smile, everyday.

 

Dealing With Nightmares

When you have children you quickly learn that there is always something to worry about.  As a mom you want to make your child's life as carefree and innocent as possible.

Recently Matthew has started having nightmares.  It is terrible, thinking something is scaring your child so badly, and there isn't much you can do to stop or avoid it.  All of our children are great sleepers.  They have slept in their own bed in their own room from a very young age.  They rarely wake in the night.  When Matthew woke whimpering for me in the early hours of the morning we knew something was up.  Honestly, I thought he had an accident.  He instantly told me that he had a nightmare, and continued to recap the entire dream in detail.  We let him come sleep the last hour and a half in our bed, and we didn't think much of it the next day.  When we went to put the kids to bed, Matthew was not ok.  He didn't want to shut his eyes, he didn't want to be in his room.  My husband made him feel better by placing one of my loose fitting hair ties around his wrist to comfort him, saying that is what he does when he gets nightmares (so cute, right!)  **BTW, it has been about a week since we did this, and he hasn't had another nightmare since.  He still wears the hair tie at night, but has been sleeping great again.


Some other things we do to create a calm bedtime routine:

*We do the same routine every night at the same time.
*We shower, put on pjs brush teeth, get a drink
*We read stories in our bed.  They each pick 1 and then we read from a chapter book.
*We say prayers, go potty one more time and head to bed.
*In their rooms they each have a blanky (which they have had since birth) and a LeapFrog My Pal Scout.  In Matthew's room there is also a cd player that plays the same Lullaby CD That he has listened to since the day he came home from the hospital.
*They also each have nightlights in their room as well.


My heart can't handle these nightmares, so I hope so badly they go away soon.  In the mean time, while we lay at bedtime, talking a few minutes before lights out,  I am trying to make this a teachable moment.  Telling Matthew how it is so important to be brave.  That he is brave.  That the superheros he looks up to are brave.  To not be afraid.  That so many wonderful things happen as long as you are not scared.  Bravery is such a wonderful character trait, one that I do not have.  One that I so hope my boys develop, because when you are brave I feel you can confront the bad dreams you may have, and chase the good ones.


Midweek Confessions

Super quick I thought I would link up with Elizabeth for some midweek confessions.  Because 1. It is fun and 2.  I should be making a Target list right now, but instead will just wander the isles and spend way too much money (confession one, right there!)

{one, or two I guess} So this morning was Lilly's Preschool's first PTO meeting, and this lady, well she didn't attend.  Worst part, I don't even feel bad about it.  #middlechild #alwaysgetstheshaft

{three} Instead I ran errands and didn't think twice about using HOV, my +1 was my 8 month old baby..... he counts as a person, and it totally saved me like 45 minutes.

{four} On a daily basis my husband tells me he told me so about having a third kid.  It is rough.  I know right now is just chaotic because I have 2 kids at two different schools, and another who falls asleep and has to be woken up every time we get somewhere, yea that's a blast, it is just looney town over here.

{five} I may be making my life more of a hot mess, all of my own fault.  I tend to lay my head down when both my littles nap together (which has been happening almost everyday), when I could be playing catch up and actually preparing a good home made meal for dinner, this mama has been napping.  #ILoveNaps #whodoesn't


Trendy Tot Tuesday - Easy Preschool Style

First I want to thank the 3 hosts of Trendy Tot Tuesday for letting me be a guest co-host!  Make sure to join MeganKelly, and Lindsay for Trendy Tot Tuesday! This week if you link up you are entered into a giveaway to win a $25 gift card to Etsy!

Today I am chatting about building an easy, inexpensive, stylish, and most importantly comfortable preschool wardrobe.
{Lilly ready for the first day of preschool!}

First some tips:

* If you can get by for the first few weeks off of the summer clothing you already have, do it!  All the new fall fashions are sure to go on sale, a few weeks into the school year.  I am in Virginia, so the warm weather sticks around for a bit longer than what I was used to growing up in PA.  Also you get a little bit more wear out of those cute summer clothes!

*Comfort comes first.  I know sometimes you want an outfit for your little so bad because it is just so adorable.  But remember, when they are at school they are learning to be independent.  This means pulling up pants, putting on coats.  They will be getting messy, playing hard, they need clothing to reflect that.  Make sure what you send them in you won't be mad if it comes home dirty.

*Follow policy.  Our school has a closed toe shoe policy.  This is important to remember with them on the playground.  They need to be safe.

*Mix it up.  If shopping at a more expensive store (i.e. Gymboree, Gap) I try to buy a few items that I can mix and match.  So I buy 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants, but they all match and can be interchanged with each other.

*Know your child.  If your little is about to jump sizes, be aware when collecting a new wardrobe.

Now a sneak peak into Miss Lilly's Fall Wardrobe:




    1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 4 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /  9

I love the tunic type shirts because they look so cute with leggings underneath, which makes her more comfortable.  I also make sure all shoes are easy for her to get on and off herself.   

• Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes. Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything! All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now 

• This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (Kelly at Modern Camelot, Lindsay at Baby Mama Drama, and Megan at Table for Three) as well as myself! We are in spots 1-4. Also, jump around to meet other bloggers! We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs! 

• Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot

 • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!

Feedin the Family + EASY Chili Recipe and Storage

It has been FOREVER since I have posted a meal plan.  I always have a meal plan, but lately haven't been following it too closely.  This is week 3 of our back to school phase in (week 1 was Matthew starting school, Week 2 was the start of preschool, and this week Lilly goes back to Gymnastics, and Matthew's CCD classes start again).  I have been SO busy #storyofmylife #arentweall.  I am determined to get back on track.

As I have mentioned in the past, I meal plan and grocery shop on a two week cycle. 


 WEEK ONE

Sunday 9/15 - Leftover Night {We have leftover Pasta in the Fridge and some salad}

Monday 9/16 - Rotisserie Chicken, rice, broccoli 

Tuesday 9/17 - Lasagna Rolls (Making an extra batch for the freezer)

Wednesday 9/18 - Crock Pot Meal - Pot Roast, Potatoes, Veggies

Thursday 9/19 - Baked Chicken,  Steamed Veggies

Friday 9/20 - Grilled Chicken Salads {This mama has wine night with friends, so Daddy is in Charge!}

Saturday 9/21 - It's just Lilly, JD and I.  Hubs and Matthew are going to a Nats game.  So we will probably just have grilled cheese, soup, crackers


WEEK TWO

Sunday 9/22 - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches in the crock pot, Mashed Potatoes.  Hubs likes to smell his dinner all day on Sundays...lol.

Monday 9/23 - This day is double triple booked in the evening, so Leftovers or Take Out it is. 

Tuesday 9/24 -Shrimp Scampi with Pasta and Salad.

Wednesday 9/25 - Club Sandwiches, Soup, Bowl of Fruit

Thursday 9/26 - Chicken and Broccoli with Penne

Friday 9/27 - Taco Night!  I love doing this Taco Bake as an option that is a little different.

Saturday 9/28 - Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Potatoes and Veggies.



Now onto an Easy Chili Recipe.  I am very picky when it comes to food.  I used to never eat chili.  I realized it wasn't the flavor, it was the beans.  So Here is my adapted recipe that is beanless! 


 Ingredients:

2lb Ground Meat
1 Chopped Onion
Chopped Garlic
2 (14oz) can Diced Tomato
1 (16oz) can Tomato Sauce
3 tsp Chili Powder
1tsp Basil
salt, pepper, garlic salt

Saute the Onion and Garlic, set aside and brown Ground Beef.  Add All ingredients into the Crock Pot and cook until heated through.


When I make a batch of Chili I make a huge amount.  I then pour the extra into muffin tins.  Place the tins into the freezer until each pod is frozen.  Then pop them out (use a hot rag for help if it won't come out), and place in a large freezer Ziploc.  When you want soup simple take as much as you need/want and either place on the store or microwave.   



What We Buy In Bulk

The bigger our family gets (don't worry, it's not getting any bigger!) the more I shop in bulk.  One of the main things I wanted when buying our home was a nice sized pantry.  I love having lots of food in the house, I don't know why, I get major anxiety when we run low on food, I am just odd.  I probably don't shop as smart as I should.  I don't use coupons to their fullest, I don't drive to 10 stores to buy 3 things at each place.  To me, time and ease of shopping mean almost as much to me as price (ssshhh, don't tell my husband!)



Anyway, where I come from there is no Sam's Club, no Costco, BJs.  This was all a whole new world to me when moving to NoVA.  Out of the 3 big box stores near us, I liked Costco the best, it also happens to be the closest.  Right next to our preschool, how convenient!

I usually try to only make one trip per month.  Here are the items I like to purchase in bulk.  (Remember these may not be the best value or price, just what we prefer).

1. Printer Ink. I don't know why I buy it here, but I do.  Also they will refill your old cartridges for cheap, but I usually forget the pile of mine to take in.

2.  Paper Plates.  I know I am so horrible, but I use a ton of paper plates for the kids meals....so much easier than all the dishes I would have to do.

3.  Chocolate Milk.  I buy the Kirkland Organic Chocolate Milk Cartons for Lilly.  She is the only one (so far) that likes it.  I love that it doesn't need to be cold stored.  I put a few in the fridge at a time, and the rest stay in the pantry.  This is a special drink (we drink water all day) so a case lasts me a long time.

4. Apple & Eve Fruitables .  Again this is a special treat so a case of these probably lasts at least 6 months.  

5.  Croissants.  My kids and husband really like these.  They are great for breakfast and for sandwiches. I actually bring these home, bag them up, and put them in the freezer.  We take them out and heat them up from frozen.  

6.  Rotisserie Chicken.  I won't leave the store without one. No. Matter. What.  They aren't just great for a quick dinner, but I will take a whole one, cut it apart, and store it in the fridge.  It is great for lunches, to put into a meal, anything really.

7. Ground Meat.  I know this IS NOT the cheapest, but I like the quality, and convenience of buying 6lbs and then freezing portions.

8.  Other Meat.  I don't always buy other meats from Costco, but do stock up there occasionally.

9.  Fruit.  Their produce is awesome.  We go through SO much fruit in our house, so it works well for us, because it is never in the house long enough to go bad.  (we don't get all our fruit there, typically, bananas, strawberries, grapes, pineapple)

10. Frozen Chicken.  Again not the cheapest, but it's what we like.

11.  Eggs and Milk.

12. Frozen Shrimp.

13. Ketchup and Ranch Dressing.  We like a certain brand for each, and go through a good bit, so it works for us to buy in bulk.

14.  GoGo Squeez.  Matthew LOVES these.  I buy them here occasionally, but also buy them in the other flavors at my regular grocery store.

15.  Goldfish, Ritz Crackers, Applesauce.  These are all snacks I like to keep on hand at all times.  I WILL NOT but the snack sizes of these because the snack version of the goldfish is way to big for my kids to eat in a sitting (and at preschool they have to throw the leftover away) I buy the big box, and make my own smaller portions.

16.  Bread.  We like the Natures Own Honey Wheat.  

17. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels.  I buy the Kirkland Brand for paper towels, and Charmin for Toilet Paper.

18.  Chobani Champions Yogurt Tubes.  Unfortunately the Costco closest to us carries go-gurt (which we don't eat) but another Costco only about 10 miles away has the kind we use. 

WOW!  That seems like a lot, and I am sure I am missing something.  A lot of these things, I buy once every few months, to only a few times a year.  

Also, I do have a good pantry space, but with that, I lack in fridge/freezer space.  All we have is our LG side by side in our kitchen.  Our next house, which we hopefully will have a garage will have another fridge/freezer.  That is why there are not a ton of cold items on the list. 

If you want a list of the best buys financially speaking check out this post by The Fun, Cheap, or Free Queen, she is a smarty pants when it comes to being on budget and getting the most for your money!

**Just so y'all know this post contains affiliate links :)

Updated Home Management Binder



I am beyond excited to have this project finished.  If I am being completely honest, it was a TON of work.  designing the way I wanted each page, trying to figure out how to create it, and then putting it all together took much longer than I expected.....but, IT'S DONE!!!!


I have been using a home management binder for a few years now, and while I really liked mine, I knew I wanted the pages to be more personalized.  While it is hard to show my actual pages in my book (for privacy reasons, I will go through my tabs.  Also ALL pages are available to download via Google Drive.

The actual binder I have is from Staples, it is part of the Martha Stewart Collection.  The Tabs, Labels, and other elements of the binder are also from that collection.



Tabs:

1. Finances - This section holds all of our bill payment needs.  I use a calender for each month to write out bill due dates.  Once I pay the bill, I write in the check # , and PAID.  Our Yearly Budget and Goals is next, followed by our check register.
Check Register Download                      Yearly Budget Download

2. To-Do - This tab is pretty simple and self-explanatory.  I have a master to-do list printable, and some extra lined paper, again from the Martha Stewart Collection.  It also has my cleaning schedule.


                               To-Do List Download                              A Clean House Download                                                                           


3. Contacts - My complete address book is here, Important Dates, Emergency Contacts (which include Drs, The kids school number and teacher's name, My husbands co-workers, City Important Numbers, Our HOA....) I also keep a running list of online username and passwords.  Lastly in this section, I use a baseball card holder to organize important business cards I keep.

Address Book Download                                       In Case of Emergency Download




4. Meal Planning - Under this tab is my school lunch planner, and pages for weekly meal planning.  I also occasionally print out meal plans, or snack lists I find on Pinterest and store those as well.  A Grocery List Template is stored here too.
 Two Week Meal Planner Download                                      Grocery List Download


5.  Matthew, Lillian, Joshua - Each child has their own tab.  It is hard to show anything from their sections because it is all school info, Doctors papers, you know personal stuff that is important for me to keep close at all times.

6.  Seasonal - Right now, my blog pages are under this tab.  I wasn't really using this tab too often (it does get used throughout the holidays) So for now it has weekly blog planning and an idea page.

 Blog Planner - Ideas Download                           Weekly Blog Posts Download


You can Download all the pages HERE!

I use this binder EVERYDAY.  Some thoughts though....I always keep it at home.  No actual planning is in this book, there is no reason it needs to leave the house.  With such important info, papers, passwords, it is kept safe in our home office area when not being used.  I also don't keep any extremely important papers in.  Birth Certs, SS cards, Baptism Certs, those are all kept in a safe (I plan on sharing that organization soon).  

I will say that this was A LOT of work, but so worth it.  Having pages designed for exactly what I need to fit my family is great.  I am sharing these hoping others will be able to use them as well.  I just ask that if you print, that they are for personal use, and I would LOVE for you to share, or post how you use these, just please link back to my site for some credit....Thanks!