As I walked through the house on my nightly clean-sweep of rooms, I paused last week on this grouping left on a desk. Two sons had mingled parts of their day on this surface. I see this stuff all the time, and usually sort and sift quickly to keep or trash. But for a split moment I was inspired to pay attention before I disbanded the “clutter”.
I felt the need to snap a picture for my memory bank. It means nothing to most eyes that see it, but for me, it reflects two rambunctious boys that I love. The stick and duct tape, the fidget spinner, the rock, the beginning attempts of drawing circles…such sweet pieces of childhood. It’s not something I will scrapbook later, but I will begin to snap more pictures like it for my own heart and memory.
And so I hope to plant a seed for you too as you walk through parts of our mundane days. They are Ordinary a lot of the week, but in that Ordinary, look for the gems that are visually laid out just for you as a gift from God; these snapshots are beautiful reflections of family, love, joy, contentment, security… they are hidden treasures unless you really open your eyes to see.
As I was unpacking boxes from our move, I unloaded children’s books in the hallway with no plan yet of where to place them. Eli instantly sprawled out and began absorbing them as if old friends had just arrived. He lingered there for an hour! (A looong time for a 5-year-old). I kept stepping over him to continue unpacking, but then glanced down and realized that I didn’t want to ever forget such sweet innocence in that moment. You think you’ll remember; but take the snapshot.
So many Saturdays are on the Soccer Fields right now in our family’s life. My views are similar each week, and I make sure to take a pic or two of my boys playing the sport from time to time. But with my quest to see the hidden gems, I snapped this thinking I would probably delete it once I could actually see it out of the direct sunlight…but oh no, I will keep it. I love it in fact. It has all the components from the quilt blankets laid out each week, to the sibling drifters that are needing busy work and snacks while waiting out a game. To me, it’s a sweet reminder of this season.
And so I have these:
Two leaves that one son thought were worthy of keeping,
A beloved pup that always lingers at the top of the stairs hoping for a pet on the landing below,
A crazy fort that I ran in to while trying to get though my bedroom!
Boys enjoying the quiet process of creating art late at night when the house finally stills… Oh, I don’t want to miss any of these! I probably would not have normally taken these photos last week. The are all just natural parts of our family’s routine. I see them all the time; but this week, through the camera lens, I see the beautiful treasures they are just for me. My heart overflows with thankfulness to the Lord for His abundance in my Ordinary day! You can keep your eyes open for the hidden gems that are laid out just for you too! You see them all day long. When you spot them, snap the picture. You never have to edit them; they are perfect just as they are.
Ordinary Threads is about to meet with a great group of women to help them set up Menu Planning Boards for their homes next month. As the preparation for that swirls in our heads, our thoughts are focused on FOOD! I have a few Go-To meals that I’ve been making for years now. When a week turns crazy, these are my steadies. They are easy, fast and yummy. Add a salad, veggie, bread or fruit and you’re ready to eat! Try one or all!
1 Kraft Italian Dinner Box
1 16oz. can Tomato Sauce
1 6oz. package of Mozzarella Cheese, grated
Boil spaghetti from dinner box and drain and rinse. Beat eggs in large bowl and add parmesan from dinner box. Add spaghetti and mix well. Put half of spaghetti mixture in bottom of greased 9 inch pie plate and then layer half of the grated cheese and then repeat layers one more time. Bake 10 minutes, uncovered, at 350. Do sauce per package directions. Cut pie in wedges and serve with sauce.
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
2 TBS Butter
1 small Onion, chopped
half cup fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 8oz. can Baked Beans
1 8oz. can Kidney Beans
1 8oz. can Tomato Sauce
1 envelope Chili Seasoning
Cheddar Cheese, grated
Melt butter in large skillet and add onion and mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes. Add beans and tomato sauce. Stir in Chili Seasoning and add Sausage. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until heated through. Garnish with grated cheese.
1 Half-baked Pie Shell
4 Slices Bacon, crumbled
Veggies of choice, diced
Blend of Swiss and Cheddar Cheese, 1 1/2 cups together
1 cup of Milk
Dash of Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Mix all together in a bowl. Pour into pie crust. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 Degrees.
1 lb. spaghetti
1 pkg. Smoked Sausage, sliced
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
3 cups Grape Tomatoes, halved
3 cups fresh Basil
Sea Salt and Pepper
1 cup Parmesan, grated
In a large pot over medium heat, combine EVERYTHING, but cheese and add 4 1/2 cups of Water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer till Pasta is cooked through and water reduced. Stir in Parmesan and Serve.
1 small package of Ranch Dressing Mix
6 Chicken Breasts
1 sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers
1 cup of Parmesan Cheese
Coat Chicken in Melted Butter, then in a bowl filled with mixture of crushed crackers and Ranch mix. Place in a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Pour remaining Butter over the top. Cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes at 350 Degrees.
These Recipes are a culmination of Family, Friends and my own Finds that have proved Faithful time and time again for our Family. I enjoy cooking for my family, but time doesn’t always allow for it. The focus for me in a season of young children and after school activities is to share as many meals around a table as possible in the week. When a meal can be made fast and in one skillet, pot or pie crust, it’s a winner in our books! Makes clean-up a breeze too. Make a list of these meals and more that will give you quick sustenance but also rich time with your loved ones.
Aren’t Summers with children in the home a “hurry up and get to relaxing!’ And then, “hurry up and get ready for the school year!” We try to cram as much fun and spontaneity into every steamy day of our break. We have sipped lemonade, lounged by a pool, admired our cute pedis and laughed with our kids…we have unplugged for the glorious summer. But this week we have been recharged and it’s “Go Time!” All moms are prepping for the new school year.
“Hustle and bustle” is again reinstated into the vocabulary; it cannot be denied. However, with a few tricks up our sleeve, it can still be fun!
Let’s talk Momstations!!
Sometimes we make it home before school pickup, and sometimes not. Usually we are traveling to the next destination of sports practice, music lesson, karate, Scouts, etc. Last year I grew weary of the frazzled feelings every afternoon evoked, so I applied a few thoughts to action and they worked!!
So here you go; sure hope they lighten your load as they have mine:
I have a thermos for everyone in my car that gets filled with ice at breakfast time. They are labeled with names and set in cup holders in our car. By afternoon pickup we have cold water for all; and no sticky drinks are sloshing in my car.
Along that line, There is a snack bag placed in an insulated bag each morning too. Inside are individual “mystery snacks” for all riders. (My kids just like the term “mystery”, and each day I put some sort of trail mix combo that varies each day so it feels different). This trick has saved me many Quik Trip runs!!
I love to encourage readers, so I stash magazines, comics, crosswords with pen attached, Mad Libs, joke books, maps, you name it…in all nooks and crannies of the car to be found. (Kids love to discover maps of their town to navigate).
There are always 2 decks of cards in the glove box, because many a time I have been waiting for one child and sitting with the other. Card games are a great filler of time, and more importantly, a fantastic way to engage in conversation and hear more of your child’s heart. (They are also used in a restaurant for the kids if the adults are trying to talk for a few minutes).
I keep a Bible Quilting Bag in the front seat with me all year-long. It is decked out with flair pens, washi tape, devotional material and my journal to quilt in...let me know if you’d like me to set one up for you too!! It’s my favorite “go-to” thing in the car! (the kids have one too; nothing blesses my heart more than taking a few moments to write a scripture alongside my child).
As we cross paths all over town throughout the school year, we can still engage in meaningful times and quiet respites if a little planning goes in to it. Hope this spurs you on to begin thinking of ways to set up your Momstations and enjoy the ride!
Hey There! Alarm beeping, feet on the floor, start the coffee maker and wake up the kids. Pack the lunches, get the snacks bagged, make breakfast and check on the kids again. Let the dogs out, drink the coffee and head out the door to schools. Sort the mental lists that are inside the mind, prioritize the day and breathe. (Also insert, step over the laundry, kick the toys out of your path and shove the dirty dishes a little closer to the dishwasher. Smile, laugh and drink more coffee…the alternative is to cry and go sit in a dark room which is not an option).
Is any one else feeling like the month of May is on steroids? It happened last year too. Just as my heart starts to dream about the sweetness and rest of summer, my mind gets snapped back to an over scheduled routine that is trying to take me down! My coffee intake has sky-rocketed and my sleep has diminished. Sticky notes, lists, calendars and spreadsheets sprout up overnight everywhere!! Keeping up with all of the end-of-the-year school activities is not for the weak. This time around the track I decided to run the race with a focused game plan though…
May is a beautiful whirl wind of bursting flowers, colors, hopes and summer at our fingertips. May is also wrapped in amped-up routines and overly exhausted people. It is where the end is in sight but has not been reached yet. And the last leg is the most treacherous. How do we handle it? Some days beautifully, some days tragically. But Praise God for Grace and Mercy and Fruit! I decided to fill my plate with more fruit this season and see what might happen. It is a healthy choice for many many reasons. Grab an apple and walk with me a moment…think of the Fruits of the Spirit.
I released all of my control and asked Jesus to take it. That’s so easy to say but so hard to do. That sounds big, and it is. Not because of any pat on the back to me for praying it, but because of how incredibly hard it is to not take it back each new day. It is humbling and hard. There are topics like Trust and Pride that come up in your heart. It would probably be easier to continue to build my pack of stress and trudge on. But this time around I wanted to stop the frenzy.
This is what I prayed: “Thank You, Jesus, for THIS DAY. then I repeated it, and said those words slowly, soaking in each one. Then I prayed it all over again, and this is what happened…
I realized that there are many days behind me, and I am to move forward and not look back. And with God’s mercy, there are many days ahead of me, and I rejoice!! There is no mistaking that some days will be GREAT and some will be HORRIBLE, but I know that God will be GOOD and LOVING in all of them. He will walk beside me and give me strength for each one. I wrote out the Fruits of the Spirit and put it in plan sight so that I would continue to feast on them. As I did, my nourishment became fulfilling; whenever I cracked from stressors, my mind was renewed quicker and I was able to digest better.
And so I prayed that prayer again to thank Him for THIS DAY. I woke up, took a breath, felt my heart beating and realized I have a full plate!! At a meal, we only have one dinner plate that we fill and eat from. When that one meal is over, we wait for the next meal to then repeat the process, we don’t carry the plate with us. I don’t want to miss the feast of each new day that the Lord sets before me. I know that the day will be messy, but filling up on the Fruits of the Spirit sustains me through the routines. I hope you will fill your plate too!
…”taste and see what the Lord has done.”
Hello! Every day we use things that make our lives easier or bring a smile to our face. I encourage you to take a look at your daily routines and see what those things are. It was fun for me to dig a bit and see a few of my “favorites” all together! Check out Loved One’s Favorites too… you’ll get great gift ideas. Here we go!!
KITCHEN TONGS: I am seriously addicted to these little gems. I have a bunch of them because they only cost a couple dollars. They are so handy to pick up anything and everything! I even have some spares in our chip containers so that I don’t get “cheeto fingers.”.
MINI CROCKPOT : My favorite scent is ANYTHING Christmas. I used to put a pot on the stove with simmering spices and fruit so that the whole house smelled yummy…but then I found mini crockpots! They are fabulous!! This is a wonderful gift during the holiday season to give with a recipe and ingredients for simmering. Lemons, cinnamon sticks, clove,and oranges are a good place to begin.
FELT TIP PENS: These beauties are a little pricey, but there are sales and coupons out there to get them a bit lower. I love how bold the ink is. I love that it doesn’t smear and drys quickly. I love to use these on to-do lists to perk up the mundane chores, and I love to journal and write pretty much everything with them.
RAINBOW INSULATED CUPS WITH STRAWS: Oh happiness! It’s simple I know, but I get more water drank in my day with a different colored cup each morning! I have the whole rainbow at my fingertips, and since they come with lids…they travel from home to car easily.
FLAMELESS CANDLES: With a house full of boys, it is in our Homes best interest to not light many actual candles with real flames. This set is lovely and it comes with a remote and timers! I have some in our kitchen, and I have some programmed in the living and bedrooms. As bedtime routines begin, it is nice to enter those dark spaces with the glow of a flickering candle. I love my flameless candles!
POM POM COASTERS: Are these not the cutest little splashes of fuzzy color?!
The kids made these with cork and glue and pom poms one Christmas for family gifts, and I snagged a set for our Drink Station. Each morning this cheerfulness greets me at the coffee maker. (I had just as much fun making these as the kids.)
NERF WALL: This saved my sanity with all the Nerf wars that happen daily in our home.
If you have darts and kids in your life, I recommend that you review our Nerf Wars post on how to make one of these stations. The kids helped design and paint the walls; and hanging it all up in the garage was fun for all of us! Now the tag has been moved outside. When it’s over, I have yet to ask a boy to put their Nerf stuff away. They rush to the Nerf Wall to get the best hangers!! (Such a Win for us all.)
TAILGATE TABLES: These medium-sized rectangle, collapsible tables will rock your world! I have never actually used them for their intended purpose…but I have used them for pretty much everything else. They fold and are lightweight. I have these tucked all over the house. The make a quick puzzle, Lego, you-name-it project off the floor. They wipe down and have two adjustable heights. And the bonus feature is that if you find them during football season, then you have local color options depending on nearby teams! If you want a certain color, look at the teams.
CANDY CATCHERS: When you are between 2 candy-laced holidays, the thought occurs of what to do with the abundance of sweets (?)… Since there are multiple boys in our home, and boys are a tad competitive in everything, we had to find a solution to storing any excess of overflow. The number of kids you have, is the number of compartments needed for the Candy Catcher. Personalize it so there is no confusion. No Sharing is an unspoken for this little kitchen tool. This container usually stays out of reach, so that a parent monitors consumption. I pull from its resources for school lunches and snacks mixed with healthier choices. This has gone with us on road trips with each persons snacks divided so they can eat them at differing paces. This is a fun Favorite for me!
PORTABLE HAMMOCKS: My most recent Favorite! I love these soooooooo much. Each child received one for a gift. We learned how to “stack” them in trees from college students. It looked as if there were a herd of nomads in my back yard the first 3 days!! The kids stayed outside for hours trying out different trees. They took books, water bottles, snacks, journals, DS’s, and even a Ukulele!! I confess that I also enjoy gently swinging and cloud-gazing; especially snuggled with one of my Cuties’.