Weekly Menu Plan: FREE Printable

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We’re continuing on with our “Feeding a Family” theme and today we’re talking MENU PLANS!

Let me start by saying…menu planning is NOT my favorite thing to do. There…I said it. In fact, I can usually find 500 other things I need to do like now instead of planning the menu. The thing about it is, I know it benefits me so much to have a game plan for the week ahead.

Additionally, there are so many different styles of menu planning that it’s going to take time to find the “right” way to do it for your family.

Oh, and then there’s that whole as seasons change, so must your meal plan. Ha.

So…I think what I’m trying to get at is. Meal plans are good. Very good actually, BUT…you shouldn’t be so rigid about it that you can’t allow for life to happen and change plans. Because really, that would defeat the purpose of that meal plan, wouldn’t it?

The best recommendation I can make for you is this, shop around and pull ideas from lots of folks. Find the one that best fits your family and the current season you’re in (i.e. babies, picky eaters, eat you out of home(ers) or all the above).

Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. To help your family eat well and avoid unnecessary stress about what to feed that little army of yours.

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Keep it simple and don’t forget to add in some fun things…make sure everyone in your family can find something in the mix to get excited about. Trust me, you won’t please every member every day and some days you may not please anyone BUT a good meal plan will help you overall make it easier on you to please them and feed them healthy more often.

Ok. now that all that is out there…here’s a basic run down of how I plan:

*I usually plan my meals Sat/Sun because since Covid craziness became a thing I’ve been shopping weekly on Saturdays (I used to shop biweekly at multiple stores). Now I go to one store and order anything I can in bulk from Amazon. I start planning before I go shopping and then I finalize it after I get back because I still seem to have trouble finding everything I planned to use for meals at one store.

*We have a couple of meals that we do each week like “Friday night Pizza night” & “Taco Tuesday”. This is both fun and gives me a couple of “freebies” each week.

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*I try to have a couple of “back ups” on my radar and in the pantry and freezer. Think homemade Einkorn PBJ or “snack lunch”. Again, life happens and with four kids…it happens a lot and the whole point of all of this is to make life easier not more stressful, right? RIGHT.

*If something from the meal plan doesn’t end up getting used I shift it to the next open day and if necessary sometimes I switch meals from one day to the next…for example, this morning I made tomorrow’s breakfast because I was running behind and tomorrow I’ll make today’s instead.

*Don’t forget to plan what snacks you’ll have available for the week (if you have small kids you know what I’m talking about).

*It’s also a good idea to plan for a couple of desserts for the week too. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice treat a few times a week. And…if you at least plan to bake something you can make sure you have all of the ingredients at home when you go stock up for your week of meals.

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As you can see, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my meal plan. I don’t have time or mental space for complicated things right now so simple is how I prefer things. If you’ve never done a meal plan but you’re interested in starting one, you can give this little worksheet a try. I created it especially for ya’ll (well…and myself). It is super simple and embarrassingly basic (don’t judge me) but it follows the basic principles I outlined for you and it will get you going.

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy planning people! ❤

 

For the Love of Food: Feeding a Family

Feeding a family is both a great joy and a big job. There are so many factors to consider. Family size, family budget, likes and dislikes. How much time can you allot for meal prep and clean up? All of these things are important to consider.

The larger your family, the more planning has to come into play. Meal time looks much different now with four children than it did years ago when we only had one. The more people you’re feeding, the more opinions and requests, likes and dislikes threaten to make meal times a daily challenge.

Additionally, there’s the food boredom that strikes when meals become too repetive. Food is meant to be enjoyed and special. It holds the potential to bring you back in time just as your favorite songs do.

Oh and let’s not forget that we want to ensure the food we are serving our loved ones is also nourishing their bodies. So many of the easy, prepackaged convenience type foods we buy from the store do nothing for us besides fill our stomachs for a time. There’s very little those foods actually do for our health.

Some days your creative juices are flowing and meal ideas come naturally, other days there isn’t a thing in the cupboards or fridge to strike your fancy.

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Making mealtime something special and nourishing is possible. It’s not always easy and some days you’ll need to look for inspiration, but take heart, with a little planning and trial and error it can be done.

So how do you get started? 

  • Love food for more than a full stomach. Love the beauty it offers…the nourishment and enjoyment. Food is such a vital part of our lives, we might as well enjoy it.
  • Remember why you’re doing it. You have been given the joy and responsibility to feed your people nutricious and delicious foods.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed and don’t compare yourself to gourmet cooks if you’re just getting started. Start small. Stick with it and you’ll get there.
  • Learn all you can…Pinterest, Youtube, Blogs, Books…there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Give yourself grace and allow yourself to make terrible meals and messes. Even the best cooks and bakers make inedible creations from time to time.

Over the next several weeks I’m going to take you all through some of our “regulars” on the meal plan to offer a few ideas and inspire you. We’ll start with breakfast, then lunch and lastly dinner.

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We’ll also look into some different types of meal planning forms and share recipes for some of our favorite meals.

My hope is that you’ll leave here feeling refreshed and inspired. Ready to cook…and EAT!

 

Chocolate Chip Scones Recipe

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I have a tasty breakfast treat for you all today! These delicious scones are made from 100% homeground whole wheat flour (though you can certainly subsitute store bought whole wheat flour as well). They taste just about the same as a chocolate chip cookie, just slightly less sweet. Not only are they delicious, they are super easy to make and take only a few minutes to bake. Perfect for a weekend breakfast treat!

 

Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups flour (I used freshly ground hard white wheat)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2-3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup butter (cold)

101/2 tsp vanilla (pure vanilla)

1 egg

1/4 cup heavy cream (you can substitute milk if you don’t have cream, but the cream does make a tasty scone)

** you may find that you need slightly more cream…after adding the first 1/4 cup, add a tablespoon at a time extra if needed to make the mixture come together**

Step One:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and chocolate chips)

Step Two:

Combine your wet ingredients (egg, cream, vanilla)

Step Three:

Cut in cold butter to the dry ingredients

Step Four:

Combine your dry ingredients and wet ingredients

Step Five:

Shape the dough into a slightly flat circle and cut into eight pieces with a pizza cutter

Step Six:

Bake on 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown

Enjoy! 🙂

Slow, Simple & Intentional

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I was going to post an update on the garden, in fact I’d even started writing it multiple times, but each time I start writing, I keep coming back to this topic. It’s been a bit of a personal mission for our family for some time now and we’re still working to figure it all out but it’s the story of the blog. The name and the why.

Scripture is a large part of our family’s life and while we would never claim to live it out flawlessly, it is the driving force behind all that we do. Because of it many will never “understand” us and many will disagree, even ridicule our choices. Nevertheless, we strive as a family to live differently from the world and are learning more about what that looks like each day.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Many years ago, even before our first son was born, I remember reading this scripture from Ecclesiastes. I remember it struck my interest…and digging into it more. King Solomon, was powerful and wise…he’d done it all and seen it all. Much like most of us are striving to become and do. Participating in the daily race for more and success.

He’s speaking of our material pursuits while here on earth and how no matter how hard we work or how much we work…these things are all like chasing after the wind…the wind which cannot be caught. Materially, we can never have enough. We’re always striving for more success, fame and fortune. Big, shiny, flashy, fancy…popular…fast…disposable. These words and many others come to mind when I think about what’s considered desireable today.

This fast paced, make lots of money so you can buy all the things, don’t get your hands dirty, hire it out, eat it out and grow apart lifestyle that has been made the norm is meaningless…a chasing after the wind. A life wasted.

Marriage is all about my needs being met. Children are a nuisance and anything that requires work is undesirable. This is more often than not the norm of today’s world. Even in the church.

We’ve decided that want to live slower…not because we’re better, because we desire more.

…a marriage that is valued and fits into the schedule. Children that we invest in, even when it’s inconvenient and hard…take the time to raise and teach and cherish.

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We want to live simply without the bells and whistles and do as much of it ourselves as we’re able. The cooking the cleaning, the fixing. When did such things become beneath us? There’s dirty, hard work yes, but satisfaction too.

Homemaking and raising children is not a life wasted, it is the ultimate career.

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“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” CS Lewis

Living intentionally in terms of devoting our lives to God’s plan no matter where that takes us, a strong marriage that outlasts the disposable nature of our lost world and striving to raise up godly children who love and appreciate the little things that the Lord has blessed them with.

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” Charlotte Mason

So what does that look like for our family, right now in this season of life?

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Family time…as much as we can manage. The six of us…as much time together as possible because these children grow up too fast. Of course work and visits and appointments and such are a part of life but we have chosen to prioritize the time we have together.

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Of course not everyone will agree on this, but for us schooling the kids at home enables us to have even more time together, teaching them about the things that we feel are important and gives them the extra opportunity to slow down and play more while they are little.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” John Wesley

Get dirty…imagine…have fun. It also enables us to take more time teaching them the things that are harder for them as well as move on faster when they naturally grasp something quicker. Less boredom is a wonderful thing.

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Making meals with love and care at home and learning old skills…less disposable and convenience. Less artificial and more real.

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We’re a work in progress ourselves and we fight the flesh as much as everyone else. We’re on a mission to slow down and live a simple life of chasing God’s good gifts rather than the wind…to take great care of what he has blessed us with.

It’s a journey we’re on as a family.

My hope is that through our journey others will be inspired to join along. That it will leave a positive mark in the world.

 

Silence

It’s been silent for a few weeks around here. Everything is fine and everyone is well, thankfully. Somehow even with social distancing and quarantine and all we have been so busy with school and work and projects that time has simply raced by. Before my unintentional break, I’d been working on multiple posts that I had hoped to get out a while ago (including a sour dough starter tutorial for a friend), but I’d run into issues with the photo editing program I was using and had to upgrade. If you look at the photos from my last post compared to the others…you’ll see what I’m talking about.

After that we just got so busy trying to catch up on other things and adjusting to the current normal. While much of our school and work routine hasn’t changed, our grocery shopping, errands and meals etc have had to be adjusted. It’s certainly a minor inconvenience compared to many peoples circumstances and by no means do I want to come across as complaining. It has however, changed some things significantly and we’re trying our best to figure out the best way to do things affordably with the best possible nutrition etc. It’s simply been a season of adjustment and it’s left us feeling a little…

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This may get long, so brace yourselves. I’ll start with an update on what’s been going on around here and then I’ll end with some things I’m hoping to do here with the blog and such. 🙂

First, I killed my trusty sour dough starter(insert sad face and tears)!! This was such a good starter and made us so much bread and pizza… and I could have cried! Technically I didn’t kill it, I’m pretty positive it was the cheap/bleached flour (all that was left at the store). It was doing wonderful until I started using that flour and then within days of using it my starter was dead. I tried to revive it but it was too far gone. Rest in peace “Sour Sam”, you’ve been good to us.

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Second, I’d wanted to purchase a grain mill for years and just hadn’t…mostly due to the investment, but given the flour shortage, thanks to Covid, I took the leap and ordered one. FINALLY. Naturally EVERYTHING is currently on backorder (I was a little late on acting on my instinct to purchase one and I’m on my second attempt to order one that’ll arrive before 2021).

After research and much debate, we decided to go with this guy. It was either this or the Wondermill but that one was simply too big and bulky for our small kitchen. I’m pretty excited to try out our Nutrimill Harvest.

NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill with Gold Trim

On that note, once this guy gets here, I’ll be starting a new sourdough starter with homeground flour. I’ll keep you posted on all of that.

I’m still planning to create a “How to create your own starter” post and I may even retake all of the photos since I want to wait until I can grind my own grains. I’m curious to see the difference in the starter with the fresh ground flour.

In other news, school is going well mostly. We’re trying to wrap up the school year as far as core subjects go. We started year round schooling with a month long break in June as of this past year so we’re going to be starting the next grade come July. My oldest will be taking his first standardized test in the next couple of weeks (as per Georgia law). We have received it and we’re both a little anxious about it but after having looked it over, I think he’s going to be just fine. There’s that part of me that has to fight off the thoughts of “what if I didn’t do enough for him to prepare for this…what if I’m not a good enough teacher…” but the reality is the test is there to let us know where we stand and it can be a very useful tool in helping me know where he’s excelling and where he needs more work.

Just look at them…lol. Ask me how many times per week I’ve been cleaning their bathroom, go ahead. It may or may not have been part of the reason for the silence.

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We’ve been spending a lot of time outside, as you can probably tell. This is the time of year that makes us just want to play in the garden all day. Warm sun, cool breeze…ahh.

Speaking of garden, we’ve planted one, a relatively small one this year. We’d had a lot of issues with our last one so we wanted to be a little cautious this year and see what we can do. We’re going to have (hopefully), cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, broccolli, cauliflower, radishes, herbs and some flowers for cutting. I’m also trying to get some lettuce and celery going. I’ll keep you posted on how all of that progresses.

Here’s some of the herbs that I started inside. I really love baby plants. ❤

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I told you it’s been busy around here. I never realized how busy quarantine could be! Of course I also never really thought any of us would have experienced quarantine, period.

Coming up next, is a collection of resources and activities that I’ve come across while working on some research for our church’s Cubbies class. In case it interests any of you who may be homeschooling or just looking for activities to do with your little ones this summer I thought it may be a fun post to share since summer is quickly approaching.

Until soon friends. Stay safe and healthy! Also, if you’re at all interested in Young Living Essential Oils, feel free to visit my new Instagram page dedicated to YLEO! Look for it at @wholelivingwithoils! 🙂

Of course also remember to check out my regular Instagram @oursimplefamilyliving!

Much love,

Nadine

DIY Laundry Soap

It’s been a chaotic and uncertain time for many of us these past couple of weeks so this space has been quiet a bit longer than I’d intended. Fortunately we are all well in my home and I pray those of you reading are healthy too!

As promised, I wanted to share a simple tutorial on making inexpensive (and easy) laundry soap. The more things you can make from home (using simple ingredients that we typically keep at home in bulk anyway) the less trips to the store you have to make. At the moment that’s a wonderful thing!

Even when life returns to normal, skills like making your own laundry soap help make life a little slower and more simple. If you’re like us and living on a small budget, DIY laundry soap along with other simple laundry ingredients and accessories, will save you quite a bit of money. 

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Here’s some info on the basic items that I buy regularly and try to keep on hand at all times:

A large jar like this one is what I use to store my powder laundry soap. You can find these at Walmart for roughly $9. I believe this one is their Anchor Hocking line. I can’t remember where I got the scooper from but I am pretty sure I didn’t buy it. It came from some other packaged item.

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Next, you’ll need washing soda, borax, baking soda and Fels Naptha bar soap. I usually buy the large box or bag of baking soda but during my last grocery run they didn’t have any so I had to settle for the little boxes. I usually keep multiple boxes and bars at the house so I have extra and can make it without having to run to the store for ingredients. With 4 kids I have a lot of laundry and make a lot of this stuff!

I also bought a grater from the dollar store that stays with my laundry supplies specifically for making laundry soap.

The washing soda is approximately $4 per box. The baking soda is $4 for a 5lb bag. The borax is $4.50 and the Fels Naptha bar is less than $1.

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In addition to the ingredients listed above, I have purchased the dryer balls in place of dryer sheets. Mine are old and need to be replaced so I’ve been looking around on Amazon for a replacement. These are what I’m going to be ordering soon:

SnugPad Wool Dryer Balls XL Size 6 Pack, Natural Fabric Softener 100% Organic Premium New Zealand Wool, Chemical Free and Reduces Wrinkles, 1000+ Loads

They go for about $9 on Amazon.

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Lastly, I use white vinegar in place of fabric softner as needed. Walmart has it for less than $3 for one gallon. I store some in a small glass jar with a lid to make it easier to use.

Ok, so now you know approximately what it’ll cost to get you started and what ingredients you’ll need. Now lets talk about what to do to put it all together. It’s going to take you about 10 minutes at most to make it. It really is that simple.

You’re going to fill about 1/4 of the jar for each of the powders (baking soda, borax and washing soda). Leave about 1/4 of the jar for the bar soap.

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Next, you need to shred the soap into fine shavings and add it in. Then mix it all together with a spoon.

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Now you have about a gallon of laundry soap. Depending on how much laundry you do, this will last you quite a while. I think for us it usually lasts about 2 weeks. I typically will use about a scoop to 1 1/2 scoops depending on the size of the load. The soap works very well to remove odor and stains. In fact, for stubborn stains, keep a whole bar of Fels Naptha on hand and soak the item in cold water and rub with the bar soap. Be sure to always use cold water with stains.

Side note: if you want the laundry to have a stronger scent when you pull it out of the dryer, you can add some drops of your favorite essential oils to the dryer balls. I really enjoy using Young Livings Lavender or Geranium oils for my laundry.

Another laundry tip: if you have problems with mildew odors in towels, use hot water to wash them and add a few drops of Melaluca oil. It’s an antifungal and significantly decreases that problem.

You can use this laundry soap on all of your laundry, delicates, towels, baby clothes and cloth diapers!

You can check out my post on what cloth diapers we use here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/cloth-diapering-essentials-favorites/

You can also check out how I care for our cloth diapers here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/03/08/caring-for-cloth-diapers/

I hope you find this information helpful and that it inspires you to live more simply.

Feel free to share any great laundry tips and tricks in the comments! 🙂

Stay healthy friends!

Homemade Butter & Buttermilk

I’ve been baking bread for a long time. The store bought stuff just doesn’t compare. It’s worth the extra time and work every time! So what do you do with a fresh loaf of homemade bread?! You pair it up with some fresh homemade butter, of course! It sounds crazy…making your own butter, I know. A couple of years ago I was a little nervous to try it. If you have a mixer, it’s basically making overwhipped whipped cream! Within a few minutes you can turn a 32 oz bottle of heavy cream into about two sticks of butter. Just make sure to stay by the mixer because it goes pretty quickly and if the mixer is turned up too high it’ll make a terrible mess. I recently stepped away for a “second” to change a diaper and returned to buttermilk splashed all over the mixer, the counter, the floor. It wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what you need:

32 oz bottle of heavy cream

bottle or jar to store the buttermilk in (I reused a bottle from juice)

mixer with whisk attachment

butter dish and parchment to store the finished butter in (I put one in the dish and store the other in parchment in the fridge)

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Step One: pour the whole bottle of cream into the mixer and set to about medium speed.

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You can see the bubbles starting to form.

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Getting close to “soft peak” whipped cream.

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Step two: Here we’re at about overwhipped whipped cream stage. At this point I would turn the mixer down just a little.

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It’s getting thicker now. Not much longer before it starts to separate.

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Step three: it’s separating now and most of the solids will stick to the whisk attachment.

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Check out that buttermilk! It’s great for biscuits, pancakes, homemade ranch and more!!!

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Step four: take the butter out of the mixing bowl and work out the rest of the buttermilk using either your hands or a wooden spoon/spatula.

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Step five: shape the butter the way you like it. Sometimes I leave it like this but most of the time I separate this into two sticks of butter.

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Step six: pour buttermilk into your jar or bottle. I generally prefer glass over plastic.

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There you go! Six easy steps to fresh butter and buttermilk!

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Now make yourself some English muffins and enjoy! 🙂

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Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom & Homemaker

Today we’re going to do just a fun sneak peek into an ordinary day. Josh was away on a business trip this particular Friday so things were slightly off from our usual routine but overall this is what most Fridays look like around our home. We do have school Fridays, but it’s our “catch up day”. Monday through Thursday is when we schedule the bulk of the schoolwork and then Friday we can take a more relaxed approach to school, work on housework that needs to be done, grocery shop, appointments, if the weather is nice, we can go outside and play in the afternoon, etc.

I pretty much took photos all throughout the day and the lighting was terrible so the photos aren’t the best quality. They do the job of telling the story though so we’ll just have to look past that.

This particular morning I ended up getting a bit of a late start, the kids and I didn’t really get “moving” until about 8:30. First thing I always do once I get up is get coffee going (that’s very important). That’s the cardinal cup Jaden got me for Christmas. He knows I love my birds and my coffee! Sweet boy!

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It was a rainy and cold Friday!

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Next I got started on breakfast for the kids. I made them a bowl of my vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar old fashioned oats. This is one of their favorite meals that in a pinch (like at the end of the biweekly grocery haul when you’re scrambling for meal options), I can feed them anytime of the day without any complaints. I always have these ingredients on hand, it’s easy and fast!

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While I worked on breakfast the boys played with legos.

Once breakfast was ready, everyone sat down to eat (and read…Jaden is my little bookworm).

This little girly had some teeth pop up!! See it?

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After breakfast the boys get ready for the day (this is also usually when I like to get myself ready.

After that we work on chores…look at that mess! A certain someone had some dried mud caked to his boots and when he put them on INSIDE to take out the recycling…well…there was some extra housework for me, lol. Apparently I need to be more specific about where to stomp the mud off!

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I also took a few minutes to work on laundry while Evi played and the boys finished chores.

Then around 10:30 we started school. This day we only had group work to do. We’d completed all of the core subjects like spelling and math earlier in the week.

We were continuing on with our bird unit study. We combined nature study and art for a little project.

We had a few other things to do for school and then we had lunch break.

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Because we were running behind all morning and it was already about 1:30 by this point, we opted for our “snack lunch” rather than what we had on the menu. This is a favorite quick meal at lunch for my kids.

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I started grading (I’m a little behind at the moment) but then had to get back to other things like prepping for our Friday night pizza).

The sour dough crust has to sit for a while so I like to do it several hours before I need to use it.

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After that we read aloud and then the kids played with legos some more while they waited on me to finish some chores around the house.

Evi girl kept her mamma company through it all. She’s so close to crawling!

After this point, it’s all a blurr honestly, lol. I remember finishing up some laundry (mostly putting it away). I kind of lost track of time but I think it was likely around 6:30 or so. I went ahead and started the pizza at that point and let the boys start watching “Little House on the Prairie” episodes. That’s been our Friday night family activity lately. They love it.

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I ended up making one half veggie/half pepperoni pizza and one cheese pizza since Josh wasn’t there to have any. Usually I make three or four pizzas and then we can have leftovers for lunch on Saturdays.

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We ate our pizza on the couch and watched a couple more episodes before the boys went to bed and then Evi and I cleaned the kitchen and fed the sour dough starter. We jokingly refer to it as “sour Sam” since it requires food and water like the rest of our pets. 🙂

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After that, we went to bed too. We were all ready to just get to Saturday to have Daddy back home with us! We kind of like him! ❤

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into a normal day for us. I’ve always enjoyed seeing what a normal day looks like for other moms. There’s always something to learn from each other and sometimes it’s nice to just see that we all have things like laundry piles and muddy kids boots and dinner messes!