Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend 2014!

It may have taken me 36 years, but I finally sat and thought about the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day a couple years ago and was thrilled that the kids told ME today what the meaning of it was and how it's different from Veteran's Day and 4th of July, even though all three holidays are all "Flag Decor"....LOL.....LOVE those kids!!!!!

This weekend FILLED.MY.CUP! Seriously, FILLED IT UP!

Friday started off with my first 6 mile HILLY run in quite some time followed by a ladies night on my neighbor friends front porch with some yummy cocktails!  I had some SERIOUS laughs, I mean, SERIOUS!!!!!  When I think I peed my pants, well, you know it's a good time! HAHAHA!

Saturday started off with a T-O-U-G-H  but awesome RPM class, hanging out with the family and then Auditore Couples Date Night at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet.  Dinner was DELISH and I completely enjoyed spending time with my brothers and sisters in law.  It's always a "no pressure" good time, full of laughter.  Seeing Chris with his brothers always warms my heart.  It's a constant reminder of just how important family is!!

We woke up Sunday morning and took a drive out to meet his brothers and families out at McKinney Falls Park.  The day was FULL.....beautiful hike in, yummy bbq, cocktails and watching the kids jump off cliffs!  It was priceless!  Oh, and I have a tan which makes it EVEN.BETTER!

There Anna goes!!!

And Christopher!!!

Fifi will be cliff diving soon enough I'm sure!!!

We all came home yesterday sun tanned and WIPED OUT!  We grilled up some burgers with my mom and sister and all passed out by 10!  I was in bed last night reading and stopped to take a moment to reflect on just how GOOD life really is!!!!  It's so easy to focus on the negative, get bogged down by other people's bullshit and stressed by everyday life, but when you take those times to just hone in and focus on JUST HOW LUCKY you are to be alive and all the people in your life that LOVE you, nothing else matters! 

This morning, even though I said I was going to sleep in and maybe even go for a run, I woke up with Chris at 7 and sat on the back porch with the GORGEOUS breeze sipping on coffee and talking about life instead!  We don't get many uninterrupted conversations, especially in the morning since he usually is NOT the one to have a conversation before he's had his coffee and officially "woke up".  Therefore, I bottled that moment up.  I sit here tonight thankful that I have a husband who enjoys talking to me, and he's NOT a talker.  LOL

We had a lazy afternoon, I worked on the last week of the month menu plan along with putting together my June Monthly menu plan!  A storm rolled in which made the kids all lazy and tv watching fools while we caught a little snooze before Kim, Brian and the girls came over to grill!  
My favorite "Summer" Beer!

Yep, MORE food, more drinks, lots of talking and laughing while the kids jumped on the trampoline and played for hours!  Like I said, my cup is FULL!  

Not only is my cup full, my heart is full, my belly is full and my mind is in SHUT DOWN mode until we get back to reality tomorrow!!  Hahahahahaha!!!  After all, this has been a beautiful weekend and all, one I will treasure, but I have shit to do and need some sleep first!!'s the menu for the week, my workout plan is on paper and besides swim practice the rest of our week is pretty free.....WOOT!!!!! 

Monday: BBQ with Kimballs
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Thursday: Baked Potato Bar
Friday: Quesadillas
Saturday: YoYo
Sunday: Pasta Cece

Tonight I think about all the soldiers that are no longer with us!  Here is a pic of my grandfather (Mom's dad) that adored me but passed away before I ever got to know him.....

Carmelo Tomaso Castiglia 1942

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekly Menu Plan 5/19-25th

Mon: $1 Hot dogs at RR Express game
Tue: Balsamic & Brown Sugar Pork Chops
Wed: Chicken & Black Bean Tostadas
Thurs:  Tortellini
Fri: Chicken with Mango/Avocado Salsa
Sat: Date Night
Sun: Chicken Parm

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How I feel about Dave!

Dave Ramsey that is, LOL.....I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with Dave!  My hubby has been obsessively listening to him on talk radio and is ready to tighten up the budget AGAIN!  This past year and a half of homeschooling, my mom getting sick, decreased income and increased medical bills caused us to get OFF TRACK *again*....sigh.

We had lots of ups and downs with job stuff and personal stuff that we got out of the routine, the great routine, we were in after doing The Money Makeover a few years back and the insanity MUST.STOP.NOW.

So, as we are planning to get our house ready to sell (our renter leaves on May 31st), we also have a budget plan going in place June 1st.  I've been slowly getting back into it so I'm not in total shock, but we are getting back into a cash grocery budget and cash expenses.  Our hope is to make enough off of the house sale to pay off our debt so we are able to buy the home we are currently renting.  If the stars align, it will work out the way we have planned it in our head. If not, it's not meant to be but at least we'll be debt free. LOL

I have a couple weeks left until I'm no longer babysitting, which has supplemented Chris's income allowing the kids to be involved in a few extra curriculars which has been great, so we will be re-evaluating "kids stuff" spending along with other areas in the budget too.

I'm scared, but I know we've been down this road before and made it through so I'm confident it will all work out as it should be.

So, back to making our snack packs, making our bread, clipping coupons,freezer cooking and stricter menu planning for ALL of our meals.  Organization is key and to be honest, I've had so much on my plate since August when mom got sick that I've become an unorganized mess!!!  My sister thinks I'm totally organized but I know what organized looks like when I'm "on" and right now, I'm "off".  I truly believe making the family slow down and finding joy in this slower pace was all to prepare me for long lasting change and results.....

It's not *fun*, but I'm ready!!

Some of My FAVORITE Things!

I have fun doing these! LOL   Here are some of my current favorite things!  Some are oldies but goodies!

 I've finally crossed over to the Brooks Side......and my legs THANK ME!!!  Best choice I've made in running shoes!!! Brooks Adrenalines!

 I have long given up Splenda and was happy with this as an alternative to Stevia, Monk Fruit, or any others.  Perfect balance and half a teaspoon does the trick in my coffee!

I have loved these for years!!!  It's my "special" treat! :D

Fruit Punch is my new favorite flavor!!!  I started drinking this this week during RPM, never thought of it since I've always done it for long runs!! Totally going to use it in class from now on!!!

 I TOTALLY prefer homemade salad dressings but this one is a favorite for spinach salads....LOVE IT!

 I started trying all the varieties last year at Sprouts and ADORE them in my salads! I love a little crunch in my salads, sometimes it's nuts, sometimes it's salad toppers in a jar and sometimes it's these! YUM!  I love the lentil ones too!

 This is a TREAT for me since it's $6 a canister so I don't get it often and when I do, I STRETCH it out!  I love adding a tablespoon in my oatmeal! YUM!

This is a favorite of Chris's from back during my Randalls shopping deals when he first had it and just recently I've started enjoying it too! I LOVE thin sliced tomato, hummus, and tuna on top....YUM!!!
A salad just isn't a salad without a little kick! Don't forget the black olives and feta too!!!
And last but not least....sugar snap peas!  I buy these each week and don't share them. Seriously.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The 3 Things I Learned NOT to Do When It Comes to Homeschooling

Coming up on the end of our "First Full Year" of Homeschooling, I look back at all the fun we've had, the memories we've created, ALL the different things we've tried to do, AND all the mistakes I made along the way!  While in my heart, I WISH I had started this journey from Day 1, I didn't and while this is one of the hardest things I've ever done (transitioning from Public School to Home School), I'm surviving and the kids are HAPPY. That's all that matters!  Live and Learn.....Make Mistakes and MOVE ON!

Here are 3 things I've done that I will NOT do again....LOL

Replicate Public School ( School at Home )

I thought the best thing for them was to create a school room, keep the schedule and rhythm they were used to since I pulled them out after winter break of the 2012/13 school year. Daily Pledge of Allegiance and all. I wanted them to feel comfortable with a similar routine. After all, that was all Adrianna knew for the previous 41/2 years before.

I was wrong.

I mean, what was I thinking????? I took them out of public school!  Why was I trying to copy the very model that failed my daughter, was oppressing my son, and was the reason I decided to act and pull them out to begin with?

They are kids, wiggly, silly little kids that aren't meant to just sit at a table and do worksheet after worksheet.  My crazy, creative little kiddos need to be actively involved in their learning right alongside me!  Guess what? I'm learning all over again, right alongside them cool is THAT??!!!

Ok, lesson learned.
Goodbye "Classroom"

Obsess over a Planner and Structure

We went with My Father's World this year since I saw it work for a friend that seemed to have it all together on the homeschool front.  It was so well laid out and seemed like all I had to do was "follow the directions".  

I was wrong.

While I DO like some structure, I should know better....I have always "Marched to the beat of my own drum", so WHY would I think that was going to help me be more "effective" in teaching my children?  We made it through Week 16 and were done following every.single.step.  Ever since then, we've ALL been happy and I've seen the kids' creativity skyrocket!

Ok, lesson learned.
Goodbye "Boxlike, Over-structured Learning Stuff!"

Compare Ourselves to Other Homeschool Families

While it is AWESOME to have so many new homeschool friends, have so much access to information via the web, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., one of the things that gets me in trouble is that nasty little word "comparison".  I know what MY family needs, they need ME.  It's easy to look at others and think, "Wow, she has her shit together!!!" or see all the amazing crafts you can do, the beautifully put together "School Rooms" and feel like you totally suck and can't measure up.  

I was wrong in that thinking.

My kids ADORE me.  I am their mom.  If I'm happy, I set the tone and stage for how our family rolls. All they need is me!

*They don't need THAT mom.
*They don't need to go on every field trip available out there.
*They don't need all the extra activities their other friends do.
*They don't need the same things that other kids do.

They need ME. Period.

Ok, lesson learned.
Goodbye to "comparing ourselves to others."

This homeschool transition has been hard, but it's been the greatest thing I've done in my entire life! My relationship with the kids has intensified, my marriage has grown closer and stronger, and I've been more fulfilled than ever!  There are days when I try to do too much, days that I yelled too much, tears from them AND me, lots of "I'm sorry", tons of grace and forgiveness on all parts, moments of feeling alone, many times of questioning myself, our choice, and lots of fear.  That fear and insecurity were the two things I personally needed to overcome and through a couple of new friends with their encouragement and knowledge, along with my husband's steadfast spirit, I've made it through!  

Chris always reminds me that I am doing "life" alongside our children learning along the way.  It's okay, to break for the gym, ditch a day because of the beautiful weather, and just let the days flow.  Things will come up and I have to be okay with going with the flow.  There is such freedom in that and has transformed me to the Gina, I always was.....carefree, funloving, encouraging and nurturing!  My kids KNOW I love them, they believe I am the smartest person they know, besides their nana, lol, they love my adventurous spirit and I only hope they get to experience a childhood free of the stresses of the adult world......they have plenty of time to be a Grown Up, but only a short time to be a child.  

I will do my best to foster that imagination, encourage them and support them while they take in the world around them, knowing I'm right here and their Number One Fan!  

I'm excited for a new year and the changes to come!  I know they will be too!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

What a beautiful weekend it was!!  Chris always works so hard to remind me just how hard I work and how much I'm loved!  I'm thankful to him for that.  The weekend was spent with family, friends, some shopping, some gardening, some crafting, good food and drinks.....NO CLEANING.....It was *bliss*!  All I've ever wished for as a child was to "feel" a part of a family, to have the sense of security and believe at the end of the day that I was truly loved.  It may have taken a couple of decades, a loving husband and three beautiful children, but now I can honestly say my wishes have come true!

Now it's Monday and it's back to reality! HAHAHAHAHAHA.....I wouldn't change a THING!!

Oh yeah, I forgot.....what "holiday" is complete without my 3 performers? Concert after concert...precious!

Menu Plan Monday

Is it Monday already??!!! LOL  I haven't hit the grocery store yet since I spent the week "playing" so this is sort of what I'm thinking, subject to change once I look at the HEB insert and Sprouts ad...LOL!

Monday:  Beef Stew

Tuesday: Chicken Kabobs

Wednesday: Grilled Ham and Swiss Sandwiches with Zucchini chips

Thursday:  Salads and/or veggie platters with Pita and Hummus

Friday:  Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday:  BBQ (not sure what yet, LOL)...Boys' Choice

Sunday: Some sort of pasta....Girls' Choice

Menu Plan Monday

May  5, 2014