Tuesday, January 31, 2012

L.M. Montgomery Challenge 2012 Wrap-Up

January has flown by! And now it's time to wrap-up the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge at Reading to Know.

I'm sure you, and my friend Carrie, are all glad that I'm finished reading Montgomery books.

The Montgomery Books I Read

I accomplished most of my goals for the Montgomery Reading Challenge.

I read and reviewed: Mistress Pat, Magic for Marigold, and The Story Girl. But I didn't get to the illustrated Anne book that I wanted to read with my kids. I'll put it back on the shelf and pull it out again next January.

I also wanted to watch Anne of Green Gables with my children. We did that as a Family Night and you can read about it on my new blog, Everyday Family Living.

What I Learned

I learned a few things about myself by reading these three books.

  1. I learned that I do not enjoy long flowery descriptions. I'm not sure if this is the result of social media or if it's just my personality to want an author to get to the point. 

  2. I am a grown up. Duh, right? What I mean is that Montgomery writes from the imaginative carefree perspectives of children. Adults in her books though not the enemy are seen as overbearing, too practical, and only concerned about their responsibilities. By her descriptions I am an adult. Which is probably why I find it difficult to enter into her imaginative worlds. 

  3. I'd rather read my friend Carrie's reviews of Montgomery's books than the actual books. Reading Carrie's posts makes me want to read the books. They make me want to like Montgomery's books because Carrie enjoys them. She see so much delight and fun in them that I just don't see.

  4. One Montgomery book a month is about my limit. I think part of my difficulty this year is that I read 3 Montgomery books in the span of 3 weeks. It was too much for me. I'm going to have to remember that next year.
I'm glad I participated in the L.M. Montgomery Challenge and I'll do so again next year if Carrie hosts it. But I'm also glad it's over.

Are you are "grown up" or do you enter into the magic of Montgomery's books!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: January 30, 2012

Last week was super busy!

We had our normal 2 extracurricular activities plus a field trip and a play date. Then we all visited the dentist. We ended the week with a fund raiser dinner for my daughter's American Heritage Girls troop.

Thankfully this week is much slower. The only extra thing we have on the calendar is a Cub Scout lock-in for Friday night. My hubby will be sleeping on a gymnastic tumble floor with 20+ little boys while I enjoy the comfort of our bed. Poor guy!

We've put our new 2012 budget in place this week. 

I now have $650 a month to spend on food, toiletries and household supplies. I've also switched to a cash only spending system. My hope is that using only cash will lower my spending. I'll let you know how it works.

With all of these factors in mind, here's my meal plan for January 30 - February 5, 2012.

  • BBQ Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Steamed Carrots
  • Frito Pie: Frito's, Chili, Cheddar Cheese
  • Lemon Pepper Salmon, Steamed Broccoli and Carrots, Rice
  • Turkey, Baked Potatoes, Salad
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

Much of this is coming from my freezer. 

The chicken is frozen and leftover from last week's roasted chicken. The chili is also frozen and leftover from last week's meal. And the turkey is frozen and leftover from Christmas (gotta use that up before it gets freezer burn).

What's on YOUR menu plan this week?

Want to read more January menu plans?

Linked to:

Menu Plan Monday @ OrgJunkie.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

GROW Weekly Goals 1.27.12

It's time to check-in on my goals again. And once again I'm not where I wanted to be.

But, I have reasonable excuses. I spent 3 days last week in bed with a migraine. This week my husband worked nights and was around during the day. Both of those threw off our daily routine.

How did I do the last 2 weeks?

Here are my goals for January 15-21:


1. Read How to Study Your Bible for Kids with Will Tuesday - Friday. 
2. Made to Crave online study.


3. Nightly Face-to-Face with Joel.
4. Plan February date.


5. Read aloud 4 books.
6. Plan family nights for January and February.


7. Switch from hot black tea to hot herbal tea (no sugar). (The major cause for the migraine.)
8. Go to bed by 10:30 PM nightly. (Managed this a couple of nights.)


9. Set up cash envelope system. (Will do this weekend.)

10. #SITS31DBB (SITS Girls 31 Days to a Better Blog).
11. Share my new blog (EverydayFamilyLiving.com).
12. Snowman and Anne of Green Gables activities.

I think part of my problem is that I'm trying to make several major changes to our routine (Bible studies and reading) and it's too much. So I'm going to step back and focus on some smaller items for the next two weeks.

1. Read How to Study Your Bible for Kids with Will Tuesday - Friday. 


2. Plan February date.
3. Schedule babysitter.


4. Begin reading Little House in the Big Woods.
5. Plan family nights for February.


6. Get routine blood work done.
7. Go to bed by 10:30 PM nightly. (Managed this a couple of nights.)


8. Begin using cash envelope system. 


9. Launch my new blog (EverydayFamilyLiving.com).
10. Write and schedule February's blog posts.

That's my plan for the first 2 weeks of February.

How are you doing with your 2012 goals?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snow Children's Books


We finally had our first measurable snowfall last weekend! It couldn't have been more perfect - started Friday, continued through Saturday, and cleared off for sledding on Sunday.

Unfortunately warm temperatures and rain melted away our 8+ inches of snow on Monday. But that's OK. We had fun sledding and now we're having fun reading aloud books about snow.

Our Snow Book Read Alouds

Perfect Snow by Barbara Reid is about 2 boys who have to go to school on a snowy day. They are a little distracted during class just waiting for recess to play in the snow.

When finally released, one boy builds a fort while the other boy builds snowmen. During the second recess the boys join forces to build a fort made of snowmen.

The illustrations really make this book! A note in the book says "the color illustrations were made with Plasticine that is shaped and pressed onto illustration board. The drawings were done with ink and watercolor paint."

According to Wikipedia, Plasticine is a non-drying clay often used in clay animation. Hmm.. interesting.

The author of Perfect Snow did a great job of using Plasticine to give her illustrations a 3D feel. They make the book visually interesting and fun to read.


Snow Company by Marc Harshman is another fun book. A blizzard descends on a farming community and Teddy's family takes in 3 stranded neighbors for the night. 

Losing electricity just adds to Teddy's enjoyment of the evening as he listens to his retired neighbors tell stories of past snow storms. The end of the evening turns into a fun sleepover as Teddy's mom makes sleeping pallets for the neighbors close to their wood burning stove.

I love the simplicity of this story. Neighbors helping neighbors in a time of need. Older generations sharing oral history with younger generations. Snow Company is a sweet book to help children understand the value of community.


White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt is a classic snow children's book.  We follow the postman, the farmer, and the policeman as a snow storm arrives in a small town and blankets everything white. Children happily build snow forts and have a snowball fight while our poor policeman ends up in bed with a cold.

First published in 1947 the story and illustrations have a mid-1900s feel to them. My copies (yes, I inadvertently bought 2 at a used book sale) were first published by Scholastic in 1988 so they are thin paperbacks.

I love reading classic books with my children. There's just something about the simple wording and illustrations that has stood the test of time.

In honor of our first Snow Day I am giving away one of my copies of White Snow Bright Snow

To enter, leave a comment with your email address on this post before February 2, 6 PM Eastern. I will randomly select a winner and notify her by email.   Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to #6 Reading to Know!

For additional entries subscribe to Stephanie's Mommy Brain and like the Stephanie's Mommy Brain Facebook page. Be sure to leave separate comments for each entry.

Linked to:

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Rambling Mommy Brain

Do you ever get where your brain is full of thoughts and plans and activities you want to do but you just can't seem to move it all from the thought level to the action level?

That's where I'm at right now.

My brain is full.

I've brain-dumped until I almost need a list for my lists.

I have thoughts about: our snow storm this weekend, my Cub Scout den meetings for the rest of the year; our Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner next month; our family budget; ways to cut expenses for groceries, clothing, household supplies and homeschool curriculum; books I want to read with my kids; our home school activities; play dates to schedule; a whole month of blog posts to write; launching my new blog EverydayFamilyLiving.com; guest posts to write; ebooks to tell you about; and..and..and..

My list goes on and on.

Will and I sledding down a hill.

There's so much that I WANT to do that I don't know where to start. And so I do nothing. Instead I watch TV or browse through Pinterest or check Facebook. Those are all fun activities but they won't help me reach my goals.

Speaking of goals, yesterday I found out I'll be speaking at the RIGHT (Rhode Island Guild of Home Teachers) annual conference. My workshop will be:
Mom Confidence: Equip Yourself to Care for an Infant/Toddler While Teaching Your Older Kids

When it comes to homeschooling, toddlers and infants often bring a whole new challenge. In this session we'll tackle questions such as: when do we get school work done? How do I keep the Baby from distracting my Big Kid? And how do I keep my Toddler out of mischief? Learn real mom tools and tips for homeschooling with an infant or toddler in the house.

Ellie "reads" to Sam while the Big Boys do school work.

I'm super excited for the opportunity to speak about homeschooling. I'm a little nervous to speak to other home school moms! Speaking at least once this year is one of my goals for 2012. It'll be fun to check that off.

So, I warned you in the title that this post rambled. I think it lived up to the title. And now that I got all of that out of my system, maybe I can write a couple of posts that DON'T ramble.

Thanks for reading! And I'd love it if you shared how you solve the problem of a brain full of thoughts and not knowing which to act on first!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery is about a group of children, all cousins, who are growing up together. One of the girls is called "The Story Girl" because of her knack for entertaining the other children with stories. The book follows the children through their adventures and many of "The Story Girl's," well.., stories.

Good grief! How many times can I write "The Story Girl" in one paragraph?!

This is the latest book I read for The L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge at Reading to Know. After reading 2 other books for the challenge this month I've concluded that reading multiple Montgomery books back-to-back is not a good idea for me.

I know my friend, Carrie, loves Montgomery and I've honestly tried to love her, too. But The Story Girl nearly did me in. Honestly, I only made it half way through. I just couldn't finish. For me, that's huge! I always finish books and movies, no matter how bad they are.

Unfortunately, 3 books with flowery descriptions that go on-and-on were just too much for me. I guess I'm too practical, kinda like Marilla in Anne of Green Gables.

I'm not a huge fan of The Story Girl but I'll turn it over to my daughter one day. Though I WILL be sure to read along and discuss it with her because the theology in this book is a little warped. I don't want my daughter to be confused by the misinformed ideas that Montgomery presents.

Poor theology aside, if you enjoy Montgomery then you'll enjoy The Story Girl.

It's probably good that this is the last Montgomery book I read. Given this review and the ones I wrote of Mistress Pat and Magic for Marigold, I'm not sure Carrie would be friends with me after another less-than-favorable review.

Tell me, are you a Montgomery fan?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1.23.12

This week is going to be a little crazy at the SMB house. We have an activity planned for Tuesday through Sunday so I need quick and easy meals.

So what are we eating January 23-29, 2012?

  • Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Crackers, and Salad
  • Roasted Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots and Homemade Biscuits
  • Lemon Pepper Salmon, Steamed Carrots and Broccoli, Rice
  • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Salad, Pineapples
  • Turkey Spaghetti and Salad
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

What's on YOUR meal plan this week?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

5 Simple Home Organization Tips

Not all home organization projects have to be huge, like decluttering a kitchen, to help our homes run smoothly. Simple tricks and techniques can also go a long way in making home life easier.

Here are 5 easy tips to help you organize your home:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery

Marigold Lesley is an imaginative little girl in a family full of unimaginative grown-ups. We meet Marigold, and her clan, 4 months after her birth and follow her until she's about 10 or 12 years old.

I liked Marigold well enough. I felt sorry for her when Young Grandmother refused to allow Marigold to visit her lifelong imaginary friend. I also commiserated when her boy playmate abandoned her for a new boy in the neighborhood.

I found Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery kind of boring. Long on flowery descriptions but short on a developed story line. Montgomery just kind of rambles around. I felt like she couldn't make up her mind what kind of character she wanted Marigold to be. At times the little girl seems strong-willed and at times she seems fanciful and dreamy.

I don't mean this to be a negative review. I really didn't dislike Magic for Marigold, but I didn't love it either. It's just an .. {shrugs shoulder} ..eh. OK book. If you have some time on your hands, headed to the beach or on vacation, pick it up and be amused for a couple of hours.

Did you have an imaginary friend like Marigold? 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1.16.12

This week I'm trying a new soup recipe. I found it in The Everything Soup, Stew and Chili Cookbook that I downloaded from Amazon for free (I don't think it's free now). I'll let you know if we like it.

What else are we eating during January 16-22, 2012?

  • Curry Chicken with Rice 
  • Roast Beef with Carrots, Potatoes, Gravy and Homemade Biscuits 
  • Pasta Fagioili with Italian Sausage (new recipe) 
  • Shredded Beef Tacos, Flour Tortillas/Corn Shells, Cheddar Cheese, Fruit Salad  
  • Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Garden Salad, Pineapples 
  • Chicken Pot Pie and Garden Salad 
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs 

What's on your menu plan this week?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

GROW Weekly Goals 1.14.12

Remember the awesome goals I made for myself 2 weeks ago? Yes, the goals that I HAVE YET TO FOLLOW. Well, it's time to report on my progress.

1. Read How to Study Your Bible for Kids with Will Monday - Friday.


2. Plan our January and February away dates. Schedule babysitter.
3. Weekly at-home date.

4. One-on-one with Ellie for haircuts.
5. Plan Sunday's Family Night activity.
6. Start 100 Read Aloud book list.

7. Go to bed by 10:30 PM nightly.
8. Eat 3 servings of veggies a day.

9. Make a new budget. (My husband has taken over this task.)

10. Write down launch plan for new blog.
11. Write and schedule 9 blog posts for SMB.
12. Enjoy my SITs Girls feature day on Friday.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Welcome SITS Girls!

Welcome SITS Girls visitors!!

I'm super excited to be featured on the SITS Girls blog today!

If Stephanie's Mommy Brain is new to you, or you are a subscriber who usually reads through email, I invite you to poke around a bit and get familiar with the blog and me.

Start Here.

I suggest you begin with the About page. It's recently updated and includes a glimpse into the early days of Stephanie's Mommy Brain. I can't help laughing every time I look at the family picture on my About page. Obviously we don't take ourselves serious all the time.

Keeping It Real.

If we did, I would have never posted about how we moms always seem to discuss the poop and pee habits of our children. Why do we do that?! Worse yet, I showed a picture of my children's disgusting bathroom habits. Why did I include a picture?!

{Quickly moving on to something more pleasant!}

Let's Meet in Person.

I'm super excited to attend my first blog conference this year. Back in November I won a ticket to Bloggy Boot Camp with a post about a messy life moment. I can't wait to spend a whole day talking about blogs with women who think blogging is as fun as I do. If you are at the Philadelphia conference I'd love to connect in person!

Why wait? Let's Connect Now.

Thanks for stopping by today. Before you go, subscribe to the Stephanie's Mommy Brain and like my Facebook page so we can support each other now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Organize Kid's Toys

It's hard to find the ONE thing you want in this toy boxes.

Toy boxes eat toys like dryers eat socks.

I know I put all the parts in there but somehow I can never find all the matching pieces. And in the process of looking for the matching pieces my children like to empty the entire toy box onto the floor.

I've learned it doesn't have to be this way. You CAN have organized toys if you follow these guidelines.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Best Time Management E Book!

After my first child was born I discovered the beauty of a regular routine. Back then my routine consisted of feeding baby, changing baby, playing with baby, and occasionally sleeping. As my first baby grew and changed so did my routine.

Today there are no babies in my house now but there is a routine. I've found a regular routine reduces the number of decisions I have to make each day. It also helps my children move easily from one activity to another.

Occasionally I get in a scheduling rut. For whatever reason a routine just won't work for me anymore and I won't have any motivation to make a new one.

That's what happened to me about a month ago. Our routine just didn't seem to flow and I started flying by the seat of my pants. THAT always gets me in trouble! We ended up eating out a lot, school work didn't get done, and the house was a disaster.

To help pull me out of my lethargy I read books and blogs about organizing or time management. In December, I bought Tell Your Time, a GREAT little ebook about time management.

Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews is only 30 pages long and currently costs $2.99. Amy packed a lot of valuable information, tips and inspiration in those 30 pages!

In Tell Your Time, Amy shares how to identify your roles and purposes. Then she explains a system for including in your day the steps necessary to accomplish your purposes.

Amy's time management system is based on the classic envelope money management system. Instead of dollars and envelopes, you manage time and activities. Instead of "telling your money where to go" you tell your time where to go.

I love that!

By the time I finished reading Tell Your Time I remembered why I schedule our day and was inspired to create a new our daily routine.

If you are a time management newbie, or a veteran looking for fresh motivation, I strongly recommend you buy Tell Your Time today!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery

Patricia Gardiner is the mistress of her ancestral home, Silver Bush. She loves every inch of the old house and gardens.

She loves it so much she can't bear the thought of leaving. Even if it means she'll be an old maid, though she could have virtually any man she wants. Seriously, she turns down at least 5 marriage proposals that I can remember! Who has that many marriage proposals?!

{Spoiler Alert!} In the end, Montgomery has to burn down the old home in order to force Mistress Pat to finally marry the love of her life and move to the other side of the country.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1.9.12

I have been planning menus off and on for about 10 years. I've used a variety of methods, planning guides, and worksheets. I've planned by the week, 2 weeks and month. I've included every meal and snack in my plan and I've planned just our supper meals.

After all my different systems I've learned that the best menu plan method is the one that works NOW. If your current system isn't working or you are bored with it, change it up and try something new.

My current system is to plan for the entire month. I downloaded a free customizable 2012 calendar and fill in each day's supper meal. I also make a note of any special plans next to the date. This helps remind me if I need to start supper earlier than usual.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

4 Simple Home Organization Projects

Is "get organized" one of your goals for 2012?

I like to start a new year off with an organized home. We've been rearranging shelves on books and labeling toy tubs this week. Not really exciting stuff or anything to show you.

But, I do have a few past projects to inspire you to reach your 2012 home organization goals. I've explained a few organizing tips in each of the posts in case you are an org newbie.

Organize a Pantry

Organizing a Pantry with Wire Shelves. I LOVE wire closet organizers but they make keeping small things contained a challenge. I use two different kinds of baskets to solve this problem.

Friday, January 6, 2012

GROW Weekly Goals 1.9.12

Earlier this week I shared my 6 goals for 2012 and my one word theme for the year - Grow.

Because I am a terrible procrastinator and need accountability, I am going to blog 12 of my bite-sized goals each week and report on my progress.

Here are the little goals for January 1-5:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Home School with a Toddler in the House

In September 2008 my oldest child started kindergarten. It was a momentous day for us. I think our school day lasted a whole hour back then. Partly because that's all the attention span he had and partly because I had a house, 2 year old, and 3 year old to look after.

One month later we added a newborn to our home and our home school went on unofficial vacation for a couple of months!

Thankfully by the time September 2009 rolled around I had learned a few lessons in managing 4 small children, a home and school!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge 2012

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Every January my friend Carrie hosts a L.M. Montgomery reading challenge at Reading to Know. Her goal is to influence everyone to read books by or related to L.M. Montgomery all month (that's my interpretation of her goals).

Not sure who L.M. Montgomery is? Think Anne of Green Gables. Ah.. now you know her!

Pretty much anything goes for the challenge, except the final 2 Anne movies. Carrie believes they are heresy so link to those at your own risk!

A quick search through my archives revealed that this is my 4th year to participate in the L.M. Montgomery Challenge. Here are some posts from my archives:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Saying Good-bye to a Season of Motherhood

There are no babies in my house.

No tiny diapers. No bottles. No middle-of-the-night feedings. No pacifiers. No tiny shoes. No diaper blow outs. No sweet baby's breath. No swaying side-to-side during a conversation to keep a baby asleep.

The baby-toddler stage of my mothering journey officially ended in October when Samuel turned 3 years old. A season of my life is done. Over.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 1.2.12

I took a sabbatical from menu planning for most of 2011. My waistline and bank account show the results of my time off! Since two of my goals for 2012 are health and savings I'm getting back on the menu planning bandwagon.

Here's my meal plan for January 2-8, 2012:

Curry Chicken with Rice

Roast Beef with Carrots, Potatoes, Gravy and Homemade Biscuits

Ham and Lentil Soup with Cornbread

Shredded Beef Tacos, Flour Tortillas/Corn Shells, Cheddar Cheese, Fruit Salad

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Garden Salad, Pineapples

Chicken Pot Pie and Garden Salad

Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

What's on your menu plan this week?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

6 Goals in 2012

I'm often asked how I "do it all." I laughingly reply that I don't sleep but the truth is I generally have a plan.

I NEED a plan, otherwise I feel distracted and run around meeting the most urgent needs without feeling like I've accomplished anything. I don't like that feeling.

This year I'm planning with purpose. Using customizable goal setting forms from Money Saving Mom I wrote down 6 priorities for 2012.

1. Grow my faith.

I feel like my spiritual life became stagnant during the last couple of years. Have you ever seen a stagnant pond? It isn't pretty. If no water runs in or out of a pond then algae and slime eventually takes over. Plants and creatures calling the pond home eventually die. It's pretty gross.

That's where I feel right now. Nothing fresh coming in and nothing fresh going out. Just... there.

To change this I plan to regularly read my Bible and pray, participate in an on-line faith-related study, and read books that encourage my faith.

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