2017 Binder | 2

Last year, I read 36 books, the most I’ve ever read in an entire year in my life. I want to do that again this year, with a little more direction.

The first thing is that I want to read more fiction. I got in a reading slump because I was only reading non-fiction, and it kind of wears your brain out. I also can get bogged down in all that I think I want to do because of those great books.

The second thing is that I want to read more children’s literature. I didn’t read much growing up, but want to make that a priority in Jacob’s education. As he is in the beginning stages of reading (identifying letters and sounds) I want to pre-read some books to get a head start on him.

I spent the evening a few nights ago going through my goodreads to-read list and picking out 12 books in each category to read in 2017. Here they are:

12 Fiction Books: North by Northanger, The Lake House, The Word Exchange, Excellent Women, My Name is Lucy Barton, Someone at a Distance, A Distant Melody, Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, Once Upon a Prince, Party Girl, The House on Bellevue Gardens, Savannah Comes Undone

12 Non-Fiction Books: Teaching from Rest, Girl Meets Change, Jesus Feminist, The Circle of the Seasons, Restless, Raising Uncommon Kids, Looking for Lovely, Big Magic, Wild and Free, Present Over Perfect, Steadfast Love, Missional Motherhood

12 Children’s Novels: Little House in the Big Woods, A Bear Called Paddington, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, James and the Giant Peach, My Father’s Dragon, The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, The Cricket in Times Square, McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm, Anne of Avonlea, Ballet Shoes, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I also found a cute printable from here to add into my 2017 binder to keep track of what books I read and I’ll also be using this reading journal with each book.



2017 Binder | 1

I’ve been in the process for about a month on making us a family binder. This is going to be the go-to resource for our family’s needs as well as some personal planning and record keeping for me and our homeschool. I know it will be ever evolving and it’s too much to get into one post because I honestly don’t have a clear picture of what it will look like yet. So, we’re breaking it down into chunks.

The thing I’ve been looking at over the last few months is what I want to track and manage for my family. It’s important to realize that your family’s needs are unlike others as a whole. They’re definitely may be some overlap in areas, but my binder will probably not look like anyone else’s. Take a look at your family’s unique needs and circumstances. Our main one is that we don’t live anywhere for longer than 18 months, which means we move a lot. I’m thinking a whole section dedicated to moves is going to be a must.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about how I can best manage my family? It’s to manage me. Like most Americans, the goal to lose weight has been on many a new year’s resolution list. However, it was until last Fall that I got serious about it, and by serious, I mean dedicated chunks of time and money to it. A year later, I’ve lost 15 pounds and more inches and I want to continue.

For me, this includes using Tone It Up. While their meal plans are a little unrealistic for me because of our budget, my picky eating, and my husband’s not wanting to jump on board for all of the weird foods, their workouts are awesome. I can do them at home with a few resources I’ve gathered over the past year. The new challenge starts on January 1st and I’m super excited. My goal for the rest of this year is to finish out strong doing the workouts each day and then rewarding myself with the new workout bundle after Christmas.


Physically, I want to lose weight and get toned. I’m tired of being my size and feeling frumpy. I’m tired of not having enough energy to keep up with my almost 5 year old. I have a weight plateau that I haven’t been able to get under, and I WANT it. Emotionally, I want to distance the way I feel from what I eat, and connect it to working out. Feeling down or lazy? Why not get a quick work out in instead of going to the market for a coke and some salt chips?

I want to commit to making the goal of eating according to the plan for M1-M4 (so breakfast through afternoon snack). During the first 6 months of 2017, my husband is going to be working hard, long hours. He wants to keep his favorite dinners on rotation and be doing his own thing for the other meals, so to make this realistic, this is my goal. Also, doing all the daily workouts. This will probably mean some screen time for my son, but sometimes he likes to jump in and do it with me.

I’ll be using my TIU instagram account for daily check ins, but as far as tracking my weight and size, I’ll be using a printable that I found here. It’s actually for a bullet journal, but I’m just going to stick in my 2017 family binder.


Advent 2016 | 2

Our Advent readings have been super simple. We read a passage out of the Bible and say a few sentences that I found on the internet, ask a question, light the candle, and pray. I’m super surprised, that even though I think there’s no way Jacob is taking any of this in, that when he walks by the advent wreath, he says “the first candle is for hope, the second candle is for prepare, the third candle is for J-O-Y.” They are listening and internalizing things. We are planting seeds and it’s a hard work.

We’ve done a few other “christmas” activities: we went downtown to two hotels that have christmas displays to check them out. They were a bit of a let-down after we had pictures in our head that we found on the internet from years past. Jacob and I made play-doh Christmas trees and used pony beads to decorate them.

Master List | Projects

I always have a lot of projects and ideas swirling around in my head. Why not keep a list of them here for some accountability?

  1. Project Life converted to Shutterfly Books. This means the 2 years I did project life with actual pictures and paper will be converted to “digital” versions using the iPhone app and printed in books that take up much less space than the huge 3-ring binders.
  2. Meet with a financial planner to get my past job accounts into one thing and make a plan for the future.
  3. Schedule out all the RTBTs for 2017
  4. Print off all the Bible Commentary Notes I have
  5. Replace Jacob’s Car Seat Cover

December Meal Plan

Meal planning is my least favorite thing to do in the whole “homemaking” category. Which is weird because I love planning and organizing things, but meal planning is just a whole other thing. It has nothing to do with the cooking or actual preparation of the meal and everything to do with picking things out, staying under budget and try to do it healthfully. And it just keeps on keeping on. There’s not automation to it. I just hate it.

This past week, I’ve been sick as a dog on the couch. The two times I actually felt good were in the middle of the night. So I took that opportunity to watch “Friends” on Netflix and use my google calendar to plan out the rest of the month of December using mostly Pioneer Woman recipes.

Here are all the links to the recipes I’m using:

Baked Chicken Parmesan and Roasted Green Beans

Herb Marinated Pork Loin and Roasted Broccoli

Thai Pork Stir Fry

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Beef with Snow Peas

Veggie Tortellini Soup

Chicken Kale Pasta

Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice

Black Bean Soup

Spinach and Mushroom Quesadillas

Hamburger Soup

Cheesy Enchilada Rice Skillet

Shells and Cheese with Bacon and Peas

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta

Advent 2016 | 1

This year, we’re going to take part in the tradition of the advent candle lighting. This fulfills two things for us in having traditions centered around the true meaning of Christmas without it feeling like a daily checklist of things to do. Our culture tells us this season is about activity and stuff- and those can be good things. We’re still buying gifts and doing the things. It’s just not the focus.

The focus is that this season is about waiting, about anticipation, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. Without His birth, we wouldn’t have His death or resurrection and that changes everything.

Jim and I had a date night over the Thanksgiving holiday since we were in our hometown and had grandparents to watch Jacob. We went to Hobby Lobby and for $18 got the things we needed to make our advent wreath for this year. However, the green wreath we picked out isn’t going to work (let’s just say the words “fire hazard” are involved) so we had to go to plan B. That meant, cutting out a circle of construction paper (to protect from the dripping wax) cutting off some low branches from our Christmas tree and making a “wreath” around our candles. We just bought a pack of candles and tied the necessary ribbon around them.


Since we were out of town, we had every intention of starting our candle lighting tradition on Wednesday. But a bought of sickness for me and Jacob and long 12+ hour days for Jim at work postponed that. So, we’ll just do “both” readings this Sunday and go from there. We’ll light a new candle on Sundays, as is tradition, and re-light them each evening during dinner.