Menu Plan Monday- June 23

Does anyone else find it hard to even think of cooking when you're sweating glowing away in a roasting hot house?

About the only thing sounding good to me right now is an ice cold fruit smoothie! And I suppose, I can't really make that for dinner for the next 7 nights in a row (or can I)?

Since we should probably have a bit of vegetables, meat and grain mixed in between our smoothies, I suppose this is what I'll serve for dinner:

Monday: Chicken Divan over quinoa, with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (I prefer to steam mine separately and add it at the end- it has a nicer texture to it that way, in my opinion)

Tuesday: Bean and rice burritos, with fresh salsa (the recipe is a little ways down on the page)

Wednesday: Taco Salad (using fresh greens from my garden!)

Thursday: Fish Coconut Curry over rice, with garden salad

Friday: We'll be in Seattle, picking up a van that we'll be borrowing while we host two Taiwanese students for the next three weeks

Saturday: Baked potatoes with broccoli cheese sauce (simple and easy, since we'll just arrive home from Seattle around dinner time)

Sunday: Homemade Pizza (with peppers, feta, herbs, tomatoes, chicken, etc.)

I didn't take the time this week to properly plan my breakfasts, but we'll be eating an assortment of:

  • oatmeal
  • smoothies
  • toast
  • hashbrowns and eggs (but not for me- I'm avoiding eggs to try to improve my eczema- so sad!)
  • homemade yogurt and raw granola
  • waffles (I'm going to make a big batch while I'm at it and freeze some for busy mornings)

For those new to meal planning, I'll be talking about some meal planning techniques in my Baby Steps post this Wednesday. If you're looking for more menu planning info and resources, be sure to check out Organizing Junkie, who weekly hosts Menu Plan Mondays!

Learning resources for little ones

"When are we going to do Learning Time, Mama?"

This is almost a daily question in our home, from my eager 3 1/2 year old daughter. She just adores the time that we spend each afternoon, reading, studying, discussing, creating, learning, and most of all, enjoying!

I received the sage advice early on to not focus on the academics so much, but to focus more on teaching my children to love learning, and that is just what we are seeking to do. Especially in these early years, if our daughter comes away with nothing more than a sincere enjoyment and love for learning, then we will be satisfied.

Though I am far from being an experienced home educator, I thought that some of the other young moms out there who are thinking about home schooling or are just starting as I am, might be interested to know what I am using and loving these days.

"Learning Time" as we call it in our family, is simple, relaxed, and pressure-free. It is an opportunity for me to spend purposeful time with Abbie, teaching her about God and training her in godliness, delving into good books, practicing and exposing her to skills she will need to learn, and just exploring topics that interest us. At the moment, there is no set schedule, nor workbooks to be completed, no expectations– just a lot of fun and time spent together.

In addition to using resources and books, sometimes we also just research a topic that we are interested in (such as how plants grow, as we are gardening right now), watch a brief video on animals or from Everyday News, have a calendar time (using a large, preschool style calendar), or even spend some time looking at maps. It doesn't have to be formal to be interesting and educational!

Here's what we're using and why I like it:

Big Truths for Little Kids- I've mentioned before that we are using this to teach the catechism, and I love it! The stories are a bit advanced for my daughter (she asks to hear them but often gets bored halfway through), but the catechism questions are so worth it, as are the scripture references and discussion questions.

The Three R's (previously A Home Start in Reading and Language)- These short and simple books by Ruth Beechick have helped me enormously (mine are actually the old version, which was three separate books, and I don't have the math book yet). You could do all of your basic preschool and kindergarten, even into the early elementary years using these books. Through the concepts and activities, Abbie is slowly learning how to read and I feel that I am understanding how to go about teaching reading. Love these!

Before Five in a Row- I really enjoy the concept of this book, which is that you read the same book for 5 days in a row. Each day, you do an activity (art, science, math, language) that goes along with something in the book (for instance, in Goodnight Moon we read Bible verses about sleep, the sun and the moon, and we looked at how they use dark and light to show the transition to nighttime, and we experimented with primary colors, etc.). The only thing about this book, or it's original (Five in a Row (Five in a Row): Volume 1, for older children), is that you need to be able to access the books that it uses, either borrowing from the library, a friend, or buying them.

Teach Them to Your Children- We bought this two Christmas' ago, when she was only 2. It is only now beginning to be at her level. It has 26 stories (each one has a poem that begins with a letter of the alphabet), each one intended to look at a different aspect of character and Biblical training, and includes a relevant verse as well. I find the stories can be a good starting point for discussion in an area that we are working on (telling the truth, obeying your parents, being generous, etc.).

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready- This neat book takes you all the way from the very first week your baby is born, through to the end of their 4th year. It is meant to prepare a child with all of the skills needed for beginning school (written by a kindergarten teacher), but it is also just a fun way to work on developmental activities with your little ones. When Abbie was little, I tried to do each weekly activity, though I fell out of the habit.

These days I sometimes use the infant activities for Caden, and get Abbie to help me with it. She is learning to serve her brother and be interested in cheering on his accomplishments, and it's good for me to spend a bit of extra attention on him (because we all know that the second child doesn't get nearly the attention that the first received!).

The Little Hands Big Fun Craft Book- This actually a series of art books for preschoolers (we also have Alphabet Art and The Little Hands Art Book). The ideas are really simple, varied, and don't require many complex or difficult to find supplies (it's often basic art supplies or things you might have around your house). Sometimes I let Abbie flip through and choose an activity that she is interested in doing, which she loves.

The Usborne First Thousand Words in Japanese- Because my husband and I lived in Japan for the first year of our marriage, we thought it would be fun to teach our kids Japanese. I scored this book for free from a pile of home schooling books that someone was giving away (it's actually part of a series of similar books in many different languages). It's basically a picture dictionary, and each page is a new scene (ie. the home, the kitchen, a farm, the zoo, school, etc.) and includes words appropriate to that setting. Abbie really enjoys going through it and pointing out words for me to read to her and for her to repeat.

Bob Books- These are very simple little books, that I wouldn't have thought much of, except that my MIL bought them for us and said they're great for kids who are learning to read. To my surprise, Abbie thinks they're great, and the simple words and short stories really appeal to her. I use these to help her practice sounding words out and recognizing words that are repeated throughout the story.

Reading- We are currently reading the first book in the Paddington Bear series (another MIL gift- I'm not sure if I'll ever have to buy much curriculum or materials as long as she
keeps giving us so many books!).

Next, I'm eager to start the Little House on the Prairie series. I do this during our read-aloud time before naps. My MIL is a huge advocate of reading out loud to your children, even books that are above their level, because of the language exposure it gives them.

In all of this, our primary goal is to focus on learning to love God, develop character, and establish the foundations for a life of continual, purposeful learning, exploration and creativity!

Do you have any other resources to recommend for little ones? What types of things are you doing for home educating with your preschool aged children? Any wisdom from experienced moms?

Grow, little garden, grow!

Did you know that you have some incredible garden fertilizers, right in your very own kitchen?

As I am trying to keep my garden costs low, I have been so blessed this year to discover a few very simple, yet very effective ways to boost my garden!

It all started on a short date with my husband to our local Starbucks. While waiting for our drink, I happened to notice a bucket with a couple of large bags in it, labeled "Grounds for your Garden". Intrigued, I picked one up and asked the Barista what people usually do with them. She answered that she wasn't quite sure, but that they were supposed to help with the soil or compost or something like that, she just knew that many, many people swore by them. Hmmm…

I hoisted the weighty bag into my arms, and walked out, feeling mysteriously as though I was on the verge of something great. After mentioning the grounds to my friend that week (which were still sitting in their lovely silver bag, untouched, on my patio), she sent me a link that night to this website page, where I learned that:

Coffee by-products can be used in the garden and farm as follows:

  • Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering, for a
    slow-release nitrogen.

  • Add to compost piles to increase nitrogen balance.  Coffee filters
    and tea bags break down rapidly during composting.

  • Dilute with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer.  Use
    about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water;
    let sit outdoors to achieve ambient

  • Mix into soil for houseplants or new vegetable

  • Encircle the base
    of the plant with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests.

  • If you are into vermi-posting, feed a little bit to your worms

After reading the testimonials, I felt that at the very least, I could give them a try. I tossed a bunch in with my compost, sprinkled some more half-heartedly on a few areas of my garden, and then finished the bag off in the compost again.

At first, I didn't think much of it at all, but this week it started to make sense to me. My slow-going compost had been quite hot and steamy (hee, hee, those words sound funny to describe compost) when I turned it the week before, and this week while turning it, I suddenly realized that the compost I thought would never compost was actually nearing usability! When did that happen? Perhaps the nitrogen had really boosted the speed of the composting!

My second epiphany came this week while reading my trusty How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method as my kids splashed around in the bath. I felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning's of my health journey as I realized that just like our bodies, vegetables and fruits (well, all plants) need particular nutrients in particular amounts, or they will not grow healthy, strong or fruitful! (Okay, seriously, I somewhat knew that, but I had so much to wrap my mind around in learning to garden that I hadn't really gotten around to that part yet… I never said I was a fast learner!)

The proverbial lightbulb suddenly came on and I had a whole new view of my garden, it's poor soil, and the mildly stunted growth it was experiencing at the moment (part of which I know is due to the cold, cloudy stretch of weather we've been having).

As I read through the different types of organic fertilizers and their nutrient content, I realized that coffee grounds were acidic and would alter the pH for those of my plants that were really needing a very acidic or mildly acidic soil.

According to the book, here are some of the plants that require more acidic conditions to flourish.

Quite Acid (pH from 4.0 to 6.0):
Blackberry, blueberry, huckleberry, raspberry, cranberry
Sweet potato

Slightly Acid (pH from 6.0 to 6.5):
Apple, Peach, Pear, Cherry
Squash (all, including pumpkin and zuchinni)

With this in mind, I am now eager to get myself some more coffee grinds (I think I'll make a Starbucks run tonight, with absolutely no intention of buying coffee!). The best part is that they are free, either from a local coffee shop or the remnants from your morning cuppa!

In addition
, while I was reading up on all of the nutrients that my poor garden was obviously lacking, I realized that part of why my tomatoes might be so lacklustre could be a lack of calcium (very important for tomatoes, apparently).

I had already been washing, drying and crushing all of my egg shells, with the hope of deterring slugs (a point which is debated, as to whether the egg shells actually work or not). However, I discovered that egg shells happen to contain much calcium carbonate!

Now, I am crushing my egg shells more finely and using them as fertilizer as well. I think that I will actually begin to put them into my food processor to grind them into a powder, to help the nutrients to be absorbed into the soil more readily. Once again, fertilizer at my fingertips, for free!

Last but not least, have I mentioned that I am mulching this year?

I've just read so many positive things about it (less weeds, more heat/drought tolerance, need to water less frequently, organic matter decomposes and enriches soil, etc.) that I just had to try and see it for myself.

I looked up hay on Craigslist and was so pleased to find bales of spoiled alfalfa hay for just the price I was willing to pay- $0 (though I did end up putting $20 of gas into the truck I borrowed to pick it up, but that's besides the point).

I've been working to carefully mulch around my plants, and even in my walkways, and I'm pleased to say that I think the weeds are less than they would be otherwise, which is a huge bonus for me! I don't think that I have mulched thickly enough yet, so I will keep adding more and seeing how that affects the weed population. It will take until next year, probably, to really see the results, but I am optimistic and hey, it can't hurt!

So there you have it- 3 free/cheap ways to boost your garden this summer:

1) Coffee grounds

2) Eggs shells

3) Mulch

Now all I need is a little sunshine, and I'm set!

Frugality lovers, head on over to Biblical Womanhood to get your Friday fix!

I choose hope

There is a lot of bad news out there. Sometimes, being on the internet so much, I can tend to feel overwhelmed by all that I read and see.

One site in particular has really been getting to me lately, with what I feel is a particularly negative, hopeless and humanistic approach. If I were to listen only to that site, I might really be struggling to find any hope at all, in the midst of so many dangers and cautions and conspiracies and the like.

Perhaps you are like me, and feel that you are doing your very best, as you continually seek to improve aspects of your health and nutrition, avoid dangerous foods and products and toxins, and still find balance in your life. Yet we are daily being told that it is not enough!

I can't do it all. I know from your comments and emails that neither can you. 

There is much fear mongering in the area of health information and education, and it is truly unfortunate. Much of it is used to manipulate us and/or convince us to part with more of our money. Some of it is well intentioned and I believe sincerely offered out of compassion and care. But yet, discerning between the two can be nearly impossible, can't it?

In general, there is a serious lack of hope in all of the hype and claims and new discoveries and all of the things that we must do in order to be "healthy". 

But what good is it all anyways? So much of the information out there is self-help or self-actualization or even heal-thyself-because-god-is-within-you garbage.

There is a vast difference between careful and conscientious stewardship, and believing that you are capable of turning everything around and creating perfect health for you and your loved ones. One is God-focused, and the other is me-focused.

Let's face it. We live in a sin-burdened, broken-down mess of a world. No matter how healthy or green or natural we may become, we all share the same end, and that is physical death and an eternity either with God or without Him.

Pursuing health and natural living is not the ultimate goal. They are merely tools that can be used to enable us to live more in harmony with the creation God has so lovingly given us to have dominion over, to steward it and to preserve it for future generations, and to experience more energy and vitality in these incredible bodies that He has designed so that we may be more fully able to minister to others and seek His kingdom, and nothing more!

Where is our hope then, in the midst of so much brokenness, despair, sickness, and confusion?

It cannot be found in this diet or that supplement or in being healed of this ailment or avoiding that toxin.
Any and all hope that we could ever desire to find can be found in nothing but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only in the real salvation and healing of our souls that Christ alone offers (as opposed to the counterfeits offered by the world)  that we can and should place our ultimate trust. 

I do not long for a day when I am able to cook perfectly of completely naturally produced food, and rid my home of any toxins, or when I have abounding energy and feel free of all sickness or disease. I do not long for cleaner skies and seas, a reduction in landfills, uncontaminated soil or pure drinking water.

No, I long for something far, far greater. 

I long for the day when my Savior returns on the clouds, and with the resounding of a trumpet call, draws me home to be with Him forever. I long for an eternity where the truest healing awaits- no more sickness, no more death, no more tears, no more sorrow (Rev 21:3-5).

And so as I walk daily through this world in which I am merely a stranger and an alien, I choose hope. Not in what Dr. Mercola or Nourishing Traditions or Weston Price (and certainly not Keeper of the Home) have to say. 

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Baby Steps: Get growing!

This week's baby step is:

Very simple. It is to grow something edible, anything at all, this summer. And eat it!

Why this step is important:

I think there is something crucial about connecting with the seasons and the way that food grows. Though I find it difficult to express in words, there is something so life giving, so beautiful, so invigorating and exciting about it. It develops in me such an appreciation for the goodness of God and the miracle of His creation.

With all the talk of the economy and rising food costs, developing skills that promote self-sustainability is a very, very good thing.

For me, though, it's not even just about the costs. It's that I want to have the knowledge and experience in growing and harvesting my own food, to know where it's coming from (and what's on or in it- this is important!), to have tended to it with my own hands, to have had the dirt under my fingernails, to watch those delicate little seedlings pop up from teensy little seeds and then marvel at the miracle it is as they grow into full fledged, food producing plants.

So why grow?

  • Pure and simple, for the self-satisfaction of growing something yourself!
  • to teach your children where food really comes from, and to let them participate and learn from the process
  • For organic/natural foods, right in your backyard
  • Because nothing tastes better than a freshly picked tomato, or the candy sweetness of home garden carrots, or the juicy crunch of a snow pea right off the vine
  • 0 mile food- walk out back door, pick food from garden, and eat. I love it!
  • It costs so little to grow your own food, and every little bit counts with the food and gas costs rising as they are

How to get started with this step:

It is entirely up to you how you go about this step. It could be starting your own square foot garden, or tilling a plot in your yard. It could be adding a tomato plant in a container onto your deck. It could be as simple as placing a potted herb on your kitchen window, or growing your own sprouts for sandwiches using a canning jar. It is entirely what works for you!

Just choose something that feels manageable to you. If you really don't feel that you have the time and energy to take on something big, then start very small and you can always add a little more next year. It has to be achievable, so that you can feel successful in it! Don't bite off more than you can chew! (This coming from the girl whose first garden was 16 x 16 feet, at a community garden she had to walk or bike to with her 1 1/2 year old, with about 12 different kinds of vegetables, and she knew nothing, truly nothing, about gardening- but that's besides the point!)

Online Resources:

Here are a few links to get your going and inspire you!

Homegrown Revolution- watch this video and be amazed at what can be done in a city lot!

Growing tomatoes in containers- Some great tips from a farmer, for my friend Lindsay who's trying her very first tomato plants on her deck this year!

Square Foot Gardening (official site)- This is a great method, and you can start as simple or elaborate as you like. Lots of good info here!

How to grow potatoes in a garbage can- I'm pretty sure I'm going to do this (I better get started soon)- it looks so simple!

You Grow Girl- A fun site with lots of interesting articles, tips, etc.

Organic Gardening- Site of the magazine by the same name, with lots of info about how to grow different types of vegetables and fruits, and many other helpful articles.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds- The site where I purchased my seeds this year. Here is a link to their Gardening Guide (good, overall info), and also to their page with gardening related links. As well, they now have a forum that looks to have much helpful info!

Sprouting seeds- A simple tutorial for sprouting seeds using only a canning jar and a cloth. I've done this myself, using broccoli and clover seeds to make sandwich sprouts, and it was so easy, and the sprouts were more delicious, fresh and crisp than those I buy at the store!

Reading Resources:

Here are the books that have been inspiring me this year (well, the last is highly recommended by others and not read by myself yet, but hopefully next on my list of books to buy).

The second one, How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method, is an oldie but a true classic (first published in 1959). I have learned so much by pouring over this book, and it is just filled to the brim with info on every fruit or vegetable you could think of, growing seasons, garden planning, minerals and deficiencies, fertilizing, mulching, composting, seedlings, etc. You name it, it's in there.

Momma's Guide to Growing your Groceries- I bought this ebook back in the fall, and have really enjoyed it (as a bonus, it is on sale right now, as are all of Biblical Womanhood's ebooks for the month of June- check them out here!).

Did you know…

…that Biblical Womanhood has all of their ebooks on sale for only $3.00 each, just for the month of June?

Neither did I! Go check them out!

(I have their entire ebook collection, and among my favorites are Momma's Guide to Growing your Groceries, Thriving on One Income, Simple Tips for Successful Home Management, and the How to Start your own Business eCourse, just to give you a few ideas!)

Edit: Ignore the fact that the link says March- it really is for June! I checked!

Giveaway time again!

This time, though, it's a giveaway for everyone! Here's the scoop:

See, I have this friend named Lylah, who I met through blogging. Lylah is just about the sweetest lady ever, wife to a pastor-husband whom she adores, and Nana to 5 adorable grandkiddos. She is funny, articulate, has delectable soup recipes (I've dubbed her the Queen of healthy soups), and did I mention that she is passionate about mentoring and discipling younger women in Biblical womanhood?

Well, Lylah has so generously offered to knock your socks off by offering you a free (yes, FREE) copy of her very insightful, truth-filled and encouraging ebook "Becoming an On-Purpose Woman"!

All you have to do to get in on this great giveaway is:
1)  Visit Lylah's site, Mentoring Women, and take a look at what this ebook is all about.
2)  Leave a comment, letting me know what aspect of the book sounds the most interesting, intriguing or relevant to where you are at right now.
3) Drop her a line at lylahl(at)aol(dot)com (remove spaces, etc.), introduce yourself to this dear woman, and let her know that you would just love to have a copy!
4) Do it quick- this giveaway ends on Thursday, June 19 at 7pm (PST)!

That's it! Enjoy! I know that I was personally blessed by reading through my copy of the book, and am eager to print it out and work through some of the Bible study and life evaluation assignments!

Get to know Lylah a little better by visiting her sites (Mentoring Women and Life Coach Moms), as well as her blog, where she is currently working her way through an amazing series called "Becoming an On-Purpose Home Keeper".

Edit: Comments on this post have now been closed, as the giveaway is over! :)

Edible communities

I stumbled upon a rather serendipitous find last weekend, while visiting with my sister-in-law. I suppose I made for a rather rude house guest, as I temporarily lost myself in this intriguing read, a magazine all about local food in Vancouver!

The magazine not only had some interesting articles on local food, composting, sustainability (though slightly too "reduce your carbon footprint" themed for me), farming and gardening, as well as resources for local food, but the best part was that I discovered it's free! Imagine that!

Even better, it's not just for Vancouver, but for all over North America, in most major cities or urban areas. You can visit the site to find a publication relevant to where you live.

I also happened to discover another wonderful (free) green/natural living magazine for Vancouverites in our tenant's mail last week, which I promptly sat down and read before she got home from work (we're friends now, so she doesn't mind that I do things like this!). I wish oh wish that I could remember what the title of it is, but alas, it is 12:21 am and my super-woman brain powers have ceased to function at this hour and so it eludes me… but when I remember, I will tell you!

And why am I up, typing a post at 12:21 (make that 12:23) am, you ask? Guess I'm still buzzing from the delicious bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh cherries in it that my husband and I so wisely chose to consume at 11:00pm, our very first attempt at ice cream since we found an ice cream maker for $10 at a garage sale last Saturday!

I am going to get so fat have so much fun with my new little toy! Yum. yum. yum. yummy. Did I mention I like ice cream? Because I do! And now I can make my own healthier version… sheer. bliss.

Menu Plan Monday- June 16

Shopping for my groceries on Saturday left me feeling literally a bit sick to my stomach. None of the things that I had hoped to find on discount were on sale at all, and in fact, more items on my usual list had gone up in price. I wanted to cry. How can I keep making the money stretch further and further?

My darling husband sympathized and offered that we could bump the budget a little bit, as he understands that the prices really are going up significantly. He said that he appreciates my efforts to keep our budget low, but doesn't want me to be unduly stressed, and would it help if he raised the grocery budget somewhat?

Yes, I'm sure that it would help. I said that we could consider it for next month, though I'm happy to keep plugging away and doing my best to work with what I've got.

I suppose I could have said "oh yes, that's exactly what I need- let's spend more money!". It would have been reasonable, legitimate, and understandable.

In that moment, though, I was reminded of just how very much we have. Sure, it is getting quite tight as I try to prepare very nutritious and tasty food for my family, and get the best deals possible on the highest quality food I can get. I try to keep nutrition as my priority, so long as I can do it within the budget.

But how richly blessed am I, to have making highly nutritious and varied and appealing meals as my main focus? How many people out there are daily faced with the challenge of simply providing basic sustenance, and so many are not even properly able to do that? I often forget what a privileged life I lead, and how truly abundant it really is, even in what I so naively consider a "tight" season, economically speaking.

So this week, despite the items that were not crossed off on my grocery shopping list, I intend to practice cheerful thankfulness, and not allow myself to worry about how I will continue to do this as prices continue to rise. I will rejoice in the abundance that we have, and trust that my God already knows all of our needs!

And on a side note, I should mention that we really enjoyed both the Black Bean Wraps and the Busy Day Mexican Soup that I tried last week. The quiche with kale never happened, as we were invited to a friend's for a bbq today, and so I didn't know to add it into my meal planning, but it's not a big deal.

(Starting this week, I will be planning my breakfasts as I mentioned, as well as my dinners, though our lunches will still be based on leftovers, using up what's in the fridge, etc.)

Breakfast- Baked oatmeal with apples
Dinner- Quick Fix Chicken (mayo-mustard type sauce with bread crumbs), asparagus (lightly grilled with butter and dill), and quinoa.

Breakfast- Smoothie, eggs, and toast
Dinner- Feta and veggie quesadillas

Breakfast- Baked oatmeal leftovers, fruit
Dinner- Samosas (homemade from Nourishing Traditions), with Raita (yogurt and cucumber sauce)

Breakfast- Smoothies, Cinnamon Scones
Dinner- Breaded white fish, garden salad, brown rice

Breakfast- Smoothie, eggs, hashbrowns
Dinner- Mushroom Soup (this is the recipe in Nourishing Traditions and Maker's Diet- if you like mushrooms, it is amazing!), garden salad, homemade bread.

Breakfast- Blender Batter Pancakes with maple syrup, fruit
Dinner- Nachos supreme (ground beef, tomatoes, peppers, sour cream, on organic corn chips). We didn't get to do it the other week, and my husband really loves it. Plus, it's easy!

Breakfast- Oatmeal, smoothie
Dinner- Baked beans (in the crockpot), biscuits, broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce

More great menu plans at Organizing Junkie!

To the rockinest Daddy we know…

(…that was what we put on the inside of the iPod card the kids and I made for our iPod-loving, musician Daddy, as well as a Best Daddy award ribbon colored by Abbie, a French Toast breakfast in bed, and a trip to somewhere fun after church for a gelato treat, in case you were wondering what I had decided on.)

A Tribute

Thanks for always being ready to have fun. Your joy and delight at spending time with your children is evident. Your playfulness, silly games, made-up songs (think potty-training) and dramatic storytelling (think David and Goliath) bring never-ending smiles, giggles (along with the odd teeth-to-head collision), and sheer enjoyment.

I love to watch your relationship with Abbie bloom, and how she trusts you with her heart. You have a beautiful connection, and she is such a blessed little girl to have a Daddy that is fervent and passionate about protecting and guarding her heart. Your "dates" with her are so cherished, and even the health nut in me can't help but say yes when you ask to take her out for ice cream (again), with that sweet sparkle in your eyes.

Your ever-deepening relationship with Caden is so precious to me, as I know that you long for a greater ability to connect and pour your Father's heart into your son. Right now, you are the hilarious Daddy who throws and spins and flips him to his heart's content. But one day soon, you will be the man that he looks up to, admires, and wants to be like. I know that your heart's desire is to disciple and train him to be a godly man, a faithful husband and a loving father, and if he is anything like you, he will be all of those things.

And I am continually blessed to be the mother of your children, and the wife of your youth. I can imagine no great role and no greater joy than to serve you and our family. Thank you for allowing me to do so, each and every day. Your commitment to care for and provide for your family astounds me. Your hard work and faithfulness is an example to me. And your love shows me more of Christ and draws me closer to Him.

Happy Father's Day,
Love Abbie, Caden and Mommy