A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {A Work-at-Home Mom Relying on Grace}

A Day in the Life {Keeper of the Home}

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

It had been a long night. I made it 30 years without pulling an all-nighter. But we were down to the wire, and we had to get the Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for Toddlers to market on time.

It was 5:30 a.m. before I crawled into bed for a prayerful couple of hours of sleep before my children woke from a full night’s rest ready for a new day.

The cost of being a work-at-home-mom can be steep at times. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Would it better to just have an office door I can close? Would it be better if I could be home and be all there? Will I ever figure out how to manage my time and not see all the areas I fail?

I don’t know. But I do know that it is in this limbo where grace makes all the more sense to me. Where grace becomes more beautiful, more grandiose.

Left to myself, I’m a mess. But His grace covers, and this day in my life is a testament to His everyday grace. After only two hours of sleep, I roused to this beautiful boy.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

On Instagram, I said, “One must determine the quality of sleep by the state of one’s hair each morning.” He slept hard, and he woke happy.

I managed three hours of sleep before my boys woke one by one.

As a family, we shared a simple breakfast of eggs and avocado. We’re on day 23 of the Whole 30 Challenge. Today, I’m grateful for the extra energy this challenge has brought me.

After breakfast we do family devotions, and by 9 a.m. my husband is in the office (a bedroom we converted to an office space when he quit his corporate job).

I clean up the dishes and go through my simple morning routine, but I skip the laundry and the bed making … okay I skip the entire routine except cleaning up dishes.

I take the kids outside for some sunshine and fresh air. Today, the housework can wait. I’m spending time with my babies.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

We water our vegetable garden and pull a few weeds. Since the soil is dry to the touch, we pull out the water hose.

My 3-year-old and I take turns watering everything. My 1-year-old comes in behind us managing to get as muddy as possible.

By around 10 a.m., the baby is ready for a nap and the toddler needs a snack. Before I head upstairs to lay the baby down, I rinse a pear for my oldest and clean my baby’s hands and legs.

My 3-year-old sits at the table to eat while I head upstairs. The baby goes down easily for which I am grateful.

I gather my homeschool preschool bag and thank God for lessons already prepared ahead of time and begin learning time with my 3-year-old.

I love that you can see the dishwasher sitting wide open in the background of the picture below.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

We read about Creation and do a craft for Day 1 and Day 2 of Creation.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

We talk about how everything God creates is good, and find all the letter G’s throughout the Bible story.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

We quickly made an earth ornament for our Fruit of the Spirit tree to remind us of God’s goodness found in Creation.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Then, my 3-year-old and I curl up on the couch together and read stories until the baby wakes up.

When we come to a picture of Mount Everest, my son says, “We’re going to go there some day. We’ll climb that mountain. All we need is a backpack and some ropes. I’ll pull you up, Mom.”

This surprises me. How does he know anything about mountain climbing? But more than that I’m thankful he knows that travel is possible and is something our family does together. Nowhere in the world is off limits.

It blessed my heart to hear him say with confidence that we’d go there some day.

However, I’m not interested in climbing Mount Everest. I hope he’s not either …

Next we share lunch together as a family outside on the deck. During the warmer months, we eat outside as often as we can.

After lunch, my boys want to play in their room. So I pick up my book and head up to their room with them.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

I enjoy my view and rest as much as I can. I use my iPhoneto answer a few emails and forward some customer service e-mails to the hubby to answer.

But mostly I just watch my children and read my book for the next hour or so. I read a few books with my youngest and laugh as he tries to find his belly button.

Eventually the baby is ready for an afternoon nap and my oldest goes outside to play in the sandbox. I set up shop with my computer for a bit while my son builds sand towers and plays David and Goliath with his imaginary friends.

When the baby wakes again, both boys play in the sandbox together. I am so grateful for this little slice of heaven.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

I make a quick 20 minute meal that is Whole 30 friendly. We enjoy another family meal outside together before shuttling the little ones to bath and bed.

A Day in the Life: Leigh Ann {KeeperoftheHome.org}

After finishing up the dishes and writing a quick blog post, I put my feet up again by 8 p.m. to read about gut health. This makes me laugh for some reason.

By 8:15, I am in my bed asleep.

When work gets more of my attention than my children for a season, it’s easy to feel guilty. So I cling to grace – the unmerited, undeserved favor of the Lord who guides my everyday, leads my every decision, and stands sovereign over even my failures.

It is Jesus whom I run to, cling to, and put my hope in.

The days when my family gets more of my attention than my work are days that I cherish. These are the days the dishwasher gets left open, the laundry continues to pile up, and the floor can be mopped some other time.

These are the days in my life that I rest in grace, and enjoy my family from morning to night.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals: 

 

aiplock

As low as $10.52-$12.38 ($3.50-$4.12/ 40- Count Box) Ziploc Storage Bags Gallon 40 ct (Pack Of 3) are on sale for $13.38. Save $1 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

zico

As low as $13.74-$16.16 ($1.15-$1.35/bottle) ZICO Pure Premium Coconut Water, Natural, 14 Ounce Bottles (Pack of 12) is on sale for $16.16.  Amazon’s lowest price to-date!  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

mashMore Flavours of Plum Kids Organic Fruit Mashups on sale now.

As low as $15.26-$17.95  ($2.54-$2.99/4 Count) Plum Kids Organic Fruit Mashups, Apple Sauce Strawberry Banana, 3.17 oz., 4-Count (Pack of 6) is on sale for $23.94 again this week. Save 25% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order. These other flavours are also on sale right now:  Carroty Chop  and Mixed Berry

chocoJust $8.00  Jen’s Zen Chocolate Sauce Dairy Free Gluten-Free Chocolate Sauce made with Organic Coconut Milk is on sale at Abe’s Market  Regular price $11.00. Now only $8.00 / 9.6 oz jar.  Click “Sale” and then “Food & Drink”.  Plus get FREE Shipping now through September 28th.

 

starter

Just $79.00  Nittany Valley Organics Essential Oils Starter Kit is on sale now at Abe’s Market.  10 Essential Oils 15 ml each + 2 Empty Bottles to store your own creations.  Regular price $99.00 now only $79.00.  Click “Sale” and then “Health Products”.  Plus get FREE Shipping now through September 28th.

blackberry_leaf-product_1x-1403630290

You have a week left to check out Mountain Rose Herbs Monthly Specials for September.  Just Click “Specials”.  

Here are just a few items on sale right now:  

Check out these two options for Baby Monitors on sale right now:

moniterJust $59.97 Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor with Temperature Sensor is on sale for $79.97.  Save $20 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).   Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

baby sense

Just $99.99 Babysense Hisense 5s Baby Safe Infant Movement Monitor on sale now.

FREE Kindle ebooks:

(note: prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

apple cider

Apple Cider Vinegar For Beginners 2nd Edition: Proven Secrets Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Health, Weight Loss, and Skin Care 

banish

Banish Clutter: Simplify Your Life In Only One Weekend 

baby sign

BABY SIGN LANGUAGE BOOK.: How To Teach Your 6 Month Old Baby Sign Language TODAY!. 

canning

Canning and Preserving For Beginners: Learn How to Can And Preserve Meats, Vegetables Fruits, And Jams

Kindle ebooks for Less Than $1:

body butter

Body Butter: Homemade Body Butter – 33 BEST Body Butter Recipes To Making Body Butter For A Soft And Nourished Skin! $0.89

50 smoothie

Fruit Smoothie Recipes: 50 Simple and Healthy Smoothies That Anyone Can Make! (Quick and Easy Cooking Series) $0.99

(note: prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing)

This week’s best coupons:

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Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

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Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Breaking Free from Real Food Burnout

Breaking Free from Real Food Burnout {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Guest post by Trina Holden

Have you ever experienced Real Food Burnout? It’s an actual condition, typified by an aversion to the kitchen, phobia regarding shopping or menu planning, and surprisingly strong cravings for junk food. Sufferers often experience amnesia in regards to meal ideas, paralysis when it comes to trying something new, and general depression on the topic of food.

How do I know so much about this condition? Because I have suffered from it many times myself.

We succumb to Real Food Burnout when we only focus on the list of things we want to change, when we forget that eating well is a journey, and when we think that our health is all up to us. Sometimes burnout episodes last for days or weeks, but in extreme cases, patients give up and never try to eat healthy again.

That is a tragedy, because Real Food Burnout can be avoided if you take these “Perspective Pills” regularly:

1. Realize it’s a journey.

The best way to get burnt out is to think of eating well as a target - and one you have to hit the first time.

 There will be ups and downs, wins and losses, but one instance of succumbing to the convenience of take-out does not mean you have failed. It just means you are still in process. Take a deep breath and remember that you’re learning a new way of life, and that change takes time. Give yourself grace.

2. Look at your progress.

We can get so caught up in all the areas we want to improve and grow, we can completely neglect to notice our progress. Always focusing on our weaknesses is a recipe for depression! Yes, it’s great to have goals of recipes you want to try and things you want to change, but occasionally we need to glance up from our busy efforts to see how far we’ve come. Think about how you ate a year ago, or five years. You’ve come a long way! Take a moment to celebrate that!

Breaking Free from Real Food Burnout {KeeperoftheHome.org}

3. Remember you’re not alone.

For me, the biggest trigger to an episode of burnout is when I think that the work of nourishing my family is all up to me. But when I act like my efforts are the only thing keeping body and soul together, I’m forgetting that the biggest factor isn’t actually the food we eat or which chemicals we’re avoiding. It is the fact that we have a God who created us and sustains us by His power. We are called to steward our bodies, but we don’t bear that responsibility alone. Let that reality bring you peace.

When I experience burnout, the fastest route to recovery is to call my real food mentor, who gently reminds me of these truths over and over, and then gives me one small thing I can do this week to make progress. If you need a friend to give fresh perspective for the journey or guidance on what to focus on next in your kitchen, check out my new book “Your Real Food Journey: A Gentle Guide to Steady Progress.” Because real food isn’t a target we have to hit the first time, but a journey to be enjoyed.

Trina has graciously provided KOTH readers with 20% discount on her book! From today until September 25th, use coupon code “koth20off” during checkout to get your book at the discounted price!

Trina HoldenTrina Holden is a modern-day gypsy, currently parked in Alabama where she and her husband run a business encouraging families to thrive through real food cookbooks, classes, and consulting. Together they homeschool their four children, drink gallons of raw milk, and dream of their next road trip. You can find her online at trinaholden.com.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Living simply – even when people don’t understand @ The Art of Simple

Love People, Not Things @ Becoming Minimalist

Chocolate Sunbutter Grahams @ Primal Palate

Stock Your DIY Natural Medicine Cabinet in One Afternoon @ A Delightful Home

toast in her hair. @ Coffee + Crumbs

Eggy Onion Breakfast Bread @ Grok Grub

Guard Your Gates @ Sarah Bessey

What a soldier on a plane taught me about perspective. @ John Acuff

The first day of autumn, my very favorite season, is coming soon! What are your favorite things about this time of year?

A Day in the Life: Erin {work-at-home, part-time homeschooling mom of 3 girls}

Day in the Life-Erin {Keeper of the Home} 

By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

This is the 3rd year for me to participate in the Keeper of the Home Day in the Life series (time flies!), and, at first, I was just going to post on our typical daily routine. 

After all, in both 2012 and 2013 I posted on a chaotic day–and maybe you all are tired of hearing that from me. 

But then I realized: You know what? That’s real life. And I want nothing more than to be real with you all. 

The fact is, my family does follow a loose routine, but there are always, always those really crazy days that throw a wrench in it all. 

But I’ve learned to embrace those days. I get easily bored, and those days keep things interesting. 

If you are interested in our typical routine, you can scroll down to the end of this post. But, for now, check out our day on Wednesday, September 17: 

at doc

First, I must back up to Tuesday, September 16. I co-run Ultimate-Bundles.com with Stephanie (and our husbands), and our fall sale ended on this day. 

The weeks leading up to the sale are intense, and I was just looking forward to some rest time at home on this Wednesday. 

Instead…

I leaned over my little girl when she arrived home from her university model school and noticed a strange smell. I thought: Well, I guess she just really needs a bath tonight! 

About an hour later, we were lying on the couch together, and I noticed the smell again. It was then that I realized the smell was coming from her ear.

The lobe looked infected. 

No big deal, right? Most people with pierced ears have dealt with infections before. 

Wrong. 

This wasn’t just any infection: Her earring backings has somehow embedded into the lobes. 

Upon this discovery, mass chaos fell upon our house. Yes–mass chaos. 

I asked hubby to work on getting her earrings off–because I just don’t handle those things well. Little Girl began crying. Her two little sisters began crying as well. 

I sanitized the tweezers. Hubs tried holding Little Girl down over the bathroom sink.

We finally all–and I mean all 5 of us–moved to our bed. I held Little Girl on my lap while Hubs aimed the tweezers at her ear, and our two littles–age 3 1/2 and 2–held their big sister’s hands. We asked them to pray, and the baby closed her eyes into a squint and uttered her short and sweet version: “Jesus! Amen!” 

To our relief, my hubby was able to extract one backing, but the other was too far embedded. There was no way we were getting it out. 

We resolved for me to call the doctor first thing in the morning. 

Exhausted from the bundle sale week, we all fell into bed. And when I say “fell,” I mean I didn’t even change clothes and forgot to take out my contact lenses. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night and realized both our 2 and 3-year-olds were in the bed with us–again–in between us, in fact. 

lunch date

Wednesday, September 17

6:45 a.m. I wake when hubby kisses me goodbye before he leaves for work. I did good getting up early all summer, but I am utterly and completely worn out from the bundle sale, so I “sleep in.” 

7 a.m. Little Girl comes in the room and wakes us all. She is hungry. really just.want.sleep. I tell her there are gluten-free pretzels in the pantry. This can be a little pre-breakfast appetizer, right? 

The 2-year-old and 3-year-old begin a little squabble over who is cuddled closest to Mommy. They work it out, and the 2-year-old begins nursing. 

7:15 a.m. My 6-year-old comes back upstairs and tells me she can’t find the pretzels and is so hungry. I roll out of bed and go to the bathroom, wash my face and brush my teeth. The 2-year-old gets upset when I go to the bathroom because she wants to keep nursing. I have to shut the door so I can go potty without having a toddler hanging off my…well…you know. 

7:30 a.m. Miraculously,the girls have forgotten their hunger pangs. They are happily playing with Little People in their room! Taking advantage of this moment of peace, I throw a load of laundry in the washing machine–right after taking the load in the dryer out and tossing it on Mt. Laundry in the hallway. I have a great laundry routine when I don’t get behind. I’m behind right now. 

7:45 a.m. We all stumble down the stairs. Ok–maybe they bounced, but Mommy definitely stumbled. 

The kitchen is a WRECK. I mean–it’s an utter disaster. In between Little Girl’s earring-embedded-in-the-earlobe event and the post-bundle exhaustion, I think both hubs and I just left it the night before. 

The blender is full of smoothie remnants, the sink is full of dishes, and the counters are crowded. There are plates with scraps of last night’s dinner on the table. 

And the living and play rooms are not much better. 

It’s a homeschool day. I decide that I absolutely cannot homeschool in this mess. 

I begin cleaning. But wait–I remember I have to call the doctor first. 

mount laundry

8:00 a.m. I call the doctor’s office and explain that, somehow, my 6-year-old has an earring backing embedded in her earlobe. I feel horrible for not noticing this before. 

I ask Little Girl repeatedly all day long: “Did your ears hurt? Do they hurt now?” 

“Nope!” She would say. And she would just hop to the next activity with a smile on her face. The fact that her earlobes did not hurt raised even more concern for me. 

8:15 a.m. I make the girls little bowls of gluten-free pretzels to hold them off while I can clear enough space in the kitchen to actually make breakfast. 

I start my coffee. Coffee–yes, please.give.me.coffee. 

8:30 a.m. The coffee is ready. Praise the Lord! 

I begin on breakfast–waffles. We usually eat sausage or bacon or eggs with waffles or pancakes. I decide it’s waffles and pretzels today. 

While I’m working on the kitchen, the girls spy Daddy’s sea salt and black pepper potato chips in the pantry. I turn around just in time to see my 3-year-old dump the entire bag on the floor. 

“Y’all clean those up!” I say. “I have enough to clean up.” 

Cleaning them up entailed them using their hands to stuff the chips in their pretzel bowls. I am too tired to care. 

Next, they spot grapes in the fridge. My 2-year-old asks for some. I cut up grapes for the girl to go in the bowls with the pretzels and chips. 

By the time the waffles are ready, they are not hungry. And today? I’m ok with that. I now have breakfast for tomorrow. 

8:45-10:30 a.m. 

Before I start cleaning the kitchen, I start Little Girl on a handwriting sheet.

It takes me almost two hours to clean the kitchen. (It.was.BAD.) I listen to the newest How They Blog podcast while I’m cleaning.

The girls are playing with their baby dolls and other toys in the playroom, which is open to the kitchen. When Little Girl finished her handwriting, I let her join them and decided we would do school in the afternoon this day. 

wahm

10:30 a.m-11 a.m. 

I tell the girls it’s time for Mommy to take a shower, so we have to go upstairs. I set the little ones up with Little People, and my 6-year-old decides she wants to play hair salon. I notice she has grabbed our homemade foaming hand soap from the bathroom and has it in her salon case. 

I exchange it for a bottle that isn’t full of soap. 

I switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer and put a new load in the washer. I throw the clothes from the dryer on top of Mt. Laundry. It looks like it will soon erupt. 

I shower. I am out of shampoo. I use a natural shampoo bar from Vitacost, and I ran out–weeks ago. I had to buy a cheap bottle of non-natural shampoo from Aldi until I could carve out time to place an order. But now I’m even out of that. 

I grab the girls’ children’s wash and wash my hair with it. 

11:00 a.m.

I realize I forgot to eat breakfast. I’m getting shaky as I get myself dressed. We have to leave for the doctor’s office asap. My mom arrives to watch the littles. She says: “Erin, shouldn’t you be leaving by now?!” I said: “I am shaky. I need to eat.” 

I toss half an avocado, a huge spoonful of peanut butter, some brown rice protein powder, some stevia and some almond milk in the Blendtec. Yum–lots of fat and protein. I also fill up my water bottle. 

Thankfully, Little Girl had already gotten herself dressed. 

We take off. 

11:20 a.m. 

We arrive at the doctor’s office–5 minutes late. The receptionist doesn’t say anything. 

They call us into the office, and the doctor seems a bit…intrigued. Yes, I think intrigued is the word. But she didn’t do anything for the ear. 

“It needs to be surgically removed,” she says matter-of-factly. “And we cannot do that here.” 

She books us an appointment at the the ENT for the next morning. I ask her if it can wait until Friday (our next homeschool day), and her eyes get big as she says: “NO. It’s already a staph infection.” 

Ouch. 

I begin to imagine that her earlobe is going to fall off if we do not act quickly. 

(For what it’s worth, I’ve had numerous people now tell me they have had this very same thing happen with little girls earrings!) 

making her bird's nest

12:00 p.m.-2 p.m. 

Since my mom was keeping the littles and the doctor’s office was close to one of our favorite restaurants, I decided to take Little Girl on an impromptu mother-daughter lunch date. 

2-5 p.m. 

It was time to start our homeschool lesson. School goes so.much.better in the morning, but I love the flexibility of being able to do it in the afternoon if needed. 

Before starting, though, I needed to put my 2-year-old down for a nap and get dinner in the crock pot. 

But wait–the power had gone out while we were away, and it was still out. There was no way to cook the lovely organic chicken I had thawed yesterday. 

I decided that I would figure out dinner once the power came back on, and I began our usual nap time routine with my toddler. We usually read three to four books–our favorites being the Eric Carle books. 

We read a few extra today, and I rocked her before putting her down to nap in her crib. 

I did school with my 6-year-old while my 3 1/2-year-old played most of the rest of the afternoon. The girls went outside to play and gather things for the bird’s nests they were constructing. 

While they did some independent work, I lay down on the couch. I.was.tired. 

fall

5 p.m. 

My husband arrives home from work–a bit early tonight, but he has to go directly upstairs to attend an online class. He is getting his school administrator’s license (he is a teacher), and he is taking online classes all year long. His class lasts until 8 p.m. 

The power has come back on, but it’s too late to start the whole chicken, and I have no other meat thawed. Good thing Aldi makes gluten-free frozen pizzas now. I take two out of the freezer and pop them in the oven. It’s pizza night!

I go upstairs to get my toddler up from her nap. 

She nurses for a few seconds and then pulls away and proclaims: “Milkies yucky.” She says: “Other side.” 

Again, she pulls away and says: “Milkies yucky.” 

I cannot believe 6+ years of breastfeeding are about to end–just like that! It would appear that the taste of my milk is changing. 

6 p.m. The girls and I are finished with dinner, and I say: “Let’s take a walk!” We love taking family walks together, and the temperatures are just starting to dip to the perfect walking weather. 

The older two want to ride their scooters. We get the scooters out of the garage, and I strap the toddler in the stroller. 

All seems serene until the older two begin to fight over who gets to be in the front. I say: “Fine, neither of you are going to ride scooters then.” 

Tears ensure. Lots of tears. We are standing on the sidewalk out in front of our house, and I am sure the neighbors can probably hear this not-so-quiet sister squabble and meltdowns. 

The girls settle down when they know I mean business. I tell them that instead of riding scooters, we will go on a short nature walk and gather more supplies to finish their birds’ nests. We walk to the front entrance of the subdivision, where there is an area of pine trees and lots of pine needles and pine cones. 

We decide to walk through a little field and spy out the two barns that back up to our backyard. This was probably the most peaceful part of our day. 

barns

6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 

We arrive back home, and the older two girls begin working on their birds’ nests again.

I gather the little ones’ things to spend the night at their grandparents. I also pack their backpacks for preschool the next day. Grandma will be taking them since hubby and I will be leaving early to take Little Girl to her doctor’s appointment. 

I drive the little ones to my parents’ house while hubby helps Little Girl with her bird’s nest. She had gotten frustrated when it wasn’t turning out how she had envisioned, and she had thrown it across the table. He is much better at helping with crafts, and it ended up turning out just as she had imagined. 

I stay at my parents’ house for a few minutes while dropping off the little ones. I ask the toddler if she wants to nurse before I leave. 

“No!” she says and shakes her head. “Milkies yucky!” 

I can barely believe my ears. 

“Are you serious?” I ask her. 

“Yeah,” she says–and turns to play. 

I cry all the way home. This season of life is really, truly over. I don’t have any babies now. 

9 p.m. 

I get home, and Little Girl is still bouncing off the wall. She is actually quite excited to be the only child for the night. 

I tell hubby she needs a bath–something I hadn’t communicated before I left home. I run the water and let her take a bubble bath. 

She is excited to wear her new penguin footie pajamas that I had purchased at a consignment sale the week before. She slides on the tile and wood floor and says: “I can do my little slip slide dance.” 

We say our prayers and put her to bed. 

10 p.m.

I put on my pajamas and get in bed to read for a few minutes. I forget to take out my contact lenses. I think: “I will just get up and take them out.” 

But I was so exhausted that I just fell asleep. 

swinging with the girls

Now, here is our “usual” weekly routine (every day is different): 

Mondays:

Early Morning

I get the girls ready for the day, make breakfast, and we all eat. 

Mid-Morning 

I drop Little Girl off at school. 

Mid-Morning-Mid-Afternoon

The little girls and I run errands or come back home to play/do chores, etc. 

2 p.m.

I pick Little Girl up from school. 

2:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. 

The toddler naps, and the older girls play outside or quietly with their toys. They might watch a show or two while I work a little. I then make dinner, and we all eat when my husband gets home from work around 6 p.m. We might just hang out or go on a family walk before getting the girls ready for bed around 7:30 p.m., and we aim to get them in bed by 8 p.m. (It’s often later than that.)

8:30 p.m.-11 p.m. 

Hubby and I work on our computers, read or watch some TV or a movie. Then we go to bed. 

H drawing on self

Tuesdays & Thursdays: 

Early Morning

I get the girls ready for the day, make breakfast, and we all eat. 

Mid-Morning 

I drop Little Girl off at school and then drop the littles off at preschool. I settle into a cafe that is practically in the same parking lot as the preschool. I work at the cafe until about 11:50 a.m., when I leave for preschool pick-up. 

12 noon-1:45 p.m. 

I pick the little ones up from preschool, drive home and make lunch. They play and I do some chores until it’s time to leave to pick up Little Girl from school. 

2 p.m. 

I pick up Little Girl from school. 

2:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

same as Mondays 

homeschool day

Wednesdays: 

We are at home all day this day. I homeschool Little Girl in the morning, and the rest of the day we are playing and doing chores. I don’t typically leave the house at all this day unless I have to. 

Fridays: 

My husband is off three Fridays per month. On those days, he homeschools Little Girl and takes over the regular daily routine, while I work up in our office or at a coffee shop. 

On the Friday he does work, the day looks just like Wednesday. 

Saturdays: 

We are all home and just chill out–or sometimes take a family outing. If it’s near a bundle sale, I am usually working in our office or at a coffee shop. 

Sundays: 

We attend church in the morning, rest and/or take naps in the afternoon, and every other week we attend a Life group in the evenings. 

Most of the pics in this post came from my Instagram feed. You can follow me on IG here

What does your typical day look like? 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {Jam-Packed Busy Mom of 3}

A Day in the Life: Rachel {Keeper of the Home}

By Rachel Marie, Contributing Writer

I’ve been a mom for 7 years now and in no way am I am expert, but I am getting much better at this gig than I was when I first became a mom.

A few weeks ago we hosted small group at our own home for the first time and I was amazed by how young, yet grown up the other couples were. When I think back to my early mothering years I wasn’t anywhere close to how mature, financially responsible or spiritually strong these couple are now. 

My husband was finishing his doctorate and I was finishing my degree, we were broke and just beginning to learn about real health and real food. And we were addicted to Diet Coke. I could never imagine we’d have the pleasure to be where we are now. 

Over the 10 years of our marriage we’ve experienced needing governmental assistance while we were in school, having dreadful jobs, asking for help from family, not able to give gifts to others, to church or to each other, dealing with what seemed like one closed door after another, heartache and pain, but also so much blessing through all of that.

We’ve learned to wait on God, to look at situations through a godly lens, that it’s OK to not have it all together, and when trials come, they’re to bring glory to God. 

The past couple of years when I’ve shared my days, I had been going through hard seasons of trust and now I am in a season of peace. Not always clearly knowing God’s plans, but always seeing parts of his plan living out in a way I would have never thought possible. 

So I’d like to share with you one of my days from the beginning of the school year. I have a kindergartener,  a first grader and a 6 month old. We “do” school with a 3 times a week co-op and homeschool. (You can read more about it here if you are interested.)

August 21, 2014

8:08 a.m.

I woke up to my husband saying goodbye and thought I’ll rest for a little longer. It’s a Thursday, I went to bed later so I slept in a bit later than I had planned.  If you are an early bird, I want to be you! I just couldn’t do it today. :)

I rolled out of bed about 30 minutes after he left. It’s a homeschool day, and it’s going to be filled to the brim, so I better get up. My son has been up an hour or so, sneakily watching TV so first I talk to him about it and decide on a consequence. Then I get up and get ready for the day (which consisted of a T-shirt, shorts, brush my hair and teeth).

8:38 a.m.

Go wake up my daughter, who likes to sleep just like her Mama. Tell her to get dressed, bed made, teeth brushed, etc. 

8:55 a.m.

Get breakfast for my kids and coffee for me. Since we’re running late, I just serve cereal. I run out to the car to get a folder and look back at our home while walking back in. I feel a sense of thankfulness and go back in to find a devotion of self control. Our son has been struggling at school and at home learning about this… something that’s hard for everyone! 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

9:15 a.m.

I don’t have much time at the computer before the baby wakes up. I go get her, change her diaper and bring her downstairs with us. I nurse her while the other two are finishing their breakfast. After she’s done, I run upstairs to put in a load of laundry. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

9:42 a.m.

It’s much later than I wanted to start school, but oh well. We have all day if we need it, right?? We start with a quick prayer and then work on our calendar notebooks. My son thinks he’s an expert and doesn’t need my help, which then stresses me out and my daughter so we all need a quiet time and to check our attitudes while finishing it up. I help kids with workbooks, Julia my kinder needing most of my attention over the next couple of hours. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

11:42 a.m.

Time to read and have some free time while enjoying a snack. I sit with my daughter while I nurse the baby and she reads three Bob Books to me. I am so impressed with how well she is learning to read. I thought it was going to be more of a struggle. My son finishes up reading two chapters in his book, then plays with London while Julia and I finish her last book. Lincoln and Julia empty the dishwasher while I quickly put the refrigerated chicken soup leftovers that are already in the crock in the Crock-Pot and turn it on warm before heading out. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

12:54 p.m.

We head to  my son’s Taekwondo homeschool class. Normally we stay but today I need to return our late library books and my husband’s shirts to the natural dry-cleaner. I wanted to fill up our water bottles but ran out of time. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

1:45 p.m.

Pick up Lincoln and head the fill up the water bottles. It’s so hot! Older two fight over who gets to put the coins in first. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

2:33 p.m.

Arrive back home. I take one of the waters in we need, and realize we forgot to bring trash cans out to the curb last night. We all feel terrible and grouchy because we haven’t eaten lunch YET. Scoop bowls of soup, eat, and nurse baby again. Lay baby down for a nap and take a moment to thank God for her. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

4:15 p.m.

Get back to finishing our school work. I think to myself, gosh it’s late! We work on one of the art activities for school. It’s called torn art but I think it’s more like a mosaic. I thought it would be easiest if they choose a shape and added the pieces of paper. I told them to choose one of the shapes in our homeschool room and I would draw it. They cut it out, and then glued it on their papers. We embellish with some stickers when they’re done. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

5:38 p.m.

School time is over… thankfully. It went longer than I expected but I’m glad I have creative little minds and artists. Baby wakes up at some point. Kids are hungry so they get a snack: strawberries and Annie’s bunnies. They play outside while I look at all these pictures. At some point they ask why I am taking so many pictures. :) I do a quick pick up and I realized the chicken I  thawed for dinner smells funny, so I text my husband. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

7:00 p.m.

I glance at the clock after nursing the baby, and playing around with the kids and realize it’s getting late and kids have co-op tomorrow, so we better get going. I put the clothes in the dyer before we hop in the car. Thankfully the grocery store is only about 5 minutes away. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Just as we’re parking, my husband texts me and says he’s going to join us for dinner but has to go back to work afterwards. Although I wish he could stay with us longer, I realize his Monday-Thursday work week is full so that he can have Friday-Sunday with us.

We walk through the store to pick up a few items and then head to the kids eat free counter where our kids choose what they want. My husband sneaks up on the kids and surprises them. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

7:30 p.m.

After my husband pays for our food, we sit down to eat. I mostly keep baby company while my husband catches up with the kids. My kids enjoy pizza, carrots and grapes and hubby let them get a komboucha. I also got a slice of pizza while my husband got the hot bar. 

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

8:26 p.m.

We head home. The kids take quick showers and settle down in my son’s room for our bedtime routine, which consists of a Bible story, prayer and singing Jesus Loves Me. Baby is fussy, so my son takes the lead and reads the story while I nurse London. We say goodnight!

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

9:05 p.m.

I head downstairs with the baby because she didn’t fall asleep yet. I pull out a letter I found in an older Bible I used the night before at small group. It happens to be a letter from before we got married. I reminisce, then go lay baby down once she’s asleep.

A Day in the Life: Rachel {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Then I unwind by Facebooking and watching some TV. Later my husband comes home, we chat for a bit, then I head to bed.  

12:34 a.m.

I’m in bed. 

Well, there you have it. Not all my days are this jam-packed, this day just so happened to be. This is a chapter of my story; we all have a story to share! 

What chapter of your life story are you in right now?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products

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This week’s top deals:

Coconut oil

As low as $13.59-$15.91 ($0.42-$0.49/oz)   Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, 32-Ounce is on sale for $15.99.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

plum

As low as $15.26-$17.95 ($0.64-$0.75/each)   Plum Kids Organic Fruit and Veggie Mashups, Carroty Chop, 3.17 Ounce, 4-Count (Pack of 6) is on sale for $23.94.  Save 25% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

san franAs low as  $22.10-$24.70 ($0.28-$0.31/cup)  San Francisco Bay Coffee, Fog Chaser, 80 OneCup Single Serve Cups are on sale for $26 (they’re biodegradable and fairly traded). Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order.

runa

As low as $13.36-$15.72   Runa Amazon Guayusa Spice Tea, Organic Cinnamon – Lemongrass, 1 Pound is on sale for $18.49. Save 15% when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order. 

tpAs low as $18.65-$21.94 ($0.39-$0.46/roll)  Cottonelle Clean Care Toilet Paper, Double Roll, 24 Count (Pack of 2) are on sale for $23.94  Save $2 when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order. 

tom sauce

As low as  $17.73-$20.86 ($1.48-$1.74/can)  Natural Value Organic Tomato Sauce, 15 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12) are on sale for $27.81. Save 25%  when you clip the coupon below the product description (you must be logged in).  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save. Get FREE Shipping with qualifying order. 

bib

Just $8.61 each  aden + anais 2 Pack Muslin Burpy Bib, Jungle Jam are on sale for $17.21  

 

Robeez

As low as $9.99   Select varieties and sizes are on sale — Check out the whole line.  Robeez I Heart Dots Crib Shoe (Infant/Toddler) is on sale for $9.99 (shown above). 
robeez2Robeez Gracie GY First Walker (Infant/Toddler)  on sale for $11.32

robeez4Robeez Camden First Walker (Infant/Toddler) on sale for $11.32

new_crayon

Today is the last day to get 25% Off Learning Toys at Abe’s Market  

papaya

60% Off Tropical Traditions Atchara – organic fermented Papaya in raw coconut water vinegar

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33% Off  Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Flour until Thursday, September 18th only!

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Buy 1, Get 1 FREE Tropical Traditions Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Scented Bar Soaps only until Sunday, September 21st 

pearl

Get some great September Savings at Bulk Herb Store  

This week’s best coupons:

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Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

15 Strategies for Eating Well & Avoiding Take-Out During Busy Seasons

15 Strategies for Eating Well & Avoiding Take-Out During Busy Seasons

I think I’ve finally learned how to keep serving our family real, whole foods, even when life is busy and I don’t feel like I have time to cook properly. 

Every once in a while, when we have one of those days (you know the ones), my sweet husband will offer that we should order take-out. Tempting as it is some days, I’ve found myself telling him “No, it’s all right. I can pull something together just as fast, and much cheaper.”

For example, last week, during the hectic launch day of our Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale (which we’re organizers of), I still served up a delicious lamb and vegetable stew that everyone loved. After lunch, I just dumped ingredients in my crockpot — potatoes, carrots, onions, beans, frozen broth, frozen chopped lamb, frozen tomato puree. I added seasonings just before I turned it off and that was it!

Even on nights when I didn’t start earlier in the day, I can usually get food prepared and on the table in 30 minutes or less, with much less fuss or effort than it’s taken me in years past. 

Why don’t last minute, unplanned dinners stress me out anymore? 

Mostly, I’ve gotten simpler. I don’t expect myself to create gourmet meals every night.

I’m OK with serving up the basics, so long as they’re wholesome foods and they still taste good. Dinner doesn’t have to be an ordeal (nor does any other meal of the day). 

Lowering my expectations was key. I can serve a homemade soup with some bread, breakfast for dinner, or the easiest type of dinner combo – chicken, rice, broccoli, done. 

This isn’t to say that I don’t prefer to serve more robust meals at times. This post is about handling those BUSY seasons in particular (although I think the tips still apply to average days and week as well).

How I shop, plan, stock my kitchen, set aside extras, and a number of other small but effective things really do make all the difference. When I get overwhelmed by a full-to-overflowing schedule or a season with heavier demands than usual, I rely on these strategies to get us through, with my sanity still intact, and without sacrificing our nutrition too badly.

tortilla pizza

Here are 15 things I do to simplify my time in the kitchen and decrease our need for convenience foods: 

1. Create a list for yourself of easy, favorite meals that you can go to when necessary.

This list helps to form the basis of the ingredients that I buy on a regular basis (see #2). These are recipes or meals that we enjoy eating well enough (they might not be our 5-star favorites, but they don’t draw complaints, either). They’re things that I could practically cook blind-folded and so they come together faster and with less effort on my part. 

What are some of mine? Taco salad, beef or lamb stew, hamburger patties or meatballs with a grain side and a sautéed veggie, orange sesame crockpot chicken over rice with steamed broccoli, salmon patties with baked potatoes and a green salad, to name a few. 

2. Stick with the same basic ingredients.

When you buy too many different ingredients, you often a) wind up wasting food, b) spend money on foods your family doesn’t like as much, c) take more time to plan out your grocery shopping and menus. 

By keeping the list of foods that you buy on a regular basis just a bit more simple and limited, it really helps to cut down your time because you know what you have in the house and you know what you can make with it. 

3. And then always keep those pantry, freezer and fridge basics on hand.

This goes along with limiting your shopping list to a more standard set of ingredients. Once you know the meals your family regularly eats, and the ingredients you need to make those happen, you can plan to keep your pantry, freezer and fridge stocked with those basics. 

4. Don’t expect yourself to make everything.

I love cooking from scratch but I certainly don’t have time to make everything. And by everything I mean, I don’t make mustard or ketchup, or sour cream, or tortillas, or sauerkraut, or a whole bunch of items like that. Instead, I find natural brands that use a short, simple list of pronouncable ingredients (and make sure they don’t include any no-no ingredients I really want to avoid).

I do still make salad dressings and spice mixes, I prefer to make mayo because I dislike the ingredients in store bought, and I make my own yogurt and kefir most of the time because the cost differences are huge. I’ve figured that making these particular items is doable for me and they’re important to me, so I prioritize them over making a hundred other things. But don’t be a from-scratch martyr. You don’t have to make everything! 

5. Find some good semi-convenience (but still real food) options.

So here’s a practical example of something I don’t make myself. I love baking bread, and I used to do it on a regular basis. We’re currently in a really busy season and I simply don’t have time, but I didn’t want to compromise on something poor quality.

We’ve got a mix of gluten-free and wheat-eaters in our home, so I found a fantastic brand of organic, gluten-free bread (Silver Hills) with ingredients I’m pretty happy with, as well as an organic, sprouted whole wheat bread (Dave’s Killer Bread) that my husband loves. I can buy both brands at Costco for a much better price than at a local grocery store. I stock up on 4-6 loaves of each type, every time I go to the store (about once a month because it’s a bit of a drive for me), which saves me time.

6. Do a large grocery shop at the beginning of the month.

This has been one of the changes that has revolutionized both our grocery budget and the ease with which I make food over the past 3-4 months. I was frustrated shopping at the local chain grocery stores, since I simply wasn’t getting great prices and couldn’t buy many bulk sized items.

I decided to add in one day per month where I take an entire afternoon to pick up a large co-op order (bulk natural foods) as well as do a big Costco run, or sometimes go to a natural meat shop out in the country. Between these places, I’m able to stock us up for the month on all our major freezer and pantry foods, as well as some things that will keep in the fridge all month (butter, cheese, condiments, etc.). 

Then the rest of the month, I do a weekly run to a farm just a few minutes away for our milk and eggs, and about once every 10-14 days, I zip out for fresh produce (except that right now it’s summer and we’re eating out of the garden a lot). I have cut down on my shopping time immensely, and our home is now full of a good supply of bulk foods that I got for much better prices per unit. 

 

A free printable grocery checklist for real foodies!

7. Keep a running grocery list. 

Having a pre-printed checklist on my fridge or a cork board takes the time and thinking out of grocery list planning

A couple years ago, I was trying to find a checklist that really suited a whole foods, from-scratch diet and I just couldn’t find one, so I made one instead. This checklist comes as part of the printable pages in my popular eBooks, Plan It, Don’t Panic, but today I’m making it available to you for free!

Download my grocery checklist HERE. 

8. Keep pre-cooked meat and beans in your freezer. 

What’s the worst thing to realize when it’s already 4:30 or 5:00 and you haven’t planned dinner? That all your meat is frozen. I’ve been there too many times.  But what if the meat in your freezer was already pre-cooked, in smaller portions, and therefore could be thawed and used that much more easily?

If I’ve got frozen, cooked ground beef I know that I can use it to make taco salad or fancy nachos, add to a soup, to pizzas, to spaghetti sauce, etc. If I have frozen, cooked and chopped chicken thighs or breast, that can be added to a soup, big meal salad, quesadilla, pasta, casserole, or maybe a quiche. It works with beans, too.

9. Have “easy” meats on hand.

This is my other way of getting around not having thawed out a whole chicken or a roast or something more substantial earlier in the day. Meats like sausages or sandwich meat are so much faster to thaw and use.

I have done my due diligence over the years to locate good sources of nitrate-free and clean fed sources of sausages, deli meats, bacon, etc. Canned salmon is also really quick and handy. Though we don’t eat these more than once or twice per week, they are so helpful when I just need to pull something yummy together quickly. 

10. When you’re making something useful, make extra.

If I’m going to bake potatoes, I don’t just bake enough for that meal. I usually bake at least twice as many as I think I need. Already-baked potatoes make for the easiest, fastest home fries (hashbrowns) the next morning, can be added to a soup in a jiffy, can be sliced and form the bottom of a Spanish tortilla, or reheated to create some sort of fancy baked potato lunch with whatever toppings can be found in the fridge. 

I do the same with rice, quinoa, beans, shredded cheese — anything that will only add just a teensy bit more effort to make more of, but that can be frozen into the right portion size to help me pull together a meal quickly on a different day. 

simple dinner

11. Don’t feel guilty about serving random “non-meal” meals.

To be honest, who cares if dinner occasionally ends up being slices of cucumbers, crackers spread with soft goat cheese, a bowl of raisins and nuts, and a glass of milk for everyone? Or what about whipping up a pan of scrambled eggs to eat with sourdough toast and butter and a pickle? 

It’s still real food. It’s still nutritious. Bellies are being filled.

For lunches, we often do what’s known in our home as a “nibble plate”. This is when mom raids the fridge and pantry, pulls out every sort of interesting looking finger-type food she can find, and sets it all up on a couple of big plates and puts them in the middle of the table. In our home they usually have things like: cheese, rolled deli meats or sliced European sausage, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, any sort of raw veggie slices, fresh fruit, crackers (we like nut-based crackers or things like sourdough Ryvita), bread and butter, an assortment of whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit we have on hand, and things like that. 

12. Use your crockpot. A lot.

I wish I remembered to use my crockpot even more often, because it really is that wonderful. These days, there is no excuse for not making great use of your crock. It should hardly ever leave your counter.

There are recipes for practically anything you can think of, whether for breakfast, dinner, or even dessert, and other uses you might not have even thought of

13. Fill up your freezer.

But I’m not talking about freezer cooking in the conventional sense, like Once a Month freezer cooking. No siree.

Instead, I make larger amounts of what I’m already making. So I’ll double up a casserole or pasta dish, triple a muffin batch, cook 3 lbs of ground beef  instead of 1, make a really large batch of spaghetti or pizza sauce, or stir up a giant pot of soup. Then I freeze the extras.

Since I was already cooking, it’s hardly any extra hassle to make a bigger batch. If it takes me 45 minutes to make a pot of soup, and an extra 5-10 minutes to chop more veggies to triple that soup, I’d say getting three meals of soup out of 55 minutes is a whole lot better than 1 meal out of 45, wouldn’t you? Plus, I only clean the dishes once (this might be the best reason of all, come to think of it). 

14. Eat breakfast or sandwiches or smoothies for dinner.

Why not? Who says dinner has to be meat, starch and a side?

If you’d enjoy it for breakfast or lunch, why not dinner? Be a rebel. I dare you. 

15. Don’t rely so heavily on Pinterest or blogs for recipes. 

This might sound funny coming from a blogger, but truthfully, blogs are not the primary place I find recipes (although I have found many amazing recipes through blogs). I also pin a lot of recipes on Pinterest, but they’re more for my interest and later reference, as a reminder of something I want to try one day, or a fun place to go when I’m really stuck and needing inspiration.

Instead, I recommend that you choose a few cookbooks that really suit your style of cooking and your dietary needs, and rely more heavily on them. This works with paperback cookbooks (of which I have about 15, although there are probably 3-5 that I use far more frequently than the others), and also with eBooks. I have a good selection of ebooks, but as I go through them and try out some of the recipes, I pick the ones that work best for me and stick mostly with those books. 

Here’s the thing- the recipes on Pinterest may look enticing, they may even look easy. But constantly trying out new recipes is exhausting. You’re using them from a variety of different blogs, different cooking styles, they may require you to do different-than-usual ingredients. All you’re doing is adding to your own work. What you want are recipes that use ingredients you’re regularly buying, from a cookbook author you get to know and like, written in a familiar style and format. This is how you get winning recipes that work for your family and that take less time and effort to make.  

How do you make sure that your family still eats well during busy times? Share your tips with us! 

Disclosure: As organizers of this sale (and as an author, since my own ebook Clean & Simple is in the bundle), our family benefits from each purchase that goes through Keeper of the Home. In fact, this is a primary way that our family earns an income as entrepreneurs, and we value your support, so thank you! It’s our privilege to put these bundles together and to make sure that they are of the absolute highest quality, and we genuinely hope that they are a blessing to your family’s health journey.  

Top image by rpavich

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Can Children Still Run Free in 2014 @ The Art of Simple  (similar in theme to my post this week, Are We Hurting or Helping Our Kids With Overprotective Helicopter Parenting?)

To the Wife Trying to Get Her Husband to Eat Real Food @ Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Why Rest Takes Courage @ (in)courage

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Recipe @ Mommypotamus

5 Ways to Say No @ Live Well Spend Less

Carmelized Green Beans @ How Does She? 

Blueberry Mini Muffins with Lemon Coconut Frosting (gluten free, dairy free) @ Made to Glow 

#WorldWideOx Packing List: Kid Edition @ The Art of Simple Travel (aka what you might bring for your kids if you want to travel the world — our kids traveled with a very similar amount of stuff for our Big Trip)

Want to see what’s been arriving in my mail lately?

NOTE: This sale is now over. We’ll be doing it again next year, hopefully! :) 

I’m a sucker for getting packages in the mail. And this week has been especially fun, as my bonus offers from the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle started showing up at my door (or my MIL’s door down in WA – I’m a Canadian and that’s how I get around shipping costs sometimes). 

There are so many excellent bonuses this time around, and I thought you might like to see what they are! 

orawellness text

I’m excited to be trying the OraWellness Healthy Mouth Blend out. I often have sensitive gums, and we’ve been trying to heal up some cavities, and I’m really looking for anything we can do to bolster our approach to holistic dental care.

You can either brush with just a few drops of the blend, put it on your floss, add it to your regular toothpaste, or use it with a bit of water as mouth wash. So far, I like a couple drops on top of my usual Earthpaste toothpaste. 

The blend is usually $22.97, but you only pay the $3.95 shipping (and the special toothbrushes don’t come with it, but you can use any brushes you like). 

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Ok, so this one didn’t come in the mail. But it did show up right on my computer. :) 

I wrote earlier this week about how I’m using short but effective workouts to add exercise into my busy days. The Mini Yoga Breaks and 3 Pose Shorts from Stay At Home Yoga will fit in great when I don’t have time for a full length workout. 

I love that this one is a full 4 months. That’s enough time to really explore and use the membership and decide if it’s something that I’d like to use long term or not. 

Trilight-health text

I haven’t placed my order yet, since I’m still trying to decide what I want from TriLight Health. Just a few weeks back I ordered their Worm Out in the largest size (we’re dealing with parasites – lovely), plus the small bottle of Lympha Rub (which goes farther than you would think). 

Right now I’m leaning towards getting a bottle of Scout Out, a natural antibiotic formula for colds, flus, earaches — whatever! I just need to decide if I want to get the small bottle (same size as the Lung Tonic in this picture) for free, or put $15 towards the next size up. 

Shipping will be $4.99 (or free if I get the bigger bottle). 

two straws text

I put our $15 store credit at Strawesome towards 5 glass straws — I found 3 of these black smoothie straws (but shorter – kid sized) in the clearance section, then I also got 2 of the larger smoothie straws for my husband and I. It was $27.90 for the 5 straws then $6.44 for shipping, but after my $15 store credit I only paid $19.34. 

I’m really happy with it because we’ve had a couple of these straws before and love them and I wanted to have enough for the whole family. 

yogurt starter text

For my free Cultures for Health starter (value $12.99), I choose the Filmjolk Yogurt Starter (I could have picked any of the yogurt or sourdough starters). The reason I went with this one is that you can make it with room temperature milk, and gosh, I am forever accidentally boiling my milk over and making a mess of my stove. I can’t wait to try this, and I’m really eager to get back to my usual yogurt and kefir making, mostly because it saves me so much money and I prefer to know exactly what goes into my family’s food. 

Then, since I was already paying the $3.99 shipping, I also got a package of Milk Kefir Grains. Since we moved back from our travels, I have not for the life of me been able to source out kefir grains locally, and I miss it so much! 

amber bracelets text

I’m still waiting for this one to arrive, but I actually chose the adult bracelet for myself from Sweetbottoms Baby. I know there are so many great benefits for kids, but they also apply to adults, like reducing chronic inflammation, reducing pain, boosting energy, enhancing the immune system. I’m eager to give it a try! All I paid for this was the $5 shipping. 

tradisehn text

As soon as bundle week ends and our family isn’t so busy with all the work that accompanies running these huge sales, I’ll get back to my meal planning and try out my 3-month Tradishen membership

Kate (the creator of the site) tells me that it’s particularly great for families with lots of allergies or special dietary needs to work around, which I appreciate, since 3 of us are currently eating grain or gluten free. 

homegrown text

This will be a fun one to receive. It’s a beautiful gift package from Homegrown Collective with Dead Sea Salt, lavender and olive oil salt scrub, plus a luffa. Sounds heavenly. Just right for a “mom only” in-house spa treatment. :)  

joyful giraffe text

I said earlier this week that I was going to use my $15 at The Joyful Giraffe for Squooshi smoothie pouches for lunches, BUT it looks like a bunch of other customers already beat me to it (hmm, maybe I should keep my mouth closed until I’ve already ordered what I want).

So, I looked around a little more today and found this really fun looking game that I know my kids will love. They’re wooden and made in America, and there seem to be an infinite number of ways to arrange and stack them (we’re all about creative toys in our home). I’m going to order it now with my $15 off (it’s $24.99) and then set it aside for a wonderful Christmas gift. 

made on gift text

And lastly, a package I’m always grateful to open from MadeOn. Two lip balms (one their popular peppermint scented, the other a shimmery Vanilla Dust which I love and am so happy to get a new tube of since my other is nearly gone). Plus, a travel size of their hard lotion bars. These things work. I use them for my hands, because I get eczema in seasons of stress or tiredness. I won’t use anything else anymore. They rock. 

Every last one of these bonus offers is YOURS when you buy the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

There are $200 worth of freebies here, all included in the $29.97 price tag (you just pay the shipping, as I mentioned for some of them).

Even better — along with these freebies you get the entire package of eBooks and eCourse resources, valued at $1030 (one of which is an Essential Oils ecourse worth $95 – that alone is 3x the bundle cost)!

I highly recommend you check it out, and do it right away. It’s available for just a couple more days, until Monday, Sept.15th at 11:59pm

A special webinar for my readers only

I’m offering my meal planning ebooks PLUS access to a special webinar where I’ll be teaching you how to easily and affordably put more real food on your family’s table.

It’s free and it will include my very best tips with a lot of detailed information, but it’s only for those who buy a bundle – see the details HERE

Want to get these fantastic bonuses for yourself? Good – because I’m giving a bundle away! 

Giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks for entering! 

It’s not fair to tempt you with these all these goodies, without offering you a chance to get one. 

So, here’s what we’re going to do: 

  1. To get entered, simply leave a comment on this post and tell me which bonus and which eBook or eCourse (see them all HERE) you most want to get. You have to tell me BOTH things to get entered, OK? :) 
  2. This is a flash giveaway, so it’s only open for a short period of time. We’ll close comments and choose a winner by 6 pm EST Saturday, Sept.13 (that would be tonight). If you are that winner, you’ll hear from us by Saturday night. 
  3. I don’t want you to not get a bundle just because you’re waiting to see if you win. Go ahead, buy your bundle now AND enter the contest. If you happen to win, I will personally refund what you paid for the bundle, and then you’ll have two. One for you, one to give to a friend. Good deal? 

Have a fabulous weekend and don’t forget to go get your bundle and enter to win!

Are We Hurting or Helping Our Kids With Overprotective Helicopter Parenting?

Are We Hurting or Helping Our Kids With Overprotective Helicopter Parenting?

I remember the summer I was nine.

Living in Maple Ridge, a small suburb of Vancouver, Canada, I had the utmost freedom. My bicycle took me everywhere.

It whisked me away to imaginary play as a princess in the woods, or to build forts in a friend’s backyard, or a water fight at the school playground, or sometimes just to the corner store eight blocks from my house in search of baseball cards and sour soother candies.

There was a great sense of empowerment. Oh sure, I had rules. No going in a stranger’s house, never take a ride from someone you don’t know, tell my parents where I was going, be back in time for dinner.

But within these simple confines, I made up my days with all sorts of fanciful activity, imagination, creativity, exercise, and exploration. It was magnificent.

Today’s kids aren’t so lucky.

In this hyper vigilant society, where we super-sanitize and anti-bacterialize everything to death, we won’t let our kids ride their bikes solo to the park down the street, let alone to the corner store or a friend’s house ten minutes away.

We obsess over watching or being near them every second of every day, to the ridiculous level of neighbors calling social services on one another because they saw the children playing unattended in the front yard or moms being arrested because they let their kid walk to the park.

Danger, it seems, is lurking everywhere and well, we like to play it safe. Parents today seem to be trying too hard. They want so desperately to protect their kids from any remotely conceivable threat of peril that they wind up insulating and even hovering over them, helicopter style.

But let’s go back for a moment to my idyllic childhood liberties…  did you grow up with those same sorts of freedoms?

I’m willing to bet that most of us who grew up in the 70′s or 80′s walked to and from school by ourselves or with siblings, rode our bikes around town (or at least our neighborhood), visited friends on our own, explored local woods or streams, babysat or held a job at a young age, and spent our allowance at the convenience store on things our moms wouldn’t have said yes to had they been present. 

Which, of course, leads us to the million dollar question:

Should kids today be allowed the freedom to play and explore without a parent watching them at all times? 

I would tend to say yes. 

I haven’t always felt this way. At times, the struggle to give in to the societal norms, or to allow anxiety to pervade my thoughts, has made me grasp too tightly onto my kids.

My husband finds it easier to let go. As a young boy, he remembers playing for hours behind their house, climbing tall trees (which apparently need warning labels these days), and pulling generally reckless boy stunts. As a young teen, he walked or rode bikes around town with his friends once his homeschool work was finished for the day.

Today, although fiercely protective of our kids when he thinks there is genuine danger (for example, he had them in nearly a death grip when we visited the Grand Canyon and discovered half of the trails had no guardrail of any sort!), he also frequently reminds me to loosen the reigns. 

I get nervous when they want to shimmy up the ancient plum trees in our backyard. Or scramble up steep rock faces when we go out hiking. Or balance on precariously high points on a playground. But he doesn’t. He tells me how thankful he is that his mom let him explore and find his own limits as a kid, and that she didn’t hover over him when it came to his play. 

Thanks in part to his encouragement, I’ve been easing up a little. I’m more willing to let kids be kids, and trust that these childhood adventures and freedoms are ultimately teaching them crucial lessons in common sense, their physical limitations, problem solving and responsibility. 

Are we hurting or helping our kids with overprotective helicopter parenting?

Here are some things that we allow: 

  • Our 9 1/2 year old can ride her bike within a perimeter of a few streets (none of which are busy) for 15-20 minutes before checking in. She’s well aware of the safety rules regarding going in someone’s home or vehicle. 
  • When she was 7, we lived on a busy street that wasn’t safe for biking, but let her walk alone to get the mail or to the 2nd fire hydrant (2-3 minute walk) before turning around. 
  • Our current 5 and 7 year olds can play by themselves in our front and back yard, but can’t go onto the road without us nearby. We live in a regular neighborhood in a city of 80,000. 
  • The 2 1/2 year old can play outside in the back yard without us, if one of his siblings is with him. If they come in, so does he. 
  • We stay to watch our 5 year old at her gymnastics class, but drop the 9 year old off and pick her up after. We’ll do the same with the 7 year old. 
  • The 7 and 9 year old can play in neighbor’s yards if we can see them from our house, but not in the back yards or inside any homes. The 5 year old can invite friends to play in our yard, but we don’t directly supervise, just keep a window open to hear what’s happening and check in occasionally. 
  • While living in Argentina when Abbie was 8, she could walk across the street to the corner store to buy veggies or eggs for me. We don’t have any stores near us right now, but if we’re out, she’s allowed to go into a store without us and make a purchase on her own. 

The 9 year old is begging us for even greater freedoms, like riding her bike 10 minutes away to the local bike park or a corner store. We’re not quite there yet, but I’ve thought a lot about the fact that at nine, I roamed all over town by myself and at twelve, I had a regular babysitting job every morning and afternoon for two younger boys. What makes my childhood so different from hers? 

To some, what I’ve just listed might seem crazy or reckless even. Others may have similar ways of doing things or give their kids even far more freedom. It’s very hard to say what the “right” decisions should be, although I’m thinking it comes down to a lot of things like where you live, the maturity of each specific child, and so forth. 

But still… there’s a bigger picture here. Are we right in wanting to be uber-protective to the point of sheltering them, or should our kids be given a whole lot more free range?

What are free-range kids?

This week I’ve been reading Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry). It’s a fascinating (and entertaining) read, one that I was first introduced to in this post at The Art of Simple. The comments on that post surprised me and opened my eyes, but they got me thinking long and hard, and I’ve wanted to read this book ever since. 

I honestly just want to share the entire book with you, but I’ll restrain myself by giving you one excerpt (bold mine): 

“Think of how, thanks to fear, we restrict so many other aspects of our children’s lives. They’re not allowed to walk alone (cars!), explore (perverts!), or play in the park (those perverts again) or in the woods (ticks!) or in trees (gravity!) or in water (drowning!) or in dirt (dirt!). It’s not your imagination: childhood really has changed. Forty years ago, the majority of U.S. children walked or biked to school. Today, about 10 percent do. Meantime, 70 percent of today’s moms say they played outside as kids. But only 31 percent of their kids do. The children have been sucked off America’s lawns like yard trimmings. 

Where did all this fear come from? Take your pick: The fact that we’re all working so hard that we don’t know our neighbors. The fact that the marketplace is brimming with products to keep our kids ‘safe’ from things we never used to worry about — like shopping cart liners to protect kids from germs.

Then there’s the way our brains cling to scary thoughts (girls murdered on a country road) but not mundane ones (all the girls who walk home from school without getting murdered). That’s just basic psychology….

Fear, fear, fear. We’re always expected to be thinking about fear…. Everyone is exhorting us to watch out, take care, and plan for the very worst-case scenario. Which puts a damper on things, to say the least.”  Taken from Chapter 1 of Free-Range Kids

I spent a bit of time perusing the author’s website, and I stumbled on a page of crime statistics, which emphatically makes the point that, despite the way our fears are on the upswing, crime all over the board is actually DOWN.

Read them for yourself. I’ll admit, I was surprised, but I can’t argue with the facts. 

Which begs the question,

What do you think about allowing children to be “free-range”? And is today’s world really less safe than the one we grew up in? 

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 
Top image by the jbird. Second image by Martin Terber.