Category Archives: Joshua

P365 – Day 121 (Menu Planning)

I’m NOT an organized person. I love lists and charts but I rarely follow them. I am more likely to finish a job, then make a list so I check everything off. Terrible.

Now, however, Tim and I are trying to get our finances in order. We have a budget – this multi-faceted Excel spreadsheet that tracks EVERYTHING – and new priorities (actually living on what we make – revolutionary, I know). We are currently going on our second month of Budget Life. It’s been interesting to be so careful and responsible with our money. Do people really live this way all the time??

joshua hides

Joshua can’t believe we’re actually sticking to a budget!

I am tremendously thankful for our friends, Colin and Julee, who have helped us think, discuss, plan and get going on a real, workable budget. Colin sent me a copy of his amazing Excel spreadsheet Budget Wonder and I’ve been tweaking and adjusting it to fit our family ever since. If only adding income were as easy as just changing the numbers on my worksheet. Ah well, I tried.

I have many friends who regularly plan out their meals. Several of them even post them on their blog. Yikes! That’s crossing the line into Super Organized. Still, even while cringing, I have to admit I think meal planning is a great idea. I love the concept of having meals planned out and the ingredients in the house, ready to go. I would love to know what we’re going to eat before 5 pm in the day. I’m sure planning out meals could also help stretch our budget.

So, I decided to try it. I was determined to get some sort of a plan together by the end of the weekend. I can’t believe I never figured this out when Tina lived near by. She’s very organized in this area and could have tutored me. Tina, time to come home and help me!! Without you, I was stuck looking through 6 years of back issues of Taste of Home.


I took notes (chicken, beef, breakfast, lunch, sides, bread, etc) and included the year and page number of the magazine reference. Next I went through and photo copied the recipes. I figured that would be easier than writing it down by hand or trying to keep the magazines open to the right page. With Joshua drooling over my shoulder, I managed to come up with a nice collection of recipes. I think I ended up with something closer to two weeks than one. All the better!

Another thing I did this weekend, in my quest for Organization (with a capital O), was make up grocery lists for the major stores I frequent. A friend told me about a nice grocery list available in Word on Donna Young’s website. I used the basic form as my starting point and modified it to fit our shopping needs.

I created one for Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, the produce store nearby, and two of the grocery stores where I mainly shop. It took me a little while but I think it is going to be an excellent resource in my meal planning (and ordinary life). I love having everything separated out as I definitely shop at different stores for different things (even within the grocery world). Now I can have the lists in a central area and people can check off what they need as they think of it. Instead of the more typical scenario where I’m standing in the middle of the grocery aisle, starring blankly at canned goods, while frantically trying to remember what it was we so desperately needed. Or trying to track down that little slip of paper that has my list on it.

I went through all of the recipes, highlighted the titles (to make them easier to find on the page), and marked the appropriate grocery list. This morning the kids and I went to one of the grocery stores (the nearby one where I do most of my shopping). This evening, after a Y workout, I went to the produce store and stocked up on fruits and veggies. Now I just have a few things to get at Costco and Trader Joe’s and I’m set (hopefully for longer than a week). I should (emphasis on should) have enough ingredients in the house to make healthy, varied meals (including some lunch and breakfast ideas).

joshua studies my recipes

After dinner I realized loose sheets of paper weren’t an effective way of keeping the recipes together – too easy for things to get lost, ripped, or spilled upon. I pulled out some page protectors and put all of my recipe copies behind plastic. Perfect! I found a little folder that had 3 ring binder tabs. I put the plastic protected recipe pages into the notebook. Now I have all the recipes for the week (or two) located in one spot. The kids can all help me with the meal preparation if they have time.

I’m excited to see how my new plan/organization attempt plays out. We tried several of the new recipes today. The tropical tuna melt we had for lunch was a big hit (tuna on English muffins topped with a bit of pineapple and cheese, then toasted in the oven). I wasn’t crazy about the hash brown beef pie for dinner but the cornbread muffins were delicious and everyone ate up the casserole (even with the “hearty” addition of vegetables in the mix).

All for now or I will definitely be sleep blogging here. I’ll post some more blogs along the way, to update and share how the meals are turning out. I’d LOVE to hear tips on how you plan meals for your family. If you have any good ideas, please leave a comment! If I am missing something significant, let me know!


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P365 – Day 120 (Boys Will Be Boys)

Today Joshua and David engaged in a rousing game of paddle ball. I don’t know really what to call it. They used the paddles from the tether ball game and hit a plastic ball back and forth. It looked like great fun.


They were having such a great time (evidenced by the loud laughter and general ruckus coming from the back yard) that I had to go out and take some pictures. I quickly realized something was a bit amiss in their game and I took a closer look at the ball.

princess ball

Yes, that’s right. The ball in play was none other than Sarah’s sweet Princess Ball. This leads me to ask several questions:

1. Do the boys have some secret aggression toward Cinderella and her comrades?
2. Were the rest of the balls buried in the depths of the garage and this was the first one they could find?
3. Are they mad at Sarah and trying to take it out on her ball?
4. Is part of the fun seeing how long they can slam the ball before it pops?

boys playing

When I started snapping pictures and zooming in on the ball, Joshua quickly chimed in with several amusing blog titles to accompany the pictures.


You know you have been blogging a little too long (or obsessively) when you take a picture and your children start writing the blog for you.


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P365 – Day 115 (Middle School)

Joshua’s Middle School Small Group came to our house this evening. It was quite an honor to be chosen as the host for the night. The standards were high. The e-mail from one of the leaders said,

All we ask from our hosts is:

1) A godly example of a Christian home
2) A place to meet
3) A snack

I imagine #1 was important to the leaders but not something the 7th graders particularly care about (or even notice). #2 was high on the list for both leaders and the students. #3, however, was the real killer. Gotta have a snack (or more than one if possible).

We’re talking about teenagers. Boy teenagers. The kind that come through, eat all the snacks in the pantry and then wonder how soon dinner will be served.

I bought a large bag of chips. There was a half cup of crumbs left by the end. Joshua made a delicious looking pan of brownies. The younger children were so excited. They just knew there would be extras left over and they could all have a snack before bed.

Ha! What silly thoughts! As if nine 7th graders and two youth workers would walk away from the house while there were still brownies left in the pan. I think it’s pretty much part of the contract they sign going in to middle school.

“I, Joshua, do solemnly promise to eat all the food that is placed before me as well as the food placed in front of my neighbor (if he is so foolish to close his eyes during prayer time).”

The boys were loud and boisterous although Joshua says they were surprisingly subdued this evening (ah, a matter of perspective perhaps). I put on headphones and drowned out the noisy sound of chip crunching and brownie slurping.

I did manage to get a picture or two before the horde departed.

middle school

It’s wonderful to have a church family and a group of adult Christians who care about your children and wish to see them grow in their walk with the Lord. The snacks are just a perk!


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P365 – Day 107 (The Rock)

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Proverbs 18:1-3

Several months ago there was a serious wind storm that knocked down large pieces of our backyard fence. Tim and the boys managed to fix the portions facing our right hand neighbor. We won’t go into great detail on the quality of their work except to say, it’s a good thing the neighbor’s dog weighs about 20 pounds and doesn’t actively want to come into our yard. Hopefully no one will sneeze too close to those fence sections and they will stay in place.


Unfortunately the far back fence piece wasn’t going to come together that easily. The post was broken and the entire concrete block needed replacing. Have I ever mentioned that we are more the indoor, computer type people than the get outside and work with your hands folk?? I’m not excusing it, just stating a fact.

concrete block

This week Tim decided it was time to start working outside. He’s so grateful not to be on the property digging up Oregon Grape, that anything else looks easy by comparison. He went outside on Tuesday to start digging up that pesky concrete block. David and Daniel helped him for a little bit. Tim’s allergies (nasty this time of year) drove him inside just as Joshua was coming out to join the work team. He and Daniel continued to dig away at that cement block while the rest of played inside. Okay, I was making dinner, hardly lazing around, but I can’t speak for the rest of the group. :)

After a little bit (far longer, frankly, than I thought they would last), the boys rushed in saying they had gotten the block out!! We were all stunned. Tim hurried out (camera in hand) to check on their handiwork. Yes, indeed, it was true. They had completed the job and removed the concrete slab.

carrying the offense block

Awesome job, boys! You are two hard workers! Since we continue to study Proverbs in school devotional time, I couldn’t help but think of several verses in Proverbs 10 (notice the many references to sons and fathers).

The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother. (v1)

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. (v4-5)

The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil. The righteous will never be uprooted but the wicked will not remain in the land. (v29-30)

silly boys

These two sons brought joy to their father. They were diligent (and were likewise rewarded). Unlike the cement block that they uprooted, their righteousness will remain blessed in the land. How grateful we are that our strength and foundation is in the Lord, a rock that cannot be moved.

dinnger hole

Now to go on and finish the fence…but that’s for another day.


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P365 – Day 96 (MOGL)

We have at our house a MOGL – it’s not a dreaded disease, a new cookbook, or a large bump on a ski slope. No, it’s a Mower Of Great Laziness! We’ve had this visitor here before. Last year the lawnmower would run for a minute or two before shutting off. You basically had time to get around the yard once. At that point you were pretty much forced to sit on the porch swing with your book, waiting until the mower was ‘rested’ enough to continue. A half an hour mowing job could be parlayed into a whole day’s work (with time for smoothie breaks).

the boys

Here David and Joshua check out the dandelion collection.

To my great joy, and Tim’s disgust, a visiting elf (no doubt kin to the shoemakers crew) came by while we were on vacation and had our mower repaired. Ah, the lawnmower was back in business. No more lazying around. The front AND back lawn could both be mowed in ONE day.

look at them dandelions

Boy, look at this beautiful dandelion garden.

It’s spring here in the beautiful northwest and we are very overdue in taking care of our lawn. We live in a lovely neighborhood. It isn’t fancy or pretentious but the homeowners do take care of their lawns. Driving up and down the street you are treated to sights of Japanese rock gardens, stunning roses, perfectly manicured lawns, and the House O’ Dandelions. Uh, that would be our place. I should say – The House O’ Dandelions and Other Weeds.


This is on the OTHER side of the backyard fence. The owner of this piece of property must use some pretty mighty Weed and Feed. Maybe it’s called Blackberry Miracle Gro.

Despite having skilled gardeners on both sides of our family, Tim and I do not have a single green thumb (or even a pinkie) between us. It wasn’t too long after we were married that we realized we were both waiting for the other person to take on the landscaping job. In my family it’s my father who is the gardener, in Tim’s family, it is his mother. It’s been almost 15 years (next month!!!) and neither one of us has risen to the task yet. I’m afraid we are doomed.

sarah points

Even Sarah can’t help but point out the intense growth of dandelions raging around the yard.

Thankfully, this fact wasn’t known by the cul-de-sac police when we rented and eventually bought this home. Of course, with three boys (and one a teenager) you would think our lawn maintenance troubles were solved. Isn’t it practically a rite of passage that a young boy mows the family’s lawn? And with five children, there is surely always someone in trouble who needs a job (oh, weeding comes to mind).

weed and feed

Don’t worry, Mom, we’ll take care of these nasty, old weeds.

Joshua went out and used up an old bag of weed and feed last week. Is that really what it’s called? It does beg the question – are you feeding the weeds? That’s what it sounds like to me. Scary. It’s certainly working in our yard. I think the dandelions are multiplying on a daily basis. Joshua decided he had better mow before spreading out any more weed killer (smart boy, that one, and useful too). This was when we discovered the tragic news.

The MOGL was back and it might, in fact, be a dead MOGL (mostly dead, we’re not sure). This does not look good for our lawn and the hope I had for some kind of damage control on the dandelion explosion. Joshua isn’t taking the news very well.

no good lawn

taking it out

I’m not sure that’s really a very effective way to get rid of the weeds, Joshua.


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