Friday, November 20, 2015

Scheduling a Toddler's Afternoon... hmm...

Well- we came up with a schedule and tried it yesterday.  We ended up going with 30 minute blocks to make it easier for us to work with him knowing times on a clock.

3-3:30 Get home, eat a snack (if he didn't just finish at school)
3:30-4 Free Play (we'll soon limit how many toys are out at a time)
4-4:30 Arts & Crafts (M,W,F) or Words (T,Th)
4:30-5 Sorting (M,W,F) or Outside Play (T,Th)
5-5:30 Music
5:30-6 Reading
6-6:30 Dinner
6:30-7 Free Play
7-7:30 Chores
7:30-8 Movie Time and Bible Time (usually 20 min and 10 min respectively)

J's bed time is 8pm, which usually means around 8:10 after songs and kisses and such.

Our plan is to print off the schedule, laminate it, and post it on the fridge.  (pg 1 is pictured below)
We've gotten a "special" magnet (as in we let him pick out his own $0.50 magnet so it was "special") for him to move as we work through the different activities.  We're also working on getting a very easy to read clock with a gentle alarm/timer to help with transition reminders.  

Here's my feedback on this idea after day 1:
1. I was flippin' tired.  I thought keeping up with him when he was mischevious and playing was tiresome, but keeping this chart going was tiresome.  I think that'll decrease as we get used to it and as J becomes more independent with some of these.  I also told hubby he'll have to tag in for some things so this mama can rest!
2. It completely cut down on discipline issues.  For real.  I was super surprised at how much less fussing we had in our day yesterday.  I am pretty sure some of it was because he had more of my undivided attention but also some of it because he was engaging in new things every so often rather than just trying to decide what to do next on his own all the time.
3. I'll likely make a new one when I see this rotation wearing thin.  One thing I already know to be true with children is that they're constantly changing as far as what they like and what works, so I know nothing is a permanent idea. 

Hubby and I agree that it seems like a really positive start and we're excited to see how it goes as we put more days in a row together with this routine.  Next week will be about 3 days like this before Thanksgiving, so it'll be another good run without being all 5 days like that.  

Anyone out there have experiences to share?  I'd love to hear ideas, suggestions, and stories!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


We just wrapped up a series of parenting classes through our church.  It was WONDERFUL!

My favorite part about the entire process is that I feel like we gained some wonderful friends in the same season of life, which is something we've been really feeling the void on.  It's hard when your friends have kids who are older (thus more flexible) or don't have kids at all (and they're thus more flexible).  We wanted friends who have kids that can play with J and can understand when we say we can't stay because nap is coming up.  They'll understand that nap shall not be breached unless there is an imminent attack from space.  Nap is important.  (Can you tell I try not to miss J's nap?!)

The series was also great for providing much needed validation on what we're doing right (even if it doesn't work all the time) as well as direction on how to change in order to improve on what we're doing.  I'm going to give you a few nuggets they taught.

1. First Time Obedience- It's a must.
Your child isn't in charge of your home.  They don't get to decide when and where to obey- you do.  Yes- they're a valued member, but they're not the adult and ultimately they're still in training on how to even make a decision, much less make a wise one.  This means no counting to three when you're expecting obedience. (Made my teacher heart happy to hear that one... I hate the counting thing.)  You're giving your child extra time to decide whether or not to obey for you.  Are you going to count to three when a car is coming and they need to stop?  No- you'll need them to obey the second you say STOP!

2. Freedom isn't a right when they're little.
Your job is to gradually release your grasp as they grow up, not to give them a ton of freedom and then struggle to hold onto them when they're teens.  Right now, we're supposed to be giving them structure, rules, guidance, and room to make mistakes and learn consequences.  When they're teens, if we've done this, it should mean we can give them more of their freedom without having to worry about what sort of decisions they'll make (as much) because they've been trained on actions/consequences/expectation.

3. You're doing it wrong.  And so is everyone else.
This made me feel so much better! Hearing where everyone was struggling let me breathe a little, like- YESSSS! No one else is perfect so I'm not terrible!  It gave me some slack to know that it's ok if I'm on a learning curve just like J is.

4. Parenting is a team effort.
We'd seen this in our own family a bunch and this just reaffirmed what we want to be- a team.  That does NOT mean we think alike or agree all the time, but rather that in front of J- we're unified.  We want him to see a parenting team that's there for him 100% but that's going to be unified in holding him accountable 100% as well.

One thing I'd never really considered until I heard it from the class was having the afternoon time (once I'm home) be more structured.  I'm currently working on a schedule for once we're home from school.  So far, here's what I've thought of for activities:
*Music / Songs (20 min)
*Reading Time (20 min)
*Art / Crafts (15 min)
*Outside (15 min)
*Chores (15 mi)
*Words (10 min)
*Sorting (10 min)
I'm thinking of having some of these for MWF and some for TTh instead of all of them each day.  We already do 20-30 min of tv at night plus Bible time, so that's pretty structured already.  Plus- he'll have already been at school all day where they'll have done most if not all of these things.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Yay for April!

Here's our next adventure!

Meet baby boy!  

I love how our announcement turned out.  Thanks to my little brother for capturing our reveal! 

Baby J is super excited about his "brover" coming soon!

Chicken Pot Pie- pretty simple and freezer friendly!

For the life of me I can't find where I got this from, so please know this is NOT mine... I just don't know who to give credit to!

Here's what whoever wrote:
·         1 cup chopped onion
·         1 cup chopped celery
·         1 cup chopped carrot
·         ⅓ cup butter or margarine
·         ½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
·         2 cups chicken broth
·         1 cup half and half or evaporated milk (I personally use skim or 1% milk and it’s still good!)
·         2 cups chicken, cooked, chopped
·         1 cup frozen peas, thawed
·         1 tsp. salt
·         ½ tsp. pepper
·         4 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
Order Ingredients

1.     Saute the first 3 ingredients in butter in a big skillet over medium heat until tender. Add flour; stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and half & half/evap. milk; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
2.     Stir in chicken, peas, salt, and pepper. Cool before pouring into pie crusts. VERY important!
1.     At this point you may freeze the filling in a labeled freezxeer safe container/bag. To prepare from frozen, read instructions below.
2.     Or you may also assemble the whole pie and freeze whole.
3.     To do that, prepare crusts. Roll them out and place the bottom crusts in the pie plates and set aside the top crusts until ready to cover. Pour filling mixture into bottom crusts and cover with top crusts. Fold edges under and crimp. Poke slits in the top (you can make a nice pattern here too!)
4.     Cover with foil, label and freeze. See below for preparation instructions
1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.     Prepare crusts. Roll them out and place the bottom crusts in the pie plates and set aside the top crusts until ready to cover. Pour filling mixture into bottom crusts and cover with top crusts. Fold edges under and crimp. Poke slits in the top (you can make a nice pattern here too!)
3.     Bake assembled pie uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
1.     Thaw filling in refrigerator. You might need to stir or mush the filling together to combine well and reincorporate. Assemble as described above and bake accordingly. OR you may bake the whole pie from frozen.
2.     To do so, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3.     Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Serves 16 (from two pies--if you're just making one pie it will just serve 8).
4.     Freezes very well separately or fully prepared in the crust. Try them both and see which way you prefer!

 Maybe Pioneer Woman?  No idea.  It was a doc on my computer we decided to finally try.  

Here's what we did differently and what we thought!

1. We baked both pies that it made fresh and just had pot pie for a million meals in a row.  It was pretty yummo so that wasn't really a problem.  It reheated just fine, which is perfect for taking lunches!
2. She said she used milk, so we used the milk we had which is Horizon's organic whole milk with DHA added.  It's pretty thick so it worked really well.
3. We used the frozen pie crusts that come 2 to a pack.  I let them thaw and then used the second one as the top.  That way we had the pan and bottom crust ready and then I could easily manipulate the other crust as a top for the pie.  
4. It didn't really specify how to cook the chicken, so we just sort of diced it and then cooked it up in butter.
5. There was ONE flavor that was just not quite right.  So far, we're thinking it was the carrots.  We used large regular carrots and next time I think we'll use the little baby carrots so that we won't get that bitter note that we felt was there.  It was really subtle but it was just not quite right. 

I do plan to freeze one the next time we make them, but I'm glad we had lots this time!  Here are a few pics I snapped on my phone as I cooked so you could see consistency along the way.  (That's always one of my things I need to see from a recipe.)

Please let me know if you make it and what you think!!