Organize Meal Time Essentials

One of the organizational systems in our house is this lazy susan on the table.
kitchen table

It helps makes keep essentials on the table so we don't have to locate them every meal time. The items we keep in the center of the table are napkins, hand sanitizer, salt and pepper, hot plates, and occasionally vitamins. I always loved this heavy wooden lazy susan but never bought one. We've used several different plates just sitting on top of the cheap plastic one we already had. It worked okay but the decorative plates I used weren't flat so you couldn't use the entire thing AND if kids turned it too quickly, everything flew off.

lazy susan centerpiece tray

I found this awesome metal tray at Wal-Mart on sale. It was inexpensive, matched the look I liked, and was bigger than the plates I'd been using so it worked great. Well, except the part where it was bigger. That meant if things got off centered on the plastic lazy susan under it, it would tip OR it would slide around on it. Easy fit to make this the perfect decorative center piece and organization system for meal time essentials: hot glue! Permanent but not total permanent if I changed my mind later.

custom lazy susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Foster Family Organization

I'm a planner for when you couldn't tell. So when we started fostering it was very difficult to keep myself calm when you just never knew how to prepare for the children coming into your home. There are a few things that I've learned that helped us me cope by keep some order and being ready for any age that may come.

2016

It may seem odd but if you know or are a foster family, you understand that each family is unique in what they can handle and who they family will be able to care for. For us, at this time, we are only taking males under Jamin's age. That helps me tons in way of preparation but still leaves a vast area from infant to mature preschoolers. I want to share some things we've learned that can still be pre-planed to keep your sanity in such a transitional life-style. 

Foster Family Organization sanity-saving things to preplan in such a transitional life-style {a peek inside a foster family's home}

Some of the things I've already shared about so you can click the images below to read more about those.

The Great-Wall Transformation

Having a simple way to keep shoes, hats, bags, and coats makes life less cluttered. This mudroom system right in our living room is so easy my 2-year-old knows exactly who's what goes where.


Living OUTSIDE You Home with toys #missionalliving

Having a fun "parking lot" set up for my kids riding toys allows for fast and easy clean up after outside playing.

DIY Dry Erase Monthly Menu

Having our dry erase menu and our "boarding" month planned out takes one more thing off my plate.

master bed boy room girls' room guest room

Having bedrooms set up with some wiggle room allows us to not have to over think when a new call for a placement comes in, no matter how late at night it is. Our room is ready to receive an infant. The guest room is ready to receive an infant through a child. Jamin and Ellie share a room currently but we have a bed ready for her if a child needs to share with Jamin and a trundle ready if it needs to be moved into the guest room.

guest closet diapers and bedding guest closet hanging bar guest closet clothing storage

Our guest closet is socked but at the same time trying to make it still feel like a child's own closet rather than a guest closet. We have diapers of almost every size, blankets, baby toys and gear, air mattress and bedding {for guest not fosters}, and a few pieces of clothing for every size from 0-3 months to size 6.




lazy susan centerpiece tray
medicine cupsmedicine log

My biological kids are all on daily allergy medicine and foster kids often come in with their own set of medications. The only kicker is you can't leave medications out to help you remember to give them because they would then be accessible for littles. Depending on the age of the child, I leave the vitamins out on the custom lazy Susan but otherwise everything goes in the locked cabinet and I leave medication cups out to help me remember. Fosters have to have all medicines recorded so we place a clipboard with the medicine log out in the open with a pen hanging on it so we can quickly record everything.

counter cleanup

Babies come with all kinds of things like bottle, formula, burp clothes, and diaper that need to be readily available. Therefore leaving your house in survival mode. That doesn't mean it has to be unattractive. I decided to wrap a formula can in cute scrapbook paper so leaving it on the counter next to the drying bottles wouldn't be a total eyesoar.

I hope this glimpse into our home was fun, helpful, or just interesting. I know I like snooping in other's homes with great detail and thinking through things with them about why they do certain things. Any questions?

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Spring Break Plans 2016

This week is spring break for a lot of families. Even though we homeschool, we try to do most holidays and breaks that the local school does since that's who we want to minister to ans well as do-life with.

as Jules is Spring Breaking

We'd fallen a bit behind compared to where I wanted to be in our school work so last week I bribed my big girls and trudged through a lot of work to get caught up, allowing us to take this week off from school paper work. Now we can focus on what I'd rather be doing: playing with friends OUTSIDE, enjoying our last days with our #spidie before he possibly heads to provisional care, spring cleaning purging, recovering after a traumatic baby injury, and doing a special unit about EASTER! That's just the stuff we plan to do at home, not including the valley stuff like working on interior construction, cleaning, partying at the building with friends, cleaning out storage units, preping for our Easter service, and normal weekly responsibilities.

El's ER visit

maybe someday I'll be able to talk about this...but not now

If I write all this down, maybe several things will happen, I'll have a better picture of what I want to accomplish and maybe I'll actually do the things on the list! #accountability

I was planning to publish a post last week about minimizing toys in your home BUT then I realized that toys had taken over again. They were everywhere. Requiring way too much of our time during our day to clean up. Having fosters who have been overly *blessed* with stuff as well as 3 birthdays and Christmas in resent months, I had not been diligent about keeping them out of the house.

Playroom Purge

new playroom shelves last year vs this year

The purge plan includes sorting items into #spidies toys to go with him, toys to be donated to the valley, toys to sell at Duck Duck Goose, and then a few toys to keep. The toys that are being kept will be open-ended toys that require imagination, are manipulative for school, and or are educational all by themselves.  

community easter egg hunt

Our Easter plans include the resurrection garden we made Friday night, helping prep for and attending the community Easter egg hunt, the holy week calendar that I'm already behind on, sinning rocks that we usually don't do until good Friday, and teachable Easter baskets that I'm doing similar this year but rather than 4-5 baskets, I'm doing one large "family basket". My hubs and I already had a date night and purchased all the things for it but they're currently in the trunk of our car in the baby pool because...where do you hide that? hehe

We also already have the stuff we plan to use to make our spring baskets for our neighbors. Now we just have to figure out how to get those items out to make the baskets for them without my kids seeing the other stuff. 

I like planning to just stay home. Its nice to be able to plan flexible trips with my family while others are in school. PLUS, lots of our neighbor friends don't have big plans either so we can play lots more with them. What are your plans for spring break?! 

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Our Family’s Monthly Menu

Menu planning can seem overwhelming and for the only super-organized types but I'm here to say it can be crazy easy and simplify life so much!

MONTHLY Summer MENU

Even before we did our decided to eat rice and beans for a month, I found out the benefits of being a "boring menu" planner. Identical weekly menu planning still has all the benefits of of monthly menu planning and still gives you enough variety to not get sick of things and enough wiggle room to allow for changes in your days from month to month.

This is what works for us. There are lots of random variables that got us to this summer menu but for starters, the weather- we want mainly light foods. While I'm going through our menu and why we do what we do, think about the routines in your life that could make a "boring menu".

Breakfast Menu Sunday-Saturday

Sunday mornings, we need something the kids will eat fast so we can get out the door to the valley. Mondays and Thursdays we can take our time so we have waffles with peanut butter and syrup and fruit. Friday we used to do "movie day" so I did cereal, no milk, so they could have it in snack cups in the living room. Even though we don't always do that anymore, we just kept it and Tuesdays as well just because...I wanted a pattern. Wednesdays we have a small lunch I wanted them to have a big breakfast sot hey wouldn't get grouchy. My hubs is off on Saturday so he uses his awesome electric griddle and makes the kids fancy pancakes- breakfast and a show!

blue breakfast menu

Lunch Menu Sunday-Saturday

Some lunches are because it was easiest to remember alliteration according to the day of the week so I don't have to think too much about it while doing school, like Mondays and Fridays. Sundays are my day off from cooking, so we go out to each after the valley. Tuesdays are when we try to get the most school work done so chicken nuggets make for an easy, no fuss lunch. Wednesdays we have Valley Group at our house so we do a lot of picking up/cleaning so hot dogs make for a simple, quick lunch. On Thursdays, one of my kids goes to Nanna's for the day and she always makes them PBnJ so we have it at home as well. And Saturdays we like to do a lot of resting so we do a snack lunch or sliders which are super easy and have to the option of having a living room picnic while watching a movie.

gray lunch menu

Dinner Menu Sunday-Saturday

I try to make a crockpot meal I can turn on when we leave for the valley so I can rest the rest of the day and have a real meal Sunday nights. Manic Mondays is when one of us is usually in town with the big girls for dance/gym so we have several easy chicken meals to choose from but sometimes we trade Wednesdays pasta meal if its easier. Tuesdays is...tacos! of course but some times its a form of "tacos": nachos, enchiladas, fajitas. Thursdays are Nanna days like I already mentioned and that means we usually go out to eat for Family Dinner. Friday nights are just a fun night to do a movie {sometimes Red Box} and pizza night: biscuit, french bread, homemade crust, frozen, occasionally take out pizza. Saturdays offer plenty of time to put together a beef meal or a new recipe.

yellow dinner menu

 

I hope this was helpful! HERE is a free printable menu if this particular one works for you. You could also make a dry erase menu board using some fun scrapbook paper and a thrifted, upcycled, painted 8x10 picture frame.

DIY Dry Erase Monthly Menu

Recipes links for some of our favorite meals:

Ranchy Chicken and Potatoes
Chicken Casserole
Tacos
Fettechini Alfrado
Shepherds Pie
Stuffed Meatballs
Chicken and Stuffing
3 Cheese Noodles
Biscuit Pizzas
Potato Soup
Mexican Chicken
Nachos
Taco Soup 
Stir Fry
Fajitas
French Bread Pizza
Baked Ziti

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The Great-Wall Transformation

The Great-Wall Transformation

If you're like me, you know what you want but can't exactly explain it to anyone else. If you're like me then you might also scour Pinterest hoping someone smarter and a few steps a head of you already did what you have in your head. Here are some of the things I loved.


fireplace-built-in-shelving-6-via-the-sweetest-digs

plank-wall-6

fireplace-built-in-shelving-2-via-the-sweetest-digs

Great-tips-on-making-the-most-of-the-little-space-you-have

DIY-mudroom-bench-640x1024

DIY Board & Batten Entryway Redo-3blog

Soooooo, yeah. Didn't find anyone who combined what I was going for. I mean sure, slapping a mudroom-like wall on a giant wall in your living room right next to the front door with an entertainment center in the middle of it doesn't appeal to everyone...or maybe anyone. But, my hubs and I decided a long time ago that we would LIVE in our home. We want it to be comfortable, functional, fun, and inviting.

After looking at tons of pins, thinking through the thousands of things I wanted this is the list of thing I needed from this wall and the simple sketch of what I came up with for my hubs to work with.

the original sketch for the Great-Wall transformation

Mudroom

  • Lots of hooks for winter gear
  • Space for each individual's shoes
  • Washable baskets to collect shoe grime
  • Kid-friendly usability
  • Classy enough look for adults
  • Ledge for my picture frame obsession
  • Bench for more seating
  • Ability to walk from front to back door with shoes on
  • Decorative board and batten
  • Bright White wall to lighten up the entire room

Entertainment Center

  • Wall-mounted TV
  • Lots of DVD and some video game storage
  • Easily reachable DVD player, sound system, and Wii
  • Storage for all small electronics from around the house
  • Charging station for camera and iPad
  • Decorative "ship lap" to hide wiring

Process of Building the Wall

  1. Move all furniture
  2. Clean wall and flooring
  3. Build structure of the entertainment center
  4. Install chair rail and ledge pieces {horizontal boards} 
  5. Hang TV mount
  6. Remove baseboards
  7. Pull up carpet
  8. Tear up tack-strip
  9. Cut off excess carpet and padding
  10. Cut tack-strip to appropriate length
  11. Reinstall tack-strip
  12. Staple padding in place
  13. Tuck carpet around tack-strip
  14. Complete entertainment center
  15. Attach drawer faces and tracks on drawers boxes
  16. Push entertainment center in place {don't install}
  17. Measure 8000 times
  18. Build benches
  19. Moved outlets up {above bench tops}
  20. Patch drywall/add wall texture
  21. Attach wire spacers on the wall
  22. Attach ship lap to spacers
  23. Spray paint primer coat on 3 loose pieces
  24. Install entertainment center and benches
  25. Install trim pieces {vertical boards} on wall
  26. Install baseboards and quarter round
  27. Fill all cracks with caulking
  28. Paint...everything
  29. Sand rough wood
  30. Install hooks and hardware


hanging chair rail and ledgeremoving carpet hole on the back part of the entertainment center where the cords feed in from behind the ship lap

Entertainment Center before and after mudroom-like before and after

I could write a gazillion posts on my thought process behind each logistical reason I wanted things a certain way but not too many on the construction steps- maybe I'll tak my sweet hubs into writing more on that. Sorry I don't have more process pictures. Thanks for coming by to see our new Great-Wall! Weeks later and it's still making me smile.

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