Monday, January 30, 2012

Monthly Meal Planner

About a year ago I started planning my meals a month at a time.  It sounds like a lot more work than it is.  It actually makes things so much easier.  First I sat down with all my cookbooks and wrote down 20-30 of our favorite meals plus a few new ones to try.  I also surfed the internet for a few new recipes. (this took less than an hour, give or take some minor interruptions!)   I used to just use a printable calendar from Word but I recently found a cute downloadable one here and the cuter it is the more fun I have using it.  You can save it and edit it.  I love it! 

monthly meal plan calendar[6]

After I have the whole month planned it’s so easy to sit down and write out my meals and grocery list for the week.   Then it’s simple to sit down the next month and plug in the meals or you could just rotate through the last months again.  I usually do one breakfast for dinner once per week because it’s cheap and everyone will eat it.  A lot of times if the meal is geared more for the kids, like hot dogs, Matt and I will have salads.   Of course then I found a great printable grocery list on Pinterest that you can get here.  This is what it looks like…

grocery list

A friend of mine always say “If you fail to plan then you are just planning to fail”  Winking smile You know who are! 

Hope this helps make meal planning easier for you!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our Week In Review

We started out our week spending Sunday afternoon at my mom’s.  They are starting to remodel their kitchen and Matt was helping Art remove a very heavy and large desk.  Of course when we got there grandma had Sunday dinner ready for us.  While Matt and Art worked in the kitchen the kids enjoyed playing outside in all the outbuildings and then watching some episodes of Andy Griffiths!  Yep, they loved it even though it was in black and white! They think it’s hilarious!  Joe giggles through every episode.  It was so relaxing and a great way to start the week. (And I didn’t have to cook! Yay!)


Over Christmas break Matt taught the kids how to play Stratego.  This was a big deal because it is a Bonenfant favorite and the kids remember their uncles playing it for years at Houghton Lake.  DSC04431





For two weeks at Heritage they have what’s called J-Term.  The kids get to pick from a variety of special interest classes and for two weeks learn a new skill and get a break from their regular academics.  Hannah picked two sewing classes.  One is called clothing construction and the other is a rag quilt class. We had fun going to Jo-Anns and  I “helped” her choose the material for her quilt. I can’t wait to see it finished and of course I’ll post a picture of it for you to see.  She is loving her classes and even more is enjoying NO homework for two weeks. 


  Here is her first clothing construction.  She also made a few pillows and this week she’s making pajama pants.  By the end of the week I’m sure she’ll be able to teach me a few things. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fit Friday

I totally forgot about last Friday but there wasn’t really anything to report.  I was the same and unfortunately the same this week also.  My heart has just not been in it the last few weeks.  I’ve been doing just the bare minimum in exercise and not tracking my calories consistently.  BUT, today Hannah and I are starting a 6 week challenge.  We both set a goal and whoever reaches their goal at the end gets $50.  I’m hoping that together we can encourage and motivate each other. 

I’d thought I’d share my favorite, light, go to lunch.  Sam’s Club has Chicken Sausage in a variety of flavors that are only 120 cals per link.  I cook two in a pan with some olive oil.  Add about 2 cups of green beans, some garlic salt and parmesan cheese and Voila!


It’s so yummy and very filling for less than 300 calories! You could also use asparagus, add some red skin potatoes or whole wheat pasta. 

One of the reasons I haven’t been putting more effort into my exercise is I’ve been making these. 



I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I was itching to do a project so decided to start with an easy pillow for the girls beds.  I really want to learn to sew. (more than a straight line that is)  Now that my mom is living near us I have my own personal sewing instructor!  I don’t really have any interest in making clothing, I want to be able to make things for my house like pillows, window treatments, slipcovers and occasionally some clothing repairs.  The pillows turned out really cute.  Please don’t bring out the measuring tape though because they are far from perfect!   It was a lot of fun and I have to give Matt some credit for putting the boys to bed two nights in a row so I could work on these.  Aren’t they cute???  Smile 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gentleness Challenge–How I CHOOSE to Respond

How many times a day in your house do you hear “But she made me….”?  How many times do you hear yourself saying “Mommy’s sorry that I yelled but you….”.  Right now we’re working on being responsible for how we respond to someone wronging us.  We’ve been hearing a lot lately “she just gets on my nerves and makes me yell at her”.  Do other people make us respond the wrong way?  No.  It is a choice.  It is a discipline in self-control and it’s a hard lesson to learn.  For both mom, dad and kids.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

When we practice self-control, and choose to respond with gentleness we are showing our children the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.  The Holy Spirit can help us learn self-control but only if we choose to respond. 

Check out this  post from  I read the Duggar’s book a few years ago and was challenged way back then to be “slow to anger” and gentler with my kids.  This post is a good reminder of how to be a gentler mom.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Our week in review

We’re finally getting used to our back to schedule after being off for Christmas.  Here’s what we’re up to..

  • Joe is back playing basketball at the YMCA with his neighbor/friend Logan.
  • Hannah and Rachel took a duck tape class at the Library.  They came home with wallets, bookmarks and begging me to take them to Hobby Lobby to buy duck tape.
  • I spent a day painting a bedroom at my mom’s new house.


DSC04403Gotta love catching him reading without being told to.  DSC04406

The boys got a new game for Christmas called Zingo.  Thanks for the recommendation Rhonda, they love it!  Ben really struggles when he doesn’t win but we’re working on it.  As you can see there are Nerf bullets covering my floors lately.  Joe got a few new guns for Christmas and he and Matt have been having Nerf gun wars in the evenings. 

We’re really enjoying the slower pace right now without having the girls in any sports. Our evenings are much more calm and relaxed.


I wanted to share this video because it’s a very powerful message packed into two minutes.  I’m still a newbie at all this bloggy stuff so if you can’t view it from the email you can go to my blog here to view it. 


Friday, January 20, 2012

Mission Organization


Once Upon A time

I thought Facebook was the ultimate place to waste time…Then I was introduced to Pinterest Logo

Have you been on Pinterest yet?  It is my new addiction!  It is basically an online notebook of all the great ideas you find online.  It stores them by category/picture and links them back to the website where you found it.  You can also look at what others have pinned from around the web and pin them onto your boards.  Now my favorites tab won’t be so long. One of my favorite categories is Organization.  No need to hire a professional organizer when you can just look at others cool ideas and copy them!  I stumbled across the blog below and was mesmerized by her site.  I’m sure I spent at least an hour looking at all of her great ideas.  I finally stopped drooling and started planning.  Armed with a list I headed to Target.  First room to tackle, the kitchen.  I thought you might be able to use some of the ideas. 


When my mom and Art were staying with us he built me this wonderful pantry. I’ve always wanted a pantry like this.  I found printable labels here and went a little crazy.  I love having all of my baking ingredients together in large containers.  I put all of the kids snacks in the green baskets so it’s easy to make lunches.  On the top shelf I used the little totes for cookie cutters, sprinkles, and the third one for all the misc. baking supplies that needed a home.  Next I moved to the fridge.  For a family of seven we have a very small fridge.  I didn’t really see how I could make any more space than what was there.  But I was wrong!!!  Of course had ideas for organizing your fridge.  The one thing that made the biggest difference was a sandwich tote.  DSC04409A place for all of our sandwich meats and cheeses.  This freed up a whole bunch of space in the drawer (below).  It literally used to be overflowing.  This also makes making lunches easier because everything you need is in one spot.  I also moved the shelves around to make the best use out of the space.  I promise I don’t yell at my kids if they don’t put stuff back where I want it. I just put it back where it goes and enjoy my organized fridge.  I also found some great fruit and veggie storage containers at TJ Maxx for a good price.  DSC04408An added bonus is that the lids match my kitchen. Yay!  Next project, the bathrooms.  If you haven’t been on Pinterest go check it out but wait until you have a good hour to waste cause once you start it’s hard to get up! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Gentleness Challenge

This month one of the blogs that I follow, is hosting a Gentleness Challenge.  This is something I have been feeling very convicted of for some time now.  Now that I have a 13 year old who helps take care of her younger siblings I’ve noticed a bad habit, which I hate to admit she most likely picked up from her mother.  Harshness.  Ouch.  Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” It is absolutely true that mom sets the tone of her home.   I am currently on week 2 of the challenge and I can say that I have seen a huge difference in our home.  I hate to admit that it comes much more naturally for me to criticize and point out faults than to encourage and compliment.  These are some ways that I am intentionally working on being more gentle with my words.

  • Each morning I light a candle in the kitchen and say a prayer for peace in our house that day.  Since we live with Autism in our house it can sometimes feel like your walking on eggshells trying to avoid the next blow up. 
  • Get up early to have some “mom” time before I have to serve my family.
  • I gave Matt permission to “call me out” if I’m being too harsh with my words.  And promise not to get harsh with him.
  • Give each child at least one hug and compliment before and after school.

Doing these things has made a big difference.  Have I become a pushover? No.  In fact I think it’s made me be more consistent in dealing with behavior right away so that I don’t let it go until I’ve lost all patience and start yelling.  The best part is that the kids are responding.  I’ve noticed more smiles, hugs and “I love you moms”.  I’ve also noticed them being more gentle with each other.  Perfection? No.  Progress? Definitely.

If you’d like to check it out or join in here is the link

Taken from the challenge:

Our Assignment for the week: I encourage you this week to smile more, hug more, SLOW DOWN, listen, take a deep breath. When you feel like screaming – whisper. Pray pray and then pray some more.

Have a great week!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fit Friday

Down 2.5. Yay!  Total since New Years, –4.5.  It’s a good start.  I met all of my goals except drinking more tea.  Last week I made homemade hot chocolate mix for the kids and that just sounded so much more warm and comforting this week.  ( Thanks Julie!!)  I did log it though in my calories for the day.  Normally I don’t like drinking my calories away but the hot chocolate was worth it.  So my new goals for this week…

  • Keep logging those calories.  This really does help. 
  • 5 days of exercise
  • Plan something to do in the afternoon to keep myself out of the kitchen.  This is my hardest time of day.  It’s been Mission Organization around our house so this should help.

Verse for the week   

“Let us not become weary of doing good.  For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fit Friday

It’s that time of year again.  I turn on the computer and the hot topics are about getting healthy, how to start a fitness program and the top 10 foods to eat to lose weight.  As you enter Sam’s club they have replaced the wall of goodies and chocolates with vitamins and weight loss drinks.   Yep, it’s that time of year. Sigh.  Instead of making a resolution to lose 40 pounds this year I am going to make small weekly goals and try to use my blog as accountability.  Hence the title of this post, Fit Friday.  I always weigh in on Friday and I text my dear friend Melanie to tell her how I did.  Perhaps if I blog about the good, the bad and the ugly of the week it will help me stay on track and hold myself accountable.  I use to track my calories.  Well I do sometimes anyways.  If any of you have an iPod, iPad or other such device they have a great app and it’s very user friendly.  You can use it like facebook and be “friends” and see how each other is doing.  My goals for this week are…

  • Track my calories for at least five of the seven days.
  • Exercise 4 days
  • Drink more tea (this helps me not snack)

Verse for the week       

Philippians 3:13  But one thing I do.  Forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Moving Day!!!


This year we got the best Christmas present ever!  My mom and Art moved to Kalamazoo!  They sold their house in the U.P. this summer and have been staying with us since until they found the perfect house.  Well, they did!  After what seemed like months of jumping through hurdle after hurdle it finally happened. So on New Years day before the first big snowfall we helped empty out the last of the storage unit. The house is in Lawrence which is about 30 minutes west of Kalamazoo, which beats 7 hours to the U.P.!  It is a big old farm house with 3.5 acres to roam and barns to raise animals.  The kids can’t wait for chickens in the chicken coop and my mom and I are already plotting our garden.  We are so thankful to have grandparents close by.  God worked through so many details and we are so thankful.


The boys loved going across “the bridge”.  It was a group effort getting everything moved and we were all exhausted by the end of the day.  What a great way to celebrate the New Year!

Monday, January 2, 2012

ADVENTures in Christmas

I can hardly believe Christmas is already over.  It is my favorite time of year.  I love the colors, sounds and wonder of it all.  Since it always goes by so fast, this year I had a plan.  I sat down and planned some sort of activity for every day in December.  Did we do every activity I planned? No, but we did most and if I hadn’t planned them ahead of time I know I wouldn’t have done half of what we did.  I printed them out and put them in the stockings for the kids to find. For some reason Ben called them his “jobs”.  He’d ask, “What is my job for today"?”. 

Some of our jobs activities included

  • decorating cutout cookies
  • caroling to our neighbors and giving them goodies we baked
  • decorating and eating sugar cone Christmas trees
  • Taking a drive to look at Christmas lights. Ben and Jacob finally enjoyed it this year!
  • making Christmas cards
  • reading Christmas books in front of the fire
  • Put together a gingerbread house
  • Made ornaments
  • Christmas movies with popcorn
  • Picked out animals to purchase from World Vision (details to follow)
  • Dad reading A Certain Small Shepherd
  • Christmas tree and candy cane pizzas

I had found an easy ornament craft to do with Ben and Jacob so we sat down one night to make them.  They were supposed to be Christmas trees. Jacob hurried through his and couldn’t wait to put it on the tree.  Ben however had no interest in making a Christmas tree.  Nope. He wanted to make Wyoming.  Yes, the state of Wyoming.  So I did what any mom of an autistic child has learned to do…let it go.  So he made Wyoming.  When it came time to take down the Christmas tree I was so thankful that I fought the Martha in me that wanted the ornament to be the perfect Christmas tree and instead let my little boy be who he is and make “Wyoming”. 


The iPod game that he plays has faces on all the states so he had to put a smiley face on it.  I love it. 



This year we wanted to include the kids in giving to others less fortunate than them.  Of course there are so many great organizations to be able to do this but we chose World Vision.  World Vision has a program where you can purchase farm animals to be given to a family or families in poverty stricken countries. Since the kids love animals and have enjoyed grandma and grandpa’s farm animals so much we thought they would love to go online and choose the animals.  They have some great videos explaining the program and it helped the kids see how their giving can help a family in need.  I think it was better for them to be able to see where their gift was going than just sending money not knowing exactly what it is being used for.  So we gathered around the computer with the intent of picking out some animals.  After much uh, discussion, we decided on a group of 13 small farm animals which included a goat, chickens, ducks and rabbits.  This was a perfect compromise because of course the three kids couldn’t agree on one animal.  Ah, the spirit of giving.  In the end the kids were very excited about their gift and Matt and I were very touched at how generous the kids were with their money.  I think this will be a new Christmas tradition at our house.

DSC04228DSC04247The boys did the gingerbread house with mom.  I think they ate just as much candy as the put on the house.  DSC04257DSC04260DSC04263

Grandma was a huge help when it came time to decorating the cookies.  Jacob’s ended up more sprinkles than cookie.  Ben loved his world T-shirt he got from grandma.DSC04274DSC04284

We had a wonderful Christmas.  December was full of activity but we spent lots of time together as a family.  We are so blessed and grateful for our family and friends.

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”