{Our Week}

Fun week, fast week, tired week! 
Big highlights below:
Build a Bear fun! We went to Build-a-Bear in the local mall and used a gift certificate that we have had since Alivia's 2nd birthday. She choose a pink bear and named her "Puppy". :)
Helping to make her bear

Washing her pink bear
Instituted family movie night on Friday and picked Sesame Street (hoping for family traditions in the making). We were all on the couch for a good 15 minutes before Nolan was ready to play. 
Totally into Sesame Street, aka Elmo
Lots of play time. Here Alivia wanted to nurse her new bear "Puppy". She had to feed her on "both sides" :) 
Nursing time
Learning time is going wonderful. I think I could crack down a bit more and get some more done throughout the week. But, she is having fun and for the time being that is my number 1 goal: to make learning time fun. She asks for almost daily! I love hearing her ask "can we do learning time". This week we learned about the letter "A". I'm enjoying teaching her some basic concepts.
Letter "A" fun

We went to Uncle Chris' football game this weekend and enjoyed ourselves! I almost didn't go due to a really awful headache, but am so glad I decided to go. It was an absolutely beautiful day with a perfect breeze. Fall is almost here. His team lost but we had fun cheering them on. 
Kiddos and Grammy
Alivia practicing cheer
Alivia practicing cheer
Uncle Chris taking the kids out to the field after the game
Uncle Chris and the kiddos
Alivia loving being on the field

... And, a random picture of Alivia's beautiful hair

{Our Week}

Yikes, this week has been busy. A good busy, but still busy. I am finding that I can get a little overwhelmed when super busy. i love people, and I love being around/with people. But, I still need my down time- more than ever now as a mama. :) We have been hanging out with family a lot. With both sides in town, we see family 2-4 times a week. Ben has been so busy, so we have been eating dinner a lot with family. So, mainly it's our nights that our busy. This weeks highlights consist of....

1. Alivia's 1st ballet class. CUTE! She loved it and asks to practice each day, along with asking when she can go back to ballet/dance class! She is taking it with one of her little buddies and they had so much fun together. Just look at the cute "uniform" she gets to wear to her (once a week) class.

2. Visiting the train park here in town and making a new friend for a few hours. Nolan is enjoying one of the train pieces in this picture.

3. Taking a trip to the Happy Apple Farm with the Grandma and the Spiers' family

Spiers' kids & Alivia
Lauren & Alivia (Cuties)
Alivia picking her own apples
Nolan giving it a try
The apples, we went with Gala

Almost 3 feet tall
Finding the perfect "itty bitty" pumpkin
Nolan wants a pumpkin too :)
Playing in the pumpkin field
Wow, how I adore these two little pumpkins!
4.Shopping at King Soopers with Ben and getting a random drink from Starbucks (we don't shop together much in the summer and we rarely get drinks from Starbucks, I'm more of make-it-home gal or Kangeroo coffee fan)
5. Starting a 6 week study/mentoring session with some ladies from my church
6. Getting my first bulk purchase from a local co-op
This week, I kept to my "rhythm" pretty well. I did go off a bit on the evenings as we went to eat with family a lot this week, but I stayed pretty much on top of it during the daytime this week. We ended up only doing 2 days of learning time rather than 3 this week, but I am going to do a review session tomorrow after church and before we celebrate Ben's big 28th! :) Gearing up to spend a fun day with Ben and celebrate him tomorrow!!

Spiers' Family Meal Planning!

In May, I wrote 2 posts on my dinner themes/meal planning. One post, Creating Order, explained how I was using my Iphone to help with planning. Well, I thought that was key to creating order and preventing the "what's for dinner" question at 4:00 p.m. Although it helped and I did get much better at meal planning, it was not the answer I thought it to be and it only worked for a month or so. I went back to a paper system and found that it is actually what I need. I love the idea of using my phone to waste less paper, but I just function better with using paper (And, since I use a calendar page, I am only using 1 page per month. I plan to save all the monthly menus to copy for next year and add only a few changes if I want something different). I printed off cute, free monthly calendars from the web and went to work. This is my third month doing it this way, and I can tell you I have been so much more organized with meal planning/cooking.
I still use the nightly themes, which I find absolutely awesome. :) It's helps narrow down the options to a manageable list for each day. I found an awesome tip from a fellow blogger- this lady only creates a two week menu and then repeats the same menu for the remaining two weeks of the month. Get more information on how she does it at Meal Planning Made Easy! This has seriously helped me to get through my meal planning in the beginning of the month and not to dread it as much as I have in the past as I only have to come up with 2 weeks of meals. Ben and I will sit down at the end of the the month to plan meals with a paper and pen in hand. Usually, I will plan one meal of each day/category and Ben will choose the other meal of each day/category (I am responsible for 7 meals and Ben is responsible for coming up for the other 7). Then I jot them down on the calendar (pictured above) and make sure to alternate meats so not to have two chicken or two beef/turkey days in a row. When we come up with meals, I just write them on the back or a scratch piece of paper and then I will put them in the order I like on the calendar.
Since I make the same meal twice, I will often make a double batch of the meal and freeze 1 portion (if freezable), making the 3rd and 4th week of the month extra easy. :) I love that about this meal planning idea!
I placed the calendar in a protector sheet in my Home Management Binder, which is becoming a go-to tool! That way if I have a change (going out to eat/going to some one's house/lots of leftovers), I can change it with a dry erase marker. P.s. we don't have a lot of leftovers for dinner because we usually eat them for lunch the next day. That's how we roll! :) I'm liking the Home Management Binder a lot, but I still have a lot more to put in it. I have heard about this idea quite a lot rolling around the web, but only decided to make one after reading this post about a Home Management Binder. Good stuff!
I really, really like this meal planning system. It has taken years of trying to find something that will actually work (for more than a month) for our family. :)

Alivia's Hero!

This is a drawing (I only helped with the mouth) of Ben, Alivia's hero. She was promted to draw her hero, and I suggested a police man, a fire fighter, a solider, your daddy. She drew her daddy! :)

And She Said (Butt)!

When Alivia's pants start to fall down (because she is playing hard or her pants are too big) she will yell "my butt's hanging out". :) Silly girl!

And She Said (Praying)!

At a family shin-dig (Malpass Family, Jo, GG, Grandma, and us), we were getting ready to eat. A few of the Malpass kiddos had already begun to eat their soup, so Chris asked them to eat but they protested as they were supposedly chewing there food. We asked Alivia if she wanted to pray and she shook her head yes. She put her hands together, closed her eyes, and said "Amen". We all laughed! It was adorable, and we told her it was an awesome prayer. Now she will randomly go around and say "Amen" to try and get a laugh out of someone. :)

{Our Week}

(Up until Sat 1, late due to lots of family time) This week, I implemented my first week of our new family "rhythm". Rhythm is what I have decided to call our "schedule". I wanted to implement some kind of schedule but was kind of fearful of using that word. I was reading some ideas on the web and found a blogger that uses the word "rhythm" instead of schedule and loved that idea. I came up with a rhythm and wrote down estimated times of activities/things that I wanted/needed to complete throughout each day of the week. On my family rhythm, I wrote "ish" behind each estimated time and wrote "subject to change" at the bottom of the page, so not to feel confined to the times given. I knew that if I had an exact schedule but failed to follow it, I was going to be disappointed. I have really liked this system so far. I have had a few days already that things have came up or the kids just didn't want to do what was "planned", so I had to improvise and it was OK! :) I started school for Alivia this past week, and she really likes it. She often asks when we can do "learning time". And, if we have too short of learning time and have completed all that I have planned, she will ask for more. Too cute. I love that she is loving to learn. I love that I have decided to take this opportunity to teach her. I don't know if home-schooling is in our future, but I do know that I didn't want to say "no" to her when she asked me when it was her turn to go to school and if she could go (why I decided to start a home-school pre-school in the first place). Our week was full of family fun too. We enjoyed many days spending time with Ben's sister and brother-in-law and Alivia's "new cousins" as she still calls them. We hung out with them all day Friday and Saturday. It was a blast. Alivia was outside for hours digging the dirt, playing on the play ground, blowing bubbles, riding bikes, playing tag, and much more. She really enjoyed herself. :) It's so fun to watch her play with her cousins. On Friday night, my mom, the kids, and I attended my brother's high school football team. He is currently coaching at a local high school.  I loved watching Chris coach and seeing him in his element. The kids behaved awesome for it being so late (we didn't leave until 9). Alivia was eating a snack and would put down the snack and clap when everyone started to clap. If you have ever been to a football game, you will know that people clap a lot. So if you can imagine, it took quite a while to eat her snack. :) She enjoyed watching the cheerleaders too. It was a blast. And, his team won!
Now for some pictures:

Walking the plank :)
Enjoying himself
Look at that face- love him!
Feeding the ducks and loving it
Hanging out with Grandma
Taking her job of feeding the ducks very seriously
Eating the bread himself
Talking a walk from the duck pond/park to Aunt Jo's house
Running with her cousin
Fell fast asleep while I was making dinner- exhauted from playing with her cousins
Watching Uncle Chris' football game
Just cute
Enjoy watching the football game and looking for Uncle Chris
Teddy bear fun (with Costco bear from Aunt Jo)
Climbed right up in the middle of the dishwasher for some dish fun :)
Alivia had to join in on the dishwasher fun too
Getting big!
Water fun
Alivia can stay in the water for hours if I let her
Enjoying some Vitamin D