September 30, 2011


September 30, 2011

I went to get a drink of water and came back to this mess… can you guess who was the culprit!?


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September 29, 2011

Ding Dong the Paci is Gone

September 29, 2011

Colton took a pacifier early on.  We were worried he was going to be a thumb sucker, so offering him the pacifier was a no brainer for us.  We established pacifier guidelines though right away.  The paci was for naptime and bedtime only.  Granted we broke our own rule from time to time, but we tried to not make a habit of it and we certainly did not allow him to run around with it while playing or trying to make conversation.  There was the exception of one of Chris’ two week China trips when I was about 7 months pregnant with Claire and I let him run around with non-stop for the entire time Chris was away!  Hey, what is a momma to do!? 

We did allow him to have it in the car quite frequently when he was younger.  As he got older he could have it if it was around nap time or when we were trying to make the nine hour drive to the beach – can you say, exhausting!?

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Then there were those special events where bedtime was delayed and we popped that sucker in – such as Aunt Allison’s Wedding…

9-26-09 Allison's Wedding (199)

or yeah the occasional outing where I just did not have it in me to take it away… what can I say, I’m a wimp sometimes!


No matter where we were, even on the boat – if Colton was tired we could hand over the paci and out he went.  Ahhh how I sometimes often wish this were the case for Claire!


Most people try to ditch the pacifier by age two.  Well, I thought about it, but there was so much other stuff going on then.  Colton was moving into a big boy bed which was a big adjustment because he loved his crib so much, then along came Claire and then we were starting to potty train – all this within a month.  I did not want to throw too many things at him at once, so I let the “security blanket” stay. 

After much discussion about it I chatted with some other moms and received some great advice!  You can always get great advice from fellow mothers who have been in your shoes!  One mom said to me, “he will not be taking that thing when he graduates high school or walks his bride down the isle so do not stress over it and stop worrying about what other people think!”  Another mother said that she had known of several people who had taken it away cold turkey and others that took the longer approach and let the kid give it up on their own (with parental help of course) and then ones who gave it up on their own did so much better with the process.

We decided to go with the cut away method.  I did this when I was a nanny in college and it worked perfectly!  I first poked holes in all 50 pacifiers – probably not literally 50, but there were a ton.  When you poke a hole in them they lose some of the suction.  It did not seem to bother him too much at first.  So I poke more, even larger holes.  We eventually got to where we did not use it AT ALL outside of the bed.  Not even in the car.  The holes eventually did not faze him too much, so I then cut the tips off.  This he was a little perturbed about.  He would suck on it for a minute and then exam it and then suck on it some more… he finally got to the point that he was just chewing on it.  Finally I started noticing that they pacifiers where no where to be found when we went to get him up in the morning or at nap time.  For a while he would still ask for it and just hold it in his hand, but now there is no sign of the paci, except for the one I have in the drawer just for memories sake ;)… so there you have it!  Ding Dong the Pacifier is gone!  Yee-haw!

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Climbing toddlers is a foreign land for me.  I have a girlfriend who has two girls who are both climbers!  It has been the funniest thing ever – I mean full on climbing on top of the dinning room table in five seconds flat.  This was never an issue with Colton.  He never even attempted to climb out of his crib … come to think of it he still really is not a climber – he is just now getting to where he will climb on the large play structures at the park.

Well… thinks have changed around the Brooks home.  I can officially say, “Claire is a climber!”

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I walked into the playroom and found Claire sitting on top of the table – a slight change from the standing up in the chair that I have had to scold her for lately.

Oh and the dishwasher – the dishwasher along with the bathroom are her new favorite play spots.  A few nights ago I had just finished emptying the dishwasher – turned my head to put up a few things and bam! there she was sitting on top of the dishwasher door.  I must have hovered over Colton non-stop as a small toddler because he never did these sorts of things.

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Yep, she is going to be my wild child!

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September 28, 2011

Mommy’s Bed

September 28, 2011

One of the biggest treats for Colton and now even Claire is to get to lay in Mommy and Daddy’s bed.  We have never allowed our two to sleep in the bed with us (there have been a few minor exceptions).  They have always slept in their own beds and they actually prefer it that way, especially Claire.

On an occasional Saturday I would sleep in, and by sleep in I mean I did not get up before the children – which translates into sleeping until 8am - MAX.  Chris generally gets Colton up and if I were still in the bed Colton would run in and jump in the bed with me.  He loves it.  He says, “I want to lay in Mommy’s bed”.

Sometimes at bedtime we will put him up in our bed to cuddle or even read books, sing and do bedtime prayers.  It tickles me to see how excited it makes him.  It is so cute to see how much of a big deal it is to him to get to do this.


Here they both are Tuesday night…

Colton was so sick last week and he spent the majority of Monday thru Thursday in our bed.  From the time he woke up until the time he went to his bed.  He watched cartoons in our bed, he napped in our bed and sometimes he even let me cuddle with him in our bed.  One morning he woke at 8am and went back to my bed at 9:30am to take a nap – I heard him crying and went up and he ask me to lay down with him.  I had so much that I needed to get done around the house, but my little man needed me more!  And how many more times am I going to be able to enjoy moments like that!?  So I hunkered down with him and he snuggled up into my neck and we both took a nap.  It was so nice.

And once again Wednesday morning…


I cherish little moments like this and hope to enjoy many more of them … well, many more of them, but with no one sick!

Ahhh…. I love my babies.

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This little girl is so rotten.  Seriously!  The other night we had just finished eating dinner and put her down – she immediately heads off through the house on a mission of her own.  She comes back to the dinning room with Colton’s bowl of mac&cheese and his fork.  Chris and I were so tickled!


Do you notice the grainy picture?  Well… this is all thanks to Claire as well.  She pulled my DSLR off the table onto the hardwood floor breaking my lens!  I have been lost without my camera – I use it every day.  It may be just to snap one picture, but nonetheless I snap at least one everyday.  I shipped the lens off to Nikon hoping it can be fixed because I am in no mood to fork out the dough for a new one – crossing my fingers it can be repaired!  For now it is the old Olympus point in shoot – I guess I will manage… ha ha.

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September 27, 2011

Anniversaries & Pregnancies

September 27, 2011

My sister in law celebrated her second wedding anniversary this week.  I love thinking about her wedding for multiple reasons.  First, it was such a fun and exciting weekend and secondly this was right after we found out I was pregnant with Claire.  The morning sickness was about a week away so I was able to enjoy the wedding festivities. 


She got married at The General Morgan Inn in Greenville, Tennessee.  The Inn is historic and beautiful.  It rained all day on Saturday, but did not detour us from having lots of fun!

9-26-09 Allison's Wedding (136)9-26-09 Allison's Wedding (84)

However, I was hungry the entire time, but could not tell anyone why! With both pregnancies Chris and I kept them a secret for a while. We wanted to first wait until our first doctors appointment to make sure everything checked out okay and even then just told close family until the first trimester was over.  I loved that only Chris and I (and the Lord of course) knew I was pregnant – it was our little secret for a while and we enjoyed it that way!

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Back In The Swing Of Things

Colton was sick all week last week.  It was the sickest he had ever been – for three days he could not even talk.  Which would explain my lack of blogging!  Monday Colton was well enough for school and he could not have been happier!


He still today has a really lose cough, but has enjoyed being back in a routine and so has Mommy!

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September 23, 2011

TV Standing Up

September 23, 2011

I really do not get it, but he likes to watch television standing up. 


He has been sick this past week so I have pretty much let him watch as much as he has wanted … here he is enjoying Ice Age for the first time… I think Daddy enjoyed it as much as if not more than Colton!


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First Day of Autumn–Printable

I love the fall!  It is absolutely hands down my favorite time of the year.  There are so many reasons to love this time of the year.  First, the weather is spectacular… there is a national park virtually in my back yard and the Smokey Mountains within few so were so blessed to see all the amazing fall colors.  It is also football season which makes a southern gal like myself very happy.

I made this printable to mark the occasion!  I hope you like!

Fall Printable 2 - 8x10

If you would like this printable for yourself click on the image – it will open up in a new window.  Then, right click and choose to “save image as…” and save it to your computer.

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September 22, 2011

Sick babies

September 22, 2011

For two days last week Claire had a high temperature.  It ran 102 plus for 2 days.  It was horrible, she felt so bad and there was really no explanation for the high fever.  After the two days she seemed fine and immediately re-gained her appetite – she’s a heft eater to say the least.  My assumption the entire time was it was simply something viral. 

Friday afternoon, around dinner time it hit Colton.  We try to do Pizza on Friday or Saturday because Colton loves it so much – so I made him pizza and went to get him to come to the dinning room table and he was scorching hot.  Yep, I told myself, he has caught whatever Claire had.  The feeling bad went on into Saturday and then Sunday he started complaining that his mouth was hurting and would not eat anything.  The next morning I took him straight into the pediatrician – I was sure he probably had strep. 

Colton has never had anything other than the common cold and the stomach bug a few times.  He appeared to be in so much pain just trying to swallow.  A thirty dollar co-pay and one doctors visit later we still had no answers.  The strep test came back negative, all his blood work came back great – she examined him thoroughly (mouth, ears, body, etc.…) and came up with nothing.  I was happy to know that it was not strep and there was no infection, but I hated not knowing what was wrong with him.  It has been almost a week and Colton is still sick.  He has not been able to talk since Monday, today his voice is a little stronger, but he is coughing like crazy!  I think he is getting strangled on mucus (I know this is gross!) and that is what is causing the constant coughing.  A few times he has even thrown up.  I am just beside myself because I do not know what to do and quite frankly I am tired of catching vomit in my hands.  The only thing I can do is give him cough medicine along with pumping him full of pro-biotics and silverbiotics in hopes of it helping him combat this issue.  He is lethargic because he has not eaten much.  He has for sure dropped a few pounds this week and if you know Colton you know he does not have the pounds to lose.

Every time I go to complain I stop myself because this is just a little viral cold and there are so many other parents out there dealing with young children with serious illnesses.  September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I could not imagine the thought of one of my children being diagnosed with such a horrible disease.  There are strides being made daily in the fight against cancer in children, but our help is still needed.  Is there a children’s hospital close to you where you can help?  We are fortunate to have Children’s Hospital  in Knoxville – East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.  If you are interested you can see how to help them here and then there is also St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  A close girlfriend of mine is helping to bring awareness by running in the St. Jude’s marathon in December.  I am sure there are ways you can help in your area – if not you could look into one of the many national organizations.  Do you part in supporting the fight against childhood cancer – whether it is running a race, purchasing an event ticket, or simply sending in a donation of any size – these charities need our help!

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My Blog Schedule–Printable

There are blog posts swirling around in my head all the time – most frequently while I’m in the shower.  Weird.  Is that because there I am not being interrupted??  Anywhoo… I created a Blog Schedule worksheet to help me keep my thoughts and my blog organized!  I am actually going to keep this in my Mom Binder for now, I have a tab in my binder for blog information.  I have renamed my Family Binder to my Mom Binder… I just find that name more fitting!


My Blog Schedule

If you would like these for yourself please just click on the image and it will open up in a new window, then right click and click “save as” and save it to your computer to print!

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Popsicle Time

Colton has been sick since last Friday… we have tried everything to help him feel better – specifically to keep him hydrated and to give him temporary relief from a nasty sore throat.  He did not want his popsicle, but his sister sure did!  This is Claire at 16 months having her first popsicle!


Needless to say, she LOVED it!


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We went to the hospital on Tuesday to see our new niece.  My sister in law was two rooms down from where I was post delivery with Colton… just for fun we snapped a photo next to our room


I actually delivered Colton in the same room that Chris’ oldest sister delivered her son in – Room #11 … With Claire I was in Room #9 and my Sister In Law this weekend was in Room #10.

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September 21, 2011

Babies Babies Everywhere

September 21, 2011

Family events are getting more crowed, but we do not mind!!  Yesterday we were delighted to welcome our new niece into the world!  Welcome Baby K… we love you!!


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Prayerfully Waiting

It was this time two years ago that we found out we were pregnant with Claire.  I wanted to wait another year to get pregnant so to have three years age difference, but Chris wanted just a two year age difference.  We had not put much discussion into it, but we were being careful tracking my ovulation.  Needless to say that someone miscalculated.  I stand by the fact that I think Chris knew exactly what he was doing (ha ha). 

I knew immediately that I was pregnant.  Within a week of conception I was having classic symptoms of being pregnant including food aversions.  Being the type A control freak that I am I could not wait for my missed period and ended up taking several pregnancy test.  The first two, or three – cannot really remember, all turned up negative, but granted I took them more than 3 days before my missed period – the standard in pregnancy testing.  Even though the test were negative I knew I was pregnant.  So three days before my cycle was to start I woke up before anyone else and took the test.  I did not wait for the results, I just left in on the back of the toilet and went back to bed.  A little while later I woke up, saw that it was positive and was totally unsure of what to think or feel.  Chris was in our basement working out – I walked halfway down the steps, sat down and shook the test at him saying, “this is why I have been sick!”.  Telling Chris the second time around was a totally different experience than the first time around – talk about being stressed out!  Shew!  Nonetheless we were excited and kept it our own little secret until I was around the 8 week mark at which point we shared with close family and friends – who were bound to figure it out because I had terrible morning all day sickness!  Two of my best girlfriends just so happened to be pregnant at the same time so it made for a fun and enjoyable pregnancy (post 20 weeks of course).

Since our first pregnancy Chris has talked about having four children.  He comes from a large family with four siblings of his own, but the very thought of having four of my own is a bit overwhelming.  I did at one point when Colton was a few months old in vision myself as a mom of four boys, but that vision soon faded!
After juggling parenthood with two little ones we came to the realization that two may be the right number for us.  For me life was overwhelming and hectic with a two year old and a newborn.  I am constantly questioning myself as a parent.  How do I divide my time?  How do I give each of them enough attention?  Is he/she going to think I love her/him more than the other?  Can we afford more children?  I eventually want to go back to work, don’t I?  How do you travel with more than two!?  To some I see how these questions can be mundane or even futile, but these questions have at time absolutely overwhelmed me.

For us the talk of making no more children permanent is a common conversation and something we have discussed doing soon.  Well, we wouldn’t be the one “doing” the permanent fix, but you get the idea. ha!  After many discussions about the matter Chris shocked me by out of the blue saying, “maybe we should talk about this baby thing… I don’t know if I am ready to make it permanent”.  As in he doesn’t know if he is ready to permanently say, “NO” to more children.  Honestly, deep down I do not think I was that surprised and it actually melted my heart a little at the thought that he would like another little one.  Since that time we have been going back and forth on whether or not we want more and were currently at a stand still waiting on the Lord to show us what He wants for our family.  We are prayerfully waiting so that we make the right decision.

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September 16, 2011

Favorite Find Friday–Bella Band

September 16, 2011
When you are pregnant finding the right fit of clothes is often very difficult.  This is most true when you are in that awkward in between stage.  You know, the place where your regular clothes are too tight and uncomfortable, but most maternity clothes are big and unflattering.  During my second pregnancy I found the solution to this problem, it was the Bella Band
 by Ingrid & Isabel.

I loved to wear my regular non pregnancy jeans – low rise from Express – they are super soft and comfy.  For a while I could make it work with just looping a rubber band through button hole, but as my belly grew that was just not an option.  The button would show and the pants would ride low and the very thought of my mid drift enormous baby bump showing made me cringe.  The Bella Bandtook care of all this!  I ditched the rubber band and simply pulled the Bella Band up to cover the top part of my jeans and my stomach.  The bands are made from spandex and nylon so it held up my pants and was not bothersome at all – in fact it was very comfortable.  You really get the best of both worlds!  Its also no big deal if you can see it because it looks like you are wearing a camisole under your top, which I often do.

This is me (I cannot believe I am showing this picture!) at Claire’s shower, 18 days before I gave birth.  I was wearing my non pregnancy jeans with my handy Bella Band.

The bands can be pricey, I think they generally run around $26.00, but it was the best $26.00 I spent in terms of maternity clothes.  I gained more use from this purchase than any other.  The bands come in various colors, sizes, and you can get them in the everyday style or in a lace option which has a lace trim.  So for all your pregnant mommas out there – go purchase your Bella Band
This review is my own personal opinion and I was in no way compensated.

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Show and Tell

Colton has his first “show and tell” at school this Tuesday.  It was bring your favorite teddy bear to school day.  Colton has one teddy bear that he loves and he is super soft!  I put one of Colton’s old outfits on the bear and voila – he was perfect.

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I love this little Tennessee outfit and did not want to get rid of it so putting it on the bear was a good way to enjoy the outfit.  Colton wore this outfit for his first visit to the beach – such special memories.


It feels like yesterday we were at the beach for the first time with Colton and now he is doing show and tell in K3 … ahhh how time flies!  God is so GREAT!

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September 15, 2011

Fruit of The Spirit Printable

September 15, 2011

But the Fruit of the Spirit is




Long Suffering





Self Control

against such there is no law

Galatians 5:22-23


Fruit of the Spirit Printable KJV

If you would like this printable for yourself click on the image – it will open up in a new window.  Then, right click and choose to “save image as…” and save it to your computer.

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September 12, 2011

Mom’s Tips Monday–Weekly Cleaning Schedule

September 12, 2011

Three years ago when I first became a stay at home mom I had so many preconceived notions of how things would go.  My first thought was, “wow… I am home all day so I will be able to keep my house clean and have dinner prepared every evening for my husband”.  This all sounded a lot easier than it actually was – at least for me.  I have since realized that when you are home all day – you use your home so it does not STAY clean or picked up.  There are some days when I sweep my kitchen floor 3 times – seriously!  Oh, and do not even get me started on the laundry – the four of us changed clothes 2-3 times a day (which is absurd) and this makes for piles and piles of laundry.  One of my first Mom’s Tips Monday was actually about Organizing Your Laundry

Trying to keep my house clean and de-cluttered has overwhelmed me more times than I can count.  I soon realized that there is always going to be something that needs to be cleaned or put away or straightened up, but my children are not always going to be little – so I gave up on having a perfect house and developed a cleaning schedule where I do certain task on certain days.  For a while the schedule was just in my head, but this past week I put it on paper.  I am going to use it over the next few weeks making changes as necessary and hopefully will end up with a great schedule that works well for everyone. 

I ask a group of moms if they scheduled their cleaning duties and they all shared some great tips!  Check out their tips and if you get time go check out their blogs:

  • Jill author of Blessed Beyond A Doubt - I have used Motivated Mom for years. I divide the chores each day amongst my children. Works great for me! We just do a little each day!
  • Mary at Genuinely Jarman - This made me smile because I have completely failed at keeping all the balls in the air this week.  It turns out the key was just asking for help from the very kiddos who create the mess...  Who knew?  Confessions post here.  More confessions here.
  • Kyle author of Socks in the Dishwasher - When I started staying home last year I set up a cleaning schedule for myself and it helps a ton.  My goal is to be able to get most things cleaned within a 30 minute time slot each day.  I have a smaller home so maybe that's why it's quicker.  Here's my routine:  Monday:  Laundry and dust.  Tuesday:  Bathroom counters, mirrors, and toilets.  Wednesday:  Scrub kitchen floor.  Thursday:  Bathtubs, showers, and bathroom floors.  Friday:  Vacuum.  The kitchen I assume is a daily cleaning job and often I will do an extra load or two of laundry during the week.  I've even started doing some laundry on Sunday evening just to get a start on the week.
  • Myrrh - I have been loosely using House Honcho.  She has a room schedule and each day (except Sunday) email a list of three simple tasks to clean that room, three medium, and three challenging. You're suppose to pick any three (not all nine!) and clean in that room.  It is SO much more relaxed than Fly Lady (whose emails are just overwhelming.) I do clean other things other day on a need basis, but it gives me some direction.
  • Author of There’s Just One Mommy - Back in the spring I decided I HAD to come up with a schedule.  I was just going nuts trying to clean with little kids!  I've got it worked out so that on Mondays I do sheets (it's amazing how long we went without them getting cleaned before), quick dusting with the vac attachment, and vacuum.  I also spray down the most used toys with Lysol that day.  Later in the week I have bathroom cleaning day.  I try to stick to doing laundry only 1 or 2 days in the week - of course with little ones that changes sometimes!  It took a few weeks to get used to my schedule, but now it's just second nature.  And it is amazing how fast I can get things done!
  • Michelle author of Appetite for Culinary Bliss- I have done weekly menu planning, & it helps SO much during the busy week.  I'll make a large meal at the beginning of the week, and the leftovers usually last at least another day or two.  It saves money, too.  :)
  • Mary author of Life in our Castle - I have a calendar (printed off the computer so nothing fancy) and I write down what day I cleaned what so that I don't forget and so that I can keep to my schedule. And so that I don't go more than a week without cleaning something. Whatever it is. Without the calendar, I've gone two weeks without cleaning a bathroom (that never gets used so don't get grossed out), but it's amazing how dirty an unused bathroom can get.

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Mom’s Tips Monday–Weekly Meal Planning Take 2

The first Mom’s Tips Monday Weekly Meal Planning was such a big hit and the ideas have continued to roll in so I thought it necessary to do a second post!  Check out what some of these moms had to say about meal planning.  Some of their ideas are great!  Oh yeah, and check out the new menu I attached at the bottom.

  • Lindsi author of Toys in the Dryer plans her meals out for an entire month! - I make a calendar for 2 months at a time...that way when I don't feel like doing it the following month I already have it done. I save the meal plans in a binder and then after a year I have 12 months of calendars/meal plans. Then in January I will already have the month done because I completed/saved it from last year.  My GOAL is to not repeat a meal for 2 months unless it is a HUUUUUUGE favorite (i.e tacos are a big deal in our home so we have those once a month).  I use a bunch of websites online to get recipes from and print them out. I three hole punch them and save them.  Sounds like a lot of work but it is awesome! Once you get thru the first year you pretty much never have to do it again, if you don't want to. Calendar
  • Angie author of Healthy Living Blog - Meal planning does make the week go smoother! I really need to start up again. Summer was chaos!!!! I find it helps to meal plan on the Friday to start on Monday...then you have time to see what is on sale in the grocery flyers!
  • Brandi author of B Street by Brandi - I meal plan... Start on Sundays and at least make two dinners that evening in case the middle of the week is hectic, there is always something ready to just be heated up to eat! Good tip to plan on Friday's though to see what will be on sale at the grocery stores :)
  • Abbigail - I have a list of dinners we like and eat regularly and I then check my cabinets to see what I have that goes with meals we eat and then make a list of 7 meals we will eat then grocery shop for the rest of the stuff. I dont have it planned for which day but I pick one based on what kind of time or just generally what I feel like cooking and it works. Not to structured but structured enough and I found I save money when write a list and stick to it.
  • Emily - Meal/menu planning 100% making grocery shopping easier and less expensive! I make a list and don't buy anything that isn't on it. I use to wander around trying to come up with meals as I went down the aisles and that was always a mistake, lol!  I look for recipes that can be made in the Crock pot or can last more than one meal!  If you are into Crock pot meals, def check out . I've tried a couple of their recipes and they were great!
  • Stephanie author of Crestview Heights Academy has a really awesome and well thought out system! - I use blank business cards to plan my meals.  I wrote about it here.
  • Brit author of Living with 3 Boys of Our Own - Meal planning by the week helps me a ton, but batch cooking has been my true life saver! I cook every Tuesday and make all my meals (+ extra) for the week. Keeping my freezer stocked handles all of those crazy late afternoons! You can see how I batch cook and get lots of recipes on my blog, just click on batch cooking!
  • Karlynn author of Our Fully Caffeinated Life - I have a friend who does "once a month cooking" and has her meals planned for the entire month.  She has 5 children (2 just headed off to college this year) and has been doing this since they were little.  She takes one of her kids with her each month for their major shopping trip and then she takes a weekend to prepare everything.  She said it has saved her sanity more times than she cares to admit. That is my goal:  once a month cooking -- but I'm going to start with once a week.  :)
On the menu

If you would like this printable for yourself click on the image – it will open up in a new window.  Then, right click and choose to “save image as…” and save it to your computer.  I have sized it to letter size.

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September 10, 2011


September 10, 2011

Life for me and I am sure many of you is about goals.  You set goals and aim to achieve them and check them off your list.  Sometimes goals are as simple as getting a list of home tasks completed for the day or maybe something a little more difficult like dropping 30 pounds before your 15 year high school reunion. 

For several years I have been talking about doing a half marathon.  In 2008 I was up to six miles on my long run and bam (yep, just like that… haha) I got pregnant.  For the next 20 weeks I could barely move off the couch due to the morning all day sickness.  Needless to say the running stopped.  The next summer I had a newborn and well… training for 13.1 miles was just not going to happen.  This cycle was then repeated for the next two years when we welcomed Claire almost two years to the day that we welcomed our first born.  So here I am four years later trying to hit the pavement and hit is hard!

Growing up I was never made to finish anything.  Seriously, nothing … well, maybe doing the dishes or laundry, but when it came to extracurricular activities finishing was never a priority in our home.  I have been a self motivated person most of my life, but I will admit that I too sometimes need that external push.  My husband was brought up very differently and we plan to bring up our children that same way.  On my running route in the mornings I have ran into a dad a son – I am assuming the son is maybe high school age – he could possibly be even younger.  The dad is out there at 5:30 am working with his son, pushing him, encouraging him … last time I ask the son was up to 3 miles – the dad was so proud!  Every time I pass the kid on my route I throw out a “great job” – another reason I LOVE running so much – the camaraderie between runners.  Seeing this dad with his son gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside – I cannot wait to be able to encourage our children in their extra curricular activities.  Soon enough Chris will out there teaching Colton to hit a baseball and I cannot wait.  Yeah, I will be that crazy momma in the stands – easy to spot!

Okay… back to where I was – Goals.  So here I am – I have set my goal.  I have just completed my 3rd week of a 12 week training schedule for a half marathon on November 20th!  There – I said it… I have put it out there – so now I HAVE to do it!!  Right?  I keep telling myself that I need to actually sign up for the race to make it official.  Have I not signed up for it because I still have a lot of self doubt???  The answer is a big fat YES!

Obviously, I have been running longer than 3 weeks, but I have been following an actual training schedule for the past 3 weeks.  I am running 3 days a week (need to up it to 4) with a long run on Saturdays.  My runs this week looked like this:

Tuesday – 3 miles – 29 minutes

Wednesday – 3.54 miles – 35 minutes

Saturday – 5 miles – 50 minutes

Hopefully I can keep it and keep increasing my mileage and after November 20th I can slap a big 13.1 sticker on my car window!

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September 8, 2011

Important Dates Printable

September 8, 2011

I have been working on getting our Family (Home) Binder together.  Today I created a page to track birthdays, anniversary and other important dates.  Each year when I get a new planner I always have to go back through the old planner and copy over those reoccurring dates – now I will have them all in one place.

Please feel free to download for your own personal home binder!

Important Dates

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My mom has a ton of brothers and sisters so growing up I had a slew of cousins that I always played with.  I have at least 5 cousins on my mothers side that are within 2 years of me so needless to say I had someone to play with at all times! 

Our siblings (Chris and myself) do not live in the same area as us so we normally only see each other on holidays.  Colton and Claire are the youngest of the 5 grandchildren in my husbands family – for now.  Colton loves his cousins and just wants to be right where they are at all times.  He is happy just being around them – even if he really isn’t doing anything.  This was the first visit that Colton did not spent the entire time trying to hug them which in turn bugs them to death, especially the boys.  There is a 5 year age difference between Colton and the 2 older boys so he cannot do the things they do, but he did enjoy snuggling down with them in front of the television labor day weekend.


I think the smile in this picture says it all!


A few hours later I walked into the living room to find him once again snuggled up with his cousins…this time on the couch and Evie decided to join in…


and then Claire too…


My two are extremely lovable and just wanted to pet on Evie.  Evelyn being the girly girl that she is did not want her hair to be get messed up by their “petting”.


I love seeing the bond my children are already developing with their cousins and cannot wait to see it blossom and grow as they get older!

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September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

September 7, 2011



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September 6, 2011


September 6, 2011
Labor Day weekend is the ending to a very HOT summer and we always spend it with my husbands family on the lake.  Colton and Claire have both had colds for about a week, but that in no way dampened their fun!
This little girl was a ball of fun all weekend and really enjoyed being in the water with her daddy!  Saturday was scorching hot so dipping in the water was a must.


Ahhhh… refreshing!

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September 5, 2011

Mom’s Tips Monday–Weekly Meal Planning

September 5, 2011

There are many days when five o’clock rolls around and I have no clue what I am going to make for dinner.  This is not good considering we prefer to eat between 5:30 and 6pm.  I have been thinking about menu planning for a while and I even made up a cute little printable to use as my weekly meal planner and grocery shopping list – I have attached it at the bottom of this post.  I ask some fellow mommy bloggers about menu planning and here is what they had to say:

  • Carey author of Trust In The Journey - Yes!  Its the only way I make it through my shopping without spending a fortune.  I hate that time of night when we ask whats for dinner as well.  We usually sit down as a family and everyone (hubby and 2 boys) pick one meal a piece and I come up with the rest.  I really like the EZ Meals site.  They do the menus and recipes for you and match it to what is on sale that week.  Its 5.00 a month but totally worth it for me. 
  • Melissa author of A Heavenly Journey - What I did was make a calendar type chart to put on my refrigerator and fill in each day of the week with the meals we wanted to have, and cross out each day as it passes. I also left enough space to make notes - if one of us was going to be out or if we were going somewhere or having company.  For grocery shopping, I made a list on the computer of the things we most often buy. We shop at several stores to get the best prices, so I divided the list by store. Then when it's time to grocery shop, I just print out the list and use a highlighter to mark what we need that week
  • Jennifer author of I Am Not Superwoman - I do it most weeks.  Every now and again I fall of the wagon and then it is just chaos around dinner time.  I love to meal plan it helps to insure that I am cooking dinner every night and not running through a fast food place.  It also helps stretch our food budget.  I subscribed to e-mealz this past month testing it out but I also do the Menu Plan Monday over at I Am An Organizing Junkie where you can get *lots* of inspiration on the dinners you make.
  • The Mommy author of Long Daze Short Years - Yes!  I usually do the grocery shopping on Thursday so menu planning takes place on Wednesday (I follow the flylady and use her calendar/stickers so it's on my schedule).  I really like the Organizing Junkie who hosts "Menu Plan Monday" - a linky with literally hundreds of folks linking their menus and recipes for the week.  I participated for awhile but, like I said, I do my planning on Wednesday and I just couldn't make Mondays work for me.  BUT I start printing recipes from that blog carnival so that I have something new to try every week.  I find that I even plan take-out into our menu about every other weekend.  Planning most definitely saves me money at the store (and I just started couponing, too).
  • Jamie author of Toys In The Dryer - I (Jamie) try to make a weekly meal plan.  Some weeks are better than others but life if definitely easier when I don't have to think about dinner!  The question I HATE most: "what's for dinner?" I try to do my meal plans based on the grocery store sales that week.  I love when our grocery store has buy one, get one free for meat!! Lindsi makes a MONTHLY meal plan!  She's trying to convince me to do the same but I have a hard enough time with just a week!  I am secretly jealous of her though.  I go to her house and up on the wall is dinners for the entire month!!  No thinking about what to make for a full 30 days!!  Her goal is to make 6-9 months of meals and then just repeat them so she never has to think again!  She doesn't make the same meal in the same month so potentially she has at least one month before she repeats a meal!  I may just have to steal her menus!
  • Kyle author of Socks In The Dishwasher - We meal plan for the week too!!  Makes my life so much easier when I can look at the menu and know what is in store for dinner.  I try to plan meals to be cost effective (this week we needed to save money at the grocery store so I went to my freezer and planned the meals around the frozen foods I already have), a few nights with less time needed (like crock pot meals or our go to spaghetti), etc..  It has made my life so much easier.
this weeks menu

If you would like this printable for yourself just click on it and it will open in a new window, then right click and choose to save it to your computer.

If you have additional menu planning tips please leave them in the comment section below!  We would all love to hear and see the successes of other busy moms!

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September 4, 2011

Easy Target

September 4, 2011

Why is it when were in a bad mood of some sort and we really want to fly off the handle (so to speak) we usually end up spouting off at the ones we love the most?  This just came to me the other night after a stupid (for lack of a better word) tiff I had with my husband.  After all was said and done I went to take a shower and was able to cool off and come to my senses.  Then I realized that what we were fussing about had nothing to do with him – it was me!  My problem was with me and he was just the easy target!

Here is the problem – I internally have low self esteem.  I never really thought this of myself and I find it a very unattractive quality (see… here I go again!).  Since I have had children I have found myself more and more looking to others for positive affirmation.  I am constantly looking for external confirmation that I am a good mom, a good person, nice looking, yadda yadda – you get the point!?  Yep, my love language is definitely Words of Affirmation and just the fact that that is my love language erks me to no end.  Why couldn’t my love language be receiving gifts!… haha!

I am constantly reminding myself to only look toward the Lord for personal affirmation.  I know the Lord alone can and will supply all my needs – those physically as well as emotionally.  The question still remains though why do I continue to look toward the world for affirmation?  And why do I take my frustrations out on my loving husband?  Is it because he is indeed such an easy target and I know that he is going to love me anyway?

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September 3, 2011

Playroom Ideas with Printable

September 3, 2011

Decorating is not my strong suit, but I am trying to do better.  Currently, I am working on our playroom and my first item to go on the wall is going to be this “Playroom Rules” printable that I made about 6 months ago!  I thought it was finally time to put it to use!

Playroom Rules 11x14

If you would like this printable for yourself click on the image – it will open up in a new window.  Then, right click and choose to “save image as…” and save it to your computer.  I have sized it to 11x14.

I love searching the web for playroom ideas. I am amazed by how creative some mothers are! Leave a comment with a link to a post about your children’s playroom.

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September 2, 2011

Favorite Find Friday: I am Tennessee

September 2, 2011

Today is national College Colors Day… so the Brooks’ are sporting their orange today!  At 6pm tomorrow afternoon it will finally be Football Time In Tennessee and I know I could not be anymore excited! 

So my favorite find for this Friday is actually a “poem” called “I Am Tennessee” that I just happened to run across.  I hope you enjoy!

I am Tennessee . . . . .

I am Tennessee. I am the 30 year old couple coming back to campus for the first time with both little ones in tow. One wears her orange and white cheerleader outfit; the other wears #16 even though he's too young to understand why.

I am the 50 year old man who hoped no one saw tears in his eyes when the T was formed by the band. I was too choked even to sing "Rocky Top". For a moment I felt foolish and then I didn't care. God, I love this place.

I am the 60 year old woman meeting her freshman grand-daughter who is now the 3rd generation of UT students in our family. Despite my age, I'd strap it on Saturday and hit someone if it weren't for my gender and this blasted arthritis.

I am Tennessee and I have always believed I was different. You can see it when you look up into the stands. My orange is not the same as Florida's or Auburn's . But the differences go much deeper than my colors.
Read my creed. What other school has one? I genuinely believe in these things. To be a real Tennessee man or woman speaks of character, not of geography.

All are welcome to walk though my gates, not just the wealthy or the elite.
Georgia and Alabama may have their nations, but we have always been family. Make no mistake, we loathe defeat, but even in defeat, we would rather be a Tennessee Vol than anything else.

We are family and you are the sons of Heisman, the sons of Majors and Neyland. You come from a long line of brothers who names include White, Gault, Wilson, Manning, Shuler, Nash and Mahelona. It is a great heritage.

So this Saturday, when the warm ups are over and the prayers and amen spoken, when you hear my thunder growing in the stands above you, when you stand in the tunnel and the smoke begins to form, listen for my voice when you run onto my field. Behind the frenzy of the shakers and deafening roar, I will tell you something in a whisper you may miss. I will be telling you that you are my sons and I am proud of you for the way you wear the orange and white. I am telling you that you are my sons and I love you.

Tennessee is so much more than a state or a school or a team or a degree. It is something that, once you have experienced it, will live inside of you forever and become a part of what makes up who you are.

It is driving into town on a game day. You may have come from hundreds of miles away and as you get closer and closer to the city limits, you feel it rising inside of you. Other cars on the highway proudly display their Orange and White flags or magnets or car tags, and you honk and wave at them, because, for that one day, you are all on the same team.

It is the smell in the air and the ritualistic act of tailgating...catching up with old friends, making new ones, and invitations from perfect strangers to try their ribs or watch their satellite TV showing all of the day's important match-ups...of course, all being secondary to the one that will occur in the great cathedral of Neyland Stadium later that day.

It is the Vol Walk...where you might just see 300 pound men overcome with emotion and weeping with pride, because you have come there to cheer them on. As they walk by, you might exchange a glance with one or two of them, and you can see it in their is going to be their day.

It is the students...dressed in their best, because going to a Tennessee game is like going to church for Tennessee show the same respect as you would if you were in God's house. Those students remind you of the days when you were walking in their shoes and Tennessee was your home...but then you realize, in many ways, it is still and always will be HOME.
It is that lump that rises in your throat when the band plays Rocky Top as the "T" is formed.

It is walking around on a "foreign" and sometimes hostile campus. You are easily identified (Tennessee people always are) and the enemy jeers and shouts things at you to mask their feelings of intimidation. But just then you happen upon a friend you have never met before. You know they are your friend by the colors they wear or the shaker in their hand. You exchange a "Go Vols" and a confident grin, because he/she knows what you know.

It is when your heart leaps with every touchdown, field goal, sack, and interception...because those are our boys. And win or lose, they will always have our un-dying support. After all, it is those boys that you are really there for and not a coach or a logo or a trustee or a president.

It is the complete and utter exhilaration of walking away victorious over a worthy opponent...that feeling of pride and accomplishment as if it were your own feet that had crossed the goal line scoring the last points yourself...that feeling of wanting to scream "Go Big Orange" at the top of your lungs and hug complete strangers...and then there is the ultimate high of defeating your most hated foes from across the state.

No words can describe what this feels like, but you know because you have experienced it.It is the sheer agony of defeat as the last minutes tick off of the clock and you realize that all hope of a victory is gone. You feel like crying and maybe you do...then you hear the faint sounds of a cheer that grows louder and louder...."Its Great To Be A Tennessee Vol."

It is knowing that year after year, no matter how things change in our hectic lives, you can always come back to "The Loveliest Place on the River"...the place where you came from...your home. It will probably look a little different and there will be new names on the backs of the jerseys, but deep down, no matter what, it is still the same. You still love it as much as you always have, because Tennessee is as much a part of you as your arms and your legs and the orange blood that runs through your veins.

And, finally, it is the feeling you have right now as you read these lines....the anticipation inside of you, because you know its almost time....Its about to start all over again...but then it really never goes away, does it?

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September 1, 2011

I Love My Alma Mater

September 1, 2011
I mention before how much I love my Alma Mater, but this time of year makes me really miss it!  I miss being a college student, I miss living in a college town surrounded by all the excitement of the fall and football in Tennessee!  Anyone who has ever lived in a college town can completely relate.Last Friday was Orange day in Knoxville in support of Pat Summit who was just diagnosed with early onset Dementia.  I loved walking down the mall and seeing everyone decked out in their Tennessee gear and fought the urge to yell, "Go Vols!".

Because I do love my alma mater so much I made this University of Tennessee printable to print, frame and sit on our bookshelf with the rest of our TN memorabilia.  If you ever attended UT you are way too familiar with most of these buildings!

UT Printable
If you would like this printable for yourself just click on it and it will open in a new window, then right click and choose to save it to your computer.

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