Five For Fun

1. Holy moley!!! As you may have noticed, things have been a little bit quiet around here lately. Despite the cyber-silence things on the other side of the screen have been abuzz with busyness, let me tell you!  Craft fairs, family trips, parent-teacher interviews, work conferences, small people losing their first teeth, baptisms, Christmas-planning…all on top of this thing we call Life.  We Mamas have been up to our armpits lately, but we’ve missed you!

2. Back in August I made 12 complete freezer meals for my family and 8 partial or “short-cut” freezer meals. Additionally, I had some breakfast items, baked goods and other freezer staples stockpiled in hopes that this would make things a lot easier to manage when I returned to work in September.  The good news is that this has been working extremely well, as I have mentioned previously.  We’ve been eating hot, homemade meals on a regular basis, and breakfasts, while quick, have been easy and balanced.  The very, very, very bad news is that when I went to my freezer this evening to consider what I might use later this week I discovered that I have only three meals, 8 muffins, and 12 waffles remaining.  I have a feeling yogurt tubes and KD will be making a comeback in our house leading up to Christmas Break.

3. Our oldest turned six (!!) last weekend.  Not only is he the only child willing to take silly selfies with me, he’s also sweet, smart, funny, fun-loving, and a fantastic big brother.  We are so proud of him and can’t wait to see what the next six years will hold.  To celebrate we had our second “out of the house” party ever, at Rebel Space Indoor Playground & Cafe and it was worth every penny.  15 little boys had an absolute blast and there were plenty of sweaty heads to prove it.


4. I’m starting to believe that if I hear Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” even ONE MORE BLESSED TIME I may impale myself with the nearest available stabby thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some Tay-Tay.  For real.  But, I can only do this so many times.  So just stop it.  Please.

5. Last time I posted a Five for Fun I mentioned that I needed to see my family doctor, my dentist, and find the time to mop my floors. I am pleased to announce that since then I have managed to do all of these things.  Of course the floors now need to be mopped again.  But here’s a question: Is it really possible for a working mama to have clean teeth, a clean bill of health, AND clean floors all at the same time?  Exactly.  So, I’m taking my 2/3 to the bank and calling it a win because teeth and health trump tile every time!

**Sneaky bonus number 6**  I’m feeling challenged in all my busyness to make the upcoming season of Advent all about slowing down, being present, practicing patience, and finding the joy in just being still.  I’m hoping to write more about this in the weeks to come.  Stay tuned!

Love, Amanda


Raising a Reader: The Home Library

Greetings, Mighty Ones!

A few weeks ago, I wrote a “What I Wore to…” post and mentioned that I have recently developed a love for thrift shopping.  Of course, I was talking about clothes in that context and while there is so much to say on the subject of women’s clothing, the high retail prices we pay for poor quality pieces, and the gold-mine that is second-hand clothing stores, today I would like to focus my passion for thrifting in a slightly different direction:  Books.

Those who know me will understand that when I use the word “books” I am speaking primarily of classic, well-written, high quality, wholesome literature.  So then, no vampires, no steamy smut, and very few dragons.

As a teacher, a parent, an educated woman, and a Christian it is very important to me that my children fall in love with the written word.  I grew up in a home where literacy was highly valued and promoted on a daily basis.  My mom worked at home and when I was very young we began each day with a long snuggle and lots of story books read aloud.  In those days the stories would have been primarily from the Little Golden Books series and I still remember the beautiful illustrations, the whimsical plots, and the dreamy deliciousness of a good book.

As I got older my father read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to me in the evenings, along with the New King James Bible, and other books.  I devoured books on my own and some of my favorites included the Little House series, The Babysitters Club, The Secret Garden, Little Women, The Seventh Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Story Girl, and the Ramona Quimby series.

I was an avid reader from a very young age, and to my knowledge my parents rarely censored my reading material.  I do not ever remember them telling me that I could not read such-and-such, or that certain books or genres were not allowed.  For the most part I chose books from the household shelves, borrowed from my school library or from friends, and read to my heart’s content.  These days some might say that my parents’ rather hands-off approach to my literary consumption was irresponsible or naive (who knows *what* kind of trash I could have been reading!), but the truth is that of the hundreds of books I have read in my lifetime there are maybe only a dozen that I now recognize as inappropriate choices, either because of mature subject matter, or just plain trashy, poor quality writing.  Now as a parent and teacher looking back, I realize that the main reason that my reading material was of such high quality was because my parents and teachers made a point of only making those types of books available to me.  They technically let me choose, but they actually had more control over that choice than I ever realized.  They were intentional about what types of books filled the shelves in our home and in my school and because of that I was able to independently develop a love of great literature.

Now that I have three children of my own, the oldest of whom is an emergent reader who loves books, I have begun to fill the shelves of our home with the kinds of books I want my children to read.  There is a little bit of everything genre-wise, from silly comedy to suspenseful drama, police mysteries to fairy tales, and there are almost 200 children’s and teen titles covering two huge books shelves.

I have managed to find almost all of these books at either Value Village or in library cast-off piles.  The retail price of my home library would likely run into the thousands and I can say with confidence that I have spent less than $300 over two years.  My children now have access to a very high quality home library at an extremely affordable cost.  True, some of the books are not in pristine condition, but the vast majority of them are.  And after all, we are not to judge books by their covers, are we?

Here is a (very) small sampling of some of our favourite titles from our home library.  All of them were purchased second hand, and all of them are highly treasured by my kids.  Most of them have been read aloud to my two eldest children, and all of them have been read by me at one point or another:

  1. James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
  2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
  3. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater
  4. Ramona the Pest, by Beverly Cleary
  5. My Naughty Little Sister, by Dorothy Edwards
  6. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren
  7. Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
  8. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, by Mordechai Richler
  9. The Seventh Princess, by Nick Sullivan
  10. Stuart Little, by E.B. White
  11. The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischmen
  12. Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
  13. The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson
  14. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
  15. A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond
  16. Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

In closing, I want to encourage all parents and educators to consider creating a large home-library consisting of the kinds of books you want your children to read.  Hit the thrift store and spend some time combing the shelves for high-quality titles.  Then start by reading them aloud to your children.  They won’t like everything you choose, and they won’t read every title you purchase, but having them in the house from the beginning of their reading careers will go an incredibly long way towards raising a child who loves high-quality literature and has discerning tastes when it comes to making wise book-choices.  I firmly believe that readers do not need to be born….they can be made!  And raising a reader is an amazing feeling for you, not to mention an invaluable gift to them.

Happy Thrifting and Happy Reading, Mighty Ones!

Love, Amanda

What’s For Dinner?

You guys.  This day.  Lord, have mercy on a working mama!

Tonight’s family dinner was brought to you by my dear friend Foresight.  For once, she showed up and she delivered, people. High-fives all around, Mamas.  I love it when six-weeks-ago-me makes my life easier today.

Back in August I made several meals to put in the freezer for just such a night as this and I am so glad I made the extra effort then in order to make now a little bit easier (and yummier!).  This past Sunday evening when I sat down to meal-plan for the week I realized that cooking was not going to happen tonight.  Staff meeting and marking meant staying late at work and cooking with three small people underfoot is no fun.  So, this morning before we headed out I took a homemade gluten-free lasagna from the freezer, popped it in the oven, set the automatic timer to come on mid-afternoon, and went off to work.  When we arrived home tonight at 5 o’clock the whole house smelled like a giant cheesy hug.  I quickly assembled a kale salad from things we had in the fridge and voilà…supper.  Lasagna is one of those things that I firmly believe tastes even better the second day, therefore tomorrow we will feast on leftovers.


Easy peasy!

Five for Fun

1. I’ve been back to work for three and a half weeks now. It feels pretty okay, you guys.  We’ve got an excellent and highly efficient morning routine going, the lunches have (so far) been homemade, the clothes have been clean, the dog has only punished us once for leaving her alone all day, the Tupperware lids are all still accounted for, and we all still like each other at bedtime.  Almost always.  So, there has been some bickering.  And there may possibly have been one or two incidents where I may possibly have screamed repeatedly at my family to GET IN THE VAN!!!  But generally, things are going well.  I have not even misplaced my keys that many times.  Okay, so seven times.  Really what I’m saying is that 43% of the time I knew exactly where my keys were at the exact moment I needed them.  That’s less than half the time, people.  If you know me at all you would know that the cards in my wallet are organized alphabetically, I fold my family’s underwear, and I have labels on all the things.  But I can rarely keep track of my keys.  So maybe I’ll work on that.  In any case, I feel pretty good about finding that this working mom thing is totally cray-cray most of the time but also highly doable most of the time.



Cabin 18

2. I recently spent a night away from home at White Point Beach Resort.  Oceanfront cabin, a fireplace, coffee, wine, girlfriends to share or sit in silence with, waves crashing on the rocks, a salty sea breeze, hand-knitted socks, a good book, a comfy chair, and blessed quiet.  It was everything I knew it would be.  Sometimes all it takes for me to remember everything I love about my life is to step away from my life for a short period of time.  It’s good to be back.


3. I tried a new curry recipe last week that my entire family (all three of my small people included) loved.  You will find it here.  The only changes we made were to add some sweet potato, diced carrot, about a cup of chicken stock, and about a tablespoon of fish sauce.  I served it over warm naan bread and, you guys, it was nommy.


4. My eldest son lost two teeth last weekend and I am pleased to say that the Tooth Fairy remembered to show up both times. Also, I was so not prepared for how emotional I would get over him losing his first tooth.  I’m pretty sure I’ll need to be sedated for his first middle school dance.  My baby is growing up and I don’t like it.


5. I really need to go to the dentist, see my family doctor, get a hair-cut/color, wax some stuff, and mop my floors. Since I am having difficulty deciding on the order in which to prioritize these things, in addition to the difficulty I am having in remembering on any given day that these things ought to be prioritized in the first place, I find myself doing none of these things every day so far this month.  I need to change my ways.

What I Wore to…Drop my Kids off at Daycare

Good morning, Mighty Ones!

Today is my very first “What I Wore…” post and I’ve been excited about it for weeks.  Let me tell you why.

As many of you know I recently returned to work after twenty-two months at home caring for my three little people.  Big deal, right?  Going back into the workplace after nearly two years of working at home changes nearly every aspect of your life, both big and small.  Because I think that this is something we mothers don’t talk about often enough, I’m going to risk sounding a little shallow here and go so far as to say that one of the biggest changes for me, and one that I thought about often and planned for extensively, was the necessary wardrobe shift.  I love clothes and I love to look nice whether I’m running to the mailbox, chasing my people at the playground, hanging out at home to bake something yummy (never underestimate the mood-boosting power of a fabulous apron, people!), attending church on Sunday morning, on a date with my (very) handsome husband, or teaching middle school.  I like to look my best because, whether I like to admit it out loud or not, feeling like I look nice has a huge impact on my mood.  And we all know the power that “Mommy’s Mood” has over a family.  And thanks to Spiderman, we also know that with great power comes great responsibility.  Therefore, I have come to the very scientifically-based conclusion that it behooves me to take care in this particular area of my life, since it can and does affect my entire family.  Don’t mistake me: This conclusion is never, ever, to be used as an excuse to shop.  Ever.  But it IS to be used as motivation to put thought and effort into creating a sustainable and well-planned wardrobe of things that make me feel fabulous.  There is much more to say on this topic, but I will wait for another time.

Anyway, today is a Monday, and therefore a work day for me.  At this point I would normally be teaching my first class of the day in one of my fabulous new-to-me (I have recently become a highly successful thrift shopper…more on that later as well!) work outfits.  But instead, I find myself at home nursing the inevitable “Back to School Bug” that teachers and students know all too well.  This of course means that instead of a professional dress, make-up, pumps, and pearl studs that I am actually rocking some black maternity yoga pants, a sports bra, and a long-sleeved cotton tee that used to belong to Monique’s sister.  No make-up.  Messy bun.  Runny nose.  Hacking cough.  Snuggly quilt.  Classy.

I did however need to run out and drop my children off at school and daycare early this morning, so I decided to show you that outfit instead.  This could also definitely be worn to work for Casual Friday, errand-running, and pretty much any other time I need to come across as put-together, but relaxed.  All these pieces are either hand-me-downs from friends or thrifted with the exception of the sunglasses (which are prescription), the earrings (which I bought at Walmart for under $4), and the lip-gloss (Covergirl Wetslicks Crystals, in “sassy”).


Here we have a cosy belted cardigan, a simple black cotton tee with a neckline that is flattering on my body-type, dark-wash skinny jeans, black Blowfish ballet flats, black ball stud earrings, sunglasses, lip-gloss, and a messy bun.  Comfortable, simple, tidy, well-fitting, stylish, and EASY.  Also, highly affordable.


So there you have it, Mighty Ones:  What I wore to drop my kids off at daycare.

Happy Monday!!