Thrilled to Pieces Teacher Gift

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Y’all, I cannot believe it. I feel like I was just sitting here writing down Chickadee’s birth story, updating you each month on how she has learned to sit and say mama. And just like that she is almost THREE and starting preschool. Someone might have to mop me up off the floor because I am sure I will be an emotional wreck counting down those three hours until I pick her up. And then I know the next week will come, she will be LOVING it, and I will be cherishing this special time with just me and Sprout. Oh baby girl, you are going to have so much fun, learn so much, make so many friends, and I pray share the love of Jesus! 

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We met her teachers yesterday and wanted to share a little token of our excitement with them. I made this sign on Picmonkey, but you can download it here if you would like. I let Chickadee add her own touch, then cut it out and attached it and a gift card to a bag of Reeses Pieces. Who doesn’t love Reseses Pieces? We are THRILLED for sweet Chickadee and for her new teachers! As some of you know I taught before staying home with Chickadee & Sprout. I know firsthand how much love, sweat, dedication, time and energy it takes to teach children of all ages and we so appreciate those that will pour into our little ones over the next years. 

Have a great weekend folks (and send a little prayer our way on Monday!)!

The Best Menu Planning Strategy EVER

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I really enjoy cooking and baking. It is relaxing (when done during naptime!) and I like having something to show for my hard work. However, what I don’t like about the cooking process is coming up with what to cook each night. Most Sunday nights I would ask III what he would like for dinner that week. Other times I planned based on what’s on sale at the grocery store. But all that changed a few months ago. Yall, this is the best menu planning strategy ever. Can’t believe I just figured it out.

We sat down and made a list. A list of our 30ish favorite meals to eat. Here are a few that I included on our list…

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Lasagna

Mexican Cheeseburgers

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Chicken Paninis

Pizza Pasta

Omelets

Hamburger Sliders

Tacos

Italian Enchiladas

Sausage, Spinach & Tomato Pasta

Grilled Chicken on Salad

Breakfast (Waffles)

Chicken Fried Rice

Nachos

Homemade Pizza

Pasta with Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Honey Lemon Chicken

Crockpot Ribs

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After making my list I arranged the list that made the best sense for using similar ingredients. For example, I might buy a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week. I can used that chicken for both chicken enchiladas and chicken fried rice. I always do breakfast at least once a week. Sometimes I’ll make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce and use it at the beginning of the week for spaghetti and at the end for homemade pizzas. 

It takes the hardest part out of menu planning. I no longer have to come up with “what to cook.” I just rotate through the meals every month. When fall comes around I add in soups and more hearty meals perfect for cooler weather. This discovery makes me happy & I hope it does you too!

Windblown Toddler Activity

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We go to the library EVERY week. Our local library is fabulous. They have a children’s area full of puzzles, board books, holiday themed search bins, and bead mazes. Story time is several times a week. The kids love the books, songs, and bubble/ball time. For the older toddlers they also do a craft time. We are so blessed, and I bet you are too. The best part is it’s also free.

Another bonus is it’s across the street from a little playground and the duck pond, another weekly MUST. These cute little ducklings were just born.

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At the library last week Chickadee grabbed a book called Windblown. (affiliate link)

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I’d not heard of it before but we threw it in our library bag and took it home. I’m so glad she did. It’s Amazon description says

Where did all these pieces of paper come from? Who do they belong to?

The chicken is sure that they belong to him, but so is the fish, and so is the bird, and the snail and the frog… Using the same small scraps of paper over and over again to create a new animal on each page, Édouard Manceau has created a timeless cumulative tale that will delight and enchant children as they try to figure out just who the pieces of paper do belong to.

The book is super cute and super creative. As a former teacher, I was all in on this activity. Chickadee and I cut out all the shapes one afternoon while Sprout was still napping. We had so much fun replicating the animals in the book. Then we tried making a few new animals & other things of our own. Chickadee is 2.5 so this was definitely a guided activity. She loves the opportunity to be creative & this book/craft project was a definite hit. So pick up the book or better yet check it out at your local library and enjoy an afternoon of fun with your little one!

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Italian Enchiladas

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We’ve been on an enchilada kick around here! They are absolutely delicious and easy to make ahead. Make ahead is so important when you are wrestling with a 1 year old and 2.5 year old at 5:00. I always try and prep dinner during nap time to make the witching hour easier, so this recipe is perfect for all of our sanity! We’ve been eating both green chile and red sauce enchiladas, but I decided tonight I would mix things up a little bit. I decided to take one of our other favorites, chicken Parmesan and turn it into an enchilada recipe! Are you ready for this? 
walmart_pic I was recently introduced to Tortilla Land ® Flour Tortillas. Have you heard of them? They are in the refrigerated section of your local Walmart (I found them near the queso & cream cheese). I love that they are refrigerated because that means less preservatives. Also they are made from 5 simple ingredients (all of which I’ve heard of!). They take one extra step (you bake them on 30 seconds per side in a skillet), but it is well worth it! While I was toasting the tortillas I microwaved some Tyson ®, Grilled & Ready ® chicken. I always have a bag in the freezer. It makes chicken meals quick and convenient.

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I shredded it into a bowl. I added Wish-Bone ® Italian dressing, mozzarella cheese, parmesean cheese, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, & spaghetti sauce and mixed it all together. The Wish-Bone ® dressing adds all the seasoning you need to take this meal from good to great!

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Then I filled the tortillas with the chicken mixture and wrapped them up. In a glass baking dish I poured a little more spaghetti sauce and placed the filled tortillas, seam down, into it. Top the tortillas with a more spaghetti sauce and a mix of the mozzarella and parmesean cheeses. Bake on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. 

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I was a little unsure about this recipe…it doesn’t come from a recipe book, it just came from my head. But, y’all, it was so good! I am so proud of myself. Try this one for dinner soon. Your family with thank you! 

Italian Enchiladas
Yields 4
A combination of enchiladas & chicken Parmesan!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 Tortilla Land four tortillas
  2. 2 cups Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken
  3. 1/4 cup of Wish-Bone Italian Dressing
  4. 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  5. 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  6. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  7. 1 cup spaghetti sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare 4 tortillas according to package instructions
  3. Microwave 2 cups of chicken
  4. Shred chicken and mix with 1/4 cup Italian dressing, bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce in bottom of an 8x8 baking dish
  6. Fill tortillas (splitting chicken mix into fourth) and place in the baking dish
  7. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and cheese
A Step In The Journey http://astepinthejourney.com/

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Sprout | 15 months

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Dear Sprout,

July 11th you turned 15 months old. I am pretty sure that gives you toddler status to most, but to me you are still my baby boy. I think the time between your first birthday and today has been some of my favorite months with you. You are becoming more and more full of personality. We are starting to see how you think, what makes you tick, and what makes you giggle uncontrollably. You have likes and dislikes, interests and fears, and the ability to love fiercely as well as throw a little fit. You are my favorite little guy.

Your mobility has grown dramatically. You took your first wobbly steps May 10th, were able to go from sitting to standing by yourself on the 16th, and by the 30th I declared you a walker. In the last few months you have gone from taking cautious steps to running around the house in excitement. You still fall occasionally and your poor little head gets bumped quite often, but you are doing your best to keep up with Chickadee. Playgrounds and the backyard are so much fun now that you aren’t eye to eye with the wood chips and dirt :)

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You’ve begun talking a lot since your first birthday as well. You first word was Mama (YES!) on May 31st. You also now say Dada, Chickadee, Bubba (for brown bunny), and attempt to say most of what we ask of you. You “talk” ALL the time and I have a feeling you will be an extrovert just like your daddy. You also sign. “More” was first on May 23rd and since then you’ve also learned milk, all finished, sleep & down. We are still working on please and thank you. You also communicate with us by waving bye bye and blowing kisses when you leave a room to go to sleep. Animal sounds have also been fun…your favorite book is “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle. You’ve learned to act like a gorilla, monkey, and seal from that book. Also the sounds of an elephant, cow, lion, and sheep are the cutest coming out of your little mouth. Not only has your ability to communicate with us grown, you also are understanding SO much & following directions.

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Your sleeping continues to be up and down, but I’m happy to say you have been in an upswing the past week or two. Currently you sleep about 11.5 hours at night and take a 2-2.5 hour nap in the afternoon. You are in the fun will he/won’t he take a morning nap stage and most days it ends up being a no. I think you will officially drop it all together pretty soon. You have started sleeping with Bubba, the brown bunny & I think you are attached. He brings you comfort and a smile and I know that is reassuring at night!

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You ventured back to the beach in June. You absolutely LOVED the sand and the ocean. Standing in the waves and letting them crash into you was probably your favorite. You squealed and asked for more constantly. The sand you found to be quite tasty and were not happy we wouldn’t let you eat it, but took to playing with a shovel and bucket instead pretty well. We all four slept in a room together and while I was pretty nervous, besides the crazy early wake up calls by you it all went okay.

You are now in the walking room at church. You do pretty well most Sundays and Tuesdays. They have you “coloring” and sitting in a chair for snack. It’s pretty cute. However, I’m pretty sure your favorite part is when we come back to pick you up!

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Our last doctor’s trip was at 14.5 months. You weighed in at 22lbs 8oz and were about 30 inches tall. That puts you in the 50% for weight and 25% for height :) We love you our little chunky boy. You had a pretty bad cold/cough and received your first dose of amoxicillin. We are thankful it cleared things us for you!

You continue to eat everything we do at the table. You love using a fork & I think I’ll take an adventure with you, a spoon, and yogurt soon. Your favorite food right now is anything on my plate not matching yours. You also are a big fan of sweet potatoes, string cheese, avocados, peanut butter sandwiches, and you can slurp down a smoothie in 10 seconds flat! You aren’t loving meat as much as you used to, but I am sure you will come back around. I think your sister went on a similar meat strike.

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God is so good little guy and we are so blessed he entrusted us to be your parents. You are thriving and it is pure joy to watch you take in the world each and every day. We are praying for the day you come to know Jesus and pray that in the days to follow you move mountains in his name. We love you sweet boy.