Big Goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s easy to simply dream about things you would like to do or achieve.

If you don’t make the goals realistic or manageable, they just stay dreams.

I’ve always set SMART goals to turn dreams into reality.

SMART goals are:





Time Bound

In May of this year, we set a big goal to pay off our mortgage in 5 years (by May 2020).

This goal fit with the SMART goals formula:

Specific – We want to pay off our mortgage in 5 years.

Measurable – Pay off the balance of the mortgage.

Attainable – We knew discipline, frugality and a bit of creativity, this was a realistic goal for our family.

Relevant – We feel like this is a very relevant goal since our mortgage is our only debt and we want to be completely debt free.

Time Bound – We want to do this by May 2020.

We started out very excited and felt like we were working towards an achievable goal. However, since it was such a big goal (knocking out thousands and thousands of dollars in debt), it felt like we weren’t making any progress.

So, we broke the goal down further. In July (2 months into the process),  I divided the amount we owed on our home by 58 months (the time remaining until May 2020). This gave us a monthly goal to work towards.

Having the monthly goal makes our big goal very doable. Each month, we have a specific amount we’re working towards paying off. Reaching this amount each month is still a bit of a stretch but we hit the monthly goal in July, August, September and October!

Working towards the monthly goal keeps the momentum going. Each month that we reach (and sometimes exceed) our goal, we are excited which encourages us to keep going. While it’s fun to see the big number go down, it still seems to move slowly so it’s more fun focusing on the monthly goal than on the total principal that we still owe.  

Do you have financial goals you want to achieve?

Maybe you want to pay off debt, save an emergency fund or start a college fund for your kids. Or maybe you need to finally sit down, create your budget and set financial goals.

There are several financial resources included in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle like Build a Budget that Works that can help you build a better financial life.

And, when it comes to money saving ideas, books like Green Your Life, 50 Frugal Dates and even my book Cloth Diapers : A How-To Handbook on the Basics of Cloth Diapering can provide inspiration to help you save as many of your hard earned dollars as you can.

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is available only until 11:59 p.m. EST tomorrow night. Hurry up and snag your bundle – it’s an excellent value!

Homeschool Space Tour

A few weeks ago, I shared about homeschooling in a small space. We don’t have a dedicated school room but we’re making the most of the space we do have.

Our dining area doubles as our learning space which mean this area of our home works all day long. Once breakfast is over we clear the dishes and wipe the table down so we can begin school. Once we’re finished with school for the morning, it’s lunch time and we once again gather around and eat. Many afternoons are spent around the table doing art projects, writing or playing with Legos. And, of course we use our table for dinner each evening.

Homeschool Space

This is the view from kitchen into the dining area. Our table and our school cabinet are the main components of our school room. The black wall you can partially see to the left is our chalkboard wall which is a fun learning space element.

Homeschool Cabinet

Our learning cabinet holds all of our school books and supplies as well as some games and learning toys for our toddler. This cabinet is actually a former TV cabinet that my mother-in-law gave us. A few coats of white paint gave it new life and it’s a great piece to hold all of our materials.

School Books

This top shelf holds our smaller Sonlight books and school supplies (pencil sharpener, scissors, glue, hole punch, stapler, etc.) are contained in the white basket.

The bottom shelf holds our Sonlight books as well as some workbooks we’re working through. The green bin holds the school work for the next day. Each day when we finish our lessons for the day, I spend a few minutes gathering all of the books that we’ll need for lessons the next day and put everything together in the green bin. When I’m preparing to do school in the mornings, I grab all of our materials out of this bin and we’re ready to start learning for the day.

Homeschool Shelf

The shelves to the right contain the kids art and coloring books and hold their crayons, color pencils and markers. The middle shelf is our library shelf. I have found that having a place for library books makes keeping up with them much easier and also makes them not seem like clutter while they’re here (a place for everything and everything in it’s place!) The bottom shelf holds things for Cecilia to play with while we do school. I try to keep these items rotated. And, truth be told, she’d much rather be sitting at the table, trying to get in on the action and attempting to write on things than play with her toys!

My StudentAnd, here’s my student. I’ve been planning on homeschooling him since before he was born and it’s hard to believe that Kindergarten has finally arrived and we’re actually doing it. I was so nervous about finding a good rhythm before we started but so far it has been a really enjoyable experience for all. We’ve had a few moments, but overall I’m thankful for the opportunity to educate him at home.

Our Temporary Chaos

Our life has been a bit chaotic this past month.

We started the first phase of our home renovation on August 22. (And, when I say we, I really mean my husband, my role in all of this is to serve as the cleaning crew and do some painting!)

We put in a wall between our kitchen and hallway, are replacing floors in the hall, kitchen and dining area, plan to take down a partial wall in the kitchen, rearrange our cabinets, put in a gas oven and redo the backsplash.

We’re over a month in and it’s just been a hall renovation so far. We’ve ripped out the tile in the hall. Doing that caused us to find that at some point our return air unit had leaked so there was moisture in the sub floor. This caused the flooring to temporarily come to a halt and we had to bring in an HVAC professional. We’re thankful it doesn’t have to be entirely replaced but it’s currently sitting in our carport, waiting to be re-installed.

Cecilia's Room

Our home has been a bit unsettled these past few weeks. Cecilia’s room holds the entire contents of one of the hall closets and other things from the other two smaller ones. We also have some of the new hardwood flooring in her room and a box of miscellaneous home improvement items.


Our hall is half painted, mostly floored and we’ve been shuffling tools and other flooring items around in the hall.


The bathroom that is right off of the hall is serving as extra storage space.


Now, add to this chaos a carport that is half full of flooring, sub flooring, some ripped out tile and a table saw.

Yard Sale Stuff

The other half of the carport contains yard sale items. I’ve been decluttering like crazy over the past couple of months and have decided to have a yard sale so our boys can raise money for a giving initiative at our church. Plus, our boys typically park their bikes in the carport so we’ve literally had to cut out a path just to get to our vehicles some days.


Our riding mower is in the shop and our push mower is currently needing repair so our yard looks like a hayfield. (The picture doesn’t look so bad but trust me, it’s tall!)

And, to top all of this off, my husband was sick ALL weekend Friday-Monday. Really sick. He attempted to do some flooring Friday afternoon which I’m convinced made everything worse. And, let’s be honest, lawn mower repair and flooring fall entirely on him because I lack those skills.

So, things are currently quite messy, cluttered and the yard looks awful.

However, I am at peace with the current situation because I know it’s temporary.

This is a huge step for me. My natural bent is perfectionism. In the past, tall grass, a carport full of junk and a house in the midst of home renovation would have made me miserable and absolutely unpleasant to be around.

While I have to admit, most of it is visually unsettling to me (clutter/chaos causes me to feel a bit stressed), I am able to move beyond my feelings in regards to the mess. In those moments it starts to bother me, I remember that a home renovation is a temporary time of chaos, we’re having a yard sale this Saturday and what doesn’t sell will immediately be donated and we soon shall have our mower back and the grass will be cut.

This past Sunday, our pastor talked over some current bad cultural lessons and one of those lessons we believe is that life is a performance.

My perfectionism has been driven by this.

I was trying to please and be found worthy by being perfect. As an adult, it shifted from grades and extracurricular performance to trying to keep my home and yard perfect and appear to have things all together.

Thankfully, the desire to perform has been identified and no longer drives me.

Perfect doesn’t exist. Life is messy, life is cluttered, life is imperfect.

And, while it may be hazardous (ha, ha) to have anyone in our home during this season of temporary chaos, I’m not embarrassed by what anyone may think of the mess and disorder that is currently our home.

Don’t be so caught up in trying to perform and be found worthy that you live your life for other people. Life is not a performance. 

Bringing Meals

Bringing meals to families after the birth of a baby, during times of sickness or loss is such a simple way to really bless a family and make them feel loved and cared for.

After the birth of our third baby, we were blessed with many meals from friends in our small group and other friends from church. Every meal that was delivered made me feel loved and cared for. And, I’m so thankful for the sweet friends who took time out of their busy days of caring for their own little ones to prepare a meal for our family.

Since I know what a blessing meals are to families, I prefer to celebrate babies by bringing a meal or two instead of giving them more stuff for baby (babies don’t need much)!

In the past, I’ve made excuses for not bringing meals to families, telling myself I was too busy taking care of my kids, preparing our own meals and that I didn’t know what to bring.

While, it does take some time out of my day, I’ve found that bringing meals can be pretty simple and involve a minimal amount of time, thanks to planning and keeping meals simple.

I have two meals that I typically bring to families:

    1. Roasted Chicken,  Baked Carrots, Potatoes and Onions, Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert
    2. Chicken Parmesan Casserole with Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert

Dessert is usually cookies or brownies.

Sometimes, I’ll bring fresh fruit (like bananas or cut up melon) or muffins so the family can have something extra to snack on and pack kid friendly foods (cheese sticks, carrot sticks) for kiddos.

Meal to Bring

These two meals are simple to prepare and are family favorites. I typically keep the ingredients to make both of these meals on hand. This makes bringing a family a meal on short notice possible without a trip to the grocery store.

I’ve found that knowing what I’m bringing allows me to volunteer to bring meals without any stress over what I’ll prepare. And, preparing the same two meals makes getting the meal packed up and ready to deliver simple since I know exactly what containers I need.

Packed Up Meal

Once everything is cooked, I package it up in disposable containers and bags. Disposable pans work best for my main dish, green beans can be transported in disposable pans or plastic containers (like Gladware) and rolls/brownies/cookies are easy to package in a plastic bag. (I hate the waste element of this but it’s easier for the family to not have to worry about returning dishes.) 

I have learned the hard way that transporting food in disposable containers can result in some leaks. I’ve had several green bean juice leaks – once all over the back of the van.

To avoid leaks in my vehicle, I line my clothes basket with a clean towel and load everything into the basket. This not only keeps any leaks contained, it’s also an easy way to deliver the meal. I am able to bring everything into the home in just one trip.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a good cook or truly don’t have the time to prepare meals for families, you can still bless families with food.

  • Pick up a Rotisserie Chicken at your local grocery store, add a salad mix, fresh bread and fruit.
  • Pick up all the fixings for homemade sub sandwiches and add chips and fruit.
  • Bring takeout from any restaurant. (Calling ahead to see what the families favorite foods are would be a nice gesture.)
  • Bring a basket of snacks. (John David’s grandparents brought a bunch snacks and fresh fruit after Cecilia’s birth – it was much appreciated and the boys were thrilled with all the yummy snack foods!)
  • Invite the family over to join your family for a meal – you won’t have to worry about transporting food at a certain time and they won’t have to worry about any clean up.
  • If you live in a different town, you can still bless friends with meals via gift cards to restaurants in their area.

For more meal ideas, here are some of the meals we were given (and everything was delicious):

      • Baked Spaghetti, Salad and Bread
      • Quiche, Baked Oatmeal, Fruit (breakfast for dinner – yum!)
      • Pot Roast, Green Beans and Rolls
      • Chicken and Rice Soup, Salad, Bread
      • Chicken Enchiladas, Beans and Fruit
      • Stromboli, Salad, Fruit
      • Pizza
      • Chicken Casserole, Salad and Bread
      • Hamburgers, Chips and Pineapple Casserole
      • Potato and Corn Chowder and Corn Muffins
      • Smoked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Our boys really loved the nights that pizza and hamburgers were brought. In fact, they’ve asked me several times over the past year when we were going to have another baby because they liked having people bring us food!  (Our entire family was truly blessed by the gift of meals!)

Do you have specific meals you bring? I’d love to know your easy to transport meal ideas!