Great Lent: My Favorite Liturgical Season

Today is the the last day of the fourth full week of Lent.  In the Orthodox church Great Lent is 40 days.  It begins on a Monday and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday. This is slightly different  from the Western Calendar observance of Lent.

I love Great Lent. This is a [supposedly] quiet time of reflection: an opportunity for reconnecting to our faith and growing spiritually. It’s the time of preparation. We remember creation and the fall.  We remember our great need for a Savior. 

During Lent we fast from certain foods but even more importantly we fast from sin and strive to discipline our flesh. We spend more time in prayer, more time at church, and hopefully, more time loving God and loving others.

 Holy Week follows Great Lent

In practical terms, my family strives for less outside activities, more family prayer, and less screen time. We choose not to watch certain favorite videos and instead pick more educational, documentary style shows.  We don’t always keep to the standards. Some days I feel like I fail miserably.

Great Lent is my favorite liturgical season because it brings Christians together.  Unites them in preparation for the greatest feast, the foundational feast:  Pascha.  The Resurrection of the Lord is the cornerstone of Christianity. This season is a time of beauty and reflection.

Favorite Anything Series at www.circlingthroughthislife.com

Do you have a favorite season? I’d love to hear about it. Have a blog post about your favorite book, actor, hymn, Bible verse or anything that is your  favorite? Then come link up. Be sure and visit the other blogs linked up to see what their favorite anything is this week.

Rules for linking up:

  1. Post must talk about something that is your favorite.  It doesn’t have to be the same topic as my favorite post this week but it must be about something that is your favorite.
  2. Please include a link back to my blog.  You are welcome to grab the button from the sidebar to include in your post.


Random 5 ~ March 28th Edition

This is it!  The last Random 5 (*cough* *cough* Saturday) on Friday for March!  Nearly 3 months gone already of 2014.  Time just starts flying by faster and faster every day!

I’m going to start with a Random Picture that I just love.

BooBear's Beautiful Roses


Annunciation1. This past week (March 25) was the Annunciation.  When I was growing up (catholic), it was a big deal in the Church but yet not.  I mean it was just not a big deal for me or my family.  It’s a big deal for us now and I have a much better understanding of why we celebrate this feast.  (Or why we should.  I don’t think my family does a very good job but my church always has a liturgy service and a fish dinner.)  Sure it’s a feast about Mary.  But it isn’t really so much about Mary as it is about Christ.  This is the  day the church celebrates Gabriel’s announcement that Mary is to bear a Child who will “save His people from their sins.”  This feast celebrates the conception of Christ by the Holy Spirit. God became flesh through Mary.  For many years, I thought it was just an inappropriate glorification of Mary.  Nope.  She was chosen by God.  She humbly accepted and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became incarnate.  WOW.   It’s a feast that celebrates and proclaims the fulfillment of scriptures that a virgin would bring forth a child.  A friend of mine wrote a blog post earlier this week pondering Mary and she echoes my own thoughts.


2. It’s been spring break this week for BooBear.  She’s been enjoying sleeping in and I’ve enjoyed having her around to help with cooking. She’s so creative and used her time during spring break to repurpose some old dresses into cute skirts that she can wear with leggings. She even used some extra material to make some headbands to match! The other three girls will have two week spring break during Holy Week and Bright Week.

Boobear repurposes an old dress into a cute skirt.

3. During Lent, on Friday nights, our parish has a soup supper and talk.  Different families volunteer to prepare the supper which consists of two or three different soups, fresh fruit, bread, and usually juice or some type of beverage.  Our priest then gives a talk.  Father has a theme each year and this year the theme has been centered on the sacramental life of the Church.  This week (yes, I’m posting on Saturday again!) the talk focused on the meaning of the preparation for Communion. I came away from the talk with a renewed sense that all of my life should be sacramental and that I shouldn’t try to separate things out into “church life” and “secular life.”

4. It’s been raining and raining and raining.  Yes, I know it’s the Pacific Northwest but I heard rumors that this has been the rainiest March.  Some type of record breaking amount of rain.  We are used to this much rain in November but not March.

5. I forgot my camera on Thursday when we visited with a wonderful gentleman from church.  He’s Greek.  He was a chanter for many years at the Greek Orthodox Church. A sweet home schooling mama friend of mine arranged for us home schooling families from church to meet with Mr. H to learn about Byzantium Chanting. While sipping apple juice Boobear, Supergirl, Turtlegirl, and Tailorbear learned about Greek sheet music, the history of the 8 tones, and learned how to chant Lord have mercy and Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit in Greek.  Mr. H created DVDs with more information that we could take home. He shared stories about some of the composers and even shared the story of one of the patron saint of one of the children. I just wish I had my camera so I could have grabbed a picture of the girls with Mr. H. It was a fascinating talk and the afternoon went much too fast!


The Pebble Pond

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Remembering Disney World ~ Think Back Thursday

I haven’t done any kind of think back (or throw back if you prefer) Thursday kind of post in months, perhaps over a year!  But I was trying to find something on one of the thumb drives and I found our Disney pictures from November of 2008.

Supergirl has a life threatening heart condition.  (Life threatening does not mean terminal.  Many people think that wishes are granted only to children with terminal illnesses.  This is not true.) In April of 2008, Supergirl’s cardiologist recommended her for the Make-A-Wish program.  She wished to go to Disney World (yes that’s the one in Florida!) and meet Buzz Lightyear.

It was a memorable trip and she still talks about it!  It’s also been wonderful for me to look back at these pictures and see how much this tiny little thing has grown. So here’s a a few of pictures from that memory making family vacation.

Waiting for our plane to board to take us to Florida

Meeting Mickey and Minnie

Meeting Buzz Lightyear at Disney World

The Girls meet Eeyore at Disney World

Our Make-A-Wish trip to Orlando, Florida included 1 free day pass to SeaWorld in addition to our Park Hopper Passes to Disney World.

We even got to visit SeaWorld

In addition to being a Think Back Thursday type of post, this post is also a Thankful Thursday post.  I am forever grateful to the volunteers and supports of Make-A-Wish for the incredible vacation they provided us.  We all treasure the memories.

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me.  Do you have a memory that you are thankful for?


Random 5 {March 21st Edition}

Thursday was the first day of spring so I’m tempted to call this the 1st Day of Spring Edition.  Been a busy busy week here!

1.  Tuesday Honeybear and I made an unplanned trip to Urgent Care.  He’s fine.  But it was a good thing we went.  His finger had been sore and bothering him and was clearly infected.  It’s gross so I didn’t take any pictures.  Trust me, infected fingers are not pretty.  Honeybear and his finger are doing much better now.  Finger is looking much better as the antibiotics do their job.

2.  On Wednesday I made a Vegetable “Beef” Soup.  I wanted it to be lower in carbs so I used the trick of using radishes instead of potatoes.  Carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, radishes, turnips, rutabaga, diced tomatoes, and cabbage in a vegetable broth. The girls really liked it.  The radishes really do make a great substitute for potatoes but they they awhile to  cook.  I think I should write a blog post about using radishes as potatoes.  What do you think?  Would you be interested in reading more about using radishes to make family favorites a little lighter on the carbs?

3.  Thursday was Tailorbear’s birthday.  It is tradition in our house for the birthday person to choose a whole special birthday menu. She chose French Toast for breakfast, and bologna sandwiches on white bread with Cheetos and grapes for lunch.  Chocolate/Vanilla swirl pudding cups finished out the lunch.  During breakfast she got a special “birthday greetings” phone call from Nana.  This is another family birthday tradition.   Dinner was a special treat celebrating both her birthday, and the 49th anniversary for a wonderful older couple from church.  They have adopted us and are like grandparents to the girls.  Dinner also celebrated something else but you’ll have to wait until point 5 read about it.  Here are some birthday related pictures!

Tailorbear gets birthday wishes from Nana

Birthday French Toast Image Random 5

Supergirl enjoyed the birthday lunch.  She asked for a sandwich.  She then proceeded to take it apart to eat it.  Wasn’t it just bologna and bread with smudges of mustard on both? Oh well.  She liked it and she ate it.  That’s what matters, right?

Supergirl Enjoys eating the birthday lunch sandwich her own way.

4.  Later in the birthday afternoon I got a call from the Vision Center.  Honeybear’s contacts were ready for pick up.  They did a quick check and Tailorbear’s new glasses were ready.  Turns out only the “back up” pair of glasses were ready and her “regular, really cool looking” glasses were still at the lab but she did bring home the new “back up” pair to use while she waits.  She doesn’t have to wear them all the time but should wear them when doing school work or when her eyes are tired.  No pictures of her, yet.  We have to wait for the cool glasses to be ready but here’s Honeybear with contacts.

Honeybear wearing contacts

5.  Boobear had her first piano student recital for college on the same night as her sister’s birthday.  This wasn’t Boobear’s first piano recital but it was the first recital as at college.  Photos inside the music hall are not permitted so I have no pictures of her at the grand piano. I know I am completely biased so my opinion should be taken with a large lump of salt but I thought she was the most expressive of all the students.  Well I don’t know about the organist as I couldn’t see him play.  Her talent, hard work, and love of music combine together to create a performance that is as much a joy to watch as it is to hear.

Boobear at home after the first college keyboarding recital.

The Pebble Pond

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Exploring Many Languages with Mango Homeschool Edition {Crew Review}

When I was in high school I took both German and French. In my home school, my daughters have explored Greek and are studying Latin. I’ve always wanted to learn Hebrew; Supergirl has a “thing” for Spanish and Honeybear? He’s been wanting to study Greek and Hebrew and refresh his German.

Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and Mango Languages, in addition to the above languages the girls can explore over 60 languages including: Russian, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. They can even learn Pirate. Five us us have been able to use Mango Homeschool Edition.

Mango Homeschool Edition Review Highschool Foreign Language

Mango Homeschool Edition: Mango Passport:

The actual language study lessons, quizzes and tests are accessed through Mango Passport.

Mango Passport ( i.e. Mango Passport Russian, Mango Passport German) is the heart of the program. This is where students learn the language through online lessons. Mango Passport includes chapter quizzes and unit tests. (Note: Currently there is no way to track progress or see which questions a student got wrong. These tests are more for assessing progress. Mango Homeschool Edition will be upgrading this feature in the next few months.) Some languages do not have quizzes.

Pointing out two features of lesson in Mango Homeschool EditionEnd of Chpt Screen Shot: Mango Homeschool Edition

I love that these online lessons include grammar notes as well as notes about the culture of the people.  Mango Passport teaches conversational phrases so students can begin using the language right away!

Grammar Note from French Mango Homeschool Edition

How we used Mango Homeschool Edition:

We focused on using the Mango Passport lessons. Turtlegirl opted to start a Russian notebook and took notes during her lessons. Because progress tracking is not yet available, she kept a log sheet noting her chapter test scores for me to record in our home school records.  She worked for 30-45 minutes each school day.  She would repeat lessons as needed to master the material. She took her studies seriously.

Turtlegirl studies Russian with Mango Homeschool

Tailorbear spent a shorter time each day using Mango.  She started out thinking that she might need flashcards and used the Course Guide for German to create flashcards for Chapter 1. She found that she didn’t need those as the lesson format along with repeating as needed, helped her to master her vocabulary.  She has many languages she wants to explore including Russian, Pirate and a few more.

Tailorbear studies German with Mango Homeshool Edition

Honeybear has less time to study languages since he is our primary breadwinner and works full time away from home.  He did spend a few evenings working on Biblical Greek.  He made the observation that, because Mango is a way to learn how to speak the language, it does not work well for learning how to read or write a language.  There is no time spent learning the alphabet.

Turtlegirl Describes her Experience Learning Russian:

I love the combination of visual and audio in Mango. It's perfect for me! I also like that in every lesson, you get new words, and then a review of words from previous lessons. I like that they have you combine different words to make a sentence. They will say something like, 'Using what you've learned, how do you think a man would say, "This is my wife."' They also make sure to tell you when a word is used differently in a certain context. Also, they give you the literal translation as well as the understood meaning. One of my favorite examples is 'praschei'. The understood meaning is 'farewell', but it literally means 'forgive me'. They also give you a bits and pieces about the culture. Again using 'praschei', in Russian culture, you only say 'praschei' to someone when you never expect to see them again. I love languages, and Mango Languages is the perfect way for me to learn them!

My Thoughts:

I am very impressed with Mango Passport. I love that you can use a microphone, record your voice and do a comparison of your voice pattern to that of the native speaker. This can help you correct your own pronunciation.  I like that there are chapter tests and unit tests.  If I understand correctly, “Journey’s” are Units and Units are broken down into chapters and chapters are further broken down into lessons. There is even a test at the end of the course to gauge your progress.

I love hearing my daughters walk around the house practicing their language of choice. Turtlegirl will say hello in Russian and Tailorbear will respond in German. 

If you are wanting to learning to speak a language, that is to be able have a conversation in that language, Mango Homeschool Edition can help you.  If you want to also read and write in that language, you will need to find additional resources.

On the future possibilities:

The creators of Mango Homeschool Edition have indicated that they are working on a Version 2 of the program. They hope to have this version available by this summer. I’m looking forward to the addition of a feature that would allow me to track the progress of my daughters.  That I would be able to see what she has completed and what scores she has received on chapter tests.  

Mango Languages Homeschool Curriculum Review Circling Through This Life

NOTE About Browsers:  I found the Saywire Community Platform to work best when I used Chrome as my browser.  With Firefox, I found some features, such as attendance in the space I set up, did not load correctly. If things do not look right for you in one browser, try another.

NOTE About Internet Speeds: When we started this review we had very basic “high speed internet” with speeds “up to” 1.5 mps.  The program worked but it often took a bit of time to load.  A few weeks ago we upgraded to speeds up to 12.5.The extra speed made a positive difference in how the site works.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Mango Homeschool Edition.


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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.


Random 5 {March 14th Edition}

Some weeks it is very easy for me to come up with 5 Random thoughts.  I do try to pick out things relevant to the past week but this week I decided to let  some of my thoughts be dictated by some photos from earlier this year.

1.  I think we’re getting used to the stranger who seemed to replace my husband.  We’ve adjusted enough to seeing him with contacts that we were all a little thrown when he chose to wear glasses for an evening.

2.  We missed all the pre-sanctified liturgies from this week.  At least we made both of them last week. I love Lent. (You’ll want to come back tomorrow to read about how Lent is my favorite liturgical season!)

3.  Lacey the cat is undaunted by a mere computer in the lap of her favorite human. Lacey is Turtlegirl’s constant school companion. Though I do not have any pictures to share, Lacey’s brother, George the Cat, loves read aloud time. If you are reading aloud he will come out and make himself comfortable, usually on the lap of the reader, and listen along.

Lacey shares a lap with a computer

4.  A while back Boobear and I were sorting “pretend kitchen” toys.  We were doing some deep cleaning and organizing so that Supergirl could better enjoy her kitchen. Boobear got a little silly with some plastic fruit.  Here are her “genetically modified” fruits:

The Strawpple

The Strawnana-the plastic GMO

5.  If you would have said to me “Tess, you will become a Whovian,” I would have reminded you that I tried to like Doctor Who.  I would have shared with you how my friend Dawn made me watch it back in the 80s and that I just “didn’t get it.”  I would let you know that I tried to watch the reboot but couldn’t get past the zombies in Victorian England in Episode 3 of the 9th doctor. Perhaps you would have smiled knowingly.  Maybe you would have nodded your head.  Well life is full of change.  A person’s taste can change.  I was not a science fiction/fantasy type of person 21 years ago when I met my husband. It’s not that I didn’t like Star Wars (I saw the movies that came out when I was growing up!) and I did like Next Generation.  I’m still not a fan of the Original Star Trek but I have developed, no cultivated a liking for science fiction.  I’ll blame my children and my husband and watching all those seasons of Stargate SG1 on Netflix. It doesn’t matter how it started. What matters is that while I eagerly await season 8 with Peter Capaldi, my family and I are watching Classic Who. And I am liking it. I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan.  I’ve become a Whovian.

The Pebble Pond

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When You Fast . . . Recipes for Lenten Seasons {Favorite Anything Series}

This is my 5th Lent as an Orthodox Christian. Lent for the Orthodox is, well, it’s different.  It’s not about giving up something in order to experience the suffering of Christ.  It’s about preparing ourselves for the greatest feast of the liturgical year: Pascha.  Pascha is the foundation of the Christian faith.  “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty(1 Cor 15: 14, Orthodox Study Bible).

During Great Lent we seek to deepen our spiritual life.  We fast, not just from certain foods, but also from sin.  We are to increase our alms giving and our prayers. I love the season of Lent because I am reminded of how great is the love of God and how vast my need for Him.

I am not a vegetarian by choice.  I would rather not eat a vegan diet if I have any alternatives, but . . . but . . . Lent!  So we fast. (The strictest of fasting rules are intended for monastics. Lay persons should fast following the advice of his/her priest.)

I have several cookbooks that are devoted to vegetarian recipes.  I’ve been collecting vegetarian and vegan recipes, but my favorite cookbook, the one I turn to more often than any other is the When You Fast . . . Recipes for Lenten Seasons by Catherine Mandell.

Cover of my favorite Lenten Cookbook

I like this collection of recipes because it isn’t a vegetarian or vegan cookbook but rather it is an Orthodox collection of recipes that follow the traditional fasting rules. Lent is the time when shrimp becomes a vegetable so there are recipes that include shrimp and other invertebrate sea creatures.  Since Orthodox Christians also fast from olive oil (some jurisdictions fast from all oils come from only olive oil) the recipes are noted as “with oil” or “no oil” and they are also noted if they contain wine.  Wine and oil are permitted on the weekends. 

Yes, there are recipes that use beans (I avoid those!), tofu or TVP but there are recipes for soups, sandwich fillings and appetizers too. There’s a fabulous carrot bread recipe that we make for breakfast.

Fish is only allowed on two feast days during Great Lent: The Annunciation and Palm Sunday.  Fish is allowed more frequently during other fasting times though so there is a whole section devoted to fish recipes. 

A good  cookbook needs to include a section for desserts. This cookbook has the best Lenten frosting!  Peanut butter!  There is a Lenten chocolate cake that goes well with peanut butter frosting.  The frosting is much better with real butter but I am thinking I might try it without coconut oil instead of that nasty fake margarine stuff. 

I love this cookbook.  It’s my favorite.  Do you have a favorite cookbook?  Why is it your favorite?

Favorite Lenten Cookbook {Favorite Anything Series} Circling Through This Life

Have a blog post about your favorite book, actor, hymn, Bible verse or anything that is your  favorite? Then come link up. Be sure and visit the other blogs linked up to see what their favorite anything is this week.

Rules for linking up:

  1. Post must talk about something that is your favorite.  It doesn’t have to be the same topic as my favorite post this week but it must be about something that is your favorite.
  2. Please include a link back to my blog.  You are welcome to grab the button from the sidebar to include in your post.

I’ll be linking this post up to 52 Weeks Series Blog Hop.

For the Display of His Splendor 52 Week Series Blog Hop


Random Five on Friday {March 7th Edition}

It’s Friday again!  I love this meme.  I get to pick five random things to chat about with my readers!

1.  Today is my sister’s birthday.  As usual I have forgotten to mail a card.  I am *lousy* with things like cards and letters.  I doesn’t mean I don’t love my friends and family it just means I do a lousy job of keeping track of cards and dates.

2.  Great Lent started this week.  We made it to liturgy on Wednesday night and we’re planning to make it tonight.  I love the Friday night pre-sanctified liturgies because they are followed by “Soup Supper and Talk”.  Every year Father gives a mini-class and they have always been so interesting!

3.  Cucumbers make a great scoop for pico de gallo.  I wanted chips and salsa but I needed to not eat too many chips. The cucumbers taste better with pico de gallo than with ranch.  Just saying.

4.  I published my first review for the 2014 Review Crew this week.  It’s a chore planner by Motivated Moms.  You need to check it out!

Motivated Moms Chore Planner Review Collage

5.  Honeybear didn’t go completely clean shaven.  He’s got a close clipped goatee.  He’s been trying out a pair of contacts this week.  He’ll try another brand next week and then make a decision as to which he likes best.  We all keep doing double takes as we try to get used to his new look. He’s handsome so I guess I’ll keep him. Open-mouthed smile

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


Reading for myself! {R is for Reading}

I have lots of organizing and re-arranging and regrouping type topics on my brain but couldn’t quite find an R topic that worked for me to use for Alphabet Blogging.  I asked Turtlegirl for some suggested R words. Without hesitation she said “reading.”  Hmm. Yup. That works for me.

At the beginning of 2013 I decided that I wanted to read more books.  Let me clarify, more books that I wanted to read. When the girls were younger, I read a lot of books. I read great books aloud to the girls and for awhile I pre-read readers to hand to the girls and I read history books aloud and science books too.

So in 2013, according to Goodreads, I read a total of 22 books. That number seems so tiny. So many books in the world that I want to read and I only managed to read 22? But it’s a start, right? 22 books is better than no books.  And those were 22 books that I choose to read for me.

So moving on to 2014.  I decided to set the goal for 40 books. That’s nearly double what I read in 2013. I realized that I could read more books if I was willing to make it a priority. It’s a choice. I can choose to goof off on the computer or I can choose to read a book. I can choose to watch Netflix or I can choose to read a book. And there are lots and lots and lots well far too many to count, books that I want to read or re-read.Reading for yourself

Currently, according to Goodreads, I have read 11 books so far this year.  ELEVEN.  In two months I read half the amount of books that I read last year. I’m going to choose to focus on the idea of progress instead of crying about how much time I wasted last year not reading.  I have to confess though that four of those eleven books were audio books that I was able to listen to in the car when I played taxi-driver for the month of January.  I am not doing the same amount of driving so I don’t have the same amount of time for audio books.  Maybe I should adjust my goal from 40 to 44? 

In addition to setting a goal of 40 books and making the decision to allow myself to stop reading a book I don’t like, I decided to challenge myself with Reading Bingo. It’s a reading challenge from Retreat by Random House of Canada. I like the variety of topics listed for the BINGO squares.  Some of the categories are going to be more challenging than others but what a fun challenge!

Also according to Goodreads I am currently reading 7 books. Of course “currently reading” doesn’t mean that I am reading all those books every day.  Or even consistently every week.  But it does mean that I have started 7 books and I intend to finish them.  I have decided that life is too short and there are too many great books.  I don’t need to keep reading a book if it does not enrich my life in some way; either by entertaining, engaging or enlightening.  If I don’t like it, I’ll just delete it from Goodreads and move on.

Have you set a reading goal? Do you enjoy reading but find that you’ve allowed life to push it out out of the way? How do you find time to read?

Please Note:  I started this post weeks ago when Marcy over at Ben and Me was on the letter R in her Blogging Through The Alphabet meme.  I still want to blog about a letter R topic because I want to be able to actually complete a round.  You can read my S is for Snow post which did actually post in the right week and was linked up. I’ve got some ideas for T, U and V but it might be another week or two before I am back to the same letter as Marcy.


A Planner for Mom: Motivated Moms {Crew Review}

As we entered a new calendar year, my thoughts once again turned to “how can I stay on top of all the things I need to do especially the cleaning!”.  I caught the declutter-organize-and-this-time-we’re-going-to-keep-it-up bug.  Fortunately, Motivated Moms was one of the first vendors of the 2014 Crew Year and crew members could choose between a Motivated Moms Ebook planner or Motivated Moms iOS App (with full year server access).  Since I don’t have an i-anything, I gladly choose the 2014 Motivated Moms Printable Chore Planner {Black and White} Ebook.

Motivated Moms Chore Planner Review

What is Motivated Moms?

In the simplest of terms Motivated Moms is a chore schedule. Two friends who met online, collaborated together over time to create this detailed chore schedule to help moms have a clean and organized home.  It’s been around for years. The About Page doesn’t list when Motivated Moms started offering the planner but it does list history as far back as 2005! It’s been around for even longer than I thought! Today Motivated moms is run by Susan Cramer. Her husband, Norm, created the app in 2010.

About the Planners:

Oh My! There are two basic types of planners: a page per day chore planner or a chore planner with the whole week on one page, but with the variations you have 16 different Ebook planners to choose from! 16!!!  You can choose to have “black and white” or “color”.  You can choose half page or full page. You can choose to include bible readings or not.

Cover Image Motivated Moms Full Page Printable Chore PlannerI chose the black and white, full page, no bible readings, weekly chore planner.  The planner is 55 pages.  Page 1 is a cover and page 55 is a blank two week menu planner. There are 53 weeks of planner pages.  I love how the first week and the last week of the planner are full weeks; those pages just include two to three days of the previous or following year so that you have a full seven days.

This full page planner has a column on the left hand side for daily chores.  Below each chore is a row of seven boxes so you can check it off each day.  At the bottom of the column are several blank lines so that you can fill in additional daily chores specific to your family’s needs.

The main page is devoted to a week’s worth of chores divided between all seven days. Some chores, such as “change hand towels in bathroom,” will appear every couple of days.  Some chores, such as “clip children’s fingernails,” appear once a week.  This is a chore schedule that tracks the routine things like “change sheets” as well as those things many of us skip such as “clean light fixtures”. 

In addition to “chores” there are reminders to pamper yourself, cut coupons, and clean our your purse! Every Friday has “spend time on a craft/hobby.” Each week there is some type of decluttering or organizing type of chore such as “clean out/de-clutter/organize medicine cabinets.”

Using the Motivated Moms Chore Planner:

I printed out the cover and all the weekly pages and took them to a local office store to have them spiral bound. I had the store add a clear plastic cover and a sturdy back. I wanted to be able to use this as family and assign specific chores to specific family members.

The  first week, I only highlighted in yellow anything I knew I wanted to do, crossed off anything I knew we wouldn’t do and attempted to have people use highlighters to check off what they did. Each of my children is assigned a color. We’ve had these colors for years and I specifically bought high lighters in those colors.  Using color coded checking off didn’t work so great so for the next two weeks I still just highlighted in yellow the things I wanted to accomplish, crossed off the things that didn’t apply or that I knew we just wouldn’t have time to do and just checked things off with a pen.

Two page spread Full Page Motivated Moms Printable Chore Planner

Then I stumbled upon a system that I really like.  I sit down on Sunday afternoons and “organize” my weekly sheet.  I still go through and cross things off with the pen.  Some items on the list such as “clip coupons” just do not apply to my family. I then decide which items might need to be done on a different day.  I prefer to make my menu plans and grocery lists on Wednesdays.  Since *I* will be doing those, I highlight them yellow and I put a W next to it.  I had already starting putting S’s for Saturday next to items that I though would have a better chance of getting done on Saturday.  I pick out chores for each of the girls and I highlight them in their color.

The highlighted colors make the planner look pretty and the girls can see which items they need to do.  More chores are getting done a regular basis and that makes us all feel better.  I think Turtlegirl especially likes the list and she really seems to like doing those check marks!

The family completes chores from Motivated Mom printable chore planner

I found though that I didn’t really like the the boxed off Daily Chores.  In my ideal dream world I would like a separate daily chore page for each family member.  I do like the daily chores listed but found that it was too hard to manage the checking off when there are 5 beds to make and 3 people taking medications and so on.

Our thoughts:

My house doesn't look better (yet) because we're still dealing with massive clutter  and bad habit issues but dirty things (sometimes things others can't see cause I don't let visitors into places like pantry or master bedroom, and most don't have any reason to open the microwave LOL) are cleaner.  I *feel* better because some of the "dirty things" that *bug me* are getting taken care of and "little things" like clean hand towels, toilet paper stock and filled soap dispensers are making life more pleasant.

When I asked my husband he said “no, things don’t look better {because of the clutter} but more things are getting done and getting done more often so the house overall is cleaner.”

Motivated Moms Printable Chore Planner System Review

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My Favorite Cheesecake Recipe {Favorite Anything Series}

Today, around the world Orthodox Christians, whether they follow the “old” or the “new” calendar, celebrate Cheesefare Sunday.  It is often referred to as “Cheesecake Sunday”.   Today is also known as Forgiveness Sunday.

Favorties GraphicWe joke that it is Cheesecake Sunday.  Our first Forgiveness Sunday potluck was nearly all cheesecake! So for cheesecake cheesefare Sunday BooBear did the work and I did the translating but together we took our  favorite super easy 8 Minute Cheesecake Recipe and turned it into a chocolate feast!

Also we did not use cool whip.  Instead I taught BooBear how to whip heavy cream using our Bosch mixer and we used real whipped cream.

The Super Easy 8 Minute Cheesecake is not a true cheesecake and it is not baked.  It’s one of those no-bake and is very similar to the Jell-O Box No Bake Cheesecake only a million times better! 

We hadn’t tried chocolate before though it’s been on our list of “we should try that” for ages.  We used unsweetened coco powder which we added when blending the sour cream, cream cheese and sugar.

When using real whipped cream I do not get two whole cheesecakes like I would if I used cool whip and followed the recipe I posted but by doubling the recipe, adding in chocolate and using real whipped cream we were able to get enough filling for 3 store-bought chocolate “graham cracker” crusts.  Two were sent to church for the cheesecake cheesefare Sunday potluck.  One will be consumed tonight as dessert.

Chocolate No Bake Easy Cheesecake

Do you have a favorite cheesecake flavor? Do you have a favorite cheesecake recipe?  Which one?  Leave me a comment to share your favorite.  Have a blog post about your favorite book, actor, hymn, Bible verse or anything that is your  favorite? Then come link up. Be sure and visit the other blogs linked up to see what their favorite anything is this week.

Rules for linking up:

  1. Post must talk about something that is your favorite.  It doesn’t have to be the same topic as my favorite post this week but it must be about something that is your favorite.
  2. Please include a link back to my blog.  You are welcome to grab the button from the sidebar to include in your post.

I’ll be linking this post up to 52 Weeks Series Blog Hop.

For the Display of His Splendor 52 Week Series Blog Hop


A Random Five {Yes, on Saturday!}

Not only am I doing this on a Saturday instead of a Friday but it’s getting to be late on a Saturday. 

1.  Today is the first of March.  March.  Already?  I am fairly certain the countdown has begun for my daughter.  Her birthday is in 19 days.

2.  When person who is about the size of a 6-7 year old with a mental capacity around that same age puts her little hands on her hips, stomps her foot, declares that she doesn’t belong in the family and that she is NOT the drama queen, it’s impossible to not laugh. Nope she’s not the drama queen.  Me thinks she doesn’t yet understand what the title means.

3.  The same little person has reached a stage of development that she wants to be “just like mama.”   Giggling, with an ear to ear grin, she states:  “I can’t go potty, Mama.  Just like you.”  Um, I had a bladder infection.  She just thought it would be fun to pretend so that she could be like mom.  Another example?  She had to wrap her towel around her the way *I* wrap the towel around me not the way I usually wrap her.  Because “I want to be like you Mommy.”   It’s sweet but I think I better model some better behavior for her to mimic.

4. My husband has a beard.  He pretty much gave up being “clean shaven” when he left the military. He’s been hinting that he wants to get rid of the beard.  He bought a new electric razor today. I think he’s going through a mid-life crisis as he also ordered contacts.  No beard?  No glasses?  How will I recognize my husband?

5. Tomorrow is Cheesefare Sunday.  We made chocolate cheesecake.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow to read my Favorite Anything post where I talk about my favorite cheesecake recipe.

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!