Monday, August 28, 2017

Have a good morning!

It's back to school season and whether your kids start before or after Labor Day new routines are on every mom's mind these days. Today I'm sharing my routine for staying on track with our busy schedule and how I start my morning off in a way that motivates me to get things done. 

I have this cute sign in my design shop that says, 


If only that weren't so close to the truth!  Some days that IS how life works in our house, but it does make for a very prickly MamaBear by the end of the day if I don't have anything to show for my day! 

I work from home and am solely responsible for my time. That gives me great freedom, but also great responsibility. If Mama don't do it, it doesn't get done! 

Enter my morning routine....

If I don't exercise first thing in the morning it just isn't going to get done, so at 6am I pop in a DVD and fumble my way through the 25 minutes of interval training Jillian Michaels puts me through. 

A quick shower followed by a huge glass of water and by 7am I've conquered the two tasks I really don't enjoy, but feel so much better after.

Then it's time to heat up the coffee... (I'm the only coffee drinker in the house so I keep the leftovers in the fridge and reheat on days I don't need to brew a pot.) 

I turn on a Pandora station - my favorite morning station is Hymns 4 Worship -

Curl up with the pup and read a chapter in a parenting book. My latest is - Grace Based Parenting -

This book has been wonderfully encouraging as I start that stage of parenting a teen. He won't be living here forever and this book teaches parents how to raise our kids the best way I've ever read in a parenting book. I highly recommend it! It isn't just for older kids either - I just felt like it gave me hope for setting all three kids up with a solid foundation. Author Dr. Tim Kimmel teaches us how to give our kids a secure love, a strong hope, and a significant purpose. Isn't that what it boils down to for kids of all ages? 

I love the quiet of my mornings before the kids get up for my prayer time and reading because it sets me up with a whole lot more grace for when the kids start bickering with each other over the last waffle. 

I have started adding appointments to my Google calendar, but I still need paper copies around for referencing while I'm on the phone or for my husband who doesn't use a smart phone. I keep a wall calendar in the kitchen, a 2 yr planner in my purse for when I attend meetings, and a blank planner on my kitchen counter that is the key to having a good morning.

I find that it is really helpful to assign my to-do list to specific days.  I can do a brain dump with all the things I need to accomplish for the week and not have those tasks clutter up my calendar.

This planner was under $4 at Walmart and because it doesn't have dates I can use very single 2 page spread as an organized to-do list. No more random notes on the fridge or clutter bouncing around in my head if things I need to remember to do. Just writing it down frees me up to get it done and most of all give my kids the attention they deserve when they are home before and after school.

So that's it! A simple yet effective routine that gets me going in the morning so that when I walk in the door after school drop off I can clearly see what needs to get done today. Having tomorrow's list right there is a huge motivator to not let anything spill over into what is already shaping up to be a busy day!

What motivates you in the morning and keeps you on task? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! This is what works for me, but we all operate differently and I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers! Sharing my story is never intended to be a 'my way or the highway' sort of deal. We all can learn from each other at some point in our lives and that is the best part of blogging....sharing what we learn so others could see a different perspective. Maybe we are alike and maybe we aren't! And that my friends is what makes the world such a beautiful and interesting place!

Friday, August 18, 2017

My favorite campstove

Car campers and backpackers typically have a completely different set of camping gear, but when you travel with three kids, a husband, a dog, and a canoe then packing light like backpackers do applies to car camping as well. 

Eighteen years ago I bought a Coleman duel fuel stove and had to replace it this summer before our trip out west. We searched REI, Amazon, Gander Mountain, Fleet Farm....and read review after review. 

We had a pretty specific set of requirements and I'm happy to say we found a stove that met them in every way.


  • Under $75
  • Didn't require expensive fuel
  • Refillable fuel tank
  • Compact
  • Long lasting
  • Sturdy

I found this Coleman duel fuel 533 campstove on Amazon for $65. There are a LOT of stoves to chose from but we knew we didn't want to have to buy fuel canisters 'just in case' (That kinda defeats the purpose of compact if you are bringing fuel canisters that are as big as the stove!). We have a special fuel bottle that holds 17 ounces of extra fuel and is smaller than a pop bottle. I took the kids camping last week for three nights with only half a tank of fuel and never ran out after eight uses of about 8-10 minutes each.

I make coffee ahead of time and store it in the cooler in a 1/2 gallon glass jar. In the mornings I can heat it up in a few minutes after I've heated a pot of water for the hot chocolate drinkers in the family. (GSI makes the BEST coffee pot shown above that we heat water in) For some reason my family doesn't like their hot chocolate to taste like coffee.  

We cut the box of matches up and store matches in a peanut butter jar just like my parents did when they took me camping as a kid. 

We pack light, but we also like to be comfortable when we are camping so I started packing this compact folding table so I can keep food out of reach of the dog and cook wherever it is most convenient. This is a new camping hack for me, but what a game changer! No more hauling all our stuff to wherever the heavy picnic table is placed in a site and taking up all the surface space! Definitely worth the small space it takes up behind the front seats in our minivan!

Speaking of taking up space.....this windblock by Highrock is a life saver when there is a breeze at our campsite. It ensures the flame doesn't go out on the stove and folds up so compact it barely takes up any space in our camp kitchen.

With the proper gear we spend less than 10 minutes making any of our hot meals which means we can get back to those mountains behind PapaBear!

Do you have a favorite piece of camping gear that makes life easier when you are roughing it? Do share! 

Beginner Knit Hat Pattern

I've been asked so many times if there is a pattern for the hats I make,  but I was too busy filling Christmas orders...