What Every Mom Needs to Start the New School Year Right

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Want to have the best school year yet? There are a few things every mom can do to start this season off right. Here's to new beginnings!

I love new beginnings, don't you?

I love a new adventure and a new day.

And I love a new school year.

No, really, I mean that. Oh, I'm not saying that I don't have mixed emotions and my own swirl of anxieties, but I truly do look forward to a fresh start of the coming school year.

And I've experienced quite a few new beginnings, having seen 3 of our children graduate from high school---with another five more to go. Basically, that's a lot of new school years, if you ask me!

So over those years, I've learned a few things that have made a significant difference in - not only how we begin the school year - but also how we carry on to the end of it.

Here are some of those things I'd say goes into starting the year right:

Ease into it. You and your student will get whiplash if you suddenly jump from slow summer days to a full-blown school schedule. So do whatever you can to incrementally add on activities and give yourselves a chance to adjust. For example, delay starting up extracurricular activities if at all possible and, at the very least, make sure those first few week-ends are free of obligations.

Don't over-commit.  Sometimes what looks good on paper isn't reasonable in real life. Just because it all fits on the time-sheet doesn't mean it fits into your family! Allow for downtime and room for the unexpected. It's easier to add more things later than to crash-and-burn and learn the hard way.

Leave behind the garbage of the previous year. Maybe your daughter had a hard time with math last year, but it's quite possible that something will click and she'll have a breakthrough this year. Maybe your son had a difficult time making friends before, but it could be all different now. Basically, don't let last year's challenges determine this year's success.

Sit down and talk it through together. Discuss your hopes and goals for the coming year with your children. Don't assume that they know or understand what your expectations are for them. Be ready to listen to their thoughts and concerns for the new school year as well.

See where your student can step up. We moms can get stuck in a rut and forget that our children are growing up and can - and should - take new steps of responsibility. Perhaps you made lunches every day for your child last year, but she's ready to start making her own this year. Or maybe your son can do his own homework now and not need so much hand-holding from you. So don't simply do things like you've always done, but look for new ways that he or she can grow.

Pray about all things.  You knew that was coming, didn't you? But I just had to say it. Mostly because nothing makes more of a difference in a new year than prayer. Pray for wisdom and insight. Pray for breakthroughs. Pray for friends and pray for protection. Pray, pray, pray.

And I pray for God's richest blessings on this new school year for you! 

Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women

Lisa Jacobson

Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matthew L Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children. She's also rather fond of dark chocolate, French press coffee, and deep friendships (though not necessarily in that order). She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. You can find her sharing her passion for husband, home, and family over at her blog, Club31Women Take a look at her new book: 100 Ways to Love Your Husband 100 Ways to Love Your Husband

Waiting for your "health pot" to boil

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Ever sat waiting for a pot to boil only to have it feel like FOREVER? Our personal goals can be a bit like that too- when our focus is narrow, we miss the blessings of life all around us. Here's how to keep your eye on the prize and the rest of your life in balance.

"A watched pot never boils."

In a similar way, a "watched scale" never moves.

The other day this happened (again) to me. I was at the stove waiting for the water to boil. In the meantime my kids were racing behind me and my husband was trying to tell me a story. My focus was not on them, but instead the pot.

I was missing life because I was focused on something that was out of my control.

Don't be that person. Don't let the obsession with your health make you miss the life happening all around you. It's not an either/or situation. Both can happen and can be done well. Get your plan, work your plan . . . then live your life.

That pot? It'll boil when it's time to. Until then, get out of the kitchen and get on with your life. 

Train Hard. Eat Well. Live Free.

Blessings,

Clare

www.claresmith.me

Clare

Clare lives with her husband and 2 children in Northeast Ohio. She has her bachelor's degree in business management and left a promising career to be a stay-at-home mom to her children. She is a certified fitness instructor and teaches pilates and group fitness classes at her church and local university. Clare's passion (outside of raising and nurturing her children and home) is motivating women of all ages and stages of life to live well physically, emotionally and spiritually. Visit her at www.claresmith.me!

Bi-Weekly Whole Food Meal Plan August 30–September 12

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Welcome to The Better Mom Whole Food Meal Plan.

It's National Peach Month and my youngest son helped me develop these delicious GF Peach Cobbler Muffins to celebrate. Even better, this recipe can be used to make absolutely fabulous peach Muffins too!

It's National Peach Month and my youngest son helped me develop these delicious GF Peach Cobbler Muffins to celebrate. Even better, this recipe can be used to make absolutely fabulous peach Muffins too!

Our free bi-weekly whole food menus open into a convenient pdf that includes links to each of the gluten-free recipes featured making it easy to access them with just a simple click.

Once you click on the graphics below, you can easily save these gluten-free menus to your computer for easy access anytime you need them. Then, simply click on the links within the meal plan pdf to gain instant access to each of the recipes. (Please note: Many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf document. So be sure to save the meal plans to your computer first.)

Aug 30–Sept 5 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for Aug 30–Sept 5: (To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf. So save the meal plan to your computer first.)

September 6–12 GF Whole Food Meal Plan

Bi-Weekly Whole Food GF Meal Plan for September 6–12: (To print the meal plan provided below, simply click on the graphic or click here and it will open a pdf into a new window for easier saving and printing. Remember, many mobile devices and tablets are not able to open links within a pdf. So save the meal plan to your computer first.)

In addition to the gluten-free meal plans above, we're pleased to provide you with a free meal planning template perfect for creating your own custom meal plans:
• Meal plan template PDF 

To learn more about meal planning, please check out my FREE Video Course: Mastering Meal Planning. My hope is that this will be a great resource and encouragement for you whether you’re just getting started with meal planning, or are a seasoned expert.

Always a treat to share healthy meals with you! Let’s give thanks to the Lord for providing us the opportunity to nourish our families in this way!

Joyfully Serving HIM, Kelly at The Nourishing Home

Kelly Smith

Kelly loves the Lord, her family, and sharing her passion for gluten-free, grain-free cooking and meal planning with others. She is a full-time homemaker who loves spending time with her awesome hubby and two sweet boys. Kelly's whole food, gluten-free journey began six years ago when she was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disorder. Since then, the Lord has blessed her with an amazing recovery - a testament to His grace and the health benefits of eating whole foods. Kelly shares her knowledge and love for whole food cooking at The Nourishing Home.

Embracing the Changing Season

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As our weather turns cool, part of me is tempted to fight the loss of summer. It seemed to have gone by so fast this year!

I will miss the opportunity to step outdoors at a moment's notice to breathe in the summer air; to step out from being cooped up and enjoy the wide open space in the warm sunshine and to relish in the long summer days.

But if I try to hold onto summer, I will miss what is right in front of me. Yes, the weather is cooling off, but this allows me the opportunity to serve delicious soup and cuddle up with a blanket in the evenings. 

It's not much different when we battle against changing seasons of motherhood. 

These seasons aren't simply children's ages and stages -- which certainly have their share of changes!

But the seasons can also include spiritual seasons of us as moms as well as working seasons.

Spiritual Seasons

We go through different seasons in our spiritual walks. Some seasons are dry and barren while others are saturated with growth and new life. Our spiritual lives will naturally flow into everything else. How we handle these seasons will determine how we handle everything in our lives because it permeates everything.

Lean into Him when you feel alone, unanswered, or forgotten. Don't withdraw because that's exactly what Satan wants. Instead, press harder and closer into Christ. Trust Him by reading His word and remembering His promises. 

Working/Ministry Seasons

Sometimes there are seasons when mom must work. Whether it's inside the home or outside the home, when you know God has a plan, even if it may not be what we want, trusting Him will help us ease into that season much easier. 

This is true of ministry as well. Sometimes God calls us into ministry while everyone else is saying we should be focused on just our homes and just our children. Sometimes that is not always the case. 

Involve your children if you can! 

When my husband and I began working in youth ministry, we had one baby. By the time we left youth ministry, we had 5 children. They were always a part of what we did and the teenagers loved on them. 

Restful Seasons

Maybe God is calling you to a season of rest. Maybe He wants you to pull out of some things and refocus in some areas. There ought to be no shame, condemnation, or guilt for these types of seasons. Unfortunately, they aren't always met by others with grace.

Listen Friends. If God is calling you out of ministry, work, or anything else, you have no one to answer to other than Him. He is your Ultimate Boss and no one should make you feel guilty for what God is calling you to.

If there is one thing I have learned, it's trying to embrace the seasons as they change. Rather then fighting them, make the most of them. 

Whatever season you find yourself shifting into, embrace it. God is still there and He is walking with you as you transition. Trust Him. Believe He has YOUR best interests at heart. 

For His Glory,
Christin Slade

Christin

Christin is wife of 14 years to her high school sweetheart and mother to seven children. She looks for beauty in the simple and appreciates a good cup of coffee. She is learning to live everyday with joy, find gratitude in the mundane, and speak words of grace. You can find Christin writing through her days on her blog, christinslade.com.

The Three Period Lesson: A Simple System for Learning With Your Children

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Do you ever wonder how you can build teachable moments into the everyday details of life with your kids? This simple method is great for you to apply as you teach your little ones about the world. Try these three steps to help your kids learn anywhere.

When my children were in preschool, I wanted them to thrive in what they put their minds, hearts and hands to each day. I desired more than anything in those days for them to be able to play, explore and carry a sense of wonder as they went about their work and their daily routines. As moms, we are given the greatest gift of holding our child's hearts and speaking words of life! It can be easy in the whirlwind of our days to forget the power our words have to teach, instruct and encourage. I found that often, some of our best connecting and best learning came as a result of conversations with me about common, everyday things we experienced and observed together because I was intentional about living life alongside my little ones.

Particularly in the Pre-school years, The Three Period Lesson, is a trademark of a Charlotte Mason education, but like so many of her principles, it seems like a common sense approach to the way a day is woven together with young children; talking, pointing out, and sharing observations naturally. Its a simple method that you can apply at any age, to engage with your children and to help them learn about virtually any subject. Here's how it works:

Lesson One is where naming occurs.

“Sweetie, this is the color yellow” or “This is the color green.” Or “Oh look at that animal climbing the tree! That is a squirrel!” The opportunities to name and speak with our youngest learners throughout the day are endless really, but the mental shift comes when we engage these opportunities and intentionally plan to build on them.

Lesson Two is where a child shows recognition of a given object, letter or number.

In a line of the letters A,B and C, you might ask, “Which one is the letter B?” Or when you are visiting the zoo or reading a book about animals, “Which one is the elephant?” “Can you show mommy the orange fruit?” 

Lesson Three requires that the child has naming, recognition and pronounciation of the word within their mental capabilities.

Independently, the child is able to give an answer as you point to any given item and ask “What is this?” 

In our home, The Three Period Lesson is a staple of our pre-school. It is a method that gives some shape to introducing numbers, letters, colors, animals and other objects. 

Here are some real life examples for how we used these lessons.

-Baking: As  I’m measuring and pouring, I'm talking to my children about cups and teaspoons and the ingredients needed to make their favorite pancakes. 

-Nature Study: As we begin our observation of birds this fall, we are beginning a study of the wren as well as identifying trees and other flora and fauna. 

-Colors: Using watercolors along side our impressionist study, younger children can  show mastery in their knowledge of the basics, while the older children are using the color wheel to identify complimentary colors in the elements of design.

-Poetry: Learning about limmericks or sonnets, the three period lesson can be extended to identify the structure of different styles of poetry, and ultimately, allow the children to create their own works.

So, how do you think you could apply this simple method to what you are doing with your kids this week?

Blessings to you,

Kristen

www.hopewithfeathers.com

 

Kristen Kill

Kristen is a Northwest native who grew up surrounded by family, books, alpine peaks and lots of green. She never thought she’d leave. And when she did, she landed in a lot of concrete in a city that shapes the world’s culture. Now she's figuring out a life that she longs to have marked by gratitude and grace, good food and conversation; beauty, art and homeschooling all squeezed into a Manhattan apartment. She writes about living with intention as a wife and mother of four in the midst of a city that makes her heart beat just a little bit faster every time she walks outside at Hope With Feathers. She also relishes in her role as the Editor of The Better Mom and loves sharing snippets of her life on Instagram.

Peanut Butter Apple Crisp

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Fall is upon us, moms! Ready to make the most delicious desert for your family ever? We thought so. How about the recipe? Yum!

I mentioned the other day on social media that I'd just taken a pan of peanut butter apple crisp out of the oven. My pages blew up with requests for the recipe.

So, I'm sharing it here today. It really does receive rave reviews every time. 

 

This is a recipe I made up to please my boys. And now their friends beg me to make it too. Scores of football players will be consuming pans of this treat this fall at my kitchen island.

 

First---the secrets---you MUST use a good, tart cooking apple. Granny Smith work well. Or Golden Delicious. Or Cortland. But the BEST are.....

Northern Spies!!!!

 

I found them at my local farmer's market on Saturday. They really are the best for baking. "Spies for pies" my mom always said. ;-)

 

Second secret? You must use extra-chunky peanut butter. The chunkiest you can find! Natural style is my favorite but any kind works as long as it is extra-chunky.

Now for the recipe.

Peanut-Butter Apple Crisp

8-10 Granny Smith, Spy or other tart cooking apples

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Peel and slice enough apples to fill the pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Mix together flour and sugar and shake over the top of apples. Toss gently.

For the topping, mix:

1 stick real butter, softened

1 ½ cups extra-chunky peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups sugar

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats 

Topping should hold together in clumps when pressed in your fist and not be too sticky. If it is, add a little more flour.

Sprinkle over the top and bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes until apples are tender and topping is lightly golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. FABULOUS!!!!!

Blessings,

Karen Ehman