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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What I'm Loving Right Now [08.30.16]

Friday Night Dinners w/ neighbors 
For the past month (since right before school kicked off around here) we've been getting together with neighbors for a casual dinner hosted at someone's house on Friday night. Once we ordered pizza, once we grilled out burgers and dogs and this past week we hosted and did soup, salad and bread. I love having a social start to my weekend but one that's low-key and doesn't require a babysitter.  The kids out-man the adults about 3 to 1 so these get-togethers are neither peaceful nor full of deep discussion, but it is a lot of fun and kind of feels like what neighbors are supposed to do together. P.S. If the cost of hosting a gaggle of friends for dinner intimidates you, serve soup and bread. I think the average cost per serving of this meal was less than a dollar.

Listening to podcasts with my kids 
Totally beats listening to the same NorthPoint music (sorry, I love you Northpoint, but everyone has their limit) on repeat or flipping through the radio. My kids and I are currently loving The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids podcast. Some episodes have a moral bent to them, some talk about a random science subject. All of them have great character voices and sound effects and a sweet little phone call at the end from real kids. It's what the kids ask for now every time we get into the car.

Binge watching Parenthood
BJ and I are mid-way through Season 6 and while I still hate the new intro music on principle (bring back Dylan) I love the characters just as much now as I did in Season 1. What is going to happen with Joel and Julia?! (But seriously, don't tell me.)

Throwing fruit into my water
Lemons, limes, cucumbers anything to make it taste interesting! I've been guzzling 64+ ounces everyday this week in an attempt to stave off my sugar cravings. In related news, cucumbers are the only thing I've managed to grow in my garden this summer.

InstaSnapChatGram (aka Instagram stories)
Since most of my people aren't on Snapchat, I am loving seeing you on Instagram Stories. I love seeing your face and your casual everydayness. Don't get me wrong, I still expect perfection from your actual Instafeed, but I like the laid-back nature of the Insta-stories. If you need more of me overexposing my life, I'll be doing so on both Instagram and Snapchat for the foreseeable future. Username: @leipprandt

Reflecting on my ideal day
A few months back I went through Tsh Oxenrider's Upstream Field Guide program. (This was where I took the Enneagram test for the first time and learned I'm a 7.) One of the things we were made to do during the process was to journal an ideal day. This idea seems so obvious but it was really profound for me to actually take the time to write this list down. I kind of use it as a mental check list about midday now, when I am trying to prioritize the second half of the day: did I take 10-30 minutes to intentionally connect with a friend today? Am I eating well? Have I read for pleasure? If I am really off my ideal day, I can still course correct and feel good about myself come bedtime.

Oribe Beach Spray
I bought this stuff because it was on super sale back on Amazon's Prime Day, but I'll pay full price whenever it runs out. Here's my current hair routine: shower and wash hair, towel dry hair, shake this can and spray all over head, leave well enough alone. I love what it does to my semi-wavy locks. Air-drying alone can leave my hair half-frizzy, half-straight and it is simply not an option to blow dry my hair in the summer around these parts. #nothappening Warning: I tried this on Britain's stick-straight tresses and it did nothing. So I think it's probably only going to work for those of you with a little wave in your hair. There may or may not be a guy in the house who has started using this in the mornings too...

The Promise of Autumn
I'm over summer. It's my least favorite season here in the Deep South and I swear I can smell apples budding on trees and tiny green pumpkins peaking out on the vines of farms around us. Right? Right?? I am DYING to say PEACE OUT to shorts and tank tops 'til next May.

What are you loving right now? Any great podcasts I can add to the kids' playlist? Talk it up in the comments. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Not to Potty Train Your Child

Last weekend BJ was working in the yard when he came across an unsightly mess that was sure to end up on the bottom of a child's shoe if not taken care of quickly - dog poop. I'm hesitant to admit there's always a fair amount of dog poop in our yard. In our defense, we have had a child (often two) in diapers for seven years now. A person can only be expected to deal with so much poop right? In our poo-weariness, we often neglect to clean up the yard as often as respectable homeowners should.

When BJ scooped the offending waste into a bag and whisked it out of sight our two year old was enthralled. Moments later BJ caught our little guy across the yard bending down to do a little pooper-scooping of his own. Swooping in to prevent him from grabbing a turd with his bare hand, BJ picked him up with a, "Yucky!" He made a big show of removing this second land mine with another bag and returned to mowing the lawn. 

Which brings us to yesterday. Please keep in mind I knew nothing about the lesson my little guy had received from BJ. I was cleaning up lunch when a familiar odor wafted through the kitchen. It was obvious our little guy was the culprit, so I asked him, "Are you poopy buddy? Need Mommy to change your diaper?" 

"Yucky!" was his one-word reply. 

"Poopy?" I asked again.

"Yucky!" he proudly declared. 

This back and forth continued as we made our way down the hall to his room. I decided "yucky" was as good a word as any for the situation. 

We sat on the floor together and I changed his diaper while we repeated his new word over and over again. "Yucky." "YUCKY." "Yucky!" Never one to miss a teachable moment I decided to turn our vocabulary lesson into a life skills class. 

"Should we put your yucky in the potty buddy?"


"Ok, here we go, can you lift the lid of the potty?"

(Lifting lid) "Yucky."

"Mommy's going to put the poop in the potty now, say 'bye-bye yucky'."

"Bye-bye yucky."

"Great job! Can you flush the potty?" 

"Yucky go bye-bye!" 

"Yes, buddy! Yucky go bye-bye. That's what we do with poop buddy. We put it in the potty." 

Triumphant, we washed hands and I got back to washing dishes. A full 5 minutes had passed when I heard a pint-sized commotion from the hall bathroom. 

I opened the door to the bathroom just in time to see a fully-clothed two year old closing the toilet lid.

"What are you doing buddy!?" I asked, lifting the lid. 

Huddled in the depths of the bowl was a small, misshapen lump. 

My initial thought was that another of my kids had neglected to flush. My split-second later thought was that all the other kids were outside with BJ.

I grabbed his hand.


I smelled his tiny hand.

Oh dear heaven. 

It was suddenly crystal clear that my sweet child had gone outside and searched the yard until he found this treasure. Then he had carefully carried it inside and put it where all the yuckies go.

Because that's what we do with poop buddy.

We put it in the potty.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ground Turkey Lettuce Cups (a Gluten-free, Low-fat, Low-Carb Family Pleaser)

School is back in session all over the Atlanta-area and I think the oh-crap-we-can't-eat-pizza-every-night-by-the-pool blues are starting to kick in for a lot of my fellow mamas. Back to school means more structure in our days, earlier bedtimes and oh yeah, a need for a dinner that my kids might eat to be ready before 8pm each night. 

Making dinner every single night is hard for anyone. But it's especially hard when you're pretty sure at least 50% of the diners at your establishment are going to throw and/or ignore the food you put in front of them. It's enough to make me want to serve mac and cheese every night. At least then we avoid the game where I serve a tiny portion of food to my kids, they pick at it until finally succumbing to our pleas to "just taste it." Then they spit the taste back out and render the entire plate of food worthless. So fun. 

Any dinners that have a greater than 50% chance of getting eaten (that means one kid likes it in this family) become Master Meals around here quickly. 

This recipe gets eaten in it's adult form by two children and if I take an extra step* cooking it, my other two will eat a bit of it as well. It uses ground turkey and a load of veggies so it's healthy and low calorie and it feels different because we eat it out of lettuce wraps. Oh and it's ready in under 20 minutes!

If you're curious about our other go-to recipes, search "Master Meals" on the blog or read this post about how I plan family dinners. 

Ground Turkey Lettuce Cups - Ready in 20 minutes, Serves 4 
via Ladies in Navy 

1 lb lean ground turkey
3 carrots (shredded)
1 bunch green onions (diced)
20-30 fresh basil leaves (chopped)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (make sure to use gluten-free if you need to!)
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil (could sub sesame or coconut oil)
Head of iceberg lettuce

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until it smells yummy, then add meat to the pan with half of the soy sauce and sugar.  Brown meat about 10 minutes. Once browned, drain the meat and return to pan. Add the remaining soy sauce and sugar, chopped basil, carrots and green onions. Stir together for about a minute and remove from heat. (You don't want to cook the veggies totally through.)

Serve with wedges of lettuce to scoop the turkey mixture into. We like ours with a drizzle of sriracha on top. Unless you're cutting out all carbs, make some brown rice (because you're healthy like that) to serve alongside.

*To appease my picky eaters who would not touch something with several types of veggie mixed in, I scoop out a portion for each of them prior to adding the veggies, then grate some raw carrot onto their plates to make myself feel better. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

When Your Instagram Feed Makes You Cry (Not in a Good Way)

I was just flicking through Instagram, my distraction of choice these days. Boredom killer, pretty picture gallery, inspiration central. I was just scrolling. Like the ten other times I'd done the same thing that day.

I came to a picture of a beautiful (not intimidatingly beautiful, just right beautiful) girl, hair flying around her face (slightly messy, but not hot-messy, just carefree messy). She was the featured guest on a podcast I listen to and the image did its job of making me read the full caption.

In three sentences I learned she was a wife and mother, someone who had fought battles and come through them with a beautiful message. And that her message is being told in her (amazing) new book.

Maybe it's because I'm overdue for highlights and a pedicure...

Maybe it's the fact that I have had two essays I've written politely declined (rejected) this month. Or the fact that a piece I was so excited to have accepted just got bumped because a staff writer wrote a similar essay...

Maybe it was the three phone conversations I had yesterday where the person on the other line had to let me go to deal with something more pressing (important)...

Maybe my grocery run to Aldi with four wild and rambunctious children this morning just seemed so plebeian in contrast...

Whatever the reason, tears rose up hot and fast behind my eyes.

She is what you wish you were.
She has a better story than you.
She is achieving dreams you aren't ambitious enough to commit to. 

Lies don't stick around long when they are held up against truth - so snapped off my phone and buried it under my thigh.  And I spoke out loud the truth I believe about myself,

You're enough. You're enough. You're enough.

Which made my kids look at me like I was crazy. 

I've posted before about how Instagram (and all social media really) lies to us. Until now my exceptionally high self-esteem has always made me feel immune to the comparison trap, but that snapshot of a stranger's life made me feel wildly inadequate in a second.

It was a gut-check for me.

How much social media can I ingest before it starts to change the way I view reality?
Am I putting on armor to defend me from the lies that swirl around everyday?
Is the way I use my phone pure foolishness?
Am I truly pursuing my Author and Perfecter or am I merely chasing my own idea of perfection?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Our Homeschool Plan for the Year

Our homeschool year officially kicks off today! 

Elijah will be going into 2nd grade, Britain is a Kindergartener and I've got a 4 year old and a 2 year old watching from the wings. (The two year old was refusing to cooperate with my picture efforts...) It's Year Two of homeschooling and my first year with two kids following a formal curriculum.

Since Elijah was the only one doing formal school last year and the other kids were constantly playing around him, it was difficult to keep him on task and interested in his books (or maybe that's universal to six year old boys) so I would tell him what we needed to cover each day and allow him to choose in what order he wanted to tackle things. Giving him that bit of control seemed to help. 

This year with two kids hitting the books, I think I need a more consistent schedule, so I ordered this classroom pocket schedule to help both me and the kids stay on track and know what's coming next. Here's what our actual schedule looks like to start out the year.

I've blocked out the school day from 9am to 1:30pm with 7 periods, the academic ones are 30-45 minutes long and then lunch/play outside/leave me alone time is one full hour. My thought was to mix things up so that in any given period, two kids are "self-sufficient" (ha!) one kid is doing something that requires only a little teacher intervention which frees me up to work one-on-one with the fourth child. We'll see how it works and re-evaluate a few weeks in.

Here's my plan to tackle each subject:

Bible/Virtues: We'll talk about one virtue each month using In This House We Will Giggle and The Jesus Storybook Bible 

Phonics/Reading: For Britain we'll continue using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and Abeka's early reading curriculum. Elijah will be working on his fluency by reading texts that go along with our history and science subjects. 

Language Arts: Elijah will use First Language Lessons and Spelling Workout B. This covers all the grammar he needs to learn plus provides us with memorization opportunities (which we also have in our Bible/Virtues work) I'd like to be better about providing real-world writing opportunities for him. Keeping a journal, writing letters to family members, helping me make the grocery list etc. Fortunately his handwriting is beautiful so I don't need a handwriting program for him this year...whoop whoop! 

Math: Last year was our first year using Singapore Math and both Eli and I loved it. For Britain we'll start their Essentials program and for Elijah we'll be in the Level 2 workbooks.

History: Story of the World again! History is my favorite subject and I loved using this curriculum last year. Each week the kids listen to a chapter or two from the audiobook (it's nice to have a break from talking/reading all day long) and do an accompanying activity or two from the activity guide. This year we'll be studying the Middle Ages - Medieval Times and the Georgia Renaissance Festival here we come!

Science: I've cobbled together our science curriculum from a variety of resources. We'll be studying Earth Science (geology, weather patterns, air, water, light, biomes, etc.) this semester and astronomy next semester. The plan is to cover one subject each week using library books, Magic School Bus videos (so fun) and of course hands-on experiments. I'd like to take field trips to the Telus Museum and Fernbank as well this year.

A note about field trips: Lots of museums offer discounted homeschool days and most offer some kind of discounted day throughout the month. I make a note of which days those are at the places I know we want to go each year and manipulate our schedule so we can take advantage of that offer.  Last year we visited the GA Aquarium for about $30 (for 5 of us) on a homeschool day and had access to a ton of additional activities and learning opportunities while there. This year Medieval Times is hosting Homeschool Day on September 23rd...who wants to come with us?! 

Phew! I think that covers most everything. I'd love to hear from any of you who are planning to homeschool this year and what your plans look like! 

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