Simplified schedules and meals

by Kari on October 20, 2014


Finally, we’re back to simplicity! The fact that it took me two weeks to get back to this series is proof that life is anything but simple. Emergencies happen, sleep doesn’t, and people inevitably get sick. But here we are and I’m happy to share the last two components of our Simplification Overhaul: Schedule & Meals. (Read here about simplifying Toys and Clothes)


When Payne speaks of scheduling he emphasizes the importance of establishing regular rhythm.  There are repeated “notes” if you will that provide security and stability for our children. Thursday is laundry day. Homeschool lessons are from 1-3pm, always. Wednesday is family night. Our bedtime routine stays the same. Dutch has an intense need for predictability, so simplifying our schedule simply meant building in key points of predictability whenever possible.

He also suggests balancing “A-days” (Active) and “C-days” (Calm). He encourages us to step back from our schedule and take note of too many successive A-days which might lead to melt-down or overstimulation. This helped me to better craft our weekly routine so that there is a healthy balance of Active and Calm.


For example, Sunday-Monday-Tuesday are our active days. We have church, church dinner, prayer meeting, and Bible study. By Tuesday morning Dutch is done. He’s peopled out, so his behavior deteriorates fast. But Heidi’s just getting warmed up! :) So instead of taking Dutch to Bible study, he “goes” to work with Daddy, sitting and reading in Jeff’s office while he works. Dutch loves the Daddy-time that’s quiet and calm, and Heidi & I love the little social date this affords us. I know not everyone has the luxury of planning around each child’s temperament, but taking each one into account does help us be more intentional in our planning (and avoid meltdowns!).

Back when the kids were itty bitty, I followed Jamie Martin’s suggestion of developing a Steady Days Schedule,  then I created a daily Picture Plan to help visualize the day’s activities. It’s morphed over time but it’s still the same Word doc, revised each year as children grow and needs change. This time around I focused on building in better “no budge” boundaries, things we’ll do as consistently as humanly possible. This doesn’t mean the schedule is tighter, there’s actually more time for unstructured play, it just means that we keep the few “notes” of the day constant.

Payne also emphasizes the need for large chunks of unstructured time for children to be free, create, imagine, get bored, and play. He asserts that over-scheduling children adds incredible stress, planting seeds of addiction as we program our children to bounce from activity to activity, relying on constant outer stimulation. He pleads with parents to create lengthy daily pauses for our children, giving them the gift of long, uninterrupted time for imaginative play. Our kids have from 8:30-12 free every day except Tuesday. They thrive on this extended free time, and so do I!

To my surprise, our simplified (“stricter” NOT “tighter”) schedule, helped me much more than I’d anticipated. Knowing that on Mondays I clean, on Wednesdays I write or meet with people, and on Thursdays I do laundry and cook ahead helped  me relax more about items undone. There’s a “box” of time, if you will, for everything. Sure, unplanned stuff still happens. A lot. But these known notes of predictability have reduced our daily stress-load significantly.


After discovering we needed to go gluten-free and dairy-free, the meal situation was stressing me out. We knew simplification was key if I was going to keep my sanity. So, for this season we decided to greatly simplify by doing the same meals every week, themed on a country. We talk about and learn about that country on its day. Now, lest you think I am whipping up exotic menus every day, let me share with you how humble our meals really are:

  • Monday: Mexican (Our church dinner & prayer meeting so it’s Mexican-food potluck)
  • Tuesday: Italian (Spaghetti with italian roasted veggies)
  • Wednesday: French (French roasted whole chicken and french fries (ha!))
  • Thursday: Indian (Chicken curry and jasmine rice)
  • Friday: Dutch (It’s supposed to be Dutch meatballs but it usually ends up being random because we’re usually gone on Friday nights)
  • Saturday: African (Beans & rice)
  • Sunday: American (A conglomeration of everything leftover! Isn’t that what Americans are?)

Aren’t you super impressed by all my fancy meals? (ha!) (I share more about frugality and food simplification in Faithfully Frugal.) Breakfast is always the same, lunch almost the same, and dinner rotates between these 7 meals. Yes, we will switch out as the seasons change (variety is important for a healthy diet) but our culture is so variety-addicted that a simple meal schedule (the norm in other countries) seems outrageous to us. When it’s snack-time, there are two choices. This has also greatly simplified grocery shopping and budgeting. And the kids quit complaining! Can you see me doing the happy dance?

So, none of this is headline news, but once again I recommend Simplicity Parenting for anyone (even if you don’t have kids!) who is trying to take back the reins of this crazy-life and intentionally create more calm, with space to breathe.  May we “behave in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Cor. 1:12). We’ll finish with a few final thoughts on Wednesday. Have a blessed day, friends! Thanks for reading.



Marriage is hard …

by Kari on October 17, 2014

{Mr Mrs Front PanelToday we’re welcoming Kurt Bubna, a brother in Christ and NW pastor. Kurt has a recent-released marriage book: Mr. & Mrs.: How to thrive in a perfectly imperfect marriage. Perhaps this is one of the ways you can continue to fight for your marriage. Have a wonderful weekend–thanks for reading!}


Many years ago, the pastor who married my wife Laura and me told us: “Marriage is hard!” I was eighteen years old (yes, I was young), and I remember thinking, “That might be true for you or others, buddy, but not for us. We’ve got this marriage-thing handled.”

That was my first marital mistake, and I made it even before my wedding vows. It only took me about a month of not-so-marital bliss to conclude that, marriage is indeed difficult.

I recently published a marriage book containing many lessons learned over almost four decades of marriage. The title is: Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in a Perfectly Imperfect Marriage!

What you’ll read may be raw at times, certainly real, and sometimes even a bit radical. However, the principles you will find here are both biblical and practical. They are lessons learned in the trenches of a life together, precious truths about love, sex, communication, forgiveness, and much more.

Can I gently challenge you to invest in your marriage and do whatever you must to grow? It takes guts to admit you might not know it all, and humility to acknowledge your weaknesses. But marriages develop through intentional and faithful dedication to the process of growth and change. Yes, marriage is hard at times, but you truly can grow through the struggles.

About five years into our marriage, I fell away from the Lord and “out of love” with my wife. Without a doubt, the most painful words she ever heard from me were, “I don’t love you anymore. I want a divorce.” My heart still aches over the angst I caused her that dark day long ago. Our marriage was a mess because I was a mess, but that’s not the end of the story. Jesus never gave up on me and neither did my dear wife. Their love won me back.

It’s what love does. It holds on, and it heals.


BIO Pic FullSizeRenderKurt W. Bubna published his first book, Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot in 2013. He has recently published Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in Perfectly Imperfect Marriage. By the end of 2014, he will release two other books: The Rookies Guide to Getting Published in the Galaxy and a devotional. Bubna is an active blogger, itinerate speaker, regular radio and television personality, and the Sr. Pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large non-denominational congregation in Spokane Valley,Washington. He and his wife, Laura, have been married for nearly forty years and have four grown children and five grandchildren. (



Keep Fighting

October 15, 2014

Fight the good fight of the faith. -1 Tim. 6:12 I had this post I was supposed to write. On simplicity and organization and all that good stuff. But I got dragged down a bit with a cold and my eyes are burning right now; I really need to sleep. And something just jumped out […]

Read the full article →

What to wear this season…

October 13, 2014

It’s asinine. Why on earth does it matter what I wear today? But for some reason, even though every single day, carefree, I  pull on my favorite jeans and the next fitted tee from the stack, this day I stared at my closet looking for something cute. I even told Heidi to please match. Why? Why this day?  It’s not […]

Read the full article →

Following Grace

October 10, 2014

I follow a few people around this virtual world of words. It can be dizzying, you know, all the names and who’s who and what’s posting and trending and twittering. So this week I just focused on following Grace. She never lets me down. This week she told me to smile a little more–the real […]

Read the full article →

While we are not looking…

October 8, 2014

As I sat down just now to write a post, I heard, from the other room, Jeff reading a bedtime story aloud to the kids. He’s reading Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury. There is no way I can sit here on my computer while those precious littles are growing up in the other […]

Read the full article →

How Hope Rises

October 6, 2014

I type these words from the floor of my mother’s bedroom. Everywhere I look I see evidence that seems to fly in the face of my faith. You see, I believe the truth of God’s Word that He can and does heal. My mom has Parkinson’s. For a dozen years we have prayed and believed […]

Read the full article →

REALLY amazing fashion advice from mis-voted Best Dressed 1998

October 3, 2014

Ok, here’s a little-known (and embarrassing) tidbit: I was voted Best Dressed in high school. >>Insert SUPER CONFUSED face here.<< I’m pretty sure it was a joke. Or, it could be that I was runner-up in enough other categories that they just gave me a charity-title and Best Dressed was the most vague? For the commemorating photo I […]

Read the full article →

The Toys we Tossed

October 1, 2014

Ok friends, I mentioned Monday that I’d share some details from our Simplification Process. First off, the most unruly of areas: KIDS’ ITEMS (toys & books). Since stores already have Christmas decorations up and toys on strategic low-level displays, this is a good time to do a clean-sweep, and to set the simplicity standard before the holiday onslaught of […]

Read the full article →

On Anne Ortlund and the simplified life

September 29, 2014

“I don’t shave my legs, I cream the hair off …” You have to love Anne Ortlund. Those are her words. Maybe you don’t know her, but she has been an inspiration and mentor of sorts to me, although we’ve never met. Every few years I pick up Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman and re-read it again. […]

Read the full article →