week 1 meal plans

•May 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So I posted on facebook earlier that I’ve finally got a list of 30 dinner meals for the family, and there was a request for the meals. Since I honor requests (shhh don’t tell my kids), here you have it.

The hope of this list is that I can just pull from this list each week when menu planning and it will make menu planning less of a brain drain and more of a breeze! I doubt I will just rotate this list straight, certain things (like homemade pizza and quesadillas) will get used more than once a month, I can already tell you that. Also I enjoy trying something new, even if my family does not always appreciate my efforts, but its one of the few advantages of being the cook, I can cook what I want, occasionally.

Since a whole 30 days would be a monstrosity of a post, I’m gonna do it a week at a time. I try to follow the 80/20 rule with food. Meaning if we can keep 80% of what we eat in a week where I would like it, the other 20% is a wash. Breakfast and lunch are usually pretty standard and healthy around here so I took a few of the cheats with dinners (hence the hot dogs, gotta have some easy wins) and the rest will cover parties, eating out and other peoples houses (always a wild card). I need some grace in my life.

So here it is, in absolutely no premeditated order whatsoever!

Week 1 of 30 days of dinner meals

1) Black bean quesadillas – This is one of the few all over wins for the family. I use whole wheat or corn tortillas, smash up the black beans a bit to make a paste, spread bean paste on one half and avocado on the other half, sprinkle with black olives, fold in half and grill in coconut oil on a skillet. We also add onions, tomatoes, and cheese per request. Serve with salsa and sour cream. So yummy!

2) Re-fried bean tacos – I use this recipe for re-fried beans in the crock-pot, they smell like heaven when they are cooking. I make the whole recipe and freeze the rest for easy dinners later! This recipe was the first way we ever got the littlest to actually eat tacos.

3) Split pea soup – This one was a favorite for Bycemaster and myself, the kids were very much not fans. There may or may not have been incidents of actual gagging at the table the first few times we had this. They have been slowly won over and now all of them will actually eat it and 2 of them are actually excited about it! I use the recipe on the back of the Publix split pea package. We use a few pieces of bacon instead of ham unless it’s the holidays and we need to use up a bunch of leftover ham.

4) One Pan Mexican Skillet Meal – recipe here, we use exactly as stated, so so easy, love this one.

5) Potato Soup – this is the baseline recipe I use, we sub the cow’s milk for unsweetened almond milk and the flour for whatever gluten free flour I happen to have at the moment. It’s loaded with veggies and not super heavy like a lot of potato soups, have seconds with no guilt :) It can be fun with toppings too, we usually pick some green onions and add cheese for those that can have it.

6) Hot Dogs – Some nights you need a no brainer. If I’m lucky Bycemaster will grill them, if not, I’ll microwave them. I usually buy the ones safe for our family when they’re on sale and hide them in my special hidey hole in the freezer to pull out on nights when I cannot adult.

7) Black bean soup – another super easy one (are you sensing a theme here). Two cans of black beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can of broth (veggie or chicken), and 1 cup of salsa. Set aside one can of beans and blend the rest, then pour in a pan to heat and add the other can of beans and a little cumin and chili powder. This one is so easy it was one of the first to teach the oldest to make. Sometimes we mix in corn or rice if I have some leftover that needed to get used. We always serve it with chips, pretty sure that’s why it’s a kid favorite.

Side note: I used to think making dried beans required magical powers. I tried and failed miserably so many different times and then stumbled on a blogger that said she made them in the crock pot, EUREKA! 4-5 hours on high, no soaking or magical powers required. I now cook dried ones and freeze them in roughly can sized containers for easy use later.

Good luck and happy cooking!

why I’m boycotting mother’s day

•May 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

That title is shameless click bait, I admit. But hey if you’re reading this, it worked! And it is true, mostly.

Here’s why, most mother’s days for myself, and more people than I’d like to admit (and probably more than admit to me!) are just days set up for disappointment on the I am a mother end and endless amounts of guilt on the I have a mother end. I am very enmeshed in the raising small people phase of parenting. We are for the moment, out of the high intensity completely dependent phase, but fully into the mentally and emotionally exhausting raising small people phase. What I honest to goodness want at this stage (and what I hear from most of my ‘co-workers’) is a break! Sleep, alone time, a clean house for more than the evening hours they are sleeping (that didn’t require most of said hours to get there)! And according to this info graphic, apparently a small percentage of us also want a lumberjack.

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I already have me one of them these days. He just trades the flannel button down for a professional one for work. Just this weekend he even promised me I’d get to watch him chop wood. True story.

professional lumberjack

But I digress, it’s the rest of that elusive stuff I want, and I’m clearly not alone. But that’s not generally the experience we get. In this phase of parenting, it’s not really very feasible, you know minus the lumberjack part (’cause you know, nailed it!) So when I woke up on Mother’s day to my same messy house, stinky litter box, not alone, even the sleeping in and breakfast I didn’t have to cook didn’t stave off the disappointment. Which to be honest, is a bit ridiculous. Any other day I wake up to the same circumstances and I’m happy and content with my life. Any other day my house feels loved and lived in, not messy. Any other day I appreciate and smile at the laughter and happy screams of my children. Any other day I honestly enjoy my life.

So we were on our way to my mother’s to have lunch with my parents and sister. We made our previously scheduled stop at Publix to pick up some of their awesome fresh flowers for my mom. As I walk in I’m thinking I need something, sugar, caffeine, something! I’m tired, I have a headache, I just want to be alone, this day is for me too, I AM A MOTHER TOO DANG IT!

I stand in front of the dessert cups for forever trying to pick if I want a cheesecake cup or a strawberry cup, can’t decide what I want, so I go pick flowers for my mom. Immediately find ones filled with purple flowers and grab those, then I see Oreo cups on sale for a dollar (one of Jacob’s favorites) and then I think I’d need something for Grant and there’s nothing in this section he could eat. So off I go for some bars, then I find granola and Grant and I had just been talking about granola the night before. There’s a new chex mix granola! He loves chex, double win! It’s starting to turn into a give a mouse a cookie story…drop a mom at a grocery store for one thing and…

One thing leads to another and I end up leaving with a dessert to share with my daughter, stuff for my mom (original mission) and something for each of my boys. The cashier wishes me happy mother’s day and I joke about the fact that I came in for one thing for my mom and ended up with something for all my kids, on mother’s day, typical. We laugh and I realize this was just what I needed, to think about someone else.

That’s what mother’s do best. We all have different perspectives and even different way of carrying out the same perspective, but ultimately we are thinking about other and namely our kids, most of the time. We may be thinking about their short term happiness or their long term success. It might be how we can help them get into the best college or how we can help them be who they were made to be. Maybe it’s trying to get them everything we never had or trying to teach them stuff won’t make them happy. But the point is, the focus is not on us, it’s not on me. (Disclaimer: I am completely for taking care of yourself and try to do and model this to my children. You need to treat yourself and teach your children to treat you with the same amount of respect you treat your kids, but that’s for another post).

So having a day where the cultural expectation is to think about myself and what I want and what I deserve for all this hard ‘work’ I do. This is not a day of happiness. Watching a kid smile at you when you finally get to be the one buying them a treat (instead of it always being a grandparent), sharing dessert with your daughter, getting to see/hear when someone receives your gift, those things bring joy. ‘Cause it’s not about me.

I’m all for teaching children to think about other people, it’s a lesson that will serve them and their future happiness well in life, and it’s one most of us (read me) could also do well to remember. Joy doesn’t come from being focused on me and what I ‘deserve.’ I certainly don’t need a whole day telling me it’s all about me. So next year, if I don’t get the coveted weekend by myself, I’ll be ok. I’ll just content myself with my lumberjack and ride along like it’s any other day. And if I do get anything else off that info-graphic, well, BONUS!

best monday ever

•May 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today we took a day, just took it and ran with it all the way to the beach. It’d been a while, it was much needed. I’ve been in that place where there’s just enough to make it the next step and no more. No margin, no extra. The beach takes me back to fuller again. It was a good choice. I left the weekend frustrated that our home study still wasn’t approved and the person responsible was leaving on vacation. I know they work hard, I do. But that doesn’t really lessen my frustration with how much waiting we are doing before we are even officially waiting. I left the weekend feeling like it was once again too short and to full of work. But oh Monday. Monday has been good to me. Monday was full of the good stuff.

Like a little girl finally finding the magic mix of wet and dry sand for her castle to work this trip!

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And make believe birthday cakes and candles and wishes too!

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And the most awesomest construction team ever and their giant pool!

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Complete with an underground basement, can you see it under there? They started tunneling under ground. It was impressive, they were proud.

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When we got home I jumped on the wifi and checked my email. First I saw we have a renter! I don’t even remember if we posted that our renter that was going to renew decided to leave instead, because you know when you’re fund raising having a refill fee and empty rental is what you’re going for, clearly. But we have a new renter and we were able to get more rent than last year and they move in Friday! Very exciting, but not the most exciting email. The best email was the next one.

WE ARE IN OFFICIALLY IN WAITING!!!!!!!!!!!

So pumped, I may just set up the pack n play and hang up the baby quilt tonight. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH. Happy dance (in my head, maybe).

Best Monday ever.

the beginnings of a project

•April 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

We have new paint! The upstairs of our townhouse is finally all painted, and it feels so good! Of course, now every little nick and scratch on the downstairs paint is jumping out and punching me in the face. But there’s only like, you know, 1, 2, 10…20….*cough cough* infinite nicks and scratches on the downstairs paint.

Moving on…the hallway/stairwell has got to be one of my favorites! It’s dramatic and daring and so dark you’ll never see the fingerprints! Our previous stairwell (should have gotten a picture, sorry!) was a lovely two tone work of child art. Chalky flaky white up top and a smudgy art project in various shades of grey a steady 12 inches under the banister on both sides of the wall. Almost like chair rail or wainscoting really, the children worked hard on their creation. I’m glad they weren’t too crushed to see it go. They are appeased to know that the dark walls (resident evil walls the oldest has dubbed them, Bycemaster was pleased) will soon be displaying photos of them and their artwork (artwork I have a bit more appreciation for than the former…)

So far it looks like this

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The idea is for it to eventually lean more toward this, sorry gotta actually click, not my picture! I probably won’t have them quite that low, kinda asking for it here. Though we have gone almost a year since the last picture frame break! Mostly because the recent soccer ball that jettisoned two of my picture frames to the floor managed to knock them to the carpet this time. The record stands. However, the variety of photos and art work in different mediums and the different colors and types of frames is all the hope. It will be a constant work in progress, and I’m OK with that, life is constantly evolving and changing and growing. I already have boxes of frames to start painting and filling thanks to a super generous former neighbor (you know who you are, thank you again!) I’ll post new stages as they come!

Side note, I went to see Cinderella with my sister and daughter. I actually enjoyed it! Me, the Disney hating, princess cringing me. It was pretty good and showed a strength of character not typically found in a princess movie. I’m sure there are lots of critiques to be found in it still, but I decided not to look for them. Also my daughter ran up and did this to the poster when I asked if she wanted a picture with Cinderella.

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I seriously heart her. Glad she has some better princess movies than I did.

the fundly is here

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I know I know it’s been weeks since I’ve given any adoption updates. We had passed the ball into the agency’s court weeks ago and have just been waiting for it to pass back. It’s back! We got our profile book back in the mail yesterday. Filled with edits! I really should have expected this, I mean I edit the crap out of my own work, usually, but my initial response was still overwhelmed, again. So many edits! I get it, we want their input and really I do. This is their job, they know better how certain things come across, but I am so ready to just sit around in waiting. I know the big ‘they’ say waiting sucks, and I’m not doubting them (ok maybe I am, if I’m honest, but only a little), but it will at least be a different kind of sucky. I will be developing patience and a greater capacity to deal with the unknown WHILE doing fun things like setting up the pack n play and buying cute diapers and making a new baby blanket. I’m ready to be there. Almost there. I’ll be plugging through the edits this week and hopefully we’ll hear our home study (which is now complete) has gotten it’s final directorial approval soon as well. Those are our last steps and I’ll get to announce we are in waiting. Right now we are just waiting to wait. I feel like I talk a lot about waiting.

Also cat’s out of the bag! We (and by we I totally mean Bycemaster) researched and set up our funding page. It’s not quite finished yet, as we are now into my part, but it is up and active. We totally didn’t intend to publicize yet, we thought when we hit skip last night on the publish to Facebook part, it wouldn’t publish to Facebook (now why would we think that….). But it turned out to be a happy accident as we’ve already had multiple likes and shares and even a DONATION! I must admit I was almost crying when we realized that someone had already responded to our unfinished accident. We have hope and faith, but I don’t expect it. It still never stops amazing me every time we are on the receiving end of someone’s generosity. We have such incredibly generous people in our lives. We are so grateful for everyone that has already contributed in funds or social or moral support. You all are invaluable and I hope you know how much you mean to us and our new little baby.

Well I had a cute little post about my co-op art lesson planned for today (the kids did so well!), but life interrupted. I’m toying with the idea of moving this up to twice a week. Are you guys ok with that? And also ok if it doesn’t actually happen, ha! Once a week has been doable, I’m thinking I can handle twice a week if you can…we shall see.

Click here to view and contribute to our adoption fund, just remember, it’s still under construction!

to watch or not to watch

•April 13, 2015 • 1 Comment

We started a new screen time regimen. Today is one of our no screen days for the kids. There are already pros and cons to this new plan, we are barely a week in. Con numero uno (and I really feel like this counts as more than one) without screens the boys wake up and come TALK TO ME. I am trying to appreciate this, having your children want to talk to you is a good thing, and I love him and when I am conscious I know this. But I do not wake up when they wake up, I have not since they were able to turn on Netflix and get themselves a snack. The oldest in particular has always been an early riser, I spent years up at 5:30 with him. I relish waking up in daylight, it is a serious perk to my current job, LOVE IT. I am not a morning person and he apparently still wakes up talking a hundred miles a minute (most of that about what ever will he do without a screen!) and now it’s to me. The little one comes in and cuddles in bed, which is all sweet for about 30 seconds. Because he doesn’t do still, so I’m getting kicked and petted and crushed by a no longer little “baby” while I’m still getting talked at by the other one all while still trying to wake up myself. But the beautiful girl child is still sleeping past me, and now longer whining that the boys got so much more screen time than she did (due to aforementioned earlier wake up) so there’s that.

We’ve always had screens off after breakfast through nap time on the weekdays. But the total time had been gradually inching up as I had to get more and more paperwork and baby stuff done. It was just easier, but it also meant that there was more whining about it, inconsistency breeds it. I know this. I just don’t always have the energy and mental fortitude to do anything about it. They also can sense these things and the whining starts. But why can’t we have more today? We had more yesterday? Surely if we ask at least 20 more times we can bend this rule again? Right? They were all secretly meeting about this I’m sure. It’s what they talk about for that hour they play in their room before actually falling asleep. They had a schedule with assigned shifts to badger me it about ALL AFTERNOON. I’m convinced.

So it was time for a new rule, one that had never been broken! A fresh start. No screens at all on Mondays and Fridays and a time limit on the other three days they are allowed to manage within the an allowable window. So far Friday, our first complete screen free day was glorious (you know after the morning wake up part). The afternoon was so peaceful without Barbie Life in the Dream House and stampeecat (I’m sure I did not spell that correctly) minecraft videos simultaneously invading my house. It was like we had finally booted an unwelcome house guest. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out! Oh wait! Do! Do let it hit ya and kick you to the curb sucker!

Looking forward to seeing how it continues to play out. Hoping for the best.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way intended to start any type of mommy wars over the appropriate amount (or non amount) of screen time. Also just say no to the guilt. If you need it more right now, use it. I did when I needed it and now we can cut back again. Do what works for your family  :)

a birthday for a girl

•April 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

We added a new 7 year old to our bunch this weekend. I had every intention of writing this for her on her actual birthday, but she had friends sleep over for the first time the night before and though it actually went very well (I admit I was slightly terrified), my brain was certainly not up to full capacity. I was doing just fine, if I was, you know, sitting, doing nothing, but that actual thinking thing, was a bit delayed (you know, like this over-comma-ed sentence). Then we had Easter and they were all up early again! Which was really more of the problem with the sleepover, the insane hour they awoke (like my fancy wake up there?). I am not used to predawn hours anymore, I don’t wake before the sun, it’s unnatural people. My cushy job of eating bon bons and watching soaps all day allows for me to wake with the sun, not before, its on the pro side.

Dear 7 years old,

You are 7 now my dear. This much anticipated birthday for you has come and gone and just as you seem to do everyday, you got bigger. Baby years have long been gone, and you are continually becoming more and more of who you are. This year you started gymnastics. You have excelled, which was the point, we knew you would. You spend your days in one endless cartwheel, why walk to the table when one can cartwheel? why eat at a table when one can chew and cartwheel at the same time? why ride your bike when one can cartwheel down the sidewalk? Long hair splaying, skirts a flying, cartwheeling is how you spend your days.

You got a sewing machine for your birthday this year, you were thrilled. You already have plans to make new pillows and blankets for your dollhouse and I look forward to seeing what else you come up with (and I look forward to seeing how you manage to cartwheel while using a sewing machine). Your generosity and creativity have not abated. I’m sure the sewing machine will end up being a new outlet for those as well. love watching the joy you find in creating and in giving your creations to those in your life. Even if at the moment your incessant momma, Momma, MOMMA!!!! coming from the room you are “sewing” in is not bringing the most pleasant thoughts of you in my head. You are relentless, this has great potential to one day be an asset, to be honest most days it wears me out. But even in my mentally exhausted state from helping facilitate your endless endeavors I am still excited to see where you will go with them all. I am also very very proud of who you are becoming, and as always look forward to watching you grow.

till next year baby girl,

your MOMMA!!!

side note to you readers. I just finished reading The Pioneer Woman’s book: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, go read it now. It was fabulous, I’m semi obsessed with her and her blog now and may or may not have been internet stalking her all weekend. It also made me sorely miss working with Bycemaster. I miss him.

 
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