Friday, October 9, 2009

Meal planning UGH!!

I have literally tried and done pretty much every extreme of menu planning out there.  From- NO plan whatsoever to planning meals and snacks and everything in between.

The thing is ..I love, love, love to cook.  So it's not cooking that's the issue's the planning of it. If someone could just hand me the groceries and the meal plan for the week i'd be in HEAVEN..almost..maybe add someone to clean up after I make a mess while I cook and then we'd be close.  Will I get to cook in heaven? I wonder...(yet I digress)

So..I did Super Suppers, Dinner Station for a while.  (check out the websites)  You go and prep the meals there, usually with some friends, come home with about 12 meals and put them in the freezer to use when you're ready.  Not a bad deal really..if you don't want to eat out and don't really like to cook either.

We've also done the eating out marathons. NOT good for the figure at all!  And eating out..for me..gets old real quick.

When I was a SAHM in 2001...I had a 4 week rotation on an excel spreadsheet.  Week A, B, C, D.  Grocery list, taco night, chicken night, leftover night, pizza night etc... this worked great  and it was easy to swap out meals if we got tired of something or were having guests etc.  I made the spreadsheet once and really didn't have to mess with it again.

Now..we don't really do a lot of "repeats" the ABCD plan doesn't work for us anymore.  But I found a great new website that had a Meal plan worksheet that I love so of course I wanted to post it here.  The website is called MommyTrackd and they have a ton of info and some free downloads which is where I found the EAT SHEET.  Great tool.  I sit down at the beginning of the month...plan out my meals (in pencil because I tend to change my mind)..then when that week arrives..I review the menu..make changes...head to the pantry and fridge to see what I already have on that list and put the rest on my grocery list.  For now..this is the perfect Meal plan for me.  I print off several a little 3 ring binder..hole punch the pages and keep on the cookbook stand in my kitchen.  My husband loves to peek to see what's cooking! :)    Would love to hear any tips or ideas others have found useful for mealplanning...seems it's a pretty common struggle for most families.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Free Ice Cream- No "extras" to bring home! Woo hoo...

Okay, I'm sure this is not new and I am one of the last suburban Mom's to be in "the know" here.   You can trade the kidsmeal- Chik-fil-a toy/book/CD in for a free ice cream.  (thanks to a smart Mommy I had lunch with today!! who was way more in the know than I...I owe you big time Julie!)   So thanks to my "in the know" friend, both of my kids received a free ice cream today..and many more to come.   Woo's the little things folks..less stuff to bring home...and I get to say..sure kids..have an ice cream before we leave. 

Do McD's and other places do this too? Someone tell me..don't let me wander around to other healthy food choice places not knowing we could have had free ice cream this whole time...INSTEAD of stuff.  No more stuff please... 

It's the little things people..that excite me..the free ice cream....I feel so...frugal the know... so... FREE from additional toys/stuff that we do not need or want...Ice cream...we always need ice cream.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MP3's -Come on kids-it's Storytime!

I say this with a bit of pride: both of my children love to READ and be read to!  Woohoo...score! Yeehaw!

  From the time they were little, one of our favorite things to do was curl up on the couch, the bed or hang out on the floor while we read and explore the many books in our home library.   Sara was insistent at a young age that I point at each word as I read it.  I had heard that pointing at the words as you read to your child is a great tool in helping them learn to read so I was more than happy to point away.   When they were old enough to talk about the books more, after each story we would have "discussion time".   Sometimes all this consisted of was:  "What do you remember from the story?"  And on occassion, they wouldn't remember a thing!! (from the story) But for sure, they remember the time we spent curled up together with no other distractions or obligations taking my attention.

Since they are both reading on their own now, I sometimes miss getting to read and explore certain stories with them.  However, me reading a story to them is still something we all enjoy together. (for this I am grateful, I know they may not want to do that much as time passes)

In our family, storytime isn't JUST a book with pages...many times it's an MP3!

In addition to reading on their own and me reading to them...., one of their favorite things to do is listen to audio stories...Sometimes they are following along in a book....  Other times, they listen to a story while they do Math, color a picture, clean their room (that doesn't happen often!) but you get the idea.

So in that regard, I thought I'd share a few links for free children's MP3 audio stories.   These are great to put on your Ipod/Iphone, listen to straight from the computer or put on a CD to take with you when you go on trips short or long.  Enjoy!!

There are of course a ton of websites that you may purchase mp3's and audiobooks..but free is a great place to start.

NONE OF the audios are meant to replace the joy of curling up and reading a book on your own or with your kiddos.   What a wonderful way to hear some great stories though.

I'd love to hear from you on what websites your family utilizes for great MP3 learning and storytimes!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Grocery Glow?? Not me!!

I do not like to go grocery shopping!!! 

For the last several years, my wonderfully talented and very patient husband has pretty much owned the grocery shopping for our household.  WHEW!  Amazing!  Well, he also took it on to save more money.  To his credit, he has a done a great job.  To my credit:- I let him so he could feel the satisfication that comes from saving money.  (AND:  I would almost rather pay someone to do my grocery shopping than to do my lawn or housekeeping... (almost!)  there I said's out in the open!!)


When I grocery shop I do the following:
  1.  Make a list-which I kind of stick to when I'm at the store.
  2.  Clip coupons
  3.  Peruse ads to see which store has most of the items on my list for the best price.
  4. Procrastinate going to the store because I'm dreading it so much.
  5.  Go to one store...time is money..I don't want to be going to several different stores! Ugh. Besides I've already forgotten which store had the best prices for what was on my list.  Which store is the closest...I'll go there!!
  6. Gets home exhausted and irritated from having to do this errand.

When my husband grocery shops he does the following:
  1.  Make a list
  2.  Gets his coupons together
  3. On the list- notates which items he has coupon for with "c"
  4. Peruse ads to see which stores have the best prices on the items on his list
  5. Shops Sprouts on Wednesdays to get the benefit of both sales.
  6. On the list- marks which store he wants to purchase the item at
  7. Has specific stores at which he will purchase meat and produce for best quality and price.
  8. Takes Ads to Wal-mart buys a lot of things there and has them Price Match the grocery store Ads.
  9. Make sure unit price is better with a coupon vs another brand.
  10. Comes home with a "grocery glow" over how much he saved this time around.
Isn't my husband amazing! I think he's amazing...and I LOVE his penny pinching ways most of the time..well...sometimes.  The more he saves on groceries the more money I have for clothes and shoes...oh wait..isnt' that the whole purpose of saving on other we can buy more clothes and shoes??
Surely that's his motivation.  I guess his motivation could be ..retirement, emergency fund, college fund etc...but surely clothes and shoes is on his list too??

If you see me at the grocery store...and I look lost..I probably am.  Just give me some encouragement and tell me where to the find the milk.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wow! Your kids are young!

 I was 32 when I had my first child.  So Here I am at 40 and I have an 8 year old and a 5 year old.   Realizing that more couples than not (at least here in the little bubble of a burb I live in),  start their families in their mid to late 20's,  I'm never the youngest Mom in playgroups or classrooms etc.  This isn't an issue for me ..... EXCEPT... when people make comments like....   "WOW!  Your kids are young!"  Do you realize you're saying you think I'm old? Because NEWSFLASH...that's what you're saying!    Could you at least not GASP in surprise?  Could you ...not proceed with Comments like..."So your OLDEST  is 8 years old? I guess you got a late start?"

Now, I am blessed, I didn't deal with infertility or any medical conditions that prevented me from having Children earlier than I did.  I simply...lived a single married at 29...had my first child at 32 and am pleased with that timeline.  I MEANT to do it that way, yes that's right, I did it that way on purpose.

Just thought I'd clear that up today.
I'm sure we all feel better knowing, the timing of the birth of my children, was intentional.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New kind of family time?

Like many other 8 year old boys in our little burb, my son really enjoys playing video games. And so it began,  several years ago,  we purchased a Nintendo Ds for him to play during flights and road trips.  Then a few years later we purchased a Wii system for our home.

Now, I've heard it preached, harped on etc.... (and that's putting it LIGHTLY).... about the perils and evils of video games and their ability to turn your brain to sheer mush.   I'm sure this  could  be the case, if abused and overused, but I would disagree for the most part, now that we have had our Wii for a while.

In our house, it's a new kind of family time.   This is not an advertisement for the Wii specifically, but it's where my experience with video gaming lies.   At first, I resisted playing the games very much because it wasn't my thing.  But after a while...I started go-kart racing with my son, daughter and husband. (usually coming in last! but hey I'm okay with that...for now)  We also bowled, golfed, played tennis, baseball..right in the comfort of our own home. Then, we decided to give the Partridge Family a run for their money and started our own Family Band via- Guitar Hero World Tour.  Sara- on the drums, Jeff on Bass, Connor on Guitar and Mommy singing off key as loud as possible.   EYE OF THE TIGER will soon be re-recorded by our family because, for some reason we think we're super good.  :)

Oh, we still play other games like Candyland, Yahtzee, Uno, Skipbo, etc etc.  But the reality is...we enjoy the electronic games just as much if not more.  And our experience has been a very interactive, hilariously fun, engaging, connecting family time.  So, if you haven't tried it...don't knock it..  if you have and it's not your thing, that's okay too.   However...I think the school of thought that video games are anti-social is inaccurate and outdated.

As with any game, electronic or not, the value comes in doing it together as a family or with friends.  So if you bought your gaming system for "the kids", maybe you should try playing it with them sometime. You might be surprised and actually have a great time with your family.

I realize everyone won't agree with me, and that's okay.  This is after all, MY opinion and perspective not to be misinterpreted as reality and law for all mankind to conform to and accept as their own.   :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

TRUE GREATNESS vs. Success ???

At the recommendation of a friend I picked up the book:  Raising Kids for True Greatness by Dr Tim Kimmel.

Just a few pages in and I was very encouraged and humbled.  It's not NEW information, but communicated in a way that is fresh, motivating and insightful.

Here are few excerpts :

 " The successful come, acheive and then leave. The truly great touch peoples' lives in such a way their impact lasts forever."

"True greatness is a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in  an unquenchable love and concern for others."

"We are called to love God so much that we automatically care for people"

I'm looking forward to finishing this book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cooking Style

I must my house....  FOODNETWORK is a staple in my day.    I actually LOVE the CHOPPED show where they get "surprise" ingredients and have to whip up something tasty in a short amount of time.   Exciting stuff right there! :)

Another's not in my DNA to actually FOLLOW a recipe to the letter.  I love to experiment and add/change reinvent recipes.  Thus my love for cooking challenge type shows.    I will take a PERFECTLY delicious recipe and there is something in me that has to change AT LEAST one thing...   I've tried to follow a recipe...and it is truly a gutwrenching experience for someone like myself to accomplish.

If you are a "to the letter recipe follower"..then take my word... Receiving a Recipe from me may be a stressful experience as it would go something like...

About a cup of Sourcream
About 1/2 cupish of Mayo
Frozen Corn- till you get the right consistency taste
1 tomato diced- add a bit..taste then add more if desired.
Salt, Pepper and Cumin to Taste
couple squeezes of lime juice
Few handfuls of Shredded Cheese...
1 or 2 diced jalapenos...depends on how spicy you likey
Diced Green onions- about 1/4 cup or taste.

VOILA...Yummy Dip..

Maybe I'm just too lazy to wash the measuring spoons or cups?  Maybe  it's the thrill of victory or agony of defeat?   Give me some ingredients and point me to the mixing bowl/stove/oven......but measurements just aren't my thing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cosmetic Surgery? Godly choice or ungodly choice or neither?

   I've often chuckled to myself at the people saying how those who have Breast Augmentations and Liposuction, botox etc are so vain and various other presumptuous comments.  "Why do they mess with God's creation, can't they appreciate their beauty as God created them?"  As they flip their highlighted hair and flash the smile they attained via braces and teeth whitening while reapplying their lipgloss, powder etc..  .... ... click the link below to read the article. Comment if you wish.

Who Me? Opinionated? Whuh..Whuh What???

If you know me very well you know..I am not shy about sharing my opinions. Never have been, why start now right?. time goes by, I have grown a little wiser about how, who and when. I'm not going to promise too much "discretion" here in my blog..after all it is MY blog.

I learn a lot from people who disagree with me...NOT because I end up agreeing with them...but usually more so..because they help me clarify WHY I believe what I believe and gain perspective on things that I may sometimes be more close minded on...(I know..WHATEVER..I'm pretty open minded..that's what you were thinking right?)

I hope you'll check out my blog often and share input...thoughts etc...No telling what you'll get..I don't even know yet....

For those of you who are grammar nuts...I will absolutely drive you bonkers I'm sure!! I use lots of "......" instead of proper's how I roll folks. I'm off to ponder what hot topic needs to be discussed here next...hmmm...

President Obama's Address to our Children maybe? It's news..he did accomplish getting our attention. Was that the point?

Happily, Crazily, Confusingly, Amusingly..

After I first became a Mom (8 years ago!) I had an identity crisis. I had a lot of practice and identified well with being a daughter, sister, cousin, friend and wife..but identifying with this new Mommy thing well, that took a lot more time. It felt very much like the role of "MOMMY" was way bigger than any other role I had identified with in my life. At first, I wasn't sure I was up for the task...I mean come on...I took the lamaze classes but couldn't for the life of me find the "I'm not sure how to do this Mom thing classes".

What have I learned the last 8 years? Being a Mom isn't about having all the answers. It's not about being consumed so much with the children God gave you that you forget you're a Daughter, Wife, Friend and Sister. It's certainly about the journey, of being a woman in every sense of the word. About feeling, doing, being present, caring, giving, taking, sharing, growing, imperfection, excitement...and embracing life, happy or sad, good or's Mommily Ever After.