Thursday, October 30, 2014

How I Meal Plan

 I've gotten several messages, comments, and personal requests to share my secrets to how I meal plan for my family so I have decided to write a post about it. Don't be mistaken, this is not a resurrection of my blog (but, hopefully one day!). Blogger is just the easiest, most efficient medium I could think of to write it all down. 

This is what works for my family. It may not work for yours. Add to it, take away from it, tweak it to make it work for you! 

Step 1. I go through my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator and make a list of things I need to use up. 

Step 2. I grab my planning goodies, put my girls down for a nap (or in front of Blue's Clues...) and sit down at the computer in our office to begin my favorite chore!

Step 3. I decide how many meals I am going to need to make for the next 2 weeks. I look to see if there is anything special I need to make or buy (examples: G is star student this week and gets to bring his favorite snack to class on Friday so we are going to make cookies- so I write down which ingredients we need to get for those. We also have Life Group at my house on Mondays and I'll bring a side dish this week so I write down what I'd like to bring for that.) 

Step 4. I write down meals I know I'd like to make within the next 2 weeks. If my husband has been asking for a certain meal (his favorite is this) I'll be sure to add that. I have extra spinach left over so I'll pick a dish that will use it up (like this one). 

Step 5. I decide on the remaining dinner and lunch dishes I want to make. Almost all of meals are from my favorite food blogger Beth. I browse through her posts and decide on a few. While every meal I make is economical some dishes I know will cost more than others so I try to have a good mix of inexpensive and pricier meals so that I can keep a balanced grocery bill.  I write all of the meals down and then pair them with days. On days I know I will be busy (Sundays, Wednesdays, or if I have something extra scheduled) I try to make simple meals. I like to make stews or crock pot meals on Sundays. I love throwing stuff into the crock pot before church and coming home to a delicious-smelling house! I make sure to write the meals on repositionable stickers (the ones I am using in the picture came with my Erin Condren Life Planner and fit perfectly at the bottom). Undoubtedly my meal plan will hit at least one kink and I'll have to switch out one meal for another. Using repositonable stickers ensures that all of my meals will be made, that my planner stays tidy, and that I (mostly) won't be tempted to get take out or fast food (my weakness). 

Step 6. I write the grocery list. I split my list up into 5 sections (canned & dry, cold & frozen, meat &poultry, produce, and other). For "other" I keep a list whenever I run out of items/essentials (q-tips, dog food, shampoo etc). 

Step 7. I add it all up! I purchase pretty much the same things almost every grocery trip so I am pretty familiar with how much my items will cost. If I am using a new ingredient and am unsure of the price a quick Google search will give me a ballpark figure. I always estimate conservatively so I'll have some "extra" cash at the end of my shopping trip!

Step 8 (and possibly the most important step!). I withdraw cash from an ATM and leave my debit card in the car.  I am much less likely to pick up little items here and there if I have a certain amount of money to spend. 

This is how we do meals! We have been following this plan for about 2 years now. We're not perfect, nor will we ever be, but meal planning has saved me thousands of dollars over the past few years. You wouldn't know it, but I HATE cooking. I do it because it's the only way I can keep my family's nutritional and budgetary needs on track. 

A few tips: When I get home from the grocery store I divide my ground beef into 1lb. increments and freeze them. I cut the fat off of my chicken breasts and divide them into individual Ziploc bags and freeze them. and if I have time I chop up my onions, bell peppers, and whatever other vegetables I'll need chopped and freeze those as well. Doing extra meal prep beforehand keeps my evenings more free and I am way more likely to make dinner if the hard stuff is already done! 

I hope this has helped. Comment if you have any questions or tips! How do you meal plan?
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My New Year's Resolutions

I adore New Year's. I love the fresh start. I love the newness. I love the anticipation of things to come. I love not knowing what the year has yet to hold. But most of all- I love making resolutions. I love resolving to be a better version of me. I love challenging myself and I definitely love succeeding at those challenges. 

 In the past my resolutions have been to lose weight, to eat healthy, to do good in college, to read my Bible more. I've resolved to be more involved in my surroundings, to get pregnant, to NOT get pregnant, and to keep up better with forgotten friends. Last year my resolution was to get my family on a schedule; to make more home-cooked meals and keep a cleaner house. By the end of the year I cooked 80% of our meals and my house was always company ready. That was a huge personal accomplishment because I didn't really come with that 'baking biscuits in the morning and a roast ready by lunch all while looking great with pearls and curls gene'. Instead I am more of a roll out of bed blindly towards the coffee pot with a child hanging onto each leg because they've finally managed to convince me that 'yes, their breakfast is important- especially after the questionable hot dog/canned vegetable/expired milk amalgamation of a dinner they had had the previous night'. (I exaggerate, but only slightly). As a matter of fact- I only know how to bake one thing from scratch and that's because it only has 3 ingredients and 1 of those is beer. So yeah... no Betty Homemaker here. 
  I digress. What I mean to say, is that I love making resolutions and I am normally very proficient at following through with them (maybe I should resolve to blog more... meh). 

This year I have thought long and hard about what I want my NYR to be. It couldn't be about losing weight (because apparently doing that while pregnant is frowned upon). It can't be about eating better because my diet is already pretty good and pregnant people need donuts. I could always read my Bible more, but that will always be the case. There are so many things I'd like to do; Play with my kids more, be on my phone less, not yell, be patient, spend less money etc. etc. etc. but, each of these things are daily choices. Choices that I make time and time and time again and I know if I make them my resolution for the new year I will fail miserably because I will never accomplish all of those things. I will never spend enough time with my kids. I will never always eat salads. Instead I will give up. I will look at all of the times I have failed and become overwhelmed. 

Last year was the hardest of my life. I can say that with certainty. I hesitate with what to open up about on here because 1) I'm generally a private person and opening up even just a little unsettles me greatly and 2) It's the internets y'all and that stuff is up for EVER. 
 That being said I will say that I've been to lows I've never reached before. I lost many friends. I lost relationships with family members. I had a medical scare that was "almost certainly cancer", but actually ended up being an unplanned pregnancy (and how the doctors messed THAT one up, I'll never know because to my knowledge the two are not easily confused. I'm no doctor though...). I almost lost myself.  I lost trust and I lost hope. I had never lost hope before. It was deep. Gritty. Nasty. Ugly. I thank God every day for a husband who stood by my side. Who held me up when I literally couldn't stand up myself. He stood up for me and protected me from people who were out to get me (yeah, I had people out to get me! I mean, that kind of made me feel important and stuff even though it for real sucked). He defended me time and time again. He never once faltered or gave up on me. Even when I gave up on myself, on him, and on my kids. And this brings me to my resolutions for this year:

1) To be more selfish. Part of the reason last year was so terrible was because I wasn't selfish enough. I let people say things about me that weren't true. I hate confrontation. I let things just happen instead of standing up for myself and saying, "Hey! That's not what happened! That's not true!". I let others control my life because I didn't want to hurt feelings. But, because of my cowardice or my cordiality (depending on how you look at it) I lost SO MUCH. Family, friends, self esteem, and I even almost lost my life. Nothing is worth that. So this year I resolve to be selfish. I resolve to stand up for myself when no one else will. Because I deserve it. I deserve to have a voice. I deserve to make mistakes. I deserve to get back up. 

I won't be foolish enough to blame all of last year on others. I made plenty of mistakes. Probably more than in any other year. I failed plenty. I failed my kids. I failed my husband. I failed my church. I failed myself. And that brings me to my next resolution:

2) To make the right choice. I started seeing a therapist (a counselor, psychiatrist, whatever you want to call it) last year. After heaping so much onto myself that I didn't know how to deal I knew I needed a way to sort it out. It was a great choice and one that I recommend to anyone who feels the need to talk to someone. Anyway, while talking things through I began to have a change in my way of thinking. I don't think it was anything that we discussed, per se, I think maybe I just started seeing myself in a different light. I remember sitting in my living room one evening and thinking, "Wow. My floors really need to be mopped." and it's like a light went off in my head. Umm, why not mop them? I could either continue what I am doing (which was playing Solitaire on my computer. Shut up, I know I have an exciting life.) or I could mop my floors and they could be clean and I wouldn't have to think about how dirty my floors were again. So I got up and mopped. It took all of about 10 minutes. Then I went on about my game. I thought to myself, "I am only as weak as my weakest choice". Do I really not have enough self-control, enough will power to make the right choice? When given a choice between a salad or a hamburger (for example) am I really that enslaved to this hamburger (and in turn, my will power, or lack thereof) that I HAVE to order it? Am I really that enslaved to my card game (or my lack of self control) that I will let it dictate the cleanliness of my floors? I can either pick up my clothes  off of the floor before I go to sleep and sacrifice a few extra minutes of sleep, but in turn get the satisfaction of waking up to a clean room or I can succumb to my sleepiness and wake up grumpy because there are clothes everywhere. I can't really be that weak of a person that I can't overcome my laziness, right? So when given the option between two choices, I will simply make the right one. I have to remind myself constantly- I am only as weak as my weakest choice.  

I'm not sure if this makes any sense written out or not. I hope it does and I hope somehow I have inspired you in this New Year! Now... here's to resolving not to wait 3 months for another blog post!!

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful on a Friday

 I think  أحمد خالد توفيق said it best when he said“تحبین الأطفال ؟.. برافو .. لكنھم طبعًا ھؤلاء الأطفال الذين يظھرون على علب الألبان الصناعیة .. لو استطعت أن تحبي طفلاً قذرًا فقیرًا مبلل الثیاب يتزاحم الذباب والمخاط حول وجھه فأنا أقر لك بأنك أنثى كاملة..”.
I'm sorry if you don't read Arabic. That's really something you should work on to become a better blog reader and thereby a more productive member of society. If you'd like to take a moment to self reflect on your shortcomings as a person, I'll wait. 

 Okay, now that you are done with that I'll get on with my Thankful Friday post. I'm sorry my thankfulness is not alliteratively pleasing. Hopefully my thankfulness on a day other than Thursday doesn't offend you. 

 Today I am thankful for my children. I'll be thankful for Gideon first because he's my favorite. Kidding, I just had him first so it makes sense.

   Gideon was born on September 9, 2010 after a 10 hour induced labor. I will not bore you with the details of my delivery, but know that there were lots of blood, guts, screaming and a fair amount of violence. Also, the delivery doctor said that was the last child he would ever deliver and then something about "crazy mother", "satan", "afterbirth", "never be the same.." or whatever. I was all drugged up and not really listening so he may have said something different. Or not at all. 

 So, yes.. we got off to a very rough start. In the three years that followed, G has grown up to be quite the amazing toddler. I know, I know, every parent thinks their child is amazing. You are all wrong. Mine is the most amazing. Except for this kid. He's way more awesome. If I could choose one word to describe my son, it would be "sweet". That is exactly what he is. He is always there to help me out whenever I need it. Perhaps it is his age, but more likely I think it is his personality. He is very smart, very helpful, and also very contrary (which I would like to attribute to his age, but perhaps he did get something from me after all). He loves to learn, forever asking questions- most of which I do not know the answer to so we resort to Google or "wait until Daddy gets home and we'll ask him". You really can't blame me here, what stay-at-home mother knows whether or not Ironman is allowed into Asgard even though he is a "mere mortal" or if a GPS works on a submarine or why there are bad guys? He is his father made over- in looks, actions, and feelings. He's a daddy's boy through and through and he will be the first to tell you!

 Ariella "Aardvark" was born on July 6, 2012. That was the happiest day of my life. Unlike Gideon's labor and delivery, Arie's was easy. It was natural. It felt like everything I imagined a labor should feel like and it gave me closure. The first words I said after she was born were, "She's so beautiful". FYI- she wasn't. She was born at 36 weeks and 6 days and still covered in vernix (cheese) and was all wrinkly. She was gross. But, I guess I got an extra dose of that mommy hormone that clouded my vision and made me think my baby was the most beautiful baby in the world (again, let me make this clear, she was not). Then she got cleaned off and wouldn't you know it- she was actually pretty cute. We bonded immediately.  She has always been a momma's girl. She loves her mom more than anyone and that makes my heart happy. She and I are also very much alike... which doesn't exactly thrill me. Like me, she is very sensitive. We first noticed this on a long car ride when she was a couple of months old. We would hit a bump in the road, someone would cough, someone would *think* of coughing and she would immediately start crying. Anything that interrupted her current atmosphere hurt her feelings. She often laughs so much she coughs, the coughing then turns to crying. So basically my daughter is so happy that it upsets her and she cries. Yeah- she definitely got that from me. She is so sensitive, but still so loving. She is also very adventurous, which I believe she also gets from me. She is our climber, our risk taker. Actions now, consequences later.

My children are some of my greatest blessings. Motherhood is a blessing. I am thankful God entrusted them to me. Don't get me wrong, that causes me to question his judgement a little bit, but he's done this a time or two before so I assume He knows what He's doing and this wasn't an oversight on his part. Right, God....... right??

All in all we are a very blessed family. We haven't suffered any major illnesses. We are healthy. We are happy. We love and we are loved. That is what I am thankful for today!

If I could sum up my kids in a single picture, this would be it. G was crying because I made him wake up from a nap and that's a tough thing for a 3 year old person to do. A was crying because I wanted to cuddle her after she fell off of a desk and she just wanted to climb back up. (and that laundry basket full of clothes in the background is, coincidentally, why I was crying).

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today I am going to be all festive and Thankful! I could do as so many others are doing and post daily on Facebook what I am thankful for, but I tried that a few years ago and I think I got 3 days in until I forgot about it. So instead I will try my attempt at being thankful once a week. Try, I said, try. 

Disclaimer: Obviously I am thankful for God, my kids, my husband, et cetera, but no one wants to read about that. So... you know, let's do the usual and not judge me, yo!

  • A schedule. I didn't realize how badly my life needed one until I had kids. Now, I live by it. (It is important to note that when I say "I live by it", what I mean is that I follow it loosely). I am thankful I am (finally) disciplined enough to set a schedule for my life- with it comes the peace that I crave. 
  • My dishwasher. Could you imagine not having one of those?? *shudder*
  • FINALLY getting my room decorated! It has been 4 years since I have had my bedroom completely decorated the way I want. After moving from our first home, we lived in a series of apartments/rented houses and we couldn't paint walls or hang pictures like we wanted. I am thankful to finally own a home where we can do whatever we want!! Sometimes this is a good thing, other times this is a very, very bad thing. Since this is a thankful post, I will only talk about the good (lucky you). I am waiting to get my curtains hung *hint hint* and then I will post pictures (probably a few months down the road because no matter how thankful or excited I am I'm still a procrastinator so chill). 
  • Nap time. I am thankful for children who so willingly lie down once or twice a day and give me a much needed break. Sometimes I nap too, other times (like today) I reflect on what an amazing mom, homemaker, blogger, housekeeper  errr, napper I am.
  • The movie Tropic Thunder. I must admit, the first time I watched it (in theaters) I sat through the entire first half of the movie so grossly offended by the previews that I refused to pay attention. Instead I was going over the scathing conversation I would be having with management afterwards about how completely unprofessional and offensive I found the trailers and products- until my husband pointed out to me that it was actually a part of the movie and not real at all. Yeah.......... I felt pretty silly after that. That may be why I love the movie so much now. Classic overcompensation. Whatever, it's a good movie and if I want to be thankful for it this Thanksgiving I will (remember when you promised not to judge, because I do). 
  • and lastly (I would say on a more serious note, but honestly I was pretty serious about being thankful for Tropic Thunder) I am thankful for provision. Never in my life have I had to go without. Sure sometimes money is tight. Sometimes I have to order the bean burrito at Taco Bell instead of the mexican pizza. I am always provided for, though. Not just monetarily. While I am so thankful we can put food on our table (tv trays), clothes on our backs, and blue-rays in our blue-ray player, I equally thankful for the things we have that don't come with a price tag. I have peace in my life. That is something so many people have to go without. I have enough love in my heart to share with the world. I have compliments- both to give and to receive. I have joy. I have grace and forgiveness in abundance- that is something for which I will never be thankful enough. I have my health and sometimes even my sanity!

These are all of the things I am thankful for this Thursday! Perhaps the stars will align and other weird things will happen and I'll blog next week about more things I am thankful for (seriously, don't hold your breath). And if I were one of those fancy bloggers I would link up to other bloggers who do Thankful Thursday posts, but alas, I am not so... my bad.


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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

So I Have a Problem with Growing Older.... Whatever.

 Once upon a time (the other day) my super hot husband took me out on a date. We are a very low-key couple; a night out at Chili's and the movie theater and we're golden. On this particular date night- we went out for sushi (my favorite!) and then to the book store. We love to walk around a book store and gather up way more books than we will read/buy, find a comfortable seat, and read as we enjoy each other's company. This is not a luxury easily or often afforded to us- with two young children who think books are for playing Jenga and aisles for running relay races while howling like monkeys. So, you see, a perfect date night indeed! That is... until 'The Incident'.

 Let me back up and brag on Dear, Handsome Husband. Not only is he as gorgeous as they come, he is also amazingly smart. Normally I find this adorable... charming, even. On this particular night, however, I did not.

The Incident

 As we were leaving my darling husband couldn't help but notice a group of young men working on their chemistry homework. "I couldn't help but notice you were working on your chemistry homework", (really, he said that). "Yes, sir. We are", they replied. After accepting his offer to assist them (because he's a "nuclear engineer", after all)- I was sent away to continue looking at more books. Joy. 

 I read a couple dozen books (okay, pages), took a few bathroom breaks, walked a few (hundred) laps and went back to check on them. I was ignored. Yes, you read that right. Ignored. I mean, I know I'm not 16 (or 18) anymore. I might have a few (dozen) gray hairs. Sure, I've popped a couple of kids out.. but, I was wearing skinny jeans for crying out loud! That should count for something. (OK fine. Maternity skinny jeans. Happy now?) 

They couldn't have at least done a once-over? A glance in my direction? Nope, nothing. Allow me to take that back, they did acknowledge me... by thanking me "Ma'am" for allowing them to borrow my husband. They may as well have offered to assist me across the street or carry my groceries to the car. 

Maybe I am over-reacting. Maybe that's just something that happens, with age. Maybe (God forbid) people stop noticing you when you reach your mid-twenties. That is just something I'm going to have to... nope, I can't even type it. 

Something has got to give!! Now for the love of ball gowned boutiques, Claire's, and whoever sells tiaras will someone invite me to prom already???

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Daddy Day

 Today, the kids and I had a "Daddy Day". While Dad was away at work "Being big and strong to get the bad guys" as my 3 year old constantly says, we celebrated him at home. Soon, much sooner than I care to admit, he will be leaving us for several months to go on his first deployment. During his time away he will unfortunately miss several important events- Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day (which also happens to be my favorite day of the year), Robert E. Lee's birthday, Civil Rights Day, Kansas Day, Vermont's Town Meeting day (Okay, okay, I'll stop there because surely you get the point). The most important event of all that he will miss is his daughter's birth. I can be upset over it and cry about it (and I'm sure those days will come), but for now I am seeing the humor in it because really can you call yourself a "military family" without your spouse missing at least the birth of one child? 

Today while we had Daddy Day, I wrote letters to keep him company while he was away. The kids drew pictures. We ordered prints of our favorite pictures- some to send, some to keep. I talked to the kids about how soon, Daddy would be leaving us to go work.. ("to get the bad guys", said my little helper). 

After the kids went down for a nap I had some time to reflect. I wrote more letters and thought about what a great, wonderful, strong, courageous, and loving husband the Lord blessed me with. In my world that is CONSTANTLY changing- he remains the same. I could not imagine a better husband for myself. I never before knew that I was so highly favored of God that he would create someone so perfect for me. 

It has been 7 years now that he's been in my life. 7 years he has been the one my heart has loved. 5 years 5 months he has been my help meet, the head of my house, my beloved. 3 years he has been the father of my children. He has taught me so much about life. He taught me how to truly love. How to forgive. How to just... be. How to be content with what I had, how to be constant. 

I came across a quote the other day that said, Don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son exactly like him. How many people can honestly say they did? I don't know of many (granted, this isn't a question I go around regularly asking people). If I am honest with myself, 100% honest- I can say, without a doubt, that if my son grows up to be exactly like his father I would be the luckiest woman on the planet. If my son grows up to be half the man his father is- I consider myself (and his wife) blessed. 

I didn't intend for this to be a sap-fest over my husband*, but hey.. I'm a lucky lady and I can't help but brag on my hottie now and then! Haters gonna hate (one day, in like 10 years, I'm going to look back on that and say, really Kat, really?).


*He really likes it when I blog so hopefully he will be so happy reading this and how ridiculously much I drooled over him that he won't notice when he gets home that I didn't do the dishes
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Friday, October 18, 2013

A Glimpse into my Journal

 It isn't often that I write about things of a personal nature. Okay, it isn't often that I write at all, but I'm working on that (cut me a break!). I also don't write too much about my faith because I realize everyone has different beliefs and yours may not be the same as mine- so generally that is something of which I steer clear. Today, however, is different. I didn't realize that today was different until about an hour ago. I didn't get up this morning (...liberal use of the word morning...) and think to myself, "Today is the day I am a changed person!". I didn't decide as I was falling asleep last night that that would be my last day living in denial. No... that didn't happen at all. Today started off as any other day would...

  I woke up after a restful night of sleep. I stumbled to the kitchen and made myself some coffee. While the coffee was brewing I decided to do a little cleaning so I started a load of clothes in the washing machine, dishes in the dishwasher, and other small tasks of the sort- looking back, that should have given me a clue that today would be different. I was doing housework b̶e̶f̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶I̶'̶d̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶h̶a̶d̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶f̶f̶e̶e̶ ! Normally, during morning coffee, I browse Facebook for the latest gossip. I pin on my Pinterest boards. I read the news online. I do everything but self reflect because, at present, that is one of my least favorite things to do and especially so early (used liberally) in the morning. Today though, today those things seemed so trivial. So unimportant. I thought about how much I would have really liked to read my Bible and write in my journal. I hadn't been able to find either since our move. After a little digging around I was able to find my journal and seeing how the internet has a million different translations of the Bible- I was set. 

 I started by reading my last entry, dated August 6 (see, my blog isn't the only thing I neglect. Don't take it personal.). After reading that entry I realized this *for full effects click here*:

   Friday, October 18 2013
A lot has happened since my last entry, but not much has changed. After journaling that sentence, I thought about why? Why hadn't much changed? I wanted it to. I needed it to. What was holding me back from my full potential? The only way to achieve that is to w̶a̶l̶k̶ run away from sin. How do I do that? Is it as easy as sending a text message? Is it as easy as a single step in the right direction?   I knew the answer. I've known it all along. I knew the STEP I needed to take, but I had to be the one to take that step. No one could do that for me. 

Then I began to think about what would happen after I did what I needed to do. I wrote my fears out in my journal. I will share them with you shortly. As I began writing- The answers came to me clear as day. I would write down a fear and a scripture would come to mind. These are legitimate concerns. These are what keeps me from doing what I need to do. What has kept me from it for so, so long. Allow me to share *for full effects click here*;

What then? What happens after that step? How do I deal with the loneliness? The heartache? How do I deal with the temptations? The longing in my heart.. the need for attention? How do I deal with my regret?

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me." Psalm 139: 7-11

 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

"There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 1:13

Longing and Needing attention:
"Humble yourself before God and He will exalt you." James 4:10

"Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." 
 Isaiah 43:18-19

I am very reticent to share something so personal on such a widespread platform. Okay, okay, I know that my platform isn't that big, but it's here.. on the internets where literally ANYONE with internet connection can see and that is scary. However, if this could mean a fraction to one single person who reads this as it means to me, it will be worth it.

Editor's note: I promise my next post won't be heavy. I'll be grossly inappropriate a minimum of three times and include a picture of a unicorn. Scout's honor. 

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