April 11, 2014

7 quick takes

With Jen.

1.  We went out for tacos last night. I've explained how picky we are about our Mexican food, but we've yet to find The Place here. Last night was good (I could swim in Torchy's Tacos queso), though. All it was missing was a margarita and my best friend/taco partner. 

2. Are you on Instagram? You should be. If you're not following me, you should, so I can follow you. I am reeeeeeally starting to like Instagram.

3. We're going on a sugar detox!


I've been wanting to do one for a veeeerrrry loooonnnngggg time but haven't yet pulled the trigger. I figure, when you're demanding things from your body like nursing and growing a baby and caring for little ones on less than a full night's sleep, the least you could do is feed it well. Sugar is an energy trap, and I know if I could get through a detox, I'd feel nine million times better. I've seen a lot of detoxes, but I think we're going to do Diane Sanfilipo's 21 Day Sugar Detox. She's featured on Mom Conference today (only), so if it's still Friday, you should check out her interview about sugar. SO GOOD. 

4. I (finally) added my Rodan + Fields story to the blog! There might or might not be free samples involved, so you should check it out.

5. Freezer crockpot cooking ain't glamorous, but...I finally caved and bought Stephanie's Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes cookbook. It's good. I have Chicken Marsala in the crockpot now, and if it taste as good as it smells...

6. We watched Catching Fire the other night. I read the books a while back, enjoyed them, watched the first movie and can't really remember it...and I really, REALLY liked the second movie. My hubs wanted to know what happened in the third book, so I explained and (SPOILER!!!) when he guffawed about Catniss ending up with Peeta (Peta? Peeta.) instead of Gale, it took me a while to figure out why that actually felt right. I think I appreciated the character in the movie--so many people making sacrifices for others. Not in a over-romanticized, emo/hipster/sparkly kind of way, but in the kind of way people do when they're living for something higher or better than themselves. And Peeta kind of embodies that. And I fo sho have a girl crush on Jennifer Lawrence.

7.  Seven, huh? Wow, I'm really stretching. We went to the park for several hours this morning, then I gave the kids a bath, put one in her bed and one in mine, and absolutely expected them to both takes nice long naps. They went down an hour ago, and I don't think either has slept yet. It's gonna be a loooong rest of the day...

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April 10, 2014

Meal Planning for the Mama Who Needs Simple

I am NOT (NOT NOT NOT NOT) an expert on meal planning, but a friend was asking me about it this week, and I thought I'd share a few meal planning pointers, plus our meal plan for next week.

The plan above is one we've actually started (my husband doesn't do the normal Mon-Fri schedule). You can find the recipe for the beans here, veggie lasagna here, and the chicken recipe I'll use but turn into stir fry here. If you need a recipe for the cheeseburgers, you're on your own, my friend.

And here are my hard-earned pieces of meal-planning wisdom:

1. Know thyself. And thy family. Life must be simple for me right now, so if it's a complicated meal, I'll buy the ingredients and then they'll go bad, because I won't make it. Also, my family eats like a bunch of horses. All of us. Leftovers don't happen unless I double the recipe (which I like to do).

2. Immediately use the ingredients that will go bad first, like the chicken. See what I did with this meal plan? I left the ground beef and the chicken till the end of the week. That wasn't very smart. I should have planned on the lasagna and grilled cheese last, since those ingredients will last just fine in the fridge all week. See, not an expert?

3. Find grace for yourself. On Tuesday, for example, you'll spend all day working, and won't have put the pot of beans on the stove early in the afternoon like you were supposed to, and dinnertime rolls around, and your husband arrives home to three sets of eyes staring at him hungrily, because...mommy didn't make dinner! When we're working really hard to budget and save money, these are the days that really frustrate me, and I'm often tempted to just give up on the rest of the week's plan altogether. Give yourself grace, don't give up...and keep trying.

4. When it needs to be simple, keep it simple. I need simple right now, so I buy jarred tomato basil soup, boxed cornbread mix, and frozen french fries. Yes, making my own would be healthier and cheaper, but ain't nobody got time for that. At least, I don't right now. I try to compromise by buying grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, but mostly I just pray over our food. A lot. 

Meal planning is an art and a skill. It takes time to get good at it and it takes discipline to follow through on it. And when you figure it out, please come to my house and do it for me....    

(More tips for feeding your family on a tight budget here.)

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April 4, 2014

Working from home

I mentioned recently (actually, I wrote a whole entire post on the subject) that January sort of exploded and explained a few days ago that my April goals needed to be super simple. When the dust settled, I found myself with two new jobs, a two year old, a 10 month old, and another on the way. Between the two jobs, I'm working 15-25 hours a week. I'm working from home, which is amazing and doesn't involve any extra hours for commuting or lunch breaks (snort) or getting dressed in the morning (snort snort), but I also don't have childcare.

When I worked full time, I probably spent two hours of my day doing nothing productive--browsing the internet, chatting with coworkers, eating, staring off into space, wishing I had chocolate....The point is, I am far more productive now, despite my nine thousand interruptions a minute, and in essence am probably producing the same amount of work I was producing when I worked in an office full time.

I've sworn I will not use the word "exhausted" in this post, but really if you consider that each child is a full-time job in himself, than I'm currently working four full time jobs. So I won't say "exhausted," but I'm sure as heck thinking it.  

And it's all ironic as all get-out, because I chose "rest" as my word for the year

Are you laughing hysterically? I AM.

The job of a mother is never done, and I've gotten used to always having a million more things to do, but I have to confess this is "too much to do, not enough daylight" on steroids. Something is always short-changed. Either I didn't get done what really needed to get done for work, or my kids are watching too much television and not getting enough mommy time, or the kitchen reeks because of whatever is left in the pot from ten days ago, or I haven't eaten well, exercised, rested, or washed my hair in--too long.   .   

I am fond of telling my best friend that our limited hours in a day are God's way of weeding out what's not important. (Actually, I was extremely gratified to learn recently that Mother Teresa said something like this once.) The truth is, however, I am a poor example of someone who can take her own advice. I hold a mandate to rest in one hand and a thousand jobs and dreams and goals and tasks in the other hand, and somehow they must meet or die trying.

I heard Beth Moore speak on a passage from Joshua recently. I made a note of what she said in my bible, next to Chapter 3: "Your temptation will be to project an old fear on a new place...but let there be a new fear for the new place, and the new fear becomes fear of missing God, fear of God himself--have enough respect to know if He said 'go,' He's going to go before me and He's going to follow up behind me."

Another (excellent and worth-reading) post on Mother Teresa included the schedule for her Missionaries of Charity. Their day began with prayer, it ended with prayer, and it included big chunks of time to rest and eat (snort), with even more prayer in the middle of the day. These women were ministering to some of the neediest in one of the darkest places on earth, but they didn't spend sun up to sun down working, a la Martha. Or me. They began their day with Jesus, and let their day end at a specific time with Jesus.

I'm actually typing this over the screaming coming from the "time out" couch. Perhaps it's time to wrap this up? This post has no conclusion and no final thought, and that's probably because I'm just at the very beginning of this journey, and have absolutely no clue what I'm doing. It seems like such a shame I won't be doing this motherhood thing twice--all the lessons I'm learning (by fire, it seems, always) this time around seem like they're useful enough to use for another go-around. Ha! The bottom line is--the Lord has said "go," and I have to trust that there's going to be rest and strength for the journey.

And the other bottom line is that I have to do this in His strength.

Not mine. 

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