Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Menu Planning


My mom has been bugging me to try e-mealz for a long time because she thought it would help simplify my life. I kept putting it off as motherly advice and something I didn't need. During her last visit, though, I finally gave in to her nagging suggestion. : )

I'm so happy I did. I love, love, love this system!

I've tried online meal planning systems before and they just didn't work.

Here's how this one is different:

1. The meals taste really good!

We've been doing this for two weeks now and haven't had a meal we didn't like. My family has been very happy! With the old plans we were lucky to get a 50% family approval rate. Some of the meals were terrible.

2. Easy to read and only two pieces of paper-

Each week on Thursday, I log in and print off my menu plan and grocery list for Wal-Mart. It is well organized, easy to read, and fits on two pieces of paper- one grocery list spreadsheet and one menu plan spreadsheet that include all of the directions for preparing the meals. The other plans I tried, I would have to print pages and pages of directions and recipes.

3. I'm not wasting ingredients-

The old plans would have me buy a jar of expensive pesto sauce for one meal that I would never use again. I've noticed that with this plan, ingredients get used again to prevent being wasteful.

4. It's easy to skip meals we won't use-

The grocery list is numbered according to what meal the item is needed for, so it is very easy to mark off items if I know I won't be making that meal this week. If we are going out to dinner or to a friend's house one night, I just cross off one meal from the menu plan and each item on the list that has that meal's number.

5. Not every meal is some complicated major recipe-

I got burned out on cooking with the old plans. With this one, there are some more detailed recipes (like Chicken Florentine Lasagna- YUMMMY!!!) but one night we had Pigs in a Blanket (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls- which the kids LOVED) and another night was soup and sandwiches to use up the leftover meat from the roast the night before. It is so practical and easy!!

6. It is easy to budget for-

When I signed up, I chose the grocery store I would be using (Wal-Mart) and the grocery list gives me an estimated cost for each item and an approximate total. I've noticed that they try to include items on sale that week in the recipes for the week.

The whole system only costs $5 a month (billed every three months for $15), and because I found a coupon code from Dave Ramsey, it only cost $12.50 for these first three months. (The code was DAVE) I can budget for the cost out of our grocery budget.

I cannot put into words how great it has felt to:

1. Not get to 5:00 and have to ask the dreaded question, "What are we going to eat for dinner???"

2. Feed my family well.

You can also choose to do a menu plan for only 2 people if you are newlyweds or empty nesters or you can choose a diet plan like Weight Watchers or low carb.

I'm sorry if I sound like an infomercial. I'll stop now. I'm just so thankful for this and wanted to share the joy. LOL. : )

Here's the link again if you want to give it a try:


Monday, June 28, 2010

Please Say "Mama"

Prince Charming helping his sisters bake.

Oh man, this little boy has our hearts wrapped around his finger. He is such a sweetheart, has such a great sense of humor already, and he gives the BEST hugs ever. All four of us are smitten.

There's just one thing we're all so looking forward to- When he can talk! : ) Caveman speech is getting old. He has all of his vowel sounds down, but has never babbled, never said "Mama" or "Dada", and never used a consonant sound.

Thankfully, one of my closest friends is a Speech Language Pathologist, and she has been keeping a close eye on his development. As the gap between his receptive language and his expressive language continued to widen, we decided it was time to get him set up with speech services. My friend Jen helped us find a great clinic that was covered by our insurance. We just came home today from his fourth visit with "Miss Nicky".

I'm very grateful we don't have to worry about any cognitive delays. He is incredibly bright, uses sign language a lot, and has the best nonverbal communication skills I've ever seen.

We're all a little baffled. He is so motivated to communicate with us and is above average in what he understands, so it is odd that the consonant sounds are missing. His SLP recommended having his adenoids and tonsils checked to see if they were getting in the way.

I'll be glad to rule that out, but in the meantime I'm thrilled with the progress he is making. It has been fun for me to have this new thing to teach him. When I was a teacher, the kids always came to my classroom already speaking.

I can teach you how to read, but how to talk? I was clueless. I'm learning so much about language development and am so proud of his new skills. He started saying "go" this week and it felt like such a victory.

I'm so excited for the day I hear, "Mama." It will be music to my ears.

And I won't miss, "Ehhh" at all. : )

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music Moves Me. What About You?

First, I'm so glad I was able to make so many of you laugh at my expense yesterday. : ) And I must report that Oldest Princess is VERY proud of being right.

And she is perfectly safe. She did not get carried off to Oz. Thanks for your concern. : )

I'm so moved by music.

I'm also moved by words.

I love it when beautiful music is combined with beautiful words. Some songs entertain me, some convict me, some lead me to worship. Others spark my imagination.

Sometimes God speaks to me through songs better than a sermon.

When my mind was too numb from grief, music was a way He delivered messages of hope to my heart. And recently, I noticed He is using songs to inspire my writing.

My latest favorite song is "What Do I Know of Holy" by Addison Road. I love how it speaks to me about my own past and my own heart condition. I love how it reminds me to not limit God and to remember He is not a tame lion.

I'm excited about how the lyrics of this song are helping me to define and create one of the characters in the novel I'm writing.

What about you? Do you have any songs that are speaking to you currently? What do you think of this one? Do these lyrics speak to you? I'd love to hear how.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Bother Me, I'm Sleeping!

Ahh, is there anything more glorious for a mom than to realize the stars have aligned and you have been given the gift of an afternoon nap?

My body sunk deeper into the mattress. I pulled the pillow over my eyes and felt a magnet pulling me deeper into the sweet bliss of unconsciousness.

Then the inevitable. The door creaked open and tiny footsteps tiptoed toward my bed.


Silence. I willed myself to stay asleep. If I ignore her, maybe she'll go away.


Ugh! She's not giving up easily.

"Are you bleeding? Dying?" I asked without moving the pillow off my head.

"No, Mommy, but I was playing outside and I think I see a TORNADO coming."

Oh brother, does she think we live in Kansas? She is such a DRAMA QUEEN!

"We don't have tornadoes here. Go back outside and LET ME SLEEP!!!"

"But Mommy, I'm scared. What if it really is a TORNADO?"

I will not wake up. I will not wake up. I will not wake up.

"Go away. All I ask is for 20 minutes to sleep. Is that too much to ask?"

"OK, Mommy."

She shut the door and left. And went outside to wait for her imaginary tornado to carry her over the rainbow like Dorothy. I laughed at her vivid imagination and drama queen antics. A tornado, ha! I gave into the sweet, well-deserved sleep of a hard working super mom.

When I woke up, I turned on the news and guess what I saw:

(Photo from KTVB website)

Here are a few of the local headlines:

Violent Wind Storm Produces Funnel Cloud.

Funnel Cloud Rips Through Neighborhood, Uprooting Trees,
Knocking Down Fences

You get the idea. Sure glad I sent my CHILD out to play in THAT. I can add this one to my Super Mom resume.

Tornado about to touch down? Don't bother me. I'm sleeping! : )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

These Days When I Need to Find my Kids...

...I look in the garage.

First it was a classroom, then a rock concert venue, and today?

A ballet studio:

Psst... I can't watch this without giggling- don't tell my ballerinas I said so, OK? : )

King Charming and I often talk about how we wished we had a basement with a rec room. Maybe we found one in the garage? Who knew how much fun could be found by moving the minivan out of the way? : )

Hope you all are enjoying summer!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sneak Peak

Only a few more weeks!

Stay tuned...

Thanks for your love and prayers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rock On!

Our garage has become the neighborhood hot spot this summer.

They call themselves "Campfire."

If you're really nice to me or bribe me (think chocolate, coffee, etc.) I might be able to score you some autographs.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School's Out for Summer, Isn't It?

They informed me they weren't lost, just looking for their teacher.

Ahhh, there's their teacher now!

Leave it to Oldest Princess to have organized something.
That girl was born to organize people.

She has declared our garage the neighborhood summer school. The first day she had one student. The next day she had three. The next four. Word is spreading about how much fun her school is, and today I just served cookies to nine kids. One is the principal, one the TA, one the duty teacher, and of course Oldest Princess is THE TEACHER.

Since I'm delivering cookies, I suppose that makes me the Lunch Lady? Where did I put my hair net?

Students putting their backpacks in their cubbies.

This is quite the sophisticated school. She has lesson plans, recess, P.E., snack time. A few minutes ago nine kids just walked through my living room in a single file line heading upstairs for library class.

The funny thing is, she is teaching them real academics and they all love it. No one is going back to school next year with gaps. I wouldn't be surprised if she has the little ones reading before the summer is over. : )

Her school lasted a couple hours yesterday. She's thrilled. The little kids are happy. I'm just glad they made the garage the classroom so they stay out of my hair. (Just being honest) : )

Yesterday, she walked by with a goofy grin and let out a contented sigh, "Mommy, I'm beginning to think maybe I should give up being a vet and become a teacher instead."

I'm beginning to wonder if teaching is an inherited gene. I tried everything I could to pursue a different career path and break away from the family mold, but it was useless. It was in my blood.

I'm afraid it may be useless for her, too.

Now that her staff is growing, however, maybe she'll get a quick lesson in school politics (I can hear the sound of a few too many cooks in the kitchen out there) and change her mind.

If that doesn't do it, I'm certain the paycheck will. : )