Monday, June 23, 2014

Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

Depending on the day or the week I either meal plan on Sunday or Monday. This week I am doing it all on Monday. That means making the menu for the week, a grocery list, going to the grocery store, and prepping some parts of our meals. (This week I chose things that don't require much prep work.)

This is pretty much how it always looks when I am trying to figure out what to fix.
Various sources for dinner and lunch.
This week my focus for meals was different than last week. Last week my focus was on a slim down but this week my focus is on getting meals on the table that keep Andrew liking our vegan diet. (After all it was his idea to kick this off!) :) If I don't keep a variety on our menu then we all get bored with what we are eating. It was the same way when we ate meat at home. I try not to only have salads for dinner (even though we will tonight) and to not cook the same meals all the time. Its easy to just cook the same things week after week no matter what your diet is. This week I'm trying 2 new recipes from the Oh She Glows Cookbook for dinner. I am also making something that we really like but haven't had in a long time. For lunch I am trying out 2 new recipes from the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan

Here is our menu for the week.
lunch: left overs
dinner: Walnut Pear Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

lunch: left salad
dinner: Tex-Mex Casserole

lunch: Lemon, Spinach, Chickpea Salad
dinner: Veggie Burgers with creamy avocado potato salad

lunch: Kale Salad
dinner: Quick & Easy Chana Masala

lunch: left overs
dinner: Tone It Up Super Salad and Grilled Mushrooms

I don't plan out meals for the weekends typically but some weekends I do. Most Saturdays and Sundays for lunch I plan to use whatever leftovers we have in the fridge so that we don't waste a ton of food. (I also normally have one night each week that is for left overs.) It's also more fun for Andrew and I to cook together on the weekends so we figure out what to make together. I plan 5 days of meals and it seems like we always end up eating out one of those days so I adjust and make a week day scheduled meal on the weekend. This menu is flexible because that is what works best for us. 

Grocery shopping is sometimes my favorite thing and least favorite thing to do. I pretty much always take Blake with me. (The bakery at every grocery store gives kids a cookie.) We use this time as a learning experience and it's fun as long as he is being an agreeable three year old. I have a few things that I always buy when I go to the grocery store and most weeks my list looks pretty close to the same. 
My staples are:
strawberries (when in season)
bell peppers
original unsweetened almond milk
apples (when not outrageous)

Menu and grocery list this week.

**In case you were wondering what kinds of learning takes place with B while we are grocery shopping here are a few things we do. First off he learns what different fruits and vegetables look like. We use the scale to weigh our items and he tells me the number the arrow is pointing to. I explained to him, and sometimes explain again, that the scale at the grocery store is like the scale we stand on at the doctors office but this one is for food. It tells us how much things weigh. I have him pick out different vegetables for me to practice counting and getting me the correct number of items. We are learning not to grab things from the bottom of a pile but the top instead. He is also learning to use his manners with other people. I'm sure there are a lot more things that he is learning but those are the ones that come to mind right now.**

Here's a look at my grocery haul from a few weeks ago. We had no food in our house before this trip!
Photo from my workout Instagram account.
Here's an idea to test the necessity of the things you are purchasing at the grocery store. Take cash and only the approximate amount that your groceries for the week should cost. I did this last week, not because I wanted to but because I left my wallet with my debit card in Andrews car. It helped me stay focused and not buy unnecessary things. I took $160 with me and spent less than that. I have decided that I should really do this every week. It made me more conscious of how much I was paying for things and made me stick more strictly to my grocery list. If I continue to do this I feel we will waste less food and money for that matter! 

Happy shopping and meal planning friends!

A Weekend Recap and My Usual Mondays

This past weekend was the first weekend in a very long time that we didn't have t-ball, out of town plans or beer brewing taking place. I said a long time ago that as soon as we had a free weekend I wanted to finally get some flowers in our flower beds. (Most normal people already have flowers planted.) I was actually looking forward to just relaxing but I also had a few things that I needed to do.

Saturday morning I got up and went for a nice and easy 2 mile run. When I came back I showered and got ready for the day. Andrew and Blake were both up and in the process of getting ready when I got back. We went to the donut shop for a breakfast. (I had a protein shake & a cake donut with no frosting.) I always take my phone everywhere but I forgot to take it with me and I missed taking a picture of Blake's crazy messy face. Just imagine red icing everywhere! After breakfast we ran to target then to Lowe's. My plan for the trip to Lowe's was simple I wanted to get some soil and stakes so that I could plant the tomato plants my mother-in-law gave me. We also needed some kind of fence to keep the dog out of the flower beds. (I have never grown tomatoes before but I figured I could try it!) When we got to Lowe's the guy in the garden center told us these racks of various plants were $50 for the entire rack. We looked at them and decided to pick one out. It was full of plants/flowers that were a combination of things that I love and that Andrew loves! Then we got focused back on the purpose of our trip things for growing our tomatoes. I found stakes for the plants and fence to keep the dog out so that our plants would be safe. Then we got distracted! We loaded up on more plants than we could fit in our car! We ended up getting two different carts that were $50 each. When they rang up the total for the plants on those carts it was $1200 but we paid $100. Can't beat that right!
All the plants/flowers we got! 
What were we thinking, we bit off more than we could chew! We had to make two trips to get all of our stuff home. When we got home we got to work immediately. First order was to rototill all the beds in the back. They were hard like concrete. (Andrew and our neighbor did all the hard work prepping the beds for planting. I ordered us lunch from Jimmy Johns and set up the little pool for Blake to swim.) Then we got to work planting. We had 4 beds total that we were going to do. We accomplished one bed completely but called it a night. Here is what we accomplished on day one.
We need to put more fence up to keep the dog and child out!
This was hard concrete like dirt. I can't wait until it all fills in!

This is looking into the backyard from the front. On the right there are 3 shrub sized rose bushes and the left is a climbing plant with awesome pink flowers!
Sunday morning I woke up and started working outside by 8:30 am. I left my boys (all 3 of them in bed watching cartoons.) I finished the second bed in the backyard then moved on to the front yard. I worked in the back for 3 hours and it was so hot! Then I moved to the front yard to try to finish planting everything there. I worked on it for a few hours then had to stop so that we could go watch the USA vs Portugal world cup game. Here is what I accomplished in the front. I have a lot more to fill in the front part of the flowerbed. After all that we didn't even get the tomato plants in the ground! The bed is rototilled and new soil mixed in so hopefully I can get the plants put in there today when the rain stops!
My boys in bed watching cartoons.
The opposite side of walkway in the back.

Same side as the other picture. Needs a fence.
Front flowerbed progress made. Ready to finish and get more color in there!

We went to R Bar&Grill to watch the soccer game and drink Prairie Bomb on nitro. It was good! We sat outside and watched the game. Blake came with us and was a trooper! He got upset when it got loud as normal. I took him over to the yogurt shop across the street to get him a bribery treat! It worked until the USA took the lead, then the tears and demanding to go home came. He really did do great though.
My outfit for going to watch the game!

Blake snuggling on his daddy during the game. This was in between crying fits!
That brings us to our usual Monday. On Mondays I always do laundry and the floors. Since it's raining today I will only vacuum and sweep, the mopping will have wait until the rain stops! (Mopping with a huge dog that brings in mud is like the worst idea ever!) I started laundry last night before bed and starting working on it again early this morning. This is how my chair always looks on Mondays as I fold clothes! It's my least favorite day but doing all my laundry on Monday I don't have to do any for the rest of the week. (Unless we have an potty accident that is.) I also do our weekly menu and grocery shopping on Mondays. Looking forward to a fun week ahead and anxious to see how our flowerbeds look when they fill in!
Crazy dog and crazy kid! 
The mountain of clothes that I have to go fold now!
This is what it looks like when I meal plan. One side of the notebook is where I write down the menu and the other is where I make my list!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day

In June every year, we honor fathers. The first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1914, but a holiday honoring fathers did not become official until 1966, when President Lyndon Johnson declared that the third Sunday in June would be Father's Day. President Richard Nixon made this proclamation permanent in 1972. But this doesn't mean that the holiday was not celebrated before this time. The idea for Father's Day is attributed to Sonora Dodd, who was raised by her father after her mother's death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother's Day, she thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd's father was born in June, she encouraged churches in her area, Spokane, Wash., to honor fathers that month. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane in 1910. I found this history about Father's Day here

Every year at this time we use social media to state that our fathers are the best out there and that we love them. Many of us also use this day to celebrate our husbands who are wonder fathers to our children. I mean they (dads) deserve a shout out because they have huge impacts on our lives and our children's lives! 

So here's my story about my dad! He and my mom married in 1991. He became my legal guardian, along with my mom, in 1995 or 1996 I can't remember exactly. What I know is that when my biological father decided to give up his parental rights my dad stepped in; my brother and I's lives changed for the better! He had already been doing all the roles of a dad for years before that. Life in general became easier and better when he adopted us. There were no more weekends that we had to go to our biological fathers house and no more crazy holidays. We were a family of 4 with no need for taking that step parent business into consideration. I actually never even referred to him as my step-dad, he was always Dad. I can only recall 2 maybe 3 years before I was 18 that he was not my baseball or softball coach. From the time I was 13 we would go multiple times a week to softball practice and just about every weekend to tournaments. The last softball team I played on (outside of highschool) it was almost weird that he wasn't my coach! He was still at every practice and every game! He is a great man and I'm so glad my mom found him. I know everyone thinks their dad is the best but I think mine tops them all!

I also love celebrating my husband being a father. I remember how scared we both were to become parents. (Funny how we get better at it with time.) He has been a wonderful father from the minute they handed him Blake! One of my favorite things to do is just to watch the two of the interact! It seriously is better than anything around. B thinks the world of him and so do I. I know that B thinks he's the best daddy around and always will! 

All of these pictures are from father's day or from celebrating it this year.
My boys

My boys 

Myself, Dad & my brother

My niece Chloe and I

Monday, June 9, 2014


It all started with a common statement I know everyone is familiar with."Pick/choose your battles" yes that's the one.

I gave up on the battle of nap time a long time ago. It was becoming so stressful for both of us and many days ended with two in tears. It's not worth it. But now I'm wondering can we go back to naps? Not because I want them but because this little boy of mine either 1 passes out at 5pm or 2 is so cranky I need him to get out of my sight by the time his daddy gets home. It's crying and fits from about 4pm until he goes to bed; that's anywhere from 4 to 5 hours per day of pure madness! I have done the laying down for quiet time, reading books, playing with quiet toys, time alone in his room while I clean and even watching a movie. 

Today I tried to do a quiet rest time. I offered to lay with him on the couch or even in his bed while we both just relaxed for a little while. This is how that ended. 

Seriously! Now instead of it being a peaceful time for him to relax it has turned into the battle that I gave up on a long time ago. I hate it but I also can't have 4-5 hours of my day being complete madness and making me want to be anywhere but home. Once again I've decided that this not a battle I am going to fight. Instead I have got to come up with a solution for this 4-5 hours of madness each day. 

I am not sure exactly what I'm going to do about this daily time of madness but I've got some ideas. I have to add that this time of madness is new, it has only been going on for about the last month. This time frame includes dinner cooking time so maybe I can make some adjustments there. Doing more weekend and mid week (Wednesday) meal prep will help free up some of that time so that I can give him more attention like he needs during the cranky hours. He can also help me cook dinner, sometimes I'd rather him just cry in the other room. (Don't act like you don't know how much more work it is to have a toddler helping cook! If you don't talk to me later and I'll accept that you just judged me.) We could also have game time during this part of the day instead of earlier in the day. It may help a lot just to switch some things up in our daily schedule in general. I normally take him outside for about an hour from 4-5pm. The only problem with that is sometimes it turns into an all night neighborhood party. (I actually love that part of our neighborhood so I'm not complaining!) the actual problem with that is neither one of us want to come back inside when it's a nice day. (Outdoor kitchen solves that my dreams.) 

Really now that we have both calmed down from our meltdowns I know that everything is going to be fine. I will make the necessary adjustments and it's not going to be an over night fix. It will take time just like everything else does! Deep breaths! 

Some days when I've had enough or my hormones are making me super sensitive I can't help but have a meltdown with him. I hate that but this is real life and I'm admitting it now I have momma meltdowns. (Not all the time but they happen. Oh and not those crazy ones like the one going around on FB.) At the end of my meltdown I am always greeted with this sweet smile and the best I LOVE YOU! It just puts life into perspective for me over and over again. My life without him would be incomplete. 

During the meltdowns his and mine, here are some of my thoughts and feelings. I hate feeling like I have turned into this "mean mom" in his eyes. He reacts as if I am doing things because I want to punish him or not spend time with him. He screams "momma play with me" even if we just finished playing. The pure sadness in his eyes when I tell him no or not right now is heart wrenching. I hate crying infront of him but know sometimes he needs to see it in order to put things into perspective. I know that the decisions I'm making are to help him grow into the person I want him to be but sometimes it's hard. Nobody ever said being a mom was easy, it's the toughest job I've ever had! Even more the most rewarding job! 

What are your battles or ones you try to avoid? How are meltdowns in your house? Have any suggestions for me to use during my time of madness each day? Share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2 Was Easy, We Are Still Trying to Figure Out 3!

I've heard it both ways a thousand times "2s are the worst" "3 is so much worse than 2" Another favorite or not so favorite is "his behavior now is what he will be like as a teen" I don't have a teenage boy so I can't say if that parts true or not but don't tell me that because honestly some days having a 3 year old with crazy behavior is enough!

When B was two his behavior changed but it wasn't terrible. The only change I remember off the top of my head is that he found his loud! He went from being a fairly quiet little boy to a loud one! It wasn't bad at all just an adjustment and an easy one. We worked on when and where being loud was okay. He started hearing the phrase "inside voice" a lot! 

He turned 3 and I think my patience button stopped working and his reality changed majorly. At first I couldn't tell if he was just exhausted from a busy few weeks and especially busy birthday weekend or if turning 3 had really hit us. The changes were so fast and crazy that I just knew he was exhausted. Whiny, crying about everything, throwing fits like I've never seen him throw, looking right at us and acting like we weren't talking to him, potty training out the window accident after accident, and serious stubbornness! I felt like I was loosing my mind. I'm sure all of those behavior changes didn't really happen over night but it sure seemed like it. 

It is taking adjustments for all of us to conquer this exhausting three year old behavior but it's making life easier and fun for all of us.

We have worked hard over the last few weeks to make sure that we are getting B to be at a normal time. Our normal bedtime for him is 8 but with the sun still up at 8 it has adjusted to 8:30-9. (After vacation we are going to have to start all over with this) He needs his rest and doesn't take naps. It's important that he has the opportunity to get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep each night. If he doesn't then our days seem like hell. Since I'm home with him during the day it's up to me to make sure he gets quiet time every afternoon. We have been doing the afternoon quiet time for about a year but now it seems more important than ever. I haven't always had to sit with him but now he won't relax until I do. We watch a movie or read books. Some days he falls asleep but most days he just hangs out.

We are giving him choices that we can all live with. Such as, you can either play over in the grass or the dirt, you choose. Giving him choices really helps when he is being extra stubborn and testing his limits. It helps him know our expectations and gives him a sense of feeling like he has some control over what he's doing. I feel like that's a win win!

We are also working on using our words to express our feelings, wants and needs. Having him use his words has been proving to help cut down on the fits and how long they last. It is also helping teach him how to channel his feelings. When he gets upset instead of screaming and throwing a fit we are working on stopping and talking it out. 

Time out is also my new favorite thing except for the part where he cries like a hurt wild animal. I have to cover my face or close my eyes to keep from laughing at him some days. Time out is helping him get away from the source of the problem. Right now I sit on the floor infront of him just far enough away that he can't reach me. Eventually I will be able to get further away but right now it's new. We've used time out for a long time but we are getting more serious with it now. It seems to make the biggest impact on him out of all other forms of discipline. As long as we continue to use choices and time out together I believe that we can conquer this wildness that is 3 year old behavior. 

As of today I'd say things are getting easier. We still have some really rough days but we are having more good days than bad! Yay for more peaceful days and happiness all around! 

Playing Is More Than Just Physically Being There

After being in the car for almost 2 hours today I knew we needed some outside play time. Shoot I was planning to go to park before we even went on our short adventure today. Before we went to the park I had to take advantage of the great mood B was in and get his hair cut! He hates getting his hair cut as much as he hates going  to the doctor. Today was his lucky day he did both! I have to just throw it in there that he was successful during trips to both locations and didn't cry! It made this momma proud!

After we got a hair cut he asked to go to the park. Duh it was a no brainer we were going to the park! His favorite park is closed for construction so I took him to another one close by. As we played together on the playground I couldn't help but notice the guy who was so busy on his phone he couldn't even help his little boy tackle the monkey bars. I mean I went down the slide that I was clearly too big for and had to squeeze myself out. Surely he could play with his son too. It made me recall a blog post or something that I read a while back and therefore made me do a little evaluation of how I'm spending my time with B. Currently this is us...
He is snoozing away because being 3 is extremely exhausting for him! I love it! ( The napping part, not the part where he is going to be up until midnight!) 

Back to spending time with B. As we ran to the car him on my back because it started to pour down rain I was loving his giggles and his "giddy up horsey momma!" We got into the car and I thought to myself, I could have left my phone in the car instead of having to carry it around. That would would have made our park time that much more special. 

It's all about spending time with him and not just watching him or playing on my phone while he plays. It is important to me that he learns to play on his own sometimes but also that he gets plenty of time playing with other people including adults! 

When we go to the park I like to play games with him and interact with him. I enjoy racing him up the steps and down the slide, helping him learn how to master the monkey bars (that won't happen for a few years), pushing him on the swing or going for an imaginary ride on the train. I don't like to be that mom who says "just go play" or doesn't even seem interested in their child while at the park. Our children learn through play with other children and with us. I don't want to just be present I want to be interacting positively with him. I want to see that big smile when he accomplishes climbing to the top of the toy on his own while I stand below and cheer him on. I want to encourage him to try the new things and to tackle them with confidence. It also makes our trips to the park more fun!

While I'm playing with B at the park I also try not to be the hovering parent. I want him to learn to fall and get up. (Not at the expense of a busted face or broken bone if I can prevent it. Even though that will happen eventually.) I let him climb up the curved ladder and bite my lip while he figures out how to make the transition from ladder to platform. I let him grab the bar and start to swing as if he is going to cross the monkey bars by himself. I also discourage him from doing things that are to far above my head and I can't help him! (I'm short and if I can't reach his foot at about my face level he just has to wait to tackle that when Daddy can join us!)

Being a parent is all about finding the balance just like with everything else in life! At the end of the day I want to reflect and know that I spent more time playing with B than I did on my phone or on the computer. All the social media updating can always wait for another day or another time!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Our First Family Vacation

We started talking about taking a trip to the beach about a month or so ago. We had lots of different plans but had nothing set. We decided to just go Galveston for a couple of days while we were traveling to Houston for my husband to work.

I have to be quite honest I was so excited to go somewhere but was worried about how B was going to behave. He has been such a handful lately that we didn't know what to expect! 

This is the first road trip I have ever been on that we just stopped wherever we wanted and had no schedule of when or where to be! It's the way to travel! Much more relaxing and fun for everyone. 

Our first stop was at Turner Falls. We explored the castle, threw rocks into the water, looked at the water fall, put our feet in, and splashed through the water. B loved it! We enjoyed watching him run around and just be a curious little boy! 

Our second stop was Dallas. We just stopped for the night but it was the first time B slept in a hotel bed by himself. He was exhausted when we got there but by the time we made it to the room he was full of energy! He got on the bed jumped around and ran around the room. We ordered him a $10 glass of milk. (We would have if we would have realized it was going to cost so much!) I laid with him for a little while and he slept all night squished between pillows! 

Third stop was to visit family in Katy. B is so spoiled if I haven't mentioned that already! We got there and they had a fire truck for him along with his favorite fireman show (they didn't even know)! We went to city center and had a yummy dinner followed by ice cream and macaroons. B played in the little green area and let me tell you it was FULL of kids! You couldn't walk out there or even sit with out almost getting hit or getting hit by a ball. It was seriously so fun! The girls and B did some shopping while the guys hung out at a bar. The next morning we went for breakfast then hit the road. 

Fourth stop Galveston for some beach time! Everyone has their opinions about Galveston but it was perfect for our first beach trip with B. (After all he doesn't know what any other beach looks like!) We had lunch checked into our hotel and hit the beach! B was not scared at all! We put his life jacket on and he followed his daddy right out into the water! His face was priceless when the waves hit him. He got taken down by a wave (Daddy immediately pulled him up) and he just wanted more! The fact that seaweed was everywhere didn't bother him one bit. We played in the sand (not my favorite thing). He dug holes, build sand castles, flew his kite with Daddy and threw sand! We were at the beach for almost 2 hours and the only way we got him to leave was the promise of more swimming at the hotel! Our second day at the beach started out as more of a pool day because the surf was so rough. I noticed it on my run but didn't know for sure until they put the warning flag up. B and I swam at the hotel while my husband worked. We left there and went to east beach which was on the opposite end of the island. B played in the sand and was covered from head to toe! He climbed to the top of ever "mountain" of sand we walked by. I don't think he stopped running the entire time we were there. He flew his kite again and ran down the beach with it. We showered him in the outdoor shower it was the best attempt to get all the sand off but he was still pretty covered! We had a microwave lunch from the little restaurant then headed back to Houston so my husband could check in for this trade show. 

We arrived at our final destination Houston. We ate dinner at a yummy Mexican restaurant called Ninfa's. B really enjoyed the dessert. After dinner we walked to the fire station across the street and looked at the fire trucks and talked to a few very nice fire men. We tried to get B to get into the truck but he wouldn't! 

B and I planned to spend the day at the park and pool but it seems to be raining. Maybe it will stop soon! Until then he's avoiding eating by playing with his toys! Two more days and we are headed back home. 

B has done so well on our trip I can't believe I was nervous about taking him anywhere to begin with!