New Year, New Me (aka How I’m losing weight without hating every moment of it.)

I am trying to lose weight.

I know, it seems like everyone is trying to lose weight this time of year, but I’m REALLY trying to lose weight.  I’m 5’8″ and on New Year’s Day I weighed 204lbs.  That’s not healthy for anyone.  I could tell you that I want to lose weight for some really lofty reason, like my health or so I have more engery to chase the girls, and while that is true, the real reason is that I’m sick of looking like a tub of lard.  I want to be hot and be able to buy clothing that actually looks cool, not like something my grandmother would wear.  Call me shallow, but there it is.

I started my journey by joining my mommy group’s Biggest Loser challenge.  We all paid in $10, and whoever loses the most weight (by percentage, not poundage) gets the pot.  I’ve known these women for five years, and I feel comfortable posting before and after pictures of myself in my undies so that they can see them.  We trade recipes and workout tips.  It is really loving and supportive.  I am determined smoke them all.

I also joined myfitnesspal.com, which is a website (and cellphone app, if you have one of those) that tracks everything you eat and drink and all of the working out you do.  It’s pretty cool and has a huge food database.  You can enter in your own recipes and everything.  You put in your age, height, and weight, and tell it how much you want to lose, and it figures out your calorie intake goal for the day.  It also tracks fat, protein, sugar, sodium, and pretty much everything else.  It’s pretty cool.

But not perfect.

The problem is that it centers all of the goals on calories, and as we all know, all calories are NOT created equal.  If I was hungry, I’d look at how many calories I had left, and make my food desisions from there.  Sounds logical, right?

Not always.  An apple has a lot of calories.  More than a handful of pretzels.  So do I eat the apple, which I know is healthier, or do I eat the pretzels so I can sat within my calorie goal?  I really hate seeing my numbers go in the red, so I’d eat the pretzels.  Not good.

I really wanted to learn how to eat properly, so I started looking at other options.  I talked to a bunch of friends and family memebers, and finally bit the bullet.

I joined Weight Watchers.

That’s right, just like like a zillion other middle-aged housewives before me, I joined good ol’ WW.

And do you know what?

I LOVE IT.

Seriously.  I love the little tracker tools, and the way that points are figured out using fat, protein, fiber, and carbs, not just calories.  I love that most fruits and veggies are worth zero points, so I can fill up on them whenever I need a quick snack and not have to worry about them counting against me.  I love all of the recipe ideas.  I love that going to meetings is no longer mandatory, because there is no way I’m sitting around and discussing my feelings toward food.  But most of all, I love the weight I’m losing.

I have lost 12 pounds.

TWELVE pounds in four weeks!

I’m never hungry, either.  The points are generous, and you get a set amount of weekly points you can use anytime, so say, for example, you spend the Superbowl binge-eating pizza and chips, there is a cushion for you to fall back on without having to worry about it too much.  You don’t end up feeling defeated just because you pigged out for one day.  Everything is calculated weekly, with a weekly weigh-in.  It has all of the features of myfitnesspal, plus so much more.

I don’t want this to turn into an ad for WW (since I’m not getting paid for it), so I’ll just say one more time that I think they are awesome, and I’ll move on to the other half of the diet and exercise plan…. working out.

I hate exercising.

No, really.  I LOATH exercising.

There is nothing about it that I enjoy.  I think that people who say they like to work out have several screws loose.  I don’t like being hot, sweaty, or out of breath.  I don’t like feeling the burn.  I think working out is boring, uncomfortable, and an over-all pain in the butt.

But I know that one does not get skinny by sitting in front of a computer all day, watching Galavant.  (Have you seen it?  It is hysterical.)  So I started trying to find an exercise I didn’t hate.  I can’t afford to go to the gym, and even if I could, the idea of jiggling through a workout in front of other people is so repulsive to me that it is completely out of the question.  I can’t afford any kind of equipment, either, so no matter how cool those elliptical machines look on TV, that isn’t happening.  I live in Pennsylvania, where the world is two degrees and coated in ice, so outdoor activities are going to have to be put on hold for a few months.  Also, I can’t do anything that requires me to leave the kids unattended.  What does that leave?

I tried aerobics.  There are a ton of aerobic videos on You Tube that are free for the taking, so I gave a few of them a try.  Most of them move too fast from one thing to another, with no explainations.  By the time I’d figure out what the heck they were doing with their feet and arms, they were moving on to something else.  I know that if I did the same video over and over, eventutally I’d figure it out, but it was just SO discouraging.  The same thing happened with Zumba.  By the time I figured out the first three steps, they were moving on to something completely different.  Also, my coordination isn’t zumba-worthy.  Ask Chev about my dance skills. Plus, in order to do aerobics or zumba, I had to clean up the living room, move the coffee table and ottoman, lock the dog in the kitchen, and try not to kill myself tripping over the kids.  WAY too much work.   It was an exercise in futility.  (See what I did there?  I’m so funny.)

Then I thought to myself, “What CAN I do?  What is easy enough that I will actually do it?  What can I do to motivate myself?”

The answers:  I can walk.  Walking is easy enough that I don’t mind doing it, and even though I can’t go outside, I can walk in place.  While I watch Netflix.

And there is was, my new fitness plan:

I will walk in place while watching a TV show.

So simple, so stupidly lame, that even I can do it.

I picked a show (Glee) on Hulu and started walking while watching it.  That’s it!  That was my whole workout.  45 minutes of walking while watching angst-ridden teens and twenty-somethings sing about life.  I didn’t hate it!  Score!

Since starting, I’ve ratcheted up the workout.  First, I started jogging during commercials.  Then I added 3 lbs weights that I do arm exercises with while I walk.  Sometimes I do side-steps and wide marching.  Now I’ve started doing jumping jacks during commercials, which is something I’ve never been able to do.  I can tell that I’m getting fitter.  Soon I’ll be jogging through the shows!

While I still don’t like to exercise, I DO like knowing that I can do stuff now that I couldn’t do before, and I’m looking forward to spring, when I can start walking and jogging outside.  But I’ll miss watching Master Chef while I’m doing it.

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Try

Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you have seen the new Colbie Cailat video for her song “Try.”  If you haven’t, you can watch it here.  I think it is a great video with a great message, not to mention a catchy song that has been stuck in my head for two days.  While the lyrics have been rolling around in there, it got me thinking.  This is an important message, not just for girls and women, but for everyone.  So here is my non-rhyming, extended version of “Try.”

For the moms out there, trying to do it all, trying to clean the house, and make the beds, and keep the kids clean, happy, and healthy.  Trying to look perfect at the school drop off, worrying about your roots and your shoes and if anyone noticed the worn spots on your purse or the snot stains on your shirt.  Running the kids to dance and t-ball and gymnastics and karate.  Forgetting to eat lunch, but thinking it’s ok because you really need to lose those last few pounds anyway.  Searching Pinterest for a recipe for meatloaf that your four year old will actually put in his mouth while telling your kids that they can only watch one more episode of My Little Ponies, because you are worried about the amount of screen time they are getting.  Doing the dishes, cooking food that half your family won’t even eat, smiling for your partner because you know s/he had a rough day at work, and you really don’t want to burden them with the stress you have building up inside you.  Posting a picture of your smiling family on Facebook while editing the story of your super fun family picnic so people don’t find out that your drank too much wine and your partner ran over the beach ball and your youngest smeared poop on the picnic blanket, and now that you think about it, did you ever take the laundry out of the washing machine?  Yelling at your kids, even though you know you shouldn’t but you are just So Tired, and can’t they all just cut you a break?  Thinking you aren’t fun enough, creative enough, smart enough, energetic enough, put together enough, good enough of a mom for your kids to like you.

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to give all of yourself away.  You don’t have to be perfect Every. Single. Day.  You don’t have to worry so much about if people like you.  Your kids like you.

For the preteen and teenaged boys and girls who are just figuring out who they are, wanting to fit in but not knowing how to do it.  Worrying about being cool.  Begging their parents for the right cloths, the right shoes, the right phone, for makeup, for anything that makes them seem older.  Pushing their Barbies and toy trucks into a closet, even though they still like them.  Girls dumbing themselves down because boys don’t like it if you are smarter than they are.  Boys playing sports they don’t like, because girls don’t like wusses.  Hiding tears, hiding fears, hiding hopes and dreams until you can’t find them anymore. Forgetting what you want to be when you grow up in the hype of being cool now.  Swearing to sound daring.  Smoking your first cigarette to fit in, thinking addiction only happens to other people.  Feeling invincible and horribly vulnerable at the same time. Hoping the other kids will like you.

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to grow up today. Being true to yourself is cool.  You don’t have to change a single thing.  Don’t change so much that you don’t like you.

For the girl who has discovered that she doesn’t like boys in that way, who dates her best friend’s ex boyfriends because it’s the closest thing she can get to her.  Who changes the pronouns in her poetry to be more socially acceptable.  Who goes out with every guy who asks her so that no body knows that she doesn’t like any of them.  Who cuts herself to release the pain inside of her.  Who falls into the rabbit hole that is the internet, because that is the only place she can be who she really is.  Who applies for a college as far from home as possible in the hopes that she can just be herself there.  Hoping to find a nice girl who will like you.

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to bend until you break.  You just have to stand up, be proud, and find your own place.  Don’t worry, you’ll find lots of people who like you.

For the politicians on both sides of the ever-more-prominent dividing line between parties, getting too wrapped up in finding things wrong with the other side to actually get any work done. Letting the power get to your head.  Forgetting why you started out in politics in the first place.  Forgetting about helping people.  Forgetting about changing the world.  Right wing getting caught up in a religious debate that has nothing to do with making policy.  Left wing too busy trying to be clever to realize that you are losing ground.  Letting the country down as you pick each other apart.  Worrying so much if your constituents like you.

You don’t have to try so hard to make us look the other way.  You just have to shut up, suck it up, and work toward a better day.  Put your differences aside, they are what make this country great.  And stop worrying about how many voters like you.

For everyone with a hidden illness, trying to put on a brave face.  Smiling through the tears, working through the pain.  People telling you to man up and get over it, saying you don’t look sick, rolling their eyes when you call off of work AGAIN.  Popping the pills the doctor gives you, hoping that this time maybe they will work.  Signing up for clinical studies, looking for an answer.  Praying to your Gods for an answer.  Wondering why me?  What did I do?  How am I going to ever deal with this?  Hoping you didn’t pass it down to your kids.  Wishing everyone would just Leave. You. Alone.  But at the same time wishing someone would hold you tight and make it all better.  Getting glared at by little old ladies when you use your handicapped parking placard at Target.  Hearing them mutter about how you must have stolen it from your grandmother, because you are too young to need it.  Hiding the sorrow in your voice when you have to cancel plans with your friends and family because you just don’t have the energy left to see them.  Wishing that they understood you.

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to hide it all away.  You just have to reach out, ask for help, and make it through every day.  Don’t hide your pain, it is part of who you are, and your family likes you.

For the parents of children with special needs, sitting sleepless by their bedside, holding their hands until their little eyes close and their breathing slows.  Knowing you are going to have to get up in a couple hours and go to work or get the other kids up or run another feed through the tube.  Driving from one appointment to another, doctors, therapists, specialists, orthatists, psychologists.  Fighting the insurance company over and over and over again.  Applying for benefits that you know your child is entitled to, but you still feel guilty about needing to ask for.  Watching kids younger than yours do things you can only dream of your child being able to do.  Trying to quiet the voice in your head that keeps you awake at night, while it screams all of the things your child will never have, never be, never know.  Drying your child’s tears the first time that they realize that they are different and the other kids don’t want to play with them.  Fighting the school district for better inclusion, better anti-bullying rules, better training for the teachers who take care of your baby for the majority of her day.  Searching the internet for new studies, new treatments, new devices that could make your child’s life a little better.  Ignoring stares, answering questions, smiling at well-meaning people who just make things worse.  Fighting to get the R word removed from the world’s vocabulary.  Hoping for a better tomorrow for your child.

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to do it on your own.  You just have to love that child and enjoy every single day.  Just tell them “Baby, I like you.  I will always like you.”

 

You don’t have to try so hard.  You don’t have to bend until you break.  Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, do you like you?  Cuz I like you.

 

 

 

Dogs Are Not Babies

 

Foster

Foster

 

The other day a friend of mine told me that she understands the craziness of my life because she just got two new puppies, and it is NUTS at her house.  At first I just stared at her in disbelief, then I laughed hysterically.  But it got me thinking…this isn’t the first time I’ve heard people liken having puppies or dogs to having children.  I’m fairly sure I even made the comparison myself, before having the girls.  Because until you have kids, you have NO idea.  You just don’t know what crazy is.  And to prove this to you, here are some ways that dogs and children differ.

1.  Puppies come to you at around 8 weeks of age, fully weaned, running, and ready to play.  Babies..not so much.  Ignoring the entire pregnancy and birthing process, babies take a year to start eating real food and walking.  That’s a year of late-night feedings, and a year of carrying your baby around everywhere you go.  No just snapping on a leash and hitting the road.

2.  Puppies potty train within weeks of coming home.  Toddlers, on the other hand, can take years.  YEARS of dirty diapers, of poopslosions, of peeing in your face, of peeing on your couch, of pooping in your lap.  You get the picture.  Cleaning up your puppy’s messes has NOTHING on cleaning up after a toddler who has discovered that poop is just like finger paint that you make yourself.

3.  You are allowed, in fact encouraged, to train your puppy to sleep through the night by locking him in a small crate.  Try that with your kids, and you’ll find out if orange really is the new black.

4.  You can call your dog a asshole and not feel guilty about it.  You also don’t have to worry about your dog repeating those words in front of other people.  Actually, I wish my dog would start cursing.  Then at least I could make some money off the little jerk.

5.  You can have a dog and still have a life.  Need to go to the grocery store?  Pop Fido in his cozy little crate, grab your wallet, and be on your way.  Same with going out with your friends on a Friday night.  Not with kids.  Junior has to go with you everywhere.  No crates for babies.  Going to the grocery store with a baby is more like an Antarctic expedition.  You need the carrier, blankets, toys, snacks, lists, coupons (because now that you have kids, you have a LOT less money), diapers, wipes, and….. you get the point.  As for going out on a Friday…unless you can shell out for a sitter, your ass is staying home.  Sitters don’t make a couple bucks an hour like they did when we were young, either.  We’re talking $10 an hour in most places.  Good luck with that.

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

6.  Babies cost more.  I don’t care how many toys, treats, beds, clothes, or organic dog food bags you buy for your dog, it has nothing on a baby.  And toddlers?  Helloooo growth spurts, goodbyyye money.  They will eat you out of house and home.  And they aren’t satisfied with eating the same dry kibble every day, either.  Once they get off of breast milk or formula, they will eat everything.  I swear they can taste how expensive something is, too, and they will decide that the thing they want more than anything is the most expensive food in the house.  Don’t even get me started on the cost of daycare, preschool, or activities.  I’m going to need a second mortgage to pay for gymnastics.

7.  Babies take up more space.  Before we had kids, we lived in a 20’x20′ apartment with two dogs, two cat, and two snakes.  We had plenty of room.  It was great.  Then the girls were born, and we realized that this just wasn’t going to work anymore.  So we bought a house.  Holy crap.  Talk about expensive.

8.  Dogs love you unconditionally.  No matter what I do, my dog loves me.  If I have to go somewhere, he is waiting for me at the door, tail wagging and tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, just happy as can be.  If I don’t have time to rub his belly, he forgives me and lays at my feet until I can give him a quick pat.  I can call him any name under the sun, and he will just keep licking my face.  My girls, on the other hand, are a bit less forgiving.  Now, I know they love me, and that the always will, but they are almost four, so…  If I go somewhere without them:  tantrum.  If I don’t drop everything I’m doing to pay 100% attention to them:  tantrum.  If I give them the wrong color cup:  tantrum.  You get the picture.  I know its not that they don’t love me. I’m not an idiot.  But they sure have crazy ways of showing it at this age.  Dogs, on the other hand, are much simpler in their emotions.

9.  Dogs don’t care about Barney.  Or Strawberry Shortcake.  They don’t cry if I want to watch Master Chef instead of one more episode of Daniel Tiger.  Foster (my dog) just cares that he gets to snuggle up to me on the couch a little longer.

10.  Dogs are quieter, even when they are barking.  Until you have experienced the ear-shattering sound of a toddler who hasn’t gotten their own way, you have NO idea what noise is.

Let me say again that I love my kids and my dog, even though there are times I wish I could lock all three of them in the crate.  But they are different.  Very different.

Best frenemies

Best frenemies

Picky-Eating Partners

eat it or starve

I’ve been posting about food a lot lately, over on my Facebook Page, and I’ve gotten quite a few comments from people, saying they’d love to change the way their family eats, but their partner is SO picky.  They say they’d love to try to eat less meat, but their partners will never go for it.  It got me thinking, and I realized that I have seen about a million articles about getting picky kids to eat, but never one about how to get your picky partner to expand their horizons.  I suppose it is just assumed that, because someone is an adult, that their tastes are fixed and there is no hope of getting them to try new things.  Which is complete crap.  If you are a grown-up, you should always be willing to try new things.  That’s part of what is awesome about being a grown up!

I know what it’s like to cook for a picky partner.  Chev is crazy picky about food.  But I’ve learned to work around it, and I thought I’d share some of my secrets with you.

Let’s start by talking about Chev.  She’ll love that.  Chev is very much a “meat and potatoes” kind of person.  If it were up to her, all of our dinners would consist of a meat (beef, chicken, or pork), a starch (potatoes, rice, or pasta), and maybe a vegetable (corn, peas, or broccoli).  Maybe with the occasional pizza or taco night thrown in.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, I thought so.  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with eating like this; millions of people eat like this every day.  As someone who likes to cook and try new things, however, it is soul-crushingly boring.  Plus, I have borderline high cholesterol, so eating meat every day isn’t going to fly. Oh, and meat is crazy expensive.  Seriously, one of the easiest way to cut your grocery bill is to cut back on meat.  But I digress…

This sums Chev up perfectly

This sums Chev up perfectly

Chev is picky.  Oh, so picky.  The list of things she doesn’t like is a mile long, ranging from the exotic (curry of any sort) to the commonplace (tomatoes), and it makes my life a heck of a lot more difficult when it comes to meal planning.  I have discovered something, however, that has made my life much easier.  There is a difference between what she doesn’t LIKE and what she absolutely will NOT eat.  Think about it for a minute.  This holds true for most people.  I don’t really care for brussel sprouts, but I’ll eat one or two if they are on my plate.  But there is no way in hell that you are going to convince me that liver isn’t just glorified dog food.  We all have our limits.  Find your partner’s limits.  Figure out the things that they don’t even want to look at, let alone eat.  Those are your deal breakers.  Don’t even bother trying to sneak them in.  For Chev that would be fish.  She hates fish.  She’ll eat shrimp, scallops, crab, ect, but if it has fins and swims, forget it.  Except tuna from a can.  Apparently that is so far removed from the fish that it’s ok.  I don’t even try to understand it anymore.

Now that you know what is completely off limits, take a look at what is left on the “dislike” list.  Is there a way to prepare some of those foods that your partner might find more palatable?  Chev hates squash, because she doesn’t like the squishy texture they get when cooked, but I have a recipe for zucchini fritters that she really likes.  Why?  Because they are crispy, not mushy.  This works for a lot of foods.  I don’t like cooked cabbage (I think it tastes like farts smell), but I love raw cabbage (crispy crunchy goodness!).  So if your partner says they don’t like mushrooms, but you know that the only mushrooms they’ve ever eaten are the nasty canned ones that get put on top of pizza (shudder), try adding some fresh baby bellas to your next stir fry or pasta dish and see what happens.  I’d be willing to bet that you can cross a few more things off of the list.

Picky isn't an allergy

Picky isn’t an allergy

By now you should have a much more manageable list of foods that your partner won’t eat, so let’s talk about modifying recipes.  You can almost always change a recipe to accommodate different tastes. There are a bunch of ways you can do this, from leaving out certain ingredients to changing the ingredients to something more acceptable to the picky party.  I’ll give you some examples….

Shallots:  onions for people who don’t like onions.  These little beauties are quite possibly the least oniony onions I’ve found.  I use them in place of onions for every recipe I make.  They still give dishes the proper base, without horribly over-powering everything else.

Paprika:  just say no to black pepper.  Chev HATES black pepper.  We don’t even have it in the house.  Leaving pepper out of your recipes can make for some seriously bland food, however, so I use paprika.  It has a nice, mild flavor so it won’t conflict with any other herbs or spices you are using.

Herbs instead of salt.  Neither of us are big on salt, and its really not that great for you anyway, so I use a lot of herbs in my cooking.  Don’t be scared of herbs!  Just keep a few basics on-hand.  Remember, basil goes with everything.  Thyme and oregano go with Italian.  Cilantro is great with Mexican.  Sage and rosemary are great with roasted meats (but go easy on the rosemary….a little goes a long way!)

Sauces are replaceable.  Sometimes you find a great recipe, but then you start reading the ingredients for the sauce that goes with/over it and you think, “Well so much for that.  S/he’ll never eat it.”  I hear you, my friends, but don’t chuck the whole recipe!  We eat a lot of stir fry, but I never make the sauces that go along with the recipes.  Chev doesn’t like ginger.  Or vinegar.  Or anything else with strong flavors.  So this is what I do; I replace the sauce with one I know she’ll eat.  I keep a bottle of her favorite Asian sauce in the fridge; if she doesn’t like the sauce I made, she can always put some of that on her food.  Similarly, she won’t eat vinegar-based salad dressing, which seriously limits what kinds of pasta and grain salads I make.  Well, it did before I discovered a trick…. I add mayo to the vinaigrette.  Poof!  Her brain thinks, “Yum!  A creamy dressing!” and she eats it.  Seriously, I wish I had figured this out years ago.

June 048

The same tricks you use on your kids can work on your partner.  Shredding zucchini into sauces, using a smooth tomato sauce instead of a chunky one, pureeing veggies so they are less noticeable, and being all around sneaky can help you get different things into your partner without them even realizing it.  Chev hates chunks of tomato in her spaghetti sauce, so I buy smooth sauce (or chuck it in the food processor if I’m making my own.)  It’s the same thing, but made a little more picky-person-friendly.

I know what you are thinking.  “That’s all well and good, but there is no way my partner is going to willingly stop eating meat every day.”  I’ll be honest, it was a big shock to Chev’s system when I told her that we were only going to be eating meat every other day.  Its a lot less than that now.  We eat approximately four to five meat dishes in a two week time span.  The trick is to make food so hearty that they don’t miss the meat.  Load up on beans, legumes, hearty pasta dishes, quinoa (try the rainbow variety, it tastes better), and casseroles.  I found recipes for bean bolognese, veggie pot pie, veggie chowder, and so much more on Pinterest 

vegetarians

Don’t go crazy with new ingredients at first; ease your partner into change.  Don’t make a big deal about things.  Just start substituting something new for something old.  Tuesday night is usually pasta night?  Great!  Instead of meat sauce, try a creamy spinach sauce.  Do you like to make casseroles?  Awesome!  Instead of a chicken rice casserole, try broccoli quinoa casserole (one of Chev’s favorites).  Looking for something quick, but sick of sandwiches?  Try hummus melts (so easy, but so good.)  Just start adding some new stuff into your rotation and see how it goes.  Chances are, the less of a big deal you make it, the less your partner will object.

My final bit of advice is to tell you to put your foot down.  We have a rule at our house; no matter what I put in front of Chev, she isn’t allowed to say bad things, make yucky noises, or icky faces.  Why?  Because I’ll be damned if she is going to pass her pickiness along to the girls.  I have also made it clear to her that, while I will try to accommodate her pickiness, sometimes I just want to eat green beans with dinner, and she needs to deal with it.  She’s a grown woman, and sometimes that means sucking it up and eating what is put in front of her…. or making her own darn dinner!

kitchen closed

 

Meal Planning 101

food

Does meal planning sound daunting to you?

It shouldn’t!

Meal planning is easy-peasy and makes life SO much simpler, especially if you are on a tight budget.

I plan meals for two weeks at a time, because we get paid every two weeks.  I know that by the end of the pay cycle, we will be broke again, so I make sure to get everything I need in one trip.  With a meal plan I never have to be scrambling around at 4pm, wondering what I’m going to make for dinner, or if I have the ingredients I need.  Which is helpful when you have a couple of three year olds running around.

Here is my meal planning method; give it a try, it just might make your life a little easier!

1.  The day before payday I sit down in front of the computer with a notebook and a pen, and I pull up Pinterest.  That’s right, I actually USE my food boards, and not just to pin insanely decadent desserts that have a week’s worth of calories in them!  I find that using Pinterest boards is easier than digging through a thousand recipe cards or cookbooks.  It is just so nice and organized, and I like seeing pictures of what I’m going to make.

2.  I make a list of what I want to make.

3.  Whenever I pick something, I bring up the recipe and write down what ingredients I’ll need on my grocery list.

4.  If I pick a recipe that I’ve never made before, I write it down now, so that I don’t have to go looking for it later.  If I had a smart phone, I probably wouldn’t bother, because I could just pull up the recipe when I’m in the kitchen, but I live in the Stone Age, so paper and pen it is.

5.  Once I have 14 recipes (if I know I’ll be cooking every night), I figure out what day I want to make each one on.  I take into consideration what our schedule will be like each day.  For example, on the weekends that I work I will schedule meals that are quick and easy, with little or no prep work.

6.  Done!  Really, that’s it.  I now have a complete meal plan for the next two weeks, AND I have most of my grocery list finished.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than an hour doing it, even with distractions from the girls.  One hour and I am now prepared for the next two weeks.

And here is what my meal plan looks like….

White pizza grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Portabellas stuffed with herbed chickpeas
One pot pasta alfredo
Quinoa veggie “fried rice”
Hummus melts
Chicken noodle soup (leftovers from the freezer)
Cheesy ground beef rice casserole
Spaghetti
Quinoa broccoli casserole
Steaks and baked potatoes
Memorial Day Picnic!!
Cheesy veggie chowder
Chickpea salad sandwiches
Ham and potato bake
Tacos

Now I just have to wait until tomorrow (and payday) to go shopping!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

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Mothers’ Day is upon us.  A lot of companies use this time of year to peddle everything from cards to jewelry to chocolate.  While jewelry and chocolate are always welcome, they really aren’t on the top of my list of things I want for Mothers’ Day.  What do I want?  I’m glad you asked.

1.  I want to drive to and from a wedding in Maryland this weekend without anyone vomiting or pooping in the car, church, or restaurant.  I realize this is a tall order, since Laurel has inherited my car-sickness gene and Ellie’s GI doctor has us feeding her gluten for the next month.  But it would be so nice not to have clean up someone else’ digested food on the side of I-95.

2.  I want Ellie to sleep through the night.  Just one night.  That’s all I’m asking.  She is three and a half and she has never slept through the night.  Which means I’ve been exhausted since she was born.

3.  I want Laurel to stop yelling.  I realize that in order for this to happen, that I probably have to stop yelling as well.  So if anyone has a magic want that can grant both of us more patience, spread some of that good stuff our way.

4.  I want Ellie to talk.  I want to hear my little girl say “Momma, I love you.”  I want her to be able to tell me what is wrong when she is crying.  I want her to be able to tell me what hurts when she is sick.  I just want to hear her sweet little voice.

5.  I want people to be nicer to each other.  There is so much negativity our there.  I want people to stop glaring at each other and try smiling instead.  Stop over-thinking things and say hi to each other.

6.  I want people to lend a hand.  If you see a small child running for the doorway at Target, grab the kid before they hit the parking lot.  Their mom will thank you.  If you see someone struggling with their grocery bags, grab a bag and help them out.  If you see a mom trying to control three kids in the check-out line, distract them for her.  Talk to them, smile at them, ask them what they did today.  That little distraction can keep them from a complete melt-down, and the entire store will thank you for that.  If you know that one of your friends is having a rough time financially, and you can help them out, do so.  An extra twenty bucks may not seem like a lot to you, but to a family who is struggling it can mean the difference between their kids having food until payday or being hungry.

7.  I want my dog to stop being an asshole.

8.  I want the car-thing that the Cat in the Hat uses to put the house back in order at the end of the book.  How cool would that be?

9.  I want people to stop using the words “retarded” and “gay” to describe things that they don’t like.  The English language is full of words.  Pick another one.  Don’t be a dick.

10.  I want the girls to forget that Frozen exists.  Just for a few days.  Because no, I don’t want to build a freaking snowman.

That’s about it.  What is on your list?

Let it Go, Folks

 

The Frozen Trinity

The Frozen Trinity

During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of FB posts from my friends who are parents of young girls, looking for the dresses and dolls from the movie “Frozen.” Over the past few days, the posts have become down right desperate. People are getting crazy about finding this stuff. Anyone who does find a store that actually has dolls or dresses left is buying them all, to resell to friends in other areas. Not to make a profit, but just to share their luck. (Mostly.)

$1,000 on Ebay, and this sucker could be yours.

$1,000 on Ebay, and this sucker could be yours.

And the whole situation leaves me somewhat mind-boggled. Most of these kids are the same age as mine: three and a half. How badly do they really need this stuff, that you are stressing out this much about finding it? It’s just STUFF. More stuff to fill your house, which most of you have complained about being too cluttered already.

Seriously, why are you making yourself crazy about this? What will happen if little Jenny wakes up on Easter morning and “all” the Bunny brought her is a basket full of candy, bubbles, toys, books, DVDs, and whatever other nonsense you put in there? (And please, don’t get me started on the crazy amount of stuff kids get in their Easter baskets.) Do you really think that she’s going to be scared in some way by NOT getting Elsa and Anna dolls, dresses, stuffed animals, and accessories? She’s THREE. She’s going to stuff her face full of Peeps, spill bubble stuff on the living room floor, and spend the rest of the morning playing with the plastic eggs.

Ok, I admit, these are really cute.

Ok, I admit, these are really cute.

I know that some of you are sitting there, thinking, “But I want to get it for her, because it’s special and I know she’ll love it!” Bull. It’s not special if ever other kid is getting it. It is mass-produced crap that Disney is hoping will instill a deep sense of commercialism in our kids.  And yeah, she’ll love it. Of course she will. But you know what? If you don’t get it for her, SHE WILL NEVER KNOW. Because she’s three. Unless you have made some big deal about finding this stuff for her, she’ll never know that she is missing it.

Usually frozen eggs explode.  These just sparkle.

Usually frozen eggs explode. These just sparkle.

Our kids are still little. They don’t have peer pressure yet to get the newest, coolest toy.  At this age, they are just as happy playing Elsa by wearing a piece of blue cloth like a cape and a pair of your old gloves, pulled up to their elbows.  So stop making yourself crazy.  There will be plenty of time for that later.  Save crazy for the day that they are old enough for their first cell phone, or their first car.  Then, by all means, stress out.  But for now?

Just…. Let it Go.

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