Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Years

I've shed a few tears today, I can't lie. Amidst the excitement and joy, there's a little bit of sadness. My precious baby, my first born, the one that changed my life, is seven. Another year gone, another year older. He's grown from that tiny little baby, into a rambunctious toddler, into a little boy going to school for the first time and now...he's just a boy. He's not little. He's a boy. A kid, not a child. He has opinions and thoughts and dreams and ideas. He has a fully developed personality and I'm not sure I can take it. I wanted to just wrap him in my arms this morning and tell him it wasn't his birthday. It's a mistake, stop growing up!

Good grief, when he turns 13 I'm going to be an absolute wreck...and I don't even want to think about when he turns 18.

There's joy there too, though. I'm so proud of this little man. I can't believe how amazing he is. He's so kind and loving, smart and funny. Am I biased? Obviously, yet it's all true. He told me this morning that he hadn't had peanut butter in a very long time. "Not since I was six" I couldn't help but laugh.

It really doesn't seem like that long ago that he was born. I know everyone says that, but I suppose it's because it's true. I remember laying in the bed, watching the paper print out of the heart monitor, seeing his little heart beat right there on the paper. Those little lines represented the little boy inside me, waiting to come out. It took three days, but I'll never forget the moment I heard him cry for the first time. I cried. I think Nate may have cried too. That moment changed us forever. We've made a lot of mistakes over the last seven years, but when I look at that little boy, I think we must have gotten a few things right.

He's grown into such a kind and caring boy. When I ask him to do something for me, he'll often respond, "I'd do anything for you, mom." And then my heart melts into a puddle on the floor. He's constantly praising Julia and telling her "Good job!" He has a great sense of humor and a thirst for knowledge that I envy. I've never seen a five or six year old boy google things, or search youtube for tutorials, but he does.

But when I stare into those eyes, or watch him breath as he sleeps, I don't even think of that. All I feel is such a deep love and desire to just hold him forever that it takes my breath away. I feel the sand in the hourglass slipping away and I just want him to stay like this forever.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday is for Weight-Loss

Have I mentioned I've been going to the gym at 6 am? Because I have. I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, I know enough about myself to know that the earlier it is in the day, the more likely I'll actually go to the gym. As the day drags on, I'm able to come up with more and more excuses not to go. I'm much better off just getting up and going, then it's done! Secondly, I found an awesome gym buddy. I had been going on my own, but it sucked. It's so much more fun to go with someone, not only for accountability, but even just to have someone to talk to. Music is good and all, but friends are better!

I feel really good about going and I feel like this is a routine we can stick to (though we are probably switching to evenings on Wed/Thurs because seriously, 5 am is ridiculously early). The only bad thing is, duh, it's early. Which isn't awful, but the thing I dislike the most about it is that my husband is a complete night owl. He stays up till 2-3 am most nights. Now, I usually went to bed around 11-12, so it's not like I'm missing a ton of time with him, but we still spent a few hours at night watching shows most nights. Now that I have to go to bed so early, we've lost a bit of together time. It's sad, but I think it's an ok trade-off. We still have a lot of time together and by investing this time into getting healthy, I'm helping to ensure we have a lot more time together down the road.

Since this is the last Wednesday before February begins, I want to take this time to tell you about next months challenge. This isn't my monthly habit. I'll be sharing about that later. This is a workout challenge that has been floating around the Internet for a while now.

Source: The Berry

Fab Ab February. Better start getting ready now for swimsuit season, right?! Seriously though, who doesn't want fab abs? So starting on Saturday, I'll be fabbing up my abs. Sounds cool right? Not dorky at all? Right.

Do it with me! I'll be super impressed if you can do it because I'm not sure I can (100 sit ups by the end of the month? Eek!)

Have a healthy Wednesday =)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Not-So-Tasty Tuesday

So yeah, I have nothing. No menu plan, no shopping list, no motivation. It's annoying because I never know what we're having for dinner. What is wrong with me!? Get it together, lady!

Does that ever happen to you? I'm sure it does. I certainly hope I'm not the only one! I know my life is much easier when I take the time to plan and prepare, but sometimes I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm tired, not feeling good, not inspired...whatever the excuse is, it doesn't ever make me feel better. Now I just feel frustrated and annoyed that I don't have any idea what to make for dinner. I think I'll pull some chicken out of the freezer and do something with that...

I've been getting up at the crack of it's-not-even-dawn-for-another-2-hours in order to go to the gym with my friend. Since she works and I have 2 kiddos, it's pretty much the only time we have where we can get together and go, although we're considering going in the evenings on Wednesday and Thursday. Someone else will just have to pick up the dinner-time slack! Those 5 am mornings are rough. In any case, it's been good, but my sleep schedule is way out of whack. I slept till noon on the weekend, which I rarely do and then ended up sick yesterday so I slept really late again. Which meant that when I went to bed early last night because I was getting up at 5, my body completely rebelled. It had had enough sleep and was ready to party. By the time I got to sleep at 12:30 am, I knew I was in big trouble. I barely dragged myself out of bed this morning, but I did it and I'm glad! Now I'm just waiting for Nate to get home from school and then it's nap time...

Is it any wonder I'm all out of sorts? I crave continuity and order. If one area of my life is out of whack, other things fall by the wayside. No sleep, no menu plan. Did I mention my bed hasn't been made in days? Ack! Oh well. I'll get used to this schedule and then everything will go back to normal.

In the meantime, I'm going to push through this week because I'm super excited for this weekend. It will be ridiculously busy, but also AWESOME. My baby boy turns 7 on Friday and the girls and I are heading over to my friends house to make his Minecraft-themed birthday cake. On Saturday morning, we'll have his birthday party, and then that evening is game night with our friends. Sunday...well, do I even need to say it?


Yeah, we'll be watching. And someone ELSE will be doing the cooking!

Monday, January 27, 2014

52 Lists - Week 5: List The Things You Are Grateful For

It's pretty easy to find things to complain about. For example, I feel miserable and achy. My head hurts, my tummy hurts, the weather is icky, my husband left a chip bag on my desk and I think my rose bush is dying. See? Easy!

That's why it's so important to make a concerted effort to think about things we're grateful for. While it's easy to find things to complain about, it's also easy to take our blessings for granted and when you put those two together, you usually end up miserable. 

That's why I'm so glad that this weeks list is things I'm grateful for. The 52 Lists series can be found on Moorea Seal's blog HERE and my previous lists can be found on my blog HERE

Here we go, in no particular order!

My husband, who bears the burden of providing for us.

My children, who bring so much joy into my life.

The plush blanket given to me for Christmas, which is amazingly soft and cozy.

My dog, who is literally the sweetest dog I've ever met.

My cat, who is so soft and cuddly and has a bit of an attitude.

My kindle, which brings me so many hours of entertainment.

My mother in law, who has always been there for us.

My friends, who are such bright spots of joy in my life.

My camera, which lets me explore the creativity I never thought I had.

My music, which lets me express the wordless desires of my soul.

My sister, who I look up to and am so proud of.

Chocolate, which pretty much needs no explanation because it is the delicious taste of heaven.

My husband, again, for his unwavering love and commitment to me and our marriage.

My health, which could be much worse, all things considered.

My parents, who left marks on my heart that have not diminished with time.

There are so many things I'm grateful for, such as nice pens and Tums and pretty earrings, but these, I think, are the biggest. I hope you'll take some time to reflect on the things you're grateful for, and if you do, I hope you'll also take a moment to share them with me in the comments section below.

Have a blessed Monday!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday is for Weight-loss

So guess what?! This is my 100th post! Can you believe it? I can't! It's actually not, because my sister posted a few times, but it's the blogs 100th post so yippee!

It's been 3 weeks since I started January's habit (technically 2 1/2, but this week is the third week) and so far, so good. I said 5 days a week, but it's been 4 times/week so far, which I'm completely happy with. I was sick one week and this past Monday I didn't go due to the holiday and my kids being out of school.

I've also started a new schedule. I had been going in the morning while Nate was at school but this week I started going with my friend at 6 in the morning, before she has to go to work and I have to get the kids up for school. We've done it twice and hopefully we'll keep going, but man, that is EARLY! Luckily she doesn't work tomorrow, so we're going to be able to sleep in and go a little later in the morning. It's really awesome to be able to go with my friend though.

Anyway, here is another one of my motivations for getting in shape and working out:


Have a healthy Wednesday!

Monday, January 20, 2014

52 Lists - Week 4: List Your Current and Future Goals

There really isn't a better time than January to evaluate where you're at and where you want to go. Season of fresh starts and all that, right? This weeks list is current and future goals. Having a concrete list of what you want will help guide you, like a road map. It also helps define what is important and should take priority in your life and what can fall by the wayside.

I made a list last year and I'm pleased to say that I was able to accomplish some of it, but not all. A lot of it is more long term, but others were forgotten. I'm hoping to incorporate this year's list into my monthly habits.

So here they are; my hopes, dreams and goals!

1. I think one of my biggest goals in life is to be remembered as a kind and hospitable woman. I want people to feel loved and important when they're around me. I have a long way to go, but I'm working on this every day. I believe this is the kind of woman God wants me to be.

2. I want to teach my children the value of selflessness and kindness. 

3. I want to go back to school and get my teaching degree. 

4. I want to lose alllllll the weight!!

5. I want to run in a 5k with my friends.

6. I want to teach my children piano.

7. I want to HAVE a piano!

8. I want to create a peaceful and cozy home that people want to spend time in.

9. I want to explore the possibility of starting an online business.

10. I want to make sure my husband knows everyday that I love him and he is my first priority.

11. I want to make sure my kids know everyday that I love them and that they are also my first priority.

12. I want to buy a dslr camera and learn to use it. I also want to become an amaaaaazing photographer someday!

13. I want to develop my crafty side. I like being crafty!

14. I want to spend as much time with my friends as I can and build those relationships so they last forever.

15. I want to learn another language.

You can see my list from last year HERE and read my other lists HERE. This idea originated on THIS blog.

Happy Monday! What are your goals?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Handprint Tree Paintings

If you've ever seen my Pinterest page, you know I have tons of recipes and crafts and inspirational pictures that I want to try. More than I could possibly actually do, but that's the great thing about Pinterest! Whenever I get the itch to do something different or crafty, or try a new recipe, I have an endless supply of inspiration that I already know I want to try.

This weekend, I decided it was time to try out one of the kids art projects I've had pinned for quite some time now; the Handprint Tree. I found it on Pinterest, but the pin only links back to an image so I have no idea where this idea originated from, but you can see the pin HERE.

The original project was done on canvas, but when I got to Hobby Lobby, I happened to see these awesome burlap frames that were painted white and they were fairly cheap so I snatched them up. Make these on whatever medium you happen to have or want. I think they'll turn out great on anything.

You'll need brown paint as well as two other complementary colors, something to paint on (canvas or something else), a brush, a pencil and possibly a stencil if you plan to write on the painting.

I let the kids choose their colors so of course Julia went immediately to the pink and purple. Damien tried to negotiate with me for a while, saying he'd only take one color so that we could get brown for the tree trunk. It took a while, but I finally got him to understand I was going to buy a brown paint anyway and he should definitely get two colors. What a sweetie. He ended up choosing autumn colors: yellow and orange.

When we got home, we went immediately to work. First up, tracing their hands and arms. Use a pencil and trace a light line around their forearm and hand. You'll be able to erase this later.

Once you have your tree traced out, you're ready to start painting. We went with Burnt Umber for our tree trunks and I think they turned out great. I did the tree trunks myself to ensure they were fairly true to the handprint and then I let the kids go crazy with their fingerprint leaves.

I let the tree trunk dry before I let the kids begin their painting, just to make sure nothing got smudged. Don't worry too much about being perfect. I think the imperfect, hand-painted look is part of the charm of this project.

Once the trunks are dry, I let the kids loose. I tried to encourage them to make beautiful patterns and evenly spaced leaves, just like the picture. I soon gave up and let them do whatever they wanted which is, of course, much better in the end.

After the leaves dried, I stenciled their name and the year on the painting. Let me just say that I am NOT a fan of stenciling. I had to let each letter dry before moving on to the next to make sure it didn't get smudged and the letters didn't really turn out as nicely as I'd hoped (mostly due to lack of patience I'm sure.) But in the end, I'm really very pleased with the result.

Damien had originally wanted me to alternate the yellow and orange paint for his name, but his mischievous little sister ruined that for him by smearing the wet paint and making it impossible for me to use the lighter colors, so I just finished it up with the brown. 

Julia's name ended up being a little crooked, but I'm ok with that too.

Here's the breakdown of how much this project cost (all from Hobby Lobby):

Burlap frame: $4.99
3 acrylic paints: $0.79 x 3 = 2.37
Stencil: $2.99
Total: $10.35 or less, if you already have paints and/or stencils.

Overall, a very easy project that I think will look great in their new rooms eventually =).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday is for Weight-loss

Source: Pinterest

How true is this? Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are awful! Maybe that's just me, but I don't think so. I really believe that every change in our lives starts in our mind. We will never become who we want to be if we're still hung up on our failures and mistakes. This is one of my biggest challenges. It's far too easy to just "accept" that I'm a failure, that what I've always done is how I will always be. And it will be, unless I can change my own mind. No one can do that for us!

I think changing our own minds is much harder than changing someone else's. It takes constant vigilance to capture those stray, negative thoughts and remind ourselves of the positives. You know what would make it easier? A list! Don't you love lists? I do! Make a list of the great things about you, things that contribute to the person you want to be. Carry it around with you if you have to and whenever you find yourself beating up on yourself, pull it out and read it.

Just like any habit, learning to treat ourselves with love, compassion and FORGIVENESS takes time and constant maintenance. It won't just happen. You have to put the work in. But once you learn to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones, you won't just be a happier person. I believe you'll start to see amazing results in every area of your life, including weight-loss.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday

I've been slacking off a little bit in the meal planning department this week. I haven't even looked at the Fred Meyer's or Safeway sales, but I did head over to Albertson's this morning since today is the last day of their sale cycle. If you need tuna, you can get some for $1, which isn't an amazing price, but if you buy 10, you get a $4 catalina which is pretty decent. Also, if you need dog food, you can pick up a back of Essential Everyday dog food, 32 lbs, for $19.99 but you get a $5 catalina on that, so it ends up being a really good deal. Also, pork picnic roasts are $1.49/lb. These end today though, so if you want to take advantage of these, you gotta act quick.

So what are we eating this week? Lots of yummy stuff! Instead of adding a new dinner recipe to our repertoire, I added a Saturday morning breakfast skillet and an old recipe that hadn't been added to our binder yet.

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner - Bacon and eggs with toast

Monday: Unbreaded Chicken Parmesan

Tuesday: Low Carb Pizza Casserole

Wednesday: Almost "Bourbon" Chicken

Thursday: Melissa's Slow Cooker Beef and Noodles

Friday: Low Carb Baked Chicken Breast

Saturday: Breakfast - Potato Skillet
                Dinner - Crustless Spinach Quiche

You might notice that a few of these recipes are the same as last week. That's because we ended up having pizza one night and bacon and eggs another night (I shifted my weekly planner from Mon-Sun to Sun-Sat so there was an overlapping day.) Instead of planning and shopping for brand new recipes, I carried these over to the next week since I already have the ingredients.

What's on the menu for you this week?

Monday, January 13, 2014

52 Lists - Week 3: List The Things You're Proud Of

Yay! It's another list! It's week 3 and this one is a fun one. Well, I think they're all fun, but this one lets me toot my own horn a little bit, which I don't think is always a bad thing =).

The ideas for this list series came from THIS blog and you can read my other lists HERE.

Here we go, a list of things I'm proud of!

1. I'm proud of my children. I could be biased, but I think they're amazing. I think they're kind-hearted and loving. I think they're funny and smart. I think they're beautiful. When I look at them, I feel so blessed. 

2. I'm proud of my husband. I think I've got a pretty awesome husband. He's hard working, intelligent, funny and pretty darn sexy too ;). I admire how hard he works to provide for us and I admire how hard he works at the gym to take care of himself. He inspires me and makes me want to be a better person.

3. I'm proud that I've lost 30lbs in the last year. I slacked off and stopped going to the gym and I didn't do everything I was supposed to, but I made a few lifestyle changes and I have that to show for it. Am I even close to my goal? Nope, but I know that I will get there if I just keep moving forward. 

4. I'm proud of my musicality. I believe music is a vital part of our culture and I want my children to grow up understanding that music plays a huge role in our lives. As bad as this may sound, I love the sound of my own voice. Singing along to a song I love and nailing it makes me happy. 

5. I'm proud of my intelligence. I never went to college. Someday I hope to, but so far I haven't. However, I consider myself fairly educated and intelligent. I like to help my husband do his college (accounting! Eww) homework and it makes me proud when I'm able to explain something to him because I've picked it up quickly as we're going along. I believe that it's important to be a life-long learner and it makes me proud when I live up to my ideals.

6. I'm proud that compassion and kindness often come easily for me. Not always, but often. I find joy in anticipating others needs and providing for them. I enjoy hospitality and making people feel loved and welcome. I haven't always been good at these things, but it's an area that I'm focusing on because I believe it's a crucial part of being a godly woman.

7. I'm extremely proud of my marriage. Like, bursting with pride. I could talk forever about it. We've been through a LOT. We've worked hard to overcome some pretty awful situations and we've both done things we regret, but I sit here today and I can truthfully say I'm more in love with this man than I've ever been. Our marriage has never been stronger or more intimate. We're truly best friends and I haven't always been able to say that. I know hard times will come again, but I also know that between us, we have the fight and determination to overcome anything. We're both in this for the long haul and that makes me very proud.

8. I'm also extremely proud of my sister. She truly is a source of inspiration for me. Even though she's my baby sister (haha), I look up to her. She's a great nurse, an amazing mother to 3 gorgeous kids and the wife of a man who commutes to a different province to work (that takes some strength!) She's been there for me more times than I can count and I love her so much. 

There are other things I'm proud of, but I'm being beckoned away by my husband, so those things will have to wait for another day. You can also read last years list HERE

I'd love to get some comments, so tell me what you're proud of! Go on, toot your own horn =).

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Good Man

I've been seeing a lot of memes and "inspirational" quotes on Face and Pinterest lately. They've probably always been there, but I've just happened to notice them more lately. A few of them have stuck out on my mind and that's because they irritated me. They were about men and they perpetuated an idea that I think is not only false, but dangerous to our society.

I'm not going to post the quote and I'm not going to quote it either, mostly because I don't want to go look for it, but also because I don't want to continue its spread. The basic idea is that a "good" man is one who wants to be constantly with his woman and is sick when she's gone. He caters to her every whim in order to make her happy and is always there to support her emotions. In all honesty, that sounds pretty great, doesn't it? Like a Disney fairy tale almost.

Well that's because it is. That man doesn't exist and hoping and wishing for him to come along and sweep us off our feet is not only futile, but dangerous. It's dangerous for us as women and it's harmful to men. The minute we define a "good" man as something out of a fairy tale, we categorize all those who fall short as "not good" or failures and guess what? They all fall short. Maybe some come closer than others, but I promise you, no man in the world wants to be with you 100% of the time. Sometimes he's glad to be away from you. You're probably awesome but so is chocolate. If you ate chocolate at every meal and every snack, you'd get sick of it really fast.

The problem here is that this idea of a "good" man is based completely on what he can do for his woman. It's an idea that is based out of selfishness and need and when the man doesn't live up to what she wants, he's a dog.

Now, I've been married for 7 years and we've been together for almost 10 years, so I think I have a pretty decent grasp of male behavior. I don't think my husband is unique (though he IS pretty special ;) and I think he represents most men. He likes time away from me. *gasp!* He gets tired of my company! How awful. Or not, because I like time away from him too. It's actually healthy to have separate hobbies and pursuits. It's healthy to spend time apart because that makes your time together so much sweeter. You actually have things to talk about, you've missed the other person so you treasure your moments together. Nobody's life should be so wrapped up in another person that they're "sick" when the other person isn't around.

He also doesn't cater to my every whim and emotion (boooo!). As it turns out, I'm a woman. And women (sorry girls) are fickle creatures. Now, there are exceptions to every rule and maybe you're the exception, but I certainly am not. My emotions fluctuate and I'm not always reasonable. I thank God that my man is a steady rock that I can count on to keep me grounded. He tells me when I'm acting ridiculous. He doesn't give in to the depths of my emotions. He helps me be a stronger and better person by example.

So what IS a good man? I found this on Pinterest:

I don't think we should judge men on their relationships with us. Sometimes love makes us weak and causes us to do silly things. I've also heard that we should judge men on how they treat their mothers. I don't think we should do that either. Some mothers weren't that great. 

I think we should judge a man by how he makes everyone around him feel. How he treats strangers, children and animals. By the decisions he makes when no one is watching. I have a theory that if we choose men of integrity, we'll never have to worry about him not spending enough time on us or not being there emotionally for us. A weak man may cater to our every whim just so we'll stay with him, but that doesn't make him a good man. A man of strength and character is a good man. Even good men mess up, but if we're judging men by the right characteristics, I think we'll be a lot more willing to forgive the mess ups and perhaps even be counting our blessings that such a good man chose us. 

I know I am. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wednesday is for Weightloss

(Source: Angela Miller Photography, via Pinterest)

There are a lot of reasons to lose weight. Some of them are good, some aren't. Trying to look like a model isn't really a good reason, in my opinion. Neither is wanting a "thigh gap." 

I think it's important to pinpoint exactly why we want to lose weight and figure out if our reasons are healthy or not. I believe that we become what we focus on and put our energy into. If our motivation for doing something is superficial or unhealthy, we will become superficial and unhealthy. 

On the other hand, by knowing exactly why we're doing what we're doing, we have an endless supply of motivation and self-encouragement. When things get tough, we can remind ourselves that we have a purpose and an end goal. It causes us to push ourselves and work harder.

So why do I want to lose weight? For a long time my reasoning was simply, "Because I should." It was expected of me. I was overweight, thus I "should" lose weight. It was the right thing to do. 

Guess what? That's not a good enough reason. It wasn't for me and it probably won't be for you, either. It's vague and impersonal. There was nothing there to motivate me. And in the end, I failed over and over because the fact of the matter is, if we all did what we "should" do, we'd all be pretty near perfect. 

Guess what else? I don't care about being "skinny." I thought I should lose weight so I could be skinny like everyone else. I realized that I didn't really care too much about being skinny because I don't ever remember being skinny. I've been heavy my whole life. It's one of those things that I don't know what I'm missing because I never had it. I couldn't find any motivation there either. Oh sure, it's a nice fantasy to be slim and gorgeous but hello, it's also a nice fantasy to be rich and famous. One seemed as realistic as the other. 

But there ARE real and true reasons and motivations to workout and lose weight. Everyone is different and everyone has different reasons, but I think it's critical to really know and understand yourself and what motivates you. 

So what motivates me? A couple things. Number one is my husband. He works his butt off in the gym. His muscles are huge and he puts a lot of time and effort into not only muscle building, but being healthy as well. I want to make him proud of me. I want working out to be something we have in common. I want us both to be healthy so that we can have a long, healthy life together. 

Number 2 and 3 are my kids. I want to be able to play sports with them. I want to be able to hike and bike and run and spend time outdoors with them. I want to go canoeing down a river with them. I want them to know from example that living a healthy and active lifestyle is fun and rewarding. How can I do that when I'm overweight and unhealthy? I want to be an example for them and that means getting my butt in gear and in the gym!

Number 4 is myself. I want it for me. I want to look in the mirror and feel good about myself. I'm not worried about being beautiful, but I want to be able to look at myself and feel pride. I want to know that I'm doing everything I can to be my best self. I want to feel strong.

Finally, number 5 is..well, it's clothes. Yes. I said clothes. Now that we're past all the warm fuzzies, I'll just tell you that I love clothes. I think they're awesome. I want to be able to wear whatever I want. They don't make cute clothes in my size. Well, they do, but they're pretty expensive. I hate my clothes and I don't want them anymore! Is that superficial? Maybe, but I guess a little bit of superficiality never hurt anyone, did it? =)

Sticking to a workout plan or diet is hard. Once you have a list of reasons why you want to do it, you have all the motivation you need. So when you're just not feeling it, or you want to give up, reread your list. Remember what's really important and maybe it will be a bit easier to push on.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tasty Tuesday

Do you meal plan? I've "dabbled" in meal planning for quite some time, but I rarely stuck with it (shocking, right?). I had a hard time sticking with the plan and it seemed just wasted energy. That is, until I moved in with my mother in law.

You see, my mother in law doesn't like to eat carbs or many calories. Neither does my husband for that matter. It became a juggling act to try and figure out what they would actually eat and it was nearly impossible to come up with dinner ideas on the fly. After struggling to please everyone while making dinner off the top of my head, I realized things needed to change. I definitely NEEDED a menu plan now that I was cooking for 6 picky eaters.

I started looking up low carb and low calorie recipes on Pinterest and writing out the ones that everyone liked on paper so I could stick them in our own Fox Family Recipe Binder. At first, we had something new every day so I could build up a reserve of "approved" meals to draw from each week. Now, we have one new recipe each week and the rest are tried and true.

I don't organize my recipes alphabetically, I organize them in the order they've been prepared. I pull out the first 6 recipes on Sunday and they go in the back after they've been used. In this way, all the recipes get used and rotated and we have a variety of healthy meals.

I also make it a habit on Sundays to look at what's on sale at my 3 favorite stores so that I can match up our meals with the deals. Chicken was dirt cheap at Fred Meyer this week, so we're having a lot of it ($1.79/lb for boneless/skinless chicken breast! Go get some!) I also do my shopping for the week on Sunday or Monday so by Monday night, I have all the recipes I need and all the ingredients I need for a weeks worth of meals. Making dinner is a snap and it's so easy to stick with the plan.

So what's on the menu this week? Glad you asked!

Monday: Slow Cooker Sesame-Garlic Chicken

Tuesday: Atkins Meatloaf

Wednesday: Asian Pork

Thursday: Baked Chicken Breast

Friday: Tater Tot Casserole

Saturday: Almost "Bourbon" Chicken

Sunday: Crustless Spinach Quiche.

Do you menu plan? What's your favorite meal to put in your plan?

Monday, January 6, 2014

52 Lists - Week 2: List Your Greatest Comforts

Welcome to week 2! Last week I shared with you words that touched my soul. This week is all about comfort and I think I speak for many when I say we like to be comfortable!

You can find last weeks list HERE and the original 52 lists at Moorea Seal's blog HERE.

So here's what I take comfort in, in no particular order:

My husband, first and always. He's like a giant teddy bear (with big, manly muscles... :P )

My children

Chocolate, which comes in behind my children, but not by much. Mmmm.

Old-time hymns, like "It Is Well With My Soul."

Music in general. Nothing makes me feel better than turning on Pandora when I'm stressed. 

A warm, cozy, (preferably fuzzy) blanket. I got an amazing plush blanket for Christmas and I pretty much live in it. 

Anything knit. Reminds me of Grandma.

My dad's old Bible.

My mom's ring, which I never take off my finger.

My animals.

My amazing friends, who are like family to me.

My sister, who's always been there for me.

A hug.

Once again, my old list is HERE and it's interesting to see the differences. I still take comfort in all the things I said, but not all of them came to mind.

What things bring you comfort? Leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wednesday is for Weightloss

Happy New Year! You know what New Year's is a great time for? Starting new things! C'mon, everyone's doing it, right?

I think breaking New Year's resolutions is as much a tradition as making them, but I still think it's good to make them. Why? Because the process of making resolutions forces you to evaluate your life, pinpoint where you need work and identify ways to change. Sure, we might all give up after a while, but there's still some level of awareness there and it's far better than stumbling blindly through life, oblivious to our faults.

Of course, even better than making resolutions is making a solid plan to stick with them so that next year's resolutions won't be the same as this years!

My New Year's Resolution is to workout 5 days a week. I carved out a chunk of time while my kids are at school and my husband is home between school and work so that I can go and get a workout in. That's my plan. Hubby comes home, I leave. I'll make sure everything is ready to go the night before so there's no excuses. New year, new goal, new me! By the way, it's not just my New Year's Resolution, it's my monthly habit for January.

May 2014 be your best year yet!