Menu Planning Gone Crazy!

We have been enjoying the two-week menu plan. It has helped me stay on track with meals, and (for the most part) helped me keep from overspending. I do still find myself, on occasion, forgetting to put things on the list (like diapers! I don’t know how I forget that!!). But, I am getting better. :)

I have been thinking about menu planning for longer periods – three or four weeks – to shop for at one time. The problem has always been money. We plan the two-week menu with the paycheck that covers the upcoming two weeks. Last week, I decided to go for the four-week plan and borrow against some cash we had here at home. I checked with my husband about it, explaining I believed it would help keep us more in budget and give me some more sanity when it came to grocery shopping. He gave me the green light, and I ran with it! I just have to remember to pay us back with that next paycheck!!

I spent an hour a day, for four days last week, planning 28 days of meals – breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I pulled from cookbooks, magazine pages I had torn out, online recipes, and index cards I had stashed away. I came up with 11 meatless dinners and 17 with a meat. I didn’t count pizzas that might have had a meat topping and a meat meal….I was just thinking about meals that required a separate meat to be purchased. For breakfasts, I listed three items to be had every single week and then rotated a couple of others every other week. And lunches are pretty much as they always are – simple and easy and things the kids like.

All in all, it was a stressful but successful planning time! I tried to get the meal planning done during naptimes, but I found that difficult with a million other things to get done. So, I did do a lot of the planning while the kids were awake. I worried so much that I was going to miss something. The only thing I forgot to write? Diapers. AGAIN! This is probably the fourth shopping trip of forgetting to write diapers. Maybe it is because we’ve been using them for so long I forgot about them? Does that even make sense?!

So, written below is what I have come up with. I am very happy with the selection. There are a lot of favorites in there and a lot of new items. Everything is simple, and most are crockpot items, which works out wonderful for me. As far as prepping them and freezing them (which obviously have to be done so things don’t spoil), I did some on Friday and Saturday and froze them. For the chicken meals, I just cooked up and shredded all the chicken. I will just freeze that and make up the meals on the days we need them. I didn’t have a ton of freezer space to hold a huge bag or container of a meal mixed up (maybe next month though!).

 

Breakfast

Weeks 1 and 3:

Biscuits and Gravy

Muffins, Fruit

Waffles

Pancakes

Eggs

Oatmeal

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Weeks 2 and 4:

Cinnamon Rolls

Muffins

Waffles

Pancakes

Eggs

Oatmeal

PB & Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Lunch

Weeks 1 and 3:

Leftovers x 3

Cheese Taco

PB&J x 2

Tostadas

Weeks 2 and 4:

Leftovers x 2

Buttered Noodles

PB&J x 3

Tostadas

Dinner (Meatless in Orange)

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Bake, Salad, Veggies and Dip

Pirate Pasta Shells, Salad, Bread

Frozen Pizza x 2, Chips, Veggies and Dip

Homemade Pizza x 2, Chips, Veggies and Dip

Lentil Stew x 2, Bread, Salad

Tortellini Bake, Green Beans, Salad

Homemade Mac and Cheese x 2, Fruit, Peas/Green Beans

Ham and Bean Soup, Cornbread, Fruit

White Chicken Chili x 2, Fruit, Salad

Meatloaf, Carrots, Roasted Potato Cubes

Chicken and Sausage Stew, Salad, Bread

Hamburger Stew x 2, Fruit, Bread

Pasta and Meatballs x 2, Green Beans and Carrots OR Peas and Corn

Chicken and Wild Rice Bread Bowl, Carrots, Peas

Chicken Tetrazzini, Fruit, Bread

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas x 2, Fruit, Corn

Loaded Potato Frittata, Fruit, Toast

Teriyaki Chicken, Carrots, Bread

Baked Ravioli, Green Beans, Bread

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Corn, Mashed Potatoes

Exercise, Sex, and the Bible

Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded with advertisements, commercials, and even just regular people telling me to work out, get fit, “if you got it, flaunt it”, get some muscle, it’s almost bikini season.

Frankly, I find it pretty annoying. (I am sure some would say the same about me and my “eat well” demands on here. haha!) I honestly don’t care much for exercising at all. Ok, I hate it. I don’t like being sweaty, unless it is because I am outside and it is hot. I am not one to care if I am physically fit. I am also not big on flaunting my body. I have little girls that do exactly what I do, and I would not want them trying to flaunt their bodies around. I have no desire to accentuate any parts of my body so other people can see how good I look.

I recently started exercising, but I haven’t posted about it here because I didn’t want to jinx anything. :) I have been consistent for FOUR full weeks now, and I am loving the results. But, I am not continuing for reasons you might think. Yes, I like to see that I actually have some muscle tone now in my stomach and (a tad) in my arms. Yes, I like to feel a little less old when I carry one of the kids or bend over to pick something up. No, I don’t plan to show off my awesome muscles, though….except for the one pic I texted my sister, when I first saw I had some abs! Ha!

The main reason I exercise is…FOR MY HUSBAND. No, he doesn’t make me exercise. No, he doesn’t tease me or tell me I need to. (except when it comes to running, he tells me I need to run because he thinks everyone should run!) He does not make fun of my post-baby body. He loves my body whether or not I exercise.

Our Pastor is doing a series at church called Zero Shades of Grey, and it has to do with human sexuality from a Biblical standpoint. He is two weeks into it, and I am loving it. As uncomfortable as it may feel sitting with hundreds of people at church, while he talks about sexual fulfillment, it is so nice to hear someone address sex from a Biblical view. One of the things he spoke about, and I knew but hadn’t really considered much, was that a wife’s body belongs to her husband (and husband’s body belongs to the wife…in case you thought I was being sexist there). I knew that verse (I Corinthians 7:4), but I started thinking about my exercising. Sure, I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and see muscle tone and feel fit. I started thinking, though, about what my husband looks at. I know he will love me no matter how I look, but if I have the power to keep my body looking nice for him…then why not?

Why in the world would I sound so non-feministic? Because I am not one to be pro-feminism at all. And because I really don’t care about having a great body for myself. I am married, and everything I do should be with my husband in mind!

So, here are the 4 reasons I exercise for my husband. They are realistic and I really put some thought into them, keeping the Bible in mind and the commands it gives us wives.

1. I exercise for my husband….so I can stay awake in the evenings with him and not fall asleep on the couch at 8:30! We have such a short amount of time together in the evenings, the least I can do is stay awake! :) On the days I exercise and get enough water, I stay awake longer in the evenings. I am more alert and more pleasant to be around (just ask my family!). My husband is gone all day at a job he doesn’t really like; I know he looks forward to spending time with me in the evenings. I want to be awake, alert, and not crabby. Exercise, water intake, and vitamins are the three things that help me do that. (Proverbs 31:15 “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” This woman was up super early…I doubt she was dozing off while her husband was trying to hang out with her!)

2. I exercise for my husband...to look sexy for him. Like I said, he will love me no matter what my body looks like. I do feel like I have some responsibility, though, when it comes to my looks. Sure, pregnancies and babies really take a toll on the youth of our bodies, but there are still things we can do (EXERCISE!) to help our bodies look nice. And since my body’s scars or tone can only be seen when I’m naked…and my husband is the only one that sees me naked…I keep it looking nice for him.

Listen, there are SO many temptations out there for our husbands. Every time they turn around, there is a woman with her breasts hanging out, a butt crack creeping out of jeans, leggings being worn as regular pants and no shirt covering the butt area, skimpy bikinis that are really not appropriate anywhere, and so on. My husband works (and prays) hard to keep himself from lusting. The women out there make it very difficult. FOR ME, I find if I can give him eye candy here at home…he is even less likely to consider looking out there. No, I am not saying men cheat because their wives don’t look nice. I would never excuse infidelity or blame the wife. I will say that if I keep my husband satisfied (like I am supposed to), he will have no reason to look or go elsewhere.

I always think of those verses in Proverbs – “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” (Proverbs 5:18-20) My husband is to rejoice in me; I am to satisfy him. One way for me to do that is to exercise and keep my body healthy and fit.

3. I exercise for my husband…so I can be around (in good health) to tend to the home and the kids. I love being home with my kids. I love taking care of the household duties. I love homeschooling. I will NOT be able to do that for years and years without taking care of myself. Exercise, water, and vitamins are my best route for keeping healthy and maintaining the housework and taking care of our children. There are so many illnesses (hereditary or not) that can be kept under control or eliminated with good food and exercise. I don’t want my husband to have to worry that I am not able to keep up with the housework or caring for our kids. (Proverbs 31:27-28 “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”)

4. I exercise for my husband…so I can have confidence about my body. Look, we all have things about our bodies we dislike. I have no boobs. My collar bone sticks out. I have stumpy legs. My hips are too wide for my waist. And so on. Society doesn’t help, telling us we need to be super skinny with huge boobs in order to be “hot”. When I exercise, the endorphins that kick in really make me happy about the hard work I am putting in. I feel better about what I think are flaws…and I see myself how my husband sees me : BEAUTIFUL. God made us all different. So many different body types. Mothers, I think, have it the worst: battle scars from pregnancy and birth…and then the expectations to be back at a ridiculously small size immediately after giving birth! With all the demands on our bodies as mothers, we can easily feel ugly. Society screams that we have to be a certain way or we are not pretty. Guess what? We are all pretty. We are all beautiful. We are all different. Exercising does something chemical in our bodies and helps us feel better about ourselves. I’m not lying!

HERE is a whole article on what exercising does to our brains.

And when I feel better about my body and less insecure, I feel better flaunting myself in front of my husband. And he finds that sexy. Maybe that’s too much information or makes you a little uncomfortable to read. But, think about it. Your husband is attracted to you and likes looking at you. Do YOU like looking at you? Why not? Try exercising….like a really hard, sweaty 10 minutes or more of exercise. Just see how much better you feel. (And then drink lots of water or you’ll feel crappy again from dehydration!) When YOU think you are hot, and you are more confident about your body around your husband…just watch how much more sexy he finds you. :)

I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14) What are we telling God about his “works” if we cannot be happy with the body He has given us?

Please understand I am not looking to be more confident about my body around other people. I couldn’t care less if anyone else likes my body. I am not looking to flaunt my new muscles or my less-flabby booty. I simply want to feel better about how I look because it is even more attractive to my husband to see me confident about my body.

So, I started exercising four weeks ago for me. I wanted to have butt that didn’t jiggle, abs that looked more like a six-pack instead of just the diastasis recti I’ve got going on, and arms that didn’t look old.

But now, after considering what our Pastor has been speaking about and all that the Bible has to say, I will keep up the exercising FOR MY HUSBAND. And I think I like that plan much better!

 

 

Recipe: Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cookies

I saw this recipe floating around on Facebook the other day, and the pictures that went with it looked so yummy. I decided to go ahead and try it…even though it calls for chilling the dough, and I NEVER have enough patience to wait for dough to chill. :)

Here it is: Soft-Baked Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction!! The recipe said it makes “about 2 dozen”, but I got over 3 dozen out of my dough…and mine were still bigger-than-normal cookies. So, if you go with 2 dozen I bet they will be massive! Not that it is a bad thing to make massive cookies. :)

IMG_2638[1]YUM!

Menu Plan Update

We are on week two of the menu plan. I changed a couple of things to work around a stomach bug my oldest had for two days. Instead of bean and barley soup, I made a simple risotto instead with homemade bone broth. I figured the beans would be too hard on her tummy while it was out of sorts. And instead of the chicken and rice dish, I made it into a chicken and rice soup, again made with homemade bone broth.

There are several things I am really loving lately – bone broth, water kefir, and fresh orange juice.

1. Homemade bone broth is a WONDERFULLY healthy food to keep on hand. What I have found to be easy and manageable is using my crockpot to slow cook two whole chickens together all day long. I then take the meat off the bones and put the bones back into the crockpot, cover them with water (usually 8-12 cups) and throw in a little apple cider vinegar, a stalk of celery, some onion and a couple of carrots. Then I cook is on Low for 12-18 hours. It works perfectly if I start the broth at dinner time; then I can catch it at breakfast and it is always done around lunch. There isn’t much hands-on except starting it and then straining the bones and other things out when it is done cooking. I pour the strained broth in quart mason jars and let them cool on the counter, then put a lid on and store in the fridge because we usually use them over the next few days. (you can also freeze or can the broth, if you want.) It will gel as it cools, but it easily melts once you warm it for soup (or risotto, or making rice or pasta with, or even to sip!). Bone broth is amazingly good for you, and there are a lot of resources online that recommend sipping it throughout the day, especially when you are feeling under the weather. It is incredibly easy on the stomach.

Here are a couple of sites for more info on bone broth:

Nourished Kitchen

Cultures for Health

Keeper of the Home

Wellness Mama

2. Water Kefir is another great food to keep around. I am still new to making my kefir, but I am amazed at how easy it is and how many options there are for flavors! A friend from church gave me some water kefir grains (which are not actually grains, that is just what they are called) and some instructions and away I went. My girls were pretty interested in experimenting with me. I am making about a quart of it every other day, and we have tried 4 flavors (other than the original flavor) so far: vanilla, strawberry vanilla, pomegranate soda, and raisin soda.

Essentially, all you are doing is feeding the good bacteria with sugars, letting them ferment once (or twice, with flavors) and then drinking it! You just repeat the process over and over with the “grains” and they grow. You can divide them up and give them away to friends, which I am excited to do soon. My husband isn’t quite sold on the idea of fermenting things and ingesting them :), but I am hoping to win him over soon!

Here are a couple of sites that I have found great info from with regard to feeding the grains, flavors, and other things:

Wellness Mama

Cultures for Health

3. Fresh Orange Juice is mostly just so delicious. Did you know that the company’s that produce orange juice color their juice, so that they all have that bright orange color? Have you ever wondered how the juices are so uniform in color and taste?? And they don’t have to list that coloring or flavoring on their containers! I had never really considered it before, saw an article about it, and then really began to notice the coloring of the juice. EVERY carton is the same color….but when I make it at home, sometimes the color varies in orangey-ness (is that a word??) and in flavor.

I have cut back on the amount of juice I consume because of the sugar content. Even juice squeezed at home is high in sugar. The BEST way to consume fruit juices is in smoothies (in my opinion) because you get the fiber of the fruit in addition to the juice. When you juice fruits, you ONLY get the sugary juice. No fiber. When you make smoothies you are using the whole fruit (skin/peel/rind of most fruits). AND usually you use a probiotic rich ingredient like yogurt with the smoothie, so you are getting even more benefits with the smoothie route.

My kids still enjoy juice with breakfast, so on the days I serve juice I like to make it myself. My husband would prefer to just pull a carton from the fridge and pour a glass, but that’s a struggle for another day. :) Thankfully, my kiddos do love smoothies as well, so we can mix it up in the morning with options of juice, smoothies or just a glass of milk.

So, those are some of my favorite things as of late and the reasons I am enjoying them in our diet.

Have you tried something new lately that you just absolutely love?? Please share!

The Privilege

We have a dinner table that seats six. Our family has seven people in it. Ethan, our youngest, sits in a chair (of a different set of chairs) with his booster seat and tray strapped to it. He does not like sitting in it, and he LOVES that for snack times he gets to sit at “the big table.”

Today for lunch, we were not having messy foods (although boys seem to know how to make any food a messy food!), so I told him he could sit in the big chairs at the big table. His eyes lit up, and he climbed into my chair at the table. He sat so still, waiting for his foods, even trying to pull his sleeves up for me. I reminded him to sit still, or he would have to go back in his little chair.

I have never seen this kid sit so well before! He stayed in his chair, kept all the foods on the table and got nothing on his shirt. He ate better than all of the big kids! He just knew he had to do his best or he wouldn’t be allowed to sit like a big kid again for lunch.

The bigger kids all knew they will sit at the big table regardless of how well they sit or how neatly they eat, so they ate like hooligans. I mean, what am I gonna do – strap them into the baby seat?? :) I laughed, to myself, about how different the attitudes towards sitting at the table were. And then I yelled at the big kids for eating like that because they know better.

It got me thinking about Christianity and life. How a lot of times we Christians know that God isn’t going to take our privilege (of sitting at His table) away, and we get lazy about how well we act toward Him and His Word and the life He has asked us to live. We know He isn’t going to take salvation away; we’re in. And then we kinda quit on Him. We got what we wanted and that’s that.

If only we could all act toward God like Ethan did for lunch. Behave to the best of our ability. Follow all the “rules”. Show our Father how much we appreciate the privilege of His presence. Of His free gift of eternal life. Not just take the gift and then go back to acting like hooligans.

I completely understand why the world does not see Christians in a positive light most of the time. Because we act no different. Yes, we have a wonderful gift of salvation and the most amazing privilege to know God. But we act no different in our day-to-day. We rush through Bible study, just to check it off the list. We go to church because it is habit. We volunteer to help at church but only because we feel obligated…not because we find joy in serving. (please know when I say “we”, I am speaking of myself…because I know exactly how I am). We do our household “duties” because…well, because it is our job and no one else is going to do it. We aren’t doing it “unto the Lord” at all. For me, the days are hurried and chaotic and LOUD. I get caught up in the appointments and the To Do’s, and I forget that God has placed me where I am to do all that I have to do FOR HIM. Not just to get through the day, but to shine as a light for Jesus in whatever task I am doing – housework, homeschool, volunteer at church, sitting in the church service, typing on Facebook, changing a diaper or even cleaning up puke. It is supposed to be all for Him. But, I let it overwhelm me and ask “is there anything here for ME? Why don’t I ever have something for me?” And then my light for Him gets a little dimmer. Pretty soon no one can see my light, and I can’t see my privilege anymore. All I see is work. Hard work. I have to refocus and choose to see the real reason I am here. Not for me. It’s for Him. It’s all for Him.

Today’s lunch experience, though funny at first, is a great reminder to go back to the excitement of when we first learned about Jesus. Go back to when we had that strong desire to please Him and to serve Him and do everything as “unto the Lord and not unto men.”(Colossians 3:23) Choose to serve and love others for God. To shine a light for Jesus. Be Jesus to others.

We have the great privilege of knowing the Great God. Let’s live like it.

Our Special Valentine’s Day

IMG_2576[1]So, we never really do much for Valentine’s Day. My husband is almost always working on that day; in fact, I cannot remember a Valentine’s Day that he was home all day. This year was going to be like every other year – help the kids make Valentines for Dad and make a heart-shaped food item (usually pancakes or brownies).

Let me back it up a bit here to explain a little before I get to our Valentine’s Day…

I am a part of the Titus 2 women’s group at my church. We younger moms are paired with older moms (mostly those with older kids, who are out of the house or in college or married). We meet with our mom mentor every other week, chat by phone during the other weeks, and we meet as a large group once a month. This past Tuesday was our February group meeting. My mentor was ill, so I attended without her. They put us at tables of 8 ladies to go through the group discussions with, in between watching segments of a video series to go along with a women’s Bible study book. The lady who heads up this ministry puts together a couples pages of “homework” for us to do: Bible verses to read and questions to think about and answer regarding those verses and our marriages, activities to do, and things to really make us think about how we can improve our marriages (February is the month we are focusing on our husbands; March will be something else and so on). Well, the homework we received Tuesday was about praying to find a way to do something really special for our husbands for Valentine’s Day – something THEY would really find special.

Ok, so with five kids it is REALLY hard to get away. On Valentine’s Day. Or any day, really. :) I was praying all week about how in the world I could do something special for Arthur, without it costing $$ and without having to leave the house, since he would be working all day and just want to be home at night. On Friday, it came to me: I could make a really special dinner and evening for him here…with the kids. Seemed so simple, yet I hadn’t ever considered it. He was off all week, so I wasn’t able to really do much searching online for anything. It worked out perfectly (divinely, you might say) that the thought/idea came to me on Friday…otherwise, I might have blabbered about it and not been able to make it a surprise.

Saturday, he went back to work. I was able to get my exercising in and some housework and then we began working on our special evening.

We made homemade strawberry syrup to accompany heart-shaped pancakes, homemade strawberry lemonade, heart-shaped brownies, bacon hearts, and fruit hearts. No, not really a healthy meal with all those sugary items. :) BUT, it was the most effort the kids and I have ever put into Valentine’s Day. Ha! (and having a boy who is very much affected by Red #40, we had to go as homemade as possible with red or pink foods – using strawberries for color, in order to NOT have dinner become a disaster due to his behavior!)

IMG_2587[1]IMG_2584[1]IMG_2589[1]IMG_2586[1]

We inherited a bunch of toule from friends who were moving and clearing out their craft closet. The girls and I decorated our dinner table and chairs with toule, candles, and fake rose petals. We even hung the toule on the light fixture, over the vertical blinds, and on the closet doors where Dad comes in from the garage. We pulled out the fancy glass glasses for our lemonade, too.

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When we knew Arthur was on his way, we lit the candles and hid, so he could walk into the fancy dinner. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the kids and I dressed up in fancy clothes to pretend we were really at a fancy restaurant!

IMG_2591[1]

Everything turned out perfect, except that he got out of work a little late and the food was cold. :) BUT, everyone had a nice time. The kids were so excited to be fancy. Arthur was very surprised, and I LOVED being able to make him feel special without him having to stress about going somewhere or paying for something. It was awesome. So awesome, that the kids asked if we could do that again the next day. haha!

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Valentine’s Day 2015 was awesome here! I really enjoyed the work the kids and I put into it and would love to do it more often for special occasions. :)

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!! Did you do anything special with your loved ones?? Please feel free to share!

Menu Plan: Two Weeks

Another week, another menu. :) A lot of cold-weather comfort foods for these two weeks. It is supposed to be pretty chilly here.

Breakfast

Bagels x 2

Cinnamon Rolls x 2

Pancakes x 2

Eggs x 3

Baked Oatmeal x 2

Cooked Oatmeal x 1

Cereal x 2

Lunch

Egg Salad x 1

Leftovers x 6

Beer bread and cheese x 1

Grilled Cheese x 1

Pasta x 1

PB & J x 4

Dinner

Homemade Pizzas x 2

Chicken and Rice, Green beans, Carrot sticks

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole, Salad

Valentine’s Day – Heart Pancakes, Bacon Hearts

Ham and Bean Soup, Cornbread

Chicken Piccata, raw veggies and dip

Spice Rub Chicken (supposed to be slow cooker meal, but I already have the chicken cooked, so adding in the spices and heating on stove top)

BBQ Meatballs, rice, carrots

Pasta Casserole

Tacos, Refried Beans, Corn

Lentil Soup, biscuits, salad

Bean and Barley Soup, biscuits

Chicken Fried Rice