Monday, July 30, 2012

Changing up the dinner routine

So I give a LOT of thought to dinner.  Way more than I feel like any normal person should but the fact is that 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year, my family of four monkeys and one KOJ expects to be fed dinner in the evening hours.  Some people just do this so naturally but I feel so stressed out about the whole prospect.  I will say that the freezer full of meals was amazing.  There was only stress if I forgot to take out a meal (which I admit happened more than once) but for the majority of a month I just dumped it in, turned it on, and left it be.  Sigh.

Alas this past month the time to prep just never happened.  On top of that I just prefer more variety in my meals.  I have a confession to make.  In our house my kids eat their vegetables before they eat their meat and most often ask for seconds.  In my house the kids and husband would eat spaghetti every day of the week if I let them, or pizza, or tacos, or meatloaf, or lasagna, or crock pot mac n cheese.  In my house, wait for it....... I am the picky one.  I eat some vegetables, I eat apples and maybe once a year a banana.  I love chicken and hate fish, I love all the meals I listed above but I need more variety than that.  I like to try new recipes and wow the family (it's quite unfortunate that a 2yr old isn't all that impressed with fancy meals).  There have been times when what we're having for dinner just plain does NOT appeal to me.  I generally either don't eat it, choke down a couple bites in front of the kids and eat something later, or don't make it at all. 

So I'm considering a change in our dinner routine.  The thing is I wouldn't eat the same meal every week.  I wouldn't eat tacos every Tuesday but I would probably be fine to eat them every other Tuesday.  So I think I'm going to make a meal plan that spans a month - 31 days in this case to be covered for the longest month.  I'll leave a couple of days blank for trying new recipes.  Some will just be general like "baked chicken, with veggie, and couscous" so I can flavor the chicken different ways each time I make it.  Whatever we have on hand or are in the mood for. 

I took a poll on my facebook the other night to see how others do dinner and the answers were all over the board as far as methods for planning it out.  Made me feel better.  I think too that it would be ideal to go back to prepping all of our meals for the week in one day at one time.  Mondays are going to be that day I think.  It takes a lot of energy to prep the meals and do the dishes and honestly I prefer to relax on the weekend and not work straight through and my family likes me better too when I relax rather than work all weekend.  It's all one big balancing act in life.  I never did enjoy the balance beam but oh well.  Maybe someday I will at least be decent at balancing.

Please do leave a comment about how YOU do dinner.  I love to hear how others do things that I struggle with because sometimes it's just great inspiration.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting a start on the holidays

Yeah, I know it's July.  But haven't you ever heard of Christmas in July??  Apparently retail stores have because I've gotten e-mail after e-mail about black friday in July and other such sales going on this month.  Geesh.  I have no patience for that.  Why can't they just call it "A great sale in July!" really?  Anyway that isn't actually what this post is about though.

Now normally I'm half done with Christmas shopping by now.  This year I am behind.  I have stockings stuffed, and I have one or two gifts for Sierra.  But otherwise I've got nadda.  The few toys I still have in our gift tub in the bedroom are slated to be birthday gifts for my October and November boys.  I thought it might be wise to get a feel for what the boys wanted for Christmas.  Now in the past I've shopped sales and clearance based on their general interests.  I have NEVER asked them for an exact name of an item and then purchased it.  I know that day is coming but 5 and under are still pretty easy to please if you hit their general areas of interest.  But I felt like Kayd, especially, is coming to a point where he definitely has things he'd like to have so I thought it wise to ask.

I have always gotten to Christmas eve and started to freak out that we didn't get them good enough gifts, or that they won't be pleased with what we got, or that they will feel like they didn't get enough or something.  Last year I ended up actually sticking some intended gifts back because there was TOO much under our tree.  But I still worried.  And it's not because my children are demanding spoiled brats that I feel this way.  In fact it is quite the opposite.  My children ask for lots of things when we are at the store but once we've walked away life goes on.  They don't sit and stew about not getting this or that while out shopping.  And so today when I asked what they wanted the lists looked something like this:

Kayd asked for a rocket gun, another doggy (stuffed), and a mach 5 because he got a mach 6 last year and would like a mach 5 to go with it.

Colton asked for another doggy, a Mach 6 (he got a Mach 5 last year if you can believe that), and a new pillow.

Sawyer just asked for a Mach 5 (he also got a mach 6 last year).

Such simple requests and mostly affordable too though I haven't priced the rocket gun yet.  Kayd's been asking for a nerf gun for ages so the rocket gun thing did not shock me.

Anyway the simplicity of my children's wants just makes me want to make sure they are super blessed on Christmas with what they want and things they didn't dream to ask for.  Now if only I can make my budget work.

Last year I did a 100.00 holiday and I actually did pull it off.  I am not aiming for that this year.  We just haven't had the extra to buy here and there this year and as I mentioned earlier I thought it best to actually ask the kids what they want a bit closer to the time.  But we are still working with a budget because that quarter we planted a while back never did turn into a money tree - go figure!

I love Christmas and I love blessing my kids on Christmas morning and I love remembering that Jesus was born for us.  And really July is just as good a time as any to think on that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby girl's birthday

I am so ashamed to admit that my darling baby girl turned 2 years old nine whole days ago and I JUST realized I haven't even blogged about it.  What kind of mom am I???

So this is THAT post.  The Happy 2nd Birthday Princess Sierra Catherine post.

So first I have to share pics from her babyhood and what not so you can "watch her grow" before your very eyes.

The day we brought her home.
3 months old
on her first birthday
another first birthday picture
official 2yr picture
on her 2nd birthday with her new stroller from Grammy.

Now this year for her cake I went simple. We don't do a big party for two but we have a nice family day and invite any local grandparents to have dinner and cake with us. She's VERY into Dora right now.  So I decided to get her some Dora toys for her dollhouse (see below) and put a couple on a basic cake.  I added the pink icing for visual interest, it was the easiest cake I've made in two years.  And that's saying something because I have four children and a husband for whom I do cakes (or an apple pie since I have that sort of husband lol).

We got this dollhouse on sale at Micheal's last year before the Christmas holidays.  It was just plain wood.  I used acrylic paints and mod podged scrapbook paper onto it to make it pretty for her.

Last year she hardly had hair but this year she got a pretty double french braid for her birthday.
 For a fun family activity we took the kids bowling.  It was the first time for all of them and they had a blast.  Sierra couldn't quite get the ball all the way down the lane but KOJ, Grammy, and I took turns helping her and gave her a little extra push.  Funny enough she actually won the game.  By one point/pin whatever you say in bowling.  She won by one.  Kayd came in a close 2nd.

And that was my baby girl's second birthday.  I have no idea how two years have gone by since I had my precious baby girl but I adore every day with her.  I love watching her grow and learn and navigate life.  I love watching her boss her brothers and I love that she sat and pored over an old photo album with me last night.  I just adore that she loves to help around the house - whether it's the dishwasher or the laundry or washing the floor.  And I am completely amused that her giant tantrum this morning was about her desire to take a bath - which of course I let her do once I figured out what she wanted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Staying home with our kids is depressing?

Oh man, sometimes I read an article and I wonder "What?  What in the world??"  Then I can find several other viable reasons for the "research results" other than perhaps we find our lives too mundane.  I read this article today and the rates of stress, anger, and depression were all higher in stay at home moms than in working moms.  The argument in this particular article is that we're isolated being at home with our children all the time and I can't argue with this point.  The feeling of isolation is definitely something I've struggled with.  But as my children have gotten older we've gotten less isolated.  They have more playdates, events at church, the library, and local parks.  So while yes sometimes the feeling of isolation has felt crushing it isn't in my experience something that hangs around and is constant.  I can't even imagine how much less isolated moms who send their children to public school feel because I imagine that there are plenty of interactions that take place in that sort of situation - field trips, open houses, etc.

That article also argues that we feel no relief from the constant mundane tasks of daily life - laundry, dishes, housework, etc. whereas a working mother gets to "escape" to her job.  Yeah ok, I can see that too.  But I would argue that this is an issue of attitude more than anything else.  I don't want to "escape" my children and family (most days anyway).  I want to (or should at any rate) embrace every moment I have with them.  Instead of viewing laundry and dishes as a constant irritation I should view them as opportunities to teach my children life skills, to put some routine into our days doing these things together.  Sure sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling stuck in the mundane but that's on me.  That's on the attitude I've chosen to take at that time.  That's not about whether I work outside the home or not.

One point that the article neglected to make that stuck out at me was this: Often when we choose to become stay at home moms the world takes on an attitude of "Well you chose this" and there is little support offered.  Whereas women who are working outside the home often have super supportive families and friends.  This attitude has driven me nuts for years now.  I cannot ever complain about my children having a bad day.  I cannot ever complain about feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  Because I CHOSE this life.  Because to complain about my children means I take them for granted and I should just be glad that I have them.  And further as a homeschooling mother I am always hesitant to complain about struggles lest someone give me the less than helpful response to "Stick em in public school." But that's another post altogether.

I would however argue that people who work outside the home CHOSE that life.  Why should they get to complain about their whiny demanding boss when I can't complain about mine??  Why should they get to complain about being exhausted and feeling overwhelmed but it's not acceptable for me?

See the point I'm trying to make is that it is largely allowable and even encouraged for WOHM to vent their frustrations and I would think that would cause less anger/stress/depression.  They also get more outside support because they have to juggle a job, home, and children, whereas *I* only have to juggle home, and children.  But as a SAHM I'm kind of expected by the large part of society to suck it up and deal with it because I *CHOSE* to be a SAHM.  Venting is not only not encouraged most of the time but we have little support to vent to.  So yeah.  That's what I think about that.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So far this summer.....

So far this summer we have:

Colton up to bat in little league.
Kayden up to bat in little league
Sierra and Sawyer making a new friend at the little league games.  Sawyer even let her hold his Benji.  That's huge.

In the living room drive in movie complete with popcorn.  The kids and I made cars out of these boxes (some might recognize that I used these as cabooses in Colton's train) and watched Beethoven.

Sierra wearing this adorable dress my mom made for my niece.  She wears it a lot because we both love it so much.

Cousins at the local Strawberry Fest, lunchtime at the kids corner sponsored by a local church.

Splashing in Grammy's back yard, in the pool.  They also chased a butterfly round about the time this picture was taken.

The kids sat on a firetruck.  They also went IN the firetruck.

Nothing says summer like a root beer float!

Kayden's very first time ever at daycamp.  Reportedly he is having a blast.

Took the younger three to the fountains on a hot summer day while Kayd was at camp.

Sierra stripped off her swimsuit about 15 min into the trip to the fountains.

A festive snack for the 4th of July.  Fruit kabobs and string cheese cubes.

 Enjoyed by ALL!

And that was just a short recap.  Not in pictures the older two also did VBS at a local church last week.  The kids and I have been to the park a time or two and I took the boys swimming at the local pool one afternoon that Jay was home.  So far there has been lots of fun and Mama is ready for some rest.  But alas next week we are all participating in our own church's VBS program every morning.  Of course getting through that week will be bittersweet as our precious girly will be turning two at the end of that week with a Saturday birthday.  Then it will be on to organizing and prepping for the coming school year.  I'm already working on that with some more detailed planning and moving things around in my mind to make our home more functional for school this fall.  Pinterest has been a huge time sucker er, I mean asset, the past couple of days as I look for ideas for things to do with the areas of our home that I have to work with.

So that's what's been up over here.  Hope everyone else is having a great summer too!