Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Menu Plan

Last week worked so well, making all the meals ahead on Monday, that I did it again this week. This week was pretty easy actually. The boys helped me do the grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon, and this morning I made a cottage cheese roast, vegetarian meatloaf, and prepped the veggies for the pasta dish for tonight. I have a black bean soup in the freezer that I will defrost this week as well.

cottage cheese roast

vegetarian meatloaf

veggies for dinner tonight

Here's the plan for the week:

Monday: fettuccine with red peppers and kalamata olives, tossed veggie salad (feta, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, cucumber, turkey bacon, romaine, homemade dressing), foccacia

Tuesday: cottage cheese roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli

Wednesday: black bean soup (from freezer), cornbread & honey

Thursday: vegetarian meatloaf, cheese rice, green beans (frozen)

Weekend in Photos

What a weekend! It felt like a really, really long weekend actually, as it started last Wednesday with a snowstorm that closed school for three days. We lost power Wednesday night and didn't get it back on until Saturday afternoon, almost three full days later. Temps in the house dropped to 50 degrees. All the food in the fridge was put out in the snow to stay cold. The boys' bedding and a mattress was dragged into the family room where the boys slept for three nights.

Friday we escaped for a little bit to Panera for some heat, food, and internet. In the evening we met Stoehr, his mom and cousin at a new restaurant called Nando's Peri Peri. Stoehr has been wanting to go for some time, although I'm not sure why as it's a chicken restaurant and he's vegetarian. It was o.k. Nothing to write home about, and I probably won't go back.

Saturday morning we still had no power and I just didn't have it in me to get up and dressed and off to church on time. Instead we snuggled up by the fire, watched movies, and read books until it was time for Kohler's swim meet in the afternoon. The younger boys went to a friend's house with power and played in the snow and warmed up in their house. Kohler's high school team won the meet and are now the only undefeated team in the division! Kohler did well, leading off the last winning relay to a nice headstart. The team went to El Golfo for a buffet Mexican dinner after the meet. The best news of all was a text from Stoehr letting us know that the power was back on!

When we got home, it was time to leave immediately for Kieran's basketball game. We tried to talk him out of it (bad parents, I know) but he really wanted to play. Since I often have to convince him to do things like this, I felt it was important to take him and support him, so we headed out to the game. They won, and Kieran was able to play a bit in both halves. Stoehr and the older two boys had stayed home and watched Red On-Demand. After getting Kaden and Kieran to bed, we watched the final episode of Battlestar Gallactica in season four.

Sunday morning Kaden skipped swimming as he wasn't feeling well during the night. He's been fighting a cold for what feels like forever. Kieran swam and had basketball practice. The rest of Sunday was very relaxing. The boys played games in bed for a while, we ate a lunch of leftovers, the younger two boys went grocery shopping with me (and ran up the bill!), Kohler helped coach the neighborhood swim practice, and we had leftover enchiladas for dinner. No homework to worry about since the boys didn't have school most of last week! In the evening I read stories and everyone had a nice and early bedtime.

This Busy Life

Been thinking about several blog posts I've read lately. Being busy seems to be a mark of pride in this day and age. Everyone has lots of things going on. Ask anyone how they are, and chances are they'll respond "busy!" To-Do lists are long, there are always lots of after-school and evening activities, work, housekeeping, and don't forget all the things to keep up with on-line: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogs, Flickr, e-mail. And of course all the books I want to read, TV shows to watch, movies to see, magazine subscription to keep up on. Something is always demanding our time.

But at the end of my life, what do I want to be remembered for? And what do I want to remember? I have always loved this quote from a poem by Mary Oliver:

image from Ali Edwards blog

This thought needs to become something I keep at the forefront of my thoughts every day. Am I doing the best with my one wild and precious life? Is what I'm doing contributing to my precious life? Or do I need to stop, rethink, and refocus what I'm doing.

Ali Edwards wrote a wonderful post about the rhythm of her work day and what her systems and choices are. I found profound this quote from her post "I want to live a full life. Busy does not equal full." Wow. How true is that? In fact, quite often the opposite is true. Taking time, fully enjoying the moment is what makes a full life. The kind of life I want and need.

We have a lot going on in our lives, but looking back, I realize that over the years I have begun to cut back, say 'no', and re-prioritize. No more Home & School, no more PTA meetings, no more room parent duties, no more school board or Pathfinders. I cherish my evenings at home and have no desire to be out "doing" things. I'd rather be home with the family. The boys are busy (aren't most kids?!), but in actuality don't have lots of activities. Swimming is the big time sucker in our lives. They all do it, for several hours each week. Besides swimming, Kohler only has guitar, Kieran has saxophone and basketball (1x a week), and Kaden, with the most, has two after-school clubs and guitar/band.

Is that too much? I don't know. I try my best to make it work for us/them by not rushing and helping as much as possible. I have systems in place, and carpools that help. I always try to get as much ready as possible the night before. And I try to make sure that they all have plenty of downtime each week, even if it's only on the weekends. I like to think that I know them pretty well and try to give them what they need. Kaden, especially, loves his downtime, and always looks forward to weekends with nothing to do.

Is there room for improvement? Definitely! Are there things I feel guilty about? Yes! Family game night would be great. Making evening stories a priority needs to be done. I need to step away from my computer more during the hours the boys are at home. I know about myself that I like to read about things more than I like to actually do them. But enough with the research already! I know what needs to be done, now I need to implement the changes. It's tough. I like to be busy. I like having lots to do, people who need me, places to go. But I think I like it because it makes me feel important and needed. And it shouldn't.

This post from Tara Whitney really resonated with me. In it she says "I have to constantly remind myself that being busy does not bring meaning to my life." Yes! We only live this life once; do I really want to spend it being "busy"? Or instead filled with small, slow, everyday moments that get lost when you are busy? The small, happy moments doing what may seem like nothing are often the moments that mean the most later.

These amazing children of mine will be gone sooner than I want to think about. I do not want to regret not spending more time with them. My computer will always be there. Other time-sucking activities will always be there. The boys won't be. What is important to me? What do I truly want to spend my time doing? What do I want to do with my one wild and precious life?

image from Ali Edwards blog

Posts to read:
Ali Edwards, Things I Have Learned
Tara Whitney, Kind of Life
Zen Habits, The End of Busy

Friday, January 28, 2011

Snow and more snow

Well this week has been a wash, school-wise. Only Tuesday was a school day. I did have a short day at school today, but the boys have had three snow days in a row. I'm guessing the district is about at it's limit of snow days, so hopefully this will be it! We don't want to be going to school into July.

Unfortunately we have been without power since Wednesday evening. Just as we were sitting to down to dinner the lights went out. We scrambled around trying to find candles to light. The rest of the evening was spent hunkered down in the family room, gathered around the fireplace. We pulled mattresses and duvet covers into the family room and the boys made little nests to sleep in.

Thursday was more of the same. The boys played in the snow for a while, then came inside to warm up. I hung dripping snow pants in front of the fire, popped microwave popcorn on the stove top (gas), poured steaming mugs of hot cocoa, and served up the melting ice-cream. Kohler was gone snowboarding all day, and the other boys and their friends went to the YMCA to play basketball, so I had the chilly house to myself for a while, to read my book club book and watch Parenthood on DVD.

In the evening we ate our meal of chili and spaghetti and snuggled back into our warm comforters around the fire. This morning there is still no power and the house is down to 55 degrees. We escaped to Panera for lunch and some internet time, but will head home soon. Hopefully the power will be back on by tonight.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

It's still January, so I can still make New Year's Resolutions, right?! Maybe if I write them down here that will keep me accountable. I will update as I work on them.

1. work on my photography (signed up for this class that begins Feb. 3)
I want to learn to shoot manual and rediscover my passion for photography.

2. practice yoga
I've always wanted to learn yoga, I need to stop putting it off!

3. make birthday's special
no more waiting until the last minute to buy gifts, send cards, plan parties.

4. more intentional cooking and baking
weekly menu plans, bake my way through my Flour cookbook.

5. weekly blogging
I love the record of my life captured here, so I need to do it more!

6. be more "present" with the boys
I need to get off the computer and spend quality time with them. The computer will always be there . . . they won't.

7. leave the boys alone more
I know this seems to directly contradict #6, but while I need to spend quality time with them, I also need to let them learn, do, and grow on their own. I think I interfere too much. They need to learn to take care of themselves which they won't learn if I always step in and take over. 'Nuf said.

8. read more books
I love to read. I have piles of books waiting to be read. Get with it already! I'd like to read three books a month this year. That's do-able, right?

That's it for 2011. Not too bad, nothing impossible on the list. Perhaps I'll try to update my progress once a month throughout the year. Who's with me?!

Snow Day!

We had an unexpected snow day today! Forecast called for rain first, then snow, but not until tonight. Well surprise, surprise, it came early. Woke up this morning to find schools canceled. More snow on the way this evening, so I'm assuming we will be off school tomorrow as well. Boys are thrilled!

So an afternoon of watching Mythbusters, playing computer games, drinking hot chocolate, eating popcorn and chocolate chip cookies ensued, along with a little snowboarding and snowball fights.

Maybe, if we're lucky, Friday will be a snow day too!

Can I Move In?

I believe I have found the perfectly decorated house for me. Not too shabby, not too chic. Just soft, comfortable, lived in. Lots of white and wood with little pops of color. I love it all! Love the big fireplaces, the shelves full of books, the wall art, the grand piano, the table in the kitchen, the stripey rugs, the chandeliers, the texture in the bedding, and the red chair. Really, really love the wooden shoe molds used to hang jewelry.

Can I please move in?!

via Bliss

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekly Menu Plan

Inspired by my brilliant friend Sharon, I spent yesterday grocery shopping and cooking meals for the week. I picked four meals, prepared them all, then packed them away in the fridge to be cooked or warmed up later in the week. How smart is that?! Now I'm done for the week. No more having to call for carryout at the last moment or discovering I need a crucial ingredient too late in the evening. It will free up my evenings for the rest of the week as well.

And what did I make you may be asking? Glad you asked! Here is the list:

chicken enchiladas

Cincinnati chili

chicken alfredo sauce for fettuccine


In addition, I also baked a bread pudding with bread that had hardened, and helped Kaden bake two loaves of oatmeal bread. We will be eating well this week!

Here is the plan for the week:

Monday: lasagna with fresh baked bread, tossed veggie salad (feta, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, cucumber, turkey bacon, romaine, homemade dressing)

Tuesday: chicken alfredo fettuccine, garlic bread, broccoli

Wednesday: chicken enchiladas, yellow rice, corn, guacamole

Thursday: Cincinnati chili with spaghetti and cheese, tossed salad like Monday

Friday: the plan is to make cheesesteak subs, but we may decide to have company over so that could change.

Feels so good to have the week planned out and ready to go!

Weekend in Photos

This was a weekend full of swimming. It seems like every weekend has been full of swimming since the beginning of December, thanks to high school swimming. And each weekend from now until mid-March looks like more of the same. The boys love it though, and I gotta say, I love it too.

Friday night Kohler had a date. Saturday morning Kieran his swim meet while I took Kohler to his high school meet. Both of them swam several best times. After lunch at Cheeburger, Kohler and I went straight to his afternoon meet. Stoehr took the other two boys hiking again (in spite of 20 degree temps!). In the evening we were finally all back home again and we had Ledo's pizza while watching Battlestar Galactica.

Sunday morning it was back to the pool, first with Kieran, then with Kohler in the afternoon. The younger two boys again went hiking with Stoehr in the afternoon. How they love to hike! And how glad I was I didn't have to go. More Battlestar Galactica tonight. We're getting back into it after not watching for almost a year! None of the boys had school Monday, so Sunday night was nice and relaxed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Approval Matrix: Week of January 17, 2011

The Approval Matrix: Week of January 17, 2011

I love these weekly matrices published on-line by New York Entertainment. So fun and chock-full of pop culture information!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Met

I'm thinking I need to plan a weekend trip to NYC soon to visit the Met. These photos of statues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are stunningly beautiful!