Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are…
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect Tomorrow.
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in my pillow,
or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky
and want, more than all the world, your return.
- Mary Jean Iron

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meal Plan 5/26/15

We had a lovely weekend.  Rebekah (our oldest daughter who lives about an hour away where she is finishing up her first year teaching) unexpectedly came in for the weekend and we had a lot of fun hanging out all together.  Then, Sunday, our oldest, Jason, and his wife and kids came over to celebrate his birthday.  We were planning on ordering pizza, but our favorite pizza place turned out to be closed for lunch on Sundays.  Luckily I had been grocery shopping the day before and stocked up like crazy so I was able to pull together a cookout without another trip to the store.  We had so much fun together and it was wonderful to celebrate his birthday and get to soak up lots of family time. Being a mother is truly what fulfills me and I am so lucky to be my four kids mom.  Best thing ever. 

Monday, Jacob got to march in our local Memorial Day parade, at one time it was the biggest Memorial Day parade in the state, not sure if it still is, but it's definitely up there.  Eighth graders that are joining marching band march with the 9th, 10th and 11th graders as their first official marching band event.  Jacob's allergies have been crazy out of control this spring, but luckily he was able to march and he loved it. 

There's an awful lot going on this week.  Last week of school, my last full-time week of work until school starts again, Jacob's last musical recital, a quick visit with Rebekah, next to last week of get the picture.  Things are slowly winding down, but as they wind down they get a little crazy.  I'm sure it's the same everywhere.

One thing that helps me stay sane during crazy times is to have a good meal plan.  So, this week here's the plan:

Tuesday (dance, sax):  leftovers from the cookout.  Burgers or grilled chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, cut up veggies

Wednesday (dance, Rebekah):  [Dinner needs to be all make ahead this night.]  Crockpot chicken sandwiches, cheesy potato casserole (similar to this one, though I "only" use 1 cup of sour cream), cut up veggies, maybe broccoli salad just because I want to try it and I have no idea if any of us are going to like it.  One extra person here increases the hope it will actually get eaten.  ;)

Thursday (last day of school!!!):  Steak kebabs, rice, salad  I use this marinade from Serious Eats, but I cook my steak and veggies separately.  I'll have sicks of sirloin, sticks of mushrooms, sticks of yellow squash, sticks of onion and sticks of cherry tomatoes.  That way there's no worries about over/under cooking.

Friday (last day of work):  Not completely sure yet, maybe Nancy's chopped salad.  Looks and sounds delicious and if it doesn't work out for Friday night I'll make it later in the weekend.

I have no idea what the weekend will bring.  I will probably wait until it's closer to plan that out.  It's going to be more important than ever to stick to a plan though because much as I love going out for a quick bite, it's not healthy and it adds up fast.  Not working all summer obviously means no paycheck this summer so going out will definitely not be a good idea.

Hope you all have a good week.  I'm actually a bit sad to see school winding down.  My work situation which as been lovely this year will be a bit different next year.  I won't ever have an elementary age child again and my last two will be moving up to high school and middle school.  It makes me melancholy to think about the fact that in a precious few, very short years my last two will be gone.  Not ready to face that truth at all, but I'm already getting glimpses that ready or not the change is coming.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Meal Plan 5/18/15

I miss my blog.  I miss having my meal plans to refer back to, so I figure that's where I'm going to start.  I'll sit down later this week and do a post about what's been going on around here too, but for now, this is a start.

Busy, busy week.  Everything is being crammed into too short of time for the month of May and it is mucho busy around here.  This week:

Monday (Julianna flute lesson):  Linguini w/scampi.  Shrimp for us, salmon for Junie.  Roasted broccoli w/toasted gremolata
Tuesday (marching band practice, jazz, choir concert):  grilled chicken caesar salad w/ crouton 
Wednesday (hair appointment, dance):  Tuna Melts, chips
Thursday (piano): breakfast potatoes, breakfast sandwiches or Cashew Chicken, rice
Friday (marching band practice, piano recital):  wraps w/fried chicken fingers w/maple mustard sauce*,  fruit

1/3 cup dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons honey
Whisk ingredients together and serve. 

I hope you have a good week.  I miss you too...and you.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Forgive me, this is going to be bits and pieces...that seems to be how my mind works lately.  Is there such a thing as PTSD after intense illness and death of a loved one?  I think that's what's going on here.  There are triggers and I'll come across one and my world is rocked for a time, sometimes a few hours, sometimes a few days, sometimes longer.

Tuesday I played phone tag with my mom throughout the day.  I was having  Two of the boys I watch were ill (boo!) but not too seriously, thank God, and I had an unexpected and, honestly, once-in-a-lifetime, day off.  What are the odds?  Jacob and Julianna were at school and both my full-time families were off sick, my part-timers were not scheduled for that day.  I was a bad mama and told Julianna no when she asked me to come to her school assembly (shh, I know, still feeling guilty over that one), and giddily planned my day.  What a day it was!  I got to lay in bed a bit before I had to get up, true luxury as I'm usually up by 5:00 or 5:30.  I made lunches in my ratty old bathrobe, had a nice slow morning.  I had a return to do at the mall and decided I wanted to get back into a skin care routine.  I'd noticed that morning when I went to put my makeup on that my skin was looking well, let's just say not its best.  At least I was certainly hoping it wasn't its best.  The woman at Clinique offered to do a whole makeover and I thought, why not?  I had all the time in the world.  How luxurious!  She did my skincare and makeup and indeed I was happy.  I bought all the skin care (and still pleased, a few days later) and a bit of makeup and headed off to the next thing on my list--Tarjay.  Did my shopping there, alone! fabulous! and headed out to lunch at my favorite French cafe. Lunch was wonderful!!  Onion soup, Caesar salad, baguette, strawberry tart.  Yum!  After lunch I headed out to get my hair cut and colored.  (I know!!! It had been months since I had that done.)  At this point I was literally skipping, I was so happy.  I came home, grabbed the pups (sometime I need to write about our pups, but that's a story for another day), and walked to Julianna's school to wait for school to get out.  We stayed at the playground a bit while Julianna played with Matthew and Lily and still, it was the best! day! ever!!  I took Julianna to dance and headed out to Whole Foods, trying my mom yet again.  It was getting ridiculous at this point, we just kept missing each other.  When I finally connected with her I ended up just sitting in the car sobbing.  (Mom, if you find this, and I hope you don't, please don't feel like the answer is for you to hide when you're not feeling well.  Not. the. answer.  Not at all.  I want to know, I want to help when I can.)  I felt so helpless, and scared and honestly, for a bit there, I was very afraid of losing her, and I think truly she was afraid of that too.  She thinks her blood sugar had crashed, and she says she's fine now, it's happened before, but when you live alone it's scary and very dangerous.  She has passed out from it before and if that happened and she was alone, well, it wouldn't be good. 

Since then, I've been off.  Down a bit, waiting for the shoe to drop. 

Yesterday I hadn't heard from Rebekah and I could tell she hadn't been online at all that day, which is a bit unusual for her, usually she would text and say hi, or check her FB or whatever.  Anyway, it hit me, as it does from time to time, that if something happened to her we wouldn't know.  I think, for me, that is the hardest part of her new life.  She has no roommates and it's scary to know that there are times something could happen to her and no one would know.  Still, I don't think it would have bothered me as much if I had been in a better place emotionally. 

I'm not always down.  Most of the time I'm okay.  I think it's all a normal part of the grieving process, but I do find myself with the "waiting for the shoe to drop" feeling more often than I did before my dad's illness and death.  Even as I was having my best! day! ever! I kept thinking to myself that something was going to happen, it couldn't be that good, I was going to pay.  Again, I think it's all within the bounds of normal, I just wish it wasn't a part of my process.

My sleep rhythms are all off.  They have been for a while now.  They were messed up before my dad died, they got really messed up after he died, and they're messed up again.  When I wake up in the middle of the night I give in and read.  If I lay in bed, trying to go back to sleep, I just think endlessly about his last two weeks.  The only way to avoid that is to think about something else intentionally, hence reading helps tremendously.

This too shall pass, and all that.  I guess it took me a bit by surprise because I (I know how ridiculous this sounds, it's okay, you can laugh at me, just don't think I'm horrible),  thought I had somewhat reconciled myself to the idea of losing my mom.  Definitely not.  (Mom, if you're reading this, you need to live a long, long time, m'kay?)

I thought I was going to write down some random bits about life in general right now, but it seems like this is what needed to come out, so I'm going to leave it at that.  Just another step in the grieving journey.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Heavy Heart

The title says it all.  My heart is just heavy right now.  Grief is overwhelming, all-encompassing, horrible.  It skews everything.  Any stress, and problem seems bigger, harder to deal with, exhausting...or, maybe that's just me.

Anyway, that's where I'm at.  I feel like I've taken a big step backward in the grieving process, the tears are never far away.  It's the forever-ness of it.  I struggle with feeling like I would love to have just one more conversation, one more time to tell him how much I love him, thank him for everything he did for me.

Life goes on, and it is, albeit with significantly less coping skills.  It's not pretty.  Not really looking forward to the holidays, but we'll get through it.  Here's hoping what's on the other side is more peaceful.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Been a While

I can not believe I haven't blogged since February.  What the what?  Then again, it's been quite a year.  Let's see, when we left off I was trying to put all the pegs back in their places after my dad had a heart attack, my mom had a mini stroke and our dog died.  Since then, my mom is doing very well, we've gotten two puppies, and my dad passed away.  Still struggling with that one.  Even just writing it makes me tear up, I haven't seemed to reach the milestone where I can talk about it without crying.  As I get back in the bloggy swing of things I'll probably write about it, but all I'll say here is that he started going down hill this summer, at the end of July he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and two weeks to the day later, he died.

I'm not young, my dad and I were close, but still it surprises me that I am having a horrible time trying to cope with it.  I miss my dad.  I feel like I don't know who I am without my dad in my life.  My dad was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest fan, a person who generously gave unconditional love, and it's shaken my foundation to lose that.  However, in life we don't get a choice, we have to sort of figure out how to pick up the pieces and move forward, so that's what I'm trying to do.

I discovered that I miss blogging.  I miss the connections to people that I made, though a lot of those may be long gone.  I hope not, but if they are I understand.  I also miss the written record, so, I'm trying to begin again.

I'll start nice and easy, with a meal plan.  That sounds like me, doesn't it?  The week ahead is busy, though tomorrow, gloriously, I have the day off.  Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Thursday (piano, Julianna home):  Crockpot chicken sandwiches, funeral potatoes, veggies
Friday (no school, band):  Flank steak, baked potatoes, asparagus
Saturday lunch:  Crockpot chicken sandwiches
Saturday dinner:  Apricot and Cheddar Chicken Melt, chips
Sunday lunch:  Mustard chicken, wild rice, fall salad or this fall salad
Sunday dinner (Nutcracker):  chili/coney dogs
Monday (boot camp, Julianna art):  Chicken Divan Casserole, salad, pumpkin rolls
Tuesday (mom, boot camp, dance):  Wedding soup, bread or this bread
Wednesday (boot camp, sax, dance):  leftovers or pot luck
Thursday (boot camp, girl scouts):  crockpot pepper steak, rice

I've missed you.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you've been up to.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meal Plan Feb. 27, 2014

Hello.  Finding it hard to blog.  Not enough time, but also struggling with where the lines are. What stories are mine to tell, what stories could inadvertently hurt someone I care about?  So, for now, we'll keep it nice and generic.  I do love being able to go back and look up what I was cooking, what recipes I used, so I thought I'd get my meal plan down. 

Thursday (robotics club, GS):  Pork chops, cheddar chive baked potatoes, "pot-stuck" Brussels sprouts
Friday:  Homemade pizza--I'll keep it simple, probably, though this fig, caramelized onion and sausage one is definitely calling my name.  
Saturday:  Cheesecake Factory Cashew Chicken*, rice, szechwan green beans
Sunday:  Vegetarian (I've always left out the meat, you never miss it) Lasagna-style Baked Ziti, bread, salad
Monday:  Grilled Chicken Club Panini, chips, cut up veggies
Tuesday (sax, dance, Mardi Gras):  Individual King Cakes for breakfast
Jambalaya, cornbread or make ahead garlic bread
Wednesday (Ash Wednesday):  Ice cream  (Julianna's having 2 teeth pulled.  I promised ice cream for dinner.  There'll be leftovers to have just in case.  :)
Thursday (Band concert):  Garlic Herb Oven-Fried Halibut, garlicky parslied new potatoes, skillet green beans

I might also make these fun pinwheel cookies in honor of Dr. Suess' birthday, March 2. 

**scaled down:  Cheesecake Factory Cashew Chicken--here's the scaled down sauce: 2 cups soy sauce (1c)* 24 oz hoisin (12)* 1/2c + 2T chili garlic sauce (1/4c + 1T)* 1 3/4 c sugar (3/4c +2T)* 1 c rice vinegar (1/2c)* 2c garlic (1c)* 1 1/2 c sherry (3/4c)* 1/4 oz chili flakes (1/8 oz)*

Hope you have a good week full of good things.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Here

I'm here.  I promise.  It's been a roller coaster of a few weeks, but things are getting back on an even keel now.  My dad had a heart attack at the end of December and we spent almost a week hanging out with them, praying, waiting, hoping for the best.  On January 3 he had a quadruple bypass and he came home from the hospital the following week.  Things have been a little crazy, but my dad and mom are doing well and we're thankful for that.

I'm working on changing some things about my life and our lives, little changes that add up to big changes, and that on top of trying to keep all the balls in the air means even less time than normal for anything "extra".  I'm updating another blog about the lifestyle journey that I'm on, leave a comment or shoot me an email if you're interested in the link, it's not private, you can easily find it, anyone that's not related to me and is interested is welcome to check it out.

So, in summary.  Life is challenging, but good.  Life is busy.  Changes are happening. 

Hope all is well with your new year.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trying to Find My Voice Again

Thanksgiving.  Wonderful.  A blur.  Honestly it was all just a little lost to me this year.  I definitely enjoyed having family here.  I think the meal was okay.  (Yes, truly "okay" though I hope it was better than that).  With Hanukkah here the night before it was all just a lot squeezed into a very short time span.  I'm not sad that that will never happen again.

Today, I've had turkey carcasses simmering all day long in preparation for stone soup.  Okay, the name around here is definitely "cream de carcass" no matter how much I loathe it, but no matter what you call it, it's absolutely wonderful.  Rich, full bodied and full-flavored turkey stock, half and half, wild rice, carrots, celery and turkey.  Awesome.  Paired up with an excellent loaf of bread tomorrow it will be the perfect dinner.  It will also be nice to have turkey stock waiting in the freezer for the next time the craving hits.  If you haven't tried it yet, you really should.  It still makes me sad when I think of all the years we just tossed the turkey when we thought we were done with it.

Looking ahead to the week I think we'll be trying some Tetrazzini and perhaps a turkey pot pie.  I'm craving Eggs Benedict, that might work itself into the menu.  Honestly I'm not sure what else.  The freezer is stocked so I'm sure we'll be eating yummy stuff.  Probably tomorrow or Tuesday I'll get serious about creating an actual plan.

Trite, I know, but I cannot believe it's actually December.  It must be though, the candles in the menorahs are burning, the elf needs moved, ready or not the holidays approach.  I'm going to try very hard to find the balance this year between being too relaxed and zen (read: nothing gets done) and being so obsessed that I don't find the time to enjoy things.  I have not done anywhere near the shopping that I normally would have by this time, honestly, I'm struggling to come up with ideas for the kids, not a position I find myself in often.  My mom's having surgery just before Christmas, that's going to require lots of flexibility as well as lots of planning, ideally we'll have all our traditions done by then, so I can go see her or be on call if she or my dad need me, yet that only gives us two weekends to get things done which takes my breath away a bit.  Beginning of January Mark and I are going away, our kids have gifted us with a weekend away, so there's lots to look forward to there as well.  I have a feeling it's going to be a ying/yang kind of month and I'm going to do my best to prioritize, let go of what doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, fight to make happen the things that do matter and most of all try to keep the balance.  Wish me luck.

Hope your holidays were all that you'd wish them to be, surrounded by friends and family that you'd choose to surround yourself with.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meal Plan Monday on a Tuesday!

Julianna's birthday week which is a very, very big deal to my little girl.  Eleven!  Wow!  I'm afraid I officially have no babies left.  We're all very excited that Rebekah's coming home to help celebrate Julianna's birthday, and, I have to say, there's going to be lots of good eats around here.

Here's what's in the works for the week:

Monday (gluten free!):  Plum chicken, rice, sugar snap peas--I cut up the chicken into bite size pieces, use breasts instead of thighs because that's what the picky eaters I live with demand prefer.  Also, not sure how much difference it makes, but I always use Bonne Maman preserves in this.  They just seem perfect for this recipe.  Have you made this yet?  Do it!  Delicious!  Easy to keep ingredients in the pantry or freezer for a quick (less than 30 minute) meal.  Definitely a keeper around here.

Tuesday:  Pork chops, Tyler Florence's roasted acorn squash, Brussels sprouts  (Try the acorn squash.  Delicious!  Brushed with Amaretto, brown sugar, butter, filled with little crushed Italian cookies, they are wonderful.)

Wednesday:  Wedding Soup and Italian bread  (All right, I know I'm gushing, but seriously this week is full of things that if you're not making you should give a try.  The wedding soup by Ina Garten is awesome, the star of the soup is the meatballs made from ground chicken and chicken Italian sausage.  Really, really good.)

Thursday (Halloween):  Grilled cheese/peanut butter, apples, cut up veggies

Friday (Julianna's birthday!!!)  Ina Garten's Chicken Pot Pie

Saturday lunch w/family:  Sloppy Joes, Veggie Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, cut up veggies, apples, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream cake

Saturday dinner:  Beef Stew, biscuits

Sunday lunch:  Cracker Barrel

Sunday dinner:  Pita pizzas

Welp, that's our week.  It's going to be full, full, full of good things.  Hoping Jacob and Julianna have lots of fun trick or treating Thursday night and that Julianna's birthday makes her heart happy.  Have a good week!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Monday Recap (on a Sunday!) and a Meal Plan

How was your weekend?  Ours was lovely, ugly, busy, slow, emotional, exhausting.  In other words, it was real life.  I'm sad to see the potential of the weekend over, (is there anything more beautiful than Friday at 4:30 with all the possibilities of a wonderful weekend stretched out before you?), but ready to be back on an even keel.  Unbelievably, we had ice cream for dinner twice (!!) this weekend with potato skins and Asian wings on the other night.  I'd count it as a parenting fail, but you know what? sometimes it's just okay to break all the rules.  Sometimes it really is.

It's finally supposed to get a little more fall-like in our temps, so for dinners sometime in the near future we'll be eating:

Chili w/cornbread
Chili spaghetti (spaghetti topped w/chili, onions and cheddar) w/garlic bread
Dutch baby or Belgian waffles w/ham and sauteed apples
Meatloaf w/parsley potatoes, roasted carrots
Grandma's chicken and rice** w/broccoli and wheat rolls
Pork chops w/baked sweet potatoes and brown sugar butter and green beans
Chicken Noodle Soup, grilled cheese
Tacos, refried beans, corn cake

A little farther out I've had Chicken and Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie requested, I'll have to fit those in soon.  I've also got Halibut, and Paiche [make fish tacos--1 lb. paiche, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 lime, juiced, 1 tablespoons ancho chili powder--marinate for a bit, grill, flake and serve in tortillas with cabbage tossed with salt, lime juice and cilantro.  Delicious!] in the freezer and City Chicken will have to make an appearance soon.

I'm also hoping to make some banana bread, cranberry orange bread and pumpkin bread, as well as make applesauce an apple pie, some popcorn balls and some kind of cookies for the cookie jar.  No, I don't have the week off work, so we'll see how that goes.

I made the best veggie dish I think I've ever made last week.  I got it from My Recipes.  Delicious!  Heat a medium skillet over high heat until very hot. Combine 2 cups sugar snap peas,1/2 cup sliced  shallots, and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Add pea mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until peas are bright green and blackened in spots and nuts are lightly toasted, stirring frequently.  Awesome!  I'm hoping to make that again soon.

Another good one to pass on.  Jacob and Julianna have been taking wraps to school for lunch.  I start with a multi-grain wrap (12g of fiber!), grilled chicken, romaine for Julianna, spinach for Jacob, goat cheese, carrots and apples for Julianna and a little bit of vinaigrette on hers as well.  Roll it all up, wrap it in parchment and it's good to go.  Yes, sometimes I wish my little darlings would just eat a PB&J already or, I'd settle for Mac & Cheese too, that recently has made the "will not eat at school" list, but I also must admit that it's nice to see them make such healthy choices.  They take lunch every day, it gets challenging coming up with ideas they'll eat.  These wraps were a big hit.

Well, that's about all I've got.  I'm working on getting my cooking mojo back.  These temps that have gone on and on and on have rendered me mute cooking-wise.  This week is supposed to be cooler, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get back in the game.  It's time.

I'm also hoping that this week brings a calmness that we all need.  It's time for that too.

I hope you have a good week.  I hope we all have a good week.

**Grandma's Chicken and Rice
Meaty Chicken parts
2 cans cream of chicken soup (healthy version is fine)
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans Golden Mushroom soup
1 can water
11/2 cups long grain rice
Combine soups, water and rice. Put in bottom of 13x9" casserole. Top with chicken parts. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.


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