Monday, June 11, 2012

Simple Sundays

I have had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head the last few days. What does the future hold for us? What is the next step? Why am I elbow deep in a bag of Doritos (again)? Why don't my shorts fit (see previous question)?

Sometimes the best thing for clearing your head is to grab your husband and your little one and head outside to play.

There is something so humbling about a toddler that sees the wonder in things like sticks...

...or a chair...

...or dirt.

It can be so easy to find yourself wrapped up in selfish fears, insecurities, or desires, but when it comes down to it what really matters are the simple, quiet moments that you allow yourself to enjoy with your loved ones. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

What doesn't kill you

...makes your marriage stronger.

About a month ago, we found out that Jason was losing his county job. In an effort so save money, they chose to lay off the whole pest control department and outsource to a third party company. I think part of us had been expecting this layoff to come eventually, but I don't think we had really prepared for its imminence. I mean, I feel like every time I turn around I am hearing another story about a friend or family member who is now forced back out into the job market. This time it was us.

Luckily, Jason's business has been growing steadily for the last couple of years. There is still money to be made. No one is going hungry come July 1st. It does, however still raise some big (and scary) questions. What about insurance? Are we still going to be able to buy a house next year? What about plans for another baby? What about the PLAN?

The unknown can be...well, it can be a bitch sometimes, to put it plainly.

Despite the uncertainty of the months to come, there is a silver lining: no one is going through this alone. This new predicament has us talking. It has us scheming. It has us dreaming. It has us counting our blessing together. Together we are simplifying our lives and finding ways to be truly happy with what we have.

And what we have is love. Lots and lots of love.

Photos courtesy of Tara Sproc Photography

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bye Bye Boobie

After 15 months, we have officially left breastfeeding behind.

Even before I found out I was expecting, I was very passionate about nursing. I knew that I would definitely be breastfeeding my children, and I planned to do so for an extended period of time. Our bodies were made to feed our babies, so to do otherwise not only seemed unnatural, but alien to me.

I did not have an easy start. Wyatt and I had some latching issues, and I was issued a shield to use. I did what I could with that, and with a little hard work and a lot of dedication, I weaned him from the shield and established a nice latch when my little man was about two months old. From then on, we were in cruise mode.

I loved breastfeeding. I still do. I embraced everything about those special, stolen moments that no one else could have with my son. I would get up in the middle of the night to feed him. Laundry would sit unfolded, dishes unwashed. I would proudly take my prenatal vitamins every morning and chug ungodly amounts of water throughout the day to keep my body up to the task of producing up to 30oz of milk every single day.

After Wyatt's first birthday, I decided it was time to move towards weaning. Our lives were getting busier, and Wyatt was getting much more active, so I could no longer just pull out the girls every couple of hours and sit around while he topped off. For the past 3 months, I have gradually dropped feedings to make the transition easier for both of us. And trust me, the transition is probably harder for me than for the little runt. We have been down to the very last night time feeding for a while. I realized it was me who was going to have to make that very difficult decision.

Tonight, Wyatt took a couple ounces of cow's milk from the bottle. I read him a story. I put him to bed. When I put him down, he just looked up at me and smiled. Then, he rolled over, closed his eyes, and then fell asleep. My heart broke and soared all at the same time. He was ready for me to let him go.

My baby boy is not a baby anymore.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Meal Plan(ning)

I am a total foodie. I love cooking. I love eating. I love the beauty of food. I love it all. Such a love can get quite overwhelming when it comes to grocery shopping and preparing meals day-to-day. It can also be very expensive. In the interest of avoiding bankruptcy, I must meal plan.

I have found that my discovery of Pinterest has revolutionized how I plan meals and write grocery lists. See something delicious? It is as easy as repinning for later or clicking through immediately to the recipe. The night before I head out to the grocery store, I head to my "Noms" board and browse past finds for dinner inspiration for the week. I bring up all of the recipes, write down the ingredients I know that I need, and viola! my list is pretty much complete. It's easy; it's fun; it provides a plethora of diverse options you may not have thought about on your own.

Anyway, here was my meal plan for the week:

Tuesday: Cajun roasted whole chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and green bean, corn, and tomato salad

Wednesday: Jerk Salmon bowls with mango salsa

Thursday: Roasted corn chowder with chicken, lime, and cilantro

Friday: Balsamic grilled summer vegetables with basil quinoa salad and grilled tempeh

Saturday: Leftovers or dining out

Sunday: Pork chops, wild rice, steamed broccoli

These days are not set in stone, they are just a general guideline. For instance, if Jason came home and wanted to go out this evening, I would just prepare tonight's planned dinner tomorrow night. You have as little or as much flexibility as you would like, depending on how perishable your food is.

Tomatoes from the garden

Hints and tips:
  • I usually start my week off by roasting a whole chicken. It's cheap, easy, delicious, and the leftovers can be used to create a new meal(s) later in the week. Example: I used the leftover chicken from Monday for the chowder on Wednesday
  • I also try to concentrate meals using fresh produce toward the beginning of the week, so they don't go bad.
  • When looking for recipes, I go as seasonal as possible. This week's meal plan was heavy in tomatoes and corn because I am currently up to my ears in cherry tomatoes from the garden and corn is 20 cents per ear at the grocery store. Seasonal produce is far superior, and it saves a lot of money.
  • I aim to make at least one freezer-friendly meal each week. This helps with future, busier weeks, when I don't have time for chopping, sauteing, and baking a full meal from scratch. If I always have a meal or two in the freezer, then I always have a backup plan. This is especially useful on a Saturday evening when you are just too lazy to cook.
Meal planning is totally different (and often non-existent) for everyone. I hope insight into my ways prove helpful to you. When executed from a different angle, sometimes what was once a major chore can become a lot of fun (especially if you add a glass of red wine to the process ;-) ).

Happy Friday everyone!