Back on the Meal Plan Wagon

When I quit my job, I kinda expected everything to magically fall in place and the chaos to disappear. (More on that in another post.) But, it didn’t and now that the girls are back in school, it’s become even more obvious that I needed some kind of magical “Chaos Be Gone.” Since that’s not available in my neighborhood Costco, I decided to go back to the drawing board for solutions to help give us smoother mornings and evenings. At the same time, a mom from my mom’s bible study shared a free cookbook with recipes for cheap meals. (The premise is that, on average, every meal in the book will cost about $4 per person.) At that moment a lightbulb went off and I decided to jump back on the meal planning wagon.

Meal planning takes the stress out of trying to figure out dinner each day. It also helps because I’ll know ahead of time if I need to defrost some meat or soak some beans. Once I’m done planning meals for the week, then I start cutting up and packing veggies and fruits for snacks for the week. Every Sunday, I sit down with my laptop and phone and plan a meal for each day.

About a year ago, my friend told me about an app AnyList, which is like the app of all apps. It’s a recipe app and shopping list in one. I do pay the $11.99/year for the premium version which allows me to meal plan, import recipes, access AnyList from any web browser and share my meal plan, recipes and grocery lists with T-Daddy. Once recipes are imported into AnyList, I can then add the ingredients from the recipe straight to my grocery list. I can also pick a recipe and assign it to a meal (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack) for any day. I use the AnyList for Mac app to import recipes from Pinterest and to copy and paste the recipes from the cookbook I found. For me personally, I like using the iOS app when I’m cooking versus trying to find recipe on Pinterest or a website (mainly because the app stops my phone from falling asleep and I don’t have to unlock it with food on my hands). So I’m spending a little time each Sunday, building up my recipe list. If you can’t tell, I’m in love and highly recommend the app.

Here are the meal plans I made for last week and this week. I normally just do dinner because breakfast is pretty standard and lunch is usually leftovers from the night before. I also included links to the sites for the recipes I used, unless they came from the cookbook (noted) or it’s something I don’t use a recipe for. I usually don’t meal plan for the weekends because we usually have things going on which will involve food:
Week of September 18:
September 18: Thai Pineapple Fried Rice and Baked Chicken
September 19: Pineapple Cucumber Lime Salad and Greek Marinated Chicken
September 20: Corn Soup (from cookbook)
September 21: BBQ Chicken Cornbread Skillet
September 22: Nachos
September 23: Pizza and Salad

Week of September 25:
September 25: Sautéed Spinach, Baked Chicken, Rice
September 26: Cold Asian Noodles (from cookbook) and Roasted Chicken
September 27: Dal (from cookbook) with rice or noodles
September 28: Chickpea Stew
September 29: Chimichangas
September 30: Leftovers

Meal planning really has helped relieve a lot of my stress surrounding dinner time and feeding the girls. Since I’ve been prepping their snacks when I meal plan that has also helped my mornings run a lot smoother. It’s one less thing I have to do in the mornings to get us out the door. And it’s amazing to me how this one little thing has already made such a difference.

BONUS: When I wrote about TD1’s birthday, I briefly mentioned that she and I made some treats for her classmates. She wanted to use the cookie cutter to give them fun shapes which meant we had to make a lot…and we had a lot left over. So I did the right thing, and I shared graciously. I hadn’t expected it to be such a hit. So for everyone that asked, here’s the recipe: Jam-Filled Granola Bars. I found this recipe looking for a variation of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars I made from the cookbook.

You and You and You and Us

One day over the summer, I went to my regularly scheduled therapy session and we had a very good session. One of those sessions that reaffirms why I continue to give up an hour, plus travel time, every other week. Then, I was hit with the bombshell: “I’m letting all of my patients know that I’ll be leaving the practice in a few weeks.” I tried my best not to fall apart right there in the office, but inside I felt like Damon was on another one of his mean streaks and had his hand on my heart ready to rip it out just to show me he could if he wanted to. (That’s a Vampire Diaries reference if you don’t get it.)

This is my second therapist at this practice – my first one left shortly after I finished testing and was diagnosed with anxiety. She was leaving to finish her dissertation overseas. I cried. She recommended this therapist because he specialized in some of the areas that were triggering my anxiety. We got along great and I had been seeing him pretty much from diagnosis up until now – for more than a year. Together, he and I have made a lot of headway in managing my anxiety. And now, because of family reasons, he had to move back home and I had to start all over with someone else. I did not take this news well. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start over with a new person. What if we didn’t get along as well? What if having to rehash my history and certain situations/events caused me to regress and relapse?

I used the metaphor of burn wounds versus regular wounds to express how I was feeling to my therapist. I’m nowhere near a medical expert, but on Grey’s Anatomy, sometimes the burn patients have to endure these long treatments of pulling off the burnt skin so that the new skin can grow and they can heal properly. Judging from their screams, tears and cries, it’s soul-wrenching. On the other end, if you keep picking at a wound and don’t allow it to properly heal, infection can set in. So which one was I in this new instance – burn wound or infected scab picker? Only time would tell.

Just as I was starting to come around to the idea of having a new therapist (I decided not to quit therapy after a meet and greet with the new therapist – I liked her vibe), I received a phone call from the TDs’ pediatric clinic. Their doctor was leaving the practice and we would be seeing a new person for their upcoming doctor’s appointment. I tried to tell them I didn’t want to schedule an appointment with someone new without first talking to their doctor, but they weren’t trying to hear me. They told me a letter would be coming in the mail next week that explained everything and if I had more questions, I could call back. (It took more like a month and a half for that letter to arrive. It was a generic letter and didn’t explain much of anything.) I got off the phone and swallowed my tears.

I love the girls’ doctor. T-Daddy and I picked her out when we were pregnant with TD1, which means she has been in our life for five years, as a partner raising our daughters. We haven’t always been able to see her for impromptu visits, but every scheduled appointment has been with her. And when the girls were seeing someone else, she always made it a point to stop in and check on them. She answered every question we had as first- and second-time parents. She never forced a vaccine or procedure on us that we were uncomfortable with. She never judged our parenting methods (co-sleeping anyone??). She judged TD1 and TD2 by their own development curve and not some standard one-size-fits-no-one model. She trusted us and we trusted her. Our girls adore her. They look forward to seeing her every 6-12 months. That type of relationship isn’t built overnight.

img_6764One week – two relationships ended. Just like that. It became so clear to me very quickly how the relationships we form with our doctors can be just as real and impactful as those we form with friends and coworkers. We see them regularly. We entrust them with vulnerable parts of our lives and before we know it, a connection, a bond has been formed. And it hurts when that bond is broken.

My new therapist and I are getting along great. I trusted my old therapist when he recommended her and I think she’s in a position to offer me a unique and valuable perspective as  I continue to manage my anxiety. The verdict is still out on the TDs’ new pediatrician. They have an appointment with her scheduled for this Friday, which we plan to use as our meet and greet since she was too booked to do it beforehand. But, T-Daddy and I are already exploring the option of finding a new clinic/office/hospital. We don’t particularly care for the hospital that their pediatrician worked out of, but we loved her so we stayed. Now that she’s no longer seeing them, we’re free agents, ready and willing to explore our options. It feels like we’re dating again – looking for the perfect doctor to be our partner in parentdom.

TD1 Turns 5


Yesterday, TD1 turned 5 and we celebrated by taking a road trip to Indiana. Though, to be honest, the celebration actually started on Thursday. I went to her school to read a story with her to her class. Then we sang and danced and TD1 passed out the treats we made. Later, some friends and family came over to sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes.

We were supposed to go to Nashville (Brown County), Indiana, but never made it because nothing goes as planned with T4. Instead we ended up going to White River State Park in Indianapolis and getting pizza. For a brief second, I was bummed that we didn’t get to celebrate the way I had planned, but I was later reminded that some of the best things in life aren’t always planned. *cough cough TD1 cough cough*

TD1 5 BdayWe had uninterrupted family time sprinkled with a basket full of candy and TD1 got to call a lot of shots. In her words, “My birthday is awesome!” We laughed and were silly together and on the drive home, it hit me: T-Daddy and I have a FIVE year-old!!!!

It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since I gave birth to this little one. She has changed my life in so many ways and I love watching her go through life. She’s smart and independent and loves helping others. It may sound cliche, but she really does make me want to be a better person. I want to be a good example of the type of woman she should aspire to be. I am also proud of who she has already become. I wish I could take all the credit, but I can’t. She’s her own person and she makes her own choices daily. And she’s managed to survive five years of having T-Daddy and me as her parents.

Happy Five Years TD1!!!!

Bye Bye Fishie

When TD2 turned two, my loving aunt decided to get the girls a fish for TD2’s birthday. It was a Betta fish and she was kind enough to provide the tank and food. Still, I protested. “If the girls didn’t scream my name, I’d forget to feed them. There’s no way imma be able to take care of this fish.”

Fast forward 16 months and we were doing good. Until we went to Nebraska last month. We were only gone 2 days, but as soon as we got back, one of the first things I did was feed Fishie (TD2 named it).

“Baaaaaaabe!!!! Come here. Fishie doesn’t look too good.” 

For the first time since having Fishie thrust in our lives, I felt something. I immediately began googling to see what was wrong with him. At 11:53 p.m. on a Friday, I raced to a new Walmart (because our regular one didn’t have what I needed) to get some medicine and a different kind of food to help a fish I had never been emotionally invested in start to feel better. The tears were beginning to well up in my chest. Oh God! The girls are gonna be so sad. God please let this work.

Over the next three days, he began to look better. I woke up Tuesday and raced to the fish tank. It had become a part of my morning routine and I was eager to see how much Fishie had improved. He hadn’t. He had regressed to the point of no coming back. I told T-Daddy and then I just kind of kept staring at the tank, hoping I could will him back to life.

When the girls woke up, T-Daddy and I decided to tell them together and give him a proper flushing before T-Daddy left for work.
T-Mommy: Girls, Mommy and Daddy have something very important to tell you.

T-Daddy: It’s also very sad.
TD1: What is it?
T-Mommy: When Mommy woke up this morning, Fishie…
TD1: Died? I wanna see.
TD2: Me too!!

img_6701
NOT Fishie. May he R.I.P.

The TDs seemed entirely a little too enthusiastic about seeing a dead fish. TD1 asked if we could bury it in the backyard instead of flush it. When I told her that we didn’t have a backyard to do so, she wanted to bury it in the park. We attempted to go to the park later that day and the next, but we never made it. I flushed Fishie on our way out the next morning and we had a short moment of silence.

Every so often, TD1 will tell me, “Mommy, I sad our fish died. Can we get another one?” “Yes, sweetie we will. Mommy’s sad too!”

9+6=15+1=16: Our First Year of Marriage

Today marks our one-year anniversary, and I must say, it went by fast. In honor of our first year of marriage, here are 16 things I learned about Wifedom this past year:

  1. I’m selfish. Before I got married, I considered myself a very loving and giving person. Right before we got married, T-Daddy and I went through pre-marital mentoring (I highly recommend some sort of pre-marital counseling or mentoring for all engaged couples) with a lovely older couple at our church, and we continue to sign up for coed Bible study groups. I also did a 30-day prayer challenge on FB, which led to me joining a small-knit wives’ support group. What I’ve taken away from all of this is that I’m a lot more focused on “What’s in it for me?” than I realized. When T-Daddy doesn’t act the way I think he should or do what makes me happy/comfortable/etc., I get upset and conversations take place. My view on our marriage revolves around how he makes me feel. I’ve done a few marriage challenges that required I focus on T-Daddy – his happiness, his likes, dislikes, worries, dreams, goals, etc., and each time praying for him or affirming him when I was upset at him caused me to act outside of how I felt. The result was a change in my own heart and feelings, and sometimes it even shined an inward mirror causing me to re-evaluate my own self.
  2. I know nothing about marriage. See #1. Seriously. I’m the product of divorced parents and I made a vow to myself when I was a pre-pubescent child that I would never get divorced. I’ve grown some and learned a little about relationships, but that sentiment is still very strong. So I’m determined to make my marriage work. In my quest to learn as much as possible about successful marriages, I’ve realized I don’t know anything. Most of the ideals I had about marriage came from a variety of places, but I can’t say that many of them came from the right places. There are these ideas about marrying the person that makes you happy or is “the one” and they pretty much set you up for failure.
  3. It takes three. For five years, T-Daddy and I tried to do this by ourselves. And we failed miserably. There were a lot of mistakes, heartache, blame and immaturity floating around to end a thousand relationships. It wasn’t until we both started earnestly working on ourselves and our relationship that things changed. During our pre-marital mentoring, we were strongly encouraged to get serious about our relationship with God – consistently going to church, reading the Word, praying (with and for each other), asking for God’s direction and then heeding it. So we did. And I can honestly say that we are leaps and bounds further and better than we were just a year ago.
  4. My marriage is as good as what I focus on. Pretty self-explanatory. When I focus on all the ways T-Daddy annoys me, I can easily find myself wondering why I’m with him and if I made a mistake. Is there somebody else out there that’s better compatible with me….blah…blah…blah. When I focus on all things I like about him or the things that he does that makes me happy, I find myself wanting to shower him with love and praises. What I focus on dictates how I see him – World’s Greatest Husband or World’s Worst Man Ever. And how I see him determines how I treat him, which plays a part in how he treats me.
  5. My marriage is my business. Not everyone will agree with how T-Daddy and I choose to live our lives. Some people will just nod and keep their thoughts to themselves, but others will gladly voice their opinions. A few may even try to persuade us that we’re wrong and need to do it their way. It can be so easy to get caught up in others’ opinions of our lives that we lose focus on who we are as individuals and as a couple. Also, we’re human and sometimes we do some pretty messed up stuff. Unfortunately, when we’re ready to forgive each other, our friends and family may not be so ready to forgive. Things are just easier if we keep some stuff to ourselves.
  6. Time together is a must. We have two kids under the age of five. Free time is a magical unicorn with three horns. We work. Friends want to hang out with us (and not always the two of us together). We have individual interests. We want to sleep. So it can be pretty hard to squeeze in time together – even with a standing weekly date (hey, sometimes we fall asleep on each other. Not sexy, but real). But whenever too much time has gone by without us spending some real quality time together, it shows. We get out of sync on small things like our daily routine. We become at odds with each other. A little QT and most of that gets fixed.IMG_6592
  7. Sex still feels a little taboo. We’ve lived in sin for the majority of our relationship, and sometimes it can be hard to remember that we’re legit now. I don’t have to be ashamed about talking about birth control methods with my midwife. I don’t need to get sheepish or bow my head when sex comes up in therapy, a church sermon or a study group. Yet, I still find myself going “Oh yea, it’s okay now. We’re married.”
  8. Being married doesn’t mean that birth control is no longer a problem. It’s no secret that T-Daddy and I had kids before we were married, and most of the conversations we had with family and friends all centered around why we weren’t using some kind of birth control if we weren’t married (we were…they failed, but that’s a totally different topic). The assumption being that our unplanned pregnancies were only a problem because we were not married. However, we have two beautiful girls that we love so much, and we’re satisfied. We don’t want anymore kids, and now the same problems we had in choosing a birth control method that works for us pre-marriage are the same problems we’re having now post-marriage.
  9. We made things a lot harder than they had to be. T-Daddy and I have been through some things that really rocked our relationship. And the worst part is that we didn’t have to go through that stuff. We could have avoided a lot of drama and stress if we both had acted differently. But hey, you live and you learn.
  10. I’m actually grateful for a lot of the stuff we went through. Don’t get me wrong, it sucked. I have some serious emotional PTSD behind some of the stuff we both did. (Guilt and regret are horrible bedtime companions). But, now that T-Daddy and I are older and more mature, I’m able to look back and learn from a lot of that. I can see our mistakes and our resiliency. And I’m grateful we made it through the storm. I’m grateful that we went through some pretty bad stuff early on and made it because it gives me reassurance and hope that we can make it through whatever obstacles are yet to come.
  11. I want TD1 and TD2 to marry a man like their father. T-Daddy’s pretty awesome. He loves me and he’s committed to our family. The girls will choose whoever they choose, but if he’s at least half the man their father is, I’ll be proud.
  12. Respecting and submitting to T-Daddy is pretty important to me. I may not always get these two right, but I always strive to do them. It’s important to me that I’m a living example for my daughters of what it looks like when a wife respects and submits to her husband.
  13. I didn’t just marry him; I married his friends and family. They’re mine now and my love for him has to extend to them. The more I love them – flaws and all – the more I allow them to enrich my life and I’m able to fully appreciate what he sees in them.
  14. I’m a better wife to him when I’m a better me to me. All that to say that I have to do a better job of taking care of myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. When all parts of me are balanced, I don’t unload my baggage onto him and we can actually enjoy our marriage.
  15. T-Daddy’s laugh is the best medicine. I love his smile and his laugh and I love being able to share in it with him. Nothing feels better than when we’re just hanging out and one of us does something funny and we just erupt in that deep belly gut laughter. No matter what’s going on in life, at that moment, everything is just A-OK.
  16. T-Daddy is the one…I’m married to and that’s all that matters. I’m committed to continuously striving to be my best self for him and our marriage. We’re a team. Partners for life.

Momfessions: Wasps/Hornets, Public Bathrooms and Pullups

One day not too long ago, the girls and I came home after running some errands. Before we could get settled, I noticed a HUGE flying black thing with a stinger. I quickly evacuated my apartment and texted T-Daddy. There’s a wasp hornet thing in the apt. The girls, my sister and I sat in the car while I waited for him to text back. After about 30 minutes and no reply text. I called him and it was decided that we’d just have to wait until he could come home and kill it. So, we all went to our favorite neighborhood bar and grill. 

I ate pork tacos, the girls enjoyed kids’ meals complete with ice cream to-go and we were headed to the library when I heard those dreaded words: I have to goooooooooooo. Me toooooooooo. 

T-Mommy: Can you hold it till we get home? We’re like 3 minutes away.
TD1: But what about the flying thing? Did Daddy kill it already?

Crap! I forgot about that. The whole reason we’re here in the first place.

And, it was at that very moment that I reached a new low in Mommydom – I contemplated letting the girls pee/poop in a pull-up. Then I realized I didn’t have any on me. Public restroom it is.

And We’re Baaaaack….to School Again

Monday, the TDs started school. The fact that it’s Thursday and I’m just writing about their first day should be a good indicator of how it went…..busy….and exhausting!

I definitely was not ready. I felt like the summer went by too fast. I still wanted to do things with them. Fun things like trips and the beach and trips downtown. Emotionally, it was no big deal. They’ve both been in daycare since they were 3 months and we started “real” school last year.

I spent the week before failing at getting us on a schedule to prepare us for getting back in the swing of things. No changes to the uniform and I’d washed and hung uniform clothes months ago. We ordered school supplies through the school and they were shipped there. Book bags were bought. They just needed a few minor items – lunch box, water bottles, snacks. We were all good to go!

Then Monday happened. And I realized just how not good to go we really were. Several of TD1’s uniform items are missing. And they happen to be the items that have to be specially ordered from the uniform store and currently are on back order. Yay us! Maroon leggings and shorts (non-logo or branded) are the bane of my existence right now. Seriously, does anyone make or sell them??? We ran into this problem last year, which caused us to stock up whenever we found them in the girls’ sizes. Guess what’s mysteriously missing now….

Despite an early bedtime, the girls did not want to wake up. Grumbles of “Why do we have to go to school?” were repeated throughout breakfast and getting dressed.

timetoschool16Then they were dressed and we had about 10 min for pictures and to get them in their respective classrooms. And that’s when it hit me. During that quick 2 min photoshoot when TD1 was posing and telling me which shots I had to get. My daughters are big girls.

TD1 is a kindergartner this year. Gone is her cubby. Replaced by a hook to hang things now. Her classroom even looks big kiddish. TD2 is still in preschool, but she’s moved up. She’s in TD1’s old classroom. They have recess together, but they don’t eat lunch together anymore.

After I dropped them off, I spent my day trying to acquire the lost items that have fallen into the invisible black hole. Then it was time to pick them up. TD1 excitedly ran to me. “Mom, I’m sad that my friends are in a different class than me. I only get to see them at recess.” (By friends, she means a certain group of boys that T-Daddy is happy to have her separated from. I think someone may have had a talk with the office.) Then, we walked to TD2’s class where she was knocked out. TD1 ran straight to her and started rubbing her and trying to put a pillow under her to make her more comfortable.

I picked up TD2 and two of us walked, while one was carried, to the car – on our way to acquire more lost items. Man, I really aced this being prepared thing this year. Ten min later, I pull up to the uniform store with two sleeping kids. I woke TD1 up and bribed her with ice cream if she walked. She stayed up long enough for me to complete the purchase and get back in the car before it was lights out again.

Happy first day of school TDs!!! School must have worked them hard.

The Adventures of TD1 in Invisible World: Healthy Food and Allergies

One day TD1 came up to me and told me that I wasn’t her real mom. Her real mom (Invisible Mom) lived in her Invisible World and TD1 came here through her Invisible Mirror. In Invisible World, TD1 is really 8 years old (coming through the Invisible Mirror made her 4.5), and things are quite different than they are here in the real world. These are TD1’s adventures as told by her.

Invisible World as drawn by TD1

In my Invisible World, everyone only eats candy and fish because that’s all that’s healthy there. But I’m allergic to fish, so I can’t eat it. Everyone else eats it though. I just eat candy because that’s all that’s healthy in my Invisible World. I’m only allergic to big fish though, so if my Invisible Mom cuts it into really small pieces I can eat it. I’m not allergic to small fish, just the big fish and I really like it in my Invisible World.”

Just searching for my not-so-secret treasure