{Menu Plan Monday}

Here we go again! Another week of menu planning.

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This was a yummy week for sure!

Last week was hubby’s birthday and we went to a bbq on the weekend, so some of the original plan changed.

Here’s how it shook down for dinner:

MONDAY: We went out to dinner with family for hubby’s birthday. I did make an ice cream cake for dessert at his request as well.

TUESDAY: We had a bbq with friends for hubby’s b-day.  Hubby bbq’d a tri-tip and linguica as well as some corn.  I made a Strawberry Sparkle Cake as well!

WEDNESDAY: Lasagna Roll-Ups served with broccoli.  These were delicious and I doubled it and froze a pan.  Here are a few tips to save time and energy if you make it: Don’t food process the meat, use pre-shredded mozzarella, layer it like a casserole rather than rolling.

** Ellery loved this and Addie was in an, “I’m not hungry” mood.

THURSDAY: We actually had leftover lasagna this night with baked zuchinni rounds.

FRIDAY: My parents came into town and it was a bajillion degrees, so even though there was chili in the crock pot, we ordered Pizza!

SATURDAY: We had a super busy (fun) day and ate leftover pizza this night!

SUNDAY:  We went to a bbq birthday party, so no cooking for me, but we did make Whirley Pop popcorn for a late night snack!

BREAKFAST:

Egg croissant for birthday breakfast, cereal, French toast bake with fruit (to use extra egg yolks, bread ends, and whipping cream), dutch babies with sausage, and open faced fried egg and cheese bagels with fruit.

LUNCHES:

Birthday lunch out, egg salad sandwich, hard-boiled eggs, leftover lasagna, Pb and J, carrots, apples, bananas, smoothies, crackers, applesauce, granola bars, fig bars, cornbread with chili, etc.

Any good recipes to share?  Do you have weeks like this where hardly anything on the menu plan is actually made? What are your favorite desserts for special occasions?

{insta-love}

Better late than never!

Here is my friday instagram review of the week . . . or past two weeks.

We have lunch with daddy once a week.  On this particular day, I made Addie a flower chain bracelet and she requested the leaf to be part of it.  it turned into a cool cuff.  I love it!

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Our sunflowers exploded while we were gone, as did our tomatoes.  I’ve tried to use as many of the tomatoes as possible, but I’m running out of ideas!

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Bible stories at bedtime is a nightly occurrence and Ellery has finally started sitting through all of them.  She took a little longer than Addie to hold her interest.

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We’ve started some unofficial home preschool.  It’s very simple and easygoing and child led and I love it and Addie loves it too. On this particular day, we cut some sunflowers, read books about sunflowers from the library, and made a sunflower out of construction paper.  Then Addie added some drawings of other things she saw when we picked the sunflower: an ant, a fly, grass, and the sun!

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They’ve been playing together so much more the past two weeks and on this morning they spent almost a half hour reading together in their room and each time I checked on them, Addie requested that I close the door.

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My hubby had a birthday this week!  I love this man!  It is always fun celebrating him.  We did dinner out at his favorite burger joint with the family, did a bbq with friends, and went bowling.  I made him two cakes and this weekend he is going to the shooting range and out for tri tip with the dudes.  I’d say that is a good birthday week.  But, what is really awesome about this man is that he worked through one lunch and after work late two days this week to make us some extra dough.  He takes care of his family so well.

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These girls have some pretty awesome eyes and the morning light caught it just right.  Plus, they were hugging.  Cutest!

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I’ve been organizing and cooking and trying to stay out of the heat all week.  We had a heat wave that sent me to the pool with the girls twice this week!

I’m purging clothing (regular and maternity) and trying to prepare my wardrobe for the rest of this pregnancy.  I am even trying out Stitch Fix (once, I think) for pregnancy clothes.  Have you tried it?  If you use my link it will give me a credit, which would be cool and all, but really you should just check it out and tell me what you think.   https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/5841356 I’m on the fence about it.  I typically shop only clearance racks and with coupons (example, the $1 flip flops I purchased for my daughter and the $5 top I purchased for myself from Old Navy this week).  I imagine it would be nice post-pregnancy when you don’t want to wear maternity clothes, but your old clothes don’t fit and the last thing you want to do is leave the house.  So, I’m unsure how I will feel about Stitch Fix.  I’ll let you know!

Have a great weekend!

{Menu Plan Monday}

Hello!

It’s Monday again!

I’m not typically one of those people who whines about Monday, but this week I was a little scared.

Last week was particularly challenging and exhausting and I don’t feel like I recovered much on the weekend. (Guess I shouldn’t have stayed up reading until midnight on Saturday, oops).

Anyway, thankfully I had what I would call an “easy” week of dinners last week.  God knew what challenges I’d be facing and had me plan more simple meals to keep me from completely losing my mind. HA!

Here is an incredibly professional cell phone photo of my menu board from last week:

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I fill this out every week after brainstorming our menu.

The line simply is there because i typically start on a Tuesday and end on the following Monday.

I follow the plan, but sometimes switch up the order if unexpected things happen (such as forgetting to take the crockpot freezer meal out of the freezer the night before . . . twice).

This week for dinner we had:

TUESDAY: BBQ burgers for our growth group.  I made the patties provided the condiments and everyone else brought the sides. I also made this amazing chocolate peanut butter bar recipe for dessert.  It is one of my faves!

*Kids ate this!

WEDNESDAY: Baked Potato night!  I sometimes change up the toppings, but this was simple.  Potatoes, Cheese, and salsa with broccoli on the side.

*kids ate plain potatoes, cheese slices, and boiled carrots

THURSDAY: Tostadas is another easy go-to.  Tostada shells, refried beans, tomatoes, avocado, taco sauce, lettuce.  YUM!

*kids had quesadillas and carrots with hummus

FRIDAY: We ended up doing Pork Chops on this night.  I rub them in ranch dressing and then in bread crumbs.  Sometimes I bake them, but this time they went into a covered pan that had a thing layer of olive oil in it.  I boiled the corn on the cob, made some mashed potatoes (2 potatoes boiled and mashed, butter, milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper), and I made 30 minute rolls.

*kids ate this!

SATURDAY: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. Another fave!  We actually used leftover rolls to make mini grilled cheese sandos and then heated up some soup and ate it with broccoli on the side.

*kids ate this!

SUNDAY:  I finally remembered to thaw the freezer meal, so we had Honey Sesame Chicken served on rice with parmesan zucchini on the side (Sliced zucchini rounds brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with parmesan and baked at 350 for 10 min.)

*kids ate this with more carrots!

LUNCHES THIS WEEK:  egg salad sandos, PB and J, Smoothies, leftovers, crackers, yogurt, cheese sticks, apples, etc.

BREAKFAST THIS WEEK: french toast, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, oatmeal, fried eggs and bacon, cereal, dutch babies.

What is on your menu for this week?  I am really excited for all the food this week!  It is starting out with dinner at our favorite burger joint to kick of hubby’s b-day week!  Then lots of yummy things to follow and another recipe to double, so I can keep my freezer stocked!

{Oregon/Washington Road Trip 2015}

Call us crazy, but we decided on a road trip for a vacation this summer.

With two toddlers.

Actually, we don’t refer to our trips as vacations.  We like to call them adventures.

This adventure was truly wonderful.  There were occasional difficulties that come with driving close to 3,000 miles with two toddlers, but then there are difficulties just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen when it comes to toddlers.

We wanted a vacation, but needed it to be fairly inexpensive.  By staying with friends and family when we could and in VERY inexpensive hotels (motels?), and making our food on the road, we kept it fairly cheap.

If we had a bigger car, we could have brought our tent and air mattress and camped some nights to lower the cost even more.  In fact, we’ve already decided that when our kids are older we will definitely do a camping road trip!

Anyway, enough chit chat.  Here is our vacay in a nutshell.

DAY 1:

We drove to Chico and stayed with one of my BFF’s from High School.  She has a little one and another one on the way and I never get to see her, so this was a ton of fun.  Breakfast together, playing, a walk to the park, naps for the little ones, ice cream, and swimming in a creek.

That night we headed up to Klamath falls to stay the night (It was super smoky there due to fires and we kept seeing crazy lightning while driving.

DAY 2:

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Continental breakfast of champs and an hour and a half drive to Crater Lake.  It was still a bit smoky, but a cool stop nonetheless.  We walked around and looked at some exhibits and then drove around part of the lake as we exited.

This was a longer driving day as we were headed all the way to Vancouver, Wa.  We made an unscheduled stop at a waterfall that ended up being really cool and then hit up a DQ for lunch and treats!

This day was our one special dinner on the whole trip.  we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory in Portland.  It’s right on the river and a fun place.  great for kids.  There is a balloon artist who made the girls fun balloon creations and ice cream comes with everyone’s meal.

DAY 3:

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After staying the night at hubby’s cousin’s house, we took off for the Columbia River Gorge.  We spent the day hiking and sightseeing.  We stopped at a bunch of overlooks and waterfalls and hiked a few as well.  Ellery was great in the pack and Addie hiked a ton and then went in the Ergo when she became tired.

We let the kiddos put there feet in the water at the base of some waterfalls and when I jumped into one freezing pool, I came up to see Addie with her shoes off, ready to strip down and join me. It made me so happy, but it was a little late and the water was sooo cold, so we kept it to toes only.   I was sure proud of my adventurous nature-lover!

We stopped in Hood River at their awesome waterfront park.  I sat with Elle for a bit while she napped in the car and Addie and hubby watched the Kite Boarder and played in the water.

That night was quick freezer meals from The Grocery Outlet and staying at the cousins again.

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DAY 4:

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This day ended up not following our original schedule and was the one day where the girls were a bit difficult.  We went to breakfast with the whole fam, then headed to the Portland International Test Rose Garden.

Afterwards I navigated hubby over to Burnside Bridge to check out the famous skate park. We then went on a 2 hour boat ride down the Willamette River.  It was a big boat and the kids were great for the first hour, but the second hour was not so fun.  Lots of whining and crying from the one who missed her nap and lots of naughtiness by the toddler who wanted to be independent even though she had no life jacket and the railings were not super safe.

We survived the boat ride and let the girls play in the fountain along the river.  Then, as they threw simultaneous tantrums upon leaving, we decided to skip Powell’s Books and VooDoo donuts and headed home for another frozen meal dinner (surprisingly yummy) and bed.

DAY 5:

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We grabbed some golden arches breakfast and drove all the way to Mt. Rainier this day.  We had a small detour at the tallest dam in Washington and then for some roadside blackberry picking, and then were awed with mountain views as we drove up to Paradise Lodge.

we hiked all around the base of the glacier that day and then went back into town to our cabin on a fishing lake. This was sort of a funny event because it was more rustic than we planned and the grocery stores I had looked up online weren’t really grocery stores.  So, thankfully the minuscule town of Elbe had a bomb walk up pizza window. We picked up a pizza and enjoyed a nice dinner with views of the lake and mt. Rainier.

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DAY 6:

We visited the adorable and historic church in Elbe, and a unique metal sculpture park. We let the girls play in the lake and had some family down time.  Addie had me read her Sarah Plain and Tall from start to finish in one sitting. Then we headed up to Longmire for a meadow walk.  Back home for re-heated pizza and mac n cheese (budget, remember).

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DAY 7:

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This was a long drive day. We started with breakfast in the cabin (I had thankfully already purchased eggs and bacon before we left Vancouver).

Then, we packed up and went into town for lunch in a train car (the rest of our lunches were sandwiches made out of the trunk of the car thanks to an ince chest and some pre-planning).

We did an awesome steam train ride with some epic views of Mt. Rainier and a great museum stop.

Then, it was on the road again all the way to Grants Pass, Oregon with a stop in Salem for T-Bell and a picnic at the park to give the girls some run time (We had them race, ha!).

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DAY 8:

In our dreams, we would have done a jet boat ride here, but with the kids and my pregnant belly it was not a good idea, so instead we drove over the river, grabbed some Dutch Bros. coffee and then went to The Oregon Vortex Mystery spot.  We took a tour and the girls were great.

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After that we drove to Redding for a late lunch and then all the way to my parents’ house in Santa Rosa.  We put the girls to bed and enjoyed a bbq dinner with my family!

DAY 9:

It was time to head back home.  We survived a road trip with a 19 month old and a three-year-old!  Yay us!

Have you ever road tripped?  Where to? Where should we go next?  We’ve already started thinking about a Sedona/Zion road trip!

{Feeling Fulfilled}

I’ve always had a heart to be a wife, a mother, and a homemaker.

However, it isn’t always quite the dream life I anticipated.

I don’t think that this is because the life is terrible, but rather because of my expectations and because of the lies that our society has told us about motherhood and fulfillment.

I recently read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Pat of Silver Bush (which I definitely recommend, by the way).

This quote, by Pat’s mother, stood out to me.

“I’ve been so happy here . . . How I loved to wake up in the night and feel that my husband and my children were well and safe and warm, sleeping peacefully. Life hasn’t anything better to offer than that, Patsy.”

How opposite of what society says!  How opposite of our culture’s self-centered agenda!

It’s no wonder that women today do not feel fulfilled.

We are told that being a wife and a mother is not enough.  We are told that we need to have our own hobbies and careers and activities outside of the home.

Having those things aren’t bad at all, but they won’t fulfill us.  We shouldn’t feel that without something beyond our jobs as wives or mothers, we can not be fulfilled.

God designed us to be fulfilled by Him first and foremost.  Beyond that, we are designed to be fulfilled by whatever God has called us to. Whatever.  Not what other people say is worthy.

And so, we are not fulfilled.  When we are in our seemingly small world of home duties and child rearing, we hear our culture screaming at us that there should be more.  And so we want more.  We believe the lie that our current calling could not possibly fulfill us.

This quote by Lucy Maud Montgomery challenges that.  It suggests that our home life can fulfill us, if we will let us.

Even more, scripture challenges society’s claim that women need more than their family life to make them worthwhile.

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” Ecclesiastes 9:10

I need to stop looking for fulfillment elsewhere.  I need to stop surviving between naps and bedtimes.  I need to stop constantly looking forward to the times I get to do something other than cook or clean or mother.  Because whatever I’m looking forward to, whatever relaxation or extracurriculars, they will be temporary.  My role as a wife and mother is lifelong.

If I seek fulfillment in my God, my husband, and my children, I will be much happier and much more fulfilled.

Where have you been seeking fulfillment?

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{Menu Plan Monday}

So, I’m sitting here eating leftover Pioneer Woman Beef Fajitas from last night and I’m thinking about food.

Because I’m pregnant and hungry all the time, and because I generally love food, and because I need to grocery shop tomorrow.

I also often get questions about meal planning and prep.

I also went to a freezer meal class at my church and then had an amazing experience of making freezer meals with some girlfriends last week (9 meals each for $60 in two hours – and all of them are crock-pot meals!)

So, basically, food is on my brain.

I thought I’d start sharing some of my meal plans here to help inspire and encourage others in their cooking.  I view cooking as a way to bless my family and that is what keeps me creative in this area.

Note: My kids don’t eat all these meals, but will often eat some of it or I make a simple meal for them on nights when I want to make something extra special for hubby and I.

I haven’t yet made this week’s dinner meal plan, so here is this past week:

MONDAY: One-Pot sausage pasta (This was a use what you have meal after returning from our road trip) and 30-minute rolls (Absolutely delicious).

*Kids ate sausage, roll, and broccoli on the side

TUESDAY: One-Pan Taco Casserole

* Kids ate some of this and then some leftovers

WEDNESDAY: Avocado Pasta Salad with Corn on the Cob

* kids ate the corn on the cob and couple bites of pasta

THURSDAY: Crock-Pot Chicken Curry with rice and green beans

* kids ate this.

FRIDAY: leftovers from Thursday

SATURDAY: Beef Fajitas

*We made this later than usual for us while kids had a movie night.  They had PB and J, carrots and hummus

SUNDAY: Chicken Pot Pie  (doubled to freeze one for a later time)

*kids ate this

For breakfasts, we change it up a lot as well.  This week we’ve had oatmeal, egg-in-the-hole, fried eggs and bacon, french toast and fruit, egg scramble, and apple-cinnamon muffins.

Lunches are typically sandwiches (tuna, egg salad, pb and j, BLT), yogurt, fruit, smoothies, crackers, cheese, leftovers, carrot sticks and hummus, etc.

There you have it!  One week of meal ideas, which apparently were almost all found on Pinterest this time.  Ha!

I hope this links are helpful!  What are you cooking this week?  I need to do my meal plan and I love trying new things!

{Baby #3 14 weeks}

HELLO.

I’m sure you thought I’d forgotten this poor blog.

I have not.

I’ve simply been prioritizing.

My husband.  My children. My chores.

Plus . . . SUMMER!

Oh, and morning (read: all-day) sickness and online teaching.

So, ya.  There you go.

But, I decided that I’d like to keep up with documenting my pregnancies.  I’ve never been consistent at keeping journals, so this blog is really my only record of my pregnancies and my children’s first years!

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The first 14 weeks have been filled with nausea and exhaustion and not wanting to eat anything while simultaneously being extremely hungry to the point of nausea, which is not good when you are already nauseous.

But, really, I can’t complain.  After two miscarriages, any sign of morning sickness was welcome.  It was a reminder to me that things were going well in my pregnancy.

Currently, I am feeling a bit better with only small bouts of nausea (as long as I eat).  I am hungry all day long and snacks don’t really cut it.  I need first and second breakfast, first and second lunch, and a big dinner, AND snacks.

I’m all about that BEEF lately.  I would eat a can of chunky beef and potato soup every. single. day. However, that probably wouldn’t be wise.  Just the thought of a tri-tip burrito from the farmers’ market burrito wagon makes me salivate (you think I’m joking).

I feel some energy coming back, which is probably why I rearranged my fridge and pantry and have been cooking and baking a ton!  It’s a good thing, because we have a big vacation coming that will require me to be energized!

I definitely feel as though I am gaining weight faster.  That once scared me, but now I have better perspective.  Anything for this little one, eh?

So, there you have it.  I am alive.  I am a bit over 14 weeks pregnant.

Here’s to a healthy pregnancy!