Operation: Monthly Meal Plan

With Adam coming back soon(ish), I decided to create a monthly meal plan to help make dinners easier. Because, as most “single” moms with deployed husbands know, we consider a bowl of easy mac a successful meal these days. Well, that doesn’t cut it when my husband is back home. I figured I would take some time now to prepare a meal plan, so we can enjoy being with him instead of using all that time thinking about what to make and then preparing meals.

I thought I would share my ideas with you. It’s my first time doing this, so don’t critique too much, okay?

1. Hit up the internet and browse cook books. First, I needed to come up with what we are going to eat. I decided on compiling 20 recipes for the monthly meal plan, because there are always those nights we eat leftovers, go out to eat, or get take- out pizza. And, with it being the holidays soon, I thought 20 would suffice. I went to the trusty, infamous Pinterest to get most of my ideas and filled in the rest with our favorites.

2. Create a word document. When I found a recipe I liked, I would put it directly into a word document. I opened up each recipe that looked good and checked the ingredients because while it may look scrumptious, I know I will only make the quick, easy recipes. So, I would suggest going to the actual website and checking out the recipe first before putting it into your word document. I wrote each title of the recipe followed by the website link directly to that particular recipe. This will make it very easy to open up the document when the time comes to make it and I will be led directly to where I want to be. Quick and easy!

3. Plan. I look at my calendar. I note which days we already have blocked off for date night, squadron functions, or holiday parties. Obviously, I will not be cooking on those nights. I drew up a quick calendar on paper and wrote in what I was going to make and what night. I will keep this and hang it on the fridge for that month so I know (and Adam) what we will be having each night. This also helps for those crockpot meals that you need to prepare before hand or if meat needs to be taken out early to thaw.

4. Grocery shop. You can decide how often you want to grocery shop. Due to our smaller fridge and freezer space, I go shopping once a week. I put together a grocery list of those meals for the week and see once what I need and what I already have.

5. Enjoy!! My goal with this monthly meal plan is to save time, first of all. It will also save money because there’s nothing better than going to the grocery store having written down exactly what you will need for the following week. It helps cut down on last minute impulse buys that I am guilty of.

Just Let Them Be Little

At times, I find myself wishing for the next stage in my girls’ lives.

When my frustration over Brooklyn’s two-year-old whines are pushing me towards the end of my rope, or Scarlett’s sporadic sleep schedules are making for a rather exhausting night, I tend to think about the future when I won’t be constantly cleaning up after them and changing numerous dirty diapers all day long.

I sometimes dream of the day when Brooklyn can tie her own shoes, brush her own teeth, and not have the annoying whine-cry that she has seemed to perfect in about two days’ time. Or the day when Scarlett will take long naps and sleep through the night without me needing to rise and break up my peaceful slumber.

But then, remorse fills me. I can’t believe I am actually wishing away my daughter’s need for snuggles all day long, her request for singing song after song while sitting on my lap, laughing and looking at me like I’m the coolest person there ever will be.

Or the way my baby girl sleepily opens her eyes during the middle of the night after I pick her up, immediately drawing close to me, and knowing that everything is right again. And the biggest smile you can imagine when I walk into her room, lighting up her face because I am near.

My girls need me to live in the now. I realize that once this stage is over, I will miss it so much. That sweet, sweet smell of freshly washed baby skin. That little hand holding mine as we cross the street because she’s scared of oncoming cars and she knows mommy knows best….

I will miss it all.

And so, even during those frustrating times, I am determined to live out each day not wishing these magical times away with my girls.

Because even though I see “good” in the coming stages, I also see “bad” in leaving these behind.

Products I like:: #1

I was blog surfing the other night (one of many things I look forward to doing after the girls are in bed — that, and eating chocolate) and saw a really cool idea that I will be adopting for this blog. The blogger had a tab on products that she likes. Once she comes across something that she will definitely be using again, eating again, etc, she then blogs about it and keeps a nifty little tab at the top where you can browse at your leisure.

So, consider this my first “Products I like” post.

(Source)

The BOB double stroller is one of my all-time favorite things that I own right now. I know I’ve talked about it in a previous post, but I can’t have a Products I Like tab and not include this! I seriously would be heartbroken (and lost!) if something happened to this stroller.

I run a lot throughout the week (currently 40-50 miles per week to give you an idea) pushing my girls in this stroller. They love it. I love it. It is completely worth the money and I have gotten at least 5 other people to purchase a BOB stroller as well. (I really should get paid from the company every time I convince someone to purchase one of their strollers!) If you are a runner, or just looking for a good stroller to hold over for years and years, I would suggest getting a BOB. It is top rated amongst running moms.

I bought the single BOB Ironman in 2010 right after Brooklyn was born, and purchased the duallie BOB revolution this year. Both are still in great condition and I plan to hang on to these for years to come!

*I am not being paid to write these posts. They are purely my opinions on products that I come across and love.

Currently Enjoying…

…Modern Family: seriously, so funny. If you haven’t watched this show, please do. You can thank me later.

…fall clothes: leggings, sweaters, boots, scarves… ahh, I love every bit of it!

…a new hair style: I did it. I cut my hair. Like, a lot. I got 6-7 inches off and while I’m not the dare devil type to do drastic things with my hair, I went in with a picture of a hair style I liked and came out looking like a new person! And, the verdict is: I love it!!

…nap time: enough said.

…Zulily, Ideeli, and Rue La La: Um, how could I not have gone on these websites before? They have everything I will ever need for our girls (and much more)! You need to check this website, this website and this website out.

…skype dates: being able to talk with Adam and see him is wonderful. He even got to “tuck” Brooklyn into bed last night and say her bedtime prayers with her. They both needed that, I think.

…birthday packages: living in Japan means mail doesn’t always get here on time. My mom sent a birthday package out and while she felt bad that the package didn’t arrive exactly on my birthday, I think it was pretty cool that my birthday celebration could be extended by a few days! So, no worries, Mom! I actually enjoyed getting to open it yesterday versus on my birthday!

…home sweet home: scent in my Scentsy burner. Smells so good!

…Crystal lite Raspberry lemonade

Gone

Today, it hit me.

I no longer have my own privacy.

You see, this morning {like every time I need just a couple minutes to myself to regroup}, I put in a video for Brooklyn in hopes of her being so distracted that she doesn’t notice I’m not in the room. I slowly inch towards my bedroom, quietly shutting the door and sit down with a sigh of contentment.

Silence. Glorious silence. 

I usually give it two minutes before I hear a pitter patter of toddler feet come running down the hallway, yelling “momma,” then the pounding on the door begins. Some days when that break is really needed, I’m able to move to the back bathroom for one extra minute of solitude before her patience (and mine– from her yelling) runs out.

Well, this morning, it happened. She opened the door!

Brooklyn has only ever pounded on the door before, waiting for me to come and let her in. Which meant, I was in control.

That no longer is the case. Many thoughts went through my head. Where will I go now? The bedroom was the last resort, a place she wasn’t supposed to be able to enter without my help! Now, I’m the helpless one! 

Having your sacred place of quietness taken away is a feeling no mom ever wants to have. While we love our children dearly, sometimes we just need those couple minutes of time away to re-energize before the hours of headache and chaos begin again.

So, now I have a new problem to figure out this weekend: if shut doors won’t stop her anymore, what will?

Surviving Deployment

Since moving to Japan, we have been through a lot of deployments with Adam. While I know I’m not the only one who has to deal with them, I thought I would create a list on how we survive deployments in our family. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Or someone you know.

Surviving deployments as children:

Our oldest daughter just turned 2. Adam has been deploying off and on since she was 5 weeks old. This is the first year that it’s starting to really affect Brooklyn. It is difficult for a toddler to understand why Daddy is gone to work and won’t be returning for a very long time. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for their little minds to grasp, so I have tried the best I can to help her through this difficult time.

1) “See” Daddy every day. I have placed a lot of pictures around our apartment of Adam. Brooklyn can then see him via pictures all the time. This allows her to have a visual of him and brings her to talk about him a lot.

2) Buy a Daddy doll. We have a Daddy doll that Brooklyn absolutely loves. It’s a great way for Daddy to go everywhere with her. The Daddy doll is the perfect size to squeeze and snuggle with at night as well.

3) Create a deployment countdown. There are multiple ways to do this, but we have created a paper chain deployment countdown. Brooklyn loved help make it and it’s a fun thing for her to participate in each day.

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All you need is construction paper, a scissors, and tape.

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Cut the paper into strips (one for each day they will be deployed). Or, save time and energy by using a cutting board if you have one. Unfortunately, I do not.

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Let your child help by handing you the strips, taping the pieces, or whatever you would like.

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Finished product! After taping each individual piece and linking them together, hang up in a visible place. Then, each morning have your little one take one off. The chain will continue to get smaller and smaller as the excitement of Daddy coming home will grow!

4) Record videos before he leaves. I show these to both our girls. It’s great for Brooklyn to see her Daddy, but also great for Scarlett to hear her Daddy’s voice.

For Moms:

1) Make small goals. Don’t look at the deployment as one huge hurdle to get over. Instead, create small stepping stones to help you get through. Plan a small trip, invite people to visit, train to run a race. Having small things to look forward to allows the time to move by more quickly.

2) Find people in similar situations. We live on base here in Japan, so I am surrounded by women who have deployed husbands as well. It is so nice to be able to talk with them, commiserate about the same things, or just have a shoulder to cry on.

3) Kid-free time. This is key for me. While I absolutely adore my girls, I need a break every once in a while. So, I hire a babysitter once or twice a week to come for a couple hours so I can get away. This allows the girls to get used to someone other than their mommy, and allows me to run my errands at a fraction of the time it takes if I had the girls with me. You’d be amazed how refreshed you feel afterwards!

For Dads:

1) Send packages. I make it a point to send Adam something every 2-4 weeks while he is deployed. It may be something as simple as a card from me and the girls, or a big package full of goodies, movies, magazines, etc. Regardless of what it is, Adam loves receiving things in the mail from us. It is the highlight of his week.

2) Record videos. I try to record a video of our girls and send them to Adam every day. It allows him to see what new accomplishments each girl is reaching and helps him not feel as left out. (he was able to see B’s first steps via video and S’s first time rolling over). Technology is a wonderful thing!

3) Email. They love to hear from you no matter if it’s a good day or bad. It helps them feel more involved and up to speed on how life on the home front is going.

I would love to hear what you do to make it through the deployments!

Staying Fit with TWO

When we found out we were pregnant with our second child, many people commented to me on how my fitness would go right out the window. That I would be much too busy to be able to exercise. That, while I was able to lose the weight from my first pregnancy, there would be no way I could lose it with the second.

Well, this blog post is written for you: the ones who don’t think it’s possible to work out and be a mommy of 2. I am not here to endorse any workout plan or anything. I am here to tell you what worked for me, and that it can work for you, too.

Around 6 weeks pregnant, I began an almost-10 week morning sickness bout. Dealing with a 12 month old on top of that was not fun. Think: kid videos all day (to this day, I still feel the need to throw up when B wants to watch one of them), crackers ground into the living room floor and this neat-freak, sick momma so sick on the couch that I didn’t even care. (I should mention my husband was deployed, hence the drastically lazy life we led.) So, there obviously was no way I had enough gumption to strap my girl into the jogger and head out for a nice 5 mile run. 

After my morning sickness subsided (hallelujah!), I eased back into running again. I only lasted until 24 weeks along, and from there until S came, I walked. I would walk anywhere from 2-5 miles a day, 4-5 days a week. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to get my blood flowing and my heart pumping. 

So, once S came along, I had a small fitness base. Nothing compared to before I got pregnant with her, but enough. A couple weeks after her birth, I was itching to get back out and start running. I very slowly started around 2.5 weeks postpartum. (This is where I need to say: do what is right for your own body. Every single person {and pregnancy} is completely different. Wait until you and your doctor say you are ready). 

Now that you have my back story, here is where you come in. I make exercise a priority. It’s not the highest priority in my day to day activities, but it is quite high on the list. Once my girls’ needs are met (fed, diapers changed, clothed, etc), we head out each day for a run. I have a double BOB jogging stroller and can honestly say it is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Thankfully, both girls love to ride in the stroller which makes my life easier, but we usually head out for an hour or so while I run and they sit. I bring toys, snacks, and a water bottle to keep B occupied. After each run, we stop by the track on base or a park and she can get out to run around and play. It honestly is the best of all worlds. Each of us gets our needed daily activities in and we go home happy.

I understand, each family/child is different. I’m not saying you need to do what I do. I just want to say that being a fit mom of 2 is possible and can happen. You may need to put your mind to it, find a way to make it possible for your own schedule, but it is possible!

I would love to read any comments from mommas (or daddy’s) and what works for you and your child(ren) to get your workouts in!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Due to many requests for this recipe, I wanted to post it here and share it with you!

It only involves THREE ingredients.
I don’t think you could get much simpler than that.
(Plus, it doesn’t involve eggs so you can eat the batter guilt-free! haha)
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
30 oz. Pumpkin pie mix
2 boxes – yellow cake mix
semi-sweetened chocolate chips
Pour the pumpkin pie mix (make sure it’s not the real pumpkin puree) into a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the 2 boxes of yellow cake mix.
Mix well.
Add chocolate chips.
(I didn’t measure the amount, just kept pouring until I felt it was enough)
The mixture looks like this once you have it all mixed and have put them in a muffin tin.
Bake according to your cake mix box.
 I cooked mine for 18 minutes.
I made mine pretty large, and it yielded 35 muffins,
so be prepared to share or bring this to a get-together or something.
Or keep them all for yourself. Whatever works.
may have burnt my mouth on this muffin because I ate it too soon after it came out of the oven.
It. was. delicious.
Enjoy!!