Monday, February 28, 2011

Meal Planning - February 28

I can barely believe February is nearly over! Not to be a negative nelly, but this month has really presented more challenges than I'd expected, including three funerals. My hymn of the month has been Chris Rice's version of "It is Well with my Soul". If you haven't heard it, allow me to provide you with a nice video:

So now, on to food for the week! Believe it or not, we did have a meal plan last week, it was just so crazy around here that about Wednesday I gave up trying to post it, LOL!


Lunch - Turkey & cheddar sandwiches on french bread, applesauce, carrot sticks

Dinner - Cheeseburger soup (made ahead & frozen), green beans, rolls


Lunch - Enchiladas, apple slices, chips

Dinner - Spaghetti w/meat sauce (sauce made ahead & frozen), garlic bread


Lunch - Leftover spaghetti, carrot sticks, orange wedges

Dinner - Mexican soup (made ahead & frozen; I make this with chicken, not turkey), chips, mixed veggies


Lunch - PB&J, apple slices, yogurt

Dinner - n/a (bowling league night)


Lunch - Turkey & cheddar on wheat bread, applesauce, carrot sticks

Dinner - BBQ chicken (prepared ahead & frozen) from the slow cooker on hamburger buns, coleslaw

Also, as a special treat, my dear husband has announced that he will be making baby burgers on Saturday night - yum! Now that we have entered TAKs season (state-wide standardized testing, for those of y'all who don't live in Texas) the poor thing is teaching 6 days a week instead of 5 for the next six weeks or so, so anything we can do to make his half-weekend a little better, we do. Let me tell you, kids, your teachers don't like Saturday school any better than you do!

Need some more meal ideas? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday, where hundreds of other bloggers link of their meal plans for the week. That's where I've gotten some of our family favorite recipes!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Giveaways Galore!

I'm in a giveaway kind of mood today - how about you? I'm putting together a new page on the blog, called "My List of Giveaway Linkys", which will provide you with links to all of the giveaway linkys I can find. So, you know, I have to enter a few of the current giveaways I find myself, LOL!

So far today, I'm hoping to win:

A $200 gift card at Coffee on the Patio

A $30 gift card to at Xmas Dolly

A $25 gift code to Organized Living at Life Is a Sand Castle

An Easy Lunch Boxes set at Mama to 4 Blessings

Have you entered any giveaways lately?

Morning Musings

Waking up in the morning is such a joy, don't you think? It's a bright new day, God has granted you breath and life, and for a few minutes of sleepy afterglow there are seemingly limitless possibilities to what you can accomplish. Love it! In reality, sadly, we rarely can accomplish everything on our To Do list (or lists, if you're like me) in one day. But when you first open your eyes, you are a superhero. I love that feeling :-)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Do You Lenten Fast?

Some of you may know that last year I did a personal Facebook fast during the season of Lent. It went well, and I didn't have nearly as many "cravings" as I expected. This year, in light of the medical challenges and weight gain I am handling, I think it may be time for a sugar fast. Now, let me be clear: I will be eating fruit. This sugar fast will deal more with processed sugars, such as candies, sodas, ice cream, chocolate, etc. and yes, it breaks my sugar-loving heart to be typing this right now. But! I had a meds check this week and was please do find out I have lost 5 pounds since my last visit. Yes, weight loss is slow going, but it is also necessary and (as some television commercial has been touting recently) naturally reinforcing to fit into clothes. What commercial IS that? Yeah, don't remember...good for thought, not for marketing, apparently! So, yes, refined sugar.

I know that it will be hard. I know that I will be cranky initially as the sugar cravings get stronger. I also know that, in the long run, this will be a change for the better. I know that my body is healthier and I have more energy when I don't eat sugar. I want to be strong and healthy so I'm around for a long time to watch my Monkey Boy grow up and so I can keep on dancing and teaching and therapizing (as my husband refers to my job in verb form). I want this.

Besides (this is the self-shaming part), if Christ can suffer and die on a cross for my sins, I can refrain from stuffing my face with sweets. I'm just saying...

Do you Lenten fast? What will you be sacrificing this year?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meal Planning - February 14

I know I'm a little late with meal planning today but, you know, it is my 30th birthday today. Since I'm entering a new decade and all, I guess it's okay to cut myself a little slack ;-) If you need more ideas for meals, drop by I'm an Organizing Junkie and see what literally hundreds of other bloggers have linked up this week! Here's what we'll be eating:


Lunch - Turkey on ciabatta, apple slices, carrot sticks (and might I say, this lunch was yummy!)

Dinner - Lasagna Soup (made ahead & frozen; I just added the noodles & cheese and the whole thing has 5 more minutes to simmer...I'm drooling from the smell!)


Lunch - Leftover enchiladas, string cheese, orange

Dinner - BBQ Chicken (prepared ahead & frozen; will go in the slow cooker Tuesday morning)


Lunch - Leftover BBQ Chicken sandwiches, apple slices, yogurt

Dinner - Potato Soup (made ahead & frozen)


Lunch - Turkey on wheat bread, string cheese, carrot sticks

Dinner - n/a (bowling league night)


Lunch - School Lunches

Dinner - Spaghetti & meat sauce, garlic bread

Next weekend we will hopefully have a date night to celebrate my birthday (we've found it's pretty difficult to get a table anywhere on the 14th!). I will unfortunately be attending the funeral of the owner of our dance studio's daughter; she died last Saturday, at the age of 38, from complications of H1N1. It happened so suddenly and she was so healthy, we're all still in shock. Rest in peace, Mindy. We're all dancing for you.

The Big 3-0

That's right, folks. The twenties are officially over today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

PraiseBaby DVD Giveaway - 2 Winners!

In honor of my blog now having 10 followers (okay, I'm impressed by that, LOL) I'm hosting my first giveaway: two DVDs from The PraiseBaby Collection(TM): Music for Baby's Spirit and Mind. Two winners will be randomly selected from all entries, with each winner receiving one DVD. I love this collection of DVDs! Monkey Boy spent many happy hours watching/listening to them as an infant and the music is so good that I used to put them on to listen to while doing housework, long after Monkey outgrew them. I am so excited for these lightly-used DVDs to move on to new homes where they will be cherished and appreciated!

"Praises and Smiles" is the first release in The PraiseBaby Collection. The DVD case describes it as "the first developmentally appropriate DVD series that creates a nurtuing environment for your baby's spiritual and intellectual development." I've described it to a friend as "like Christian Baby Einstein, with far less irritating instrumentation", and I'm standing by that description! Special features include options of listening to all songs with female lead vocals, child lead vocals or instrumental only.

"God of Wonders" is the second DVD in the series, also combining popular praise and worship songs with images of children enjoying God's creation, colorful animation and real world objects. The same options for listening to the tracks in three different formats are included. You and your baby will love experiencing these DVDs together!
How to Enter

First Entry (mandatory) - Visit The Praise Baby web site and tell me in a comment to this post which song on "Praises and Smiles" or "God of Wonders" you are most excited about bringing into your baby's life (1 entry)

Additional Entries (eligible for these after completing the First Entry)

Follow my blog with Google Friend Connect (1 entry)

Comment on another of my blog posts (1 entry - please leave a link to the post)

Blog about this giveaway (2 entries - please leave a link to the post)

Comment with your own experiences with The PraiseBaby Collection (1 entry)

Winners will be chosen at random on Saturday, March 5, 2011 and announced after winners are contacted and confirmed. Good luck!

You must complete the First Entry in order to be eligible for Additional Entries. Please include your e-mail address on all entries so I can contact you if you win. Invalid entries will be discounted. This giveaway is approved by the former baby-sized Monkey Boy (pictured above)!

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by me. Big House Kids has no idea who I am :-)

For more information from Big House Kids on these products, please visit their web site.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Inclement Weather Casserole

Yesterday we had another Inclement Weather Day here in DFW. Now, I heard most districts will be filing waiver applications with the state to get Days 3 & 4 excused so we don't have to have extra days of school in June. What Day 5 (in less than two weeks) does to that plan, I have no idea! I figured it doesn't help to worry about such things, so instead I decided to make a yummy casserole for lunch yesterday, since we were all three home unexpectedly. We had some leftover chicken and my husband requested something more Mexican-tasting than Italian, so here's what I came up with:


Diced, cooked chicken breast (I had about 2 cups)
Cooked noodles (I used a combination of shells & rotini, about 2 cups uncooked)
Can of cream of chicken soup (the small size is fine)
Can of diced tomatoes or a couple fresh tomatoes, diced
Can of green chiles
3/4 chopped onions (I happened to have fresh on hand, but you could use frozen, no problem)
Can of black beans
A couple handfuls of cheddar cheese (more or less depending on your preference)
Half a jar of salsa (again, more or less depending on your preference)


1) Preheat oven to 350ish (we are apartment-dwellers, so temperatures are sketchy on our oven)

2) In a large pot sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, saute the onions until tender

3) Stir in the cream of chicken soup, salsa, and diced chicken and simmer until heated throughout

4) Add a handful of cheese and simmer until incorporated

5) Stir in the black beans

6) Add black pepper to taste

7) Layer chicken mixture with cooked noodles in a casserole dish that has been prepared with non-stick cooking spray

8) Bake uncovered until thoroughly heated (about 20-30 minutes)

Makes about 6 servings

All of us really enjoyed this casserole. Monkey Boy ate a big serving without any fussing, which is unusual, lately. This is definitely going to make it into the freeze-ahead recipe rotation. Yum!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meal Planning - February 7

Here's me being on top of things this week. Well, actually, I might be procrastinating a teeny-tiny bit (it's Sunday evening and I'm not quite ready to get my session plans together for work this week) but, oh well, at least I'm doing something productive! Clearly, this will be a week for soups. Kind of hard to get out of that mindset when you've been iced in for the past week, I think ;-)

Monday, 2/7

Lunch - Turkey & cheddar on french bread, apple slices, carrot sticks

Dinner - Cheeseburger soup (made ahead & frozen)

Tuesday, 2/8

Lunch - PB&J on wheat bread, applesauce, yogurt

Dinner - Spaghetti & meat sauce (sauce made ahead & frozen)

Wednesday, 2/9

Lunch - Leftover spaghetti or PB&J, apple slices, yogurt

Dinner - Lasagna Soup (made ahead & frozen)

Thursday, 2/10

Lunch - Turkey & cheddar on wheat bread, applesauce, carrot sticks

Dinner - n/a (bowling league night)

Friday, 2/11

Lunch - PB&J, apple slices, yogurt

Dinner - Potato Soup (made ahead & frozen)

Did I happen to mention that this will be my last week ever planning meals in my twenties? That's right, on Valentine's Day I am turning the big 3-0! None of my coworkers are impressed by this (a significant number of them are turning 50 this year, actually) but I think it's kind of cool :-) If you're looking for more yummy meal-planning ideas, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie, where hundreds of other bloggers link up their delicious plans and recipes for the week!

Romance in Collaboration

Before I was a mother, I didn't realize the true value of a really good babysitter. I mean, yes, I babysat all through high school and college and recognized that I was important in keeping the children from dying or being seriously injured or carted off by CPS while their parents took in a movie, but I didn't truly know the value of child-free silence. I love my son, but I also love being alone. I love being around the house with my husband just the two of us, sometimes, and basking in the silence that comes from being near each other but no necessarily talking, just *being*. Our favorite babysitters, the ones we keep hiring, are the ones who prefer we bring Monkey Boy to their homes, instead of them coming to us. To some parents, I'm sure this seems like a hassle. If you have more than one kid, it's probably darn near impossible. But for the parents of a singleton, it's perfect. It's bliss. And sometimes, when you're really lucky (like last night), the small person goes for a sleepover with his favorite babysitter. Then you and your husband can do something really romantic, like clean out the storage closet together.

Again, I realize this is all a matter of personal taste. To many, pulling out box after box of things, going through your past and deciding what you can let go of, what needs to be condensed, repacking boxes so they are more space-efficient...well, this might not be your idea of a good time. To me, with my sweetie, working side-by-side until the task is done? Bliss. And now that the effort is complete, the formerly stuffed storage closet is half empty, we have a nearly $400 donation for Goodwill packed up and ready to be delivered, a big box of stuff to Freecycle, and a pile of a dozen textbooks that will be getting new owners next week courtesy of To me, working together with your spouse on a task that will positively benefit your life in so many ways is much more romantic than dinner and a movie. Which reminds me, I need to go kiss my husband good morning...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Icepocalyse & Valentines

Day 3 of Icepocalypse (as the local news folks are calling it) is nearly to an end and the menfolk are still climbing the walls with cabin fever. We ventured out this afternoon for my follow-up visit at the medical clinic. It was scary sliding through the ice-covered parking lot and the big needle in my gluteus maximus didn't feel so hot, but six days of being sick is about all I can handle before the internal cabin fever begins. And let's be honest, it's a heck of a lot easier to get out of an ice-in apartment than your own skin! Anyhow, the steroids have entered the body - let the healing begin!

As usual, I have not been nearly as productive as I would wish to be during an unexpected week off work. I suppose I should cut myself some slack, considering I've been feverish and sleeping more than usual, but that's not really our style as women, now, is it? I don't know about you, but unless I'm strapped to a hospital bed, I feel guilty allowing myself to be sick and let things go to heck in a handbasket around the house.

I am happy that Monkey Boy has completed his Valentines for school long before the big day. We made it an assembly line-style family affair this year: Daddy folded the cardstock and cut out the hearts, I affixed the tie-dye origami paper behind the "windows", Monkey made the list of classmates and teachers and carefully addressed each Valentine accordingly. I remembered to take a picture of several of them to share with you before packing everything up in his backpack to go to school Monday (did I forget to mention schools are closed Friday, for sure?) - ahem - FOUR days ahead of the due date (next Friday). Yup, I'm pretty proud of us. The Valentines turned out pretty nice, don't you think?

Things that are getting neglected this week include produce, as the three sad bananas on our kitchen counter could tell you. I had an absolutely amazing banana chocolate chip muffin at Mimi's Cafe last week and I want to see if I can recreate the experience at home. Except, you know, the Mimi's muffin probably had like 3,000 calories...I'm hoping to avoid that part! I'll definitely post the recipe if I can come up with something decent, though.

Until tomorrow, keep warm and stay safe in whatever crazy weather you are experiencing!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Odd Couple

It's Day Two of the Great Ice Seige of 2011 in Dallas/Fort Worth. We ventured out (slowly) to run a few errands this afternoon and have now returned home. Since my husband is quickly succumbing to the madness of cabin fever, I figured this would be the perfect time to ask him to lend his brain to my blog. Since the blogosphere seems to be primarily female-dominated (or maybe it's just the blogs I follow?), I thought it would be nice to get a male perspective around here for once, at least.

My husband is very supportive of my organizing efforts. He is happy to drop things off at Goodwill, put something out for a Freecycle pick-up, or go through a box of things upon request to decide what can go and what needs to stay. At times, though, my efforts to get things orderly and organized can get on his nerves. My goal today is to really get a handle on organizing priorities, man-style: What makes his life easier, what makes his life harder, and what just drives him crazy?

Turning over the keyboard now...

Having grown up in a cluttered household, I value my wife's efforts to tidy things up and provide some order in our home. We both feel it's our responsibility to help our son break what we call the generational cycle of clutter and disorganization into which he was born. On a surface level, it seems we're on the same page.

I guess the disconnect between my wife and I (as it pertains to home organization,) is in the process. For example, my wife finds great satisfaction in re-purposing furniture and clothes. She brings in items from Freecycle and has devoted time and organizational space in our apartment to painting, cutting, refinishing, sewing and all the other activities that go into restoring everything from shirts to pillows to tables. While I marvel at her passion, I do not share it. I know every time she gets that beam of hope in her eye, the piece of furniture will first take up space in our little apartment before she can make the time to fix it up. Our living room is the "waiting room" for projects-in-progress.

My wife and I differ in our ideas of cleaning the house. When she says cleaning, she means spending the day sorting, labeling and re-configuring space to make our stuff fit. While this is helpful, and many of my friends envy the fact that I have a wife with such talents, I have a totally different set of activities in mind when I say cleaning. My efforts include scrubbing, sanitizing and dusting. She spends countless hours reading organizing books and subscribing to websites that share innovative ideas on how to utilize time more effectively and stay on top of household chores. I, on the other hand, look at all the organizing books and wonder---at what point do all the books about how to tackle clutter become the clutter themselves?

I wrestle with how to say these things tactfully when my wife asks me how I feel about her efforts. I do feel very blessed that she works to organize our home. I see the many benefits. She helps me stay on top of my clutter and inspires me to be more organized at work. However, since she asked me to share this blog space, I decided to be completely honest and share some of my thoughts on where we disagree. I guess our next step is to try to take our individual strengths and compliment one another in our household endeavors.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You're a Snow Day, Betty

Exciting things are happening at our apartment this morning. By exciting, I mean that the world outside, overnight, has been transformed from a warm January in which I wear shorts into a crazy-cold February covered in a thick layer of ice, with more freezing rain still falling. Um, what? Did I mention I was wearing shorts, like, yesterday?

My sleep schedule is a little off right now, due to being sick and cranky and tired for the past five days. I pretty much just nap when I feel like it and to heck with trying to get in 8 hours at night. Kind of goes against my neurotic nature, but, oh my goodness, I've had some *awesome* daytime sleep in the last few days! So that's why I popped out of bed at 4:45 this morning for no apparent reason. Since I was up, it seemed like a good idea to check our school district web sites for delays/closures. Monkey Boy's district? Closed. My district? Closed.
Not that I was going today, either way, still having no voice above a whisper. Not that I'm bitter. Anyhow, my husband's district? Still holding out hope that they could declare the world safe enough for students & staff to somehow get to their campuses. They're always the last district in our area to decide what to do. I can't decide if the superintendent is an optimist or grew up in Alaska.

I woke up my husband just enough to tell him the news (well, non-news, in his district's case) and then proceeded to turn off the alarm clocks. He snorted (or snored, I couldn't really tell if he was awake) and said he couldn't wait to see what time Monkey got up today. You see, Monkey, like many children, has a built-in goof-off-o-meter. On school days, when I try to get him up at 6:15ish am (his alarm clock goes off at 6:00) there is a great weeping and gnashing of teeth. He is small, sleepy and cranky. He cries. He yells. He claims he is "sick". Now, you may be thinking, okay, the kid doesn't like school. However, the same thing happens on weeke
nds when we get up at 7:00 am for dance class on Saturdays and church on Sundays. Now church enthusiasm may be on-again, off-again, but this kid *loves* dance class, so I don't think it's a motivational issue. Again, it's that goof-off-o-meter. There appears to be something very satisfying about waking up very early, all on your own, and not having anything to do but irritate your parents for several hours hence. This is the kind of data I want to graph. Yes, I realize that makes me even more of a nerd, and I'm okay with that. I'm also working on a list of things Monkey needs to get done around the house after eating his cereal and watching Mickey Mouse club this morning. It's going to be one of *those* days. We're not going to all sit around and annoy each other today, something productive will happen!

A winter photo I took as a teenager in Oregon.
Much less bi-polar weather there than in Texas!

How do you spend snow days with your family? Yes, I'm calling it a snow day, even though there's no snow, because inclement weather day just doesn't really roll off my tongue. My favorite snow day ever was on my "golden" birthday (when you turn the same age as the day of the month in which you were born). Being a Valentine's baby, that was when I turned 14, the only time it ever snowed in Portland on my birthday (during the time in which I lived there, anyway). My mom literally spent four hours slowly driving to my best friend's house and back so that she and I could hang out and build a snow fort and drink hot chocolate and basically goof off because there was NO SCHOOL ON MY BIRTHDAY!!! I remember the excitement like it was yesterday. A snow day is sometimes unexpected, but almost always a welcome reprieve from real life and exciting for kids of all ages. It can also be a compliment. On Ugly Betty, one of her love interests, slacker musician Jesse, calls her a snow day after she does something sweet for him. One of my favorite snow quotes is the following, by an unknown author: When it snows, you can do one of two things: shovel or make snow angels. I'm going to try to figure out how to get Monkey to do the latter today. Metaphorically, that is. You can't really make snow angels in freezing rain ;-)

For the record, my husband's district finally just decided to close. I guess the superintendent is from Texas, after all!