meals, aug 16-22

It’s been a busy week and we’ve been playing catch-up, but we are getting into a groove this week where things are going to be simple. It’s the last full week of summer vacation for 13 & 11. I hate the feeling of summer coming to a close. Though I am on a sabbatical this academic year, I am taking graduate classes and 3 is starting preK. We are celebrating the last week of summer vacation with trips to the beach, a beachside arcade, and our town’s community night (complete with s’mores). I have a hair appointment and dinner plans with a friend, which I’m also looking forward to.

Friday & Saturday, we are going to grill marinated chicken with corn/potatoes, and either beets or green beans.

Sunday & Monday, Chile-lime burgers, veggie burgers, and kielbasa on the grill with raw vegetables with Greek yogurt ranch.

Taco Tuesday (and Wednesday) with chicken, jalape├▒os, salsa, cheese, and Greek yogurt and a chopped salad kit. I have a hair appointment and need to get some things squared away on campus before the semester starts (parking permit, ID, bookstore visit, connecting my laptop to the Internet, email on my phone, etc). Wednesday, we will use the leftover rotisserie chicken for more tacos/burrito bowls.

Thursday, I am going out to dinner with a friend, but I’m planning on tossing some leftover ricotta in with chickpea pasta and sauce for a baked penne. We will use the leftovers for lunch on Friday.

Breakfasts are going to be simple: multi-grain English muffins with cream cheese; 3 requested salmon cream cheese because he’s turning 92 in the fall… I’ll probably add some plain Greek yogurt and berries to this and the kids will have squeezable yogurts with berries as well.

Lunches are going to be a hodgepodge of things we have in the freezer (mini pizzas, nuggets, mini chicken wontons) and leftovers. I like trying to keep things simple, especially with this being the last full week of summer break. I’d like to spend a good bit of time playing and having fun and these quick lunches will allow me to get the kids fed and 3 down for his nap with ease.

 

meals, aug 10-16

What a week it’s been! My parents are visiting and we’ve been out and about at the beaches in town; we’ve also been eating all of the homegrown tomatoes. (My parents brought us BAGS full of tomatoes from their garden — I’ve been having toast and tomato for breakfast and lunch pretty much daily and then pizza shells with tomatoes for dinner!)

Prior to the visit, I got to spend some 1:1 time with 13 & 11. I took them to Water Country, USA on Monday. We had a blast and went on nearly all of the water slides (several of them multiple times). We packed lunches and snacks and enjoyed ourselves in the NE sun!

My parents are leaving Monday morning, so we will get back to our normal eating habits after that. We’ve been still doing a lot of grilling and my mom made an eggplant dish last night that the kids ate before any of the adults could have seconds! Tonight, my husband and I are trying a local wine bar for a date night. We are really excited! Tomorrow, we are going to use the last of the pizza shells and more tomatoes for dinner and on Sunday, we are going to be at the Sox game and will likely introduce my dad to The Sausage Guy. So fun!

On Monday, I want to familiarize myself with campus. I’m going back to school and my anxiety really skyrocketed when we paid my tuition last week. I am really nervous to juggle everything. My husband is going to grill chicken and corn on the cob Monday. Tuesday will be similar but with a marinated flank steak. We figure on Wednesday, we will hit Chipotle to celebrate the end of t-ball and then Thursday, grilled chicken sausages and Caprese salad with our fresh tomatoes. We will likely have fresh tomato and cucumber salads from my parents’ garden all week with our dinners.

I’ve really been enjoying the easy nature of grilling dinners. I know it’ll be fun to be back in the kitchen more when fall rolls around but for now, this is really easy and delicious. We’ve been walking to get ice cream many nights after dinner since we have such little cook time/clean up.

Summer is winding down but we still have two full weeks of fun and beach days planned. I am hoping to enjoy each and every day.

july reflections, august goals

July has been a great month! I feel like my health is improving, I’m down seven pounds, I’ve been to the beach as much as possible both to play with the kids and to read alone, and I am just overall feeling much lighter. All that being said, I did not meet any of my July goals — I stopped doing yoga and I only did one 5K; I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped and I feel fine about it.

Typically, I would get into my own head about such compromises: I’d feel anxious and I’d obsess about everything I didn’t do. This month, I took a different approach — I went into MayMyRun and turned off my goals and I canceled my yoga membership. Full disclosure: Getting into Boston for yoga was turning into a stress. There is a lot more traffic and there are a lot more people and unexpected road closures in the summer. It just became too much to leave 90 minutes before class instead of 45 and still find myself sprinting from the parking garage to the studio. I found a place close by that I am going to try once I decide I’m ready to dedicate the time again (September at the latest).

Enough about what I’ve not done. This month, I am going to focus on what I’ve done as I reflect. I have walked. A LOT. I only use the AppleHealth app on my phone, so it only logs steps I take when I have it on me. I have upped my walks with the dog, my son and I walk basically everywhere, and when I’m at the beach alone or with my husband, I go for long walks there. I am happy to say that I’ve been logging 2-6miles a day with minimal effort. I enjoy walking and I am finding that walking the dog 4-6x a day has him in a great mood as well. Win-Win!

I have also been eating better. I’m not really making a lot of food adjustments. I have just been watching and am making sure I don’t skip lunch and then eat nonstop from 3:30-bedtime. My goal is to lose 3lbs a month, which I think is reasonable and healthy and it will not have me feeling like I can’t eat cupcakes or have a drink or a shrimp quesadilla when the mood strikes. This has been a great approach for me so far.

Additionally, I haven’t been planning long, elaborate meals. Mostly, we’ve been grilling chicken and corn on the cob and serving it with either grilled or cold vegetables and watermelon. It’s easy and delicious and the pressure of meal prep/planning is largely gone for the time being. What I have been planning are trips — I am taking 3 on a surprise trip a month after his birthday. I booked our flights and our hotel and have gotten in touch with friends in that area. I cannot wait! I have also planned on going back to school and registered for my fall classes. Truth be told, I am nervous but excited.

I am hoping to keep things much the same for August. I want to continue to eat in a healthy, mindful way. I also need to be sure that I’m walking the dog and myself regularly. I can get back to yoga and running in September without skipping a beat. I know that once the school year starts and we are in more of a groove, I like to have more structure but for now, I want to allow myself to enjoy the leisurely exercise that I’m getting and the no-stress, no-pressure summer ways.

#blessed

Sometimes it can difficult to navigate the social constructs of media platforms online. I oftentimes see articles/posts berating the “humble brag” and this had me thinking…

Today, I dropped 13 off at camp and then took my son for a special treat before his camp started. (Full Disclosure: I also got myself a treat and forgot to order decaf, so I consumed caffeine for the first time in over two years today. WOW! I see how why people drink coffee; I feel like I can scale buildings and cure infectious diseases all in the next 40 minutes!) After his cake-pop, I dropped him off at camp and took my skinny caramel iced latte to the beach for the next three hours. I read much of that time and also squeezed in two walks for a total of ~3 miles. Lovely!

During my walks, I was thinking about my husband. I had texted him after 13’s drop-off and told I might stop by Starbucks. His response: “You should!” This is basically his response for any idea I have that involves basically anything. It’s great and I know he sincerely means it because he is constantly telling me to do more for myself (and I, him, because this is marriage and not a one-way street). This is one way we keep ourselves and each other accountable for things like prioritizing our own health and fitness, mental health, breaks, etc. It works for us.

As I walked down the beach, I thought that these are things that I’m typically unable to share with the Twitter/Facebook crowds. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging about my day because my glass is overflowing. Trust, there are many days when my glass is empty and is teetering on the edge of the table waiting to be broken. The thing about parenting and maybe just being an adult is that everyone complains that nobody ‘keeps it real’ and only features ‘highlight reels’ — but what happens when this is the real much of the time?

Sure, I am not posting recordings of 3 screaming at the top of his lungs; I reserve those special moments for the patrons of the pizza place next door. Still, I would love to share with people my thoughts sometimes — about how my husband is a good man and a great father but I mostly just share that with him. He works hard to provide for our family and is supportive of my many ideas (most of which involve an airplane ride and money that I don’t make being on a sabbatical); he plays with the kids but also sets boundaries; he models to three children what a father and husband should do and while he doesn’t get it right all of the time, I think he’s definitely got it right the majority.

I clearly was having some philosophical banter in my mind during this walk; maybe it was the coffee or maybe just the peaceful vitamin sea I was soaking up. I continue to wonder why it is so difficult to share what is going on in our worlds. I know that I share more on Instagram than any other platform of social media and that is because most of the people on my IG are people I communicate with regularly and they know that 3 is often on the verge of breaking me and also that I live a privileged life full of love and stability.

For now, I will keep things this way as to not rock the boat of the #parentsquad on Twitter that air on the side of parental frustrations or the #soblessed crowd on Facebook that share their many #humblebrags. I guess, largely, I wanted to share that some of us are grateful for what we have and the lives we’ve built and it’s okay to be positive about those things because our optimism/lightness doesn’t negate your dark times or struggles.

We are all in it together to rejoice and support, day in and day out.

Note: This potentially is a bit of a ramble. Caffeine really does a number on me and I needed an outlet to get my morning walk thoughts out there.

family date nights

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to get quality time in, whether that be between my husband and I; as an entire family; or one-on-one time with each of the children (which is not easy when they outnumber you). I am very mindful when planning things to make sure that 13 & 11 get enough 1:1 time with their dad. I don’t ever want them to feel like they are in need of time that seems impossible. Fortunately, with our schedule, he does drop-off and pick-up with school daily and even takes them back to work with him sometimes (which they both enjoy).

Our usual babysitter has been working a ton this summer (she is such a hard worker), so we ended up using a different sitter for my husband’s birthday date night. She told us that she can come home any weekend to sit for us and we are now thinking of changing how we do date nights. Instead of doing a weekly date night on a Monday or Tuesday night (where all we basically do is talk about the kids), we are going to do one weekend night date a month. We can go into the city, get dressed up, and take our time to have an actual date sans kids (physically or in conversation).

As a result, we want to use the rest of our monthly date-night budget to do a family date night. It’s hard to try and plan something like this when it feels like we do a lot as a family, probably more than most people — we are at the beach often, we walk to get ice cream, we have dinner as a family every night aside from date night, goodnight stories, vacations, etc. We don’t watch much TV and have no video games/electronics in the house, so we only have each other to entertain for the most part. It works for us BUT I feel like we get so locked into our routines during the school year, having something more defined may be worth trying.

We are trying to think of something where we can all get a little more gussied up than usual and go to a nice dinner or head someplace ‘fun’ like Dave & Busters and just enjoy a few more experiences than we’d normally have. We don’t go out to each much as a family; sure, we order pizza/takeout, but we don’t get out too much because it’s time consuming and a bit pricey. I think this will be fun for all of us.

Another idea that we have to spend more 1:1 time with each of the kids is to use our weekday babysitter, on occasion, to take one of the kiddos out to do something (a movie, dessert, pizza at the beach, etc) to get some more bonding time with the kids. We feel that as they are getting older and busier, it’s in all of our best interests to be deliberate in making time with one another.

I am happy to hear any additional ideas people have on how they set aside family time! We are really looking forward to trying this out!

meals, july 19-25

Hello, all!

I am still struggling to settle into a summer routine. We spend a lot of time at the beach and in general outside. Meals continue to be easy with us relying on our fast favorites (read: grilled chicken & raw vegetables with healthy sides of stone fruit/watermelon).

Today is my husband’s birthday and we have a sitter! This is our first date night since before our Disney trip in June. To say we are excited is an understatement! I got this jumpsuit for dinner:

I’m really just looking forward to some 1:1 time with my husband. Our birthdays are only four days apart and we were out celebrating mine last weekend. This coming weekend, we are planning a beach day Saturday and then a bbq at home to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We are grilling the usual burgers/hot dogs but I wanted to add one nicer element, so I grabbed burrata for a burrata, tomato, artichoke, and balsamic glaze salad. Our plan is to walk to a local ice cream shop for dessert!

Sunday, we are expecting to see 90s again. We’d originally planned to hit the farmer’s market after church but we may forgo that and just have the kids change and hit the beach again. We are going to play it by ear.

The rest of the week is going to be busy with all three kids in camp. 3 is really excited for his first summer camp experience; 11 is attending a science camp and their email today gave a long list of activities planned; 13 is doing a counselor in training camp. Needless to say, everyone will be BUSY BUSY BUSY. My plan is to head to the beach after drop offs until I have to pick 3 up — I have two books I’d like to finish next week, so hopefully that works out for me.

Because the kids will be busy at camp, they wanted simple lunches (works for me!), so we are all doing sandwiches/wraps next week with buffalo chicken breast and/or turkey breast. Easy Peasy.

Breakfasts are also going to be easy. I have cereal, breakfast bars, cheese sticks, and loads of fruit; we will also boil a bunch of eggs.

Dinners will vary but we are keeping up with the simple theme:

Friday — make your own pita pizza; raw vegetables & Greek yogurt ranch dip.

Saturday & Sunday — corn on the cob, cheese/hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, burrata salad, raw vegetables & Greek yogurt ranch dip, and lemonade.

Monday — It’s supposed to rain, so we are doing a rainy day favorite: chicken parmigiana and Caesar salad.

Tuesday — black bean tacos and beets.

Wednesday/Thursday — One of these days, we will probably go out to eat or order delivery; the other, we will grill marinated chicken and serve it with a salad kit.

We are looking forward to a fun weekend and I am most definitely looking forward to tonight’s date night!

meal planning, july 12-18

We have a few birthdays coming up this week, which is really exciting! We have been keeping meals SUPER SIMPLE with lots of grilled meats and vegetables. This week will be no different.

Friday: Shrimp fajita pitas — this is a really simple recipe and I will try to post it. We’ve been doing a lot of chicken/shrimp fajita pitas and they’re a big hit with everyone in the house. We will likely serve this with Greek yogurt ranch dip.

Saturday: Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and grilled asparagus & zucchini.

Sunday: My birthday! We originally planned to go into Boston but the high is 86 and it’s supposed to be sunny, so we may hit the beach and do dinner someplace local (probably TexMex).

Monday: Probably more fajita pitas but this time with chicken; more raw vegetables.

Tuesday: Shrimp scampi — this is a recipe my MIL gave me. It has spinach, roasted red peppers, and uses chicken broth.

Wednesday: Black bean crunchy tacos and raw vegetables & beets.

Thursday: Thursday is my husband’s birthday, so we are lining up a sitter and going out to a nice date-night dinner.