meals, sept 13-19

This weekend is starting off with a surprise little trip for the kids! My husband and the kids are going camping — so fun! I am going to head over during the day but return home each day. I know what you’re thinking: It’s a bummer someone has to stay back to keep the dog company ­čśë

Honestly, though, I am really looking forward to the weekend. We are going to make s’mores and it’s just going to be a blast. A nice little break in the back-to-school routine. My husband and I packed the kids each a book to read with some downtime, a horse-shoe game, a frisbee, and a football.

Last week’s rogue supermarket trip was really nice. I like the calmness of not having to plan everything. I did have to run to the store a few times this week to pick up a thing or two, but overall, I think I’m going to try to shop like this more often. I typically do my shopping on Thursdays, so that gives me Friday morning to look at my haul and figure out what we are going to eat for the week. It’s been nice cooking off the top of my head without following tons of recipes (though, we did get back to True Roots and Cravings last week).

We are going to keep things super simple for the weekend, since everything will be cooked either over a campfire or at the site (they have charcoal grills).

Friday: Hot dogs, carrots, and fruit. I figured that we’d want something simple while we set up the tent and we want to make sure we have time for a campfire and the s’mores that go along with it.

Saturday: For breakfast, we are going to do sausage, egg & cheese English muffins. We are testing out the dutch oven cooker we bought for camping this weekend and will use it for dinner when we make a batch of vegetable chili with s’mores to follow, of course.

Sunday: Same breakfast as the day before. We will be home by lunch and will do a fun little lineup for Sunday football of chips and salsa, homemade pizza, buffalo chicken dip and spinach-artichoke dip. I can’t wait!

Monday: We are back in the grind of life and work and school. I wanted to keep things easy so we are going to do pasta & zucchini with sauce and chicken sausage and salads.

Tuesday: Taco night with crunchy tacos, ground beef, refried beans, and beets. This is probably our favorite dinner of the week, honestly.

Wednesday: My husband is going to make his family favorite and ever so famous buffalo chicken salads (Pittsburgh style, with fries, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs). These are amazing.

Thursday: Black bean tacos with salad.

Having the kids make their own lunches and breakfasts has turned into, to put it ever so lightly, a nightmare. They ‘forget’ to eat breakfast most days and 11 literally packed himself a container of lettuce and nothing else one day; the next day, followed it up with a meat stick and popcorn… only. In an effort to make things super easy on everyone; lunches are going to be largely pre-made or sandwiches until 11 & 13 are better able to get themselves set up — this week, I grabbed meatballs, breakfast sausage (so they can finish the french toast bites), and things to make sunbutter sandwiches. I also grabbed two boxes of cereal bars and a box of applesauce, so there is something for my husband to keep in the car in case they forget breakfast.

My husband is going to try a new breakfast idea for the week with getting bell peppers, slicing them in half, and using the pepper to hold an egg, some quinoa, and ham. Hopefully, he likes this; we are always trying to find things that will work as a post-run breakfast after school drop-off. Lunches will be cauliflower and rice or quinoa bowls with chicken sausage, peppers.

My meals aren’t really planned during the week. I typically eat eggs for breakfast and salads for lunch but sometimes I grab something while out and about with 3, so we don’t really plan anything. This is something that’s nice about being home and not having to think about what we will have because we can always go to the store if we want something specific.

“threenager”

Three has been quite the age for us. We are in a season of life where all 3 does is argue — literally, about everything. Because I am with him all day, each day, I am really worn down by the incessant arguments. Sure, we’ve moved past the spite peeing but now that school is on the horizon, I think that his anxiety is kicking in and EVERYTHING is a battle: Getting dressed, using the bathroom before we go on a long car ride, eating, brushing his teeth.

I know that his anxiety is revving, and I try to talk about what school will look like. He is going three days a week for three hours each day. He starts on Monday and I’m hoping some of these behaviors fall by the wayside when he starts school and adjusts to his new routine.

It can be very challenging to remain patient through the minute-by-minute arguments, followed up by throwing-himself-on-the-ground tantrums. I have been giving myself tons of breaks throughout the day so that I can have some semblance of patience when dealing with these behaviors.

In addition to the anxiety, he has been fighting naps most days. Some days, he’s out so cold that he goes to the bathroom and doesn’t wake; most days, he just fights naps. I recognize that I can’t make him sleep, obviously, so my typical rule is that he do a quiet activity. Most days, he follows this rule and will relax in his bed with a few books. These are the days he tends to have better days; but then there are days when he scales his brother’s furniture (it’s all bolted) and plays with his things — he knows he’s not supposed to; he’s engaging in these behaviors out of spite and sometimes anger.

I can honestly say that there are days where I’ve felt like 3’s behaviors were going to break me. A few weeks ago, I texted my husband and told him needed to come back and work from home; he’s just left. We were in the throws of the third tantrum by 8AM and 11 & 13 were so tired they were just spinning around. (Keep in mind, we maintain pretty strict bedtime schedules, so we recognized everyone was run down — probably because we spent a lot of time at parks and the beach and just running around in the sun.)

So, here we are, the weekend before school starts and 3 is acting helpless — “can’t” put on his clothes or go to the bathroom or drink his water. He is a trooper, though: We’ve traveled a lot this summer and he’s a great flier and a great backseat driver in the car (“Oh, mommy, watch — that car isn’t paying attention … Mommy, there’s a red light”) — his backseat driving skills have only improved since switching him to forward facing — alas, once we return home, his behaviors kick back in.

Part of it, I think, is him exhausting himself trying to keep it all together while we are out and about and traveling to and fro; so, when we are home, he just can’t keep it together. He’s also had more appointments than usual with his care team; he weaned from thick liquids to thin and had several follow-ups as a result. This was a big deal for him and his health but also a big transition.

Regardless, it’s rough and it’s been weighing on me. I like our normal routines and I’m hoping that once school starts, he will feel safe in the environment and some of these behaviors will fall by the wayside. Until then, we will keep doing what we are doing — we give him a lot of choices (he chooses what snacks he wants; toothpaste; clothing). We try to give him as many choices as we can, which we’d hoped would make things easier for him but it sometimes feels that’s not the case. Last week, I took him shopping to pick out a backpack, which was very exciting for him (but again, I think it made his anxiety brew).

So, here we are in 3’s last week of summer break. We are hopeful that we can reel things back in and alleviate a lot of these behaviors sooner than later. Until then, you can find me sitting in silence in my room after copious hugs are given… happy to receive any positivity…

summer’s last hoorah

This was the last full week with 13 & 11 of summer vacation. We started out the weekend with a trip to a local arcade where we all played games and did the batting cages; then we had ice cream before lunch and then pizza. (And, if I’m being honest, we had the rest of the pizza for dinner…) It was a great day and a great way to kick off the last week of summer vacation with everyone.

Monday, 3 was having a time, so my husband stayed home with him. I took 13 & 11 to one of our local beaches and was so excited that a friend of mine also met us there! We jumped waves and boogie boarded; had a snack lunch; and enjoyed a solid six hours out in the summer sun.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I had appointments and my husband was working from home. I chopped all of my hair off on Tuesday per the suggestion of my stylist and love the fresh, new cut. My hair has been to the middle of my back for the last few years and a collarbone cut was exactly what I needed. I ran some errands and headed to campus afterwards to try and finish my application and set up Internet on my computer — wasn’t successful in either of those attempts but I did get my student ID.

On Thursday, the Red Sox had to finish a suspended game from the other week. Because the game was to start at 1PM on a weekday (top of the 10th inning; tied 4-4), the Sox were offering free tickets for all kids and $5 tickets for adults. I grabbed myself a ticket and headed into the city with three kiddos and some singles for the $1 hotdogs. What a great lunchtime activity! We met my husband afterwards and he took the kids home so I could meet a friend for dinner. All-in-all, a tiring but fun day!

With Friday being our last day of vacation, we wanted to spend some time at the beach but the weather had another plan, so we hung out at the house until after lunchtime. Then, I dropped them to their mom and 3 and I headed home for nap time. 3 and I are heading on a trip next week to visit my parents and he is looking forward to playing in his red house and showing ‘grammy’ his “big, round belly” … I’m sure lots of s’mores and ice cream and fresh garden vegetables will be heavily consumed during our trip. Personally, I’m looking forward to tomatoes — all of the garden tomatoes!

When we return, we will visit with my in-laws for Labor Day and then the grind will really start. My graduate coursework starts that Tuesday and my stress levels/anxiety are just through the roof. I am sure once I have the syllabi to figure out the timing of everything, I will settle in quickly. 3’s school year doesn’t begin until a little later, so I get a little more time with him before settling completely into my fall routine.

For the fall, I am hoping to get back into the swing of working out and yoga. I typically am able to get into routines more easily at the start of the school year and I’d like to get back to a better exercise regimen. I have watched my diet all summer (enough anyway) but haven’t exercised much outside of walking the dog. I also have a gym membership through my program, so I am hoping to get to the gym there to lift and swim at least once a week. We will see what goals I set for myself in the next few weeks…

infertility, pt3

I started this post back in May and was reminded of this particular experience I shared the story with a friend over dinner and drinks last week.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I was thinking back to our IVF days. Those days were particularly difficult for my husband and me (and our marriage). As I was reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of our trigger shot day from our first round of IVF.

I was having all kinds of hot flashes from the hormones, so we’d been sleeping with one of our bedroom windows open (and two fans on). In February. In Boston. It was great to have the windows open for this particular experience.

My husband watched a few videos from the pharmacy’s online portal and then told me what to expect: “The video said to use a dart-like throwing motion.” I was standing in position, staring down at my phone that blared Busta Rhymes and my husband prepped the area.

Then, bam.

I screamed. The dog went ballistic, barking and growling at my husband. My husband was frantically yelling, “Don’t move! The needle came out! It’s stuck!” I stood screaming while the dog tried to protect my honor, all with a giant needle sticking out of me. Because the trigger shot needs to be timed just so, we all had to quickly calm down and try again.

Fortunately, our neighbors are the gracious types. Nobody has ever asked what all of the screaming was about, nor did anyone call the police. My husband kept repeating, “I told you it was going to be like a dart?!” and I kept responding, “I’ve never been hit by a dart before?!” This was an intramuscular shot and one of the hundreds of shots administered by my husband (fortunately, the only one with such a mishap)…

Surprisingly, after this particular IVF cycle, we continued on with more treatments before deciding to call it quits with fertility specialists, shots, and mood swings and shifted our attention and energies to growing our family through other means. ENTER, a visit to our local Jordan’s Furniture store to talk to a representative about DCF fostering/adoption and signing up for MAPP training.

While we had not planned on this particular timing; fostering youth was something we’d discussed because it was always something that I’d wanted to do. My grandparents had five bio children and, because that wasn’t enough, fostered constantly to share their home and chaos with those in need. This was important to me and soon, us.

It wasn’t long before we started our first training class, but that’s a whole other story…

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.

#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.