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 😉

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.

meals, sept 1-5

Our new schedule is under way and we are trying to adjust. Typically, I make the kids breakfasts and lunches and have everything queued up for them to pack in the mornings. This year, they are responsible for making their own breakfasts and lunches; they can write out their lists of what they want and if they forget, then they’ll just take when I grab.

This week, their lists are as follows:
13 — Breakfast, french toast sticks – grapes – cheese stick; Lunch, salads – berries – cukes – kettle corn; Afternoon Snack is a meat stick.

11 — Breakfast, chia pudding – grapes – cheese stick; Lunch, dumplings – berries – yogurt – peppers – kettle corn; Afternoon snack, almonds.

I love that 11 has the palate of a 95 year old. Perhaps this is where 3 gets it… 3 doesn’t start preK until next week but since he is typically with me when I shop, he can pick out his snacks for the week.

My in-laws were in town the beginning part of the weekend and are leaving on Tuesday after dropping 13 & 11 off at school. I will also head to campus on Tuesday to make sure everything is set up and I can access my course info without issue. I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and have a few meals planned:

Monday — marinated, grilled chicken; grilled potatoes with cheese & Greek yogurt; and a tossed salad.

Taco Tuesday — chicken soft tacos with the usual goodies: jalapeños, Greek yogurt, cheese, and hot sauce; we will probably do beets and Spanish rice to round it out.

Wednesday — The Defined Dish’s crispy salmon sticks (or haddock if S&S doesn’t have salmon) with Alexia fries and a Greek salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and a lemon vinaigrette.

Thursday — grouper; grilled potatoes with cheese & Greek yogurt; and leftover salad/beets.

Friday, I will probably head up to Trader Joe’s and load up on some things for the coming week and we will likely order Thai food or something so we can kick off our weekend in a relaxing way.

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…

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.