mother’s day

For years, Mother’s Day left me in a strange place. I was a step-mother being celebrated for my contributions to my family but yearned for a child of my own at the same time. It was difficult to be appreciative and not show outward aching at the same time. When 3 came home, that all changed of course…

This weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day and it was all lovely. Yesterday, I was showered with love and hand-made gifts from 11 & 13. They each made me mugs that were thoughtfully painted and they were both proud to tell me that I could use these mugs for my tea. I can’t wait!

Their mom took them to Michael’s to get a craft for me, which is appreciated. She has not always been so accepting and approving. Last night, when she came to pick 11 & 13 up, she texted my husband to let him know she got to the house and to have him wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. 11 & 13 left with handmade cards from an in-town printing press, flowers, and chocolate-covered strawberries in hand.

Before that, though, we went to Davio’s and had an Italian dinner (and a glass of Moscato for me). It was a delicious meal and our server complimented all three kiddos on their behavior (and their appetites).

I also was taught a new dance this weekend. I honestly wonder what the neighbors think, as there are frequent dance parties that take place in our sitting room and kitchen space. The newest dance I learned is where I catch an imaginary ball and then look like I’m tying a bow with my fists. It appears there are dramatized facial expressions as well.

All-in-all, a great weekend that led up to today. For Mother’s Day, my husband and 3 took me to brunch at one of my favorite places, Eastern Standard and surprised me with tickets to the Red Sox game! The weather in Boston was less than fantastic today, but after a Mother’s Day winter hat purchase, I was comfortable enough to make it through the game. Fortunately, my husband got us seats under the grand stand, so we stayed dry the duration of the game.

After a stunning Sox victory, we drove home, admiring the city and recapping our day. Then, we ordered pizza and cheesecake, because is there really any other way to celebrate Mother’s Day?

 

meals, may 10-16

Last weekend didn’t quite go according to plan. I missed yoga on Saturday and Sunday due to a sore throat and ear ache (thanks, rain) but I’m felling better now and I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead: Mother’s Day brunch & surprises; back on track with yoga and working out. Monday is my last class of the semester (and the upcoming year, thanks to a sabbatical), so once my final grades are submitted, 3 and I are heading out on our first adventure of break!

I started using Instacart last week for groceries to save some time/money. I can get groceries from multiple stores without running around. We are trying out the Express membership for two weeks and then will decide if $99/year makes sense. The fact that they can deliver from BJ’s makes me think it will be worth our while, but we’ll see.

We are going to keep our at-home meals simple and quick (and mostly healthy).

Friday — BBQ chicken legs, potatoes, and a spinach salad.

Saturday — What a busy day we have planned: 3 has soccer and from there, I’m heading to yoga. We are going out to dinner to celebrate Mother’s Day early with 11/13 since they will spend Sunday with their mom. Breakfast will be quick — cereal.

Sunday — Happy Mother’s Day! We are having brunch in Boston after yoga at one of my favorite places — blueberry gin may be calling me name. For dinner, we are going to stick with something easy — buffalo SHRIMP skewers on the grill and beets.

Monday — It’s my last day of class and 13 is having a tooth extraction, so I wanted something easy, nutritious, and soft: Unstuffed cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday — Taco Tuesday and we’re switching it up this week with taco mac: quinoa pasta, ground turkey, black beans, peppers, shredded cheddar, and Greek yogurt.

Wednesday — It’s just my husband, 11 & 13, and I know that H is in the throws of the busy season at work (meaning, he will likely have more work to do after he picks the kids up from school). I want to make things easy, so I figured on a crockpot meal that I can put in before I head out on 3’s and my adventure. I figured on meatballs and lentil pasta. I know that it’s pasta two days in a row but it’s easy and there are zero people in my house who complain about eating pasta; a salad kit can round this out nicely.

Thursday — Leftovers / sausage stir-fry.

I went really easy/lazy this week to help my husband get out the door quickly and grabbed some pre-made breakfast sandwiches. It’ll be easy to pair them with an applesauce or some fruit and call it a day before school. My husband will take his usual lineup of Greek yogurt, string cheese, boiled eggs, Kind bar, and a banana. Lunches are equally as simple: slow cook chicken breasts and shred over salad kits. My husband has work meetings all week, so he’ll be eating there and this will make things as simple as possible for him once 3 and I are on our trip.

meals, may 3-9

Well, it’s May now! I have two weeks of classes to go and the day after my last class, I’m taking my toddler on our first summer adventure. My husband and the older two will meet us for a fun post-school swim before heading home and back to school/work the next day. I’m so excited!

I was exhausted this past week. I missed my beloved Tuesday night yoga class and Wednesday’s run/weight training. I just had no energy to give. I’m hoping to get back to normal this coming week. Over the weekend, my husband and son are doing a 5K walk together (likely in the rain). I’m going to meet them after yoga for brunch at a place in Boston we’ve never tried. If we’re being truthful here, I’m dying a slow death waiting for the rainy season to end and am really just trying to stay as positive as possible.

Friday, we are going to take it easy and make a casual meal with steak frites with chimichurri and serve it with a tomato-mozzarella salad. Simple and delicious.

Saturday, we are going to be home and I’m looking forward to making something healthy and different. We will start our morning with yoga/soccer and then follow it up with stuffed acorn squash from True Roots (P11) for brunch. For dinner, we are going to stick with goat cheese stuffed jalapeños (True Roots, P150), buffalo shrimp, and something else that is yet to be determined (but possibly buffalo chicken/spinach artichoke dip).

Sunday, we are meeting for brunch after the 5K & yoga. I know that we are going to indulge (hello, pancakes or crab meat hash!), so I wanted to keep dinner easy and healthy: Tumeric-glazed mahi mahi (True Roots, P67) and a healthy side of beets.

Monday is Monday. I have two classes left and this class starts our presentations. I am going to make Chrissy Teigan’s sesame chicken noodles recipe (Cravings, P89) to eat in my car before class. 

Tuesday is always tough to plan because I have yoga and I’d like to get in two yoga classes. This means that I’ll probably try to eat a substantial lunch and take a small snack to have between classes and a smoothie for the way home. I’m not sure that this is sustainable but I’d like to try it. I came up with chicken sausage, spinach, and potatoes. I’ll take crackers as a snack to have between classes and a smoothie for the car-ride home.

Wednesday, finally! Family dinner night! Buffalo chicken salads — I know this is no surprise. This week, we are going to try to remake SweetGreen’s buffalo chicken salads: pickled celery & carrots, blackened chicken thighs, tomatoes, lettuce, hot sauce, and caesar dressing.

Thursday is typically our date night but we won’t really have any this month due to travels of our sitter and then us, so we will make something date-night worthy at home: 3 requested Chrissy Teigan’s Cacio e Pepe (Cravings, P79). I use chickpea pasta, shredded parmesan and will probably add more arugula to the mix. This recipe is a big hit in my house.

Breakfasts during the week will be easy: Eggs & fruit. (If you’ve not noticed, we eat eggs with great frequency.) Lunches for all will be chicken sausage, potatoes, and spinach.

Here’s to a great week of eating ahead!

meals, april 26-may 2

April has flown by! We’ve done a fair bit of entertaining with houseguests and Easter and I just can’t really believe that May is just around the corner. We are trying to get back into the swing of eating better and relying less on takeout. We definitely go through phases where we don’t feel like cooking and then order food and with guests in town, we definitely weren’t making the best food choices. For example, my mom brought these pizzas you can only get in western PA: I put American cheese on my sauce pizza and I broke out into a rash after eating it — this did not slow me down, as I ate the entire thing. Myself. I have one left in the freezer that I’m trying to have my brother take.

This week, we did a lot of vegetables and salad. Since I somehow deleted the post for this, I’ll give a quick run-down:

Monday — True Roots roasted chicken with roasted carrots & potatoes. I ate this like a savage after class. This is one of my favorite recipes from TR and it’s so simple.

Tuesday — We used leftover chicken from Monday to make chicken salads and topped them with Primal’s Mild Buffalo sauce, Alexia fries, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, and boiled eggs leftover from Easter.

Wednesday — Sauerkraut and turkey kielbasa in the slow cooker, plus mashed potatoes to round it all out.

Thursday — Date night.

For lunches, my husband threw together quinoa, frozen peppers, and sausages in the rice cooker. I sautéed 365 spinach-chicken sausage and had them for lunches with tomato salads; I also had tuna with Simple Mills rosemary crackers as another lunch/snack option.

This week, we are going to keep with the simple cooking ideas. I wouldn’t mind getting into the habit of doing something a little special on Saturdays for dinner since we are all together and have the time to make something a little more elaborate. This week, I figured I’d go with a Tex-Mex theme and am really looking forward to what I have planned.

Weekend breakfasts will be simple: Saturday and Sunday, I am doing yoga so we are going to hold off on big breakfasts. We have acai bowls from TJ’s that will account for one day and I am going to make chocolate chia pudding for the other.

We are also going to do some large-batch cooking/grilling so that we aren’t having to spend a lot of time making dinners nightly. For the weekend, we are going to grill three pounds of chicken thighs. We are going to use them for Friday & Saturday dinners and lunches on Saturday & Sunday. I’ll do the same on Monday before class with three pounds of ground beef.

Friday — Skewers with BBQ chicken thighs, red pepper chunks, and pineapple plus foil-packet-potatoes.

Saturday — Chicken fajitas with frozen peppers, pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, and avocado; Siete queso, salsa, and guac.

Sunday — Buffalo chicken salads with the remaining chicken thighs, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, boiled eggs, fries, and carrots.

Monday — 11 has a field trip and I have class, so planning something easy is key: Slow-cooker Taco Soup (from Pinterest). I’ll grab sour cream to go with this and some tortilla chips.

Tuesday —  Taco Tuesday with ground beef, frozen peppers, crunchy shells & Spanish rice

Wednesday — Asian meatballs (basically, dumplings without the wonton) served with stir-fried bok choy and Chinese potatoes.

Thursday — Leftover taco soup while my husband and I are out for date night.

Lunches during the week — chicken sausage, spinach, and tomato salads for me; my husband will do sauce, peppers, and sausage with rice. The kids will have sandwiches or kielbasa, peppers, and rice.

Breakfasts for the week are egg cups with prosciutto.

april vacation

We are excited for the kids’ April vacation week as well as the upcoming Boston Marathon to cheer on my husband!

We’d originally planned on 13 attending an art camp but received notice that due to low enrollment,  it was canceled; instead, we’ve come up with a plan for the kids to enjoy their week off of school:

Friday: Family dinner with my parents & brother.

Saturday: Husband and I will go out for packet pickup and a date, so I’m sure the kids will be sugared up since they’ll be with their grandparents all day (the ice cream parlor we can walk to is now open).

Sunday: Church & Family Day to prepare for the marathon; maybe we will walk to the beach if the weather is nice and a big family dinner in the evening.

Monday: Boston Marathon! The weather is suspect for now but we are hoping it clears up some. If it doesn’t, I think we will have to take the T and just mill around the Pru for a little while we wait for my husband to finish. I’d really like everyone to see him cross the finish line.

Tuesday: Zoo (weather dependent) with my parents. My husband and I are heading to yoga Tuesday night, so my parents will get a few extra hours to spend just with the kids and play games/eat sugar.

Wednesday: Girls’ Day — 13 wants to do some shopping; she has birthday money that is burning quite the hole in her pocket.

Thursday: 13 has to have a cleaning and tooth extraction and 11 has a cleaning, so we will probably lay low the rest of the day.

Friday: Chores/Relaxation/Reading.

Saturday: We are getting all gussied up and heading to high tea at a local place. The kids have never been and I think it’ll be a really nice end to their vacation week.

Sunday: Easter Sunday church & brunch.

I really enjoy the school vacation weeks — it’s like an entire week of Saturdays — no real structure (outside of bedtime consistency), breakfast/lunch/dinner together daily, and fun activities. My husband works from home a couple of days to spend more time with the kids, too. It’s a really nice break in the schedule and gets us excited for summer.

meals, april 12-18

We are excited to have visitors at the house — even though things will be busy with the upcoming marathon, I still like to plan and entertain guests.

With their visit, we are making things super simple on Thursday — rotisserie chicken, broccoli fries, and leftover vegetables/salad from the week.

Friday, we are going to make buffalo chicken salads with fries.

Saturday, we will do a lovely brunch and keep it simple with Art Smith’s Steel-Cut Oats with Greek Yogurt & Blueberries (Healthy Comfort, P15) but will substitute Icelandic yogurt.  For dinner, my husband and I are going out, so I figured on leftover rotisserie chicken and rice bowls, chipotle style, with lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro-lime dressing, and guacamole.

Sunday, will start with a light breakfast before church (Art Smith’s oatmeal/yogurt). We are going to host a post-church/yoga brunch with a platters from our new cookbook: Platters and Boards by Shelly Westerhausen & Wyatt Worcel (P52 & 73). For dinner, we are going to do marinated chicken on the grill and potatoes, served with leftover vegetables from brunch, beets and chimichurri. We will also make cupcakes to decorate to inspire my husband to run a great marathon!

Monday, we will do sprouted bagels for breakfast, fruit, and tomato salad (for me); we will go out for dinner or order delivery after the marathon.

Tuesday, my parents are staying an extra day so that my husband can take a yoga class with me. We will probably grab dinner afterwards or something else on Boylston Street. My parents and the kids will have chicken sausage & pasta with leftover vegetables or beets.

Wednesday, we are going to make things easy shredded beef with carrots, mashed potatoes, and leftover vegetables/beets/salads.

Thursday, date night. The kids will have leftovers.

For weekday breakfasts, the kids will have chia pudding, cereal, or eggs; for lunches, we have stuff to make pizzas and turkey sandwiches/grilled cheese. I’ll likely make smoothies and the kids will have fruit and vegetables and cheese sticks to round these lunches out.

 

kids & responsibilities

We believe in shared household responsibilities. Some people classify these things as chores but we think they’re necessary for everyone to pitch in for the house to run smoothly and also for the kids to learn to take proper responsibility for things.

3 has the simplest chores, of course. He is responsible for matching his socks, he also folds and puts away his pants and pajamas (though I fold the tops). He can’t reach the other drawers yet, but he does take ownership for what he can. He is also responsible for keeping his room clean and putting away his dishes. He enjoys feeding the dog, too, so he frequently takes on that responsibility (or watching him in the backyard).

11 and 13 have similar chores: They both do their own laundry (this started a couple years ago when they both decided they were done sorting laundry; it started as a consequence and we just decided to turn it into a responsibility); on some weekends, they do some dusting and swiffering and each clean one of the two bathrooms they use. They are responsible also for keeping their rooms clean and doing their homework.

In the mornings, 11 takes the recycling down and in the evenings, he’s earned dish duty (loading the dishwasher). 13 unloads the dishes in the mornings and walks the dog after school — she just started this responsibility after turning 13. It’s comical; today, for example, she stood at the bottom of the steps begging the dog to come downstairs for his walk. We decided to add this responsibility to take something off my plate but Brutus isn’t really impressed; hopefully, he will start to trust her intentions sooner than later so he more swiftly will leave with her.

We feel strongly that having household responsibilities is important for a few reasons — it makes everyone invested in the house, it allows everyone to contribute, and it offers ownership of certain spaces/aspects of things. What types of chores/responsibilities do your families divvy?