Category: mommy


Once a month … phew.

Last Saturday I did something I’ve always wanted to really try but have been completely intimidated by: “once a month” cooking or freezer meals or mass cooking or “smell like onions the rest of the weekend” … whatever you’d like to call it.

The idea is that you spend a couple of days devoted to grocery shopping, ingredient prep, and cooking, and then you have a freezer full of meals at your fingertips. It’s certainly an appealing concept when everyone is rushing around and there’s a constant cry of “What’s for dinner?!” It would also be useful for planning purposes so that you can’t default to Pei Wei or Chick-fil-a or whatever your own personal “easy-outs” are for dinner.

I’ve been using Plan to Eat to map out what we’ll have for dinner. (That is affiliate link – I believe in them enough to share them!) I spend about 30 minutes every so often and fill up 1-2 months of dinners at a time. I leave at least one blank day every week for leftovers or Chick-fil-a (let’s be real). PTE lets you build a shopping list for the week, month, whatever.

But let’s be real again — half the time we don’t do the shopping according to the menu plan. Half the time we don’t even have what’s on the menu that night because something else has come up or we realize at 5 pm that it was a slow cooker meal day. (Oops.)

What this DOES help us with is the most annoying question of the day: “What’s for dinner?”  No matter what, there’s something on the calendar. It has helped me get a little more accustomed to buying certain ingredients, so we can almost always make either that day’s meal or another meal from that week.

The once a month takes it even farther — stock the freezer full of meals, have a list of what’s available, and “shop” from the freezer to feed yourselves. It’s a great idea and really useful, but it does have its kinks to work out for each person. Some of the things I’ve learned from this first time out:

  1. If you’re cooking with friends, do one menu per cooking location. Competing recipes really eat up the available cooking and prep space. It’s also easier to share out the shopping, prep, and cooking duties if you’re only working on one menu, in case someone needs to bow out suddenly. (Like for family illness in our group.)
  2. Do what they say and shop, prep, and cook on different days! That is a LOT of food.
  3. Food processor. Amen.
  4. On this particular site we used, you can adjust the servings. I adjusted from a standard 4 servings to 6 servings. I think next time I’ll just adjust in multiples of 4. The recipes adjusted okay for portions, but not for dividing out in freezer bags, etc. I was supposed to end up with 2 meals of each recipe for 6 people. Instead, I ended up with 3 portions of meals … 2×6 = 12 and 3×4=12, and I think it didn’t quite work out as intended.
  5. Prepare to smell like onions for days.
  6. Read the recipe all the way through before throwing in a bag.
  7. If you’re printing double-sided to save paper, you may want to just do one recipe per double-sided. The way I printed (from my iPad), the recipes blended together and I’m pretty sure I read instructions wrong on at least one recipe.
  8. Put ice packs in your cooler when you’re loading up at someone else’s house … the idea of my newly combined bags of chicken sitting for hours without refrigeration freaked me out.
  9. Clear out your freezer to have room!

It’s a pretty good system, but WOW is it a lot of food and work. We’re still reaping the benefits, though, so I’m definitely going to do it again! Just maybe not EVERY month …

Crazy hair and a red face

I was thinking a lot during this morning’s run. It was the last day of my eight-week Beginner 5K training plan, and it was my “race day” … the day I was supposed to run five kilometers, or about 3.11 miles. I’ve finally progressed past the point of having to concentrate on how I’m placing my feet, whether my shoulders and neck are tense, and if I can possibly get more oxygen in/carbon dioxide out. (Well, okay, I still think about that last one a lot toward the end.) Even with my obnoxious running music playing in my earphones, my brain still starts to wander and dwell on stuff that’s been going on in my world.

Today I thought a lot about an article a friend linked on Facebook. It’s about some images the author feels are six of the most irresponsible “fitspiration” images that get shared on Pinterest and other image sharing sites. I’m sure you’ve seen them or something like them — women or men with almost nothing on, sweat dripping from their ripped abs and defined arms, with some sort of hardcore slogan about endurance and persistence.

I hate a lot of fitspiration images. The reason I hate them isn’t as much the text about persistence and endurance, although I do agree that a lot of it irresponsible thinking. (Listen to your body. You do have an edge. Don’t hate your own self.) I hate the unrealistic imagery and the accepted sexualization in so many of these pictures.

Last week I linked my RunKeeper posts to this blog. After I finish a run, the run details, any notes I make, and a “featured photo” (if I have one) post automatically to If you look at the posts on the main page, on Facebook, or follow me on RunKeeper, you’ll see a spectacularly lovely picture of me at the end of the run. It kind of started as a joke between me and my husband, who started a half marathon training plan around the same time I started my 5K plan: “Who has the worst post-run face?” We live in Houston, we’re running in the summer, and we both turn beet red at the slightest amount of heat. I did have another agenda with those pictures, though.

Earlier this summer, my five year old son didn’t want to wear shorts because he thought he looked silly. I’m not sure what made him think about it that way, but I do know that was my first big reminder about my kids’ body image. I’ve been really big on not getting clothes that I think will convey unhealthy images — super short shorts for little girls – I mean, really? I want to pay more attention to practices I don’t even notice but could affect how they view themselves, their standards of beauty and attractiveness, what they think is healthy.

So I take ugly pictures of myself after running, and I put them out on the internet for everyone to see.

I want my kids to know that sweat is SWEAT. It is not sparkling or glowing or dewing. It is not glamourous or in all the attractive spots at the right time. It is in my hair, on my arms and legs, it is dripping in my nose when I bend over for a cooldown stretch. It is healthy and it is evidence that I have done HARD WORK TO BE HEALTHY.

I have crazy hair and a red face. I have occasionally run in make-up because I’ve run after work or on a break. I’ll probably wear some level of make-up for the Disney race because it’s part of the costume. EXERCISE DOES NOT REQUIRE PERFECTION. You don’t have to look like a Disney princess to start exercising. You won’t look like a Disney princess after you exercise. But you will FEEL like you have vanquished all kinds of villains when you finish.

I have a mommy body. My once size 2 or size 4 frame is at least a vanity-size 8 or 10. I have a stomach that quite obviously (if you ever saw it) was stretched out to grow three babies. I have breasts that grew during pregnancy and extended nursing. There is nothing taut or cute … or is there? You will not know, because it is NOT ON DISPLAY. Exercise is for ME. It is work, and it is for MY BENEFIT, NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S PERCEPTION.

But I won’t hide my body. I will wear what I feel is comfortable and appropriate. I will take real pictures and put them on the internet. This is what my exercise reality looks like. Someone else may really always look like a Disney princess when she runs. I am proud of that woman. Not because she looks like a princess, but BECAUSE SHE IS RUNNING. That is the real achievement – she and I are both doing something for our health. What we look like is incidental.

I want my kids to know that healthfulness is habitual. It is hard. It is a choice. It is not usually glamourous. It is not about bottled perfection. It is about getting out there, doing your thing, and not being ashamed of who you are. It’s about making YOU better, not you into someone else’s ideal of you. I feel like the best thing I can do for them, body image-wise, is to model being comfortable with my own body and being real and unashamed. Crazy hair, red face, and all.










Special Day: Nora’s 3rd Birthday

Nora’s 3rd birthday

July Challenge, Day 5: Something that made my day special.

Saturday was Nora’s third birthday. She requested a pink, sparkle, rainbow, Kai Lan birthday party … with chocolate cupcakes and pink frosting. I think the cupcakes were her main request, actually. Anything else was just fun.  We turned that request into a dress-up party for Nora, Seth, and five of Nora’s friends. That was the perfect party size!

For reference, I have a Pinterest board and a Flickr set (below) of how the party decor turned out. I want to be completely honest: I had so many “pinspirations” that never made it to production. She wanted cupcakes instead of the pink swirl cake I was going to make – guess who wins since it’s her birthday? I was going to do butterfly sugar cookies, I was going to do tutus as party favors  … I even bought the materials for all of that! Never happened. As a matter of fact, I attempted the tutus at midnight on her birthday (same day as her 10:30 a.m. party!), made a mess of it, and gave up. I felt good about it, though, because I’d decided ahead of time that there were things she really wanted (cupcakes!) and things I wanted (marshmallow lollipops!) and that was good enough.

Nora's 3rd birthday - Seth has a cupcake
Nora’s 3rd birthday – Seth has a cupcake

I loved all the little Hobby Lobby decor items I found on clearance (sparkly napkin rings as chandelier decorations!) or not (plastic tablecloths as window treatments!). I especially loved covering the French doors to our dining room with a plastic tablecloth so I could lead all the little girls (and Seth!) in for a birthday surprise. I also dug the dollar store treat boxes with dollar store or Hobby Lobby dress-up jewelry inside for all the girls (and Seth!).

Mostly, though, I loved making it a special day for Nora. She had a great time, and that’s all that counts. I probably could have just made cupcakes and it would have been fine! Oh, and to keep it real (humble) – I totally forgot about feeding the adults. I was so fixated on a dress-up party for little girls (and Seth!) that was egg and dairy-free for our friends’  allergies that I did not even think about food for adults. Tortilla chips, salsa, and a smoked pork loin to the rescue!

Last little tip: we had a church group gathering at our house the previous weekend … we did the big clean for that and then maintained during the week. Made life a LOT easier for a Saturday morning party!

Nora's 3rd birthday - Jude was ready for a nap!
Nora’s 3rd birthday – This guy just wanted a nap.
Marshmallow lollipopsNora's 3rd BirthdayBeaded Napkin Rings - Chandelier decorations!Nora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd Birthday
Nora's 3rd BirthdayVinyl tablecloths as window dressing!Nora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd BirthdayBowl full of tiaras
Pink Dairy-free Frosted Marshmallow "Lollipops"Nora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd BirthdayNora's 3rd Birthday

Nora’s 3rd Birthday, a set on Flickr.