Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Crazy system

Some areas of my life are extremely organized.  I wouldn’t say I’m a super organized person, just one look in my purse would confirm that, but out of necessity I have to plan meals.  I started planning meals my first year of marriage and it’s morphed into the system I now use.

I used to plan one month at a time, but it always seemed like the month would end and I’d have to make a dreaded list of ideas again.  So last summer I started planning for the entire season.  I now plan for 3 months worth of meals at one time.  I generally know what produce will be available during that season, which helps me plan meals.   (Living here I can only get things like pumpkin in the fall to early winter, certain things in the spring, certain things in the summer, etc.  If by chance I can find them here in the off season they are crazy expensive.) 

I actually really love this system. 

Here’s a little insight to my madness:
·         Each month I generally plan 23-25 meals for the month.  That number may sound like a lot but we don’t eat out very often.  For starters it’s torturous with Micah and then there is the lack of options available. 

·         I plan at least one-two days a week to have leftovers.  Thursdays we have a meeting at 5:00, so it’s the perfect day for leftovers and I try to have them for at least one meal over the weekend.  If not we’ll do sandwiches or eat out.

·         I start off with a list of the “usuals” that always make it on the menu every month:  Pizza, Tacos, Brinner, Stir Fry, Sandwiches

·         I plan at least one Crock pot meal a week, usually on Tuesdays since I have class all day long.

·         I plan at least one meatless meal a week, usually two and sometimes three.

·         I plan 4-5 company worthy meals a month since we do invite people over frequently.  If there are months where there are more than that I’ll try to tweak something that is already planned to make it a little bit fancier and if it’s a local whom we've invited I might add a meat to a meatless meal.

It may seem like a lot to plan this many meals but quite honestly I use my energy on the main dish and our side dishes are steamed or fresh veggies.
I start by making a long list of ideas.  Usually I try to fill 75 slots, but some of these are things like freezer meals.  Pinterest has been amazing at gathering ideas.

This meal planning system has been quite helpful to reduce waste in our home.  When I plan things like a pot roast, I know I can stretch that one meal into three:  Roast (day one), Cowboy Casserole (Day two), Veggie Soup (Day Three, using the broth from the roast).  Also if I know a recipe calls for 1/2 of a cabbage I can plan something else to use up the rest of the cabbage, so it doesn't spoil.

Also if I have a lot of something and we don’t eat it, I freeze it for a meal on busy days and I even build in "something out of the freezer" days.  When Marvin is traveling I don't cook, so I try to plan some meals I can freeze to prepare for those trips.  It makes it so much easier to feed my hungry boys if I can just reheat it in the microwave.

I tend to move things around a lot.  Rarely will I keep the same meals on the days I planned it for.  At the end of the month there are usually a crazy assortment of arrows on my menu.

I also love variety, I never make the same thing twice in a month.  Weird, maybe, but I don't mind cooking and variety is important to me. I do repeat my regulars every month to keep certain members of my household happy, plus it gives me some freebies every month, I don't have to think about as I'm brainstorming meals.
As I get ready to fill in my menus, I break everything down by categories, chicken, meatless, crock pot, beef, other.  It makes it easier to fill in my menus this way.  As I add an item to my menu I cross it off.

My hope is that I can look back on my menus in years to come and basically already have things planned out, with the exception of adding in new recipes to try.  So it may be a lot more work now but I’m hoping that in the future it will pay off.

So there you have it, my crazy meal planning system.  How do you plan meals?
Find my spring menu here

I'm linking to WFMW this week.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Men’s Day

It’s technically called defenders of the motherland day, but I just call it Men’s Day.  It’s a day to honor the soldiers, a day when they roll out the tanks for a parade, which isn’t much of a parade in American’s eyes, mainly a tank driving down main street and people walking down behind it; or so I’ve been told.  We heard lots of fireworks, and I saw lots of people bringing home packaged men’s razors and shaving cream gift sets as I was using public transportation this week.

My language helper told me that when she was in school they would bring some money buy some fruit and their class would go to the home of a soldier who fought in WWII and the veteran would tell stories of the war.  It’s fascinating to be in a place where actual fighting took place.  Those memories are still very strong today, many, many, years later.

I thought a mustache cake was the perfect way to celebrate Men’s Day.  Plus it’s fun to hear Calvin ask for a piece of cake with a little mustache on it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t as big of holiday here as it is in the states, but they do sell a few tacky stuffed animals and little valentine’s cards you can buy.  So I decided it wouldn’t be odd if Calvin brought a few to school either.  Plus I found the perfect printable for this year’s valentine’s Day Cards.

Calvin actually stuck with gluing everything on every card.  With 30 valentines for his classmates and two things to glue it took some effort, I was proud he stuck with it.

He loved giving them to his classmates and choosing whom would get which super hero card.  He still remembers which one he gave to which classmate.

We were able to pick up some chocolate for his teachers and made some “love day” sugar cookies using the sprinkles I found at the market last Easter.  (It’s the time of year I usually buy all of my sprinkles, since they sell a wide variety of them around Easter time.)  We gave most of them away but we did enjoy a few of them.

Calvin is still talking about “Love Day”.  He certainly enjoyed giving things to his friends so I’m glad I took the time to make an effort to celebrate it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What have I done?

Micah’s 16 months now and it’s been time to give up his beloved pacifier for some time.  His pesky molars that are trying to come through have interfered with our plans, because I didn’t have the heart to take it away when he was clearly in pain.  But he is doing better and decided it was now or never.

I’m sure we’re in for a rough night tonight.  I cut the tip of it off and he just kept putting his finger in it and then would give it back to me like I was supposed to fix it. 

Yes the green  one is completely gross.  It's been camping out in my purse with some my emergency snacks,  just in case we ever needed either while we were out, but Micah has an uncanny ability to find things so all of them got snipped.

He only uses it when he sleeps, and it took a while for him to fall asleep during nap time.  Thankfully he’s suddenly becoming attached to his blanket.  I have a feeling that attachment is going to grow in the coming week.

I’m predicting a rough night, but we shall see.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perfect from the start

While Marvin was vehicle shopping this past weekend, he was looking at a 4 wheel drive vehicle that can get into the mountains with ease.  They went to a dealership to check out a few local options.

This is the vehicle that they were looking at.

Directly behind this modern looking one was this car.

Brand new, although looks like it’s from a different era.

It reminded me of a picture posted on FB recently.

I guess you don’t need to pay for new engineers and designers when they got it right the first time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Freezing outside, Roasting inside

We’ve been having a cold winter.  It reminds me of the winter when we first moved here 6 years ago.  Lots of snow, low temps, icy paths.  We had a couple weeks were the temps never made it out of the single digits.  It was cold.  Thankfully it’s warmed up some but it’s still cold.

Apartments here tend to have two extremes, cold or roasting.  Our apartment is in the roasting category.  Although I’m thankful for a nice warm home.  We leave our windows open to try to cool off our apartment but even with them open, it’s still usually between 75-78 degrees F.

Our bathroom is literally a sauna.  The other night Marvin said, I bet it’s 90 degrees in there.  So we stuck our thermometer in there and within 5 minutes it was in the 90s.  We left it in there a while with the door closed and right before I headed to bed it reached 98 degrees.  Neither one of us had taken a shower either, which I can only imagine how hot it gets when we have the shower on.

The funny thing is, my body has gotten used to this temperature and whenever I’m at a place with normal temperatures I make sure I have a sweater on.  Either way I’m very thankful we’re blessed with good heat, so many in our city are not at the moment and many of them are struggling to keep their pipes from freezing.  We’re so blessed.  Plus our laundry dries so quickly.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Out numbered

At my 16 week ultrasound we found out another little boy will be joining our family come July!

Marvin was shocked; I thought it would be a boy.

Not that I wouldn’t love to have a little girl someday, but I love being a mom to boys.

The other day Calvin was sucking up the peanut butter from his lunch with his straw and blowing “peanut butter bombs” on his plate.  Girls don’t do that.  It’s fun to explore the world with my boys through new eyes.  Our house is definitely filled with lots of sound effects and Micah loves to add in all his grunts too.  We’re thrilled to be blessed to have the opportunity to shepherd another little boy.

Plus the frugal side of my heart is a bit relieved that we already have all the clothes we need with the exception of a few summer things we’ll need at the start.  It’s such a blessing because things are crazy expensive here and it’s so stressful trying to figure out what to order and what sizes, if that brand runs small or big, etc.

Calvin’s growing to the idea.  Although he’s still hoping they were wrong, he has a bigger need for a sister because he already has a brother.  Plus he needs another princess around to rescue, maybe someday buddy.  Although he did make a suggestion for the name if it was a boy baby, Charge.  What do you think?  

I’m 18 weeks along now. I’m ready to be done with the whole nausea stuff; surely it has to end soon.  I'm feeling this little fella swimming around, so that's been fun.

I’m beginning to show, yet still feel that I’m in that awkward, feeling thicker in the middle stage (aka fat).  Although a neighbor told me the other day that I looked thinner, weird.  I guess it’s not saying much as this specific neighbor is often tipsy when we see him and this day  he was not.)

Overall I’m thankful for a so far healthy pregnancy and that our little guy keeps growing and growing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweet 16

This little guy keeps me on my toes.  

There’s never a dull moment in our house.  In the process of tidying up the boys room the other day.  Calvin comes running in their room and told me to come quick, “Micah was doing something very, very dangerous.”  I was very thankful Calvin was home because the little man got into the cleaning supplies under the sink.  In case you were wondering he broke yet another child safety latch.  I seriously think they need Micah to come test those things out before they put them on the market, I’m certain most would not make the cut.

He is a busy little fella, but I’ve been enjoying getting him to giggle a bit more as he gets older.  He loves to dance with me, and that will usually get a good giggle out of him.

His attention span is lengthening.  Currently he loves duplos and stacking cube blocks.  Sometimes he can barely contain his eagerness to knock the tower over though. 

He also loves balls, his favorite game is to throw all of his balls into his crib and attempt to climb in or bring you by the hand to his bed to retrieve them all, and then back in they go. 

I’m still so amazed at how much this little boy can eat, although still refuses to drink milk.  It’s not surprising that he weighs 26#s now.  He’s a solid little guy.

He started using his spoon just in the last few weeks, but has decided that he is the only one who can feed himself now that he has “mastered” the spoon.  Which makes certain beloved foods like yogurt, oatmeal and applesauce pretty much torturous to clean up, but he’s so proud of his accomplishment of using his spoon.

He’s been enjoying books more and more.  His big brother also loves reading right now and if I’m reading a book to Calvin he’ll bring his over and bulldoze himself into my lap, plop down and try to get me to read it immediately.  Waiting and patience are skills that he possesses none of, any tips?

His vocabulary is growing he says “Mama” “MoMo” more “Go, Go” “Hi”, “Bye, Bye”, “Ba” for ball.  When someone says “Paka, Paka” the local equivalent for bye-bye he’ll wave as well.  He’s become a fabulous greeter and generally does a happy spin when his nanny arrives in the morning.

He’s down to one nap a day, and thankfully it usually is a long one 2 ½ to 3 hours.  Our busy little guy needs his sleep.  Most nights he’s sleeping through the night but every week we still have a few nights where he’ll wake up.  We moved the boys room around a bit and put the sound machine next to his crib, which I think is helping a lot to keep him asleep at night and not being woken by noises.

He’s warming up to Daddy a bit more.  He gets to spend an hour with only daddy each week day morning while I take Calvin to preschool.  He actually let Marvin put him to bed without screaming his little head off, but we have a ways to go with the middle of the night thing.  It must be mommy.

Even though I’m completely exhausted at the end of the day, I can’t imagine my life without my Micah man.  I’m blessed by my boys.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What a Week

We got a call from a friend two Saturdays ago telling us an expat friend had fallen while they were hiking in the mountains and was badly injured.  They were on their way to do see frozen waterfalls and our friend slipped and fell off a cliff.  It is truly a miracle he is still alive. 

Marvin and the guys went to see the place he fell from last weekend and it was a lot farther than they initially guessed.  Thankfully they were eventually able to med evacuate him to Turkey, where he’s undergone three surgeries.  He has a long road to recovery and there are still lots of questions about the future mobility of his foot and wrist.  The doctors here told him a different bone was broken and the bone that was actually broken is very important to perform surgery immediately or there is a risk of the bone dying.  We’re very thankful he’s out of the medical system here and in the hands of qualified and knowledgeable doctors.
Our friend fell from the tree line and landed a little above the road.

I’ve been amazed by the body of believers here, both local and expats.  It truly is a blessing to be able to serve each other in times of need.  We all understand how tough it is to be away from familiar support in a crisis (family, language, hospitals, etc) so when something happens everyone is more than willing to help any way they can.  His fellow patients were also extremely helpful and concerned.  A couple of guys who stayed with him at the hospital are still getting calls a couple times a day from other patients who shared a room with him, to check in on how our friend is doing. 

Amidst that craziness we hosted a friend who was in our area.  (Not many people make it to our corner of the world so when we have guests it’s extra special.)  Calvin loves, loves, loves having guests so our friend’s visit was extra special for him.  In fact when it came time for him to leave Calvin told me he wished he could stay for 7 days instead of 3. 

When we have guests the boys come and camp out in our room at night.  During these times Micah generally tends to wake up in the middle of the night and stays awake for an hour or longer before he’ll fall back asleep, so that was rough on my already exhausted body.

We’ve tried to Micah proof our house the best we can but his climbing abilities are growing each and every week.  I find him like this about a million times every day. 

His newest trick is walking backwards while he is on top of the table, that boy loves to live on the edge and has no fear.  He loves to pull anything and everything off of tables, counters. Last week he even pulled a small wardrobe down, thankfully his nanny caught it before it came toppling down on him.  He also has been mastering the “move the chair and get whatever he wants” trick, so this has limited where we can keep things out of his reach.

I saw the doctor last week (mainly to get slips to do blood work here) and we had another ultrasound.  Everything looks great; I’m so relieved after our first ultrasound.  Every 1st trimester ultrasound I’ve had here they always tell you things that could be wrong.  So we headed to a different place this time and everything looked normal.

The week ended well by getting a chance to see so many amazing ex pat women who live in our city.  Many of these sweet women I haven’t seen in over half a year so it truly was such a great way to end a busy and emotionally draining week.  I’m so glad I finally got around to hosting a waffle brunch.

Here’s to a new week!