Meal Planning

This is one area I am seeking advice, tips, and any other clues from my friends who have big families. Who manages the grocery shopping and meal planning? Around here it is a typical team effort, but it is still a challenge. Even after owning several cookbooks, joining a CSA box, having a farmer’s market a block away, and being a vegetarian since I was thirteen.

As I get older I have found I love a good taco, add a little cilantro and I am set. In this image I cooked black bean with zucchini, topped with a little cole slaw type salad (thanks to my friend Tina’s mom for the recipe) on a corn tortilla. This is my go-to meal for gluten free friends. My kids love when I set out the ingredients and make it family style. They will each eat two tacos (Henry had three).DSC01128Any vegetarian house has to eat its share of pasta as well. We do wheat pasta with sauce or cheese. I love when I can fill a plate with salad and fruit and my kids are happy to eat up.DSC01132We also have nights where the kids get to pick the meal. Paul loves a good tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. He wants this in his lunch but he doesn’t understand that a lunch box is better suited for non-heated items.
DSC01134Other nights we have make your own pizza or a stir fry. My kids will eat veggies over noodles or rice most nights. Then there are nights where I go to Subway and am so grateful for the grace of the young girl making our sandwiches, as my children shout over me “peppers, spinach, avocado, and jalapenos.” I was in shock at the volume of their voices, while she was in shock that my kids would eat sandwiches with all those veggies. This week I had a 101 fever and my meal planning fell to the way side. But I am determined to get better. When the weather cools down I plan on busting out my crock pot and I have yet to make one “salad in a jar” for work (a recipe I found this summer). I wish Joe didn’t have class four nights a week, but I truly treasure sitting down with my family and eating food while talking.

Open Air

The shade and breeze at El Dorado Park was all I needed today.
Joey1978 Rulez An excellent way to beat the heat and wrap up our week.

Soccer Season

We are taking the plunge this year to keep our boys active by joining team sports. I registered on-line and this past week, we took Henry out to get his ball, shoes, and shin guards.Joey1978 RulezWe agreed that Henry could play soccer and Paul could play baseball (luckily the seasons are opposite).
Joey1978 RulezToday (while I taught at the college), everyone else went to the first practice and game. Paul and Olivine were the champs who hung out in our new, five dollar, folding chairs.
Joey1978 RulezThey stayed hydrated and gave me plenty of scoop on how much fun Henry had.Joey1978 RulezThe team colors are red, he has a uniform, and loves that he is number 14.Joey1978 RulezWe gave the boys a choice and are capitalizing on their strengths and interest. One thing I know about Henry: he likes to run and kick, so soccer is his game.

Framed & Reframed

In order to help the many brains in my family I decided to color code and frame our schedule. This is an outline of our schedules for this fall:DSC01130In order to fight back the anxiety that it will never work, I am using my favorite psychological technique to convince my brain otherwise: reframing. I am actually surprised at how quickly I can improve in reframing a situation.

Joe is really good at this, when he practices it. He will replace his assumption that people are jerks when pulling out in front of him or driving terrible, with images of people balancing hot coffee in their car. He is suddenly sympathetic and laughing to himself.

I am learning that my perspective (after my Wed. melt down following the kids return to school) makes the biggest difference in the world. My friend Pilar has often echoed in my head as I am making school lunches. She has shared how rather than see the task as mundane and terrible, I can be grateful I have little ones to make a lunch for. I can cherish their dependence on me for this season. They delight in a sandwich and some fruit, which I can delight in as well.

I am reframing my job as gift and a calling, rather than a chore. A chore would be any of those jobs I had before being a teacher: working fast food, waitressing, or a cashier at the natural food store. I am reframing my dirty dishes as the opportunity to practice silence and to scrub out any frustrations on the food chunks. Rather than the seeing the dishes as an obstacle that I have to overcome.

I am reframing my days and routine as the seasons change. It is not a permanent schedule or a “rat race.” Life is the moments we decide to focus on.

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joey1978 Rulez

First Day

Joe and I both had our moments this morning.Joey1978 RulezWe remembered when Paul started TK (Transitional Kinder) and we had a toddler and a baby in our arms. I fought back tears all morning.Joey1978 RulezI could tell from these photos they were nervous and excited and just wanting to be there already.Joey1978 RulezI am grateful for a job and an administrator who supports my choice to miss work today. It was a last minute decision but I have a reliable sub contact and I didn’t want to miss this milestone.Joey1978 RulezI love that side by side, their backpacks are such a reflection of their personalities. Paul’s is a bit more stylish (even the inside is striped) and Henry’s says “happy camper.” If my investment pays off, these should last longer than this year (fingers crossed). Plus, I really don’t like cartoon backpacks, shoes, or clothes. These were a summer search, because naturally my kids gravitate to those unmentionables.Joey1978 RulezPaul hardly needed a hug. He just wanted to be with his friends. While Henry became suddenly very shy.Joey1978 RulezHis eyes watered up, we reminded him we would be back. Joe had to nudge me out the door. It was hard but so good. He was all smiles when we picked him up. He even has a friend Charlie (a girl, whose name I love) that he has known since he was three in his same class (a pleasant surprise). I am anticipating an awesome year, he has teacher whose name is Mrs. Love. She even called on Monday to welcome Henry to class. We are all back in school. It’s official, we are busy!

Party in the Park

A crowd of friends in the shade with balloons.
Joey1978 RulezI like low key
Joey1978 Rulezalthough Mimi does make some pretty fabulous cakes:
Joey1978 Rulez These are friends from school and so it felt like a last hurrah before school starts on Wed.Joey1978 Rulezwith climbing in trees
Joey1978 Rulez and kite flying.
Joey1978 RulezThey played for hours this afternoon
Joey1978 RulezI almost hated making them leave when they were having so much fun.

Distant Cousins

My paternal grandmother has a genealogy in Missouri that is fairly detailed and yesterday we were introduced to family we have never met. I love that Joe knows how to use the timer on his camera.Joey1978 RulezI was most intrigued by my grandmother’s aunt (in her nineties) who has a memory full of names and dates and moments. I could listen to her stories all day long.
Joey1978 RulezThe boys ran around in a pack.Joey1978 RulezOlivine found plenty to keep busy.Joey1978 RulezWe were outside most of the day, which is what I am craving as I adjust to going back to work. The outdoors in large doses is what I am already missing from summer.

Joey1978 RulezWe stayed until it was bedtime.Joey1978 Rulez

Angels Win

Joe took the boys (and a friend) to an end of summer, Friday night game.Joey1978 RulezAnd I can promise I have been hearing about the details for weeks.Joey1978 RulezGrammy bought them hats just in time.Joey1978 RulezThey ate veggie dogs, drank lemonade, and cheered loudly (or so I hear).Joey1978 RulezI waited up and they came home after ten pm with sleepy eyes wanting to recount the details of a cracked bat and a player stealing bases.Joey1978 RulezI helped them change and brush teeth all the while talking about how the Angels beat the “loak-land A’s.”  Looks like after all these years of marriage Joe has some people to go to baseball games with. I really can’t sit still that long and watch a sport move slow in scores and innings. But I love listening to the enthusiasm of my boys and the light in their eyes. Once again, I am learning to look with fresh eyes at the world and see baseball in a new light. If they love it this much, maybe I can.

Summer Storm Swell

Joe has been waiting for the waves to get big. We talked about going to The Wedge many times this summer, but the waves were never that great to go watch the surf. That was until this last week when some hurricane happened out in the Pacific.
Joey1978 RulezOf course, I was at work all day while my family went around town looking for the waves.
Joey1978 RulezIt was a day to envy. Was I the only one at work?Joey1978 RulezThese kinds of moments make me wish my ji’chan was around.Joey1978 RulezThe waves were as high as the pier in Seal Beach.
Joey1978 RulezHe would have loved to listen to all three of them talk over each other to describe how big and loud and high the waves were.