Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Has Spring FINALLY Sprung?

We have had the slowest spring ever!  I'm sure it has never, ever taken this long to warm up and stop feeling like winter.  Oh, we've had nice days.  Quite a few actually.  They've just been sandwiched in between rainy, cold weeks.   This morning brought a light breeze but plenty of WARM sun so we're going outside today!  We have lots of flowers to plant, but the forecast calls for a possible freeze on Thursday so we may hold off on that.  But, there are still many shrubs to prune, winter garbage to clean up and outdoor games to play. 

The kids are always willing to do their part in the yard as long as I choose chores that don't take them too long.  In fact, I usually have a hard time coming up with jobs that are appropriate for them.  Today I'm going to give them both gardening gloves and brooms and they can help clean up the dead leaves and other winter trash that accumulated everywhere.  I'll give them each a little area that they can do quickly before moving on.  Once everything is clean I'll get out the balls, jump ropes and hula hoops, chalk and a  bad mitten set.  We have plenty of ways to have fun in the sun!

That's our plan today!  Oh, I'm also going to take an hour this morning to meal plan and get my shopping list ready for the week.  I'll post again when it's done. 

Also, because I forgot to post them last week, I'm including a few pics from our ladybug release. (You may recall from last Wednesday that we were going to buy tubs of ladybugs from a local nursery to release into our yard.)  If squealing and shrieking are a clue, I'd say the ladybugs were total kid pleasers again.  The kids know all about the benefits of ladybugs in a garden, and thanks to this cute site, they know lots of other interesting facts about them, too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vent over. Today's Real Plan Is...

     Alright, I got my whine on and now I'm ready to buckle down and get this day started.  We have a lot to do around the house today because we spent most of the day yesterday playing, in one way or another.  That means I'm playing catch up for a while.  Then I absolutely MUST spend some time with our dogs.  The poor things follow us around absolutely begging for more than an absent minded pat.  They also continue to shed mind blowing amounts of winter fur.  I've already spent a couple hours this spring brushing out mountains of undercoat and yet our beautiful border collies continue to look like pitiful strays.  They also need some real play time.  The dogs are big and rambunctious enough that the kids can't really play with them by themselves yet.  They need me to supervise and make the dogs listen at the very least.  So, I believe our morning will bring our house back in line and our afternoon will go to the dogs. 
Rex and Ginny enjoying the morning.
If you're interested, this is a good article about the benefits of a family dog.

Urgh. Why is this Even a Dilemma?

My Uncle Ole in the 60s.
My Uncle Ole died this spring.  We weren't close - He lived in another state and I only have vague memories of him from family reunions.  I got to talk to him a bit on facebook the last few years though, and that was nice.  Ole's kids are having a family service in the town where he grew up this weekend.  I planned to go to be with my mom, who was delighted that she would finally have some of her cute grand kids to show off - she usually has to go alone because I'm the only one of her children who lives close enough to visit often and I usually find a good reason to just stay home.  Anyway, I was planning to go,  until our cute little neighbor and one of Miss E's best friends brought over a birthday party invitation for Saturday.  Conflict!  Normally, I'm always happy to jump on an excuse to stay home.  I love home.  Home is my favorite place to be.  This is different though.  It's not just a trip to see Grandma.  It's something we've been planning for weeks.  My mom has been looking forward to it.  I've told all my cousins I'll be there.  I ought to just suck it up and go.  I do hate to make Miss E miss her friend's party.  And I do hate to pass up a good excuse to stay home - especially on Memorial Day weekend.  Who wants to travel on Memorial Day weekend?  Not me, that's for sure.  But for my mom, for her brother's memorial, I need to be a grown up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Silly Shoes, Spring Music and Grocery Shopping

Miss E's school year is coming to a rapid end and her teacher is making this last week fun.  Yesterday they had crazy hair day.
Today is Crazy Shoe day.
Today is also her music class program, so we'll all be heading off to the school soon to watch her sing.  When that's over, it will be time to gather groceries.  I finally made myself just sit down and plan some meals so I can maximize my trip to the store.  I hate it when I have to make two trips because I didn't have my act together the first time.   

Our fun for the day will be a trip to a nursery for some garden extras.  We all LOVE browsing at the nursery, which is mostly what we'll be doing because I started a lot of what we'll grow back in March, so we won't need many seedlings.  I'm sure we'll find at least a few things we must bring home though.  Last year the kids painted their own large pots, and they'll love choosing some flowers for them today.  We're also looking forward to buying a little tub of ladybugs.  In addition to being good pest control, ladybugs are a riot when you open their lid and hundreds of them skitter out.  They tickle cheeks and arms and are generally the most entertainment $10 will buy this spring.

Have a Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meal Planning Doldrums

I sat down yesterday to plan this week's menu and suddenly wished I lived in a less prosperous country.  Maybe somewhere with two choices of food that everyone ate out of necessity and then moved on with their day.  I'm so tired of food and making decisions about food and shopping for food and preparing food.  Bleh.  I spent at least an hour looking through past menus and recipe sites, hoping for something that would even seem appealing, but I found nothing.  Everything looked gross.  I thought longingly of my college days when a three bowls of CheeriosCheerios Cereal, 14-Ounce Box (Pack of 4) sustained me through a day and I wished my kids didn't need more than that to thrive.  Okay, realistically, they could thrive on Cheerios, at least for a few meals, but they would rebel.  That means I've got to shake this off and actually plan some meals TODAY!  The only things that are even sort of appetizing are raw veggies and fruits.  Sounds like maybe it's a salad week.  Guess I'm off to search yummy salads.  Does anyone out there have a favorite recipe to share?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let's Go! Go! Go!

All my kids like playing Diego games here.
Mr. A is a big Go Diego, Go! fan.  He has a Diego leapster game he's been "playing" every night (he doesn't really understand how to play yet, but he likes to turn it on and listen to it as he goes to sleep).  When I turn on his monitor I hear "Let's GO! GO! GO!" over and over again.  With that running through my brain, it seems like a good theme for today.  The sun is breaking through last night's rain clouds, the birds are chirping and I'm raring to GO!  GO!  GO!  I have loads of plans for today, so here goes!
  • Take the kids (Miss M is finished with preschool, so she'll be with us every morning again) and a dog for a nice walk.
  • Finish pruning the grasses and shrubs in front yard.
  • Plant more garden!  I started putting my seedlings out on Saturday and can't wait to get the rest in so I enjoy watching everything grow! Miss M really loves to help with the planting, so this is a good chance to do something fun with her, too.
  • Help Miss M clean her room.  The girls share a room, but they can't clean it together without making me insane with their bickering.  I have Miss E clean up her things and put Miss M's in a box, then I help Miss M put her things away.  She has a HUGE box full of things from last week, so that will be quite a job.  
  • Read with an alphabet book with Mr. A.  I've been trying to read an alphabet book every day because they are useful for more than just teaching letters.  They always have good pictures of single items so I also say the name of the item and have Mr. A repeat the it.   Mr. A is a little speech delayed, and I think it's good for him to look at the simple pictures and practice saying the words with me.   I've only been doing it a short time and I've already noticed a big improvement in his pronunciation and speech frequency.  With two big sisters he doesn't get a lot of room to talk, so I think it's good to give him specific practice time where he can build confidence. 
And of course, I have all my Morning Basics and Daily Basics, along with this week's meal plan so I'd better get going!  Here's to a fabulous Monday!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Tuna for Tuesday

    Life's little whirlwind has slightly calmed around my house, but I'm not feeling the love for meal planning what remains of the week.  I'm struggling to find enthusiasm for food at all right now.  Last week was full of pasta and fast food, which was convenient when we were so busy, busy but I really don't want to fall back on that again.  I'm thinking I'll make a pseudo plan based on what I have in my pantry, fridge and freezer.  Today I want to use some of the four -yes, four- heads of lettuce in my refrigerator.  (It's a Bountiful Basket thing.  We always get more lettuce than my family can eat so it stacks up.)  I remembered the yummy tuna lettuce wraps a local pub specializes in and set out to find a recipe.  I found several that really sounded good, but this one is the winner because I happen to have every ingredient on hand - again, a Bountiful Basket thing.  Who knew the jicama we got last week would just pop up in a recipe for tuna lettuce wraps?  So, here's what we're having for dinner.

    (I copied/pasted this recipe and pics below from Appetite for Life.   I found this blog through a recipe search but I know I'll go back.  I like her style.  Please click through and maybe show her some love!)

    Ingredients for tuna marinade:
    ¼ C rice wine vinegar
    2 T soy sauce
    ½ tsp sesame oil

    Ingredients for wrap:1 medium head of Boston lettuce, cored
    ½ medium sized jicama, peeled and diced
    ½ C carrots, diced
    ¼ C green onions, thinly sliced
    1 acorn-sized fresh ginger, minced
    ½ C cilantro, roughly chopped
    3 T fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
    2 T fresh lime juice
    10 oz. canned white albacore tuna, packed in water - not oil!
    Mix together ingredients for tuna marinade in small bowl. Drain canned tuna and stir into marinade. Refrigerate while you chop veggies.

    Mix together in a large bowl: jicama, carrots, green onions, fresh ginger, cilantro, mint, and lime juice. Stir and refrigerate to let the flavors socialize.

    Make a side of edamame. I know you know how to do that, so I won’t insult you. I WILL, however, give you a friendly reminder to put out a “dead soldiers” bowl for the empty bean pods, or else your peeps will be putting the shells on the table and/or throwing them on the floor and that is just plain annoying. This isn’t a peanut bar, cowboy.

    Remove marinating tuna from fridge and drain excess liquid.

    To assemble: Lay two large Boston lettuce leaves, stems up, on your plate. Spoon tuna (about a half cup) into the base of the leaves. Fill in remaining space with jicama mixture. Fold leaves, wrap together, and eat over a plate to catch the drippings.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Wednesday already?

    Okay, Wednesday night already?  Yikes!  Where did this week go???  I sat down to write Monday morning with a great post all worked out in my head.  Then I discovered my Internet was out.  It was out all day.  I decided to take advantage of that non-surfing time and create something I've wanted for a while now -  cute reminders of my Daily/Weekly Basics!  When I started this blog, I thought it would be a concrete way to keep track of all the things I needed/wanted to do each day.  I hoped it would help develop routines so I wouldn't slip into hours of mindless headline surfing.  Well, that was a pretty good idea but when I found myself finding excuses to open my laptop and check what was on the plan several times a day just so I'd have a reason to get back on line.  I knew there was a problem.  I started emailing my Week at a Glance page to myself so I could either print it or only open my email to view my plan.  That was great for checking my meal or activities plans, but I wasn't specific with my Daily/Weekly basics.  There simply wasn't room in the chart.  So, I typed a generic little list and tacked it up on my pantry bulletin board.  It was immediately covered by soccer schedules, newsletters, reading records and grocery ads.  I needed something flashier that would catch my eye and say "Hey!  Don't cover me up!"  On Monday, I made it.  Well, I made them more exactly.  Two 8X8 reminders of what comes next when it comes to caring for my house.  They're bright. 
    They're obvious in their purpose.  They're already helping me cover "The Basics".  Here on Stay At Home Mom Plans, I've given them their own little tab up top where they're viewable any time, and when I have two seconds to sit down and figure out how to do it I'll make them download able/editable PDFs if anyone wants to make them their own.

    As for the rest of the week, well, I wish I could say I was going to finally get Monday's great idea typed out.  I'm not.  In the midst of field trips and preschool graduation and potty training and soccer games and summer activity sign ups and school ending, we're also having some rather dramatic drama unfolding (which I may or may not write about in the future...)  So, until the dust settles I'm afraid blogging is on the back burner.  *sigh* And just when I was getting back into the swing of things around here.

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    No Blogging for Me!

    I have had a busy week!  I haven't sat down to write about it, but I've pretty much done everything else under the sun.  I've actually done ALL my morning basic and daily chores - a first since I started this whole endeavor last fall.  I made (or bought) and mailed Mother's Day gifts.  I accompanied kids to tumbling and soccer and spent a gorgeous afternoon at a park with friends.  I did a little yard work and tried a new recipe.  AND, I went on a date with the spouse.  Yes, I'm pretty pleased with all I've done this week.  I would have liked to blog about it all, but I knew if I spent any more time on line than I had allotted I would never log off.  I have a few things from the week I'd still like to share so hopefully I'll be disciplined enough to sit down, write and leave.  I have another fabulous day mapped out so I'm closing the mac book and heading out to conquer the world!

    A  few highlights from our week.

    Teaching Mr. A to roll down a grassy hill.

    Hanging out in the sun.


    Backyard Beach Party

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    May's First Meal Plan! Yay!

    During my extended winter break from blogging, I did continue making meal plans.  It's just such an easy way to make every afternoon easier.  It helps me spend less time grocery shopping, and my family always eats better when I take the time to make a plan.  Usually, I order a Bountiful Basket, which is a fabulous produce co-op.  (I first blogged about them here.)  Then, I plan my meals around the fun surprises in my basket.  I took a break from the basket this week though, so my plan had to start from scratch.  Okay, I didn't really start from scratch.  After all these months of meal planning (and a lot of documenting here) I simply looked back at bygone plans and chose some of our favorite meals.  Now I just have to grocery shop and I'll be all set to feed us for the week!  Check out my Week at a Glance page for this week's plans including links to any on line recipes I'm using.

    As for FUN plans, I'm thinking I'm going to play that by ear for now.  I know, I know- failure to plan is planning to fail. When I was burned out, part of the problem was feeling constrained by the FUN plans.  I kind of stopped enjoying our FUN because I felt I HAD to do what I'd written down.  So, I'm giving myself the freedom to say "What should we do today?" this week, and we'll see how that goes.  I have several fun things in mind but we'll whatever we're in the mood for when we're ready to play.