Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finished Ranting...for now ;-)

So, after last nights food-rant, I decided I had better come back on here and share my weekly dinner plan.  Yes, I did manage to come up with some meal ideas that are made of actual food, so it's looking like the world isn't quite as dim a place as it seemed last night ;-)

This week we are going to be having a little more meat than usual because our local grocery store is having a good sale on local, whole fryer chickens.  (and I forgot to add in last nights rant that I am also trying to stick to a grocery budget!!)  So for dinners this week we are going to be having:

Crockpot roasted chicken with steamed broccoli and carrots and mashed potatoes
Chicken (left over) black bean and sweet potato soft tacos
Black bean corn cakes with guacamole
Oven baked chicken with sweet potato fries and green beans
Curried lentils with garlic naan and roasted squash
Chicken (left over) pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and baby spinach
Black bean and tomato stuffed baked sweet potatoes

I'm also planning to try a new cookie recipe this week.  It is made using bashed bananas and oats for the foundation and then sweetened with chopped dried fruits and nuts.  Sounds absolutely delicious! I'm going to make them tomorrow night so I have a batch ready for my fabulous friend and her kiddos when they come over to babysit on Thursday afternoon while I am at a job interview.

After five years of being "just mommy" I am officially re-entering the workforce (or trying to anyway.)  Now that I have finished my degree, it is time for me to find a small, part-time job and start paying off my student loan!  Luckily, hubby writes his own schedule, so we will be able to work around each others schedules and avoid daycare for the bugs.  I would ideally like to find part time work in my degree field, but it is unfortunately really hard to come by.  Instead I am going to settle into something that will just be an enjoyable place to take off my "mom" hat for a while and enjoy interacting with other adults :)  I have two interviews this week, which is really exciting!  I will admit, I am a little nervous since I haven't interviewed for a job in so long - but luckily hubby interviews people all the time! So he can help me brush up on my rusty interview skills ;-)

Once the bugs are all in elementary school full time, then I will be looking for an actual career in my degree field.  I am hoping keeping up my volunteer work between now and then will help me stay relevant! Wish me luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011


Lately I have been starting to feel like there is nothing to eat. Period!  We have been trying to eliminate certain things from our diet and it is becoming such an exhausting challenge for ME!  We started by going organic for dairy and produce, then we (mostly) eliminated red meat, then switched to only local chicken and only wild-caught fish.  Next we reduced our total meat consumption to only 3 or 4 days a week. Then we eliminated artificial flavors, food colorings (with rare exceptions on birthdays) and most preservatives.  I started baking our bread at home to escape the preservatives and additives in bread and then, like most of the world - we zeroed in on high fructose corn syrup (which is in everything!) Now most recently - hubby has decided to go off of processed sugar.  This move pretty much eliminates everything else you can buy ready-made, partially processed/prepared or packaged.  While I fully support the this move from a health-aspect....I am finding myself exhausted under the strain of being the full time cook around here!  Suddenly meal planning is infinitely more challenging and the amount of time spent in the kitchen actively cooking has sky-rocketed. Hubby and myself could get along happily on salads, fruits, veggies, nuts and lean proteins like beans, lentils and fish - the kids are unfortunately a little more picky.  If I fed them an entree salad for dinner each night - they would starve!  This means I am stretching my brain to find ways to prepare a sweet potato that fits in our nutritional constraints, but also appeals to a pre-schooler.  (I have found oven-baked sweet potato fries to be the best approach so far)

This evening I turned to the internet for meal inspiration. I googled "quick, healthy dinner ideas" and instantly had more results than I could ever hope to read through.  I started at the top and began working my way through and each site just brought me more and more frustration.  Every article has suggestions that included things like ramen noodles, lean pockets, dinners drenched in ketchup, store-bought sweet and sour sauce poured over frozen meatballs, etc etc.  It really made me pause to see these ideas listed as "health food" for our children.  With advice like this circulating, it's no wonder we are faced with an epidemic of childhood obesity.  Who in their right mind would advise parents to feed their kids something so heavily processed as a healthy meal? 

Since the internet has let me down so terribly, I am afraid I am going to have to dust off my tired brain for some old-fashioned creative thinking. Maybe once I put my dinner menu together I will right my OWN article on healthy dinner options to counter some of that mis-advise on the www!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The sun! It IS real!

Man, after all these months of rain and cloudy skies - I actually got a little sunburned today! Clear blue sky, 72 degrees...a perfect day!  What made it even better was today was my testing day down at the Willamette River.  Hubby left for a business trip this morning, so I ended up taking the Bugs with me to the river for the first time.  There is a parking lot next to the dock and we usually set up our testing station in an empty parking space, or on someone's tailgate.  So today I made the Bugs a bargain - if they would sit cooperatively in the car (in the shade with the windows down of course) while I stood next to them and ran my tests, I would take them across the way to the playground when I finished my sampling.  Naturally this proposal was well received.  One of my site mates, Steve really sweetened the deal as well by sharing his orange tic-tacs with Big-Bug and Middle-Bug while they waited (Baby-Bug was not amused by this development.) He is such a nice guy, I have really enjoyed getting to know him and the other two team members this past year.

After we wrapped up our tests, I took the Bugs over to the playground and they had a fantastic time trying all the "new" toys.  We have never taken the Bugs to this particular park before and it really does have a very impressive play structure - lots of activities AND swings!  After we had been in the heat long enough, I took the Bugs for a shaded walk over a small bridge to look at one of the tributaries that runs into the Willamette, then I took them to check out the dock on the way back to the car.  This was a big moment for me because I have three kids and two hands!  Taking them out on a floating dock (with no rails) seemed a little stressful to mom!!  But they did SO well - super mature and safe about the whole thing - I was really impressed.

When we came back home I went out to work in the yard for a while.  The Bugs were playing with their new water table and I decided to work on pulling up all the vegetation from a section of our yard where we are planning to put down a gravel pathway.  As I was working away I uncovered the severed tail of a squirrel. Now - I spent years working in the animal care department of a wildlife park and I also spent a couple of years working on an ambulance where I saw all sorts of blood and guts.....but this squirrel tail....YUCK!  I literally felt queezy when I saw it!  The worst part is, the boys and I have named the squirrel that hangs out in our yard (Wallie) and we haven't seen him around for a while....After that discovery, I put my tools away and called it a day! Ha Ha  I did venture back out later though to cut the front grass and I am so glad I did!  This evening the sky clouded back over, the breeze picked up and everything is gray again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see rain tomorrow. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dialogue with Baby-Bug

So Baby-Bug will be 17 months old next week and his language is really blossoming lately!  It's funny to watch because the more words he learns, the more his older brothers seem to notice him.  Suddenly he is finding himself included in the game more often than not.

Right now the big boys have three favorite activities involving Baby-Bug.  The first is lining up at one end of the hallway and telling Baby-Bug "Say Go!"  Then when Baby-Bug says "Go!" the big boys run to the opposite end of the hall as fast as they can.  The three of them can do this over and over and over again.  The second popular past time is dog piling on each other. The boys rotate who is on the bottom and take turns stacking up on top of each other, for some reason this is hilariously funny to everyone.  The third and most recent addition to the bugs' play time is a sort of repeat after me game.  The big boys will take turns asking Baby-Bug "can you say (insert word here)?"  and Baby-Bug will repeat the word back to them (or at least make an earnest attempt.)  When Baby-Bug successfully repeats the word, all three boys break out in applause.

So far his words include "Hot," "Bye-Bye," "Hi," "Nigh-Night," "Ma-Ma," "Da-Da," "Ready," "Go," "Hey!" "What?" "Why?" "Whereda-Go?" "Hereda-Go," "Ow" "Tiggle-Tiggle (tickle-tickle)" and of course, "Uh-Oh!"  My favorite word of his is "What" because he pronounces it so perfectly and really knows how to use it at an appropriate time.  It is so painfully adorable when I call out to him and he responds right back to me "What?" haha

Baby-Bug has taken a real interest in animal sounds lately as well.  His favorite animal is a dog - whenever he sees one he gets so excited and immediately starts barking :)  He has also started to imitate a duck saying "Whack-Whack" and even flapping his elbows like a bird wing.  This evening he made a good attempt at cock-a-doodle-do but it came out a little more like "Gogga-do-DO!" :)  I am also pretty sure he said "Ca-Ca" for cookie yesterday, because he said it twice and pointed to the plate of cookies on the counter each time, but it may have been a coincidence. I will have to see if he does it again.

It's so much fun to watch his personality peek through a little more and a little more.  He is such a cutie pants, but also such a sneaky little guy!  He definitely keeps me on my toes :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Reasons This Weekend Rocked!

#1 - The weed filled cracks in our front driveway are no more.  Not only have all the weeds been pulled and disposed of, but the cracks have been patched as well! (nice work honey!)

#2 - The spot of adhesive left-over from the sticker that came on our bathtub that has been collecting fuzz and dust for almost two years has FINALLY been scrubbed off.  Why it took me two years to buy some rubbing alcohol, I will never understand.

Now you see it...
Now you don't.
#3 - Our master bedroom (that was originally the Bugs' bedroom) finally looks like a "grown up" room again!  Thanks to a little blue paint, the cat and the fiddle and the cow jumping over the moon no longer decorate our bedroom walls.

"Hey diddle diddle.."

yes, that is a dream catcher.  Don't laugh, it works!

#4 - The new patio bench Hubby brought home yesterday and the cozy fire we cuddled by after we tucked the kids into bed! ;-)

#5 - Awesome BBQ for dinner!

Whiskey river burgers, fresh pineapple, stuffed portabella caps, macaroni salad and chips with guacamole!