These Days…

Bubba sings all the wrong words to Toby Mac from the back seat of the van.
We eat a $5 dinner on Wednesday nights with friends.
Chica asks questions about Star Wars I can’t understand, much less answer.
My trail shoes are collecting dust in the back of the closet, wishing for spring.
Little people pant legs are getting farther and farther from the floor.
My everydayallday mantra is, “Choose joy.”
I crawl in the bed before the little people are asleep.
I have almost perfected the buzz cut.  I only missed two spots this week.
I spend the free time that I don’t really have making my STREAM lab wishlist.
I marvel at my students who make our crazy ideas work.
Jay does about ten times more housework than I do.
I can’t wait for my master’s to be done, but I’m already scoping out what’s next.
Bubba’s first words to us in the morning are often, “Did you read the Bible yet?”
We eat more pizza than I’d ever care to admit.
My pants don’t fit.
Jay takes Bubba to school some days.  This is glorious.
Bubba begs for “homework” to do in the evenings.
Chica has started to pick outfits out for herself that almost match.
Jay loves his new job.
We visit the library every week.
I don’t make enough time to see friends.
Bubba can buckle himself.
I check my email too often.
Chica’s favorite toys are Keva planks.
We move slowly through the book of Genesis.
Bubba asks me to grow my hair long.
We still serve popcorn as our Sunday night dinner.
When there’s a choice to make, Bubba asks Chica what she wants first.
Bubba and I want sauce on everything.  Chica never wants it.
Bubba gives hugs freely.  I just got one.
I wish for more time to write.

Eyes Wide Open

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote this:

P.S. I’m taking a Facebook break, friends.  Mostly it’s about regaining some of the enormous amount of time I waste there.  I’m thinking, though, that less time wasted means more sleep.  And more sleep might mean eyes wider open to watch out for those opportunities for joy.  I’ll try to let you know how it goes.

I mostly stuck to it.  It helped that I made Jay change my password because I have the self control of a four year old when it comes to plans like this.  I admit I did end up checking a few favorite pages regularly like HONY and Ginger Runner and Momastery, but there’s only so much time to be wasted when you don’t log in.

This week, though, I had to break my fast and get Jay to rack his brain for the password he chose so many months ago.  I needed to contact a few people that I don’t have in my address book for a school project.  And while it was initially fun to scroll through new baby pictures on pages of far off friends and see signs of new relationships on others, I found myself right back where I didn’t want to be a year ago.  Jay, time for another password.

Perhaps my only tiny hesitation is that not signing on to Facebook for a year makes you miss notes like this:

Dear Tracy, I know school has started and you are very very busy, but it has come time to gently remind you that were another post to appear on your blog, your fans would very likely enjoy it.

This September note from a sweet college friend made me smile.  With the help of her gentle reminder, here I am again.  Better late than never?

So back to the sleep and eyes wide open and joy.  I can’t say that it happened just like that.  I’m sure this comes to no surprise to anyone who really knows me, but I quickly filled my extra time with everything but sleep.  This semester I completed over half of my master’s degree and ran a marathon.  Sleep was squeezed somewhere in between, and it was rarely enough.

But as for eyes wide open and joy…I think it’s a yes.

I don’t have Facebook photos to prove it.
I don’t have blog posts to prove it.
I don’t have a journal of 1,000 (or even 47) gifts to prove it.

Joyful still:
For new Life Group friends that encourage us through their struggles and ours
For legs that were strong enough to run 17 miles and then walk 9 more
For neighbors that show relentless love
For friends that let you cry in their kitchens
For new friends, if only for a short season
For God-planned reunions with old friends
For a new job for Jay after many months of waiting
For slow mornings with all four of us piled in the bed
For five minute emails from a friend half way around the world
For the Word that is taking root in our lives in such real ways
For five dollar family dinners on Wednesday nights
For a husband that willingly washes the dishes and puts the kids to bed
For the precious personalities of my two year old friends at church
For heartbreak and forgiveness and reconciliation
For eyes wide enough open to see growth in my children as a result of prayer
For Friday afternoon silent dance party bus dismissal
For the giving-est group of parents a teacher could ever want
For handmade gifts by Chica
For Bubba’s thumbs up and winks

Oh, and one more…
For friends that remind me it’s time to write again

May your 2016 be filled with joy and eyes wide enough open to spot it, friends.

XTERRA Richmond 21K Trail Run 2015

About three months ago, on the eve of the Shamrock Half Marathon, I sat at the table of our rented beach house recording future training run distances on a calendar.  I should have been sleeping, but I instead needed to know what was going to come next.  I’ve set the far-off goal of completing the Richmond Marathon in November, but I needed a few shorter races in the meantime to keep me focused and motivated.  First up….XTERRA Richmond 21K Trail Run.  Today was the day!

My training leading up to the race went well.  I ran Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday most weeks, alternating between a hilly three mile loop in our neighborhood before school and the treadmill at the Y in the afternoons.  The highlight of each week was my long run on Saturday mornings.  As the weather warmed up and dried out, I tried to do as many of these runs on the trail as possible.  I twice logged miles on the Buttermilk Trail in Richmond.  My last two long runs were on Liberty Mountain (11 miles) and on the trails parallel to the Blackwater Creek Trail (12 miles)…two of my favorite spots in Lynchburg.  With school getting out this past week, I was also able to catch up on lost hours of sleep.  I was feeling ready!

Our family headed to Richmond Friday after lunch, and we stopped at REI before making our way to Grandma’s house.  We downed a great pre-race meal from Joe’s Inn and then took the kids for a quick swim before bedtime.  Grandma and the little people decided to sleep in the tent in the backyard, so I got to sleep fairly quickly.  I slept completely unencumbered by any pesky snugglers.  It was beautiful.

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We had decided that Jay would take me to the start, and the rest of the family would wait at the Reedy Creek Tunnel aid station.  From there they would be able to see me three times during the race.   Jay was kind enough to drop me off near the start so that I could pick up my packet while he went to park the car.

Bag checked.  Porta-Potty visited.  Bib pinned.  Husband hugged.  Before picture taken.  Let’s do this!

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The first mile and a half were ridiculously hot.  We started in the Brown’s Island/Tredegar area and ran past this cool spot, over a bridge, and across the Flood Wall.  I blew through the first aid station way too fast.  I grabbed only one cup of water and ended up pouring most of it on me.  I promised myself that at all other aid stations I was going to slow down and actually drink something.  I know that I should have expected the heat when signing up for a race in Richmond in June, but I’m not going to lie…it caught me off guard.  Even at 8am, the sun felt pretty brutal, but I kept trucking knowing that we would get to the trail soon.  I was so relieved when we finally dipped down into the shade.

I don’t remember much of the next section except for the steps that RVA-ers call the “Mayan Ruins.”   The runners in front of me had come to a slow crawl up these steep steps.  For half a second I was a bit annoyed.  Then I realized that I couldn’t have moved any faster than we were already going, and I quickly got over myself.  Two girls behind me decided they were taking the road less traveled and went up the steps that were around to the right.  I think they realized it wasn’t any faster, however, when they ended up right back behind me at the top.

The main thing that kept me going was knowing that my family was waiting for me at the Forest Hills Park aid station.  I could hear them cheering before I could see them.  Both kids wanted to give me a hug, and I gladly obliged.  I dumped a couple more cups of water on myself, downed a few, grabbed a gel, and kept going.  There were several switchbacks right above their watching spot, so I got to see (and hear) them a few more times.  By this first loop of the park, there were a handful of us that were all doing about the same pace together.  One guy behind me told me that it was his fourth time doing this race, and warned me to save my energy for the second loop.  Turns out I felt much better the second time around.  I think it had to do with the fact that I had at least a little bit of an idea how far I had left to go.  There were no mile markers, so the first time around I just kept wondering how close I was to seeing my family again.

I remember a few other things from the park loop.  At one point we crossed a creek.  Both times over it I dipped down and splashed water on myself to try to cool off.  It helped for about 30 seconds.  :)  Right before the aid station there was a really skinny cement bridge to cross.  I remember being a tad bit nervous that I would run right off the thing, but I was too embarrassed to slow down and walk.  The second time around there was an old man standing at the end with a big bouquet of sunflowers.  Somebody behind me joked, “Oh, how nice! You brought me flowers!”  He didn’t seem to get it…just confused why several sweaty people were running straight at him.

During this section I also remember contemplating some of the differences between road races and trail races.  This is only my second trail race, and there’s this whole new added element of passing people that you don’t really have to worry about on a wide road.  Several times I heard people right behind me that I thought wanted to pass, but it turns out they seemed to be fine with following my slow, slogging pace.  Other times I got right up behind somebody else and then had to really convince myself that I had enough juice to pass them and then stay in front.  More than once those people passed me again at the aid stations while I was busy dumping cups of cold water on my head.  I also got lapped in the park loop by three or four of the guys who went on to win the race.  Impressive.

After I passed my family for the third time, I headed into the Reedy Creek Tunnel where the race volunteer promised me air conditioning.  I admit I was so out of it at that point that I believed her for a half a second.  Ha.  The water crossing that I had heard about turned out to just be maybe three inches of running water.  No biggie.  My favorite part of the whole race, however, was the bouldering we had to do to cross the river.  I’m sure my tired self bounding crawling over the huge rocks was quite a site, but the race volunteers were quite encouraging at this point.  One guy said something like, “Just power yourself over to that big rock, climb this ladder, and then you’re in the shade!”  I joked to him, “I don’t think I’ll be powering anywhere at this point,” as I basically slid down the rock on my butt and then leaned forward to catch the next one with my hands.  I’m certain he was lying, but he said, “Looked pretty powerful to me,” as I climbed the ladder.  I’ll take it.

By the time I was winding my way through Belle Isle, I was alone.  No more leap frogging with runners around me.  At this point I was really thankful for the hundreds of signs put up by the trail organizers because I never worried that I was going to get lost.  As I came out of the wooded trails, I was relieved to see the suspended bridge because I knew we were almost done, but the section right before it was especially hot.  It was at this point that I realized that my goal of 12 minute miles was out of the picture.  I just kept trying to remind myself to finish and finish well.

On the road between the suspended bridge and the finish, I started leap frogging again with another tired runner.  He would walk, and I would jog slowly past him.  Then he got up enough speed to pass me, and I didn’t have it in me to power past him.  As we approached the finish line, cheered on by three especially great volunteers, I had passed him.  But at the very last stretch, he tried to pass me one final time.  I sprinted with everything I had left (which wasn’t much), and it appeared we crossed at exactly the same moment.  Turns out the official race results say I beat him by exactly one second.  Woot!  It’s the little victories, huh?  My final time was 2:36:13 which was a pace of 12:29 per mile.

I found Jay, drank a few more cups of water, and we sat in the shade a while to cool down.  We then went for a kid-free post race meal at Millie’s, a restaurant I read about in another runner’s blog.   I got the Huevos Rancheros, and it was absolutely amazing.  Go there!

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Jay asked me when I was done if I’d run this race again.  Definitely, yes.  Here’s my quick list of grows and glows to sum it up:

Grows:
Mile markers.  Maybe this is taboo in a trail race, but I really like knowing how far I have left to go.
Finish line.   The race course took a sharp turn at the very end, which meant you couldn’t see the finish to gauge how far you had left to go.  I’m always leery of starting to sprint too soon, and this time I waited too long.
Heat.  Maybe the race organizers could work on that for next year?  JK.  More like, maybe I need to do a few mid-day training runs so I’m not such a wimp.

Glows:
Course.  The race is called an “urban adventure,” and they aren’t joking.  I liked how varied the trail was, and the runners really got a few beautiful views of the city.
People.  The volunteers were helpful, and so were the runners.
Signage.  I never really had to worry about getting lost.
Family.  It was SO good to have them waiting for me at Reedy Creek.  I’m not sure what else would have kept me going!
I finished!  Though I didn’t make my goal of 12 min pace, I am choosing to be excited that I completed this tough course, with a smile, injury free.

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Now on to training for the next race!  Up next:  Percival’s Island 5 Miler.

Spring Mememberies

Chica doesn’t talk about her Memembery Book anymore, but I still think that I need one.  Here’s the spring 2015 edition…

1.  In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.  My time was right under  two hours, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  Two of my favorite mememberies from that weekend include biking to the start in the dark with Jay and seeing my sweet family on the course twice.  While I was there, I mapped out my racing and training plan for the next six months or so.  I’ve got 4 races on the calendar:  XTERRA Richmond in June, Percival’s Island Five Miler in July, Virginia 10 Miler in September, and the Richmond Marathon in November.  I am SO enjoying the training right now.
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2.  Each year our fourth graders go on an overnight field trip to an outdoor education camp.  This year we tried out a new location, W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, and we loved it!  We went canoeing, fishing, tried out archery, held snakes, made s’mores by the campfire, practiced using a compass, and learned how to start a fire without matches.  I have three favorite mememberies from our time there….an early morning run with two mommas, playing adults vs. kids soccer, and a hilarious dinner conversation about the birds and the bees chickens and puppies.  Ask me sometime about the unfortunate consequences of having an OB-GYN doc for a mom.  :)

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3.  Thanks to a too-good-to-pass-up Groupon deal, our family of four took a quick Spring Break trip to DC.  We stayed in Tyson’s Corner and took the Metro into the city two different days.  On our first day there we went to the new air & space museum and visited a friend’s church for his Saturday evening service.  On Sunday we toured the zoo, ate at Hard Rock Cafe, and checked out the Building Museum.  Monday was monument day, and we made quite the trek:  Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.  We ate a very tired lunch at McDonald’s across from the White House then headed home.  A few of my favorite mememberies were watching Chica learn how to read the Metro map, a paper airplane contest in the air & space museum, and the gift from Jay of a free hour to sip sangria and read in the hotel restaurant.

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4.  For her birthday, grandma gifted Chica with a weekend at Mom & Me at Eagle Eyrie.  We met my friend Stephanie and her daughter Gracie there.  Chica had a fabulous time, and I had fun watching her have fun.  I’m not sure what she would offer as her favorite part, but I enjoyed packing shoeboxes, eating ice cream, visiting with Stephanie, and just having a chance to focus on one kid.

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5.  We spent Mother’s Day in Richmond with my mom.  It was delightful.  Saturday morning I got to go on a long trail run on the Buttermilk Trail.  After my run I took several laps around the South of the James Farmer’s Market in Forest Hill Park.  The rest of the time we mostly rested and cooked.  I used this weekend as an excuse to try out two new recipes:  stuffed shells and spinach salad.  They were keepers, and I have repeated both once since that weekend.  A few more mememberies from that weekend include an early morning walk with my mom, fishing with the kids and Grandma on the dock, and a brief photo shoot with Jay. He wanted me to try to capture a new head shot he could use for work and school:

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6.  The other major event for that weekend was applying for college.  What the what!?!  I know….as if two kids, a job, a husband, a house, and marathon training were not enough, I’ve decided to start working on my masters.  Woohoo!  I’m going to working on a M.A. in Mathematics Education (K-6) from Western Governors University.  If all goes well with my admissions interview this week, I start July 1.  I can’t wait, actually.  Here’s my excited-but-whattheheckhaveigotteninto face:
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7.  The very next weekend brought a long awaited visit from my college friend, Sarah-Anne.  She arrived the day of my final SOL, so I was able to take off the next day to spend with her and three other college friends in Richmond.  Perhaps my favorite part of her visit is that life just continued to happen ’round here, and she got to be a part of it.  Doing dishes, packing lunches, going for weekend long runs, hanging out with my momma….it was fun to do all of those things together.  I felt blessed to be able to do Friday kid-free so that I could soak in the sweetness of my friends’ kids instead of worrying about mine.   Also, Saturday morning SAL and I returned to the same farmer’s market from the weekend before.  My mom gave us each $20 to spend, and we eeked every cent out of it…goat cheese, quinoa bowl, ripe strawberries, fresh juice, crepe, homemade granola bar, and snap peas.  Yum.

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8.  We were double blessed with cross country guests that weekend.  Uncle Justin and Aunt Rachel came in from California, and we were able to celebrate the upcoming birth of the latest baby Proffitt.  At some point during the weekend Bubba caught wind of the fact that there was a baby growing in Rachel’s belly and asked, “Can I pet it?”  I think that story is going to get a lot of miles!  Chica and I thoroughly enjoyed the baby shower together.  We so can’t wait to meet Baby Proffitt!

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9.  My kids really rocked their SOL tests.  I am so proud of them.  As promised, they were rewarded with extra recess, popsicles, and the privilege of pieing me.  Here’s the video of me getting pied for your viewing pleasure….

 

10.  And finally, this past week Jay and I treated four fun fourth graders to an afternoon of Science & S’mores.  This was a silent auction idea that we dreamed up for our spring carnival.  We microwaved ivory soap, made everyone’s favorite non-Newtonian fluid, played with snap circuits, attempted a popsicle stick chain reaction, and…best of all…played with dry ice to our hearts’ content.

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Since we never really got the popsicle thing to work at school, we of course had to try it again at home:

 

11.  I was going to stop at 10 mememberies, but I found this picture in my phone as I was looking at others.  It was too good to pass up.  Bubba insisted on wearing his bowtie to school twice this week.  He would have worn it a third day, but he ran out of clean polo shirts.  He’s convinced that button down shirts need neckties, not bowties.  I’m certain he won’t stop asking about it until he gets one.  Funny guy.

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How about you, friends?  What’s your favorite spring memembery?  I hope you’ll leave me a comment and share!

 

 

When There’s No School Monday

In my book, three day weekends are permission to take two full days off.  Why waste a perfectly beautiful, almost-summer day grading papers and answering emails when you can save that for Monday?!

So yesterday after I had finished my Saturday morning long run, Jay reminded me that it was almost time for him to retire to the bat cave for a full day of paper writing.  (Unfortunately the three day weekend rule doesn’t apply to master’s students.  Bummer.)  I knew that in order to keep both of us from losing our minds, the little people and I needed to vacate the premises.  It took a while to decide on a destination, but I finally landed on Holiday Lake.

Before lunch we fished from the dock and checked out what the rangers had to offer at the “touch table”.  After lunch we visited with the rangers again to make an owl craft.  I think perhaps the two poor guys had seen enough of us, so they suggested a short-ish hike to an overlook for us.  I finally took out my camera at this point…

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Bubba thought this tree looked like a train.  Minutes later, he got too close to the bank and completely submerged one of his boots.  He wasn’t such a happy hiker after that._MG_8608

Chica is into maps these days.  She was our navigator.
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I love this picture that Chica took…
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And of course if you let one try the camera, you have to let the other.
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Here’s where I count my kairos moments for the day.  I just sat on the bank watching them throw rock after rock after rock into the water.  This never gets old…for me or them.

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We visited the rangers one more time and tried out their casting station.  So fun!  I’ve already put this Backyard Bass set on our upcoming Christmas list!

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We ended the day with a few more minutes of real fishing and ice cream on the way home.  Bubba had missed his nap, so he slept on the way home and then even longer once we got back.  Perfect.

Come summer.  Come long, peaceful days of new adventures.

Halfway is Okay

Every once in a while I have all of my stuff together.  The other 51 weeks in the year, I feel like I’m barely making it.

I figured out a long time ago that one obvious solution to this coming-apart-at-the-seams feeling is to just pick one or two areas of my life to do really well at any given time and just let the rest sort of coast.  Sometimes this means I’m kicking butt at schoolwork while my house is a disaster.  Other times I’m taking great care of my body with lots of running and cooking while the ungraded papers start to pile up.  And when the undone feeling in that neglected area gets too great, I spend a day or two catching up and readjust my focus for the next week or so.  I’ve come to be fine with this rhythm.  At peace with it, actually.

I can’t say that the work is finished or that somehow I can fully describe to you what has happened, but this has been a school year of Jesus readjusting my priorities in an even bigger way.  And as lame as this might sound, I have to admit that it started with the long delayed obedience of quitting the Facebooks.  It took me a while to connect those two dots…my prayer for readjusted priorities and Jesus’ call to give up this huge time suck on my life.  But…uh…hello!?!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Give up this thing that brings no glory to anyone but myself and gain time to bring glory to Jesus.

It’s still a work in progress, but I just feel myself finally pouring less of myself into the bring-glory-to-me things and more into the bring-glory-to-Him things.

So somehow this is all connected to what I thought I was going to write about when I sat down here…my dining room floor.

It’s disgusting really.

Tonight after dinner I noticed just how bad it was.  But I decided not to clean it.

I decided to load the dishwasher and put the leftovers away but leave the floor.  My family was outside in the front yard ready to go for a walk. The bits of paper and the crumbs and the who knows what else can wait.  As I shut the front door I chimed to Jay for the third or fourth time this weekend, “Halfway is okay*!”  And we walked, and it was fun.  We waved at new neighbors and watched helicopter seeds twirl and practiced looking both ways at stop signs.  There was Bubba poking Jay in the butt and Jay pooting in Bubba’s poor face and lots and lots of laughs.  The dining room floor is still waiting, and no one cares.

So just in case you need permission tonight, friends, halfway really is okay.

Clean half of the dishes.
Grade half of the papers.
Eat half of your meals healthy this week.
Or go for a half mile walk instead of none.
Put away half of the laundry.

And use the rest of the time to snuggle a few more minutes or shoot a few more hoops on the driveway or read another book at bedtime.  You’ll be glad you did.

Less glory for me; more glory for Him.

*P.S. While I wholeheartedly believe that, “Halfway is okay,” applies to any and all housework situations, there are plenty of occasions where this mantra does not apply.  Say, for example, keeping matches away from little people, baking chicken, or covering private parts.  Use responsibly.

I’m Done Deciding What’s For Dinner

2-24-15.  I wrote that date on the bathroom mirror and the number that showed on the scale.  I could no longer button 95% of my pants comfortably.  Enough feeling sorry for myself and pouting.  It was time to make a change.

Step 1:  Overhaul the weekly menu plan.  Our predictable rotation of pizza, hamburgers, pasta, pancakes, and nuggets just wasn’t cutting it.  The kids were happy with it, and cooking was easy.  But that miserable feeling each morning of trying on four pairs of pants that don’t fit trumps happy and easy.  Ugh.

So like every other week for nearly the past 10 years, I got out the yellow spiral notepad and tried to decide what we would have.  Another ugh.

Enter Why-Didn’t-I-Try-This-Idea-Sooner #167:  A four week menu plan.  Hello!?!

I remember I spent one of our many snow days creating it.  Four weeks seemed long enough that it wouldn’t feel like we were always eating the same thing, but short enough that I could come up with enough different ideas to make it work.  I typed it up in Google Sheets, shared it with Jay, and verified with him that it wasn’t too heavy on the Mexican themed meals.  He agreed.  Woot!

I’ve been done deciding what’s for dinner for a little over two months now…I just see what’s next and plan my grocery list accordingly.  Sure, I still have to figure out which meal goes which night each week, but the hard part’s already done for me.  And because I needed some sort of break from grading SOL review papers this afternoon and I have a few friends who have seemed at least a little interested in the idea, I decided to share it with you.  So…here goes…

Week 1

Grilled Chicken with Fiesta Bean Salad  We have grilled chicken once each week because neither of us get tired of it, and it’s one of the few proteins both kids will eat.  Most weeks we get it from Fresh Market on Tuesdays when it’s on sale for $2.99 a pound.  That husband of mine knows how to cook a pretty perfect piece of chicken.  If you come to eat at our house some night, this is most likely what we’ll feed you.

Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers  If you follow any of the links, you’ll discover pretty quickly that they all come from Skinnytaste.com.  I found her site several years ago when we were doing Weight Watchers because all of her recipes have points values included.  I can honestly say that we’ve never cooked something from this site that we didn’t like….this one included!

Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese  Since I made my meal plan in the winter, I have a soup each week.  This is one I’m ready to swap out already for something more summer-friendly.  I also have a crock pot meal each week, so it would be great to find something that can cook all day to replace it.  Send me your ideas if you have any!

Baked tilapia, quinoa, & steamed broccoli  I know it’s not the healthiest way to eat it, but we get breaded filets from Sam’s.  This is our gotta-have-dinner-ready-quick-night meal, so I try to keep it as simple as possible.  We get these microwaveable bags of rice and quinoa, and I also steam the broccoli in the microwave.  So easy.

Week 2

Grilled chicken with edamame & strawberries I’m going to just go ahead and admit that my kids don’t eat much of these things on my menu.  I know it goes against all good advice when it comes to feeding little people, but I often end up fixing them something different.  I still give them mostly healthy choices (*see my list below), but it’s just not a battle that I’m up for fighting right now.  I keep offering the other stuff and hoping that by the time they get to college, maybe they’ll learn to eat real food like I did!  All that being said, this is a meal they actually love!  We’ve tried these two brands of edamame recently, and both were great from the microwave tossed with a little bit of salt.

Taco salads Nothing fancy here.  We usually do 1 lb. of hamburger, lettuce, a few chips, cheese, diced peppers, and the best salsa ever.  This week we’re having company, and I need to have it ready when I get home.  I learned from my friend Ashley that you can just put chicken breasts in the crock put, dump a jar of salsa over it, and leave it on low all day for perfectly shred-able chicken when you get home.  That’s how we’ll have it this week!

Crock Put Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps  I was mostly joking when I suggested this recipe to Jay.  He agreed to try it, and it has turned out to be one of his favorites.  Who knew?  We’ve been using the living butter lettuce for the wraps with broccoli slaw and blue cheese dressing for the topping.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage This is another one that I was surprised that Jay liked, however it’s time to swap it out for something that doesn’t make you think of a cold, rainy day.  This week we’re going to try this pasta recipe as a possibility.  We’ll see how it goes.

Week 3

Grilled chicken with roasted veggies  I like to cut up peppers, zucchini, squash, red onion, and a few potatoes for my roasted veggies.  Broccoli and mushrooms work well too.  I toss them with olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and red pepper flakes.  I just make it up as I go along each time, but here’s the basic idea if you need a recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie  This is definitely one the kids won’t touch.  The good part about that, though, is that lunches are done for Jay and me for the next 2 days.  We only plan to cook 3 or 4 meals a week because we can cover the rest of the days with leftovers, the occasional dinner out, or a meal with the in-laws.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili  Jay’s instructions were to go easy on the cumin and chili powder meals, but this is one I just couldn’t pass up.  We have a standing agreement that he’ll eat it for dinner and maybe one day’s worth of leftovers, but I have to take care of all the rest.  Fine by me.  This is a ridiculously easy recipe, and it makes a ton.  Give it a try the next time you have to feed a bunch of hungry people!

Petite Crust-less Quiche, asparagus, quinoa  Last time I made this I used ham instead of the sausage that the recipe calls for.  The kiddos will eat ham on a good day, so they had it on the same night as us.  When I cook the asparagus, I use a little bit of olive oil, garlic salt, and crushed red pepper and put them under the broiler until they are crunchy.  Yum.

Week 4

Salads with grilled chicken  I could eat this several times a week, but Jay…not so much.  Most weeks I end up eating the leftover chicken on a salad a few times as my lunch.  This is our favorite dressing these days.

Pasta  Nothing especially creative here.  The kids like pasta (Bubba with sauce…Chica without), so it’s another meal where I don’t have to think too hard.  We’ve lightened it up by cutting the amount of pasta we’re eating, halving the amount of ground beef, and adding sautéed zucchini, squash, peppers, and onions to make it seem like a bigger meal.

Slow Cooker Pork and Green Chile Stew  This is a really ugly meal, but it’s so yummy and easy!  Don’t skip the avocado if you try it.

Mini Meatloaves, green beans, strawberries  My only meal from a real cookbook!  I did some digging and found the recipe online though.  Here it is.  I like to use ground turkey for this.  I used to serve this with mashed potatoes or rice, but now I try to skip the extra starch.

*What the little people eat…
Main dishes:  English muffins with Laughing Cow cheese or pizza toppings, mac & cheese, cheese toast, ham, chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, pasta
Sides:  yogurt, applesauce, craisins, bananas, apples, edamame, broccoli (under duress), carrots, grapes, cucumbers, pretzels, Cheez-Its, pepperonis, strawberries

 

So…there you have it.  All you never wanted to know about what we eat in our house.  Maybe you do your menu planning every day at 5:30, each weekend, or once every two weeks.  Whenever it happens at your house, maybe you’ve found a new idea or two you can use here!

I’d love for you to leave me a comment with your go-to healthy dinner idea.  Once Jay has finally had enough of the taco chili or salads with chicken, I’ll have a new idea ready to go!

P.S.  I realized I started out by saying that my menu overhaul was step #1 to getting back into those pants I couldn’t wear.  We’ve done lots of other things, but it all really boils down to this:  Eat less.  Move more.  Two months later….my pants fit again.  Woot!