Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mom Tip Tuesday - Menu Planning

When I was a working wife, I began meal planning as a way to save money and headaches.  When I got home from work, I didn't want to have to think about what to fix.  Little did I know that these skills would serve me well as a tired mommy.  The front end planning takes longer, but the time and money saved are well worth it. 

First, I sit with a calendar and write down a daily planning list for each day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I add things like church potlucks and leave off meals when we won't be home.  In the beginning, I only focused on dinner, but planning out the breakfast and lunch helps me to be more creative and healthy with our daily fare.  My hubs is always asking me what's for dinner, so he can look at the chart and find out.  It saves him an exasperated answer.  I try to rotate favorites with new recipes to keep things fresh.  If I find a recipe that's a hit, I take the time to write it on an index card and add it to my recipe box.

Next, I fold a piece of lined paper into 6 squares.  I think about the layout of my grocery store and label the squares in the order that I walk through the store.  At Wegman's, my labels are:  Bakery/Deli,
Meat, Produce/Bread, Dairy, Frozen, and Dry/Canned.  As I go through my recipe plan for the week, I add ingredients to my list (this saves so much time in the store with little peeps tagging along).  This also helps prevent those $30 emergency runs to Target or Wegman's during the week.

Some awesome resources I have used in the past are Menus 4 Moms and Emeals .These services are for a nominal fee and give plans for weekly menus and grocery lists.  Lately, I've been using the menu plan from a site called The Better Mom .  The meal plans are healthy and everything I've made is delicious!

Give it a try and let me know if it saves you some money and time!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Torture by Yams

Water boarding, sleep deprivation, and . . . yams.  Who new that roasted yams would inflict such agony on the mouth of my 4 year old.  Earlier in the day he watched me peel and slice the interesting orange root vegetable.  After all, orange is his favorite color.  I spread the little orange circles on the roasting pan, drizzled with oil and copious amounts of cinnamon, and put those beauties in the oven.  When dinner time came, and knowing my little big guy's bouts of pickiness, I doled out 4 little yams to his plate.  He devoured the rest of the contents of the plate but would not touch the yams.  After much discussion and futile attempts at bargaining down the number with feverish recounts, Shane and I stuck to our guns and required the consumption of said vegetable.  There was great weeping and gnashing of teeth, a failed attempt at a biblical connection made by mom, and a sacrificial yam eaten by dad.

After it was finished, I couldn't help but make the connection in my own life.  How many times has God given me good gifts that I have only received with anger, tears, or with arms crossed and a pouty face.  With hindsight, how many times have I seen God's magnificent provision and the great wisdom of His plan instead of mine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Busy Big Boy

I have a precious little imp in my care who smiles with at least 6 dimples and has ridiculously large blue eyes.  He is energetic.  As a teacher we used lots of euphemism to describe those boys in our class like "busy", "full of energy", "active".  We really meant hyper :)  Sorry to demystify for all of you former parents of mine out there.   My former colleagues think it is hysterical that I got one of those little guys but I'm delighted.  Those little boys with the ants in their pants were some of the smartest and most fun to teach (on most days).   As a society we have feminized and tried to shove these little fireballs of energy into the mold of the quiet student (girl) with hands folded and feet still.

Don't get me wrong.  Self-control is important to cultivate and there are very important times when these little peeps with testosterone need to be able to sit and listen.  What I have learned as that my little man uses his energy to help me without being asked most of the time.  He walks around saying, "I love you Mommy" more times than I can count in a day.  I've also learned that learning that involves that energy is so fun for him.  As a former teacher, I have been given what some homeschool moms refer to as "the teacher curse".  I spent about a year trying to reproduce a preschool classroom at home, to no avail.  I'm learning that all day at my house is the school day and that I can just as easily teach the alphabet using playdough and rice in a cake pan as I can forcing him to sit at a desk and do a workbook.  Preschooling should be fun.

I've started to use a curriculum piece by a publisher called Heart of Dakota.  The book is called Little Hands to Heaven.     The lessons take less than 30 minutes and "includes letter recognition and formation, letter sounds with corresponding motions, beginning math skills, Bible activities, devotional topics, art projects, dramatic play, active exploration, fingerplays, and music."  What I love about this little manual is that I don't have to reinvent the wheel or do lots of cut and paste prep.  Many of the activities are conversational and active without being worksheet heavy.  This makes my little big man happy . . . more time for playing with 'struction vehicles outside.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy World Down Syndrome Day

Dear Friends,

My mommy told me that there is a little girl in Eastern Europe named Albina.  She is a little girl that has Down Syndrome, like me.  Just like me, she wants a mommy and daddy to love her and hold her.  She's a big girl that has a family called the Jollys who want to adopt her.  Can you please help her family bring her home?  Head on over to my friend Lily's mommy's blog called A Perfect Lily and find out how to donate.  I'm so thankful that I was born here in the U.S. because I would have been sent to a place like where Albina lives.  Help Albina become part of her forever family.  Here's a spaghetti kiss for you!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Knox, the Great Reformer

John Knox was a great reformer during the protestant reformation in Scotland.  My husband was adopted but likes to believe he's Scottish.  (He watched Braveheart and felt William Wallace was a kindred spirit and besides . . . he  looks pretty fine in a kilt.) When deciding on names for our future progeny,  we chose strong Scottish monikers with complicated spellings.

When Shane called with the news that our agency had a baby for us with Down Syndrome and 3 congenital heart defects, fear hovered over my heart.  All of those times I had seen those parents, older parents with adult children with special needs came to the surface.  "Those poor people, they'll never get a break."  What would we do?  Could this baby ever pronounce the name we were giving him?  Should we pick another name? Will he walk?  Will he ever have a relationship with Grae?  Will Grae hate us for "doing" this to him.  I'm being brutally honest here.  Those fears hovered for a few hours, but never rested in my heart.

What quickly took their place was the peace that only God can give.  I'm not diminishing the grieving process that many parents go through in receiving a diagnosis, but I am saying that for me, God replaced those fears with Shane's unbridled optimism and excitement.  (I'm sure this is but one reason the Lord put us together.)  The Lord was the reformer of my heart, but His primary agent in doing it was Knox.  He quickly stole my heart with his precious tininess, and his typical baby-ness.

God has shown me through Knox that babies with Down Syndrome aren't all that different.  They come with their share of challenges, but also, it seems, with an extra measure of sweetness.  Yes, I will be that older parent in the store with my little helper, but I don't see it as a burden anymore.  What a blessing from the Lord!  Maybe he will keep my young and fresh, and remind me that the value of a person is not in their "productivity" or even their IQ, but in the content of their spirit and the image of God reflected in them.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Defeated Perfectionism 101

So, I could probably search my blog for the terms "terrible blogger" and I'm sure I would come up with a bunch of hits.  I so long to write and articulate, pithy, and worthwhile articles, tips for the home, award winning photos, finger lickin' recipes etc ad nauseum.  It seems in the blogging world I'm a jack of all trades and master of none.  I have plenty to write about:

I'm a wretched sinner saved by grace
I'm married to a former shoe-lace salesman turned full time orphan care advocate
I've adopted 2 boys domestically, (one precocious little whipper snapper with Dennis the Menace-like tendencies, and one little observer with fabulous hair and an extra chromosome)
I'm a pretty good cook
I'm a freelance writer (I'm actually getting paid to write in some capacity)
I'm an experienced teacher in the classical method
I'm an aspiring novelist with 11 chapters of a novel (I've been working on for  4 years)
I'm crafty (and not in the Beasty Boys definition)
I'm homeschooling

All the blogging sites emphasize that you need to have a focus.  I have none.  When I try to come up with a focus, I just feel defeated and don't blog.  And that is why my last post was February 22, 2012.  I'm just resigned now to give you a smattering of what is Wendy.  I'm sorry if you are a reader looking for information on life with a child with down syndrome, or if you are only interested in my amazing avocado dip . . . I'm just too scattered a person to pretend to be that focused.  If you are looking for a picture into a life of a quirky, self proclaimed defeated Type A, with lots of flaws, some delicious recipes, and heaps of sanctification left to go, I'm your gal.  Hope you'll stick with me :)
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