Monday, July 2, 2012

The things I've learned...

I wrote this in Dec 2004 after finishing uni in my Early Childhood degree. I found this tonight and realised that there is some good advice here.

photo credit
I have just done a couple of full days at the Kindy where I'll probably be working next year. For those among you who are, have or ever will consider having children, here are some of my top tips. 

1. Check the child before you pick them up
She had just woken and was crying, so I picked her up and carried her around for ten minutes. Only then did she see fit to tell me that she'd wet the bed. 

2. Lable Everything
I washed my hands with clear glue. 

3. If a child looks sick, they probably are. 
I had only just passed her to another teacher when she threw up.

4. Forget telling a three year old "Don't spill it."   
It's just wishful thinking

5. "We like this story" Doesn't necessarily mean they want to hear it again, just that they've heard it before. 

6. "Watch him, he's a scratcher" is very good advice.

What you wish they'd taught you at uni.

Feeding Time at the Zoo

I reached breaking point one night when Awesome scraped most of his dinner into the bin. Again.

"Any chance we could have some time to plan decent meals for a change?" He asked. I wasn't offended. It was an honest question, and he was right, we had been eating a lot of toast, and throwing out a lot of perfectly good food that I hadn't taken time to cook. But that night, I knew I needed to make some changes to save us from eating over/under cooked creations of who-knows-what mixed together and called Dinner.
So I did what every modern wife does when trying to come up with a plan. I hit the 'net. I know how to cook. So that wasn't the problem. I own a large collection of pristine-looking recipe books. So that wasn't the problem either. It was planning. Or rather, failure to plan.

Someone should coin a saying about that.

Anyway, I google searched "menu planner printable" and there are a LOT to choose from. There are some very creative people out there with expensive publishing software. I graciously allowed them to do the hard work for me. I searched until I found something that met our needs exactly.

Here are our exact needs;
- One week at a time. Monthly planning scares me. And I already tried it and it just didn't work for me.
- No amount of colour-coding, or fancy scrapbooked tags that you stick up with blutac, is going to make me try harder in the kitchen. At the end of a long day at work, I need two things, a clear picture of what I want to achieve, and everything already in the fridge. I hate to shop on the way home from work (I'm allergic to people), so I have to have everything already in the house. Or we eat toast. I picked a simple planner that just covered the basics.
- Dinners only. Awesome gets his own food during the day, as do I, so I only wanted a dinner planner. I have a problem with empty boxes and lines. Its an Type A personality thing. Deal with it.
- We are not home every night, and frequently only one of us is home, and it can change, so a pen and paper list was not going to work for us, and I really didn't want to have to print a new one each week.
I picked a list that could be printed A5 and stuck it in a frame with glass - I use a whiteboard marker to write out the menu and make any last minute changes by rubbing it out with my finger. Classy.

Here's what I do;
1. We shop on sundays on our way to church. I'm not sure why. It's habit.
2. Because Awesome sleeps in on Sunday mornings, after quiet time in the morning, I grab my diary and menu planner and plan for the week. I work out what nights we are out and how many dinners need to be made at home. I also update the Google calendar (which IS colour-coded - see not totally slack) for Awesome so that he knows what is happening during the week.
3. I plan out what meals we are having, and then adjust my weekly vege and fruit box order online (it gets delivered to my work on Tuesdays so I plan around that and can tailor the order down to the last carrot, which is helpful for minimising waste.
4. I write out the meals and a quick shopping list for later reference, so that I know what to pick up and so that we don't spend one zillion dollars at the supermarket. It works well - I rarely spend over $80-$100 a week at the supermarket. Keep in mind that that is mainly dinners, lunch fixings and some minor breakfast foods - we do eat out of the house 1-3 times a week out of necessity, so that's where the balance of our grocery budget goes.
5. I then put it all away and move on with my day and don't have to think about planning a meal for the rest of the week.

Working full time in a job that has variable hours, and with a number of outside committments, I can safely say that I could care less most days about cooking when I get home. But I have been using this system now for three months, and most of the weeks have been so easy. Some times things come up, sometimes I'm just too exhausted to cook and we eat toast, or order-in. That's life and we are ok with that. But I can understand the kajillion women on the internet who post their meal plans each Monday. It actually does make sense. 

Because I'm sure that you care (!) here is this week's menu for us.

Monday: Polenta chicken homemade 'nuggets' and salad (the link is to Alana Chernila's website Eating From the Ground Up - but her recipe is in her book The Homemade Pantry - which I purchased recently and I am in LOVE with).
Tuesday: Baked zucchini and sweet potato chips with steak
Wednesday: Greek Turkey Meatballs with tzatziki and vegetable sticks
Thursday: Slowcooker Minestrone
Friday: Leftover night
Saturday: (store bought) Veal ravioli and napoletana sauce
Sunday: Cold wraps

We are actually home most nights this week, so this is a very 'fancy' week for us. Usually you would see a steak and salad, a chicken dish, a beef dish, pies made in the pie maker and toasted wraps. That's a standard week for us. This week I am also moving back towards a low GI diet and so I am including more low GI meals. 

Can you see how much I love food? How crazy long is this post????

Sadly I can't locate the exact printable I am using, but its best to find something you love any way, so get googling!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guess who's back?

Ok, so I'm well aware that this was a much longer break from blogging than I ever intended.

There are things happening in my non-blog life that have drawn me away from the screen for a while and I'm ok with that. Life is to be lived, and not merely observed, so if a break is needed, so be it.

Me and My Great Aunt - she's doing awesome for early 90's!
Recently I have talked to a number of people in real life who actually read this blog (hello out there!) and they have noticed my absence. Which is nice of them really. So I thought maybe it was a good time to reward their persistent loyalty with an update of sorts.

I wrote out my Personal Mission Statement at the beginning of the year and once a month or so I look over it. I am still working on every aspect of the goals I set, at varying pace, but I am pleased that I have been able to help others more with meals and practical help than I have in past years. I think this is due to a number of organisational steps I will explore in a later post.

Quiet time with God: I am still using this system to work through scripture, prayer and reflection on God's grace. It's a good system and it does work well, when I stick to it. My goal this year was not to get frustrated when I missed days (or weeks) of quiet time, but to just get back into it the next day. I have been keeping a record using stickers in a diary, of when I have quiet times. January was definitely the best month. But I am starting to get back on track now.

Food: I am still trying to work out how to balance my *love* of food with my need to eat well and treat my PCOS body kindly. Sadly I have put on even more weight this year, mainly due to inactivity and anxiety. But some recent health scares in my extended family have made me reevaluate my priorities, and I am trying harder to get back on track with food.

Decluttering: I undertook some big declutter missions since my last post on the subject. Our bathroom, laundry and kitchen are all flowing well and I don't have piles of stuff with no place to put it. My wardrobe has had one of its twice-yearly clean outs, and I hosted a clothes swap with some friends to help repurpose some items of clothing - it was actually a lot of fun! I can put all my clothes away in seconds and I now really only have the clothes I actually wear regularly and really need. I have to thank The Minimalist Mom and Small Notebook for their inspiration here, as I am naturally a bit of a hoarder!

One thing I have abandoned is my 366 days photo project. I found that I constantly forgot to take a camera with me most days and remembering to take a photo was another thing all together. I'm proud that I managed to blog a month of photos. Maybe I'll do a December round and we can see how the year started and ended...

Awesome and I are walking well together. Well, we call God our 'bungee cord' in that he holds us together when we try to pull away in frustration! We have been praying together most nights, which is not quite a bible study together, but its a start for us! We have been trying to make an effort to have regular date nights, but as we are out a lot, some times its easier to stay home and just be around each other.

Overall, even though things have been a little nuts this year - and its not the year of stillness I was craving, it is still a year of being intentional in many ways, and I'm thanking God for that!