Monday, March 13, 2017

Meal Plan Monday

Today, I wanted to share with you our family meal plan for the week. Everything I cook is very simple and uses a lot of store-bought ingredients.
Meal planning is essential for me, especially since I don't know from day-to-day if I will be called to substitute teach or if I will have to run out of the house at a moment's notice. I try to meal plan on Fridays when I get home from the store, based on what I bought for the following week. And most things I make can be made ahead.
Here is the menu for this week:
Monday: Enchiladas
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese
Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo
Thursday: Pasta Bake
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Pot Roast
There you have it. Simple faire for simple people. To make life even more simple, this past Saturday, I browned all the ground beef I would need for the week in the crock pot. One less step! And Wednesday morning, I will put the chicken I will be using in the Alfredo in the crock pot as well. I love my crock pot!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Long, Wandering Journey Back

Hey, y'all! It's so great to be back. A LOT has changed since I last posted on this blog, most of it for the better. To start, I wanted to say that I've definitely missed this forum. It allowed me, a lot of the time, to get out my thoughts/frustrations with things going on in my life as wife, mother, & woman.
I graduated from school, with my degree in photography. I still love capturing special and candid moments for people, and my family, of course. My business growth has been a bit slow, but I have built up a small, dedicated clientele that I love.
After graduating from photo school, Evan was in pre-k, and I felt like it was time to try to get back into the work force. I originally wanted a part-time job that would still allow me to maintain my identity as a stay-at-home mom for the most part. I applied with a staffing service, thinking that would be the fastest way to obtain work - especially since I hadn't worked a "real" job since before the kids were born. I was brought into the staffing service for an interview, and then I just had to wait. I was hopeful they would be able to find me something that was relatively close to home and part-time. They called a few weeks later with a job offer, for a position inside the staffing office. It was full-time, but a wonderful opportunity to get my feet wet back in the work force.
I started at the office in April of 2015, as a staffing assistant. Mostly answering phones, directing traffic and keeping the office supplies stocked (basically, a receptionist). But I loved the job. It was challenging for me, as well as fulfilling. I made some wonderful friends and felt like I was contributing to our family economy. When I'd been there about six months, a position opened up. It would be a promotion for me, with better pay and a bit more flexibility. I told my supervisor that I would be very interested in the position and I got it! I was now a recruiter.
I handled a majority of advertising for our branch. I also scheduled interviews and did most of the phone and branch pre-screens. I implemented new procedures for my position and really felt like I was great at my job. I was able to work from home, if needed and did on a few occasions, when we had snow and when I or the boys were sick. It was probably the best few months of my career.
At about the same time, I had begun having severe back pain and started seeing a chiropractor, which helped tremendously (but that's a whole other post)!
Fast forward six more months. Another position opened up for a staffing supervisor. I thought long and hard about whether or not to pursue the supervisor position, I really did feel conflicted. I felt content where I was, but knew there realistically was nowhere to go from the recruiter role. And I felt that I was fully capable of succeeding as a supervisor, but wasn't sure I wanted the extra responsibility. So after much personal debate, I decided to apply for the supervisor position and got it. It was a much harder job, with a ton more responsibility. I learned quickly and did well and became even closer with my fellow team members. I was proud of myself for where I had come in such a short amount of time.
In July of 2016, the chiropractor I had begun seeing approached me about a position on her staff. I wasn't looking for anything and had really begun to get into a groove with my supervisor role. I was so very torn. On one hand, I loved my current job and had to opportunity to grow, with no real stopping place. On the other hand, working as a chiropractic assistant had many perks, including being much closer to home (like, 5 minutes vs. 40 minutes) and gave my family and me free chiropractic care ( a HUGE money saver!). After meeting with the chiropractor several times, I decided that it might be a better fit for our family - a four-day work week, free chiropractic care, closer to home - and I left the staffing office.
It was very bittersweet. I had made some true friends and really felt like the work I was doing mattered. I was helping people find jobs and sometimes changing their lives.
But as they say, the grass isn't always greener... I struggled in the new position, where I had thrived in the old. I didn't feel the same camaraderie with my new co-workers as I had with my old team. And the learning curve was STEEP. I felt like from day one, I was expected to know things that there was no way I could have had any clue about. After about six weeks, going to a weekend seminar, and one anxiety attack later, I begun to get in the swing of things. While I only worked four days a week, they were VERY long days. I would drop the boys off at school at 7:15 and not get home until sometimes close to 8:00 that evening. It began to take a toll on our family life. Especially since my husband works nights and has to leave at about 8:40 to go to work. I felt like I could only be a mom three days a week and forget about house work! My house was a continual dumping ground, since my one day a week that I had to do stuff sans children (aka, Friday), was taken over by groceries and getting supplies for the chiropractic office.
About this time, Derek's Granny had gone to the doctor and it was determined that she had breast cancer. This was her second bout, the first time being in 2008/09. She would have to go through a lumpectomy and radiation again. During her first battle, I took her to most all of her appointments and made sure that she and Derek's Pa had good meals to eat when she wasn't feeling up to cooking. With the first bout, Granny had struggled with depression and we became even closer than we already were, as I would spend as much time as caring for a one-year old would allow.
I took Granny's diagnosis as a sign, especially since I was still majorly struggling in my role as Chiropractic Assistant, and wasn't feeling particularly fulfilled. The job was a great job, I just wasn't right for it. I missed my family.  I felt like it was time to come back home and make sure Granny was well cared for. I left the office on good terms and still go regularly for my chiropractic care.
And that pretty much catches us up. I've been back home now for going on six month, and I couldn't be happier. Granny is in remission and my boys are ecstatic that I am back home and picking them up from school every day and cooking again. I didn't realize when I left the home, how much I would mourn the loss of our family dinners more than anything.
But now comes a new challenge. Managing our family on one income again. Over Thanksgiving and Christmas, I cleaned an office after hours a few days a week to give me some spending money. But it was temporary. I am back to being a budgeting fiend and working the budget like it's my job (because it is!). I hope to share with you my best money-saving tips and healthy recipes.
I didn't set out for this post to be a lengthy diatribe about where my life has gone, but if you've hung in till the end, I thank you.
Much love,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fit Mama Friday: New favorite healthy food swaps!

One of the hardest things for me when I'm trying to be healthy and eat right is my addiction to carbs... Probably more like love affair, but I digress. I truly LOVE all things bread, pasta, and potato related. It's one of the main reasons I have such a hard time staying on the right path, food-wise.
But recently, I discovered Shirataki noodles (cue the trumpets!). I've only been able to find them at Wal-Mart and Ingles stores (with the tofu), but I'm on the lookout other places as well. They have really saved my bacon (aww, bacon... that's a whole other post!) when it comes to my pasta cravings. Although there is a bit of prep that goes along with Shirataki noodles, they are ready super fast. They come refrigerated in a bag with liquid mixed with the noodles. What I do is drain the noodles into a colander and rinse for a couple minutes with cold water. The rinsing is not actually required, but the noodles do kind of have this strange smell right out of the package. Then, once they're rinsed, I toss them in a DRY (no oil or spray of any kind) in a non-stick skillet until they are heated through. And essentially, they're done. Just toss them with your favorite pasta sauce and enjoy! A couple of my favorite recipes to use Shirataki noodles are caprese pasta and eggplant parmesan. Hubby and kiddos aren't a huge fan of them (the texture is just a bit different that regular pasta), so I just fix them whole wheat noodles instead. With only 4 carbs per serving (compared to 40+ in regular pasta), Shirataki noodles satisfy my love for carbs without the consequences! A win-win in my book!
Next on my list is chia seeds. Not really a swap, but more of an addition. I have started using chia seeds in A LOT of breakfast dishes. They are great in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt... The list goes on and on. Chia seeds absorb many times their weigh in fluid, so they expand in your stomach and make you fill fuller longer. For the past couple years on Pinterest, I have seen many posts on "overnight oatmeal" like this one here. And it really is quick, easy, and delicious!
As far as bread goes, I haven't really found anything that satisfies that true craving for a good homemade biscuit or a couple pieces of bread for toast. But there are some great healthy versions of breads (as well as pitas, tortillas, etc.). For example, Sara Lee makes a great 45-calorie bread that is really good. There are also many "thin" breads that have less calories and carbs.
On my agenda to try soon is kale chips. That is one thing I haven't really been able to talk myself into. Have any of you tried them or found a great recipe that you just love? Send them my way!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fit Mama Friday

To describe this week: it SUCKED. This week was a very hard week. We lost a dear family friend last Friday. I did the best I could to manage my nutrition, but didn't get to run any. With the funeral and class and everything that has gone on this week, I've been a little sidetracked.
Today, I leave for the weekend to go to a conference that I attend every year in beautiful Gatlinburg. I tell you what, Gatlinburg has some wonderful streets for running (especially at five in the morning!). So you better believe I'll be hitting them. I spent this week in mourning, but I know that getting back in my routine will be good for me; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fit Mama Friday: I Went to a Barre Class...

I decided to do a barre class. And I didn't die! Yay me!
What is barre class? Oh, I'm so glad you asked :) Barre has principles of ballet, yoga, and Pilates. It's a 55-minute, non-stop, core workout. It was SO challenging, but SO fun! It was honestly the hardest workout I've ever attempted.
Now, I did some research on barre before I decided to take the leap and go. Everything I read said it would be hard, but fun. And to be honest, it wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be. I am just SO out of shape.
When I walked into the studio, I was greeted by the instructor. She was very polite and personable. She signed me in and had me sign a waiver. I told her how nervous I was, and she was very reassuring. She did warn me that everyone (no matter how many classes they've done) gets "the shakes" (which I had read about in my research) and to not be alarmed. It just means that your muscles are really getting a workout. She pointed me to the cubbies where I could stow my stuff. She got me a mat, a small ball, a set of hand weights, and two resistance bands.
The workout itself is insanely intense and I had to modify a lot of the exercises and rest quite a bit. And let me tell you, those shakes are no joke! I got them in spades, and by the end of the session, my muscles felt like jello.
Before this barre session, I had never done a class-style workout. I had always just worked out with DVD's. Mostly, I had avoided classes because of intimidation and fear. I've always been afraid of being "the big girl" in the class (which I definitely was in this case!). But eventually, we all have to face our fears if we want to get anywhere. Today, I did just that. All the girls in the class (probably none larger than a size 10) were very nice and encouraging. And the instructor was very helpful, correcting my form and giving me pointers on how to modify. She knew I was struggling, but still wanted me to enjoy the session and get a lot out of it. She was so great!
So what's the verdict? I absolutely LOVED it. I will definitely go back. I just wish the studio was closer to home. It's about an hour away from the house. But, it's only about 15 minutes away from school, so I could definitely see me going on the days that I have class. I don't think I'd make it my only workout, but I would put it with running and pilates for a well-rounded workout routine.
But I will say this: Boy am I going to be sore tomorrow! Where's my Aleve?