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,