Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to some special women in my life.

To Mom -
Thank you for your love, and for sharing the things that you love with me. You helped instill a love for the arts in me.  I have so many memories of you playing the piano when I was growing up, and hearing the piano still moves me in a way that other music doesn't. It triggers memories of being a carefree child sitting on the piano bench with you. You always encouraged me in my artistic endeavors. I remember picking out my first camera with you. I think I was about 9 years old. It was a simple 110 film camera, and I had fun with it. More importantly than the arts though, you shared your love of Jesus with me. You were my Sunday School teacher for a time, and I still remember some of the curriculum you taught from. You taught me as a young child that all people are worthy of love, no matter their age or what they look like. You took me to serve in nursing homes and encouraged me to volunteer with Special Olympics when I was a teen.  Thank you for all your prayers, and for being a loving Nana.

To my Mother-in-Law -
I'm so thank for to have a Mother-in-Law who loves Jesus and shared her faith with her son.  When I met James, I saw that he valued biblical truth deeply. My family is blessed my your talents that you shared with him. He loves to cook, because he had a momma that loved to cook.  I never had you as an algebra teacher, but you gave a few pointers on my homework in college.  I saw then that you were a gifted math teacher, and you passed your teaching gift on to James, along with your love of numbers. Thank you for the practical cooking knowledge you shared with me as well. Thank for you the support and love that you give us. Thank you for the way you love on your grandbabies.

To James' Grandmother -
What a blessing to have a family who's love for Jesus spans the generations. A mother's most lasting legacy is her children.  You raised your children to serve the Lord, and they followed suite raising theor own children. You set a lovely example for your family, in how you serve at your church, in your community, and in your own home. I see you in James in his love for animals. He is without a doubt, your grandson when it comes to animals. I think he got that soft heart from you, watching you serve for so many years in the Humane Society.  Thank you for your faithfulness and love.

To Elizabeth -
When we were in the process of adopting, we had to name guardians for our child-to-be should something happen to us. We prayed about it, and he discussed it with James' mom. She suggested you and Stephen, without knowing that we were also thinking of you two.  Thank you for saying yes when we asked you to be Godparents to our children. I'm thankful to call you family.  Thank you for your faithfulness to pray for the kids - and for James and me.  You're a wonderful example for the kids.  I pray that they will be quick to follow Jesus' voice, where ever it may take them - just as you and Stephen are faithful.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Value of Menu Planning

One of the habits that I've developed as I have tried to live a healthier life is menu planning.  I did it a little before Samuel was born, but it became a necessity after he came along. I had some space in my kitchen pantry to paint a chalkboard, so I did that one day while my mom-in-law was here watching newborn Samuel.  I've used it every week since then.  The black paint is chalk board paint, and the white paint was just some white latex paint that I had left over from another project.

Menu planning has helped eliminate stopping to get take-out for dinner when life gets crazy. I'll take some time on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday each week and choose recipes for the coming week. I usually print out recipes from the internet and then I make my grocery list off what I printed.  Having a plan for the week means that I know I have healthy options to prepare at home when something unexpected happens.

My lunches usually consist of left overs from the night before, but I keep some back-up options on hand just in case we don't have any leftovers.  My favorite things for last minute lunches are unsweetened coconut milk yogurt with fruit and hemp seeds or eggs and Canadian bacon with veggies or fruit on the side.

Sometimes I get a mental block when trying to decide what the plan for the week. So here's a little framework that I came up with:
  • a crock pot meal
  • breakfast for dinner
  • fish prepared one way or another
  • a chicken recipe
That leaves three nights unaccounted for. If it's cold, I'll add a soup or chili recipe. If it's warm I'll plan for something that can be grilled. Sometimes I will plan a meatless night, but I've been doing less of that lately. One night is take-out night. Cooking is a chore that James and I share. I do the planning and grocery shopping. If a recipe has a lot of steps, I'll do some of the prep work. James does most of the cooking.  He enjoys it more than I do. Cooking is a hobby for him, whereas it is a chore for me. I usually keep the kids entertained while he cooks. I'm thankful for his willingness to help!