Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meal Planning

I actually have been meal planning but I just didn't post the list. Last week I filed some new recipes in my recipe binder. Then I pulled out any recipe that caught my eye and made a stack. Turns out I had enough recipes to fill out 2 work weeks of dinners. I shuffled the deck and came up with a 2 week meal plan excepting the weekends which I always leave blank. Then I make up a shopping list divided by the days of the week for any filler ingredients we may need. This helps me plan my shopping trips because I never go just once a week. Whenever I go to grocery store A to pick up those deals for the week I mark things off the list for the next few dinners. Then when I go to grocery store B a few days later I know what items I still need to get. Planned and planned!

I will leave off last week's menu but here's what we have going on this week.

Monday: Last night we have leftovers from what Mike grilled on Sunday. Mixed rosemary veggies on the grill and a Bobby Flay flank steak with fontina and prosciutto and a Cabernet reduction. Yum!

Tuesday: Chicken with lemon and leek linguine

Wednesday: Mushroom and Provolone Patty melts

Thursday: Italian Sausage and Potato Roast

Friday: Salmon with maple lemon glaze

Since we had leftovers last night and skipped a night last week I will have a few ideas to start the week next week. Gotta love roll over meal plans :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I have flurries of activity. Quick little bursts of energy where I get so much done all in a very short time period. If I were pregnant it would be called "nesting" but I'm not so its just "periodic housewifery". I feel like I have so many things to do at any given moment that I'm usually paralyzed. I'm in a perpetual state of waiting. I can't do this because I need to wait for that. I bounce around never really finishing...or starting for that matter...things that need to be done. I get so bogged down in the enormity of it all that I just give up. I do the bare minimum and have that dreaded mental clutter weighing me down.

So much of my life at this point is drudgery. I am a restless stay-at-home-mom. Its taxing in the banality of it all. Its not so much hard as it is soul crushing and boring. I've been trying to take things in baby steps. I know that I need to gut my office and start over. Just remove every single item and reorganize and purge. Same with my closets or the kitchen or the kids' toys. Its not really fun and there are all these little people in the way! So I stew over what I should be doing. Berate myself for not having done a damn thing all day. I may have gone grocery shopping or made dinner or did the laundry but that's the bare minimum. That's merely survival. What I need to do is break it down into doable parts. One shelf at a time instead of one room at a time. But that is so not in my nature. I've attempted to do this but I get stuck and give up.

Think I should have told them that there was cow poop in that dirt?

Then some weeks I have something kick me in the ass and I get moving. I actually DO something productive. Yesterday as soon as the boys were in school I came home and gutted their room. I fixed their poorly hung clothes and picked up the piles of clothes under the bed and in the corner. I brought a trash bag, a laundry basket and a broom into their rooms. I made their beds, got rid of a few babies and went through every toy in their room. Based on the houses of my friends my kids aren't overly laden with toys but they certainly have more than enough. And, they don't play with any of them. Truly they don't. I think part of the problem is that they can't SEE the toys they have. When Raph was little I would rotate toys. That was when I had one child and far fewer things in the house. The same old toy becomes fresh and new every 2 weeks. Glorious! Now, I don't have time for that shit!

I worked up a literal sweat and cleaned out their room. I filled a trash bag with garbage and happy meal toys and two laundry baskets of toys that I will attempt to sell at a resale shop or donate to charity. You'd be amazed to see what I found UNDER the dresser and behind the bookshelves. I found missing puzzle pieces and toy parts and accessories all over the place. Then I hit Heidi's room. Then the living room. I made a brief stop in the basement to find the remaining missing pieces to toys I'm going to sell and stashed the confiscated goods. I picked up Colin from school and all he said when we came home was, "Did you clean my room Mommy?" See! He didn't even notice that he has 75% less toys than he did a few hours earlier.

Why even bother? How can you get anything done when stuff like this happens? And don't even get me started on Heidi and anything that makes marks...

I've been taking this slash and burn mentality to every room in the house. I am in no way a hoarder but there is just so much superfluous stuff in our house that we do not need or use. If we don't use it, it goes...or I think about making it go. Especially if its something the kids have outgrown. No need for that stuff to linger and take up space and create clutter. I have a attempt to sell/ready to donate pile in my laundry room. Its bordering on epic at this point. I think I'm going to have to call a charity that will make a pick up, otherwise I'm going to have to take a few trips to Goodwill to get rid of it all. But, before that can happen...I have to write down everything in the pile. I don't know if anyone else does this but I make detailed notes over the course of the year about what I donate. Then at the end of the year I figure out the value of the donated goods to deduct on my taxes. It may seem like more work but it adds up quickly. Last year we donated a couple thousand dollars worth of unused stuff. I don't say a onesie is worth $10 either, I give it a fair thrift store value and move on.

I've been purging and cleaning and doing all the extra work around the house this week that I feel accomplished. I am making a difference even if it is a huge pain in my ass. I had a bunch of phone calls I needed to make. I dread making phone calls. Not sure why it is but its the last hold over of my painfully shy nature. I hate calling people I don't know or any phone conversation that is uncomfortable. So, if it requires a phone call I put it off. Today I made 4 of those phone calls. Its stupid. My eye doctors say that if a contact is defective or you lose one or whatever that you can call and get a replacement. I wear monthly contacts and over the last year I've had THREE defective or torn contacts. That's 2 months worth of contacts gone to waste and those suckers are expensive. I made the call today and I can pick them up at any time. Its a little thing but a huge thing all at once.

This is all so rambling and jumbled but I'm in a flurry. Or maybe I'm just manic, but I'm getting things done this week. I need to roll with it and keep it going for as long as possible. Especially if its something difficult to do with 3 kids in tow...summer is looming on the horizon and I'm scared. I'm buzzing with nervous energy at this point because I had 4 hours of sleep but I must keep moving. If I sit down and stop for too long I will crash and burn. Its similar to those first months after you have a baby. This is also why I painted my living room when Heidi was a month old. If you never stop moving you never stop moving. Funny how that works huh?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stuck in the Middle

Sometimes I just look at Colin and shake my head. I don't really know what to do with this boy. I don't know how to parent to him. From what everyone tells me he is the quintessential middle child. All drama and trouble, all the time. Some days I just don't know how I will get through the day and then others I just feel so badly for him. He really is stuck. He whirls around out of control fighting everyone. Its exhausting.

I've always marveled at just how different from Raph he is. Those boys couldn't be further apart on any spectrum. I don't really compare him in a negative sense, like, "Oh well Raph did this, and you don't." I note their differences and uniqueness. Raph is passive and reserved, Colin is outgoing and daring...both are very stubborn. This, of course, doesn't mean I never wish he had a little more control like Raph does but Raph is no angel either. He's difficult to parent in another sort of way.

For Colin, he's never old enough or young enough. He's just stuck in the middle of two very different children. Raph is older by 3 years so he can do so much more. Colin WANTS to be older and do so much more but he's not. This naturally adds to his frustrations. For his birthday this year we thought long and hard about what he should get as gifts. We wanted to make sure that it was all age appropriate, something that he wouldn't need help to do and could enjoy at his level. As it turns out Raph was only mildly interested in his toys and Colin enjoyed them greatly. Success! Then he was given a gift of a Lego set that was clearly marked "Ages 7-14". Completely out of his range of abilities but he was so happy because it was "just like Raph's". He then couldn't put them together and later smashed it...and the one just like it Raph spent a long time putting together.

Always looking up to Raph

I know he has no fuse at all. He is a bomb ready to go off at any second but you know, I can't really blame him some of the time. He can't do what Raph can do and he can't do what Heidi is allowed to get away with because she's a baby. He's too old and too young all at the same time. He's torn in both directions, vying for our attention and a whirling dervish by nature. This snowballs regularly and leads him to tear up books, draw on someone else's artwork, throw things and scream and throw fits at the drop of a hat. He's always fighting someone. Fighting against Raph because he is lacking and fighting against Heidi because he can and fighting against me because I try to reign him in. A simple, "Not right now" can cause him to completely lose it and be reduced to a screaming bucket of tears. Before he can even utter the words, "I left my blankie in the car." He just starts screaming. His default response to virtually everything is incoherent screaming. All he had to say was, "Mommy I left my blankie in the car" and I would open the door for him. Instead of speaking he screams. How many times do I have to tell him to use words because no one knows why he is screaming?

But what he doesn't know is that Raph looks up to him as well. Raph would never feed a llama

Sometimes I just want a little bit of peace. But I know he must be yearning for that same peace but doesn't have the vocabulary or ability to express his needs. I know, really, that when I want to push him furthest away is when I should be pulling him closer. Its just so hard to do though. Its so hard to embrace someone that is constantly pushing against you and screaming. Someone who has virtually no impulse control yet who is very deliberate in his actions. How do you parent that type of child? How do you make HIM feel special, loved, and cared for when sometimes you just want to walk away? I love him so much but I feel awful as a parent because I can't control him. He is a force to be reckoned with, that is a certainty. I shouldn't try to *control* anything. Any parent will tell you, anyone who thinks they have control over their children is clearly delusional. Much of life has to be done on their terms. Not to be a limp wristed parent but its true...you can't really force them to do anything. I am stubborn and he is just as stubborn. It can take him hours to clean up a destructive mess he's made. Lots of screaming and theatrics for something that would take no more than 3 minutes to complete. An epic battle of wills at all times. Over everything. Choosing battles is difficult when there are so many. Do you ignore disrespect or confront disrespect? How do you foster an acceptable level of *fear* without being a feared parent? How much do you push and how much do you accept?

"I was giving them lips."

I'm up late tonight alone with my thoughts. I googled "how to parent to a middle child" and it turns out that much has been written on the topic. I know birth order is an important factor in your persona. I am the baby and much younger than my siblings. My life growing up was much different from theirs simply because of birth order. All three of us are similar in many ways but wildly different in others. Some of that is just our nature and some of it is how, when and where we were brought up. I was so far removed from my brother (the middle child) that I didn't really *see* the struggle in the middle. I can see it now though. He was trapped between sisters and from what my mom tells me, he was very much like Colin. I think I'm starting to have a better understanding of both of them. With age comes wisdom on many different levels. You see past yourself and into others. I still keep trying to look further into Colin because it just isn't working the way we are doing things now. Tonight I came across this line:

To counteract the attention you lavish upon your overachiever firstborn and spotlight-hogging last born, the middle-born child needs to experience acceptance exactly for who he is -- mistakes included

This nearly brought me to tears. I need to print that out and put it somewhere in the open so I can take a moment to think about HIM not his actions.

Most days I lumber along trying to make things work. Trying to be a better mom for this special little boy searching for his place in this world. Its a struggle for both of us. Mike promises me that one day I will be closest with him. He will turn the corner on this willful preschooler to be a funny, loving teenager who will always make me laugh. I hope this happens. I hope that I can find it in me to be the type of mom he needs. More understanding and less rigid. Help him find his place in the family and embrace his individuality. I know that some day his persistence and stubbornness will serve him well, but for now I would like to make it through just one day without an explosion. Just one day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Its May! A new month and a chance to start over

I've tried to get a regular food menu going and a regular budget adhered to but I always fall short. Its a new month so I start over and will probably screw it up by Thursday. I can dream can't I?

Menu for the week:

Sunday: Buffalo chicken sandwiches and fries

Monday: Brinner (sausage and sweet potato hash for the adults, sausage and pancakes and fruit for kids)

Tuesday: Pear and Prosciutto pizza

Wednesday: Spiced Steak and Grilled Polenta

Thursday (Cinco de Mayo): Fajitas with left over steak

Friday: BLT night

Looks like we are hosting a graduation party on Saturday. Its also Derby day so I think that will be a whole other planning situation. I think I might make everyone wear hats. I want to go to the Derby and wear a giant hat. I would say drink some Mint Juleps but I hate whiskey so something else minty...maybe a mojito instead. Nothing says Derby like a Mojita right?

If I'm having a party I need to make a cake. Hmmmm, what type of horsey graduation cake can I come up with?
Look who's brave and will pet a big giant Clydesdale?