Wednesday Willpower: Meal Planning for the Semester

My final semester of my undergraduate career is approaching.  I like to be as prepared as possible going in so I’m not scrambling.  I have been blessed to have great friends who have agreed to watch my kids for the day classes I am forced to take.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their kindness and generosity.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  I am not really sure how I will ever repay everyone, but I plan on hopefully giving back in little ways.

As part of my preparations I have generated a menu for the whole semester: part of January through most of May.  I have tried to include links or details for each of the recipes.  Enjoy!!

Click here to see an excel copy of my dinner menu for Spring 2013 semester.

 

P.S.  I know I haven’t been posting.  There’s just a lot going on right now with school, and homemaking and all that.  I will post every once in a while, but for now that’s the best I can do.  ❤

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Monday Might: Recommitted (Goal-Setting)

Now that the semester is over I get to crack down and get recommitted to the things that have started to slip. It just takes a couple of days for me to lose track and then things start spiraling out of control. I guess that’s how it is with two toddlers. If I don’t pick up, or do the dishes for ONE day – just one day – all heck breaks loose.

I have to admit, I am sorely tempted to just take a nap.

No, I have got to recommit. If I don’t have a plan or goals, I just feel all scattered and clumsy. So, about every quarter I recheck my goals and realign them with what I hope to accomplish.

To recommit, I sit down with my list of the six dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, spiritual, and environmental (Insel, pg 3). I consider where I need to improve in each of these dimensions, what I can do to develop in these areas, and how to accomplish that. I think I’ll also consider how I’ve grown in these areas and what I feel good about.

Core Concepts in Health 11th ed. by Paul M. Insel & Walton T. Roth
Pg 3 (my own suggestions are in parentheses)
Physical
Emotional
Intellectual
Interpersonal
Spiritual
Environmental
Eating well
Optimism
Openness to new ideas
Communication skills
Capacity to love
Having abundant, clean natural resources
Exercising
Trust
Capacity to question
Capacity for intimacy
Compassion
Maintaining sustainable development
Avoiding harmful habits
Self-esteem
Ability to think critically
Ability to establish and maintain satisfying relationships
Altruism
Recycling whenever possible
Practicing safe sex
Self-acceptance
Motivation to master new skills
Ability to cultivate support system of friends and family
Joy
Reducing pollution and waste
Recognizing symptoms of disease
Self-confidence
Sense of humor
Fulfillment
(Clean and organized surroundings)
Getting regular checkups
Ability to understand and accept one’s feelings
Creativity
Caring for others
(Environment is free of clutter)
Avoiding injuries
Ability to share feelings well with others
Curiosity
Sense of meaning and purpose
(Home and auto maintenance)
(Self-efficacy)
Lifelong learning
Sense of belonging to something greater than oneself

For myself, I also add another dimension of health, which is the “Temporal” dimension. This includes my temporal needs which could be included under “Intellectual” or “Environmental” or even “Occupational” or “Financial” but none of those really quite sum it up. “Temporal” health includes financial health or balancing a budget; maintaining food storage and emergency preparation; estate planning and planning for death/potential disability (sounds morbid, but I don’t want to leave this out there for the state to deal with in the event that it happens); understanding my rights, the laws I am governed by, and knowing what my insurance covers; developing my earning potential, and career planning; job satisfaction; improving my generativity (what I contribute to my posterity); etc.

Some things apply to several dimensions.  For instance,  I believe that writing in my journal improves my health on several levels: emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even temporal.  It may even improve my physical health if I’m away from my computer or the television for a bit, and feel inspired to do something productive afterwards.  Doing my visiting teaching works on my emotional, interpersonal, intellectual, spiritual, and temporal well-being.

I have a binder with at least four of these dimensions on tabs.  I have some lined paper in the front of the binder where I record my thoughts or make lists involving the goals for each of the categories and place them under the appropriate tab.  I also add anything to the tabs that I obtain, like, for example, the food storage tips I get at church every week go under the “temporal” tab so I can refer back to them.  When I learn about new exercise programs that I like, I print them and put them under my “physical” tab. Pinterest also helps me organize my goals…even distant goals.

I found some great ideas for worthy goals at a site called “Pursuit of Excellence“.  WOW!!  What an awesome resource!!

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Setting goals and working toward those goals can strengthen your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by helping you develop patterns and qualities of discipleship in your life. Pursuit of Excellence can help you to follow the Savior’s example of “a more excellent way”  (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Begin by asking the Lord to help you determine what you will work on. Decide how you will evaluate and record your progress. Discover how the Spirit affirms your progress. You will find that your greatest reward will be an increase of the Spirit in your life. Your faith will grow, and your testimony will be strengthened.
The goals listed below are intended to help support and strengthen you in your responsibilities as a son or daughter of Heavenly Father and to help you establish righteous habits and patterns for a lifetime.

Need more ideas about goal-setting, check out a few links:

Pursuit of Excellence (AWESOME!!!):  http://www.lds.org/service/serving-in-the-church/relief-society/leader-resources/new-relief-society-sisters/pursuit-of-excellence?lang=eng
Fly Lady (Finally Love Yourself):  http://flylady.net/
Simplify 101:  http://www.simplify101.com/
Self-Reliance and Family Well-Being:   http://www.lds.org/family/family-well-being?lang=eng

Wednesday Wellness: Self-Reliance

I’m not sure I ever considered health an aspect of self-reliance, but the more I learn about it and the healthier I become, the more I am convinced it has everything to do with self-reliance!
I was thinking about self-reliance this morning and the phrase “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” So I did a search to discover where it came from. It emerged during the post World War era and Great Depression and has since become a wise adage. In my search I discovered this wonderful talk by former General Relief Society counselor Silvia H. Allred that she gave during a BYU Women’s Conference entitled “Principles of Self-Reliance”. She discusses emergency preparation, money management, food storage, and then she talks about physical fitness and good nutrition!
There are many reasons why I believe we have been commanded to be healthy, and self-reliance is as good a reason as any. Being capable of providing for ourselves and our families in good health and physical agility whether in times of safety or emergency is crucial. I believe preparing for an emergency should include daily exercise just as much as it should include having a 72-kit or a year supply of food or a financial reserve or a solid education. It requires just as much discipline and patience as we add upon it daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to be capable and prepared. Being self-sufficient takes hard work! It is exhausting to prepare meals, fix things, care for children, or do the work to maintain a home! Having the physical capacity to keep up makes it that much easier.
I hope you can check out Sister Allred’s article. It is a good guide to self-reliance. And as for that wise adage, the principle applies to our bodies and minds: “use it, or lose it.”
Check out this video. For fun.

Monday Motherhood: Order vs. Chaos

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I’m not totally convinced there is a wrong or right way to parent (with the exception of abusive or dangerous situations, of course). Our differences are what make us unique and beautiful. However, I wonder if there isn’t a way to make parenthood a little less chaotic. I say “less” because I’m pretty sure chaos is unavoidable. I recently read two (almost) conflicting articles about parenthood: order vs. chaos. Of course, I DO NOT claim to be a great parent, but I do try. I think there just has to be some kind of order and schedule that helps me keep my head on straight. Here are a few of my own methods/suggestions to help things run smoothly in my house:
1: Keep a schedule, even if it’s very broad. Schedules helps kids anticipate what is going to happen and they take comfort in knowing the plan. My schedule looks something like this (ideally):

6:30 – Time to get up and read my scriptures

7:00 – breakfast for my family, put away dishes, switch the laundry

7:30 – the kids can watch an hour of tv while I exercise and shower (I put gates up to keep them out of the kitchen, and my bedroom)

8:30 – my breakfast time

9:00 to 11:30 – my time with the kids to play, run errands, etc., etc.

11:30 – lunch, and clean up (dishes, toys, switch the laundry, whatever)

12:30 – nap/quiet time. This is when I study or catch up…or take a nap too 🙂

3:30/4:00 – cook dinner and clean up

5:00 – dinner time

6:30/7:00 – get kids ready for bed/bedtime routine

8:00 – my time (unless I’m in school, then that’s when I’m in class, sadly)

2: Plan – weekly and daily. My mission taught me that planning is crucial. Even if things don’t end up going as planned, it is good to at least HAVE one. Every night, sit down with your planner and map out how the day should go, then make preparations for the next day’s events. Every week, go over the general schedule and bear in mind your limits. If you can, sit down even each month and plan what that will look like.

3: Hold family council. You have maybe heard of Family Home Evening where you have a night each week that is JUST for your family to play games, have a spiritual lesson, sing songs, pray together, and have a yummy treat (it’s doesn’t even have to be that elaborate). Well, just tack family council on to your FHE plans, or pick another night where you can discuss important things with your family: scheduling, budgeting, family rules, etc., etc.

4: Have a meal plan. It is so frustrating to have to rush around at dinner time trying to figure out what to feed everyone, especially if you don’t have all the ingredients for what you think you will make. Have staples in the house for nights when you forgot something or need a quick fix. When you have a plan, you can pick up everything you need at the grocery store and you won’t have to make any “quick” runs to the store midweek (we all know there is no such thing as a quick run to the store with two toddlers in tow).

5: Make mealtimes more bearable. Read “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family” by Ellyn Satter. The food relationship with kids goes something like this: parents decide WHAT and WHEN to eat, and kids decide IF and HOW MUCH. It makes mealtimes such a chore when it becomes a power struggle over whether or not your kids will eat. Serve them the food you prepared and hope they try it, but then always have two (healthy) things on your child’s plate you KNOW they will eat.

6: Make bedtimes more bearable: Read “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” by Tracy Hogg. The pattern to start out with is SLEEP, EAT, PLAY, SLEEP. This has been a miracle for me. I followed this pattern with #2, and now he sleeps almost on command. Of course, #1 still fights me, but I used a method in this book that prevented things from being A LOT worse.

7: Don’t overextend your poor tired/hungry children. I avoid going out when it overlaps nap time or bed time. It just makes life easier for everyone. Then when we do go out, I always have some snack or drink for my kids because when they’re crabby, it’s either fatigue, hunger or thirst. Life is much less chaotic when my kids are not screaming at me!

In my opinion, parenthood takes a fair amount of SELFLESSNESS. That’s just how it is. There are lots of things I would rather do than plan out every minute of my life, but I have to give up things I want, especially my time and energy to help things run more smoothly. That’s just how it is.

I hope this helps someone. What do you do to make your day run more smoothly?