Monday Meal Plan #37

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! In case you missed it, on Friday I was interviewed by Jen from Honestly Modern for her “Modern Mom” series. You can read the full interview here.

Weekend Recap

Friday afternoon, we drove to my in-laws’ house in New Jersey, to drop our daughter off for a week of what we’ve been calling, “Grandma Camp”. She’s staying with them for a week, and they have a full itinerary of activities planned. While I had been looking forward to this child-free week since we formulated the plan a couple of months ago, it was harder to leave her than I expected it to be. A week is the longest I’ve gone without seeing my daughter, by far!

My husband and I headed home Saturday morning, his birthday. We spent a couple of hours hanging out at home, then went out for a casual dinner. Yesterday was a somewhat lazy day with some yard work and chores, followed by a nice dinner out. The birthday boy put together his gift, and got right to work enjoying it.

The Week Ahead

My husband took today and tomorrow off from work. We each have some errands to run, plus I have an overdue visit to the dentist scheduled today. (Please cross your fingers that the spot they’ve had “a watch” on for a year has not progressed to requiring a filing.) We’re going out dinner again tonight, earning me yet another off dinner-duty.

The rest of the week is pretty standard – except for the part about my daughter being away. I have some friends coming over for a small gathering Thursday evening, and a doctor’s appointment on Friday. On Saturday we’ll be heading back to New Jersey to pick up our daughter, who starts camp the following Monday. I’ll be stocking up on camp lunch and snack foods this week, in preparation for the her upcoming five, straight weeks of camp.

This Week’s Meal Plan

As I’ve said in the past, I love grilling. It feels so much more manageable and less time-consuming that “regular” cooking. A recipe isn’t really necessary, and the prep is minimal. Even the clean-up is simpler!

  • Monday: Dinner out!
  • Tuesday: Grilled kabobs and veggies
  • Wednesday: Pasta salad
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: Grilled fish w/ salad
  • Saturday: Out of town
  • Sunday: Probably takeout on our way home from NJ #justkeepingitreal

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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Monday Meal Plan #36

Happy Monday! I hope you have a fantastic weekend and all the dads out there had a lovely Father’s Day!

Weekend Recap

We had a weekend of fun activities and good weather! On Saturday, I made progress toward one of my goals for 2017, and ran my first 5K in almost a decade. The race was a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, and there were lots of familiar faces running and cheering. I didn’t exactly set any records, but I did run it at a faster pace than I had been running the rest of this spring. My daughter ran both the one-mile race and the 50-yard dash, and now insists she’s ready for a marathon.

Lupine and solar panels at the Wild Center

Yesterday, we went to the Wild Center, my husband’s request for Father’s Day. It’s in Tupper Lake, in the Adirondacks, and the drive was about two hours each way. It was my first time there, and I was very impressed. There are many great exhibits on the natural history of the Adirondacks and local wildlife. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, especially the Wild Walk, which I’d heard a lot about and was excited to see for myself. It did not disappoint.

Caught in the spider’s web on the Wild Walk

The Week Ahead

Wednesday is the last day of school here. Buh-bye, second grade; hello summer! My daughter and I are celebrating the start of summer with hair cuts and pedicures on Thursday. (The pedicure is really a bribe, since she hates getting her hair cut.) Friday evening, we’re heading to my in-laws’ house in New Jersey. My husband and I will spend the night there, and head home on Saturday. Our daughter is spending a week with her grandparents, which I’ve been referring to as “grandma camp”. Saturday is also my husband’s birthday, which we’ll be celebrating with dinner out at a restaurant that doesn’t have chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese on the menu.

This Week’s Meal Plan

  • Monday: Pozole rojo w/ red beans and rice (from 9 Miles East)
  • Tuesday: Pasta w/ Bolognese sauce and frozen peas
  • Wednesday: Leftovers
  • Thursday: Grilled burgers w/ couscous and raw veggies
  • Friday: Dinner with my in-laws at their house
  • Saturday: Grilled fish and veggies
  • Sunday: Date night out with my husband

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Family’s Summer Plans

My daughter is wrapping up her final, full week of second grade today, which means that summer is officially just around the corner! I experience the same conflicting emotions every year at this time: excitement about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time, and terror about the two-plus upcoming months of unstructured time.

I love the idea of lazy, unstructured days – sleeping in, showering late, and not having to be anywhere, at any particular time. In practice, though, I’ve learned that what really happens is that I sit around reading for a couple of hours in the morning, feel gross because I haven’t showered, accomplish very little all day, and field endless “what are we doing today?” queries from my daughter. It might be different if we had more than one child, but without a home-based playmate, my daughter gets bored and lonely.

These are the tools I’ll be using to balance lazy time, socialization, learning, and fun for my daughter this summer:

Summer Camp

Socialization is important for all kids, but especially so for an only child like my daughter. This summer she’ll be participating in five weeks of (day) camp: two, two-week sessions of children’s theater camp, and one week of Girl Scout camp. Both of these camps will provide lots of socialization, plus activities that she loves and cannot do at home.

Learning Activities

Since most kids forget a decent chunk of what they learned the previous school year over the summer, I think it’s important to build in some learning activities throughout the summer weeks. Daily reading is a given, and our library has a great summer reading program that keeps my daughter motivated. (See below.) In past years, I’ve purchased workbooks for her to practice her skills, but this year I want to keep it a bit lighter. I’m going to have her write a letter or postcard to someone different each week, since spelling is a skill she needs to practice.

Last summer, her school sent home a summer math challenge, which she did. We kept track of the days she did 20 minutes or more of math activities, and she received a prize in September. We played a lot of the game Math Dice last summer, and since she still enjoys it, I’m sure we’ll play it again this year. Her class studied both money and telling time this spring, so I’d like to create some activities around those skills. (Please send any ideas you have my way!) And I may check out some other games, including this one, this one, and this one. With or without a school math challenge, regular math practice will also be part of our plan.

Family Vacation

We have a week-long vacation in Quebec planned. We’re going to Mont Tremblant, which is a ski resort during the winter months, and a family vacation spot during the summer. It should be a nice blend of relaxing, sightseeing, and activities.

Library Summer Reading Program

This will be my daughter’s fourth year participating in our library’s summer reading program. Kids log the number of minutes they read, go to the library to report on what they’ve read to a “book buddy”, and receive “book bucks”, which they can redeem for prizes. My daughter is highly motivated by rewards, so this program is right up her alley.

Playdates

There are a number of playgrounds and splash pads in our area, and my daughter enjoys all of them. Of course, they’re a lot more fun to do with friends, so we’ll meet up with them as often as possible. Last year I sent out group emails/texts, letting people know where we’d be and when. Sometimes a big group of friends showed up, sometimes one friend showed up, and sometimes it was just us. I’ll be doing this again this year, for sure.

What are your family’s plans for the summer? Do you keep it unstructured, or plan out your days and weeks?

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Monday Meal Plan #35

Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic weekend!!

Weekend Recap

After a wet and chilly spring, summer arrived here in upstate New York last weekend. Temps were in the upper 70s on Saturday, and hit the low 90s yesterday. What a strange spring we’ve had this year!!

On Saturday, my daughter went to Scout Day at the local Six Flags park, The Great Escape. I’ve been there a couple of times, and I consider it one of the circles of hell. Fortunately, a couple of my friends were going with their daughters, and they offered to take my daughter with them. They were there for about six hours, and I was grateful to them every, single moment of it. My husband and I used the time to run a few errands – farmers market, hardware store, and grocery store – and do some chores at home.

We knew yesterday’s high was going to be in the 90s, so we needed something appropriate to do with our daughter. Since the pools and splash parks in our area aren’t open yet, lakes were our only option. We chose Moreau State Park, which has a lake beach, walking trails, and a shaded playground. It was HOT on the beach, but we hung in there for a couple of hours. When we left around 1:30, the place was becoming a zoo.

The Week Ahead

This is my daughter’s final, full week of school before the summer. We don’t have many plans this week, since the end-of-the-year school events and spring extracurricular activities are over. These last couple of weeks, I’ve been picking my daughter up from school on Wednesdays, and taking her into town to visit the library and the farmers market.

Next weekend is my first 5K of the year – GULP – on Saturday. The run is a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, and she’s going to run the kids’ one-mile race. I haven’t been running as much as I should, but I know I’m capable of running the 5K distance, even if it’s at an embarrassing pace.

Next Sunday is Father’s Day, and my husband gets to choose how he wants to spend it. One idea that he’s been considering is visiting the Wild Center. I’ve never been there, but it’s on my list of must-do things for this summer.

This Week’s Meal Plan

As much as I dread meal planning and cooking, both feel much more manageable to me during the warmer months. Grilling is easy, requires little advanced planning, and is very flexible. We finally fired up our grill last weekend, and it was fantastic. Plus, fresh, delicious food is in abundance, and easy to acquire at farm stands and farmers markets.

I decided to cancel my Hello Fresh subscription, because I just didn’t find enough meals that appealed to me. (As someone who dislikes poultry, this is a problem I run into often.) Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off for this week’s delivery, so we’re stuck having three meals that I would never have chosen myself. (I also missed the deadline to change my default meal options.)

Here’s what’s for dinner at my house this week:

  • Monday: Blueberry pancakes w/ smoothies – brinner!
  • Tuesday: Grass-fed Vietnamese beef (from Nine Miles East)
  • Wednesday: Zesty crusted catfish w/ cilantro jasmine rice and roasted broccoli (from Hello Fresh)
  • Thursday: Chicken Parm salad w/ baby spinach and creamy lemon dressing (from Hello Fresh)
  • Friday: Herbs de Provence chicken w/ farro Caprese salad (from Hello Fresh)
  • Saturday: Shrimp and veggies on the grill
  • Sunday: Dad’s choice!

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

My Goals for 2017: Check-In #5

Some people are motivated by rewards. Some people are motivated by fear. Others are internally motivated. Me? I’m motivated by public shame. I do not want to be embarrassed, and that’s what typically gives me the push I need complete things.

It helped keep me focused when I trained for two marathons in my younger years. I joined Team in Training, which, in exchange for participants raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, provides coaching, support, and organized, group training runs. Those group runs were critical for me – in particular the weekly “long runs.” Knowing that I would be running 16 miles with a group on Saturday, helped keep me motivated to train on my own throughout the week. I knew I’d never be the first, but I really did not want to be the last person to finish the long runs.

What does this have to do with my 2017 goals? I’m going to use this motivation to help keep me on track with my goals. I’ll be sharing monthly check-ins on my progress to keep me focused, and as a form of accountability.

2017 Goals Check-In #5

(You can read more detailed descriptions of each of my goals here.)

Goal #1: Read at least 24 books that I truly want to read.

In May, I returned to nonfiction and read Killers of the Flower Moon, and The Dirty Life. I learned a lot from Killers of the Flower Moon, which is about a time and place – Oklahoma in the early 1900s – I knew nothing about. It tells the story of a disturbing period during which Native Americans were murdered for their lucrative land rights. The Dirty Life, which is about a woman who falls in love with a farmer, leaves her life in NYC to start a new farm with him here in upstate New York, was fine.  This brings my total number of books read in 2017 to ten. You can see all of my 2017 reads – current, past, and future – here.

Goal #2: Try at least three new (to me) activities, preferably active ones.

No progress here this month – not surprising, given my comfort with and preference for the familiar… 🙂

Goal #3: Run at least three 5K races.

I went for a few more runs slow jogs in May, but I’m still not in particularly good shape. My first 5K is coming up on June 17th, so I need to make the most of the next couple of weeks.

Goal #4: Find a way to dread meal planning/cooking less.

Twice in May, I received meals from 9 Miles East, which I continue to enjoy. I was able to customize my plan to include more entrée servings, and fewer salads. We also had the “Chicken Parm Monday To Go” from Augie’s To Go. It includes a large tray of chicken parm and ziti, a basic, two-serving salad, and bread. I don’t like poultry, but my husband loved the chicken parm.

My husband cleaned out the grill, so it’s ready to go for grilling season! For some reason, I find grilling dinner much less intimidating than cooking. It’s easy, requires only a few ingredients, and almost everything tastes great grilled. Here’s just another reason to love summer!

How are you doing with your 2017 goals/resolutions?

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