Menu Plan Monday – Sept 29

MPM-FallMonday – Chili (already made in freezer) and cornbread

Tuesday – Jazzercise night! Frozen pizza & salad for husband and daughter

Wednesday – Veggie masala patties from Trader Joes, naan, tahini and tabbouleh

Thursday – Shrimp fried rice and egg rolls already in freezer

Friday – Going to Jason Gray concert with daughter!  Dad’s on his own 😀

View more menu plans at orgjunkie!

Busted Bubble – There’s No Money Tree

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM

I may be a grown-up, but I still haven’t gotten over the fact that there is no magic money tree.  I bought a nice pair of dress pants for church… and it is never fun to enter those purchases into Quicken and deduct the money out of the budget, even when I have funds saved for such purchases.

My daughter is now learning about this hard reality as she transitions into allowances and chores.  “Teachable moments” are cropping up left and right!

“Can I have money for the Scholastic book fair?”

“No, you haven’t read the last book I bought but you are welcome to use your own money.”

“But I am saving my money for something else!”

“Me too!”

She went on to wonder what would happen if she were the ONLY one in the class with no money for the book fair.  I said she would have to tell her friends she is saving her money for something else.  This conversation, for me, echoed many of the financial decisions my husband and I are making every day.  Why do we only have 1 bathroom… because we are saving for something else.  Why does my husband drive an ‘entry-level’ car… because we are saving for something else.  Freedom from debt is a wonderful situation, but it is still a life filled with many purposeful decisions about money.

Oh, and the book from the book fair that she reeeaaaally wanted?  The library has a copy waiting for us on reserve.


Menu Plan Monday – Sept 22

Free-Downloads-Vector-Vintage-Stove-GraphicsFairy-redThe theme of this week’s menu is using what we already have as a starting point for meals.

Monday - Haircut night, meeting Dad for a sandwich dinner out!

Tuesday – Fajitas, to use up tortillas, beans, cheese, sour cream we already have.  One chicken breast will be enough for all of us in combination with beans.

Wednesday – Greek salmon salad, to use up salmon patties in the freezer.  Combined with romaine, feta, olives, and “Good Seasons” Greek Vinaigrette

Thursday – Sloppy Joes, already in the freezer from a prior meal

Friday – ‘Cheaters’ Cuban Sandwich, boiled ham, provolone, mayo/whole grain mustard, pickles in the Foreman Grill.

For more menu inspirations, visit orgjunkie!

The Truth Hurts…. Waitress and Maid No More

Dr Kevin Leman, a family psychologist whose writing I have enjoyed, asks parents to consider “Are you running a house or a hotel?”  When your kid drops a towel on the floor, does the maid pick it up?  Does the front desk provide convenient reminders to pack backpacks, and remember library books?  Is there express laundry service when too many socks have been abandoned under the bed instead of making the journey to the laundry chute?


Not only does my daughter get tired of me telling her to do things, I get tired of listening to myself!

Enter the chore chart.  We have tried various systems but perhaps never really thought through what outcome we were trying to achieve.  I would like to improve her independence, reduce my nagging, and give her more experiences with money.

We settled on 6 basic items to do every day, and an opportunity to earn up to $5.00 a week.  This money can be used for her personal church contributions, earrings at Claire’s, apps for iPad, and the like.  I hope this experience can provide a foundation for the bigger “wants” that await in middle school… iPhones, Ugg boots, Vera Bradley backpacks.  Mom and Dad definitely live by a budget and when we make a luxury purchase we see what kind of a bite it takes out of our fun money.

We printed a chart off that she can maintain, and she will be paid on Saturdays when we close out our budget week.  We shall see how it goes… day 1 was fantastic and quite refreshing for me!

What experiences have you had with getting your children to contribute to the work of running the household?

Menu Plan Monday – Sept 15

thanksgvingPumpkin-GraphicsFairyOrgWell, we officially have turned our heat on!  I was home sick last week and spent some time reminding myself of what we like to eat when the weather turns cool.  It was fun to look through menu plans I have in notebooks going back for many years.

We have extra incentive to get our meals planned out because our church is participating in ‘Meals@Home‘, a commitment to sit down to eat at home as a family at least three times a week.  We track our meals each month and share photos on Facebook as a way to keep the momentum going.

Monday – Tacos

Tuesday – Shrimp and yukon gold potatoes from our garden.  So. Many. Potatoes!!

Wednesday – Ballet night, but we can bring a take and bake pizza home and still have dinner together.

Thursday – Jazzercise night for me … Grilled cheese and pea soup

Friday – Eggs (from my friend’s chickens) and breakfast-for-dinner accompaniments.

For more menu inspirations, visit orgjunkie!

Fresh eggs!

Fresh eggs!


Jazzercise, Everything Old is New Again

When I say ‘Jazzercise’ … are you old enough to have images of spandex thong leotards, LA Gear high top tennis shoes, and scrunch socks?  Or worse, Richard Simmons in those REALLY SHORT running shorts!

Me too.  Hey, I even had a ‘Vic Tanny’ membership back in high school!

This morning I took a free sample Jazzercise class and really enjoyed it!  I am finishing my 5K running class at church in a few weeks, but I don’t think I will be running much in winter.  Too dark, icy, and cold where I live.

I have been motivated to find a exercise outlet for fall on a few levels.  It’s really beneficial for me to do something a few times a week that is just for me and helps me cultivate some interests outside of “mom duties.”  I also want to do good things for my bones, as I know I am on the osteopenia spectrum and activities that put force on your bones build bone!  Finally, I have read that one of the best things you can do in perimenopause is exercise to relieve symptoms.

The women in the class were generally older than me, some by quite a lot.  The class was 55 minutes – about 45 cardio/dance and the remaining time strength training.  The instructor is also a 6th grade teacher and is pregnant!  In my neighborhood Jazzercise is three times a day, and you can drop in anytime you want and as much as you want.  Love that convenience.

The workout was excellent.  Prepare for sweat.  I came home, took a shower, and I think I was still sweating.  Seriously!  I liked the fact that it included strength training (weights) because that is something I will generally avoid doing otherwise. I have also tried Zumba and like that as well, though for me personally, Jazzercise was a more vigorous workout.

When I got home, my DD asked me with confusion, “Why are there so many dishes in the sink?!”  And that, my friends, is also a reason for mom to get out of the house regularly :)

If you are curious about Jazzercise, check out some of the videos on Youtube.




“In Suuuummmmmerrr”

Olaf Chalk Art

Olaf Chalk Art

Where have I been all summer?!  Even my daughter chimed in with an admonishment that I haven’t blogged in forever.

This summer just FLEW by, but it was filled with new experiences.

I taught Vacation Bible School, and even I was shocked by that.  The class was K5-1st grade boys, whom I have little experience with.  I LOVED it, and I was attached to those little guys by the end of the week.

I have been training for a 5K in a class at church.  So far I am able to run 2.25 miles.  I don’t think I have run that far since high school.  I am pleased that my breathing is keeping up with the running, and am proud I am doing it, but I haven’t fallen in love with running.  It has been great to have a personal goal this summer other than “mom duties.”

UP Michigan, yes, it really looks like that!  This is an iPhone pic!

UP Michigan, yes, it really looks like that! This is an iPhone pic.

We vacationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, renting a house for a week.  It was beautiful, remote, and very different from our urban/suburban lives.  In the UP you are likely to see a number of eagles, but good luck finding a Starbucks!  How many places in the United States can make that claim?

Last summer we were pushing hard on financial fronts, saving for new siding and other exterior improvements.  This summer we eased up a bit, continuing to budget and save, of course!  We have continued to refine our budget process and I will tell you more about that in a later post.

If your blog has been on a summer hiatus, I would love to hear how you are doing!