Monthly Archives: November 2009

So what's for dinner?

I’m starting a new category for my blog posts called “What’s for dinner?”  The idea is to post my 2 week meal plan and share some recipes.  I don’t know about your house but around here we frequently have this conversation around 4:30-5:00:

“What’s for dinner?” 

Let me just tell you, the kids don’t consider that an acceptable answer.  Although I did read about a lady who wrapped all of her frozen goods and labeled them “food” so whenever they couldn’t decide on dinner they would just grab some “food” and be surprised!  That wouldn’t work so well here because we’d end up with a pound of bacon, a single serving of edamame and an orange.  (yes, we have oranges in our freezer)

That brings me back to my plan.  I am horrible about meal planning but when I actually do sit down and plan out my meals – and shop accordingly – amazingly my life runs so much smoother.  Ok, at least the meals run smoother.  Hopefully we can be partners in this endeavor.  I need you to hold me accountable and demand a meal planning post every two weeks.  In turn, I’ll provide you with at least 10 (give or take a few) dinner ideas. 

We’re already into week 2 of our meal plan but I’ll go ahead and share last week’s meals along with this week’s meals.  Here goes…. oh, and you’re on your own for sides!

Last Sunday: Tacos (make a huge batch of taco meat as we’ll be using that in another meal)
Last Monday: Pizza night (make it, bake a frozen one or have it delivered)
Last Tuesday: Spaghetti (be smart and make extra for another meal)
Last Wednesday: Crockpot Chicken (use your favorite recipe)
Last Thursday: Meatloaf (we had leftover mashed potatoes on hand for this one)
Last Friday: Ice-cream!  (ok, we have small group on fridays and we were on to bring dessert.)
Last Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday (yesterday): Taco Soup (anyone on facebook knows we cheated and made this earlier in the week) (this is where you’re using the extra taco meat)

That brings us to this week:
Monday: Pizza night (we go for something easy on Mondays as we frequently have meetings on this night)
Tuesday: Church Thanksgiving Potluck (we’ll be bringing a brownie dessert)
Wednesday: Baked Chicken (normal Wed’s are crockpot meals as we have church)
Thursday: Baked Spaghetti (did you make extra spaghetti last week??)
Friday: Small group night again
Saturday: Leftovers

This plan was fairly simple and easy on the checkbook.  We’ll mix it up a bit next time with the recipes but the schedule will be the same:
Mondays – easy night
Wednesdays – crockpot
Fridays – small group
Saturdays – leftovers
Sun., Tues., Thurs. – varying recipies

If you have a favorite recipe or a meal plan that you’d like to share please, PLEASE feel free to share it in the comments or link to your blog.

I found the original taco soup recipe.  I’ll share that along with how we tweek it for our family:
Original version:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can whole kernel corn ,drained
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes – mexican style
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning mix -(opt.)
  • 1 pkg. original hidden valley ranch dressing(dry)
  • 2 1/2 cups water or more, to make soup broth
  • Brown ground beef and onions in a large pan, drain off fat.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer.

    My version: (btw – this is great in a crockpot too)
    Use leftover taco meat (however much you have on hand)
    1 to 2 can(s) pinto beans
    1 to 2 can(s) black beans
    1 to 2 can(s) kidney beans
    (the above ingredients vary depending on how much meat I have on hand.  less meat = more beans)
    Corn (only if we have some on hand)
    1 can crushed tomatoes (no chunks for our family)
    No extra taco seasoning if we’re using leftover taco meat.
    A couple of tablespoons of the ranch dressing (dry)
    Water added until desired broth consistancy.

    Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and corn chips or corn bread.


    Saturday Morning Bliss

    Mmmm, Saturdays.  I used to look forward to this glorious day because it meant Saturday morning cartoons.  You know, back in the day when cartoons were reserved for one morning and we didn’t have entire channels dedicated to nothing but animation.  I would wake up early and creep to the living room where I would turn the volume knob down low before turning on the tube.  Again, this was before remote controls – when you had to actually get up to change the channel.  The tube would pop on and there would be The Littles or The Carebears.  My eyes would feast on as much 2D happiness as possible before my mother would wake up and announce it was time to clean the house.  Cursed Saturday morning chores!

    For awhile Saturday mornings represented sleeping in.  Soaking in the last bit of slumber… rolling over to the cool spot on the pillow… denying that the patch of sunlight streaming in the window was indeed noonday light.   Of course I am talking about this magical time.  That tiny sliver of time nestled between “living with mom” and “having children”.  Because once you have children there is no more sleeping in.  I have failed at producing lazy, sleepy children.  I have even failed at raising quiet children.  Goodbye magical Saturday mornings.

    But perhaps I have arrived at the most wonderful stage of Saturdays.  The Bacon Saturday!!  Say it with me, “Mmmmmmmm bacon….”  My husband discovered a mini-mart tucked away in a far corner.  The mini-mart owners have their own farm and they butcher their own meat.  My hubby purchased 15 pounds of bacon.  Fifteen glorious pounds.  Edmund can keep the White Witch’s Divinity…. I have my bacon.  I have always been a fan of bacon but this stuff… it is more than mere bacon.  I think the butcher feeds his pigs manna and lets them drink Starbucks.  Have you ever had bacon melt in your mouth?  Literally melt?? 

    I have to go now.  You are interupting my bacon eating.

    The birds and the bees talk

    This topic is a bit of a hot spot with me.  I believe that everyone has their own parenting styles and they make choices that are best for their families.  But I can’t help but cringe when I’m sitting in a room full of mothers and the conversation turns to “the talk” and how they avoid it at all costs or they give crazy answers just to get out of an uncomfortable situation.  Um.  Do you think your kids are never going to find out what s-e-x is?  Do you want them to learn that from their friends?!  Seriously people.  You are the parent.  Talk to your kids.

    My personal belief is that a child should know where babies come from by the time they start school.  That might be as young as FOUR.  Which also means they need to know the correct anatomy terms – no more pee-pee or winky or whatever you’re calling it.  But, but…. you’re robbing them of their innocence you might say.  Right.  You have no problem telling them that boogers come out of their nose and they should use a tissue right?  Or that they need to use a toilet instead of diapers.  Does that rob them of their innocence?  Nope.  I don’t see how telling a child where babies come from and how they get in there in the first place is robbing them of anything.  Telling them that a stork drops off a baby is robbing them of the truth.  I think a lot of it has to do with your attitude and confidence and judging how much info you give your child.

    Why by school age?  For a couple of reasons.  Mostly because kids talk.  I was a little late in having the talk with my oldest and by the time I did she’d already heard from friends that you could get pregnant by kissing.  Not only do I want them to know the truth, I want them to know what is and is not okay.  I heard a story about a little girl in Kindergarten whose friend told her that her Uncle touched her in private places.  That little girl knew it was wrong and that she needed to tell an adult because her mom had talked to her about good/bad touch.  I want my kids to know the truth so that if they are ever in a similar situation they would know what to do.

    My kids are 10, 8 and 6 and all of them know where babies come from and can name all of their body parts.  And guess what?  They are comfortable with asking myself or my hubby questions about their bodies.  There’s no shame and usually not much embarrassment either.  In fact, just the other day my son (the 8 year old) and I were talking about belly buttons which evolved into talking about umbilical cords… which led him to the question of “how do you know when it falls off?”  I assumed he was asking about the cord left on the baby but he meant the cord attached to the uterus.  So we talked about afterbirth.  His reponse?  “Oh, okay.  I get it.”  Simple.  He asked a question, I gave an answer, he got the truth.

    I think we fall down as parents because of our own junk.  My grandmother did not talk to my mom about sex or periods or pregnancy… nada.  My mom had to figure that stuff out for herself.  Considering her upbringing I think she did a pretty good job with talking to me about the basics but I still got the impression that sex was shameful, something we don’t talk about and it’s only necesary to have babies.  My goal with my kids has been to have an open door policy.  They can ask me anything and I will not shame them, I will not laugh at them (at least not to their face) and I will give them a straight answer.  I also want them to understand that sex is a gift, it’s enjoyable and it belongs inside of marriage.

    Now let me be clear… I don’t mean that you should sit down with your preschool with an anatomy book and a copy of the Kama Sutra.  The conversations need to be age appropriate.  My six year old certainly doesn’t know as much as my ten year old.  But it’s an ongoing conversation.  I let curiousity and life events guide our conversations.  Just like the conversation with my son… that came up because he was excited to find our cat’s bellybutton.  Beans (the 6yo) overheard part of the conversation and her input was simply that everyone has a bellybutton.  That’s as much as she needed right now.  Who knows…. maybe tomorrow she’ll ask me why she has a bellybutton. 

    I want to tell you to talk to your kids.  They’re curious.  We encourage them in every other area of life to ask questions, to explore.  Don’t stop here because you’re afraid or uncomfortable.  Help them be confident in who they are and that their bodies are theirs.  It will only help them to make better decisions as they get older and their peers and the media pressure them into thinking sex is something other than what God intended.  (Talk about losing their innocence…)


    I found out tonight that someone whom I had been very close to has passed away.  I met her in the 4th grade and we became best friends while working on a project on the Navajo Indians.  She moved later and we stayed in touch throughout our school years.  She would pop up and it would be like we’d never been apart. 

    She tracked me down in college and we went to lunch.  I found out then that she was married and had two children.  Again, we lost touch.  We reconnected later when I was married and pregnant with The Boy.  In fact, we were just living a couple of miles away from each other.  This time we stayed connected.  Unfortunately she and her family moved to Chino Valley and it was harder to get together.  We spent many weekends driving to each other’s houses.  It was during this time that she was diagnosed with MS and she also left her husband. 

    I had the opportunity to meet the man that would later become her husband.  Shortly after that she and I made some poor choices let led to a falling out.  She kept in contact with my mother and heard from her that I was pregnant with Beans and had been in the hospital with spinal meningitis.  She called me to see how I was doing.  I was hopeful that perhaps we could make ammends and continue our friendship.  Sadly, that was the last time I spoke to her. 

    My heart is breaking tonight as I realize that I missed the chance to tell her again that I was sorry…. to see if we could reconcile and pick up where we left off as we always seemed to do.  My heart is breaking tonight for her 4 children.  The last I knew she was attending church and I pray that she had a genuine relationship with Jesus.  I pray that I will get to see her again – to worship alongside her.  If you would, say a prayer for the Steck family.  And remember, we aren’t promised tomorrow…


    Among the many things we hope that our children learn we hope that they learn compassion.  Let’s face it, humans are very selfish – especially children.  Try explaining to a three year old that they should give the biggest cookie to their friend or that they should offer a hug to someone who is sad.  Depending on their mood they may or may not cooperate. 

    My kids love to give away their possessions.  Any time that they have friends come over they want to send them home with something.  I love that about them.  My hubby and I are trying to encourage our kids to think bigger and broader.  It’s hard for them to imagine places where kids don’t have the luxury of a full pantry or an overflowing closet.  They don’t understand that there are places where kids worry about the weather, about the military, about AIDS, about clean water.

    Yesterday my hubby was talking to me about the hurricane that was threatening the Gulf Coast.  The Boy overheard us and started asking questions about what a hurricane is and where was it going.  After a few minutes of conversation he said, “I’m sad about the people by the hurricane.”  Wow.  I was surprised that he thought about the people and how they might be affected.  This morning he asked me about the hurricane and could we please look on the computer to see where it landed and if it did any damage.  He was relieved to see that it was downgraded to a tropical storm.  He wanted to watch every news clip that we could find. 

    Perhaps disaster relief work will be in his future.  I don’t know.  I’m just glad that in this moment he got it – he had compassion for people far away – people he doesn’t know in a place he’s never been.


    I’ve been thinking about church quite a bit lately… wondering why we do the things that we do.  Is it because that’s the way we were taught?  Or because it’s what we prefer?  Or because that’s the way the Bible lays it out?

    I’m pretty sure that the early church didn’t have committees, by-laws or a 7-prong approach to reaching the community.  Who decided that a church service should last about an hour?  I sit in the movie theater longer than that.  I haven’t found evidence of youth groups in the Bible or worship teams.  Instead, I find stories about Jesus building relationships and believers giving all that they have in order to take care of one another.  I read story after story about people so eager to learn about God that they crowd Jesus – and they stay through lunch!

    Who are we doing all of this for?  Who is our audience?  Why do we put Holy Spirit in a box and tell Him that He gets one hour on Sunday morning? 

    I understand the ‘Great Commission’ – the command to share the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.  But sharing the Gospel and filling the pews aren’t necesarily the same thing.  I read an interesting bit in “Crazy Love” last week:

    In the United States, numbers impress us.  We gauge the success of
    event by how many people attend or come forward.  We measure
    churches by how many members they boast.
    We are wowed by big crowds.

    Jesus questioned the authenticity of this kind of record keeping.
    According to the account in Luke chapter 8, when a crowd started
    following Him, Jesus began speaking in parables – “so that” those
    who weren’t genuinely listening wouldn’t get it.

    When crowds gather today, speakers are extraconscious of communicating
    in a way that is accessible to everyone.  Speakers don’t use Jesus’ tactic
    to eliminate people who are not sincere seekers.

    Wow.  It reminds me that God will attract followers – He will call them to Him.  It’s not my job to fill the pews just to have high attendance.

    There are some more nuggets that I have been mulling over (again, from “Crazy Love”):
    [in reference to the parable of the sower]

    I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed
    because of all the thorns.  Thorns are anything that distracts us from
    God.  When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means
    we have thorns in our soil.  A relationship with God simply cannot grow
    when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or
    commitments are piled on top of it.

    Most of us have too much in our lives.  As David Goetz writes, “Too much
    of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually.”  A lot of
    things are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from
    living healthy, fruitful lives for God.

    I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil.

    Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live?
    Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life?  Or are you choking it
    out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thoughts
    on the things of this world?


    I quickly found out that the American church is a difficult place
    to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity.  The goals
    of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t
    swear, and good church attendance.  Taking the words of Christ literally
    and seriously is rarely considered.  That’s for the “radicals” who are
    “unbalanced” and who go “overboard.”  Most of us want a balanced life
    that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.

    Again, wow.  That really makes me think… makes me examine my life.  If I’m really honest I have to admit that I come up lukewarm.  That last line gets me.  I want to control my life.  I want to be safe – to keep my loved ones safe.  I don’t want to be uncomfortable – let alone suffer.  But at what cost?  To be lukewarm and spewed out of His mouth?  How many of us can look back at a hard time in our life and say, “That really sucked.  It hurt.  But I can see how much God grew me during that time or I can see how God provided for me or someone accepted Christ because of what happened.”  I’ll bet that most of us can say something like that.  Shouldn’t our prayers be that God would continue to mold us – no matter the cost, no matter the suffering?  Shouldn’t we be eager to let go of the control?

    That’s just some of what’s on my heart these days.  Thoughts?

    The end of the week

    Whew.  This has been a week.  A long week.  It’s had its low points and its high points. 

    There’s been stuff going on that I’ve kept very private.  Stuff I still don’t want to talk about other than to say that someday I’m going to look back on this week and say, “That was the turning point.”  Sorry to be so mysterious but I wanted to document this week so when I look back through my archives I can say, “Yes, yes it was the turning point.”  I am such an optimist.  Hmm.  Maybe it’s not so I can look back in a few years but so that I can look back next week and be reminded to hang in there.

    In other, not so mysterious, news…  I went to a women’s lock-in last night at church.  I had only planned to stay until midnight but I got sucked into the fun and stayed until 4:30 a.m.  Pictionary was a blast…  Did some kung-fu poses while enjoying the paraffin wax mitts…  Had some yummy food…  Played around with some digi-scrapping…  Came home to sleep in my own warm, comfy bed… Was able to sleep in this morning because my sweet hubby kept the kids out of the house… Woke up to smell dinner cooking in the crockpot…  All I need now is a massage… Oh, wait, got one of those last night too!  Maybe it’s a peppermint mocha that I need…  😉