Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hey Good Lookin... What Ya Got Cookin?

Scenario One:

5:30 in the evening, starving child approaches you and asks with an ear grating whine:

"Mommmmmmm????  What's for dinnerrrrrr????"

You sigh and say the following:

"Blah. Let's jump in the car & grab Chick-fil-A"

Sound familiar?  Yep.

Not that jumping in the car & grabbing Chick-fil-A is a bad thing (we're doing it tomorrow!) It's when you do it three times a week because you haven't planned ahead that's bad.

Scenario Two:

5:30 in the evening, starving children come to the kitchen to eat the dinner they've been looking forward to ever since you posted the weekly menu Monday morning.

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the Halls house: If Mom doesn't plan ahead, we will eat copious amounts of fast food. There's also a law that states: If there are Oreo cookies in the house, Mom will eat them until they are gone. All of them. Mmmmm Oreos.

After years of trial & error, I've finally come up with practical menu planning that works for us.  I don't get the whiney "What's for dinner" question anymore, and if for that reason alone, I'm a believer :)

So here ya go... "How to Menu Plan" Becky style.  Which, to be clear, means only that this is what works for us.  It's not an exact science, nor do I claim to be a professional anything.  Maybe a professional geek if there's such a thing.

1.  Sit down right now & make a list of all the meals your family eats.  Open up your Pinterest account & try one of the 1,000 recipes you pinned last week.

2.  Grab your calendar, and make a menu based on what you've got going that week.  You won't be able to make Chicken Milano & Breadsticks on Tuesday because you'll be at piano lessons, the orthodontist, that guitar concert at the junior high, dropping the twins off to scouts, and somehow squeezing in baseball practice and mutual. Yeah... let's be realistic.  It's days like this that grabbing Chick-fil-A is soooooo totally ok :)

3.  Write your shopping list as you go!  Nothing puts the brakes on dinner prep like not having the stuff to make it... no brainer.

4.  Post the menu in the kitchen on Monday morning where everyone can see it.  You can just scribble your menu on a Post-It note & stick it on the fridge if you want... it's all good.  You can also make a fancy schmancy menu board for almost as much effort.  Download my template HERE. Download the original size.  Print it on a cute piece of 8.5x11 paper, trim to fit an 8x10 frame that you bought for 50% off at Hobby Lobby cause you're awesome like that.  Use a dry erase marker, and tah-dah!  Fancy schmancy!

5.  You can make menu planning even easier by establishing routines in your menu.  For example:  Mondays: Soup Night, Tuesdays: Crock Pot Meals, Wednesday: Casserole Night, Thursday: Pasta, Friday: Grill, Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner, Sunday: Kid's Choice.... you get the idea.  Routines make menu planning sooooooo much easier.  Trust me!  What's for breakfast Monday morning?  It's pancakes! Every time!  All you have to do is decide what kind: Pumpkin, blueberry, chocolate chip, plain... Easy like Sunday (or Monday) morning.

6.  Start slow... plan a week of dinners.  Once you've mastered that, add breakfast.  When you've mastered that, try planning two weeks!  I think you'll find that it becomes a way of life really quick.

I pinky swear, this works for us.  I hope it works for you.  We eat waaaaaaaaay less fast food these days.  My kids are so excited about homemade breakfast & dinner that I feel almost accountable to make it... they'd be so disappointed if they looked forward to baked mac & cheese all week, only to get a crappy happy meal.  There's also the added bonus that I'm more excited about cooking because I've been recipe hunting to keep things exciting, ingredients are on hand, and let's face it, I love eating good food.

Al-righty... time to stop bloggin'... Dinner's at 5:00!

For those of you dying to know what the heck Spongebob Squarecakes are, they're German Pancakes.  I just named them that 10 years ago so my picky twinners would eat 'em :)  I owe that little square dude so much.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Putting Myself & My 10k Playlist Out There Again. Double Yikes.

Three years ago I put myself & my 10k playlist out there. Yikes. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. Going public with my self esteem issues, my abdominoplasty surgery, and my (then) fondness for One Direction. It was a huge step forward in my healing… admitting to myself and the world that I wasn’t perfect, that I struggle, aaaaand that every once in a while, I listen to music aimed at 12 year old girls. 

One short year after I ran that pivotal 10k, life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. My marriage was over. I will spare you the gory details (you’re welcome). Suffice to say, it was completely unexpected, and it was devastating. Those self esteem issues that I had worked so hard to fix? Well, they came back with a vengeance. I wanted to die. I wasn’t suicidal… no, it never got that far… But I literally prayed to die. I begged God for release every day for a very long time.

Long story short: Divorce isn’t as bad as you think. It’s worse. 

Sometimes I look back to those early days of my trial, and I can’t believe I survived. I think about that wounded, crying creature, and I want to hold her… I want to tell her that it’s going to be okay. Jeffrey R. Holland tells a story of how when he was a young father his car broke down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, twice. Years later, he drove by that same spot, and imagined himself saying to that discouraged young father: “Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come till heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God, and believe in good things to come.”

I know you’re here for my playlist (because hey, let’s face it… they’re always pretty awesome), but humor me for a couple more minutes. If you ask what saved me, what got me to the point I'm at today, a happy (yes, happy) woman who wants to live, I will tell you every time: It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all that goes with it... The atonement, prayer, scriptures, family, priesthood blessings, temple attendance, serving and being served. I know without a single doubt that I have a Father in Heaven who is completely aware of my circumstances. I have been witness to things that I will never, EVER be able to dismiss as coincidence. I know He loves me. I know He loves my precious children. I have felt His daily influence in my life, and I am beyond grateful. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I can’t put into adequate words what it feels like to have Him pick me up and carry me when I don't have the strength to go on. It’s been absolutely everything. I used to pray the same words every day, “Why me? Why do I have to suffer this? Please, please, please take this away from me.” It took me a long time to hear the answer, but when I finally listened, it was like a light turned on in my heart and mind. The spirit whispered to me that I was to be an instrument in God's hands in serving others who were suffering. My patriarchal blessing states: "You have the ability to lift and succor those who are in difficulty... for this will be one of your great callings in life to lend sympathy and love and to give meaning in the lives of those who are downtrodden. You will meet and recognize many of these people who need you, and who need you alone."

This is how the atonement works. This is how Christ helps us. He’s able to comfort us because He’s BEEN THROUGH IT. He understands. He knows what it feels like to be rejected. He knows what it feels like to be alone. He has experienced EVERY pain and heartache that you and I suffer. If we are to become more like him, we have to go through hard stuff. It’s the only way. I have grown closer to, and become more like my Savior because of this trial. I don't know when I'll ever be able to say "I'm grateful" for my divorce (I'm still pretty beat up inside), but I can say that I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to come to the rescue of my friends who are going through the same thing. It has sanctified my suffering, and made my tears count for something. 

This was a really good day... Angel's Landing 2015

Phew. It's out there. Breathe. I have an excellent idea, let's change the subject. I’m running the Provo Freedom Festival 10k on Independence Day with my awesome sister, Debbie. Running has been a huge factor in my healing process too. There is something liberating about running away from home for an hour or so every day. Don’t worry, I always come back :) Now, a word about my playlist… Heaven knows, I’m a Molly Mormon. See the above paragraphs. There's a time and a place for religious music... I have turned to it many, many times over the last two years for comfort. That being said, I also believe there's a time and a place for rock music. Really loud rock music. It calms me like nothing else can… (well... besides food. Food calms me too. Dang it all). My music doesn’t necessarily have to be rock either… it just has to mean something to me, and not be country. So without further ado, here is my 10k playlist for 2016. I forbid any snickering! At least there's not any One Direction this time. I honestly don't even know what's "cool"... I just like what I like, and this is what gets me through my 6.2 miles :)

10k Playlist 2016

Sunrise - Simply Red 
Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band
Starman - David Bowie 
Suedehead - Morrissey
The Walker - Fitz and the Tantrums
It Only Makes Me Laugh - Oingo Boingo
Fooling Yourself - Styx
Under Pressure - Queen/Bowie
(Nothing But) Flowers - Talking Heads
The Pretender - Foo Fighters
Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
Synchronicity II - The Police
Happy - C2C
Dream On - Aerosmith
Rusholme Ruffians - The Smiths
Private Life - Oingo Boingo
Changes - David Bowie
You Can’t Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones
Hey Jude - The Beatles
He Lives in You (reprise) - The Lion King Original Broadway Cast
Hide and Seek - Howard Jones

There you have it.  Way more information than you ever wanted about my personal life, and the soundtrack to it. I know it was much more than you bargained for, but man it feels good to get some of it off my chest... thanks for listening. I'd be ever so grateful for any prayers or positive vibes you can spare for me and my sweet kiddos. As "well" as we've come through this, there's no getting around the basic fact that divorce kinda sucks. Oh, and just to clarify: This isn't a desperate plea for sympathy, attention, or (heaven help me) an advertisement. It's just FYI. Really. I don't want to date your neighbor's cousin's brother's coworker. Unless he's a Time Lord... Or plays one on TV.