Friday, January 14, 2011

Taking on the Meal Planning monster... again

Meal Planning is my nemesis. It has been since long before we even had kids.  Somehow I thought being a stay-at-home mom would magically make it easier.  It didn't.  I've tried about 8 million times in the past to do a better job of meal planning, and have yet to stick with it.  However, to take Edison's view, I haven't failed, I've just found a thousand ways that don't work, right?

Part of my goal of being an organized family means meal planning, so I am taking on the meal planning monster one more time, and I swear this is going to be our last match.  I will take him down, take him down to Chinatown. :)

I am only planning dinners.  Breakfast & lunch is pretty easy here, so I am not planning those.  I've tried using Meals Matter in the past, but really having the plan on paper on the front of my fridge seems to work as well as anything.  I found this pad in the dollar bins at Michael's a while back, so I grabbed two.

They have a magnetic back and hang on the fridge.  I wrote my list on the side, but I re-wrote it on another piece to take it to the store, because I didn't want to rip off and lose my meal plan.

Here is this week's plan.  We're on Friday and so far it's been great.  I had to make one modification on Wed, but it still came off great.

Monday - Kid's eat free & $5.99 burger night at our local Champp's restaurant.  They're changing the deal at the end of this month, so I figured we'd better take advantage of it while we can.  Can't beat feeding a family of 4 for $17 including tip!

Tuesday - Cajun Seafood Pasta - this is mostly for my husband, as I have a seafood allergy.  The girls and I just eat regular old spaghetti and Mark takes the leftovers to work for a couple of days.  One time one of his friends asked him what restaurant he went to the night before when he saw the leftovers for this.  I felt proud.  You could easily sub all shrimp in the recipe, or even all chicken.  I do modify the directions and cook the seafood first vs. in the sauce.  You'd definitely want to do this if you use chicken.  I also add sauteed mushrooms, because in my book, everything is better with mushrooms.  :)

Wednesday - BBQ bone-in chicken leg quarters & mashed potatoes.

Thursday - Chicken Tortilla Soup - even the girls at it!  I love that Kate is finally eating soup!

Tonight - Bacon & Ham Quiche - I modified Paula Deen's Spinach & Bacon Quiche recipe, as I didn't have spinach, and couldn't bring myself to use a cup and a half of heavy cream.  I used 1 c fat-free half and half, and 1/2 c skim milk.  And I used a homemade pastry crust with part whole wheat pastry flour.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day...

We had a snow day yesterday.  The kids begged all morning to go out and play in it.  I really dislike taking the girls out to play in the snow, because Claire is too young to go out on her own and usually it takes at least 15 minutes to get them all ready to go out and then they only want to be out for 20 minutes.  But I sucked it up and took them out after lunch.  The lasted almost 45 minutes, and we definitely had lots of fun.  Nothing like a snowball "fight" with an almost 3 year old.  Here are a few highlights...

Claire refused to go down the slide so she just cleaned everything off. 

Close up of Kate before making her snow angel 

"The biggest snow angel ever, Mom!" 

 Claire just "hanging out" on the swingset

 Kate after making a huge pile of snow for all her snowballs.

Claire chasing me with a snowball - "I'm dunna det you Mama!"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Official Household Disney Countdown

The Louagie Household Official Disney Countdown has begun.  We are leaving 1 month from today (we check in 2 days before Claire turns 3, which makes her still FREE!  Yay!), and to avoid the continual "How long until Disney?" questions, we made a paper chain to count down.  We leave in the evening, so I put on 32 links, so the day they tear up the last one is the day we leave (since we're leaving in the evening). Plus, I used up some old scrapbook paper that was kicking around the basement.  As the chain shrinks, I'll move it down the wall (though both girls would probably love to climb up to the ceiling to get to the links).  Thanks to my friend Jennifer for the idea!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blog, Take 2 (or 3)

So... I am going to attempt to start this blog afresh.  I have set some goals for 2011 (I dislike using the term "resolutions"), and I am going to attempt to document my progress towards those goals here on the blog.  The goals are:

1) An organized home and family life

2) Efficient and effective time management

3) Become better at saying no (ties in to the time management goal above, but I feel it needs to be stated on it's own, because there is more to it than just time management)

4) Be an excellent steward of our family's money - beyond eliminating debt, this means saving when possible, but also spending when it makes sense.

I'm going to attempt to document the steps I'm taking and the progress I'm making in these areas here.

Here's my first bit of progress:

Our coat closet.  It is quite small and in addition to housing our coats it is basically the only possible place to store our vacuum and carpet steam cleaner on the first floor.  Before today, all of our mittens/hats/gloves/umbrellas/etc were all housed in one small bin on the shelf above the coats.  It was severely overstuffed and on Friday Kate's gloves fell out literally 5 times in a row when I tried to put them back in (after they fell out the first time when I was trying to get Claire's gloves out for preschool).  Here is my solution, which proves that I can have the occasional moment of organizational brilliance.  I'm sure plenty of other people have thought of this idea, but I was rather pleased with myself for coming up with this entirely on my own, if I do say so myself.

I bought the shoe organizer at Big Lots for $8, which included hooks.  I had a choice of this apple green color, aqua or purple.  Since our living room is earth tones (olive, brown, yellow-cream & white), this seemed to be the best of the colors I had to work with.  I love it because the girls can reach it and can now get their own items out, and also put them away.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I can't believe I haven't written in 3 months.  Wow.  This summer has been CRAZY, but at the same time it doesn't seem like we've done much!  Let me see if I can sum up our last 3 months... trips to the waterpark at Kings Island, speech therapy for Claire (she has made AMAZING progress this summer), VBS, a family reunion, summer ballet class, soccer practices ending and then starting again for the fall, and preparations for both girls to start school.  In less than 3 weeks, Kate will start Kindergarten (how in the heck is that happening?!?!) and Claire will start preschool!  I am not one to lament the passing of time, but somehow realizing that both my girls will be in school this year and that Kate starts riding the bus does make me nostalgic.  At church, Kate moved up to the Kindergarten "class" in early June, and somehow the realization that I'm now the parent of an elementary aged child makes me feel old.

Claire has been taking weekly private speech therapy this summer and has been making amazing progress. She is now linking up to 5 words together (with some prompting), using 2-3 words consistently with no prompting, and is articulating much more clearly.  The past two weeks at speech, she's even said "cake" and "cook" instead of "take" and "took".  She has been able to get the K sound on the ends of words for a while, but the beginning has been a challenge.  Miss Susan is a miracle worker, however, and we're now getting Ks on the front of the words, at least some of the time.

Kate took a 2 week summer dance sampler and has discovered tap.  She loves it.  She's taking a ballet/tap combo class this year (during Claire's preschool on  Tues mornings, so I will have approx 1 hour to grocery shop in peace every week during Kate's class.  I am more excited about this than Kate is about dance class, I think!).  She's also playing SAY soccer again this fall.  This is the first season Mark has not helped coach her team.  I may have to force him to go back to coaching after this.  I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Her coach is coaching 3 teams in 2 leagues this fall and practice times have been a nightmare. However, Kate's playing on the same team as one of the girls from her preschool class last year, so that's fun.

I'll sign off with a few pictures from our family reunion last month.  By most people's standards, it would hardly count as a family reunion (there were only 19 people at it, and that includes all he cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas & grandpas and even my great aunt!), but we get together every summer with my mom's family and it's so much fun.  

Kate & Max checking out Alex's DS... they were enthralled.

Kate showing off her slip n slide skills

Love this photo of Kate - I crouched right at the end of the slide and snapped it at eye level.

More mad slip n' slide skills...

My cousin Michael getting in on the action.  He's about 6'4".  It was hilarious.

Nice expression, Alex.  :)

Claire's version of the slip n' slide consisted of her crawling the length of the slide.

Claire's dismount

Alex torturing his sister Maggie

These girls walked down the path to the community park in my aunt's backyard.  All conversation stopped for a good 3 minutes while we gawked at their outfits in disbelief.  This was taken in 2010, not 1986.  But were it not for me telling you, you'd never have known that.

Alex getting crazy with the younger cousins....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The weekend's activities

This weekend was rather busy for Kate.  Saturday morning she had a soccer game, which Grandma and Grandpa Louagie came down to see.  She was super excited, and she scored her 4th goal of the season.  There was much rejoicing.  There are a couple of kids on her team (on in particular) who probably score 4 goals per game, but while Kate tries hard, she's not quite as fast or aggressive as a couple of the other kids.

Kate really seems to like soccer, so I'm often torn on what to do.  Around here in Cincinnati, you kind of have to commit to soccer early (like now for Kate) if you want to play in high school.  I always think I would have been pretty good at soccer had my parents started me playing early.  I grew up in Cleveland and it's just like Cincinnati - you have to start soccer early.  My parents were both from rural Illinois and soccer never crossed their radar when I was little.  No blame, just curiosity of what might have been, I guess.

This is Kate's 2nd year playing (spring only), and the second year that she's had the same coaches - her friend's dad is head coach and Mark is assistant coach.  I love it because I don't have to hang out at practice the whole time since Mark is there anyway!  But I have a feeling this is the end of Mark's coaching career, should Kate move on.

What I did do for many years growing up was dance.  I started at about 7 or 8 and danced all the way until I graduated.  I LOVED it.  Now, God did not grant me a professional dancer's body.  I'm way to, um, top heavy.  But I still enjoy dancing pretty much any way I can.  And of course I married a man who doesn't dance.  Go figure.

We enrolled Kate in a ballet/jazz combo class this year.  It was her first dance experience and she loved it.  The studio is run by a woman who used to volunteer in the kids ministry at our church, so I loved supporting someone I know.  It's a "ballet-focused" studio - all dancers are required to take a ballet class, which I kind of like.  I think ballet is the backbone of good dancing.

This Sunday was Kate's "recital".  At her studio the youngest 2 levels don't participate in the large on-stage recital.  It's actually rather nice since the recital would be quite long for them to sit through and some kids (not Kate, I'm sure, Ms. Shy-as-a-Mac-Truck) might freeze up on stage.  They have several "mini-recitals" at the studio and 2-3 classes perform their dances for the parents.  It was CROWDED, but fun.  The only bummer was buying a $60 cheaply made costume for a recital at the studio.  Apparently some parents get upset if they can't pay $60 for a terribly made costume for their child (I'd love to know who they are so I can smack some sense into them).  I really wish they could have just had a simple skirt to go over their leotard or something that was more affordable.

Next year Kate is going to try a Ballet/Tap combo - can't wait for "tappy shoes" all over the kitchen for the first couple of weeks...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gatlinburg Retreat

This past weekend, we went on a retreat with other leaders from our church to Gatlinburg.  We LOVE our church - Four Corners Church - and this was a really fun weekend.  I lead the early childhood area of our kids ministry, and this was an opportunity for people to just hang out and relax and get to know each other better.  We stayed in a 14 bedroom cabin on the side of a hill, with the steepest driveway known to man - we have a manual transmission and the first time made the mistake of stopping at the bottom of the drive.  I kid you not it took us 3 attempts to get up the bottom part of the driveway and you could smell our clutch for at least a day afterwards.  Wow.

The other fun part to the trip is that on the 13th, Mark and I will celebrate our 10th anniversary.  We spent our honeymoon in Gatlinburg, and so coming back for the first time almost 10 years to the day with the family was pretty fun, and a reminder of just how much things have changed (for the good) in 10 years.  Mark even took Kate miniature golfing at the same place he and I went on our honeymoon. :)

Here are some highlights from the trip....

The view from the cabin balcony

The view inside the cabin - a.k.a the "Lodge-ball" arena.  Lodge-ball claimed the saddle on the cross beam, several lampshades from the chandelier and at least one chandelier light bulb.  All was back to normal when we left on Sat.

Kate playing one of many games of air hockey.

Claire just being her adorable self, sitting in a window.

Sunset from the cabin balcony on Thurs. night

Kate "swimming" in the hot tub (we turned it way down and a bunch of the kids had a blast in it).

"Bouldering" in the Greenbrier area of Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park

Kate at the TN/NC border sign - I took a picture of Mark at this sign almost 10 years to the day before this picture was taken, while we were in Gatlinburg on our honeymoon.  My how times have changed in 10 years.

My awesome family posed on "the biggest rock in the whole world" according to Kate.

Claire chowing down on some bread before we headed home on Sat.


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