Teeny Tiny Talk Tuesday (Cereal for Dinner)

This should be “Tiny Talk Tuesday” but the energy it would take to walk into the other room and get the mess of sticky notes from my work bag is just not available.  I’m recovering from this death-flu, however it appears it’s going to be a gradual recovering.  As in, I go to work, then rest.  Play taxi driver to kids, then rest.  Well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten today. I’m stuck on rest.   I’m also having a hard time differentiating between the thunder outside and my stomach.  I really need to cook dinner, but that takes you know…being able to stand up.  Phil is working his long hours as usual.  Plus we’re in softball season which means at least one night he’s gone for that. Tonight is my Bible study night too, but the odds of me making that are slim to none. Sorry ladies!

I’m trying to stay positive, but man, I’m tired!  It would be a lot easier if I didn’t have to be responsible for stuff. If it was just me, I’d grab a piece of bread and some cheese and call it a meal.  My family doesn’t hold to those same standards.  They’ve done a fair job of keeping the house in tact while I’m convalescing, but I think after 6 days their patience has run out.  I would order take-out, but that would require me to go OUT. Not happening.  Phil “cooked” these past few nights I’ve been too sick to manage. And by “cook” I mean he went and got food from a restaurant.   I would order in, but I’m way, way too cheap to actually have food delivered here.  I can count on one hand the times in nearly 18 years of marriage that we’ve done that!  So, that leaves me back at square one.  Hungry. Tired.  Getting desperate.  Can we live on cereal and snack foods?  I’m thinking yes…at least for now.

I did have one hilarious thing I remember being said today.  Currently we are working on a themed unit about butterflies.  I ordered some live cultures (caterpillars) from this awesome site like I do every year.  Today as the kids came in they were so excited to see that 4 of the caterpillars have already formed their chrysalis.  One little girl walked over to the container and yelled, “It’s a raccoon! It’s a raccoon! The worms are changing into butterflies.”  (she meant “cocoon” which I’ve corrected them on about 1,000 times.)  Moths form cocoons, butterflies form chrysalis.  And they aren’t worms.  But whatever.  A little boy standing next to her said, “First they have to be grasshoppers THEN they can be butterflies.”  This made no sense to me, and it wasn’t until after the kids left that I noticed on our butterfly life-cycle poster, the wet, crumpled butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis kind of looks like a grasshopper.  Guess I’ll have to clear that one up tomorrow!

Time for some Cheerios.

Lesson Learned

I’m not sure why it seems as if on special days or holidays I’m always fighting some sickness or another.  On my 16th birthday I came down with the really bad flu (similar to what I have right now.)  I recall being sick in bed on more than one Mother’s Day and my kids making me Happy Mother’s Day/Get Well cards.  It just seems as if there’s a celebration to be had, I’m sitting it out, sick in bed. 

Such is the case this weekend.  It’s a big weekend for believers in Jesus Christ.  This is the weekend we remember and celebrate what He’s done for us.  Taking the punishment for our sins, dying on a Roman cross, and then through the power of God being raised to life again offering us the chance to accept what He’s done on our behalf, and thus have a relationship with God our Father that fulfills us.  Since I teach in a Christian school, this has been what our Bible lessons have been about for two weeks now.  I’ve been building up to this weekend.  I was ready!  Add to that the fact that we’ve finally found a new church to be part of that we love.  I was really looking forward to being a part of the services this weekend.  With 7 services this weekend at Bethel Church, I was going to attend 2 and take care of babies in the nursery at 2. I was so excited to see how our new church celebrates and remembers Resurrection Sunday.  Yet, here I am in bed.  With the flu (although I am feeling a little better today 🙂

It got me thinking.  Just because I can’t be part of the celebration, does it make it any less real?  No, of course not!  Emotions and feelings are part of our make-up.  God made us that way, but it shouldn’t be the foundation upon which our beliefs are laid.  Just because I can’t be with a large group of people all there for the same reason I am, to worship our risen Savior, doesn’t make it any less profound.  The chills, the warm-fuzzies, the excitement that comes in that atmosphere, I can’t say I’m feeling that today.  What I do feel today is a deep sense of gratitude and amazement that God loves us so much, me so much, that He sent His Son for us. To die for us. To live for us.

As for the other stuff of Easter, we did away with that years ago. Not for any reason of beliefs or anything, just because the kids got older, and I got lazy.  You can feel bad for my kids if you want, but they don’t seem to be suffering from the lack of eggs and candy and such.  We did the baskets and egg decorating and candy with them through all their little years, and it was fun.  They’re older now and I think we all realize that sometimes what’s fun and what’s necessary are not the same. 

I hope you all have a Happy Easter and most of all I hope you come to a realization of what Easter is really about. 

*Update- as I was getting ready to post this, 2 of my kids walked in and said, “Do we get candy today?”  Apparently I’m more feverish than I thought or a failure as a parent…or both.  They are now petitioning their father to take them to the store for candy. All I can say is they better bring me back a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg! 😉

Felled by the Flu

I guess the dust mites are off the hook…this time.  After an early morning trip to the doctor, I have officially been diagnosed with the flu. You know, THE flu. The one they tell you to get a shot for if you work in a high risk job (like daily being around little ones who cough on you and pick their noses.)  I did not get a flu shot, hence…the flu.  Apparently my superhero abilities are limited to coloring eggs and corralling young children, not fending off germs of death.  I have no idea who I’ve been around who had the flu. No one that I know of.   I’ve prayed all day that no one else I’ve been around comes down with it! I would feel terrible.

There goes my 3 day weekend.  I had plans to meet with someone today and then take care of the babies at one of the Good Friday services and attend the other.  Those are out.  Tomorrow I was supposed to take Marissa and her friend to the mall to “hang out” and then we were going to Saturday night church (which would really be the Easter Sunday service…but you know, on Saturday night.)  The doctor said not a good idea.  Stay in bed until Sunday…at least.  He did say if I felt better on Monday he’d be ok with me going back to work.  Well then.

I was trying to find the silver lining in all of this, and surprisingly, I have.  For the most part.  2 years ago my husband got me a laptop for our anniversary (or maybe it was 3.)  Anyhoo…it’s still running just fine, except for some keys that have been rubbed off (e and n are completely gone and s,d and v are on their way) it’s still a good machine.  I’m not sure why he ordered a new one  for me, other than the fact that he watches prices and specs and when the heavens align and both are what he’s looking for, he jumps on it.  If you ever need advice on purchasing electronics, my husband is the guy to talk to!  He’s also been tech support for many a friend or family member whose electronics are giving them grief.  So my new laptop came from Gateway ( I suppose I should also mention there was never any hope of me ever getting a MacBook…he’s an Apple hater.)  It’s all shiny and blue and nice, and I’m afraid to touch it.  Not really afraid I guess, just not wanting to expend the brain energy required to figure it out.  I am fighting the flu you know.  All my energy is spent in thanking the Lord for Advil and Tamiflu.

My husband also wants me to get all the stuff out of my old laptop onto an external drive since it’s going to become the ‘community laptop’ much to my oldest daughter’s chagrin.  She thinks it should become her personal property.  After 16 years in this family, she should know how things work.  Mom gets the new car, dad gets the old car.  Mom gets the new laptop, Dad gets the old laptop.  Mom gets the new _____, Dad gets the old _____.  He’s a good and wise man 😉  This time he’s told them they can all share my old laptop.   That should be fun to watch.

Hopefully I start feeling well enough tomorrow to work on lesson plans and the end of the year program (you know how I LOVE to choreograph things 😉  The laundry, the dishes, the cooking and the various other things I haven’t been able to take care of this week will have to be done by the family.  Or they can starve and wear dirty clothes.  It’s really their call.

Hope you all have a Good Friday and a Happy Easter. Remember what it’s all about!

Death by Dust Mites

I don’t mean to give you nightmares with that picture or anything, but the results of my recent allergy testing clearly show that those ugly things are my nemesis (nemesises, nemesies??)  If you’ve never had allergy testing done, let me tell you how it goes.  On second thought…never mind. I don’t want to traumatize you any further.  Although if you follow my friend Jenny’s advice, writing graphic and gross will get you more comments.  Then again, she is a well known singer, and I am not.  I’m thinking if I tried that, I would lose the 6 faithful readers I have.  Suffice it to say, the reaction I had to the dust mites was “off the charts”.  The marks on my arm didn’t fade until days later.  And dust mites, well, they are microscopic and everywhere. Not unlike germs.  Which apparently like me as well.

Since I had sinus surgery a year ago, I haven’t been sick nearly as much as was typical for me.  I kind of got used to not being sick.  That’s nice.  The not being sick thing.  I’m talking the head cold/sore throat/ moves into your chest and turns to bronchitis kind of sick.  That’s what was chronic for me.   The sick I’m dealing with this week seems to be a whole new ballgame, and it’s throwing curve balls.  Let me just take a moment out of this post about sickness to discuss the fact that my husband just left for his first softball game of the season.  And let’s take a moment longer to reflect on the fact that it would be more appropriate to say ‘seasons’ since his last game in all likely hood, won’t be until October.  Or the first snowfall.  Softball widows unite!  (And enough with the baseball analogies.)

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up with a fever.  The kind of fever that makes you shake and feel like you’re freezing, yet you sweat like you ran a marathon.  I blamed it on the MRI I had done on my hip the day before.  I’m not sure that an MRI can actually give you a fever, but I rationalized it in the middle of the night.  Then I thought maybe it was my nemesis the dust mite lurking in my pillow that brought on the fever.  I slept the rest of the night in a feverish haze sure I would wake up fine.  It didn’t happen.  Like the martyr I am, I dosed myself with Advil and went about my morning. I got the kids to school, then made it all of 10 minutes in my classroom before crying uncle.  That was before my students even arrived!  Thanks to a great sub stepping in, I slept all day yesterday.  Today I made it through with only a low-grade temp and with my throat feeling much like I swallowed razor blades.   I even managed to teach a little and help 16 children paint 48 eggs with food coloring.  One of my students drew this picture of me also.  Notice that I am in Superman colors and 18 (God bless her for thinking that!)    No MRI, germ, or dust mite can take me down (for long anyway 😉

The Snowball Effect

You ever notice how nothing is simple?  Maybe that’s just how the Mongolds roll.

Way back in October Bekah (who is 15) decided she could no longer sleep in the same room with Alisha (who is 12.)  They’ve shared a room for years, and there’s always been issues. Someone is snoring, their blankets are falling on me (one of the beds was a trundle), she’s breathing too loud, etc., etc.  Not to mention the fact that they are both ‘messies’.  Bekah asked to sleep in the living room on the couch one night. Not feeling up to refereeing  yet another argument, I let her sleep there.  Somehow after a month or so she had moved into the living room. I’m not a messy by nature and needed to claim MY space back.  So Bekah was banished to the basement.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.  It’s a finished basement/family room.  We set up the nice double-high air mattress for her and that’s where she’s been sleeping since November.  We kept promising we’d set her up with a real bedroom down there.  Thus the massive day trip to IKEA.  While I was planning on putting all new furniture in the basement, I really hadn’t planned on painting or anything like that.  Bekah declared the current color (a creamy ecru) “gross” and so I spend hours on Sherwin-Williams website today putting different colors on the walls. That was fun!  Painting is not going to be.

Of course, once we started looking at our walls online (you upload a pic of your room) with a lovely shade of “Chinese Red” with “Coconut Husk” trim, we realized how crappy the carpet looks.  Phil suggested we put new carpet down.  Which is a great suggestion considering when we got rid of our sofa sleeper last week, we came to find a 4 foot long rust stain where the bar to the sleeper bed sat.  Nice.  Despite numerous cleanings with the Bissel and some other carpet cleaners, it’s not coming up.  At all.  We’ve lived here 13 years and who knows how long the carpet was here before we bought the house.  It’s lived a good life and served us well.

Now I get to pick paint AND carpet colors, and don’t forget we still need a sectional sofa.  This room redo may never end!  Once I started thinking about new carpet my brain automatically jumped to the stairs where the carpet is WAY worse than the basement.  You see where this is going, right?  As long as the carpet guys are here…

This my friends, is the Snowball Effect.

How do you redo?  One little part at a time, or run with it and change everything?

JAG älska IKEA!

My memory is not what it used to be.  Things are sketchy when it comes to remembering things from when I was a kid.  I think my brain hit a reset button when I moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana after I graduated from high school.  I do however recall something that could explain why I can spend a whole day in a store like IKEA and be perfectly content.

A lot of my growing up years were spent living with my Grandparents.  They liked catalogs and magazines and had a tendency to save them. I’m pretty sure there were 20 years worth of TV Guides (remember those? 🙂 and National Geographics in their basement.  (The pack-rat nature my kids have…they come by it naturally.)  My favorite as a kid was the 3 inch thick Sear’s catalog.  It wasn’t so much looking through it and dreaming of owning all those cool toys, it was the furniture.  I liked to cut out the pictures and create ‘dream’ rooms.  It was like paper dolls (I had those too) only for a house.  The dream lives on friends!

In preparation for our trip to IKEA, I measured our basement and drew it to-scale on paper.  I then used the website and catalog to make the furniture I was hoping to purchase to-scale also.  It was like a puzzle! Can this couch fit? Should we put a twin or full size bed in here?  I loved it.  I even typed up my list complete with item numbers and the aisles and bins in which they could be found (OCD much??)  A quick lesson on IKEA shopping: almost all their items come packaged flat in boxes that you have to assemble yourself.  They have something like 45 aisles with as many ‘bins’ in each where you find the boxed items.  Talk about puzzles! If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be overwhelming.  Good thing I’m an IKEA expert 😉

We did indeed spend the whole day yesterday at the IKEA in Schaumburg, Illinois.  They had a great deal going where if you ate in their cafeteria, that cost would be deducted from your $100 or more furniture purchase.  And we went way, way over $100 (yeah for ‘free’ food!)  Add to that the fact that when you pay with your debit card you get 1% of your total purchase back in the form of a coupon for another purchase.  All in all to work the system, we shopped the as-is area first and found one of the book shelves we were going to buy for $80 less.  Thing is those are floor models and already put together.  So, we bought the shelf and another storage box thingy (for $20 off normal price) and pulled the van up to load them.  I parked the van again and we were back to shopping.  The second round we ate lunch and filled two carts with the extra stuff.  Like these pillows, Rebekah’s new bedding, storage to match, more storage boxes (that match my pillows!), and a  frying pan.  Then we loaded two flat carts with all the boxes (here’s Bekah’s new bed and side table and dresser.)  That was purchase number 2.  And that one hurt the most since we bought some major items, like a huge corner sofa.

In all my planning I failed to take into account that the sofa probably wouldn’t be packed as flat as say, the bookshelves.  We’d even taken both of our vehicles up there (my minivan with all the seats stowed, and his Trailblazer.)  Even with that space, the sofa wouldn’t fit. Not even close.  Phil wasn’t completely sold on it anyway (I love it though.)  He didn’t like the look of it, so we returned it and used the 1% back coupon on a new desk.  We went through the same lane each time, and I’m pretty sure the check-out lady thought we were stalking her.  She was kind though and even found a coupon for us that we didn’t know was available.  Sweet! Although, when purchasing 2 rooms of furniture, $2.00 off your Swedish meatballs is a drop in the ocean.

So here we are today and we have a garage full of furniture that needs to be assembled.  We have a basement that’s not fully cleaned out where said furniture needs to go, and we have no couch.  This saga is not yet over.  We have to do some serious looking around for a corner sofa we can agree on that fits within our budget.  I’m sure it’s going to take us months to get the downstairs what we want it to be, a family room and bedroom for Bekah, but in the meantime, I’m having fun with it. I can see the finished product in my head, and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful thing!

How do you handle remodels?  Where do you buy furniture?

Randomness of Thought

My goal was to post something every day of Spring break week.  So far I’ve done well, but this morning I’ve got nothing important, witty, or otherwise to write about.  My brain is filled with many random thoughts, but nothing cohesive (which would explain why I’ve not been very productive this morning.)  Be prepared to be amazed (or frightened) by my randomness of thought.

  • Yesterday I had allergy testing done.  My WORD, I thought I would die from the itching on my arms! I had 16 pricks in one arm and 24 in the other. The welts from 3 of the tests can still be seen this morning.  My top 3 were #1 dust mites (off the charts for that one) #2 ragweed #3 grass.  Guess I will continue to NEVER have to learn how to mow the lawn 🙂 and from now on while cleaning I need to wear an attractive dust mask.
  • We only got about half of the basement purging of 2011 done.  And if you missed my tweets, well, sometimes it can backfire on you.  My girls went through their 8,000 stuffed animals and were told to keep only a small pile of them.  What they did instead was make 3 piles: keep, give away, and ‘go to mom’s classroom’, which means they are gone, but not really gone.  I thought that last pile was optional, like if I could use them at school, I would, but if not to the Salvation Army they go.  Apparently I was mistaken…very mistaken.  Alisha and Rebekah are still not speaking to me as their beloved Orca and Dolphin (aren’t they the same thing?!?) stuffed animals went in the give away for good pile.  My bad. I apologized and even went back to the Salvation Army to BUY the darn things back, only they’re mixed in with the world’s largest box of scary stuffed animals ever.  In other words, lost forever.  I haven’t told them that yet. They’ll get over it!
  • Tomorrow we go to IKEA, tomorrow we go to IKEA, tomorrow we go to IKEA! (I was totally singing that in my head)  We are completely (and I mean completely) refurnishing the basement with IKEA furniture.  My joy knows no bounds!  In an effort to save us money (which my husband laughs uproariously at) we are going on the day when your food receipt from their cafeteria will be deducted from your $100 or more furniture purchase (trust me, we will be of the more, much more, variety.)   We’ll be eating free at IKEA tomorrow!  Holla!  We love IKEA’s cafeteria.  The food is awesome, so it’s a win-win.  Even better is that I’m going to be working the system.  We’ll go eat lunch, buy half of the furniture we need, then go back and eat dinner and buy the other half 😉  See how much money I’m saving us! (if you listen closely, you can hear my husband laughing.)
  • Marissa needs to get her license.  She turned 16 in September and we haven’t even looked into what’s needed to get her permit. She hasn’t pushed for it, and neither have we.  I like her not driving! Most of the time.  It’s time to let her fly (at the speed limit) from the nest.  She also needs to get a job.  I’m just not feeling ready for this next season.  She’s the most, the MOST, responsible teenager I know.  She’ll do fine.  Man, it’s hard to let your kids grow up.  I’m trying to think of the benefits. Like, “run to the store for some milk”  “your sister needs a ride to orchestra practice”  Yeah, maybe it won’t be so bad!
  • In cleaning out the basement we have some things to get rid of, but we’re just not sure how to get rid of them.  For instance, the thousands of dollars of Disney collectibles we have from when the kids were young and our whole house was done in the theme of Disney.  Most of our collectible stuff is Winnie-the-Pooh.  While it holds sentimental attachment, we’ve outgrown that stage, and the stuff needs to go.  Do I put it on ebay (sounds like a pain in the rear to me), craigslist (still I’d be responsible for making it happen), or just give it away on freecycle (surely we can recoup SOME of the crazy amounts of money we foolishly spent all those years ago when we were young and stupid!)  You see my dilemma? Then there’s my grandmother’s china that I really don’t use.  Too many decisions…my brain is shutting down.

That’s all the random I can share. Another cup of coffee is required for me to go on, and frankly, I’m sure by now your brain hurts simply from that glimpse into mine.

Have you ever sold anything on ebay or craigslist?

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

We were all so looking forward to spring break.  Plan A was heading to Minnesota to the mall of America.  We’ve never been there before, and me + a huge mall = really happy shopper. Plan A fell through due to hotel issues and my conscious of responsibility. Plan B was to go to Cincinnati overnight and go to the Creation Museum.  The girls and I liked this plan, but Phil wasn’t very excited.  He likes to go boldly where no Mongold has gone before.  He doesn’t do ‘repeat’ trips, and we went to the Creation museum a few years ago.  Whatever.  After plan B fell through (we didn’t know who we could get to stay with the dog on short notice) we came to plan C.  Responsibility wins again. Curse you conscious!  At least I get a trip to IKEA.

We have some money saved up and rather than spend in on going anywhere, we need to transform our current family room/playroom into a family room (with a couch that your butt doesn’t hit the floor in) and a bedroom for one of our girls.  Sharing a small room is not the end of the world, and it’s in fact been a great experience for my two ‘messies’, but the bigger they get the harder it is.  Moving to a new house is out, so someone is moving to the basement.

Unfortunately our basement holds around 12 years worth of stuff that needs to be gone through.  Toys the girls no longer want, books, books, and more books (which of all the things we have would be the hardest for me to part with) and the computer graveyard. Phil builds and fixes computers…for fun…and so at any given time the downstairs has 3 or 4 computer towers, various monitors, and numerous ‘parts’ spread about.  It’s a mess.  We’ve already taken 2 van loads of stuff to the Salvation Army, and I’m sure we’ll have another by day’s end.  The hard part will be the furniture. We have a sleeper sofa and love seat to get out of there, and the sofa weighs about 2 tons.  Upper body strength is not mine to boast of.  I’m just hoping with the five of us we can manage it without any serious injuries.

Since I’m also a glutton for punishment, today I’m having allergy testing done and in preparation for said tests, I haven’t been allowed to take any medication except for my happy pills (because if I stopped those, well, things could get real ugly.)  Combine that with back-breaking moving of furniture and the stirring up of years of dust…well it’s been interesting to say the least.  Adding to the throbbing headache I have, an unfortunate even has JUST occurred and I am solely being blamed.  Apparently an orca stuffed animal was accidentally put in the ‘give-away’ pile and not the ‘keep’ pile. Someone is yelling, someone is crying, and someones is typing and pretending they are invisible.  I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to who is who.

What did you do for spring break?

Tiny Talk Tuesday

This Tiny Talk Tuesday is dedicated to “D” who left our class about a month ago. We still miss him and the kids talk about him often.  I also dedicate this post to “A” who keeps me on my toes every day!

The following quotes were made by “D”:

“I have a bad mood today ’cause his hands is orange and not blue.” (talking about a picture of a tiger he colored in morning daycare before school)

“Hey! Guess what? Guess what? I love being upside down.” (D was great for running up to me, making a loud and bold random statement, then running back to what he was doing. Lol. Such was the case this time.)

“I got stumpdin to say to you. If something disappears, it’s magic.” (In the beginning of the year, D was prone to sticky fingers. I lost a lot of marbles and matchbox cars until he understood that taking my things was not a good choice.  What he said here explains a lot.)

“If you eat too much candy it will make you sick like giant, ugly germs!”

“I wish I could be small enough to go in a hamster cage.” (Another one of his very random statements that came out of the blue.)

“A Dit Tee is a short, simple song.” (Again, we were at recess and he ran up, said this to me, and ran away to play. I jokingly called him rain man- and as a side note, what 5 year old knows what a ditty is?!?)

“Guess what?” (most of the things he said were prefaced by guess what) “An art mew-zay-um is where ‘pitchers’ live.  Paintings, something that looks like a statue- ‘scull-ters’, and draw-er-ings” (when I asked him where he learned this, he said, “I just KNOW it.”)

One day the room was actually quiet while the kids were doing their seatwork, and all of the sudden D falls out of his chair for no apparent reason, and yells, “I’m ok!” then gets back in his chair and keeps working.

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Now for some great stuff from “A”.  He is full of energy.

“This is my superman and he can glow-up in the dark.” (show and tell)

“She’s a greel like my mom.” (correcting another student who accidentally called a “she” a “he” in conversation)

“Is I’m helping people?” (when he brought cans in for our food drive for the food pantry)

“Let’s do ‘Hall of Creation’ that says, ‘I have to fly up to the sky…oh, oh, ohhh, high.” (we sing Mercy Me’s “All of Creation” for worship pretty often, but it doesn’t have those lyrics. Lol)

‘A’ points to Alaska on our classroom globe and says, “Hakun-batman-tada is here. That’s where the Lion King lives.”

If one child compliments me, they all then try to out-do each other by saying something nice. One day ‘A’ shouts above all the other voices vying for my attention, “I like your HAIR, and your SHIRT, and your FINGERS!”

Enjoy your Tuesday. I’m knee-deep in Spring break, Spring cleaning. Fun, fun, fun.

Hungry Girls Who Hate to Cook

I hate to cook.  I love eating good food though.  I just prefer that it magically appear in front of me without the hassle of me having to prepare it and then clean up.  Alas, we don’t live on a Disney Cruise ship (but if we DID, how awesome would THAT be?!?)  Eating out is expensive though and pretty unhealthy when done on a regular basis.  Of course, if you read everything there was to read on food these days none of us could eat anything.  Anyhoo…in an effort to get better at this cooking dinner thing (you’d think I’d be good at it after 18 years of marriage and 3 kids, but I’m not) I signed up for something amazing. It’s called emealz. (you gotta love that they have an owl on their site!)

Go ahead, click on the link and go check it out…I’ll wait…BUT come right back.  Ok, what did you think? Let me tell you about our experience with emealz.  I first learned about emealz from Jon Acuff.  You can check out his hilariousness here, just not now, because trust me, once you start reading you will laugh (maybe even enough to cry) and then keep reading his back posts for the next 3 hours.  It’s true. It’ll happen.  He talks about how important dinner time is to his family and I applaud him for the efforts he and his wife are putting forth into making that a good habit with their young kids.  While our kids are older, I know it’s still important to at least make it a priority despite orchestra and youth meetings and musicals derailing our plans much of the time.  I figured for the price of $5 a month…shoot, I can’t go wrong.  Besides, it’s Dave Ramsey approved, and contrary to what I used to think, Dave Ramsey does not expect you to eat beans and rice for every meal.  The things you learn on the internet!

So, all about emealz. It takes the hassle out of meal planning.  When you sign up, you choose the meal plan you’d like.  They have meal plans for specific stores like Aldi, Publix (we don’t have those in our area), and Walmart, or the ‘anystore’ plan, which is what we chose.  There are also plans for special dietary needs like low-fat, low-carb, and even one that works with Weight Watchers Points.  Every Wednesday I get an email with a new list of 7 meals and a grocery list with all the things I’ll need to prepare those meals.  Since I’m all OCD about things, I got myself a pretty 3 ring binder with clear dividers.  When I print out my meal plan, I print out 2 of the grocery lists (one to go in my folder and one to yuck-up while I grocery shop) and then put them back-to-back in the clear dividers.  All organized and pretty.

The first few weeks using emealz, I straight up followed the meal plan and the grocery list.  Now that I have over a months worth of plans in my book, I can mix it up with favorites since I have extremely picky eaters in my house.  That would include my husband.  Here are just some of the things that are frowned upon in my cooking: onions, chunks of tomatoes, spaghetti (as a meal), soups, stews, pot roast (or any other roast type of meat), most casseroles…you get the idea.  This family makes it very hard to enjoy the whole cooking thing!  When you have 4 family members beside yourself, and on any given meal you can only make 1 or 2 of them happy and the other whiners let it be known they aren’t…well, you can see why I’ve gone on strike more than once.

Emealz has made the whole planning and shopping part of cooking much better for me.  There are nights when I’ve told them to suck it up and eat what I’ve made or starve.  But really, if you’re going to slave in the kitchen making food for your family, you don’t want them to hate it.  I started letting the pickiest go through my trusty binder and put a mark with a dry erase marker (they wipe off the plastic 🙂 to let me know which meals they want the following week.  It makes the whole grocery list thing not as easy since I can’t just go off the one sheet, but hey, it’s a trade off.

All in all the emealz thing has been great!  We even came up with a grading system for the meals.  1 being (don’t ever make this again) to 5 being (wow…this is amazing!)  Like I said, I have a picky family, so there has only been one 5 meal so far, the “Chicken Primavera Pizza”.  The rest of the meals range in the 3’s and 4’s.  There have only been two 1’s to date, and that’s because they were stews or soups with onions and tomato chunks! Not emealz fault.  I have gotten creative and if a recipe calls for diced tomatoes I just buy crushed or I put the diced ones in the blender.  I’ve found with my crew it’s not so much the taste of things they object to, but the texture.  One meal 3 of them deemed un-edible, Marissa and I loved.  It was the “Sausage and Lentil Soup”.  The problem with soups is they make enough to feed your whole family and then some.  If you’re the only one that likes it, guess what you’re eating every meal for the next week?

I just figured it was time I share the joy of emealz (if not cooking) with you, my readers.  Happy chewing! (that’s a phrase by one of my favorite food lovers, Lisa Lillian aka Hungry Girl.) Definitely check her out as well!! I just got her newest cookbook “300 Under 300” with you guessed it, 300 recipes under 300 calories.  And you know it has to be good for me to BUY it.  For a hater of cooking to spend hard earned cash on a cookbook and then proceed to actually READ the whole thing…well, that should say it all.