Meal Prep Step 2: Menu Planning

Menu PlanningThe second step to prepping your meals is…menu planning!

I try to plan my menus about once a week. I sit down with my planner or the calendar on my phone and look at our schedule for the week. I usually only plan about five meals because I know that on the weekend we tend to see friends and family or order out, and there’s usually at least one other night a week where cooking just doesn’t happen. I also try to include a variety of protein in our meals, including seafood at least once and one meatless meal. I really only plan dinners since we have mostly the same things for breakfast and lunch. Continue reading “Meal Prep Step 2: Menu Planning”


It was sometime last night between 8, when we started trying to get Joanna to fall asleep in the Pack ‘n’ Play in her cousin Sophie’s room, and 10, when she finally fell asleep and I could get up off the floor and stop singing Disney and Nick Jr. songs, that I made my resolution. It just came over me in a wave, while I sat there with my phone in one hand, scrolling through all my different social media accounts and watching the old year roll over into the new. Watching the women I follow use the same words over and over: “goals,” “resolutions,” “action,” “fears,” “excitement,” “challenges.” I felt like a kid with her face pressed to the glass window of a candy shop. Their photos were so glossy. Their art was so beautiful. Their brands were so polished. They were so confident. In reality, I had my face pressed to the carpet and I was singing the same line of a Wallykazam! song over and over because I’d run through my retinue of showtunes and had nothing left. I have a blog I never blog on, a house I don’t decorate, clothes I don’t wear, plans I don’t plan. And at the same time, these women don’t have anything I don’t have. I am literally standing in my own way.

All the cliches washed over me at once. I had cliches about my cliches – a lightbulb moment about letting it go, an epiphany about staring fear in the face to do the thing I could not do. What would I do if I knew I could not fail? I finally feel ready to find out the answer.

I’ve done it before – been afraid, and pushed through it. Shed my insecurities and trusted myself. But it feels like a really, really long time since I was that brave. I miss that. I miss surprising myself instead of being so predictable. Which is why I never make resolutions. I know myself too well. I know I won’t keep them. I don’t even remember the last time I even thought about making a resolution. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies , setting yourself up to fail, and self-doubt. I must be fun at parties.

So this year, I’m making them. I’m making ALL THE RESOLUTIONS. Because why not? Go big or go home, right? The more I make, the more chances I have to keep them.

I was reading something today about not making grand resolutions and instead breaking them down into smaller action items. You know what? Screw that. I have grand plans. I want to write a book. I want to blog. I want a puppy. I want so many things for myself and my family. And if I read this one year from now and I’m no closer to any of those goals, I’m not going to be embarrassed. Because this year, I’m not going to not try because I’m afraid of what might happen, or what people might think. Because honestly, I don’t think I’m afraid of what people will think if I don’t try – I’m afraid of what they might think if I DO. Like my ambitions will somehow infringe on their personal space. I keep ruminating on my cousin Christina’s words at my Nana’s Irish wake, that Nana had high standards for herself and everyone else, and that was ok. I am just like her. I, too, have high standards – the difference is, I’m not holding myself to them. I’m letting myself get by on good enough. And I’m worth more than that.

So this post is going to be my vision board. My touchstone that I can come back to when I’m losing my way. Like so many of the women on my social media feed, I am choosing a word for 2016, a personal mantra. My word is fearful.

Being fearful does not make me weak. Without fear, we can’t be brave. I am fearful – I am full of fear. I am full of strength to overcome those fears. Google has two definitions for fearful, and the second is “very great.” When David said that he was “fearfully’ made, he was saying he was made by a person of whom he stood in awe. I am fearful, and I am awesome. 

So where will I get my inspiration? From my social media feed, yes. From The Reset Girl and her goal-setters club, because it’s never too late to reset my life. From Lara Casey and her Power Sheets. From Ira Glass*, Ted Talks, and my daughter Klara, who stands in front of our full-length mirror and marvels with glee over how big her butt is getting, because she hasn’t yet learned that girls are supposed to be ashamed. From Elsa, who I hear every day reminding me: “I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let it go.” From Glennon Doyle Melton, a fellow warrior, and Jessica Kirkland, who taught me my new favorite phrase: “As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.” From Dean Sanderson on “The Grinder,” who has given me a new way to answer every fear that pops unbidden into my brain: “You can’t write about that, no one’s going to care.”  But what if they do? “You can’t do that” But what if I could? From the Disney songs I sing Joey to sleep with: because dammit, if I keep on believing, the dream that I wish will come true.

I’m tired of not writing on here because it doesn’t have a consistent tone, or theme, or message. I like writing, so I’m going to write. The rest will follow.  I wrote this, and I’m posting it, and I’m proud of it, and now I’m going to bed, because my first resolution is to get more sleep.


*It’s worth hearing him say it in his own voice.



My Nana



On the way into Nana’s funeral today a lady who knew her from church stopped me to say what a lovely woman she had been…and always so well dressed! What she closed with hit the nail on the head: They don’t make them like her anymore. Nana never wore pants a day in her life, and wore heels until she could no longer walk, despite crippling arthritis. Born a DeFransisco, no one had more Irish pride – or made a better spaghetti sauce. She liked her seltzer ice cold, her soup boiling hot – or it got sent back – and her French fries “cremated.” She tried to order medium-rare hamburgers at McDonald’s. Continue reading “My Nana”

Someone Throw Me a Bubble

Remember swim lessons at the Y? Of course you do. Everyone took swim lessons at the Y. Remember the smell when you walked in, the mix of chlorine and sweaty basketball pinnies? The echoey sound in the indoor pool area? The NO RUNNING and NO DIVING IN SHALLOW END signs everywhere? The kids who seemed like they lived there and were BFFs with all the instructors but you knew it was just because they were there all the time because their parents WORKED (i.e. didn’t love them) so they had to go to after school care or camp?  Remember trying to find the newest looking bubble, or when you could finally swim without one? Sometimes if you whined enough your mom let you get something out of the vending machine in the lobby. Remember standing on a bench to dry your hair under the hand dryers?

Since we moved to our new house, our girls have started swim lessons at the same Y where their dad, uncles and grandfather learned to swim, which is kind of cool.  This is the first time for Joey, and Klara’s first “big girl” lessons where she goes in the pool WITHOUT MOMMY. Since Daddy wants no part of this (why is it never the dads doing this stuff? OK I know there are more dads doing this now, but it was NEVER the dads growing up, and it’s never OUR husbands doing it. It’s always someone else’s husband) I had to schedule the lessons back to back and pray that Klara could be convinced to sit still long enough for me to take Joey in for her lesson and not get asked to leave for RUNNING or DIVING IN THE SHALLOW END or CRYING EXCESSIVELY.

Continue reading “Someone Throw Me a Bubble”

Lost in Translation

This evening, Klara brought me her stuffed puppy and asked me to clip a hair bow to his ear. “Thanks!” she said. “He looks super cute. His name is Gratula Puppy!”

At first, I was just thrilled she’d given him an actual name. Most of her toys have names like “Bunny” or “Klara’s Dolly” or, for the doll whose eyes close when you lay her down, “Sleepy Baby.” Gratula was at least a name…of some sort. I was sure she’d gotten it from TV, mostly because she gets everything from TV. Curious, I asked, ‘Is Gratula from a TV show?”

“Uh huh.”

“What show is Gratula from?”

“You know. The TV. Gratula. From the show.”

I started racking my brain the way parents always do when their child is saying something they can’t quite make out but which they’re sure will make perfect sense if they just think about it from a 3-year-old point of view. When I was pregnant with Joanna and had to go to the hospital for non-stress tests twice a week, Eric would stay home with Klara in the evening. I always got at least one text asking me to interpret what she was asking for by Eric’s phonetic spelling. “Nati” was Make Way for Noddy, some strange British animated show about some kind of toy elf or something – my kid likes weird stuff. Oya? Olaf – Frozen, of course.  And my personal favorite:

Eric: She keeps asking for something…it sounds like Teamazoomi?

Me: Team Umizoomi. It’s on Nick Jr.

Eric: Oh. She was actually saying that pretty well, then.

Continue reading “Lost in Translation”

A pinch of this, a dash of whatever

So for those of you who don’t follow the Mommy Blogosphere (yes, it’s a thing) one common type of post is a recipe post, wherein the blogger posts details of a delicious recipe she’s recently whipped up, complete with stunning photography and detailed instructions on how you, too, can be a domestic goddess. (See: The Pioneer Woman, i heart nap time, Casey Leigh.)

In the spirit of expanding my own blog, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Having promised dinner to a friend who recently gave birth to twins, I figured why not document my endeavor and share it with my loyal following?

Oh wait I forgot. I can’t cook. Continue reading “A pinch of this, a dash of whatever”