A Family Life Blog

Posts for busy mom

What’s For Dinner

We have all been there, you get in after a long day at the office, running around, picking up kids, you still have several hours to put in at home later on, and you have your brood to feed. Someone pops the question “hey, what’s for dinner?” You freeze in a state of panic as you have no idea what so ever is for dinner, nor how you are gonna pull something together with the little energy you have left.

 As juggling mama’s we have a ton on our plate, all the time. So it comes as no surprise that we all falter in a few areas. The more moms I talk to that live the life of super mom, wife, career woman,and super star confess that meal planning and cooking are their achilles heal. I too have suffered this plight, but am happy to say that I found a way to beat the 5 O’clock witching hour with out pumping my family full of take out and microwave fair.

Here are my best tips just for my fellow juggling mama’s:

Think Ahead

Every Sunday I brew a good cup of jo get a comfy blanket, the paper, my favorite cook books, a note book, and some chocolate (that one’s just for me :)

With my supplies in hand I whip out the adds and see whats on sale, and match it to my coupon’s. From this I go to my cook books and start looking for recipes that will include whats on sale. I plan out six meals usually. I base them on what’s on sale and what I have in the freezer, but you could just go straight to what looks good to you if you are not a coupon fan like me.

As I make my list I write my meals in the upper right hand corner so I remember what I planned while I am shopping. This has come in handy several times when determining what I forgot or what sides to change up if I find something that looks good at the store.

The little details that save my bacon

In addition to adding my meals to my list I add them, and a few other things clues to some key places to help me along post shopping day.

  • I post my meal plan to the family calendar so I know what we are having. This also comes in handy when hubby comes home early and wants to start dinner. He can go right to the calendar and know what we have and what to use. I also put the source of my recipe next to the menu plan so he or I can find it easily. I get very inspired from magazines and books so I could have four new recipes from three different places on any given weekly plan. This really helps.
  • Another great tip that I couldn’t live with out is putting what to take out in the way of frozen foods for the next day into my calendar or day planner. I get a cue to take out hamburger for chili the night before so I am never adding time to my meal prep for defrost.
  • Plan accordingly, there are nights for us that we have church functions, sports, ect and I know that they are just crazy, so I save crock pot meals or easy stuff for those nights.
  • Be flexible if it doesn’t work out just pump a meal then you have one less to add to your list next week.

Don’t go it alone

There are a ton of sights, and books, ect. to help you out. Just google meal plan help and there is something for every one. I also am a magazine junky, I subscribe to several food and cooking magazines. Pretty much all of them have weekly meal plan sections, fast meals,and sectioned recipes to choose from. This also ensures no more repeats, or boring dinners.

Another Idea some of the moms I know do is a meal plan exchange. You all operate on the same system planning one week then pass the list.  You get a month’s worth of meals with only four friends. You also get lots of variety and new recipes to boot with out the magazine or web site subscriptions.

This is the best way to be as organized in the kitchen as you are in the office. Another benefit is you will save a ton each month that you don’t just dial for pizza, or walk aimlessly through the store without a plan. Try it this week and let me know what you think!

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Busy Hands

Today I had about 1,000 things to get done before noon. Unfortunately, I also had three kids under the age of 5 to entertain while I completed my task list for the morning.So I reached into my handy dandy mommy bag & pulled out one of the oldest tricks in the book…… Play dough!

Yes, this simple concoction is easy to throw together with some very basic pantry items, and about fifteen minutes! In no time you have a colorful, gooey, babysitter, with endless possibilities for your little ones hands, and imaginations. Not to mention the much needed time for you to finish that last minute project.

After whipping out a batch of a beautiful color  of blue play dough from my kitchen of wonders. My kids were entertained in the playroom long enough for me to get all my work done at the kitchen table, with only a few call outs to mommy for help.I even had time to enjoy some of my own play dough fun with my babes before we had to eat lunch.

Since this is such a wonder in my house when I need to finish a last minute task, or just need something to keep the kids entertained on a rainy day. I thought I would share the fun with my fellow juggling mama’s ! Enjoy your time with occupied kids whatever you choose to do with it!

Classic Play Dough

3 cups flour

1.5 cups salt

6 tsp. cream of tarter

3 tbsp. oil

3 cups water

Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly over medium heat until a dough ball forms by pulling away from the sides. Knead dough until the texture matches play dough (1-2 minutes). Store in plastic container. Should last for at least 3 months.

Eatable Play Dough ** Not for kids with peanut allergies

one 18-oz. jar creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup non-fat dry milk

Mix ingredients together, using varying amounts of dry milk for desired consistencies. Knead it with fingers, forming into desired shapes, adding other foods like M&M’s or peanuts for eyes, mouths, etc. Great fun!

When not using, MUST be stored in an airtight container.


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Fire in my pants

Kids & Family, Momprenuer Balancing Act - Jenna - November 3, 2010

Today after a particularly busy day my bouncy little three year old came up to me and announced “I have fire in my pants” of course this caused a reaction of laughter from everyone at the table including myself.  When I asked him to tell me  more, he began to run around frantic, zig zagging in every direction and announcing “fire fire fire in my pants”

I was rolling at this point but had to ask ” buddy where did you come up with that?” much to my surprise my sweet little brown eyed boy looked straight at me and said” Mommy you always have fire in your pants that is why you never sit down cause it burns”

Yes, at this point my jaw dropped to the floor, and I was not sure whether to laugh or cry. Even my little guy can see how much I go & do. Even he has taken into account my inability to not sit and be still. My sweet three year old just ment it to be funny and it was at the time, but it defiantly made me stop and think.

Of course I can’t just stop everything and commence  to painting my nails when ever I want, but do I really want to be known as the lady with fire in her pants? I think not, so I sought out some really great advise from some trusted friends and colleges. After gently letting me in on the secret that I am indeed already known as the lady with the fire in her pants, a small  light was shed that there  is hope for me still.

It is true I have to prioritize better, and learn to not take on so much. But the recurring theme to their advise was to just slow down a bit. Often times we get so wrapped up in thinking ahead that we end up bouncing from one task to another with no transition at all. The best advise I was given was to simple take on one thing at time. Which for me means focusing solely on just one task. Then once you have completed that task take a minute to acknowledge your accomplishments no matter how big or small, and then and only then move onto something else.

I am not sure if I will ever be rid of the stigma of being the lady with fire in her pants, but by applying this new life lesson given to me by some very wonderful people. I at least hope to be able to correct this tendency to overdo enough that my kids, friends, and family notice something else, anything else about me than how on fire my pants seem to be.

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How did this happen?

Kids & Family - Jenna - October 4, 2010

“How did this happen” I heard myself audibley say several times as I looked at my 7 year old boy bounce across the front yard playing catch with his Dad, As I went over some scrapbooks from the front window.

On the pages in my lap were the memories, from our past seven years that I wanted to remember  that happened while I had a camera and actually got into the scrapbook. These fleeting pages showed our bouncy sweet boy from the time he was a little ball of snuggle until now.  The thing is, is I hardly can believe it has been seven years. copy-3-of-pinedal-2010-003

It seems like ages ago that my Tan Man was an infant. I can hardly remember his smell or his coo or even exactly how he looked as a 3 month old. “How did this happen?” I asked myself again. How did I forget these details in such a short amount of time?

I am sure some where between the career, the sleepless nights, and the frantic life of raising two boys in today’s busy lifestyle I just lost track of time and now I have a seven year old. I know all moms say it goes to fast, but I really thought that somehow I would escape this predicament if I tried hard enough. Guess I was wrong.

I am not going to tell you I don’t beat myself up about how much time I did or didn’t spend. I won’t say I have no mommy guilt about being so involved in so many things that I some how feel I missed something though I was there 90% of the time. I know all the great benefits of working, and having a well rounded life outside of being a mom, so you can be a better mom. however today I am in “How did that happen mode” So I will try to get some pics and some more kiss’s to try and capture some of my seven year old boy before he is 13 and I am saying once again “How did this happen?”

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One slipper and one high heel

Momprenuer Balancing Act - Jenna - August 10, 2010

There’s this crazy lady with one foot in a slipper, and one in a red high heal. One hand in a soup pot,and one hand on a pda. Her hair started out in an up-do but is now quite undone. She is both present & absent in everything at the same time.  People are always telling her ” I just don’t know how you do it!”  She feels like a successand a failure several times simultaneously through out the day, and she can’t recall if she sent the fax then fed the dog or fed the dog the fax.

This woman is smart, funny, insecure, and confident all at once. She loves her children and would do anything for them, as a matter of fact she is doing everything for them. This woman is a crazy organized mess, just trying to keep it all together at work, at home, with friends, in her marriage, volunteer work, and so much more.

This woman is me before 9am !

   Sound familiar? Yeah I thought so :)

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