Beginning Our Chest Freezer Journey

Peter and I recently bought a seven cubic foot chest freezer!! I am so incredibly excited about this purchase! It is going to make my life easier in so many ways. We bought it just a week ago and I’m already feeling less stressed. Putting a chest freezer in our house is allowing me to do monthly shopping trips instead of weekly. This is huge, as I live 20 minutes away from our grocery store. It also allows me to buy meat in bulk which saves tons of time and tons of money.

In a month and a half I am getting my first 40 pounds shipment of chicken breasts from Zaycon fresh. It’ll be about three months worth of chicken for my family. (We eat chicken just about every other day.) Once the chicken comes then I will do another post explaining how I have divided that. It’s already planned, but things may change.

I also plan on getting 20 pounds of shrimp from Zaycon in the summer. That will be about a year’s worth of shrimp for my family. All meats that I can buy in bulk will make my monthly shopping trips that much easier. Here is the plan for my monthly shopping trips:

1st of all, my Brother-In-Law works at a grocery store and told me that the first full week of the month is usually when the best deals are. So, that’s when I’ll be aiming to make my trips, on either a Saturday or Sunday morning. I want to get there early enough to beat the weekend crowd. Plus when I return from shopping I’ll still have the whole day ahead of me to do freezer meals, prepare fruits and veggies, etc.

Obviously I need to meal plan for the whole month. I figure I’ll plan 6 meals a week. The 7th day I’ll leave open for either visiting, eating out or eating up leftovers. (Usually most our leftovers get eaten for lunch.)

A couple months ago our town got a Dollar General. So, I don’t plan on getting a whole month’s worth of milk, eggs, bread, etc. because I can do weekly mini trips to DG. And I actually prefer to do mini weekly trips for such things to save money. Because most Saturdays DG has a spend $25 get $5 off coupon. Or if I don’t have that much to spend I usually have a $3 off $15 coupon for doing a survey after my last visit. It also saves money because I use Ibotta to get cash back and they will renew coupons after a week. So, for example, usually I can get $0.25 back for a single loaf of bread a week. So it makes more sense to buy one or two loaves a week than 6 in the beginning of the month, because I’ll get $1 back instead of a quarter.

I’ve done many freezer meals over the past month or so and I plan to blog about those soon. But in the meantime here are some links I’ve found helpful:

When deciding to purchase our chest freezer I realized people either love chest freezers or hate them! And the biggest complaint (by far) of those that hate them is that they become so unorganized, you don’t know what’s in it, can’t find what you want, etc. Obviously our chest freezer is new, perhaps I’ll have these complaints myself in a year. But for now I’ve kept an organized inventory list of what is in our chest freezer. A page with the freezer meals listed, a page with fruits listed, a page with vegetables listed, I’m sure I’ll have a page of meats that aren’t yet made into meals listed, snacks, etc. once I fill it more.

I’m glad I’m doing this right from the start with my chest freezer instead of waiting until it becomes messy. This way, writing things down as I put them in, crossing them off the list as I take them out is habit! I organize my listings like this: Date. Item. Number of items in tally form. So I have an entry that looks like this:

2/14/18: Sandwich bag of blueberries: 111

When I use a bag, I cross off a tally. When I use the last bag, I cross the line out.

I also keep everything in reusable grocery bags. I use the same categories I use for my inventory pages. In fact the top of every inventory page reminds me of what the reusable bag looks like that I will find these items in. Ex: Chicken freezer meals: Blue Walmart bag.

I’m so excited to continue this freezer meal journey and hope to have more tips to share soon!!




Easiest Dinner Ever: Chicken Cordon Bleu Wraps

This is seriously one of the easiest dinners I’ve ever made for my family and truly tastes like I picked it up from a restaurant. All you need is:

A pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces

About half a cup of miracle whip

About 2 tablespoons of mustard

About 1 tablespoon of honey

Tortilla shells

Deli ham

Cheese of your choice  (Swiss would be more Cordon Bleu like but we prefer mozzarella) Shredded, slices…. whatever, it doesn’t matter

Your favorite vegetables

Cook chicken in miracle with honey and mustard. Microwave the tortilla shells with deli ham on top, just to warm them. Top with chicken, cheese and veggies.




Name of the Day: Perrine

I can’t use this name as it’s the feminine form of Pierre, which is the French form of Peter. (I’m also a big fan of Pierre.) My husband (Peter) and I agreed we don’t want to name our kids after ourselves. (Also can’t use it because I’m pregnant with our 3rd and last, and it’s a boy! So, no more girl names for me!) But I think it’s GORGEOUS! So I thought if I wrote about my love for it, maybe someday it’ll be stumbled upon and used by another!

Perrine is the name of 2 Olympic skiers, both from France: Perrine Pelen and Perrine Laffont. Nobody’s Girl is a novel by Hector Malet who’s main character is a 13 year old named Perrine. This book has been adapted into an anime series. That would be a really fun read (and watch) to enjoy with your daughter when she’s old enough.

I’m a total nickname person and I think the Perry or Reeney are beyond adorable! In 2014 5 girls were given this name, but it has not made the social security list since.

 




Name of the Day: Orwell

Orwell was our most likely boy name for baby #3 until about 22 weeks. It’s a name we still love and honestly he may still end up with, as I’m having trouble letting it go completely. But as of right now, it’s our runner up option.

Orwell is a surname of English and Scottish origin. The Scottish definition is boring (in my opinion), new village. But the English definition I LOVE. The branch of the river.

Orwell is not a common first name. In fact it has never appeared on the social security list. That means there has never been a year where 5 boys or 5 girls across the country were named Orwell. However, with sounds similar to Orson and Maxwell, and with so many other surnames commonly used as first names, I don’t think it feels out of place.

Orwell is most associated with George Orwell, author most notably known for Animal Farm and 1984. If you have never read anything by George Orwell, I highly recommend him. Especially in our current time of political uncertainty. George Orwell is a phenomenal namesake. Not only was he extremely smart and talented, he was also brave and never hesitated to stand up for his beliefs.

Orwell has great nickname options (not that it needs them, it’s so handsome on it’s own). O, Ori, Oreo, Wells, Olly. Paired with a J middle name I think OJ is adorable, though you may get the side eye at the playground from people who only associate the name with OJ Simpson.

As we were set on using this name for some time, and did share it with those that asked, I can speak to the downside of it. Though I consider George Orwell a very worthy  namesake, I thought it’s downside would be that it’s overly associated with George and I worried that’s super corny with a brother named Lennon, who already has a name very associated with an artist from the past. As an individual name, I don’t see it as a huge deal, and since he won’t spend his life being compared to his brother, I decided it was okay.

When sharing the name with others we found (in our social circle, at least) that people didn’t automatically associate it with George Orwell. Which would be great considering my above concern, except, with nothing to associate it with, people struggled to remember it. A lot of people would say “I remember it was like Orville, but it wasn’t.” Or if we said “you know, like George Orwell, the author” next time we saw them they’d say, “What are you naming him again? I remember you said it was after an author….” I decided that instead of trying to get people to remember via the George Orwell association I’d probably say “like if you’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks if you want your steak medium or well…. it’s the last 2 words, or well!”

I noticed my generation didn’t seem to have trouble remembering the name, I think we’re more used to uncommon names. Our children’s generation will be even more used to uncommon names so I doubt he’d have this problem with his peers. It’s just our parents generation. Therefore, I don’t think it should allow the name to be ruined as only his grandparent’s generation will refer to him as “that kid with the weird O name.” But I thought I should mention it as it did genuinely surprise me, we had “easy to remember” as a pro on our pro/con list!!

Moving “easy to remember” off our pro list isn’t what bumped this name to our runner up name. Rather, one day I thought of a name that was on our list of 15 names that we agreed on as possibilities pre pregnancy. I thought back to when it was eliminated as a possibility during my first trimester. Peter said it didn’t feel natural. I had been very sick for a long time so when he said “don’t you agree?” I said “I don’t know, nothing feels natural. I feel like death. If you don’t think it feels right, it’s off the list.” But one Friday, months later, I thought, but I have literally a dozen reasons this name is great for us! I should have fought for it. So I stated my case that night, Peter agreed we should use it for a couple days and see if it feels better now. After just a couple hours he said he liked it more and didn’t want to go back to Orwell. So we haven’t. 

So what’s the new name that fits our family even better? It’ll be announced when we meet him in May!! (I promise. Even if we meet him and go back to our original plan of naming him Orwell.)




Name of the Day: Darwin

Meaning “dear friend” I find Darwin to be such a sweet and warm name. I love the nicknames D, Dar and Winnie. And it ranks in the 800s for popularity, so a Darwin is unlikely to have classmates with the same name.

Most commonly associated with the naturalist Charles Darwin, this name is perfect for a family with a passion for science. Or a family without it, as he’s still an amazing namesake.

Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859. As this theory is still very controversial for those with certain religious beliefs, my biggest fear using the name was that it would be seen as an anti religious statement. However, I don’t think most would see it that way and frankly, those who do would be showing their ignorance as Darwin himself was very religious.

As I see it you can believe one thing with your head and another with your heart. Darwin’s theory was scientific, based on evidence and logic. You can agree with his findings and admire his determination in putting everything together in a logical sense without disregarding the creation story you believe in your heart and soul. I don’t think you need to understand why there may he a disconnect between the two. There’s often a disconnect between facts and feelings, how you logically see a situation and how you can’t help but feel about it. The world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey. And a lot that can’t be understood. But that doesn’t mean you dismiss it. I don’t think Darwin meant to insult any religious beliefs by connecting logical evidence to provide a different theory of origins.

Charles Darwin was obviously very smart, motivated and hard working. The biggest reason I consider Charles Darwin to be a worthy namesake though is his sense of justice. The reason Charles Darwin set out to prove evolution was to prove once and for all that all human beings have the same origin. This was for the purpose of racial equality. He thought proving that regardless of skin color we all have the same ancestors, would help us to live in harmony.

An uncommon name that symbolizes intelligence and social justice… what more can you ask for?




Expecting #3

I just realized I never announced on the blog that we’re expecting #3 in May! We’re all so excited to meet the final member of our family. Here’s a look at our journey so far:

One Friday night Lucille and Lennon slept literally worse than they’ve ever slept before. And they are always terrible sleepers. This night they literally were up for about 4.5 hours laughing and jumping on beds and chanting with crazy amounts of energy. Peter and I were  unamused. Peter worked in the morning.

While Peter was at work I decided to take a pregnancy test. We’d been trying a couple months and I didn’t think it was going to be our month… and I thought, maybe after last night a negative test won’t be as sad for me as it was last month. So, cue the positive.

On about 0 hours of sleep, I was still obviously overjoyed. I promised Lucille she’d be the first to know when Mommy had a baby in her belly (several friends of ours were expecting so she was asking frequently when a baby would be in my belly). I shared the news with both kids and told them we’d give Daddy a present to let him know when he came home.

Side note, both other pregnancies I found out while Peter was still sleeping. I woke him up sincerely confused when I found out about Lucille because it was a faint line and I didn’t know what that meant and I had to go out of town to be in a wedding and wouldn’t see him for a couple days and was all sorts of WHAT DO I DO!?!? And he fell back asleep. And with Lennon I woke him up, again, all sorts of confused, because Lennon was an oopsie condom baby! At least he stayed awake that time… but I was hoping to tell him a bit nicer this last time!

So, I got out a onsie I had made at my cousins house a month and a half prior that read “Repete”. Peter and I joked that we would combine our names and name our last little one Repete. It’s unisex! Don’t worry! We are not really naming our child this!! The kids gave it to him when he got home and he was definitely surprised!

I felt fine for the first couple weeks after we found out. On our way back from Sesame Place, September 24th, I was feeling sick. I blamed all the travel. But it never went away! I think this 1st trimester was my worst one yet. With Lucille I puked several times a day. But after I got sick, I felt better. When I started feeling bad again, I’d puke shortly after, and feel better. With Lennon I puked about once a day, but other than that, I didn’t feel too sick. With this one… I puked 1-3 times a day, but it left me with no feeling of relief. Pure misery. Until probably week 16 or so…

2nd trimester I’ve been really dizzy. Then I got the flu and a sinus infection, not totally pregnancy related. But it lasted nearly 3 weeks. Since then, I’ve just had bad headaches. Luckily I had bad headaches in my 2nd trimester with Lennon and my doctor told me to start drinking caffeine. (I’ve never been a caffeine drinker so I protested and told him I didn’t want to start during pregnancy, when most caffeine drinkers are cutting back! But he explained any headache medicine he could give me would have massive amounts of caffeine in it. And other stuff. So if we could cure it with just the caffeine, it’s the safest thing for me and baby.) A couple days after these headaches started I began drinking a caffeinated tea every morning and a glass or 2 of diet Pepsi in the afternoon. Keeps them away pretty well! But now my fatigue is even worse, because on top of the pregnancy fatigue I have a crash from the caffeine wearing off… oh well! Pick your battles.

The baby’s sex: Way back when I was pregnant with Lucille, Peter and I said we both had a hunch we’d have 2 girls and a boy. So, after Lennon, I always pictured #3 as another little girl. But once I got pregnant that hunch kind of went away. I had no idea who was growing inside me!

Everyone (except my friend Lauren) thought it was a girl. I found myself saying “she” more often than “he” (probably out of habit because for years I thought I’d have 2 girls). But when we went for our dating ultrasound I had this strong sense of “there he is.” I brushed it aside and kept flip flopping back and forth between if I thought it was a boy or girl.

Another side note, at just 8 weeks we could see this baby moving like crazy! Boy or girl, we already knew #3 would be active like his or her older siblings. And I felt baby moving very early too, Peter was able to feel movement from the outside by about 15 weeks.

December 23rd was our anatomy scan. First off we found out I had an anterior placenta, making the early movements I felt even more incredible. Baby continued to show us how very active he or she is. The tech showed Peter the sex, but I didn’t want to know yet. Peter and Santa wrapped up a present (a bunch of onsies) for me and the kids to open Christmas morning. The present revealed its a BOY!!!!

I did tell Peter about a week before the anatomy scan that in general terms when I thought of our 3rd kid I thought girl. When I focused on the life growing inside my uterus, feeling movements or just holding my belly and talking to the baby, in those moments I felt it was a boy. So I guess I thought girl the weeks leading up to our discovery… but felt boy. If that makes any sense.

At the beginning of our pregnancy Lucille was very adamant that she wanted a sister. I was a little scared about how she’d react if we turned out to be pregnant with a boy. But, she seemed happy just to know. And Lennon seems totally ambivalent about all of it. Lucille keeps saying “I love my brother. And soon I’m going to have 2 brothers!” and “I take such good care of Lennon, Mommy is going to have another brother for me!”

So, we’re all happy, we’re all excited. And we’ve all got a bunch to do around the house, bad sleep habits to break and potty training to work on before baby #3 gets here!

 




Name of the Day: Booker

Occupational surnames as first names are hot right now. I’m constantly meeting little boys named Mason, Carter, Cooper… But I’ve yet to meet one with my favorite occupational surname: Booker!

Meaning “maker of books”, it’d be such an appropriate name for a baby born into a literary crazy family, like ours. B and Boo are adorable nicknames. And in my family, where we affectionately tease each other with the least attractive versions of our names, I’m sure we’d call him Booger.

Booker T. Washington was an extremely influential and inspiring African American leader. Born into slavery, Booker and his family were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation when he was 9 years old. He believed highly that education and entrepreneurship could help his people to become equals with the whites. He was one of the founders of the National Negro Business League and is well known for his speech “Atlanta Compromise”.

Everything I’ve read about Booker T. Washington has led me to believe he was very hard-working and very eager to help others. He was one of the most notable black men of his time, and the last generation born into slavery who could speak from experience about that time in American history. I very much want to read his autobiography Up from Slavery.

In 2016 (numbers are not yet out for 2017) 58 boys were named Booker, making it the 2,269th most popular boy name. An uncommon choice that everyone will recognize and know how to spell and pronounce!




Name of the Day: Coretta

About this time last year I started a game with my husband I called “Name of the Day”. Each day I pitched him a new name, with details about why it’s worthy of consideration for our future child. The first name I did was Coretta. He agreed it was a worthy name. And I decided that going forward I should put my name notes in sentence form and make them into blog posts. But poor Coretta never got her post. Which is funny because had #3 been a girl, she was most likely going to be Coretta!

Coretta is an elaboration of the name Cora and therefore means little maiden. Cora could be a sweet nickname as could Cory, Etta, Retta, Coco, Cetta or even Coy.

Cora is Peter’s grandmother, so we liked that connection. But the strongest force pulling us towards the name is obviously Coretta Scott King. The wife of Martin Luther King Jr., I find her to have been even more influential than her husband. This is not a criticism of Mr. King at all, but Coretta had many more years in which to make a difference.

What Martin did in his lifetime was obviously ground breaking, and she helped him accomplish all he did. But I believe much of what he worked towards would be forgotten if after his death Coretta hadn’t spent years working to make “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” a national holiday. Now that it’s a holiday Martin’s beliefs, speeches, protests, etc are taught in school. Would he be mentioned in a chapter of a history book if it weren’t for his holiday? Of course. But I don’t believe it would be focused on nearly to the same extent. By giving him a national holiday, our country has to acknowledge all that he did, and what our society was like before him.

Besides being Martin’s backbone during his lifetime and continuing to work towards racial equality after his death, Coretta was also very influential in terms of women’s rights and LBGTQ rights. And she raised 4 kids by herself. And started the Martin Luther King Jr. center for nonviolent social change.

Honestly, I can’t think of a more inspiring namesake than Coretta Scott King. If you want to know more about her I highly recommend My Life, My Love My Legacy, written by her and Barbara Reynolds.




Name of the Day: Anina

A German diminutive of Anna, which itself comes from the name Hannah, this name means “grace”. It is also an Aramaic name meaning “let my prayer be answered”.

I can’t find any historical namesakes with this name. Real or fictional. Which kind of blows my mind. It’s so beautiful but simple. It’d be a perfect way to honor someone named Ann or Anna or Nina while still giving them their own name.

Annie, Anna, Annie, Nina are also all great nicknames.

Come on people, why is nobody using this name??




 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

1st of all I am well aware that today is January 26th. The kids and I were sick when the rest of the world rung in the New Year. The kids remained sick for over a week and I remained sick for almost 3. So, after hibernating for a LONG time and not only continuing bad habits but strengthening them as we felt like death…. I thought a we needed a fresh start. So, we had a belated New Year’s Eve celebration!!

January 24th we had a special dinner complete with sparkling grape juice and french fries! We talked about how in the new year people try to do things differently to make themselves happier and healthier. The kids decided on their resolutions (with only a LOT of guidance): to eat healthier and to go to sleep better. We watched the Beat Bugs countdown on Netflix and we gave them each a small present (mostly because they were things we wanted them to have before the next gift giving occasion anyway!)

Putting Lennon to bed that night I said “Good night bud, Happy New Year!” And he told me he loves New Year and he liked when I helped him drink sparkling grape juice from a big boy cup. I was so happy that a simple thing like grape juice in a non-sippy cup could be such a good memory for him.

So far we’re off to a good start on our resolutions. On the food front Lucille and Lennon have committed to eating dinner every night when Mommy and Daddy eat dinner. They don’t have to eat everything, but they at least have to try dinner. If they don’t like it I told them I’d give them fruit and veggie options they can eat instead, a bowl of blueberries, a banana, whatever it is we have…

Also January 25th (our New Year’s Day) we took the kids grocery shopping with us to pick out fruits and veggies themselves. They picked…. pretty much the same stuff we always get. Plus watermelon… which I don’t normally get in January, but is part of our summer menu often. The fact that they picked out themselves I hoped was going to make them want to eat it more. I’d say it was somewhat successful.

I have also typed up a lot of simple kid friendly recipe ideas for lunch. Nothing crazy, but things to add to our normal rotation of peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. The “recipes” are as simple as making a peanut and jelly sandwich but using apple slices instead of bread or making a grilled cheese but sneaking in a broccoli floret. On top of each page of recipes I put a favorite character of theirs. This way they can pick their own lunch and there are cute little characters guiding them to healthy choices. (Strawberry shortcake has recipes with strawberries, Curious George has recipes with bananas, etc.)

On the bedtime front, Lennon recently switched from his toddler bed to a “big boy bed” aka a twin. He is so much comfier and now almost always sleep through the night! So, that’s half the battle already. But we need to work on them cooperating for their bedtime routine. So, just like our lunches above, I’m using their favorite characters to help guide them.

I made a checklist of all the things we do before we go to sleep: Eat a healthy snack, put on our bedtime lotion and pajamas, brush our teeth, go potty, read a book and finally: go to sleep! Next to each item is one of their favorite characters doing the activity. Together we will be going through the list every night. The kids were really excited about this list and even thanked me for making it!

As for me, I’m trying to get into a better routine of meal preparation and blogging. The meal prep for the sake of my family, so I have less to try to accomplish each day and can focus more on fun… or cleaning! The blogging for myself. Because it’s something I enjoy doing and I hate that it’s the first thing I give up when things get busy. I want to do at least 2 posts every week.

Here’s my meal plan plan: Every Wednesday night I will go shopping. I will have every meal for the entire week planned out. I will buy all ingredients I need for the week’s meals, which will include a 5 pound package of either beef or chicken. Thursday and Friday I will cook up meals using up 2 of the 5 pound package of meat I bought. Saturday morning I will turn the remaining 3 pound of meat into 3 freezer bag meals. Each week the plan will be to use 2 previously stocked freezer meals. This way I’m storing one extra so that if once every month or two we have a crazy busy week where I need to rely heavily (or solely) on freezer meals, I have them!

I have found 10 beef recipes and 20 chicken recipes that I want to try and assuming they’re good, I will use this rotation of 30 recipes repeatedly. So far I’ve only tried 1 of the freezer meals, but made about 10. The first one was GREAT! Once I try more I will definitely be sharing them!!