Living the Dream

I lay in bed, willing my eyes to open, in the haze between the alarm sounding and actually getting up. I had one thought in my head – I’m living the dream.

I often say this phrase with a fair amount of sarcasm dripping from my words. But the day after Labor Day I lay there thinking it in all it’s literalness and honesty. Because while I may not be living the proverbial American dream, I am certainly living my dream.

living the dream

For the last several years my dream has been to find where I make a difference. Where I can answer God’s call with my particular talents. Where I can be a part of my community. Where I can be a mom and make a difference both. Where I can be a part of something bigger. For the last several years I have prayed, and wished, and hoped. I have had prayers answered with a no, and wishes gone ungranted, and hopes fade into dust. All to bring me to right here.

My dream I am living started with a move to a small town on a big lake, that was meant to be a stopping point on our path to where we wanted to really be. Then we grew to love this town, and we started to imagine raising our boys here and growing old while watching sunsets over the lake and taking walks on the beach and window shopping along the downtown.

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While this love was taking shape, another dream was starting – to lead a program of young men, both on a football field and off. And along side all of this, discontent was growing with the climate of healthcare and the ability to make a difference at work, and the lack of time to make a difference at home. The idea of having it all was seeming impossible and the idea of having nothing seemed probable.

Then things began to fall into place, although sometimes they seemed like they weren’t. After a long interview process, my husband earned a head coaching job in this little town we love. And they had a position in the school for him that is both challenging and rewarding.

Then I lost my job doing training in healthcare. Two steps forward, one back. But that allowed me to examine what I really wanted to do, and it really wasn’t training in healthcare. I got my teaching certification back, and was offered the perfect job for me – teaching technology to K through 3rd grade students.

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The course was never smooth, with waits that seemed too long, people who viciously and revengefully tried to derail our train, and moments that, well, sucked. But the thing is, living the dream isn’t about life being ever blissful and problems never arising. It’s about feeling like you are where you belong, and feeling content with that place. I’m not so naive that I think we will never have tough times again, but I have the belief that the dream will come again when we do.

I finally opened my eyes and got up that day. I went to my new job, where I had fun and laughed and smiled. I had people offering kind and encouraging words, and I had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in my community. I got to see my kids while I was at work. Later that month, we walked in homecoming parades through our downtown, and celebrated football victories like we were local celebrities. I soaked it all in.

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My dream may be simple to some. It may seem like a story line out of a Friday Night Lights episode, with the small town teachers and football games and parades through town. But it’s my dream. And I can’t help but tear up when I stop and think about the fact that I’m living it. Life is good, and I’m living the dream.

Tailgate Favorites

Tailgate favoritesAs you already know, we love football at our house. And one of the things I love about football is tailgating – and more specifically, tailgating food! Here’s a few of our faves we bring to tailgates and are enjoyed by all!

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip. The Coach asks me to make this all the time, and I’m usually pretty willing to oblige since it is so simple and so delicious. I love that I can throw everything in the crockpot, turn it on, and just stir it up once in awhile until everything is smooth and creamy. I serve it with tortilla chips, but you could also do crackers. 
  • Man Dip. This is a Coach original. I’ve never actually seen all the steps to making it, and he’s a little secretive. I do know it involves Velveeta, taco meat, green chiles, and a can of Nacho Cheese soup. Maybe some day I can get him to guest post his recipe over here! ;)
  • Meat & Cheese plate. I’ll admit, I often pick up the pre-made Hormel version from the deli. I like it even more when it comes in the cute football shaped container. But any variety of meats like pepperoni, sausage, or ham, and cheeses like cheddar, Colby, and pepper jack are perfect. Add some crackers and you’re ready!
  • Chips & Dip. I usually will mix things up and sometimes bring salsa or Queso and tortilla chips, and sometimes bring potato chips and French Onion dip or garlic dip, and sometimes corn chips with taco dip or chili dip. Seriously, I could make a meal out of dip, so I love this!
  • Smoked Sausages. I found a recipe on Pinterest one day and decided to give it a try for a post-game party. As I hurriedly pulled everything out before the game to get it going, I realized I was out of brown sugar, which was one of the three needed ingredients. Rather than panicking, I thought about what I could substitute that was sweet and would be somewhat thick when heated up. Maple syrup. So I created my own recipe – I simply slice smoked sausage into inch thick chunks, pour some maple syrup over them, add a tablespoon or two or spicy mustard, and turn the crockpot on low for a few hours. They have been a HUGE hit every time I’ve made them! 

On to my menu!  This is our last week of football for both the little guys and for the big one. Which is always a little bittersweet. I’m glad the crazy schedule will calm down a little bit, but I wish we were heading into play off season and continuing on with the team. But this week will be full of fun – a parents vs kids flag game with my little guys and our annual Blueberry Bowl for Rocket football, which is an all day event that wraps up our season with games against teams from four other neighboring communities. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably figured out what my area is known for, since my son and I ran in the Blueberry Run, which was during Blueberry Festival, and our event is the Blueberry Bowl. ;) If you’re looking for more menu ideas, check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts 

(we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches 

(This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here

Dinners

• Monday  – Soup and Sandwiches, apples
• Tuesday – Chicken Tacos
• Wednesday – Fettuccine Alfredo, garlic bread, broccoli
• Thursday – Pizza
• Friday – Game Day
• Saturday – Blueberry Bowl
• Sunday – Mac & Cheese, smoked sausage, broccoli

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

{Friday} 5 Favorite Things About Fall

photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

photo credit: paul bica via photopin cc

I started a feature last month – Friday 5 – then kind of abandoned the blog for a bit. The idea is, each Friday, I’ll share five tips, ideas, favorites, or just thoughts on a topic. As I try to figure out the logistics of this new job and still fitting in blogging, I thought this would give me a little more, well, structure. And y’all know how much I love that! So I’m trying to get back in the swing of things and pick this series back up. I hope you keep joining me each week for my Friday Five!

I used to declare that I was absolutely a summer girl. Favorite season, hands down, was summer. But as I entered the world of having to work in the summer, and developed less tolerance for annoying mosquitoes, sticky humidity, and a town full of fairly annoying tourists, I’ve changed my preference. While I still do love a good day at the beach, a long weekend camping, and am back to enjoying summers off, I’m much more of a fall girl these days. What has changed my mind on this all important preference? Here’s my Friday 5 favorite things about fall: 

  1. Pumpkin Spice. Pretty much anything pumpkin flavored tickles my fancy. A Pumpkin Spice Latte is one of the highlights of the season for me, and I’ve been buying the Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer since it’s first appearance back in the dairy section in late August. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin rolls, and can’t wait to try just about every single pumpkin recipe I see on Pinterest. Don’t be surprised if one of these days I actually start turning orange!
  2. Changing Leaves. Just this past weekend we were driving south for a flag football game and were marveling at the changing colors we saw on the trees lining the highway. Not only do I love seeing the variety of colors nature uses to paint the scenery, I love the symbolism associated in changing leaves and remaining roots.  
  3. Football! You didn’t really think I would leave this off the list of reasons I love fall, did you? From tailgating festivities to concession stand treats; from defensive battles to Hail Mary passes that miraculously win games; from the teamwork of players to the strategizing of coaches – I love it all! And fall holds three day weekends of football – high school, college, and pro (with a flag game thrown in now, too!). This girl loves football. 
  4. New outfits. Ok, I usually like this about every season, but by the last days of heat in the summer, I’m ready for some variety in my wardrobe. I love getting out the leggings and boots, the sweaters and scarves, that accompany the dropping temperatures. Not to mention the fall color palette of dark browns, rich burgundies, and deep plums. And nothing makes me feel more cozy than wrapping up in a big chunky sweater!
  5. Birthdays. I happen to be the only member of my immediate family without a birthday in the fall. My husband and both my boys all have birthdays within a two week span in September. Add in my mother-in-law’s birthday and both of my nephews’ birthdays, and we pretty much eat cake for a month. Well, that’s not exactly my favorite part, but I do love the festivities and the reasons to celebrate the special people in my life!

What do YOU love about fall? Is it your favorite season?

Crockpot Meatballs

Crockpot MeatballsWell, hello there! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve still been menu planning away over here, cause that’s just who I am. Just haven’t been the good blogger and posting my plans on here. Hoping to get back in the game, though!

This week I’m sharing an easy-peasy recipe I whipped together. I kept telling my boys we hadn’t had meatballs in awhile, but then would forget to put them on the plan. Then a conversation with a friend spurred me to add them in, but with a twist. I was chatting about making meatballs in the crockpot. I wondered if it would really work, or if everything would just meld together into one big lump of meat. I was oh-so pleasantly surprised that the meatballs really do hold their shape in the crockpot! I served these over mashed potatoes with a side of mixed veggies. Perfect comfort food!

Crockpot Meatballs

2 – 2 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1/2 – 3/4 cup bread crumbs

1/4 yellow onion, diced (we really like onion, so you may prefer less)

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 jar of beef gravy (or 1 – 1 1/2 cups homemade beef gravy)

Mix all ingredients well. (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this and it works like a charm! Everything gets evenly and well mixed, without me having to stick my hands into the raw meat more than necessary!) Form the mixture into balls, slightly larger than golf ball sized. I can usually get about 12-15 meatballs. 

Place in the crockpot. Don’t worry about having them on top of one another – they still come out separate! Pour a jar of beef gravy over the meatballs (or about 1 – 1 1/2 cups homemade beef gravy, if you’re feeling ambitious!). 

Cook on low for 8 hours. 

 

On to my menu!  You can tell fall weather is upon us, as my menu has started to include more and more comfort foods and crockpot fare. Looking for more meal ideas? Check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• 
Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• 
Breakfast bites 

Lunches (This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here

Dinners

• Monday  – Meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies
• Tuesday – Pick up (football scrimmage at 5:30)
• Wednesday – Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops, egg noodles, veggies
• Thursday – Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
• Friday – Game day!
• Saturday – Queso Chicken, rice, veggies
• Sunday – Leftover buffet or Soup & sandwiches

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

Catching My Breath, and Finding My Words

I had the entire month planned out. You can see it below. You can also see, I have three posts crossed off. The best laid plans…

calendar

The past month has been filled with triumph and tragedy. There have been days I wish I could live in forever, and days I wish had never, ever come to pass. There have been sleepless nights, long days, and moments that seemed to go on forever. I can hardly catch my breath, let alone find my words.

I’ve thought about this space, but will be honest that I haven’t even peeked over here. I haven’t looked at page views, or track backs, or social media platforms. It’s been hard to do anything that seemed normal and everyday just a month or so ago. Life looks different for a million reasons, some fabulous and some more awful than I could have imagined. I have been finding a new way, with new jobs and new routines and new people, all while trying to also process grief and mourn. 

And while this space has been slightly abandoned, my words are starting to find their way back. They come to me, mostly in the moments of quiet, like in the shower, or while I’m driving alone, or putting laundry away. Sometimes I let them start to bubble up, and feel them out. Other times I get distracted by life, or by my inability to live at times. Sometimes I sift through the words and try to capture them. Other times I let them slip away as I stare at a dress hanging on the edge of my hamper, that I can’t bring myself to take to the dry cleaner because it has become the dress I wear for funerals of people I love.

Sometimes writing is my therapy, and other times it is my poison. There are things I can only get out in writing, and there are things that once written I can’t ever put them back in. There are things I need to face, and writing them forces me to. There are other things that I am not ready to accept, and fear that if I write about them I will never go back to being ok again. I am trying to catch my breath, and hoping my words will come again once I do.

I appreciate the people who have missed my voice, and I promise I will find it again. Thank you for being patient.

Summer to Fall Meals

Summer to Fall MealsThis is the season of unpredictable weather here in Michigan! It can be sunny, 80, and summer-like one day, followed by rainy, 50, and fall-like the next. Which can make meal planning tough, because who wants to eat a nice hot casserole on a steamy day or a cool crisp salad on a cold wet evening? Not me! So I have a few meal plans that are a little flexible to accommodate the changing seasons. Here’s my favorite ideas for summer to fall meals…

  • Rotisserie Chicken. This is one of my faves year round because of how easy it is, but it especially works this time of year. Since this is often my version of take out, I can simply pick up sides to go with it that fit the weather. For warm days, I grab some potato salad and bean or broccoli salad. If the temps are cooler, I opt for mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. 
  • Burgers. The great thing about grilling burgers is that it is just as easy to grill them outside when it is nice, or on the George Foreman grill inside if it is crummy. And no matter what the weather, some fries or chips and a seasonal fruit work perfect for the side dishes!
  • Cooked chicken. I can stick some chicken in the crockpot in the morning to cook all day, then decide when I get home how I would like to use it. Since I generally have the basic ingredients on hand for entrees like chicken and rice casserole or chicken salad, I can opt for either one depending on the temperature outside. And also, either one can be completed nicely with a side salad and some crescent rolls. 
  • Sandwiches. This is definitely a go-to flexible meal, because sandwiches are quick, versatile ,and portable. If we are blessed with one of those last nice days of the season, we can pack up some simple sandwiches and head to the park. If the day is more nasty than nice, we can pull out that handy George Foreman grill and make panini-style sandwiches and curl up inside!

On to my menu!  Whew – the first week of school exhausted me!! Granted it involved things like a malfunctioning fire alarm while I was teaching, a football game that was rain delayed for well over two hours and didn’t end until almost midnight, a situation where I had to deal with a rather unpleasant person that I thought I was done having to deal with but unfortunately am not, and then all the usual tiring events of the first week of school! Hoping for a slightly less exhausting week! I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here.  

Dinners

• Monday  – Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice, rolls (trying this one out!)
• Tuesday – Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit)
• Wednesday – Fish & chips, peas
• Thursday – Pizza
• Friday – Game Day (It’s a long ride to the away game, so my birthday boy has requested McDonald’s)
• Saturday – Hamburgers, roasted potatoes, watermelon
• Sunday – Grilled chicken, pasta salad, watermelon

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

{Friday} 5 Great Things About School Starting

I’m starting a new feature today here at Structure in an Unstructured Life – Friday 5. Each Friday, I’ll share five tips, ideas, favorites, or just thoughts on a topic. As I try to figure out the logistics of this new job and still fitting in blogging, I thought this would give me a little more, well, structure. And y’all know how much I love that! I hope you keep joining me each week for my Friday Five!

5 Great Things About School StartingSchool is back in session!! Woohoo! I have always loved back-to-school time, as a kid and as an adult. When I was younger and in school, I loved the new supplies, getting to see friends I had missed over the school year, and while I probably didn’t realize it at the time, I’m sure I welcomed the return to a routine and structure to my days. As an adult, I have either been excited to return to my classroom, or excited to see my kids experience theirs. Here’s my {Friday} 5 great things about school starting…

  1. Return to routine! While we have tried to squeeze in a lot of fun this summer, our routine has suffered in the attempt. And while it has been great staying up late for special fun and sleeping in when we needed it, my boys are starting to show the inevitable signs of needing a routine again. They have been struggling with choices, bickering with one another, and using the dreaded phrase – “I’m bored!” Yep – sure signs it is time to get back to regular sleep schedules, planned activities, and specific responsibilities.
  2. Variety! I know – I just wrote about getting back to the predictable and patterns. But school brings new friends and new activities that we haven’t had over the summer. And new often equals exciting. Simply adding some newness to our days helps to banish any boredom we might be feeling these days. 
  3. Back to School shopping! I know I’m a geek, but I LOVE school supplies!! Seeing those cardboard kiosks filled with Crayola coloring tools and spiral bound notebooks just makes me happy inside! Add fun pens, mechanical pencils, and colorful post-it notes, and this girl is in heaven! Even though I really don’t need to buy most of the items out in the stores right now, browsing through the aisles is my version of window shopping – and I love it!
  4. First day of school traditions. While things will be changing a bit this school year since I have to report for teaching rather than bringing my kids to their classes, there are still traditions we have that will continue. I always get my kids a book on the first and the last day of school. I try to find something that matches their interests and/or reading level at the time, so we can look back and see how much they have changed and grown over the school year.  I also take a picture of them at the back door with their backpacks, in front of the school, and in their classrooms.School starting
  5. The anticipation of things to come! The start of a new school year holds so much potential – a year of growth, learning, changing, and developing. As each new year starts, I always think back on the starts of the previous years and marvel at the changes and growth I see in my kids each school year. From learning letters, to writing their names, to reading, it is all exciting to me. I always think about how we are embarking on new knowledge and exciting skills each year, and I can’t to experience everything with my kids!

What do you love about back to school?

Looking for more back to school posts? Find my posts in my Back to School series here: tips for back to school shopping, developing routines, handling emotions, and creating a relationship with teachers. Find tips for back to school from myself and other bloggers here. And you can read my Prayer on the Eve of a New School Year here

Busy Back to School Dinners

Busy Back to School DinnersI will be the first to admit, transitions are hard for me. So back to school time is always a little stressful as we switch up routines, start up football, and get used to long days. And this year I will be getting used to a new job, as well! So I love having a little arsenal of trusted meals that are quick, easy, and family-friendly for those busy and stressful times. My favorite back to school dinners include:

  • Crockpot meals. My crockpot is my best friend when it comes to busy weeknight meals. Nothing like throwing some ingredients in there in the morning, and having dinner ready when I walk in the door in the evening. Some of my go to recipes include:
    • Spaghetti PieMy recipe is out of a crock pot cookbook, but this pin is almost exactly the same. It’s perfect for a Monday, because I’ll usually cook the meat and pasta on Sunday and just assemble in the morning. It makes quite a big batch, as well, so we usually eat half for dinner and freeze half for another quick dinner later on. 
    • Sloppy JoesI use the recipe from The Pioneer woman and love it. You can use ground beef or ground turkey, both work well. Also, this recipe makes enough for two meals for our family, so I either freeze half, or make Sloppy Joe Casserole later in the week with the leftovers.  
    • Chicken TacosThis is one of the simplest meals I make and I love it! We sometimes use the meat for tacos, sometimes serve it over rice for a Southwestern bowl, or serve it over chips for nachos. And again, it makes enough for a couple meals. 
  • Frozen Choices. While they might not always be the healthiest, sometimes I fall back on some frozen favorites to get through the hectic back to school days. Some choices that often hit the rotation:
    • Stuffed Chicken. Our local superstore, Meijer, makes a great stuffed chicken breast! They come five to a box and offer varieties like broccoli and cheese, chicken kiev, chicken cordon blue, and chicken Parmesan. They go from the freezer to the oven and are ready in about 30 minutes. Usually while the chicken is in the oven, I prep the sides and dinner is ready in 30 minutes total!
    • Pizza. I’m really not brand loyal when it comes to frozen pizza – I buy whatever is on sale. I often add some extra cheese and some veggies to a basic frozen pizza to bake it a little better and serve a side salad with it to round out the meal. Again, this is usually a ready-in-about-30-minutes meal. 
  • Deli choices. I’ve found it is actually cheaper to buy a rotisserie chicken than to buy a whole uncooked chicken and make it myself! So sometimes when we have a crazy busy evening, I will grab either a rotisserie chicken or fried chicken from the Meijer deli, and a couple sides like mashed potatoes and broccoli salad. It’s a little more pricey, but since it’s not an everyday choice, I don’t worry about it too much. 
  • George Foreman Grill. While I hate cleaning the George Foreman grill, I do love how quickly I can prep a meal with it. Burgers are super quick to make on the Foreman. I also will sometimes put some chicken breasts in a Ziplock bag with Italian dressing in the morning, then simply cook them on the Foreman when I get home. It’s a little hectic, but I can usually prep a couple easy sides while the meat cooks on the Foreman grill.
  • Pasta. Our tried and true old stand by! Pasta is one of the quickest and easiest meals! Even if I make a homemade Alfredo sauce, it is still usually an under 30 minute meal. While the pasta cooks, I can prep sauce, throw garlic bread in the oven, and fix a side salad. We usually have pasta at least once a week year-round because of it’s ease and likability! We vary traditional spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, and pesto sauce, and also mix up the type of pasta sauce we use. 

 

On to my menu!  It’s back to school week! I love how excited my four year old is for school to start! He can hardly contain himself! Planning a fairly easy week of meals as we all adjust to a new – and busy – schedule. I’ll be linking up on I’m an Organizing Junkie if you’re looking for more meal planning ideas! I also often link up at Feeding Big. Or check out and follow my Yummy dinners board on Pinterest! Interested in meal planning? Check out my first post on meal planning, or my recent Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning. Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfasts (we don’t plan for each day – see here for why – but these are our choices along with a fruit)

• Cereal
• Granola bars and yogurt
• Pancakes
• Cream of Wheat or oatmeal
• Toast or English Muffins
• Breakfast sliders
• Banana smoothies
• Breakfast bites 

Lunches (This school year, our district received a grant and school lunch is free for ALL students! So unless there is a day where my kids really don’t like either of the options, they will be eating the free lunch. Otherwise, I’ll probably just keep a couple Lunchables on hand for those rare pack-a-lunch days.)

If you’re looking for ideas for Peanut Free School Lunches, see my post from last year here.  

Dinners

• Monday  – Pizza 
• Tuesday – Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad
• Wednesday – Ribs, mac & cheese, broccoli
• Thursday – Hot dogs, chips, watermelon
• Friday – Game Day! Concessions for the kids and making Sloppy Joes for the coaches afterward!
• Saturday – Out – celebrating making it through the first back-to-school week, the first football scrimmage for the littles, and my first paycheck for my new job!
• Sunday – Waiting to see the weather and the sales at the store! :)

What are you eating this week? Leave a comment and feel free to link back to your blog if you have your plan posted!

Like the recipe or feature this week? Please consider sending it to a friend, sharing it on Facebook or Twitter, or pinning it to Pinterest. Thanks so much!

 

Summer Reading List Update

Well, it’s just about the end of the summer. Sigh… I’m a little sad that I’ll be heading back to work, although to a new and exciting job (more to come on that soon!). I’m going to miss spending the days with my boys, even though there have been some days that have seemed really long. But I’ve gotten used to us being together and sharing all the moments of the day – good, bad, and everything in between. And I’m going to miss my comfy, lazy summer outfits. And I’m definitely going to miss the extra reading time I’ve gotten to enjoy this summer. 

I set what felt to me like an ambitious summer reading list, given I had been at a pathetic book a month at times before now. So attempting three books a month for the summer seemed like I would setting myself up for failure. But I decided I would go for it, post it to the world here to motivate me to stay accountable to my goals, and get reading. I discovered I can check out books on my Nook from the local library, but I also discovered they don’t have the selection I wish they had. I was super excited to use a birthday gift card to Barnes and Noble. I used the “lend me” feature on my Nook for the first time to borrow a book. And I went back to the old standby – a paper book I checked out from the library. Although I think The Coach is willing to reconsider my Nook book budget because he was not a big fan of my having to keep the lamp on in the bedroom to read at night. :)

I am super happy to report, as I write this post, I am on my last book on my list! Here’s my summer reading list (final) update:

Summer-Reading-List Update 2

  1. The Hunger Games Series. I pretty much devoured these three. I definitely liked the first two better than the third, but the series as a whole was great. And I loved the ending. I loved that the characters seemed real with their emotions, even if the story was definitely fictional. I loved the fast-paced nature of the books, although, again I thought the first two moved better than the third. Now I can’t wait to watch the movies, and do my typical, “It’s not as good as the book.” ;)
  2. Rhinestone Jesus. I loved reading the back story of how Kristen Welch started Mercy House and what led her to those choices. A lot of the information about poverty and other countries was a bit alarming to me, and certainly made me think about the excess I am a part of. The statistic that really stuck in my mind, was the fact that being able to choose to buy that book instead of food, put me in the top 14% of the world for wealth. Wow. Really put things in perspective. 
  3. The Fault in Our Stars. This was one of the books where even when I was finished, I found myself thinking about the characters. I loved the story, even though it wasn’t your typical happy-feel-good tale. The dialogue was well written and “real” and so was the story. I was intrigued by John Green as an author before reading this, and am even more so after reading my first book by him.
  4. Thrive. Huge Arianna Huffington fan. ‘Nuff said. **reading this now!
  5. A Jennifer Weiner book. I switched things up a bit and read her book of short stories, The Guy Not Taken. I loved that there were some characters from her other books, like Bruce from Good in Bed. I also loved that while there were stories with completely new characters, they felt a bit like some of the characters from her other books. Josie in three of the stories, seemed very similar to Candace from Good in Bed. And all the stories had that very real feel to them that her books usually do, including characters that are so flawed you have to like them.  
  6. A Jodi Picoult book. I read Plain Truth and loved it. There were parts that were heart breaking, and parts that were tough to read, and parts that made me laugh, and there was the typical Jodi Picoult twist at the end, that I had an idea might be coming, but wasn’t quite sure that would exactly be it. 
  7. An Emily Giffin book. I read her latest, The One & Only. I was a little nervous to spend my gift card money on this book (I get a little stingy with my Barnes and Noble gift cards!) because the reviews were fairly mixed, and maybe more on the negative side. Many said this book was not as good as her others and there was way too much football in it. (Is there such a thing as too much football? Not in my house!) But I took a chance and was so glad I did – I loved it! My timing was perfect, reading it just before football practices got in full swing. It just made me more excited for the season to start up. Yes, there was a lot of football. But there was also a really good story line with a main character I loved. While some parts were a bit predictable, I don’t mind that in a book sometimes as it makes it a lighter read. If you hate football, skip this book; otherwise, I highly recommend it!

What have you been reading this summer? Anything I should add to my list for fall? 

Fall Reading List

I had so much fun creating and working my way through a reading list this summer, I thought I’d make another one for fall! (I fully realize what a nerd that sentence makes me sound like! Oh well – that’s me!) With a new job and fall always being the busiest time for year for us, I am certainly not attempting as ambitious of a list as I did this summer. I’m hoping for two books a month. I always decided I needed to work my way through the many books I have on my shelf and in my Nook before buying any more new ones. I was slightly embarrassed to see how many unread books I have! So there’s not much new on my list, but think of it as some oldies but – hopefully – goodies!

Also, I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little teaser for a new feature I will have on the blog. Each month I will be writing a book review, usually toward the end of the month. It may be something I recently read, or I may choose an older but favorite book. Sharing my love of reading is one of my favorite things to do, and since an actual book club just doesn’t figure into my schedule right now, I figure a review and some discussion in the comments is as close as I can get! So look for my fist book review post later in September, and later this week you can read my final update on my summer reading list!

My Fall Reading List:

Fall Reading List

  1. 10% HappierI was intrigued when I read this book was written by a news anchor who had a panic attack live on the air. Being someone who is familiar with anxiety, I wanted to know how he handled it. I know a lot of this book is about meditation, which Thrive by Arianna Huffington talks about, as well.  
  2. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
  3. The Second Summer of the SisterhoodI got the first two books in this series quite awhile ago and kind fo forgot I had them until I saw them on my shelf. Being quite into the young adult genre these days, I’m excited for these. They look like nice fun, light reads, which will be good during a stressful transition period in life!
  4. Hands Free MamaI’ve heard a lot of hype about this book, and it was a bargain book on Barnes and Noble one day. I’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype or falls short!
  5. The Ice QueenA good friend of mine recommended Alice Hoffman, and this was another great Barnes and Noble sales find. You can’t beat trying a new author for under $3!
  6. A Painted House. I’m a huge fan of John Grisham and he’s one of the authors I’d like to make my way through everything he’s written. This one was on my shelf after finding it at a used book sale one time, so i figured I might as well check it off the list! 

What are YOU reading this fall?

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