Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

All about the love, baby!

It is the final day in January (duh!) and I was going to share our progress towards those goals we set way back on the first. However, it is still January so I'm taking advantage of that and using all day today to meet any goals that have just a little left to do ;)

Instead I'm taking today to share our FEBRUARY goals. You may notice we are cutting back on them some. You'll see why tomorrow... It's all good, though.


We are going to again try some new recipes and have movie and game nights.
  • 4 new recipes
  • 4 movie nights
  • 4 game nights - video or board game this month
  • 1 family outing
  • A Valentine's day craft 
  • Practice Choi 10 times
  • Practice writing "J"
  • Potty at least 2x a day.
  • Read 3 books.
  • Practice Choi 10 times throughout the month outside of class
  • Write pen pal 2 times each.
    • Ohio pen pal
  • Finish the 2 belt loops he's working on.
    • Geography
    • Maps & Compass
  • Do first 2 lessons in Parvuli Dei.
  • Do the 2 religious requirements (not Parvuli Dei) by the 10th so he can earn his Webelos badge.
  • Test for Orange Belt.
  • Choose a family activity. It can be a place we go visit, a restaurant to eat at, an event we attend, or an at-home activity.
  • Read 4 books.
  • Practice Choi 10 times throughout the month outside of class.
  • Write pen pals 2 times each.
    • Ohio pen pal
    • Arizona pen pal
  • Choose an activity for family time.
  • Test for Orange Belt.
  • No pop for 28 days.
  • No candy for 28 days.
  • Exercise 5-6 days a week.
  • Menu Plan Monday - whether or not I remember to link up (oops!).
  • Read 2 books.
  • 365 HDG - and actually share a post on here every other Sunday. Look for one tomorrow for the last few weeks.
  • New hairstyle. My hair is getting long again, just past my shoulders, and I'm ready for a change. The plan is to get it cut and colored. 
  • Get a tattoo? (This is posed as a question because a. I don't know what I want for sure, b. Not sure where I want it, and finally c. I'm a chicken-s*#%.)
Jason and I also have a little wager. We are going to spend February doing a "Biggest Loser" style competition. The rules are simple. Starting weight tomorrow. Final weigh-in Saturday Feb 28, with weekly check-ins on Saturdays. Each week whomever loses the highest percentage of weight wins for the week. At the end of the month, the highest weight-loss percentage is the overall winner. Weekly winner will get a small "prize", TBD, and the overall winner will decide what we are doing in April when my parents have the 3 boys for a few days! Or maybe something else. That's just one idea for now. He says he doesn't need it to be fun or exciting, but I personally like the idea of a motivating factor! And hence, my title: All about the love. The love for my husband (wanting him to continue getting healthier), love for myself - wanting to be healthier, and finally, the love of BEATING THE CRAP OUTTA HIM!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Jan 26 - Feb 1

We ended up switching up a few days' of meals last week - Jimmy John's on Monday, Cheeseburgers on Friday, out to dinner with family on Saturday, and homemade sloppy joes on Sunday.

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Spaghetti

Wednesday: Chicken and Gruyere sausages, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans

Thursday: Ham and cheese croissant "pockets", roasted broccoli, applesauce

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Cracklin' Chicken, roasted potatoes, carrots

Sunday: Spicy tuna cakes, fish sticks, fries, veggies

Monday, January 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday: Jan 19-25

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken verde tacos and cheese quesadillas

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Kalua Pig, salad

Thursday: Homemade pizzas

Friday: BBQ beef (made from roast leftovers), fresh veggies, applesauce

Saturday: Cheeseburgers, fries

Sunday: Kabob Koobideh, rice

We still haven't had the chance to make Kabob Koobideh, and since the ground beef is frozen, we can move it to this upcoming Sunday. We had so much already cooked food in the fridge that we had leftovers last night and are having more tonight!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hitting the half-way mark

When it's come to reading, the boys are doing great towards their 4 book list. Ethan has read 2: Minecraft Hacks Combat edition and Middle School Ultimate Showdown. Alex is finished with The Savage Fortress and currently partway through Minecraft Hacks Combat Edition while also reading Spirit Animals #2

I'm a bit behind, but did finally finish The Dark Unwinding. Truth be told, I've been reading it for many months on and off, and finally really got into it near the end. There are at least 1 or 2 more books that follow this one, and at first I wasn't planning to look for them at all, but now I may add them to my February list...

I (re)started Scream-free Parenting and am just a few pages in. I know that I yell way too much at my boys, and I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas from this book on how to interact better with them (and maybe with Jason, too.)

My food choices have been okay, even though I've given in to some cravings - pop with our meals on Sunday, an ice cream bar after grocery shopping and a couple of mini candy bars from the boys' Halloween stash - I've also eaten more fruit and veggies, and less food in general. I'm not filling up on food to the point that I feel overfull, just until I'm not hungry.

Our menu plan was shared on Monday for this week, and we are trying our 4th new recipe of the month tonight: garlic beef roast.

Our newest total so far for 31 days of declutter is 10 and I like seeing things go or get re-organized.

Ethan, Alex and Jackson have been going to their choi/little dragon classes and doing well, although the outside practice has been nil so far... We also won't be doing any private lessons this month (It's $40/half hour per kid x 4 lessons! On top of the money we already spend for their regular classes!) We also probably won't be testing this month, as they may not be eligible per the school until Feb 22nd, and they also need their sparring gear which I am not ordering. Due to some probable changes within the next few months, we may not be in Choi after February, at least at this school and to spend $120 for 2 sets of sparring gloves and footwear doesn't seem reasonable at the moment.

The older boys have each written one of 4 letters to their pen pals - on Monday of this week which I'm finally mailing today... - and will also be drawing a picture and mailing that out Saturday or early next week. Alex's idea was to have Jackson draw a picture for one of the younger brothers of their pen pals and send it. I'm rolling with the idea and saying all 3 should draw a picture and mail it out!

As far as Alex's Cub Scouts goals, he's done 2 of 3 requirements for the Geography belt loop and one of 3 towards the Maps and Compass belt loop. He also worked on his Traveler activity badge, and once he earns both belt loops, he will also be finished meeting the Traveler requirements! I think it's very reasonable to think he will be able to turn them in to his den leader by the end of January. We are behind on the Parvuli Dei requirements but since E has confirmation class tomorrow, we can use that time to sit and finish a couple of the sessions hopefully.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Family Fun!

My parents bought Jackson a Paw Patrol board game for Christmas, and he absolutely loves it. We've played it several times. Last week, we sat down in the living room as a family and made a game night out of it! For about a half an hour or so, we played the game, laughed and just had a great time.

For movie night, we decided to finally watch How to train your dragon 2. While there was a sad part, and some somewhat scary scenes - fighting between the characters and/or dragons - it was a great movie! All three of the boys enjoyed it as well as Jason and I.

The most family fun we had this week though was yesterday. Alex sold over $1000 in popcorn, and was invited to choose between several special events held specifically for boys selling over a certain amount. While they all sounded fun, we wanted to pick one that we could enjoy as a family. It worked out that the most family friendly one was the soonest AND one of the closest to us. We had to buy tickets for the rest of us, but Alex got to go for free, and will receive a special goody-bag later. For the special event, we chose Zehnder's Splash Village in Frankenmuth!

The day started out with us all getting up and ready to head out. At just after 11, we loaded up the car, and drove out there. We went to Applebee's for a late lunch, and while waiting for our food, Alex suggested a game of 20 questions. I'm not sure when the last time I heard all four of my guys laugh so hard! Jackson wanted to play, and be asked what he was thinking of, too. When it was his turn, he asked himself questions, and every answer was no! Hahaha. Dad stumped us for a minute, but I finally figured out he was thinking of a buckeye tree (big surprise with him being an OSU fan, and the game tonight ;) ). But I really got everybody when I chose blueberry. They got close by finally naming some fruits and veggies, but didn't get it!

After lunch, we went to Splash Village and met up with another family from our den. Ethan and Alex went off on their own for the most part, going in the different areas, and checking out the slides. Jackson got to play in the zero depth pool and go down a water slide just his size several times. I even went on two water slides, one each with the older boys, and in the lazy river with Jackson twice. We only had one incident when I was in line getting drinks. Jason was waiting in the zero-depth pool, and one of the boys was walking Jackson around to the slide to go down to daddy, and Jack decided he didn't want to listen to his brother. Of course, his brother didn't know what to do and kind of froze up. I was just walking back and I saw part of what happened, and because I was closer, I chased Jack down and stopped him before he had the chance to slip and fall in the very deep pool by the water slides. Time for a small break at that point. Since it was nearly 6 anyway, we decided we were done. I went with Jackson and changed, while the other boys played a few more minutes. After we were all dry and warm, we drove to Zehnder's restaurant for dinner. That was probably the best fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pretty much everything else that came with the family-style dinner that I've ever eaten. E and Alex weren't very hungry and decided on some chicken fingers, while Jackson chose a pb&j. When our appetizers came, they brought enough bread and spreads for EVERYBODY, and Jack filled up on bread and cheddar cheese spread, after trying to eat a spoonful of just the cheddar cheese! He didn't like his sandwich anyway, so at least he ate something. Besides he was so tired, he fell asleep in the 2 minutes from Splash Village to the restaurant, so it's a miracle he was awake and in a good mood! All three boys slept part of most of the way home.

We had to take a day off school though today, because Ethan woke up with a stomach ache, and Alex with a cough.

Menu Plan Monday: Jan 12-18
Changing the game from Whole30. While the first two dinners below are Whole30/paleo, the rest are not fully. Three slow-cooker meals again this week, and Monday's recipe is new to us.

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: The best whole chicken in a crockpot, roasted sweet potatoes, and salad

Wednesday: Garlic roast beef, potatoes and carrots

Thursday: Chicken breasts, baked macaroni and cheese, roasted broccoli

Friday: Organic hot dogs (we like Applegate or Simple Truth uncured beef hot dogs from Kroger), french fries, baked beans and salad

Saturday: Chicken tacos - using chicken thighs cooked in the slow-cooker.

Sunday: Kabob Koobideh (from Nom Nom Paleo), rice, roasted cauliflower

Check out more ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

7 days in...

and it's already time to be real. With myself. With you.

My January goal of Whole30 has fallen through, even after several attempts to restart. Yes, in 7 days (technically, 5 not counting today and because I was planning to start on the 2nd), I have failed miserably. And you know what? I am okay with that. That is the truth.

Saturday was Jackson's birthday, and we were visiting Jason's family for the afternoon and evening, while also picking up Ethan and Alex. We ordered pizza for the birthday boy's dinner and of course there was cake and ice cream. I overindulged, eating several slices of pizza - obviously not Whole30 - and a small piece of cake and ice cream. That's fine. It was a birthday with my family!

Fresh start on Sunday! I did okay Sunday and Monday following Whole30, but my patience has been thin, and cravings high. It's hard being a girl sometimes :( (sorry if that's TMI, it is what it is). Yesterday, Jack and I had to stop at the store for a few little things, including an immersion or hand blender, and he asked if we could get a small bag of mini donuts. Sure. I won't have any, I'm having eggs when we get home. 10 mini chocolate-frosted donuts, and an empty bag later, I started rethinking what to do. Dinner last night was good though. We had slow-cooker beef roast, and garlic mashed cauliflower, with fruit for the boys also.

This morning, I went in to my January goals and reevaluated my personal goals. After reading posts the last few days on the FB group I'm a member of, and realizing that maybe a super-strict Whole30 right now isn't the best choice for me - it's also a bit more expensive trying to feed 5 of us that way - I have decided that we are still going to try and eat paleo at most meals, especially dinner as a family. I am going to make a conscious effort to make healthy choices at other meal times, while probably not strict Whole30, most likely leaning toward paleo. Meaning meats, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats still, but maybe some dairy like butter or a little cheese. Still going to avoid as much added sweeteners outside of honey or 100% maple syrup as I can, and if I have a pop during a dinner out, that's okay too.

My healthy has to start with my attitude towards food. My biggest enemy is myself. I let myself overeat. I let myself choose junk food because I am tired, or stressed, or bored, or whatever.

Still, I'm going to continue reading It Starts with Food, because there is some wonderful information in it. A lot to take away and introduce to our life. Even in the book, if I remember right, it says somewhere about Whole30 not be something you do ALL the time, you have to eat what's right for you. And we all know junk food in general isn't good for anybody.

Besides all this, some things have had positive gains already!

Menu planning happened for the first full week of January and I linked up to MPM at I'm an organizing junkie. I also have 3 scheduled posts for the rest of the months menu plans, although I do need to go in and fill in most of the actual recipes. Ha! But it's a start, and having them scheduled will keep me on track to do them.

We have tried 3 new recipes already.
  1. Easy slow cooker chicken verde - which we had on Monday night - turned out awesome! I put the chicken thighs and salsa verde in around 1:30, and after choi, we came home and were able to eat a delicious dinner together. I had mine in a bowl with guacomole, shredded lettuce, diced white onion, tomato, and black olives, while everybody else had it with refried beans, cheese, lettuce and whichever toppings they chose on tortillas. Jason even made some tortilla bowls for the boys and himself with these little pans we have just for that purpose. We will definitely make this meal again.
  2. The Easiest and Most Delicious Crock Pot Beef Ever from last night was pretty good. I think it was a little overcooked. The recipe says 8-10 hours on low, and it was in the crockpot for just over 8 on low, and then on the warm setting for an additional 30 minutes or so while I made the side dish. It was a little on the dry side, but the flavor was good. We skipped the Worcestershire sauce because we were out of it, and it's not Whole30, but I think next time I will be sure to have some. The reviews were good enough to try it again, maybe cooked for slightly less time.
  3. Garlic mashed cauliflower from Nom Nom Paleo. They were ok. The texture is definitely different than mashed potatoes. The flavor was good, especially with the garlic, salt and pepper. Also I used coconut oil for the added fat, instead of ghee, because none of my guys like the flavor of ghee. I had to use my rice/veggie steamer instead of a pot with a steam insert like she says to use, and so it took quite a bit longer to get to the right tenderness. I used my new immersion/hand blender to mash them, which worked alright. Once they start getting cold, they aren't as good as mashed potatoes, in my opinion, and we didn't have any type of gravy. Our oldest, who doesn't like mashed potatoes, didn't like these any better but ate them out of love for mom ;) Not sure I will try making these again. 
Yoga! One of my Christmas presents this year was a set of yoga DVDs. My loving husband bought them for me because it was on my (very short) list of wants. The only problem is, as I was trying to do the one DVD, he and I both quickly realized it doesn't seem ideal for a beginner. Some of the moves need much more upper and lower body strength than I have, such as balancing on one arm/hand and the side of one foot with the other foot/leg lying on top of it, and other arm pointing straight up. Think of laying like a T, but then get on your side and do  it with just your hand and side of your foot touching the ground. Um, this mama is definitely not ready for that. I tried, mind you, I tried. I even did some of the easier moves, and stretches and got in about 20 minutes on Monday. Today is day 2 of three this week and I will try the other tonight.

31 days of Declutter: Slight edit on this as well. We (I) missed a few days, but will be thrilled as long as we still get 31 "bags" of trash/donate/storage taken care of. Even if we have to double up. So far, my tally is at 2. One was a desk, and the other a bunch of junk from the fridge and one cupboard. Time to hit it hard, and I'm thinking our closet and bedroom may be the place to begin.

I will have a separate 365 Happy Days Growing post with the last two weeks of pictures on Sunday, but if you are following @growingintome on Instagram then you may have seen our recent additions to this. This has been by far the easiest goal to reach.

No updates for the boys or family goals yet, but it's early still. Getting back into the swing of things with school and extracurricular activities has been all-consuming. Homework two days in a row, choi once this week, and some down-time reading, watching cartoons or playing a little MineCraft after has been our evening routine the last couple of nights. Jackson and I did make it to the library yesterday morning to return some books, and check out some preschool books for him and I to read. We also got 3 kids' craft books to look for some fun ideas to do for our family crafts. Tonight all 3 boys have choi, and after a dinner of leftovers, we will sit down and scour the books together, each picking out something we want to do, Jack choosing with a little help from me or Jason, of course.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Menu Plan Monday Jan 5-11

My first menu plan of the new year, and there's a bunch of Whole30 recipes!

Monday: Easy slow cooker chicken verde (topping with black olives, diced onions and tomatoes, guacamole, and lettuce. The boys and hubby have additional choices of cheese and sour cream as well as tortillas to make soft tacos)

Tuesday: The Easiest and Most Delicious Crock Pot Beef Ever (minus the Worcestershire sauce) Garlic mashed cauliflower*, roasted broccoli

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Cinnamon Sliders (with sweet roll buns for hubby and boys), baked potatoes, carrots and applesauce

Friday: Kabob Koobideh*, roasted cauliflower, rice (except me)

Saturday: Paleo Chick-Fil-A nuggets, fries (boys), homemade sweet potato "fries" or roasted sweet potatoes, fruit

Sunday: Trip to an indoor water park in the afternoon, so we are eating out.

* These couple of recipes can be found in one of my favorite cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans

To roast any of these veggies: broccoli, cauliflower or sweet potatoes, I coat a couple of tablespoons of melted coconut oil, season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic and roast at 325*. The broccoli only takes about 10-12 minutes until you see a little brown, cauliflower and sweet potatoes take longer at around 30-45 mins, or till tender and slightly browned.

We are trying out three new recipes this week and I'm excited to see how they taste. Monday through Wednesday are busy afternoons and evenings around here, so crockpot/slow-cooker recipes and leftovers work perfect for us.

For even more ideas and meal plans, check out Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January's Goal list

This year, a month by month goal list is the plan.There is a page on the tabs which will have all the links to each individual month's goals, and follow-up posts. 

Even though the list looks long, I think all of these for January are quite achievable. Many work together (like menu-planning, new recipes, whole30 and reading It starts with Food for me, Alex's 3 belt loops help him earn his activity badges, and finally the boys' choi goals will help them reach their push-up/sit-up goal and vice-versa). 

The family goals are set to help us retake family time, as well as unplug some more. It can be hard to get away from screens when we live in cold Michigan and it's wintertime, especially right after Christmas when the boys all got new electronics and/or games. And let's face it, we - as in our family -  ALL enjoy playing video games, watching TV, and being on our phones/kindles/computers entirely too much. I know my phone is in my hand and I'm on Facebook or Instagram way too often, mostly because it is so accessible and then it's even easier to just let the boys play video games or watch cartoons/tv. Christmas break has been not only a break from school, but our normal routine, and we've been spending even more time staring at screens. With school starting back on Monday, I welcome the routine and schedule so we can get back on track. Normally, during the school year (minus vacation time), we limit video game time to Friday nights and weekends. However, Ethan and Alex are doing wonderful in school and choi, so if all their responsibilities like homework and chores are done, and after working towards goals, we may ease up the restrictions some during the week. If it starts to cause attitude problems or slacking off though, we can always stop.


  • Read (finish) 5 books:   
    1. The Dark Unwinding
    2. Hearts Awakening
    3. Maze Runner
    4. Scream-free Parenting
    5. It starts with Food
  • Follow the Whole30 plan from Jan 2nd-31st, *edit: Make a conscious effort to make better choices and eat healthy, including paleo for most meals 1/7* and use Stef's FB support group daily. Used for support, followed along.
  • Share menu plan each week starting Jan 5th and link-up to Menu Plan Monday.
  • Make 4 new recipes that are paleo/whole30 compliant.
  • Do Yoga 3-5 days a week using my new DVDs. *edit: yoga OR exercise 3-5 times a week*
  • Start working towards weight-loss goals, by losing 10 lbs.
  • Declutter: 31 boxes or bags of trash/donate/storage - one each day (minimum) *edit: not necessarily one a day, but just 31 total 1/7*
  • Continue 365 Happy Days Growing photos on Instagram. 
  • Write 4 original blog posts - not goal, menu plan or 365 Happy Days Growing related. 
  • Go to the dentist.

  • Read 4 books. *edited to add his book choices 1/7*
    1. Middle School Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson
    2. Minecraft Hacks Combat Edition
    3. The Outsiders
    4. Children of the dustbowl
  • Meet Choi Kwan Do goals:
    • Attend 3 classes a week.
    • Attend 4 more private lessons. *edit: cost-prohibitive at this time*
    • Practice highest pattern and speed drills 2 days a week outside of classes.
    • Achieve testing status and test for orange belt.*not able to right now*
  • Do 20 push-ups and 20 sit-ups.
  • Write pen pal 4 times.
  • Write a short story with illustrations.
  • Go to the dentist.

  • Read 4 books. *edited to add his book choices 1/7*
    1. The Savage Fortress (technically only half the book, as he started in December but it's for his report)
    2. Spirit Animals Book 2: Hunted
    3. Spirit Animals Book 3: Blood Ties
    4. Divergent
  • Meet Choi Kwan Do goals:
    • Attend 3 classes a week.
    • Attend 4 more private lessons. *edit: cost-prohibitive at this time*
    • Practice highest pattern and speed drills 2 days a week outside of classes.
    • Achieve testing status and test for orange belt.*not able to right now*
  • Do 20 push-ups and sit-ups.
  • Write pen pal 4 times.
  • Meet Cub Scout goals:
    • Work on Parvuli Dei religious emblem book for 1 hour a week.
    • Earn/work towards 3 activity badges (traveler, family member, citizen).
    • Earn 3 belt loops (citizenship, geography, maps and compass).
  • Go to the dentist.

  • Potty training: Using the potty several times a day, every day.
  • Meet Little Dragons Choi Kwan Do goals:
    • Attend 2 classes a week.
    • Practice kicks and punches 3 days a week outside classes.
  • Go to the dentist.
  • Go to the doctor for yearly physical. *scheduled for first week of February*

  • 4 Winter-y crafts. *edit: not necessarily Winter-y, but some type of fun craft*
  • Go for a 30 minute walk once a week.
  • Play one board game a week.
  • One family movie night a week.
  • 2 family outings, including water park. 
Here's to a great start to a new year! Happy New Year!