Sunday, April 29, 2012

Menu Plan Monday | 4.30.12

Here goes my first ever edition of Menu Plan Monday. I'm not looking to win any Creative Kitchen or Health Nut awards, I'm just a girl attempting to start the week armed with a P-L-A-N.

Open/Leftovers = Matt's working late.

Old Standby = Goulash + "homemade" {bread maker} bread.*

Yes, we're talking goulash like your mama used to make...elbow noodles, browned hamburger, diced tomatoes, corn, ketchup, onions, salt/pepper. One bite and I'm 10 years old again. Bonus points if served with a cold glass of milk.

*Dylan likes to point out that Mommy's bread isn't really homemade... "because the machine does most of the work."


I pinned this recipe a couple of days ago. It looks easy enough, and we've had some success with Asian-style chicken lettuce wraps. I'm not sure how the kids will do with the buffalo taste but I figured I can modify it if needed (leave some plain chicken out and serve it differently). I've been looking for a homemade ranch recipe too, so I'm eager to give it a try.


Thursday's are always tricky because Ella has gymnastics from 5-6:30pm (i.e. the world's worst extracurricular activity time slot.) I've made this recipe a few times and the kids love it served over rice. Throw in some steamed broccoli and everybody's happy. 

The boys are on their own; the girls and I will be at a Mother/Daughter dinner with my mom.

Family Night = Pizza Casserole.

This was one of Matt's favorites growing up: spaghetti noodles + an egg and Parmesan cheese layered with ground beef, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni (or your favorite pizza toppings). 

Side note: Weekend nights drive me nuts because I rarely feel like cooking, but the other options (eating PBJ's, ordering pizza, grabbing fast food, going out to eat) make me bonkers for other reasons - they're boring or expensive or unhealthy or hard to pull off with a two year old. I'm hoping I can get in the habit of making dinner at least one weekend night since it's also a good time for us to be able to all sit down and enjoy a meal together.

Whatcha got cooking this week?

Saturday, April 28, 2012 {adios April}

April arrived and brought with it 

May is on it's way, and while we're sorry to say goodbye to April, 
we're already looking forward to springy-er skies and warmer breezes.

Her favorite spoon.

Beater lickin' good.

Picnik Peeps: how are you dealing with the loss?
I'm loving PicMonkey so far.

A beautiful day spent walking with our community:

Quality kitchen time with my boy.

Bedtime shenanigans: Who's that little lady?

One room schoolhouse (circa 1887) field trip with D's 1st grade class.

(Great) Grandma Austin's special, handwritten letter to Dylan sharing 
her own schoolgirl memories.

Trying out a not-so-green smoothie.

A great way to round up the month:
Living out the width @ The Woods.
{A great local spot including live music and the best martini in town}

{Linking Up}
life rearranged

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Meal Plan

Step one of our new food plan (catchy name coming soon...just as soon as I think of one) was sharing some initial thoughts and baring my food soul in a previous blog post while seeking out some accountability.

Step two is getting a weekly meal planning system in place. I do have a basic system in place right now and in a perfect world, I try to do a little planning before I go to the store. In my real, actual world, most of the time I end up winging it.

Since what I'm doing isn't working, I want to figure out how to make our plan more sustainable and enjoyable. Once that is established and we have a routine in place, I think I can work on integrating more whole foods into what we're doing through adding, substituting, replacing, etc.

I loved all the input I got from my Facebook friends on the subject. A couple of them use on-line meal planning systems like emeals and Food on the Table, some of them plan (and even cook) a week or a month in advance, and one very organized girl has created a spreadsheet for her favorite grocery store, aisle by aisle, so she can just highlight what she needs and then get in and get out. I also love all of you who admitted to simply flying by the seat of your pants!

After thinking through our individual family's needs, here's what I have come up with for us:

{Our Meal Plan}

Make a list of favorite/common meals our family enjoys.
I pulled out my recipe binder, my recipe card box, and a couple of my favorite cookbooks (including The Stocked Kitchen...I would recommend this cookbook/meal planning system for anyone who has no idea where to start) and then listed out our family favorites.

Follow this "schedule" (with a lot of room for flexibility):
Sunday: open 
Monday: new recipe   
Tuesday: old standby 
Wednesday: leftovers 
Thursday: crockpot 
Friday/Saturday: grill/pizza + open

I am only planning dinners for now because that's our biggest issue. 

Our weeknights are usually a little hectic. Matt often works late Monday and/or Wednesday nights, I sometimes run with a runners group on Tuesday night, and Ella has gymnastics on Thursday nights. 
Oh, and it's baseball season for Dylan right now too.

Create a customized, printable shopping list for our family.
I spent a cold, rainy Friday afternoon putting this list together after being inspired by a similar list that my friend Bethany shared with me.
(I know, I know, my friends are brilliant.) 

I used Excel to lay mine out and it worked well for me. I can print three lists to a sheet of paper, and I can print them two-sided. On the front is my shopping list with commonly used items already filled in and on the back are spaces for my daily meal planning.

Meal plan on Sunday; grocery shop on Monday. 
This will take some discipline on my part. I'm usually pretty lazy Monday morning, but I know if I get in the habit of getting my act together at the beginning of the week, I will be a happier cook in the kitchen.

Figure out a way to visually display a weekly menu in our home. 
(That's where you come in, Pinterest.) I have some ideas swirling around in my head, but nothing definite yet. To Be Determined.

Link up weekly to Menu Plan Monday
@ I'm An Organizing Junkie.

(At least until the meal planning habit has been firmly established.)
I think this will be a good way to hold myself accountable. As I found with the 40 bags process, I am much more likely to follow through when I know I will be sharing my results with my on-line community.

Share {small} steps we've taken recently towards better eating.
I'm not sure what this piece will look like yet - it will likely be a short blog post every few weeks highlighting a few of the small changes we've made, successes we've celebrated, or recipes we've liked.

That's it. Pretty simple stuff, but it feels good to have it down in writing. Now that my plan is in place, on to the next step: actually doing it.

{Linking Up}
the Grant Life

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Walk for Water {2012}

This morning along with our Mars Hill community (and many others), 
our family participated in the 6th annual Walk for Water.

We walked our first walk in 2009 when Dylan was four and Ella was two. 
Over the years, clean water has become a cause dear to our hearts. 
The kids almost instantly connected with "the kids who don't have clean water" and D & E often include them in their dinner and bedtime prayers.

The walk each year is a very tangible way for our kids to further connect with the nearly one billion people worldwide who make a daily trek
(on average 3.7 miles) for often very dirty water.

Some sobering stats:

1 in 8 people do not have access to clean water.

Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water related disease.

Dirty water kills more people than all acts of violence, including war.

Diarrhea kills more young children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

There were signs set up all along the walk (about a mile and half to a dirty water source and then about a mile and a half back). 

The bigger kids were interested in reading each yellow sign and filling out the quiz that was provided.

We carried our empty containers and then filled them up in this dirty drainage ditch.

Everyone, including our littlest walker, carried them back to the park where we had started. Mady surprised us all and did a great job walking almost the entire way back while carrying her token bottle of dirty water.

They also had jerry cans set up along the way, each weighing 44 pounds, and they encouraged walkers to take a turn carrying them.

We dumped our water out at the end - they actually had a filter set up that you could pour your dirty water into and then try a sip of the clean water that came out...we didn't stick around to give it a try though :)

We're already looking forward to Walk for Water 2013!

20Liters began as the water initiative for Mars Hill Bible Church
20Liters works with local churches in Masaka, Rwanda to provide both slow-sand filters to households and rain water cisterns to churches. Learn how you can help by clicking here.

Previous Walk for Water Experiences:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Food Plan {intro}

{Image from Jones Design Company}
If you know me, it's not a secret that I don't enjoy cooking. For example, if you have a baby, while I want to be the friend who shows up at your doorstep with a freshly cooked meal, I will more likely show up with a gift card to Jimmy John's. I can cook and I've never poisoned anyone and it generally turns out pretty well, but I don't enjoy it.

I've been coasting through life up to this point, getting away with cooking once, maybe twice a week. My family doesn't bat an eye if I pull out the cereal boxes for dinner or make them a PBJ and I love them for that.

As the kids get older (and there are more of them now!), I feel like a coherent dining plan might be a good idea. Life is getting busier and when life gets busy, if I don't have a plan in place, we don't always eat the most balanced meals. (I also end up eating a lot of my meals standing up.)

Food, as a topic, seems to be popping up everywhere I turn. Specialized diets like vegetarian and gluten-free are more mainstream now. People are starting to ponder where their food is actually coming from and phrases like cage-free, grass-fed, raw, whole, clean, and organic swirl around in conversations, on packaging, and via posts on Facebook.

I have been inspired by friends and family like Theresa and her goal of once-a-month clean cooking, Amy and her quest for natural living, Kara and her desire for real, organic food, and Hannah and her passion for honest, whole food (and many others...I'm surrounded by a lot of really great, really healthy people).

As a mom and a wife (and for my own sake), I'd love to be more mindful about what we're eating, but quite frankly it gets a little overwhelming. We're not the worst fed family in America (and yay us! we do do a lot of things right) - you won't find Doritos or Twinkies in our shopping cart - but there's a lot of room for improvement.

My plan then is to come up with a plan (HA!) I am going to take baby steps towards eating healthier and with more intention. For our family, that means more whole foods (including more fruits and veggies and better meat), less sugar and processed foods, and more actual sit-down meals.

I desire for us to take good care of the bodies God has given us, enjoy and be nourished by all the good stuff he has created for us here on earth, and feel better, healthier, and more energetic. Oh, and I want skin that positively glows. (I hope that's not too much to ask.)

This is a work in progress, and I want to take it one step at a time.  Matt and I did a 10-day cleanse a few weeks ago (no processed foods, unnatural sugars, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, etc.) and I made it precisely seven days and hated every minute. I found it a little overwhelming and too much to ask of my body all at once. I would like to ease into changing some of our habits because then I believe they'll actually stick.

Eventually I'll need to understand what motivates us to eat, explore where the find the best whole foods, figure out how to save some money while doing it, discover new and tasty recipes, and unearth my inner Martha Stewart. But that will all come in time.

Here's the disclaimer: I don't have a background in nutrition. I'm not an amazing chef. I'm not worried about doing this all perfectly. I don't even actually know what I'm getting myself into. I'm just a regular mom, ready to muddle my way through the food maze. I do know this: each small change will bring me a little bit closer to our family's goals.

When I first started running, I knew next to nothing. I just laced up my shoes and hit the sidewalks, one step at a time. Every couple of runs I tried to push myself to run a little faster or a little longer. I began reading blog posts, magazine articles, and tweets about running. I asked questions. I set mini-goals. I started to hang out with other runners. They shared their knowledge with me and encouraged me to keep going.

Today, I'm not the fastest runner out there. I haven't trained for a marathon. There is a lot of room for improvement. But I'm in a better place than I was when I first started.

I feel like this is kind of going to look like that.

First things first, and for the love of accountability, this blog post is my first thing. I hope you will come along for the ride. I hope you will keep me company. I hope we can inspire each other to keep moving in the right direction.

Hold on to your fork. Things are about to get interesting.

Please feel free to send suggestions, advice, questions, etc. to me at katie {dot} terpstra {at} gmail {dot} com.

Monday, April 16, 2012

on finding time

I've been running. And running. And running cross training. A lot.

I'm training for my first ever 25K (for the non-locals: there is a race downtown Grand Rapids called the River Bank Run and it's kind of a big deal around here.) I'm not following the training schedule to a T, but I try to hit the long runs each weekend and then do four other workouts during the week, sometimes those are shorter runs and sometimes they are cross training type things like swimming or spinning.

The long runs take me anywhere from an hour and a half to two and half hours. Weekly workouts take 45 minutes to an hour. The bottom line is that right now I am devoting a lot of time to running and exercise.

I keep having the same question come up over and over. Women walk up to me and ask me how I fit it all in...and by that, they mean how do you find time?

To the ones who are holding babies in their arms as they ask, I start with, "Well, first you all need to be sleeping through the night..." So I guess that's the first thing. Make sure you are realistic about your situation. When trying to find time to exercise (or to do anything else that is a priority to you), you need to be honest about what's realistic for you. Set your goals too high and you will fail and then be disappointed and then feel bad about yourself. We all have enough problems without going out of our way to set ourselves up for failure.

When I started exercising consistently, my youngest was a year old, and I had two children in school part-time. A year and a half later, I have a two and a half year old and 2-3 days/week when both of the big kids are in school. I also have a great support system - a husband who encourages me to get out there (and I try to do the same for him), a mom who is happy to have a little extra grandchild time during the week, and great friends who are always willing to swap kids or meet up for workouts. Basically, I'm in a good place.

If you're not in a place like this, that's OK, you're just going to have to adjust your expectations and set a goal that is realistic for you, right now, right here. I remember being in the pregnant/newborn/toddler foggy place and I can tell you that it won't always be like this. Enjoy the great parts of this phase of life and then later on you can enjoy the stuff you see moms of older kids doing. But please, don't wish this time away.

Here's the next thing I will tell you (assuming you are in a position where you can make some things work): Plan your exercise time out ahead of time. I'm terrible at meal planning (i.e. my latest Facebook status update), but I'm really good at exercise planning.

I sit down at the beginning of the week with my planner and schedule in my five workouts. I check with my friends - we often have group workouts we want to do, I check with my hubby about his plans, and then I treat those workouts like any other obligation on my calendar. Less thinking, more doing. Skipping out isn't an option.

Maybe you look at your calendar and you're not seeing a lot of blank spaces (that's the catch 22 of having older kids...they also tend to have more activities and commitments outside the home). Here's some advice people don't like to hear: Be willing to make some sacrifices. Prior to The Great Workout Challenge of 2010, I rarely worked out because I needed the perfect storm of conditions to come together: ideal time of day + perfect weather + super fun workout = It Never Happened.

My long run usually happens on Sunday afternoon when the rest of my family is relaxing and napping. No Sunday nap for me. Two of my workouts usually happen in the early am hours during the week. Sometimes they involve an ice cold swimming pool; sometimes we watch the sun rise over the hills as we huff and puff up them. Sometimes I arrange childcare and pay babysitters so I can exercise. Strange, but true.

I don't watch much TV, coffee dates have been replaced by workout dates, I often need to go to bed earlier, and I've really, really had to give up the hair-looking-good thing (no matter how hard you try, some days require multiple showers...and I'm not willing to blow dry my hair more than once a day so my hair pays the price). 

Small sacrifices aren't so bad, as long as you are OK with why you are making them, which leads me to the next thing. Find your motivation. Are you trying to lose baby weight? Set a healthy example for your kids? Keep your heart healthy? Reclaim some "me" time? Build your self-confidence?

If you remember why you're doing what you're doing in the first place, you won't mind giving up some things. Your inner motivation is also what's going to keep you going when the going gets tough. It didn't take me long to fall in love with exercising (running, in particular), so now it almost feels like it's a part of me. I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I don't question the small sacrifices because the end result is worth the price.

Lastly, in regards to finding time, I offer two little words: Start small. 72 weeks ago, the four of us girls jumped in feet first, throwing caution to the wind and started integrating five workouts into each week, cold turkey. Looking back, this was a little bananas. It worked for us - I believe the four of us combine to form a unique synergy of personalities and talents - but I realize this won't work for everyone.

Maybe you start by finding one hour a week when you can do something you love whether it's exercising or blogging or crafting and then go from there. Once you've got that down, look for two hours and so on.

Bottom line: you can do it. (Sleep-deprived mothers of newborns don't need to do anything but to go lie down). Do what it takes to create time for the things you love. You are worth it. Living an intentional life is worth it. The time is out there, I promise, but it's up to you to find it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 {spring has sprung}

Big Instagram happenings this week:
Instagram is now available for Android users
and Facebook buys Instagram for one billion dollars.

Crazy cakes.

Our happenings have been much smaller in scale. 
Here's what we've been up to in Terp-ville:

Life & death yarn decisions on a Friday night.

It's that time again! Love me some craft night.
{And a great free printable}

I can't help but enjoy a bottle of Smart Water every now and then 
{and all that it's sleek marketing implies.}

Last 40 bags drop off to one of my favorite local charities.

A spring break afternoon ice cream treat
followed by Mady's other favorite thing: "fliding".

Six months of scrapbook catch-up. It's Go Time.

Happy Easter!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thanks to a peanut shortage, I can no longer buy my Jif at Costco.
Good thing I found this giant can/vat at the grocery store this week.

We are very proud of our artistic 1st grader 
and can't wait to attend the upcoming HPS art show!

Scrapbooking mission complete. 
All caught up through January; spring pictures en rout from Snapfish.

The Bible in Seven Months Maybe More.
{formerly known as The Bible in 90 days}
So close to completion, yet so, so far.

Saturday's task: another 25K training long run.
Blessed to have three friends run legs of it with me 
{they brought water + fresh conversation.}
Community at it's finest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Friend Love {introducing un.tied}

Over the past few months, I have had the honor and the privilege of watching something come to life in the hands of a dear friend - something that at first was nothing more than a dream and a what if? - something that today is a very cool, very creative, very beautiful reality.

I am thrilled to be able to introduce to you un.tied.

Introducing Em- /em/ industrious, striving; eager

The word "friend" doesn't do justice to what Theresa means to me. You know those people you meet in life who you instantly connect with...the ones who make you wonder what you ever did without them? 

Why yes, we are rocking skinny jeans & tennis shoes. In a hammock. In the woods. At night. 

Theresa is my running buddy, my partner-in-crime, my soul sister. We are different in my many ways {she plays the Golden to my Beaver} and similar in other ways {among other things, we share a love for silent, ridiculous laughter, #hashtags, Coach Taylor, and a good martini}. 

Over the course of the past year or so, Theresa has been on a journey - a self-proclaimed path towards finding her true self. She has sat in the brokenness, wrestled with the tension, and slowly but surely untied her story.

Theresa's party of four - soon to be five!

In her words:

As I have untied myself and my story, bit by bit, piece by piece, I am finding the beauty that lies within myself. I am finding that with each wound there is a glorious chance of redemption and with each lie the possibility of truth. Slowly, I am putting my true self back together and relishing in the work of art God has designed me to be.

Her vision then, has been to take something broken, like old neckties, and name and reclaim them for a greater good. Bit by bit, piece by piece, she has created something beautiful.

Introducing Merideth- \m(e)-ride-th, mer(i)-deth\ noted ruler. 

Each of her pieces is handcrafted with great care and love {if there is one thing you should know about Theresa, it's that she's all heart} and then named because each piece carries a story, just as each of us does.

Furthermore, in naming them, Theresa wanted to represent the orphans and in the world who appear nameless and are desperate for a person to tell their story. Those who have been named all along by a God who is merciful and created them to be his one-of-a-kind child.

Introducing Sophie- \s(o)-phie\ wisdom. 

You see, adoption is very dear to Theresa's heart because her and her family are currently waiting to bring their beautiful Finley Grace home from South Korea. All profits from un.tied sales will go towards bringing their daughter home.

Introducing Finley Grace!

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I would love more than anything for Theresa to feel supported and encouraged as she sets out on this new endeavor. Whether you know her personally or not, I think we can all find something in her story that resonates with us.

Please feel free to send her a virtual (or non-virtual...she accepts hugs too) high five - follow her blog, like her Facebook page, favorite her Etsy shop, or make a purchase. 

{un.tied blog}
{un.tied Facebook page}
{un.tied Etsy shop}

Introducing Gabrielle \gab-rielle, gabri(el)-le\  heroine of God.

Today I celebrate a friend who has put in the hard work, followed her heart, and focused her talents, gifts, and true self towards making the world a better, more beautiful, more authentic place. Friend love indeed.

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