Tag Archives: Goals & Challenges

Monthly Menu

With this extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to do some planning. Now, I usually like to prepare a weekly menu anyway (though it’s been difficult to maintain the habit since the boys joined our family), but one of my goals is to get back into the game, this time by planning out an entire month’s worth of dinners. And I have even more incentive this month since I’m participating in the spending fast. Planning meals ensures that you don’t get tempted to eat out!

I was heavily considering doing what this gal did and plan for an ENTIRE YEAR. Wow. That’s not messing around. But I just couldn’t see myself wanting to eat the meals in November that I came up with in January. Plus, that’s a lot of time. Too many unforeseen variables that could come into play that might mess up such a strict schedule. What are your thoughts? Would that be beneficial for your family to do?

Instead, I took her idea and scaled it down to the month-by-month level. It was still a lot of work because I don’t have a “rotation” of recipes already established. I have many recipes that we like and use often, but choosing them, and considering the ingredients for the whole week, and figuring in the various family activities took some effort and time. But it’s done and it feels good to have one month in place.

The other blogger suggested printing out the following for your binder:

Monthly menu (which I broke down into weekly menus)

Weekly shopping lists

A copy of each recipe you plan to use (unless you have it in an actual cookbook)

She has some great printables for organizing (including that binder cover above, which is not quite accurate since it’s supposed to represent a year’s worth of planning), as do many other awesome meal planning sites, but if the ones I created look helpful, feel free to use the weekly menu and shopping list.

I usually shop at three stores during the week, so that’s how I divided my shopping list, as opposed to by category. All of the ingredients needed for each meal is recorded on the list. But when I shop I actually use an app called “Out of Milk,” so all I have to do is transfer these items to my phone each week. Easy peasy.

My goal is to have the next month’s done by the last Sunday of the current month. Hopefully, it will get faster each time. I’m hoping that by the time I’ve done this for a few months, I’ll have a better idea of how to build a rotation of meals. If you have a good system, I’d love to hear it! I feel like planning for the whole month is going to save me a lot of aggravation in the long run, but it’s difficult to start up when it’s so new.

Certainly, I’m not the first to blog about menu planning, and clearly I’m not making any claims to be good at it. But I wanted to share just in case someone out there is looking for a starting point.


So, what kind of meal planning has worked for you? Weekly? Monthly? Any input would be appreciated!

Spending Fast: February 2012

You may remember me mentioning my friend, Cami, and her amazing thrifty and frugal ways. Every year (for the past 3) she’s committed herself to a spending fast challenge for one month out of the year. And every year I say, “Wow, you’re awesome! Good for you! I’ll be rooting for you!” without ever accepting her invitation to join in.

This is the year that I am going to give it a go. I don’t shop excessively, but I know I can improve in many ways. This is just the challenge that I need.

Here are her rules for the month:

“You don’t buy anything for the month of February. Okay, there are a few exceptions. You can pay your rent and other bills and you can buy gas. You can also buy food, but you should limit and stretch in this area. For my family of three I spend $50 a week during the Spending Fast. You can choose what works for your family. Also, no eating out.”

Doable? I think so! *gulp*

She’s also planned a giveaway this year, as incentive for participating. She makes some pretty fantastic stuff, so I would definitely leave a comment on her blog, if you’re interested in joining in on the frugal fun.

Alright, who’s up for the challenge? Leave a comment and let me know if you’re in!

Summer To Do List

Someday, I hope to prepare something like Julianna made for their summer activities list:


Darling, no? Or maybe have a giant chalk board with a huge list and adorable decor like this family’s. But, for now, I’ll just be glad we got around to writing it down.

I love that we now have at least one kid who is old enough to contribute. Sure, they’re not lofty goals and they are a bit Warren-centric, but I think we can include everyone in most activities. Maddie was most excited about eating popsicles and Jake and Joe will definitely enjoy feeding the ducks. Something for everyone on this list.

It’s going to be a great vacation.


What are you planning for the summer?

Articles of Faith


Warren decided at the beginning of 2010 that he wanted to memorize all of the 13 Articles of Faith, basic beliefs that members of our church hold true. We decided that we’d work on it together, as a family.

Every Monday night for Family Home Evening, we worked on one of the articles. We used the songs from the Children’s Songbook to help us more easily remember the words and pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit to clarify some of the principles.

Warren took his goal seriously. Each month he passed off another article as he repeated it to one of the Primary leaders who would then give him a small treat for his efforts. He hardly ever needed assistance or prompting but really had the words memorized.

It took the entire year, but Warren did it. His chart on the door of the Primary closet was filled with 13 check marks. He was very pleased with himself. So were we.  He got to pick out his final prize which he declared would be watermelon-flavored bubble gum. His fantastic Primary President happily obliged.

I am grateful for these simple points of doctrine. Now I feel like I can more easily draw upon them when I need a straightforward way to express my beliefs. Perhaps Renny feels the same, as well.

The Big Lie

I love exercising. I love to run. I feel full of energy and one million times happier when I exert myself. I am not lazy.

These are the lies I am telling myself to get my butt in gear so that I can live past the age of forty. Otherwise, it was looking pretty poor. I had done almost nothing the last three years to be physically fit and I was really starting to feel it. I decided I needed to take action. Right away.

For almost three months now I’ve been jogging in the early morning (that’s 6:30AM, baby!) with my good friend, Gina. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (give or take a few days) I’ve been hitting the pavement before the kids wake, before breakfast, and before the sun is completely risen.

When I started this routine, the going was difficult. Not to mention how much I detest rising early, my body showed in no uncertain terms how out of shape I was after so many slothful years. I would half trot, half walk to the nearby high school to meet her where the most I could do was walk briskly around the track for half an hour, and push myself to finish with a 2-lap sprint. Panting heavily, I had to walk back home and literally crawl through the front door.

But I’ve already come a long way. Both of us have. Now, I run the half-mile to the high school without stopping, run around the track at least 6 laps (Gina’s doing 8), and then run all the way back home. The other day I ran a mile in 9 minutes 58 seconds. I feel like I could keep going but the morning schedule doesn’t allow for it.

I know that may not seem like a big whoopydoo to you amazing runners out there, but I needed to start somewhere. This has never been my sport. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever completed a mile running before. Even for the P.E. test in Junior High, I’m sure that I walked most of the way, am I right Kelley? Being that my previous life’s motto was “I only run when someone is chasing me,” I feel that this experience has been a positive move forward. I’m making progress.

But I knew the lies were only going to get me so far. I knew I needed something else to motivate me to get my rear out of bed and get out the door every morning. I needed to make myself accountable. I also needed some serious external motivation.

So, I’ve decided to enter a short race, The Thanksgiving 4 miler held on Turkey Day. Again, I realize this is small beans, but it’s something. My only goal is to jog/run the whole way. No walking. I think I can do that now. I think.

And maybe the lies are actually becoming truth– to a certain extent. I don’t feel completely energized after exercising, nor have I experienced that “runner’s high,” but I do feel really satisfied. Mostly because I set a goal and I’m meeting it. And it’s getting easier to do. Even if it’s raining, I still get out to the garage and use the elliptical machine that used to sit collecting dust. I don’t love running, but I don’t hate it anymore. I get into a groove where I can zone out. I move at a pace that doesn’t make my side ache or shorten my breath to the point where I want to puke. I look around at the gorgeous misty mountains, take in the first hint of sunshine, inhale the smell of rubber on the fancy high school track, feel the steady thump of my feet hitting the ground. It’s time I’m taking just for me and it feels pretty good.

Local friends, what are you doing Thanksgiving morning? Who’s with me?


I’d love to hear your running experiences and any advice you may have.

To Do in 2010

Time to take account of all of the goals I set out to do in 2009. After personal reflection, I’d like to report that there was some success, but also some failure. Not too bad, but I definitely could improve. That’s why there’s a whole new year, I guess!

So for 2010 I plan to attempt the following (yes, there are repeats from last year because why not keep trying, eh?):

  • Do some sort of physical activity every day
  • Be more patient, especially with Warren and Maddie
  • Prepare my Sharing Time lessons a week before I give them
  • Clean the bathrooms once a week
  • Practice the piano more often
  • Plan out our weekly dinner menu on Sunday to be ready for shopping on Monday
  • Blog as events happen and not let posts build up
  • Memorize (more completely) the Articles of Faith (Renny is making this his goal, too)
  • Decide each day to focus on the positive

I love having the chance to start anew. The latest issue of The Friend reminded me what this time is all about: “A whole wonderful new year—365 days in which to learn and grow and serve and have fun.”

Happy New Year to all!


OK, I consistently fail at making and achieving New Year’s Resolutions, but this year will be different by golly. And by using the phrase, “by golly,” you know I mean business.

I figured if I not only wrote them down but made them embarrassingly public there would be no turning back. Somehow, it makes me feel more accountable.

As boring and unoriginal as they may be, I have, sadly, not mastered these tasks and so I post them now with a determination to make them a part of my life:

  1. Exercise 3 times a week (Note: I joined a gym and worked out today for the first time in 2 years. Take THAT resolutions!)
  2. Be more patient, especially with Colin and Warren
  3. Read the lessons for Sunday School and Relief Society in advance
  4. Take vitamins daily
  5. Be quicker to find the good in a situation or person (i.e. stop being so judgmental)
  6. Clean the bathrooms once a week
  7. Read one book a month
  8. Clean out my parents’ garage
  9. Practice the piano daily

Nine items for 2009. Totally doable, yes?

What are you hoping to accomplish this year?