Creating Thanksgiving

Tis’ the season to be grateful. Thanksgiving commemorates the sacrifices made long ago. It’s another day where we celebrate the cost paid for freedom. We commemorate the lessons and the journey of change and adaptation. Thanksgiving brings family, friends, and frenemies together in order to agree that bigger problems exist than those we see in our daily American lives.

It is a time we nurture thankful thoughts.  It is more than breaking bread and stuffing ourselves with delectables. I hope it’ll become a time that we can take to celebrate others and celebrate ourselves for efforts made both big and small. In our household, we are forming a family tradition of eating a huge dinner on that Wednesday before Thanksgiving and conclude the evening with attending a Thanksgiving service at our home church.

I start out with preparation. It is a process that begins a month or two in advance. I take a few days to think about the meals we want to have the following month. I use a scrap piece of paper to brainstorm. During the prep stage, I look through the freezer and pantry to do an inventory of everything we have. I check to make sure I have freezer bags and other freezer safe containers. During this phase, I begin cleaning out the refrigerator, dumping old food, and wiping things down. I want to make sure that I have nothing to do but cook and store on the days I am cooking.

My children are small and impressionable, so we are relaxed and joyous as we attempt to create memories. Stress can steal the focus and imprint the wrong depiction. The relaxed dinner the day before is not just for them, but for me too. Weeks before Thanksgiving, I start becoming more conscious of all that I hold dear. I begin counting my blessings and take that into the new year. We do all of this to teach them how to celebrate the blessings that are so easily taken for granted.

How do you adjust from distractions and cultivate a heart of Thanksgiving?

Advertisements

#MomLife

I must be honest, I am still fighting to establish healthy boundaries for my family. All over the network, we hear of the delimas moms are having. Working moms that may feel guilty and stay at home moms that feel judged, but nothing changes the fact that a mom is a mom. It is not about labels, but it is about how we navigate.

Whether you are a Momprenuer, Stay at Home Mom, or a Working Mom, you will need a team. A team that include baby sitters, people who can walk beside the family and people to encourage the mom. Having money to invest in getting the right people in the right position to do the things you don’t do well would help, but not always possible. It takes a village for any mom and with a business it takes a huge village. Nicole Parker, an actress and business owner found the help. Her helper took care of her to make sure that she was eating. Parker then stressed how she took care of the person who helps her by paying her what she asked for. Rewarding because that same person care for her kids and is still with her today.

Allow your family to help. One business lady shared that the kids, her mother, and her in-laws work for the business. In our home, the girls have chores and receive commission with completed tasks. I am learning how to communicate my needs because one person can not be and do all things perfectly.

Resist fear because it paralyzes. You must have the courage to establish healthy boundaries and healthy goals for your family. I use to be afraid of making mistakes and worse of people getting angry with me. Learn to trust yourself again. You’ve made it this far, you must be ok.  Don’t give up on yourself. In your personal life and in business,  resist fear. Parker said that with her, she fought fear with this thought of “She already had the no, so go get the yes.”

In managing stress, you must take the initiative to set healthy boundaries.
Realize what you can and can not do. For example, if you need to get up early, don’t overextend yourself by making obligations that will get you home too late or in bed too late.

Sleep is so important in fighting stress.
Turn off the phone and other media 1 hour before going to bed. The blue light keeps you awake.

Don’t forget to take time to take care of yourself. Ivan Hernandez said something powerful and profound to me. He makes 2 hours for self care every day. That is self care without guilt or apology. That may or may not include going to the gym, but no matter what, he makes sure to get it in. Do you make time for yourself?  Please share with the group how you arrange your schedule to fit self care.

Problem Solving

The previous topics, finding your why and asking questions, are not only important for planning but also for problem solving. We must make decisions everyday of our lives. A perfect example of how my “why” helped me to press forward. At the end if my freshman year of college, I made two “C”s. I felt so sad and I walked around looking pitiful. My friends did everything but laugh at me as I sat in despair thinking I was doomed. They did not understand the damage two “C”s had on a GPA. I had an academic scholarship that was dependent on me maintaining a 3.0 at all times. I felt lost and did not know what to do.

I gave myself a few weeks to recover, but once I refocused, I was able to make additional plans. Let me be honest with you, it was hard to stop myself from fearing the worse. I actually had to spend long hours in bible readings and prayer before I could realize new plans that would compensate for the loss of revenue. It was going to be hard work but I was finally ready. The summer before my college sophomore year, I worked and saved most of the money for the purpose of registering for the new school year.  Unfortunately, I did not have anyone to help me with paying for college. All of the financial and emotional pressures were on my shoulders to carry alone, but in the planning process, I realized this would be one of the challenges. I was already committed to persevering. Quitting was not an option.

First semester was the focus and I was going to tackle second semester after I had jumped that hurdle of first semester. I asked financial aid questions and their answers helped me toThe registrar accepted what I had as a deposit and I signed a written agreement regarding the monthly payments. Work study earnings were all saved and it paid the remaining semester balance.  I finished the semester debt free and regained my scholarship for the second semester when my GPA hit above the 3.0 requirements. It was a year full of excitement, heartache, and a beautiful victory.  Doing the homework during the planning process helps us to consider options that are available. Remember, you always have choices. I asked financial aid questions and asked for arrangements. This process of problem solving has helped me to push through many tough situations.

Why Part Two

Our last post helped us to understand our why in setting goals and making plans. There is more to it and we dive into a few more questions that will help you understand the planning process. This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Let’s jump right into it…

What will hinder you in achieving this goal?
(This is the time to be honest with yourself. Do you self sabotage by procrastinating or allowing distractions? Is there someone in authority who will pull you in a separate direction? Are there demands on your time or schedule that you can not compromise or change?)

What will change or need to change?
(Will you have to move? Will your schedule have to change? Most things require time and energy and it is very important to be very realistic about where all of this will fit with your lifestyle. It is this part that people overlook, but must not when making realistic goals.)

Some people may ask “where do I began?”
(Take time to gather information about the topic. Make sure to note if there are various steps indicated in obtaining your goal. Also note if those steps also have timelines. Are experts in that area available to answer questions? Can you find a mentor in that area to help you understand all of the expectations?)

The next post will conclude our “Why” series. What other questions do you ask yourself when setting goals and making plans? Share them with us in the comment section below. We would like to hear from you.

Living Well

Traveling Well

First, I can only accomplish living well and traveling well with prayer. I can not take credit for the favor that my family received on these trips but I can share the process. In fact, this summer we took a short family vacation. It was a small getaway of four days and four nights to Pittsburgh, PA., “Home of the Steelers”. Nice people by the way. We had so much fun bonding and catching one adventure after the next. This was truly an adventure full of grace.

Secondly, to travel well, we must refer to our foundational principles for positive posture, we definitely will need to have clear goals. Without established goals, you can get lost. Many people get lost in “chasing” the best deal and forgetting all that glitter is NOT gold. This applies to all things in life, not just traveling. Once you have outlined the things that will make your trip comfortable, you begin to realize that the best deal is not just about money. It is about how things align with the experience you are trying to create. This recent trip to Pittsburgh was an idea that originated from my husband’s desire to attend a Steelers game with our six year old daughter. My nine year old, a Redskins fan, and I only planned to tag along to just getaway. I think of this short trip as a bucket list item for my husband. He wanted to be downtown in walking distance to everything. He added that he wanted to expose the girls to nice things, so he wanted to stay in the best hotel in Pittsburgh. As a budget savvy Mommy, I do NOT mind. I just need clear goals so that I can look for the coupon for it. And even if it does not go as planned, at least you have a strategy or game plan to serve as your default.

The third step, you must have a good attitude in order to travel well. Earlier I mentioned that plans may not go as planned, but the right attitude will help you to feel that it is part of the adventure we call life. Every challenge carries with it an opportunity, but most of the time you can not see it until the hard part passes. To smile in the heat of adversity is almost like you are standing and seeking the face of God.

Finally, make sure you have tip money. It is better to give than to receive. Tipping reflects on you. It relates a message that says “you believe in adding to the quality of life for others”. Inadvertently you add to your trip by showing appreciation for others. This also helps you to fight the temptations of filling your trip with empty pleasures, missing the purpose of any trip. I see a trip as taking a date with yourself, and part of being good to yourself is being good to others. It is a time to reconnect with yourself and those you love. Sometimes we can loose touch with what matters in our day to day. Most trips remind us that the world is bigger than just what we see every day. I hope this helps you to reboot.

Peaceful travels

A Plate Of Herbs

I grew up watching my grandmother cook large batches of food. She would feed multiple families and still have leftovers. The amazing part if it all was her attitude; surprisingly, she wanted to serve. She cooked after working all day, preparing healthy hearty meals. She would say we needed food that would “stick to our bones.” I watched her pour her heart into every dish. After our first bite, she would ask with such a gleam in her eye, “how does it taste?” It was always good, because her secret ingredient was LOVE.

I really believe the example she left was a rich legacy in loving and serving others. Although I do not enjoy cooking as much as she did, I try not to forget the secret ingredient each time I prepare a dish. Freezer cooking is one way that I can manage our resources without sacrificing the joys around meal time. Truthfully it is all about the company around the table  that makes the difference. We must focus on pouring into one another as though we are filling a glass to quench a need.

This week I was not feeling well. The flu has been going around but Mommies do not get a day off. My husband tries to jump in and help, but meal time requires a whole lot more. It was good that I could pull out freezer meals to provide healthy hearty meals.  We are still working with the freezer meals from January.

We try to bag dinner to last 2 days each. We plan our freezer meals as if there will not be any days off in the month. We do this because in case they eat more than I originally planned, the next day we can easily pull out something new. My husband, a former college football player and personal trainer, must feed his muscles. Easily my 2 day prep of his favorite foods usually end up lasting a single day. Now my truth, honestly I must work on showing grace when his appetite mess up my schedule 😉.

Love and Peace

Eating Royally with Freezer Cooking

For a couple of years, I have been trying my hand at freezer cooking and I love it. I recommend it to everyone, because of the money you save and the ease it offer in eating balanced meals every day. The goal of freezer cooking is to make meal time stress free and enjoyable for everyone. It is a way to provide healthy and delicious options consistently. We can do that when we cook large amounts of food and divide these meals.

I start out with preparation. I take a few days to think about the meals we want to have the following month. I use a scrap piece of paper to brainstorm. From past experience, I realize that 15 main courses will feed us the entire month. I usually try to make 4 of these casseroles for weekend meals. During the prep stage, I look through the freezer and pantry to do an inventory of everything we have. I check to make sure I have freezer bags and other freezer safe containers. During this phase, I begin cleaning out the refrigerator, dumping old food, and wiping things down. I want to make sure that I have nothing to do but cook and store on the days I am freezer cooking.

Day 1, I prepare a menu and shopping list. I take the family calendar out and strategize on what dishes support the schedule. I think about the weather and ways to prepare seasonal foods so that it can be both delicious and nutritious. We make sure the menu include meatless days, but most of our main dinner courses will be meat dishes. I go through my recipes and pull the ones I will be using. I think about the main and side dishes. Is it a simple dish that needs to be accompanied by a fresh salad? What food to schedule on the day I have meetings, piano lessons and homework? I think about the days I can make short trips to pick up fresh fruits snd vegetables. A day filled with activities, would not comfortably fit a trip to the grocery store for fresh produce for the week. I try to section the shopping list by categories and by stores. This will help me to figure out how much time each trip will require and how much of the budget.

Day 2 is shopping for the bulk of the items. We usually shop at a wholesale store because they offer larger portions for a fraction of the cost found in most conventional stores. We prefer wholesale stores because we want to focus our savings in the area of quality meats, grains, organic and non-gmo foods. When I arrive home, I refrigerate the foods I will not start cooking or prepping on this particular day. Most of the frozen items are organic vegetables and fruits that can remain frozen until mealtime. I try to get the hardest, dirtiest, or most perishable things done first. I label the zip lock bags with the name of the item to be stored and date them, making sure to add any notes I would need to remember on the day we eat it. It is good to set out the seasoning and spices needed for today’s dishes.

I begin by first cleaning the large batches chicken. I personally do not like to eat feathers and hair, so this is going to require a lot of energy to get it clean enough for us. I divide the cleaned chicken and place them into their labeled bags. After thoroughly cleaning the area, I wash my hands to finish these first freezer meals. I do not cook the chicken on Day 2 but I bag it with all of its ingedients to finish in the crockpot on the day we eat it. So the final thing before placing the chicken into the freezer is to add the seasons in the bag that goes with the label on the bag. Finally, I steam the 5 large bags of Kale, divide and place them in the freezer. I also put the first batch of beans in the crockpot. I leave the beef in the fridge to prepare the remaining dishes on the following days.

It usually takes me a few days to prepare and store 15 meals. I can go on, but I just want to layout the process for now. I use the crock pot for a lot of the dishes, so I am able to work on portions of the meals even on busy days. I also choose one day for baking large batches of breads to accompany soups and stews. This should be enough to get you started. Please let me know if you found this helpful and want to hear more.