Well, we made it to May. April *kind* of feels like it both didn’t exist and like it existed TOO MUCH, if you know what I mean. (I’m sure you do.) Here in Northern Utah, the statewide pandemic restrictions lifted this week so that many businesses saw a “soft opening” on the 1st, like dine-in options, gyms, etc. (all with precautions, of course), and now the group gathering has been extended to include up to 20 people, rather than the 10 it was before. In our particular county, the numbers have looked especially good over the past week and a half or so—multiple days in a row without new cases, no community spread, etc. Life hasn’t looked much different for us yet as a result of all this, but we do have a few things coming up this next week that are indicators of the slight let-up, like my mom coming to babysit the kids on Thursday so that Matt and I can go out for our anniversary, and a little get-together on Mother’s Day with our immediate families next Sunday.
I know we’re far from being back to “normal,” but boy, are we extra excited for these get-togethers coming up! (even if they won’t involve many hugs!)
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In the Kitchen
We officially had to turn on the A/C this week (since I draw the line at the house being 80 degrees!), which also means that I’m officially entering into that stage where I have to really think, “How much do I want this?” before turning on the oven. We did decide that a few things made the cut–pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, monster cookies (naturally gluten-free!), blueberry baked oatmeal, and the breakfast casserole recipe from last week that we liked so much–but from now on, I’m getting even more freakishly devoted to making things in my Instant Pot (and slow cooker, when I can plan ahead that far), as well as utilizing our big skillet/griddle.
I did my big grocery shopping run this week, like I do every month. Basically, I drop 90% of our grocery/household budget in the first day or two of the new month, and then we only go to the store a couple times later in the month for milk and fresh produce (and try to keep those trips to around $20-25). My goal this month is to just see if I can go once more in the month of May, probably around the 20th or so. I noticed while grocery shopping that there is a definite shortage on meat, so I ended up buying some protein sources I normally don’t as much (salmon, sausage). I usually meal plan on a weekly basis, but because I only intend to go on that one super small grocery run later in the month (instead of going on 2-3 small grocery runs as needed), I tried something new–rather than planning out a weekly menu, I just came up with 22 dinner ideas based on ingredients we had on hand, and I can pick and choose from the list at will as I go through the month. In last week’s Homestead Weekly, you might remember I talked about making a weekly menu blueprint (aka, soup on Mondays, Mexican on Tuesdays, etc.), but I ultimately decided to look at protein sources we had on hand and then combine that with as many non-oven meals as possible to come up with my list of 22. Our menu is still rice-heavy, but that’s okay–it’s about the only gluten-free base option that’s super cheap, it seems! (I’m kidding, but kind of not.)
The list of 22 dinner ideas includes several meatless options, six Instant Pot dinners (one of which I’ve made already), four recipes from the cookbook of the month as part of my Cook Your Shelves challenge, and four entrees that definitely count as ‘breakfast for dinner.’
It’s a little too early to say for sure, but I think I’m going to prefer this monthly way of doing menu planning rather than weekly, as it makes an allowance for the fact that I’m a bit of a “mood cook” (aka, sometimes I want to put in an hour of work to make something special, but sometimes I’m only willing to put in about 10 minutes of hands-on prep). I’ll have to let you know come June how it works over the course of the whole month.
On the Menu this Last Week: Ham-Fried Rice, Breakfast Casserole (again), Instant Pot Creamy Tomato Chicken over Rice, Baked Blueberry Oatmeal with Fruit Salad + Fresh Whipped Cream, Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken + Broccoli over Rice
In the Yard
We transplanted out our second set of seedlings this week, and they actually look great!!! It’s a miracle!!! We have had almost zero success with successfully transplanting seedlings outside up to this point (like I said last week, I plan to do a post on our garden failures at some point in the near future), so it was really exciting that almost none of them have died yet, and that they almost all look really healthy. We transplanted lettuce, lemon balm, verbascum (a flower), and lots and lots of snapdragons. Other than a couple snapdragons which were already looking sad to begin with, everything else (thus far) seems to be thriving. I’m going out daily to water them and check on their progress, and each day they’re still alive feels like a little miracle, ha ha.
I also direct sowed a few things this week, too–Shirley poppies, sweet peas (the flower), and snap peas (the vegetable). You might remember that we had transplanted both kinds of peas out about a month ago, but literally nothing survived. We do have one snap pea plant coming up already, and *maybe* a sweet pea, but I can’t be sure. I just put those in Monday, so it’s still a bit early, but hopefully over this next week we’ll see what kind of success we’ve had.
Our weeds are growing at an alarming rate, so we thought we’d test out the new chicks’ grazing ability this week. We’re currently keeping our six new chicks (which aren’t really chicks anymore) in the garage until they’re old enough to be introduced into the coop, so this was their first excursion into the Big, Wide World. I think it blew their little chicken minds—they walked around clearly bewildered and only thought about pecking around for food right when we were about to take them back in, after about an hour or so. Oh, well. At least they got some sunshine and exercise.
I’m in the process of calling around to find the best price for a local company to do a lawn + weed treatment package for us, as our lawn is being overrun with dandelions and the weeds, as always, are trying to take over the world. Cache Valley locals–do you have any suggestions?
This morning I had Matt cut some of our tulips that were blooming in the chicken’s patch and bring them inside. I figured that none of us could really enjoy them out in that corner of the yard, so why not? Plus, since we’re doing a cutting garden for me this year, I figured we’d better get used to actually cutting flowers since it’s so tempting to just leave them outside since they look so pretty 🙂 But although I usually go outside at least once (if not multiple times) a day to look at our gardens, there’s just something about having fresh flowers in the house that brings an even bigger boost to my spirit, probably just because I see them so much more frequently.
Matt’s work gifted us the most beautiful pot of succulents this week as a way of saying sorry that they’re adding more stress to our life because of the company moving. I literally know nothing about succulents, but as this is probably the prettiest living arrangement I’ve ever been given, I’m determined to figure out how to keep them alive for the long term!
Blooming this Week: More tulips! (including our new double tulips that look like peonies and many in our white/purple/pink garden beds up front (see above pic)); apple tree blossoms; grape hyacinths + forsythia (still!)
In the Playroom
I continued with the challenge I set myself last week of scheduling one-on-one time with each kid during the week (and actually putting it on my to-do list), so here are this week’s mini dates:
Raven got lucky in that she tends to have more one-on-one time with me because 1) she demands it, and 2) her two brothers both sleep in the afternoons, which gives us a natural opportunity on most days (as long as I’m not napping myself, that is!). This week, she helped me make new recipes for gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and monster cookies, we decorated sugar cookies that a neighbor had graciously made for us as a fun at-home activity to do together, and we played Candyland. You can definitely still tell she’s the only one that has known life without a sibling though, because she totally bawled when she heard I was going to go on a little date with just Mathias and had serious FOMO about not being able to come. Or maybe it’s just a five-year-old thing.
Mathias and I went on a little nature walk to the nearby park, just the two of us. I let him set the pace and the general direction, and he loved having the chance to point things out to me (airplane! bird! bawk bawk! (chickens)). He particularly loved running across the newly built basketball courts, which he’d never been to before. Everything was deserted and quiet, and we had the chance to enjoy the breeze, listen to the birds chirp, and pick lots and lots of dandelions (for the bawk bawks). He had no interest in climbing the grassy hill, but I could definitely tell he relished everything else.
With Hyrum, we worked every day together on helping him sit up by himself. He can already roll from his tummy to back (and has been doing so for most of his life, crazily enough), and he’s getting quite close to being able to do it from back to front as well. He can sit up for a few seconds by himself before keeling over, which the other kids think is hilarious. He also hit a BIG milestone last night–he slept through the night from 8:30 – 7:30 this morning! It was glorious. One of my monthly goals for May is to sleep train him, so this is a great start, especially considering we haven’t even “officially” started yet!
Other fun things: We went on some walks as a family, put on the sprinkler in the backyard for the kids to run through, watched Mathias eat mud (twice), started watching Onward together for our family movie night (which we’ll finish tomorrow), and had some family pics taken by a neighbor who’s a photographer who offered to do a “Front Porch Portrait” for free. I’m excited to see how they turned out!
In the Home
Hmmm…did I do anything productive in our home this week? Above and beyond the normal do-the-dishes-daily and try-to-pick-up-after-the-kids and do-laundry-endlessly thing?
I vacuumed our basement. I cleared some of the books off my nightstand and put them downstairs (sure, it was just to make room for MORE books from the library, but still). I put away about half of the groceries from my gigantic grocery haul this weekend (ha!). Yeah, I didn’t do much inside this week. I really need to step up my game, especially if we end up needing to sell our house here soon—might as well try and make the workload lighter by frontloading some of the stuff now.
In the Soul
There were parts of this week that were really hard (again)–where the endless repetition of day after day of feeling cooped up with few options just got to me. Generally on those days, if I was able to squeeze in a short nap in the afternoon when the two youngest napped, I felt significantly better.
I’ve also realized something really important lately–I know “self care” is a buzzy word right now, but I’m starting to internalize the importance of it. One thing I’ve realized since having our third kid is that if I didn’t advocate for it or make time for it, there would be many days when I wouldn’t get any time for myself at all. And while I can handle that *sometimes*, I know for a fact that as an introvert, I can’t handle it for long, at least not if I want to be able to function at my best.
For awhile, self care just felt like one more thing to do, and that made it unappealing. Sure, I knew I should be exercising more, but just the thought of trying to squeeze it in (usually late, after the kids were in bed and I’d studied my scriptures) was exhausting. So I usually wasn’t doing it. And sure, I knew I shouldn’t be eating so many sweets during the day. But I was doing it because I felt like I didn’t have the time to eat real meals–like I was so busy taking care of everyone else that I couldn’t even find time to eat. In other words, I have developed a lot of bad habits that have come about because of a lack of taking the time necessary to take care of my own basic needs.
So I’ve started doing baby steps.
It started with me getting dressed in real clothes every day. Now, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for four years now, and let’s just say that unless I had somewhere I knew I was going outside of the house, I usually didn’t get dressed. But I changed all that a couple weeks ago–I started getting dressed every day. Putting on makeup every day. Doing my hair every day.
Then I realized I literally had one pair of pants that fit and very few other options of what to wear with them, which I hadn’t noticed before because, well, I wasn’t getting dressed in real clothes every day. So I ended up spending $150 on clothes for myself in the past couple weeks, which is more than I’ve spent on clothes for me in about 3 years (combined). And you know what? It felt great! It felt great to start taking that time in the morning to make myself feel a bit more polished and ready to take on the day!
So then I started deciding that instead of stressing myself out by making exercise into this Big, Sweaty Thing, I just set the goal to get 5,000 steps a day. And while it hasn’t made any difference on the scale in helping me to shed the last of the pregnancy pounds, it’s at least gotten me into the mindset that exercise doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing–a sweat-fest or a couch-fest. It can just be something in the middle, and that’s good too.
And all these little victories meant that I realized I needed time to work on personal projects (uninterrupted!), so I told Matt that I needed him to take the kids for two hours (minimum) every week so that I could work on things like blogging or photography or my own personal goals with zero interruptions. And something that’s been really fun about that? As someone who is so used to having to cram any amount of productivity in wherever I can, I now know that I can get a LOT done in those two hours! It’s a glorious, glorious thing.
So, self care. It’s a work in progress, but it’s progress that seems to be working!