Books, Clean Eating, Menu Planning

Life Choices and Healthy Eating

It is summer break and with that comes easier meals for me and NO more school lunches to pack! We get to enjoy the outdoors, lots of time at the pool, and of course books in hand.   I am really am liking The Rhythm of Life -Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose by Matthew Kelly. It is a great easy read. If you haven’t read this book, I strongly urge you do! IMG_0552

When I look at the life I have, I realize I have been given life. The Lord has given me the ability to make choices in my life with the hopes of course that I will choose to follow him. I have lived in the past of negative thinking – why did this happen, why am I not where I want to be, if I only had this I would be happy, the list can go on and on. Over the last year or so I have been doing a lot of reflections on life. How I live each day, really is MY CHOICE. I can choose to be happy, or choose to be sad. I can choose to exercise, or choose not to. I can choose to eat healthy, or eat junk. I can choose to manage my money or let my money manage me. I can choose to love myself, or tear myself apart. I can choose to pray and go to church, or choose to stay home (or go to an event) etc.

Lets take eating healthy for an example. When talking with other people in my life, one thing I hear about is I want to make better food choices. Then next comes the long list of excuses as to why it is so hard or why they can’t do it. Really when it comes down to it, it is YOUR CHOICE to CHANGE! Only you can decide to take the steps in the choices you make. So okay you know you want to eat healthier. Now how are you going to get there? What goals and steps are you going to take to get to making better food choices? What resources are available to help you get to where you want to be?

I personally am a dive on in kind of gal, but not everyone is like that. Also every situation I may not be able to just dive all in and need to take steps. So create small goals to accomplish your one big goal of eating healthier. Maybe first is clean out your fridge and pantry of the unhealthy foods. Next you commit to only buying healthy foods when going grocery shopping. Start with buying more fruits and veggies and less processed food.  Maybe you start researching healthier meals to make and make a list of meals you would like to try. Another option is take meals you like already and substitute in healthier alternatives. For instance, instead of pasta noodles, you make zucchini noodles. Then  maybe you start to meal plan. You can start with just a couple of meals a week and then build up to a weeks worth of meals. Some people discuss the cost factor of eating healthier. This could then turn into a goal of setting a budget for weekly meals. Maybe limit the amount of times you go out to eat and instead bring your meals with you. I can always make adjustments in my budget, but when it comes down to it the cost really isn’t that huge. This is just a thought process to get you started. This same concept applies for all aspects in your life. I can tell you that you will hit barriers (ups and downs) along the way. Again, it is your choice to continue through, pick yourself back up and continue forward on this journey called life!  Keep in mind though, you never have to do it alone!

My goal here is to share pieces of my life in hope to inspire others or give them the encouragement they need to keep going on whatever journey they are on. So with that, comes in summertime meal planning. I still continue to meal plan, but it isn’t necessarily as strict as it is during the school year. I have a master snack list that I list on my board my kiddos can choose from twice a day instead of me planning them out each day. The snacks that need to be prepared I will meal prep so they are ready to go when they choose to have them during the week.

Week to week the snack list really does not change. Maybe one or two things I may switch out. This is my master snack plan for this week:

  • Banana Muffins
  • Rice Rolls with Sunbutter
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Raw Veggies
  • Apples with sunbutter and toppings (mini Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, Shredded coconut, chopped nuts)
  • Ants on a log
  • Lemon Coconut Protein Balls -Link out to the recipe here.
  • Plantain Chips and Guac
  • Sunbutter Balls
  • Banana chips
  • Larabars
  • Trail Mix (raw nuts with dried fruit)


Breakfast for the week still stays the same as it does during the school year.

  • Fluffy Paleo Pancakes – find recipe here. Seriously the best pancakes hands down!
  • Daily morning breakfast -Sausage/Eggs/Potatoes. I blogged about it here.


Lunches during the week are leftovers from our dinner the night before. Making it easy peasy!

Dinners: I plan 5-6 main dinners and then will have at least 1 leftover night to clean out the fridge before the next round of meals. This ensure we are eating up what we brought and reduces the amount of food waste. You will always know when it is grocery time in my house because my fridge is almost bare. Each dinner will have salad available. Here is my meals I planned for the coming week:

  • Tuna cakes and Sweet Potatoes
  • Ginger Lime Meatballs and cauliflower rice. I use turkey instead of pork for the meatballs. You can find the recipe here.
  • Chicken Salad Lettuce Boats with raw veggies. Recipe coming this week so check back!
  • Grilled chicken and grilled veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, and carrots)
  • Taco Night
  • Asian Zoodle Bowls

Now to update my grocery list in Wunderlist, and off to the store I go.



Summer Reading

As school year is coming to an end, I am looking forward to the summer with my kiddos. I like to have things planned, even though we may not do what is on the agenda. It gives me a piece of mind having the day prepared. Sure we still may wing things or change it up completely, but I at least have an idea what is going to go down for the day!

My summer for the kiddos always has time set aside for reading and math facts. This year I am also adding in weekly spelling word list, and practice on cursive writing. My older 3 will also be doing a monthly book report. We will of course have our outdoor activities of swimming, nature walks, biking, running, etc. Time to play and have fun!

One of my favorite reading tools is Ticket To Read. It is a yearly subscription of $20. They also have a half year subscription or a summer only subscription as well. I honestly think this is money well spent. I have seen all 3 of my older kiddos succeed in using this tool. My 10 year old no longer uses it. My 9 year old has struggled with reading and this is helping her a lot. My now 6 year old is enjoying it as I am watching him grow leaps and bounds.

According to Ticket to Read:

24/7 Reading Excitement

Ticket to Read lets your students practice important reading skills at school, home, or the library—anywhere they can access the Web.

  • Designed for K–6 students
  • Engages and motivates students in a Web-based environment
  • Builds phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension
  • Offers multiple reading levels with hundreds of reading passages and activities
  • Develops early reading skills with phonics games
  • Includes support for native Spanish-speaking students
  • Embedded reward system motivates students to build virtual toys and decorate their personal reading space

My pre-k children I won’t start Ticket-to-Read until next summer. Although one of them may start Ticket-To-Read this coming school year and she is starting to do some reading. They right now are enjoying Starfall and Bookflix.  Bookflix is a subscription through the school. I mainly use Bookflix for them as books on tapes. It reads to them as they follow along. My Kindergartener can also use Bookflix to read to him or he can choose books based on his reading level and read them himself.

Reading is very important to a child’s development. I even continue to read aloud to my older girls too. Right now we are finishing up Book 8 of the 9 book Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley. We are really enjoying this series. This has been our nightly routine. The chapters can be long so we get in at least a chapter a night. It has been a great mother/daughter experience! IMG_0327

The boys are reading the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne with their Dad at night for their daddy/son bonding time. When we finished up the series with the kiddos Rob and I will switch and I will read another series with the boys and he with the girls. So we switch back and forth every other series. Our plan for the girls next is The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and the boys Eerie Elementary series by Jack Chabert. 

My kiddos love their nightly reads with mom and dad. Something we all look forward to and also a great way to unwind from the day. As I was browsing along looking for some reading ideas for the kiddos this summer I came across a fantastic website Brightly. What a great resource. It has book ideas for all ages including grown-ups! This is where I got the idea of doing a family book club this summer! They are on there 5th installment of family book club. The other books they have done are still outlined on the website. This month’s Book is Pax by Sara Pennypacker.  The book is geared towards tweens, but they also list books for younger readers. So my plan is to choose on of the family book club books and pick a corresponding book(s) to read to my younger 2 kiddos. Read more about Brightly here. You will not be disappointed!

If you are looking for more book ideas for younger kiddos (babies-early elementary) then I would also recommend to you Jodie’s website Growing Book by Book. She does a virtual book club for kids, and a family dinner book club. She offers a lot of other resources as well for young readers and guidance for parents. You can read more about Jodie here.  She also provides writing ideas and literacy ideas. Once again a wealth of information!

Another great tidbit is find a theater or even children’s theater (playhouse, performing arts center, broadway, etc.). Last year we enjoyed reading Peter Pan and then going to watch it at the local playhouse. We also read The Tales of the 4th grade Nothing by Judy Blume, and then went and watched the show performed at the children’s theater. This is one of my favorite things to do with my kiddos. I LOVE the theater!

Get your summer off to a great start, and start reading! Even better keep it going all year long. As in The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate…It is simply life changing!IMG_0326