I’m proud of My Dad!

Today’s post is a little different for me.  When I write, I’m usually rambling about my kids or experiences I have had being a mom.  But today, I write from my perspective as a farmer’s daughter.  I will admit that this could be the first time I’ve ever told my Dad I’m proud of him.  I mean, really, how often do we tell our parents how we really feel.  A good ol’ “I love you” as we leave until next time or the end of a phone conversation, but never have I fully expressed to my Dad how really proud of him that I am.  So sorry about that, Dad, but here’s to you…the first man I loved!

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The story about my dad goes something like this…he is a hard working man, a farmer, a husband, a father, a grandpa/papa and a friend!  The biggest piece of him is farming, more specially, his herd of cattle.  When you are a farmer, you grow to love the earth you till for crops, and the livestock you raise as if they were a part of your family.  Today, my dad is letting go of a piece of his farming business, and he will say goodbye to the herd of black cows that were always there to greet him morning and night.

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My dad wasn’t always a farmer.  He used to work a full time job at the Ford Motor Company until his interest in farming became a realization.  The transition was a good one; I’m so happy he followed his dreams. His days as a farmer started before dawn and he wasn’t usually home until after dusk.  And he never once complained!  Plus, he still managed to support my brother and I in our activities.  Sure there were times he would miss events, but we knew he was working hard for our family.

Farming is not easy work, but its rewards are what drives the farmer to do what he does.  Raising cattle is what helped my dad establish a business for himself and at the same time, even provide his very own supply of beef meat for the family.  I’m pretty sure my dad would say that nothing beats enjoying the benefits of one’s hard work.

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One of the best experiences of growing up on a farm, was the opportunity to show cattle. My brother, cousins and I share some of our most precious memories from our times in the cattle barns on our grandparents farm! We raised them, fed them, washed them, and trained them to walk so elegantly around a ring all hoping for a blue ribbon or for the big show, a purple one! My final show was in the late summer of 1998…and I won that purple ribbon. My steer won the Grand Champion at the Prime Beef Festival livestock show! At the end of the sale that weekend, I had to walk my steer onto the trailer to be sold! I cried! A lot! He wasn’t just a cow, he was a like a pet, a friend…yes, someone I talked to in the quiet of the barn. My Dad didn’t quite know how to handle my emotions or even why I was feeling that way. Well, that day for me and this day for my Dad are somewhat the same…an ending to an era.  I bet he can understand how I felt that day just a bit more today.  I showed cattle and helped on the farm for as long as I could remember and probably since I could lift a bucket of feed or a bale of hay, but that day was my last. I was off to college that fall and my days of helping on the farm were officially over. Although my Dad will proudly walk away from his last delivery of cattle to the sale barn with a smile and some relief, there will be tears and sadness as he steps away from the cattle portion of his farming business.

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The days of grinding feed, filling buckets, chopping silage, baling and hauling hay are coming to an end.  The constant guarding of cows during calving season, middle of the night checks, wrestling down a calf for tagging or shots…those things are over too.  Whether it was heading out on snow/ice covered roads, trudging through muddy feedlots or dealing with frozen water tanks, my dad had one thing in mind…caring for his cattle no matter what it risked.  Although all that work sounds hard and uninteresting to some, I know it will still be missed for my dad because as with any job, something that you spend that much time doing and loving is hard to walk away from.

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I am proud of my dad for taking a step back from his hard labor work to enjoy life a bit more.  My Mom and Dad just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last month and my Dad is turning 61 on Wednesday!!  My parents have worked hard in their lives, and will continue to do so, but hopefully at a much slower pace so they can relax, and make the most of their time together.  It wasn’t until the last few years that my Dad ever took a vacation other than our annual fishing trip to Minnesota. Hearing the happiness in my dad’s voice as he talks about his new experiences, the adventures he and mom take, the time he gets with all his grandchildren, is something I will look forward to.

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Although my dad will still be driving a tractor and working hard during planting and harvest seasons, his obligations have decreased which means more time for the things he enjoys…fishing, family, road-tripping with my mom, and his grandchildren.  I hope my brother is ready to have dad around his business more because I’m sure as dad slows down, he’ll quickly think he needs to get busy again! 🙂

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I moved to Chicago 11 years ago and each day as I grow closer to The Lord I know He brought me here for a specific reason and He is using me in this city for His good.  Although the farm and small town are no longer my home, they have my heart and no one can take away the fact that I will always be a farmer’s daughter! I love you, Dad! We are all proud of you!!

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Living guilt free…

I couldn’t leave my last post just hanging out there, plus this is my 50th post on my blog so I decided it should be well-thought out.

Struggling with guilt is not easy, and I know I cannot be the only one who deals with it.  I decided to put a few thoughts together on how I am actually living out my new guilt free life.   They say it takes 30 days to shake a habit?  So why would it be any different when changing the habit of feeling guilty?  I am getting better…much better, but I know I need more practice at just “letting go”!

1) Blogging: As I write this blog, I am happy to be writing, but I will not feel guilty about NOT blogging for awhile.  Yeah, it’s true, I actually have felt guilty for the past 4 months that I haven’t written a single post.  This blog is more than just updating extended family on the kids, and showing off some pictures…I enjoy writing, but I just can’t find the time.  However, is it worth feeling guilty over and causing more anxiousness? Nope.  So I won’t be feeling guilty if you don’t see another post from me for 6 months.

2) Taking pictures with an actual camera…and then editing them:  I love my camera, and I love taking pictures.  It is just too big to carry along on excursions when I have so many other gadgets that need to be brought along to help with keeping three kiddos happy.  Plus, I have my phone, and it has a camera.  I have photos of my kids doing things…they may not be the best pictures, but Instagram sure makes them look good.  I have pictures nonetheless and I can quickly share to FB, text or email to grandparents.  I will not feel guilty that my children do not have pictures of everything they do as long as I am fully present with them no matter what we are doing.


3) My Phone:
I WILL NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR BEING ON MY PHONE.  –yes, I just said that! My kids and husband see me on my phone, a lot, but guess what,  my phone helps me do my job.  I’m not old fashioned anymore.  I do like the convenience of having everything in one place.  My phone is how my life and family are organized…it’s my recipe box, grocery list, Target list, reminders, family/kids calendar and activities, and not to mention my way of staying connected with my close relationships.  If I am out in public and looking at my phone, I am looking at lists or texting my husband while he is at work to see if he needs anything.  I will not worry that other people are judging me because I am on my phone while I am with my children.  My children know exactly what these phones can do…they know why I use it and what for…and yes, I randomly peruse Facebook but not at the expense of my children’s attention.

4) Facebook: Oh speaking of FB–I have a love-hate relationship with this social networking site.  I love it because I can see photos of friends and family far away and I can even upload a picture of the kiddos doing something fun.  I enjoy staying connected with so many in this way.  Then there are all those “good-read articles” that you see as you scroll down your newsfeed.  I read them, a lot of them actually, because I love hearing so many heart warming stories of people doing good and loving on others.  Then I read the occasional “i’m going to stop yelling at my kids” type of articles and I get a bit frustrated.  First off, I grew up in a home where there was no yelling…really, I have no recollection of really being yelled at.  I bet that was because I was so well behaved. HA! I used to actually cry when my husband would yell at our dog for something as I hated yelling that much.  Then I had kids…I learned to yell.  I don’t like it and I have been trying to yell less in my house, especially when it’s just not necessary, BUT…I will not feel guilty when I do yell.  Let’s face it, I have three kids, and they are going to fight, sometimes it is the yelling that only gets through to them.  I’m going to slip up and yell at a child who won’t put their shoes or coat on when I’ve asked them 3 times.  I won’t feel guilty, but I will say I’m sorry, ask for their forgiveness and move on.  If we feel guilty for everytime we slip up as a parent, especially in the yelling department, we are going to feel terrible about ourselves…at least I will anyway, so I’m just not going to do it.  I will end this part of my rant on a positive note…my kids know that I do want to yell less, plus they don’t like to be yelled at in the first place.  So I give them warnings, which are sort of my warnings too…I remind them nicely a couple times and before I flip my lid I let them know I’ve asked in my “nice voice” already and it might not be so nice next time.  It usually works, but if it doesn’t well, then, I might just yell.

5)  Healthy eating: Another area in which I am choosing to not feel guilty over is how and what I feed my family.  Oy-vey…this has been a big one for me over the last year.  I am overwhelmed with what I should and what I shouldn’t be feeding my kids.  I’m not saying that I’m just feeding them junk.  Far from it, actually.  I try my best to feed my kids a good variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. but some meals just aren’t balanced and that’s okay.  I read a lot of foodie blogs, and some that are specified for healthy eating for children…the goal in reading this kind of information is taking what you can apply for your house and your kids. While I continue to learn, and try new things in my kitchen, I won’t feel guilty for not being the best cook.

6) TV:  My husband and I gave up TV for Lent last year.  What a blessing that was for us…we spent more time together, in the Word and more importantly doing those things around the house and with our kids that we didn’t do before because we were watching TV.  I started to read more, which was something I could never find the time to do.  Other than a couple favorite shows that are only on once a week, I have continued to live without watching TV.  That is unless I’m doing my guilt free activities of laying around with my husband watching the Chiefs or KU or a 20-minute episode of Bubble Guppies with my kids.  The guilt of all my shows on the DVR was lifted…I didn’t care anymore if I had missed 10 episodes of my 15 year addiction to The Young and The Restless, or hadn’t watched my daily ritual of Good Morning America.  The truth behind it all was that I would watch them when I didn’t have the time, then I would complain that I didn’t have enough time, and then I’d complain that I wasn’t getting to do what I wanted to do like read, write/blog, or edit pictures I’d taken for fun.  So, I gave up TV, and haven’t really looked back.  I still watch my two favorite one hour shows every now and then, but now I read, write and do things for me. So, my  TV and DVR won’t leave me feeling guilty.

7) Scrapbooking:  oh scrapbooking…Lana, if you are reading this, you better have forgiven me for saying this even before picking up the phone.  I love scrapbooking, it is my one true hobby, but I haven’t done it in over a year.  My best friend and I have had some annual weekend trips where all we did was scrapbook for 48-72 hours with a bit of sleep in between.  It was so much fun!  I have two full books for my oldest son, a partial one for my middle daughter, and not a single photo scrapped of my 18 month old son.  And then there’s the baby books, but I won’t even discuss those…it’s the same as my scrapbooks.  I always said I wanted everything equal between all my children, but there is one and only one thing that they are all going to get from me that is equal and that’s my love.  Maybe one day they will all have a few scrapbooks that they can cherish, but instead I’d rather live fully with them than with feeling guilty about not having all the baby books, and scrapbooks done that I want to have, so I won’t…I won’t feel guilty.

8) Getting babysitters and leaving our kids with grandparents for trips with my husband: I see it on FB, and I hear it from friends…I hate leaving my kids.  It’s totally normal and I dislike it too…it’s hard to leave the kids overnight, let alone 5-7 nights, but it is so important.  If I can just say to those that are reading this…one important thing you can do for your marriage, is to escape without the kids and make time to connect just the two of you.  It helps make your marriage stronger and gives you the energy you need to parent as a team.  Do not feel guilty for getting a babysitter, do not feel guilty for going on date nights and do not feel guilty going on a vacation with your spouse. Your love is what created this life and in order to enjoy this walk of life, you need to be continually work on your marriage.  My parents are about to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, yippee for them, but what an example for me.  Having kids in your home is really only a short 18 years of the many years of your marriage…as your kids grow, you grow and so does your marriage…grow together, change together and love deeper.  Get a babysitter and don’t feel guilty!!

I am beginning to think that my Skinny Pop moment was way more life changing than I’d originally discovered.  I am at a place in my life where I have finally realized my time on earth is precious.  Letting go just feels really good.  Stuff, things, and guilt cannot run my life.  I am blessed beyond measures with a man who loves, children who need me, and a God who gives me Grace to live each day fully and honoring to Him.

Go. Live. Guilt Free.

City living with 3 kids…the playground!

I could write many blogs about living in the city with children…some positive, some challenging, yet here we are 3 kids later and STILL love living in the big city.  It’s definitely trying in the winter, but ask any Chicagoan and they will say the same thing…then April arrives and the weather changes and we all LOVE the city again.

For today’s post, it’s just about the parks and playgrounds.  There are probably hundreds of playgrounds in Chicago thanks to the Chicago Park District and the many elementary schools.  I think we probably have 5 playgrounds we visit regularly.  We are extremely grateful for the backyard we have as our kids can play outside, run through a sprinkler, ride on their scooters, play catch, etc, yet it is a very small patch of yard compared to my childhood.   I grew up on acres of farmland, green grass as far as you could see, and one rusty old swing set that my brother and I tried to flip many times as we swung higher and higher.  I loved the endless things we could do outside!  Those were my days, however, the place to get exercise and run off some energy for the majority of kids who live in the city, including my own, is the playground.

Now, how we get to the playground depends on which one we go to.  We can ALL walk (Garrett in the Ergo) to the one a couple blocks away, a few playgrounds the kids can bike to (like in today’s pictures), and to get to the others all the kids need to ride in the stroller because by the time we get there and play, they would be too tired to make it back home on their bikes.  The reason I mention this is because as I was putting everything back in our garage and storage area today, I realized that we have a ton of “equipment” for our kids.  I think we are on our third or fourth stroller as we’ve quickly grown our family and our needs have changed.  Parker and Ryann each have a bike, a scooter and we have a wagon.  I grew up in the country and the truth is, I only had a bike because there wasn’t much of anything else that made it around on the gravel roads like a good ol’ banana boat seat bike, and I loved it.  We would build ramps to jump and obstacle courses to maneuver around.  Those were my days, however, my kids are enjoying theirs too…at the playground!

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My daughter, my middle child, My Girl!

About a week ago I started to feel like I was missing out on my little girl growing up…she is changing SO fast.  Okay so maybe I’m not really missing out since I am with her every day, however I’ve started taking those moments to really look at her sweetness, listen to ALL she has to say, and realize that her heart is EXACTLY where I want it to be.  This moment below happened last week and it’s what really opened my eyes to the beautiful little girl we are raising…

I’m in the kitchen doing dishes and Ry walks into the room with her backpack on and looks at me and smiles…

Ryann: Hi teacher!

Me: Oh hello student, are you ready for school?

Ryann: Yeah!

Me: Great, what do you want to learn about today?

Ryann: Um, Jesus!

Melt my heart!! We do our best to raise our kids in a Christian home and to show them all the ways that Jesus loves them.  Other than signing “Jesus Loves Me” every chance she can get, Ryann just hasn’t talked about Jesus or asked many questions, which at 2 1/2 years old, I don’t think we should expect much more.  The fact that she asked to learn more gave me the perfect opportunity to talk more about Jesus with her.  Then it wasn’t but a couple of days later and Garrett was in the living room and crying (probably hungry b/c that’s about the only time he isn’t happy), and Ryann says “It’s okay, Garrett, God is with you!”  Moments like these two are signs that we are on the right path for now!

Now, onto what it is that makes My Girl the sweet, spunky little princess-tomboy that she is…

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She LOVES the outdoors, just like Mommy!

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Mommy’s scarves and heels are the best accent to any dress!

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See the band aids? That’s almost weekly, however, it doesn’t stop her one bit!

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This is usually what happens when I ask the 3 kids to “pose for a picture”…she has to do a dance, or make a funny face!

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She LOVES ice cream, just like Daddy…this is a special treat for these two (and Parker)!

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See the band aids? Dressed up like a superhero!

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Pure beauty!

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She still holds my hand…

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And smiles!

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Yep, ice cream again!

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This is sweetness…watching a show in my bed!

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Spiderfireman…you know them right?

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She loves to play hairdresser and do my makeup! We love to paint nails too!!

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AND, this is how she eats a donut! Why not?!

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Adoration!! She adores her big brother more than I can put into words!

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A true sense of style!

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Joining in on dressing as Mr./Mrs. Opposite for Parker’s preschool.

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Ready for the zoo…look closely, we managed some cute pigtails!

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PRECIOUS…she says “Garrett, don’t you love the fish?”

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Her favorite animal at the zoo, the giraffe!

Do you have someone in your house that randomly says “I love you so much!”?  This happens so often from her and I’m totally milking it…I’ll be honest and say that I’m not naive, I know what the teenage years mean for her (and me)…I was a teenage girl at one point too. <<Cringe>> I should just start tallying how often she says it now and remember it on those challenging days later in her teens.

One of my favorite things Ryann will say is “Smile, Daddy!” and it’s usually at the dinner table.  She knows how to get to his heart…it’s not that he’s unhappy, it’s just that she wants to see him smile At Her!  It’s too cute!

I’m grateful to have a daughter, this daughter!  As a mother of 3, I sometimes feel like it’s not easy to make those special moments with each child individually, but really all it takes is slowing down and looking at the small moments in life that God gives us each and every day!

“Enjoy every moment, they don’t stay little forever!”

I remember the day like it was yesterday when we brought home our 5lb baby boy.  I had just entered motherhood for the first time and this little boy was so tiny yet so precious.  For the first few days of his life we had to use a SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) so he could quickly get back to his birth weight and to avoid the ever so sneaky jaundice.  It didn’t take this boy long to jump ahead and gain those adorable little thigh rolls, arm rolls, and chubby cheeks.  The day I packed away his preemie and newborn clothes was the first time I could appreciate the statement of “enjoy every moment, they don’t stay little forever”!

Just a few months later, my 9 month old bouncing bean was pulling up, signing his first words, and running around in 18 month old clothing.  This was the size he wore until he was 2 years old.  As he started to walk, run and be more active the weight just dispersed and he became a little taller (not much for this shorty) but enough that for his second birthday we told everyone to go ahead and get 2T…what was this?  Toddler clothing?  Did I really have a toddler on my hands?  Well, yes, I had a toddler for a few months prior but why did the clothing size now matter?  I’m not sure, other than it was another one of those moments when I stopped to think “enjoy every moment, they don’t stay little forever”.

Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 4, my first born discovered the sizes on the tags in his clothes.  This became a major deal breaker for him if he were to wear something that had a different size on it than his age.  For example: my active boy has always been a size or two behind so when he was 4, 3T jeans fit just fine (length and all), but in my son’s eyes…he was no longer 3, those had to go, and he would only wear 4T!!  I took on the role of helping meet this need and did some washing to shrink some of his new 4T favorite pjs and shirts so he could feel the older, wiser 4 year old that only wore 4T!

Fast forward to this year and we are moving from 5T to the boys section…the transition in between has been difficult both for Mom and Son!  He turns 5 in just a few days and although 5T is what he could be wearing, he now knows the T stands for Toddler…another issue for him.  “Mom, I’m no longer a toddler, I shouldn’t be wearing 5T.”  So I oblige and here we are, shopping in the “boys section”…a whole new world of colors and styles.  This for me was another eye opener as it was a glimpse into the future, the boys section, where we will be for the next few years as he grows into a young child and enters elementary school… “enjoy every moment, they don’t stay little forever”.

Lastly, during a disciplining moment this week I said “You are 5 years old, you should know better than that.”  Once that bout was over with, my sweet little boy says “Mom, why did you say I was 5 years old…I’m not 5 yet, I’m still 4!”  Wow, he was so right…a little lesson brought to me from my 4 year old…DO NOT HURRY THE DAYS AWAY, “enjoy every moment, they don’t stay little forever.”

To my Parker–my sweet little first born, as you turn another year older in just a few days, I want you to know that I am doing my best to enjoy your every moment as I know you are no longer little in your own eyes.  As you enter the boys section, I hope you stay innocent through your eyes, confident in your heart, and strong in your abilities to be who God wants you to be.  I love you~Mommy

So I’m THAT kind of Mom…

You know the sayings “I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going.” or “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” or “I can barely keep my head above water.”?  These are usually stated because we are over-scheduled, overtired or unorganized…and then there are days when it seems it’s all of the above.  For the past few months my goal has been to S-I-M-P-L-I-F-Y!!  This goes for everything that I do for my family so that we can all be more relaxed, less rushed and all around joyful.  However, not all days run that smoothly and I am still learning how to not be living in those idiom moments.  I’m learning that “I am still THAT kind of Mom.”

I’m THAT kind of Mom who just wants a peaceful shower…that’s it…you see this shower curtain?  It’s like the Great Wall of China–no intruders, please!!  Yet I still hear “Mom, Mom, Mom” from the older two or crying from the baby in the johnny jumper bouncing in the bathroom doorway.  However, I’m also THAT kind of Mom that answers to “Mom, watch this” so I can see my child’s latest dance moves even if it means standing with my shower curtain partially open freezing my tushy off.  The reaction my kids receive from me depends on the day…

I’m THAT kind of Mom that if I’ve had that blissful shower and actually got myself ready (hair and makeup included) and then I show up to preschool pick-up I hear “Oh, where are you off to today?”  As if I needed somewhere special to be going?!  Ha!  Truth is, they are right…if I’m going to be “seen in public” (eg: Drs. appt, museum/zoo visit, lunch playdate) then I attempt to fix myself up, otherwise I am THAT kind of Mom that walks around day or night in her infamous Black Yoga Pants and all natural, aka no makeup!

I’m THAT kind of Mom who will…run through McDonald’s and get my kids the unhealthy quick lunch but not buy it for myself.  Also still getting them Chicken McNuggets when I have seen what they are made of and, I’m also THAT kind of Mom that says “Dang it, yesterday we had McDonald’s and today really needed to be a drive-thru McDonald’s day, ugh!”

I’m THAT kind of Mom that will sing at the top of my lungs in the van with my kids.  I’m also THAT kind of Mom that will yell at them and beg for 10 minutes of peace and quiet while we are driving because they are making me go bonkers.  It depends on the day (and traffic too, if you live in the city-yikes)!

I’m THAT kind of Mom that will drop all my “to-do’s” no matter the time of day because the snow is falling and it’s the perfect time to build a snowman or because the sun is beaming and we need to go on a walk or run off some steam at the playground.  I’ll drop everything and go.  Yet again, I’m THAT kind of Mom that will turn on the TV and ask that you sit there for 20-30 minutes through one show…just one, please?! so that I can have some peace in the kitchen and actually get a meal made without you asking me four times if you can have a snack, if lunch is ready or are you done yet?!  Yes, TV is used in my house as a babysitter…I’m THAT kind of Mom!

I’m THAT kind of Mom that wants to blog all the time, like the other million Mom bloggers, and share my stories, the successes and failures, in hopes that it can impact someone.  But, I’m THAT kind of Mom that knows my limits and the truth is, time doesn’t allow for me to sit down uninterrupted at a computer long enough to unload my brain.  So I blog what I can about our life to share with our family and friends, along with whomever’s eyes this reaches, and hope that as my children get older, I’ve memo-ed the big stuff and left them a mini paper trail of memories.

There are days when I feel “Okay, I got this Mom of 3 thing down!”…and then there are days when I feel like I’ve lost all control of my life…the house and kids are running me instead of the other way around.  But every night, I lay in bed next to my beloved and pray–we pray!  We thank God for our many blessings and for guiding us through the struggles we face in our daily routines which in return He gives us the opportunity to teach our children valuable lessons.

Then every morning I wake, I thank God for His Grace and the privilege to try again to be THAT kind of Mom HE wants me to be!

Ziplist–helps get dinner on the table.

One thing I struggle with as a wife and mother is getting dinner on the table. It sounds simple…just make dinner. But this is one huge process that I continually battle.  There is so much to think about in order to just get one meal prepared (from planning to shopping then preparing). But thanks to Ziplist, I’ve kept this New Year’s Resolution of ‘cooking more’ alive…past the first month of January anyway! Here’s how it helps…

1) Menu planning–I hardly use a cookbook unless it’s our “family cookbook” with our favorite go-tos.  Some of my dinner ideas come from a folder I’ve gathered of torn out recipes from magazines such as Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, etc.  However, the majority are found online from a quick Google search on “crockpot” or “easy chicken dinner” or “healthy kid meals”. Over time I have gathered recipes on mom blogs and by following food bloggers, and I just email myself the recipe. Well, I now have 168 emails in my cooking folder and 48 in my favorites folder. What a waste of time it is for me to dig through those emails to decide what’s for dinner.  Ziplist solves this problem, here’s how:  add a “Ziplist Recipe Clipper” bar to your toolbar (found on their website) then when you find a recipe you like (from anywhere online) it adds it to your online account. No more torn out pages for me…everyone is digital now so I find the magazine recipe on their site and add it to my Ziplist. All my recipes are organized in ONE spot!

2) Grocery list/shopping–This has been a hard transition for me because I like a pen and paper list, however, saving time is becoming more of an appeal to me. Once I have added the recipe to my account, I can open it and click “add to list” which then pops up a screen with two parts: “Items We Think You May Need” and “Items We Think You May Have”…all you have to do is uncheck or check the items and BAM! they are all on your grocery list. You can have a template shopping list of your “staple” items, ie: milk, eggs, fruit, which you can also add with one quick click.

3) Ziplist also has an app for the smart phone! Although I know it’s not a must to have a smart phone, I will say it’s been an added bonus for me as my menu and grocery list go wherever I go! When I am sitting in the van waiting for a child to wake up from a nap or picking one up from school, I can quickly search a new recipe or add some items to my grocery list.

Keeping things planned, and organized yet simple, are essential for me in order to be successful in cooking dinner for my family. Otherwise it results in unhealthy options of ordering out or the boring staples for the kids of mac & cheese or hot dog. (Don’t get me wrong…my kids LOVE those options, but if I don’t offer new and exciting things for them, they will continue to be picky eaters.)

Some of you may ask, “but isn’t this a lot like Pinterest?”. In terms of searching for recipes the answer is YES.  For me, it does avoid the option of getting on there for a quick recipe and an hour later realizing I’ve found 5 new projects that I’d love to do in my free time, 10 new sweet treats I’ve pinned for after the diet’s over and the new solution to curing my winter dry hands (lots of those on there too) and then darn it, I have to go change a diaper or break the kids up from fighting and I am still asking myself…”What’s for dinner?!”

So just try it…check out Ziplist, add the recipe clipper to your toolbar, download the app, start adding your favorite recipes, plan the 5 meals you are willing to make this week, add it to your grocery list, and take your phone and go make some healthy meals and make your life a tab bit easier!