Sunday Meal Planning • Jan 6th

Wowza we have a busy week ahead! It’s all about report card assessments at school as we near the end of the first semester. I have 2 parent meetings and a training at the district office. Nathan has an pre-op appointment and a surgical procedure on Friday. I took the day off to be with him. So ya know throw sub notes into all that mix. Joshua has his breakfast of champions at school and is being recognized for being the respect student of the month. My mother-in-law has a birthday on Tuesday. But what I think I’m most excited for this week is…The Bachelor starts tomorrow!

So with all that being said, my meals this week are quick and easy!

Monday: Sheet pan baked chicken wings and steamed veggies

Tuesday: Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper and corn

Wednesday: Baked chicken breasts topped with cheese & salsa and a green salad

Thursday: Elk fried steak topped with country gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans

Friday: Pioneer Woman’s skillet pizza

The nice thing about a busy week is they go by fast and next weekend at home with my family will be here before ya know it!

Cheers!

Share Your…Resolutions!

My bestie Jenna over at Tractors and Glam started a fun little link up with The Bolin Bunch. The first Thursday of each month we will be sharing parts of our lives!

So today it’s all about our 2019 resolutions/goals.

Set goals. Yes, I just made a goal to set goals. Monthly goals. I got this awesome little planner from Commit 30 and each month I can set a 30 day challenge (goal) and then mark off each day that I meet it!

January’s challenge is…

Coffee stands on Friday’s only. I have a bad habit of visiting the coffee stand daily when I’m perfectly capable of making my own coffee at home. This will save me time and money and make the coffee stand feel like a treat!

Workout 5x per week. Every week of the year!! I want to fully commit to my health and just feel my best through daily exercise and moving my body.

Read the Bible. I’ve never read the entire Bible. In fact, I’ve only read bits and pieces. I want to know the stories and know the Word.

Let go of the past. This is going to take some work, and possibly some counseling, but there are some things I’ve experienced the last few years that I’ve buried and this year needs to be the year I surface them, work through them and let them go.

And you know, just be more present with my kids. Be a better listener as a wife. Continue my gratitude journal. Stress less. Worry less. Be happy.

Share where you see yourself in 5 years…

I will be 39. Nathan will hit the big 4-0. Joshua will be 12 and Grady will be 9. We will still be living in our house. I hope the boys are involved in sports and/or obsessed with fishing. Nathan will have his big ol’ shop built in the backyard. I will still be teaching in the Lewiston School District and Nathan will have been promoted at SEL. We will be a happy, healthy little family of 4 that hangs out a lot together outside camping, fishing and hiking.

10 Days of Christmas Break

Today we are back to school and winter break is officially over. Small sigh. But life keeps moving forward. I am so thankful for the quiet time with my boys and for all the rest. I am refreshed and so ready to see my Webster Family and my 2nd graders today!!

Here’s a look at out holiday break!

On the first day of Christmas break we…

Went to see Santa! Our Elf, Chuck, also brought us treats to celebrate our first day of vacation.

Grady refused to even stand next to Santa this year. He was being shy and stubborn and it didn’t matter how much I bribed he refused. But Joshua was excited to see Santa and smiled so big! He asked for a mountain cave LEGO Minecraft set and those elves better be able to build it because it costs $350 on Amazon. I’m trying to explain to Joshua that Santa has been watching him all year and will get Joshua what he feels is the best fit gift, not necessarily what he asked for. Because the reality is Santa is bringing the boys a basketball hoop. NOT Legos that cost almost $400!!!

On the second day of Christmas Break…

The boys went to Grammy’s and I got to go out to Asotin Elementary and see all my friends! It was great to see some of my old co-workers and my past students. It filled my cup right up! And the boys loved getting to play with Grammy for an afternoon.

On the third day of Christmas Break we…

…had a PJ day!! We never got out of our pajamas and it was glorious! The boys lounged all day long and I cleaned out the downstairs bedroom. That bedroom had become a holding tank for all the things that I had no idea what to do with. It became a place I just dumped everything and you could barely walk in that room. Now it can actually function as a spare bedroom. Next steps are to get our friend Kyle to get his cougar out of there. Buy bedding and window treatments that actually match and a few more things we need to haul out like a broken TV and some chairs. But it’s so much better!

On the fourth day of Christmas Break…

…the boys went to the junk store with Grandma and Grandpa! They picked up these goodies and were so excited.

On the fifth day of Christmas Break we…

…went to see The Grinch at the theater as a family! We loved the movie. It was such a great version and followed the book pretty well, which I always love when a movie is true to the book! We ate too much popcorn and had some family fun.

On the sixth day of Christmas Break…

…we had family time in Moscow! We had the Sprenger family Christmas and everyone could make it this year. It was a full house and it was great to see all my cousins again.

On the seventh & eighth day of Christmas Break…

…we had Christmas! And you can read all about it here.

On the ninth day of Christmas Break…

Joshua Ball Camp

…Joshua had a day camp with the LCSC Warriors basketball team. He was so excited to learn new skills to practice on his basketball hoop that he got from Santa!

On the tenth day of Christmas Break…

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…the boys had a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa while Nathan and I had husband and wife time fishing with our friends on the Clearwater River.

It was such a good winter break. I loved every minute of it. It’s hard to go back to work for sure.

December Recap & January Goals

New month, new YEAR, new goals!

First let’s take a look back at December…

Workout 5x per week. Did this!! This is a goal I’m carrying into the new year!

Say no. I did. I said no. I had some guilt. I even got into a dispute with family. But I held my ground and said no for my mental health this month. I don’t regret it.

Santa Pictures and Locomotive Park. We did get Santa pictures taken but we never made it to the light park this year.

Buy a 2019 planner. Done! I bought a planner from Commit 30 and I LOVE!!

So let’s take a look at what I want to accomplish in January!

Read to the boys 5x per week. As a teacher mom this is so shameful for me to admit but I don’t read to my kids. I know it’s awful because I know how important it is and I tell parents of my students alll the time to read with their kids. So, it’s time I make a conscious effort to read with my boys!

Workout 5x per week. I wanna keep it up!

Hot Shots coffee only on Fridays. I have an expensive habit of stopping by Hot Shots every morning on the way to work, and even on the weekend before getting groceries. I want to make it a treat by only getting an iced Americano once a week!

Leave my phone in my purse until the boys go to bed after work. Hi, my name is Tara and I’m a phoneoholic. Seriously. I’m addicted to my phone and I’m setting a terrible example for my kids and screen time. If my phone rings or I get a text I will take my phone out and check it. But otherwise it’s staying in my purse so I stay off social media!

And there ya have it. I hate January. It’s just a long, dark, cold month and I hope it goes by fast!!

Weekend Recap • Fishing & Friends

This last weekend was one for the books! After a ton of family time over the holidays this weekend was all about our friends and it was SO good!

Friday night Nathan and I took the boys over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a sleepover. After we dropped the boys off we came home and made dinner together while getting everything ready for our fishing trip. We headed to bed early knowing that we were getting up early.

Saturday we got up at 4am to hit the river with our best friends Adam and Brittnie. Adam has a drift boat and while Nathan’s fished out of it a few times it was my first time in a drift boat. We got all bundled up but the weather was actually pretty dang nice for the end of December. Us girls rode in the front, Adam rowed and Nathan rode in the back of the boat. The best part? Besides being on the quiet, beautiful river with good friends? The fishing was AWESOME! Both Brittnie and I tagged out. I fought the biggest fish I’ve ever caught! It was a 15 pound male steelhead and he was strong! It was one I will always remember.

We got home around 4:30pm and we had all our friends coming over for dinner and social at 5pm so we rushed to shower up and get ready. 5pm our friends showed up! We had 14 adults and 8 kids making it a full house. We ate dinner, played games and just hung out. It was the best.

Sunday was recovery. We were wiped out after such a fun filled, full day. Nathan cleaned fish and prepped it for smoke. We just relaxed at home together. I baked a pork loin for dinner and it was a great Sunday knowing that I still had a few days left before heading back to work.

2018 Reflection

2018 was…hard. It was change. It was heartbreak. But it wasn’t all bad. There were some really great memories made with my boys. A LOT of fishing! So much fishing. I reclaimed my health and was the most fit I’ve ever been in my life. A new job. So let’s look back at 2018 starting at the beginning.

January.

I am not a fan of January. It feels like the longest month of the entire year. It’s like time stands still and we’re just stuck in winter. I hate winter. I should definitely work on my attitude towards January. Anyway, nothing really happened in January 2018 but I did get my brand new tonneau  cover that Nathan bought me for Christmas.

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February.

We started February with influenza. Both boys caught it and it was miserable. My babies were so sick and it sucked! We also celebrated mine and Joshua’s birthday.

March.

March was the start to bass fishing! We had some really beautiful days in March and were able to get outside after being cooped up all winter.

April.

April we enjoyed Spring Break! The boys and I went to the Aquatic Center and did a little fishing. I also fell in love with Brett Eldredge in April. My parents had bought me concert tickets for the Long Way Tour in Pullman and I asked my friend Brittnie to come with me. We had the BEST time at the concert. It became my most favorite concert, ever.

May.

May was a big month. I interviewed for the Lewiston School District TWICE and got the officially phone call on the 21st from the assistant superintendent offering me a 2nd grade job at Webster Elementary. I made the official announcement on social media. Joshua also graduated kindergarten and it was our last couple of weeks being at the same school together. I will always remember that special year of teaching kinder with my boy in the classroom next year learning from the best teacher I know and my best friend. Special.

June.

June was hard. June was goodbye. Joshua and I had to say goodbye to Asotin Elementary. We also had the BASS Nation State Qualifier hosted out of Harrison, Idaho on Lake Couer D’ Alene. Nathan made the state team as a pro angler and we were so excited! We had the best time, as always, fishing off the docks in Harrison.

July.

July was a little harder month. We started off the month pretty good. We celebrated the 4th of July, I had a deck date with my bestie, attended my first Sprenger Open to Defeat ALS andwe went back to Harrison for the PBA Classic. More family time and fishing on the docks! The best.

My dad continued to struggle with his alcoholism and my family was fed up with it! My mom moved into my grandma’s house. A few days later my dad had a bad fall and hit his head. My brother found him face down on the bathroom floor and called 911. He was rushed to the ER and had emergency brain surgery for bleeding.

I had to get away for a weekend while my dad was in the ICU so we headed up to the North Fork of the Clearwater with some of our best friends. My mind of course was with my dad but it felt so good to laugh with our friends and just relax.

August.

August was the hardest. August 1st we lifted my dad’s life support and passed away. It has been the hardest goodbye. August 10th, on the morning of dad’s funeral, Nathan and I bought our brand new camper! I think Dad had a hand in this. We had been looking for months for a new camper and couldn’t find exactly what we wanted for our price range. As fate would have it we found this one that morning. Our DREAM camper! I spoke at Dad’s service and we were surrounded with love from family and friends. On August 4th (dad’s birthday) Nathan took me upriver with the boys to fish off a beach. I think he knew I needed a day like that.

Joshua had his first day of 1st grade at Camelot Elementary and I had my first day of teaching 2nd grade at Webster Elementary. I was also busy with new to the district meetings and trainings. August was such a busy, complicated month that it’s hard to even recall it. It’s kind of a blur.

September.

September we took one last camping trip to the Lochsa River. We camped at the Wilderness Gateway and it was just what I needed after so much busy.

Grady started school for the very first time at Wonder World pre-school. I also went to the rodeo for Kaitlin’s bachelorette party.

We celebrated mom’s birthday at El’ Sombreoro on the 13th. Joshua attended his first basketball camp with the LCSC Warriors men’s basketball team and the boys got to ride a horse for the first time out at the Greene ranch.

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October.

October we were blessed with so many beautiful days. The weather was awesome! We took advantage of one of those days and took the boys bass fishing on the Skeeter. We had the best day. The boys love fishing on the boat and so do we! Nathan got a super nice fall smallmouth.

We also had the Greene wedding! It was Clay’s turn to get married. And he married UP that’s for certain! We love Kaitlin and are so happy to welcome her to our framily. Nathan was a groomsmen and Grady was the ring bearer.

We finished October with Halloween. Joshua was Pikachu and Grady was a skeleton again this year.

November.

We had Grateful November at Webster Elementary. I love our monthly spirit days promoting positive character traits.

November is also the month the boys got their new fishing boat! Nathan finally found the perfect Lund on Craigslist in CDA. We drove up after work on a Friday night to pick it up. As fate would have it it dumped a couple of inches of snow on the drive up. Nathan wasn’t feeling comfortable pulling a boat he hadn’t towed before on the snowy highway, in the dark, with his entire family in the truck so we decided to find a hotel room and stay the night! It was completely unplanned and turned out to be one of my favorite memories of 2018. We ate dinner at The Olive Pit and stayed in a nice hotel. The boys loved it!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving at the cabin again. It’s my favorite tradition. We burned piles and piles of pine needles. The huge bonfire was so fun. It was peaceful and relaxing and we soaked up every minute of our couple days getaway to the cabin for the holiday.

December.

December was a welcomed 2 week break from school for the kids and I! We had Joshua’s Christmas concert at Lewiston High School and we made it up to my Uncle Mike’s for a Sprenger family Christmas.

We ended the month with a steelhead trip with great friends. I caught the biggest steelhead I’ve ever caught and it was a great finish to the year!

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Sunday Meal Planning

I started meal planning on Sundays a couple years ago and it’s changed my life! I used to stress throughout the day, everyday, about what I was going to cook for dinner that night. I would also spend a lot of money running to the grocery store almost every night to pick up what I needed to make dinner once I figured it out. Meal planning has helped my stress and my wallet. I just plan out meals for the entire week, make my ingredients list, put in the Walmart order and done!

This week it’s New Years and back to work after a much needed and relaxing break. Boy have I soaked up every minute of our winter break and I’m feeling rested and rejuvenated! It’s a nice ease back into the routine this week with nothing too crazy. After spending lots of money on holiday food I made the second part of the week cheap and easy! Here’s a look at our menu this week! (Mamas if you’re looking for meal ideas please copy whatever sounds right for your family. That’s why I’m starting these posts–to help others meal plan and steal ideas and recipes!)

Sunday: Seasoned pork loin, fried taters (which Joshua calls French fried potatoes! I want to try out my new iron skillet I got for Xmas) and green beans

Monday: New Year’s Eve! We are having some friends over for dinner and cards to make it a family oriented, low-key end to the year! We are grilling tri-tip steaks with a big ol’ green salad! Mimosas and sparkling apple cider. Cheers!

Tuesday: I am trying out my best friend’s new recipe. Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake from Tractors and Glam. I will make some garlic French bread and steamed veggies to go with it!

Wednesday: First day back to school! I will be making mini meatloaf squares and baked steak fries. This is a recipe I will have to share sometime on the blog. It’s a good one!

Thursday: Tacos! (I will make mine into a salad) and rice.

Friday: Pizza Night! We love a Friday pizza night around here.

Hope you all have a great first week of the new year!

Friday Favorites

It was our last full week of Christmas break around here and it was a great week! This weekend we have fishing and friends and I can’t wait! Here’s a look at some favorites from the week…

LCSC Warrior basketball camp is a FAVORITE in this house! The Warriors put on a day camp the day after Christmas and Joshua was so excited, especially after getting a basketball hoop from Santa.

Speaking of which, the basketball hoop and watching the boys play basketball is my FAVORITE!

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Have you tried Skinny Pop? Oh my gosh it’s my FAVORITE and a serving is a full cup for only 39 calories. Plus it’s non GMO. Win! I get this huge bag at Costco.

Another favorite has been making a shake for breakfast. In the past I used Shakeology for my shakes but recently I found a new shake at Costco that is all organic and I love it! It’s called Orgain and it’s delicious. I add some pure cacao powder when I’m feeling like chocolate.

Nathan’s smoked prime rib on Christmas Day was a FAVORITE! Mouthwatering. So good. So good.

This necklace my mom gifted me is also my FAVORITE. It’s the last necklace my dad bought for my mom. He bought it for her during their last trip to Hawaii. Hawaii was one of his favorite places so it’s a great memory of my dad.

The boys are going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house tonight for a sleepover which is their FAVORITE while Nathan and I get husband and wife time which is our FAVORITE.

 

Addiction

I don’t know if this topic will become a regular on the blog or not but it’s something on my heart today so I’m going to share something with you. I was listening to Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback church. You can listen to his ministry on YouTube and I love to listen while I’m getting ready for work in the mornings. And I was listening to a sermon the other day on how God blesses a broken heart and Mr. Warren said one statement that just hit me in the core in that moment.

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“Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt.”

And this has stuck with me since the moment I heard it. The thought of taking my deepest hurt, what haunts me the most, and turning it into something good. Something meaningful. Purposeful. Is powerful.

So I’ve been pondering this. How can I do this? What will this ministry look like? I’m not sure. It may take me months or years to figure that out. But I have to start. It has to start somewhere.

What is my deepest hurt? My father’s addiction to alcohol and losing him to his addiction.

I’m starting with research and gathering as much information as I can. And as I do this I want to share the information I find here in this space. And that’s my starting point. I don’t know where it will take me or what will happen with it.

So to start I’m sharing a Ted Talk that I have listened to 4 or 5 times now. The information shared in this Ted Talk about addiction will give you so much to ponder. Just listen and take a moment to ponder this message.

If you don’t want to listen to the entire Ted Talk (which if you’ve ever listened to TED before you know they are no more than 20 minutes) go to minute 12:44 and start there. This is where the dagger pierces my own heart.

 

“For a hundred years now we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them. Because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” –Johann Hari

Christmas 2018

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This was the strangest feeling Christmas yet and in the spirit of being really REAL (because I’ve said this time and time again my blog is real life not the highlight reel of the social media world) I am so glad it’s over. The first Christmas without my dad is done and I am so thankful for that. Building up to it I didn’t feel this way. I was excited for Christmas and even found myself in the Christmas spirit. But as the holiday got closer and closer I found myself less and less excited about it. I tried really hard to make the best of it for my family but my heart had a significant hole in it. But the boys loved Christmas nonetheless in ways only children can.

Christmas Eve we went to Nathan’s parent’s house. We had French dips for dinner and they were delicious. Then we opened gifts. When we got home the boys got to open their Xmas Eve gift from me. I always buy them Christmas pajamas every year that they open on Xmas Eve. Normally I have a DVD with them but this year they got shark pocket blankets with their PJ’s and they were so excited!

We set out cookies and milk for Santa and the boys went to bed with anxious hearts. Nathan and I went downstairs and finished wrapping their stocking stuffers. Then we went out into the garage and wrapped their basketball hoop from Santa. It made such a giant present and we were so excited for the boys to wake up to it in the morning. Santa also got them basketballs and nerf footballs.

Joshua was up at 5am but I made him go back to bed for a bit. By 6:10am we were all up and in front of the tree opening presents. The bows from their daddy was on of their favorite gifts. And they were JACKED about their new basketball hoop from Santa!

Around Noon my mom came over to the spend Christmas Day with us. My Grandma also came over and we opened gifts with them. My mom gifted me the last necklace my dad ever bought her. He got it for her on their last vacation to Hawaii (they went almost every January) and this gift is so so special. Not only is this necklace beautiful but it represents my dad and I will think of him and Hawaii ever time I look at it.

Nathan’s parents also came over around 3pm and Nathan smoked a prime rib for the family. It was AMAZING! He did good. So good.

We sat around the table and enjoyed a few beers and good talk. Around 5:30pm everyone went home and I was wiped out. Just completely wiped. We all put on our PJ’s and Joshua was more than happy to wear his new Minecraft pajamas. We all were in bed by 7:30pm.

It was a very nice Christmas. I have so much to be grateful for. The health of my babies. My sweet husband. My mom who is getting stronger by the day who has been blessed in so many ways the last couple of months. My in-laws who mean the world to me. My grandma. We were fortunate to fill the house with gifts and were financially comfortable in doing so. My heart was grateful but it was also sad. I missed Grandma Linda and Papa Gene and Papa Jim and my Dad more than my little heart could handle this year. So I’m glad it’s over.