Tag Archives: lutheran

Meal Planning for My Sanity

If you follow my Instagram (@lwalbolt) or my Facebook, I’ve been posting weekly pictures of our dinner menu since just before Henry began kindergarten. It’s been helpful for me to plan out our dinners for grocery shopping purposes and to give an advance look at our evening plans that may interrupt family dinner time. I feel calmer about the whole dinner process, especially because my house becomes crazytown between 5 and 7 pm (the time when I make dinner).

If your house goes bonkers in the evening like mine does (I continuously ask myself, “Is it bedtime yet?”), maybe my process for meal planning can help you find some peace in the actual cooking of dinner.

First, I compiled a list of all our favorite recipes with accompanying website locations since I had them saved in multiple places (including the abyss that is my Pinterest account). I divided the list by meat (chicken, pork, beef) and vegetarian meals. That way I can do a variety of foods and not just eat delicious pasta every night.

Next, I look at our schedule to see when Keith and I have evening meetings, family fun times, or gym classes, and I make easy, quick meals on those nights. I know I never feel like cooking on Sundays (church drains all of us as a clergy family) so we either do leftovers or pizza (Publix has excellent dough in the bakery which makes for easy assembly). Since Monday is Keith’s day off, I produce a more elaborate meal with leftovers so he has food to take for lunch during the week. I also alternate the type of grains we eat so everyone gets their favorite. Finally, I got an Instant Pot over the summer so I’ve been making something in there once a week.

Sometimes the kids are not here for eating my new creations. “I hate broccoli,” exclaims Elliot, and “It’s too spicy” are two statements I often hear. So I always make sure there is something on their plates they love (like applesauce), and they are required to try (occasionally with tears) all parts of dinner. But there’s usually leftover macaroni and cheese in the fridge that I heat up once they try it, if they’re still so so hungry.

Most importantly, I allow myself grace when I don’t feel like making whatever dinner I have planned (no real reason required). Chicken nuggets and fries plus salad (just kidding – chicken nuggets and tots are a totally fine dinner) is something we eat on the regular, and never gets old. Assuming the ingredients haven’t gotten disgusting, I just move the meal I didn’t make to next week’s menu. So if you see a meal on my menu two weeks in a row (or more), it’s probably because we had a lazy night (or maybe we really liked it).

Currently, we are trying to eat more vegetarian meals so I’m only planning meat a couple times a week. I’ve been scouring my favorite websites (Six Sisters Stuff, Damn Delicious, Budget Bytes, and Pioneer Woman) for new recipes, because I like to do 1-2 new to us recipes each week. It keeps me from getting bored in the kitchen, and some of them turn out to be hits. Only a couple of times have we had to order pizza because dinner was inedible. So I consider myself a self-taught cooking success! Now if I could find some trained animals to do the dishes afterwards that would be ideal.

Simply Having A Wonderful Advent Season

The weeks leading up to Christmas Day are busy for everyone, but I think they feel especially busy for clergy families. Even though Advent is a time for waiting for The Christ-child to be born, I find it difficult to breathe and enjoy the pause before Jesus joins us here on Earth. 

I’m usually torn between wanting to make memories with the boys and wanting to do things the way I like. Sometimes these goals are one and the same, like baking cookies or decorating a real Christmas tree. The process, however, looks very different from how it should go in my head.
For example, Henry is an excellent baker, but wants to dump everything into a batter all at once, including egg shells. THIS DOESN’T WORK! So I try to practice my breathing and calmly tell him to refrain from dumping the ingredients until it is time. Sometimes I can do it, and others I lose my sh*t. 

The Hen was interested in decorating the tree this year…until he wasn’t. He put half of the ornaments up on the bottom third of the tree and called it a day. This left me to complete trimming the tree and to reorganize the ornaments that were bottom heavy. But not too many, or else he would notice that I moved them from their spots. The struggle is real for Type A parents with toddlers! 

We also worked together to create the saddest looking gingerbread house ever. I thought since we had a kit my lack of artistic skill and structural engineering wouldn’t be an issue. It was. The roof caved in within the hour, and it looked like a toddler had iced the house. Except my toddler refused to ice it, so it was all my fault it didn’t look like the picture. Luckily, the candy was delicious so it saved the project.

I won tickets to two shows in December. First up was at the Straz Center in Tampa – a fantastically imaginative touring off-Broadway production of Into the Woods. I took my mother-in-law, Margo, and we loved the pared-down production that allowed for the creativity of the performers to shine through. For the second one, all four of us headed to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater to see The Octonauts Live on Stage. This propelled my street cred to a new level in the Hen’s eyes since he has seen every single episode of the show. He seemed concerned at first, but later got into the clapping and screaming with all of the other kids. Keith and I toasted our awesome parenting afterwards because we survived.

Our church (Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Seminole, Florida) had its annual Christmas pageant, and since we had an infant we (Keith, me, and Elliot) were the de facto choice to play the Holy Family. Elliot crushed his role by being his happy, chill self. Keith’s Joseph calmly took Jesus’ birth in stride. This left me to struggle with my head covering throughout the production, while keeping an eye out for our little shepherd, Henry. One of the other toddler moms dutifully corralled Henry and the two other shepherds with graham crackers for most of the reading, until the shepherd wanted his parents. All in all, it went well, there were fun animals (llamas!!) to see, and cookies to eat afterwards.

Finally, since the weather remained incredibly hot in December, we had lots of outside adventures to parks, in our backyard, and to ice cream shops. You know, all the normal things to do in Florida during winter. I love that we get to do these things year-round, and try to make the most of our lovely “winter” season.

Elliot’s Baptism

Since Keith is a pastor, he chose All Saints Day (11/6) as the day to baptize Elliot, who was almost 6 months old at the time of his baptism. Our campus ministry pastor, Rev. Dr. Michael Collins, did the baptizing. I’m sure he was happy doing an infant baptism rather than the toddler one he performed on Henry at age 1 1/2.
We loved seeing both sides of the family come together to celebrate Elliot being officially named as a child of God. Elliot’s Godparents – Aunt Amanda and Uncle Brent – promised to communicate their faith and values to him, and they have definitely been a special presence in his life so far. And I can’t wait to see their relationships deepen further with our littlest. 

Rays Up!

It seems fitting that on the day Keith leaves to attend the ELCA’s National Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan (Rise Up: Together – http://www.elca.org/YouthGathering) that I write about Henry’s first MLB experience rooting for our hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays (Rays Up!). This past Saturday, Thrivent sponsored its annual Lutheran Day at the Rays, where Lutherans from this part of Florida could all attend a game together and support the Eckerd organization. Our church, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, had twelve of us sign up to go, and the game did not disappoint!  

We arrived a little late to see the Rays take on the Astros, but once we found our seats the Rays came alive and scored. Henry calmly sat in our laps for the first part, probably overwhelmed with everything happening in the stadium – from the lights shining, the music blaring, the crowd roaring, and the TV screens flashing – a lot was happening for our little guy to take in. He really liked the music and cheering, and soon began to dance and clap for the home team. Another awesome thing happening was the crazy thunderstorm raging outside the ballpark – we could see the wind and rain hitting and moving the roof and shaking the lights at the top of the stadium. It was scary, but also very cool. 

During the middle part of the game, Henry and I walked around the whole stadium. I tried to acquire a first time attendee buttons for him, but they were gone by mid-game; next time I’ll get him one for sure. We also tried to see the sting rays in the touch tank, but Henry decided he didn’t want to wait in a long line. So we played musical bats, colored mascot pictures, and climbed all over a giant baseball glove. When we returned to our seats, the Hen was ready to watch baseball and eat popcorn (mostly eat popcorn). He got antsy again so Keith took a turn walking around with him, but they made it back in time to see the Rays win! Henry and us Lutherans must be good luck charms for the Rays, who were having a losing streak before the sweeping Astros weekend. Rays Up, indeed!