Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meng Menu: Two weeks of dinners

-->
Sunday: Roasted pork loin, roasted red potatoes, salad, apple pie
Monday: Cheeseburger soup, rolls
Tuesday: Hot dogs, chips, apples
Wednesday: Spaghetti, salad
Thursday: Helman’s chicken, rice, green beans
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Breakfast burritos, fruit 

-->
Sunday: Lasagna, bread, salad
Monday: Sloppy joes, potato wedges, carrot sticks
Tuesday: Chicken parm, angel hair pasta w/ sauce, salad
Wednesday: Church potluck
Thursday: Turkey burgers sliders, chips, fruit
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Pork loin, rice, peas

Whew! School started last week for me and this week for my kids so menu planning is more important than ever for keeping our evenings running smoothly. I spent $268 this week, which is a bit more than normal but I am also hosting dinner at my house each Sunday for college students, so I am preparing meals for about 10 people each week (including my family).
Our yummy Sunday dinner!
Planning delicious, budget conscious meals for company can be challenging but this past Sunday went really well and I think the dinner turned out great! 

I was able to get a 5+ pound pork loin on sale + coupon for $10. In total for the whole meal, I was able to feed 10 people a company dinner for around $20. Not bad! 

I am looking forward to lasagna next Sunday night--my mom's recipe. A classic indeed!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The question that annoys me the most as a twin mom

When I was in high school, I was a leader for a preschool church group. One year, we had adorable, blond-headed, mischievous twin boys join the group. They usually dressed alike so it was really hard to tell them apart.

Their mom even told me a story once about how a babysitter had deliberately changed them into non-matching clothes so she could tell them apart. Those little hooligans when to the bathroom (they were 4 years old!) and switched shirts! haha! Classic.

I could never tell those boys apart either.

I tell this story because I know what it is like to see a pair of twins, scratch my head, and wonder, "Which one is which?"

However, now that I have identical twins myself, this question drives me crazy.

When my boys were babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers, I didn't mind being asked "Which one is which?" My boys couldn't answer this question for themselves and I was happy to set people straight in the identical twin confusion.
Yeah…this one even stumps me. One of the rare times I dressed them alike as babies. 
My twins are almost 7 years old. They still look alike. So, why does this question bother me so much?

Because people ask me "Which one is which?" right in front of my boys.

My go-to answer has become "Ask them. They would be happy to tell you their names" as I sigh inwardly.
Micah likes to wear his hair long. Benji? The shorter the better!
You are probably clucking your tongue right now thinking, "Brittany, they are TWINS! You shouldn't get irritated."

And I really try not to. But if you think about it, most people would not approach a mother of two boys,  who were typical siblings who were playing two feet from her, and ask "Which one is which?" This question always just pinches me a little bit because, in some way, it strips my boys of their personal identity.

I want each of my sons to be known and recognized for being himself, not for being one half of a whole. After all, Micah and Benji have different interests, likes, dislikes, personalities…even their voices are different. They aren't even the same height or weight! (Micah is taller and heavier).

As identical twins, this is a battle that my boys will have to engage in their whole lives. It doesn't really bother them a whole lot now so I guess I am "fighting" for them at the moment. But I know the time will come when they will realize that people constantly can't remember their names…maybe perhaps because they see Micah and Benji as two parts of a whole, not as individuals.

So, what's the solution? For me, I need to continue practicing patience and graciousness and teach these virtues to my children as well.

For others, what do you do when you really cannot tell a pair of twins apart, like those two little boys in my preschool church group?

I would love it if people, children or adults, came up to Micah or Benji and said, "I can't remember your name. Could you please remind me?"

This question is personal and sensitive. And it would make the heart of this twin mom glow, because you would be recognizing my son for the unique person that he is.

PS. For those of you know my boys, another tip for telling them apart is that Micah has a cowlick and Benji doesn't. In fact, Micah will even point it out to you himself! :)
See that swirl of hair on Micah's forehead? That's his special feature!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm going to have FOUR sons OR How I fought against gender disappointment

I'm not gonna lie, folks. I had a major freak-out the morning of my 20 week ultrasound. You see, I have three sons. Three adorable boys. Three very energetic boys. I have THREE boys. 
I mean, seriously. How cute are these boys?
And everyone in my family was convinced that I was pregnant with a girl. My 6 year old son named the baby "Frederica." Cute, right? (terrible, terrible name. But what can you do?)

Up until that morning, I was peaceful and serene. 
Peaceful me at 20 weeks.
Whatever will be, will be. Que Sera, Sera or whatever. 

Of course, I had taken all the online quizzes: Boy or girl? FIND OUT NOW! (Results = girl, every time).
The Chinese Gender Predictor Chart? GIRL. 

And seriously, I already have three boys. The odds had to be in our favor, right? 

So, back to my freak-out. Peaceful and serene until the morning of. Cue my toddler losing my wedding ring and then 2 hours of frantic cleaning. We didn't find it. And cleaning is the never-fail-to-put-mommy-in-a-bad-mood solution.  I yelled at all the boys, fed them lunch, and SENT THEM TO BED. 

Then I sat down on the couch to think (never a good idea, right?)

I just know the baby is a boy. Another boy. What am I going to do with FOUR wild boys? 

What if Micah and Benji are beyond upset that the baby isn't a girl?     

My family has 7 grandsons and one granddaughter. They want a girl so badly! How can I carry their disappointment...not to mention my own? 

Because the truth is, I really did want a girl. But I did NOT want to experience the intense "gender disappointment" I did when I found out Silas was a boy. It was not pretty, friends. There was crying, and lots of feeling sorry for myself. SORRY for myself that I was having a healthy baby BOY. I cringe at my immaturity. However, my feelings of dissappointment were real. 

And I didn't WANT to feel disappointed this time.

The clock was ticking down. It was an hour till we had to leave for the ultrasound. I got in the shower and started to pray. I don't even know what I prayed. Only God knew. 

Then a question entered my mind: Why do you want a 4th child? 
Because this baby was planned, longed for...especially after our miscarriage. 
And the answer came to my heart: I want to give Silas a sibling that is close to his age. 

Silas is five years younger than his twin brothers. I didn't want him to feel lonely growing up. So, we planned for a fouth, wanted a fourth.

And as the water streamed down over my face, I realized that I wanted a brother for Silas.  
A daughter? I wanted a daughter for me.  
But if the baby was a boy...what utter joy that would be for my little Silas. 
A little brother. 
A wrestling buddy.
A tag-a-long. 
A bunk-bed partner.
A best friend. 

And then I was ok. I knew this wisdom was from God, who gave this baby to our family, who chose this baby to be Silas' younger sibling. 

And I just knew. I knew even before I saw that little wiggle-waggle on the screen. 
Baby Boy Meng
IT'S A BOY!!!
So, here's how the boys reacted. 

Ultrasound tech: "It's a boy!"
Micah: "Oh, nuts!!!!"
Tech: (aside to me, laughing) "Literally!"
Benji: "But....I thought it was a GIRL!!!"

Both boys admitted later that they were a little sad that we were not going to have a baby sister. I told them I was a little sad too. But is ok to be sad. We can be excited too. 

So I am going to have FOUR SONS. And honestly, at times this truth strikes fear and trepidation into my poor little female heart.  And then I just laugh and laugh. Four sons.    
Elijah (Eli) Jefferson Meng
Our little Elijah Jefferson is going to join our family in December. I can't wait to meet my son. I can't wait for his brothers to meet him.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Meng Menu

Sunday: Grilled skirt steak, baked potatoes, green beans
Tuesday: Roast beef sandwiches, chips, fruit
Thursday: Potstickers, fried rice w/ veggies
Friday: Out to eat

Saturday: Out to eat (softball tournament)

Sunday: Asian marinated chicken thighs, rice, green beans
Monday: Sloppy joes, potato wedges, carrot sticks
Tuesday: Chicken, rice and broccoli casserole
Thursday: Chicken meatballs, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Waffles, sausage, fruit

Whew. I am glad to have grocery shopping over with. Sometimes it seems like such a mental and physical hurdle. But I am prepped and planned for two weeks, which will take us up to the start of school for the twins, August 25. Total today was $247 or $123 per week. Not bad. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I openly breastfeed in front of my older children

It is World Breastfeeding week! So, in honor of that, I thought I'd write a post.

A slightly controversial post, perhaps.

You see, I have older twin sons who are almost 7 and I breastfed their brother (weaned at 21 months) openly in front of them.

Like, I am not "modest" around my sons at all while breastfeeding.
Well, come to think of it, I'm not THAT immodest while breastfeeding
(Nursing one of my twins: 2008)
They have seen the boobs.
They have stood inches from me while their little brother frantically rooted around and then blissfully latched on.

"Is he drinking chocolate milk, Mommy?" asked Micah d the first time he saw Silas nurse.

Now THAT would be special, right?

But beyond the delightful idea of chocolate milk, I think that allowing my older sons to see me breastfeed is pretty special in and of itself.

And it is a decision that I made on purpose.

I could have used a cover, excused myself to another room, or shooed them away when it was nursing time. But I didn't.

I wanted them to see what a woman's body could do: feed, nourish, and nurture a baby.

Breasts are so over-sexed in our culture. We've all seen the meme or heard the tongue-in-cheek comparison about the breastfeeding woman who is publicly shamed for feeding her baby while grocery store magazine racks showcase models whose breasts are displayed for public consumption. How's that for irony?

In contrast to society's views about the female body, I want my boys to have a healthy view of breasts. While they can be sexually alluring, I don't really want breasts to be mysterious or a body part to be ogled. My sons have seen my breasts used in a non-sexual way as I have fed their brother and will feed our new baby in the near future.

A healthy view of a woman's body is, in my opinion, a holistic view. Breasts are beautiful but they are also useful and, in our family, are used to feed and nurture babies and toddlers.
I hope that by normalizing breastfeeding and breasts for my sons, it is one step I can take while they are young to guide their hearts and minds to view woman respectfully and holistically in the future, and push against the cultural idea that women are simply sexual objects.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What Jane Austen did for me this summer

Jane Austen has been a good friend to me. Never mind the fact that she lived and died over 200 years ago. She came through for me this summer in a brand new way.

Back in May I wrote a post about my desire to start something new: A book club.


And I did! 

The scary thing was, I had never started a book club. I had never even been IN a book club (does Bible study count??). I really had no idea what I was doing. 

But after receiving a healthy amount of interest, we started reading Pride and Prejudice in June. 

And something happened that first meeting, something new and strange. 

I met with 8 ladies in a comfortable living room, ate lemon tart and drank tea and discussed one of my favorite books. 
Some of the wonderful women in our Jane Austen Book Club. We met for lunch for our last meeting at the very English Ploughcraft Tea Room
And it was weird. 

I realized afterwards that it had been years since I had gotten together with a group of women and talked about something other than my home life, work, and especially, my children. I love talking about these topics….but at this first book club….

….I felt like I was exercising a part of my brain and soul that had been dormant for a long time. It was so refreshing….and foreign

I hoped I'd never be one of "those women" who say, "I lost part of myself when I became  a mother." 

I wanted to shake those moms and say, "buck up, woman! Keep a hold of yourself! Remember who you are!"

But, I realized at that first book club, over discussions of Bingley and Jane, Elizabeth and Darcy that while I hadn't lost part of myself, per se, I hadn't pursued this passion in a long time, a passion for reading, literary discussion, and everything Jane Austen  (Jane Austen's works were the focus my master's thesis, after all!). Because sometimes those passions get buried when you are a busy wife and mother. 

So, this book club was like finding a part of myself again. 

Everything I learned in grad school about Jane came pouring out at our meetings. I dug out old lecture notes, read my marginalia to my friends, and talked WAY TOO MUCH at each meeting.

But I couldn't help it. That passion was rekindled. 

So, thank you Jane Austen for reminding me of who I am and what I love. 

And thank you, new friends and old, for joining my book club and reading Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey with me. Meeting with me every week (or whenever you could make it!) was more that just a fun summer pastime. 

It fed my heart and soul. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Just wait…!": A bad parenting habit I need to break

It started when I was pregnant with my twins.  Experienced parents would cluck their tongues, shake their heads and state:

"Just wait….!"

"Just wait…you think pregnancy is hard? Wait until you have newborns!"
"Just wait….you better sleep now because you won't have a good night's sleep for the next 5 years!"

Then after the baby is born, I started hearing these predictions:

"Just wait till he starts teething! Now that's sleep deprivation!"
"Oh, I wish mine was a newborn again. Just wait till they can walk! You'll never sit down again!"
"Be thankful they can't talk yet. Just wait till they are toddlers. All I hear is "no! no! no!' Can you say temper tantrum?!"

Twin two year old glory
Then came toddlerhood:

"You think he has an attitude now? Just wait till he's a teenager!"
"You think you worry about safety now? Just wait till he's driving!"

I just sigh. Because with each "Just wait!"all I really hear is this:
"You think your life is hard now? Just wait! In a few years, you're going to be even more miserable! Parenting is really going to suck then! Haha!"

But, if I am really honest, I know I've said this phrase myself.

The real question is Why? Why do we caution new parents to "hold on! Just wait….!"

When I examine my heart and attitude toward parenting, I know I've said "Just wait!" for a few complicated, and rather embarrasing reasons:

1. I want to warn less experienced parents of what is coming up. Hey, the "Terrible Threes" ARE harder than the "Terrible Twos."

2. I want to be patted on the back: Yes, dear. Parenting is hard. Here's a gold star. 

3. I want to feel superior: You, poor new parent, haven't even experienced the agony that is to come. Heh, heh, heh. Just wait… 

#1 is the only reason that is only slightly unselfish (though really, any parent will discover that three is harder than two on her own). The other two reasons just make me cringe that I've ever said "Just wait" to a newer parent.

To me, and any exhausted parent who is just looking for sympathy and support for a hard day….or hard stage….of parenting, the last thing we want to hear is this: "Just wait. The worst is yet to come."

I've only been a parent for 7 years but I've come to realize two small truths:
1. Every parenting stage has its challenges. In some ways, it gets better. In some ways, it gets harder. Mostly it just gets different.
2. Messages of encouragement do far more good than predictions of doom.

I'm trying to break the "just wait" habit in myself. I want to look forward to the future with my children (yes! even the teenage years!) and not live in dread of every new stage.

But even more than adjusting my own attitude, I want to start offering more encouragement and support to my fellow parents. Maybe we could all try out some new "Just waits…"

"Just wait till you hold that new baby in your arms and kiss that sweet head. It is so worth it."
"Just wait till she smiles for the first time. Your heart will melt."
"Just wait till he says, 'I love you, mama!'"
"Just wait till she waves at you at her school program, nudges the kid next to her and says, "look! That's my mom!"
And even...
"Just wait till he gets his license and can go to Kroger and pick up milk."

Yes, all of those things are worth waiting for…and looking forward to.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Meng Menu: Summer Time Meals!

Sunday: Homemade pizza, salad
Monday: Chicken meatballs in cream sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans
Tuesday: Chicken taquitos, salad
Thursday: Out to eat
Friday (July 4!): Hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, chips, watermelon

Saturday: Sloppy joes, chips, apples 

Sunday: Helmans chicken, parm rice, green beans
Monday: London broil, baked potatoes, broccoli
Tuesday:  Chicken pot pie
Wednesday: Spaghetti, salad
Thursday: Asian chicken thighs, rice, green beans
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Biscuits and gravy, smoothies

I'm finally getting around to posting our menu for the next two weeks! I menu plan every two weeks but I've been forgetting to blog about it. 

I am trying out 3 new recipes in week 1. I've been getting tired of the same ol' same ol' dinners. Hopefully we'll find some new favorites!

Shopping was great this week and came in at $221, or $111 per week. Nice. I saved almost $50 with Kroger specials and a few coupons. Plus, I had an online coupon for double fuel points on weekends so the next time we fill up (which will be soon!) I will be able to save 70c per gallon. YES!

I am really looking forward to the 4th of July--my brother is coming to visit and we are looking forward to cooking out and some fireworks! 

Happy Independence Day! 

Like this? Share it!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...