On Being Alone and Meal Planning

I am a slightly paranoid person. I know it and I am learning to deal with it. I usually don’t like to make it known publicly when my husband is out of town. Most people share lots of personal data on their blogs but I try not to. It’s not that I don’t trust you dear readers. I just don’t trust the crazy people of the world….and in case you’ve missed the news over the last month, we’ve got a lot of crazy in this world we live in!

Anyway what I’ve been keeping from you is that my husband has been out of town for 4 weeks to Alabama and Korea and was due back in another week. Typically 5 weeks alone with 3 young kids would be challenging enough, but then add the fact that we don’t have ANY friends here yet, are on summer break and don’t have a routine yet….OH MY I have been quietly struggling. I can’t verbalize how long this separation felt and I know as a military family we are going to face a deployment in the next year and I will have to deal with what I just experienced times NINE. 9 months without him. I don’t think I will ever get used to it, but at least I can guarantee we will have friends and a support system in place by then!

I have been counting the days until school starts which can’t come fast enough. I can’t say I was totally alone though as my sweet mom came over from Texas to help out for a bit. That was huge, but somehow the time still dragged on and I slept poorly the entire month of August.

Then today as I started to work on my meal plan for the week (which was going to be pretty pathetic because I’m oh so tired) I get a phone call. It’s my husband. He says he needs me to get a document out of his truck so I head outside with the phone in my hand. I open the garage and THERE HE IS standing right in front of me. I haven’t had a surprise like that in a LONG time. I was shocked. My very immediate reaction was that it was a neighbor coming up to the garage and then I saw it was MY HUSBAND who I thought was in KOREA for 6 more days. Crazy I tell ya. I brought him in and exclaimed to the kids “you’re not going to believe what I found outside” and once Daddy walked in they came running and actually had teary eyes of joy (they are 5 and 3). It was so special.

I am going to hold off on posting a recipe but am going to go spend time with my sweet family (actually as I write this my husband is racked out. I am not sure when or if he will wake today!). It was easier to quickly upload these iphone pics rather than finish a recipe post.

and within an hour I look outside to find these guys snuggling in the front yard

I love this pic. It was not posed at all and they didn’t even see me until after I took it. How cute! (not pictured baby R who was napping)

Excuse the disaster behind them but I haven’t gotten to the cleaning yet!!

Our treats from the work trip: Japanese chocolate, other candy that I haven’t opened and GREEN Kit Kats which are surprisingly good! Yes they are green! I can’t pinpoint what they taste like- kind of like white chocolate with some other yummy flavor. Anybody Japanese folks out there reading know what the flavor is?

UPDATE: In plain ENGLISH on the top of the box it says it’s sakura (cherry blossom) flavor mixed with green tea. Oops, how did I miss that? I kind of guessed green tea at first but it’s pretty subtle…and no cherry blossom flavor did not cross my mind. ;)

So meal planning will be very tentative. I might actually make another shopping trip apart from the super fast one I did with all 3 kids after church today. I also want to clean out the freezer and we actually have some good leftovers in there!

Meal Planning

Tofu Scramble and Avocado (Tacos), Mixed Greens, Beets & Feta

Spaghetti and Meat sauce (some sort of veggie on the side)

Turkey Burgers, Butternut Squash Fries, Salad

Garlic Shrimp, Orzo, Sauteed Sesame Kale

 Back to School! Loaded Baked Potato Skins (going to make these pretty healthy), Veggie Tray & Hummus

Out at our favorite pizza place!

Celebrate the end of summer with a cookout! I am thinking veggie kebobs and maybe some steak for the kids/hubby. I’d love to do a fruit dessert on the grill too


That’s all I got friends. Make sure to print off my September challenge if you plan on joining me! I think it will be fun and fairy painless. :)

Questions: How do you handle being alone? What are you meal planning for this week? Have you ever seen green Kit Kats?!

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  1. Monday: Making Aarti Sequeira’s Chana Masala or Chickpea Curry. I am serving it with brown basmati rice and a green salad. Cooking for us and Hokensons.
    Tuesday: Mashed new potatoes with roasted carrots and cauliflower. May add something green?
    Wednesday: My dad’s 60th birthday! We will eat together as a family.
    Thursday: Vegan quesadillas.
    Friday: Homemade pizza night.

    Melanie, I am the same way. I hate being alone and never even put it out on FB until he is on his way home. And he only leaves for at most 5 days. I love that he surprised you and am so happy to see y’all back together. Enjoy!!!!

  2. Melanie, what an awesome surprise! I can’t even begin to imagine how tough it must be on you and your family when your husband has to be away, especially during the nine month deployments. I am extremely grateful for the sacrifices that our military and their families make in their service to this country.

    You are smart not to post the info about your husband being gone. You just never know these days. Hope that you and your family have a great week. Love the pics!

  3. Dana says:

    Sunday- burrito bowls w/ cuban black beans, cilantro lime rice, guac, pico, lettuce, etc
    Monday- quinoa salad w/ red pepper, avocado, slivered almonds & melanie’s sauteed kale
    Tuesday- roasted cauliflower, shredded brussel sprouts w/ craisins & pecans, baked sweet potatoes
    Wednesday- GF, Vegan cooking class at Green Vegetarian, kids-?
    Thursday- bean burgers, broccoli, new potatoes
    Friday- quesadillas
    Saturday- veggie burger on the grill, asian slaw, sugar snap pea salad
    Sunday- 1st time to eat dinner at Whole Foods in Austin, i am soooo excited

  4. such a sweet surprise!!

  5. Gretchen Hokenson says:

    Congrats on your hubby’s return! Such sweet pictures. Here is the plan for our week.
    Sun- pot stickers and spring rolls with watermelon
    Mon- britt’s meal excited to introduce the family to Indian food
    Tues-blt’s and a veggie sandwich for me
    Wed- leftovers
    Thurs- spring rolls
    Fri- pizza
    Sat- crockpot potato soup

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thanks Gretchen! Curious if you put bacon on your blt or if you are making that vegan. Hope you are doing well!

  6. What a GREAT surprise!! I wish we were still together so we could hang out ;) Love your meal plan … I need to do that when I get back to GA tomorrow! Miss you guys!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      I know Madeline! I loved our short time together ;) I know I’ll be meeting some moms once school starts this week so that will help. Hope you had a good trip back. Hugs!

  7. Amy says:

    Melanie, I’m so happy for you and the family :) What a sweet surprise!
    Here’s what’s cookin’ at The Mackey’s!
    Sunday: leftover lasagna, salad
    Monday: breakfast for dinner! I’m going to try your coconut pancakes, breakfast sausage, fruit, eggs
    Tuesday: taco night!
    Wednesday: arayes and salad (my sister Adele arrives!!)
    Thursday: grilled chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, salad
    Friday: veggie burritos, salsa, and guac
    Saturday: salmon/kale/israeli couscous (one of my staple meals nowadays!)

    Miss you!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Oh how fun your sister is coming! Your menu looks great. Have a great week and I’ll try to call you back tomorrow. The lack of sleep is catching up to me! XOXO

  8. That sounds like the best surprise ever! Melanie–I don’t know how you do it. My husband Greg left just returned from a 4-day long weekend. It felt like he was gone for much, much longer. What a gift to love someone enough to miss them so deeply.

    And a little paranoia is a good thing. I never mention my comings and goings publicly (FB/Blog/Twitter) until after the fact. There are some scary people in this otherwise beautiful world.

    As for our menu this week, it remains a work in progress. The garden is loaded with peppers, tomatoes, chard, and eggplant, so whatever we make it will involve one or all of those.

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Bobbi! I would LOVE to plan my meals around a garden. Unfortunately with the timing of our move and getting settled it has been low on our “to do” list. Perhaps there are still things we can plant, but for now I utilize the weekly Farmer’s Market trips! Hope you and your hubby are doing well in Chitown!

  9. My husband just left for 3 1/2 months for training, so I can totally relate with you. Our plan for sanity includes keeping busy with lots of engaging, fun activities, spending time with family, & having everyone pitch in to help (even though there’s usually a lot of whining that goes along with it!).

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Ah Janae, my fellow military wife, the moving and the separation can take a toll but we have a lot to be thankful for. I am glad to hear you will have some family time. Hope the time passes quickly for you and I am here if you need to chat/vent!

  10. Kristin says:

    Melanie – what an amazing surprise from Toby! So very glad that he’s home with you guys. My heart goes out to you, I really don’t know how you do it. And he’s going to be deployed for 9 months!

    My meal plan for this week is pretty lame, but I’m pleased I have one ;-)
    Monday: Tuna Croquets over spagetti
    Tuesday: Penne with vegetable marinara
    Wed: Date night – The kids gets leftovers
    Thursday: Fish tacos
    Friday: Leftovers

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thanks for your sweet comment. I still have some time to get prepared for deployment so for now I am going to enjoy our time together! Your meal plan sounds good to me! Have a fun date night! ;)

  11. What a wonderful surprise, but sorry to hear about all the alone time you’ve had/will be having! When my kids were younger, that, of course,is when we lived far away from our families, and when my husband travelled alot (although no where near to your husband). I remember it being so tough, so now that we are close to our parents/grandparents, plus live on a street where all our friends help out, we REALLY appreciate it. I love the photo of your husband and kids laying on the grass-precious!

  12. Bree says:

    Oh Melanie! I can only relate that my husband travels a lot for work-about three nights a week. He’s never been gone as long as your husband and I have one less kid than you so my heart goes out to you with so much admiration. I don’t know how you have posted anything in that time! What a beautiful surprise that he came home early. I lived in Korea for 10 months and I think it is a lonely place for the soldiers. Enjoy the last bits of summer! :)

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thanks Bree- you too! Wow- 10 months. My husband does like it there, but this time their project had them working such long hours there wasn’t much time for anything else. He’s spent about 6 months there when we lived in Hawaii so at least it’s familiar to him. Did you enjoy the food there? He actually does quite a bit.

  13. Betsy Ramirez says:

    What a great surprise! I hope you are getting settled in your new home. I hate separations. We have a 7 mth deployment coming our way in a couple of months. Dreading it…Is know you know the feeling.
    Love your Sept Challenge! I will have to share it. Your family is beautiful!

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says:

      Thank you Betsy! Sorry to hear you guys have a deployment is coming up. Hopefully you have family or good friends close by to help? You are welcome to visit us in Washington! ;)

  14. Kathy says:

    Thank you for sharing the return of Toby. I love surprises and can relate, even though my surprises were very long ago! One never forgets the joy of the return of a loved one, especially husbands! Many of my quilters and Blue Star Mothers enjoy your blog and try your fabulous recipes. Keet them coming! Here’s to women and the joy of cooking!


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