Thursday, November 11, 2010

That 5 year old knows it all

Cuddling up to dad (after I had reached my personal space invasion limit)

"Dad, the fattest people in the world are the most comfy-est." as she cuddles up closer and hugs him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just having a moment

A moment when you are just tired to.the.bone. and you cannot.do.one.more.thing. But everything needs to be done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cindy thinks they are getting big











I KNOW they are getting big!

Negative Review of K12 Online School

My DH just asked me what I was writing about.

"Why I think K12 sucks."

His response?

"Let us count the ways."




I wanted my oldest two to work with an online public school because I need time with the little kids. I needed the big boys to be accountable to another adult, understand the rigors of "regular" school and how the system works before they enter the middle college next year. This would free me up to allow me to concentrate on the younger 4 kids; three of whom are learning to read this year (4,5,6).

When we started researching online public high schools we researched. I looked online for reviews. Most of them glowed. But they didn't really answer a lot of my questions.

My sister had experience with K12. She explained that most of the work is done on the computer. We weren't incredibly happy with that because of the pitfalls of being on a computer too much (pornography, gaming and more). We solved this problem. We installed monitoring software. Essentially there is a program running in the background logging every single thing they do on the computer: texts, email, games, everything, The program also records so we can see what they are doing and view a log of what they are doing on the computer.

I went to the informational K12 meeting. They talked about accreditation, curriculum, how happy other families are. Yada yada. I asked about monitoring. How am I going to to know my kid is actually doing the work? (I remembered my sister complaining about how all the sudden she would find out that one of her kids was 2 weeks behind and it blindsided her.) How am I going to know if they are logging on? How am I going to know if they are struggling with the work? How am I going to know if they have overdue work? "Don't worry Mrs. Brownhead. You can monitor all of that as a learning coach." They told me about this login system where a learning coach sees what assignments are due each day and can see what live classes they have each week. "You can see all of that Mrs. Brownhead." I breathed a sigh of relief. I asked about organizational skills training. "Yes, there is a class you can log into." It sounded okay. I came with a list of questions and they answered them.

We started late due to the state requiring something or other with the school and government. We got our login information one week after classes had begun. The boys could login but I couldn't. I call the 800 number for K12. I am nowhere to be found on either of the boys' accounts, the address is wrong (like in a different state wrong) and I find out some complete stranger is named as the boys' learning coach.

The phone calls start. Who is this person? Why is she listed as my kids' learning coach? Why am I not listed as my kids' learning coach? How is she actually going to do attendance because she isn't actually going to know if my kids are here or not? How is she actually a coach? What type of contact can I expect from her? K12 didn't know who she was. JST didn't really know what she was going to do. And the Virtual Academy told me the state made the virtual academy designate a liason between the student and the teacher and that is who is listed as the learning coach but I won't be listed as a learning coach.

Oh, heck no.

Phone call. I would like to be listed as my childs' learning coach. "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, we do expect high school students to work independently." They will be working independently. I want to make sure they are actually doing the work. "We don't do that here, you are going to have to call..."

For each issue I had to make 3 phone calls, one to the school, one to JST and one to K12. What I didn't understand at the beginning of this is there are actually three levels to this schooling biz. The S. Virtual Academy is where the boys' are registered for school at the local level. They administered the placement testing and registered the boys for classes. SVA then handed all the paperwork over to JST who is the contracter/franchise owner for K12 for the state. JST handles some tech support but not all. Then the actual K12 organization is the third level. They have tech support and plenty of snotty customer service reps. If you get firm enough and insist to talk to a manager then you might actually get some of your questions answered.


The functionality of the program for monitoring students is completely different than what they showed us at the meeting AND on the online tours that they encourage all parents to watch. The learning coaches are to watch all of the online videos so they know how to do attendance and everything. One small problem. Absolutely none of the online video tours apply to high school level. But absolutely not one of them says that they do not apply to high school level nor do the videos say that they apply only to K-8. (I actually had a customer rep say, "Did you look at the copyright date on that video? It is an old video and you should check the copyright date." HUH? This is your online learning system.)

So, to make this long story shorter, if you are a parent, you must log in to each child's account, go into each of the courses, look at their assignments and gradebooks. The see it all on one page function does not apply to high school level. In the 12 hours I (and DH) was on the phone with K12 trying to figure this out we were told several things like, "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, you are supposed to be cutting the apron strings" and "High school students are supposed to be more independent in their work and you don't need to monitor their work" and "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, we expect that middle school students would be learning the organizational skills at this level and high school students are expected to fly" and "This isn't homeschool anymore Mrs. Brownhead, the teacher is really in charge."

Excuse me?

Excuse me?

Excuse me?

Excuse me?


K12 specifically targeted homeschooling parents in my state. And yet they don't seem to understand the mentality of a homeschooling parent. As any homeschool mom knows, there are moments, oh, even hours, oh, let's go with DAYS, when a student just does not want to do the work. I have a child that is happy to watch dust float in the sunshine. But I am not supposed to be monitoring their work. :dripping with sarcasm:

They are getting adjusted to high school. They still need support because they haven't had this experience yet. They are learning and to just drop them in to a situation without me knowing what is going on is ludicrous. How can I help them if I don't know the system? I am not going to be holding their hand for their entire high school career but you know what? You bet I am for the first semester. Cut the apron strings. Condescending customer service woman.

And you know what? If I don't monitor their work and the boys get behind, guess who they come after? ME. I signed a document saying I would keep track of them AND K12 doesn't really let you easily track what they are doing.

I had to say to the director that I cannot be the only parent that is monitoring their children's progress. I want my children to succeed and for the time-being they need monitoring to make sure they are learning to do the work. I cannot be the only one that has a child that if given the opportunity will slack off. I am not being over-controlling I am living up to my end of the agreement that I signed.

He backed off after that.

Our materials didn't arrive until almost 2 weeks into classes. Two weeks behind in Biology is never a good thing.

I don't have an opinion on the curriculum yet. I don't like how much is on the computer but we addressed that with the monitoring software. The boys seem happy with the labs. You know when you read reviews by other homeschooler we normally talk curriculum. We want to know about the books and the things our kids are learning. To be able to see what they are reading, I have to log in to their accounts and possibly mess up their assignments.

From an IT point of view DH found like 12 bugs and problems. But you can't submit a trouble ticket just by calling, you have to go through layers of customer reps to do that.

The customer service, as all customer service, has good people and bad people. Unfortuately, both good and bad don't seem to understand that our school is a virtual academy and has a different set up than a charter school. Therefore, most of the answers they have given me were wrong.

The teachers, so far okay. I don't have a lot of interaction with them. The boys are unaccustomed to having a teacher and aren't clear as to what they should address to the teacher. We have some teachers that because we started late adjusted the schedule. We have others that said, too bad, catch up. Even though the school is virtual, we have a teacher we can only contact during their ONE office hour a week and we have no other way to contact her. So, if you have a question you can get her between 9 and 10 on Monday morning. How ridiculous is that? One hour at the beginning of the school week? Others have multiple office hours with yahoo IM ids published and are very accessible.

The teacher information is not standardized so to find assignments for the boys it can be in three or four different places. The kids are supposed to have a tab that they can see if they have overdue work. #2 has all of his course in the overdue tab, the year they are due is 1900.

So, Michelle, you on the teacher side probably would not encounter some of these issues. It may be a good fit for your family.

The majority of my issues would have been solved if they would have just been honest up front about the monitoring. Because if I hadn't been on the phone for so many hours I wouldn't have had so many wonderful minutes with those ever, so lovely customer service reps. The majority of my issues are not with the materials but with the service we have or haven't received.

I am still reserving the right to change my mind but my experience thus far is negative-- 2 thumbs down.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

k12 still sucks

Big time.

Sept 28

breakfast, rice, milk, sugar, scrambled eggs with ham on english muffins
lunch, split pea soup, roast pork, acorn squash, cauliflower with cheese sauce
dinner, potato soup, leftovers

We have a Court of Honor tonight. Both #1 and #2 are moving up a rank and receiving about 10 badges each. #1 is working on his communications badge so his the Master of Ceremonies and the Venturing crew (which he is part of) is in charge of refreshments and cleanup. That means this household is doing the planning, coordinating of program and refreshments and cleanup. It is going to be a long and busy day.

Hmmm, how do I feel about this?

The younger sister is wearing her brother's pants (and they fit and will be highwaters on her before him). The brother wore his younger sister's shirt. And it fit. (It was black. He absolutely would not wear pink but he had on her black long sleeve shirt for a couple days last week.)

This wasn't a problem with two boys. #1 and #2 would swap clothes all the time. #4 and #5 seem to be swapping clothes and both have a touch of embarrassment when they have each other's clothes on. But not enough embarrassment to march themselves upstairs to change their clothes.

Today the girl doesn't care. She has on his pants and she wants to go outside and she just does not care.

I foresee screaming.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Really, k12

sucks.

That is my current opinion. I am hoping it changes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Car Adventure

As I mentioned before we sold the van. We bought a PT cruiser. It is working out mostly. To get to church we would just plan two trips but friends of ours have loaned us a vehicle they are not using so we just put 4 in one car and 4 in the truck (extended cab) and make one trip. By the time they want the car back we will have enough cash to buy a beater. Problem solved!

People have asked us, "Well, what will you do when you want to go on vacation?" I thought about it. You know we vacation once or twice a year. The payment on a car loan is 12 months a year. It is cheaper in the long run for us to rent a larger vehicle for vacations. Most of the time we are local and it seems to be working. Even if we didn't have the truck our friends loaned us our attitude (and the way we explained to the children) is short term logistical problem, long term financial relief and security.

Sept 25

breakfast, pumpkin pancakes with buttermilk cinnamon syrup and applesauce
lunch, leftovers
dinner, I really don't know yet, I am getting my hair done and I don't know what time I will be home, maybe they will just eat toast and cheese

Today is Soup Day!

I am making Potato Soup and Split Pea Soup. I am also making granola.

This recipe is large. It is my #1's absolute favorite soup. (Really, he is already hovering. He asked when it will be done. True indicator of love, he will peel all the potatoes himself without being asked twice.) He will eat it until it is gone, even for breakfast! My ideal way of making this is with 15 pounds of potatoes because then it lasts for more than a dinner and a lunch. I know, INSANE!

Potato Soup

1 lb. Bacon, cut into small pieces
3 pounds onions, diced
10 pounds potates, peeled and diced
enough water to cover the potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
2 c. flour
2 egg

Place potatoes and diced onion in a large soup pot. Cover with cold water. Add 1 T. salt. Bring to boil. While waiting for water to boil cook bacon until crisp. When potatoes are cooked until tender add bacon to soup pot. To thicken, mix flour with egg, (I use my fingers and sift the mixture as much as possible). It will be lumpy (this makes little dumplings). Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread and butter.

Split Pea Soup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion , chopped medium
2 carrots , peeled and chopped medium
3 large cloves garlic , minced
1 pound ham steak , chopped fine
Pinch sugar
1 pound dried split peas , picked over and rinsed
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper

Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic, ham, and sugar; cover and cook until vegetables are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add peas, broth, water, and bay leaf; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until peas are soft, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaf and add pepper to taste. Serve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I just want to remember








This three year old is a hoot! She is so incredibly animated it can be irritating. You end up laughing when you should be scolding or at least enforcing and you end up laughing!

She gasps and puts her hand up to her mouth. Her eyes get all big. Then she smiles like she is pulling something over on you.
She looked over the back of the pew last week and told the perfectly quiet family behind us, "SHHH!"
She says, "YAH!" instead of yes, but just for today she is doing that. She normally very solemnly says, "Yeth." and nods at the same time.
She tortures the cat. She finds Jemima everywhere. It is like she has Cat Radar. The cat will nip her but she still smiles and exclaims, "I hab Phineas!Jemima!"
She has this little squeaky laugh that jumps about 3 octaves at the end of the giggle. All the rest of us end up shaking our heads because our ears hurt.
We love her but she is really Hell on Wheels. She is Tornado Toddler, Destructo Girl. #5 was Mistress of Mess but #6 is worse. Ten times worse. She and #1 are on the same level. And believe me, #1 set records for messes.
She is a cuddler. Many times a day she climbs up into my lap for hugs and kisses.
She loves her "laba laba" from Auntie Amy. She is wearing like a turban in the photo above.
People do ask me why I cut her hair. I never have. She is just slow in the hair production. But she loves having a piggy in the back. It looks like a fin shooting straight out-maybe it is just showing her true momentum.
She really does not want to stop long enough to eat. Then she gets all hungry and onery. Mandarin oranges are still the fruit to get her to stop to eat. She calls them "orangins."
She comes and gives me body slam hugs when I get home from bringing #1 and #2 home from seminary. She yells, "MOM YOU HOME?" then she sees me and squeals, "MOM YOU HOME!!!" and then hugs me. She tells me all her woes, like how dad didn't get her a bada (banana) and that Eiiii wouldn't put on a moobie for her.

Oh, we love this Little Bit.

Sept. 22

I didn't cook yesterday. We reheated all the leftovers.

breakfast, fried eggs and toast
lunch, chili beans and rice
dinner, oyako don buri (Japanese rice bowls)

EDITED TO ADD RECIPE:
Oyako don(buri)

¼ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
about 2 oz. Chicken breast, sliced
shiitake mushrooms, fresh or dry, thinly sliced, if available
2 or 3 snow peas, julienned
2 stalks green onions, cut into 1-2 inch lengths
1 egg, beaten

½ c. dashi no moto, dissolved in ½ c. water or ½ c. chicken stock
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. or more brown sugar

freshly cooked Japanese-style rice

Place onion, mushroom and dashi. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion is tender. While cooking, add chicken and green onion. When chicken is cooked, spread beaten egg over all. Sprinkle snow peas on top immediately. Cook until egg hardens partially or completely, as you like. We like to add sliced pepper also. Add when you put in the green onion.

Dashi is basically fish and seaweed boullion. I find mine at the local Asian mart. I have found it at Meijer also.


There is a cat perched on the couch arm watching my fingers type. Her head is bobbing up and down and now she is coming over and licking my fingers. What a kitten!

I spent $80 on groceries last night. I had coupons. I saved 92.80 and spent 80.86. A local store had canned good cheaper than Aldi and I ended up with 20 free cans of chili. Campbell soups were a 1.00 a piece but they had peelies, so I got them for .45 a piece. It was a good haul and a good way to build up the pantry of all the things we have been using.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sept. 20

breakfast, rice, milk and sugar or rice with a fried egg on top (sounds weird but delish!)
lunch, soup, cracker, cheese, apple slices
dinner, spaghetti, cucumber slices, breadsticks (all made by #1)

She has that fresh, minty smell

#6 washed her hair in flouride rinse.

It activated some curl in that little amount of hair she has.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The first Sunday the van is not with us

Many people at church were shocked we don't have our van. You can hear it right? "What do you mean you sold it?" Some were out right ticked off at our tenant (if our tenant had kept paying the rent we could have kept the van). I just had to keep telling people and some understood that we just don't want to keep digging ourselves in deeper financially. We have worked hard to get out of debt before this. We don't like it anymore (except for the house). We were starting to go into debt and we just could not do it. We will tighten our belts, cut back and deal with what comes our way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sept 18

It is Saturday. I am making a batches of soup and beans today. When I take time on Saturday to do meal prep Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday tend to run smoother. Those are our big school days. All we have to do is reheat for a meal, slice some bread and put out apples and carrots.

The status of the freezer...right now we could fit in the pork we have committed to. Just using up the frozen fruit (smoothies) has freed up a lot of space. The freezers got loaded up this summer when I found green grapes on sale for 2 bucks a flat. The girls have loved being able to go in, grab a handful of grapes and munch away. All the ice cream is gone, much to #3's dismay.

I forgot the recipe for Breakfast Porridge. Here it is-

Breakfast Porridge

2 c. steel cut oats
1 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. cardamom
1/4 t. salt
2-3 apple grated or chopped
6 c. water

Place all ingredients except water in rice cooker and mix. Add water and set on regular rice cycle. Serve with milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Can add 6 T. of flax seeds. Lately I have been using dehydrated apple rings in place of the fresh apple. The kids have not complained. I used an entire quart jar for a batch, they weren't tightly packed so I am going to go with 2 cups. I added in an extra 1/2 cup of water for the apples to rehydrate.

Red Beans and Rice
8 slices bacon , chopped medium
1 medium onion , chopped fine
1 green bell pepper , chopped fine
1 rib celery , chopped fine
6 cloves garlic , minced
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 bay leaves
Table salt
3/4 pound dried red kidney beans , rinsed and picked over
3/4 pound dried red beans, rinsed and picked over
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I use chicken base and water)
7 cups water
1-2 pounds andouille sausage or kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons (I normally make more on the 2 pound side because the boys walk past the pot, fish out a piece of sausage and pop it in their mouth.)
cooked rice
Hot pepper sauce-we like Frank's best, Tabasco was too vinegary (Margo and I did a taste test.)

1. Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until lightly browned and fat has rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, bay leaves, beans, broth, and water, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer (mixture will be steaming and several bubbles should be breaking the surface) and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are soft and liquid thickens, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

2. Stir in sausage and cook until liquid is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over hot cooked rice with hot pepper sauce, if desired. (Leftover beans can be refrigerated in airtight container for several days.)

We like these better the second day.

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole
1 bag frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 bag of Peppridge farms stuffing mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup

Use hot water and moisten the stuffing mix. Layer chicken, stuffing and soups in a shallow pan. Can sprinkle with cheese. Serve with instant mashed potatoes and veggies.

Vegetable Barley Soup

1/2 c. barley
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 lb. frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 lb. frozen lima beans (if the mix veg doesn't have them in the mix)
1 14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes
12 c. vegetable broth
1 leek, lower portion only, sliced

Combine all in pot. Simmer until barley and potato are cooked. This is using up the remainder of the mix veg we didn't eat this week.

After all the soups are made I ladle them into quart jars. It takes up less room in the frig and each jar feeds 3-4 little kids and 1 hungry big kid. The soup goes in hot, the lids seal and then the food lasts longer. They are not processed for shelf. They still need to be refrigerated. At lunch time we don't all have to have the same soup.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sept 16

I missed a few days-I am still eating out of the freezers to make room for half a pig.

breakfasts, breakfast porridge, french toast (made with coconut milk), eggs and toast
lunchs and dinners, I have been making bigger batches (haha) so that I am only cooking one time a day instead of twice, eggs noodles with hamburger gravy, 5 pounds of mixed veggies, veggie barley soup, pinto beans with cheese (eaten like a soup), then refried beans (from the leftover beans) and roasted vegetable tacos.
snacks, smoothies, I still have lots of frozen fruit,

This weekend I think I will make up the black and blue jam. The blackberries and the blueberries seem to miss ripening at the same time by a couple weeks. I freeze them until a cooler day and don't heat up the house even more in canning season. I use equal parts of blackberries and blueberries. I run the berries through my Victorio strainer to get out all the seeds. It is #3's favorite jam. By making the jam I will use up probably 20 pounds of berries.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I have been holding back on ya'll

Remember this? Dawn ordered me to update the blog. At the bottom I threw in there for good measure that I would like to lose weight but don't know how?

Well, amidst all the other things that are going on here I decided to start exercising. Some of ya'll don't know what a challenge that can really be for me. I had some pretty serious ankle injuries in my late teens and early twenties. Serious enough that I was on bedrest for about 9 months one time and have had ankle stabilization surgery with chronic tendonitis. Impact anything does not work for me. Even if I start a treadmill walking program within a week my tendinotis usually starts to rear its ugly little head. I still think it is a miracle I can walk pain free most days.

I tried a gym before #6 was born. Whoa. That took up a lot of time.

My mom introduced me to an exercise program called T-tapp. She did it a long time ago; over 4 years ago. I read a homeschooling board. A lady on that board had good success with T-tapp. I remembered my mom saying something about it and the lady on the board had a 50% off coupon. I ordered it. Had to have a coupon.

It sat in my dresser drawer for at least a year. More than a year.

This past April I was browsing and got sent to the T-tapp website. Well, there was a lady on there that is a homeschooling mom of 12. She went from a 22W to a 4 in 18 months with 75% of her workouts being only 15 minutes a day. Her name is Charlotte Siems. That caught my attention. I got interested in T-tapp again.

I had promised myself after the babies were born and done nursing I would do something. I didn't know what. But I had to do something.

To keep myself honest and with a deadline on the horizon I joined in on their 60 Day Challenge.

I just needed to finish. Do you ever feel that way? I just needed to finish something for me. I was desperate. I could manage 15 minutes a day. I didn't expect to win. I just wanted to finish. I had to do something for me.

I took the measurements and the pictures at the beginning and the end of the Challenge. DH made me take the pictures at the end. I didn't think I had done that well.

and......


I am one of the Grand Prize Winners of the 60 Day Challenge!

Me!

The person who is the 100xCouch Potato.

The person who never did sports in her entire life except in 5th grade when we had Track Day and the race I chose only had one other person in it-Becky Howe-and I knew that I would get a ribbon because only she and I were in the race. And they gave away three ribbons.

Oh, wait! I did baseball in third grade and they thought I was a boy until I wore a halter top to practice one day. After that I didn't do baseball anymore. I digress.

In the 60 days I lost a little more than 26 inches.

and......

I am going to Florida! They are flying me down to a spa to meet the developer of the program, Teresa Tapp. I get to attend the annual retreat free of charge. I am going to a spa. In Florida! I am going to get a make-up thingamaboober and pictures taken.

I am down 2 sizes and ready to drop another one before I go to Florida.

This could be fantastic

Homeschooling a girl.

She likes to write.

She wants to read.

She thinks it is fun.

She wants more.

Wholey Moley.

The little one wants to do it too.

And they aren't distracted by legos.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Thrift Store Event

Well.

Deep breath.


I am a regular at our local Goodwill. I am there at least twice a month. I am probably there every week. I start Christmas shopping this early because I have a great master bedroom closet that I can stash stuff. All you mommies on a budget know what I am talking about. Anywho, I went to the thrift store this week. #6's birthday was coming up and the boys needed long sleeve shirts and winter jammies.

The store is set up like a U around the registers. There were two carts of things about 10 feet in front of the registers. In the afternoon this store regularly starts bringing things out of the back and carts sit with the new items for sale. I walked into the store. I didn't get a cart because I really didn't want to buy all that much. I walked past the two carts and snagged a Cinderella tea set. Three bucks, 1/2 off, good for the birthday girl. I head over to the mens section, found 4 shirts for #2, a Lands End cashmere sweater vest for #2, some pullovers for DH and #2. I head over to the kids section, 3 dresses for #5, 3 dresses for #6. I make a comment to the lady in kids, "It is every time I come in and don't get a cart that I find everything we need." So, I head back up front to get a cart and drop the whole load into the bottom.

I head to shoes. Find a brand new pair for me. Tags still on. Yeah! this trip is rocking! I find a brand new bean bag for the school room. Perfect for the little kids and reading this fall. I found a brand new Party Lite 3 wick vanilla candle. It still had the wrapping. The cart was filled and overflowing. By this time I am in the store a minimum of 20 minutes.

I am at the back of the store and all the sudden I hear, "WHERE IS MY TEAPOT?! SOMEONE STOLE MY SHOES AND MY TEAPOT!" There was a family (I assume) in the store with 2 bigger kids, a daughter (mid 20s) and a mom (grandmother). They have more melatonin than me. The kids were running wild in the store, trying all the toys and being loud kids. The mid-20s woman starts going up and down every single aisle. She starts rummaging through every person's cart in the store. No joke. They are growing louder and louder and oh, the complaining. "I cannot BELIEVE that someone would STEAL MY TEAPOT and MY SHOES!" At this time I am in women's looking for something for myself when the whole thing starts. The woman going around and rummaging through the carts comes up to my cart and yells, "HERE IT IS. SHE STOLE IT!" and starts taking things out of my cart.

Now, if they would have been a bit more polite that steel rod that I felt strengthen my spine would have never gone stiff. In general, I am easy going. I go with the flow. Dawn knows this. My mother knows this. Margo knows this. But she called me a thief. And then she called me a liar.

I said, "I got this out of a cart up at the front. It was unattended. It was right behind the cart marked everything for fifty cents."

"Oh! SHE LYING! Our buggy was always attended. Someone was watchin' it the whooowa time."

Then the grandma came back. I was in the back of the aisle and the daughter was coming at me from one side and the grandma came at me from the other side. I was closer to the daughter and standing in between her and my cart. The daughter was trying to empty out my cart and kept swiping. The grandma was verbally chewing me out.

I stated, firmly, with that rod of steel not going limp, "Well, if your cart was attended you would have known 20 minutes ago that the teapot was missing. Your kids are running wild. You are calling me a liar and a theif and you ARE NOT touching anything in this cart." The daughter reached out towards me and I stepped back, giving her my best don't mess with me look. But she was just mean. I was truly scared. I knew that if we weren't in the middle of a store she would have no problem hurting me. I was scared. The grandma was coming at me from the right and the daughter was swiping at me from the left. Right then the clerk at the front dinged for the manager and someone yelled, "Call the police!"

The grandma backed off and said, "No teapot is worth callin' the police!" but the daughter still wouldn't back off. The manager came out. She has more melatonin than me. She was trying to play peacemaker. She asked me how I got the teapot and I told her and the daughter/grandma team kept calling me a liar and a theif.

"NO! Our buggy was always attended. She stole it. She is lying." They kept yelling it over and over again.

I reached my point. I told the manager, "I am regular here. I have been coming here for 2 years. The clerks know me. Never have I encountered people like this ever here. They are calling me a liar and a thief. I cannot steal something they have not purchased. It does not belong to them."

The manager said, "Oh that is a good point."

The daughter says, "She stole our shoes!"

I respond, "I got these off the rack."

I kept going, "And if they would have stayed by their cart they would have known over 20 minutes ago this was no longer there."

The manager asked me to take the teapot out of my cart.

So, guess who didn't come home with a teapot? Guess who went back into the store after I checked out? I saw the grandma waddling back in.


Guess who is going to get a CCW? I don't ever want to be that close to being harmed again.

Sept 12

breakfast, steel cut oatmeal with craisins (cook the oatmeal with the craisins and a pinch of salt)
lunch, baked potato bar, salad
dinner, leftovers


We have been eating lots of leftovers. I cooked for a zone conference this week and most of the leftovers came home with us "Hey! you have lots of kids at your house. Take all of this home." Easy cooking week for me! Next week more will have to come out of the freezer to be used.

#6 has turned 3. I walked through the baby section at Meijer and there was nothing she could fit into. The tall genes have blessed her and she is in 4/5s. It was sort of sad for me. I hold other people's little ones and get my baby fix that way.

In way of interesting events, this week I was almost beat up at the thrift store. I think I will take my dad's advice and take the CCW class. So instead of being just a hot mama, I can be a hot packing mama. Yes, it was that bad. Not exaggerating. It took me about 24 hours to stop shaking.

We are home from church. #4 is sick. He is still running a fever and laying on the couch in his red stripe jammies pretending he is asleep. He is trying hard but his feet were just moving in time to the ding-dong clock we have. I think it is so funny when little kids think their eyes are closed that no one can see them.

I am having menu envy. A friend of mine makes up these menus with poached eggs on brioche with pistou and minted blueberries with lemon cream for breakfast. Only 3 girls to feed at their house. But some days I really want to go to their house to eat.

School really starts tomorrow. We have been working to get all the computers set up and books in place and busy boxes put together. Everyone but #1 seems to be excited to start. Big surprise there, right?

Off to make bread and change loads in the laundry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mish Mash

Things are moving along here in our little corner of the world.
The big boys have started seminary. Which means my wake up time is zero dark thirty.
My 3 year old (tomorrow! gasp!) has decided she wants to learn to read.
#5 and #3 and DH are suffering from ragweed allergy. Sniffles all the way around.
Foxes got all but 3 of our baby chicks.
#1 and #2 are demolishing an old pop up camper my dad brought our way. We are going to make a trailer for hauling stuff out of it.
I have finally figured out how to keep the house relatively clean-zones. Strict enforcement of zone work has led to less contention and a cleaner house. No electronics until school work and zone work is done. No exceptions. No matter how much they try.
I am teaching preparedness classes again and doing a lot for my calling at church.
Our tenant has decided to not pay rent. In order to make ends meet we are downsizing our vehicle. I had no idea to get someone evicted it would cost the landlord well over a $1000. Ah, the things we are learning.
We have a couple braeburn apple trees we need to glean-maybe tomorrow.
There is more....but I have to drive for seminary now. Later!

Sept 10

breakfast, rice, milk and sugar (I had eggs, needed the protein)
lunch, baked potatoes, broccoli, cheese
dinner, spaghetti, red sauce, alfredo sauce, garlic toast, tossed salad
snack, apple slices and cashews

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sept 9

breakfast, bran muffins
lunch, not really sure what the little kids ate but it was sandwiches I think (I was out of the house)
dinner, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sept 8

breakfast, migas con heuvos, diced tomato, scrambled eggs for the no salsa in the morning eaters
lunch, leftover rice and beans, apple slices
dinner,


Migas Con Heuvos

5 corn tortillas, diced
1 medium onion, diced
12 eggs
salsa

Use skillet, place 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon butter, melt. Put in onion, (you can also add diced bell pepper here) cook until softened. Put in tortillas. Cook until crunchy. After the tortillas are crunchy put the scrambled eggs on top and cook until done. Top with salsa and fresh diced tomato.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sept 6

breakfast, rice, milk, sugar
lunch, beans and rice, carrots, last of the pears (oh, they were soooo good! Margo's pears have ruined me forever on store bought pears)
dinner, turkey #1, broccoli cheese rice, lemon meringue pie

Sept 5

breakfast, oatmeal
lunch, waffles, applesauce and scrambled eggs
dinner, tomato sandwiches, leftovers

Steel Cut Oat Porridge

1 c. steel cut oats
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
pinch of salt
1-2 apple grated or chopped
3 c. water

Place all ingredients except water in rice cooker and mix. Add water and set on regular rice cycle. Serve with milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Can add 3 T. of flax seeds. I triple this for our family and use granny smith apple or dehydrated apple slices.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sept 4

breakfast, bran muffins, hardboiled eggs
lunch, leftover sloppy joes, tomato sandwiches
dinner, fresh bread! butter, jam

Bran Muffins is the 6 week bran muffin recipe from allrecipes.com. We add mashed banana, maraschino cherries and chocolate chips. We use a portion of the batch and add the bananas, cherries and chocolate chips each time. I worry about the banana going funky. I am using buttermilk powder. All the ingredients I have in the pantry.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sept 3

breakfast, rice, milk and sugar
lunch, cuban beans and rice
dinner, pizza
snacks, lots of popsicles


Rice, milk and sugar is just that! Cook rice, serve like boxed cereal with milk and a sprinkling of sugar on top. My kids even like brown rice this way. With brown rice they like GoLean Crunch on top with craisins or granola on top instead of sugar.

I forgot to mention

The reason for the freezer/pantry experiment are two-fold. One-to clean it out for the incoming pork. Two-to save up for a trip. We don't want to go into debt for a trip. All the kids are on board and that is making this much easier.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sept 2

I thought about taking pictures of the freezers. I am ashamed at how bad they look. No pictures. Just think blackberry juice on white freezer background with yeast spilled on top. Is that enough?

breakfast, yogurt, frozen blueberries and granola
lunch, broccoli cheese soup
dinner, cuban beans and rice, carrots, pears

Broccoli Cheese Soup

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
2 ½ c. water
1 ½ c. carrots, diced
6 bullion cubes
1 c. cheese, shredded
1 ½ c. broccoli, chopped
2 c. milk
1 pkg. 8 oz. Cream cheese
½ t. ground mustard
1/8 t. cayenne

Cook potato, carrots and onion in water until potatoes are done. Add remaining ingredients and simmer. Don’t boil. Serve when heated through and all the cheeses are melted. I usually blend the milk and cream cheese together so there are no lumps of cream cheese to melt.


Cuban Black Beans
1 pound black beans, washed (3 c.)
1/4 cup olive oil (deleted)
1 large onion, chopped (2)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1/2 c. chopped)
5 cups water (12 c)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (2 6 oz. cans)
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained (deleted)
1 tablespoon vinegar (1 1/2 T.)
2 teaspoons salt (3 t.)
1 teaspoon white sugar (3 t.)
1 teaspoon black pepper (deleted)
5 bay leaf
5 slices of pickled jalepeno pepper

Place beans in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, and soak 8 hours, or overnight; drain. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and saute onion, green bell pepper, and garlic until tender. Into the onion mixture, stir the drained beans, water, tomato paste, pimentos, and vinegar. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.

I just tossed the garlic, onion, bell pepper, black beans and water in the crockpot overnight. The next day I added the spices and tomato after the beans were soft. My boys really like this best with some sauteed sausage as a topping.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sept 1

breakfast, eggs and toast
lunch, granola and yogurt
dinner, leftovers-sloppy joes, pears, rice salad, carrots, broccoli, cuke slices
snacks, whatever was leftover from the party

August is over and my new experiment begins

I committed with sharing a pig with my parents.

My freezers are full. The blog is going to take a bit of a detour.

What am I going to make these hungry, ravenous people out of the freezer? and how long can I do it? how much money can I save? I need room for at least 50 pounds of meat (maybe more). There is no room. Maybe I should take a picture? Right now there is a box on the chest freezer to make sure it stays closed. The frig freezer is loaded with grapes and berries. The garage frig freezer is loaded with all sorts of stuff-chorizo, sausage, ice cream (#3 would be happy to empty that out). So, my experiment is to empty the freezer and use the pantry as much as possible in the next 60 days.

Off to inventory the freezers...

The house is full of flies

Last night we invited four other families over. We potlucked it and had a good time. After we were in bed I did the math. We had 30 people here-mostly children. And that is why the house is full of flies. Ever try to keep the doors closed with that many kids in and out of the house?

I made a vat of sloppy joe meat and happiness reigned over the household. Sloppy joes have magical powers according to to #5 and #4. They LOVE sloppy joes. They danced around the kitchen saying, "Oooo! Mom! I can SMELL the sloppy joe meat!!" and then they would roll their eyes and lick their lips. No joke. They were soo funny yesterday afternoon!

We ate. The kids jumped on the trampoline. One of the dad's asked what was the weight limit on the trampoline cause it was loaded with kids. The kids swam in the pool. #2 fixed the trebuchet and bowling balls were flying. There were even teenagers on our swingset. They were even swinging-not just harassing the little kids.

It was the sort of party that everyone just brought what they had leftover from the summer and shared. Shannon brought all the fireworks we didn't use at the lake. My driveway pad is covered in pop-it papers. All the kids ooohed and aaaahhed at the fireworks. Then the parents put the kids in the cars and talked while the cars were shaking from gymanstics being done in various vans. We got mosquito bites but we got 20 minutes of uninterupted conversation. The price we pay.

We had a good night. Now the house is clean, with the exception of a few paper plates or cups here and there. The kids are tired and satisfied. The littles are watching Backyardigans. And at 8:49 I just got my first request for breakfast. (#3 as usual, he is just behind by 2 1/2 hours.)

Off to the kitchen. I think today I will tackle getting ready for school 'cause that garage is just too big a project for the day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just sittin' here

It's a sunny Sunday afternoon. I am eating a tomato sandwich. Well, make that two tomato sandwiches.

Life is good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Insides of cupboards done

Since the kitchen renovation I never really organized the cupboards. I did that this morning. I am definitely going to make my 10 bag quota to Purple Heart on Wednesday.

Note to mommies who have little boys who one day you will want to do kitchen work: they open cupboards and close cupboards fast and think things are put away. They will not look for an open anything if they can go to the pantry and open a new one (I found 8, yes, 8 open bags of tortilla chips.) Silverware will be put away even if there are food chunks on them. (Mom! it came out of the DW! from #4)

This kitchen is now covered in post-it notes showing them where things go. The cupboards have been simplified to the point of bareness. But there is no longer an excuse for putting away things improperly (except laziness). There are labels on the shelves inside the cupboards and drawers.

Tomorrow to wash down the outside of the cupboards and walls. Or maybe the garage?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#6 Funny

I have been having this conversation with ladies at church. The topic is how to keep the kids butt in the pew for an hour. One of our tools is a picture book published by our church. For sacrament we pull that puppy out with #6 on our laps and whisper about the pictures. I know, not exactly silent but way better than the alternative.

Yesterday, we pulled out the book. She was already on my lap. I showed her this picture. Clearly David and Goliath.

Her response: No mom. Dat is Wawweee. (Larry the Cucumber-Veggie Tales)

Mom stifles her giggles.

Then I show her this picture. Clearly Jesus as a boy learning from Joseph in carpentry skills.

Her response: Dat Isaac.

I stifle my giggle again.

Then this picture. This is a picture from the Book of Mormon. It is a prophet named Abinadi before the evil King Noah. This is Abinadi telling Noah how rotten he is and right before King Noah sends him to be burned to death.

Her response? MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Yelled as loud as she could.

Mom laughed out loud.

I think she was more reverent than me. smile

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#4 is showing me the love

#4 is laying on the couch and out of blue he asks, "Mom? You wanna see my stash of guns?"

I knew exactly what he was saying in Boy Language. It was, "Mom. You are cool. I can trust you to see my guns. And I love you and want to share my most precious things with you." He scurried upstairs to get his stash and bring it down to show me. He showed me his Precious-es. (how do you pluralize Precious?)

As I write, he is sitting on top of his metal suitcase hiding his guns from his sister. "No! only boys can see! This is a one player game!" (the guns are made out of duplos)

He turned his case so #5 cannot see the stash and he is shooting her.


See? I am special.

Friday, August 13, 2010

September 14

That is the six week date from DH's shoulder surgery.

On September 14 I won't be the sole driver for this family. WooHoo! There are just some days I don't want to go anywhere. And for some reason these teenagers want to go somewhere all the time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roughly 2 weeks before school starts

Here that means it is decluttering season. I have already schedule Purple Heart to come pick up whatever I deem clutter. So, the bags have been rolling down the stairs and started filling up the front porch.

I hope to finish the upstairs today. That means the laundry monster must be tackled and the boys room. I have already done #4's desk area and I just sent him up to push everything out from underneath his bed. #1,2,and 3 are working on their desks because they know I am ruthless (#4 didn't see the entire garbage bag of stuff I took out of his area). Daddy set the standard today nothing but 5 things out on the top of their desk or dresser. Everything else must be in a drawer, box, or put away. I had to leave their room because the dust was so thick my head was pounding (gotta love a dust allergy). So, I will eat lunch, take an exedrin and head back to the battle.

Already done: linen cupboard, kids bathroom, laundry area, girls room, office (but not the closet)

Left for today: boys room and my room cause all the laundry is piled in there

Off to fill the crockpot for dinner. It is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

MOMMM!

Phineas does not hab a penis. He is a giwa. His name is not Phineas any wonga. His name is Jessica.

Jess

III

CA!


That news flash brought to you from #5.



Phineas is the kitten, remember?

We Jammed Yesterday




Peach Jam

This past spring I bought a flat of pectin at Save-a-Lot. So, far this is hands down, the best pectin I have used. You can double the batches and you don't end up with syrup.

We did 2 1/2 bushels of peaches into jam. 32 pints, 41 quarts. It was one of those nutso days that was really fun. The moms got a bunch of work done, the kids played and ate sloppy joes (I filled the crockpot before anyone arrived). The trampoline, pool, and all areas of the house were played, screamed and laughed in yesterday.

On a technical note, this kitchen rocks for canning!!! The moms were at one end of the kitchen, the food was at another, we had water, stove and the dishwasher close to us and the island slid to where we needed it to make sure we didn't spill any hot pots. We had enough room for all of us to work and we only had to rub butts every now and then. We worked 3 pots of jam at a time. We started making the jam at 5:30 and were done with jam by 9:15. We did all the prep work ahead of time. It was great!!

Today we are recovering and cleaning up from the wonderful craziness.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thank You Friends

Thanks for your comments on my big ol whiny post of Saturday.

I know that our challenges will change as the children age. Thank you for the perspective Marie, Dawn and Cindy.

The one thing I know is this....I love these children. And there is absolutely nothing that prepares you for the work and fatigue of having a large family.

Every now and then I sit and wonder. I wonder what it would have been like to have been a small family. I wouldn't need 2 sets of washers and dryers or 2 dishwashers or have to cook 4 pounds of pinto beans at a time or make 60 pancakes at a time. I would have been sleeping for the last 8 years!

But then I realize we would have missed out on the wonderful personalities of my younger 4 children. Who would want to have missed out on them??! My older 2 guys are serious and the younger 4 have brought lots joy and laughter into our lives.

I try to keep it in perspective. I try. I try. I try.


Honestly, it has just been a humdinger of a year. With all the stuff relating to #5 being molested, #1's fall out with that and then DH falling down the stairs. I just need to take better care of myself to keep my equilbrium.

I am learning.

Thank you my friends.

I miss you guys.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh, you need to enjoy these days

I think I have heard that comment one too many times. About how the days with all these kids will just fly by and you will wish that you had "these" days back. Anybody else heard that?

Other older moms get to say that because they have had a decent nights rest and gotten oh, more than 2 hours of solid rest in a night.

They forgot that didn't they?

Older moms have also forgotten what it is like to be walking around your house at 3:38 p.m. and realize, "Oh. I haven't had a chance to brush my teeth today."

They have forgotten what it is like to have a coherent conversation about legos and bionicles. Or Hello, Kitty. In voices that are 4 octaves above the range your headache can stand (because of that wonderful, night's sleep you got for the whole week).

Please, please, can we just be real? Yes, my littles are growing up. Do I miss that babies? Yes! and NO. I love the fuzzy head. I love the fact you can put them down and they stay there. I love, love the little "O" faces and the yawns that come from the bottom of their toes. I love the 5 year old innocence and funnies.

But you know what?

I love that my older guys can make a meal and serve it. I love that I can tell my older guys to work it out and no one is screaming at each other. I love that they can get themselves dressed and all the clothes are facing forward and right side out. I am going to love the days when I don't have a diaper to change anymore.

and

I am going to love having a decent night's rest so I don't have to summon the patience of Job to get through a day.





oh, while I am writing this I have kicked everyone (except the snoring DH) out of the house. If they came in they were given the option of stay outside and play or come inside and clean.


I might have a couple more hours of quiet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Joys

My dear husband is experiencing the joy of nausea and churning tummy. He had his shoulder surgery yesterday. The anasthesia doesn't agree with him. I am doting on him and helping him but also pointing out that I went through his same symptoms for about, oh, 20+12+26+6+17+16+16 WEEKS.

791 days roughly.

His appreciation level has jumped by leaps and bounds.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Going on an airplane

to Idaho.


BYU-I Education Week.


Sleep by myself. Eat whatever I want. And no body slams this week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shhhh

whisper

I did it!

I got the family switched over to brown rice!

They even ate brown rice, milk and sugar for breakfast this morning.

Shhh-they don't know their mother switched their rice and it is good for them. Well, at least they haven't complained about it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IDIDIT! IGOTMISELFCHANGED!!!!

The 2 year old just came bolting into the living room in a bathing suit. She changed herself. She is very proud of herself. I wish I had a camera. She has a little light blue speedo one piece suit. The back of the swimsuit looks like a Y. She put her swimsuit on backwards and both nipples are hanging out. But she did it herself. Even #2 is giggling.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Surgery Date is Set

DH will have his shoulder repaired on August 3. That is after I get back from Idaho. He will spend 4-6 weeks in a sling, then 4 months of physical therapy. No snow shovelling for him this year.

The blackberries are ripening. The canes are so loaded they are hitting the ground. I anticipate about 15 pounds of blackberries.

#1 is back from Algonquin. His was the only canoe to capsize-in the middle of a lake-with six foot waves. He was upset he lost his water bottle. The saw moose. Ate wild blackberries on an island in the middle of a lake (while waiting for the chop to settle down). I am very appreciative for good Scout leaders.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vamanos Amigos!

That is what I heard my #5 tell her Grammie today.

We picked blueberries at a U-pick down the road from Grammie's house. We now have approximately 30 pounds of blueberries in the freezer.

We were picking and picking and picking. And the "when are we going to be done?" question kept coming out of the mouths of the children. So, I gave the little guys the task of filling Grammie's bucket. When Grammie's bucket is full we will leave. She had kids all over her like glue. She handled all the chatter beautifully and when the bucket was full #5 ran down the aisle and yelled, "Vamanos Amigos! Let's GO!"

It was a beautiful day. Loads of boobas on the bushes, hot dogs for dinner and happy kiddos.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Surgery is in the Future

DH had an MRI done a week or so ago. The doctor read the results and my honey gets to have surgery to repair his shoulder. He has an appointment this next Friday with the shoulder doctor. From the reading we have done, I anticipate it will not be done arthroscopically-his tear and bone fracture is extra large and they will probably have to open him up the old fashioned way. I will write more when we know more.

sigh

I just keep telling myself a year. The recovery is going to be a year.

There are so many things that are just not happening around here because DH is unable to help out. The garden is essentially all weeds. The lawn is long. The weed whacking is long overdue. We are a team, my hubby and I. He is a man that does dishes, vacuums, puts kids to bed and does diapers. He is a gem! Keeping the house running (not smoothly) without him has been difficult. A bunch of tasks have just fallen off the bottom of the list.

I could try to push through but then the kids would suffer even more. It is better to read a story and bake together and have long grass, right?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Change is in the Air

School around here is looking a bit different this year. We are currently investigating online high school options for #1 and #2. It looks like Mom will not be their teacher this year.

I am good with that!

We have been investigating their options since our move. In our county we have middle collages. It is basically high school and college mixed together. In three years they could have their high school diploma, an associates degree or technical degree. For a family that has been paying taxes for years and not using the public schools we are really hoping the children will be able to get their first 2 years of college done this way. We looked into the online high school option to prepare them for college style classes. Being accountable to someone besides mom and dad and a more rigorous schedule is just what they need!

I get to concentrate on the little kids now. I am good with that!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Currants Picked

Jelly made. I love my Mehu Lisa steam juicer. It is a dream for doing jelly and juices. No straining fruit through nylons. No red fingers for days and days.

I only made one batch of currant jelly this year. We still had some from last year and I really, really love Bonne Maman Four Fruit Jam. It has cherries, currants, raspberries and strawberries. I used the rest of the currant juice for our own version of Four Fruit Jam. Whenever one of those little Bonne Maman jar is opened it doesn't last until the next meal. So I know the kids like this combination also.

5 pounds cherries, 5 pounds raspberries steamed and juiced with currants, 5 pounds strawberries and approximately 12 cups of currant juice. 5-1-7-2 (for those non-jamming readers that is 5 cups fruit puree, 1 pectin package, 7 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice for a batch of jam)

Off to A&W for dinner!

Monday, July 5, 2010

really tired

whenever DH is gone I just don't get to bed early.

However, the kids still get up at the same time.

yawn

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Big Boys are Gone

as is Daddy to Scout Camp.

The 4 littles and I are home. #5 has a sore throat and is quiet. That is unusual for her.

It is Sunday and we are just chilling. No church today. We were going to go to Grass Lake and see the parade but everyone (except #6) voted to stay home and let #5 get better. They really want to go to the lake tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shopping Day today!

I am taking the 4 littles with me grocery shopping. And it is our anniversary. DH is gone with #6 getting his allergy shots. I said, "Can't you take her with you?" knowing full well I would spend more time saving the kitten she terrorizes. Truly. I am writing the shopping list and menu and trying to get 3,4, and 5 ready. #4 came down and chomped his granola. I talked with him about the plans for the day. He got very excited because we are going to stop at the thrift store and buy him some summer jammies. He looked at me, milk mustache in place and said, "Mom. I am going to put my bowl in the sink (SCORE!) and then skeedabra up the stairs to get ready."

I think he meant skeedaddle.

#2 was sitting across the table (working on math, all his Algebra 1 has to be finished before he leaves for scout camp-he is cramming), smiled, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You need to write that one down!"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mom! We are ready to go swimming

Me: Who is going to swim with you? (cause the littles can't go in the pool without a big person)
#4: #2!
#5: Does he have his suit on?
#4: He has on his underwear.
Me: Do you have on your underwear?
#4: Actually, no.

and I don't want to know how long he has been going commando.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

There is a naked 2 year old running around my house

She is begging to go swimming.

She took off her dress. She peeled off her diaper and is looking for her swimsuit. Upstairs she went in search of aforementioned suit.

Dad says to her: You're naked. (He is Master of the Obvious.)

She responds: I want to go swimming.

Dad: You're going to go swimming naked?

She: I am going to go swimming in my buns.


Good to know that buns are now part of a wardrobe!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Da Kissy MOnsta!

#5 has been grabbing my neck, pulling my cheek to her wips and kissin me like 20 times in a row.

I wuv you mom. You needed to know.

Lobster Backs

That is what my little kids are-lobster backed, sunburnt, crispy kids. I applied sunscreen several times. Saturday the Lund and Jensen families came over and played. The kids played hard. It was a great time. We had pulled pork sandwiches, spam pasta salad, snow cones and ice cream. The pool was open. I bought a piece of plastic sheeting for a homemade slip-n-slide. Rick recommended a bottle of shampoo to make the slip really fly. We had 500 water balloons. It was kid Summer Heaven.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Can you name this vegetable?


This is a delicacy.





This is worth waiting a year to eat.




It is a flower stalk of garlic. It is called a scape. And it is fantastic in omelets and frittata. It tastes like garlic asparagus.




I am drooling.


We are eating them Saturday morning with the Lund and Jensen families. I will go out and harvest them Friday. By cutting off the flower stalk, I force the plant to make a bigger clove of garlic.


mmmmmmm.


My dear husband has said it for years and really, really hopes I brush my teeth before I kiss him.



My favorite vegetable is garlic.

One of the dis/advantages of the fall


DH cannot shave. He has a very difficult time reaching his face because his right elbow does not bend that way yet.

He hates the look. I like the way he kisses even better. So, I guess he likes it and hates it at the same time. Oh, he still makes my heart go pitty-pat!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Look who has a kitten


#1 is getting the pleasure of bottle feeding a kitten. He lights up when he holds the kitten. I think the name currently in the lead is Phineas.

Monday, June 7, 2010

So much for Garden Planning

I spend parts of January and February figuring out the garden plan. I order seeds. Seed catalogs are essentially crack for gardeners.

Mother Nature decided spring needed to come about 5 weeks early this year.

I was okay with that. We just didn’t have as much lettuce, peas or broccoli as planned.

All was on schedule until my beloved fell down the stairs. Actually when he fell down the stairs I had all the seedlings started and ready for the ground because I taught a garden class. My ducks were in a row.

I have to tell ya’ll that my DH is a wonderful dad. He is hands-on, disciplining, diaper changing, book reading, vacuuming and mopping kind of dad. We are really a team raising this large family of ours. Having him out of commission has been, oh, what is a good word? Sucky? Debilitating? Frustrating? Get the idea?

The big boys and I are doing the best we can. We are still behind. It really is the little things that are just killing me right now.

Little things like, oh, when cleaning off the kitchen counter on Saturday morning, a certain child put all the garden seeds on the back porch. The counters were clear, right?


It rained buckets and buckets here Saturday night. I didn't know the seeds were on the back porch.

I glanced out the window yesterday to discover my entire seed stash is wet. Did you know that most seed companies put their seeds in paper envelopes to ensure that the seeds don’t mold?

Rain, paper, seeds.

Two shoe boxes full.




I am attempting to save the expensive ones. I am peeling open the wet envelopes, scraping the seeds onto paper plates, labeling the plate and putting them out to dry.


I had two years worth of seeds.

The garden plan is officially out the window because all of the corn seeds are soaked and now we are going to have two years of corn seed planted. Other veggies are being displaced. No green beans this year. I may be putting a container on the deck for zucchini and other things. This is still a work in progress but it isn’t going to turn out like I had anticipated the garden turning out this year.

No child has been scolded. What is the sense? They weren't trying to do something that takes up an entire afternoon of my time. But oh, this is killing me.

Where is the Calgon?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

#5 had a funny day today

This morning started off with haircuts. We got to attend my cousin's wedding reception and all the males in the house were shaggy. Out came the clippers and the buzzing began. I did DH, #2,3 and 4. Then #5 came in. She gets into the chair and says, "Mom. I want spiky haiw."

Her dad hears this and winces. Dad winces because he knows I don't have a problem giving her spiky hair. Hair grows. Although it seems to grow very slow on my girls.

Me: Are you sure?

Her: Yes, I want to be able to spike my haiw wike #4. (Honestly, she is so in love with that older brother it is just amazing.)

Dad is visibly cringing.

Dad: Well, if you get spiky hair you won't be able to have pony tails anymore.

Her: But #4 has spiky haiw.

Dad: Boys have short hair. You are a girl. You won't be able to have braids.

Me: How about we trim your bangs and the rest of your hair and see how you like it.

Her: a very resigned and deflated "Okayyy"

I trim her bangs and just take off the ends all over the rest of her hair. I put in a couple of braids and she no longer wants spiky hair. Dad is happy. He is visibly relieved.

At the reception today Spartie attended. You know who Spartie is? THE Michigan State University mascot. Here is a picture. The groom played football for MSU. The bride's parents are alumni and the bride also. HUGE Spartan fans. #5 was very unsure of Spartie.

Her: Mom (eyebrows scwenched together, watching Spartie). WHO is dat?
Me: That is called Spartie. He is a man in a costume.
Her: A man?in a costume?
Me: Yes, let's go see him.

I take her up to the front of the restaurant to see Spartie. I point out to her that his costume feels just like her jammies. She watched him for about 15 minutes and then decided to warm up to him.



I wonder who is having the most fun? #5? My cousin? or Spartie?

She also went around gathering chocolate cake and eating it. We didn't catch her in time before she ate a bunch. It was laced with Kahlua. So, far, she doesn't seem any worse for her alcohol consumption. CocoaLoco girl.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Popcorn

We are trying to have family movie night twice a month on Friday nights.

Last time we watched "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." Oh, my. We all laughed.

Last night we watched "The Bourne Identity." It was more for the boys. Oh, the things we girls put up with for all these boys.

Once the little kids (4,5,6) heard it was movie night, the chanting began. "POPTORN!" "PPOPTORN" "POPTORN!" The popcorn popper is out and plugged in. It is warming up and the stools start getting dragged over.
#4 yells, "WE need to watch the volcano!!!"
#5 squeals in glee, "VOLCAAAANNNOOOO!"
#6 echos them all, "BAWWWCAAAANOOOOOOO!"

They climb on their stools and chairs and watch.



watch.


watch.watch.watch.

The first pop is heard. #4 announces "IT IS STAWTING!"

The girls oooooo and aaaawwww.


We popped probably 1 1/2 cups of popcorn. All the kids and I ate the whole bowl. DH doesn't like popcorn because it sticks in his teeth. Really, he must be an alien. Who doesn't like popcorn? It is like a perfect food.

#1 told me I make the best popcorn in the world. #2 nodded enthusiastically.

I told them about Grammie's dad who would eat popcorn like cereal in the morning. In a tall tupperware cup with milk. He would float popcorn in the cup and eat it with a spoon. I told them stories about Poppy's dad and how he would eat popcorn. I told my eldest we gave him his great-grandfather's middle name. Gramps was particular about popcorn. It had to be white poporn (it is more tender than yellow), it had to be real butter, it had to be salted lightly. We would use the air popper, pop the corn, butter and salt it. Then he would sit down with the bowl in his lap. He would grab a handful and hold the fistful up to his mouth and eat it a fistful at a time. If you didn't get some fast, you stood a very good chance of not getting any popcorn.

We would eat a big bowl at night at the cabin and he would give us mind puzzles to figure out.

sigh

It just isn't the same without him.

Suprise Visitor

Today a lady from church stopped by. She had some comforters to give us. While she was here she wanted a tour of the garden. We walked around and I showed her the canning garden and the kitchen garden. The little girls followed us around sharing their great and infinite wisdom.

It was one of the days in early June that makes February worth it. The sun was shining, the grass wasn't cut yet, still on the long side, the sky was blue with cartoon clouds (as #2 calls them) and a light breeze. I was walking through the yard and had a two year old calling after me, "Wait me Mama. Hold da hand!!" I waited for her. She placed her little hand in my hand and smiled and we walked across the yard.

Not too many of those days left you know.

Not too many dirty underpants laying around anymore




Top photo courtesy of #3, found in the living room, next to the yellow chair

2nd photo was #2 being grumpy I found his dirty clothes on the kitchen counter. I was coming with the camera and he zipped up and snatched his bundle of clothes. I had him put them back so I could take the original picture. He got quite upset. Upset enough to shed tears and talk back.

Sheesh

Today I received a sales call from Hilton Hotels. It was a promo for Las Vegas or Orlando.

sales person: Well, Mrs. Brownhead, what destination is more interesting to you? Las Vegas or sunny Orlando? (think that FL is worried about tourism dropping with the BP spill?)

me: Ah, neither of them.

sales person: Is it the destination?

me: No. Packages like this generally don't cover a family my size. (Knowing full well most packages cover a family of 4.)

sales person: Well, how big is your family?

me: We are a family of 8, 6 children 14-2 years old.

sales person: Let me check on that.

hold.................

sales person: Yes. You are right this package wouldn't cover your whole family. Why don't you leave some of them at home?

me: Excuse me?

sales person: Well, I have 4 kids and we would leave some of the kids at home with a sitter.

How would you like to be a kid in her family that got left home on a family vacation? I really wanted to ask her how many of her kids needed therapy.

Being left at home on a family vacation?




Sure, #3, you stay at home. We are going to Disney Land. See you in a week.

Do you know how injured any of my children would be??

How do you do a family scrapbook? Oh! That was our trip to Disney! oh, wait, where are the two middle kids?



and people wonder why this society has little family unity.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The First of the Season


Lunch today is salad with hardboiled eggs, cheese, croutons and corn on the cob.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Update on DH

We go back to the orthopedic doc on Tuesday. We will see if the elbow bone fragment is healing. If it broke loose during the week he may have to have surgery. He is a rotten sick person. He is stubborn and attempts to be fiercely independent but he doesn't remember his pills and then gets crabby. I am regularly saying, "Are you sure you should be doing that?"

and my mother thought the children were stubborn because of moi. ha!

The Quest is Nearing the End

The quest for the perfect homemade granola. The quest has been long, fraught with frustration and thwarted by infants and fussy adults.

What have I learned?

Leave the fruit out. I know! SACRILEGE. We still have dried fruit available. I like cranberries, blueberries, cherries and golden raisins. DH likes brown raisins. The kids are hit and miss. Some are in my camp, some are in DH's and one doesn't like any dried fruit whatsoever.

Most of us like clusters.

None of us like even barely dark brown granola. Absolutely no scorching allowed.

Nuts are good, especially cashews. Nothing too exotic. Pepitas are still on the fence as to whether they are allowed or not.

Coconut is hit and miss in the family.

Sesame seeds and flax seed get caught in the teeth and therefore not allowed.

Low sugar granola is so-so.

I had tried so many recipes that my DH actually said, "Just buy it. I don't like the homemade stuff." This is quite possibly the only time in our entire marriage he has said my homemade stuff was inferior to store bought. And years ago when he said this I was actually a little hurt. I just started buying granola. I didn't eat it. I didn't like it. Stale raisins and banana chips. ewwww. DH and the kiddos were happy so I just bought granola.

Yesterday, I embarked on the granola quest again. I was halfway through a bag of a 25 pounds of oatmeal. I put as much into the 3 1/2 gallon bucket that I could squeeze in and still had 20 cups or so. An empty-ish bag plus 20 cups of oatmeal is prime toddler mess making material (because it is light enough she can lift it) so I started with oatmeal for breakfast (with enough for oatmeal pancakes for dinner). I made a double batch of DH's favorite cookies-oatmeal raisin. I still had lots of oatmeal.

It was time to start the granola quest again. I hit the internet. Allrecipes.com had a few 5 stars but they didn't look right for our fussy granola eater. I googled dehydrator granola recipes. I had read somewhere you can use your dehydrator to "bake" the granola thus preventing the scorch (it works and you don't have to stir every 15 minutes). I had 7 different granola recipe tabs and then I stumbled across this. I was intrigued. Any recipe that has a LipLady in it has to be tried. And the writer had to have something good 'cause she has a 7 year quest for the perfect granola. I could relate. I was going to make it.

#6 and I made up a batch, and then it became a double batch because she added another cup of brown sugar when I stepped away from the bowl. We stirred and chopped and chatted in toddler-ese. She was a happy camper because she got to do all the stirring and didn't have to share with #5. (Note to those cooking with toddlers-always use a bowl that is at least twice a big as you need, no spills because the bowl has enough room for the sloshes and they don't jump out of the bowl.) I loaded up the cookie sheets and dehydrator rack. I knew from the baking smell we were on to something. And it was good.

DH came through the kitchen and sampled. "Not bad," he said as he chomped. He kept on sampling all day long. Typical understatement, "not bad" as he is filling up on granola every time he passes through the kitchen.

I found him last night at 10 or so eating out of all 4 quart jars so that the level in each jar would be the same. Like I wouldn't notice? funny man

So if you are looking for a good clustery granola, try this one! You can add the fruit but we just have it so everyone can add what they like.

I made a double batch and it is quickly disappearing. I had a bowl with milk this morning and the clusters stay crunchy to the bottom of the bowl. I think I will end up making a quadruple batch at the beginning of the month and each person gets their own quart jar of granola for the month. This is inspired by dear MIL who would buy each child their own gallon of milk each week and they could chug-a-lug from their own gallon if they wanted (at least that is what DH told me but I just cannot see my MIL walking through her kitchen watching a child chug-a-lugging and not say anything).

I might have to give DH two quarts. The levels in the jars are lower this morning.

UPDATED: I followed the recipe exactly except for the spices. DH thinks cardamom tastes like a dirty sock so I used 1/8 t. cardamom and 1/2 t. allspice instead of the cardamom and mace (didn't have any mace).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ah, the messes

Admission time.

Some days I really do not like the mom I am becoming.

I specifically feel powerless when it comes to the messes. And I don't seem to be able to convince my children to pick up their things, put away the things they have used or use a hamper. Is it the boy factor? I have nagged, cajoled, taken them away, made the buy their own things. And I have been nagging, cajoling, taking things away and making them buy their own things for years now.

I am using the power of the blog. I am going to take photos and post their messes. I am not going to be angry, nagging, cajoling. I am just going to hand their friends a piece of paper with the url on Sunday and let their friends see their dirty underwear.

"It's not the tragedies in life that kill us, it's the messes." Dorothy Parker



Post Numero Uno


See that lovely Calvin Klein suit? Crumpled up in a ball? what you don't see is the hanger that was 12 inches away and the hanging spot that was 24 inches away.

The lower picture was a very beautiful, freshly scrubbed bathroom. Key word was. What? No mom! I didn't leave any laundry in the bathroom.

These two photos courtesy of #1.

UPDATE:
I showed the fam this blog entry at lunch today.
#1's response was, "YOU WOULDN'T DARE." Guess I hit a nerve?
"This is BLACKMAIL!" Guess I hit a nerve?
DH and I responsed, "No. This isn't blackmail. This is positive parenting."
We both had smiles on our faces.
#1 kept going. "#2! You have to hack the computer for me...." he kept on going.

Who says peer pressure isn't alive and well in homeschooling?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner Conversation Tonight

Is an argument of the virtues of the Lord of the Rings books by Tolkien vs. the movies. It is a lively conversation. #2 and #3 and DH have read all the series and it is just funny.

"NO! they left out an 1/8th of the book!"
"What are you talking about?"
#4 piping up "Mom, I watched a movie with #3 in Dad's office and it was just one big battle. It was AWESOME." with a thumbs up and a nod.
"what about the balroug?" (I don't know how to spell it but it was funny.)
"There were no love interests in the book."
"There were less battles in the books."

I sat there and soaked it in. I have been hoping this part of homeschooling would come one day-sprited conversation about books.

It came tonight.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Adventure for the Weekend


cause you know it just isn't home without an adventure or two, right?

DH fell down the basement stairs and broke his right arm and dislocated his left shoulder.

I have a no-armed man!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What it is?













Peepers!

Our baby chicks are here. The chicken adventure continues!

We decided that every spring we will get another flock of chickens. The old chickens will be slaughtered in the fall when the new chickens are laying. It takes approximately 4 months for a pullet to mature enough to lay. In the fall we could possibly be pulling in 60 eggs a day. After the old chickens are culled we will have stewing chickens galore. And you may ask if there is a difference between a store bought chicken and a farm raised stewing chicken? The difference is the farm raised ones are fantastic in soup. Absolutely fantastic.

The peepers will be inside for a few weeks and then they move out to the other chicken shed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Beginning of the Season

The tomatoes are in! 96 Roma, 30 Amish Paste. In the kitchen garden there are 4 Reisentraube.


The ground is very wet and heavy. Praying there are no more hard frosts.