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. 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.

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?


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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I wonder who is having more fun

I heard squeals of delight coming from the backyard. #2 has been working hard at math today to make a deadline. This was his blow-off time. He chose to grab #6 and headed outside to the trampoline and the swingset. #5 joined them.

Friday, May 7, 2010

just a reminder

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

It is raining

I am so incredibly relieved you just cannot even imagine.

I taught a gardening class last night. It was here at the house. I pulled off the almost impossible--a clean house (at least one floor) and a clean yard.

I do still have to get our garden completely done but the rain has allowed me a day to do laundry, grocery shop and read some books to my litte ones. It won't be a complete lazy day but it will be a lot slower than the last month.

Off to write menu and grocery list....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just to add

as I published the last post and was walking out, #6 was walking in. As I was writing the post she was watching me from the front porch, ringing the doorbell as many times as the circuits would let it ring. over.and.over.

She just presented me with flowers.

In #2's snow boots.

What am I going to do when I don't have the 2 year old around for comic relief?!?

Just a vent

I have been ouside for 2 hours now. It is weeding season. Weed the kitchen garden, plant it, weed the big garden. Weed some more. Weed the flower beds. Weed the garden. You get the idea.

The children are expected to help. No one is exempted, tall and small are out "helping." One is doing yellow flowering weeds, one is doing white flowering weeds, one is picking up dry stuff. They are in actuality working but they are just driving me BONKERS.

They are going to take 4 hours to do what is actually a 2 hour job. The mud ball fight continues as I type. They have already been informed they are not coming in until the job is done. They know the requirements and for bathroom breaks they can water trees.

I think I am just going to go around to the other side of the house and work where I don't have to listen to the bickering, arguing, screaming and blaming. Ah, brotherly love.

I really do want to sometimes just do the work and not involve them. It would be way easier but I know they need to adults who know how to finish a job. I just don't want to listen to them anymore today.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In the beginning....

The kitchen before had a 10x11 work area and a U-shaped counter configuration.

The area from which the photos were taken in the BEFORE state was an eat in area. We had our dining table here for quite a while. That area was 12x10. It had a 32 inch door leading out to our deck and 2 full length windows. There is actually a 2 foot jog in the outer wall. We investigated putting an addition on the back. The price tag on the addition alone was $40,000. No cabinetry included.

I am glad we didn't redo the kitchen right when we moved in. It wouldn't have been the right combination of elements we needed. I found after cooking in the kitchen for a while that I couldn't cook dinner while a child was doing dishes. That's a problem. I couldn't cook dinner and make a dessert at the same time-not enough counter space or a place for a cooling rack to put something when it came out of the oven.

We had kitchen guys come out and price new cupboards. 16,000 dollars. The cheapest was 8,000. That was before we figured out we didn't have enough space to cook the way I really want to. Crazy! Nuts!

I had this vision of the whole family working together in the kitchen. Having the girls certainly changed my way of cooking. I normally had one or both of them at the counter (or on top of the counter) observing. They were being, "Cookas!" But I knew that the ideal kitchen was not in the budget. I wanted to continue to have them help me (cause that is how they learn) but give me enough elbow room that I wasn't gritting my teeth the entire time. I want to enjoy this time with my children.

In all the houses we have owned I have been cursed with a kitchen that is a thoroughfare for the house. I especially disliked our last house with the stove 14 foot away from the kitchen sink. I prayed every time I took a pot of pasta to the sink that a little one would not be underfoot; scalded baby=no fun.

I hit the internet to see if I could just paint my cupboards. The quotes for new cupboards started at $8,000 and went up to $16,000. That was just the cabinetry. The other house still hadn't sold so I knew I wasn't going to be getting new cabinets. I hated the white. I hated how it had to be washed weekly to look decent. If I wanted it to look good it had to be washed daily. Ha! Right! Remember the six kids? I found that I could paint my cabinetry but I had to peel the plastic themofoil off first.

the door before with the thermofoil intact

there was a nick in the plastic on the back of the door

stick in a putty knife and run it down the edge of the door

peel! #3 and #4 loved this job. They were somewhat ecstatic about this job. I was surprised but then I thought about last summer when they both got sunburns. They would stand and peel each other's skin for hours. Some principle-just plastic instead of sunburn. I wonder if there is a job out there for people who like to peel things?

door with not plastic covering. It is MDF--sawdust and glue.

Once I figured out we could actually paint the cabinets I knew we could go somewhere with this project. I kept on cooking for the family and scheming, bringing new ideas to DH. Every now and then I would get frustrated (think end of canning season) and stomp up to his office and say, "This is NEVER going to get done! I might as well just feed ya'll frozen dinners for the rest of eternity. I need an increase in the grocery budget." He would calmly reassure me, "This is going to get done. I promised a kitchen and it is going to get done." I would stomp back down stairs (because a timer was beeping or something) grumbling, "Yah right." cause I knew the other house hadn't sold. (Remember that don't go into debt thing? we were saving up.)

I remembered I had a prep sink in the barn. I was going to try to put it in at the other house but we never got around to it. I am really surprised I didn't donate it during the move but here it was. Already paid for and stainless steel. The old sink was a white corian-ish material. It was horrid. Last fall mom and dad traded us a stainless steel sink they didn't need for their kitchen renovation for a hammermill.

The ball starting rolling when the contractor who helped us after we bought the house came over. He brainstormed with us. Then he shared some information, "Lowe's regulary has windows and door that someone returned that are 75% of the original cost. You just let me know if you want me to keep my eye open for you."

Ah, YAH!

Tom started watching out for deals for us. In the meantime we moved the books to the basement and the dining table to the dining room. We had been using the dining room as a library.

We decided the first thing that had to change was the door. The door needed to be moved. We debated about moving it several places but we ended up moving it to the wall next to the living room. And we changed the windows from full length windows to half height.

Tom did this in February. We put in a banquet table to help with the congestion on the countertop. The toasters and fruit bowl moved over and I had some breathing space on the countertop.

Then we decided in March to cut off the end of the peninsula and see what came to us next. Tom moved the cabinetry that was the peninsula over under the 1/2 height windows and filled in the tile (there were some in the basement from the previous owners). I had bought a 4x2 shelving unit that had a butcher block top. I put it in the kitchen to see if I like having an island.

We lived like this for a few months.

I knew I needed a clean up area and a prep area. The old configuration wouldn't allow for dinner to be made at the same time dishes were being done. I needed space for more than me to chop, dice, peel and open cans.

Then it finally came to us. The idea came. DH spent a late night measuring our existing cabinetry and came up with plan that only needed 3 new cupboards. That meant I had to pick colors. I stopped by a kitchen store and picked up a laminate sample of every color I thought would look good. I came home and dealt out the laminate samples like a deck of cards over the floor. It was very obvious which color worked. When were first contemplating the kitchen re-do we looked at granite and other options for countertop. Our kitchen is a working kitchen. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with maintenance of a stone countertop and I was worried about how my brood would treat a more sensitive material. We stuck with laminate.

We debated and debated about replacing the floor. We are notoriously hard on flooring. I decided to save the money and replace it in a decade or two when there aren't as many people in the house to tear it up. I never have liked this tile but it is durable. I just needed to find colors that would go with it.

We called Tom and told him we had it figured out. Then mom or dad called and said that Menard's was running a sale on countertops. We scrambled to get things ready for a visit to Menard's. Tom and his wife met me there and we were sorely disappointed. They couldn't do what we need to do at the sale prices. We just bit the bullet and had the countertops made the way we needed them (no seams in the corners) at the kitchen shop we had been using all along.

I had to go to Sherwin Williams and get color samples for the color of the cupboards. I did the same thing I did for the laminate--dealt them out on the floor and sorted through the ones that didn't work and then picked the one that looked best.

Tom moved my sink and put in the prep sink where the old big sink was. The new double basin sink was placed under the new windows. DH and I made the home improvement store runs, Home Depot for faucets and garbage disposal, Lowe's for ceiling fans and track lighting, Menards for the new cupboards and backsplash materials. I always forget how much time the shopping takes up when doing these projects.

I started painting the faces of the cupboards. Three coats, all sanded or steel wooled in between coats. I waited for good weather for the doors and drawer fronts. There are 51 and I just didn't have the space inside for them to dry. I worked on the deck for painting the doors and drawer fronts. One night with impending rain we had to move them in to the living room. They took up almost the whole room but we double stack them on the little kid chairs and 2x4s. The last coat I was racing against the wind and the fact that my Hartford pear tree is going to start shedding its blossoms any moment.

Backsplash choices took a long time. I really knew what I wanted but there is just now way it was going to fit into the budget. The backsplash needed to go with the floor and the laminate. I ended up choosing a pink marble. Then I learned how to cut marble with a wet saw and mastic it to the wall. Yes, I did the backsplash all myself. Tom was impressed. He told me I have better tile cutting skills than other men he works with. So, I could have a new profession!

Knob choosing took the longest of the whole process. Who knew the man would be so picking about a knob? "No, not that one. This one feels flimsy. Isn't stuff going to get caught in it? I don't like this color. This one is assymetrical. It looks like a blob. No, I don't like assymetrical." and more. :eyeroll:

#2 putting on the tip out drawer fronts

our bulletin board magnetic system. It is just 4 magnetic knife holders from Ikea. I chose this because anything metal could hold the papers up. Magnets have a way of disappearing in a homeschool household.

Finally a home for the toasters, egg cookers and waffle irons.

10 plugs underneath the bar. This stopped #3 in his tracks. It was so funny. #3 was walking into the kitchen from the living room, saw them, stopped walking, did a triple take and then said, "Whoa. THAT is aLOT of plugs."

Two dishwashers, two sinks, two ovens (the range has a large oven and a small oven and the mircowave can bake also), enough countertop for the whole family to make runzas together, 3 1/2 gallon buckets with gamma seals for dry goods,prep area and clean up area separated. Whew.

See who made us a cake? Dumpcake!


I am cleaning the kitchen and taking the after pictures....


The days are so different. Instead of mess and homeschool teaching I have a DH working from home and quiet until 2:54 when #6 (who is 10)...