Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update on the meals

Food here is sort of a big thing. I have found when I neglect this part of my mothering, I end up with crabby kids.

My most recent discovery is packing washed and cut romaine lettuce in wide mouth canning jars and vacuum packing them. It is very easy to do with my Foodsaver vacuum packer. I started doing this about 3 weeks ago. The amount of salad the family is consuming has tripled. We now regularly go through 5 large heads of romaine lettuce. I buy the romaine at a wholesale vegetable store, look for white bottoms of the head of lettuce (indicating freshness), bring it home and pack it up. The whole family helps out with different stations/jobs. One washes, I cut, one scoops into the salad spinner and dries, the lettuce goes into a big bowl and is then packed into jars, then vacuum packed and into the frig. The lettuce lasts 10-14 days this way.

It has been wonderful for meal prep. Absolutely wonderful! I grab a couple jars and some toppings and we have a fresh salad on the table.

I have also been making homemade dressings. They taste so much better than the store bought. I have been making salad dressing for a while but we had glop problems because I was making them in canning jars. #4 and #5 regularly had "ranch floods" on their plates. I found at Gordon's Food Service squeeze bottles. The opening of the bottles were wide mouth so it is easy to pour dressing after it has been made.

DH thinks a salad isn't a salad without croutons. I learned how to make croutons. I now have a use for all those bread crusts and ends that the kids won't eat. After I make a batch, normally an entire loaf of bread worth, I also vacuum pack them in mason jars. With the whole family eating croutons the jars are regularly empty! I know I hit upon a good way to make them when the 16 year old said at lunch yesterday, "These are the best croutons Mom."

Salad-in-a-jar.com has other great ideas.


I emerge from the shower to find both girls snuggled up with dad in our bed. Since we have had a few puddles around here lately, I asked them to go to the bathroom. They resisted. It is cold this morning and the bed is warm. So, I shoo-ed them out of bed. This is the comment I hear:

#6 to #5

"OK, OK! (rolling eyes and rubber chicken body), let's go squeeze de lemon."

never a dull moment around here

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Overheard from the Basement Bathroom

DH opens the door to the basement bathroom. #6 had gone in about 5 minutes earlier.

DH: What are you doing using a magic eraser on your bottom!!???
#6 smiles
DH: Who made this puddle on the floor?
#6 smiles

Sometimes husbands ask the silliest questions.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sitting at the dining table with #1 and #2

#1: No!! You can't touch this!
#2: You are NOT M.C. Hammer.
#1: Gasps
#2: and if you are M.C. Hammer, I am Chuck Norris. And I CAN touch you.

mother is laughing and almost needs the Heimlich maneuver.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Giggle for the Day

Mom! Dis is how I wite cuwsive...

See?! I swibble cuwsive!!

Thank you #6!

(I would have posted a picture but she used yellow dry erase marker on her white board. It didn't show up.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

School is on the move today

We are heading to a library for school today. #1 and #2 are meeting a math tutor (DH is so busy with work he can't do math lessons with them anymore.). That means 4 other kids and a mom are schooling in the library.

The little girls are packing everything in sight. No joke. "Mom? CAn I read OUR books at the wiebwawy?" #5 just started to panic. "MOM! Are we going to pack the piano??? Cause I haf to do piano fowa school." I just calmed her down and told her to go practice her piano now.

deep breaths, deep breaths

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

“People often say to me that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing…that’s why we recommend it daily. In a perfect world, we hear something once, we record it in our brain and never need to hear it again. Well, I don’t know where you’re living, but my world is far from perfect. I occasionally have doubts, fears, and disappointments in my life. During those times I need “shots of inspiration” to reinforce, to encourage, and to motivate.”

Zig Ziglar

The Bike Adventure a.k.a. disciplining different kids calls for different methods

#1 and #2 are biking to seminary in the morning. If it is not raining or rained the night before. They have headlights, tail lights, bright orange vests with reflector tape and a cell phone.

Seminary starts at 6:25 am. The ride is 4.6 miles long and takes about 20-25 minutes depending on potholes. They left a little late this morning. #2 is the keeper of the phone. We got a pay by the minute phone for them to use so they can check in when they get to the church. One ring and hang up then mom knows you are safe.

This morning the ring didn't stop.

I jump out of bed, get the phone and talk with #2. "I am here fine but the last time I saw #1 he was at the end of the driveway." #2 hates to be late and #1 was not going as fast as #2 wanted him to go. The last time #2 saw #1 was at the HOUSE end of the driveway. He took off and didn't stay with his brother.

I get dressed and start the Suburban and start the drive. Praying the whole time. Alternating prayer with, "that stupid kid. Why didn't he just wait?" I get the church and see two bikes parked. whew

The phone rings about a half hour later. #1's chain won't stay on. Please come get us. I pick up #1. Tell #2 to ride home. #1 relates to me how he broke down halfway to the church but he didn't have a phone because his brother took off and he was 25 minutes late getting to class. Oh, and what is for breakfast? (you know that important boy stuff, "I am safe, feed me.")

If I was to have this conversation with #1 it would involve blocking out an hour of time. He would get defensive, we would have to go around and around with him ending up growling at me and doing extra chores and push-ups.

Instead I had this conversation with #2:
"You guys are like missionary companions. You stick together. If one of you had been hit by a car at a high speed there is a strong possibility you would not be able to dial a phone. Therefore you must stick together. Keep each other safe."
"OK mom. I will stay with him from now on."

I let it sink in for a half hour. He is sitting next to me at the breakfast table. I look over at him and ask, "Do I need to go over this conversation again with you?"
"Nope. I got it."

wow, what different kids these two are.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Embracing It

School has been going to for two weeks now. My arsenal this year includes new school rules, set school hours and consequences if you do not follow the rules or do something that is not school related during school hours, check lists, reading lists, assigning out gym class for the littles to a big kid (same with some science and reading lessons) and exit checks. I am finding keeping school running for 6 kids is now a full time job. It used to be part-time. It is now full time. Most outside interests are now being placed on the back burner and moved off the stove all together! It is only going to be like this for a couple of years. #1 and #2 will start college as soon as next year. I am not going to fight this time of my life. I am really working on embracing it.

It isn't as easy as typing that sentence.

I find day after day, year after year turning my will over the Heavenly Father's can be tiring. On the days I struggle I normally haven't taken good enough care of me. The exercise hasn't happened. The scripture study hasn't happened. The house is a mess. Someone is dancing around me asking what there is to eat (when there is a snack cupboard and frig full of food). The kids are pushing me to do more and I have another family over for dinner or a playdate. Therefore my quiet time hasn't happened. My date night hasn't been happening regularly (or at least when both of us are awake, stinky 80 hour work weeks).

I lose sight that these children are also God's children. They will succeed in ways that aren't as tangible as being a football star or section leader in band or National Honor Society electee. (All these things are great accomplishments but is that all you want your child to be?)

When you are a homeschooling mom you don't have external indicators that your child is doing okay. Only every now and then do you catch a glimpse of who they are becoming.

I live day in and day out with all their faults (and mine) blaring loudly in front of us. I sometimes don't see the how we are progressing. Embracing all that can be a true act of faith. Oh, what an act of faith!

But I find myself being whispered to, "You aren't the only one who has faith. I have faith in you. They will be fine. You are doing it. You are doing it."

and so you find a kleenex, wipe your face, blow your nose and keep on going.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let the school year begin!

It feels like the beginning of a marathon....6 kids, 4 different levels, menus made, freezers stocked (for quick dinners).

Seminary started this morning. The big boys need to be at the church for 6:20 class.

This year EIW is offering online classes. #1 and #2 are enrolled. We are doing a US History year. We are using Sonlight cores 100 and 3/4 (now D/E) for history and more language arts. #3 reads at the level as #1 but writes at a different level. 4, 5, and 6 are not completely reading but will be by Christmas.

It is a big year this year! A few big mile markers in my mothering are going to be crossed (or have been). It is the first time in 16 years we have had nobody wearing diapers. AND Everyone will be reading by the end of the year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life is moving along

This past weekend we baptized #4. Well, actually, #1 baptized #4. It was a very special day.

#6 is turning 4 next week. She loves her little buzzcut. When I was cutting all the boys' hair she got in line and said, "I want an army guy cut." I asked her if she was sure. She was. I did. She is cute, cute, cute. She looks like a miniature Emma Watson with that pixie cut. DH found it disturbing that it really did fit her personality. teehee

#5 just got a bob cut. She loves it. She is doing well, right on the cusp of being an independent reader. For this semester of school she is going to learn how to make quesadillas for the family.

#4 is also on the cusp of being an independent reader. He is full on in "I hate girls mode." #5 just gets sooo crushed.

#3 is lucky to be still alive. All I am going to say is, dawdling.

#2 is doing well. Puberty has struck. He will come back from the Dark Side soon.

#1 turned 16 this past month.

I am, at this moment, tired and envious of other moms who have children at school today. This is a message someone sent me on Facebook: I've heard smart people describe home schooling as "intellectual incest." Thought you'd like to know.
..And it's certainly not my concern, of course, if you choose to keep your kids cloistered, free of worldly influence, away from the (arguably necessary) regimentation of public schools. Still I feel sorry for those kids, stuck in that miasma of supernatural claptrap, sure of their own righteousness and open-mindedness. I can point to innumerable leaders who went to public schools. That article (not to put too fine a point on it) is horseshit. Latin! LOL.

He was referring to this article.

Oh, well. Some people just happen to be butts that talk.

Last week I killed a dog. It wasn't on purpose but the dog ran out in front of the Suburban, I was on a dirt road with kids in the car. The voice in me said, do not slam on the brakes, you will lose control of the car. I was really grateful #5 wasn't with me. She would have been sobbing and I already feel bad enough.

My hairdresser cut my hair too short.

The house is finally unpacked after the move. 3 years later....but as Marie pointed out, I got littles and I homeschool and I am darn lucky I got this much done! Oh, how I miss Marie.and Cindy. Krista too. This whole homeschooling thing is just heavy today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I was asked how I do menu planning

and it got realllll long. Here it is:

You have had some great tips from the other ladies. I do something very similar but I also spend the majority of my grocery budget on maintaining a large pantry. I use coupons but only buy the items we eat when they go on sale. (DH and I made an agreement that I would try couponing but we didn't want a lot of junk in the house, therefore I only use coupons for the things that we ate before I started couponing, did that make sense?) I buy meat and canned goods on sale and keep about 3 months worth (enough to get me to the next sale). I plan out our meals a month at a time but Sunday dinners are the ones where I base the meal around what meat went on sale that week.

There is always a fruit bowl on the table and veggies but I get what is on sale for fresh veggies. We always have carrots and cucumbers for fresh veggies. So, here are a list of my meals:

steel cut oats with brown sugar, milk and butter
eggs and whole wheat toast, jam
yogurt with granola (homemade granola, Aldi plain yogurt sweetened at home, when really ambitious I make the yogurt a gallon at a time)
smoothies and whole wheat toast
pancakes and applesauce or bananas with yogurt
steel cut oat porrige (with apples and spices), milk, butter
graham cake and milk, bananas
rice, milk and raisins

every now and then I will make breakfast burritos or bagel sandwiches (normally birthday request). Egg dishes are limited around here due to my allergies but before my allergy diagnosis hardboiled eggs were regularly on the menu.

I made the decision a few months ago to make one meal that would last for two meals. (Two meals, one cleanup) So, I made a big burrito lunch today. I made enough for everyone to have another burrito tonight for dinner. My husband works for home so we made our big meal of the day lunch. Dinner is less formal and therefore less stressful for the cook. It can be tricky but I use my rice cooker and crockpots a lot! I tend to follow a theme for menu planning (sandwiches, beans, vegetarian, mexican, mom's choice, Sunday, clean of the refrigerator/pizza)
Lunner (lunch/dinner):

mexican = tamales, quesadillas, enchiladas (bean or chicken or beef), nachos, chicken burritos with shredded chicken (crockpot), beans (crockpot) and rice, shredded cheese, salsa, tortillas, roasted vegetable tostadas, pico and guacamole

sandwich (winter is soup and sandwiches) = Scout night, PBJ, tuna spread, melted cheese and tomato soup, cheese crisps(tortillas with cheese broiled until crispy), cheese and crackers with veg and fruit plate, pulled pork sandwiches

bean = pinto beans with cheese, brazilian black beans and rice, cuban beans and rice, white chili, red chili, beef and bean pie, beanie weenie, super soup

vegetarian = baked potato bar, roasted potato chunks, stir fry, mediterranean dinner (lentil soup, with pita and hummus and veg), spaghetti, hash browns and fried eggs, veggie pasta salad, tuna pasta salad, we used to have frittata and spanish tortilla also

mom's choice/date night = if we are on a date the kids tend to have box macaroni and cheese (which I detest)

clean out the refrigerator/pizza = we have pizza once a week with family movie night. I use the Healthy breads in 5 minutes a day recipe for the crust.

Sunday = whatever cut of meat I can find on sale, this tends to be simpler comfort food, it is not unusual for me to roast a turkey and make mashed potatoes even far away from Thanksgiving, meatloaf, salisbury steak, roast, the family all chips in and helps but if I am tired from a long week they have been known to eat bread and butter and apples and cheese too! :)

The one thing I do weekly that has really saved me is a weekly prep day. I normally do this on Saturday morning. I plan the menu and prepare ahead of time. What this means is, if we are out of granola I make granola. I make the bread dough for pizza. I make bread. I cut up stirfry veggies ahead of time and put them in ziplocks in the frig. I mix the yogurt. I peel the carrots and coin them for steaming. I take the meat out of the freezer to thaw. In the winter I make a couple batches of soup and put them in mason jars and put in the frig. Teen age boys here-I’d rather make the stuff that is wholesome than have them filling up on junk. I also clean out the frig.

All the little things that seem to take so much time during the week that we have to do week after week. I figured out a while ago I was spending like 20+ hours in the kitchen with meals every week. By taking 2-4 hours on Saturday I saved myself a lot of time. I also made meal prep a family affair because we had a plan others could read and carry out (a true Godsend when I had pneumonia.)

When I plan my menu, I write the shopping list at the same time and a prep list at the same time. I keep a notebook just for this. I plan a month out. On the left hand page is the menu. On the right hand page is the prep list and produce that I need to buy for the week. I am trying to make the week run as smoothly as possible by doing this. So I measure out the oatmeal and put it in mason jar so all I have to do in the morning is pour it into the rice cooker with water and press on. I measure out the rice. I make the pancake syrup. Yes, it takes a bit of extra space in the cupboard but on my way out the door to my boys' 6:15 am class it has been a lifesaver. Breakfast is ready when I get back. I have gone so far as to clean out a shelf in my kitchen specifically for that weeks menu items. It always ends up getting cluttered but when I did it it was great!

So, it looks like this:
Oatmeal and toast
Roasted Veg. Tostadas w/ pico

Prep List
Measure 2 cups oats, add ¼ tsp salt into mason jar, slice onions and peppers (double bag onions), cook 2 lb. pinto beans,mash beans, grate cheese, make pico

Roast turkey breast, baked potatos, green beans, apple crisp

Prep List
Combine all dry ingredients for pancakes, put in ziplock, take turkey out of freezer, wrap potatoes in aluminum foil, measure out apple crisp dry ingredients, peel and slice apples, treat with lemon juice put in freezer (or use dehydrated apples)

Weekly Prep: Grind wheat, sweeten yogurt, check granola, make pizza crust/artisan bread, fill containers (flour, sugar, beans, raisins), wash produce

Shop: cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, bananas, apples, fruit that is on sale, milk (I normally put this on a post-it note so I can give it to DH to get after Scouts)

So, in doing this I combined elements from Once a Month cooking, Make a Mix, couponing and bulk buying. By doing these things I have gone from 20+ a week on meal prep to about 10 hours or less.

Shopping: I buy what is on sale, so there are weeks that I do not do any big shopping. But when a sale hits then I am buying 4-6 turkeys and dozens of cans of tomato sauce.

Doing the menu and food this way has really freed up a lot of my time and energy simply because the decision is already made! I don't mind cooking, I really tire of making the decisions of what to make.

I know this was long and probably not clear in spots (little girls dancing around me most of the time while typing). Just ask questions!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Well, this one was too funny

I had to share.

#6 is 3 1/2 now. Her little chatterings start from the moment she is awake to the moment she is asleep. This is no exaggeration folks. Right now, she is petting my left arm and asking me repeatedly, "What are you spelling Mom? Momm? What are you spelling??" I just told her what I was spelling and she belly laughed.

A couple of weeks she and #5 started petitioning that we need to buy a baby, a hoomany baby. "Mom! We need a baby! You need to buy a baby! A hooman baby. Girl!"

DH just relayed to me this morning a conversation he had with her a couple days ago.

3 y.o.: "Dad! We need to give some of our boys away."
Dad: "Which boys should be give away?"
3 y.o.: "Ohhhh, #1, #2, #3, #4"
Dad: "Then we would be a family of all girls."
3 y.o.: "Uh huh!"
Dad: "Who would be give the boys to?"
3 y.o.: "MAWGO!! They can go to wive wif MAWGO!"

She's got a plan I tell ya'.

Watch out world when this one gets older!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dawn hasn't harassed me yet!

Life here has been nothing but busy. I am thinking of shutting down my blogs as I really don't have time to maintain them. We are good. The kids are growing, the farm is still here, DH has recovered from his shoulder surgery, I developed pneumonia the end of March and it is kicking my stamina to the curb. I need to simplify and concentrate on what is most important.


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)...