Sunday, December 29, 2013

Meal Plan

M: eggs (b), hearty Italian soup (l), clean out the fridge (d)
T: baked oatmeal (b), spaghetti and meatballs (d)
W: pumpkin bread and fruit (b), chicken curry (d)
T: eggs (b), pineapple chili (d)
F: yogurt (b), ground pork and Apple sliders (d)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Alan

Happy birthday to Alan. We've kind of been spreading out his celebration over a few days. Yesterday we went to the movies, today we had his cake, and this weekend we'll have his dinner. The kids made him a fleece Air Force blanket. Great time had by all.

Christmas Eve Pictures

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I don't think we have a single picture from Christmas Day but we did take some on Christmas Eve.  Can't say we did anything fancy this year. Most of the cookies and such are still waiting to be made.  Very few cards went out. Even fewer were received.  Dinner was finger foods and fending for yourself.  The kids enjoyed the yearly tradition of little boxes of sugar filled artificially colored hard to call it food cereal that they get every year for Christmas. The can of spray cheese made it's yearly appearance and much rejoicing was heard from the children. Several kids got new sleds. One got new cross country skis. All in all, I'd say we had a good time.  Hoping the same could be said for your homes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The House the Kids Built

Here is the house built by the older kids. They said they tried to make it look just like the one on the box.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gingerbread House

The younger kids love making gingerbread houses each year. The tradition started when a friend brought over graham cracker houses to make with our kids a few years ago. Now the kids insist on it every year. But my trick is that I always buy a pre-made kit to keep things simple.

Gabe has been begging to make their house for a week.

The younger kids all worked together on this one and the older kids are now putting the finishing touches on the second one.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Meal Plan

Ok, after throwing this list together rather hastily, I remembered that Thursday is Alan's birthday and on Friday he's home from work. So I imagine those days will be somewhat different than what is listed here.  No, I'm not a terrible wife for forgetting because I knew when his birthday was, just focused on coming up with meals instead.

M: yogurt (B), pulled pork (D)
T: eggs (B), beef teriyaki (D)
W: we'll figure it out
T: oatmeal (B), soup (D)
F: eggs (B), leftovers (D)

Pictures from Our Week

Having a Hot Chocolate Party

Ellie's New Hat
A Find from the Thrift Store that Reminds us of our Youngest Girls

The BBQ Pizza Gang

Don't ask.  I can't explain their thinking.  But I found these 3 in the dining room dancing and singing about being the BBQ pizza making gang.  Ignore my hair in the pictures. I was trying to snap the pictures before the kids realized I was taking them.

Play Doh

There is something about play doh that keeps young children entertained. And in one place. And happy. For a very long time.  I whipped up a triple batch of kool-aid scented play-doh last weekend with the kids and it was played with for 3 days straight.  Seriously. For 3 days the children sat at the kitchen table, were quiet, busy, and occupied. It was amazing.  I will have to remind myself to make a fresh batch of play doh every few weeks.

The recipe I used this time was 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of salt, 2 packets of unsweetened kool-aid all mixed with 2 cups of boiling water and 3 tbs of oil.  And it does make a difference if you don't let the water come to a full boil.

Cinnamon Ornaments

We made ornaments with the kidlets today.  Everyone but the older two. For some reason, they decided they just were not interested this year.

It was a simple project and the perfect gift to give to friends (so act surprised if you get one).  Easy enough for the littlest ones to do, you just have to make sure they know not to eat the dough as that much cinnamon would be enough to make you sick. This can also go on the list of frugal family friendly ideas to fit into your holidays this year.

We started with a one to one ratio of applesauce to cinnamon and ended up with closer to a 1:1.5 ratio. Bake in the oven at 300 for about 30 minutes to dry them.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Large Family Moment

You might have a large family when you spend $100 on new underwear and don't actually buy new underwear for the entire family. And you baffle the cashier when she asks if you are stocking up and you say no.

Boy Scout Stuff

The court of awards was last night. Each of the boys earned at least a few badges.  The younger ones behaved rather well. There was actually enough food this year.  Good time had by all and now we get to enjoy a break for a few weeks.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meal Plan

The fun part of this week's meal plan is the Boy Scout potluck/Christmas dinner on Wednesday.  I just might have pointed out when the information came out that the past 3 years, there has not been enough food at this event. We're talking the food runs out before everyone is served anything.  Seriously.  I might have asked if we could provide extra to compensate for this.  Instead, the list was revamped and folks were asked to actually bring enough food to serve at least 10 people.  I'm just going to say it: who are these people who go to pot lucks and only bring along enough food for 4? Seriously, I'm wondering. Especially when you are trying to feed a room full of teen aged boys.  So to anyone in their troop who is irked that the food list got redone, please feel free to blame me. But hey, with 3 boys in the troop, we always brought extras anyway and still plan to do so this week.

M: eggs and toast (B), chicken and gnocchi soup (D)
T: oatmeal (B), salsa verde steak (D)
W: yogurt, granola, fruit (B), Boy Scout dinner (D)
T: crock pot breakfast casserole (B), Italian sausage pasta sauce (D)
F: muffins or banana bread or something of the like (B), chicken parm soup (D)

Our Week

I know, I know. I've been remiss in not posting things this week.  Call me busy, call me slightly in a funk, call me distracted, uninspired. Whatever. I'll try to do better this week. Maybe.

We had our cookie decorating party on Monday which is nothing more than an excuse to get some friends together, feed their kids lots and lots of sugar, and then send them home.  Aren't I a wonderful person?

Snow on and off most of the week. The Frontier Girls meeting was attended by almost no one as the roads were awful that night but we did get 2 no sew fleece blankets made to donate to the pregnancy center and the older girls are still working on learning to crochet hats.  Yes, it is a bit of a struggle but their fearless instructor is doing a great job at working with so many newbies.

On Saturday we hosted a sheep slaughter.  Yup, I did just say that.  I, too, question what has become of my life at times. Three families came over and three sheep were slaughtered.  There are several more to do later in the year but it was bitterly cold on Saturday and there were perhaps a few too many hands in the fire, so to speak. Young, inexperienced hands. And Alan felt it would be best to put off doing our two for a later date.  But even the 9-year-old helped skin on the of animals.  She came inside and was quite proud to tell me she'd skinned the sheep.  She is a fearless one, that girl.  I kept all of the younger children busy and warm in the house along with the older kids who needed a break or to warm up every so often.  Kept lunch warm and drinks flowing.  So my job did not involve blood or anything but anyone who takes on that many little ones all day worked a bit, too. I think.  I mostly made 3 batches of play doh and let the little ones play. And had to tell the middle boys where they were and were not allowed to aim the catapult inside the house (seriously, not towards anything breakable and no firing with anyone downrange although you'd think they'd maybe know these things by now).

Anyway, so that has been my week in a nutshell.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Meal Plan

Someone said something this week about never wanting to use up their freezer meals and it reminded me that I need to go see what meals I had stashed in the freezer to use.  They are all chicken so trying not to use more than one of them a week.  We are hosting a cookie decorating party on Monday so I'm hoping for leftovers on Monday night just so I can relax a bit (add because the older boys are each helping teach different karate classes that night in addition to their regular class so I need to leave the house around 5). It will be a slightly busy but fun day.

S: donuts (B), BBQ beef sandwiches (D)
M: baked oatmeal (B), sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese (L), leftovers (D)
T: eggs in toast (B), sandwiches (L), thai peanut chicken over rice (D)
W: yogurt and granola (B), grilled cheese (L), spinach tortellini soup with rolls (D)
T: crockpot western omelet (B), leftovers (L), spaghetti and meatballs (D)
F: cereal (B), soup (L), tuna sandwiches (D)
S: pancakes and bacon (B), pizza (D)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family Picture

Since I've decided we are not sending out photo cards this year for Christmas, sharing the family picture here. Grandparents and such will get a copy but I've realized over the past few years that in many ways, we are wasting money on Christmas cards (ask me about that conversation I overheard between my Aunts right after we'd mailed ours out to the family one year talking about how Christmas cards were rather silly, stupid, and a waste of money and guess how many people got cut from the list the following year).  So here's the latest picture for those who are interested.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kieran!

Kieran turned 12 today.  Seems rather hard to believe. I mean 12 is just so serious.
He planned out his birthday several weeks in advance. Orders were put in for breakfast pizza, pizza pockets for lunch, Applebees for dinner, and banana cream pie instead of cake. I hesitate to admit that I bought frozen pies rather than make them because our day was just a wee bit busy.
We went ice skating and everyone had the day off from school.
Happy birthday Kieran. You are a blessing to our family.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Ellie!

Ellie turned 3 today. We celebrated with her cake and dinner yesterday.  Today we all went to the play museum. Everyone had a great time. Our spunky 3-year-old also decided to cut off even more of her hair sometime before we went for family pictures on Sunday afternoon. I swear that girl is never going to have a decent amount of hair.

Happy birthday Gracie Girl!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Candles

If you can think to plan ahead next year, head over to Illuminated Ink and order a Bees Wax Advent Candle Making kit.  The kids love making these each year (ok, probably every other year in recent memory) and I love having a project to signify that Advent has begun. If you do decide to use these candles, just keep in mind they burn for about 4 hrs each (depending on how tightly rolled they are) so you may need to order more than one set if you burn them every night.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meal Plan

This is the birthday week edition of the meal plan.  Ellie's birthday is on Monday but we'll have her birthday dinner on Sunday because Monday night is super busy.  Kieran's birthday is on Thursday.  St. Nicholas Day is on Friday. By the end of this week, the kids will have had way too much sugar I'm thinking.

S: cereal (B), Ellie's birthday dinner and cake (D)
M: baked oatmeal (B), tacos (D)
T: eggs (B), hamburger stroganoff (D)
W: yogurt and granola (B), pasta (D)
T: breakfast pizza (B), Kieran's birthday dinner (D)
F: candy and muffins and candy (B), potato soup (D)
S: waffles and pumpkin butter (B), pizza (D)

Day 30

Thankful for a guy who insists on making the pizza dough entirely from scratch while the stand mixer is broken.  Yes, he refused to use the hand mixer and did not even consider getting the bread maker from the basement.
He even fixed that giant gapping hole that has been in the kitchen ceiling for the past few weeks.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 29

Stopped at the thrift store today after Katie asked if we would look for a dress for her for church. Our first place to look for clothes is always the hand-me-down bins in the basement. But being the oldest girl in the family and on the upper end of the girls we usually get hand-me-downs from, finding dresses for her in the hand-me-downs rarely happens.  But one of our favorite stores was having a 30% sale today so we stopped in.

We found a dress for her, 2 sweaters for me (the thing about losing 30+ pounds is that you find a significant amount of your clothes no longer fit and when you don't have the budget to replace them, you start to like thrift stores as opposed to always wearing clothes that just kind of hang on you funny), a matching set of 4 serving bowls, and a matching set of 4 soup bowls all for $17.  Yes, it can take longer to find what you are looking for this way and you can't be too picky (the soup bowls don't match our existing ones perfectly but are the same brand, color, and size, just with an extra decoration on them). But we save a ton this way. It truly makes me regret not shopping this for everything in the first few years of our marriage.  We were stupid then and got caught up in the need to impress everyone trap including a few years we put Christmas gifts for extended family members on credit. Like I said,we were idiots.  I'm just hoping that our own kids learn from our mistakes and always think to look at the thrift stores first.

So, yes, today I am thankful for the abundance of decent thrift stores in our area and not at all ashamed to say so.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 28

Thankful today for actually having Alan at home.  This marks only the second time in 14 years that he has not had to work on Thanksgiving.  Admittedly, a few times he only had to go in for a half day and be at home on call the rest of the day but the option to actually be home all day with us is a new one.  Granted, I do think some of the kids will get a tad upset when they realize this means I have not actually stocked the house with our normal finger food feast of junk but I think they'll get over it.

It's strange that it was only after moving so close to so much of our extended family that I started to actually feel lonely and hate having Alan always working on Thanksgiving. But then again, perhaps it's the being so close to extended family that does it to you when you are still kept at a very large arm's distance away from everyone else.  Sigh. But I guess that just serves as a reminder that there are so many people out there spending not only this holiday alone, but every day. Because it's hard to celebrate a with family when you don't have one to share your time with.

Anyway, thankful to have Alan actually home with us this year. Yes, he is in charge of all the cooking and teaching the kids how to get it all done (no, I have never ever cooked a turkey in my life.  perhaps I'll have to tackle one later this year).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27

Snow shovels, children old enough to use them, neighbors with trucks who will plow the end of the driveway when the plows have dumped a couple feet of extra snow there. And the beautiful view when driving to the feed store this morning. Power that only went out once today. Simple things to be thankful for today.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26

I have finally found it. A simple, easy recipe for granola. One that requires few ingredients, minimal cooking time, all the family loves, and is easy to change a wee bit if you actually have extra ingredients in the house. Ok, first I found a simple recipe, then I changed it.

Yes, that is what I am thankful for today. So here's the latest version being used in this house.  It SHOULD provide the kids with enough for two meals but in reality, it usually gets eaten in one day between breakfast and the littlest lady sneaking into the pantry to shove more into her mouth every chance she gets.

3/4 cup of honey
3/4 cup of oil (I imagine you can substitute melted butter but I haven't tired that yet)
1 TBS vanilla (or whatever I feel like putting in)
2 tsp of cinnamon (or as much as I shake out of the jar)
8 cups of rolled oats

Mix the first 4 ingredients together, pour over the oats. Mix well.  Spread in baking pans and cook at 300 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

The version made tonight had a cup of sunflower seeds thrown in as well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25

Thankful today for kids and art projects and a husband who will do them with the kids while I am gone.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24

It is Sunday. That means it is dessert night around here. Cooked today by one of the kids. Because I have managed to convince them that we don't always need to have ice cream. But we do need to maintain a family tradition. Hoping for more chances to make small changes and intentional memories with the family. And learning that it is important to explain to the children why our traditions are important. Thankful for the chance to explain these things to them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meal Plan

We are attempting to get back to making our own bread this week. Wish me luck. I know it is a super easy thing to do and saves a ton of money. It just requires a little bit of extra planning.   And it turns out that Alan will actually be home on Thanksgiving (only the 2nd time in 14 years that he hasn't had to work or be on call all day or been gone on orders). This means we are not doing our traditional finger food feast that the kids and I normally throw together on Thanksgiving.  I'm wondering if the kids will protest the lack of their yearly chance to get me to buy spray cheese.

S: eggs (B), buffalo chicken sandwiches (D)
M: crockpot breakfast casserole (B), pulled pork or maybe pork chops (D)
T: oatmeal (B), cheeseburger macaroni (D)
W: yogurt and granola (B), south of the border skillet (D)
T: pumpkin bread (B), turkey and such things (D)
F: cereal (B), finger foods/leftovers (D)
S: cinnamon rolls (B), pizza (D)

Day 23

Cold weather, good books, and hot chocolate.  And this pizza recipe. A delightful change from our normal pizza selections.  Seriously yummy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 22

Girl time.  Enough said.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21

Silly surprises. That is what I am thankful for today.  Like yesterday when I heard Ellie's muffled voice coming from behind a door and found her sitting in the pantry on a cooler, neatly crammed between the wall and the shelf, shoveling cereal into her mouth as quickly as possible. Notice I did not say as neatly as possible.

And tonight when I was getting ready to leave for karate and I looked into the pantry and saw this.
How can you not smile when you see things like that? And shake your head and wonder what the heck your kids are doing when you are not looking.