Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life and a Meal Plan

Ah, it is meal plan time again. But first let me tell a little about my week.  First, there is me getting sick. With what, who knows. Cold, sinus crud, ear ache, body aches, throwing up. Yup, I wanted to stay in bed. But Alan was out of town. Because I'm lucky. Then there were the 100+ peaches that the kids picked that needed to be canned. That got stored in the fridge downstairs. That someone forgot to turn on after plugging it in. Did I mention I was sick? The gross sorry looking peaches got tossed today. I feel so horrible to have wasted them but seriously, I could not stand up long enough to can them really. Then there was the $80 paycheck. Actually that is an overestimate. I choose to laugh at that because, well, I didn't want to cry.  Annual tour times suck right now. Just saying. And the FedEx package that was sent for overnight delivery complete with paying an expedited fee that was 2 days late.  It sat in Rochester for over 36 hrs before they delivered it. And what is up with delivery personnel not knocking on your door or something? Seriously.  I spent a couple of days wondering if Ellie perhaps had something worse than croup because she would start choking when she was coughing and then start crying because she was choking. But she's better now. Mostly.

Alan is home. He and the kids spent the morning at the farm and brought home tons of onions and cabbage and beets and peppers. I need to dry some of the onions to store for winter, make some sauerkraut to can, can some pickled beets, and Alan is going to can salsa this weekend. We are down to our last 2 jars. That is danger level for this house. Someone told me we were out so I bought some at the store. Store bought salsa is just sad.  That is all I can say.
As my wonderful husband has said, quite a different look for me.
A bat landed on my bedroom window yesterday and slightly startled me.  Which sent me looking for pictures from our caving trips with Girl Scouts when we'd run into bats. Small bats. Sleeping bats. Bats that did not startle me.  Awesome trips.  I don't think my boys really believe that their mother used to go crawling around in caves, go rappelling, rock climbing, jump off buildings.  I think they think it was all made up.  Rappelling off the side of the science building at college. I was so mad that the ROTC guys refused to let us step off the right way and said you had to just sort of let yourself fall off lest you got hurt. I said that was for wimps. They said I had to do it their way. I got part way down the wall and their instructor was hanging his head off the side of the building telling me to go sign up for ROTC since I knew what I was doing.  Sigh. What a difference that would have made in my life. Anyway, now I do meal plans and algebra and struggle to figure out why on God's green earth a reputable big name Catholic homeschool provider is teaching young earth crap to their students.  My, my life has changed. I miss rock climbing and rappelling and coming home from camping/caving trips so messy that you needed 2 days to clean up. I miss tutoring chemistry students and calculus and feeling like I was actually using my brain. I miss German and Spanish and those odd days when I would find myself in Spanish class but my brain was translating everything into German. The talks with my chemistry advisor when he would switch languages between English and German and Spanish and I'd never miss a beat. Nor would he because the poor man had mercury poisoning and never knew he was doing it.  As my Grandmother told me once "You used to be so smart. "  Yup, that's me in a nutshell. I used to be so smart.  Sigh.

So meal plan time.  Here's my best guess as we attempt to start the school year this week and get back to Boy Scouts and Frontier Girls and teach an NFP class this week and all that jazz.

S: cereal (B), hamburgers and sweet potato fries (D)
M: eggs (B), sweet and sour pork (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), tator tot casserole (D)
W: zucchini bread (B), oven fajitas (D)
T: cereal (B), chicken bacon ranch sandwiches and coleslaw (D)
F: yogurt (B), mac and cheddar with broccoli (D)
S: not sure (B), pizza night (D)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Meal Plan

M: eggs (B), chili (D)
T: yogurt (B), oven baked tacos (D)
W: cereal (B), bean and cheese quesadillas (D)
T: oatmeal (B), pepperoni pizza pasta (D)
F: eggs (B) spinach and tortellini soup (D)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

VBS Week

The kids have been doing VBS this week. .Everyone from Sean down to Ellie.  Ok, Ellie is hanging out with me because apparently the thought of being in the nursery is mental breakdown inducing awful for her.The program our parish is using is authentically Catholic (it is from CatChat which is a program we really love around here).  This is quite a change from the normal programs you get that are just watered down versions of the Protestant programs. I have nothing against such programs for Protestant churches but I do think we can do better for our own parishes. Heck, I think we deserve better for our children.  It's not as awesome as the Totus Tuus program but it is progress and I am ever hopeful that now that I was able to get a religious education director interested in CatChat, maybe I can start working on getting Totus Tuus in our area.  The older children need something just as awesome and faith filled.

Aside from the normal VBS stuff, I am just tired.Worn out. Tired.  Not sleeping well and exhausted. But the kids made dinner tonight while I napped on the couch so hopefully by the weekend, I'll be feeling better. Hopefully.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Meal Plan

I actually have the meal plan already done for the next two weeks (other than weekends, our weekends tend to be a bit fly by the seat of your pants other than Saturday night when the kids request pizza for movie night.)  Not sure what the kids will have for breakfast on Sunday but we will use our free Bruegger's bagel coupons after Mass to cover lunch.  Things this week are mostly crockpot meals or easy to throw together at the last minute meals because kids 2-8 will be at VBS, kid 1 will be working early in the mornings until about lunch time,  and kid 9 will be hanging out with me.  Sounds like an easy week but kid 1 works about 40 minutes from where VBS is being held and Alan will be unavailable to help with any of the driving.

S: maybe cereal (B), bagels (L), beef stew (D)
M: cereal (B), tator tot casserole which is so not healthy but decidedly yummy and easy to make (D)
T: yogurt (B), chicken and cheesy rice (D)
W: pumpkin bread (B), taco soup and cheddar muffins (D)
T: cereal (B), beef gyros or a close imitation of such made in the crockpot (D)
F: peanut butter and jelly muffins (B), pasta of some sort but I'm not sure what kind since I am trying to go meatless on Fridays but don't want just plain, simple marinara (D)
S: not sure (B), pizza (D)

Snacks will be zucchini bread, granola bars if I get them made, carrots, cucumbers, string cheese, and frozen yogurt along with fruit off our trees.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Minions and Movie Night

The other night at dinner Alan made some sort of comment about Nedry and taking down the fences and we realized our children have no clue what we are talking about when we make such references to movies that we watched growing up.  Although Alan says I did ruin said movie for him because I said it was ok to see the movie before reading the book. Not sure I remember saying that because frankly, the book is always better than the movie.  Hunger Games anyone? Seriously, that movie was just a pale comparison of the book and left out so much of the very, very important parts of the story and how things get to be the way they are in the future books.  Sigh. I digress here.
So after finding out that neither Netflix nor Amazon offer Jurassic Park as a streaming no-pay option, I checked the libraries. Here is where I have learned once again that although the Chili library is bigger, the Mumford library wins hands-down for family movie night selections and awesome customer service.  Seriously, I want to take that librarian home with me, she is so nice.  Deviating again from said subject. Sorry. So after picking Sean up from work on Friday, we stopped at the Mumford library and picked up all 3 Jurassic Park movies for a killer movie marathon tonight. Ok, they won't see all of them tonight I'm thinking. We might have to do the third one tomorrow but I can live with that.
And every movie marathon needs a cool snack. So we are having Minion cupcakes. I admit, I'd planned to make these and watch Despicable Me at first but then the movie reference thing happened and the rest is history.  These little things are awesome. Easy to make and the kids were in awe of them. The most expensive part was the Twinkies but I figure we can do that every so often.  So what are you doing for movie night in your house? Seriously, give me some creative ideas.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why I Am Enjoying the Teen Years

Ok folks. I heard it yet again. Another mom spreading doom and gloom to a mom of younger kids about how awful teenagers are and how terrible the teen years will be. And I just have to say enough already folks.  Stop, take a step back and just look at the damage you are doing to your relationships with your children when you make such statements and assumptions.

How would you feel if all of a sudden, through no fault of your own, all the adults in your life suddenly started telling everyone that you were awful, terrible, a pain to be around, a big gigantic jerk?  Wouldn't you get a little bit angry? Mad? Ticked off? Wouldn't you just maybe decide if you are going to be treated that way that you might as well act that way?

Here's the deal. Teens are people. Real human people with thoughts and feelings and emotions.  Like just about anyone else in your life, teens are worthy of respect simply by virtue of their being people.  They are struggling with battles we don't know or understand. They are trying to figure out how to navigate this jump into the adult world where one minute your parents expect you to be grown up and then the next treat you like you are still five (because parents are still trying to figure it out too and sometimes screw up).

I say we start a new revolution. One in which teens are automatically given respect as people. One in which we hold them accountable to high standards. One in which we push them to be and achieve the things they are capable of.  Kids in general will always live up or down to your standards. If you expect your teens to be a joyful presence in your family and a helpful one, they will be. If you expect them to be moody, sullen, and unhelpful, they will be.  Expect great things from your kids and I really don't think you'll be let down. They will live up or down to your expectations. Give them something to strive for.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Locket's Secret

We have several kids in our home who are at the stage of looking for preteen/teen books but often find that most of what is currently being offered for kids at this level is simply inappropriate for our family.  I promise the authors out there that you can actually write entertaining stories that have nothing to do with occult type themes.  Really, it's not that hard.  But I digress.

Lately we have been making a point to seek out young adult authors who write books that we actually want our children to read.  I was thrilled to discover that Pauline Books and Media is now starting to focus on producing books for teen readers.  I had the opportunity to read the book The Locket's Secret by K. Kelley Heyne.

The main character in this book, Carrie, is a young teen girl from a homeschooling family who finds herself in the middle of several different major life changes. Her family is moving across country so that her father can accept a new job, leaving behind all of her friends.  Mom is expecting a new baby and the entire family is still recovering from a heart breaking loss.  We follow Carrie as she struggles to make sense of all of these changes while loosing herself in a vivid daydream of her own design.

I will admit that the daydream world was my favorite part of the book.  I think we can all remember placing ourselves in our own fantasy world when life's challenges got a bit too hard to handle. As Carrie lives within her fantasy world, the characters in her mind deal with the same issues she is trying to handle.

My one complaint was that you did not discover that the family in the book was struggling to deal with the death of one of their children until several chapters into the book.  As a family that is currently dealing with the same issue, having it sneak up on me in the book was a bit startling.  I do wish it had been spelled out a bit more clearly in the description because I'm not sure how each of my children would have handled that aspect of the book had they come upon it themselves. And yet I did find that a passage in the book spoke to my heart regarding the issue and helped just a little bit. "I'd love to tell you that it's going to be okay, but you'll always hurt a little. It's the price we pay for loving."

Overall I enjoyed the book and plan to keep my eye on the other offerings for young adult readers from Pauline Books and Media. This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Locket's Secret. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Monopoly House Party

We hosted a Monopoly House Party last night. Hasbro and HouseParty sent us an awesome party package that included 3 new board games, a monopoly card game, tattoos, monopoly key chains, a monopoly pet bowl (otherwise known as an awesome bowl for salsa), cups, and coupons.

I will say we had an awesome group of folks come over. While the younger kids were playing CandyLand and the littles two girls were playing with the baby dolls, the older kids were playing monopoly and connect four.

I was rather happy to see everyone playing together with no thought given to ages or that dreaded boy vs girl thing. Something I can't ever recall seeing often growing up myself but am thrilled to see being cultivated in my own kids.
Thanks to HouseParty and Hasbro for letting us host such a fun evening and thanks to our friends for hanging out with us.

Meal Plan, Sort Of

Sigh, it is meal plan time again and I am very short on ideas or inspiration. Which explains why it was not up last night.  We are heading into a period where Alan will be on active duty for 3 out of the next 5 weeks.  This means a significant reduction in income to go along with a significant increase in outgo while he drives back and forth to base.  So we will be doing our best to eat out of the pantry with few additions. This should not be too difficult as long as I stay inspired and on top of things. But have I mentioned a total lack of inspiration lately?  Seriously, it's contagious I think.

M: cinnamon toast and eggs (B), taco soup (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), no clue
W: cereal (B), pasta of some sort (D)
T: eggs (B), chicken and rice (D)
F: muffins and fruit (B), no clue

That's all I've got for now. Zucchini bread for snacks along with oranges, peaches, and yogurt. We have children's adoration on Friday so I need to pack a lunch for that day but it just might end up being a box of crackers and a jar of peanut butter.  Seriously.  And who wants to come help me teach the kids the Latin prayers that they were supposed to have learned all month before Friday?  Yup, procrastination is my name lately.

Any suggestions?  We have lots of beef of all types and pork. Plenty of pasta and both beef and chicken broth.  Several bags of cooked shredded chicken, chicken pieces for soup, a few whole chicken breasts, plenty of tuna. We are almost out of cheese. Any ideas? Bonus points if it can be made by one of the kids or tossed into the crock pot. Both older boys are working this week as well which means driving in the middle of the day to pick folks up, Mass likely on Wednesday, karate on Monday and Thursday, adoration on Friday (and no clue how Bryan will get home from work on that day yet).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Anniversary

A day early but happy anniversary to my husband. Something like 10 jobs, 6 moves, 10 kids, 17 years married, hoping for many more. Love you.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What We've Learned Today

What have we learned today?

  • after 3 and a half hours, Ellie's diaper will leak, even if you are in the middle of the hardware store
  • holding the nails while a two-year-old swings a hammer is fun
  • the children think it's ok to remove the batteries from the freezer alarm when they can't find other ones in the house
  • without the freezer alarm, you won't notice that the freezer is slowly defrosting 
  • the thought of almost 200 lbs of meat needing to be salvaged is a scary one (thankfully said crisis was averted and only the meat on the top shelf had to be cooked)
  • when the sheep escape and wander in to the road, someone just might pull into the driveway to suggest you go retrieve them
So what have you learned today?

Meal Plan

I'm really hoping our peaches will be ripe this week so the kids can start snacking on those (and maybe I can get some canned. Maybe.)  But here is a the hopeful meal plan..

S: cinnamon roll cake (B), roast chicken with squash salad (D)
M: eggs (B), cheesesteak sandwiches (D)
T: yogurt (B), orange chicken (D)
W: cereal (B), tuna casserole (D)
T: eggs (B), beef and cheese enchilada stack (D)
F: baked oatmeal (B), bean and rice burritos (D)
S: muffins (B), game night party (D).

And I just remembered we have an NFP class to teach on Wednesday night and the middle kids need to get karate class in during the evening this week due to karate camp messing with the dojo schedule so that will likely mess things up a bit. When they have make-up classes, I end up having to sit through 3 classes in a row to get everyone done based on ages and belt ranks. There is nothing quite like spending 3 hours at the dojo, nothing at all.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Real Food Cooked by a Real Kid

The meal plan has been just a wee bit fluid this week.  It's been a weird week I guess. Katie ended up being in charge of dinner tonight and she made this creamy mac and cheese recipe.  By herself.  This is why I am baffled when people are proud of their high schoolers for being able to make pancakes or grilled cheese.  But then again, we try to start the kids in the kitchen early and teach them how to help out the family in general at an earlier age than I guess most are comfortable doing.

I'm trying to transition our family to more of a whole foods diet so I've been spending time reading websites from folks who can share real life ideas and recipes.  The above website is wonderful because she shares how to cook with whole foods from scratch on a budget and without spending lots of time in the kitchen. Her recipes are very simple and often short on ingredients which is an awesome thing.  I doubt as we continue to change our eating habits that we will make a 100% change. But I've long felt that the current popular medical advice of eat everything low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free and such stuff is pure bunk.  You can't replace healthy natural foods with chemically produced imitations and expect people to be healthy.  Yes, I believe the medical establishment in general is responsible for making our country so darn sick over the past few generations.  I mean, if the sugar-free, fat-free versions of food were really so healthy, why are all the people eating them suffering from so many chronic health problems? And I say this knowing I have many family members and friends who have fallen into this trap because it's supposedly healthier. And what I have seen instead is those same people instead of looking healthier over the years have seemed to get even sicker.  So I'm doing my best to go back to the real way of eating as much as possible.  Not to say we will avoid all treats or that I will empty my pantry of all offenders. Just that I will be more mindful of what I replace our stock with when it dwindles and pay more attention to keeping foods as close to the natural source as possible.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Spicy Pasta and Sausage

The pasta of some sort ended up being this spicy sausage and pasta recipe.  A new one to try but I was looking for something a bit different than we normally throw together. Since I was supposed to be resting and was instead dealing with the overflowing/leaking toilet which was causing water to leak from the basement ceiling, Sean was given the task of making dinner and he did a wonderful job. A very simple satisfying meal with a bit of a kick to it.