Monday, November 26, 2018

Kids in the Kitchen - Baking Cookies with Susannah

This past Sunday evening Daniel played for a special Thanksgiving Service at church while the rest of us stayed home (and the littles finished their naps).  Sundays after church are low-key for us, mostly resting and spending time together as a family.

This particular afternoon I decided to give Susannah some baking experience. She has helped me with baking a lot over the years (when she was a toddler she would stand on a stool watching and sometimes helping dump ingredients into the mixer). This time I decided to let her be as independent as possible, barring something terrible (salt instead of sugar, that type of thing).

I chose my favorite Gingersnap Cookie recipe, partly because I was in the mood for them, and partly because it is a very simple recipe. And they are super delicious!

I had her read through the directions of the recipe BEFORE she started putting ingredients into the bowl, to help her learn that ingredients list order isn't always the mixing order.

From there she just started making the cookies! She had questions from time to time but I only had to intervene once when she used baking powder instead of baking soda. I was able to scoop out the baking powder, and I told her that I've made the same mistake before. :)

She did all of the work from start to finish, even putting the cookies into the oven and taking them out when the timer beeped.

I was proud of her and she was excited to have gained and earned that level of independence. I'm looking forward to lots more cooking and baking together in the days and years to come!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Day in the Life

Today was our first "back to reality" day after our vacation.  We got home Friday, but took it easy Friday and Saturday.  Sunday was the normal day of church and resting. Monday morning was my MUMS group meeting and Catherine had a well appointment in the afternoon.  After her appointment I ended up getting groceries before coming home.  Monday was also my day to work in the office, so once I was home I holed up there for the tiny bit of time left in the day. I didn't even put away the non-cold groceries.

As such, this is how my kitchen greeted me this morning:

The morning got off to a bit of a rocky start and a lot later than I wanted, but eventually the ball started rolling instead of skidding.

Susannah did her piano practice, Charity unloaded the dishwasher and Sylvia had free time.  After that, Susannah and Sylvia started their school-work for today.  It's a challenge to get back into the discipline of staying focused and actually doing the work, but we managed.

While the girls did school I started cleaning up the kitchen.  I started with the groceries because I was stepping around them to do anything. Plus Silas was wanting to open all the packages, and managed to open the lid AND the pull-tab inner lid of a can of peanuts!

There was plenty of helping people with various needs mixed in every other minute or two. It seems to take forever to do a single task right now in life!

Finally the groceries were away and Silas stayed busy for a bit "fixing" the kitchen door.  He uses an old mixer attachment thing (that I no longer have the motor for) as a "screwdriver," and tinkers on the screws of the door.  At one point he was outside fixing on the deck.  He actually had gotten my meat thermometer to use at first, but I swapped him for the real pretend (??) screwdriver.

Charity played in the living room for quite a while.  These magnetic tiles were a fun Aldi find a few months ago.  I have always wanted some but never wanted to spend the money on them. When I saw them at Aldi they seemed to be a good price.  The girls love playing with them, so it was a worthwhile purchase!

Before I got much headway on housework (oh, I did wash and dry some laundry here and there), it was time to make lunch.  I made sandwiches for everyone else and a salad for myself.  It was yummy: lettuce and spinach, tuna, apple, avocado and grapes drizzled with extra light olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

After lunch Susannah put away the food while I fed Catherine.  Then I loaded Catherine into the Ergo (love that thing!) and we went for a walk.  Our first stop was the chickens to look at the peeps that hatched while we were away.

Then we went to a "meadow" that is literally 1 house away from us to walk.  This was the first time I took the kids for a walk like this. They loved it! We are definitely doing this more often.  The weather was beautiful too.

Silas held my hand for the first while. 😊 I tried to show him our shadows but he couldn't "get" it.  Catherine fell asleep and was a content passenger.

I love the colors of fall and noticed the deep burgundy of these leaves. I think they might be Sumac but I'm not sure.

This just begged to be photographed.

On the way home Silas stopped often to collect rocks.  It is interesting to see the difference between girls and boys!  He also will collect sticks to carry.  Hopefully I won't find toads in his pockets some day...

When we got back Catherine wanted to eat again.  Susannah worked on her school some more (she was in Sloth mode all day).  Silas went down for a nap and Sylvia and Charity played.

I finished cleaning up most of the kitchen and then had the girls work on some picking up.  Some worked more willingly than others.

I made chicken pot pie for dinner.  I just chopped up chicken to cook, added mixed vegetables, some chicken broth, 2 cans of Cream of Chicken, some Poultry Seasoning and some rubbed Sage. It filled the casserole dish to the brim, then I topped it with homemade pie crust.

While it baked, Catherine ate again.  About the time she was finishing I smelled something burning and thought the casserole was getting too overdone.  As soon as I could I went to check, expecting to see burnt crust on the pot pie.  Instead it had bubbled over a LOT, and was creating a puddle of oven lava on the oven floor. 🙄  Oh yay...

Catherine was happy after eating and hung out in her seat while we ate dinner.

After dinner it was baths for everyone.  Daniel and I have a pretty good system down pat: I start with Silas and work my way up.  As each kid is finished, he gets them dressed (well, Sylvia and Susannah don't need his help) and starts brushing hair and teeth.  This works really well and really helps lighten my load.

Eventually everyone was in bed, finally earlier than it had been for a while!!  I went out and closed up the chickens, and came back to clean up the kitchen. (The oven spill will have to be cleaned later. This Mama can't be all things to all people and do all things too.)

The Oven Lava awaits...

I'd hoped to get a lot more done than I actually did, but there were no dull moments in the day for sure.

It was nice to end the day with a much cleaner kitchen even if I didn't get to every nook and cranny.

The day ended with feeding Catherine once more before I went to bed myself.

And that is a day in my life!!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Favorite Fall Books for Kids

I am a bookworm through and through, and am thrilled to watch each of my kids be bookworms as well.  My trouble though is knowing what are the really great books for little kids.  Books for when they are past the board picture book stage but not into long stories quite yet.

A few years ago I desperately wanted to add some seasonal books to our then meager children's book collection.  Between asking friends and browsing kids books on the topics of "fall" and "apples" at the library, I found what became our 2 very favorite fall books.  Both have their own elements of fun, both are illustrated with great pictures, and both are the perfect story-length for young listeners. {Depending on the attention span of your child or children, I would say these could easily entertain at least a 3 year old, probably even as young as 2 1/2 if your child is used to being ready to.  My 6 and 8 year olds still enjoy reading or listening to these books read.}

I first borrowed them from the library to see how we liked them.  Sometimes books, while not "bad," are just kind-of "meh" and I wanted to give them both a trial run.  We loved both of them so much that after we returned them to the library the girls continued to beg me to read them.  So I found them online and ordered them. :)  They are MUCH loved by each of our kids, and I will admit, I think they are really great too!  I don't think I could choose between the two if I had to only keep one for our collection, they are that good!

So what are these two books??


(These are not in "favorites" order, I promise! You should have both of these!)

Fall Is Not Easy is one that makes my girls laugh with each page turn.  It was recommended by a friend who is a Kindergarten teacher as a book her students love every year.

The story-line is simple as it follows a tree going through all the seasons of the year.  The hardest season for the tree is fall.  He has so much trouble getting his leaves just right.  There are several silly pages as he tries and tries, over and over again. Finally he gets his leaves the right color and then... you'll have to read it to find out the end! 😉

The pages are filled with pretty color pictures that follow the tree's experience.  I love the detail that can be found if you look within the pictures: Look for the robin building her nest... the baby birds growing up and then leaving the nest. The flowers growing, blooming, wilting. Follow the squirrel as he darts around in the summer, later gathering and hiding nuts in the fall.

My girls laugh and giggle with each page turn of this story.  Even today when Charity (5) saw me writing this blog post she giggled and said, "Fall Is Not Easy! I love that book!"

An Apple Pie for Dinner is tied for favorite position among these two books.  The mixed media illustrations along with the title are what caught my eye at first.  Once we had the book I loved it right away.  Perhaps my love of baking and working in the kitchen helps, but I think even non-kitchen-savvy people would enjoy this story.

This is a story of Granny Smith (haha!) wanting to make an apple pie but she doesn't have any apples.  So she sets out to remedy that!  Along the way she barters with people she meets, filling needs that they have, and in the end finally finds the apples she herself needs.  Then she invites everyone to help make and eat the pie.

I love the friendliness that Granny Smith shows in each situation she encounters.  Early on she quickly trades away her plums for something she doesn't need, just because she is happy to fill the other person's need.  Psst, As you read this book to your littles, have them look for the ladybugs in every picture. It is one of the favorite things my littlest littles love to do as we read this story!

In the back of the book is a recipe for an apple pie, and we have made it.  It was a fun experience to make "Granny Smith's" apple pie, even though it wasn't my favorite apple pie recipe.

If you are looking for books, I highly recommend these.  You can get them from Amazon {Fall Is Not Easy and An Apple Pie for Dinner} but they may be available cheaper on E-bay; it would depend on the price and shipping.  (Both books are Amazon Prime items, so shipping would be free if you have Prime membership.)  These make great books for your own kids, for grandkids who come to visit, nieces, nephews, and they make great birthday, Christmas or baby shower gifts!!

Let me know if you would like to hear more about our favorite books, and feel free to share your favorite titles!

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I was not paid to write this post.  This is simply a product that I purchased and enjoy so much that I wanted to share it with you, my readers. 
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Kids In The Kitchen: Cooking With Sylvia

This afternoon Sylvia and I worked together making dinner.  I had gone down to the freezers this morning looking for dinner inspiration. As it was the first "cool" fall day, what better way to celebrate the arrival of cool weather than a cozy meal of beef stew? I got a beef roast out to thaw while we went about our morning of school and all the general goings on in a busy homeschooling, piano practicing, toddler-activity, baby-nursing household. 😊

By early afternoon it was thawed and after Silas started his nap I asked Sylvia to come to the kitchen with me.  I cleared off the counters while she got potatoes from the potato basket in the pantry.  I peeled the potatoes and she cut them into large chunks, tossing them into the roaster.  After we finished the potatoes, I peeled and she chopped up several carrots.  Then I pulled out an onion. "Oh no, I'm not chopping that! I'm allergic to onions!"  (She thinks that because it makes her eyes burn she is allergic. Haha!)  So I peeled and chopped the onion for her.

When we went to add the roast we realized that our small roaster wasn't big enough so we pulled out my big roaster ($5 find at Goodwill!).  We put the beef roast into the pan and seasoned both sides.  Sylvia added the vegetables and arranged them around before we seasoned them.  Next we sprinkled dried parsley all over everything.  We both thought it looked pretty!

Seasoning for a Beef Roast:
Season all sides generously with salt
Sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and pepper
If adding potatoes and other vegetables, season them with salt and pepper.

Since this was a larger pan I did add about half a cup of water before we put it in the oven. Typically I don't add water as a beef roast (especially from a fattened beef animal) will render a nice amount of delicious broth.

I had also been wanting to make a pumpkin pie and thought this would be a good meal with which to serve pumpkin pie. :)  I found the recipe in my recipe book and showed it to Sylvia.  While I mixed up the crust she worked her way through the ingredients list, making the filling.  It was her first time independently following a recipe, but I wanted her to do it herself as much as possible.  I knew there was a chance of something getting goofed up, but there is something to be said for independent learning and the experience of being trusted with following a recipe all by yourself.

At one point she asked me to read the next ingredient amount (it was 3/4 tsp.) and I realized she had just interpreted 1/2 teaspoon as 1 teaspoon.  Since she had just put in the salt, and we didn't want salty pie, I scooped some of it back out.  After that she had me double check her reading of the measurements.  She measured everything by herself!  After she had everything added, she did the preliminary mixing and then I gave everything a good stirring to finish.

The pie baked along with the roast, making the house smell wonderful!  Supper was very delicious; the roast was amazing and had made a delicious broth that I made into gravy to pour over the vegetables.  For dessert we had Sylvia's pie.  It was very yummy and she was thrilled to serve it to us with whipped cream on top.

The pie was a little "extra" with the spices, but for her first time measuring spices and making a pie, I think it turned out very well!  I think the extra flavor came from accidentally packing the spices into the measuring spoons as she leveled them.  I will show her next time how to better measure, but I didn't want to rain on her parade too much the first time.

I am looking forward to having little cooks working in the kitchen with me this winter!!

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Catherine's Birth Story - Part 2

In Part 1, I left off when I was having mild contractions and was eating lunch.  After I ate lunch I had to be on the monitors for 20 minutes.  While we killed time in those 20 minutes Daniel finally settled on a girl name for if the baby was a girl, and we only had a first name for a boy. Nothing like last minute decisions! Amy had me in stitches with lists of the weirdest baby names ever.  Amy watched the clock like a hawk and as soon as the 20 minutes of monitoring were up she went and found a nurse to unhook me so we could go walking again. If I have my times correct, it was right around 3pm when we started our next round of walking.  During this time the contractions picked up in both frequency and intensity, but I was still doing the stairs and squats.  I remember during one of my squats (during which I closed my eyes to focus through the pressure and contraction-like discomfort) some guy walked past and really questioned Amy as to if I was ok.  I'm sure I was quite a sight, massively pregnant, dressed in 2 gowns, hanging off a hand-rail in a hallway. Haha!! She cheerfully assured him I was just fine. (Thanks for absorbing the awkward for me, Amy!!)

Also during this time the lobby area seemed to be filling with people.  I named it The Tourist's Trap, mentally choosing to not notice that there seemed to be 50 people I was parading past every little bit.  I also had to stop at the one bathroom nearly every time we were at that end of our route. (Memorable, random note: the toilets are automatically flushing toilets. One of the toilets was "flushing" the ENTIRE time I was walking. I think their service men must have been hanging out with the security people who were supposed to unlock that supply closet in Part 1.)  Amy later told me that not only were there a lot of people waiting for laboring mothers to deliver (I will never understand this), but also a lot of couples there for a L&D tour.  I really was a spectacle! Haha! Tour exhibit 1: "Laboring Mother Walking Laps."

I really have no concept of time-line at this point, but before our allotted walking time was over the contractions were strong enough that I was starting to slow or stop walking each time I had one. We got to one set of stairs and Amy suggested I do stairs again. I said "I don't want to do any more stairs." I don't know if I did one last squat there or if I said I didn't want to do any more of those either.  We walked back to the other end of our route and I said I wanted to go back to my room.  (They were SUPPOSED to be getting my room ready while we walked, moving me out of the bathroom stall sized Triage room.) As we approached the lobby full of people, I had to stop for a contraction. I knew they were getting a lot closer and a lot more intense. I either thought or mentioned to Amy that my goal was to get through the lobby and through the door to L&D before the next contraction. That meant I had to move fast, but I didn't want to stop mid-crowd of people. I waddled as quickly as I could and made a bee-line for the door. I had a serious conversation with the door guard person in my head, saying, "I am going through THAT door and it had BETTER be open when I get there!" Sure enough, somehow either Amy or I communicated to the guard that we were going back into L&D because they swiped their badge and opened the door for me.  As soon as I was through the door the next contraction hit and I had to stop, but I'd made it through the crowd of observers!

We still had to go to the Triage room, but once there I mentally refused to get on the bed or sit down. So I stood. In my mind if I got in the bed (1) they would take longer to move me, and (2) Triage rooms have gourneys instead of beds; gourneys are KILLERS to the read-end and tailbone!!!  Plus they said they almost had a real room ready for me. During this time the room felt about 100° and I was roasting hot. Amy and Daniel took turns using the cafeteria tray from my lunch to fan me, which felt amazing. I was so hot that when they did come to take us to the real Labor and Delivery room (4pm), Amy took the tray along.

Either before or right after we got to the room I asked to sit on a birthing ball. I had not liked it very well with any previous labors, but for some reason I wanted to sit on one.  I sat beside the bed and labored while Daniel and Amy continued to fan me with the tray. Eventually I cooled off enough to ask them to stop.  Around this time I also really wished I had actually put a CD onto my phone that I wanted to listen to so I could have a focal point. Instead focused on the chorus to the one song (my favorite), singing in my head.  It was a peaceful and comforting distraction.  (You can listen to the song here.) I had a rhythm of a rocking/swaying going on, but would stop as each contraction started, then I would resume once it left.  Amy clued in to this, and began putting counter-pressure on my low back during contractions.  She showed Daniel how to do it and they took turns.  She also had a rice sock for me, but all I wanted to do was smell it. Haha! She puts essential oils in the rice and it had a very calming, peaceful effect for me. At one point, after every contraction I yawned a huge yawn. That was somewhat comical! Rock/sway, stop for contraction, yawn, rock/sway...

Interestingly enough, with Silas' labor I was SO tired and felt like having lights on in the room would have helped.  This time I had my eyes closed much of the time during active labor.  Each labor is different!

Eventually Amy commented that I was too comfortable and she wanted me to get up and move around after a few more contractions.  While the contractions were not so much "painful," they were getting increasingly uncomfortable and growing in intensity. I had a love/hate relationship with Amy at that point, saying in my head, "I am NOT too comfortable!!" I did NOT want to get up to do ANYthing. I was very much in a zone, handling each contraction well, and I didn't want that rhythm interrupted.

After several more contractions I decided to stall on Amy's suggestion and asked to go to the bathroom. (I guess I really didn't want to do whatever she maybe had planned!) I don't remember much of that at all except once I peed the contractions changed drastically. I don't remember how, but Amy and Daniel ended up in the bathroom with me while I was still on the commode. I was hanging onto Daniel's legs through the contractions that had grown in intensity about 3x what they had been before the bathroom trip. Not knowing that within  what would seem mere minutes I would be having the baby, I said I thought I wanted an epidural. I was thinking I was probably at best around 8cm, and had probably another hour to go yet. I didn't want to labor for another hour+ with that level of intensity. Amy and the nurse both suggested that I should get in the tub. I adamantly declined. Partly because it didn't appeal to me at all in the moment (probably I would have liked it earlier), but the side of the tub looked about 4 feet high and I didn't want to have to climb in it.

I made it back to the bed somehow, and no one made a move towards an epidural. I sat on the ball for another contraction or two before I leaned over and punched the call bell, asking for an epidural. I didn't know that both anesthesiologists were in emergency C-sections and wouldn't be available for a long time. Haha! They did send in someone from anesthesiology to put in an IV port, since 3 nurses hadn't been successful in their earlier attempts. Right before this, Amy had put a hair comb in each of my hands to grip; providing acupressure which both distracted and gave relief. The guy from anesthesiology thought it was a little quacky, I think. :P  Anyway, with a lot of pain on my part, he got an IV port into the back of my hand, which hurt more than the contractions at that point! Ow!!! Next time I will decline it until I know for sure I need it!

Then Amy said I needed to get onto the bed so the nurse could check me.  I was having tunnel vision at this point and I think I looked at the bed in some kind of stupor. It also looked about 4 feet high and I had no idea how I was going to get onto the bed. (Amy told me later that she could see what I was thinking, but the bed was already as low as it could go, which is actually pretty low. Haha!!!) Getting onto the bed and onto my back was THEE most painful and difficult part of the whole labor and delivery. I think I was the most vocal through that than I was at any other point the whole day as I talked to myself the whole time... but I don't remember if I said my thoughts out loud or just in my head.  Life was in slow motion and some details just vanished from my memory.

I was finally on my back. Amy gave me her fingers to grip because being on my back was agony plus getting checked IS torture. The nurse started to check me and and instead found the baby's head at plus 2 station! (Which is pretty much ready to crown!) Amy asked if I felt like I needed to push and it was as if my brain only needed to hear the words.  Immediately I nodded my head as I felt the baby being born.  I don't remember really making any effort as my body was just pushing the baby out all on it's own, but I DO remember the nurse nearly yelling into her intercom "I need a table in here NOW! I NEED HELP! THE BABY'S CROWNING!" Amy said "oh yeah, there's the head!!", and then the baby slid out the rest of the way as the nurse yelled "I NEED HELP, THE BABY'S OUT!! Somebody call time!" (She was born at 5:42pm.)

Right then the room was flooded with nurses and our midwife, they placed Catherine on my stomach, someone announced that she was a girl, and I, pretty much in shock at what just happened, looked at Amy and said, "WOW!!!" and laughed. All that happened pretty much simultaneously and couldn't have been more than a minute (or two, max) from the time the nurse realized the baby was crowning until Catherine literally slid out.

Everything was a flurry after that. I got a glimpse of Catherine's face at one point and I thought that she looked like our baby. Not that she would not look like our baby, but her face was familiar, looking similar to our other babies when they were born. She looked like OUR baby.

She weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 20" long.
This was my record-breaking labor, being the shortest at somewhere under 4 hours of active labor. Most definitely the fastest delivery.  😂

As the nurses were entering all the information, I overheard them talking about the timing of everything.  "It asks for time of last cervical check, time pushing began, and time of deliver. Um... I'm just putting down 5:42 for all three!!" 

Aside from the un-fun fundal massages, everything after Catherine's birth went great. I felt great, she was so soft and warm and snuggly, and on the OUTSIDE. Since they were so busy that day, it was nearly 2 hours before we were moved up to the mother-baby unit. Catherine went through the motions of her first feeding while we waited, and did a great job for her first time nursing. I kept waiting to have the post-delivery shakes like I had with Charity and Silas (with them it happened within an hour of birth) but it never happened. {I did experience them a few days after coming home.}

The most painful part (and really the only pain) of my recovery time in the hospital was my tailbone. It hurt SO badly the first day after she was born that the nurse had me take a Motrin, but that only took the edge off the pain. I'm not sure if it hurt so much from the time spent on the Triage bed or if somehow labor and/or the incredibly fast delivery may have contributed in some way. Thankfully by the 2nd day the pain was just a major discomfort, and through the first week subsided.

That wraps up the story of Catherine's birth as well as I remember right now.  She is a champion eater and sleeper, which has made our transition to having a new baby again be very easy in many ways.

Part 1 of Catherine's Birth Story

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Great Applesauce Making of 2018

This past Friday marked the end of our canning season for 2018.  Before and after Catherine was born I canned peaches, and honestly had forgotten about applesauce.  Somewhere in my mind I knew we were pretty much out of applesauce but I wasn't sure if I wanted to or could manage applesauce this year.  And then my friend sent me a text asking me if I wanted her to get apples for me while she was getting her own.  Of course without a moment of hesitation I automatically responded with "yes!"

Sylvia chopping apples.

When the 5 bushels of apples arrived on Friday reality set in: I needed to juggle homeschool, nursing Catherine, meals, laundry, and making and canning applesauceI decided I would just do it as best I could and not stress over anything that didn't get done.  On days when we didn't go anywhere, at all, the day looked sort-of like this: breakfast and feed Catherine, get the girls started on school, do kitchen clean up, maybe start laundry, get the pots and cutting boards set up in the kitchen, get out the apples, and just get started.  Of course this was all peppered with all the normal mom-things of meeting needs and helping little people, so it took a lot longer than it reads!  But I wasn't in this to do it sprint style, I was doing it eat-an-elephant style: one bite at a time.

The reality would be that it was almost always early afternoon that I actually began working on peeling and chopping the apples.  Silas loves fruit so he frequently stopped by for samples.  The girls really wanted to help as well, and I wanted them to help (so they could participate and learn by doing), so often one of the 3 older girls would stand on a stool and chop the prepared apples into chunks and dump them into the large cooking pot.  {Somehow I don't have any pictures of Charity helping me. :(  She helped me for a little while one of the first days.}

It would inevitably be near dinner-time by the time we had a batch of apples peeled, cored and chopped. The apples would cook through the evening and I would stir them every so often to keep them from burning and to get them to the "chunky applesauce" texture that we like.  If things went really well, I was ladleing the applesauce into jars and getting them into the canner about the same time the kids went to bed.  If I go the jars into the canner close to bed-time, I could go to bed myself at a decent (aka, before midnight) hour.

We repeated that general scenario for many days.  There were some days that applesauce just didn't happen at all.  One day it was all I could do to get the apples in the pot to cook, so I put them on low heat overnight and they were perfectly cooked and ready to can the next morning.  One day I thought I had more flat canning lids but I didn't.  I canned what I had lids for and ordered lids from Amazon. (I love Amazon in this season of life!)

Sylvia and I thought this apple didn't want to be turned into applesauce. :)
I had one day "off" while we waited on lids and that day was consumed by cooking and taking food to a fundraiser in which our family was participating.  That was a Saturday and the lids arrived Sunday.  Daniel helped me Sunday afternoon and we got a big pot of apples cooking in a shorter amount of time.  It was really nice to have his help and we got to spend that time together talking.

At one point, Susannah was beside me chopping apples and ALL the other kids wanted to be in the kitchen. It felt a wee bit crowded sometimes!!
Once I had plenty of lids, I was ready to have it finished.  I needed to have the canning done so I could get back to all the day-to-day things that were majorly sliding... like my own laundry, and cooking dinners.  We were eating "fast" food most days for dinner, which is handy, but gets old quickly.  I kept powering through working as quickly as I could and we used paper dishes to cut down on dirty dishes and to save kitchen clean-up time.

On Thursday I decided I was just going to go into power-mode and my #1 focus (aside from keeping the kids alive and fed) was going to be applesauce.  I peeled and chopped and chopped and peeled, cooked and stirred, and stirred and cooked.   I think I did a double batch that Thursday, and Sylvia helped me intermittently with chopping the apples.

On Friday the light was at the end of the tunnel and I thought that if I pushed really hard I could finish.  Susannah wanted to be my main helper, so she quickly finished her school for the day and joined me at the kitchen counter.  I would peel and core the apples and she would chop.  If she behind I would help her chop and then she would work at peeling an apple while I chopped for a bit.
Susannah taking a turn peeling apples.

At one point we had finished the bowl full of apples and I stopped to feed Catherine.  All on her own, Susannah got another load of apples and began peeling them.  I was completely exhausted and ended up dozing while Catherine nursed and burped.  When I mustered up my reserve to get back to the kitchen, Susannah had peeled a whole bunch of apples!  I was really grateful for her willingness to work ahead, and for all of her help that day!  It definitely made a difference in how quickly we finished.  When the last apple was chopped up and put into the cooking pot, I gave a big cheer.  Susannah thought I was a little really silly, but it was worth it!

She took her work seriously.
 I think I pulled the last jars from the canner sometime between dinner and bedtime, and as soon as the kids were in bed I crashed into my own bed. The next day it was an amazing feeling to know I didn't need to work on apples.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy making and canning applesauce and love homemade applesauce, it was just a LOT of work and meant that a LOT of other things were put on hold.  When all the jars were put onto the pantry shelves, I counted up that we had canned 63 quarts.  It's nice to have our very favorite applesauce stored up to enjoy this winter. :)

Farewell, Canning Season, we'll see you next year... probably.

These are the canning lids I purchased:

Regular mouth

Wide mouth  (I don't have as many wide-mouth jars as I have regular mouth, but wide-mouth is a lot easier to wash and get clean in the dishwasher!)

This is NOT the same pot that I have, but if you are looking to purchase a quality pot that you can use for both canning and cooking, I believe this one would be a good one.  It has a thicker bottom and is made from a higher-quality of Stainless Steel.  {Note that you would also need a canning rack to keep the jars from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot.  You can use a layer of extra canning rings in a pinch, but I find that over time the rings can leave rust stains on the pot.  I have linked to a canning rack below.}

I do not have this specific canning rack but my mom has one like this and it works very well. :)

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I was not paid to write this post.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

New Bibs for Catherine

Our first 3 babies (all girls) pretty much never drooled so the half dozen or so Minnie Mouse bibs we had were plenty, and got the most use when the girls started eating solid food.  Enter stains.  After 3 girls they were pretty beat-up looking.  Then we had Silas who started drooling torrents around 3 months old and didn't stop until he was over 18 months old.  We collected bibs left and right for him.  We probably have around 30 bibs for Silas; I'm not kidding.

Then Catherine was born and I knew I would need to replenish our girly bibs.  After using bibs for 8 years, I have figured out what I like and don't like in a bib.

  • Thin, single or double-layer terry cloth.  Drool (or drips from cups) soak right through and quickly saturate the bib and anything it is covering.  Basically they don't really work at all other than for appearance's sake.
  • Bibs that tie.  I'm not sure how many bibs are sold these days that tie, but ties are a pain when you are changing bibs every 20-30 minutes.
  • VELCRO.  Velcro is nice and sweet when the baby is not yet mobile and doesn't have the dexterity to pull the bib off.  Once the baby can grab and pull, unless you have brute-strength velcro, bibs get pulled off... once again defeating the purpose of wearing a bib in the first place.
  • Lint-saturated or simply worn out velcro.  I have tossed more than one bib that the velcro had either gotten so packed full of lint, or the "sticky side" had worn out, that the velcro just held together if you didn't move at all.  That doesn't work well at all.
  • Absorbent fabric!! 
  • Double layers of fabric!!
  • Light-weight, because once a bib starts soaking full of drool it gets heavy enough without being heavy, drool-soaked fabric.
  • SNAAAAAPPPPS Oh my, snaps are the best thing ever for bibs.  Especially if there are 2 sets so the neck-hole can be adjustable as the baby grows.

That said, Catherine started drooling a little, just enough that I decided to go ahead and order some bibs.  I went to my handy-dandy Amazon app during one of Catherine's feedings and scrolled through bibs.  I was looking for pretty and feminine, snaps, and a decent price.  I am one that doesn't simply hunt down the most inexpensive of a product just to save a few pennies or dollars.  Generally I go for a balance of quality and cost.  Sometimes that means paying more for an item, but I am happy to pay a little more and the product last longer/work better.

In my browsing, these bibs caught my eye.  I looked at a few more but ended up coming back to these and ordering them.  When they arrived Sylvia opened the package and asked if she could unpack them.  They are so pretty.  Sylvia unpacked them from their box, ooh-ing and ah-ing over each one as she laid them all out to view.  Each one was her new "favorite" though the one with pink cupcakes stayed at the top of her favorites.

Since we have gotten them, Catherine has put them to good use and they are working very well!  They haven't soaked through yet, but have gotten quite wet.  Maybe I am changing them before they soak through, or possibly the fleece backing (100% organic cotton for the front, and polyester fleece for the backing) helps keep it from soaking through.  Either way, I am really happy with them.  {Note: I did not purchase them because they are made with organic fabric, but I certainly don't mind that part. :) }

I would definitely buy these bibs again.  They fit all of my requirements, are affordable, and are pretty bibs for a pretty little girl. :)  If you would like to look at them or purchase them, you can find them here:

**As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.**
I was not paid to write this post.  This is simply a product that I purchased and enjoy so much that I wanted to share it with you, my readers.  All opinions in this post are mine.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Catherine's Birth Story - Part 1

Our family welcomed our 5th baby, Catherine Joy, on July 16th.  Here is her birth story:

Monday, July 16th was my due date based on the early ultrasound I'd had sometime around my 11th week of pregnancy.  The Friday prior to the 16th I had a routine prenatal appointment with my OB (whom I like very much).  For 3 of my previous deliveries, I had been induced within a few days before or after 41 weeks pregnant.  For the sake of my emotions, I had decided on a mental due date of July 23rd.  At my appointment I even set up an appointment on Thursday the 19th for the required "past due-date" non-stress test because, well, I was just planning that I would not have the baby until sometime around 41 weeks.  We weren't doing a lot of school and I had a few projects I wanted to wrap up, plus a few special things I wanted to do with the girls and Silas to kill time while we waited for the baby.  I planned to gather up most of the stuff I wanted to take to the hospital, get out the coming home outfits (one for a boy, one for a girl, because we don't find out the gender ahead of time), raise the crib mattress and put sheets on it, and so on.  I also wanted to make soft pretzals, some cookies, a few breakfast things to freeze, and maaaybe even doughnuts.  Just things to keep me from dwelling on being "past" my due date.

At my doctor's appointment on Friday, Dr. P checked me and I was 3cm, almost 4cm.  She was dead serious when she said "I don't think you'll make it through next week," to which I laughed.  She asked what I thought, I said I was sure I wouldn't have the baby until my 41st week.  We talked through a spontaneous induction scenario that I liked, because I don't like scheduled inductions, and I came home.  I did a lot of office work getting things wrapped up before I would be "off" for a few-several weeks.  I made sure bills were paid, deposits put in the bank, and basically just tried to get as much done as I could.  Daniel brought home dinner, and we had a nice at-home date before we went to pick up the girls and Silas from his parents' (they keep the bigger kids most Fridays while I do office work for Daniel's business).

On Saturday I felt a little uncomfortable and had some other indicators that made me tell Daniel "this is probably just from her checking me yesterday, but sometimes people have their babies within 24 hours of this."  A friend from church sent me a text and asked me if I could sub for her in her Sunday School class as she needed to be home with a sick child.  I said I would, IF I wasn't in the hospital.  I wasn't, so I subbed for her.  After church several people commented that "tomorrow (16th) was THE day!" I laughed and said I was sure it wouldn't be Monday at all.

I slept REALLY good Sunday night.  I got up with Daniel, showered, and dressed and was downstairs earlier than I had been in a long time.  The girls and Silas weren't even awake yet.  I was going to enjoy the quiet house and a cup of coffee as I made my breakfast and prepared theirs.  I sat down to put on my shoes.  I tied my right shoe and leaned over to tie my left shoe when I felt an unusual sensation of wet.  I quickly tied my shoe, wondering "did my water just break??" and stood up to keep the rocking chair from getting wet... IF, in fact, my water had broken.  Upon standing, I pulled my skirt up and observed rivers of liquidy stuff running down my legs.  I knew that it wasn't my bladder leaking.  {Side note: My water has NEVER spontaneously broken before, so this was a WHOLE new experience.  Shockingly surprising to say the least!!}  I grabbed my phone and dialed Daniel as I walked to the kitchen.  I grabbed 2 kitchen towels and stuffed them between my legs, and waddled back to the school room to wipe up the drips on the floor.  Daniel didn't answer, so I walked outside to talk to him. He was on the phone, talking to a customer and loading equipment into his van in preparation for his work day.  (He has his own HVAC business.)  He had just hung up so I yelled at him from the kitchen porch, "You're not going to work today!!" We both looked at each other in surprise as I told him my water had just broken.  He had to make several phone calls to get things in place for NOT working that day after-all, and I began calling my mother-in-law.  I called and called and called, and she wasn't answering her phone.  I was beginning to get a little panicked and called a friend from church with whom I had *just* discussed, the day before, this very scenario happening.  She assured me that we could take the kids to their house if we needed to.  Then I called my father-in-law, who had just stepped out of a meeting.  He said my MIL was home, but would be leaving at 9:30 for an appointment.  I called her over and over again a few more times and she still didn't answer.  Since I knew she was home, I went into highest of speeds to get the kids awake and into the van so we could get them to her house before she left.  I had Susannah and Sylvia put a change of clothes into their bag, picked out a set of clothes for Charity and Silas, and was giving out instructions left and right as fast as they completed each task.  They were crazy excited but also working quickly, knowing the sense of urgency and the need to beat the clock that was creeping closer and closer to 9:30.  If you have ever watched the original "Yours, Mine & Ours" movie (Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball), the scene where he is running down the hall banging on the bedroom doors shouting, "Red Alert! Red Alert!" came to mind.  I felt like I was doing my own version of "Red Alert!" and laughed about it several times.

The girls and Silas were about ready to go and I had the girls carrying things out to the van.  I was trying to make breakfast for Daniel and myself when my phone rang.  I answered it and it sounded like a hen squawking on the other end.  It was my MIL.  To the best that Daniel and I have deduced, my FIL called their neighbor and asked her to go tell my MIL to answer her phone. Haha! My MIL was totally beside herself in excitement.  We discussed how/when/where to trade off the kids and she decided to come pick them up and we would swap vehicles.  That took the time-stress off of me, and Daniel came in soon after and was able to help get Silas ready to go.  I called our doula to let her know what was going on; she planned to meet us at the hospital about 30 minutes after we would get there.  I wasn't having any contractions though things did feel differently.  I went upstairs and began throwing things into a bag for myself.  I have learned over the last 4 times what I like and want to take to the hospital.  The one thing I hadn't gotten out was comfy pants to wear and wear home.  I had to dig around in my closet and my bin of maternity clothes to try and find them.  I was feeling anxious and wanted to get to the hospital before I had the baby at home or in the car, haha!!  I also wanted the kids gone so I could have a 1-track brain with which to focus.

My MIL arrived and much to my amusement took nearly very clean towel from our linen closet and not only layered a bunch on the front passenger seat of her car, but she had also basically made a bed of towels in the back seat. Hahaha!!  She came upstairs to chat (I wasn't really in the mood but put on my cordial face) and gave her version of instructions for what to do if I had the baby en-route to the hospital (I wasn't overly amused; I had delivered 4 babies just fine so far and was certain that if I were to have the baby outside of the hospital between Daniel and I we wouldn't be wondering what to do with the baby. :P )  After a quick hug she left and took the kids with her.  Ahh, the house was finally quiet and I could think.  I finished loading my bag and came downstairs, deciding I wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on the way to the hospital, PLUS I wanted to mental clarity and energy it would provide.  (My labor and delivery with Silas was done in a complete brain fog of exhaustion; I didn't want a repeat if I could help it.)  I had eaten an egg and cheese sandwich, and also began drinking water to be sure I was well-hydrated.

Daniel and I had a nice ride to the hospital, visiting and just enjoying being together.  At one point I was replaying the "Red Alert" clip from Yours, Mine & Ours on You-Tube and was laughing a lot.  I think I was on some kind of "new adventure" high... our baby coming ON it's due date, my water breaking on it's own, knowing we were going to have a baby within hours... it kinda puts you on a high!!

Daniel dropped me off at the hospital entrance and I stood there and waited probably at least 5 minutes for them to let me into the Labor and Delivery unit.  I debated walking while I waited but baby felt much lower than before and I didn't want to start anything without anyone there. Haha!!  They put me in a Triage room and I donned 2 gowns (one forward and one backward) and the nurse began the 101 questions.  The big question of the day from the nurse and the midwife was "You think your water broke? Was it a huge gush?"  To my response of "yes, I know it broke but it wasn't a huge gush.  I did soak 2 kitchen towels while I got ready to come, though," they ALWAYS said "well... that's a good story."  I don't know why they doubted that I knew what I was talking about.  They hooked me up to monitors but the midwife wanted to do the test to make sure my water had actually broken before they did anything else.  And the waiting frustration began.  In my mind I was going to arrive at the hospital, answer the questions, and go walking with our doula, and have the baby by early afternoon at the latest, best case scenario and not outside of what would be normal for me.  Lo and behold, the test strips for checking for amniotic fluid were locked up in some closet that only a security person could unlock and security never arrived to unlock the closet.  The L&D was completely full and our nurse and midwife were obviously busy as well.  I was thirsty and finally Amy went and got me a drink in a styrofoam cup.  Finally about 12:30 (after waiting for 1 1/2 hours in the bed, with my tailbone and backside beginning to really ache because those beds are horrible) the midwife decided to check me without first doing the amniotic test.  Lo and behold she discovered that I was right; my water HAD broken (hello, duh!!), and I was still between 3-4 cm, but 60% effaced.  That 60% news was exciting to me, it meant progress was happening even though I wasn't having contractions.

As soon as the midwife was finished, Amy took me walking.  We walked the L&D halls a few times but could not find any stairs.  With permission we went and walked and walked and walked the hospital, making our way between two sections and doing the stairs at each end.  She also had me do a deep squat after each set of stairs. (By deep, I mean hanging on the hand-rail, knees to my chest and backside nearly on the floor.)  The squats were definitely uncomfortable but not painful, and seemed to be very beneficial in making progress.  After our first walking session, we had to go back for another round of monitoring.  By that time I was roasting hot from the hot stair-wells and the roasting hot hallways of the hospital, and I was starving hungry.  Without asking permission from the nurse or midwife, Daniel left to go get some lunch for me and him from the cafeteria.  When the nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I said "hot and hungry!" and asked for a real cup of water.  When she heard that I was going to eat, she said "I didn't hear anything about that," meaning she was going to ignore the fact that I was eating before having a baby. (Eating during labor is very new in this hospital.)  Daniel brought back 2 trays of food and let me choose which one I wanted to eat.  The options were a meal of seasoned fish, rice and some vegetables, and a BBQ sandwich and I forget what else.  Since throwing up is a possibility, I decided I would rather throw up fish than BBQ and ate the fish.  It was completely tasteless to me except for the tarter sauce I put on top of it.  Then I dug into the wild rice, hoping for some flavor, and it tasted like I was chewing rye seed from the grain drill back home. Hahahaha!!! We all had a good laugh about that.  Daniel exclaimed how good his BBQ sandwich tasted, and knowing I love really good BBQ, offered me a bite.  I took one and the flavor of electrical smoke filled my mouth.  It tasted absolutely nasty to me.  We decided that being in labor had changed my tastebuds temporarily.  At this point I was having some mild contractions but they were irregular and not strong enough for me to really pinpoint a start or stop time.

I am going to post this as "Part 1" to keep it from turning into a longer-than-long post, and you can read Part 2 once I get it written.  Plus I have some little people that need some adult encouragement to stay focused on their work. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

God Provided A Sane Dinner

I'm just going to spill from within for this blog post. Usually I try to organize my thoughts at least, but not this one. So word spilling forthcoming!

I. Am. Pooped. Like feeling more tired physically and mentally than I have in a long time.  In reality, I have myself to thank.  I'm the one who decided it would be nice to makeover Susannah's bedroom before Sylvia moves in with her.  I'm the one who is doing this mostly solo in my 30th week of pregnancy.  However, as much as the want to is still there, I am reminded that my body is doing a lot of work already and I'm pushing myself probably a little more than I should.  But other than legs, feet, hips, back, and shoulders aching... I feel fine.  Just completely and totally spent.

This furniture is what I left in the room. It has been grunted around multiple times as I painted all 4 walls.
  I am doing my best to power through this project because I am a "either do it and get it done or don't do it at all" personality.  (I can see that there are benefits to both bulldozing through projects and working on a project more sanely paced.)  Part of my desire to not drag this on is that I am very eager to have Silas moved downstairs so I don't have to lug him up and down the stairs for naps and bedtime.  Last week he randomly tried to launch out of my arms for some unknown reason as we were halfway down the stairs. I barely kept him and myself from crashing down the remainder of the way!

So I've been pushing myself, largely ignoring the housework (hello cases of paper dishes for such a time as this!), and the girls have been having a wee bit more free time than usual. Which ... always leads to squabbles.  Painting when Silas is awake is pretty much the end of his world because he wants to be IN the room WITH me.  All of those things together pushed me to get it done in as little time as possible.

That meant when I had ONE wall left to paint last evening, I pushed through and painted the last wall (after Daniel kindly helping me unload 30 zillion pounds of books and moving the bookcases).  Then I had cleanup.  It ended up being almost 2am until I lumbered upstairs to crash into bed.

A rare, sweet few minutes from Sunday afternoon.

So physically tired, pregnant body that wakes up multiple times a night to shift, move, roll over, combined with a very SHORT amount of sleeping hours (piano lesson this morning), and I was tired.  My body was tired and my brain was tired
  My temper and patience were trying to ride the Tired Train as well.  Why?  Just because when I'm tired I don't want to have self control.  Self control takes effort.  It takes thinking before I speak.  It means remembering that just because I don't want to or feel like [whatever] doesn't mean everyone else is feeling the same way.

He will climb any stool left in his reach!

By dinner time today I was propping my eyelids open with toothoicks.  Walking took conscious effort.  I messaged Daniel hopeful but doubtful that he would be home for dinner (his work is like every dam and retaining wall broke loose).  He confirmed he was still out for a while yet.  As I stood there chopping a quick salad to go with stuffed shells from the freezer, I honestly didn't know how I could stay awake for 3 more hours let alone care for 4 other people.  So... I prayed.  I don't remember what I prayed but it was basically "Lord, I can't do this alone.  I need You to supply what I need in order to make it."

When I was serving up everyone's food it dawned on me.  Everyone helped get the table ready for supper.  Everyone was sitting with good attitudes.  No one was whining or bickering because "she X, Y or Z-ing and I don't like it."  The girls were speaking kindly and politely.  They had ALL gotten their own cups of water WITHOUT me telling or reminding them.  The entire meal was pretty much this way.  God was giving me what I needed in that moment to make it through.  He didn't put a huge burst of energy into my body.  He didn't suddenly remove the exhausted, aching discomforts in my body.  He didn't fast forward time so we were all suddenly through the evening and tucked into bed asleep.  He did a simple thing I could have easily missed: He gave me 4 cheerful, content, helpful children who ate like champions.  After dinner He gave me an out of the blue idea for how I could sit on the couch with my feet up... and direct a "workout session" for the girls on the living room rug.  They loved it!  (Silas was enamored to hold my phone and crawl around and sit beside me on the couch.) He gave me girls who asked to get into their pajamas as soon as dinner was over (I didn't need to tell them).  He gave me girls that brushed their own teeth while I put Silas to bed.  He gave me a girl who didn't complain once when I reminded her of our (newish) rule that if her blankie isn't on her bed at bedtime, she goes without it.  And now He has given me a quiet house as I prop my feet up.

God is so good and provides above and beyond anything we could think or ask.  I could have asked for specifics and then chosen to be disgruntled when He didn't answer to the T of my request.  However, when I asked just to get through, He provided perfectly as He always does (it is often our desires and ideas of "perfectly" that are skewed).  It is rare that a single-parent evening goes this smoothly for me, especially when single parenting happens multiple days in a row.  (Hmm... do I need to learn from this??)

So... just be encouraged and reminded that sometimes just asking without being specific is all we need to do.

Now I am going to go slather my aching legs with some essential oils and crawl in bed.  The bedroom make-over will resume tomorrow.  After I get some sleep.  The next step is putting all the furniture back.  Perhaps I will eat Wheaties for breakfast, haha!!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weekly Menu Plan, the "We are BUSY" version!!

I will admit, it was tempting to just skip a menu plan for this week.  When I look at the calendar for this week, I have to take a deep breath and know it's all going to be ok.  Just because we've had a few weeks of normalcy doesn't mean we've escaped weeks that are hectic and crazy.  I'm trying hard to embrace a "we can do this and do it sanely" approach.

You probably already know that we homeschool, and in our state we are required to do end of year testing and turn in the test restults to our county school board.  I'm totally fine with that.  We have a wonderful group of homeschoolers in our church and each spring we have a few ladies that organize a testing week for all of us that wish to participate.  We get together and our kiddos test together by grade.  This week we have testing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This means we are gone 3 mornings, all morning, and I need to be VERY proactive to get us out the door much earlier than usual.  The sensible side of me (not the wimpy side of me) knows that for us to leave on time, all the wheels must be well greased and everything ready to be set in motion.  "To fail to plan is to plan to fail" doesn't sound so exciting after all.

That said, some of our breakfasts will probably be eaten on the road, and they need to be speedy-prep-friendly.  Our lunches will be any combo of leftovers or sandwiches, and a few of our dinners will be easy-peasy as well because we also have a variety of doctor appointments this week... of course!!! When it rains, it obviously pours. :)  (Hooray for grace for every moment!!)

Without further ado, here is this week's menu plan:

Breakfast - freezer french toast for everyone else, ham/provolone sandwich for me
Lunch - sandwiches
Dinner - A hodge-podge breakfast for dinner that consisted of waffles, apple crisp with yogurt, the last 5 strips of bacon from an open package that needed eaten, and the rest of the leftover sausage/sweet potato dish I made last week.

Monday: Testing all morning and then I'm getting together with a few other MOPS moms  late afternoon and evening to do some major freezer cooking.
Breakfast - scrambled eggs and ham, toast
Dinner (Daniel will be home with the kids) - Stuffed Shells (freezer) and Italian Cheese Bread. I might put together a salad, not sure yet how time will work out.

Tuesday: Testing all morning, Susannah has 2 doctor appointments in the afternoon so Daniel will be home in the afternoon and I won't be home to make dinner.
Breakfast - Strawberry Muffins, Yogurt (Silas will get a muffin and fruit/yogurt pouch)
Dinner - Chicken & Dumplings (freezer, crockpot meal), this was one thing I didn't get made on last week's menu.

Wednesday: HOME!! Woohoo!!
Breafkast - Oatemeal with fruit
Dinner - Chicken & Rice Casserole (that I'll actually be home to make!), vegetable

Thursday: EARLY appt for me (glucose test, meh), Daniel takes the kids to Testing
Breakfast - Muffins & Yogurt
Dinner - Leftovers

Friday: Office Day/Kids at Grandma's
Breakfast - Cottage Cheese Eggs, Toast
Dinner - Whatever I find in the fridge

Breakfast - Cereal
Dinner - TBD

Really sadly (to me), I am on an egg sabbatical.  Every so often (as in, this might be the 3rd time in nearly 14 years?) I randomly get excema from eating eggs or foods made with lots of eggs.  Recently it broke out all over my jaw, cheeks, neck and the backs of my hands.  I have never had excema on either of those areas before, so it took me nearly 3 weeks of misery to figure out it was eggs.  I have missed eggs SOOOO much this week!!!  I love eggs for breakfast and life doesn't seem complete without eggs.  Especially as I am nearly in the 3rd Trimester of this pregnancy, I get hungry and eggs with breakfast or a few scrambled eggs as a 4th meal were a go-to that really satisfied my hunger.  I am still trying to find "that food" that will have the same filling satisfaction.  I'm also hoping and praying that by the time the baby is born I will be able to eat eggs again at least in moderation.  I don't remember how long of a break I have had to take in the past.

All that to say, my breakfasts are more time consuming and challenging right now.  Instead of being able to throw some eggs in the skillet when I'm needing a quick breakfast... well, I'm not sure what I'm going to do!   Currently my plan is to just make time to make a decent breakfast for myself so I'm not pigging out on carbs (which leave me feeling hungry too soon, and then the cycle continues).  This past week I ate mostly spinach or brussels sprouts sauteed with onion and ham or Aidell's sausage.  Enough of all of those ingredients plus a piece of toast seems to work, but takes a few minutes.  Oh well, it is a season and I am grateful that it is such a temporary trial.  I'm also very thankful that all of the horrible, horrible itching I was experiencing has such an easy "fix".

If you have any protein packed, filling, stick to your ribs, hungry pregnant mama, breakfast ideas, please let me know!!!! I might thank you.  :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Menu Plan for Family of 6 (April 8)

I love menu planning for a week at a time, but I don't do it as much as I would like.  Which then, of course, leaves me flying by the seat of my pants.  I have to think about it from the time I wake up until I decide what I'm going to make, and sometimes I don't have the time to think, or don't decide, until later on in the day which leaves me rushed or having to make "fast" food.

Sunday night after everyone was in bed I sat down with 2 cookbooks, my own and the one from our church, and made a menu plan.

Breakfast: Freezer French Toast
Dinner: Frozen Pizza and Salad

Breakfast: Blueberry Streusal Coffee Cake*, Sausage & Sweet Potato fry*, Strawberries
Dinner: Chicken with Artichoke Hearts & Mushrooms, Pasta, Broccoli
*portions of what I made to take to our MOPS meeting

Chicken with Artichokes & Mushrooms

Breakfast: Leftover Oatmeal with Bananas and Maple Syrup
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers Casserole, Zucchini

Breakfast: Eggs, Biscuits, Fruit
Dinner on the way to church: Chicken Nuggets, Fruit, Chips
Snack after we get home from church: Yogurt with Applesauce

Breakfast: French Toast, Sausage Patties
Dinner: Pickle Roast, Mashed Potatoes, vegetable

Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
Dinner: Kids at Grandma's, I usually work on leftovers or whatever is easy to find in the fridge

Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Dinner: Chicken Dumplings (freezer meal)


This past Saturday night, after all the kids were in bed, I spent a while in the kitchen frying up 2 big loaves of French bread into French Toast.  I had cleared WalMart's marked-down bread shelf several weeks ago on a rare trip to WalMart, and stuck all the bread into the freezer.  It was several loaves, maybe as many as 8, (ranging from $.25 - $.59 ea).  We have used a couple as garlic bread to go with Italian meals, but the majority I wanted to make into French Toast for the freezer.  It makes a yummy, quick breakfast when you reheat the slices in the toaster (our toaster has a "frozen" setting which really helps it thaw, heat evenly, and crisp up just perfectly). 

Monday's dinner is a new recipe.  In the mood for something "different" I browsed the church cookbook's Main Dishes section and found this recipe which works out perfectly because I have some fresh mushrooms that REALLY need used, and a can of artichoke hearts in the cupboard from a while ago.  I just hadn't taken the time to find a recipe for the artichokes (I like to use them in meals from time to time). 

Wednesday night dinners are far from my favorite, but we make it work.  We have to leave at 6pm to get to our Wednesday church activities which, if I wanted it to, could really throw a wrench in my dinner plans.  So... I had to figure out a solution outside the box.  Right now what is working is that most Wednesdays we have frozen chicken nuggets (that I buy on sale at Costco), fruit of some kind, and a salty, crunchy something.  Right now it is the individual baggies of chips from the huge variety box Costco sells.  If I don't have fresh fruit, the girls usually get an applesauce pouch.

Our Thursday night roast. :)  Susannah has been asking for a pickle juice roast for a long time, and I finally have enough pickle juice saved to fill her request.  I simply put the roast in the crockpot, and pour a jar of pickle juice over it for the seasoning.  I have used dill pickle juice in the past, but the most recent was made with juice from bread & butter pickles and they REALLY liked that.  This week's pickle roast will be a Bread & Butter roast.

Our lunches are always sandwiches or leftovers, sometimes on Sundays we will pick up lunch from CookOut if it is going to be late till we get home from church.  I usually let the girls have a snack at some point each afternoon. Sometimes it is a cookie and piece of fruit, sometimes a graham cracker with peanut butter, or occasionally a small amount of dry cereal, some pretzals, or animal crackers.

And that's the plan for this week!