Tag Archives: Pintrest

{SQT} Here’s A Comment, So Comment Back Maybe?

I sat down last night at my computer to type up a {pretty, happy, funny,real} post, when I realized yesterday was Thursday! Gah! Guess that means I’ll have to cram all the blather of a Seven Quick Takes with the photo sensibilities of a {p,h,f,r} post. Two great tastes that taste great together.  *smush* Plus a heapin’ helping of Pin-able pics, cause while some of the pins on my boards make me jealous, I see a lot more that make me think, Pffffpt! I can create something like that! 274 repins? For real???

 

1. After processing so many tomatoes I wanted to die, I finally moved on to processing the watermelons. At first, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the almost one dozen melons collecting on my deck. I’d seen some recipes for canning watermelon, and even watermelon rind and there was no way I was making any of that, and then trying to force it down my kids’ gullets in six months. Then a friend suggested cutting it up and freezing it. Genius! Better yet, I took the watermelon flesh, ran it through the blender and poured it into popsicle  molds. The kids loved them! Plus, I just poured blended flesh into gallon bags and laid them in the freezer to scoop out later for smoothies. Three watermelons later, I had eight trial pops and seven bags of blended flesh. One watermelon has rotted so only eight more melons to go. I hope the kids really like popsicle and smoothies.

2. We finally made it to the dollar store to collect the last of the school supplies and allow the kids the feeling of living large. The older three each had three dollars apiece to spend as they wished. My daughters each took additional funds. I’m thinking, how much crap am I really going to let them buy, $2 maybe $4 worth? I selected what I needed and then stood there for another 10 minutes trying to influence their purchases. “Only one can of silly string please. Oh! Who wants this neat origami kit? Anyone? Edie, really? Another wig? Addie that poster is huge! Do you really think you’ll color that whole thing?”

3. While there, I contemplated buying another small dry erase board because ours were all a mess. I couldn’t do it though, and I vowed to try to clean some of our old boards again, before investing in another. I tried wiping hard with a paper towel, soapy water, vinegar and then lo and behold I tried rubbing alcohol. Did you know it cleans dry erase surfaces LIKE A BOSS?! Forget the dinner prep, I started running around the house cleaning and making everyone look at how shiny the surfaces were and adding, “No you may not draw on it right now! I need to show your father as soon as he walks in the door!”

4. After assaulting my husband with a clean dry erase board, I finished making one of my favorite meals for dinner. Without an additional vegetable mind you, because I’m greater than the food pyramid. Ham loaf and pineapple stuffing are two foods I’ve never found outside my hometown of Lancaster, PA. And now, I present them to you. My ham loaf recipe is a combination of recipes I’ve found in a couple Mennonite cookbooks. The pineapple stuffing was a regular at church dinners growing up and was included in a cookbook released in the early 80′s as a fundraiser. Pretty much every meal I ate growing up came out of that cookbook.

UPDATE: Click for the recipe! If you tried before and it didn’t work, try again, I fixed it!!

5. The Modern Mrs. Darcy, a.k.a. Anne wrote a great article over at Simple Homeschooling about time management for moms. I could relate immensely because Anne homeschools four kids and tries to make time for herself to write and network online. I’ve been upfront from the get go that while this blog is fun for me, I also hope to eventually turn it into something more. What exactly I’m not quite sure. But I do know, writing, commenting and social media is something I’ve been trying to squeeze in around the clock in bits and pieces; a furious and usually fruitless attempt at multi-tasking. These bad habits have led to numerous typos in posts, statuses, tweets, etc that I don’t catch, despite re-reading things a million times. And sometimes, I don’t notice them for hours or days after publication on the interweb. I realized my mind was never fully present during my hasty writing blips. I made stupid mistakes because I was still mentally writing lesson plans, reading a story to the kids, cleaning the kitchen, or worrying about all three. Taking Anne’s advice, I’m going to change some things.

6. And another thing, I’ve acquired the wonderful habit of finding great blogs, commenting on them, forgetting to be notified of follow-up comments and failing to bookmark the site.  I don’t know how many times lately I’ve tried to track down a blog I commented on with no luck. And I’ve got some folks on my Facebook feed, some on Twitter and some in my reader feed. If you’re one of the lucky few I’ve got in all three, you’ll know because I communicate with you. If I commented on your blog once and never returned it’s not because I didn’t find your site interesting, I’ve just got lousy online etiquette. But I’m working on it. I’m hoping to dedicate time just to read, comment, respond to comments/emails, catalogue sites and other assorted social media networking so it doesn’t take away from my writing time. Or pull me away from my kids during school time. “Do history on your own! I’m in a twitter conversation with someone I don’t know but they’re referencing a comment I made…must. scroll.through. browser.history.”

7. From the beginning, I wondered how real and sincere my budding online friendships could become. Could the people I met only through their online identities really become friends? Was it all a game just to gain followers and page views?  But I’ve been surprised, pleasantly, in people who’ve taken a genuine interest in me, what I write and take the time to comment. I’ve found people I admire and I read and comment on because, I genuinely like who they are, at least online. I have yet to meet an online acquaintance in person so I wonder if the feelings would transfer to a face to face meeting. There’s been some uncanny coincidences between myself and those I’ve met which can only led me to believe God can bring people into your life anyway He darn well pleases so don’t discriminate or you might miss out on a great friendship.

 

Guess that wraps up ramblings here. Someone stop me before I start mutilating more family pictures in PicMonkey. If you’re not interesting in being friends because I’ve hurt you with my callous online behavior, be sure to head over to Jen’s for more Seven Quick Takes written by people who will respond to your comment promptly and otherwise love you.

 

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{SQT} First World Problems

This week I’ve been dealing with the greatest of all first world problems; no internet. Okay, I’m still technically able to get online through my neighbor’s unsecured wireless network but only the desktop can pick up the signal, and not reliably. That’s meant no photo uploads or downloads and no video streaming. And normally we’re not a huge online video family, but of course, this was the week I planned to show some Bill Nye clips for science.

I actually had to write this post offline and if you’re reading it, I guess that means I was able to upload it when my neighbor wasn’t eating up all his bandwidth. Next week, we’ll be vacationing at the beach and relying on the signal from the hotel next to my grandmother’s condo for internet access. It’s reminiscent of 2001; I click on a page, and go make a sandwich while I wait for it to load.

I debated whether to write about all the topics without pictures, or just go all crazy the week I return from the beach (because I won’t have tons of unpacking or laundry to do.) So because I didn’t really debate it that long, here are seven things that have been going on that I’m going to write about (with pictures!) once this damn unfortunate internet issue gets straightened out.

 

#1 And by straightened out I mean, my husband used it as an excuse to buy the fanciest new modem, router and surge protector money can buy. Plus I saw he threw some special wire in the Amazon basket so I think it’s safe to say that once the new supplies arrive, our house will look like a scene out of Tron.

 

#2  We went to a monster truck show last Saturday as a belated birthday present to Fulton. Last year’s trip for his third was the first time any of us had set foot at such an event and we all became instant fans.  I got a couple of good shots but to appreciate the awe of oversized pickups, you really need to attend at least one Monster Truck show. Deep down, don’t we all have a carnal desire to watch things get completely smashed and destroyed? It’s like the Colosseum except instead of lions, it’s trucks and instead of Christians it’s cars.

 

#3 Our kitchen is inching closer to completion. Tomorrow the electrician will come and, fingers crossed, hook up everything (and not find any fire hazards.) Being the type who loves to organize, I’m totally pumped about the opportunity to spend most of August organizing the new kitchen, which includes a small school room. Then I get to design and organize the new mudroom which will rise from the ruins of the old kitchen! The fact that I can’t get on Pintrest and save ideas is maddening.

 

#4 Tony’s family left town last weekend and already the kids are clamoring to make the 17 hour + car ride to Wisconsin. For smaller families in sports cars with super bladders, the trip can be made in about 14 hours. I’m amazed at how quickly our kids can forget all the time in the car because during the drive it seems like an eternity to us all. However, until then we made some great memories and got a lot of great family photos, including the first of all of us since Teddy’s birth I think. Somehow, in all of them except the ones where I’m purposely opening my eyes wide, I look ready to fall over and go to sleep. I really think smiling accentuates the bags under my eyes so from now on, I’m going with a more serious face and see how I look. Should make for interesting beach photos.

 

#5 Our bedroom is the hottest room in the house, but somehow our bed is still the go to place for scared children. Tony and I can’t even touch each other without perspiring and yet Addie wants to cuddle with her blanket next to us after watching a “freaky” episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

#6 One of our chickens made a nest under the ramp leading up to our deck and was trying to hatch 20 eggs. Twenty!!! However we don’t have any roosters (mature roosters anyway) so they’re all duds. Or twenty stink bombs waiting to happen. We had to pry up boards on the deck to retrieve the eggs and try to get her out.

 

#7 While at the beach I’m going to try surfing lessons. Addie has agreed to come along too, and not just to laugh. Stay tuned for the photo hilarity that is sure to come from my lack of common sense.

 

If your internet is still up and running, you’d better go catch it! And be sure to check out the rest of the Seven Quick Take posts over at Conversion Diary.

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Seven Quick Takes of Absurd Random Proportions

How long ago was it that Jen mentioned people who always have themes for the SQT? Last week? Two weeks ago? Yes, that’s usually me. Trying to be organized, with all my loose ends tied up, at least here on the interweb. However this week I’ve been unable to maintain a train of though for longer than 4 minutes. And so I present my first random Seven Quick Takes! Yay insanity and disorder!

1. Unbeknownst to us, we hired a 76-year-old man (!) to finish all the drywall work related to our kitchen renovation project. We were ecstatic when he finished in one day more work than my father-in-law, husband and former contractor could complete in a couple of weeks. He’s originally from Austria, played professional soccer in Europe for 11 years, worked out at the same gym as Arnold Schwarzenegger and credited his vigor to  drinking a glass of wine, plus a scotch on the rocks daily and hard work. This man is the stuff legends are made of; a veritable Paul Bunyan of drywalling. I almost fell prostrate at his feet when he was done.

2. My youngest, whose vocabulary consists of go, uh-oh, Nona and Mama (but only when necessary) and other various Wookie noises, will say Sponge Bob. “Do you want a drink?’ Nods head. “Nap time!” Shakes head no. “Can I read you this book?” Grunt. “Who’s this yellow guy?” Spa Ba!!! Good to know he’s got his priorities straight.

3. I survived a weekend home alone with only three kids. It was one part quiet, one part terror and a whole lot of  “I feel like I got the short end of the stick.” My husband was insulted that I wrote in the event of a zombie apocalypse, he and the kids would be goners. As if playing Doom 3 on a nightly basis makes him a police sniper or something. After watching him play last night for a bit, I stand by my original assessment. We’re all zombie fodder unless we take up running and outfit Fulton’s powerchair with assorted weaponry.

4. My youngest daughter almost died from boredom during the same weekend, if I didn’t kill her first for saying “I’m bored” every two minutes. Thankfully once the older two got home it was business as usual.

 

5. I tried to take a self-portrait for the blog. FAIL. Better luck next time. And by next time I mean I’ll pay my oldest a dollar to draw my picture “really good” and we’ll leave it at that.

Clichéd bathroom reflection shot. If you dye my hair purple, and coat my eyes in black makeup it's a duplicate of a shot I took at 17.

 

Not too bad if you ignore the fact that I'm completely out of focus except for my knee. And my shirt is stained. And my glass is almost empty.

 

Having drank my wine I resorted to an artistic Photo Booth shot of me, Han Solo and Chewie. I'm kinda like Leia...if you squint and use your imagination.

 

6. Because I’m having a hard time coping with the chaos that is my house during construction, I’ve decided to create a new chore system and method of punishments and rewards for the kids. Oh, and why not dust off my eight week schedule of menus too and revise them? Re-organizational therapy! Once we’ve reached utopia, I’ll let you know. Pinterest is making me feel really, really inadequate about everything but I can’t. stay. away. Oh, and I’m unstylish. Pinterest has taught me that too. Hooray for awakening adolescent self-esteem issues!

7. I made three jars of refrigerator jam out of our strawberries. We have a large patch out front that no likes picking from accept my kid’s friends. This was my first attempt at jam of any sort and I failed, but only partially. Seems I actually made a really good batch of strawberry syrup which goes great on pancakes. So, in the end, the kids think I’m awesome. Take that Pinterest!

All aboard! Next stop on the crazy train, the rest of the SQT submissions at Conversion Diary.

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A Messy House vs the Chore Chart: Finding the Lesser of Two Evils

HOUSEHOLD CHORES!!

You just cringed didn’t you? Admit it, chores hang over your head like the sword of Damocles. The multiplying piles of laundry on the dining room table. Your fireplace mantle covered with children’s crafts, dust and baking soda from the science experiment that got completely out of hand. The casserole pan that’s been soaking so long in your sink, your youngest thinks it’s part of the sink.

Household chores are never done. All one can do is find ways to manage them so that, at any given time, not everything is a mess all at once. Everyone has a system for their house, or they just live in a pig sty. Not having a system is a recipe for disaster, or so I’m led to believe. If you like to visit/waste time on Pinterest, you’ll see tons and tons systems moms have created to organize their home and keep them that way. Search chore charts and you’ll be bombarded with hundreds of images of charts; magnets, wipe-off, pocket, printable, sticker, on-line, picture only, etc. Who’s job is it to take the time to download / purchase/ assemble this thing? Can “managing the chore chart” go to the oldest child or is that one more task for mama? If I can’t reliably empty the diaper pail, it’s not likely I’m going to be able to stick with a chore chart.

“Mama is this magnet for ‘emptying the trashcans’ on my column or Byron’s column?”

“I don’t know, which ever it’s closest to.”

“It’s on a line.”

“Nu-uh, it was on your column and you moved it!”

“Okay, let me see. Who did this chore last week?”

“Me!” they answer in unison.

And about ten minutes into this conversation is when I throw the new chore chart into the overflowing trashcan and take it outside myself.

Chores are fun! And so is busting out the power tools and Modge Podge! I can't wait to blow a whole weekend making this chore system!

 

My husband and I believe that children need to do chores. Everyone contributes to the household running smoothly, and they do it because it’s what you do as a family member, not because you get paid or because it’s a punishment for wrong doing. I do the laundry because I like to see my kids in clean clothes on a semi-regular basis, not because the hubby slips a fiver in my wallet each week or because I got too sassy with the piano teacher. My husband washes dishes in the evening because he understands that the dishes represent the good home-cooked meal I took the time to prepare (during the witching hour, surrounded by five noisy children.) I provide no financial (or other- wink, wink ) incentive for him to do this. When my kids get in fights, or break the rules, I hesitate to have them do extra chores because I don’t want them to equate housework to punishment (no matter what I may think of it sometimes.) Kids, and all people, respond to incentives, but I want to dangle the correct carrot in front of my kids to get the jobs done.

Chores are meaningful ways that our kids can contribute to our family, obtain  a sense of accomplishment, learn responsiblity and self sufficiency, plus, come to  understand what it takes to manage a home (with a large family.)  If my kids never did chores, or completed them only as punishment I think their future spouses would kill me.

“I know the sink is full of dishes honey, but what’s in it for me??? You know Macy’s is having a sale, hint, hint.”

So, if I’ve admitted my kids need to do chores for all the above reasons, why don’t the fancy charts and planners work for me? And I know other families that work great with financial and disciplinary incentives.  Why don’t I just try their methods despite my reluctance? Because amazingly, we are eking by with no system. Or at least, things aren’t falling apart by me just asking the kids at random to do chores and having them complete each task immediately. (I also have a mother-in-law who loves doing housework. Seriously. The upside is, she helps with my dishes and laundry when she’s here. The downside is, my husband gets used to having his underwear neatly folded in his drawer. )

However, I’d like to do better than just getting by. I’d like the day before a party to not be a mad dash of playing catch up. As it is, the kids love when we entertain, but they know I’m pretty much a tyrant for the 24 hours leading up to the guests arrival and therefore avoid me at all costs, which isn’t helpful when stuff needs done.

“KIDS! KIDS! Someone needs to get all these books off the sofa and watch Teddy while I vacuum and Tony, polish the silver!!!”

“But honey, we don’t have any silver. Besides, it’s a picnic. I thought we were eating on paper plates with plastic forks and knives.”

“WHAT?!? Don’t question me! I want to see my reflection on every surface in this house !!!”

“Kids, who wants to come with Papa to pick up some ice?”

Then when people arrive, I’m exhausted. I think it’s why hosting on Memorial Day wiped me out for a week. The time has come for a better system, especially since my Mother-in-law is away for three weeks. Although, maybe I’m just über distraught by the state of the house since kitchen construction has made everything a mess. And when my life is disorganized in a way I can’t control, all I can think to do is bring order to some aspect of my life seemingly within my control. Therefore, if the front of my house must remain a disaster until the new kitchen is completed, then something- chores, our school day, my nightstand, something must be reworked so my life feels less chaotic. Perhaps that’s the underlying issue, parts of my life are in turmoil so rather than just prayerfully deal with those issues, I’ll just create a whole new problem to conquer so that I can feel good about accomplishing something. At least I’m honest with myself.

Part of me would love to throw out half of what we have so I no longer need to care for it, but I learned a long time ago that having lots of kids, and homeschooling them, tends to equal lots of stuff one can’t discard. Even with twice yearly purges of toys, clothes, books and the like, we’re left with tons of “essentials” that we need to find room for. And if I need to keep all this stuff for these kids, I’d better find a way for them to help take care of it all, cause if one more Barbie shoe or Lego brick winds up in the baby’s mouth, I can’t be held responsable for what comes out of mine.

I’m going to revisit the FlyLady and my Martha Stewart Housekeeping Handbook (which is gathering dust) and work on creating a schedule of chores; what must get done daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally. Then, I’ll figure out a way to distribute the jobs fairly without having to whip out the laminator, the RotoZip or create three dozen magnetic labels.  I’m curious to hear what everyone else does to bring order to their home. And how easy is it to get back on track once you have a lapse in the system for a time. (If you tell me you have a perfect system and you never lapse, I will block you from commenting in the future. Unless you’re Martha Stewart. Then, I love you.) Share your stories! The fate of my household depends upon it!

 

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Sharing Mealtime Secrets…more like airing dirty laundry.

Dinnertime. Around here, I call it the witching hour. Both young ‘uns are up from their naps. The older ones are getting their second wind. I’m alternately staring into a refrigerator stocked with unlabeled plastic containers or a freezer stocked with unlabeled plastic bags. And every two minutes someone is coming into the kitchen and asking me “What’s for dinner? I’m starving!” I feel like a bird, looking into her nest and seeing all those wide gaping mouths shooting up at her, screaming in hunger. If only my children would be satisfied with the first thing I could dig out of the ground.

Even families who don’t homeschool struggle with dinner. A quick Google search for meal planning will turn up a ton of mommy bloggers with planners, e-books, online seminars, printables, etc to help rescue you from starvation and your nagging feelings of inadequacy. Personally, I love this stuff. Organizing and planning is a hobby for me. For example, my expertly labeled Trapper, and my beautiful dry erase weekly menu planner on the fridge (last dated some time in February). I get an adrenaline rush from creating a menu for the week and writing out a detailed shopping list based on the sales at my local store. Saving time and money; dang I’ve got my act together! Unfortunately, the previous scenario only occurs about once a month. And when I does, you know the crumbs are a good four inches deep under the high chair and the tub is infested with tadpoles.

It takes time, quiet time, to sit down and plan out everything. And that’s a luxury around here. So I try to stick to some staples that I can whip into a few favorite meals. It usually works. And when it doesn’t, I might have to resort to leftovers.  (Cue suspenseful music.) But, leftovers are great you say? They keep food from being wasted and mean two meals from one night of work you insist? I used to think so to. Back when our family was smaller, I’d make a big meal and we’d get a full second meal later in the week. Now, with seven of us, one big meal leaves one and a half servings of leftovers for dinner. My husband will usually take some leftovers to work so by Sunday or Monday, the days I least feel like cooking,  I decide to have a leftover night and pull a dozen odd containers and foil wrapped surprises out of the fridge.

If I’m in a good mood, a.k.a. we have fine wine in the house,  I make either Quiche or soup with the leftovers. It always makes me smile when people ask for a recipe for either. The secret is either good eggs or good broth (we have chickens so we usually have an ample supply of both.) Fresh eggs and broth will hide, I mean, enhance a multitude of flavors. In Quiche I use a basic crust, six eggs, some milk, whatever cheese and then lots of leftovers. I’ve added everything from alfredo sauce and chicken nuggets to pepperoni and taco meat. Wrapped in a rich crust, it always goes over big. (Unless the oldest is in a disagreeable mood, in which case, she gets it cold for breakfast. Score 1 for Mama!) I have similar luck with soup unless I try to slip in beans.

If there’s no chance of me eeking out a meal (What happened to my box of wine?) than we have a smorgasbord dinner and it’s every man, woman and child for him/herself.  Up for grabs; one small slice of pizza that all the kids want. Three tiny containers of different vegetables, from last week, that no one wants. Four servings of the huge casserole I made that everyone is sick of. Two hotdogs, but we’re out of buns, etc, etc. I wind up heating up individual plates for everyone, each containing exactly two bites of pizza, before making up my own which I promptly forget about in order to heat seconds for everyone. (No, for the last time, there’s no more pizza! You loved this casserole. Put some hotdog on it! Please! If the baby sees you eat it, then he might eat his.)

I’m left with a huge sink full of empty containers and a trash bag that needs to get emptied ASAP thanks to all those unidentifiable meals we found in the way back of the fridge that no one wanted two leftover dinners ago. The chickens get a huge container of scraps and once again, I’m left with a clean fridge. Which is usually scarier than a full one because now it’s time to sit down and plan some meals for the week.

I really love the idea of bulk or freezer cooking. You know, where you spend one day cooking and have meals for the week. However,  I’d like to get seven days worth of meals from one hour of cooking and unfortunately, I haven’t figured out a way to do that yet, at least in a way that doesn’t involve a lot of beans.

There’s also the crock pot movement. The slow cooker is very popular right now. I know because every five minutes that woman who made something different in her crock pot for 365 days keeps showing up in my Pintrest feed. I mean really, is she giving away crock pots or something because I can’t imagine that many people are really in love with the idea of eating mushy veggies, condensed soup and meat for a year. Now admittedly, I do have a few favorite crock pot meals of my own , but because these meals require me to plan for dinner at breakfast time, I need to be in ‘A’ game form right out of the starting gate in the morning or it’s a no go. That crock pot lady must be a morning person, like to eat her dinners late or have some special meal planner I haven’t downloaded yet.

One of these days, I’m sure I’ll hit on system that works for the long-term. It will combine my love of writing lists and saving money with not having to put a lot of thought into either. And it must be summed up with a nice printable. Until then, I’m sure we’ll manage on leftovers and casserole. What are your meal planning secrets? (I reserve the right to take all useful comments, compile into an online meal planning course and FREE downloadable e-book.)

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