Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy New Year

I know it has been more than a week but I need a bit more time, if you don't mind. The kids and I are doing just fine, although I miss all my cooking so much!  I will catch up and share some thoughts with you soon. Until then, have a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The only way to go is forward....

Just a short note to say that the kids and I are doing well. Elisa, my oldest,  is visiting.  I haven't seen her in nearly 6 months so it is wonderful to have all my children home together!

I am such a believer that things happen as they do for a reason and while I may never understand the reason, just knowing there is one is enough for me. I can honestly say that I did not see any of what happened coming, (the sudden and inexplicable break up of the "blender" family), but I am very thankful for it now that I see things differently. I have few regrets and believe that my relationship with the other children was of great benefit for all of us and will hold life long blessings for all of us. Now it is time to look forward and move forward. I seem to have developed a gift for doing that along the way. Bitterness and vengeance are just not in me and I am grateful for that as well!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sarah's Thoughts :)

This is Sarah! I'm not yet a contributor to the Blender Blog so this post will say that my mom published it but I feel like it's time to hear from someone other than the Mom or the Dad in the family. The other day we went out to buy some Christmas decorations for the holidays and I can honestly say I'm sastified with our haul. We bought a mini tree to set on the side table in the living room and it's just the cutest thing. I hooked up the lighted tree to the lightswitch and put a few ornaments on it, everyone loves it. Along with the tree, we bought everyone a stocking to decorate. With some suction cups, the personalized stockings are all hung up for each of the kids. It's so Christmas-y around here now.
In other news, all these San Diegans think that 40 degrees is really cold and everyone is complaining bout how chilly it is... Dudes, I just got back from Denver where its below freezing at night this time of year and this is NOT cold. I miss the sub-zero temperatures of Colorado. I had a blast in Denver while I was there a couple weeks ago and I want to give a shout out to all my Coloradans!
I just got my finacial aid e-mail telling me my awards for Miramar Community College and it's going to cost over $7,500 for the semester coming up, BUT! I was only awarded $2,775. I dislike being a non-resident. This is madness. It makes me want to cry... I miss high school! Lol well the free education part of high school anyways. So what I learned from this is I need to go and find a sugar-daddy to pay for school for me... know anyone who fits the bill? Ooh I know, maybe I should just get a really good job! Well anyways, I wish you all a Merry Christmas or politically correct Happy Holidays and if you know a single rich dude, give him my number. (Just Kidding!)

Monday, December 5, 2011


With Thanksgiving being celebrated in our home on Saturday, I haven't taken time to check in with my blog! The meal went very well by the way! We had a Pamela Anderson of a turkey....so much breast and very little dark meat. I cooked this 24lb bird in an oven bag, like I have done for years and it turned out moist and perfect. Also on the menu was homemade cranberry relish, mashed fresh sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, steamed carrots, relish tray, Trader Joe's cornbread and dinner rolls! At the ended of dinner poor Emily got her foot tangled on the leg of the card table and it ended up tipping over. Food and dishes went flying! Fortunately, Emily was not hurt. One broken plate and some cranberry on the carpet and a story to make us all laugh next Thanksgiving!

The meat we had ordered from Da-Le Ranch was delivered on Friday afternoon. It was more than we had expected and after filling my 3 freezers and Steve's parents' freezer we had cold hands and were tired! The parts we didn't want, (tongue, kidney, heart, etc), went to someone who feeds one of their dogs a raw diet. We were all happy to have have it go to someone who could use it! Angie had to come and pick up a couple of boxes full that they weren't planning to pick up until Sunday because we could squeeze another bit into the freezers. I didn't get to cooking any of it until today, other than soup bones for broth. I cooked a pork butt in the crock pot with just a bit of Italian dressing, vidalia onion dressing, salt and pepper. It was incredibly tender and juicy! I cannot wait to get into the beef as it looks amazing!

Tomorrow Amber gets her cast put on her arm for her fractured wrist. I was expecting to take her to Rady Children's Hospital but was told today that I have to take her to Balboa Naval Hospital. I am sooo not happy about that but it seems there is nothing I can do about it. Amber is still hoping for a pink cast although I suspect she may be disappointed. I need to make sure I understand exactly how using Tricare Prime benefits works here in a military town so I do not get surprised like this again. It is very different than in Denver since there were no military medical facilities nearby.

We have had some funny things said around here today....Tyler suggested "Nationwide Insurance" temporarily change it's song to "Santa Claus is on your side". Jacob said to Kyle, "if you take your arm off you can use the remote better!" (Kyle had made this crazy claw arm out of pipe cleaners).
Sarah had to apologize to Tyler for putting a big leaf of lettuce on his head while trying unsuccessfully not to laugh, "I really am sorry I put lettuce on your head!".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Last night while I was cooking dinner, Amber was doing something very dangerous, as it turns out. She was bouncing a ball! Somehow she tripped over her feet and fell down...splat! She hit her wrist on the retaining wall as well as the ground. Amber cried and Steve brought her in for an ice pack. She complained her tummy hurt but mostly seemed fine. No selling or bruises or scrapes. This morning she was having trouble playing the game boy because she wasn't using her left hand very well. Time to call the Doctor! Because Amber has sensory integration disorder, she doesn't feel pain in the same way most people do. In fact, she has had to learn to interpret a number of sensations that our brains just automatically do on their own. Pain and hunger being the biggies. Anyway, her wrist is fractured. She was put in a splint today and we are waiting to hear back from the Dr. about getting it casted. Fortunately, due to her lessened pain perception, she has very little discomfort and is doing fine.

I am learning so much about the Positive Parenting techniques. This is a great positive parenting blog that I came across. Kelly does such a great job of putting things into easy to understand and use perspectives! For today, I am working on connecting before correcting. Listening to my children, especially Tyler. He often has a lot to say around his misbehavior but usually is not permitted to say it all. Finally, encouraging the process all along the way with all the kids is something so easy to do and so good for all of us. Even if Ian has to go back and vacuum the floor 6 times, he needs to hear that the fact that he is doing the chore is appreciated. Does that make sense? What are your thoughts?
  • Connect Before Correct
  • Listen all the way through, uninterrupted.
  • Encourage the process rather than praise for the end result.
Our beef and pork is being delivered tomorrow afternoon! Finally! But you know it will have been worth the wait!!!  by the way, I love the changes Da-Le Ranch has made to their website...check it out!

Monday, November 28, 2011

If Only I Understood the Game

I was playing a game with Tyler and Amber this evening of Tyler's creation. It involved randomly moving your finger around on a tic tac toe board that had all the  X's and O's pre-placed. I lost every single turn. So did Amber. Tyler won. Bet you didn't see that coming! LOL! But isn't that just the way life is? Just when you think you have a handle on the game it changes!  If only I understood the game, I could win. Right?  What would "winning" actually be? Actually, I think I like not understanding the game after all!

So far, eating healthier is costing us less. I am thinking this is due, in part, to buying more foods in bulk and therefore making less trips to the grocery store. Also, junk food is expensive! "Real Food" is also expensive and mostly there are not coupons for it. I am talking about whole grains, beans, produce...the good stuff.  Cooking everything from scratch is certainly a lot more work but being able to take out all of that sodium, preservatives and dyes from our diet is worth it for me. I have the time and I love to cook so it is working for us thus far. When we were in Las Vegas and had to eat out, our bodies were really feeling it!  On that note, let me tell you about dinner....

LENTIL SOUP in the big crock pot
6 cans chicken broth
med onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped,
3 garlic cloves, chopped or whole
1 tsp thyme, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup V-8 juice
1 lb bag lentils
1 cup  finely chopped green beans, (or any other veggie you care to use)
4 oz dry alphabet pasta
1 cup chopped summer sausage (any sort of meat will do or leave out the meat)
water to fill the crock pot, about 6 cups
Crock pot on low about 8 hours.
Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
I expected to have a few bowls worth left over but there was only one bowl of soup to put away in the fridge!

In other new....Ian got a promotion in JROTC! He is now and "Airman"! Way to go Ian!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crock Pot Meatloaf

I just took a meatloaf out of my crock pot...my first try at cooking a meatloaf this way. It turned out perfectly!  I lined the crock pot with foil first so I could just lift it right out and it worked!

I still have one more pot of beans to cook in the crock pot and then I will have all the beans cooked and put up in the freezer. It cost me about $3.50, including electricity and freezer bags for what would have cost me over $20 in canned beans. It was super easy! I got the 5 pound bag of pinto beans for 1/2 price at Food 4 Less for only $2.00 and the 2 pounds of black beans were less than $1.

Amber and I made a fast trip to Costco today, armed with a list. We zipped in, got almost everything on our list and got of there in record time. The place was packed with people...of course! Costco does not carry whole wheat flour as it turns out. I will have to pick some up at Sprouts on Wednesday. Sprouts has double-ad day on Wednesday, (this weeks and last weeks sale prices).

The Taco Braids turned out beautiful and delicious! I just made wheat dough in the bread machine and added 2 tbsp of taco seasoning in with the flour. I rolled out the dough, spread cooked ground meat (1/2 beef & 1/2 turkey), shredded cheese, re fried beans and salsa down the center 1/2. Then I cut the outside edges in strips and alternated pulling them across the filling. Let rise 30 min. Bake on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The kids devoured it!

Steve brought me some beautiful flowers today. :)  I love that he does that for me! It is very nice to be appreciated!!

Emily has a friend that has a "ripstick". She has learned to ride it fairly well and has been teaching Amber and Tyler to ride it today too. It takes a lot of balance and coordination!

We are so very lucky to be living in San Diego, where it was a beautiful 84 degrees today! I hope you have enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I just wanted to share this link about Power Costs Of Typical Appliances . And here's another that is more specific about the appliance and cost.

I just put some carrot bread dough in the bread machine. I used the leftover baby carrots from dinner last night. I will let you know how it turns out. I have found that the kids will eat the "bread" better when it is in a roll shape. Does anyone else find this to be true in their family?

Fascinating Blender Fact! It takes 3 bags of microwave popcorn to make a movie snack for our family.

Costco shopping trip tomorrow! I need to get back to my list.

Cooking Day!

Here is the past week in a nutshell! Visiting my Mom and Step-Dad in Las Vegas for a few days over Thanksgiving with Steve, Tyler and Amber was a great time! They had many things around the house for Steve to help them with, we visited the Natural history Museum and a fabulous park, swam at the hotel pool and saw amazing flower displays at the Bellagio. Steve got to meet up with a long lost Cousin while we were there and I learned that my family tree went in a different direction than I had known before! I turned 46 while we were in Las Vegas!  Steve has been coming off of his anti-depressant so that was a challenge for sure. We skipped Thanksgiving altogether but will make up for it next weekend and maybe I will make myself a birthday cake to go along with it! Kyle and Emily stayed with Steve's parents while we were away and did just fine. Jacob and Ian were at their Uncle Joe's and came back well fed! Sarah will be in Colorado until Tuesday and was thrilled that it snowed there yesterday! Whew! Okay, I will take a breath now and move onto the kitchen!

Today I am doing lots of cooking and working on the menu for next week. Last night was a pork roast I had cooked and frozen, mashed potatoes, baby carrots, peas, green beans and homemade rolls. But that was the last of the meals in the freezer so starting again today.
Menu For The Week:
Saturday: Spaghetti with Italian Sausage links; pasta is "Ronzoni Garden Delight"; homemade rolls(honey wheat rolls with Italian seasoning in the dough).
Sunday: Taco Braid 
Monday: Lentil Soup
Tuesday: Pulled Pork; white rice; corn; carrots; salad
Wednesday: Hamburgers; baked beans; sweet potato and regular fries
Thursday: Chicken Parmesan served on "Ronzoni Garden Delight" noodles.
Friday: leftovers; salad
Saturday: Our Thanksgiving Dinner!!

At this moment you will find on the stove and in the crock pot, enough spaghetti sauce to make 4 meals. The crock pot has nice Italian sausage links in it. We will eat that tonight and I will add ground meat I have already cooked to what is left and freeze it. On the stove is a big pot or marinara sauce. 1/2 will be for chicken Parmesan. I will add ground meat I have already cooked to the other half and freeze it.  I have 5 pounds of pinto beans soaking and I will put them on to cook when I go to bed. Tomorrow I will freeze them in 1 pound portions to use in various meals. I am also making the dough for rolls and the taco braid for the week in the bread machine. I just make it on the dough setting, put each batch in a olive oiled Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer. The night before I need it, I thaw it in the fridge. I take it out about an hour before I need it. On a floured board I put it into whatever shape I need, let it rise about 30 minutes then bake it!

Now back to my kitchen......

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Shape Of Bread

I am sharing with you the recipe I have been using to make wheat bread in the bread machine. The original recipe came from, "Bread Machine Magic" but I made a few changes to it along the way.
It is interesting that the amount of bread the kids eat depends on the shape it is served in. When I cooked it as a loaf, they ate about 2/3 of the loaf but said they liked it. I made it into rolls and they loved it. It was gone in a flash and they were asking for more. The same thing when I made it as rolls but added basil and garlic to the dough. The other night I made it into bread sticks, spreading the tops with garlic butter before I baked them. They were eventually all eaten but not gobbled up like the rolls had been. Does the shape have anything to do with the flavor? What makes them more desirable when they are just rolls? Who knows! These are good for you and the kiddos love them so I will be making rolls to go with the Chicken Alfredo for dinner tonight!

Honey Wheat Rolls (bread machine)
1 1/8 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cu bread flour
3 tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
Place ingredients into bread machine pan in order given. Select "dough" setting. When the dough is ready it will beep. Remove onto floured board and gently roll and stretch dough into rope. With a sharp knife cut into about 12 slices. Gently form each piece into a ball and place on a greased pan. They can be touching or apart. Cover and let rise 30-45 minutes. (I turn the oven on to warm for a couple minutes, turn it off then place the rolls in to rise.)
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Add 1 tsp basil or Italian seasoning mix and 1 tsp garlic powder with the flour.
This recipe works to make a loaf of bread.
Brush garlic butter on tops of dough just before baking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

School Pictures!

We had sticker shock when we saw how much Jacob's Senior pictures cost! The same company that took mine and Steve's senior pictures, Reyman Photography, is who took the photos for Scripps Ranch High Seniors.
We just got postcards to see the school pictures online for our kids at http://innovationsacademy.org/. Kyle, Amber, Emily and Tyler had their pictures taken byhttp://canelaphotography.com/ and they were fantastic! There are about 8 shots of each kid. The pictures were taken outside and they did such a beautiful job. Another thing we love about this company is how very reasonable their prices are!

We are all getting ready this weekend to go separate directions for Thanksgiving. Steve, Tyler, Amber and I will be going to Las Vegas to visit my parents. This will be only the 2nd time the kids have seen their Grandparents. Ian and Jacob will be spending those same 4 days with their Uncle Joe in Lakeside. They seem to like the idea so far. Emily and Kyle will be spending the time with Steve's Parents, who are also in Scripps Ranch. Sarah will be in Thornton, Colorado with Elisa for 9 days. She is excited about seeing her friends and her sister and is hoping to see some snow!

I baked a couple of pumpkin pies today. I used the fresh pumpkin puree I made a week or so ago and froze. But that's not all! I cooked some butternut squash the other day and there was a good bit left over. Yup, into the pies it went! No one seemed to notice and I used up some leftovers.

By the way, here is my new oatmeal cookie recipe that I mentioned the other day.
Leanne's Oatmeal Cookies
 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup applesauce    
1 tbsp molasses
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar     
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
Combine with mixer.    
Now combine:
3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick oats
Mix wet and dry ingredients. Stir in some raisins or chocolate chips.
Bake 350   8-10 minutes.

We finally got word this week about our side of beef we purchased from Da-Le Ranch http://www.facebook.com/pages/Da-Le-Ranch/195746853809624
Because of the number of turkey orders they are dealing with this week, we wont get our 1/2 cow and 1/4 pig until December 3rd. This actually works out well for both my friend, Angie and for us afterall. I expect the meat will be amazing but I will be sure to let you know!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

10 Things Kids With Food Allergies Want You to Know Video

I was hoping this would just post on my page but I don't seem to be able to make it do that so you have to click the link. If you have school age children, you can be sure there is at least one child in their class that has food allergies. This was a great little video. Please take the time to take a look at it!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nook Tablet

I bought one! I was stressing about spending so much money on myself for clearly a luxury item.  Being the typical Mom, I feel guilty if I buy myself new underwear, especially if they are not on clearance! The jeans I am wearing are from before my pregnancy with my 5 yr old son. To spend so much money on myself, let alone for something that was not a necessity is totally against my nature.  However, I am completely thrilled with this gadget so far! So, we have established that my spending money like this is not like me but you might also know that I am rather challenged technologically. It takes me months to adjust to a new phone and I still am not quite sure how to use the DVD player here. There is something so much less intimidating about a "touch screen" anything to me. I got the first Nook Tablet sold at my Barnes & Noble store. They had actually JUST gotten them in and were opening the box when Sarah and I arrived. There is another thing I never do....buy something electronic when it first comes out! Have I mentioned how much I love this thing?! 

As soon as I pull myself away from my new gadget long enough, I want to tell you all about my new oatmeal cookie recipe. Also, the more I read about the additives in our food, the more I want to go live on a farm and grow it all ourselves! More on that later as well!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Healthier Food Choices at The Blender

Here are some things I am doing to feed my family healthier food bit by bit!

Stater Bros. had Ronzoni brand Garden Delight pasta on sale for 99 cents, (regular $2.29) I emptied their shelf. This pasta is tri-colored and uses enough vegetables in it that a 4 oz serving of the pasta is a full serving of veggies! The kids loved it and there is no noticable tast or texture difference.

I made a big batch of "Healthier Flour Blend" (I modified the recipe from "The Sneaky Chef")  6 cups bread flour, 6 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup wheat bran. Just mix it, store it and use as you would flour, (I used bread flour since I am mostly using this in the bread machine).

I've made a few mixes from scratch to cut out the extra salt and preservatives. So far I have tried, taco seasoning, meat loaf seasoning, breading for things like chicken and pork chops. I have  a few more in the works. I will get those recipes posted for you soon.

We are using less meat and more beans and quinoa wherever I can. Also I am putting more vegetables into every meal.  For instance, in Mexican soup is an easy all in one meal that is easy to add to . I used 1/2 the chicken.  Added a can of black beans, a 1/2 cup of quinoa and twice the amount of veggies that I usually use. I also add 2/3 cup pureed veggies to the broth.

We do not drink any Kool-aid type drinks anymore. I make sweet tea nearly every day and have decreased the sugar significantly over the past 2 weeks.

No more potato type chips at out hours. I bought Sun Chips for school lunches. I also got some sweet potato chips at Costco that the kids have been eating up like crazy.

I can put pureed veggies in breads, muffins, cookies, pancakes and waffles, as well as wheat germ and no one seems to mind.

Also, I am trying to use much less soy that I did before. Soy sauce is fine for most but Tyler and Sarah are allergic to soy and there is so much sodium in it. Using less just makes more sense both with soy and soy sauce. I tried a mock soy sauce recipe that we liked well enough. It tastes nothing like soy so really it is just an alternative, not a substitute.

So, in a nutshell, this is where we are less sugar, less salt, less soy, avoid red dye #40 and yellow dye #5, less meat, more protein and more vegetables. Tell me some of your ideas!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I think that some people just don't understand about nut allergies

I have 3 kids with life threatening allergies to all tree nuts and peanuts. This means adjustments to everyone around them. We have no peanuts or nuts allowed at all in our home, not even for kids who are not allergic. The buzz word is "cross-contamination". Tyler and Amber have had to learn that even if someone brings cupcakes that their Mom baked at home and she is sure there are no nuts in them, they still can not eat them. They may have made peanut butter and toast on the counter. Cross-contamination. It isn't just that the allergic kids might itch or get watery eyes or a runny nose. They could die. If you know that there are children in your child's class or playgroup, or ball team, etc, that has a nut allergy, please be very respectful of that and please do not feel your rights are violated because no nuts are allowed there. It truly is life or death.

Peanut allergy kids ....this was a great post by another Mom with an allergic kiddo and the comments that followed were really telling.

Free Math Games!

This website was recommended by Kyle's teacher. I think it is going to be fun several of our kiddos!

The jalapeno bread machine bread was a success. I now have a use for the 12 cups or so of bread flour that has been infused with the essence of dill pickle! I still can't believe that big glass pickle jar held onto
THAT much pickle smell after several of soaking, cleaning and airing out!

Tyler, upon tossing some papers after school into the trunk along with everyone's backpacks, found some words to rhyme. He even put them into sing-song and repeated them over and over...."junk in the trunk, junk in the trunk, junk in the trunk"!

This picture is of Amber at school (Innovations Academy) with her 8th grade reading buddy :) I took it from her teacher's blog. I love that each of the teachers has a blog for their class and they are great about keeping them updated and posting pictures!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sensory Difficulties

Amber is really out of sync the past couple of days. This morning, going into school, she fell and cut her hand. She is fine but we need to work on her "sensory diet", (meaning a regular schedule of sensory activities throughout the day). Amber has SID, Sensory Integration Disorder. For those of you who don't know her story, here is the short version. Amber was placed in my home as an emergency placement foster baby. She was 13 months old, very under weight, no teeth, she couldn't even sit up herself and she was sick. She was exposed to meth before birth but the worst of it for her was her meth exposure  as a baby. Amber made no vocalizations at all for almost 2 months. No crying, no sound whatsoever and the Dr. felt she was either brain damaged or severely autistic. We taught her to sign and she learned very quickly and before we knew it she walking and talking. I carried her in a "pouch", did physical therapy and occupational therapy everyday, (she had therapists that came to our home and she went to Children's hospital twice a week) and play therapy once a week for over a year. She has no outward, obvious signs of the first year of her life now that she is 8 years old. Meth damages the nervous system so Amber's senses are all out of sync in her brain. Sometimes this is more evident than others and right now she is rather a mess! I know some of you have kiddos with SID and other Autism Spectrum disorders. Any suggestions on sensory input activities would be wonderful!

We found a place to send our abundance of Halloween candy! It is going to some Marines in Afghanistan. The kids worked on some pictures and letters to send along with it last night and no one is complaining about it so that's a plus!

My cookbook is coming along nicely. My menu planning is making life so much easier and the kids like being able to see what's coming up for dinner. I like not doing the "what am I going to cook for dinner" brain exercises every night! I have been making more things from total scratch and continuing to cut back on preservative/additives and sugar and add in more fresh fruits/veggies and grains.

Now I am off to Walter Anderson's Nursery in Poway to get some soil for Tyler's class planting cart. I asked the Scripps-Mesa Garden if they would take it on as a project. They declined to help other than to tell me that a good thing to plant in there would be California Poppies. That's ok though because you know I will love getting my hands in the dirt!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Say What?

"Get your head out of there!" (Mom to Tyler)
"I don't have a sheet on my bed", says Kyle. "Then put one on it", says Mom. Kyle then walks out to the garage. 
"Can I blow something up?" (Tyler with an airmattress pump)
Amber's friends ask Emily if it is true what Amber said. What did Amber say? She is 1/2 Werewolf. She has 10 dogs at home. Her family has a private jet.
"I do not have to get up for school. It is Sunday!" (Kyle to Dad) "Sorry, but it's Monday. Get up!" (Dad to Kyle)
"He is a pot-head." (Sarah talking about Johnny Appleseed who was being played by Martin Short)
"Get something good to eat." (Mom to kids just home from school) "Can I have candy?" (Emily)
"Time for dinner." (Mom to all) "Can I have candy?" (Tyler)
"Did you use soap?" (parent) "ummmmm. well." (pick a boy) At this point Jacob would likely chime in with, "in his defense, you didn't specifically say he had to. That implied he had a choice!"
"I forgot my lunch." (Dad)

*I just had to throw in this one from today. Cashier at Walmart said to Mom, "Thank you. Have a nice life." I just do not know what to make of that. Did she just break up with me?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food Dyes and Soy

In my quest to feed my family healthier food I have been looking at lots of other Mom's blogs. I kept seeing where people were avoiding soy so I dug into that a bit. Why? Wow! Soy is bad stuff, especially for children. Sarah and Tyler are allergic to it although small amounts do not cause a reaction. It full of natural estrogen, which one site claimed was akin to giving birth control pills to our kids! That is just the beginning! I was very surprised to learn that the food I believed to be such a "super food" is actually bad for us. The Asians did not eat it in any form but fermented until recent history because they believed it to be toxic...and for good reason.

As if that were not enough, I am now learning that yellow dye #5 is known to cause hyperactivity in children as well as red dye #40. When I read about this issues with red dye #40 some months ago, I immediately took Tyler off of it. The results were quick and amazing! If he should get a small amount of red dye now the results are quick and amazing! It makes him extremely hyper and aggressive. His eyes dart rapidly about and he will be the first to say he does not like how he feels. We are still having some issues with him having a constant need to move and an inability to sit still at all. I am going to take the yellow dye #5 out of his diet immediately and I will let you know if we see any changes. It makes me angry to learn that this as well as other very serious reactions to these dyes are known and yet we continue to allow them to be put into our food! Several other countries actually ban these! I learned about the yellow dye today when I was looking into some potential dietary helps for autism.  Taking MSG, artificial sweeteners and Red dye #40 out of the diet has shown to help some autistic children so it is worth trying in our home.

Take a look at Fruit Roll-Ups. They now have a "Simply Fruit" Fruit Roll-Up. The original is full of sugar and artificial color and flavor. The fruit version uses things like purple carrots and beets for color and flavor. I would buy the Fruit ones for Tyler and then whatever for the rest but now...no more of the "regular" stuff for anyone! All the Halloween candy is going out the door, except for the chocolate, of course!

This picture is from Tyler's classroom blog. This is Kyle working as Tyler's reading buddy at school.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin and Rain

We got a good bit of rain and it was actually a little cold last night! I said to Steve something about my having a glass of wine in my hand and the sound of the rain, etc. But because our bed is in the living room, lighting a fire in the fireplace would mean a fire in our bed. (I know...don't say it). He responds, "There is an app for that!", picks up his phone and sure enough, we had a roaring fire! Beautiful!

Sunshine today but they say the rain is coming back tomorrow.

I have been cooking some pumpkins whole to use in some of my attempts at eating healthier around here. I was somehow very surprised that the white pumpkin and nice orange meat. I don't know what I expected but that was not it.The seeds were bigger than the other pumpkins. Tyler, when eating them after they were roasted made an interesting observation. He said that the seed had it's own cemetery, which we figured out meant coffin. Hmmm. Anyway... I made 2 pies with it today and there is still enough pureed pumpkin to make 4 more! Although, it won't all be going into pies. Some will be hiding in the spaghetti sauce or find it's way into pancakes or muffins!

*To cook a whole pumpkin, wash it. Set it on a baking pan. Stab it a few times and put it in the oven. 350 for about 2 hours. Cool completely then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds then scoop out the meat. I pureed it in the food processor but you can also use a potato rice to mash it. Let it sit for 30 min, pour off the water and you are ready to go! Mix up 3 cups pumpkin, 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 2 cans evaporated milk, 4 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 2 cups of sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Pour into 2 9" pie shells. Bake 15 min on 400 then 45-55 min on 350. (Hint: cover the edges of the crust with foil until the last 10 minutes).
http://www.pickyourown.org/pumpkinpie.php  This link has so much great pumpkin pie making tips as well as lots of other useful info!

Yesterday I made some great little fried snacks with zucchini. Ian said that I should sell them at Jack-In-The-Box! A very high compliment indeed!

Jacob has been working the lights for the Scripps Ranch High School play, "Cheaper By The Dozen" the past few days. Ian and Emily went to see a performance last night and enjoyed it very much! Tonight is the last performance.

Kyle is spending the night with his Grandparents. He left with a gigantic duffel bag! Turns out it was filled with Transformers! His super silliness was missed tonight!

The remaining crew, Sarah, Ian, Emily, Amber and Tyler played some games this afternoon. "Don't Break The Ice" way a favorite of Tyler's. The others, including Steve,  had a great time with "Scene It Junior". At some point they stopped playing the board game part and just tried to answer the questions.  Fun stuff, partly because it was SO dated!

Don't forget to Fall Back!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Healthier Eating

Since I am the one who feed the troops here, they have no choice but to be included when I say, "We are going to start eating healthier!" By this I mean, less sugar, more whole grains and most importantly, less preservatives and salt. We have a kiddos with autism spectrum disorders and kiddos with food allergies and sensitivities and behavior issues and.....you get the idea. So watch here and see how this goes. Of course we have to get through the Halloween Candy, Thanksgiving Goodies and Christmas Yummies so our progress may be slow until New Years!

I did some shopping the other day at Costco...spent $300, YIKES! Buying in bulk. Yes, I really did buy the 25 pound bag of bread flour. Now that I have the freezers, this is the way to go for us. Smart & Final is nearby and is also a great resource of us. I especially love the gallon size jug of hand soap!

Buying our meat from the farm was a great way to start off our healthier eating, although it hasn't arrived yet. Next I have made several "master mixes" and intend to make more. This way I have more control over the ingredients. I made taco seasoning, meat loaf mix and "shake", (shake chicken or pork chop in it and pan fry). Next up is Rice-a-roni and Bisquick.  At the moment I have a whole pumpkin in the oven. I will let you know how that goes.

Electric Bill! Our electric bill dropped $40! That is about 10 days of changes so I cant wait to see what next month will look like. We changed the heating elements on the electric stove, got a new washer and dryer and made a rule that everyone is downstairs, (therefore, no lights or computers on upstairs), at 6:30pm.  I also started using the electric skillet and crock pot more. We added a small freezer and next month there will be another freezer added in.  What can you do to "use less"?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunny in San Diego

We have such beautiful weather here in San Diego! 85 degrees and sunny today. It was snowing again back  in Thornton Colorado...nope, I don't miss it even a little bit! Yet.

I tried a crock pot brownie recipe today...total fail. Very disappointing. I will be the first to admit that I am an awesome cook but a terrible baker. From now on, the baking will mostly be left to Sarah. The house smells heavenly but the end product was just awful!

I think the mess surrounding my paperwork with Innovations Academy for Tyler's home school days is finally cleaned up! I meet with someone who knows a thing or two on Monday. In the meantime, Tyler and I continue to have an awesome time with this whole part-time homeschooling thing.

There is a book called, "The Out-Of-Sync Child"  by Carol Kranowitz. It's a great book for parents and teachers dealing with kiddos with sensory disorders. She has written a chapter book, "To the boys and girls who feel that being in the world is a struggle and want to know why." We are reading it aloud in our living room, 10 minutes every night. Sensory Resources.com put this gem out. So far we are enjoying it and seeing some of every one of us in it's story.

Amber and Emily in matching jammies!

The Santa Ana winds bring odd behavior from children. Steve helped with an incident at the elementary school he works at today. All the kids are just off and LOUD today. I remember when I was teaching pre-k that windy days seemed to bring out the wild in kiddos. Tyler has been especially active and loud. Amber has had more than the usual sensory meltdowns. Kyle feels he needs to be in charge of Amber and Tyler today and that hasn't gone well, as you can imagine. Ian randomly and suddenly leaped off the sofa and into Kyle's face when everyone was watching TV. Sarah, Jacob and Emily are especially....buoyant and ...silly. You should've seen this group trying to figure out what to watch on TV together while ago...it wasn't pretty. Steve finally suggested they all go read books instead and it was funny how quickly they made a decision! Everyone is just a bit off all over the place today.

Monday, October 31, 2011

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Halloween and other stuff

Our little friend, Corey joined Sarah, Emily, Kyle, Amber, Tyler and Steve for trick-or-treating tonight! This is a great neighborhood and everyone had so much fun! They brought home enough candy to fill a very big pinata....hmmmm. :)

Ian just asked if Gremlins are real. YES! Duh! :) They are watching that movie right now. Classic..?

My first batch of paperwork for Independent Studies with Tyler were due Friday. Innovations Academy Charter School is set up to allow for 3 day a week or 5 day a week program K-8. The idea is that you can home school part time. I opted to do the 3 day a week with Tyler but didn't make that decision until a couple weeks into the school year. Maybe that was the problem or maybe it was this teacher. Either way, I did all the paperwork wrong according to the teach which really upset me! Ask Steve as he has had to listen to me rant about it for 2 days now. I was able to contact the right person and I think things are going in a better direction now. I think. I hope. This is Kindergarten. It should not be this difficult.

I am thinking of gathering all of my recipes, methods to the madness and such into a book. Not a book for sale but I could put it on here and maybe find one of those companies that will print a small number of your book for you, (they are pretty popular in Colorado so this should be easy enough).  Maybe my kids would one day like to have such a thing. What do you think?

I am thankful for my family and all of the blessing and challenges they bring me every moment of every day!     Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cow Talk and More Cooking

It was great to see my friend Angie at the Scripps Ranch Farmer's market this morning and to meet her husband and son. Tyler had a great time trick-or-treating as Spider man at the farmer's market. We ordered our cow and pig and I cannot wait to get them next weekend! In the process I learned a lot about grass fed cows....probably more than anyone should know. Ours was a heifer and according to Dave from Da Le Ranch she was beautiful and well rounded. I didn't ask about the pig. That was more than I needed to know! Grass fed cows have a higher amount of Omega 3 and taste sooo good! That is actually all you need to know.

Steve, Sarah, Emily and Kyle went to a Halloween/Birthday party today. Emily and Sarah were Zombie Prom Queens and Kyle was a ghost thing.  They were pretty scary!

Jacob spent the day at Scripps Ranch High School with the drama department, getting things squared away for a production there.

Ian , Amber, Tyler and I held down things at home this afternoon. I did a whole bunch of cooking!
I made enough sauce for 3 spaghetti meals, including a ton of little meatballs. I made the meatballs out of 2lbs of ground turkey, 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Italian sausage, (bread crumbs, egg, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, A-1 sauce, salt and pepper). The meat balls were a little smaller than ping pong balls.  Into the sauce went the usual spaghetti sauce ingredients plus V-8 juice, beef broth and pureed squash and carrots.
I cooked a big batch of ground meat, turkey and beef, with onion and garlic to freeze for tacos. I brown the meat almost done in a big cast iron skillet. Then add a couple cups of water and finish cooking it. I let it cool enough to handle the pan and pour it into a strainer. When I re-heat it there won't be any fat left in it. I scoop it into freezer Ziploc bags and freeze it flat. The same with the sauce by the way. I freeze it in Ziploc bags lying flat.
Last but not least was putting as much chicken on the bone as I could squeeze into my crock pot with onion, garlic. a couple cans of chicken broth and water. I am about to go pull it off the bone now and freeze it for soup or dumplings or maybe pot pie.

We need to go get a pumpkin for carving tomorrow and maybe make some pumpkin cookies. I have a great recipe for those but I haven't made them in a long time.

The kids were playing Wii this evening for the first time in awhile. They are fun to watch! We need to get them doing that more often although the space they have to play in is rather...smallish. This can be a problem for some of the games...I don't think bowling is supposed to be a contact sport!

Elisa (my daughter who is in Colorado), told me tonight that her debit card number was stolen and someone in California made 3 ATM withdrawals totally $600. Her card itself was never missing. The bank, (Wells Fargo) is handling it and will be refunding her money to her account within 48 hours. Thank goodness!

Yesterday I rescued a Martha Washington Geranium from what will eventually be a planter box at Innovations Academy. Now I get to nurse it back to health and take it back. I also volunteered to be in charge of the Kindergarten class' planter box which doesn't even have any dirt yet. It is about 2' x 4' and 15" deep. Dirt!!! Well not yet but soon. I am hoping to be able to get Walter Anderson Nursery to donate some soil and a few plants to the project. There are actually 4 such planters and only one has anything in it....1/2 filled with a mulch sort of soil-ish stuff and a near dead geranium. This sounds like just my kind of project!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Saturday Chores Cleaning Tips

Usually Saturday mornings we do a lot of chores around here. I start taking a look on Friday evening at what needs to get done.It is not as complicated as it my seem. There is a chart of our fridge that says who does what each day and on Saturday. Everyone has one dishwasher day each week and a couple of other chores on Saturday as well as 1-2 nights that they clean up after dinner. I just recently did a
re-org and the new assignments seem to be working out pretty well.  I also throw in whatever else needs doing as needed on Saturday morning. For example, wiping the door frames, switch plates and banisters and spider hunting.

I put the bathroom cleaning supplies in a tote so they just have to pick it up and get to work. There are 2 full baths upstairs and a guest bath downstairs, (Ian has downstairs, Jacob hall bath, Emily and Sarah take turns with the master bath). Something that works amazing on the soap scum in the bathroom is dryer sheets. I kid you not! Take a couple in the shower with you, wipe everything down, rinse it before you get out and everything sparkles! If the shower is especially bad, get some Fume-Free Easy Off oven cleaner. It MUST be FUME-FREE. Spray it all over before you go to bed and wipe/rinse it down in the morning. Did you know that if you use bar soap you will have a much more difficult mess to clean up? The shower gel type stuff leaves much less residue behind.

To save money we use cloth dish towels instead of paper towels. I have always had a basket on the counter with a couple dozen towels, (we go through most of them each day). Last week Steve put an under the counter basket up above the sink so it frees up some counter space for me.

Use a slightly damp micro-fiber towel to dust with. It traps the dust instead of putting it back into the air.

I use baskets for toys and misc. all over the house. It makes things a little easier to pick up and organize and fells less cluttered. There is a basket for all the electronic charges and various cords that are used fairly regularly. A basket for mail and papers. One for bread, (bread, bagels, etc) and another for snacks.  The basket on the end table is for Nintendo Gameboys and cartridges. We have several laundry baskets and use them for tossing in the toys then putting them away from there. In the garage I use a lot of Rubbermaid bins for storage. No one has a laundry hamper in their room. I would never get all the laundry clean if I didn't have them put their laundry in the basket next to the washer everyday. I only do 4-5 loads of wash a week with my new front load high efficiency machines, by the way!

I use Borax to clean a lot of things, bathroom and kitchen. Also baking soda and vinegar. A magic eraser is a must have in any house, I think! You can wash your stove top parts, (burner pans and knobs), in the dishwasher once in awhile. Did you know that hand sanitizer will take ink, any Sharpie, off of most surfaces? Baby wipes are great for ink pen stains on clothes. Take the shower curtain down and throw it in the washer with a load of towels and some Borax. You can toss it into the dryer with the towels for about 10 minutes and hang it back up while it is still warm.

Ants? Sprinkle corn meal around outside for them and they will soon be gone....for awhile anyway. The always come back. An exterminator told me about this. It works and is animal and kid safe. They carry it into their nest and when they eat it, well, ants should definitely not eat corn meal!

Tomorrow a few of us are heading over to the Scripps Ranch Farmer's Market in the morning to pay for our beef and pig order with Da Le Ranch. www.daleranch.com  Although, I hear that the Poway Farmer's Market has the best produce so we may pop over there as well!

Thanks Angie for the info on the babysitting class for Emily! Can anyone recommend a carpet cleaning company for us?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Field trips,birthday, a fever, green beans and a cow

Emily had a school field trip to Mission Bay and Torrey Pines beach this week. They made kites to fly at the bay and checked out some marine birds and such at the beach. Amber's class walked to a local pumpkin patch/carnival near the school. She brought home a little pie pumpkin that she will decorate with a sharpie then cook into a pie!

The kids are talking about what they will be for Halloween. Kyle, Emily, Sarah and Steve are going to a Halloween/birthday party on Saturday that they will dress up for so they get a dress rehearsal with their costume choices!

Tyler is sick with a fever today. He has had a little cold and tends to get big fevers no matter how little the ill is. Hopefully he will be well in time to have some Halloween fun. He doesn't got to school on Monday or Friday, as part of our part-time home schooling program at Innovations Academy so he wont be at school on Halloween. He is welcome to attend the celebration but with all his food allergies, we are going to pass.

Sarah made Jacob quite the cake for his 17th birthday! Then we had Aunt Melissa, Cousin Savannah, Grandma and Grandpa Iwig over for cake and presents! 

Aunt Melissa is also who we got the other freezer from, as well as a few window  a/c units! Thank You!!  This means I can go ahead with ordering the fresh beef. The cow we are buying 1/2 of went to market on Tuesday so it will be a week or so before we get the meat. We are also buying 1/4 of a pig. I need to see what the weight is on all of this and make a guess about how many meals this will be...I will let you know. We are splitting it all with my friend Angie's family and also planning on doing some cooking together very soon!

Steve grilled chicken and fish for dinner tonight and I made my ever popular deep fried green beans. Little Corey brought us some apples today I cut them and cooked them in some cinnamon and a little sugar. Throw in some sweet potato fries and we had to roll away from the dinner table! Poor Tyler fell asleep right before dinner and woke with a 104 temp!

Our beautiful orb spider on the back porch, Peter, is doing well. We saw him with a large bug, enjoying a meal this morning. This afternoon a bit of his amazingly large web was broken. It will be interesting to see if he rebuilds or moves on now.

Emily has been getting some babysitting jobs in the neighborhood as of late. I have looked and cannot find the Red Cross Supersitters Course in the area. Does anyone know anything about this or where they might be offered? I emailed Red Cross but did not get a response.

Steve got all his paperwork, TB test and fingerprinting done for his new job. It looks like he will start work on Monday! Woo Hoo!

Here's a video Sarah took with her camera a few weeks ago of the bike riders, Amber, Emily and Tyler.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fortune Cookie

I got lunch at Pick Up Stix today and my fortune cookie says, "Important discussion involving you will take place today." Alright, who is talking about me?!

I am grateful today for so many things in my life. As many of you know, we have really been through it, both the Iwig's and Toohey's, this past year!  Despite the challenges each day brings for our family we are all doing quite well and I am very grateful for that. It helps a lot to be living in a place of great as San Diego!

Speaking of San Diego, I am going to get a family Membership to the Scripps Birch Aquarium. It's a great price and I think, especially with the home schooling with Tyler, we will make good use of it. I haven't been in about 10 years so I am looking forward to it!

I made a couple of pumpkin pies yesterday. Walmart has the evaporated milk and canned pumpkin out for such I good price that I had to make pies! No one complained so I guess it's OK :)

My 2002 Toyota Corolla was a great buy for me but it needed new tires. It had 3 of the original tires on it and one odd ball that was actually a different size. Since the car only had about 33,000 miles on it I guess it makes sense that it never had new tires. Anyway, after some research I found the best deal at Big O Tires and my little car now has new shoes! I have an appointment to have it smogged and the oil changed on Friday so I am hoping that all goes well.

Meat! We are getting another chest freezer tomorrow. I just bought a 5 cu.ft. one and this one is 7 cu.ft. I thought it would be a good thing to look into buying a side of beef. Easier said than done in this part of the country! I found a great little farm called Da Le Ranch that is in Lake Elsinore. Their beef is grass fed and they have other meat as well. I am going to split a 1/2 with a friend so we get a better price AND they will bring the meat to me! They are at the Farmer's Market in Scripps Ranch on Saturdays. They are at quite a few Farmer's Markets actually. www.daleranch.com You can check out their schedule at their website (which is under construction by the way) or on their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/da.le.ranch. They told me I could actually go meet my meat, see the cow that I am buying 1/2 of. I think I am going to pass on that one!

Tyler rediscovered the keyboard last night and Sarah caught some hilarious video of him playing music and dancing. I will work at putting some of that up later! He is full of personality lately. He came running in the house to get his bike helmet yesterday afternoon and was just talking out loud, not realizing anyone else could hear him. He said, "Yes! I do need a helmet to drive a sandwich!" He got mad when Sarah answered him with, "yes, yes, you do!".  Embarrassed, he yelled, "I was talking to me, not you!"

Yesterday I bought a twirly thing at the kite store in Sea Port Village for Tyler. It's a stick with a propeller and top that you spin off your hands. He and Corey loved it so I paid the $5 for it. All the kids loved it, including the neighbors. So I looked up Aeroprop online and sent off an email. They called back this morning and the sales rep was shocked that I had paid so much for the toy. This is a wholesale company so I was expecting that if they would even sell to me, I would have to buy a gross of the things. Well, hearing my story about how I got it, how much I paid and why I wanted to buy more, he offered to sell me 50 at wholesale.....80 cents each! No wonder he was so surprised by how much I had paid for Tyler's! Free shipping and they are already in transit so there will soon be Aeroprops all over the neighborhood!

Here are a couple of pictures of Peter the Orb Spider living on the back porch!

What are you grateful for?
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Dye #40

Tyler has a sensitivity to red dye #40. It's pretty bad stuff and is banned in several countries actually. He has a cold though and that will quickly trigger and asthma attack so I had to give him some decongestant. There is red dye #40 in just about every liquid medicine. Usually, even a small amount of the stuff sends him flying like you would not believe. He gets very aggressive and wild-eyed. Maybe he is outgrowing it now or maybe I got enough benedryl in his system to counter-act some of the effects because he is sitting watching "Hocus Pocus" as calm and quiet as can be!

Chicken with rosemary and onion is in the crock pot and is competing with the aroma of another loaf of spice bread in the bread machine....mmmmm.

Here is the recipe for the bread:
Yogurt and Pumpkin Spice Bread (bread machine)
Put the ingredients in the machine in the order given
1/3 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3 c. water
2 tbsp. olive oil (vegetable would work fine)
1 c. canned pumpkin (I used a blend of acorn squash, carrots, zucchini and pumpkin)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. corn meal (or wheat germ)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I added an additional 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
1/3 c. sugar
3 c. flour (bread flour is better)
2 tsp. yeast
Serve with cinnamon butter (1/4 tsp cinnamon, tsp of sugar, 1/2 c. butter)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Moving Along Through The Weekend

Friday was a home school day for Tyler.  Emily, Kyle and Amber got out at noon so we got a head start on the weekend!

I was thinking that since I can get another chest freezer for free that is 7 cu ft. I should take it and buy a half a cow. I am working on that plan but if anyone knows of a place in San Diego, etc. where I can buy a side of beef please let me know!

Jacob has been hard at work the past few days filling out applications for a part-time job. He turns 17 in a few days, by the way!

I have been working on trying some new things with Winter squash the past few days. The butternut squash is so good and the kids love it with a little butter and brown sugar. I pureed the acorn squash with carrots and zucchini and froze it in 2/3 cup portions. I will use this in spaghetti sauce to sneak in some veggies. I am trying it in a bread machine recipe, substituting it for pumpkin puree so I'll let you know how that goes.

The old washer and dryer have been sold and are now out of the garage! Just in time to make room for the additional chest freezer. We need a bigger garage...bigger house for that matter.

I am missing having a garden, especially now, living in a place where you can grow great stuff year round. The pot by the front door with the rosemary and petunias just isn't enough dirt for me!
I read today about using a dryer sheet to clean your crock pot. I don't think I will try this. I use dryer sheets to clean shower doors. It will make quick work of even the worst soap scum in the bath/shower. I am thinking I don't want this stuff anywhere near our food!

In my research about where to buy a side of beef here, I found a farm in Lake Elsinore that has a huge vericompost farm. They sell the bins and worms or just bags of castings or bottles of compost tea as well. I have always wanted to have a worm farm and the kids, although they are completely interested at the moment, would probably like it too. Maybe this would be something I can do with Kyle's class at Innovations Academy. They are hoping to start a garden at the school and are all about "green". It doesn't get any greener than worm poop!

Amber, Tyler, Kyle and I spent a little time at the Halloween Carnival at the local elementary this afternoon while Sarah, Ian and Steve ran errands. Kyle actually went into the haunted house, a 4 ticket experience, by himself while the little ones and I waited. He survived!
Ian and Tyler have been hanging out together more lately. it was interesting to watch them play spies out front this afternoon!

You should have heard the very in-depth conversation concerning Sponge-Bob this afternoon. It was awesome because it was a subject everyone had something to say about from the oldest to the youngest. Interesting.

The 5 oldest kidlets are spending the evenings watching the Harry Potter movies. They are on the 3rd movie tonight.

Steve installed a metal basket on the underside of the cabinet over the sink to hold dishtowels for me today. We have a pile of dish towels which we use instead of paper towels in the kitchen. I had a basket on the counter filled with them but I need the counter space. This was the perfect solution. We looked at ikea, Lowe's for what we needed but finally Steve found it at Home Depot. I am thinking about more places this idea would work well in.

Time to get the bread out of the bread machine...I can't wait to taste it! *(It was REALLY good!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday already?

Yesterday my new LG washer and dryer arrived! I had bought it at Home Depot almost 3 weeks ago but it wasn't in stock so I had to wait... Now I have them, Woo hoo! The kids think the best thing about it is the 2 giant boxes they came in!
Somehow, the arrival of the washer and dryer meant some furniture had to be moved around in the house. The new little freezer didn't fit next to the washer/dryer like I had hoped and I didn't love it being next to the trash cans so I had Ian and Jacob bring it into the kitchen. It is packed full thanks to Aunt Melissa who is moving and gave us her deep freeze contents! That meant moving the utility cart thingy into the dining room. That meant cleaning the floor, re-organizing the freezer since I had everything out of it to move it....etc etc. It is the "If you Give A Mouse A Cookie" type of thing.
Meanwhile, 2 apple pies got baked. They were delicious but it takes longer to prep apples for pie than I thought. But, it was worth it as the pies were delicious! Recipe for 2 pies: 19 peeled, cored and sliced granny smith apples sprinkled with lemon juice, 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1-3/4 c. sugar, 2/3 c. flour. Mix in a big bowl and divide into shells (store bought are great!). Cut about a tablespoon of butter into bits and put on top of the apples before putting on the top crust. Slit crust, cover edges with foil. Bake on 400 for 45 min. Remove foil and bake 10-15 more minutes.
I also tried my hand at making butternut squash and acorn squash. Sarah, Emily, Kyle, Ian and Jacob liked the pre-packaged butternut. I got at Costco the other day. It wasn't that much work and tasted great. It was worth the effort. The acorn squash wasn't so great and was harder to fix. I am pureeing that to use in some muffins this weekend.
Kyle and Emily had their student led conferences with Steve yesterday. That went well and resulted in Steve working in Emily's class this morning on their donated lap tops!
I have to say that it is so wonderful to be in a place in my life that does not involve any real drama!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kyle and "Power Writing"

My Son Kyle had his Parent / Teacher conference tonight. We talked over what he does at Innovations Academy. Well he cracks his teacher up for one thing, Bill and Kyle couldn't keep from making each other laugh. Bill told Kyle to read me one of his "Power Writing" essay's. I posted it to the left, I had to take a picture of it. It states: " If my friends threw a party and didn't invite me, I would throw my own party and make it better than their party. And if they heard about it and came over I would just say "Suck It" and kick them out and then say "Bye Sucker Fools" ans slam the door and crash their party with cockroaches." That's my boy!!

Apple Pie

I'm not much of a pie maker but those granny smith apples at Sprout's looked so good that a bought a big bunch of them. So, now I am heading to the kitchen to make some pies! I will let you know how that turns out!
The new washer and dryer are being delivered by Home Depot this afternoon! It is so exciting that I didn't do laundry yesterday so we would have EXTRA today. Seriously...it is true!
The child-led conferences for Amber and Tyler went well yesterday. I learned that Tyler spends most of his time in class at the math center and Amber almost never goes to the math center in her class...interesting. We brought home a beautiful succulent from Tyler's class to re-pot and return. The pot had gotten broken at school.Grandma Iwig provided the pot for us.  Notice the bike helmet. Once he puts it on after school, he doesn't take it off until dinner, even if he isn't riding his bike or scooter. You never know when you may need to quickly jump on your bike!
Fascinating Blender Fact #2: We buy about 8 gallons of milk a week and 4 loaves of sandwich bread. How much toilet paper do you think we go through in a week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinner at our house

Every few days Kyle has some thing or another fall apart on his bike. We were at WalMart today to buy another inner tube for him and took a look at the bikes. As it happened, there was a boy bike just his size on clearance! Kyle was super excited to find the new wheels in the garage when he came home from school today.

At this moment there are 4 small pork roasts(simmering in Kraft Honey BBQ sauce, vidalia sweet onion dressing and a red onion), in the crock pot for dinner tomorrow night and some in the freezer for another night.  Costco had them on sale for $1.99lb.so the 4, prepackaged roast were only about $15. Upon hearing how many children we have, people often ask about how I feed this brood. I recently figured out that the average dinner meal for the family costs about $17, not counting electricity. Of course now that I have replaced the heating elements on the stove, have gone to using my electric skillet as often as I can and cooking with the crock pot at least once a week, I am thinking, (hoping), I am using less electricity for dinner. For most meals I cook about 3-4 pounds of meat. I add protein to meals by putting quinoa in things like rice pilaf,  I use broth instead of water for gravies and sauces and many other dishes. I throw black beans in here and there and use smashed pinto beans in sauces to thicken them and add protein. Most of the kids like soy beans (edamame).  3 of the kids have life threatening allergies to peanuts and tree nuts so I don't use any nuts at all in our home. Veggies can be a problem with some of the kids so I get a little sneaky with them. I add pureed veggies to sauces, veggie broth wherever I can, sneak extra veggies in small amounts into fresh salads, pasta salads. I serve at least 3 fruits or veggies with dinner every night, very few canned. A great new discovery is that most of the kids like butternut squash! All the kids must choose at least one vegetable every dinner. Some of the kids eat all the veggies served! So every dinner meal has a meat, several veggies and a side dish, (rice, potatoes, pasta etc). I rarely cook from recipes exactly except for things like breads but I would love to hear some new ideas for dinner from our friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In Other news....

The new chore list is out! It goes into effect tomorrow my sweets so be sure to check the chart on the fridge!

Tyler had to go shopping for a birthday gift for a girl. I made suggestions but he said it had to be something really girly, like lip gloss. At the store he wanted to go right to the chap stick because, "that's what she really needs", I said to my 5 year old boy, "How do you know she needs chap stick? Did you kiss her?" He did not think this was at all funny but picked out a purple calculator instead!

Kyle, Emily, Amber and Steve had a great time at Hendrix Pond feeding the ducks this afternoon. Ian wanted to try the generic, no sugar puff cereal I got for less than a dollar for duck feeding. He declared it more fit for ducks than 14 year old boys.

Fascinating Blender Fact #1: We do an average of 8 loads of laundry a week. (I am still waiting for my new LG front load stackable HE washer and dryer to arrive!)

White Grout

No matter how many times the kitchen tile floor was cleaned with the Shark Steamer the cleaning pad was just black. Sadly, my Shark stopped working a few days ago so now I am looking for a new one.  Somehow that brings me to spending the afternoon cleaning the grout! I was sitting on the kitchen floor to, nevermind why, and I notice that the grout is REALLY dirty. A toothbrush, bleach, backache and red knees make me wonder if there is not an easier way to do this! I gave up going to "Pump It Up"  with Tyler for his classmate's birthday to do this. Do I know how to have fun or what?! I still have the hallway  grout to do so I hope to figure out a better way soon! The kitchen floor looks amazing by the way!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friends of Retired Greyhounds is having an auction!


A Typical Saturday

Several haircuts, Senior pictures, Sad boy with a flat tire on a bike, Supper cooking, So much cleaning, Single load of laundry, Stove heating elements required 2 trips to Home Depot, Side job for Steve, Strawberry baskets for blowing bubbles, Scooters, Stroll to Starbucks for Sarah, Emily, Amber and Tyler, Showing of "Nightmare Before Christmas", Showers and Spiders!