I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Home away from home

We purchased this tent trailer last year. It has a little kitchen and sleeps eight so it's perfect for the seven of us. We are going camping in the near future so Steve moved it into the backyard to get the trailer ready.

He backed it in so he and the kids could wash it, open it up to air it out and then stock it.

The kids enjoy this kind of work.

It really is a nice little home away from home. There are four beds, two of which are dining tables areas that make into beds. We ususally keep one table up and it has room for all of us around it.

I meant to take a picture of the kitchen area but sadly I didn't. It has an inside cooktop that is portable. It can be taken out and slides onto the outside of the trailer for an outdoor cooktop. We set up the awning and leave it on the outside of the trailer the whole time we camp.
Can you smell the S'mores?

It's not fancy but it's easy to tow and works well for this family. Hotels are not cheap, you know?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One on one time.

I read about an idea when I had five kids under six. It suggested finding time in your day individually with each of your kids doing something unique with them. Something that is just their thing. I try to throw those things in here and there but doing it daily doesn't always happen.

On our last library trip, Els brought home a book by an author that was one of Steve's favorites. He got so excited that she asked if he would like to read it with her.

When time allows, they read a chapter or five before bed.
They laugh almost the whole time.

I'm betting that reading this book will be a life long memory for her.
(The book is Never Cry Arp! by Patrick Macmanus)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday except with a few words.

He planted it at Nana's house and it grew.

He weighs 30.5 pounds, the watermelon? 15.5 pounds. We can't wait to slice it open.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An outing that didn't include picking vegetables or picking up supplies for canning them.

I've hit my wall ya'll. This morning I just felt restless. I have stacks of homeschooling stuff to get organized and the five quarts of cucumbers were calling from the kitchen but I was having none of it. There are some situations that we are watching that are making life a little tough at the moment. So this morning I got up and made soup and sandwiches for breakfast. Weird I know, but I just needed something different.

I came to the computer after breakfast and lamented on instant messenger to a friend. She threw me a life preserver by way of her words. She said that it sounded like I needed to get out of the house and invited us to have a picnic at the park. Just like that. Let's go to the park. Huh, novel idea. My instant reaction most often is to decline because packing us up is work. But I decided that she was right, I did need some time out and chatting under the trees with her while our kids ran and played would be just the medicine for this soul.

What is it about me that makes me always avoid social outings?

I have become such a homebody.

It's not a bad thing making my family and jobs at home a priority. But it can be a bad thing when I don't make time to get out of the house. It can make me so focused on the environment right in front of me and my world becomes too small. Getting out helps me gain perspective and makes things always look a tad rosier when we get back. The floor never looks quite as dirty nor the laundry pile quite as high when I have had a breather. I think the kids appreciate the change in scenery too not to mention the lack of talk about any kind of food preservation.

Thanks dear friend. You know who you are. You were a lifesaver today and I am grateful.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The fridge revisited.

I'm a people pleaser, I am. I like to keep the masses happy, aka my friend Sarah. Inside pictures of the fridge were requested and I am happy to oblige though I was having a bit of a lighting issue so just look past that if you would.

This fridge has lots of storage. Can you see how much room is still above the Costco size mayo and milk jugs?

I'm not sure if you can tell but the shelf above is pulled out to see what's behind the ketchup. How cool is that? It also means that I can clean the back wall easier. You know, the once or twice a year that I do that.

There is lots and lots of room in the door. If I wanted to store my milk there, I could.

This might be one of my most favorite features. The shelves in the door of the freezer tip out. I can fit taller items in there and get them out easily. That's our fancy coffee storage you are looking at. Rest assured, we live the high life around here.

So there you have it. One good looking fridge with room to spare. I didn't take a picture of it but the display also has a digital read-out for the temperatuire in the fridge and freezer so I get to have my milk at 40 degrees or 45 degrees if I like. It's 40 degrees for those of you who are curious, I like a cold glass of milk. On the economy side of things, it is so efficient that it only costs $6.41 to run per month. Right now everything is beautifully spaced but I'm sure that will change with time. But for now, I am loving how clean and organized it is.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We bit the bullet.

I love new appliances. There is just something about them. They work so hard for me all year long and believe me, we put a lot of miles on our appliances. Last week our fridge quit working. We have replaced all of the appliances in this house except for the fridge and dishwasher so I suppose you could say another one bit the dust. We weren't very excited about shelling out money for a new fridge right now but we were blessed to find out that there was a big sale last Saturday.

Off we went. The store in our town was out of the model we were wanting to purchase so we ran into a neighboring town. Before we went in we prayed that we would purchase only what we needed and not be drawn in by features. As we turned the corner into the appliance area this beast of a fridge was sitting in the corner on clearance. It's an Electrolux, a brand we normally wouldn't even be able to touch. It was on clearance for less than the basic models we were looking for and was exactly the color we wanted. So while it is a beast of a fridge, we are very excited and I am loving opening this thing to rearrange or play with the sliding shelves or just to see the fun lights inside. I know, it's a sickness.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hanging on to summer for as long as we can.

I'm a planner by nature and always looking ahead to the next thing. I decided this summer that I need to do better about siezing the day. Last weekend Steve made some fabulous fried chicken and cut up a watermelon while I made a pretty darn good potato salad if I do say so myself.

We grabbed some blankets, a couple frisbies and loaded up the family. We went to a local park that we sadly have only been to once and made some great memories.

Even dad got in on tossing around the frisbie. That shoulder is getting better all the time.

Really, more days should include looking at faces like this...

watching sisters giggle at the same thing...

and cheering on twins trying to best each other.

There is nothing better.

Well, nothing better other than taking a nap under the apple tree in the backyard.

Lord, have mercy on me.

While lesson plans call and the smell of fresh school supplies wafts by, I will try to ignore them. I will stop to slice up one of these beauties and watch my kids enjoy every last minute of summer while they can. There will be plenty of time for reading and writing when the weather turns cold and the rains come.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Planning, planning and more planning

I am a little behind on planning my curriculum this year. Money has been tight as of late and with my Steve and I committing to living within our means, I am being a little more creative this year in my plans. I have been getting a little of this and that here and there, as time goes on.

We have a fantastic new library and I plan to put it to good use in our little school more than ever this year. The kids are excited about that. They really love the new library also and could spend hours there. They curl up on the comfy sitting areas and crack open their finds. I have one that makes me laugh though. She will sit on the couches and wait and wait not reading a thing. She is one of my two most voracious readers and she won't read at the library. She says that she wants to save it all for home and is content to wait.

I will be reusing our Beyond the Code books to work on vocabulary for the olders. We love Daily Grams too so I will be continuing that for grammar. Ok, so I love the Daily Grams, the kids could take them or leave them. But it's quick, to the point and a great way to start school each day. We also use All About Spelling.

I am still hoping to get our Math U See for this year, because I *heart* Steve Demme! He makes my job teaching math so easy. But if that doesn't work out, we will find a good alternative.

Science is Apologia, my favorite since it makes Science fun and it works for several age levels. History will be through many living books.

I am really excited about this next school year. I am hoping now that I have a full year behind me that we will be able to add some more fun things this year. We have an artist in the house and we work to make sure she has lots of supplies to keep her satisfied. Music is on our list of things to add too so we will see how that works out.

There, now I feel better having somewhat of list out there!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thank God it's Friday though it feels like a Monday

Today is highly overscheduled. The girls headed to the last day of VBS while older son had a friend over and younger son followed me around like a fly on honey.

Football certification is tonight and I am team mom which means I am in charge of THE BOOK. Now, THE BOOK is very important. It holds all of the registration information and this is no less than 8 pieces of paper per kid. With 27 kids on the team that's a lot of paperwork. If THE BOOK is not complete by tonight the kids don't get their gear and our team is held up. It's a really big deal. When I got the book two weeks ago 20 kids had incomplete paperwork and for some reason the parents aren't in a big hurry to comply. As of 5 minutes ago I am down to 6 kids with missing info and 3 parents are supposed to be on their way. Let's hope!

The canning saga continues. We are doing well and I'm not too overwhelmed. We are almost done with beans, I am moving on to relish, we will get a little break, then it will be on to carrots and tomato products. I just got a recipe for canning pizza sauce that I am really excited about. Thanks Frankie! (The less I have to pick up at the grocery store the better.)

I also have two extra kiddos today that hang out with us every Friday. Not a big deal but just a little more to manage.

So it's Friday but it feels like a Monday. I will sleep good tonight.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's messy but it's worth it.

This is the state of my kitchen these days. These big pots aren't the most prized decor out there but they are a necessary part of the landscape that is my kitchen this time of year. I alternate back and forth from water bath canner to pressure cooker.

The pressure cooker still freaks me out at times. The possibility of an explosion to the face or to my precious kitchen just about does me in at times. I have to remind myself that I am using it properly and then keep the doors blocked so stray children don't wander in there. It just seems prudent, doncha think?
All of this work is time consuming but the results are so worth it. We like no other pickles as much as the ones we make every year. I spent about $8 on the cucumber plants and so far have used $4 worth of lids for 23 1/2 quarts of pickles. Do you know how much that many quarts of pickles would cost me? At least $80. When all is said and done I hope to have at least 50 quarts for the next year giving me almost one jar per week. That would be over $200 for that many pickles and I may end up spending $20 - $25 total. I spend a total of about 18 - 20 hours pickling each year but when you look at how much is saved, how much we love them not to mention that I don't have to haul around any jars of pickles in my cart at the grocery store, it is totally worth it. And that's just for the pickles.