February 28, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook--February in Pictures.

After the ice storm.

February 28, 2011

I'm adding in a whole bunch of pics from the month of February.  I just didn't get around to blogging everything I wanted.

Outside my window...wet, rainy, and dreary.  And lots of mud.  I could use some sunshine and dry, warm, weather.

Their proud creation--a snow fort you can sled through!  The ice storm just made it even stronger and it lasted a really long time.

I am thinking...about the list of "to-do" that keeps growing.

I am thankful for...all the opportunities and blessings we have.  For my children.  For wonder and delight.  For thoughtful little girls.  For friends and family.  For my husband.

Icicles=Popsicles, apparently.

From the learning rooms...double-up days still in effect.  We fell off the wagon last week with all sorts of adventures.  We have to get back on track this week.  Less than fifteen weeks left until this baby comes.  I figure that realistically gives me twelve weeks of school left.  We quit doubling phonics--it was too hard for Patrick and Jake to keep up with.  So, we might not get through those.  If we'll have to, we'll just pick up where we left off next year.

From the kitchen...freezer meals--they make my life so easy!

Poster child for Icicle treats!

I am wearing...sweats, a t-shirt and a ponytail.  I'm tired and we aren't going anywhere.  Might as well be comfy and save the maternity clothes for leaving the house!

Enjoying the sunshine!

I am creating...trying to finish up burp cloths for my SIL whose baby was due last week.  You'd think that would be motivation!  Trying to get some scrapbooking done--with no success.  I am however, creating lots and lots of plans--for coops, playsets, financial ones. 

I am going...to the feed and store sometime this week for seeds.  To walmart for mud boots.  A doctor's appt tomorrow.  Piano on friday and hopefully, some fun this weekend.

I am reading...still trying to do the Bible in a year.  I am woefully behind.  I feel too tired to even read!  Can't wait for a burst of energy..... :)
Homeschool Ski Day.



I am hoping...all of our plans come together in time to be settled before baby boy arrives. ....for a wise doc this week. ....that all of our puppies find homes.

These three had a great time. Patrick still did not like the lifts again this year.

I am hearing...The dishwasher being emptied.  Nick is saying, "Cha! Cha!"--chopping up his breakfast, I'm guessing.  Patrick and Elizabeth having a conversation.  He is trying to kindly get out of saying he doesn't really like her Strawberry Shortcake.  He said, "I'm not saying that I necessarily don't like it.  I'm just not saying that I really like it."  This wasn't a good enough answer for Elizabeth.  She's always looking for validation for all things girl.  The boys, well, are boys.

Around the house...puppies are getting big!  And stinky.  Chicks are in the basement, settling in nicely.  The dog tried to eat one this morning--the boys were trying to "show" it to her and I think she must have thought it was a special treat!  The chick seems unscathed.  The race is on to get a coop done.  And we desperately need a playset.

Gotta love that face.  They finally opened their eyes at 1.5 weeks.

One of my favorite things...puppies.  You'd think they were my puppies, I'm so proud of them!  I just want to hold them and squish them and....   I think it must be the pregnancy hormones! :)

A few plans for the rest of the week...catching up.

Here is picture video thought I am sharing... live action of sledding through the snow fort.  Courtesy of my husband!

video


Visit Peggy for more great daybooks!

February 27, 2011

Welcome to the .....

Jungle? 

I've said before, we have a zoo going on over here.  It has become a full-fledged zoo.  To the litter of puppies, we have now added our flock of chicks!

And, I will admit, there was a moment today when I panicked.  When I thought, "What in the world have I gotten myself into?  A mere fifteen weeks before a new baby is due??" 

Nonetheless, I have gotten myself into it.  And, when these chicks emerge into egg-layers I will be happy that I did!

Now, details:  11 chicks (we ordered 10 but they seem to always hand out an extra)--5 buff orpingtons, 2 australorps, 2 araucanas, 2 barred plymouth rock.  Largely, I tried to choose good egg-layers but I also wanted a little "interest" in my flock.  I chose the araucanas because they are called the "easter egg" chicken--they lay green eggs. 

Ken built the brooder--we based it on one that sells at Tractor Supply for $140, but we only spent $30 (with spare parts).  He doesn't think it is beautiful, but I think it is fantastic.  Besides, we're using it to keep chicks in that are going to poop all over it! :)



And, for those of you keeping count, we now have:  11 chicks, 7 puppies, (5 kids +1 on the way), 3 turtles, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 hamster and a hermit crab.  Oh dear, oh my!

February 24, 2011

The sweetness of Three.

Liz says great things.  Great mainly because they are different than anything her brothers would say.  She is frequently the one who tells me I am the best mommy, or that she loves me (spontaneously), little things that I am storing up in my heart for when she is a teenager!

She has for a long time joined in the bedtime prayers with "Please bless Lindsey, and Leah, and Gracie."  Two of her friends and her best buddy cousin.  Then last week she started adding to our little litany,  "St. Gracie, pray for us.  And bless normal Gracie!"  which then erupts in a fit of giggles by all of the boys.  Yet, so very sweet!

Some of her favorite ruminations revolve on what her new baby brother should be named.  So far Liz has chosen Day-Lin, Luke Pear, and Alfred.  On different days, of course.

Today, she was spinning and dancing ballerina-like while Nathan practiced the piano.  She stops and runs up to Ken and says, "Spinning really makes me love my parents!"  And back to spinning she went.  I just thought that "parents" was an interesting choice instead of Mom and Dad.  I can see how spinning might just make me feel  love, too!

On a side note, Liz happens to be Nick's favorite person right now.  Except he calls her, "Wizzie!"  Which is very sweet.  They have this little conversation that goes on in the car (she sits behind him so he can't see her very well)... Nick will say, "Wizzie" and Liz will respond, "What, Nick?"  to which he responds, "What, Wizzie! What?"  and this will go on, back and forth for some time.  They both seem to be just fine with this conversation and accept it as such!

Soccer, again.


Soccer, soccer, and more great soccer!  But, indoor this time--which works a little differently than SAY.  For one, it is harder to get a good picture!  The lighting is bad and the fields are covered with glass or netting so a flash is pointless.  :)  That is Nathan up above, number 14.  He's playing in this league with a lot of the kids from his fall team.  They haven't won a game yet, an idea that is very disparaging to Nathan!  But, it is a good form of exercise (once a week) for the winter season.


Notice Nathan is the only one NOT moving in this picture.  He's busy looking at me when he should be looking at the ball!  Funny kid.  It is easy to get distracted when you are down 8 to 2.  It is also easy to get distracted if all of your siblings are on the sideline eating popcorn and soft pretzels!  Maybe if I'd bribe the team with soft pretzels, they'd win!  But I don't think so.  A lot of these teams seem like they've played together for awhile.  Something to aspire for!

 Ken is playing indoor soccer, too!  He has a team with his brothers, sister, and some neices and nephews.  They haven't won a game either!  He played goalie the first half.  Wonder why they aren't winning????   :)  I took this picture for the pure harassment of my husband!  And, actually, he was a great goalie.  He wasn't getting much help from his team in defense and the other team was really good.

Going for the ball.  He's not watching me take his picture!


That blur on the right would be my husband.  The blur on the left is his youngest brother.

Not having to run so hard at this moment!  That would be my husband and one of my neices.

They still lost, 7 to 1, I think.  But it was fun to watch them play!  And the kids ran crazy with their cousins on the sidelines.  But we were the only spectators so we weren't bothering anyone!

For the record, it doesn't appear that spring soccer is in the works for us.  Nathan said he is "too busy" --haha!  He loves spring and wants to just enjoy being outside.  And, really, with three birthdays, a first communion for Patrick (as well as one for my goddaughter), and a baby on the way---I think we'll be busy enough without shuttling to and fro from practices!

February 23, 2011

A day at the aquarium.



 Nana had the privilege of being off work for President's Day so we decided to head to the aquarium (and take advantage of the kids getting in free).  A lot of other people had the same idea--I had never been there when it was soo busy!  Nonetheless, we had a great time and were able to check out lots of underwater creatures.  The water tunnels are always the coolest thing--being able to stand there and watch sharks, turtles, rays and fish all around you and above you!

A spider crab.  I would not like to run into one of these underwater.  They walk just like spiders.  Yuck!


Nathan and Jacob in awe of jellyfish.

A moon jelly.

Watching the sharks and the rays.

This big sea turtle was so playful--he was a lot of fun to watch.  He literally was chasing this big giant eel--apparently just for sport.

Jacob, Patrick and me in front of a python snake.  Can't really see him! Nathan took this picture for us.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a rainy day.  And, especially, to get to spend some time with Nana.  We were all tuckered out after almost 3 hours in the aquarium!  And we learned a lot as well!

February 22, 2011

Bonsai!



 Nathan has really enjoyed the bonsai trees at the Conservatory for some time now.  In fact, he is a plant guy in general---always potting them and buying and collecting all kinds.  So, when we saw that a bonsai class was being offered at the Garden Civic Center--we jumped at the opportunity.  It was pricey so we split it--he pitched in half of the cost from his birthday money and we paid the other half.  I was a little worried about the outcome, if it would be something he could do or not and if he'd come home with a completed project.  I don't think the pictures do the tree justice--it actually looks very much like a tree (which is the goal). 

He was the only youngster in the class!  Dad took him and the two of them had a great time.  And the guy who shared their table, Juan, brought cookies---an added bonus!  I heard Nathan had four! 

The plant that is being transformed is a ficus.  It will remain an indoor plant and could take many years to fully train.  The branches that are wired currently will have to stay wired for 3 to 6 months, or until they retain their shape without the wires.
All in all, it was a great outcome and Nathan is very pleased with the final result.  It will be interesting to see if this blooms into a hobby for him in the future!

February 16, 2011

Puppies!

We have been anxiously awaiting Sally's beagle puppies for a few days now.  She kept me up all night with her anxiety (she had to be near us!) and whining.  Boy, I really could sympathize with her! By 1 am, I'd had all I could manage and had to go to bed so I moved her and her whelping box to our bathroom.  It ended up being a great place anyway--out of the way, warm and quiet.  Plus I can shut the door if I need to keep kids out.  And, we had friends over for a playdate so that was extra exciting--getting to share our puppies with them.  The kids enjoyed checking on Sally and giving the updated number! 
Here is Sally with her seven puppies--she is tired and really doesn't want her pic taken.  I had some sweet moments with my oldest son as we were awaiting the first puppy and Sally was so uncomfortable.  I think it was the first time he realized the effort it takes to bring a baby into the world!
The littlest of the pups.  I think it is a boy.

Full view.  So sweet.  And the puppies were way bigger than I thought they would be.  And I'm impressed at how well they get around!

February 9, 2011

Harvest Pork Chops.

I was supposed to post this yesterday.  But I didn't.  So here it is today!  I don't know about your family, but pork chops aren't a favorite here.  And we don't eat them very often because of that.  But gosh, sometimes you just have to get away from beef and chicken and here is one of our options for chops that is great for fall and winter.

Harvest Pork Chops

4 boneless center-cut pork chops
3/4 c bread crumbs
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice (with optional wedges for serving)
1/3 c almonds (we usually omit this)
1/3 c dried cranberries, chopped (I use them as they are)

With a sharp knife, make a horizontal slit in side of each chop creating a pocket.  Season with salt and pepper.

Combine remaining ingredients.  Press 1/2 c stuffing into each pocket, mounding at opening.  Fit chops into a baking pan and cover with foil.  Freeze until ready to use or bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, then uncovered for 20 minutes.

To bake from frozen: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place covered pan in oven and cook for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and continue cooking until internal thermometer reads 165 degrees.

February 7, 2011

February Freezer Cooking.

Whew!  This is going to be a long post.  Just so you're prepared and all.

Lasagne
My original freezer cooking list included something like this: chicken (or turkey) tetrazzini, lasagne, meatloaf, harvest pork chops, italian chicken, breaded chicken, and pancake mix.  I added meatballs, nixed the meatloaf and was left with 1.5 lbs of taco meat (I have all the fixin's in the pantry--easy!).

Noodles--ready to go.

Being prepared was really helpful in getting all this done.  I did make the meatballs and brown my beef two days ago.  I made the list of everything I wanted to make, bought the supplies (including a giant pack of foil pans at Sam's club), and made sure the kitchen was clean and ready to go.  My kids even emptied the dishwasher for me so I had somewhere to put all the dirty dishes as I went!  Aren't they great?  :)

I did this in three "rounds" so to speak--based on meat type.

Round 1:
2 Lasagne (one of which we are going to have for dinner tonight)
4 Dinners of meatballs
1 Dinner of taco meat

I did this as the kids were finishing up school.  Easy since the beef was already browned.  I opted to keep a lasagne out of the freezer for dinner.  We haven't had that in a long time and I can't very well do all this work and order take-out for dinner, can I?

Doesn't look like much, but that is 6 dinners from the freezer!

Round 2:

2 Dinners of Italian Chicken
2 Dinners of Breaded Chicken
2 Dinners of Harvest Pork Chops (I'll post a recipe tomorrow!)

First of all, I just want to say that the two types of chicken are easy--the kind of thing you might just keep the ingredients in your pantry and make it and bake it right away.  The reason I did this is 1. Ken can pull a meal from the freezer and make it and 2. it ensures that I have all the ingredients all in hand.  That way, I don't get to dinner time and panic because I don't have enough bread crumbs or something.

For the breaded chicken, here is what I did (I got this trick from a neighbor who does this for a living---making up freezer meals for people who are too busy to do it themselves!):

First, assemble chicken, eggs and seasonings in one freezer bag.  Then, put the bread crumbs in another bag.  Put both together in a labeled freezer bag.  Then, you just pull the one bag out of the freezer and thaw in the fridge.  The chicken marinates in the egg and is ready to dip in bread crumbs and go into the pan to bake.  Simple!

These are the Harvest Pork Chops before I wrapped them all up (I also had a little extra stuffing which I tucked around the chops).  I'm not sure if this is the best way to freeze them, but since I had plenty of pans I went ahead and did it this way.  I just tucked foil around them and wrapped them up in another layer really well.
6 more meals!
Then it was a time for a break.

I did have some kitchen helpers:
I think they make me need a break!  I was pretty sure that Nick was going to break the pepper mill.  Liz was single-handedly tenderizing the pork chops!  They both thought that they could drink the lemon juice.  Well, they could.  But they wouldn't like it.  :)  Everybody needs cute helpers like these!

Round 3 (the last and final round!):
2 Chicken Tetrazzini
4 bags Pancake Mix (I use Leila's at LMLD)--this will last us about 3 months!

I boiled my chicken.  I took a nap.  15 minutes, tops.  But, Nick was sleeping, 2 kids were out in the snow and I convinced (I really had to twist their arms, lol!) 2 of them to watch PBS.  I figured I could spare the 15 minutes!

Then, I came back and made up all the mixings for the tetrazzini, boiled the noodles, and started the pancake mix. 


2 more dinners and countless pancakes and biscuits!

Grand total:
1 dinner for tonight
14 freezer dinners
3 months of pancakes

And, I still have two pot pies and a banana bread from last month! I'd say that is pretty darn good, don't you think?

Whew!  I did it, I really did it! :)  And now, all I have to tackle is this:

My sink! Ack!

Maybe after a long(er) nap! :)