Monday, February 27, 2012

Manic Monday!

Or maybe the title should say something like this:

"Se7enth Heaven?: I Think Not"
"Lucky Number 7: Who Exactly Started this Saying?" And why is 7 considered a "lucky" number anyway???
"Number 9, My Favorite Number, No Longer..."

Alright, so, mostly I'm joking! But, now that we are headed back into the swing of things, reality is hitting home. It takes me 3 times as long to do anything and even then, it's usually only partly done. Like, laundry washed, but not dried, or dried but not folded. Dishes in dishwasher, but some still soaking in the sink. It's just the way things go in large family life, I know this. And hey, let's be honest here, those who know me well, probably know that I live for chaos...the craziness and yes, of course the unexpected.

But, as usual, I digress. The title really is appropriate, because it's the day I'm focusing on here. It's Monday. Time for school, homework, sports, Boy Scouts, schedules, dinner at a certain time, etc, etc, etc. We all get lost in the chaos. We all get behind on things. We all get forgetful. And we all get, um, how shall I put this? grumpy? So, usually, to keep things at bay, organization is my best friend. Priority my next. Choosing what to organize and when is key....thus the priority.

So, as I sit here today, realizing that I survived the weekend without Hubby, I'm wondering why I can't seem to survive today? Monday?

Truth be known....I know! A lack of organization and prioritizing. A lack of orderliness. Is that even a word? If not, I'm making it a word right now. We get behind and then "boom", it all explodes. At once. Then what do I do? Run around like a chicken with, well you know.

But, as if timing is always of the utmost importance around here, another little kink in the plan comes along. A stomach bug. Not fun in our house. They spread like wildfire. I'm expecting the worst and am totally ill prepared for it. The house in shambles, the routine off and our schedules have run amok. Yup, we're back. Back in the swing of things, as usual. Just like the song says, it's just another manic Monday...or manic Tuesday?, or Wednesday?.....does it really even matter what day it is around here?

Here's to chaos!

Move Over Martha....

Yup, I'm talking about the Martha. Martha Stewart, that is. I just might give her a run for her money. Take over her empire. Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration. Well, really it's a big exaggeration!! I'm not Martha. Never will be. She's a bit too extravagant for me and my busy life style. Most of her ideas are great, but I'm not much into gardening and I don't have the financial means to give her stuff justice. Nor do I have the time. I'm more of the simple, yet elegant type. Always looking for the quick and easy (and inexpensive) way to do something. That's where I'm at in life right now. And probably will be for a very long time. And....quite frankly, I'm okay with that!
As some of you may or may not know, I am no stranger to making things from scratch. Making "homemade" stuff. I've been making my own diaper rash cream since #3 was born, I started making my own diaper wipes shortly after #2 was born. I make my own Popsicles and fruit bars, I even (sometimes) make my own granola bars (it's amazing what you can find out there on the World Wide Web!!), just to name a few.
I've long been a fan of larger family websites (wonder why?) and blogs. It seems there is a recurring theme among them....making stuff from scratch is cheaper. It's healthier AND you have control over how much you make. And, guess what? Most of it is pretty easy. It has to be, or you see, I won't stick with it!! Anyway, here's a little taste of what I've been up to lately. No pun intended!! I have begun making my own bread again. Long, long ago, I did it on occasion...usually with the help of my bread machine. I'd either bake it in there or I'd set it to dough and let it do all the hard work, then I'd shape it and bake it. However, that was usually what I like to call "treat" bread. You know, all white flour type bread. The "you get more nutrients eating a bar of dark chocolate" type of bread. The Italian loaf. The pizza dough. The bagels, pretzels and donuts. And of course, let's not forget the ol' cinnamon bun!! Oh yeah, you know the ones. Tasty stuff, but any time I tried to do anything with wheat flour (and...good luck finding it back then!!) came out hard, dense and brick like. I gave up. All the "websites" (and I use that term VERY loosely, as you see, back when I had #1, the Internet could probably be compared to the Jurassic Period...dinosaur like. I would go on "bulletin boards" and do simple abstract research to find articles of interest to go a find at the library. Strange, huh?) I would go on pretty much talked about baking white bread. I used to belong to a website called (mother's of many young siblings) that had great recipes....but nothing for wheat. That website has since exploded and for the first time ever, I couldn't rejoin if I wanted to, because you have to have 4 kids under the age of 8 to become a member. (unfortunately the posts became overwhelming so I opted out, but I LOVED the recipes and up until a few years ago, anyone could still access them...not anymore!) OK, so off I went on a tangent again. Anyway, my point is, we eat wheat bread. That's all I buy. Except of course, for the occasional Cuban or Italian bread for sandwiches, etc. If I'm going to bake my own has to be wheat.
So--that is what I do now. Sadly (and very quickly), it became apparent that it is way too inefficient to do this all the time, because it disappears all too quickly, but I am definitely going to continue to make it to supplement our bread. I make bread, rolls, buns, whatever! I am no longer doing the bread machine. The bread comes out oddly shaped and the slices too big (it is, after all over 15 years old--the modern bread makers probably have normal shaped loaves!). Besides, with my stand mixer, it is so easy to make, never mind that you are in more control of the kneading, etc, but don't have to do the actual work! Check it out!!
 Rising: White Wheat Bread!! Turns out, white wheat flour is just as healthy (well, 1 less gram of protein) as red (or regular) wheat bread. So, I tried it out. It is now a staple in my pantry.
 All done and delicious! It lasted less than a day!
This too is a great recipe. From my Kitchen Aid stand mixer recipes, of all things! The kids love it, as well. This time, I ran out of time and it didn't rise as much as usual. They still ate it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yet another pal? YIKES!!

Ok, I admit that this is getting to be a bit much...but this is probably going to be the last post in this series. I do have to admit that, yes, I do indeed have yet another buddy. One that I probably couldn't live without either. I have tried. Many times over. And sadly, I have failed. Each time. It's called....are ya ready?????
"The List". Yup, these friends of mine sure are one of a kind, aren't they? uh, huh. They are.

So what? So I don't re-invent the wheel. Big deal. At least, I make them my own, right?

So, what is up with this list anyway? Well, if we're speaking in REAL reality, not my recent Twilight Zone reality, there are in fact MANY lists. Actually, I would probably rank "The List" as more of a "frienemy", rather than a true friend. Kinda like my never ending, bottomless pit laundry basket. You see, for tweens/teens (of which I now have 3, thank you very much), this term means an enemy disguised as a friend...or a friend who might sometimes treat you more like an know who I'm talking about. You're probably thinking of that person in your mind right now. It's ok, we've all had to deal with at at least one, at some point in time. I can think of a few through out my middle and high school years. Luckily, I'm passed all that. (well, for myself anyway, I'm sure I'll get to live through all that again with my kids, just like the whole science fair project thing;).

Anyhow....I can probably rank the list pretty high up there for both friend and enemy. It is a friend in that it reminds me of what I have to do. It keeps things in order. It keeps me on task. It lets me know what still needs to get done. It also tells me of what I might have planned for the week. What the kids have to do. BUT, and here's the also reminds me of what I still have to do. Get it? And it's also, like that laundry basket, never ending. The list never seems to get shorter? No really, I'm being honest here. I finish one thing on the list and add 2 more. I complete one list to find 3 more hidden away, only to come out when least expected (needed). My days rarely go as planned anymore. With 7 kids, that comes as no surprise, I'm sure. And, I've come quite accustomed to it, too. So, you'd think I'd be better prepared or have some other, more fancy way of keeping up. But, no, not me. Not yet anyway.
I admit, there are lists every where. Phone lists, homework lists, errand lists, things to do at home lists, and the most infamous one of all..........the big one, the grocery list. Wow. That's the biggie. It too never seems to end. I could shop every day and still need stuff. I swear it is true. We go through enough milk in this house per week to drain 10 cows. I won't even talk about the chickens. God rest their soles. My pantry looks like Seinfeld's top counter with all the cereals in it; not the variety, just the amount. And I bet his were full. I can't keep up. I don't even try anymore.
And that's the trick. That's what I've figured out. I live in the Twilight Zone. I do. To keep my sanity, I live out there....somewhere. And it's good. It works. So, after giving up the list for a few months over the summer. I've come to realize, it is a healthy addiction after all. So, I caved and went back. My lists still take over the house on occasion, but, that's ok. They NEVER, EVER will get completed, but that's ok, too. They help to keep order and keep me on track; even if it's not in the right order or ever all done. Sometimes it's true--it's important to have your friends close, but your enemies even closer. So, here I am....looking at my list of things to do tomorrow, knowing full well that the plan has already (expectedly) unexpectedly changed, and I'm ok with it. And guess what?...unlike that old high school frienemy....I can crumble that list up and start all over again. And it feels good! ;)
Ever so determined, I am off to the black hole, er um, laundry room to try to complete #1 on the list.....if I make my way back out, I'll be sure to let you know if I've completed "The List".
............stay tuned.............

My pay, the Calendar!

So, you've read about my best friend, the timer. Now you're about to read about another good friend of mine, the Calendar. Not my personal calendar, but rather the good ol' family calendar that has been in the kitchen for a number of years now. It became very apparent that this was a necessity in our home shortly after #4 arrived. She was born during the school year and it was the first year that I had a child in school; real school, not pre-school. Add to that a 4th child (a newborn) in the house and well the calendar just had to become part of our family. All of a sudden there were deadlines, dates, events, and parties that had to be out there for us to see on a daily basis, in order to plan properly. And it had to be big enough to fit all of us on! It was planted on our pantry door in the kitchen of the old house. It was a sanity saver for sure. Still is.
However, we have since moved and our doors are a bit different here and well, somehow the old family calendar didn't fit. I had it up on the inside of the door, but well, that just wasn't in your face enough for us me.Oh, I've tried other calendars, but none seemed to work as well as this one. Smaller ones, individual ones (as in one for each kid), one of those monthly ones that you can write every one's name in. My dear friend gifted me one of those before #6 and it was great, for a while. Don't get me wrong, a wonderful idea, but it eventually became quite obvious that writing every one's names in each month was a bit too time consuming for a busy mommy like me, so then we moved to initials. Then we had problems fitting everything on to the little space provided for each person...a dentist appointment, a friend or school event and a game all in one tiny space didn't cut it for me, for one could read what was going on. We simply needed more space. So, after the year passed, up went the old family calendar, again. Nothing else seemed to work...even the computer or our phones. Nothing. We compliment it with the computer, our phones or my own planner, but we still need an "in your face", family calendar.

Sadly, we are getting rid of the old one...the one I got so many years ago now is officially retired! I found a nice, new one! Still big, spacious squares to write many events into but a bit more acceptable than the old laminated one that is starting to show some wear and tear. The kids were a bit surprised, but I think they will soon grow accustomed to the new calendar and its new location: right smack dab in the middle of the kitchen. Now, that's what I call: organization.
We're ready to be organized for the new year. I'm likin' how empty it is right now and the fact that there is only black ink on there. For now, see, each kid gets his/her own color so that we can quickly (most of the time) identify who has what each day! This month is sure to get filled and very colorful fairly quickly!
How do you keep track of all things going on in your family?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Things that make you go hmmm....

No, this isn't quite like the old Arsenio Hall show!!
...these are things that I never thought I'd say, that is, until I became a mother. Where the word normal takes on a whole new meaning and strange statements no longer really make me go hmmm:

Don't sit on your brother's face!!

You can't throw him on the couch like that.

Get off of your brother.

Please! Pick up the living room, now!

Someone's head is still on the floor.

If you throw that car, it will go straight into the trash.

Someone's nail is in my sink, come and get it! (ok--I'll explain this one! a fake nail that someone received as a gift, somehow got loose and kept ending up in my bathroom sink)

Bob the builder is still on the steps, why?

If I've said it once today, I've said it a million times....take the light saber out of the baby's face.

Stop pointing the gun at his/her face!

Don't shoot your brother/sister.

An airplane cut my foot. Really bad.

Oh, if there was a fly on the wall....I'd certainly have some explaining to do. And if that fly had any ability to contact Arsenio, I can't help but wonder what he'd have to say about it all?

There are days....

...that I have no choice but to don my black and white striped shirt and whistle.
...that I have to count my kids out loud in public.
...that I run out of food even after I doubled the recipe.
...that I need 2 grocery carts.
...that my hair stands on edge.
...that I pull my hair out.
...that I'm frazzled, dazzled and razzled!
...that I wonder where the money really went?
...that I can't squeeze another appointment, event or activity on that particular day on the calendar.
...that I spend hours (yes, literally hours!) filling out paperwork (usually school, medical or sports related) for the kids.
...that the word "cleaning" takes on a whole new meaning.
...that I do 6 loads of laundry without even making a dent in the laundry pile.
...that I drive 4 or 5 kids all over town to friend's houses.
...that I drive all over town for 5 kids sporting adventures/extracurricular activities.
...that I have doubled the amount of kids in my house for everyone's sleepovers.
...that I have more than doubled the amount of kids in my house for a birthday party.
...that I cannot help my kids with their homework, because well, they have surpassed me in school and I have a master's degree!!! and graduated Suma Cum Laude...
...that I scarcely make it to the bed before passing out from exhaustion.
...that I just sit, watch and listen.
...that I marvel in their growth, abilities, and maturation.
...but mostly....there are days that my cup runneth over.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Keeper Cookbook!

A couple of years ago, I started a blog about surviving in the kitchen with 6+ kids. Mostly as a sort of recipe keeper/cookbook for the kids to inherit one day. It didn't last. Way too much to type out. Way too much work when I was doing pictures alongside. Way too time consuming. And probably more obvious to others than me, but simply unrealistic for a mom of now 7! I actually tried to change it up a bit and use it more for kid recipes, organizational stuff, crafts, homemade cleaning recipes, etc. But, reality is, I'm busy. Again, way too time consuming. So, I deleted that blog and gave up on the whole darn idea. I really am trying to simplify my life. But, who can resist an new and different organizing idea regarding cookbooks? So, here I am again, tackling this issue.
You see, in the end, I do love to cook and experiment with new recipes and my family loves to be the test subjects. Problem is that I have TONS of recipes, lots of recipe books/magazines and more than a few recipe websites I like to visit. So, there are times that I frantically search for that particular recipe, cookbook or magazine for a specific recipe, etc. It's just a mess, really. I've tried to organize them, to no avail. I mean, some have post it notes on them to mark the favs or as the hubster likes to call them: "a keeper". Also, some loose recipes have been glued into composition books and printed out ones have a binder. I also have my Family Fun magazine recipes in one binder. But, as you can see, they are simply all. over. the. place! Something had to change and it wasn't gonna be with a blog. That's for sure. At least not right now

One day while perusing one of my favorite menu planning websites (I think?!?), can't remember which one right now, I came across something and voila, the "Our Keepers" cookbook binder was born!!
It is in the preliminary stages, but in it I have the family favorites. So far, there are just more than a few recipes in there and that is why it is in a small binder for right now, but as I add, I'll expand. (Rest assured with 6 kids in school, there is NEVER a shortage of binders in this house.) But, I want to only keep it as big as it needs to be. The whole idea is to de-clutter the recipes without having to toss my cookbooks, magazines, and other homemade recipe contraptions I've made over the years. I mean, I do still use the cookbooks for other purposes, special occasions, and of course to try out new recipes, etc. Basically what I do is take the recipe that we love and use over and over again and make a copy of it and store it in here. (I am doing this as I go along....not rummaging through my recipes for the "keepers". That would of course, defeat the purpose of this whole idea.) I am sure that eventually I'll have to add dividers and tabs to sort the recipes and that maybe some of them will be more difficult to copy, but for now, this thing is GREAT!! A humongous time saver. Something I not only love, but really do need right now. Maybe one day, one day not too long down the road, I'll be completely organized again.
Yeah right....

Although, this was like a complete light bulb to me, this apparently isn't a new idea. There are even websites out there that will make it for you, where you can order a kit as a DIY project, and how to organize one. All you have to do is search things like family cookbook binder and up they come. Me being the frugal sort of person, well I just chose to make my own. They'd even be a great gift for a family member or friend!

So, tell me, how do you organize your recipes, menus, and cookbooks?
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