Monday, February 28, 2011

A Little Bit o'Crazy

Today we started a spring cleaning fest which will take the entire week, I am sure of it.
With this many people under one roof and with so many hoarders for children it is a HUGE task. It must be done, however, and I am determined to get rid of clutter! Clutter is one of those items that really serves no purpose and just keeps a full house in disarray. I cannot function with a mess and a mess is all clutter will bring. Do we really need all of this stuff anyway?

This weekend Devin and I went to the mall to do a little birthday shopping for two girls who have birthdays next week. It opened my eyes as to how much we buy and want and not need.

I read an article Saturday about a NM woman who has the measles and she flew back to the US on an international flight from Europe. Anyway, she was not vaccinated and got measles from who knows where and now the US and the CDC have issued warnings to passengers who were on her flight, etc. All out panic for a disease that is almost eradicated in the US thanks to vaccines.
Did you know that on Saturday thousands of people died from the same illness in a third world country and yet NOBODY here reports on that fact. NOBODY!

We are so wrapped up in our lives to even consider how great we have it in the US. I am as guilty of this as anyone. It is easy to go about our lives "not knowing" or pretending to not know about the trials and troubles of our neighbors. Neighbors.

Is it just fear or a lack of faith that keeps us from stepping out of our comfort zone to help a neighbor or a child or anyone who needs help? Or both?

Again, I am guilty of this too but I intend to make a true effort to step out a little. Step to the edge and see what faith and fear really can do. Devin is in with me too and so are the kids. This family is stepping out to take a peak over the edge.

"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."
Proverbs 24:12

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chocolate Pound Cake

So here we go with a very delicious dessert that feeds alot of people. It's very rich and dense so don't slice it thick. Easy? You bet!
I added coconut and chocolate chips to make it even richer, but it would great without. Perhaps I might put a dollop of whipped cream on a slice. However you prefer it, it would be a great compliment to your Sunday dinner. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pound Cake (my adaptation from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion)

1C unsalted butter
2 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 large eggs
3 TB instant coffee powder
1/4 C warm water
3/4 C buttermilk
1 C cocoa
2 C all purpose flour
1 C grated coconut (optional)
1 C chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a bundt pan.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.

Dissolve coffee in warm water until dissolve and add it to the buttermilk. In another bowl sift the cocoa and flour together. Beat dry mixture into egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.Blend well.
Add cocnut and/ or chocolate chips if desired. Stir in well.
Pour batter into bundt pan and bake an hour and 20 minutes or until tester comes clean. Remove from oven to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with powder sugar.

Friday, February 25, 2011

10 Things

Ten things about me that you may or may not know.

1. I love rock stars from the 80s and 90s with long hair.

2. Hair does not grow on my legs.

3. I think Tom Selleck is the hunkiest actor EVER!

4. I am currently going "cold-turkey" off soda!

5. I find baking very therapeutic.

6. Since having kids I am TERRIFIED of heights.

7. My multi-vitamins are adult gummy bears. That's all I can convince myself to take:-)

8. The Olive Garden is my favorite place to eat out.

9. I enjoy reading non-fiction books.

10. "Out of Africa" is one of my favorite movies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Will it ever end???

I cannot remember the last time we got an intestinal bug in this family (thank goodness)but we have one now.

It started last week with Rose and then struck again over the weekend with myself and the baby. Now it is using this week to go through the kids one by one, or two by two. At any rate I have been doing laundry non-stop and scrubbing the house down.

It's weeks like these that I am reminded of how MUCH I do "on the side" as far as hobbies and extra stuff. It all gets put on hold and then accumulates. It's no big deal, but I then question why on earth I have so many interests? Ha-ha.

I have been working on a new meal plan and it has so far been great. I will give you a hint:

It requires chopping and assembling and freezing. What I LOVE is that most of it is NOT a lasagna or cassarole dish. After we have tested it some more I will give MORE details. Did I mention it's geared for bulk shoppers? That's me. I went to Costcos yesterday and enjoyed myself:-)

Well, my short spurt of computer time is over. I had just a few minutes to sneak away and let ya'll know I am still here.
Devin and I have some BIG decisions to make so keep us in your prayers. These are good decisions yet life changing sooo.......lots to consider.

Enjoy the week and I will be back in gear soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cardboard Box Oven

Today we did what any good homeschooling family does on a beautiful and warm day and that was to find any excuse to get outside!

Also, because every tooth in my head is a "sweet" one, we also threw some chocolate into the equation. What we ended up with was a cardboard box oven to bake brownies.

First you need a box and lid.

Next, you want to cover the entire inside of both box and lid with aluminum foil. You can use a little white school glue to keep it down nice and tight in the event you wish to keep this handy oven for some rainy day when the power is out.
Next you will need about 3 or 4 wire hangers. Unwrap them and then poke three holes on each side of the box to run each wire through. You are making "racks" in your oven to place your baking pan.

Now tighten and twist the ends together (outside the box) so that the rack stays tight. We actually ended up placing a wire the opposite side for more stability. Also, put a few holes in the lid and on the sides for a little ventilation.

Now you have your older children make the brownie mix from mixes. Make it even more fun by having them double the recipe. This will force them to do some math and they will love you for it:-)
You must take this box oven outside and place it on concrete or gravel to cook. First you need a disposable pie plate and some charcoal briquettes.  One briquette equals about 40 degrees. We used 9 briquettes to give us a 360 degree oven. (See!? MORE MATH!) Place your briquettes in the pie tin and place in bottom of oven, under the rack.
Now it's time to take it outside and light the charcoal up.

Allow the briquettes to flame down and burn just a bit. You don't want them flaming!

Now, get your brownies or cake and let your 5 year old evenly sprinkle throw sprinkles on the top and then put it on the rack and close the lid. Set your timer for the same time you would on an indoor oven.

While it bakes, look around and notice the mess made by the front porch and interrogate your little ones as to who made the mess.
They will tell you the dogs did it.Yep, it looks like our dogs can fill buckets with water and grass and make mud pies. Then ask them who left the bike outside all night.

I bet they will have no clue and explain that NOBODY has been riding bikes for months. After you are finished lecturing to your kiddos and the timer goes off, check your food! I bet it's done!

Yep! All done!
Just so you know, the pan is hot!!!! This is a real oven, so use caution. You can also bake anything in it but if it is a recipe that will require a long bake time then you must replace the briquettes after 45 minutes.
Scrap pieces of foil from lining the box?
My sweet Rose claims it can be fashioned into foil footwear or even barbie clothes. Be creative!:-)
Happy home schooling!


Monday, February 14, 2011


It has officially arrived! I know it is still mid-February and that we are still in for some cold days and nights BUT here is my proof that Spring is actually here.

1. The bees are out and bringing in pollen! It has been pretty warm and will continue this entire week.

2. The baby chics arrived early this morning! These are just 2 of the many baby hens we bought this year. It always feesls like spring with these little guys cheeping in the house.

 3. This was the view from my kitchen window! The kids were playing and eating popsicles. The school day was broken into a morning session and then an evening session. We don't like missing an opportunity for fresh air and playtime outdoors.

4. Even the dogs and the teenagers are more playful! They all stayed outside a good portion of the day.

5. No more feelin' like we are stuck in a cage! Ok, so that may be a tad bit dramatic, but I needed something to go with this silly picture of Quinn.
The truth is that staying home with kids all day can be tough and homeschooling can be even tougher. But another truth is that in the end it is ALWAYS worth it and when you get a nice day to run, jump and play outdoors you should seize the moment!
It is spring, afterall! These weeks will pass quickly and we will be into summer with very hot, very long days.
One more thing.....

Is this chic winking at me?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Most Days

(Willow and Grandpa July 2010. Two and a half months before he died)

Since my dad died I must say that we have some bad days and some good days. Most days are pretty good. Most days I can keep myself and my household together.
When he was diagnosed with cancer last year, we knew the prognosis would not be good and we knew he was dying. We cried alot during his days of treatmenst. We knew life without him would be different, lonelier, full of melancholy.

Most days I can handle it all.

Most days I don't feel sorry for myself or get sad because my kids no longer have grandpa around, a man who truly took pleasure in being with the kids.

Most days I can figure out my honey bee issues without his beekeeping wisdom, and most days I can look outside and imagine he is smiling down on us for accepting life and all of its essential unfairness as well as its blessings.

It has been a heck of a week here, a heck of a month so far. Devin has been mega busy at work and we have been busy with school. I also have a brain full of activities and lists and projects and ideas.

Rose was also sick this week with a stomach bug. The dreaded up in the middle of the night, all night. Dry heaves. Laundry, laundry, laundry. Pallets on the floor. Laundry.
I am grateful that nobody else followed suit and we all stayed healthy. That is an amazing feat in a house with 9 people. Today she is a little tired but otherwise good.

Most weeks I can handle.

(My chocolate selection this week)

Willow stayed Monday night with my mom. Here is my conversation with my sweet girl tonight.

Willow: "Grandma and I sleep the same way at night. We both wake up with wet pillows."

Me: "Wet pillows?"

Willow: "Yes, wet pillows because we cry every night."

Me: "Because you miss Grandpa?"

Willow: "Yes!" (sobbing now) "I want my Grandpa! I want my Grandpa!"

Me: "Me too."

Most days I can handle.

Most days I also want to just scream!

Today I ate some chocolate instead.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Early Start

I think I might be getting used to early mornings! What is wrong with me? After 7 kids, Fletcher has finally made me get up everyday before dawn. Of course, I get up and shower and get the diapers in the wash and make myself a cup of tea and then he takes a little nap. It's still dark out but he is napping.
I have resigned to making the most of these long days by getting lots done, and sometimes that is the case. There are other days where my six older children beg for my time every minute so I set my goals lower. I cook meals and clean up after kids and "do school."

Today, I get to head to the quilt store and meet with the ladies and the quilter who comes up every month.

This is my Courthouse Steps quilt I just finished it last night. I must say that it is really pretty but was not much fun to piece. I think a large part of that dislike was having everything sprawled out onto my table and throughout my kitchen all week. It is small but finished and it will be even prettier once it is quilted.

My scant number of bee hives are still alive despite the freezing temps and prediction of MORE snow! My daughter did spy some dandelions blooming outside so spring will be here any day now. (crossing fingers)

I have other *things* in the works but cannot reveal them as of yet. In the meantime, I am going to sip more tea and straighten up my neglected desk area until the kids start waking up and wanting breakfast.
Here's to a fresh and early start to the day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Whirl Wind

It has been a whirl wind kind of week here. I find my self describing many of my weeks as crazy and I suppose that goes along with having 7 kids and homeschooling.

I am sometimes a slow learner and still think of myself as a mother to "just" 4 or 5 who can still accomplish everything  needed in a day. 

I did give myself the luxury of a quilting class on Tuesday. I wish I could say I was nearly done with the quilt, but I am still cutting the fabric. It will be gorgeous when it is finished. Hopefully that day will be within a month. (crossing fingers). I do despise unfinished projects.

Devin finished fixing up my wall and hanged my new boards up. It looks clean and neat for the moment. That won't last but I am happy to have a place for all of my reminders, papers, charts, etc.

My tomato seedlings have germinated and the bell peppers are not too far behind. It is so cold outside today, and we even had some sleet and freezing rain yet there are my seedlings. It's a reminder and a promise that warm weather will soon be here.

My nemesis is this very messy pantry. I try and try but just can't seem to get it looking super duper organized. It is fairly organized but just not what I picture in my head. I suppose if I didn't keep so much food in it..well, that would help.Today I will focus on the wonderful bounty we have been blessed with and not on the way I store it on my shelves:-)

Early mornings are becoming the norm around here. The baby and toddler both woke up at 5am this morning. So here is Zeb at 5am drinking hot chocolate...with whipped cream. It was dark and cold out and the house was quiet. No doubt it will be a long day for me but on the upside I have already cleaned 2 bathrooms, started laundry, had 2 cups of tea and now I am updating blogs while the baby takes a nap (his second for the day already!)

It will be a whirl wind week but I am so thankful for tasks to keep me busy and children to keep me grounded.

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