Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where did you find that?

Conversation in our house this afternoon:

Hailey (age 4): Lauryn, pick up.

(Hailey turns and looks at me, nodding her head reassuringly.)

Hailey: I can tell her what to do, because it says you have to obey your olders and I'm older.

Tami (bursting out laughing): What says that?

Hailey: The Bible. It says you have to obey your olders.

I still don't think I have her convinced that is not what the Bible says.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Up to my eyeballs in meat

For the last couple of days I have been cooking alot of ground beef. About every 7 months or so, I go to our local Sam's Club and pick up a case of ground beef, which is eight 10 pound rolls of 91% lean ground beef. These are available to any member, you just have to ask a butcher for it - no need to call ahead.
Since I can't fit all 8 rolld in my fridge, I cut up some of the rolls into 1.5 and 2 pound sections when I get home. I freeze those in quart freezer bags for use in things like meatloaf that require raw meat.
Then I use my new food processor to cut up several onions. Then I brown the meat (seasoned with onions, salt, pepper, and Worcester sauce), either 3 or 4 pounds at a time, and bag them in quart size freezer bags in either 1 pound or 1.5 pound amounts for all sorts of casseroles, tacos, burritos, etc. Storing them flat helps with space conservation and quick thawing. (Thank you to Aubrey R. for telling me about how to store them and season them!)
One of these days I'd like to do a Mega Cooking - like cookathon with the meat and actually put together the meatloaves, the casseroles, the spaghetti sauces, etc. and freeze them, thus cutting down even more on my time later on. However, at this stage in my life with so many little ones around, I just don't have the nerve to try it yet. But for now I am perfectly happy with my freezer full of ground meat ready to go at any time.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Well, you can tell I have had a busy week with the lack of posts. But I did want to post a couple of updates.

Brynna: She had a follow up appointment this week with the pediatric orthopedist. As many of you know, Brynna has always had a problem with toe walking. In other words, she used to walk on her tip toes all the time. The family doc became concerned when she didn't outgrow it, because her tendons down the back of her calves were tight. In extreme cases of this, they actually go in and surgically lengthen the tendons. But Brynna fortunately wasn't this bad. When several months of stretching exercises didn't help, she was put into double leg casts for a month in 2005. This helped but not enough. So we repeated with another month of leg casts in October of 2006. The appointment this week was the first follow up since having the casts removed.

And the doctor was very pleased. We had noticed that she very rarely tip toes, and she can stretch that tendon out quite nicely. She's been wearing braces to sleep in ever since the casts came off, and now she can even stop doing that unless she starts tightening back up. We'll go back in another 3 months to see how she's doing then.

My MIL: My mother-in-law has finished the first round of chemo and started the second round yesterday. She had an MRI on Thursday, and the tumor is basically gone. The cancer is still there of course, but the doctors compared it to melting - the block isn't there anymore, the cancer has melted into smaller puddles. So this is great news. Plus this second round of chemo seems to not be so hard on her body. Big praise there! Thank you to all those who have been praying for her.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The girls' friend Zachary had a birthday party today at a local ice rink, which ironically had been delayed for a week due to icy conditions (!!!) here in town. But it was held today, and the girls had been looking forward to it all week. Brynna and Hailey, who had never been on ice skates before, had especially been looking forward to dancing on the ice, like in one of their Barbie movies:

Hailey: "I can't wait to go skating and dancing at the party!"

Brynna: "Yeah! Only, I think that's called skancing."

Well, after stuffing themselves with pizza, cake, and ice cream, we strapped on the skates. Hailey went about 3 yards, fell twice, and was done. Brynna held onto the side rail and basically walked around the sides several times before she went in to play as well.
Kora stayed out the longest. She was quite exhausted by the time it was over.
And last, but not least, Lauryn learned the proper way to eat a slice of pizza, which is crust first in case you can't tell from the picture.
Thank you Stephanie for a great time!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mission: the filing cabinet

This week while our town was virtually shut down during a winter front blew in, I tackled a project that has been weighing me down for at least 2-3 years. (BTW, if you need a good laugh, listen to the San Antonio news during one of these "arctic blast" times. Everyone from anywhere north of SA laughs their heads off at us. It got down to freezing for 2 days straight and we had a little bit of ice. If everyone from Oklahoma north shut down like we did this week every time they had the same weather, they'd be shut down for 5 months every year. You'd think we had had a true ice age!)

I know most of you think that I have, in true type-A personality form, every part of my life organized, categorized, and indexed. However, even type-A's have some little area of their lives that aren't up to code. One of mine has been my filing cabinet. It is about 10 years old, rusted metal, and the filing system hopelessly outdated. For the past few years I've used the excuse, "Well, there's no reason to re-organize this until we get a new filing cabinet upstairs." It took us a little longer to get that than we thought, but last month we finally bought Kelly a new office desk that has two filing drawers built in.

So I hoed in this week while we were shut in the house, and cleaned it out. I was downright embarrassed at what was in there. Auto insurance policies from cars we no longer own, home owner's insurance policies from a house we no longer own, health insurance stuff from two fiscal years ago, every privacy policy ever sent to us by the bank, receipts for furniture long since donated to charity, discharge orders from hospital and ER visits from years ago ... Well, I think you get the picture.

So then I started shredding. And shredding. I overheated the shredder twice and had to stop for a while. I filled THREE big kitchen bags full - each bag representing about 4 emptyings of the shredder. This doesn't count another full bag of owner's manuals (many for things we no longer own) and envelopes.

So my organizational lesson learned: go through papers at least once a year, to keep it from becoming a behemoth. Learn what to keep - many owners manuals are online now. Many bills can be emailed, meaning less paperwork to keep up with. (And always shred things to keep any bad guys from stealing your stuff.)

Now our paperwork is neatly re-organized into TWO drawers, and a much more workable system is in place. I used to be bad about letting the "things to be filed" stack get way too high before I filed stuff. Then I rearranged things and I don't have a place to put that stack, so I have to file them immediately. This has worked so well, that my next step is to make myself go through our drawers twice a year: once in January and once in July (Kelly's company's fiscal year begins on July 1, so all insurance stuff begins then).

I know it doesn't seem like much, but it gives me a wonderful fuzzy feeling to get something like this accomplished. And I thought it might give some of you that same feeling to know that not everything in my house is as orderly as you would think. :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let it ICE, let it ICE, let it ICE!

Since we had no snow yesterday to play in, the girls begged to outside and touch the icicles. So we pulled out the barely used coats and gloves and out they went. But after a while touching and breaking off the icicles wasn't enough. By the time they were done, the entire swing set had been nearly de-iced.
Kelly (who was home because his office was shut down due to ice) even took Lauryn out so she could join in the fun.
The girls couldn't believe the ice on everything - even the soccer ball left out.
They came in cold but happy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Look Mama, it's icing!

No, no one made a cake at our house today. But as south Texas is being hit with a taste of REAL winter, the girls saw sleet today for the first time in their memory. When it first began, Aubrey looked out the window and exclaims, "Look Mama, its icing!" Not only that, but we actually had icicles hanging off the swing set and roof. The girls were so excited just to see icicles, with wonder in their voices usually reserved for a winter wonderland of unspoiled snow.

There is actually a chance of snow here overnight and the girls are so excited. The younger 3 have never even seen snow and the older two were so little when they last saw it that they don't remember. While all the schools around here are closed, Homeschool ISD does not. However, if it snows today, you can bet your mittens that we'll be taking a real snow day. How often do San Antonio kids get to make snow balls, snow angels, or snow men?

UPDATE: Alas, alack, when we awoke this morning, there was of course no snow. There are some pretty wicked icicles hanging off everything, but no snow. (This is still South Texas, recent weather not withstanding.) The girls are ready to move north, convinced they will never see snow any other way. :)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Kora's Birthday Party

Usually we celebrate family birthdays quietly, with the birthday child's choice of dinner and cake type and ice cream flavor. Since Kora just turned 10, we decided to do what we haven't done in several years - host a big birthday party for her friends. Although Kora's birthday was actually a couple of weeks ago, we hosted a Birthday Tea Party on Saturday, so that we weren't trying to host a party in the midst of the holidays. Kelly and the girls helped me get the house all clean and the dining room all decorated and set for her guests.
When the girls arrived we decorated straw hats and made bead jewelry.

Then came tea time!

Tea and hot chocolate, cake and cookies were enjoyed by all.

And in keeping with the theme, the cake was a hat, decorated just like the girls' hats.
I hope all the girls had as much fun as mine did. After it was all done, Kora told me, referring to having a big birthday party, "I can see why you don't want to do this several times a year!" Yes it was a lot of work, but also alot of fun. Thanks to everyone who came!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Update on Kora's Doll

The doll that Kora bought finally arrived today. We bought it off eBay on the 28th, and was supposed to be here quickly, as in 3-4 business days. About a week later, I tried emailing the seller to get an update. After several emails and phone calls that were never returned, I filed a dispute with paypal. The doll was mailed that day. Hmmmm. Don't buy anything on eBay without going through paypal! But we have it now and all is well.

On the plus side, Kora loves her doll! This is a Violet Travilla "Life of Faith" doll. She, and several others like her, are based on a series of books that were originally written in the 1800's, called the Elsie Dinsmore series. There are over 20 books in this series, written by Martha Finley about a girl in the south in the 1830's, and following her through womanhood. She also wrote other books about secondary characters from the first series. In recent years, another company has updated the language and republished them. Violet Travilla is Elsie Dinsmore's daughter living her life in Victorian times. The books and dolls are kind of like a combination of American Girl and Little house on the Prairie, but all written from a Christian perspective. The girls enjoy them, and have been wanting the dolls for quite a while.

When Kora was telling my sweet mother-in-law about her new doll, my MIL asked her about her clothes, "Does she wear any 18 inch doll clothes, or do they have to be old-timey clothes?"
"Not old-timey, Granny, vintage."

Here she is looking vintage-y. Can you tell we've been playing with our new camera?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Are you crazy? Why, yes I am!

A new definition of insane:

Complete all the following activities in an ELEVEN DAY PERIOD:

*start a new blog,
*have company for 6 days, including 2 adults and 2 children, (love you guys!)
*plan a semester of school work for 3 kids,
*start back teaching school with 3 kids (in three different grades) after a 3 week break,
*plan a birthday/tea party for several 8-10 year olds at your house,
*organize a meeting with your homeschool group,
*help organize the standardized testing for said group,
*start planning for conference in February,
*organize, fill out, and distribute paperwork for the Six Flags Reading Program for said group,
*research and buy a digital camera and figure it out in time for aforementioned party,
*do all baking for same party,
*try to get in touch with eBay seller from whom daughter bought doll,
*filing Paypal dispute with an eBay seller who won't ship item purchased,
*start reorganizing chore schedule for whole household, and
*clean downstairs carpet with Bissell Carpet Cleaner.

All while taking care of 5 children, cooking 3 meals a day, keeping the house, checking email, oh yeah, and paying attention to my husband every once in a while. Whew! How is it that things always seem to happen like this - "when it rains, it pours."

Now don't get me wrong I have loved every minute of it - except for the whole eBay/Paypal dispute. But for those of you who call and ask how I am, and I answer, "busy" - now you know.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lights! Camera! Action!

Well, I don't know how much action we'll be getting, but our new camera did just arrive! But it's just a little intimidating to me, so I am eagerly awaiting Mr. Thinks-in-Binary to come home from work so he can translate. There are cables, and computer software, and buttons galore with this thing! But I am quite excited and can't wait to be able to take pictures again!

Addendum: We had ordered the wrong type of memory stick, so we have to wait until Friday to really get to play with it. (I didn't even know there were different types of memory!) The girls are having a hard time understanding this because they can SEE the picture on the screen after you snap the camera. So in their mind it must be taking pictures.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Saying goodbye

Yesterday, the Prather family drove away from our house on their way to Colorado Springs. Many in our family are just a wee bit envious of the mountains, trees, and yes, even the snow they will be experiencing. But we all know that they will be missed. It has been so refreshing to see a young couple (yikes, that make me sound old!) who were both homeschooled, now married and raising their own family. I learned alot from Kim who had been on the other side of the homeschool journey.

We miss you guys already!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Did you follow that?

Actual conversation in our house this morning:

(A little background - Brynna (5 1/2 yo) is obsessed with the color purple. Saying it is her favorite color is putting it mildly.)

Brynna, while looking at a book about horses, talking to a friend staying with us:

"I want to show you what horse I would like to be. (Pointing to an all black stallion) I would want to be this one. Do you know why? Black is really close to navy-blue, and navy-blue is a kind of blue, and blue is one of the colors that makes purple. I really like purple so that is why I would like to be the black horse!"

Well, of course, isn't that obvious?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Learning the Language

Those of you with children will know this, but I want to share an important truth with the rest of you: every family has its own language. Or maybe its own dialect would be more accurate. Every family has its own internal jokes, its own pet names for things, etc. that make absolutely no sense to anyone outside the family. Our family is certainly no exception. We have nicknames for each of the kids, and each child has also contributed new words to the family dialect. I thought I'd share these with you.

Daughter #1
Nickname: Blondie
Now looking at her picture below you may wonder about this, but for the first 2-3 years of her life she was blond headed and the name stuck.

Linguistic Contribution: Taco Banana
For those of you not in South Texas, Taco CAbana is a fast food Mexican restaurant. But 3 year old Kora could not say CAbana, and so now that restaurant is forever more dubbed "Taco Banana" in our house. The true irony here is that Kora cannot stand to eat bananas, doesn't even like to smell them.

Daughter #2
Nickname: Big Red
This one is pretty self-evident from a picture. However, it was actually quite funny when she was barely 5 and on a softball team on which she was the smallest girl. Kinda like calling a sumo wrestler "Tiny."

Linguistic Contribution: Sissie
When she learned to talk she didn't call her older sister by her name, but called her "Sissie." And every since, the older sisters are always called sissie, at least for a few years. Our youngest has modified this linguistic tradition slightly. She only calls her next older sister "Sissie." I guess 4 "Sissies" were just too much for her.

Daughter #3
Nickname: Bear, B-Bear
This came about because she was such a cuddly baby that it was like always having a teddy bear to hold. And she's still like that at 5.5.

Linguistic Contribution: Chip Choc Cookie Dough
My husband's favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough (from Blue Bell of course). But 2 and 3 year old Brynna couldn't say that mouthful, so chip choc cookie dough it was. And actually, I left a message for my husband to pick up some "chip choc cookie dough" on his way home from work just last week.

Daughter #4
Nickname: Hailey Bailey
This one is also pretty obvious, just a rhyme on her name.

Linguistic Contribution: Q-Q-Sauce
Again, when Hailey was 2 or 3 she couldn't say barbeque sauce, so she always asked for "Q-Q-Sauce." And no matter what KC Masterpiece says, we have Q-Q-Sauce in our fridge right now.

Daughter #5
Nickname: Actually we're still working on this one
She is blond but we already have a blondie. Ornery and Monkey get thrown around quite a bit - those of you who know her understand. Her sisters call her cutie. So we'll have to see about this one.

Linguistic contribution: Mein Kup
Since she's barely 2, I'm sure she has still more to add. And no, she is not a Marxist or a Communist, but no one be alarmed if they hear cries on "mine cup" coming from the kitchen in our house. She could easily pass for a German child though with her blond hair, blue eyes, and of course, "mein kup."

So now you will be able to interpret if you come to our house and hear us or our children asking if sissie has mein kup, if they have q-q-sauce at Taco Banana, and if we can have chip choc cookie dough for dessert.

So what unique names does your family have for things?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

I have to share what my husband got for me for Christmas. I haven't had a food processor in over 12 years, and that one was a piece of junk. But with a larger family, more cooking, and bulk shopping I have been wanting one of these for a long time. And I LOVE how this one is designed. It has a very wide feeding tube, so you don't have to chop the food before putting it in. This one is a Cuisinart 11 Cup Capacity and it is working great. It shreds a 5 pound block of cheese in less than a minute. The other day I cooked several chicken breasts and used the knife blade to chop them up into various sizes for several different meals. It also has a dough knife and function that I haven't used yet, but I can't wait to try it out. So if you are in the market for one I highly recommend this one.

And we ordered our camera today - and finally joined the 21st century! No more advantix for us! Should be here next week, so we should have lots of pics of little girls soon!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Kristen, this one's for you...

I ran across this picture last night. I believe this was at Kora's 5th birthday party, so Aubrey would've been 3 and Molly 3 1/2. Aren't they so cute? And I think this picture is so them - ya know, captures personality and all that.

If the last picture made Molly cry I figure this one will do the same for you - it did for me!

Monday, January 1, 2007

A New Year, a New Blog

Yes, I have finally decided to wade into the wonderful world of blogging. I have resisted thus far, telling myself I didn't have time to do it and that I didn't have a digital camera, so it would be hard to use it to help others keep up with the kids. Well, we are planning on getting a camera soon, so I took a deep breath and here I am.

It is my hope that this blog will accomplish several things:

1. To help those of our family and friends far away to stay a part of our lives in other ways than a once-a-year Christmas card.

2. To let family and friends keep up with how the girls are progressing.

3. To shed some insight on how these crazy people (and don't deny it, I KNOW some of you have thought that about us over the years!) do it - having 3 times the number of children in the average American household AND homeschooling them.

4. To provide a place for me to write about some things that help our household run, things going on in our lives, and other fodder for discussion.

So I foresee that this will be a rather eclectic blog, with posts ranging from recipes to cute things the girls have done. I hope you'll check back often and feel free to comment. I am nowhere near as wise as some of the authors of blogs I have linked to over at the right, nor am I near as witty as others. But I have enjoyed my friends' blogs over the last several months, and I hope you'll enjoy mine as well.