Friday, April 30, 2010

Calgon, Take Me Away!

OK, showing my age a little there. I do want to point out that I was a VERY LITTLE girl when those commercials were airing. :-)

This weekend I am getting away - though Calgon (are they still around, does anyone know?) has nothing to do with it. This spring our home school group eschewed the conference we normally attend and decided to organize our own getaway. Though we'll have no inspirational speakers and no book tables to pawn over, I am sure we'll have a great time.

We rented a river house (actually it's a duplex, but we've rented both units) with a huge two story deck. We are going out to eat tonight, having pizza delivered Saturday night and are bringing food for all other times. We plan on eating good food, drinking yummy drinks (both alcoholic and non), chatting, playing, and just generally de-stressing. Saturday afternoon, some of us (the non-chicken ones) are going tubing on the river if the weather cooperates. I've got my sunscreen and bug spray ready to go.

I hope to post pictures next week. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend vacation with the girls!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fruit of My Labor

I crack myself up. He he.

Anyway, last weekend I made strawberry jam. I had found strawberries for 99 cents a pound that week and bought 8 pounds. With that I made 15 pints of jam.

With the cost of sugar, pectin, lemon juice, lids, I figured this cost me about $1.45 per pint. You can buy jellies and jam cheaper than this, but (1) they don't taste as good and (2) they have corn syrup instead of sugar. To get sugar sweetened or naturally sweetened jams and jellies at the store, you'll have to pay a lot more than that. And it only took me a couple of hours, including clean up.

Best paired with homemade buttermilk biscuits. Yum!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My baby is two!

Ashlynn officially entered the "terrible twos" today, though I think she was born in them. :-) I've always said that threes are worse than twos, so we may be in for a couple of interesting years. If you want to see pictures of her the day she was born click here. If you want to read her home birth story click here.
The older girls have told me that I shouldn't call her a baby anymore. But she wears a diaper and sleeps in a crib. I think I'm justified in still using the term baby. You know what Ashlynn call herself? "Cute." No kidding.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Brynna!

Today, Brynna Nicole is 9 years old! Yikes, that's half way to 18!
Brynna is our "sunny" child. When she was a toddler, we called her our teddy bear. One of her spiritual gifts is mercy. If you are familiar with the 5 love languages, hers is definitely acts of service. We love you, Brynna - happy birthday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Braces, round 2

Kora, our oldest is our most recent victim of orthodontic torture: braces. She got them yesterday in the midst of a very busy day. She is not a happy girl. She thought her teeth were straight enough, and had no desire to do anything about them. I'm just hoping that when she grows up she'll appreciate it. I wanted her to smile to show off the new hardware, and this is what I got:
Thrilled, isn't she? It's the 13 year old version of stamping her foot.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I had grand plans for yesterday, and I got 95% of them done. Not too bad. But I was definitely over-ambitious and was worthless when I got done.

Friday, I had Kelly stop by Sam's Club and get a case of ground beef. We do this every 6-7 months, because the 90% lean ground beef there is about $0.80 per pound cheaper (and sometimes more) than buying the family packs there at Sam's - and that is way cheaper than the same stuff at any other grocery store here in town.

Of course once you buy that much meat, you have to DO something with it. :-) I've done this for several years now, and always before I would cut up some of the logs into 1, 1.5, or 2 pound sections, bag and freeze them raw for future use in meatloaves, meatballs, or meat patties. Then I would start browning meat and freezing the ground beef in 1 or 1.5 pound portions. Not only does this save us a lot of money over the months, but it saves me a lot of time in the kitchen.

This time I decided to take it a step further. Instead of just freezing the raw meat, I actually mixed up 7 meals worth of meatloaf (3 different recipes), 3 bags of meatballs, 4 meals worth of taco meat. I also bought 8 pounds of ground Italian sausage last week at HEB. Three went into one of the meatloaf recipes, and the other 5 I browned and mixed with an equal amount of ground beef. This is now frozen for 10 different Italian based meals (spaghetti, lasagna, etc.) when I usually mix the two. The remaining beef was browned and frozen as before.

That's A LOT of work on 80 pounds of beef plus 8 pounds of sausage. But I got it all done in one day. I had also planned on taking some of the beef right after it was browned and cooking up a couple of meat sauces in triple batches and freezing them for the casseroles they go in. But I ran out of time, energy, and my back and feet were killing me. All of the above plus clean up took about 8 hours, maybe more. But it will be so worth it in the amount of time it will save us. We love just being able to pull out the meat already browned - it makes meal prep so much easier on those days.

Next time I think I will do it again, with a couple of minor changes. On Friday evening I think I will cook one log (10 pounds) and go ahead and do those sauces that night. Then I can refrigerate them overnight and bag and freeze the next morning. Then proceed on Saturday as I did yesterday. But my freezer is nicely stuffed and I really don't want to eat any ground beef for several days. :-)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Band of Brothers

Kelly and I just recently finished watching the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, which documents the actions of Easy Company, 506th Paratroop Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne division during World War II. Kelly got the set for Christmas and I decided to watch it with him, though World War II has never been an area of history I've been much interested in. It was too recent - after all, my grandfather was in the army during WWII. He was a staff sergeant in the China/India/Burma theater.

But in the last few years the era has peaked my interest more. I don't know if it is maturity on my part or the passing of my grandfather, but I had read a little more about it in recent years, though not nearly as much as other areas. Last year, I studied the civil war almost exclusively. I read I don't know how many books about it, until I was Civil Warred out.

Even though I was slightly more interested in recent years, I still didn't think I would enjoy the series as much as I did. Though, after talking to a friend of mine with several boys, I realize this might be due in part to the fact that I HAVE NO BOYS. I don't have to worry about my sons wanting to grow up and be soldiers. So it doesn't evoke images for me that it might in other moms. The historian in me wanted to know how factual the series was, so I've actually started reading about World War II - something I've never done before unless it was a class assignment. And I'm enjoying!

And I wish my grandfather was around to ask more about it.

Even though we enjoyed the Band of Brothers, I need to warn you that the language is, well, rough would be a polite term. I realize that it is probably accurate in that regard, but it is still hard to sit through, especially as I am not used to hearing it any more. So we will definitely not be letting any of the girls watch it, maybe until they are grown and gown out of the house. :-) So don't get the idea that it would be a good supplement to your high schooler's history studies.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter 2010

Good Friday and the Cross represent Jesus dying as payment for our sins. The first Easter and the Resurrection were when Jesus clothes us with His righteousness so that when we stand before God, He sees not a sinner but His One and Only Son.

I'm sure that's were the tradition of Easter clothes/dresses comes from right? To represent our new robe of righteousness from Christ? Surely there's some highly significant reason for this tradition other than a longing for new duds? It would make me feel better if there were. :-)

Well, if not, they sure are fun, especially with a house full of girls. Easter dresses are fun. When I went to see my mom and dad a few weeks back, she and I went shopping for dresses for the girls. My mom very sweetly bought the dresses (THANK YOU!) and I decided that since I didn't have dresses to get, I would get them jewelry to go with them. So the older 5 got bracelets and earrings - well, all those with holes for earrings to go in.

Ashlynn will be 2 in a couple of weeks and has still not learned how to keep her tongue in her mouth. It's her trademark.Lauryn (aged 5)
My mom and I fell in love with these dresses - love the skirts!
Hailey (7yo) - and yes, she has forgotten how to smile for the camera. They all did at this age.
Brynna (who will be 9 in a couple of weeks) LOVED the wrap that came with this dress.
Aubrey (11 years old).
Kora (13) - no, she's not unhappy, but there is a story here.
As I wrote earlier, we've all - except Kora - had a nasty stomach bug this week. This morning she felt fine, though she didn't eat much breakfast, which is unusual. By the time she'd finished dressing though, she said, "I'm not feeling very good." Kelly was already having to stay home from church as he wasn't completely over it yet. So I told Kora to "let me take a quick picture first." So I drug her outside and took a couple of quick individual pictures, then told all the other kids to get out there quick so I could get a quick group shot. Kora was great about it, but in her effort to keep the nausea at bay, she doesn't look very happy. :-) I'll get a better picture next week. Since she didn't get to actually go to church, she can just wear it next week!
Happy Easter !

Friday, April 2, 2010

Smith Infirmary for Girls

That's what Kelly said we should call this place lately. Though I guess that wouldn't be appropriate now.

We've had a nasty stomach bug go through our family, starting with Ashlynn last Sunday. Then we thought we were free when no one else had succumbed by bedtime Tuesday night, which was a good thing since we were supposed to host our church's Wednesday evening Bible study.

Then around 1:15 a.m. Lauryn wakes me up with news that she has it, and I realize as I'm getting her situated that I'm not feeling all that steady either. Hoping it was just the power of suggestion, I stayed on the sofa just in case it wasn't so I wouldn't disturb Kelly. Sure enough, I had it too. By the time Kelly woke up, I was running fever. I ran fever all day long, staying pretty high. I don't remember being that sick in years, mainly because of the fever and, I'm sure, dehydration. I'm so grateful Kelly stayed home from work that day 'cause he had to nearly carry me to the bathroom, I was so weak, and nearly passed out on him a couple of times. I remember telling him at one point that I thought I was going to die. A few moments later I changed it to "I want to die."

Since I came down with it, Aubrey got it, and then last night Brynna, Hailey, and Kelly all got it. Ironically, Aubrey's the only other one that ran fever; most everyone has gone through it without any, let alone as high as mine was. Kora has escaped so far, but I'll be surprised if she doesn't get it soon. I feel like I need to hang a "Quarantined" sign on our front door. For such a short-lived virus, it is nasty while it is here.

Unfortunately, we aren't sure if this will affect our Easter plans, but at this point we are assuming it will.