Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A simple trip

Yesterday was payday....my least favorite day of the month because it usually means there is little to no food left in the house and I have some serious grocery shopping to do!

I try to shop for groceries every ten days. Those are my big planned trips, but there usually ends up being some additional shopping in the middle for things like bread, milk and yogurt. The first trip of the month is always the worst (read biggest and most expensive), so naturally I dread it the most!

My shopping trips always consist of two stops. I like to get it all done on the same day, so I plan for both Costco and Target (yes, I DO have a Red Card!).

My day usually starts by dragging out a stack of cook books....

I go through my books and begin a list of meals for the next 10 days. I like to try each week to add some new meals or things we haven't had in a while. If we end up not eating all the meals (due to leftovers or eating out), then I simply roll them into my next 10 days. For that reason, I always try to use any recipes that have ingredients that might spoil first.

Once I have my meals selected, I start on my lists.....

One for Costco, and one for Target. My initial lists are jumbled as I just write whatever I need while going through my recipes.

Here's a copy of my meal list for this week....

Once it's finished, it goes on the side of the fridge for everyone to see!

After I have my initial lists done, I go back and rewrite them so that they are organized into groups like: meats, breads, soups, pasta, veggies, etc. That saves me a lot of time in the store, and I tend not to miss as much as I'm going through the aisles....I hate having to back-track!

Before I leave for the store, I prep the back of my car. This consists of removing strollers & car seats and putting the 3rd row of seats down. I didn't have to do this with the suburban, but now that I have the new car, it's the only way to fit everything!

I usually try to go to Costco first, since that's where I tend to get the bulkier items that need to make up the "base" of the pile in the back of my car. Sometimes it only takes me one cart at Costco, but I have had several occasions where I've needed two carts! I normally spend anywhere from $300-$400 at this stop.....yesterday was a $400-day!

Once I'm done at Costco, I head across the street to Super Target. That's always a 2-cart stop, and it usually takes me a little longer (around an hour and a half). I normally spend about $300-$400 in there as well......and with yesterday being the beginning of the month, it was another $400 receipt. I'm thankful that my Target red card saves me 5%- that usually covers the tax on the total bill, and yesterday I saved $20 just by using it!

Yesterday, I took Caleb with me on my big trip and met Zack at Costco to help with the shopping. We went rather late, so I knew we'd be gone through dinner. We ended up picking up pizza from Costco when we were through, and Zack took it home for the kids to eat while I went on to Target by myself.

I'm not really a fan of shopping by myself, and I miss everyone terribly when I'm gone, so I'm thankful that it rarely happens! In fact, I usually have at least 2 to 3 kids with me when I shop, even on the "big trip" days! Yesterday, however, I spent my time at Target alone, and it gave me some time to think.

I realized, as I was loading my overflowing cart (I refused to get a second cart because I had no one to push it!), the sheer magnitude of the responsibility that my husband and I have as parents to EIGHT children.

It was a VERY humbling moment.

I don't know what was different, but it suddenly hit me that we have been given an incredible gift of great importance.....8 lives depend on us...and only us.

Humbling, indeed.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I've never felt this overwhelming feeling before now. It's one that I can't really explain, and all I can think to say is that I felt, for the first time ever, the hugeness of my job in this life.

And a simple shopping trip was all it took.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Customer service?

These days, with the economy in the toilet, many people out of work, the cost of living going up while the value of our house and/or stock continues to go down, it's a good idea to be kind to everyone around you.....you never know what might come back around if you're not!

Ok, so what's prompting me to say this? I know you're just dying to know ;D Today I had a different post planned, but then I had a situation come up that made me so stinkin' mad! And you know what a blogger does when she (or he!) is irritated, right?

Blogs about it, of course!

Last spring, we had a nasty, nasty hail storm. You may remember me blogging about it and all the damage that was done to our vehicles. Well, not only were vehicles damaged, but most people in the area had serious damage to the roofs of their houses as well. That has led to months and months of roofs being replaced, with roofing companies coming in from all over the country to our area. We live in Kansas, but it's not uncommon to find companies here replacing roofs from states like Washington or North Carolina.

The majority of our neighbors have already had their roofs replaced, and the neighbors directly next door to us are currently in the process. Because we live in a cul-de-sac lot and are at the end, our front yards are angled together, and our front doors are in very close proximity. We feel so lucky because this particular family just moved in last summer, and they have been wonderful friends! They have a child that is Jacob's age, and he LOVES to go next door to play!
The workers got started on our neighbor's house late last week. Yesterday, around 4pm, Jacob was asking if he could go next door and play with his friend. I looked out the front window and noticed that there was a ladder right beside their front door, but I also noticed that the workers seemed to be gone for the day....no trucks, no guys.

After dinner, Zack & I went out for a walk, and we again noticed that there was not one, but at least TWO ladders left sitting against the house next door. To be clear, these are the ladders that reach all the way to the roof of a huge, 2-story home! Once I realized that the guys were gone for the day, and my children were playing in the yard, I was immediately concerned about safety!

Of course, when these companies do their work, they put signs in the yard they're currently working on to advertise their business, complete with name and phone number, so I had no problem this morning knowing exactly who to call about the ladder issue!

When I called, someone answered the phone with what sounded like a mouth full of food. I wanted to be sure I had the correct number, so I clarified that it was indeed the roofing company. The guy on the other end said yes, apparently having swallowed his mouthful, so I explained to him that I needed to speak to someone about a concern I had.

The guy then said well, I'm the boss.

Okay.

So then I very nicely explained to him that my neighbors were having their roof replaced through his company, and that we were concerned about the fact that ladders were being left up overnight. At that point, I hadn't given him any information about my location or who my neighbors were.

After I finished, he said simply is that all?

Given the way that he said is that all, I assumed that he was planning to end the call without getting any information from me or taking my concern seriously, so I told him that I was very concerned about the safety issue, that I had a 3yr-old that I was worried might climb one of the ladders, and then I pointed out to him that he hadn't even asked me where I lived or who the neighbor was.

He then replied in a VERY nasty tone that he knew EXACTLY who I was talking about because he had received a phone call from them (my neighbor) this morning about the same issue!

I was in complete shock at his response, and I couldn't believe the tone he was using, so I kindly told him that he didn't need to be so rude to me, to which he replied oh and you can be rude to me?

SAY WHAT?!?!

Well, to that I replied that I was sorry if he thought I was being rude in any way, and that I didn't intend to be rude. I also explained that I had no idea that the neighbors had already called, and that I was calling on my own. I then told him that I was highly doubtful that it was his company's policy to allow ladders to be left up overnight and that if anything happened to one of my children as a result of them climbing on a ladder, he would see me in court!

His response was that he had already contacted his roofers and it was taken care of, so I thanked him and hung up. Of course, I wasn't the least bit thankful at that point! I was mad and truly felt violated! I'm one of those people that doesn't like confrontation, and I try very hard to avoid it. I don't like people to be upset with me, especially when I feel it's undeserved, but I also see things in black and white.....right or wrong! If someone is breaking a law, I'll be the first one to step up and make some noise! But I always try to do it in a respectful way, and I try to choose my words carefully.

Honestly, my first thought was that this guy is trying to run a business in this economy, has lots of other competition coming in from other states (he's local), and he's trying to get more business by advertising with his sign in my neighbor's yard......and he's gonna yell at me? Me, who incidentally, was just trying to save him from having a lawsuit dropped on his head when one of my children fell from that ladder and ended up in the hospital or worse?! Me, who also needs to have my roof replaced due to hail damage? I mean, all he had to do was politely answer the phone, listen to my complaint, and then respond that he was already aware of the issue and had taken care of it....thank you and have a nice day! He could have easily dispensed with the rude, nasty tone and snarky responses, and I wouldn't be typing this up right now!!!!!!!

WHEW!!

Way to get my blood boiling!

Now, I thought about taking a picture of his sign and blowing it up and adding it to this post, but that wouldn't make me any better than him....so I won't.

Nope, I'm choosing to leave it alone at this point, and instead be grateful that I have this blog as an outlet for my frustration!

But I know who I WON'T be calling when WE need a new roof!

Be sure to "like" my new facebook page and leave me a comment there about what you would have done!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies

*Be sure to "Like" my new Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens facebook page for all the latest posts!*

The best of BOTH worlds is here! I've been spending a lot of time of Pinterest, and I somehow managed to get so hooked on oreo cookie recipes, that I ended up with a new board just for oreos.....I call it Oh-Oh-Oreos! If you're interested in any of the great stuff I found, be sure to "follow me" on Pinterest- there's a link on the right sidebar of my blog :D

But back to the recipe I tried this weekend! I saw a picture of an oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie on Pinterest, and I wanted to try it. I decided it was probably just my normal Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe wrapped around an oreo, so I whipped up a batch of dough and grabbed some oreos....

I then wrapped some dough around each cookie....

And placed them on a cookie sheet!

Yes, they are HUGE! I baked them, and this is how they looked when done....

YUMMY! But here's the best part.....

The middle ;D

Now, let me tell you what I did wrong! I think they need more flour than the standard cookie dough recipe calls for, because mine ended up spreading pretty far away from the actual oreo while baking. Also, I really think I put too much dough around each oreo, and my cookies got away from me (a bit too large!). But I think the second problem would be resolved with more flour because that would thicken the dough a bit and make it easier to wrap the oreo!

So, that said, while my cookies tasted fabulous, if you want to try it, be sure to use the recipe below that I found on Pinterest!

Ingredients:
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 bag Oreo Cookies (can use the double-stuffed)

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla until well mixed.
* In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.
*Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an oreo cookie. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of oreo cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until oreo cookie is enclosed with dough.
*Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Biker Boys

Matthew decided to take the training wheels off his bike a couple of weeks ago, and he hadn't had them off for five minutes when little brother Jacob insisted on having his off as well! Now, not only are both boys riding like pros, but they are even doing stunts! Check them out!

biker boys from Jenny Zacharewicz on Vimeo.

And of course, around our house, it's monkey-see, monkey-do! Even the littlest has to get in on the action ;D Check out Caleb's new trick!

Bike ramp baby from Jenny Zacharewicz on Vimeo.

Friday, August 26, 2011

5 Question Friday!

Every week I swear I'm gonna get my act together and participate in Mama M's 5 QF Friday, but I actually only end up joining in once every 6 mos or so! Sad too, because it's such a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other even better, and I know I'll appreciate it when looking back on this blog that I use as my family journal!

But today, mostly due to lack of sleep from a very cranky baby who was up all night so my brain is fried and I don't want to think about any other posts (whew!), I'm managing to join in :D

So, here goes:

1. Did you make any fun purchases this week?

Nope! Honestly, it's the end of the month and we're outta moolah! I did have to run out and buy Josh some new polos for school after discovering that all of his had "emblems" on them and were against his private school's strict dress code....but that was about it outside of groceries.

2. If you could go to any musical concert, what would it be?

Oh, I would LOVE to see Taylor Swift in concert! Not only do I love her music, but I've heard she puts on an amazing show. Actually, Allie is headed to see her in a few weeks here in Kansas City, and I'm jealous!!!

3. What is your least fav/ most fav house chore?

Least favorite.....cleaning toilets! And that's why hubby does it ;D
Most favorite......laundry! I never get tired of doing laundry, even when I don't have any help and have to do it all myself. There's just something enjoyable about folding clean laundry, and I love that I can do it while watching t.v. (something I rarely get to do!), so it's almost like a break for me!

4. Would you prefer new appliances or clothes?

New appliances, without a doubt! I would love to have 2 of everything....washers, dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, trash compactors, etc., etc......! I currently have two ovens, and I can't imagine life without both of them, but we are often wishing for more of the others as well! And I would SO love a ginormous fridge!!! And since I'm not much of a fashionista, I really couldn't care less about my wardrobe (much to Allie's chagrin!).

5. Miracle Whip or Mayo?

Ok ya'll, Miracle Whip is just NASTY!!!!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

A half-tank...

*Hey everyone- it just occurred to me that I needed to let you know that I finally got a fan page set up on Facebook for my blog! If you "like" my page, then you'll get updates on FB whenever I post! If you're interested, here's the link: Toddlers, Teens & In-Betweens on Facebook*

Yesterday, I was tested. Apparently, I needed to find out what was more important....teaching my child a hard life-lesson, or perhaps giving him something more.

We live in the most southern part of town, right where the city meets the country! We have lots of two-lane, hilly (is that a word?!) backroads around us, and we travel them daily to get the boys to school. The trip to Josh's school is about 10 minutes each way, going 45 miles per hour on one of these fun little roads. There are a couple of 4-way stop signs, but, for the most part, it's all driving.....provided you don't get behind a garbage truck or a city worker on an hourly wage ;D

I normally leave the house at 7:35 to get Josh to school sometime between 7:45 and 7:50, depending on traffic. Once I've dropped Josh off, I head back toward our house, pass it, and then continue down the road a bit to drop Noah off (although they are in the same private school, they are at different campuses). The round-trip generally takes me about 40 minutes.

Yesterday's trip, however, was a bit longer.

The morning started out much the same as always. We've only been doing the school routine for one week, so it's still slightly rocky some mornings, but we haven't had too many issues thus far. I dropped Josh off at school and headed back in the direction of Noah's school....one hill, two hills, three hills.......

my cell phone rings.

It's Josh. Calling me from the phone in the school's front office.

Ok now ya'll... do you remember my post a couple of days ago about how we got Josh his OWN cell phone so that he would be able to call me anytime, anywhere? Yeah. So you can understand my frustration when I asked him why he was calling me from the OFFICE phone instead of his cell phone and he told me he left his cell phone at home!

Anyway, back to the story ;D Apparently, Josh had broken the school dress code and needed me to bring him a different shirt....oh, and the lunch he had ALSO forgotten! I told him I would have to take Noah to school first and then I would make the trip back to his school after returning home to grab a different shirt and his lunch.

*On a side note- the junior high/high school students don't have an actual uniform....just a very strict dress code, and I'm fine with that. But honestly, it's almost harder to have a strict dress code because you have to be so much more careful about the things that you buy. The boys have to have collared shirts, and they can't have any pictures or anything on them (plaids and stripes are ok). The problem with Josh's polo was that it had a tiny little emblem on the front upper part of the chest....tiny. I was a little frustrated because he had just worn the same brand polo the day before with the emblem and it wasn't an issue. And almost all of the polos in his closet have some sort of little emblem on them, so now I'll have to get him MORE polos to last the next few weeks of warm weather!*

So, after dropping Noah off at school, I made my way home. I quickly grabbed Josh a new shirt and began to look around for the missing lunch. I looked high, I looked low, and after giving hubby a quick call to see if he knew where it was, I finally decided that Josh must have put it in his backpack and just missed it when he looked, as it was nowhere to be found in the house.

I began the long drive (that's how it felt the second time around anyway!) back to the school with three little starving boys sitting not-so-patiently in the back seat. When I reached the school, I went into the office and told the secretary my tale of woe, although I didn't mention the lost lunch. Josh came and grabbed his clothes, and I told him I couldn't find his lunch and he needed to check his backpack. His locker was right at the front of the school, so he looked while I waited and said it wasn't there.

Now, I'm not gonna lie. My first thought was oh boy, now I have to make this trip again! But the words that came out of my mouth were a bit different, more like....

well, I guess you won't be eating lunch today then!

Did I just say that?!

I left, and as soon as I got in the car, I called my husband, desperate for some confirmation that I had done the right thing. I questioned him as to whether or not I should return with lunch, and he agreed that it would be a good lesson for Josh to learn, and would likely help him to remember his lunch the next time.

I might add that, if you remember from my blog post last week about the first day of school, this is not the first time in this first week of school that Josh has forgotten something! Just last Wednesday, Josh forgot his backpack in the van that the girls had already driven out to the high school, and I had to leave extra early to go out to the girls' school and retrieve it! In addition, Josh tends to forget just about everything he has ever had to do, even after being reminded 15 times in a row! Of course, we know this is due to his ADHD, so we try to be understanding, but it is a daily and constant struggle for us. It's also the reason we homeschooled him last year and are very hesitant to have him back in school this year.

So, I headed back home and took care of getting the boys fed and dressed and making all the beds. I had some errands to run before taking Matthew to school at noon, so I was in a bit of a hurry. I did decide to check one more place for Josh's lunch before leaving, and lo and behold, there it was.....in his closet! No wonder I couldn't find it the first time around!

I took the lunch down and set it on the counter, by that time feeling rather unclear as to what I should do with it. I had already told him I wasn't going to bring it back, it would be a good lesson to learn, and I really didn't want to make that trip again as it was completely opposite of the direction I needed to go for my errands!

But it WAS just going to go to waste.....

And this WAS just the first week of school and a brand-new routine.....

And Josh DID look so heartbroken and forlorn when I left him standing in the school.....

What's a mother to do???

When I arrived back at the front office of the school, lunch bag in hand, the secretary smiled, knowingly, and then joked that I sure was making a lot of trips to the school that day! And of course, there would still be one more trip in the afternoon to pick Josh up from school..... a total of 120 minutes spent driving back and forth 4 times over the course of a day....

not to mention a half-tank of gas......

Now, I know that you won't all agree with my decision to return with the lunch. After all, hard things happen to us every day of our lives, and we simply must learn from them and go on, right?

And maybe I will soon regret the choice I made......

maybe.

But somehow, deep down in my soul.....

I don't think so.

You see, sometimes we do need to learn from our mistakes.....

but other times, we need to learn something just as valuable....

that we are loved.







Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Determined

Determined to throw...

Determined to play...

Determined...

...to...

...climb!

Determined to...

...give his mother...

...a heart attack!!!

Not really....

...this IS my 5th boy after all ;D


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The "Family" plan

Bare with me while I do a little venting ;D

We've been with Verizon for years now, and while we love their service, they seem to discriminate against larger-than-average-sized families! We have the "family-share" plan, but are only allowed up to 5 lines on our plan. That means that we can't have more than 3 of our children on our plan at once.

Up until this year, that wasn't much of a problem for us, but now that Josh is in junior high, I am really feeling like it's time for him to have his own phone! Especially since I am dropping him off and picking him up every day from school. It's the best way for me to communicate with him if I happen to be running late, and vice-versa.

But in order for Josh to have his own line, we have to drop one of the girls off our plan, and we're not quite ready to do that either. We want to give Allie one more year on our plan so she can get herself established and begin to make some money before taking on her own cell phone plan, car insurance, etc!

But I really want Josh to have his own phone! (mostly for my own peace-of-mind!)

I understand the phone companies not wanting to have more than a certain number of lines per family. Obviously that would lead to abuse. But we do have a legitimate reason to need more lines, and it really stinks that, as always, we have to pay more than most families to have the same benefits!

A second example of this is that we have to pay more than all of our neighbors for trash pickup because we are only allowed one trash can per household in our subdivision. We have to pay every month, above and beyond what the other homeowners pay, to have a second trash bin.

I know, I know, we decided to bring all these children into the world and must now pay the price. I simply wish companies would find ways to make life a little easier for larger families. I would even be willing to provide birth dates of all my children if it would make things less expensive for us!

It's also frustrating when children are considered "adults" at age 10 or 12 at places like restaurants, events, or even the zoo! I mean, REALLY! My 10yr-old is NOT going to eat as much as my husband.....that's a FACT!!!! And, as long as I'm on the topic of eating, my daughters don't eat nearly as much as my 13yr-old growing son who can eat anyone under the table and out the door ;D

Honestly, companies don't realize how much business they're missing out on by not making it easier for larger families. We are very limited to the restaurants we feel like we can afford, the places we can go (ie amusement parks), and the things we can do! Some suggestions..... have affordable family passes and raise the ages of children before making them "adults!" Realize that we are going to spend more money once we're there anyway, and make it easier for us to get there in the first place!

So, back to our Verizon plan! We ended up giving Josh his own phone (used one of the old ones we had lying around).....

And had to put hubby on his own plan.....adding another $50/month to our cell phone bill instead of the $10 it should really cost to add a line!

YOU'RE WELCOME VERIZON :/

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coffee Sense!

Tired of paying nearly $5 for your Starbucks latte?! Well, I sure am! I'm amazed as I watch the price on my favorite treat continue to rise. What at one time I could pass off as pocket change, is now breaking the bank! But I love coffee, and not just coffee, but coffee with "stuff" in it. And we all know, it's the stuff that takes that 50 cent cup of joe all the way up to near $5. For me, it's gotten so bad that I've honestly considered adding a line for it into my monthly budget!

WHY do I do it?

One word......convenience!

I just always feel like I'm on the go and choosing to make a pot of coffee and add stuff in and then clean up the mess would mean that I have to give up something else....like going to the bathroom!

Obviously, I'm exaggerating a bit, but that is often how it feels around here. So I had to come up with a solution. And when my mom was here several weeks ago, I found my answer. She decided to give The Pioneer Woman's recipe for iced coffee a try, and I ended up loving it.

Now, I'm probably the last person on earth to know about Ree Drummond's fabulous recipe, but just in case I'm not, I wanted to share it on my blog!

When I decided to try making it myself, I went out and bought 2 bags of Starbucks coffee from Target. Unfortunately, those bags of coffee are measured in ounces, and the recipe calls for one pound of coffee, so my first step was to figure out exactly how much coffee I needed.

After tweeting, facebooking, and googling, I was no closer to an answer! The biggest problem is that you're working with dry ounces as opposed to liquid ounces. I finally decided to enlist the help of my whiz-kid Sophie......

And after measuring and some math (yes, it IS good for something), we felt like we finally had the right amount! We added the coffee to a large bowl and then poured in 8 quarts of water and let Jacob stir....

It smelled great (if you love coffee, that is), but it looked rather nasty!

We covered the bowl and let it sit overnight. The next morning, I assembled a few items:

And got ready to strain the coffee. I knew there was no way I would be able to pour that enormous bowl carefully into the strainer without making a huge mess...

So I decided to use a measuring cup to pour small amounts of coffee in at a time- it worked really well!

Once the bowl was full...

I poured it into the container I planned to store it in. When I was done, this is what I had....

Now I can save the coffee in the fridge and grab it whenever I need it! And it lasts a long time! I like to add milk, vanilla syrup, and ice to mine....

And now it only takes me about a minute to throw together! YAY!

After I already had my coffee made, I heard from Mama M that if you use a 12 ounce bag of coffee, you would use 6 quarts of water...my sincere thanks for that!! That's what I plan to do next time, however I still think I used the right amount (we figured about 6 cups of coffee is equal to 1 pound of coffee) because the coffee tastes great!!

So, now that I've told you how I did it, let me give you the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 lb coffee (or 12 ounce bag- NOT THE SAME AMTS)

8 quarts water (or 6 quarts if you use the 12 ounce bag)

Stuff you need to make it:

cheese cloth

fine mesh strainer

measuring cup

extra large bowl

Instructions:

In large container, mix ground coffee with water. Cover and allow to sit 8 hours or overnight. Line a fine mesh strainer w/ cheese cloth and set over a pitcher or other container. Pour coffee mixture through the strainer, allowing all liquid to run through. Discard grounds. Place coffee in the fridge to cool and store.

That's it! And I should add that this whole thing cost me about $20 when I figure in the cost of the coffee, milk and syrup! That will last me for about a month, giving me a total savings of $120 if I were to buy coffee at Starbucks every day.....WOW!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Days of our lives....Saturday!

*Let me warn you....this post turned into more of a book than a post! Sorry for the length, but I'm so happy to have all this information down as part of my journal!*

Wow....is it Saturday already?!?! Actually, this has felt like the longest week ever, so I'm happy it's over! I think the anticipation of the new routine, and then the implementation of that routine has done me in.....or maybe I'm just getting old ;D

Today began at 6:30. Having a baby in the house doesn't often allow for sleeping in! But since Caleb was the only one up at that point, we lounged around in our bed and played with him for a little while.

At 6:45, we heard Sophie leave (she had to be at cross country practice at 7am and was getting a ride with a friend), and by 7, Matthew & Jacob had joined the party in our room, so up we got! I got beds made, changed Caleb's diaper and then got all the little ones dressed. By 7:30, we were ready to head downstairs for breakfast.

Breakfast in our house during the week is usually cereal, bagels or steelcut oats in the crockpot. On the weekends, fried or hardboiled eggs are a big treat. I rarely cook things like pancakes or french toast in the morning....we much prefer to have those things for dinner! Honestly, they're just a lot of work, and we usually don't have a lot of time- especially when sports are in full swing and we can have anywhere from 1-4 games in a day!

We were done with breakfast and had the kitchen cleaned up by 8:30. Zack had to leave at 8:45 to pick up Sophie from practice, and he was back with her around 9:15. I was excited to hear that she had run about 8 miles! Zack stayed outside to clean up the yard.....for the second night in a row, we had a huge storm with incredible winds, and there were, once again, tree branches down everywhere! I spent some time on the computer checking email.

Around 9:30, our home phone rang. We didn't recognize the caller ID, so we just let it go to voicemail. About 2 minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was a girl. It was a girl who wanted to talk to Josh. So I gave the phone to Josh! He was literally off within seconds, and he handed me the phone asking me to never answer it again!

Turns out, the girl was from school and has a locker next to Josh, and she and her friend wanted to know if he had a crush on one of them! Oh boy.....here we go! I explained to Josh that he is a nice-looking boy and that 13-year old girls tend to do these types of things, so he probably needs to get used to it and not get upset.

Then my cell phone rang again.

I answered it, heard a loud noise in the background and then the *person* hung up on me! Now I was mad! Well, not too mad, but I wasn't happy about the fact that they were playing with MY personal cell phone. I'm not even sure how they got my number.... maybe from the school directory? At that point, I told Josh that he should answer the phone if they called back and then hand it to me (I was going to let them know that I didn't want them calling MY phone and that Josh didn't have a phone). Fortunately, they never did call back, and it's a good thing because Josh said they would really make fun of him if he didn't have his own cell phone!

By then, it was 9:45, and most of the girls were upstairs, so I left the little boys in their care and headed upstairs to take a shower. It was cleaning day, and hubby had already gotten started on cleaning the bathrooms, and I didn't want to get too far behind him!

I was ready by 10:45, and then I combed the boys' hair and started a load of laundry. I had Noah take out the trash and then I got started on my cleaning.

Since the next 4 hours were spent cleaning, I thought this might be a good time to talk about our cleaning routine. I know that I'm always interested in how other families do it, so I'll share our secrets with you all!

KID'S DAILY CHORES:

We have a rotating schedule for daily chores for the oldest 4 children (including Allie as long as she lives at home). These chores are: laundry, watering plants, emptying the dishwasher and setting/clearing the table. The laundry involves folding all clean laundry and putting it away (I take care of starting all the laundry and switching it over to the dryer, and I usually fold the first load of the day because it's always darks and it's always the clothing that I don't want to wrinkle). The kids do one chore for one week and then the list rotates. During the winter months, when there are no outdoor plants to water, the watering week becomes a "free" week (they get a break!).

Noah is currently responsible for taking out the inside trash and recycle items, as well as placing the bins at the curb on trash day and bringing them back up to the house once they are empty. We will probably put him in the chore rotation when he's 12 (that's when Josh "graduated" from trash!) and Matthew will take over the trash ;D

MY DAILY CLEANING:

I am a neat-freak! Compulsively so, in fact! For me, daily cleaning involves keeping the house picked up at all times (no piles ANYWHERE), keeping the laundry going, cleaning up the kitchen after each meal, and keeping the floors as clean as possible. After dinner, I have a rather substantial daily cleaning routine that involves wiping down all the counters, using Windex on all the appliances and any windows or glass on the main level that need it (I hate fingerprints!), vacuuming the whole main level, and often mopping the kitchen area. I also wipe down the sink and toilet in the powder bath on the main level with a clorox wipe each day.

WEEKLY CLEANING:

Because of my fairly extensive daily cleaning, we don't have to do as much weekly cleaning. We do clean all the sinks and toilets in the house every weekend, and wipe down all the mirrors. Occasionally, we run the vacuum on the upstairs bedroom level, but because of our fabulous carpet, unless there's actually dirt or crumbs we can see, there's no need! That carpet was SO worth the expense, and I love that it ALWAYS looks great!

During the summer, when we have yard work to do, Zack likes to get the boys involved and he is currently teaching Josh to use the weed-eater! He's not ready to entrust the riding lawn mower to anyone yet (and secretly I think he just loves doing it himself too much!), but he does take Jacob with him EVERY time he mows!

BI-WEEKLY CLEANING:

(Which is what we did today!) This is the time to clean the whole house. We used to do it weekly, but with around 7000 sqft, it's just too overwhelming to do every week! And since we keep up with our cleaning on a daily basis, we don't need to do it as often. This cleaning involves thoroughly cleaning all the bathrooms (to include removing the toilet seats and scrubbing all parts....if you're the parent of a boy, you understand the need for this....and we have 5 of them!), dusting the entire house, vacuuming all floors, mopping the baths and hardwoods, wiping down both kitchens (cleaning out microwave, fridge, etc), and wiping down the laundry room.

I am responsible for all dusting, cleaning the kitchens and laundry room and cleaning all glass in the house. Zack takes care of cleaning the baths and doing the floors.....what a guy!! Up until now, the girls have been responsible for taking care of the little kids while we work (playing with them, feeding them, etc).....it's just easier for us that way. But we are finally at the point where we realize it's important to get the kids involved in cleaning so they can learn techniques and good habits for life. We are now beginning to have them follow us around and help out, and we are planning to make a rotating schedule for bi-weekly cleaning very soon!

One of the chores will still be to help watch the little kids when the cleaning is being done, so someone will get to do that each time......

And Emily actually helped me out with something I've been meaning to do for a long time.....

She got all my recipes organized and in ONE book!

Sophie took some time to organize our game closet....also on our "to-do" list for a long time now!

While we were cleaning, Caleb fell asleep during lunch....

He looked so uncomfortable that I stuck a towel under his head! I didn't dare move him as I didn't want to risk waking him.... I still had lots of work to do and was enjoying the quiet ;D

Sophie entertained the boys with a game of checkers.......

While we finished up the house......

The weather was nasty out yesterday.....rainy mostly and a high of about 77 degrees....so everyone was stuck indoors. We finished up around 3:30, and then hubby decided to drag out the carpet cleaner and clean a couple of rooms AND touch-up some of the paint on walls as well! Since he was going to be busy, I decided to take Sophie, Emily, Josh & Caleb out to get Sophie's cross country shoes (she has to have "spikes" for racing). Allie stayed home with Matthew, Jacob & Noah....they watched some old movies!

While we were out, we swung by Target (again) to pick up some bread for dinner, spiral notebooks, and coffee. I wanted to make some more of Pioneer Woman's iced coffee (decaf this time!) since I've been enjoying it every day and it's so nice to have it on-hand and ready to go.

We arrived home around 5:30 to the smell of fresh paint and clean carpets....did I mention my husband is a super-hero?!?! I quickly started water boiling for dinner (spaghetti), chopped veggies for salad, and threw some bread in the oven to heat. We enjoyed a nice family dinner and then cleaned up the kitchen for the FINAL time that day! I even had to drag out the vacuum cleaner again because we had bread crumbs and parmesan cheese all over the floor!

After dinner, the kids went outside. The weather had cleared and they were able to get out their bikes and ride around. I stayed inside to make my iced coffee, but quickly realized I had a problem! The recipe calls for a pound of coffee, but my bag of Starbucks coffee was measured in ounces (12 to be exact!). After spending about 30 minutes googling, tweeting and facebooking trying to figure out how much coffee to use, I finally enlisted the help of Sophie (my whiz-kid)!

Through some simple math, teamwork and bouncing ideas back and forth, we finally got it figured out! In case you're interested, 1lb of dry coffee equals about 53 ounces or about 6.5 cups!!! Or maybe you already knew that, and we're not very smart ;D

I love this recipe though! It makes a ton of yummy coffee that stores in the fridge and lasted me about a month! You simply mix the coffee grounds with 8 quarts of cold water, cover and let it sit overnight, and then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth and fine strainer! So simple, even a 3yr-old can do it ;D

This is how it looked when it was ready to sit for the night....

That's a HUGE bowl!

By the time I had the coffee ready, it was shower and bedtime for the boys. We cleaned up outside and then brought the boys in to start the routine. Since it was a Saturday night, Zack & I had a Netflix movie we wanted to watch, so we hurried the boys along ;D Showers, teeth brushed, stories read and prayers, and then hubby and I settled into our own room to watch a movie while I nursed Caleb to sleep!

AND THAT'S IT!!!! The end of a week of posts about daily life in a family of 10! I'm so happy to have it all journaled and look forward to reading it when I finally publish my blog into a book! Thanks for reading :D

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Days of our lives......Friday!

Hey everyone! If you're just joining me, then you have 5 posts below to catch up on....kidding! But if you haven't been reading over the last week, I'm at the end of a series of posts about our daily routine- tomorrow is my final day!

Actually, I've been re-reading some of my posts, and I began to realize they made my day seem pretty boring. I quickly realized that it's due to the fact that, this being the first week of school, I left my calendar as open as possible so that I could be ready for any surprises ;D On top of that, besides Sophie's daily cross country practice, we haven't started activities yet! Josh starts fall lacrosse soon, Emily is very involved in theater, and Sophie will have meets starting very soon! So while this has been a rather relaxing end-of-summer week for me, it's about to change ;D

Today began much like yesterday....up at 6 and in the shower, boys up at 6:45, made my bed, got the little ones dressed, combed Noah's hair, and checked the boys' lunches. And, just like yesterday, I had everyone loaded into the car and ready to roll by 7:35. The big difference this morning was what I noticed as we were backing out of the garage...

We had a HUGE storm the night before, and the wind was whipping! We ended up having major branches come off our trees, and the yard was a mess! Looked like someone had their work cut out for them....that's what kids are for, right?!

On our way home from dropping off the boys, Jacob started crying and telling me he was sick again. He had actually thrown up two days before when we took the boys to school, and it seemed to be due to car sickness. The road to school is in a very rural area, and it has lots of hills.....lots! Unfortunately, he ended up throwing up again in a handful of tissue I had thrown back at him, and I'm a little worried this is going to be a daily problem :/

Once we were safely back on flat ground, I grabbed the boys breakfast.....

and fixed myself some iced coffee! By then it was around 8:45, and my next chore was laundry. Today was day 2 of my linen routine (yesterday I washed the sheets from all 6 of the upstairs beds)....this time it was the girls' beds and ALL of the bath towels.

While I started on the laundry, the boys played in the room that Matthew & Jacob share....

They built a train track out into the hallway....

and even Caleb got in on the fun :D (He LOVES trains!)

In order to get all the bath towels down to the laundry room, I typically throw them over the side of the banister.....

....and then kick them down the hall ;D

And here's where they land!

After gathering up the towels, I headed down to the basement to strip the girls' beds. By 9:30, I had my laundry piles organized and ready to go, and I was ready to head back upstairs to make the boys' beds. I spent some time playing with the boys when I was done, and then we cleaned up and headed downstairs around 10:30.

Matthew decided he wanted to watch a DVD, so I put on "Rio" for them and sat down for a few minutes with my computer to catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs. Since Caleb isn't too into watching movies, it was no surprise when I went in the kitchen and found this...

Caleb had been busy unrolling an entire roll of trash compactor bags! The biggest problem was that I couldn't put them back together, and I ended up having to shove them all into one of the bags.

By then it was 11:15 and time to feed Matthew lunch. I also started some more laundry and answered some email while he ate. When Matthew was done, I sent him out into the garage to get his shoes on so he would be ready to head to school. As I was cleaning up his lunch, I heard him hollering from the garage....mom, there's a bird in the garage!

Uh-huh.....

Matthew again....MOM, there's a BIRD in the garage!!!

Ok Matthew.

The next thing I knew, I heard a wooshing sound and a bunch of screaming little boys and looked over to see this.....

YES....that bird is on the INSIDE of the window! My first reaction was to call hubby on the phone, knowing that he couldn't do anything, but unsure what I should do! He stayed on the phone with me while I raised the blinds, removed the curtains and screens, and opened the windows wide.....

Fortunately, it was lunch time and he was able to make the 20-minute drive home to help me get the bird out! I had to get Matthew to school, so I left the window wide open and loaded the boys into the car. I quickly deposited Matthew at kindergarten and rushed home, worried about the bird I was just positive was pooping all over my house!!! Zack & I arrived home at the same time, and he went in the house ahead of me. Just as I was entering the house, out the window flew the bird! Zack said it had just been sitting on the kitchen sink and as he walked in the bird flew out the window!

We didn't end up needing that big net! So, back to work went hubby, and I hurried to put the window back together....no bird poop to be found ;D

Caleb had fallen asleep on the trip to school, so I brought him in and let him nap. I then started some more laundry and fed Jacob lunch. By 1:00, Caleb was still asleep, so I took some time to work on creating a Facebook Fan page for my blog! Sadly, the nap didn't last too long, and by 1:45 Caleb was awake and ready to eat the lunch he had missed!

I got Caleb fed, cleaned up the kitchen, did more laundry and by 2:45 it was time to go pick up the boys. We arrived home around 3:30, and I spent some time going through the boys' backpacks and paperwork from school. After everyone had grabbed a snack, I sent them out to help Emily who had begun to clean up the backyard.....

Yay for cheap labor ;D

The rest of the afternoon was spent talking to the kids, finishing up laundry, and starting dinner. Noah did manage to get the hose out and spray the baby with it.... he was soaked! Sophie made it home from cross country practice around 5:45 and was excited to show us her new uniform....

Allie, of course, had to help her model some pieces of it! She has a ton of pieces, and we still have to order more! Here's her bag....

It's always exciting when your kids are part of a high school sport, and we're super excited for this season as it is her first year ever running cross country. It looks as though she will be running on the varsity team as a sophomore! What an honor!

We ate dinner at 6, and then Zack took the boys out for a bike ride while the girls helped me clean up the kitchen. Allie headed to a movie (The Help) with friends around 6:45, and Sophie worked on some homework. By 8pm, we had the little kids in the shower, and I had Caleb nursed and sound asleep by 9:00! He actually made it through dinner tonight without falling asleep ;D

And now it's my bedtime! Sophie has to be at practice at 7am sharp!!!

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