Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 Summer Ideas Part 2

Keeping Your House in {some semblance} of Order

Yeah right...I hear you say.

I am not, nor will I pretend to be a wonderful,

I do clean the kitchen after every meal.
I love cleaning the bathrooms.
The shark (vacuum thingy) is my friend for kitchen floors and
highly trafficked areas.

But I am a MESSY.
I operate on the pile system.
I have more than one junk drawer.
I always have clothes hanging out of my drawers.

Here are some things I do and will do this summer to try and
maintain a livable home.

Inspector MOM. This is something I did last summer and plan on doing it again, beginning next week. Regular old mom tells the kids that Inspector Mom is coming to visit in a set amount of time. (Like 15 minutes) Everyone scrambles to pick up. Then the Inspector Gadget theme song begins to play. Regular Mom puts on a funny hat and uses a funny voice and has a cup full of quarters. As Inspector Mom walks thru the house, she rewards the kids who have picked up, made up beds, closed drawers, helped a younger sibling...etc.

{Side note: Hattie told me yesterday that she was trying to keep her drawers closed in practice for when Inspector Mom visits. Poor girl, she takes after regular mom in the messy department!}

Sharing the Load. Its pretty much impossible for me to set aside A DAY to clean the house. So I break it up the big jobs over a few days, of course there are tons of daily jobs too. Bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping, laundry...let the kids do what they can. If they are little, let them "help" by standing on a step stool and wipe the sinks, or shorten the handle and use the swiffer. If they are bigger, let them pick a job. Like, "Would you like to vacuum the living room or clean the toilets?" My mom used to do that for us. She got help, and we {thought we} got off light.

The Mad Dash. This is when dad is expected to be home at a certain time. You set the timer, make a game of it, and every one does a FAST clean up job. I like to focus on the main living area so when Daddy comes home, he gets a good first impression and doesn't say things like, "Ooooh, what have you guys done all day?"

I'm sure there will be {many} days
it will look like a
hit the inside of our house.
But, hopefully, we can maintain
a little order...
Got any other ideas???

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam

So, I saw a FB status (Mary Alice Dice) about eating strawberry freezer jam. I was jealous. I was thoroughly warned by more than one person (including my mom) that it has a LOAD of sugar in it. Because I am always looking for ways to cut the sugar out of our diet while maintaining a good taste, I combined a few recipes and have made this twice now.


Start with fresh strawberries. Rinse and cap them. Mash them in layers until you get 3 cups worth. {I used my handy Pampered Chef Mix-n-Chop which is AMAZING AND my Core and More for capping the berries--- btw, if you don't have these, you should get them!}

Now you need Fruit Pectin. I used the Ball, Natural Gel, no sugar needed brand. I then gradually mixed one package of that with 1 3/4 cup of Apple Juice. Bring that to a fast boil, whisk while boiling for 1 minute.

Then, add the strawberries to that mixture. If the strawberries are on the tart side, add some sugar. My first batch I added about 3/4 cup of sugar or splenda (compared to the 3+ cups the regular recipe calls for!!!). But with my second batch, the strawberries were SO good, I didn't add any extra sugar).

Ladle the mixture into containers leaving 1/2 inch room at the top, at least.
Set at room temp for about 24 hours or so.
Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to a year!

I'm telling you, this was very easy. Not too time consuming. And UNBELIEVABLY delicious! You can use this on PB&J's, toast, ice cream, pound cake....something everyone can enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

2010 Summer Ideas Part 1

Summer is FAST approaching!!
With four kids { 7 } and under, I have no choice but to be organized and intentional with what we will do during these upcoming weeks. I'm not going to schedule every minute of every day, but I want to avoid the "What are we gonna dooooooo today?" questions.
I want to look back on the SUMMER OF 2010 and think, "that was great!" Rather than, "Shew....glad that's OVER!"
We have several big events planned, but there are many days where we will be taking the ordinary and making it fun.
I collected some great information and ideas together for my MOPS group. I've decided to do a little series. I'd love feedback and other ideas you may have to add.

Part 1 of this series is about SUMMER READING.

With all the work that you and you child(ren) have put into the school year, whether you've home-schooled or not, whether your child has excelled in reading or not, maintaining and even improving these skills is crucial!

Listen to some of these stats:
  • The average student learns about 3,000 words per year in the early school years (8 words per day).
  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.
  • Students who reported having all four types of reading materials (books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias) in their home scored, on average, higher than those who reporter having fewer reading materials.
  • When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.
So, what are you going to do this summer to encourage good reading skills for your children? Here are some ideas:


Read outloud together.
Pick some classics like Charlotte's Web, Black Beauty, Ramona the Pest, the Westing Game, Chronicles of Narnia...Pick some currents like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House, Marley and Me, Tale of Winn Dixie.
(try not to be interrupted during this time with the phone.)

Read separately, alone time. Even MOMMY reads her book or bible or whatever.

Set a timer if your child loathes this idea and reward them (even the little ones who are only looking at picture books) for reading for the amount of time you have set. Make a big deal when the timer goes off.

Join the summer reading program at the library.

Give rewards, incentives, cold hard cash for reading certain books that you suggest, like biographies or books of the bible.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Strawberry Personalities

Last week we (my kids, 4 NGU students and myself) went strawberry picking at a local place up the road from our house. It was very funny to observe my four kids and their personalities that came out as we were there.

Silas: This little perfectionist searched for the perfect strawberries. FEW met his expectations. We picked a total of 3 gallons and Silas might have contributed 5 strawberries total. He is so meticulous, so observant, so sensitive.

Hattie: All she cared about was being able to pick strawberries and put them in her special BLUE basket. Its all about the process, the experience for her. She skipped up and down the rows of berries. She flitted between us showing us her little loot. Such a social butterfly.

Lukey: The words that would describe his method would be grabbing, stuffing, any berry will do. He ate about as many as he put in the basket. He talked the entire time. He's impulsive in every way, evident in his strawberry picking as well!

Millie Grace: I will say that she stuck with the program better than I thought. Nothing gets by her ever, she can keep up with her siblings easily. She stayed with the group, enjoying taking the berries picked by others out of the baskets and moving them to others. However, in perfect 18month old style, she picked few and ate MUCH.

Its AMAZING how four little humans with such similar DNA can be SO different. They have so many similar likes (strawberries). They love eachother so much. And yet they go about life at completely different angles. They know how to push eachother's buttons and at the same time prefer to be together all the time.

God has made each of us exactly the way He has intended us to be. Our personalities are not good or bad. Some are decision makers, some are creative thinkers, others are great listeners, and still others are detail oriented. So often we butt-heads with people that don't do things the way we do it. But we are all strawberry picking together. We accomplish so much as we go about our tasks with our own styles. Isn't it funny? Isn't is wonderful?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ten Years!

Today, Jody and I were walking downtown and we met this lady and told her that it was our 10 year anniversary she said she couldn't believe that we were old enough to have been married that long.

HA! I think I actually did laugh at her.

Now, here's some fun Jody and Emily Trivia

Our cheapest anniversary ever was in Hoima, Uganda. Dinner cost us about $7 total. Friends (The Lammers) babysat Silas

Our favorite show is Survivor, the first season came out the summer we got married and we've loved it ever since.

We have a HARD time coming to an agreement on the names of our kids. Jody prefers to wait all 9 we typically can't make it official until we meet the baby.

We are very adventurous eaters. Like today, we walked into a random hole-in-wall Jamaican restaurant totally enjoyed every bite!

Having people in our home has become one the joys of our life together. Being able to model and practice all aspects (good and bad) of marriage and raising a family is such a blessing!

So glad to be married to my best friend!