Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Nursery; with toddler bunk beds

You know in Peter Pan when the kids are talking about it being Wendy's last night in the nursery?  I never really understood why kids (not babies) were in the nursery.  Now I do.  We've always just had a boys' room and girls' room (and mom & dad's room), but that's not working anymore and we have some more flexibility in this house.  We've been setting up an nursery for kids 7 (at least) and under.

We started by converting 2 toddler size beds into a set of toddler size bunk beds.  Our 6 year old and 4 year old will be sleeping in these.  We used the two headboards for the bottom bunk and the two foot boards for the top.  The beds are well secured together with pegs and brackets.  ***Use extreme caution in attempting this.  This is not a method/use recommended by the manufacturer.  My husband is an experienced builder and had to alter the construction of the beds***

The nursery is close to mommy and daddy's room.  It is also near our main living area.  We were struggling with littles not cleaning up their messes, having a hard time finding their clothing, or getting into older siblings things.  This way we will be better able to supervise and help these little ones.

We think this will also give them a nice play space that they can have more freedom in.  We will not have to be quite as concerned about curious/mischievous little hands.  *Some toys will be stored out of the way in the closet, others will be out to play with.  We limit what our children have available to them and rotate the toys regularly.  We find them to be more content with what they have when we do this.

Once baby arrives we will be storing 4 children's clothes in this room.  Baby will likely sleep in our room for several months.  We will put a small crib or playpen in here when it is time for baby to join the others. *We're just using the shelves in the closet  and hanging many of the girls things for their clothes right now.  We're holding off on buying a dresser to (1)save for it (2)see if it is really necessary since it would be nice not to have one in there.

The biggest goal here was protecting some sweet relationships.  We could see that some kids were being provoked to wrath either through siblings or the situations we had put them in.  This was something that could be changed, and so we needed to do that.  It has been working out very well for everyone.

I thought I'd share the costs of doing this with you especially since this was a budget project.
Crib mattress- $57 we only needed one since we already had a spare

Toddler bed- $79x2 on Amazon  *while we would normally look for these on Craigslist we bought these new because they had to be the exact same bed to work for our purposes.

The pink toddler bed (with mattress) was purchased quite a while ago by finding it on Craigslist.  It was new, the child that originally owned it never slept in it.  I think it cost $55

*This had been the girls' room.  Our two older girls moved downstairs to a room we had left empty to allow for some growth.  That growth happened sooner than we thought it would. :) 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pantry Challenge week 3

Whew!  I'm slow putting this post together, it was quite a week-end.  I'm so thankful for the retreat I was able to go on (and that I got to take my oldest daughter), and the big work day my family and I tackled on Monday; it all left me tired though.  Our pantry challenge is going well, but between the whole "end of pregnancy" thing and some very busy days I'm getting tired of it. :)  I'm seeing my goals accomplished though, so I'm inspired to keep going.

My poorly functioning pregnancy brain did not track expenses this week.  I didn't purchase much; bananas, pineapple, eggs,  and chocolate coconut (dairy free) ice know basic life essentials.  I also purchased several items for next month.  These were almost all convenience/specialty items related to the upcoming birth.

Ok, the menu for this week

Baked Oatmeal with fruit (random kinds found in the freezer)
Dutch babies
instant oatmeal

Packed lunch 'o junk- my kids couldn't believe their eyes when they saw me packing this.  Caprisun (left over from our move), fruit cups (left over from camping), random crackers and nuts.

Baked potatoes
dinner left overs
Random stuff from the "Pantry Challenge" bag- we will finish this off this week!

Chicken, stuffing, corn, cranberry sauce- the last of the chickens we processed this year and          Thanksgiving/Christmas pantry left overs
Pineapple curry Chicken
Split pea soup
Tacos- the kids were so excited to hear that I found some extra taco meat in the back of the freezer!
Shredded Pork

This week-end and in the coming week we will start some bulk cooking.  My freezer is nicely cleaned out and ready to be filled with meals to get us through the first month or so after baby arrives.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pantry Challenge week 2

Week 2 is not looking so much like a pantry challenge when it comes to dinners.  There were some great items hidden in the freezer and then we have a birthday.  We make a big deal out of meals for the birthday child; this child chose German food.  I don't keep those things in the pantry. :)

I spent more this week (last week I spent $0).  I placed an Azure (co-op) order; this can only be done once a month and I needed to order our coconut milk, raw cashews (which didn't ship), and pregnancy tea.  Total was $39.  I also ordered raw local honey; this is a group order that only happens once every couple/few months so I have to take advantage of it when it happens $33.

I had to go to Costco to pick up some items for a friend's dinner (she'd had surgery) and I picked up a couple of staples there for us too.  Onions (making it easier to make some flavorful meals), salad, eggs, string cheese (the toddler's favorite snack. This is not an exercise in torture; the whole family will be thankful she has it), GF pizza (because we have regular pizza in the freezer and I'm gonna be gone Friday night leaving Daddy and most kids to cook).  I think the total for our part was about $45.

I needed to go to the commissary to pick up pork chops for making schnitzel for the birthday dinner.  While there I picked up bananas and pears as well as some Larabars for me to snack on.  I'm starting to gather some baby items, so I picked up Newborn diapers and some wipes.  My total was $32

So, what's actually on the menu for the week?

Baked Oatmeal using frozen fruit from the freezer
Waffles (wheat free) and sausage- this is the birthday breakfast
Instant Oatmeal since we still have a surplus
Dutch babies/German pancakes (wheat and dairy free)
Banana Pancakes

Dried fruit and nuts, crackers, nutella/PB, carrots, string cheese (this is a packed lunch)
PB&J sandwiches, carrots- this is the requested birthday lunch
Baked Potatoes
Left over stew

Pot Roast- roast was hanging out in the back of the freezer
Schnitzel and spaetzle w/gravy, salad and cookies- this is the birthday dinner
coconut soup
frozen pizza- I'll be at a retreat with my oldest, dinner needs to be EASY that night

I don't have every meal for this week planned yet.  If we end up with a bunch of leftovers I'll want to use those up instead of cooking whole meals.

From Last Week's plans we had some great success with the Teriyaki Salmon and rice; this was made from canned salmon and I really thought most of my family would turn their noses up at it.  Instead there were requests for seconds and everyone finished theirs.  The oxtail stew smelled great as it cooked all day and was a wonderful comfort meal on our cold day.  That one was also a great success.

What about you?  How's your pantry challenge going?  What have you had to purchase?  What successes have you had?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Banana Pancakes- grain free/paleo

When I mentioned making Banana Pancakes last week in my Pantry Challenge post several people asked about it on Facebook, so I thought I'd post the recipe here.  It's surprisingly simple and it's been my family's favorite grain free pancake.  I have my awesome sister-in-law to thank for introducing this recipe to my family.  I love her.

1 banana (mashed) to 2 eggs.  Add cinnamon if desired.  Mix together.  Cook on griddle (don't forget to flip!).  Serve with butter and syrup (kids like maple, I like a fruit/berry syrup).

Yes.  It's that easy.

Yes.  All of those frozen bananas you have in your freezer are perfect for this.

For my crew we generally use 5 bananas and 10 eggs; I think I'll need to increase that though.  We often serve sausage, fruit or hash browns with these.  It depends on what we have available, how hungry I think the kids will be, and the day we have ahead of us.

*My kids usually make these.  Usually my 15 year old daughter, but sometimes my 12 year old son.  My 8 year old is able to contribute a significant amount of effort to the making of these as well.   This is a great recipe for getting the kids involved with.  Just exercise wisdom and caution in choosing to have kids work with (or not) a hot griddle.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pantry challenge week 1

On Saturday I went through our pantry and cleaned it out.  I pulled out anything that had been there for a while, had been purchased for a specific recipe (and then not used), open packages, near the expiration date, or just something I didn't think we'd get to unless given a good push.
Much of this accumulated during "morning" sickness and the holidays.  We've only been in this house for about 6 months, so I didn't find anything too surprising or old....this time.

The freezer contained a bunch of open bags of frozen fruit and veggies, a roast, a couple of bags of frozen soup, boxes of Trader Joes pastries....random stuff like the pantry stash.

I made up a rough meal plan for the next week or so.  I'll have to go to the store next week for a certain birthday girl's meal requests, but that's it.  No $$$ being spent this week on food!

Here's the general plan for this week, along with using the fresh fruits and veggies we already had hin the house.

1)Finish off all of the open cereal and granola I found in the pantry.
2)Use up some of the instant oatmeal packets we have too much of...they are generally reserved for hubby's breakfast, but I bought too many when they were on sale.
3)TJ's pastries one morning
4)Banana pancakes- these are just made using frozen bananas and eggs (we generally add cinnamon too).

1)Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes
2)crackers, PB, cheese, salami, veggies, fruit
3)spiced cider, quick breads, veggies etc

Dinner- I didn't need to get very creative here since we had some meals in the freezer that needed to be used.
1)Left overs from a large Ham dinner that we made on Sunday.  This will end up being a couple of meals for us this week.
2)Tuscan soup
3)Teriyaki salmon, veggies, and rice
4)Oxtail stew- We recently bought 1/2 a cow.  I'm using the Oxtail now knowing that its a part we normally would not use.  We shall see....

Next week I'll likely get more creative, if my pregnant brain can manage that.  Having all of the "extras" that I want to use collected in one place and out for others to see means that some of the kids have been contributing their own ideas and are finding things they are looking forward to eating.

What about you?  How's your menu looking?  In what ways are you getting creative?  Do share!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Time to clean out the pantry and freezer!

I love to use the month of January as a time to clean out the pantry and freezer.  I find that random things build up over the year and doing this once a year is helpful in keeping things cleaned out a bit.  There are a couple of other added benefits to this method, one being that it is helpful to the budget after the holidays.  After the holidays it's also just nice to try to stay home, I like not running to the store and instead getting a bit creative with our meals.  I'm going to see how long we can go without going to the store, or at least how little we can spend this month.

This year I have a couple of extra challenges.  I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy and I'm on a high protein diet.  This takes priority and could gum up the works a bit, but I will need to do what is best for baby.  Hopefully I'll have plenty of energy and creativity for this challenge.  ;)

An added bonus will be that this should free up some finances for stocking up the freezer for baby's birth.  I'll likely use any of the savings this month to do some bulk cooking at the end of the month.

I'm going to try to post our meals for the week and how much we've spent that week as well.  My guess is that the first week will not call for much creativity or spending.  It'll be the following weeks that will be interesting.

Anyone want to join me in this challenge?  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reading through the Bible in a year

Have you read through the WHOLE Bible?  For the past 6 years we've been reading through the Bible as a family.  We use a reading plan that takes us through the Bible Chronologically in a year.  It has been such a blessing to our family to get into God's word in this way.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
 2 Timothy 3:16-17

If this is not something you've ever done either on your own or as a family, or its been a while....I'd like to encourage you to do so.  It's really just scratching the surface, but being in God's word every day is a wonderful thing which leads to more growth and learning. Most importantly, it helps you know HIM more and draws you closer to Him.  It's a great habit to get into that can truly be life changing.

This will play out differently in every home, but I'll tell you how we do it to give you ideas and get you thinking.  Sometimes, as much as we want something to happen, the logistics get in the way.  For some getting up in the morning like we do just will not work, but evening readings will happen.  Find what works for you and make it a priority, this is just what happens to work for us....

Hubby gets all of our older children up every morning before work.  Right now that's at about 6am.  We gather together in the living room.  We start and end with prayer.  Everyone takes turns reading a few verses at a time.  Littles straggle in and join us as they wake up.   

If, for some reason, we miss a morning we often make up the reading time in the evening.  Sometimes we just know that it's going to be missed because of travel or unusual plans.  We plan for that either by doing extra reading in the days surrounding that time OR by listening in the car to the Bible on MP3.

This is our minimum.  As mentioned before, it's just scratching the surface.  It's not in depth study, but it is a great way to keep us in the Word and building this habit in the kids.  Other Bible reading and study happens individually or sometimes by topic as a family.