Monday, September 30, 2013

Freezer cooking (preparing for baby/postpardum recovery time)

Its time for me to start filling up our freezer with meals so that after baby is born my family can be fed with little to no effort on my part.  It makes me feel so good to know that once all of my help is gone I'll have these meals waiting for our family to make life easier as we continue to recover and adjust.

I started my freezer filling weeks ago by researching recipes that would freeze well (my old standbys no longer work as we need to keep the meals dairy free for our toddler).  I found a bunch here that look like they will work well for my family.  I made up a master list of what we would need, looked through the pantry/freezer to see what we already had, and then made up my grocery list from there.  The day before our big cooking day I did a big shopping trip.  When we got home we set everything we could out on our school table with the recipe they belonged to as well as the (labeled) bag or pan that would be needed.

I hit the ground running the morning of our cooking day.  Chicken breasts needed to be cooked up for a couple of recipes and beans also needed to be cooked up.  After breakfast I was able to start assembling.  The rest of the family was occupied with our regular Saturday cleaning chores.  My husband was kind enough to supervise this and take care of the little kids.  This allowed me to give my undivided attention to the cooking.

By the afternoon everyone had finished their regular chores and came in to help me.  What a blessing this was as I was starting to loose steam.  My oldest took over a couple of recipes for me.  One of my boys took over a recipe as well.

I was very thankful for my five year old's help.  She was my little runner that afternoon; getting things I needed and putting other things away.  She also peeled quite a few carrots for me.

By the end of the day I was beat, done, out of steam.  I was glad I had started our dinner in the crock pot that morning.  I put my feet up for the rest of the evening and enjoyed the thought of the 29 meals waiting in the freezer.

*To help keep track of what is in there and allow my helpers to know what is available we have an inventory sheet on the freezer.  As I added meals I quickly wrote down what they were.  Now the trick will be to find what you are looking for. ;)

**The key to one of these big cooking days is being well organized ahead of time, including the meals you and your family will be eating that day and the care of any young children.  Working together as a team REALLY helps too.  I could not have made it through the last 10 meals or so without the help of our crew.  It also gives the whole family a sense of accomplishment knowing we did this all together. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Prayer Baskets- Taking care of Mom

I really struggle with getting my own quiet time with God.  Our family has Bible reading time together as a group and we work on verses and even do devotionals during the day.  That still does not change that I'm not getting my own time with God.

Recently while reading 15-Minute Organizer by Emilie Barnes, I read about having a prayer basket. I loved the idea, and thought it would help me.   My prayer basket has a small binder with divider tabs in it, a clip board for memory verses, a Bible, a silk flower (just for pretty), and supplies (including pen, postcards, cards, and stamps) and, if I'm reading one, a devotional book.

When I decided to make mine up, I thought that maybe my teen daughter would like one too.  I'd like to encourage this habit early in life for her so that she will (hopefully) not struggle as much as I do.  She thought that was a great idea.  We went out to dinner together and talked over what we thought our tabs should be labeled and put our binders together.  Then we went shopping for baskets and silk flowers (what a blessing, they were on sale!).

Our tabs we decided on are-
Rob(husband) and kids   OR  Dad, Mom, and siblings
Friends and Family
Missionaries and Pastors
Community and Nation
Notes and Verses

The postcards, cards, and stamps are so that we can send out thinking of you/praying for you notes out to those we have just prayed for or have been led to encourage.

I'm hoping that having all of this together will help encourage me to not only have regular prayer times but help keep my prayer life in order.  With a new baby on the way, I would like to use some of our nursing sessions for my quiet times.  My hope is that by using some nursing sessions for quiet time with God that I'll not only develop the habit of regular quiet times, but that my hunger and desire for these times would grow as well.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back to school time!

We've spent our summer working on projects, child training, getting used to new chores, on vacation,  planning for the coming school year, cleaning and organizing.  Now its time to get back to school!

Back to school time is exciting for everyone.  Mom is usually refreshed and excited about what has been planned for the coming school year (looking forward to how the kids will learn and grow/what God will be doing in the family).  The kids are usually excited about the books and supplies they've been seeing coming into the house and are eager to get their hands on them.  It is a new beginning!
*This is our school room bookshelf.  It looks a bit sparse, but this is because I want the kids to be able to easily find the things they NEED during school time.  We have several other book shelves full of books (of all types) and curriculum (not in use this year).  Keeping this area simple and uncluttered allows us to find what we need and better enjoy our school year.

This year we have a baby due in October.  My hope is that by having our Circle Time and Table time well planned out and in this binder (easy to get to); that babysitter/daddy/nana will be able to keep things going while I'm recovering from birth.
*This binder not only holds the plans for the year, but most of the supplies for our table time crafts (minus things like glue, crayons, and other large items).  Anything that needed to be copied or cut out has been done and is right here ready for us!

The same thing goes for the individual binders.  By having everything planned out, assigned, and right there for the kids they should be able to keep themselves going even when I'm not on the ball.

*These two shelves contain all of the binders and textbooks the kids will need for this year of school.  

I've tried to be realistic in my planning.  Even if things SHOULD be able to move along without me I know I need to have low expectations.  Planning too much will just put unnecessary stress on everyone during this special time.  Reality is that having babysitter/daddy/nana here = FUN! we want to enjoy this time as well as be productive.  There will be distractions, things will move slowly, plan for it! Along the same lines, I know that as we adjust to a new baby and nursing again I'll be slow and will not get as much done once my help is gone.  This is applied to times like holidays or any other time when there will be many other distractions.

These posts on pre-schoool/kindergarten/1st grade, elementary/grammar school, and Jr. High explain how we generally go about educating our children, and some of the whys as well.