Friday, June 20, 2014

nut granola (nutola)- cooking for a crowd

As it begins to heat up again I'm thinking about our favorite summer breakfasts.  My kids enjoy a breakfast of granola (a mostly nut mix, very low on the traditional grains), yogurt, and fruit.  I make my own granola because most commercially available granolas are generally full of sugar and junk making them no better than a box of cereal (in my opinion).  I generally use what I have on hand and don't have a set recipe, I'll give the basics though as a starting point, this would be very easy to make gluten or grain free.  I do like to include the oats as they are a healthy inexpensive filler to help this stretch.

Nut Granola (all measurements are approximate unless otherwise noted)

1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c chia seeds (ground)
1 c flax seeds (ground)
(wheat germ could also be included if you don't mind having more grain in your granola)
1 c sunflower kernels
2 c almonds (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c macadamia nuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
2 c hazelnuts (chopped or pulsed in blender/food processor)
(pecans, and walnuts are great choices too.  I sometimes include slivered almonds as well)
4 c rolled oats
(get creative, just about any seed or nut could work in this)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a very large bowl

(the below ingredients are more exact amounts)
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3 tsp cinnamon (nutmeg could also be good)
1 tsp salt
(feel free to add any other flavors/spices you would like in you granola)

Melt the first three ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Just enough to combine, especially if you are using raw honey to avoid killing off the good stuff.  Then add the spices, vanilla and salt and mix well.

Combine all ingredients in a large pan (I use my turkey roasting pan) or two.  Place in oven heated to 350, remove and stir every 10 minutes or so until lightly golden brown.  I found that 30-40 minutes was about right for my pan/batch.  Allow to cool and then place in a large container (I like to use a glass gallon jar).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Modest Swim Suits

It can be hard to find modest swim suits.  A sweet friend has a business sewing them.  We've been very pleased with them, my daughters LOVE theirs.

This is a link to her site if you are interested.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Zipzicles review and giveaway!

We recently gave zipzicles a try and loved them!  Now I get to do a review and giveaway for them.

What are they?

 -They are a long(ish) narrow plastic bag with a zipper top.   They are about what you would expect of a freezer weight zipper bag.

Why would you use them?

-Most kids enjoy frozen treats, especially during the summer.  Mine are no different.  I like to make my own treats for them whenever I can, so I know what is in them.  Additionally, because of various food intolerances most store bought frozen treats just do not work for my family.

How do you use them?

-Just mix up any (liquid/semi liquid) filling you want, pour in, freeze!  It's that easy!  My 13 year old mixed up blueberry smoothie, chocolate pudding and a layered fruit mix.  They make a great snack anytime!  They are great for on the go as well, since they are disposable.


Don't over fill, when you close it filling will come out the top if you do.

The site says that these can be reusable.  I believe it, but have not tried it.  I bought these because they were fairly inexpensive and disposable.  I've heard they can last for 2-3 more uses.

You can order these directly from Amazon sells them and the zipzicles web site also list retailers that sell them.

Now for the giveaway!  You can enter by following this blog through google friend connect (to the left on the sidebar) and leaving a comment.  You can also enter by leaving suggestions/recipes for great filling ideas.  Please do a separate comment for each entry.  I'll draw a winner on June 20th!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Move day to do!

The day before and the day of a move are super busy days.  Make sure you are well prepared.  The more you do ahead, the easier these days will be.

-We like to vacate the premises.  Get your family and everything they will need on the road out of the house.  Stay in a hotel or with friends (if possible).  We will be staying in our travel trailer.  *If you can't do this then designate one room to put the things you want to stay with you.  You may even want to pack things up in the car.  Make sure you have a good sized place designated as "do not pack" and keep all of your stuff for the trip in there.

  -Since you are not staying in the house you can wash all of the sheets when you get up the morning before the official move day.  Now they will be all fresh and clean for you on the other end (packing up a set for each bed and taking them with you is a good idea.  That way you are not frantically looking around for sheets at the end of your first move in day.)

-You need a Hardware box with a sharpie and lots of plastic zipper bags.  This is where you will put all hardware as things are disassembled.  Label each bag and put it in the box.   TAKE THIS BOX WITH YOU; do NOT send it with the movers.  This way you have all of your hardware and can put things together as they come off the truck instead of searching through boxes late into the night so that you can put the baby's bed together (or yours).

  -Is everything set up the way you want your movers to be packing?  In bins?  In the room you want it packed in?  Window treatments down (and washed)?  Electronics unplugged?  High value items marked (to make inventory easier)?  Professional (Pro) gear marked (if needed)?  Kitchen cleared out? (You really don't want any perishables or liquids packed.  The movers shouldn't pack these things, but sometimes they do).  Make sure money, jewelry, and medications are in your stash of things to take (this includes the kids' piggy banks!).  Think about any special instructions you need to give the movers.

-Are drinks, snacks and meals set up/planned for the coming day(s)?  These are junk food days for us.  I try to start our days with a healthy (but easy) breakfast.  Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, muffins are some great (easy) options.  Lunch is take out/delivery we like to do pizza and sub-sandwiches.  I'll try to do some home-made dinners; now is the time to pull out those freezer meals you prepared.  I'll have a couple of casseroles available and we will likely do tacos (pre-cooked meat makes this easy to do).

-Keep your internet connected as long as you can; if you are addicts (like us).

-Have your older kids hang out with your packers (and you wander around the house).  The kids will be able to spot things that should not be packed (or should be, that are not), and keep things moving along.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Moving Party! Join the live FB fun!

Our movers/packers are coming next week!  Yikes!

I'm hostessing a Thirty-One Gifts virtual party on Facebook where I'll be posting about our day and how I'm using some great Thirty-One products.  I'd love to have you join me!  This is a Mystery Hostess Party which means at least one lucky lady who places an order on this party will be enjoying the hostess benefits!  What fun that will be!

I'm going to leave the FB party "open" for a while so that anyone can join.  If you're curious about how a moving day goes for us (large family/military life), just want to see what we're up to, want to shop, or are curious about Thirty-One's great bags then come join in the fun!  You can always shop at  For this party you will want to click on the "My Parties" tab and shop through the "On the Move/Mystery Hostess" party.

I do hope you will join me, it will make moving/packing day so much more fun!  This party will close on June 9th.

*I am an Independent Consultant for Thirty-One gifts.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Move prep 1 week out

So, you've done the major de cluttering for your move.  You've organized the major stuff.  Now its time to get into the details of your move.  You're going to be busy these couple of weeks, try to go into it rested (I know, easier said than done).

-Start packing toys, clothes, travel goodie bags, travel snacks.

-Shop for move needs.  Drinks and snacks for move day(s); for the family and the movers.  Figure out what you will be eating on the move days and make arrangements (don't plan on cooking, this is a time for take out/prepared foods).  Paper plates, napkins, cutlery will make life easier.  Lots of garbage/zipper bags will be needed.

-Take down/disassemble anything you possibly can.  Shelves hanging on walls can come down.  Window treatments can come down (wash them, then they will be clean for the new house).  Electronics should be unplugged and dusted well.  Figure out when you will be unplugging the computers (we like to wait until the last minute).

-Vacate the house before the movers come.  That way all you need for your move/trip is out of the house.  With a large family we just have so much stuff that can get in the way.  The last thing you want to be doing on move day is rounding up the stuff you need to take with you and racing the movers to the things you need (because that will happen anyways).  Firm up those plans.  If leaving is not an option; move all of your stuff into one room.  Make sure NOTHING in that room needs to be packed by the movers.

-Designate a "do not pack" space.  Sometimes we use the bathroom that the pets are in.  Sometimes a closet.  Once we used a baby coral/play yard/baby gate area.  Chose a space that is easy to mark.  Don't put too much in it, just things you absolutely must have in the home but don't want packed.  I'd have things like my diaper bag, purse, laptop/tablet, toys and blankets/pillows for littles to nap with.

-Keep up with the laundry.  Find out when you will lose access to your washing machine/dryer.  Don't use it within 24 hours of that time.  You want to let it dry out so it does not mold in transit.  You do want to wash all sheets so that they will be clean on the other end; factor that in.  Same goes for your freezer/refrigerator.  If they are moving with you they will need time to dry out.

-Make your move day(s) to do list.  All of those little things you can't do yet, but are very important not to forget.  Use your list as your brain, you will be scattered and frazzled on your move days.  You will be pulled in many directions.  The less thinking you need to do the better.  I'll keep a running list on my phone.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kids and moving!

Kids are a big part of your large family move.  Preparing them, and making preparations for them will help make things go smoothly.  From babies to teens they all have their needs and struggles during this time.  Preparing them for your move should start early (the older they are, the sooner you start talking to them about the move).

Many have asked us if the moves are hard on the kids.  The answer?  Yes and no.  Moving is hard on everyone.  It is exhausting.  The stress is mental, emotional and physical.  No one gets away from this.  However I do believe that my kids have done fairly well through all of our moves.  I think homeschooling helps them.  They are moving with their main social unit.  This provides great stability for them.  We keep them involved in the plans and the process.  We talk them through it.  Over the years they have seen us to be true to our word in making great efforts to re-unite them with dear friends when possible.  They know that these "good-byes" are likely not forever; they are excited about the new friends they are sure to make and the many new experiences they have to look forward to.

We usually do a study on the new place we are moving to.  What is the climate like?  What sort of wildlife and vegetation will we see there?  What makes this place special?  Are there things there that will remind us of where we have been living?  Do we know anyone there?  If we know where we will be living we try to get pictures of the house.

Months out we start talking about people and places we want to see one last time.  Are there any dear friends we need to make an effort to see, to spend extra time with?  It can be hard to find the time during this busy season, but you need to set aside times to fellowship with dear friends.  It will do your heart good.

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 
I'm thankful for a dear friend that is letting my kids come over about once a week to play with her kids so that I can work.  This time is not just a blessing because of the work I'm able to do, but because of the good medicine it is for my children's hearts.  Now if only us moms could get out together for a bit!

Some practical/physical things you can do for your kids are....make sure they see their things being packed up.  Bonus points if you can let them see some other family's things being delivered to their new home (this is easy if you are living on base).  Let them pick some favorite toys to bring with them (or you pick favorite toys for them).

Kids need to be kept busy during the move.  Don't just let them wander around making trouble.  Have toys, snacks and activities planned for them.  Can they go play at a friend's house for a couple of hours to give them (and you) a break?
Have some easy snacks available.

A little box full of special toys and activities available will save you much trouble (make sure you think about what will be appropriate on each end of the move).  Get it ready weeks ahead.  Make sure you have things available for all age groups that you have, though your older kids may pack some of their own things or be helping with the move more.  Don't let this box be a "free for all" you pick when and what they will play with.  Some ideas...
-Could they do playdoh?  Maybe in a corner of a (non-carpeted) floor?
-rolling a ball through a (nearly) empty room/house is loads of fun
-Bubbles outside on the porch?
-Dolls for girls, cars for boys (I have a new set of Snap 'n style dolls for the girls, Hot Wheels for the boy)
-DVD and books for a quiet time (naps may be hard to work out)
-legos could keep kids busy for a bit
-coloring books and crayons?
-a game or two? (this could be great for older kids)
This bag is full of activities for the kids.  They are wrapped so that they can be out in the open, but not all used at once (out of sight, out of mind).  They are labeled so that I know what day to pull them out.  Playdoh is best done on our starting end where we have more non carpeted areas for that play.  Legos will be pulled out on the other end where the "lost" legos will be found.  These don't have to be new toys, just swipe them from the kids' rooms 2-4 weeks before the move.

Find ways for them to help with the work.  That is easy for the older kids.  They often help supervise the packing process.  Little kids can help pass out drinks at appropriate times, pick up garbage (make it a game; the most pieces in 2 minutes or so).  Think about what you are doing.  Can the child do any simple portions of your job?

Babies and toddlers have a hard time (in other ways) with moves.  They know things are changing, but they don't understand how.  Keep them close.  Don't just pass them off on sitters on these busy days.  They will likely love being in the baby carrier.  The Ergo is great for older babies/toddlers.  Wear the baby as much as you can.  You are their world, if you are close they will feel safe(r).  Baby gear is big and bulky, but may be worth it to bring with you.  It can be harder to let little ones play during a move, having a safe place like a saucer or playpen can be a big blessing.

Your children will feed off of your emotions and actions.  If you are excited and happy about the move, they will be more likely to be.  If you are stressed and frazzled; its likely they will be too.  By preparing your home slowly over time you can avoid some of the stress.  Do you have things that help you through stressful times?  Use them!  I'll be sure that I have plenty of "Stress Away" and "Peace & Calming" oils on hand for all of us and plenty of the foods that help us feel good (healthy, not indulgences).  Keep your family grounded in God's word, and praying often.  He is faithful, let your children see you continuing to put your trust in HIM!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Move prep- The 6 weeks to 1 month before

Moving is tough on a family, even when it is a hoped for and exciting move.  Doing as much as possible before the week of the move makes life easier on everyone.
*This post is written assuming a long distance move.  
**We are a military family, the military provides movers.  If you will be packing yourself start doing that now!  Start collecting boxes.  Start packing them with things you will not be needing (or can make due without) in the next month.

-Most large families have an extra freezer (or two).  Work through eating everything in it with the intention of having it empty about two weeks before the move.

This looks like a lot of food, but we have a lot of mouths to feed.  It should be mostly empty in a week or two.

-Along those same lines...Empty your cupboards.  Eat as much of it as you can in the coming month.  Start going through you cupboards and identify those things you know you just will not get to.  Pass these things on to a friend.  I've designated a friend that I know eats similarly to us and is happy to take these items.  

-Start putting together a list of things you want with you for your drive/transition time.  The last week/days will be crazy and your brain will be scattered.  Putting this list together now (and over the coming weeks) leaves you a greater chance of having everything you will need.  
*My list generally includes minimal items for the kids (lovies/baby gear/favorite toys), basic household items such as sheets, towels, enough kitchen gear to make some simple meals.

-Prep the car/van(s).  Oil change?  That funny rattle? How are the tires?  Clean the car well, inside and out.  Now is the time to organize the car/van if you haven't already.  Check out this post on organizing the 15 passenger van.

-Do some major organizing.  Hopefully you've already decluttered and worked on some organizing.  If you have any idea what your home on the other end will be like prep for it now.  Get things cleaned and organized that will not be in use in the coming weeks.  Don't let anyone touch them.

Every room in my house is a mess right now as we clean out, organize and move around all of our stuff.  Hopefully this will all be worth it on the other end!

-Have pets?  Think through what you will be doing with them through the move.  Boarding them?  Make sure they are in good health and have all of the needed shots.  Keeping them with you?  Identify a safe place in the house for your pets to be on moving day(s).  We usually use a bathroom.  Bathrooms have little that need to be packed and can easily be closed off so that pets don't escape with all the in/out and new people around.

-Plan out your meals for the next month or so.  Make up a plan for meals in transit and on the other end.  Try to minimize the junk, fast food and eating out.  If it's possible you could cook/freeze ahead some meals for this time.  I like to make this a fun time for the family and allow in some special treats and make life a bit easier.  However too much prepared foods etc means people are not feeling their best; this is a stressful time as it is feeling icky makes things worse.  A cooler and some dry ice can keep these things frozen during your drive.  Just make sure you have a place to store them on the other end (or keep adding more dry ice!).

-Already know where you are going?  Sometimes we already have a residence set up on the other end, sometimes not.  When we do, we try to make sure utilities are set up/transfered to our names.  Set up your phone number and anything else you possibly can.  *We like to have family "business" cards printed up.  If possible ,these are available before we move so that we can easily pass our info on to friends.  On the other end they are very helpful when we are meeting so many new people in a new place.  It also helps me to have one in my wallet so I can remember where I live. ;)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Organizing the 15 passenger van/large family vehicle

*I just became a Thirty-one Gifts independent consultant.  I've used many Thirty-one products to organize my van.  If you are interested in any of these products you can visit my site for more information or contact me directly using the "contact me" button on the side bar. 

Large families need large vehicles.  We have lots of people, and so we have lots of stuff.  It can be hard to get all we need in and/or keep it clean.  I'm sure there are as many ways to organize the van as there are families using them, I'll share what works for us.

I'll start in the back, and work my way forward.  Here in the back I have a pack n' pull caddy (on the right) with diapers, wipes, as well as scented baggies for those, well.....  I have a blanket here to do the diaper changes on.  I have some Large Utility totes and Deluxe Utility Totes as well as a "Market Fresh Thermal".  I use these to contain groceries and other items picked up while running errands.  These also come in handy when we are going out and about and need to contain/transport things. I keep a single stroller in the back in case we need it.  The double stroller is big and bulky so I only put it in for trips that I know I'll need it for.

Under the back seat (we've removed the last row in our 15 pax to give more cargo space) I have our emergency supplies.  These are things we shouldn't need, but make life so much easier to have if we do need them.  It contains a change of clothes for all of the little kids (I'll change these out for the seasons), snacks (beyond what I usually have in the front) in case we get stuck somewhere.  Towels and a bowl come in handy at times, but not something we need everyday access to.  I'm still working on what else needs to be in here.  I'll update later.

Now we move to the front....This cut down milk crate holds the family's water bottles when we are on the road.

On the floor in front of the baby's car seat we have a box containing favorite books that we like to give away.  These are books that have been blessings to our family and tend to come up in conversation (they are there, but out of the way should they be wanted).  On top of it is a bag that holds all sorts of handy things*.  The other box is for putting my purse, baby carrier and other smallish things I need for the day.  This keeps them out of the way, contained, and handy.

*band aids/neosporin/essential oils; hairbrush and rubber bands; sunscreen; lotion; "emergency snacks" as well and baby food (as well as heavier snacks for those with food intolerance's).

Attached to the baby's car seat (above) is a small bag that holds some toys and the pacie.  In the summer it gets too hot in the van to keep them in here for her, in the winter they are a bit cold.  It is best to have this bag come in and out with us (if I remember).

Under the front row are two dish pans.  The farthest one over I would describe as "my husband's" it has things like maps, flashlights, knife, tools, fire extinguisher, car paperwork etc.  The closest one doesn't have much right now; mostly crayons and a few small travel toys (and the extra ergo got thrown in there on our trip to the Grand Canyon).  These come in handy on a longer drive or when we get stuck somewhere longer than expected.

Around the front seat we have a second pack n' pull caddy.  This one holds tissues and garbage (I have extra plastic grocery bags in the bottom of this so I always have a new one available.  No need to go hunting in the house for one).  I have a diaper bag that is currently stored here at all times.  I hardly ever take it in with me when we go somewhere, but it is nice to take when I'll be somewhere more than an hour or so.* It is nice to know that this well stocked bag is here if I need it.  The coupon clutch in the dash holds the various coupons and passes (season) that had been making a mess up there.

*This diaper bag contains diapers, wipes, nursing cover, snacks (for mom and littles), baby toys, car (for the toddler boy).  Just what we may need for church, a visit with friends, a couple of hours out.

Under the front passenger side we have our first aid kit.  This is a beyond band aids emergency kit.  We added some essential oils that we would want for burns, nausea and injury.  I've also added children's and infants ibuprofen.

I'll be keeping some paper napkins and straws in the passenger side door pocket.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Preparing for a move

We're getting ready to move (again).   Moving a family of 10 (or any family for that matter) is hard work.  We start move prep months before our moves (as a military family we know a move is coming, even if we don't know where).

We de clutter.  When we think we've been through every room and there's nothing more to get rid of, we go through again (and we DO find more).  De cluttering is an ongoing process; it never ends.  Move time is time to get super serious about it.  Here are a couple of things to ask yourself to make the job easier...

-Do I use this? (If you haven't used it in a year or so, out it goes!)
-Does this cause problems in our home? (that toy the kids fight over constantly? Yep, it has to go!  That movie the kids picked up that nasty habit/word/quote from? Its gone too!  The vase that you're always moving around or hollering at the kids not to break?  Most definitely GONE!)
-Does it align with our family values? (That foolish book?  The toy that just makes noise?  Hobby that takes mom/dad away from the family WAY too much?  Video games that the kids spend all their time with instead of the family? Gone!)
-Do I love it?  Some things you can love, but not really need to keep.  Take a picture of those special things that you really don't want around any more, but want to keep the memory.
-Do I want my loved ones to have to pack/unpack this? (if its yours, but you plan to make others deal with it; think very hard about it.  They have their own things they need to do/take care of)  Is it worth their/my precious time?  Do I really want to have to find a place to store this?
This is our "get rid of pile."  My boxes are all getting filled.  It looks like its time to call The Salvation Army for a pick-up.

Answer these things truthfully and I'm guessing you will have an easier time letting go.

IF YOU HOMESCHOOL- Do your school planning (for the upcoming school year/months) before your move if at all possible.  Then you can relax a bit on the other end and "just" settle into the new house.  Try to plan a bit of "summer school" for the kids.  It will make it easier for you to keep them engaged and busy during that time.  I'll be going through a simple ABC Bible memory verse book with my kids as well as reading a Heroes of the Faith book (they will also each have simple math and reading assignments). Plan to take some breaks to explore your new area as well.
What a mess!  Hubby and I are putting up with this in our room (for the month) knowing that the fruit of the mess will be a well planned year of school.  I'll share more details in a future post.

Organize what you can in your current home.  Do you have a problem area?  Those things that just never found a home?  A stack you need to deal with?  That room you hope will work better in the next house.  Unfortunately those things don't tend to go away or get better with a move (I've hoped and tried).  Take care of them now, you'll be happier on the other end.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What comes in, must go out!

In preparation for our move we've instituted a "what comes in must go out" policy.  Any box that brings things into our house must go out with at least as much in it.  We are liking this policy and will likely keep it up even after our move.

This is a picture of several Amazon boxes that recently came in.  They are all loaded up to go out now.

I especially love bring boxes home from Costco.  They are generally full of consumables, but usually go out filled with non-consumable junk!

This exercise is also helpful in making us think harder about what we are bringing into the home.  Our kids realize that the more stuff we have, the more time we must spend taking care of the stuff.   This is a process.  Over the years we're finding many of them to be more thoughtful about what they are purchasing or asking for.  Even though we've seen growth in this area, we all have lots of room for improvement.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My 31 Party

A Flash 50% off sale was just announced starting on the 16th and ending the 23rd, so we will be ending the party early to take advantage of the sale.  Get your orders in by the 22nd for this party!  Follow the links below to shop, see the specials and place your order....

I'm placing a 31 gifts order and thought it would be fun to host a party on the blog.  You can join the party by going to this site and choosing "Gabe Harder's Thirty-one Party" and then start shopping (don't forget to have it shipped to you, instead of me).  This party will run through the 24th of March.  My friend Suzi is the Consultant for this party.  I'm sure she will be happy to answer any questions you may have; her contact information is on the web site.

I already own the Large Utility Tote.  It was a gift a year ago and gets used regularly.  I love that it is nice and sturdy, big, but does not take up much space when not in use.  The open top makes it easy to get all of our gear in the bag, and find what we need quickly.  This one comes in 25 prints; you're sure to find one that fits your style.
Citrus MedallionCamo

Here it is all packed up for jump rope camp.  5 kids are participating and the other 3 need to be entertained/fed for 2 hours.  I'm considering ordering another one since my hubby recently took up swiping this one. ;)

I saw the Hang-Up Home Organizer a few years ago and loved it, but didn't buy it.  I've been thinking about it ever since.  Why didn't I just buy it then?  I'm looking forward to using it to tame the mess that accumulates on my refrigerator  including various phone lists, coupons, calendars etc.Hang-Up Home Organizer

I've been needing some sort of organizers/trash bins for my van.  Not only does it look like the Pack N' Pull Caddy will do the trick for my van; my husband has requested one for his van as well.  I may purchase a third one for diapers and wipes.
Don't forget to check the monthly specials!  This month 5 of the totes are 50% off; for every $35 you spend you can pick one to purchase at the special price.  I'm planning to get the Easy Breezy Tote to use as a diaper bag this summer; though it looks like it will be great for many other uses.

I'm planning on getting a Pocket-a-tote to add on to this tote.  It will give me a nice zipper pocket to keep small things I don't want the kids having easy access to.

Have a great time, and I'd love to hear what 31 favorites you have, or what you think looks useful.  As we are preparing for our June move I'm in an organizing mood and I'm excited to be getting some great tools to help me.    Have fun Shopping!

*remember that the default shipping is to the hostess, make sure you mark that your purchase needs to be shipped to you.  While I always love getting surprise gifts in the mail; I'm sure you would like to be able to enjoy your wonderful purchases yourself!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't touch the baby's hands!

See these sweet little hands?  I know you just want to touch them and let them get a strong hold on your finger.  Please resist the urge.  

Please know that I love to share my babies.  They bring me such joy, and I love to be able to share that joy.  Often it is a sweet grandma touching my baby's fingers, and I try to think of them as my baby's grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  I imagine that these ladies have a sweet little one that they would love to touch and kiss, but their sweet babies are far away just as mine are from their grandmothers.  Or maybe this person just loves babies like I do.

What you/they may not realize (or remember) is....

-It’s cold and flu season (or not).  You have not washed your hands (and we're all out in a public place touching all sorts of things). Though they may look clean, they carry many germs.  My baby sticks her fingers in her mouth all the time; all of those germs just entered her system through your touch.

-I'm trying so hard to keep my family healthy, though the inevitable happens often enough.   My other (young) children are at home with the sitter so they don't pick up germs at the store and share with the baby.  The baby must come with me though; she needs to nurse too often to stay behind.

-The last cold that came through the house resulted in an ear infection for this sweet baby (requiring a trip to urgent care), a ruptured ear drum for an older brother, and pneumonia for an older sister.  Colds are hard on a young family (though that last one was exceptionally bad).

*The antibiotics, pain relievers, essential oils and nebulizer required to heal and comfort her during this last cold.  The nebulizer was needed for breathing treatments.

-New mamas are usually short on sleep; add in a sick baby, and we're running on fumes.  We cringe when a stranger touches our baby's fingers, no matter how sweet you are.

-Mamas, please teach your children not to touch a baby's hands.  This is just a good standard, and maybe they will remember this courtesy as adults.  If they have a runny nose or are sick remind them to stay away from baby.

Please consider the health and well being of the next baby you see before reaching out to grab that finger.

DO take a moment to comment on how sweet etc the baby is.  You might ask to softly pat baby's head or squeeze their toes (if easily accessible).  It is a bright spot in my day when I can share the joy of my baby.  BUT DON'T TOUCH THE FINGERS!!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

New favorites with baby #8- K'tan and Wubbanub

I'm not too big on baby gadgets and have stayed out of the big baby stores and departments for the most part for years.  I've cut back on the baby gadgets that we keep in the house over the years, but I'm always open to something that really will make my life easier.  I found a couple this go 'round.

The first was the Baby K'tan.  It functions much like the Moby wrap, but without all of the fabric.  I LOVE it, and so does my baby!  I've been searching for the perfect newborn carrier for quite a while.  I've tried pouch slings and ring slings; both worked but I didn't feel that they held the baby as securely  as I would have liked.  The Ergo is GREAT for babies once they get to about 4 months or so and we use it until they are nearly 3 years old, but I've not had success with using it with newborns (though I know that some do).  I was a bit unsure of the K'tan since it is sized, after reading the reviews and talking to a friend about her's I decided to size down since it stretches out.

I love that the K'tan holds my baby close to me; she and I both feel secure in her being held close.  We are both happy, and my hands are free to care for my other children.  I also love that when we are out and about she is so close to me that no one feels they can come over an touch her (as so often has happened to my babies when in strollers).  *Why on earth do people think they should be touching a baby they do not know?  Have they no consideration for personal space, or the germs they are likely passing on to baby?  OK rant over. 

My second new love is the Wubbanub.  When I first saw these things I thought they were silly, then I saw them in action.  They help keep the pacifier in or near the baby's mouth, they are not nearly as easy to lose, and are easier for baby to get in their mouths themselves.  I've seen my 2 month old get it back in her mouth by moving her mouth or pushing it with her fists since it had stayed close to her mouth.  I love that they also come in so many different styles; unisex, girl, and boy styles.  They are all adorable! A couple of down sides to these are that you can't take off/replace the pacifier and they are a bit spendy (generally in the $12-$15 range).  *My husband and I think they are well worth the cost!  I ordered ours from Amazon.

My baby loves her's and our lives have been much quieter since we got our first Wubbanub.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Clothing costs for the year

There seems to be a general misconception that in order to have a large family they must either be wealthy or on welfare.  People think that children are expensive, but they don't have to be.  Last year I tracked our clothing costs for our family of 7 children (the 8th showed up in October).  I didn't include my husband and I, though I will make some notes about our clothing as well.

I don't spend much time at garage sales, thrift stores, retail store sales, e-bay or sewing (though I used to).  I just don't have time for that.  Over the years I've noticed that God really provides for us when a need comes up, and I've been trying to be patient and wait on him, and use the resources available at the time of the need.  The biggest sources of our clothing these days are the swap with our church, a children's resale store (I have trade credits there), and goodwill (oh, and my mom.  She loves to shop for kids' clothes).  The purpose of this post is to encourage those who are desiring a large family, but don't think they can afford it (or already have one and are needing encouragement).  You may not have the same resources available but with some thought and creativity, you too can do it (through God)!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.   Proverbs 3:5-6

You may find some of these posts helpful in understanding how we do clothes and what our expectations/standards are.
Managing Laundry and clothing
Links to some great posts on large family finances, contentment and worldliness

January- $13 at goodwill for two skirts for my oldest daughter.  These were not NEEDED at the time, but modest skirts (with pockets) can be hard to find (used or new) so I picked them up since we didn't have any right now.  She was thrilled!

February- $11 at goodwill for two pairs of shorts for my 10 year old and a pair of cammo pants for him as well; and a pair of shortalls for my little guy.

*This month I also acquired several needed things at the swap; these included PJ's for my little guy, a nightgown for one of my little girls and some shirts for my big guys.  I also used some trade credit at a local children's resale shop for a set of PJ's for my little guy and a maternity dress for myself.  I spent $0 on all of this!

March-  I was down with morning sickness all month and didn't go out much, but I think I may have purchased a pair of shorts at the resale shop for $5; this month is all a fog.

April- This was a big spending month.  Along with a $7 pair of shorts I purchased....

Two pairs of "Sunday" shoes for the little girls. $30

6 pairs of Nike shoes (my brother works for Nike, the employee discount is generously extended to his parents and siblings!) Most of the kids needed shoes at the same time.  Yikes!  $153 (though not bad at all for 6 pairs of high quality brand new shoes).

*We've tried going for bargain brands of shoes, but they wear out before the kids grow out of them.  What kind of bargain is that?  We were impressed with how well the Nike shoes lasted for all three of our boys who are quite hard on their shoes (my girls all grew out of them before they could be worn out too, but that was not such a surprise).  We will see if this round holds up as well.  Updated to add: all of the shoes are still going strong as of January 1st!

May- This month showed a great influx in clothing, however I didn't purchase any of it.  My mom has always been very generous when it comes to clothes for the kids.  She likes kids clothes and enjoys treating the kids to special outfits.  She also happens to live near a Hannah Andersson outlet; $5 dresses or t-shirts there are hard to pass up!  Thanks mom for blessing our family!  God provides for families in many different ways, this is one way he provides for us.  We are very thankful for this blessing, but never expect it of her.

June- $33 on shoes for my 12 yo and a baby outfit (baby outfit was $3)

July- $62 on 5 pairs of shorts for my boys.  I could should have done better by shopping thrift stores in the area, but honestly, I was tired and didn't want to drag the kids in and out of stores that may or may not have what was needed.  Two pairs of the shorts were on sale.

$3.25 on 10 items of baby girl clothing all in GREAT condition and name brand (some were actually needed, some I just got because the sweet 5yo was having such a good time helping me pick out clothes for her new baby sister.  At 25 cents each how could I say "no" to a couple of extras?)  $1 for jeans for my 5yo.

My mom once again sent a box of clothes.  A full set of "Sunday" clothes (dresses for the girls, polo shirts for the boys) all co-ordinating, all Hanna Andersson.  What a fun surprise and blessing!

August-  We went to Goodwill to get jeans for my oldest daughter that were needed for camp (marked $9.99).  While there we found some jeans that were perfect for daughter #2 (marked $4.99, but 50% off).  We also found a sweet dress for the baby (marked $2.99).  It was military Monday which means an extra 20% off!  So our total was about $12!

I also picked up a button down flannel shirt and two piece outfit and headband for baby at a resale shop that I had credits at (free!).

September- No spending this month.

We pulled out our fall clothes this month and found that while we had quite a bit, much was still needed.  Fortunately I had credits at a local resale store and was able to get most of what we needed at no cost.  My mom did pick up some shirts and pants for my boys.

I purchased socks and tights for several kids; I forgot to make note when I made the purchases.  I think it was about $30

I purchased a polo shirt, polo dress (to have embroidered with our family crest) and "iron knee jeans" from Lands End I had a coupon and free shipping so this all cost about $50.

November-  Having just had a baby I wasn't really feeling like getting out and about to search for the last few things we were needing.  I went ahead and started ordering what we needed as I found them online and on sale.

I purchased "Sunday" shirt and pants for one of my older boys through old navy (and one of my girls purchased a Christmas gift for a brother).  They were offering 30% off of all purchases and free shipping for orders over $50.  Our total came to $64, but $14 is not technically part of my cost since it is coming out of a child's Christmas shopping $$$ so....$50

We went a little crazy at the end of the month.  My teen was in need of jeans and a couple of long sleeve shirts.  She saw the black Friday Old Navy add; the whole store was 50% off!  Could we go on Thanksgiving evening?  I took her, my 5 year old, and the baby.  We had a great time and got some good deals, but spent $128.

December- Nothing, everyone had all they needed.  I did purchase a few things for myself though.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking time to read- Taking care of mom

This year I want to work on doing more reading.  I spend quite a bit of time reading, but not on my own.  I teach reading lessons to at least two kids a day.  I read books to toddlers and pre-schoolers.  During our circle time I read aloud to the kids (generally some sort of history book), and in the afternoon I read a biography to the kids (we love the YWAM biography books) and we always have a read aloud book (or two) we are going through together as a family.  However, my personal reading stack just keeps getting taller and taller.  My day just does not lend itself to much leasure time.  This year I'd like to chip away at that stack and re-develop the habit of regular personal reading for the fun of it (though some may not think my reading list looks like much "fun").

I'm going to try to read one "extra" book a month.  Here is the list I have so far....

January- "Choose Wisdom" by Skeet Savage

February- "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer
*My grandma passed on her Edith Schaeffer library to me a few years ago.  I've read some, but want to get to the rest.

March- "Loving your Husband" by Cynthia Heald

April- "Ten Things Parents Must Teach Their Children (and learn for themselves)" by Edith Schaeffer

May- "The Magnesium Miracle"  by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.

June- "Choosing Gratitude" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
*I've read this before, but I think it needs repeating.  Regularly.  Often.

July- "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace

August- "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel

September- "Common Sense Christian Living" by Edith Schaeffer

October- "Homeschooling for Eternity" by Skeet Savage

*My older kids have been working through the Lord Of The Rings series.  I've started on the first book and would like to read them all this year.  As the three oldest ones complete the books we will be watching the movies together.  It should be fun!

These books all have less than 30 chapters each (except the LOTR books), so I should be able to read a chapter a day and get through all of them.  This also leaves me some wiggle room for off days or maybe adding in an extra book or two that will likely come up.

You will notice the lack of fiction on my list. We read a fair bit of fiction together as a family (or listen to audio books when on the road); this tends to be old classics and books my husband wants us all to read and discuss.  It just is not a priority for my limited "free" time.  Much of the contemporary fiction out there is junk (yes, even by Christian authors) and not worth my time.  Much of the fiction aimed at women set unrealistic lifestyle, emotional, and romantic ideals that lead to discontent; discontent happens easily enough, I don't need help with that.

What about you?  What is on your reading list?  Do you struggle to find time for personal reading?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Time to clean out the pantry/refrigerator!

I do this every January.  I set this month aside to clean out the pantry and refrigerator.  This has the double benefit of not just cleaning these out; but it helps the budget after the Christmas season.  This year this also needs to be done because we will be moving this spring/summer.  I'd rather get a jump start on this now.

This year it will be extra easy early in the month because I still have a fair bit left in my freezer from when the baby was born.  We will finish that up and then move on to the other stuff in the freezer/pantry for dinners.  It will be the breakfasts and lunches that will get a bit more interesting.  I have just taken a quick look at what I have.  It seems that canned salmon did not go over well with the family, but I'm looking forward to having salmon cakes for some lunches.

I'm also going to see how long I can go without having to head to the store.  I'll update this post later to let you know how I've done.  In the mean time...Are you doing a pantry clean out?  Let me know what you are finding in your freezer/pantry.  What was the, um.... most interesting, thing you found in there?