About Me

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Indiana, United States
Updates on our homeschooling family with ten children, a handful of chickens, a couple horses, three bunnies, and six cats. Visit our website at PeacefulHome.net


Blog Archive

Grocery Spending

Food Only

Oct 2010 - $231.39

Nov 2010 - $998.22

Dec 2010 - $340.29

Jan 2011 - $855.15

Feb 2011 - $203.17

Mar 2011 - $916.52

Monthly Average $590.79

Weekly Average $137.85
Our family's website, PeacefulHome.net, is in the process of changing hosting companies and is currently inactive. Our plan is to move this blog over once construction is complete. Please stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WFMW - Our Big Boy Birthday Bash

OK, I admit that this is out of the norm of my usual Works for Me Wednesday tips. But this year, putting all the boys' birthday celebrations on one day, REALLY worked for our family. Coming off the expense and time commitment of our vacation, we didn't have the time to put each boy on a different weekend or the money to take each one to a different restaurant.

Fortunately, the young men involved weren't just willing to go along with the consolidation, they were excited to have a day when it was all about "the boys." I wonder if we've actually started a new tradition.

We started the day with Caleb's pick of coffee cake. He later admitted that he didn't eat much to have more room for the Chinese Buffet at lunch.

When we got back home after lunch, there came the frenzy of present unwrapping. It really had the feel of Christmas morning.

Hunter enjoyed the packaging the most!

"Look at this cool Star Wars LEGO kit!"

And look at THIS cool Star Wars LEGO kit!

Bryan believes in starting them young.

Jake with his favorite girl.

Wear what you love!

Hunter worked on this package for at least 20 minutes.

Caleb shows his gratitude for the candy bar Meg gave him.

And what do the boys like again?

Instead of dinner, we sang "Happy Birthday" three times and ate LOTS of cake and ice cream.

A Dino cake for Jake.

A Race Track cake for Caleb.

Cupcakes for Hunter (he's not so sure about the flames).

Wonderful day, wonderful boys!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disney World Photos - Part 1

Day 1 - September 12 (Travel Day)

This is what we looked like about 40 miles from home.

Day 2 - September 13 (Travel Day)

Arriving at the resort, Heidi stands in the E of "All-Star Movies" Resort. (Never mind the signs all over the back saying not to climb on the letters.) She's holding tightly on to her new Minnie Mouse sippy cups.

Heading off to check out our room in the "Luv Bug" building.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. C!

And today wraps up the Stumpf birthdays for 2009 with Caleb turning 8!

The Top 8 Things We Love About Caleb:

  1. He's such a steady guy. He rarely gets ruffled or flustered (even when riding in an ambulance!).
  2. He knows his own mind and won't do something just because his friends are.
  3. He's not afraid to stand up for what's right (He once punched a boy for making a girl cry. We told him to at least give a warning the next time!).
  4. Caleb has run across a room full of his friends to give me a hug and tell me he loves me.
  5. It's wonderful to watch how close he and Ted have become.
  6. He's very protective of me as a lady. He tries to protect me from anything that might hurt me.
  7. Caleb idolizes his dad and wants to be with him as much as possible.
  8. He has a wonderful, deep laugh that you can't help but laugh along with.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 28, 2009

This weekend has been composed of the hard-to-find blend of relaxing yet with enough going on that no one is bored. Friday evening we actually hired a couple babysitters to watch 17 children so we could go a double date with some close friends. In all the years we'd known them, we'd never gone out as couples. It was a fun twist on the elusive "date night."

Saturday I made birthday cakes and lots of granola to stock up the freezer. In the evening our homeschool group had a pitch-in picnic - a great time to visit and eat!

Sunday was the BIG BOY BIRTHDAY BASH! Lunch at the Chinese Buffet, lots of presents, and even more cake. Photos coming soon...

This week we are looking forward to a more "normal" week. We'll actually be able to get in 5 days of school! This is what we'll be enjoying for dinner:

Monday (Caleb's BD) - Homemade Pizza (lots of it, by request)

Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti Toss

Wednesday (AWANA) - Chicken Patty Sandwiches, Popcorn

Thursday - Speedy Southwest Salad

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Italian Pineapple Chicken, Rice, Cherry Mouse

What's on your menu this week? Find more at orgjunkie.com.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Jaker McGakers

And now for the second player in our week of birthdays: Jacob Alexander turns 6 today!

Here are the top six things we love about Jacob:
  1. He has such a cheerful disposition. He's usually got a smile on his face.
  2. He is quite the character and is always making us laugh.
  3. Jacob loves to spend time with all his siblings. He's flexible enough to play Star Wars Legos one minute and be Brigitta's Prince Charming the next.
  4. He loves school and is a very hard worker.
  5. He's had a passion for horses for years (thanks to his buddy, Emelie) and enjoys helping her with Ripley.
  6. He loves to help in the kitchen. He even had me put "Can make Mac 'n Cheese" on his job list.

Here is Jacob with his favorite Star Wars character, Ahsoka. Every time I ask him if he thinks she should wear more clothes, he says "no." Go figure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 21, 2009 (The Real One)

Here is the much-anticipated, long-awaited Menu Plan for our week. Bryan and I resisted the super-strong pull for a nap on Monday by going to the grocery. We only shopped for one month this time which went like a snap. I am excited about the new meals we'll be trying our of the Quick Cooking Annual Cookbook 2003.

Monday (Big Grocery Day) - Walmart Take 'n Bake Pizza (These are very good and a great price!) and Big Deli Sub (not as impressed by this)

Tuesday (Homeschool Classes) - Tater Taco Bake (I'm putting in the crockpot), Salad

Wednesday (AWANA/Hunter's Birthday) - Frozen Pizza, Mac 'n Cheese

Thursday - Chili Mac Skillet, Green Chili Cornbread

Friday - Going on a double date to Japanese Food

Saturday (Jacob's Birthday, AWANA Hike, Homeschool Picnic) - I'm bringing to the picnic our favorite Sandwich Braid and Dirt Dessert

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Hunter Man!

Today begins the three-boy-birthdays-in-five-days week at our house. My sweet baby boy turns the Big 1! Such a happy little guy. Very mellow and loves to cuddle. What more could a mama want?

I had just gotten him up and he was waiting for his breakfast. I think he was thinking, "Why should I smile when I want my bottle and some food?"

We will celebrate Hunter's birthday on Sunday at the "Big Boy Birthday Bash!"

WFMW - Returning to a clean home

I can get a bit neurotic when I'm preparing for a trip. One way this manifests itself is in my passionate desire to get my house cleaned up before I leave. I think it is a variation of "Make sure you're wearing clean underwear in case you get in an accident."

The night before we left I was making the children work on our oh-so-frightening basement. Jacob (5) said, "But Mom, I don't think Grandma Nan is going to play down here." (Grandma Nan came up to do animal care in our absence.)

However, when we drug in on Sunday evening, it was so nice to see clean surfaces and made beds. Bryan even commented on how nice it was to return to a clean house. (Hopefully that means he's forgiven me for going all crazy on him before we left.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am Turbo Round

A couple weeks ago, I shared how we trained our children to respond when we asked them something. This developed into another game which we call the Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am Turbo Round.

The goal of this game is to get the house into shape quickly when guests are expected. This is a great way to get some of those last-minute items done (windexing the front door, cleaning up the toys shoved under the couch, getting rid of little piles of clutter).

The children line up and I give them each a task. They respond "Yes Ma'am" and run off to do it. When they return they receive an M&M and their next task. Repeat until house looks presentable. We can get our home from disheveled to decent in about 20 minutes and have fun while doing it!

I've found that this works best with quick (2 minutes or less) tasks. This is not the time to deep clean the bathroom. The pace needs to be brisk and the M&Ms flying or they will loose interest.

Now go buy the big bag of M&Ms and start having some fun!

Monday, September 21, 2009

How our Disney World vacation doubled in cost

Saturday morning in Orlando we experienced a Stumpf first - first ride in an ambulance! Caleb woke us up at 7 with obvious croup symptoms. When he didn't respond to the shower and was having a hard time talking, we knew this was stridor which necessitates a breathing treatment and steroid. We've gone through this half-a-dozen times or more with him and also Heidi. It's just more stressful when we don't know where the nearest Urgent Care or Hospital is.

Bryan drove to where the desk clerk directed him only to find no medical facilities. He called 911 and said, "I just need to know where the nearest hospital is." The dispatcher said that the ambulance was already on its way. Shortly after he called the hotel to update me, and I could hear the sirens approaching in the background.

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics checked him out and since his pulse-ox was low, they started a breathing treatment. When Bryan asked what hospital to take him to, they said that he would have to go by ambulance since he was already under treatment. (I'm sure Bryan's head was close to exploding at this point!)

They put Caleb (age 7) into the ambulance and Bryan followed them to the hospital. When Caleb was taken out of the ambulance, he had an IV, 4 EEG leads, and was on oxygen in addition to the breathing treatment. On the up side, there was no waiting before being seen at the ER.

He had already improved on the ride over because of the breathing treatment, so the doctor just gave him a dose of steroid and kept him for an hour's observation.

Now Caleb's fine, just a little wheezy in the evenings and needs his inhaler. It all just goes to show that life around here is never dull!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 21, 2009

We're baaack! Today we drove in around 6pm after driving since about 10 from Chattanooga.

What an incredible trip for our family. Give me a couple nights of good sleep and I'll be ready to do it all over again! I've got stories to tell. And enough photos to bore everyone until Christmas. Tonight you'll be spared all that as I'm too tired to be very coherent.

Since we ate out our pantry and freezer before we left, we also have no food in the house. Therefore, no real meal plan for the week. Pancakes every night maybe?

I'll probably grocery tomorrow for the next month or so. I spent some of our drive time planning a couple month's worth of meals. So check back in a few days and I'll have a real plan for you then!

Until then, go to orgjunkie.com for hundreds of meal plans.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the Road

Today we left for our long-anticipated family vacation to the Mouse House in Florida. When they came out with their Free Dining promotion, we felt that they made us an offer we couldn't refuse. All total we are staying in the park for 5 days/nights with park passes and food for what we had always guessed it would cost just to get us into the gates.

As a former Disneyland employee ("Please keep your arms and legs inside the tram at all times while it is in motion"), I do have a soft spot for the magic of their parks. I can't wait to share that with my children!

I'll be returning next week with probably more than one tale of this adventure. Until then, God be with you!


Friday, September 11, 2009

16 Years Ago Today...

  • I worked full time (selling cheerleading uniforms!) and was finishing my degree.

  • I couldn't imagine living anywhere but Southern California.

  • I drove a brand-new Saturn (I loved that car!).

  • I couldn't believe they still used "obey" in marriage cerimonies. Not me!

  • I thought keeping house meant throwing everything in a closet 10 minutes before guests arrived.

  • I wasn't really clear on where God fit in my life.

  • I thought I'd have a couple children, sometime in the future.

But the best thing that happened 16 years ago today:

  • I was blessed by God to marry the most wonderful man!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why my delete key doesn't work

I can clearly remember sitting at my first homeschool conference listening to the speakers as they would casually mention what the amazing things their older students were doing:

"He volunteered at a Christian radio station at 13, and
now at 17 he's a morning DJ."

"The boys taught themselves animation. They've made
several movies that have received a lot of attention."

"She wrote her first novel at 16."

I remember thinking, "Sign me up for whatever curriculum you use, but I'm sure your kids are just freaks with incredible IQs!"

I never thought that real homeschooled children (the kind that forget to do their chores, squabble with siblings, and can never find their spelling book) would do anything outstandingly noteworthy. The super children came from homes where everyone spoke Latin and discussed mathematical theorems around the dinner table.

Now that I am 10 years further down this journey, I might be beginning to "get it." One of the great beauties of homeschooling is the freedom for the children to begin to explore their passions.

Over the past couple weeks, Emelie has been sitting surrounded by encyclopedias and history books. All on her own, she has decided to look up the lineage of famous people we have studied (the Medici family, Catherine of Aragon, etc.). She has traced Elizabeth I back over 600 years. Sure, she could have researched this quickly on the web, but she wanted to figure it out for herself.

Teddy has decided that he wants to figure out how computer macros work. So far, a small Star Wars battle happens at the click of a button. Oh yeah, he also disabled the "delete" key in MS Word.

I'm writing all this to encourage those of you that are just beginning this journey of homeschooling. The most important decisions are not what curriculum to choose or which co-op to join. The greatest benefit to your children's education will be the freedom of time to explore, make mistakes, and ask questions.

And maybe they will be the ones to come up with the big answers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WFMW - Battery Help

I definitely have a love-hate thing with batteries. Orphan batteries lying on the floor is on the list that makes my head explode. So are toys that require the jaws of life to get to the battery compartment. It seems I can never remember which toys take how many and what kind of batteries.

Then it dawned on me after Hunter was born (I've been a parent for how long?), and I was trying to remember "How many for the swing? How many for the baby gym?". Take a Sharpie marker a write on the battery cover the number and size of battery (e.g. 4-C).

Makes is simple for even the 7-year-old to change out those batteries. Now if they'd just put the old ones in the recycling tub!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am Game

I'm sure this is just a Stumpf phenomenon, but my children seemed to be hard of hearing when I would ask them to do something. We decided to reduce frustration and improve attentiveness by requiring a "Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am" or "Yes Sir/No Sir" when we asked something. That would make it easier to determine if they heard the request or not.

Periodically we brush up on this skill by playing the Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am Game. Rules are simple:
  • I ask them a question or to do something.

  • They respond cheerfully with "Yes Ma'am" or "No Ma'am" and run like a bunny rabbit to do what's been asked of them.

  • When they return after successful completion, they get an M&M (love those training incentives)

After a couple weeks, the responses become automatic. We repeat this training period a couple times each year to keep everyone sharp. Now that I think about it, we might benefit from a refresher this week...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Travel Like the Stumpfs Tip #2

It takes a lot of clothes to move this crew for a week. We're only packing 4 days of clothes (laundry scheduled for mid-week), and Emelie counted over 200 individual clothing items not including diapers or shoes.

We used to pack in laundry baskets until we outgrew them. We've graduated to Rubbermaid 20 gallon totes, but the general principal is the same.

For each day, everyones' outfit goes into a tote. Toiletries, swim suits, and jammies are in a separate tote. When we arrive at a hotel, we just take in the next day's tote and the swim/jammie tote (classy visual, right?). We take out the clean clothes and then use the empty tote as a hamper. When we need to do laundry (on the road or back at home), we just pull the dirties from the tote and wash, wash, wash.

We also have a tote for our food and snacks. They stack so much better than individual suitcases and bags.

As I'm packing I keep what I call "The List of Ommisions." This contains the items that haven't been packed yet broken down by tote. As we hunt down the missing articles, we cross them off the list.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - September 7, 2009

We've had an unusually calm weekend which was such a blessing to enable us to really prepare for next weekend's vacation. Friday evening my family took me out for my birthday dinner. We've been trying to really reduce our dining out to save money, so it's become such a treat to have a night off cooking.

Tonight we were able to fellowship with two of our favorite families. Isn't it relaxing to spend time with other families that are on the same page? Not that we should isolate ourselves, but every now and again it's nice to be with folks that "get" us.

Monday we'll hopefully wrap up laundry and packing for the trip. Then we'll pretend to pay attention through four days of school before heading to Florida. The pantry and freezer are so empty. I'm even wondering if unplugging the upright freezer for a week would save significant energy. So here is our scrounge menu for the week:

Monday (Labor Day) - Ranch Beans, Cornbread

Tuesday - Baked French Toast, Sausage, Eggs

Wednesday (AWANA/4-H Meeting) - Hot Dogs, Chips

Thursday - BBQ Meatball Sandwiches, Oven Fries, Peaches

Friday - Chicken Broccoli Salad Wraps, Fruit

Then 9 days of no cooking!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Travel Like the Stumpfs Tip #1

Since we're gearing up for our big road trip to the Mouse House in just over a week, I thought I'd share some of the ways we make traveling work for our crew.

I came across this tip on a message board while reading about traveling to Disney World. (Yes, I do research EVERYTHING!) Use an over-the-door shoe holder for storing toiletries and such. This will keep the bathroom counter (where there is never enough room) from getting too cluttered.

They fold down to almost nothing for packing and then can hang over the bathroom door. I purchased mine for cheap at Big Lots.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cheap-o Yum-o Recipe

Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me!

Sorry, had to be a little self-indulgent...

A month or so ago we tried a new take on our beloved black beans. It has that wonderful combination of going together quickly, making gobs, tasting great, and being pocket book friendly.

Beans and Rice
4 Cups Rice, cooked (that's 2 cups pre-cooked)
1 lb. Dry Black Beans, cooked
1 16 oz. Can Corn, drained
1 C Salsa
2 C Cheese, shredded

Combine first four ingredients in a 13 x 9 dish. Microwave 5-8 minutes until hot. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese melts.

We've has this with tortilla chips, tortillas, or just plain. It's also yummy with a bit of sour cream.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Embracing Digital Scrapbooking

There is nothing better that getting together with the girlfriends for a weekend, or even an evening, of scrapbooking. We used to do it once a month or so. Lately, it seems everyone has been chronically busy, and we haven't been able to get together like we used to.

I'm a little obsessive about keeping on top of my photos. If I get a couple months behind, I start to panic. Mainly because I forget things if I don't scrap an event right away.

So you can imagine the internal freak-out parties going on in my brain since I was still working on January. That's eight months ago. Do you realize how many birthday parties have happened in that time. And now we're about to go on a vacation that will definitely be a book in itself. How am I going to get all this done? (That's a glimpse into the freaking out. It's much better and more colorful in person.)

Enter scrapbookflair.com. Free program download, free templates, free papers and embellishments. I've been whipping out 1-2 two page spreads every day lately. I'm actually in March now! I'm trying to keep them simple and plan to add titles, journaling and some embellishments at the next, as yet unscheduled, crop.

The program is a little quirky and limited, but I don't have time to explore the wonders of Photoshop. Plus, the pages can then be printed at the sister website, scrapbooksplease.com. The cost is between 1.99-3.99 per page, depending on quality, and they're always having sales.

This might be the way to end the freaking out (at least on this issue)!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

WFMW - Taming the Laundry Beast

A family of 10 creates a LOT of laundry. Just when I think we're on top of it, someone cleans our their bathroom or closet, and the laundry room hamper is overflowing again. I've threatened to have us all join a nudist colony, but I'm afraid they'd kick me out. Plus that's not a real practical solution during an Indiana winter.

I am blessed with a separate laundry room that's not part of a hallway to anywhere (a first for me!). For a year and a half I had two washers and two dryers which made it much easier to keep on top of things. A couple months ago, the older washer quit on me right before we had to dump a bunch of money into our van. So the second set is purely decorative at this point.

We don't have hampers anywhere but the laundry room. The little ones strip right in there. The older ones are to bring their dirties in at least once per day.

In the mornings Caleb (7) sorts the clothes into our five big laundry bags. He'll often start a load then even though that's not one of his jobs (he's just that kind of guy!). In the afternoons he transfers whatever is in the washer to the dryer and brings the clean basket to the living room. I'll throw in loads whenever I have a short break, usually before breakfast and at night. Our goal is to wash and dry 3-4 loads per day.

As a regular part of our schedule, we have 30-45 minutes every morning when I read history to the oldest five children. During this time, the children fold the three baskets for the day. Each has specific folding assignments to eliminate the "she's not working as fast as me" griping. When reading is over, each puts away what they have folded.

Folding while reading gives them something to do while keeping their ears free to listen. This system keeps our laundry at a manageable level (meaning you can usually walk through the door to the laundry room). Now if only I could find a way to keep the little critters from throwing clean clothes in the hamper. Like when I find a shirt in the hamper with a hanger still in it! grrrrrrr

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Baby Carrier Collection

After baby #6 was born, I stumbled onto the website wearyourbaby.com. It opened up a whole new world to me. I wear my babies on my back almost everyday. Sometimes it's the only way I can get dinner done. When you think about it, women all over the world have been putting babies on their back since Bible times. We've just gotten away from it with all of our other baby-entertaining devices (which I also use!).

We'd had a Baby Biorn since Emelie was a couple months old. However, as soon as the babies approached 15 pounds or so, I didn't find it comfortable for long stretches. Plus, I found it difficult to cook or work around to house with a baby on my front.

At wearyourbaby.com I learned how to put a baby on my back comfortably and safely. I made a couple Mei Tai carriers following these directions.

When Heidi was born, we bought an Ergo Baby Carrier. I love how comfortable this carrier is. While I don't like it for newborns, once baby can hold up his head, it's very easy and comfortable to use. This is Bryan's favorite carrier and he uses it for Heidi (2 1/2) or Brigitta (4) at least once a week.

We were considering buying a second Ergo while I was pregnant with Hunter. That's when I discovered the Beco Butterfly. This one is great for newborns on up. My favorite feature is that when baby is strapped in, he can be transferred to a different wearer like a backpack. I also like the waist belt better than the Ergo. This is the one I usually wear with Hunter.

I just completed making a cloth carrier like a Moby Wrap. I wanted something for Disney World for Hunter to face out. More on this carrier coming soon...