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


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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!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A little off the top, please...

When Bryan came to pick me up after my retreat at Jamers' lake house, I received quite a shock. At some point in the previous 24-hours, Brigitta (4) had decided to giver herself a makeover. In one of those "I have no idea what possessed you" moments, she had managed to hack off half her hair.

I tried (poorly) to remain calm when I saw her. Not only did she previously have beautiful long, curly hair, but she was the only one whose hair I could play with. Emelie and Meghan are mostly too old, and Heidi's hair is, well, difficult. We both loved the time spent with me making her hair look like a princess'. I'll have to search the Girly Do's archives to find some "dos" for short hair while I keep repeating to myself "It'll grow back..."

Last August with her "Messy Buns"

A look at the damage done

After I trimmed things up. Cute, but we all keep thinking that she doesn't look like our Bitta.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 30, 2009

Hope your Thanksgiving weekend was filled with joy and blessings! Grandma Nan came up, and we all enjoyed a bounty of the traditional favorites. After braving the shopping crowds for a couple hours Friday morning, I was able to spend a wonderful 24 hours scrapbooking, laughing, and relaxing with Jamers at her family's lake house. I'll be inviting myself over there whenever I can!

Here's a shopping tip to stash away for next year. If you go to Target on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, you can get the Friday doorbuster prices on all the clothing items they've put out. Let's just say "SCORE!"

Looking forward to this week, we'll be jumping back into our routine. Busy, but not too crazy. I'm home all day, everyday this week. That makes for a more relaxed momma. It also will make the following dinners easier to prepare.

Monday - Blueberry Pancakes, Sausage, Home Fries

Tuesday (Horse Judging, Mom's Meeting) - BBQ Meatball Sandwiches (crockpot)

Wednesday (Bryan Night Meeting, AWANA) - Pigs in a Blanket, Popcorn

Thursday - Turkey Ranch Wraps with Homemade Tortillas, Potato Wedges

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Black Beans, Cheese, Chips

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cook up some free time

My latest cooking fad has been to try to employ "Planned-Overs" to cut down on meal prep time. The concept is to cook a big batch of something one night, then use it to make a couple more dinners later in the week, or, if you can freeze it, later in the month.

I love my older copies of Quick Cooking Annual Recipes (available dirt cheap on amazon.com or half.com). Here are a couple meals I've cooked lately from the 2001 book:
  • Cheddar Cheese Sauce served night #1 on baked potatoes. Used later for Mac 'n Cheese and Cheddar Veggie Soup.
  • Four Bean Taco Chili. Used later in Cheesy Chili Dip and Chili Manicotti.
  • Mashed Potatoes served night #1 as a side dish. Used later in Potato Chowder.
  • Stovetop Baked Beans. Used later in Baked Bean Chili.

This latest meal planning session, I've used an e-book called Plan Ahead Leftovers. This ebook explains how you can cook once and eat three to five different meals. Plan Ahead Leftovers includes beef, chicken and ham recipes for the main dishes. Since the cooked meat freezes easily, you don't need to have "a week of ham." It also makes it easy to take advantage on great sales on meats. Right now is a great time to buy turkey and ham!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WFMW - Decorating with Scripture

Write them on the doorframes of your houses...Deuteronomy 6:9

In many of the catalogs I've been looking through lately, I've noticed adhesive saying that can be applied to the walls. Well, look at that - I'm a trend setter! My long-time goal has been to get Scripture on the walls of every room in my home. Not there yet, but working on it. Here are some ways to get the job done without the $30-50 dollar price tag.

Below is the nook off the kitchen where many of our school supplies are stored. Ted was the one that pointed out this verse to go on the wall. I found a font I liked on the computer and printed it out. I drew a few guidelines and penciled it in. Finally, I went over it with paint pen. The great thing about this font is that it is very forgiving!

Below is the powder room which we call the "Palm Tree" bathroom. I did this one in the same way using a gold paint pen.

This is in our basement. I free-handed it with paint pens after getting frustrated when the children squabbled over cleaning up their toys.

The first verse I put up in this home was over our front door. I printed it off the computer in reverse on the back of some scrapbook paper. I cut it out with sharp scissors (rather time-consuming but cheap!). I stuck them up with glue stick and washed over the letters with watered-down white glue.

Now that I have a Cricut for scrapbooking, this is the only way to go! I cut out the letters, ran them through my Xyron, and stuck them on the wall. These have been up in the boys' bathroom for over two years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Keyboard Shorcuts

I decided to post about my new-found computer knowledge. As someone that used to be quite the techie (if you need help with DOS or Windows 3.1, let me know), I love computer solutions.

I've long used the great ALT-TAB combination to switch between various open windows. However, when I started using Internet Explorer 7, for some reason my mind kept making me press ALT-TAB in the hopes that it would change between the tabs in one Internet Explorer window!

Well if you are lazy like me and don’t feel like reaching for your mouse that’s only inches away to click on another tab, you can instead press CNTRL-TAB on your keyboard and that will allow you to switch between tabs INSIDE of one Internet Explorer window!

Monday, November 23, 2009

These are a few of our favorite things...

Since it will soon begin to look a lot like Christmas, I thought I'd share a few of the children's favorite gifts (with smaller price tags) from the past couple Christmases.

Let me know what have been the big hits in your home since I'm a little slow in getting our list together this year!

Frigits - Adults and children alike won't be able to keep from playing with it!

Klutz Books - They're all great! Some of our favorites are Paper Fashions, Lettering, Castle Cards, Scoubidou, Lego Contraptions, and the list goes on and on!

Carpet Slides - I nearly broke my arm last Christmas on these things but the kids love them. They pull each other around everywhere!

Apples to Apples Jr. - Everyone from 7 to Adult has a great time with this game.

Playskool Explore and Grow Busy Ball Popper - We bought this for our youngest when he turned 1. It is a HUGE hit with everyone! No one can walk by it with our sending the balls flying. Only problem - keeping track of the balls. Hunter gets giddy when he finds one now!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 23, 2009

As I type this, the house is filled with the great smells of granola cooking. It's smells like a cookie factory! Emelie has taken over this duty for today. We're hoping to get enough batches made to finish out 2009.

Heading into Thanksgiving week, we still have a couple evening commitments so the crockpot will be coming out. This is what we will be enjoying this week:

Monday (Horse Judging) - Hashbrown Casserole (crockpot), Peach Cobbler, Eggs

Tuesday (Homeschool Group) - Baked Mac 'n Cheese (crockpot), Baked Beans, Cornbread

Wednesday - Chicken in Sour Cream Sauce, Noodles

Thursday - Thanksgiving!!!

Friday - Thanksgiving Leftovers!!!

Saturday - Homemade Pizza (Cheese, Peperoni, Garlic Chicken)

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teacher's Day Off

The thought occurred to me a few weeks ago that in my 10 years or so of homeschooling, I had never taken a day off just because I wanted to. Sure we've taken time off when a majority fall ill, guests come over, or because the Spring weather demands a trip to the park. But what about a day off to get things done that had been on my "to-do" list but weren't getting done? Nope, never.

It took me couple weeks to remember to schedule the day off into our week, but I finally put it on the calendar for this past Thursday. I explained to the children that they would be expected to entertain themselves. The oldest four would need to work for 30 minutes on Switched-On-Schoolhouse (so as to not fall too far behind), but otherwise would have a free day. This was met with great joy all around!

I had in mind to use the day to get some sewing projects off my table. I prepared the day before by cutting things out and moving a folding table with my sewing machine into the dining room, along with the ironing board.

After breakfast I got to work. The children were enthusiastic and even took it a step farther to a "Mom's Day Off" by doing some of my other jobs. By the end of the day (which even included a nap for me) I had finished two skirts for Emelie and one for me from Sew What! Skirts, and a purse for Emelie from Sew What! Bags. (Side Note: All this fabric came from my stash. It's like getting things for free!)

Here's the purse with the flap back:

When the day was done, I was jazzed about how much I'd gotten done in one day. Finishing projects gets me pretty pumped up and was just the shot I needed to finish out this semester of school. I'm now planning on taking a "Teacher's Day Off" a couple times a year!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gross Post - You've been warned

When I went to change Heidi's diaper before bed, she told me she was wet. Why, yes, her diaper had leaked so I proceeded with some caution. She was standing up, and I gingerly grabbed hold of a dry bit.

Unfortunately, she neglected to tell me that she had used some of her basement playtime to really fill her diaper. As I pulled the diaper through her legs, the solid contents went flying across the room...and bounced.

Since everyone had "jammied and teethed," many were assembled in the living room for prayers and had a front row seat for this spectacle. I was laughing and crying so hard I couldn't even speak.

Bryan told me that, when dealing with a 2-year-old, as President Regan used to say about the Soviets, "Trust but verify." I obviously failed the second half. Another memory that we will laugh about for years to come. Once again I'm reminded: It's never dull around here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WFMW - Shopping with Children

This past Saturday we did our once-every-two-months grocery trip. In the past we would take the whole clan on these trips, but we're to the point now where our van can't hold all the food and all the children. That being the case, we leave a few at home and take out a couple seats in BEV (Blue Enormous Van).

We took five with us on this trip: Ted (12) and Caleb (8) pushed the carts, as did Bryan. Jacob (6) ran items from me to the carts. Brigitta (4) and Heidi (2) were along for decoration. We shopped for over two hours at two stores with no meltdowns or whining.

What's the key?

Practice ahead of time! Take the children to the store - when you have no intention of buying anything! Explain the rules ahead of time:

  • You will not ask for anything.
  • You will not whine.
  • You will not irritate your siblings.
  • Children under ___-years-old will hold onto the cart when not riding in the seat.
  • Cart pushers will keep carts in a single file to not block the aisles.

By going over the family's rules when you don't feel pressured to get the items on your list, you can spend more time on training. What if they fail the training session? They get to repeat it (preferably in place of a desired item like TV or computer time) as many times as necessary.

Our children enjoy the training time because we keep our attitudes cheerful. We want to have all our shopping times be enjoyable, so have that as the goal from the start.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Delegating the laundry

Last week I shared a couple ways I delegate the dishes around here. I also palm-off as many of the laundry tasks as possible. I've discussed this before, but here is another thing we've done to make things easier for those helping me out.

We label our sorting bins with color of laundry and washing instructions. With a little instruction, a child can sort the laundry and start a load. Ahhh! Freedom! We've had very few laundry tragedies, only a couple of debates on where to sort turquoise.

Even with our 15-20 loads per week, with help from the children, laundry is not an insurmountable task.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turkey Run

On Sunday Bryan was insistent that we take advantage of the 50 degree temps spend the afternoon hiking. We went to one of the most beautiful spots in the Hoosier State: Turkey Run State Park.

Usually Bryan takes the children while I stay home to get some things done. I went along this time and am so glad I did for two reasons: 1) My children love this sooooo much. They get along great, joke and laugh together, and are such tough hikers (much more so than me!). 2) I now understand why some of them often come home from these trips half-naked, shoeless and holding their wet clothes. This trail is rough with most of it along a slippery stream with no bank!

(These photos were taken on Bryan's phone so the quality is pretty lousy)

Heading up, up, up...

Great view, unless you look at me in a sweatshirt with three pairs of mittens in the pouch! Not pregnant, just puffy!

They love to climb up a big rock. One of these days I'll have to scrapbook all my "Stumpfs on a rock" photos.

Princess Bride fans will appreciate that we call this "Heading into the Fire Swamp."

Hard to tell, but the children are heading up the first of 3 or 4 tall ladders. Bryan and I each had a babe on our backs - kind of messes with your balance!

This is what happens when you push the children too hard!

Look closely...They are all pretending to be gargoyles from the cover of Emelie's Hunchback of Notre Dame book.

Finally we reached the "Punch Bowl." And it really was getting that dark!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 16, 2009

I'm watching the Colts vs. Patriots game on Sunday Night Football right now. I haven't been very emotionally involved in the Colts undefeated season thus far. Haven't even caught too many games. But I must admit that tonight I'm nervous. I'm pretty sure that it will be through my sheer will and concentration that they trounce New England (apologies to any Patriot fans).

Yesterday we groceried for nine weeks. Our total was around $740 which included some of our Thanksgiving fixins, food to donate to a local food pantry, and supplies for oil changes for Bryan's car and motorcycle. We will naturally have milk and produce runs, plus I'll hit a sale on meat this week (using my Mom's senior citizen discount) for another $40 or so.

Since the pantry is stocked, this is what's on the menu this week:

Monday - Sweet & Sour Sausage, White Rice

Tuesday (Field Trip, Horse Judging) - Spaghetti & Meatballs (crockpot), Salad, Garlic Bread

Wednesday (AWANA) - Cold Cut Sandwiches, Popcorn

Thursday - Cranberry Baked Beans, Steamed Brown Brown

Friday (Bible Study) - Tacos, Homemade Tortillas, Black Beans

Saturday - Fried Rice, Chinese Salad

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dust Bunnies in Your Day

Bryan and I just moved our bedroom around to accommodate some lovely, new-to-us bookcases from Jamers. We haven't rearranged our furniture in the four years we've lived in this home. Let's just say that the dust bunnies under our bed were impressive.

Our daily schedules and routines can be like that. We must be willing to be willing to move things around as our situations change or, instead of finding dust bunnies, we feel stressed.

If you notice the tension starting to build at the same point each day, step back and reevaluate. I find it helpful to go to Bryan with what's bothering me. His perspective is usually objective enough to see a new solution to the problem.

Next semester we're departing from our normal routine to do a semester study on Indiana State History. Our standard routine won't work with the curriculum layout. At this point I don't know what our day will look like, but I know it will need to be different! Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pressure Cooker

Last week I talked about (again!) my affinity for my Crockpot. One of my other "go-to" kitchen tools is my Pressure Cooker. I don't have a new-fangled fancy model. Actually, mine was my grandmother's. Probably circa 1960 or so.

I use it mainly to cook chicken breast that I've forgotten to thaw ahead of time. With only about 10 minutes of cook time, a frozen hunk of chicken is falling-apart tender. It's also great for turning stew meat into melt-in-your-mouth morsels. I've cooked beans in it, but since I like to check on their progress, it's not my favorite method.

I must admit that every time I use it, I think about it blowing up on me. That actually happened to Jamers (gotta blog about that, girl!). So far, so good for me. Just always remember to check the seals and vent pipe.

Here are some links to get you started:

Miss Vickie's Guide To Modern Pressure Cookery

Fast Cooking

Mom's Menu

Diana's Kitchen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Hey, Mom! I Need Help!"

How many times a day are those words spoken (at a loud volume, from another room) around here? More than I can keep up with or have patience for! It's usually a math problem that is giving trouble. Or a question on SOS that is "obviously wrong."

We have a schedule for our school day, and I can't jump up from the child that I'm working with to run to someone else. I would be doing that all day and end up with little to show for it except gray hair.

When the children get stumped while I'm having "school with mom" time with someone else, I ask them to please re-read the lesson. Since they do a couple subjects with Switched-On Schoolhouse, they are all guilty of skipping straight to the questions without reading the lesson. If they are still stumped, they should ask one of their siblings (and not the one I'm working with!).

If the above attempts at enlightenment fail, enter the new, handy dandy "Hey, Mom! I Need Help!" chart. They jot down what's troubling them on the easy-to-use form. We keep it taped right next to the computer so they don't even have to get up to fill it out. When their "school with mom" time rolls around, I scan the chart for their name and we cover their questions.

This has been especially helpful in reducing the amnesia that seems to occur between the time when the lesson was attempted and when I ask them if they have any questions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delegating the dishes

Several years ago, we revamped where we kept our dishes in order to make it easier for the children to unload the dishwasher and set the table. I'm all about working myself out of a job; if there's a child that can do it, great!

We keep all of the children's plastic cups, bowls and plates in a bottom cupboard next to the dishwasher. (Side note: This is the only cupboard that the toddlers and babies are allowed into. They can play to their heart's content, but it's usually in a frightening state of disarray.)

We keep all the other plates and bowls on a buffet that we purchased from IKEA. An unused dresser would work just as well. This is right next to the dining room table to make table setting easy. The silverware is kept in restaurant-style containers (also from IKEA) on the buffet.

The children start setting the table at around 4 years-old with some help. They start unloading the dishwasher at around 6 years. They unload all but the glasses and glass containers which are too high for them to reach.

Here is our buffet complete with our books and Bibles ready for Cocoa Time!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Breakfast Fail

This morning I thought I'd break from our traditional "Muffin Monday" breakfast and make up a big pan of Baked Oatmeal. In the mixing process, I noticed that our Baking Powder tub was almost empty. While Meg was chattering away, I went into the pantry to grab a new bag.

As she explained her latest project, I opened the 1 pound bag...right into the bowl of Baked Oatmeal goo. I looked up at her, horrified, and explained my mistake. She showed her support of me by bursting into laughter.

I scooped out as much as I could since it was already starting to bubble and foam. I should have tossed the rest and started over. But being the frugal gal I am, I decided that a little too much baking powder would just make our breakfast lighter and fluffier.

It did bubble over the pan a little in the baking, but otherwise looked great. Then came that sit-com moment when everyone took a bite and got an "I just ate a dill pickle" face. Rather tangy. And the milk turned into a foamy, ooblik-like goo.

My sweet children choked down their bowls and, surprisingly, no one went for seconds. The chickens got the rest and they were thoughtful enough not cluck their complaints.

We'll be having an early lunch!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 9, 2009

I just sent Emelie off to take some photos for some posts I'm working on. That mean girl just took some seriously unflattering photos of me. Not cool! Gotta love the delete button!

We're jumping back into the weekly routine of 4-H Horse Judging Team. Soon 4-H will be back in full swing. A blessing but at the cost of time. But it's a good kind of busy, right?

This week we'll be enjoying:

Monday (Bryan Night Meeting) - Cheesy Beef Macaroni

Tuesday (Homeschool Group, Horse Judging) - Deanna's Meatloaf (crockpot), Massive quantities of Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday (AWANA) - Mac 'n Cheese, Hot Dogs

Thursday - Potato Chowder (from those Mashed Potatoes on Tuesday)

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Big Grocery & 4-H Achievement Banquet

Don't forget to check out our breakfast and lunch plans. Find more menus at orgjunkie.com.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm Thankful For...

'Tis the season, right? We're supposed to reflect on all we are thankful for. I know I don't give thanks as much as I should, but last night reminded me to appreciate all of my blessings.

With another couple from our Bible Study, Bryan and I visited some dear friends whose 13-year-old, special-needs daughter is in the hospital. By the time she goes home (hopefully early next week!), she will have been in for over two weeks. This isn't a "normal" routine for their family, but they have had their seasons.

During their stays over the years, they've gotten to know other families going through trials with their children and babies that can only be described as a nightmare. What these parents wouldn't trade for one of my worst days including the tantrums, attitudes, stresses?!

So I will remember to always be thankful for my precious children. Wiping their noses is a joy because they can breathe on their own. Breaking up their arguments is a pleasure because they can express themselves. I will laughingly direct their boisterous behavior to the basement because they can run freely. And I will lift those hospital families up in prayer that are going through things that I can't even imagine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Crock Pot Crazy!

You know how much I adore my crockpot! Using it when we're busy is a lifesaver; using it when we're not makes me feel like I've gained an extra hour in the early evening. But there are some women out there that love it even more than I. Go figure! Check out these blogs to get your crockpot juices flowing:

A Year of Slow Cooking

The Crockpot Blog

365 Days of Slow Cooking

I was sent an email a while back (thanks, Kate!) that had links to gobs of crockpot recipes categorized by main ingredient. Click here to download it in a Word document.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Circle Time at Our Home

Shortly after reading about "Circle Time" over at Preschoolers and Peace, we incorporated it into our school day. It is the first "school" we do after breakfast, and everyone loves coming together for some learning on the fun side. Anyone that is not napping (usually age 2 and up) participates. And I continue to be amazed at how much the young ones learn!

Currently we are learning the States and Capitals and reading the poetry assignment from Sonlight Core 2.

In the past we've used Circle Time to do our Character Study, learn praise music sign language, watch Proverbs DVD, and in the summer: School House Rock!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beans, Beans the Wonderful Fruit!

As I type this, I have two types of beans cooking on the stove in preparation for 4 Bean Chili (and Chili Dip, and Chili Manicotti). The recipe calls for canned beans, but dry is so much more economical that I use them whenever I can.

In order to substitute dry beans for canned, here's a handy fact list to remind you of the various relationships between dry, cooked and canned beans:
  • Dry beans expand to about 2-1/2 times their original size when soaked.
  • A one-pound package of dry beans equals about 2 cups dry, or 5-6 cups cooked.
  • One 15 ounce can (drained) equals about 1-2/3 cups cooked beans.
  • 2/3 cup of dry beans cooks up to 1 can of cooked beans.

I usually cook 1-3 pound of beans at a time. Any beans I don't need for a recipe, I freeze in 15 oz. can amounts. Pull them out of the freezer the night before and they'll be ready when it's time to make dinner. Delicious, nutritious, and economical!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What are Skapris?

I've made almost a dozen Twirl Skorts for my two youngest girls over the past couple years. They are great for warm weather, but what to wear when the weather turns cooler?

I fell in love with this pattern from YouCanMakeThis.com. They looked so perfect for my girls, especially Heidi. She's the one that will dress up in a princess costume then grab a light saber and attack one of her brothers.

Problem was, I just couldn't bring myself to pay for the pattern download. I knew how they were constructed; I was just too lazy to start from scratch....Until now! Using a pants pattern and her measurements, I stitched these together in an evening. Meghan and Brigitta have even put in orders. Now to find more sewing time!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 1, 2009

I love a weekend filled with fellowship! And this past one was a great one! From Bible Study on Friday, Reformation Day on Saturday, to worship and an afternoon with friends on Sunday - there's no other way I'd rather spend my time. Thank you, Lord, for family, friends, and food!

In contrast to our past couple "slow" weeks, this one will keep us hopping. The cooler temps are great for those budget-stretchers of soups and "brinner" (breakfast-for-dinner). This week we will be enjoying:

Monday (Bryan night meeting?) - 4 Bean Taco Chili, Bread Bowls

Tuesday (Lainie Mom's Group) - Chili Dip (Using 4 Bean Taco Chili), Chips, Corn Casserole

Wednesday (AWANA) - Chicken Patty Sandwiches, Popcorn

Thursday (Minister for Dinner) - Chili Manicotti (Using 4 Bean Taco Chili), Salad

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Date Night Whoo Hoo!

Sunday - Deanna's Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes

For our complete 2009 menus, visit PeacefulHome.net.