If I weren’t such a Coward…

29 Jun

<insert rainbow picture here>

If I weren’t  such a coward, I would post these thoughts on my Facebook status instead of here on my blog.  But Facebook has burned me before, and I’m gun shy.  (although if I weren’t such a weenie about unfriending people, it might be safer…)

The last couple of days I’ve had the most icky unbearable feeling.  Not because of the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow Gay Marriage nationwide, but because of the reaction of many of my friends on Facebook.  I’ve seriously considered unfriending some, but as I mentioned before, me = weenie.

My feed looks like this:  All my gay friends and people who love them are rejoicing with sincere happiness. There is no “haha we won” there is no “you losers suck”. Just sincere happiness for a day and a ruling they have longed for. 

 Meanwhile my “Christian” friends are mostly posting damnation, doom, and gloom. It feels like sour grapes and ignorance and major jerky temper tantrums.  

My personal reaction to the ruling:
1.  Dude, this ruling has been inevitable for over a year, why is everyone so upset?  

2.  Predicting that the U.S. is suddenly heading for immediate destruction and damnation because of this ruling is ridiculous.  There are tons of laws in this country already that make stuff legal that I  or others believe is a sin.  This one doesn’t suddenly shift the balance.  

3. Since when did posting bible verses denouncing other people’s sins and inevitable damnation ever help anyone be better? 

4.  What is up with that acronym “SCOTUS”?  Every time I read it, I think “scrotum”. Can’t they come up with a different one?  

5.  This ruling by the Supreme Court really just seems like fairness to me.  I like fair.  

6.  I truly believe that we need to fight to protect families.  But I believe the fight needs to begin with eradication of child abuse, pornography, drugs, and poverty.  When we have gotten rid of those, then we can worry about whether those 2 gay women/men over there are somehow undermining families because they want to be married.  (Even then I think it will sound ridiculous to me). 

I will continue to teach my children in my home that sex outside of marriage is a sin, and that God’s plan is for a man and a woman to be married to bring forth children on this Earth.  However, I will never think it is my place to go up to someone on the street, much less Facebook and tell them they are evil bad & nasty.  My kids will know that it is never okay to be unkind or rude to someone because they are doing something we believe is wrong or because they believe differently than I. 

Anecdote:  I knew a young girl who became pregnant and was not married.  At first, I felt a little unsure how to act.  But I quickly decided a few things:

1. She knew what her mistake had been better than I, and my being unkind to her wouldn’t change either the mistake, the results, or her feelings about it.  

2.  Jesus would have been kind.

3.  My snubbing her or lecturing her would not make her “see the light” or make her feel welcome at church, which is where she needed to be.  

I feel the same thing applies to gay people.  My only part is to be a friend.  Not to judge, not to preach, certainly not to declare their sins to their face.

My part is to work on repenting of my own sins.   Worrying about other people’s sins will not get me where I need to be.  

#lovewins

#gaymarriagemightbewrongbuthateiswronger

#NOH8

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege.  Let them worship how, where, or what they may.

My Kids Are Not Just Numbers

13 May

 

Because I’m obviously pregnant now, I get lots of strangers asking me how many children I have.  I tell them I have seven, and they are shocked.  I then have to decide whether I’m willing to tell them that I’m expecting twins which will bring the total up to nine, and shock them further.  Their responses generally fall along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it, I was overwhelmed with just 1 (2-4).”

I say something about how helpful my big kids are, or how much fun we have as a family, or that I think being a mom takes all your creative energy whether you have 1 kid or 10.  All of these things are true.  It is also true that the numbers seven and nine are just as overwhelming to me as they are to these strangers.

But the thing is, I don’t usually think of my kids in terms of numbers.  The only times I think in terms of numbers is while I’m setting the table for dinner, while I’m buying 1/2 price shakes at Sonic, or when someone asks me how many kids I have.

Most of the time,my kids are not numbers, my kids are my kids.   I think of my children as Blueberry Pie, Cherry Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Tamale Pie, Key Lime Pie, Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean.  That’s not overwhelming,  that’s my kids.  (That’s also a list of delicious food.)  I love them each.

It struck me this week that maybe God feels the same way.  We think of  7 billion people in the world and are overwhelmed and wonder how our Father in Heaven can watch over us and answer our prayers.  But to Him, we aren’t 7 billion.  We are Sally and Suzy and David and Daniel and Josh and (you get the idea.)  We are not numbers.  We are His children, and He loves us.

 

Moses 1: 37

And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

Because Twins: Changes

7 May

So things have already started to change around here because we’re expecting twins.

#1- I’m not babysitting anymore.  I was too tired and too pregnant to chase those high energy, high maintenance extra kids around.  When I first found out I was pregnant in February, I told the mom that I would have to take a month or so off from daycare.  Then I found out in March that the the baby was actually twins, and I realized I couldn’t keep babysitting after they were born, so I told her she would have to find someone new by the end of June.  Then I had that week of terrible tension headaches.  Also, I realized I wouldn’t be able to lift her heavy 2-year old much longer.  Also, Baby Bean suddenly decided that the 2 year old was a threat to her territory, and she would just jump on him and bite him/pull his hair several times a day.  It was getting hard for me to move fast enough to keep him safe from her. I told the mom she had to find someone else as soon as possible.  I had to watch her kids for 2 more weeks.

I went from this:

marypoppins

to THIS:

misshannigan

I gave her the phone number of an acquaintance friend who was interested in babysitting.  I was a little worried that this friend would hate me forever, but I was desperate to get out of a situation that I couldn’t handle any more. I ran into this friend at a mom’s night out on Tuesday this week and timidly asked her how it was going.

“Oh, I only watched them for one day and I told the mom I couldn’t do it,” she said.  Then she turned to the other moms at the table and proceeded to tell them all how terrible these kids were.  They WERE really difficult to care for.  I babysat them for them for 6 months, half of which I was pregnant and sick and tired, but it wasn’t until the headaches that I had to cry “UNCLE!”  Apparently, their grandmother (who is a relatively young grandma) is watching them now, because the mom can’t find anyone else who is willing to put up with her kids.  Lucky for her, the 2 oldest will be in all-day school beginning August 12th.  The 2 year old is a piece of cake, as long as you keep anything breakable away from him (and also keep Baby Bean away from him.) So grandma has hope on her horizon.

#2- Switched Baby Bean to cloth diapers.  This will be less diapers I have to buy when the twins are born.  I don’t like putting newborns in cloth diapers.  They go through, like, 10 diapers a day (x2).  Thats a lot of laundry.  Also their legs are too scrawny for cloth diapers to seal around to keep in the explosive projectile poo.  However, Baby Bean has enormous fatso legs and only goes through about 6 diapers a day.  The DH rigged me a clothes line on the balcony.


Aren’t diapers on the line so cute?  I love not having trash cans full of stinky disposable diaper trash.  I love not buying diapers.  (Actually I am stockpiling diapers for the twins now, since I’m not having to buy them for Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie.  I don’t expect the stockpile will last long, but it should help.)  Also I’m hoping that cloth diapers encourage Baby Bean to potty train much earlier than Banana Cream Pie.  My other babies that wore cloth diapers potty trained before they were 2 1/2.  My babies who wore disposable diapers didn’t potty train until after their 3rd (or 4th) birthdays.  It would be super cool if Baby Bean was totally out of diapers by Christmas.

#3 – Banana Cream Pie is pretty nearly potty trained.  As soon as I was done babysitting, the potty training began.  We’ve been working on it for 2 1/2 weeks, and she is more trustworthy every day.  I’m not totally confident that she won’t have accidents when we are away from home, but at home, she is pretty good.  By August she should be an expert toilet user.

#4 – I’m slowly fighting my hoarder tendencies and trying to get rid of things we don’t use.  It’s difficult for me, because I can always think of possible scenarios when we might use those things.  However, one thing I’ve learned in the last few years is, you can’t clean clutter.  All you can do is move it around.  Reducing the “stuff” in the house will make the house easier to keep clean and make room for the twins and all their stuff (diaper stockpile).  When we designed our house plan, we were planning on having 6 kiddie pies.  Now we will have 9 (+1– I’ll have to tell you all about him later) and so using our space efficiently is important.  Luckily, the bedrooms are big enough to hold 2 sets of bunk beds each, and the closets are roomy.  I have planned out organizing systems to put in the closets (instead of just the couple rods we have installed now) to maximize the space for clothing storage.  If my dreams come true, those closets and maybe even some built-in bookshelves will happen before D-Day.

#5 This is just a little thing, but I feel like a genius for figuring it out:  I’m going to use a backpack for a diaper bag this time around. (Because my 2 hands will be full of 2 babies.)  Actually, for the last 4 years, I haven’t really used a diaper bag.  I just threw a few extra diapers and wipes in my purse.  I’m not one of those moms who feels like she needs 50 things to be prepared.  However, new babies do require a few extra supplies (like clothing changes and burp rags) and I’ll have to pack all that x2, plus Baby Bean is still in diapers.  So I for sure need a dedicated diaper bag, and it for sure needs to be as hands-free and easy to organize as possible.  I know I won’t actually use the organizing pockets as well as I could, but I plan on having a zipper pouch for each baby–or at least each size diaper.  That way I can say, “Cherry Pie, get the yellow pouch and change Twin A.”  Then the pouch can get tossed back in the backpack and yet it stays organized.

Yep, I feel like a genius for figuring that out.

I’m sure more changes are coming down the line, and I’ll roll with them as they come.  Life’s exciting and, yes I am busy.  But busy is ok.
#6. Oh yes, I got my hair cut even shorter. Easier is better, right?  I think I like it.

Making Yogurt

30 Apr

I mentioned in my post Saving Money on Groceries: Part 1 that I make yogurt each week.  There are lots of places online that will share with you how to make yogurt, including in your crock pot (this post has some good advice).  I’m going to share this recipe because it has always worked for me.  Most of the others only worked sometimes.  Also, this recipe makes a nice thick yogurt, very similar to the consistency of store yogurt.  I like thick yogurt.

Making this yogurt requires about an hour of in kitchen time and then overnight to set up.  Most of your time in the kitchen is waiting for the milk to heat up and then cool back down, so you can clean the kitchen, play with play dough with your kids, or call your friend on the phone at the same time!

First, you will need a little equipment:

1 dairy or meat thermometer  (a candy thermometer will not work)  if you are extra lucky, you will have one of those programmable thermometers that beeps when it reaches a set temperature.

2 stock pots.  I use an 8 quart stock pot and one the next size up.

long handled stirring spoon, preferably stainless steel

insulated cooler *optional

4-8 wide mouth glass quart jars with lids *optional

Ingredients:

1-2 gallons milk (raw or from the store, whole, skim, goat, cow, whatever)

1-2 cups plain yogurt with live cultures (this can be Dannon Plain yogurt from the store, or yogurt left over from the last time you made yogurt)

Directions:

1.  I create a double boiler with the 2 stock pots.  I run 2 to 2 1/2 inches of water in the larger stock pot.  Then I set the smaller stock pot inside and pour the milk into it.

Yes that is a clothespin holding my thermometer in place.  I’m high tech.

Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t have filled that pot so full.

2.  Turn your stove burner onto high and let it heat the milk up to 180*F.  This is important because the heat breaks down the proteins in the milk so they can recombine into yogurt.  Even if you are using pasteurized milk from the store, don’t skip this step.

3.  When the milk reaches 180*F, turn off the burner and lift the pot out of the boiler.  I like to cool the milk quickly so I can get on with other things.  So I plug my sink and fill it half full with cold water and however much ice is in the ice tray in my freezer.  Then I set the pan of hot milk into the sink with the thermometer and check it occasionally until the milk temperature is down to somewhere between 105*F and 115*F.  It helps to stir the milk occasionally to even out the temperature and get a true reading.  Usually if my thermometer reads 115*F, I stir the pot and the actual temperature turns out to be 108-110*F.  110*F is the optimal temperature for yogurt culture.

Yep, shouldn’t have filled that pot quite so full.  The water looks cloudy because I spilled a little milk setting it into the water.

4.  Now remove the milk from the ice water and stir in 1 cup of yogurt for every 1 gallon of milk you used.  As I noted above, this can be yogurt from the store, or yogurt left over from last time you made yogurt.  I find I can “reuse” my yogurt about 4-5 times before I need to buy a new yogurt from the store.  So I just buy a pint of plain yogurt once a month to use as yogurt start and rarely have any problems.

**I like to scoop out about 2 cups of warm milk and stir the yogurt into it and then stir all that back into the big pot.  It’s not actually necessary, but I feel like it is less of a shock to the cold yogurt culture and that it helps me get the yogurt stirred evenly into the big pot.

5.  Now I pour the hot water from my double boiler stock pot into my cooler to warm it up.  In colder months I may even leave the hot water in the cooler to keep the yogurt warm while it cultures.  But in summer, I usually pour the water out.

6.  You can leave the milk in your big stock pot to culture, it works fine that way.  But I think quart jars are easer to handle for me and the kids.  So I pour the milk/yogurt mix into quart jars and put on lids.  If you are just going to leave the milk in your stock pot to culture, you can put it in your oven (turned off) and wrap a towel or blanket around the pot to help it keep it’s heat.  I’ve done that before successfully.  I just like using jars better.  (mostly because I also use this pot for boiling spaghetti and so having it in the fridge full of yogurt can be inconvenient.  Also because the side of the pot starts to get crusty after a few days and that’s yucky.)

7.  Set your pot or jars into the warmed cooler and put the lid on. Let sit 8 hours or overnight until the milk thickens into yogurt.  If I made the yogurt before lunch, then I check it before I go to bed to see if it has set up.  If it hasn’t, I let it continue to sit overnight.

In the morning, you have fresh delicious yogurt ready to be eaten!  So healthy and delicious.

Saving Money on Groceries: Part 2

29 Apr

Here is part 2 of my grocery tips.  Don’t miss part 1 here

Tip #2:  When buying & serving  food, I get the most nutrition for my money that I can.

For example, when buying food for breakfast, I very rarely buy cold cereal.

First of all, it can hardly be called a food.  It’s like processed flour, sugar, chemicals, and sprayed on vitamins (do those even get absorbed?  highly doubtful.)

Second, cereal isn’t very filling (in other words, it is not cost effective.)  My teenage boy can eat an entire box all by himself.

What do we eat instead?

3-4 days a week I serve “soaked oatmeal”  That is yogurt with raw oatmeal stirred in.  You can find delicious recipes for this on theyummylife.com.    My kids like it very simple, just plain yogurt, raw old-fashioned oats, brown sugar, and craisins.  Most of my children prefer this to cooked oatmeal.  However, in the winter I often serve hot cereal (cooked oatmeal, steel cut oats, or cracked wheat mush.)

Other Breakfast items I often make are whole-wheat  pancakes, muffins (make enough to have again for after school snack) biscuits, fried potatoes & eggs, bean and egg burritos, toast & eggs

Think about the price per pound of the snack items you usually buy.

Bananas vary in price from 29-50 cents per pound.  Crackers cost anywhere from $1.50 to $4 for a box that is usually less than a pound.  Also, like cold cereal, crackers from the store are just processed flour, sugar, and chemicals.  No real nutrition for your money.    See Saving Money on Groceries,Part 1 for more after school snack ideas. 

When buying vegetables, consider the following:

**more color = higher nutrients, so I often get red potatoes or sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes, red cabbage instead of green cabbage, and so on.  Ice burg lettuce is the palest of the lettuces.  I almost never buy it.

**buy what lasts longer in the fridge.  Romaine lettuce & Kale last way longer than spinach, so I usually choose them.  If I do get the quicker perishing veggies, like cucumbers & spinach, I make sure to use them within the first 2 days of buying them.  If I don’t use all my spinach within a couple days, I put the bag in the freezer and use that spinach in a smoothie or soup or lasagna, rather than let it go bad.

When buying fruit, I stick to what is $1.50/pound or less unless it is a really special occasion.  This includes canned, fresh,  and frozen fruit.  If it costs more than $2/pound, I don’t buy it.

I plan my meals according to what produce is on sale, or make substitutions at the supermarket if I am surprised by a sale.  For example, you may have a Chicken Cacciatore recipe that calls for green bell pepper, but Zucchini is on sale for $.99 a pound and bell peppers are $1 each.  Make the Cacciatore with zucchini instead.  Your family will love it, maybe even more than when you made it will bell pepper.

When bananas and strawberries are on sale at ALDI, I buy as much as I am able and freeze them for making smoothies.

I soak lentils and alfalfa seeds to make sprouts.  I like to eat them plain.  My family will eat them in salads and sandwiches.  These are super high in nutrients and so inexpensive.

When buying meat, I only buy chicken and pork at $2 pound or less.  I only buy beef for $3/pound or less.  If it costs more, I just don’t buy it.  This usually means I have to wait for sales, or buy a 1/2 a cow at a time from the butcher.

In most recipes, like soup or spaghetti sauce or casseroles, you can reduce the meat called for by half, and your family will never notice.  Since we eat mostly meat-free, I regularly sub in beans for meat.  Navy beans for chicken, lentils for ground beef, etc.  But your husband has to be on board for you to get away with that.

Two winters ago, we super lucked out, and a white-tail deer wandered into our yard and hung out for about an hour.  My husband finally called our bro-in-law who is a hunter and he came and shot it for us.  Thirty-five pounds of ground venison fed us for a whole year.  I think venison is delicious and very economical, as long as your husband doesn’t go crazy buying hunting gear.  This year, my husband spend quite a bit of time hunting, but had no luck actually shooting anything.  We have high hopes for next winter.

That’s all for today!  Join me again for part 3!

Because Twins- Part 2

29 Apr

So I think the best thing about being pregnant with twins is that when well-meaning strangers say to me 

“Wow! You are huge!  Are you sure you aren’t having twins?  You look like you are about to pop!”

I can say, “Actually I am having twins.”

I get huge with every pregnancy.  My guess is that because I’m short-waisted, the baby has nowhere to go but out.    So by the time I am 6-7 months pregnant, I get comments like the above every day from just about everyone who lays eyes on me.  Or the comment’s cousin: 

 “Wow! You are huge!  Are you due, like, tomorrow?”

I plaster a stiff smile on my face and say, ” No I actually have 8 weeks left.”

Then I inwardly cringe at the look of horror that crosses their face, clearly they are sure my skin will give way much before then, and I will explode.

 I often wonder why people think it’s okay to inform a pregnant woman that she is the most horrifyingly huge thing they’ve ever beheld.  As if maybe she hasn’t noticed that she’s put on weight?  

I always want to say “Thanks for pointing out that I look like a hippo, that really made my day.” 

There is this very nice man that goes to my church who commented on how huge I was two Decembers ago when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Baby Bean.  To this day, when I see him, I feel this twinge of intense dislike.  Then I remind myself what an otherwise nice human being he is.  But I’ll never really feel friendly towards him, I don’t think.   The hormones burnt my emotional reaction to his comment into my brain forevers.  Maybe my reaction was extra strong because I couldn’t tell if he was serious or trying to be funny.  He did not succeed at funny.

It’s a bad idea to insult a pregnant woman.  

I suggest you even stay away from adjectives like “majestic” because they imply largeness.  

Trust me, a woman who has put on 25-30-60 pounds in the last 8 months is not unaware of the fact.  Nor is she unaware of how uncomfortable she feels or how moving at all is difficult and sometimes painful.  Last time she was getting out of the shower and caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she was momentarily frightened (“Dear Goodness! What is that huge pink thing?”) before she realized it was herself.  

The only comment I hate more is “Haven’t you had that baby yet?”

Hello!  Would I be here looking swollen and miserable if I had?  Saying this to a pregnant woman who is past her due date will incite murderous feelings within her breast.  I would not vouch for your safety.  Lock your doors while you sleep.  Better yet, keep that comment to yourself. 

This time around, when people comment on how huge I am, I can say

“I’m having twins, that’s why.”

And maybe I’ll feel less like its me that is huge.  Because really, it’s the babies, and I want them to be huge, healthy babies.

Saving Money on Groceries: Part 1

27 Apr

I just found out that I’m doing pretty well on saving money buying food.

For 2 years I’ve been a member of the local MOPS chapter.  (Moms Of PreSchoolers )  It has been a super fun way to meet other moms in my community.  I’ve made lots of new friends and had a rejuvenating and often inspiring morning at each of our meetings.  (Plus there is food.)  Last Friday I was asked to be one of the moms on a panel discussion  on how to save money and grocery shop on a budget.

Now I am always trying to save money on food, and I feel like I do pretty well sometimes, but I often feel like I can do much better.  In fact, I’m often very critical of myself and how much money I waste giving into impulse, poor planning, and convenience food.  I’ve always assumed that I spend about the same as my friends do on food, maybe more than some and a little less than others.

So I wrote down my ideas–things that have helped me.  When it was my turn to share my tips, I began by saying that I always like it when budget and money saving shows share real numbers so I would share mine.

For the past 3 months (because that’s what I have data for)  I fed my family of 10 for $615 each month.

Mouths fell open around the room as all the moms stared at me in shock.  They listened to my tips and had about a hundred questions.

I guess I have more to share on this subject than I thought.  So here are my tips–maybe they can help you as well.  Be sure to share your tips with me too!!

According to Angela Coffman, The Grocery Shrink, (groceryshrink.com) you should be able to feed your family a healthy variety of food according to the following formula:  $100 per male age 12+, $75 per female age 12+, $50 per child age 2-11, and $30 for infants 0-2 (if you are pregnant, count the baby as well). However, the Grocery Shrink regularly attempts to feed her family for $50 per person.    I like to just simplify that to $100 per adult and $50 per child.  You can decide whether your teenagers eat enough to count as adults yet or not.

In my house, I have 3 males (age 12 and up) 2 females (age 12 plus), 4 children (age 2-11) and 3 infants (age 0-2)

So by Angela’s formula, I should be able to feed my family on $740 per month.  It would be nice if I had that much money to spend on groceries.

By my simplified formula, I try to feed the family on $600 a month or less.  I include all fast food and restaurants, but I do not include any non-food items like plastic wrap, dishwasher soap, etc. I have a separate household budget for that stuff.

The last 3 months I’ve averaged $615 per month for food.  You may remember that we eat mostly vegan.  I had hoped that when I stopped buying meat that our grocery bill would go down, but now we eat lots more nuts and veggies and fruit than we used to, so it pretty much evened out.  Except that meat prices have gone up  significantly in the last 2 years and I haven’t felt that worry of how to buy meat that often costs twice as much than it did.

#1 TIP: 

I make as much food from basic ingredients as I can.  It costs less, tastes better, and eliminates all the preservatives and garbage that come in processed food.

I make my own whole wheat bread & rolls, yogurt, rice milk, crackers, granola, salad dressing

***my family eats about 1 ½-2 gallons of yogurt per week, and a gallon of milk costs much less than a gallon of yogurt, so it is much less expensive to make my own.

***my family eats 4-6 loaves of bread per week.   I try to bake bread twice a week, but sometimes I only get around to it once.  In that case, I often make biscuits to go with soup when we’ve run out of bread.

***I buy my brown rice for 50 cents/pound and ½ cup of rice = .12 cents for 2 quarts of rice milk.  At the grocery store, rice milk costs $3-4 per carton (I think a carton is close to 2 Quarts, but it may be less.)

***homemade wheat thins take less than 15 minutes to make and my kids love them.

**Snacks:

Except when I have a baby that is just learning to eat solid food, I avoid buying crackers and other convenient “snack items.”  Instead I make my own.  The snacks my kids love:  Homemade crackers, mini-muffins, Peanut Butter Popcorn, smoothies, bread sticks, Spicy Potato Wedges, fruit or veggies & dip.

**homemade whole-wheat bread & rolls are very nutritious and filling. Bread makes the best snack/ alternate dinner for picky kids.

I will be sharing my recipes for these items in the weeks coming up, as well as sharing more tips for saving money at the grocery store.

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