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So you Have a New Baby and You Want to Know How to Get Dinner on the Table?

11 Dec

First of all, I present as a gift, my rule of thumb for time management after welcoming a new baby into your home.

Rule of Thumb:

Baby is 0-3 months old = you will get nothing done aside from feeding and diapering baby. Your family will survive on Cheerios, peanut butter sandwiches, ramen noodles, and popcorn. It’s fine. Order pizza as often as possible 😉 it’s good for moral.

Baby is 3-6 months old: you can accomplish 1-2 other tasks per day besides caring for the baby and toddler. This could be dinner, some cleaning, or laundry, but not all 3. Your toddler will watch much TV regardless of which task you choose. I recommend “Little Baby Bum”…

Baby is 6 plus months old: on good days you can accomplish 3-4 tasks. On bad days—zero.

If you have Twins:  basically double the length of each stage— maybe triple depending on how many other children you have and what their ages are.

Twins 0-6 months: feeding the twins is all you will accomplish.

When your twins have survived for 6 months, you will suddenly one day lift your head, take a breath, and realize that the outside world is still going on. You will probably be able to add one non-baby task per day at this point if your twins are formula fed and can hold their own bottles.

Now that you have realistic expectations, I’ll tell you the next most important thing.

The first key to being consistent at getting meals on the table is your attitude.  You need to recognize how important a part of your Mom job it is.  For years, I thought I had the best attitude about being a mother.  I “knew how important” it was to be a mom.  My day-to-day thought process did not reflect this, though.  Day in and day out, I viewed the work I did in my home as never ending drudgery, and I rushed through it hoping to have time to get to “something important” and time to do the “fun things I wanted to do.”

I am embarrassed to tell you how many years it took me to realize the truth that would set me free from daily frustration and misery.  I realized that feeding my family, clothing my family, and keeping our home clean WERE the important things I needed to do each day.  These chores were not the necessary evils of motherhood.   These chores were the most important daily service I could render to my husband and children and, by extension, the best service I could render to God.   Once I figured this out, I still needed to change my attitude so that I could rejoice in those daily tasks.  Reading this little pamphlet called Rejoicing in Repetition changed my attitude.  It is worth every penny!!

Now that your expectations and attitude are squared away, I’ll tell you my favorite way to get dinner done for the family. I’ve tried all the ideas: 30 minute meals, freezer meals, make ahead meals, crock-pot meals.  My favorite for ease of preparation and freshness of the food is doing a prep day once a week.

I started with a plan where someone else did the thinking for me: Five Dinners in One Hour. I began with the $2 trial plan. She gives you recipes, a grocery list, and instructions for how to do all the prep work for 5 dinners in about an hour on one day. Her meals are pretty traditional meat and potatoes type meals, but with lots of good veggies, and she had several meatless meals, which is very nice.

It was life changing for me even though my pep takes more like 2 hours since I’m prepping meals for 11 people.

Try Five Dinners Here

Fair Warning: kitchen must be clean and groceries bought. The prep time doesn’t count shopping or cleaning the kitchen. So I usually shop and clean on Friday and then prep on Saturday.

Seriously, this method is so much quicker and fresher tasting than making freezer meals (been there, tried that). Even on the weeks that I don’t do full prep, just taking time to wash and chop all the veggies makes getting food on the table 100% easier.

Another planning and preparation method I love is Mystie Winkler’s Simplified Dinner plan.  Family meals are a big deal, and if you want to learn how to make your meal preparation and planning go more smoothly and take as little brain space as possible, then this Simplified Dinner ebook is the thing you need.

You can do this, Momma!  God gave you this baby (babies) and He will give you the Grace and energy and wisdom to accomplish this mission.

❤️ Glowworm

Recap:

1. Get your Expectations Real!

2. Read Rejoicing in Repetition

3. Check out Five Dinners in One Hour

4. Check out Simplified Dinner

 

This post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you make a purchase from one of the links in this post, I will be paid a small commission.  I only recommend products and services that I use and love.  Thank you.

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A craft stash is for

5 Oct

When you decide at noon that the girls coming to your 10-year-old’s birthday party at 4pm that day need a party favor to take home.

Then you get out the piece of blue fleece left over from making a pillow for cousin Emily last year,

the ribbon from a box of lace that a sweet granny at church gave you when she decided to reduce her stash,

the fiber fill stuffing your friend gave you when it was left over from reupholstering a chair,

googley-eyes left over from a preschool project,

And E6000 glue because glue.

Enlist the help of your minions, and less than 2 hours later, you have blue cuteness.

Just enough time to clean-up the house…or catch a nap before eight 10-year-olds descend upon you en masse.

Algebra and Life (and the secret to successful home school math)

19 Feb

Beginner Home school Math Mistakes
           I began homeschooling in August 2016 using Saxon math.  Cherry Pie in Algebra 2, Pumpkin Pie in 8/7, and Tamale Pie in 6/5, I had been given the textbooks my children needed (for free!), and I figured I should use what I had rather than spend money on dreamy manipulative heavy curriculum (MathUSee.)  The benefit to using Saxon was (aside from being able to start for free) that it is a respected curriculum.  So when friends and family members raised their eyebrows and worried that I was going to be one of those home school moms whose children just played and wasted time, I could say, “I’m using Saxon math,” and they all relaxed and got off my case.  However, I second guessed myself more than anyone realized.  I worried that I should buy a different program that might be better for my children.   I worried that the daily work was too repetitive and boring and took too much time.  I worried that Saxon was not helping my kids to see the real beauty that is in math.
            By October 2016, I could tell Cherry Pie was definitely struggling.  I thought a different program would be the solution for her.  I also realized she needed to review Algebra 1, which she had supposedly learned in 8th grade.  So I picked up a textbook called EZ Algebra at my favorite used curriculum store.  Each chapter was written in story form.  This would be fun and interesting, I hoped.  A textbook written in story form seemed to fit with what I understood “living books” were (Charlotte Mason method).  Reading how the characters solved their math problems might help her understand the “why” behind the math.  But many of the homework problems in the new book were tricky and made leaps beyond the instruction that were not intuitive for her or me.  If neither Cherry Pie nor I could figure out how to get the answer, we were sunk because the book didn’t have a solutions guide.  Also each chapter covered 4-5 concepts at once, which was too much new information all at once! I intended to work with her on every lesson, but I was new to home school and schooling 4 children in 4 different math levels plus keeping the 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old twins happy and out of mischief was a struggle. Most days, Cherry Pie was on her own for math.
I Learn the Secret to Successful Math Learning:
         After about 6 more weeks of still seeing her struggle, I pulled out the Saxon Math book again, Algebra 1 this time.  I went through a lesson with Cherry Pie. I get so excited about math when I’m teaching the lesson! It’s fun! I realized I have to teach her every day, or math is just not going to work for her or me.  I have to teach daily for me because I don’t know what’s going with her if I’m not directly teaching, and I need the review because I haven’t done much Algebra for 20 years.  Cherry Pie needs the direct instruction every day because she got none in 7th or 8th grade in public school.  She was given an assignment on a computer and told to ask her neighbor if she didn’t understand something.  She was left to flounder on her own for far too long.  I didn’t know this until later, but now that I know, I understand why she was so lost, and why math was so painful for her.
           As I was researching home school, I heard from many moms that they use math as the subject their children are expected to work independently on.  Many of the curriculum choices advertise that students can work through their programs independently.  But now that I’ve been home schooling for almost 2 years, I can say that my children struggled progress in math on their own.  When I began, I thought my 12-year-old and 11-year-old were moving through their Saxon math books by themselves okay, but that was because the concepts were almost all review for them. They weren’t learning anything new, and at the end of each month when I would finally remember to check up on their homework, I would discover that they had completed about 4 lessons for the entire month. (They should have been completing 3-4 lessons per week!)
           When I made the decision that I would work with each child each day for math no matter what, something magic happened. No one was bored with math any more, and everyone began to finish their math assignments in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is the big secret to schooling math: More important than which curriculum you choose is YOU, the teacher, working  one-on-one with your students each day.  I would even venture to say, that the curriculum you choose does not matter at all as long as you work with your children each day.  Choose one that is fun and interesting to you, or at least find one that does some of the thinking for you, because you won’t have time to write lesson plans for every day.  But do not think that the shiny curriculum you really want, but can’t afford, is the key and pine for it.  Because it really is not the answer.  You are the answer.  Even if you have your child work through Khan Academy online (which is free except for the cost of good internet speeds), the key to your child moving at a good pace through the math program is you being their with them for 20 minutes of their math time each day.
I discover that Saxon math is pretty cool, after all.     
           I discovered that in the Saxon book, each of the homework problems has a small number beside it that tells which lesson that concept was taught in.  So if neither Cherry Pie nor I can figure it out, I know where to go to review that concept.  Not only that, I can use those numbers to notice patterns in which problems Cherry Pie misses, and we can go back and review skills that she consistently makes mistakes on.
      Best of all, there is a letter from John Saxon to the students in the beginning of the book.  He says algebra isn’t difficult, it’s just different.  We have to learn to think differently in algebra.  He talked about not being discouraged about making mistakes–that everyone makes lots of mistakes. Mistakes don’t mean that we are bad at math and should give up. We practice each day to develop strategies that will help us avoid making mistakes in the future.
           That was a concept I needed, because once I understood that we were developing strategies, my mindset changed.   As we went through the lesson together, I was specifically paying attention to how the book showed to solve the equations–looking for strategies to help Cherry Pie.  I also payed attention to how I solved the equations.  What are my strategies that I developed all those years ago that are now so instinctive I hardly notice what I am doing?  I asked Cherry Pie to pay attention to how we solved the problems so she could find her own strategies.
        I should never have doubted Saxon.  I realized that he totally gets the beauty of algebra.  He just knows that algebra takes lots of practice.
      Maybe that’s a bit of an allegory for life.  We are here on the earth, trying to learn how to think and be like our Heavenly Father.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We make tons of mistakes.  However, we aren’t supposed to be discouraged by our mistakes or quit or just decide that we are no good at life.  With the help of the master teacher, we continue to practice.  We develop strategies to avoid making those mistakes again. It’s going to take a lifetime of practice, and it can indeed be beautiful.
❤️ Glowworm

The Skooter Pies Discover Mud.

20 Apr

Skeeter


Spring has arrived, and on one balmy afternoon I let the twins outside, knowing they would find the mud puddles–even though they’d never played in puddles before.  It didn’t take long for them to find the puddles.

Baby Bean and Key Lime Pie (not pictured) joined in the dirty fun. I just sat on the porch and enjoyed watching their excitement and curiosity.

Skeeter likes to dip his head in the water

The downside is that they know about mud now, so they beeline it to the mud puddle every time they get outside.  (Which is pretty often because Skooter learned how to open doors. Curses.)

Zeek

It was still worth it.

Tasting the muddy driveway gravel.  They had to taste the mud several times. Seriously these boys have refused to taste so many delicious foods, like flan 🍮(!!), but the mud went right into their mouths–more than once!

A muddy bath to extend the fun. And there were little muddy bite marks in the soap when they got out of the tub.  Seriously, I don’t know why I bother cooking.


Muddy paw prints are clues that fun was had today.

In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.

Charlotte Mason

Bean Bag Stuffie 

16 Jun


I made this!

It’s the first time I’ve sewed anything since last October. 
It is stuffed full of all the princess dress ups.  
Storage and seating!  I’m so happy

Mom uniform 

13 May


Awhile ago (it’s Christmas time in the picture, so almost 6 months ago) 

I decided that I needed a Mom uniform.  Something that would feel comfortable, yet not feel like I was still wearing my pajamas (I’m talking about you, yoga pants.)  

Something that could stand up to being swiped& splashed with various body fluids all day long.  Especially baby drool & spit up.  

Something that would hold up under many washings.  (See previous)

I asked myself, “What job do people have who take care of others all day, and where contact with body fluids is a high probability?”

NURSES!

so I bought myself a pair of scrubs. 

I love them. 

They are comfortable.

They have pockets. Lots of pockets! Pockets that fit my phone!

Being washed frequently is not destroying them.

If I do leave the house unexpectedly to run to Walmart or pick up kids somewhere, I look like a decent working person and not someone whose photo needs to be blasted on social media.  (PeopleofWalmart.com) 

This is a win.  I ❤️ scrubs.


**caveat:  scrubs probably won’t work as well for you if you are a nursing mom.  

Introducing Zeke and Skeeter

9 Aug

  
Zeke and Skeeter were born Thursday morning this week.  Zeke is on the right.  He was born first and weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces.  Skeeter was born second and weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces.  They are both super big and healthy for twins.  However, they are my smallest babies ever, and they were 4 weeks early.  

I was so happy to be able to deliver them without having to have a cesarean section.  I was given a choice because they were both head down when I went into labor.  It was pretty hard to choose, because I knew that regular deliver was more risky–that it had a chance of turning into an emergency c-section.  But in the end, I could not bring myself to ask to be cut open–even though I knew I was okay with whatever delivery had to happen to get them here safely. Lucky me, no emergencies happened.  The nurses all told me how happy they were for me, that almost no one gets to have their twins without at least 1 c-section.   Probably a good thing that I hadn’t realized the odds were that bad against me.  

The twins were born fast, just like all my other babies.  Labor started a little after 7 p.m. And finally turned into something I was sure was the real thing at about 10:30.  I got to the hospital at 11:45 pm and they were born a little over an hour later at 1:02 and 1:08 a.m.  It was intense but not too scary or stressful because I had 4 awesome cheerful nurses and my trusted doctor.  It was like a big party in the OR. 

Everything seemed peachy and normal.   

Then when Zeke and Skeeter were 2 days old, things started going a little downhill.  Saturday morning,  I was worried enough about breast feeding two babies at once that I asked the lactation consultant to watch me feeding them and to see if she could give me any tips.  I was having a little trouble getting them to latch on properly (they have tiny mouths), and they were falling asleep instead of eating once I got them latched on.  In less than 5 minutes she had shown me what I was doing wrong, and they began eating great. I was so happy.  It was totally worth letting a strange woman handle my Dairy Queens to get the babies eating better.

Then the twins’ temperatures and blood sugar levels suddenly plummeted, and Skeeter developed jaundice badly enough that he had to go under the blue lights.  

  
The pediatrician said that they weren’t getting enough to eat and that each time after they nursed, they had to drink 30 mL of formula as well.  

This didn’t phase me at first because I thought it was a one or two time stop gap procedure to get their sugars back up, and then it would stop.  Also, the twins were nursing so much better, I was feeling very positive about everything.

  
Sunday morning, I woke up realizing that the doctor was having them eat as much formula as they needed and not counting the nursing as any food at all.  If things kept up as they were, I definitely would not have enough milk to feed them, because they weren’t eating enough to signal my body that more was needed.  

Then at the next feeding, the twins were both really sluggish about eating until they got to the bottle, and then they sucked it down.  I realized they were starting to prefer the formula because bottles are easier to drink from. 

The pediatrician came in to let me know that we had to stay in the hospital anther 2 days at least because Skeeter’s jaundice wasn’t down enough and Zeke’s jaundice was rising.  He wanted the feedings to continue as they were, with formula every time.  Also, the twins were still having trouble staying warm.  He repeated several times that breast fed babies take longer to get over jaundice (I think this is total baloney, by the way) and that I shouldn’t feel bad if I couldn’t keep up with feeding 2 babies.  I asked him if I could start pumping milk to keep my supply up, and he sort of airily said, “Oh yes, if you want to.” And then he changed the subject.  

Clearly this doctor underestimated me.  I am not used to being underestimated.  I may have been a little slow figuring out what was going on, but I sure as heck was not going to be edged out of feeding my babies the way I know is best for them. 

After I called the DH and bawled my eyes out and told him to bring me my good Medela pump, I pulled myself together and shuffled myself down to the nursery to talk to the babies’ nurse.  

She instantly agreed that I could use the pump and we could feed the twins bottles of breast milk instead of formula.  “There is nothing magic about the formula,” she said.  “It is just easier for them to drink from a bottle, and for us to see what they are eating.”  

Now the eating schedule is:  Skeeter nurses for 20 minutes (so he  doesn’t forget how) and then drinks a 20-30 mL bottle of breast milk.  Then repeat for Zeke.  Then I set up the pump and fill up more bottles with whatever the twins didn’t eat.  

By myself the process takes two and a half hours, and I begin again in half an hour because they have to eat every 3 hours or less.  If I have a helper to feed the bottles, the feeding only takes one and a half to two hours and I get a whole hour break to rest before we begin again.  

I am happy to report that the Dairy Queens are totally keeping up with supplying 2 babies with milk .  Also, since he is exclusively on breast milk, Zeke’s  plumbing is working much better, which is exactly what he needed to happen to keep his jaundice level from getting too high. 

Take that, doctor.

I produce milk.  What’s your superpower?