Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thank you, Jesus

Those were my words this morning as six children loaded up in the Coach's car to head to school - all happy, all ready on time, no fits, fussing or missing sweaters or water bottles.

God is good.

Yesterday I wasn't so sure we were going to make it.

Ever have those days?

When you are tired and the kids are tired and everyone has some issue they are dealing with?

Those days wear me out.

School is wearing me out.

Major Kudos to my sweet homeschooling friends.
I am, honestly, in awe of what you manage to accomplish.

At our house, it's all about homework and dress code and DO you have the right kind of socks, forheavenssake? And signing papers and notebooks and football schedules and SOMEONEPLEASETELLMEQUICK is the Coach coming home tonight?

Not tonight, but he will be home tomorrow night.

It's OK.

We are OK.

God is still on His throne.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." Phil 1:9-11

And we may actually get naps this afternoon - which is a great healer of all things.

There is just so very much to be grateful for!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Some days I just have nothing to give you.

Today is one of those.

Up in the night multiple times with kids.

More to do than I can think about right now.

And only a half day of school so my time is limited.

But last night we had this for dinner and it was so yummy. The kids love it and it's such an easy, inexpensive and quick meal.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Saute onion (I use whatever I have on hand. Minced onion is fine, too.), garlic (or garlic powder)and a small can of green chilies in 3 T butter.
Add one large can of tomato puree. Simmer 10 min.
Stir in 2 quarts of chicken broth, 3-4 Cups of cooked and shredded chicken, and 2 or 3 Cups of frozen corn.
Salt to taste.
Simmer another 30 minutes on low.

(If you like it more spicy, you can add a can of Rotel. My kids don't appreciate that, though.)

Serve with grated cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream to garnish.

I usually serve warm tortillas and salsa and some baby carrots with it.


Can I go back to bed now?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So THIS is why I go to the grocery store so often. . .

Now that school has started, I make seven lunches each morning.

I know, the big kids could make their own.

I've heard that a thousand times.

And it's true, of course.

But honestly, I'm not going to have my 5 and 6 year old (or the Coach, for that matter) make their own and I really would rather make them all, myself, then try to make three with four kids in the kitchen.

Makes sense, doesn't it?

But a bit of useless information for you. . .to make seven lunches, it takes almost the whole loaf of bread.

And an entire bag of Baked Lays.

I'm just sayin. . .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Moments

We have really enjoyed watching the Olympics. (Don't get me started on China, but I just block that out while we watch the USA compete.)

Not the best timing, with school starting and televised coverage going on late into the night.

But fun, nonetheless. None of kids are old enough to remember watching four years ago, so it's all been new to them. And the Coach and I have lost so much sleep since then that we don't really remember, either.

Some of our favorites have been swimming (of course), diving and track events. The Coach is from a very athletic family, so we especially enjoy the running.

We were watching the men's relay a couple of days ago, and Son #4 said,

"WHY are they carrying popsicles?"

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Makeover #2 - the beginning

Back in June, I told you about some projects we were working on here at the Troops.

One of them, changing a kitchen cabinet.
We finished it back then.
But in order to have pictures for you, the kitchen needed to be clean.

Which just doesn't happen around here.
At least not for more than a few minutes at a time.
SO - in my drug induces craziness on Thursday and Friday, the kitchen was actually WAY clean!
Our goal was to open up the kitchen and make it easier for buffet serving when we have guests.
And I wanted the light from outside and to be able to see the kids playing in the back yard.

We love it!
Here's before:

And here's the new and improved:

None of the mess and work resulted in the removal of the lime green laminate counter tops OR the disgusting 80's wallpaper.
Another project for another day.

We're enjoying it SO much! Thanks for letting me share~

Happy Saturday!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

If ONLY it were legal

Been fighting a sinus infection for three weeks.
Thought I could knock it on my own.
Coach told me to go to the Urgent Care today.

So, I went. Dragging children behind me (because he's out of town, of course).

Sure enough, sinus infection (duh).
Treatment: Steroid Injection and 2 weeks of antibiotics. It's a nasty one, for sure.

After dinner I started feeling better.

First off, I started cleaning and organizing my boy's room (they are out of town with the Coach).
Here's what was UNDER the bunk bed.

I know.

Washed all of their sheets, blankets and mattress pads.
Pulled out all of the furniture and cleaned behind it.
Straightened the closet.
Dusted and vacuumed.

Then, I scrubbed the boy's bathroom and washed all of the towels and mats.

Cleaned out the girl's bathroom cabinet.

Vacuumed the living room and playroom.

Folded and put away four loads of laundry.

Watched the American girls win Gold and Silver in Gymnastics.

Rehung a shelf, a picture and a calendar in the boy's room after removing countless posters and car pictures. Washed their window.

Cleaned out the dog's water bowl and kiddie pool and refilled.

Washed the kitchen window, sunroom door and mirror in the living room.

Unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, adding all of the toothbrushes and holders from the kid's bathrooms.

Killed all of the mold in the girl's shower.

Cleaned out under the kitchen sink.

Sprayed Febreeze on the boy's mattresses.

Washed the towels that were piled in the garage from the last fort in the back yard.

Made a huge pile of stuff to put in the attic.

Cleaned off the hooks by the backdoor, put away three old backpacks and hung countless jackets and sweaters back in their own closets.

Mopped part of the kitchen floor that was sticky.

Ate ice cream.

Hung the new school calendar and added all of the dates from my PDA.

Read a Grace Livingston Hill book for an hour,then decided NO WAY was I going to be able to sleep.

Entered all of the receipts on the computer and balanced two bank accounts.

Rechecked all of the Library books online and made a pile to return.

. . . and here we are. 3:00 AM and I'm trying to think what else I can get done without waking the kids.
There's the mending, but Daughter (#2) is asleep in my bed, and that would probably irritate her.
I could mop the rest of the kitchen floor.
Or maybe read some more of my book.
I need to straighten the garage and put that stuff in the attic. It would be nice and cool right now.
And the sunroom is a MESS.
OH - the dryer has stopped. I'm off to fold.
I'm thinking that if I could get one of these shots every couple of weeks, I could get TOTALLY caught up around the house.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Short Tour

(or alternate title - How many types of flooring can you have in one house?)

Here is where the play shoes belong at our house.
We have two of these.

Notice that it's empty.

And now, let's walk through the house.

Just keepin' it real.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where have I been?

In a moment of desperation to enjoy the last few days of Summer, the Coach and I loaded up the Troops and headed to the farm for the weekend.

Who could have known that the 106 temperatures would vanish, a cool breeze would arrive, and we would have a weekend with a little rain and highs in the low 90's.


Granddad added a floating dock to the pond - and it was the highlight of the weekend. The kids would swim out there and then jump off. Climb back up, jump off. Repeat. Five hundred times.

So much fun.

In reality, I think it made coming home and getting ready for school a bit more depressing.

But at least we have the memories. . .

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answer time - CHORES

Monday I told you how we deal with the huge amount of laundry, here at the Troops.

Here are the daily piles on the fireplace that I told you about.

Here is Daughter (#7), who is 3, putting her pile away.

Today, I'm sitting here in my less-than-clean house, with 11 kids running around (not all mine, of course), wondering why in the world I am answering questions about kids doing chores.

What kids?

What chores?

Aren't we just hanging out, making messes and having fun?

Yeah, you're right. This won't last forever. So. . .

I have three ways that we keep our house in order.

1. Room list.

Each room has a sheet with a column for each occupant and their morning and evening jobs to keep that room and themselves in order. I edit these at the beginning of each school year.

This includes things like: getting dressed, making beds, picking up toys, brushing teeth, washing face, putting laundry away, brushing hair, etc.

All of the kids do their own jobs, sometimes with myself or Daughter (#2) helping the three year old.

2. Kitchen list.

This sheet has seven columns, one for each day. We have six different jobs (Daughter #2 and Daughter #7 are teamed up for this). Clear table, wash table, sweep dining room. Unload dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep kitchen. They rotate each day, so that they only do each job once or twice in a week.

Note: Keep things simple. We have a Swivel Sweeper for the floors, the dishes are not fragile and the list is posted so the older readers can check their job in the morning and know what to expect for the day. During the Summer they do these jobs all three meals. During school it's just for dinnertime.

3. House Helpers.

My older six go to school all day every day, so when they ARE home, I want them to play outside, ride bikes, read and enjoy being kids. When we do have company coming, or things just need to be put in order, we have a family meeting. During the Summer we've done this once a week.

I make a list of what needs to be done that day: Dusting, vacuuming, glass and mirrors, kitchen floor, bathrooms, spot clean the carpet, sweep porch and deck, weed flower beds - whatever. Then I let the kids pick what they would like to work on. Usually they all have something they want to do. Our oldest does all of the mowing and yard work, so sometimes he is already occupied. If someone is being difficult and doesn't choose something, I assign them a job.

If the bathrooms need extra attention, I take that job. Otherwise the kids use Clorox cleaning wipes to get them in shape. All of the other jobs the kids are able to do themselves. The vacuum can be shortened for the younger ones. I buy Swiffer dusters and foam glass cleaner. We also have a Swiffer wet jet mop for them to do the kitchen floor. Obviously it needs a good mopping sometimes, but I can do that every now and then.

Using these three tools, our house stays in fairly good shape.

Some of you asked about jobs for children under 7. My three little girls (6, 5 and 3) do all of the same jobs the older ones do, they just need more help. Think about it like you are investing in the future. Training little helpers for years to come. Because you are! They especially like to dust and clean glass. They need more supervision, of course.

I recently read "Jumping Ship" by Michael Pearl. One thing he talks about is that being a perfectionist makes you a poor parent. You are better off letting your kids help than having things done perfectly. By you.

As a recovering perfectionist, I am telling myself the same thing.
Let your kids be part of the working order of your home. Let them know that they are needed. That they do a great job. That things look SO nice when they clean/pick-up/help around the house. And it's a lot more fun with music on to sing and dance to!

If you are interested in seeing my chore charts, I'd be happy to e-mail them to you. Just send me a note at

Happy Cleaning!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Answer time - LAUNDRY

Thought it was about time I get around to answering some of your very good questions!

Truth is, I have been busy DOING these things, hence the lack of time to WRITE about them.

Basically there were three groups of questions:
Meals/grocery shopping

So let's start with laundry.

Years ago, my system was a basket in each bedroom closet. Laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. We'd bring it all downstairs, sort it on the floor of the laundry room, wash till it was done (tossing the clean clothes on the couch and folding as I went). Then a pile for each child in each basket and back upstairs where the kids would help put it away.

It worked great for a long time.

Until the Monday laundry started taking until Wednesday to finish.

Seriously frustrating.

One day I was communicating my frustration to my mother-in-law. Who has quite of bit of laundry experience, having raised 10 children.

At this point we had 7 kids.

She said that I was really beyond the two-day-a-week laundry system that I had used for so long. That if you wait three or four days the amount of laundry is too daunting.

She told me that when her kids were young, she did a load of laundry in the morning and a load at night. Folding it as soon as she could when it came out of the dryer.

This way, you aren't taking a whole day or two each week JUST for laundry, but you can spend five minutes here and there throughout your day. When you have eight (or ten) kids, it's rare to have a whole day to do anything. Pretty much everything has to be done in little blocks of time, as you go.

The beauty of this system (as much as you might hate doing laundry every day) is that you never have very much. It's never the entire laundry room floor covered in clothes like it used to be.

SO. . .

I start a load of laundry after breakfast in the morning after the kids are dressed. Sometimes I have to do two loads. With the exception of special items or delicates, I only separate colors if I have enough for two loads - otherwise it all goes in together. And no, I haven't ruined anything, yet.

As soon as it is done, we toss it in the living room chair where it is folded as soon as possible into piles for each person, which I line up along the hearth.

Before lunch (if it's Summer) I have the kids get their pile and put it on their bed. Before bedtime, they put their laundry away.

During school, I put the piles on their beds for them during the day.

Everyone down to the three year old does this.

The only laundry basket we use is the one in front of the washer where they put their dirty clothes at night and in the morning. No laundry baskets in the rooms or closets. No gathering laundry for me.

Since everyone puts their own clothes away, their drawers are a mess. But after years of therapy, I'm OK with that.

I also start a load of laundry at night. That goes into the dryer before I go to bed, or in the morning when I start the morning load.

After the morning load, I do towels once a week and sheets on a couple of other days.

Reality is, there is a lot of laundry with 10 people. I can't give you a magic formula that makes it "easy" or makes it go away.

But I've found that keeping up with it is so much easier than letting it pile up. Easier for the kids, too, as they only have a small pile each day to put away. Not as overwhelming for them.

And another plus to the daily laundry system is that they don't need very many clothes. My little ones often put on what came off the night before, after it's been washed - which is really nice!

Go forth and wash!

Happy Monday!