Surviving Sick Days

Fall hits and so do the viruses. Before I know it, I am longingly looking outside with my nose pressed against the window. Every parent faces this challenge. One year the three kids literally caught one virus after another and we couldn’t go to church for 8 weeks. Something about choosing to love on people by not exposing their kids to a string of exotic viruses. This year is not so bad. But this weekend we faced down the challenge anyone living with young children can identify with in the cold and flu season.

Ruth and Gabe are both sick with opposite viruses. Anyone been there before? Gabe has that cough that makes every parent cringe. Which means I dare not take him somewhere that will expose him to other kids. Or the wind. Ruth has a fever and “other things” that go with it, which seals the deal on me not going anywhere. Windy walks are off limits. Long car rides are off limits. Basically, for the last four days I have been here at home staring at my impossible laundry pile.

Why is it impossible? Because there are 28 kid socks that have no match. Every time I gather them up in a neat, isolated pile the kids come by and distribute them around the house. Again. I contemplated throwing them away just to remove the stressful sight but I keep thinking, maybe the next load will match a few. Besides, that’s a lot of pairs of socks to be without. Silly that something like socks should be stressful, but in truth, for an already exhausting and chaotic day it is more about the stress that comes from the compounding chaos.

Cooking is fun. Creating new recipes, balancing flavors and colors. But let’s be honest. On a sick day we are talking about cranky kids at the end of a loooong day who are in need of a little extra TLC than usual. (Note: Preparing dinner at the usual time on sick days will not happen.) I decided I would save myself a little stress and assume early on that it wouldn’t happen.

So, at 2pm when the kids were fast asleep I poured 8 minutes into dinner preparation. I busted out the Dutch oven. Put a hunk of frozen meat in there — I wasn’t even sure what it was, only that it was of the red variety. Mystery dinner! — with a few veggies and put in the the oven on low. I trust my dutch oven. It makes all things delicious, even mystery meats. Eight minutes later, boom. Dinner is taken care of with hours to spare. Because even on a good day, at the end of it, we are all in need of a reprieve. Sick days are a whole different beast.

Comes in 9 Colors!! I have the 7.5 Qt since I know I will not run out of room.

Turns out we had pot roast! (Yes, it honestly was a surprise. I took it out and thought, Pot Roast! That sounds good. There’s nothing like a little mystery to an otherwise repetitive day.) Ironically, it was the best I had ever made. Nothing ministers to the weary soul like pot roast. What about you?

Share your stories with me! What are your go-to recipes for days at home when your little tikes are under the weather (or being protected from it)? What are your quick, easy recipes for dinner?  Assuming you don’t spend the day chasing socks and applying Desitin,  what activities do you do with your board kids when you’re home for sick days? And no, I am not going to judge you for movie marathons. Sick days are about survival my friends. So lets share our ideas and create a bigger idea pool to choose from.


Pray For Them

Praying doesn’t have to be intimidating. Take a few seconds to pray scripture over your loved ones by praying for their faithfulness in Christ. If they aren’t saved yet, consider it a prayer of invested faith that they will one day walk in the freedom of Christ and be faithful to him.


Pot Roast for the Soul

There is a series of books called Chicken Soup for the Soul. I read them all. This recipe is named in honor of that series. On days at home when you have sick kids who need extra TLC, throw this in the oven and at the very least you’ll have a soul-tending meal at the end of that long hard day.

  • 2 lb Beef Chuck Roast (frozen)
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 4 large Red Potatoes halved
  • 4 large Carrots halved
  • 1 Tbs Thyme
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbs Steak Seasoning
  • 3 cups Jasmine Rice
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 2  Tbs Flour

Combine first 7 ingredients in a dutch oven and bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours. Use a rice cooker with a delay timer to preset rice to be finished 20 minutes before you are ready to serve. Before sitting down to dinner, melt butter into a sauce pan and stir in flour. Once smooth add the excess broth from the roast and stir until the consistency is what you want for gravy. Add milk or water if it is too thick.

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Pancakes & Pumpkins

Weekends are for family in our world. Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Every Saturday we start the morning off with pajamas and pancakes. It’s the only day of the week we don’t have to hurry and get dressed to go somewhere.

Brian gets up early and starts chopping wood for our winter cache. I shuffle into the kitchen and start the coffee and decide what kind of pancakes we’ll have this week.  (Last week was pumpkin-chocolate chip.) Pancakes are my favorite food. I can literally eat them any day of the week for any meal. This weekend we did Apple Spice. It was delish.

PeeWee Soccer is in full force so our little tribe was there representing the grey team fully bedecked with hats, gloves, coats and shin guards. Afterward they came home with three giant pumpkins ready for carving.

After supper we busted out the carving tools and decided what we should create on our pumpkin canvases. Micah voted Lightning McQueen (of course he did) and the others voted for a kitty cat. We did both.

KACHOW.


Faithfulness

Whether now or later, we know our loved ones will face difficulties. It is the inevitable way of life here on earth. Today let’s pray they will remain faithful in the face of struggles and persecution.


Apple Spice Pancakes

Sometimes chopping, seasoning and frying apples in the morning is just too much prep for me. I tried a different avenue this last weekend and it was perfect.

Toothbrushes and Toilets

We made it, Friends! We made it to Friday. This week was a slow one. By Wednesday I was thinking it had to be Friday because of all the things that had already happened. But it wasn’t. On Monday night, after the kids were in bed I sat down to have a nice cup of hot tea when it sounded like an elephant was going to come through the ceiling. I thought, “I should go check on that.” But then I saw my hot cup of tea and thought, “It can wait a few more minutes.”

Well… it shouldn’t have. I stopped at the top of the stairs to overhear joyous squeals and splashing water. As I rounded the corner I found my two bedtime delinquent boys dunking wads of toilet paper in the toilet and lifting it out again. When they saw me standing there silently with my arms crossed with my best I’m-not-happy-with-you face on, Gabe whispers to Micah who is still going for it, “Look behind you.”

Bedtime Delinquents

Lucky for me, there was only the toilet water in there (as if that is a consolation).  I saw their toothbrushes on the counter and thought, if I ask them “Did you…” they will deny it. So I had to word this just right to get the truth.

“Which toothbrushes did you put in there?” Gabe: “We didn’t!!” Micah looks at Gabe with confusion and says: “Yes we did, Gabe.” Apparently Gabriel has caught on quicker to my scheme. This is about the time silence prevailed and then they both started shifting feet. Micah threw his arm around Gabe in a show of support. Luckily I was not so mad as to miss the beautiful moment when Micah tried to lend comfort and support to his brother by throwing his arm around his shoulders. Sometimes I do you know.

Sometimes I miss the beauty in the mess. It’s easy to do when there are so many other things demanding attention. Like what to do with the toothbrushes. Have they all been used or just Micah’s? Lets just say I threw them all away. The next night we made a flyby trip to Walmart where I purchased 3 new toothbrushes and went over how to use them and what to use them on. Again.

Then, the next day, the tree fell down. A giant, beautiful tree that couldn’t withstand the gusty wind fell trapping a power line to the ground with it. I had to corral all the kids and tell them they would not be stepping foot outside until the utility workers had it all repaired.

Gabe misunderstood. He thought I meant that the tree would kill him if he touched it. Try as I might, I could not get him to understand that it was the power lines he needed to stay away from. Over zealous explanation? Perhaps. Although they are all still alive and that’s a successful week if you ask me. Hopefully he’ll get over his fear of trees soon.


Pray for them

Our words have such a profound impact on those around us and even on ourselves. Let’s pray together that those we love will use their words to encourage and build up others rather than tear down.

 


Salmon Pasty

This week I was craving a salmon pastry something. The only reference I had was salmon puffs and I don’t keep puff pastry on hand. So I created a recipe hoping the kids wouldn’t rebel against me at dinner time. It was fish after all. So I made this with what I had on hand. We all sat down, and before Brian and I knew it we had a conversation about work, finished our plates and all the kids had finished theirs too and were asking for more. I looked at Brian and asked if we missed the apocalypse.

You have to try this! It’s salmon so it isn’t too fishy and it is delicious. Didn’t take me any longer to make than the usual dinner time either. Definitely a keeper.

Have a great weekend!

Leslie

 

Landmarks

Happy Thursday everyone! I love Thursday because it means tomorrow is Friday and my man will be home for two whole days. And, as promised, I have included the recipe for the pasta sauce I told you I would post this week. Seriously, you will want to make it in buckets.

This month has had a few landmarks for our family. Esther went to her first big-girl birthday party when her friend at school turned 5. She felt very special she got to go and not her brothers. It was fun for me too, since I was able to spend some one-on-one time with her and get to know the other parents as well.

Esther and her party games

Also this month, my baby girls turned 18 months. This may be my favorite stage they are in. Grace and Ruth walk everywhere now, are independent enough to do things all by them selves and yet are still so baby-cuddly and eager to please.

HAPPY 18 MONTHS GIRLS

Grace (green) is full of sass. She climbs onto more things than the boys ever did. She samples with gusto anything I am making for dinner and if I can’t find something I’ve a pretty good notion that it’s because she helped me out by throwing it away. She lives for verbal praise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth (blue) tends to be more cautious and laid back. She loves all things girly and is my little snuggler. If she sees anyone getting a hug, you can bet that Ruth will be racing around the corner to get hers too. Every time I fold laundry Ruth crawls in my lap for a front row viewing. (And yes, she likes robots.)

These girls bring so much joy to our world we could never imagine it without them.


Pray For Them

 John 14:21

Pray that in walking through all events of life, the character of your loved one will be shaped into God’s image.


San Marzano pasta Sauce

As promised, here is the recipe for the amazing pasta sauce. It is so incredibly easy to make and your kids will love it. Mine hate tomatoes with an everlasting fire, but they didn’t even care when they tasted this sauce. Even asked for more. I think the secret here are the San Marzano tomatoes. It’s an Italian tomato and it’s distinct taste makes it more tangy than other tomatoes. I order my cans from Amazon in bulk because it is a staple and it is cheaper this way. Plus, why make a trip when it can come straight to my door?

 

 

Losing a Child

Yesterday a group of women and I talked about a subject that is both heartbreaking and difficult: losing a child. While I know this varies from my usual tone, it has touched my life and those around me.  It too is a part of this season of young “families” we are in. For Brian and I it has been something we personally had to navigate in the midst of raising our other children. This is our story.

Many have experienced losing a child through miscarriage, abortion, still birth and/or the death of an infant. In every minute of every day in America a miscarriage happens. That does not include the other forms of loss. So much grief it is heartbreaking. This is our story.

My boys are almost four, which means if I had not lost my daughter to miscarriage she would be about two and a half. She would be running around and playing with the rest of her brothers and sisters. I remember like it was yesterday. It was an early miscarriage. I had suspected I was pregnant for almost 6 weeks when it began. For days the miscarriage went on. Brian hadn’t known so he wasn’t sure how to be there for me. The grief was overwhelming. There would be times I would  weep on the floor. Other times I would be fine and then see my kids playing quietly when the loss and grief would rush over me again like a tidal wave. Every trip to the bathroom brought me face to face with the carnage of death. For weeks I grieved and Brian, try as he might, couldn’t connect with me. It was the first time we had not been together through something. I felt alone. The ER doctor was callous, the nurse compassionate.

Friends and family didn’t know what to say or how to comfort. How could they? I had lost my child and there was nothing that would bring her back. I say her, because somehow in my spirit I knew it had been a girl. Her name would have been Eliza. Is Eliza. I know many have faced the struggle of infant loss as I have, some involving a delivery and a casket. Many have suffered blame, shame and guilt over it. Was it the cold medicine I took? Did I do too much? Am I being punished? Then comes the pain caused by people who don’t know how to respond so they say insensitive and hurtful things.

Being parents is a precious gift. There is so much joy and beauty in it. Making memories like pumpkin patches and hot chocolates. But this is also a season of life when we come face to face with grief in feeling the loss of a child. Whether in your own life or walking with a friend or family member’s in their’s. Grief is no respecter of persons. Rich or poor, it touches us all. This is a great resource to have for you or a loved one.

But Jesus has a rocking chair and I know that he will take very good care of Eliza until I can hold her myself in heaven. He is the God of the living and she is alive with him now. Who knows, maybe our children are even friends up there. I know she has at least one friend named Jacob. Take heart my friends. It is good to remember and know that in Christ, we will all see them again.

In her memory, we will be planting a tulip tree in our yard. It will always be “Eliza’s Tree.”


Pray For Them

Prayer

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,” I pray (Name) would, “think…”

 

Money Saving Tips

The holidays are coming up, and while It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year it can also be a budget buster of a season too. I wanted to return to the topic of saving money in the grocery department before all the crazy hits next month. After much research of households who manage large families on a small budget here are some of the jewels I have taken away.

Make a list of items you routinely buy and make them yourself.

Example: I almost always buy pasta sauce, coffee, milk, cheese and granola.

Pasta Sauce. I never did my own because I had a picture in my head of slaving over a simmering pot for hours all the while growing grey hairs. But, in the spirit of this project I decided I would take a stab at it. And Oh. My. Gosh. I was so wrong. Pasta sauce is the easiest thing in the world to make. Now I make my own in larger quantities than I need and freeze the remaining for later use. I’ll post my you’ll-want-to-bathe-in-it pasta sauce recipe later this week so follow me if you aren’t already.

Coffee. Brian and I roast our own coffee on none other than an air popcorn popper. It is always fresh and we get high quality beans from a local roaster at half price. For coffee drinkers like us, it’s a no brainer.

Milk. Living in the country we now have access to fresh, raw milk at $3 a gallon. I buy 6 gallons at a time, freeze some and use the rest for cooking and making yogurt. (Note: Milk freezes well it just needs room to expand. Remove a cup from the gallon and you won’t have issues.)

Cheese. Is expensive!!! I buy the 4 lb block of cheese and use my food processor to shred half and slice the other half. Then I bag it all in zip lock bags and it is good to go whenever I need it.

Granola. I don’t like the GMO cereals and the Organic NON-GMO is like pouring gold into my kids’ cereal bowls and then watching them spill it on the floor. Ahh! So I started making mine. It is surprisingly easy but it does take some monitoring, so I suggest trying this in the evening or at nap time for those of you with kiddos who “want to help.” It makes about 25 cups and lasts for a solid month. Plus, you can dress it up with whatever you want. I’ll post that recipe later too.

Buy what you can’t make in bulk

Spices. I prefer to season my food with herbs and spices rather than salt and pepper. It’s more fun and healthy that way. Problem is, spices are expensive. One friend of mine buys her’s at Trader Joes in the large bags and then refills her spice jars with it. We don’t have a health food store that is easy to get to here so I buy most of my spices and herbs in bulk at a store like Sams or Costco. Of course, you can always make your own spice blends too. But then, you need spices in bulk to make all the blends you don’t want to buy… so do what you want.

Staple Items. Flour, Sugar, Oatmeal, Rice… Chocolate Chips (Oops, how’d that get in there?). Whatever you use on a constant basis and cannot easily make on your own pick up in bulk. Store it in large containers in your pantry and don’t worry about running out of your basic kitchen supplies during the holidays. My personal goal is to buy staples once a month and only fresh produce weekly. What’s yours? I love learning about the different methods. I have a feeling there are some fierce meal planners out there who are just dying to share ideas with us!

Dont let your kitchen intimidate you

I have five attention needing kids. If I stop paying attention, someone is eating a deadly mushroom in the back yard. I don’t have time for  extensive homesteading activities. Our coffee takes us 10 minutes. The cheese prep about 5 minutes. The pasta sauce is around 20. I always do it when I would already be doing it for dinner so I am not going out of my way. Don’t let your kitchen intimidate you and get caught in the one-meal dinner that takes you 45 minutes to make. With your food prepped and ready to go you’ll be surprised how easy and budget friendly holidays can be. I know many of you have more tips up your sleeves so go ahead and post them so we can all glean from your wisdom! Happy grocery shopping.

Leslie

Pumpkin Patch

Happy Monday to you!

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Have I told you that? I LOVE the smell of the Ozark leaves falling in the woods and all over the roads. It’s magical for me. From the spices to the cozy sweaters I am all things Fall.

Last weekend we went to the local Pumpkin Patch and had a blast. Esther was “kissed” by the pig, Grace and Ruth played in the corn bin for a long time (mostly content to sample the kernels of corn all the kids feet have touched), and the boys scaled the tire pyramid several times. Of course, Esther, Micah and Gabriel also tried to show us how strong they are by lifting up the heavy pumpkins. Brian and I were convinced we would be buying a broken one at any moment.

I also did some experimenting with biscuits this weekend, always a Fall favorite in my house. What’s better on a cold fall day than hot soup and a flaky biscuit?

Biscuits and muffins are a great in-between-meal snack for my kids. They think they are getting some version of a cupcake. (It’s all in the marketing.) If you double the recipe, you can freeze the leftover biscuits. When you are ready to pull them out, just pop them in the oven to warm up and they will take any dinner to the next level.

Leslie