Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--March 1

I can't believe it's March already! I am hopefully that the adage that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb holds true, especially when it comes to health. Little Miss is recovering from scarlet fever and flu but it now sporting a completely different rash from head to toe than she started with. We don't know what it is, but we do know after some antihistamine, that it's not an allergic reaction. There is some speculation that it might be chicken pox because that would be the perfect illness hat trick.

Speaking of hat tricks...or hockey at least. Congrats (grudgingly) to Canada for a most excellent Gold Medal round. It was an amazing game.

And to top the amazing game, we had an amazing dinner (check out the segue!) Here's what we're having this week:


Sunday: Sicilian Steaks and Strawberry Poppy seed salad It was amazingly quick and easy, btw.
Monday: Sweet Onion Chicken sandwiches
Tuesday: Broccoli Chicken Bowls
Wednesday: Blue and Gold dinner for scouts. Bringing some sort of dessert
Thursday: Sloppy Joes
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: lasagna bowls

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Plague

We have the plague...or at least the baby does. She tested positive for both flu and strep (except she got a rash, which means Scarlet Fever). We are doing the whole antibiotic thing and avoiding people and places. We are really hoping this doesn't spread through the family. But my attentions have to be focused on the little one.

Little B is reading a book for school and the main character's little sister dies from Scarlet Fever. He's a very sensitive guy anyway, so now he's very worried about the baby. He started crying when he found out she was very sick. Such a sweet boy. We had a very nice discussion about antibiotics and how they can be helpful when necessary. He's been on antibiotics one time in his 8 years...coincidentally, for scarlet fever and cellulitis!

When my kids get sick, they really get sick. And here's the part where I bore you with proof of how my kids "do" sick...because it's not just your normal sick. They'll get the occasional cold and will pass along a stomach bug, but when it comes to visiting the dr sick? Our family doctor knows if I'm calling, my children are on death's door LOL

Leelee once developed periorbital cellulitis. She spent several days at the children's hospital. She had an anaphylactic reaction in the ER and they whisked us to another hospital very quickly. At the time, we didn't know she was allergic to latex, which would have explained the whole hives and airway closing off.

Danger girl, at about 18 months, had strep, tonsillitis, double ear infection and impetigo. All at the same time. And we continue to deal with Pityriasis rosea.

I mean really? Who gets sick with stuff like this?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shiny things

I usually think of the silent treatment as a bad thing. Couples are never supposed to go to bed angry. It makes for unresolved feelings and unhappy marriages. But it's a bit different when it comes to your little kids.

This morning, I figured out why danger girl has been so insistent on calling a classmate for the last two days. She invited the classmate over for a playdate Saturday--without permission. What she didn't know until Sunday, was she's attending another friend's birthday party! So instead of calling her friend to cancel the playdate she hadn't cleared with me, she asked the birthday girl if her friend could come along! She's a thinker, isn't she? Of course birthday girl said yes without speaking to her mom, either.

Thankfully, we moms are able to intercept things likes this and teach our children proper manners.

First, clear all playdates with mom. Second, you do not get to invite a guest unless the invite says "plus one" and you're probably not going to get a plus one until you're much older.

Danger girl was quite livid with me. She doesn't get loud when she gets mad. She gives the stink eye. And when that doesn't work, she turns on the tears. She just sobs quietly to herself. When that fails, then she begs. Please mama, please! she said it was ok! Just ask her mama! pleassseeeeeee. Failed, move on. we come to the blessed silent treatment. Danger girl is one you always HEAR before you see. So the silent treatment is something I look forward to. I get peace and quiet from her (with a sullen attitude, but I practically have a teenager so that doesn't even phase me).

I am pretty sure she's going to start up with things as soon as she gets home from school. She doesn't let go easily once she sinks her teeth in to something. That means I get to pull something else from my parenting bag of tricks...something shiny. Something shiny is usually a craft project. We'll put our efforts in to making something for the birthday girl, like a card and hopefully she'll completely forget why she was giving me the silent treatment and will focus on why she's so excited to give a card.

The shiny trick works on big kids, too, to some extent. It's a matter of finding that one thing that always distracts them and using it to your advantage. With Leelee I dangle "spa time" in front of her. "Go think about it while you soak in the tub and do your nails" and nine times out of ten she comes back a normal human being.

The almost teenager is still distracted by legos...and food. But any disagreement with him can usually be solved by google. It's usually fact based, not emotional.

Ben still benefits from a good old fashioned "take a time out" in the sports sense. I have always tried to use time out this way. Not as a punishment, but telling the kids "go take a break and come back when you're ready to get back in the game."

Time to cool off benefits everyone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-Feb 22

It's a short week for menu planning this week. Payday is Thursday and I want to catch the new sales.

I'm trying out the coupons at Publix to see if I can really get a good deal. So i've printed out a stack of things we actually use. It isn't big, but any savings is good, right?

There is also a huge sale on chicken this week so we're eating a lot of chicken. I hope no one gets too sick of it!

Monday: Chicken Enchiladas
Tuesday: Chicken Biscuits and Gravy
Wednesday: Honey Lemon Chicken and Potatoes
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Pizzas
Saturday: Chicken Penne bake

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Organization challenge update!

Things are going well for my challenge in organizing my front closet.

Not only am I making progress, I'm doing it on the cheap! And it's inspired organization of a couple other areas of my house. . . on a BUDGET. The closet is going to cost me a total of $2. For plastic baggies from the dollar store. Everything else is repurposing things I already have around the house. And throwing things away. Lots of things...I had a queen sized air mattress in the closet. I pulled it down and discovered the valve cover is missing! And I still have this because???? I set it aside to see if D knows where the cover is. If's going in the trash.

Also in to the donate pile: four of those joystick games you hook up to the TV. Since we got a wii, the kids haven't played with them. They get tangled and knocked out of the closet, I don't know how many times. I am pretty sure the kids will never miss them.

I also found about 50 mylar valentines balloons that have never been used. Why? Two or three years ago we were in charge of decorating for our church Valentine's party. I got the balloons off freecycle and these were the leftovers. GONE.

We also only had half the cards for memory and less than 1/4 of the cards for Sorry.

It's still a work in progress. I am trying to decide if I need to find a new home for the workbooks or if they are ok on top of the file cabinet. The file cabinet has a lot of D's school papers in it and I'm happy it's hidden away in the closet.

The shoe situation...I don't think there's a really good way in a small home to store shoes for 6 kids. If the shoes go in the kids' rooms, they get lost. BTDT. So for right now, unless someone has a brilliant small scale option for me, the milk crates stay stacked. Besides. the milk crates make a great place for me to store my picnic baskets. At least those collapse.

I love how the game storage worked out. I found these baskets last year in the discount bin at the grocery store. They were $1 each, I think. With a chalkboard on the front for easy labeling :) We have them labeled for board game pieces and card games. The boards for the games stored easily in one of those plastic cereal box storage containers (again picked up from the discount bin). The kids lost the lids ages ago but I kept them hoping to find a good use.

I think D is going to be pleasantly surprised with the progress I'm making. Now that the closet isn't in danger of randomly killing people, I'm hoping he'll be motivated to actually fix the doors so the closet will be very functional.

I'd also love to hear suggestions for any improvements I can make. I'm thinking of storing the boards for scrabble and blokus on their sides, but for now they are under the baskets.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Banana Lemon Pudding Cake--recipe review

I don't usually pull out my crockpot for desserts. I have a 7 qt crockpot that tends to cook high and fast, not low and slow. I have to tweak most of my recipes to get them to work. If I follow recipes exactly, I end up burning things. Not good. But with my large family, a large crockpot is a necessity; we deal with the quirkiness that is my crockpot.

When I saw this recipe in the March 2010 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, I knew I had to try it. I love lemon flavored things, especially lemons and berries. This recipe would work great with berries folded in, not just bananas layered on the bottom. D doesn't like berries so I just get to dream about this as a lemon-blueberry pudding cake...or I'll make it for a church potluck so he doesn't have to eat it.

Normally, I'm not a fan of warm bananas unless it's in bread, but when mixed with the warm lemony custard, it was absolutely wonderful. In a moment of insanity, I decided to try hand whipping my heavy cream. I think I burned off enough calories to justify an extra large helping of this dessert! And in the end, I used the mixer to finish off the whipping cream. LOL

BTW: In order to cook this in my extra large crockpot, I doubled the recipe and cooked without altering the recipe. It was in our tummies in roughly two hours.


3 eggs, separated
one 6 oz container plain fat-free yogurt
grated peel and juice of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 ripe bananas, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
whipped cream (optional)

1. Grease the inside of a 3 -4 quart slow cooker with butter. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites on high spped until soft peaks form. In another large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, yogurt, lemon peel and lemon juice on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sugar, flour and salt and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Working in 3 or 4 batches, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
2. Scatter three-quarters of the banana slices on the bottom of the slow cooker, then pour in the batter. Cover and cook on high until the cake is puffed, teh top is set and the edges are browned, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove the slow cooker insert, still covered, and cool for about 20 minutes.

3. Spoon the pudding into bowls and top with whipped cream (if using) and the remaining banana slices.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--Feb 15

Happy Chinese New Year!

We have a great tradition that we have Chinese food for Chinese New Year. The kids look forward to it. I was sort of hoping with the Olympics to have a more international flair for dinner, but the kids were pretty insistent on Chinese. On the bright side, the kids have been really excited to watch the games.

This week, I picked up the latest Rachael Ray magazine. There were quite a few recipes for things I had on hand, which is all kinds of awesome for the grocery budget.

So here's what's on the menu this week

Sunday: Orange Chicken and Chinese donuts (I'm not sharing the recipes because they weren't that good!)
Monday: Lemon Chicken and Sweet Pea Tortellini (RR march 2010)
Tuesday: Brown Rice Chili (RR march 2010)
Wednesday: Crockpot Chicken
Thursday: Grilled Pork with potatoes and gouda gravy
Friday: Baked Spaghetti
Saturday: Chicken Scampi

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yummy Dinner recipe to share

Tonight, with the threat of snow, I decided some comfort food was in order. For me, that's pasta and french bread. And, since I wanted to avoid the store, I needed to find a recipe I could make from my pantry.

Thankfully, I saw this recipe for Neapolitin Baked Ziti. It received thumbs of from everyone except D who gave it an "ok if..." which is pretty high rating for any pasta recipe. He would like to try it with sausage or pepperoni next time.

I have to bring a meal to a friend tomorrow. Her little ones are all sick. I plan on making this dish again for them and adding in pepperoni.

The only other real change I did to the recipe was making it with half and half instead of milk.

Meanwhile I did end up having to go to the store for batteries. If it snows tomorrow, we want pictures, especially since it's Millie's first snow. I don't think Lizzy remembers when it snowed the one time last year, so it's going to be a pretty magical day afternoon. I'm sure the snow will be gone by night. That's just the way it is in the south. The forecast is for 3-5 inches and all the schools in our area have already canceled!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top 10 Tips for a Distraction Free Vacation!

We absolutely love to camp. It's our favorite family vacation. It's inexpensive and very low key. We love to "check out" from modern life for awhile. Last summer, we had the ultimate vacation travel experience driving from Alabama to Washington and Oregon and back again. It was an absolutely amazing trip.

Spring Break is next month and we're trying to find the perfect camping spot here in Alabama. We haven't actually been camping here yet, so it's exciting. We're leaning towards Gulf State Park.

Alamo is asking moms what their best tips for fun, distraction-free vacation. They're offering gas cards to bloggers! Our trip last summer taught us more than a few things:

1. Disposable Cameras are still a great investment! When we arrived at Yellowstone, we gave each of the children a disposable camera. They could take as many pictures of whatever they wanted. It kept them from fighting over our cameras.

2. Create Traditions Whenever we go to a new state, we find the Welcome To sign and take a family picture in front of it. This helps to document where we went and when. My 8 year old also decided he wanted to collect road maps from each state we visited. He has a pretty large collection now!

3. Lunch Bags At the start of each travel day, we packed a lunch bag with snacks. This prevented us from stopping for snacks. It also saved money because we weren't buying all sorts of extras at the gas station.

4. Have TWO itineraries We had excellent plans on our vacation. We travel quite a bit with the kids and we knew how far they could travel in one day. What we didn't plan for immediately, was what would happen when kids got sick. On our return trip we had best case travel and worst case travel plans!

5. Eat at the Grocery Store! Many grocery stores have deli counters and ready made foods. We planned to eat this way, again to save money. We did not want to eat fast food every single night. Sandwiches, breakfast items and delicious dinners! It was just as fast to run into the store to pick up supplies and meals each night.

6. Prioritize activities One of the things I hate most about vacations is feeling like you need a vacation once you get back. Decide what things you absolutely must do and what things you can skip. For us, Yellowstone was a must see. Grand Canyon, not as much. So we completely changed our return trip plans at the last minute. We ended up having an amazing time as we decided to stop in Nauvoo, Illinois, instead!

7. Red Box I swear Red Box saved our sanity. If you haven't tried Red Box, then you are really missing out. We rented movies in Kansas and returned them in Utah. It let the kids watch a variety of movies and we didn't get sick of the same ones over and over. Plus, we could return them anywhere in the country!

8. Assignments As much as the kids hated it, we had to assign seats. It minimized fighting. We also gave daily assignments such as who was lunch helper, official sign spotter, etc. It kept things interesting and stops fighting. That's worth mentioning twice.

9. Driving Games There are so many resources for fun car trip games. We loved the license plate game. Since we traveled so far, we were able to find 49 states! We only missed out on Rhode Island! We also got most of the Canadian provinces. My kids decided to play "who can get the most variety of road kill." That one was more to keep the older ones occupied.

10. Just Have Fun! My husband has a tendency to freak out over all the little details. He wants everything to run like a well oiled machine. And it doesn't...not when you have six kids! You just have to find the humor in everything and not sweat the small stuff. The schedule isn't nearly as important as the time spent together.

We are planning another big road trip! In 2012, we are driving back west again, this time stopping in Colorado for my high school reunion. And, we're going to hit the Grand Canyon this time and head back up to Oregon and Washington. I want to do a bigger loop and stop at Mt. Rushmore on the way home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life with Aspergers

It's hard having a kid with a disability people can't see. On the surface, Alex looks like a very normal kid. He has a wonderful memory for facts, so he does well on tests and spitting back information. Actually using that information and drawing conclusions or doing more than one step in a row...not so good.

Thursday, my HUSBAND, commented in a very amazed voice that "Your SON" (and why is it always MY son LOL) "YOUR SON doesn't know how to follow a conversation" and I'm thinking "you've lived with him for the last nearly 13 years and you're JUST figuring this out?" I guess he thought Alex was always just being goofy. But today, D was talking to Alex's "girl friend" and another friend at lunch about car accidents. Alex pipes in with "What's the best kind of donut?"

Friday, Alex was so oblivious to what needed to happen he was hit with a door FIVE times as people were coming in to the cafeteria. Each person asked him to move more than once before they just opened the door. More than one adult was involved in convincing him he needed to move out of the doorway so people could get in. And the louder the kids laughed at him getting hit, the less inclined he was to move. He thought he was being funny.
He really does not get it.

Compared to many children with autism spectrum issues, Alex isn't "that bad" but my gosh, we've worked so stinking hard to get to this point! And people don't see the "dealing with this every day" side. they just see the public face...the one we've trained our kids to put on so we can work somewhat within the framework of society.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Legal issues, schools and cars...oh my!

It's weeks like these that I am amazed that I am able to stay sane. I don't get too personal on this blog very often, but this time the news is important enough to my family and close friends who read the blog that it's worth it.

I haven't posted much at all about The Incident, other than vague references. Long story short, D was the victim of a crime and for the last almost 10 months, we've been dealing with the repercussions emotionally (with Alex), financially (lost wages) and stress of how long things were being drawn out. The accused was supposed to have a plea date while we were on our vacation and we never heard what happened. No one would return our calls. Nothing. Then a few weeks ago, D got a letter from the DA stating there was a hearing! Needless to say, D was there! As it turned out, the person had gone on the run and was finally caught. He entered a plea of no contest. That means he couldn't refute the video taped evidence but didn't feel he did anything wrong. In the end, he was given probation despite objections and ordered to pay restitution. Supposedly we'll start receiving that next month. I'll believe it when I see it!

Our lives have also been caught in the whirlwind with Alex. We finally received testing through the school for his Asperger's Syndrome. It's hard to get special education testing when your child is doing well academically. But when that same child is so far behind his peers socially, in a junior high setting, things change. Even though we had a diagnosis from a real doctor, it wasn't enough for the schools. This is when it's a good thing you homeschool and put your child back in to school. We had testing started immediately and wouldn't you know it, Alex is definitely no question about it, on the autism spectrum and qualifies for services. A score of 10 or better is needed on the testing and Alex came in at a 16. We've been attending meetings about services for him, too!

We've also requested testing be started for Ben. We don't suspect autism issues at all, but there's something going on that we can't identify. Ben took quite the fall when he was about 15 months old and we were told there could be some issues that crop up as he gets older. We were hoping the issues were related to his speech, but he's really struggling in school and we want to make sure there's not something else we're missing. He's a really good kid and it's hard to see him struggle. I know D really identifies with how Ben feels. D's older brother was an excellent student and D claims that his parents prefer D3. Of course, everyone else says S was the favorite (*hi!!! I know you're reading this*) But D was so incredibly traumatized by following after D3 that he was never given a fair shot at doing well in school. He could never be as smart as D3, as big as D2, or as handsome as D1, and D5 was the youngest and a there was no competing with that, either, and S is favorite because she's the only one with a name that doesn't start with a D! (Ok, family you should all be in fits of giggles because you KNOW how he talks ha ha) Anyway, D thinks Ben may be having middle child/following the "special" kids issues and is choosing to get attention in a way that's completely different from the other two.

And in all of this, D's car broke down. We're down to one car. We have a great mechanic who said it should be done some time today. As icing on the cake, this morning MY car wouldn't start. There's a short and it causes the battery to drain. D found someone to give us a jump. So, D has to change the oil, fix the brake switch and pull apart the door and fix the short there, too.

All of this has allowed me so much extra time the last two weeks LOL

Monday, February 1, 2010

Organization Challenge!

Org Junkie is sponsoring an organization challenge. I'm all about getting excited about things and then losing interest in it, so we're going to *try* to do the challenge this month.

We're supposed to take before and after pictures. But I'm really embarrassed by my lack of organizational skills, so we're going to skip the big room and focus on my laundry room and the front closet. I will post pictures of those once I figure out the materials I'm going to need to organize it.

I am promise myself I am going to follow through with this. (ok you can stop laughing now!) I really am...

OK...we're gonna tackle the front closet first. We are always very careful about opening the doors. Not because we're afraid everything is going to fall down...this is another one of those neglected projects. The track for the closet is broken and the doors themselves tend to fall off.

Menu Plan Monday Feb 1!

I can't believe it's February already! January wasn't a good month so I'm really glad it's over. And over the last few days, we've been crazy busy and ate out a lot. We ate out so much the kids begged me not to make pizza again for awhile LOL

This week's menu should be interesting. We are settling back down in our schedules so I'm hoping for more time to cook. We're trying several new recipes from Melissa D'arabian from Food Network's $10 dinners. It's a good show. She's very frugal, and I like that. I made her Fool Proof Popovers last week and they were a real hit. D thought they needed some more flavor so we're going to make them a bit more exciting next time with some cheese and green onions. But it's a good basic popover recipe and that's what counts!

Monday: Chicken Curry
Tuesday: Sausage, Potatoes and Perogis
Wednesday: quick and easy: BLTs, tater tots
Thursday: chicken l'orange
Friday: Spaghetti
Saturday: Herb Crusted Pork loin and some sauteed cabbage and apples
Sunday: Game Day food! Open faced Quessadillas, chips and salsa, maybe some fondue