October 31, 2007

Save me from the candy!

The bad thing about having children in school is that every holiday there are parties and well meaning friends that send home masses of candy and stuff. I'm trying so hard not to let them eat a lot, but we just keep getting into it. Everyone is getting hyped up and grouchy as the sugar highs come crashing down...

I hope I have some trick or treaters come by to get rid of it!

A Cooking Post

Yesterday I made a salad dressing recipe that was great! When we had the girls' party I bought some dip from Wal-Mart that was dill flavored- it's very good, but not good for you. So yesterday I decided to try my hand at making my own for a salad. It tasted just as good.

These are all approximate measurements...measuring is not my forte.

1/4 c of mayonnaise

1/4 c buttermilk (mine was homemade from Candy's method)

1 t salt

fresh cracked pepper

1/2 t garlic powder

1 t dijon mustard

1 T dried dill weed

1 T apple cider vinegar

**I had to add a little sugar because I got it too salty

I first mixed the mayo with the seasonings, then added the vinegar and buttermilk. I was going to add sour cream too, but mine was bad- brand new from the store too!

I made it the consistency of bottled Ranch salad dressing and everyone loved it. Now, I wouldn't normally go to the trouble of making something with so many ingredients, but I just happened to have all these on hand. Dijon mustard, the vinegar and dill last a long time. We always have mayo, buttermilk, garlic powder and salt and pepper. I would have added onion powder too but I don't have any, nor do I plan to buy it. I generally just use the real onion, but I didn't feel like chopping one. I made a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach leaves, chopped carrots, grape tomatoes and pickled banana peppers. (not hot) This was quite delicious ;)

Also, I've been looking into the Once a Month Cooking thing, and while I can't imagine making all of our meals in one day, the idea is good. I decided maybe if I made up several things every week or two that would be easier. Plus, I am pretty spontaneous and might decide I wanted to cook something else.

Anyways, yesterday at the store I bought a 5lb tube of ground beef, extra ground turkey and cheese, a large package of tortillas, and 2 bags of bagels. Since I am making meals from my pantry this week, this didn't add much to my grocery bill. That's another reason I never wanted to try cooking once a month- the buying in bulk was too costly.

This morning, after a crazy hectic running all over the place morning, I came home and started. I mixed up 4lbs of beef with hamburger seasoning, salt, worcestershire sauce and garlic and made 11 hamburger patties- 4 we will eat today. Then I browned up the rest of it with onion and garlic and taco seasonings. ( I don't buy the packets, I just throw in chili powder, cumin and oregano) That is cooling in the fridge, and then I'll put it in a ziploc bag. (labeled of course) I plan to put it in another baggie with tortillas and grated cheese. A burrito kit!

Then I split 9 bagels open, lightly sprinkled them with grated cheese, topped with a thin slice of ham, and the piled on more cheese. Those are my invention for a quick breakfast- ham and cheese bagels. After they freeze I will wrap them individually in freezer paper and label them. Hopefully...

I would like to get cooked chicken and chicken stock and maybe a few meatloaves in the freezer too. Pizzas would be nice too... I'll have to save that for another day, er week. Anyways, maybe I'll get brave one day and go for cooking the whole month of meals. I do have a deep freezer just sitting in the storage room- empty...

October 30, 2007

What to do?

I never dreamed having children would be so hard.

When I was little it was my fantasy to have a house full of babies to care for. I loved playing dolls and dressing up in clothes that looked like Anne of Green Gables. I loved American Girl books and dolls (the original historical ones, not the newer ones) And I'll be honest and say that I lived out my fantasy up till my early teens.

A couple of months after Matt and I married, I could hardly wait till enough time had lapsed for us to have children. (you know, we had to wait at least a year according to everyone else, i am glad we waited a little while though) After 9 months of marriage I had a pregnancy 'scare' and was actually disappointed I was not pregnant. Then we began to think and pray about it and decided to conceive. That's where Leiah comes in.

Ah, Leiah, my sweet angel child. I never entertained the thought that I would have a 'special' child. I prayed constantly for that little one before I knew there were any problems. Anyways, I digress...

When Leiah was about 2 years old and Alexa was around 1 year, I knew everything I wanted to do where they were concerned. I would homeschool them, making sure that they learned the basics of keeping home and learned forgotten arts like embroidery and crochet, that they loved reading and playing dollies, and of course they would be perfectly dressed in matching dresses and pinafores. Then it became evident that Leiah was not progressing like we had hoped. She was walking well, but still no speech. She could do some sign language, but that was it.

A therapist started coming to our home twice a week and that went well. Then she turned three and could no longer receive these services. It was now up to the public school to take over her therapy. I was so against it, but after we went in for an evaluation and met the people and saw how well she did with everyone, we decided she was ready. She has been going for two years now, all day and rides the school bus. (only for her class, no other kids) In between all of that I had a miscarriage, a lot of health problems, and then another pregnancy, not to mention all that I was learning about keeping the home, being a submissive wife, learning to sew, cloth diapering, living frugally and health.

I am so confused now. The more I read about homeschooling the more guilty I feel for not doing it. I thought we were doing the best for her- she was getting free therapy and lots of teaching. But she still doesn't have many words. It's like she leaves all her 'school skills' at school, and doesn't integrate it at home. She is tired when she comes home so I don't quiz her a lot and try to work with her. She just won't cooperate.

I thought Alexa needed to go to preschool. She is learning a lot and enjoys being with the other kids, but many days she says she doesn't want to go and wants to stay home. Yet, she does get bored easily at home and is always wanting to go somewhere. Sarah could care less about what's happening :)

What a dilemma! I don't want to make a big mistake where my children are concerned. My thinking before was " I went to public school. I learned a lot and was a very good kid. I made a friend that later was led to Jesus because of our friendship. I was a witness to others. Matt was the same way in his school. So if we take all the Christian kids out of public school who will be the Light?" But now I don't know. Not all kids are as strong as I was, or as grounded in the Word. Schools are a lot different now than even when I went.

Every time I open the Bible to find some direction, I don't know where to go. I feel like He is silent on this issue right now. I am wrestling with it, trying to figure out what we should do. I have to know that I know that I know that whatever I do it is the Lord's plan.

Lord please show me the way soon.

October 29, 2007

Being Flexible

Today has not gone as planned at all. Last night I felt awful- my whole body felt achy to the bones and I was congested and blah! So I finally got to sleep about 1am...when I got up at 6:45 I just felt weird. My hands wouldn't do what I wanted them to and were all tingly feeling...My wonderful husband prayed over me and that combined with my supplements and some advil made me feel so much better.

Remember that junky hallway and the scary room in my house? They're clean. I don't know how it happened, but the hallway is empty and the storage room is more organized. Not great, but much better than before. I also worked on the older two girls' closet and got it in order. I've been rearranging furniture in the 'everything room' trying to figure out where to put a table that was given to me.

Anyways, I still have two baskets of clothes to fold and put away, dishes to wash, sheets to put on my bed and dinner to cook, which was all I had planned to do today, but the hallway is empty! My menu has already changed...I made some bread dough called "Pumpkin Dinner Rolls' except I used a sweet potato and a little leftover canned pumpkin. I am also making chicken soup instead of pot pie. This is why schedules don't work for me. I make a plan, but when it comes down to it, I change it all up. Oh well, at least it's something to work towards and keep me on track...

I'm not sure what else on that list will get done, I am feeling a bit groggy right now, but who knows? I certainly didn't expect to do some deep decluttering!

October 28, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Wow our weekends are so busy! They'll probably be busy for a long time too...

Anyways, this is our menu plan for the week. Unfortunately we had some miscommunication among our bills this week and are experiencing some fund shortage, so I'm trying to use what we have on hand for the next few days. I'm not listing lunch on here-haven't figured that out yet.

Monday: Breakfast is leftover baked oatmeal, yogurt and oranges
Dinner is creamed chicken with biscuits (like a reverse chicken pie)

Tuesday: Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, sweet potato biscuits (new recipe to try)
Pasta with homemade tomato sauce, garlic broccoli and garlic bread

Wednesday: Buckwheat Blueberry Waffles, oranges
Cheese burgers, oven fries, raw veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli)

Thursday: Cooked rice (with milk, cinnamon, raisins and honey), toast
potato soup, BLT sandwiches

Friday: fried eggs, cinnamon-honey toast
Spinach pizza, veggies and dip

Saturday: French toast, turkey ham
dinner is unknown- I'm hosting a Pampered Chef thingie that afternoon...

Tomorrow I will be baking some bread and biscuits. We have had so much junk this last week with different parties and such that I'm trying not to bake because I tend towards the sweet side, but we're about out of bread. My whole family is having a hard time with sinus and allergies- I don't ever remember my girls having such a hard time with it. Snot city here! I don't know any home remedies that will work that will taste good. All I know is garlic :)

Thanks to everyone who has emailed and commented about homeschool and the pictures of my house. I am still thinking and praying and researching about homeschooling my special needs little girl. I'm just waiting on the Lord for now.

October 26, 2007

Are you ready?

October 25, 2007

A Tour of my Palace- the good and the ugly

Candy has so inspired me to let you all see our home. I am so blessed to live in this large and spacious home- truly a miracle in the happening. My house is not perfectly organized and there is a good bit of clutter, but I thought I'd still show it anyways. Maybe you can give me some ideas about organizing.

So, here is what you see at the front door in the living room. Our couch and loveseat are the same color as the recliner, but I found this sage green blanket slipcover to change things up a bit. And to the right...

(Sorry for the blurry pictures...don't know what happened there. Look at all the shelf space and cabinet space! So far there isn't a lot in those cabinets, but it's not organized either.

Here's the kitchen and dining area, to your left of the front door.
Our table, which was the same table my parents, sister and I used. Good memories of eating around that table...

I finally have a window over my kitchen sink.

Many of the cabinets in this area are empty! I can't believe that...still need to organize and utilize the space...

To the right of the sink is my coffeemaker, toaster, fruit bowl and then stove.

This is my 'pantry', or at least where I keep all baking supplies and non-perishable foods.

My spice/tea cupboard...

Next is the oven, fridge, and a set of huge cupboards, which would be great as a pantry, but they are so far from the counters, stove etc. I decided to use them for other things.

Now go around the corner by the large cupboards and you enter the 'other room'. We don't know what to do with this room yet, so it's just the everything room. Gym, office, playroom , sewing room.

You can't see it, but on the far left is our desk/sewing machine and a large armoir cabinet that has our desktop computer in it, then some shelves which hold sewing supplies and some toys.

Let's veer to the right, into the laundry room. This is one of the biggest laundry rooms I've seen. It is a great blessing- look at all the cabinets! Yes, many are empty.
Sometimes a certain person in our family likes to use this room as a 'catch all' for large things such as :

Extra seats for our SUV and the dog pen. Oh well, it's out of the way :)

Here's the ugliest picture of all- the scary room! This room actually looked better before the garage sale! I don't know what happened...


The girls' new tent was in their bedroom, but it got moved in here yesterday. Cute huh? There are little butterflies hanging in the top.

Ok, here's the first part of the hallway. To the right is a great storage area. What's in there? Linens, art supplies, games and puzzles, old cds... It is organized though.

Ok, here is the next ugly picture...the old hallway. This house has two front doors. The one we use is where the previous owners closed in their garage. For some reason they left the old door and entry way. There is a closet that we keep coats and such in, and the rest of this stuff is leftover from the garage sale and toys to be rotated.

The first room on the left is Leiah and Alexa's room. We don't have many toys in there because they would rather been with me playing than in their room.
The mural is still coming along...
The rest of the hallway, which ends in our room. The trash can in the hall holds Sarah's cloth diapers- the used ones.

To the right is the bathroom- mostly the girls use this one. There is a wall of cabinets facing the toilet, which you can see in the reflection of the mirror.

Then the second room on the left is Sarah's bedroom.

She has a nice sized closet in here the same as the other room. This room is very roomy, not as big as the other one, but still a good size.

At the end of the hall is my bedroom. This room really bothered me when we first moved in- the paint on the wall reminds me of the wiggly dash marks from Saved By the Bell. It may not make sense, but that's what it makes me think of.

Notice all the extra furniture in this room. Matt's mom brought a suit of furniture after we moved in, and we just never got around to re-arranging the room and getting rid of some of it.

Here is my closet, which actually isn't that bad.
If you turn to the right and walk towards the entrance, to the left is our bathroom. It's got a shower-no tub. It's pretty small, but still nice to have a bathroom in our bedroom.

And then behind the door of our bedroom is this:

To the right of the entrance is Matt's closet and our dirty laundry basket.

And that's that, back to the front door.

October 24, 2007

Romantic dress and homeschool

I just love how these dresses look on little girls. I made this one and another like it for my older two when they were 1 and 2 years old. The skirts are nice and wide for easier movement- very important for toddlers. I usually pair it with some white muslin and eyelet pantalettes, but they won't fit over her cloth diapered bottom. Guess I need to make some roomier flannel ones for winter.

Today I am planning to order the pattern for the 'Beatrix' gored skirt pattern from Sensibility. It is supposed to be a simple project and I like how long and ample it appears. Plus she's added more sizes to it so it will fit more plus sized figures. Since it has turned cold, I only have two skirts that are 'wintery' and some blue jeans. I HATE pantyhose/tights whatever, and don't have leggings or know where to find some that will fit. So, I may be wearing more pants this winter or if the skirt is successful, I'll be wearing that with some knee highs or something. I'll get it figured out.

I also have a question for homeschooling moms. I've really been re-examining why Leiah is going to school. Every morning when I put her on the bus, I get a little teary or feel a pang of regret because she is so little and is gone. I thought we were doing the best for her, and she is so lucky to have such good teachers and therapists- but they aren't mama. The girls have a hard time adjusting to each other in the afternoons and fight a lot. She is tired from being worked and at school all day.

But, how in the world would I do it? I can barely keep our home clean, good meals cooked, laundry done, and make sure each child is loved and cared for. How would I have time to get all the lessons and materials prepped? I know I have my binder, but I haven't been following it as well the past week or so. Anyways, I would love to hear everyone's ideas/plans for how they go about lesson planning and their daily schedule, especially those of you with several small children. If you don't want to leave a lengthy comment, you can email me: sundholm5@yahoo.com

October 23, 2007

Healthier Eating for Kids

I decided to participate in Lori's Six Week Health Challenge. We are picking six things/areas in our lives to improve health wise and sort of coaching each other during the process. One of the things I wanted to work on was my daughters' eating habits.

In the beginning I was very strict about what they ate. They would eat anything and really preferred vegetables to french fries in the restaurants, to the amazement of others. Since I had Sarah I've really relaxed my standards, and more recently, I've relaxed them a lot more. Knowing what is healthy and right and doing it are two separate things. I know what I should be doing, but have lacked the time or motivation to do it.

My girls have gotten rather picky- especially the middle one. She's good at breakfast, ok at lunch, and terrible at dinner. She doesn't always have a snack in the afternoon either. My kids are definitely snackers though, and I just can't bring myself to deny them food. Currently, the healthy foods they like are : eggs, oatmeal (not Sarah), cheese, yogurt, carrots, apples, fruits, green beans, green peas, broccoli, peanut butter, potatoes, beans and cole slaw believe it or not. Oh and they love avocados but we don't always get them due to price, and of course all kids' favorite- corn.

The not so healthy but not awful things are: turkey products (ham, bacon, sausage we don't do pork much), deli meats, hot dogs, crackers and snack items like pretzels and Goldfish crackers, canned fruits and veggies, and for Sarah she eats some Gerber toddler meals and meat sticks about 2-3 times a week. The bad things include boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, process cheese and baloney, among others.

The older two aren't good water or milk drinkers. I allow them about 4-6oz of juice a day non-diluted. (I still dilute Sarah's 50/50 with water) Sarah drinks plenty of milk, but the other two will only drink it if there's nothing else or if I put chocolate in it, which happens 1-2 times a week.

Anyways, all that to say, I'm just not sure how to help their tastes change back to healthier foods. It is my fault because I do have a big workload, and it's much easier for me to take help from the store. Then I look around and think " Well other people let their kids eat much worse and they're ok." Which is true, but if I feel like I should do better, then I probably should.

Mostly I just want them to accept the food I put in front of them and eat it without complaining. At the very least just taste it. And for those of you that don't allow snacks, what do you do if they're hungry? With my youngest she is still growing a lot and I don't want her to go hungry.


Pumpkin Pancakes

I love pumpkin anything. But I don't really think to cook with pumpkin until fall...must remedy that :) This morning I made up some pumpkin pancakes from a recipe on allrecipes.com

Usually when testing a new recipe, I go exactly by it first, because I've had several flops when I tried to alter new recipes. ( I did use half whole wheat flour though)Next time I will do the overnight buttermilk flour soaking and add more pumpkin and butter. These were light and fluffy and slightly sweet. They were warm and spicy and especially good with butter and maple syrup.


2 cups all purpose flour
3 T brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t allspice
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t salt
1.5 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 T vegetable oil
2 T vinegar

In a separate bowl mix the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt and stir into the pumpkin mixture just till combined. (batter will be thick)

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet (I used an electric non-stick griddle) over medium high heat. Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle, using 1/4 c for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with the goodies and a glass of milk.

The whole family enjoyed these this morning, one of our first chilly, windy and cold mornings.

Later today I'm going to be experimenting with the apples that were left from the bobbing for apples at the party. Pies to freeze? Cakes and muffins to freeze? Apple sauce? Not sure yet.

October 22, 2007


After birthdays and Christmas we get the influx of STUFF! It's fun until I realize we have to find places for the stuff, which means get rid of what we've got or have too much stuff. It always seems like no matter what I do in trying to simplify, we always have too much stuff!

My husband has a hard time putting things away and getting rid of things in general, so that doesn't help. We've been in this HUGE house with tons of storage for about 8 months and there is a good bit of clutter going on. Normally it doesn't bother me because I'm so busy with other things, but we have a whole room filled with boxes from our move and things that we don't use all the time. I would like to use it for sewing and things like that...but where to put all the other things? Then there's the boxes of out of season clothing and shoes for the kids, boxes of toys that are 'in rotation', the lack of any good storage for office things like papers, mail, all that stuff and the little random junky toys and trash that seem to be in every crack and crevice no matter how many times I've cleaned it! How does this happen?

So then I decide that I need to take some time to declutter and organize, then I have to find or buy storage containers and set aside the time to do it without children around. I end up getting way stressed.

So, I need a system that I can work at in small chunks...guess I'll have to brainstorm a bit. The whole working in a 'zone' each week in the house doesn't work for me- drags it out too much.


October 21, 2007

A Wordless Day

**Note- if you click on the pics they will go to a larger image...please do!