Friday, October 25, 2013

Involving Children in Housework

As parents, sometimes chores and housework can get overwhelming. Add to that children of any age, and it can seem impossible. But there are ways that you can encourage your children to help around the house so you’re not doing the burden of the work yourself. 

The best way to get children involved is by making a chart of chores that they can do, and either giving them a sticker for each chore that gets done, or by marking it off. You can make one yourself by listing the chores and laminating it. You can get clear contact paper at the store for a cheap and easy self-laminate. You can also find free templates and charts online through various blogs and sites. 

Finding age-appropriate chores can be tricky, but with a little common sense and trial and error, you can find chores that your little ones of all ages can do. 

Ages Toddler-4 years
At this age, the little ones want to help with whatever you’re doing. Most of the time they don’t actually “help” but you’ll want to encourage them to help while they want to. If you discourage them at this age, then later when you need and want them to help, they won’t be willing. 

Some simple chores that they can do at this age are:
-pick up dolls, trucks, toys, and put them in bins or the toybox       
-put pillows and stuffed animals on their bed
-put away silverware, plastic bowls (in bottom cabinets), or plastic cups. 

               It’s nice to have a bucket or basket in a lower cabinet with the plastic cups, bowls, and/or plates in it. Then they can also help set the table by getting their own dishes. If you’re super organized and have a separate bin for each toy, it would be best to get down on the floor and help them put each thing away. Expecting them to be able to sort the toys at this age is a huge expectation.

Ages 5 years- 8 years
               Some children in this age range will still be struggling with dexterity and fine motor skills, so you’ll want to be sensitive to those issues. But as they grow older, they will relish having new responsibilities to feel like more of a family.

Expanding the chores at this age would be:
-clean up all toys
-make bed (it may not be perfect, but covers spread over the mattress)
-wipe countertops
-clean toilet
-put away cups, bowls, plates, silverware, etc
-take plates and silverware off of the table after meals
-vacuum small areas
-clean mirrors

               You might want to invest in nicer plastic dishes, or have them take one plate at a time, but at this age they should be able to clean off the table and put clean dishes away. If you’re worried about chemicals from cleaning the bathroom, look into more natural cleaning options.

Ages 9- 12 years
               At this age you can trust them to do more intense work. It still may not be perfect, but it all goes into training them to become responsible, knowledgeable adults. 

Chores at this age:
-basic laundry
-empty and load the dishwasher
-vacuum whole rooms
-take out trash
-clean entire bathroom

               You might want to help sort the laundry and leave more delicate clothing for you to do. Or just have them do their own laundry. But the use of washing machines and dryers, and the folding and putting away of clothes can be done at this age. You may be able to think of more chores that they can do at this age, according to the need and the ability of each individual child. 

               As you can see, you don’t have to do the bulk of chores by yourself. By assigning age-appropriate chores, you can train your children to help you around the house. It may be more difficult at first as they’re learning how to do the chores, and how you want them done, but with a little patience and persistence, you can reap the benefits of that training.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A mum gift......or.....Menu and shopping list for 10/17-10/20

This paycheck is really tight. I mean, really tight. I made a menu for the next few days and I had $50 to buy it all. Here's my menu:

10/17 Thursday
Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Tator Tot Casserole

10/18 Friday
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Sauercraut and Sausages (sauercraut I bought on clearance a few weeks ago, sausages are left over from a meal last pay period)
Dinner: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, S'mores (we're going to "camp" in the backyard)

10/19 Saturday
Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy
Dinner: Shrimp Scampii (we didn't make the Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Tacos last week, so the shrimp is left over)

10/20 Sunday
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Rolls
Dinner: Leftovers

Here is my shopping list:

coffee                                             $2.79
creamer                                          $2.29
oatmeal                                          $2.29
juice                                               $1.39
hot dogs                                         $1.50
baked beans                                    $1.00
graham crackers                             $1.49
eggs                                                $1.39
sugar                                               $1.89
tea                                                   $1.99
milk                                                 $2.69
marshmallows                                $1.80
chocolate bars                                $1.49
green beans x3                                $1.50
cream of mushroom soup  x2          $1.20
roast                                              $10.81
carrots                                           $1.29
noodles                                          $1.69
broccoli                                         $1.49

I tried to plan the menu off of things I already had at home, so I could spend as little as possible!

So here's how my "gift" came to happen. As we were halfway done going through Aldi (my favorite grocery store) I saw that they had Mums for sale again, for $4.99. I wanted one last time they had them, but they were out before I got there. I turned to Kayla, my 9 year old that went with me, and said, "If we get all of our groceries and I have $5 left, I am going to buy a Mum." She looked at me like I was crazy, but we went on.

I had figured out prices while I was making my list, so I knew we were hopefully going to be right around $50. We got all of our groceries, stood in line, and then finally the lady started checking our groceries.

The total came to....

Wait for it....


I almost started crying in Aldi. So I went ahead and paid for a Mum, Kayla and I bagged up the groceries, then I picked out my Mum. I was so excited!

I have teared up about 4 times thinking about it. God is so good to think of something so little, but allow me to be able to get it. So I have it sitting outside my door, a testament to God's love for me.

My husband, of course, said something to the effect of, "We can't eat a Mum, can we?" but whatever!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review for Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls

This is my review for Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls. We had this on October 10th, view my menu here

This breakfast was truly delightful! Everyone loved it.

I sliced my thumb slicing the bread tops off, but it wasn't too bad, and healed quickly.

My daughter had fun digging the soft bread out from the rolls, and then cracking the eggs inside of them. (we snacked on the bread while the eggs were cooking)

They smelled so heavenly when we took them out, and they looked so pretty, too! Everyone was excited to get their own.

The eggs were soft but not yolky, so if you like a runnier egg you might want to shorten the time they're baked. It was so delicious to scrape the leftover bread from inside the roll to eat with the egg, and the flavor was delicious.

The kids have already asked if we could have them again, so I will definitely be putting it on the menu for next week! I might even try adding some veggies, or breakfast meats.

2 Weeks Later...

The day has come that nobody thought could happen. Not that most people cared, but still. I've been off of Facebook for two weeks. And I have no regrets and honestly, don't miss it.

The first week I was just fine. When I felt the urge to log on, I just did something else. I read my book, cleaned something, texted someone, I diverted my attention. Then that stuff got boring, and I had a few times of waiting in reception areas when it would have been nice to be able to browse everyone's lives. And then there was a day when I desperately wanted to escape my own reality. But I survived!

This past weekend, however, has been very eye opening for me. I've realized the amount of time I was spending on the website, and how many things I was not getting done. Before I left I hid 80% of my friends list and only had the people I genuinely was interested in on my news feed, but I found myself going to other people's pages anyway.

When I left on October 1st I said that I was going to write down names of people when I thought of them, and then when I reactivated my account, I would only keep family and the people on that list. Seriously though, it would have been a really short list if I had actually kept up with it. Instead I have been texting and emailing people, and that seems to work out just fine. I don't need to know what people had for breakfast, or what they're frustrated about, or where they're checking in to know about their lives. I don't need hourly, or daily, updates about their life, and they don't need them about mine. I have found that I need hourly and daily updates about my own life, and what I'm supposed to be doing in it.

I kept instagram on my phone, but I'll probably soon delete that too because I just find myself looking at pictures and reading comments from people I don't even know, just because I'm bored. Or rather, don't want to do something I need to do.

I also have been writing more on my blog but that was a huge disappointment! Without the sharing of the link on Facebook I am hardly getting any views, much less comments. But I'll keep writing on it because it's good training, and a good outlet. I just need to find more blogs to follow!

Honestly, I don't know how I found time for Facebook. I have had very few times when I've sat down and thought, "I have nothing to do. I could go on FB right now." In fact, it would only take me two fingers to count those times, in two weeks. That may sound contradictory to a previous paragraph, but there's a huge difference between "nothing to do" and "bored of doing stuff and just wanting to zone out."

I can't say that I've gotten more done, or that I've been a better parent, or been more active, or any of that, because I still can't seem to get things done that I want to get done. There aren't enough hours in the day, and I don't have the energy to get it all done! But I have little desire to get back into the social networking world because there has been a certain peace knowing that this is what God wants me to do. And it's really fun to get a text from someone; because it takes an extra effort to do that, rather than just commenting on a line that pops up in front of your face.

There's a time and a place for social networking. I am not against Facebook. I know the many benefits of it, and enjoyed it for a long time. But right now, in my life, it's not beneficial in my life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review for Tamale Pie

We had this Tamale Pie on October 5, 2013 and I got the recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.

Overall we were not very happy with this recipe. We had to double it to feed our family of 7, and we had to add a lot of seasonings to it to make it have a good flavor. We also didn't put it into individual serving dishes as we don't have them, and even if we did, they would have been too hot for our little ones.

We'll more than likely have this again, but skip the recipe.

To see menu and shopping list for the first part of October, go here.

Review for Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Curry

I got this recipe from We had it for dinner on October 4, 2013.

It was very simple to make. Everything went as it was supposed to and the ingredients were sufficient for the amount I was making. The recipe says that it serves 4 so I did 2 pounds of chicken instead of the 1 1/2 mentioned, and we had plenty leftover, and we feed a family of 7!

                                                              Cooking the chicken.

                                              I added paprika to give it a little bit more flavor

Everyone really enjoyed it, and it was filling. I liked that the broccoli was added at the end so it was still green and vibrant by the time you sat down to eat.

                                                         Putting the potatoes in the oven.

I also make Garlic Baked Potato Wedges. I cut 11 small-medium Russet potatoes into quarter wedges and placed them skins down on a baking pan. Then I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled garlic salt and pepper on them. I baked them at 350 degrees while I was making the chicken dish, so probably 30-45 minutes, I don't remember exactly. They were very tender and tasty! They went very well with the chicken curry, also, and the sauce made a good dipping sauce for the potatoes.

                                                     The finished dishes on the table.

We will definitely be making this meal again!

To read my menu and shopping list for the first part of October, go here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Menu and Shopping List 10/3 - 10/17

My husband gets paid every 2 weeks, so on Thursday I sit down and write down a menu for the next two weeks. Sometimes if his check is smaller (if he didn't get overtime) I will only make a menu for one week. The Lord usually provides for the second week! Then I make a shopping list based off of my menu. This is my menu:

Breakfast: Bacon Waffles
Lunch: Little Smokies, Baked Mac and Cheese
Dinner: Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Curry, Olive Oil and Garlic Potato Wedges
(Read my Review for this here)

Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy (this is our standard Saturday breakfast which my husband makes. He usually adds bacon and eggs to it)
Lunch: We typically don't eat lunch on Saturdays since we eat a late breakfast. We'll just eat an earlier dinner.
Dinner: Tamale Pie (doubled)
(read my review for this here)

Breakfast: Muffins (Caleb's standard Sunday AM meal! He will add whatever we have to them)
Lunch: Pork Roast with Sauercraut, Potatoes, Sauteed Asparagus
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Tortilla Egg Cups
Lunch: Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup
Dinner: Tator Tot Casserole

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Chili Dogs, Chips, Carrots
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, French Fries

Breakfast: Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls
(See my review for this here)
Lunch: Quesadillas, Tortilla Chips
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread

Breakfast: Cereal, Fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Fried Chicken, Green Bean Casserole, Cauliflower Potatoes

Breakfast: Apple Pancake Bake
Lunch: Sandwiches, Carrots and Ranch
Dinner: Fajita Ranch Chicken Wraps

Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy plus extras
Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Beef Stew, Homemade Bread
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Toast
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Tator Tots
Dinner: Red Beans and Rice

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Cheesy Rice and Broccoli
Dinner: Pizza, French Fries

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Stroganoff
Dinner: TBD

Breakfast: Cereal, Fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Rice Burritoes

We are trying to eat healthier, but it's not easy on a tight budget. My latest way to be healthier is to make my own cream of mushroom soup instead of buying it canned. I would like to find a way to make a huge batch and then freeze/can/store it so I don't have to make it every time.

Here is my shopping list:

Evaporated milk
Sliced cheese x2
Cheddar cheese x3
Butter x3
Colby Jack cheese x2
Creamer x3
Milk x3

Eggs x2
Bacon x2
Ground beef x3
Pork loin
Chicken breasts
Lunch meat
Beef Tips (stew)


Bread x2
Hamburger buns
Crusty dinner rolls

Tomato soup
Mushrooms x6
Green beans x6
Chili x2
Tomato sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Red Beans
Black beans
Juice x3

Chips x2
Corn muffin mix x2
Tortilla chips x2
Egg noodles x2
Popcorn seeds

Tator Tots x2
French Fries x2
Chicken Nuggets
Egg Patties
Hashbrown Patties
Sausage Patties

I hope this helps or inspires you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yes, I was homeschooled

Homeschooling is pretty popular right now. There are YouTube sensations that were made famous by their "You Know You're A Homeschooler When..." videos. There are very successful bloggers who write about and for homeschoolers and moms. Homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in our country. Some might say homeschooling is the latest fad.

Well, it wasn't always that way. I was homeschooled as a kid and I remember when it made us odd, not unique and interesting. I remember having to stay in the basement when anyone knocked on the door because they could report us for not being in school. I remember not being allowed to play outside until after 2pm because of nosy neighbors who could report us. I remember going shopping and having to come up with a creative response as to why we were not in school. "We had dentist appointments. Yes, all 6 of us, in one day." Maybe my memory is skewed because I was a child, my mom probably remembers things differently. But I remember knowing that we were not the norm, even after homeschooling became legal in Nebraska. Sure, we knew hundreds of other families that were homeschooled that we saw regularly, but we were still a fringe group.
My family. :)I loved that silk shirt. The candy cane glasses, however, were not my pick.

I suppose I was a "sheltered homeschooler", although that kind of makes me laugh inside since one of my close friends, who went to public school, wasn't allowed to play with me for a while because I was "a bad influence". So I guess I couldn't have been too sheltered.

Looking back, maybe I would've dressed a little bit more stylish if I hadn't been homeschooled. Maybe I wouldn't have worn wooden clothes pins in my hair if I had gone to public school (one of the many weird things I did). Maybe I would have dressed a little bit more girly. Maybe I wouldn't be so embarrassed by what I was wearing, or how I did my hair while looking at my pictures from Junior High and High School.

Maybe if I hadn't been homeschooled I wouldn't have been so awkward around boys. Sure, I saw boys all the time. My older brother brought his basketball friends over all the time, the neighbor boys would come over often, I had friends at church that were boys, I had friends that were boys through the homeschool group and activities. But I didn't know how to interact with a boy beyond the friend stage. Maybe I would have known more if I had gone to public school.
My friend Rebekah and me at the zoo. I was maybe 8 or 9? I remember this trip and we had a blast; huge glasses, culottes, and everything!

But then, maybe not. Maybe I still would have gone through a very long, and very painful, "ugly stage" if I had gone to public schoo. And just maybe, I would have been bullied and picked on because of it. I look back at the crazy things I used to wear and although it looks silly now, I enjoyed it then. It was a true expression of me, because I didn't have a group of people telling me what I should and shouldn't wear to be accepted. I still had friends. I had friends that dressed weirder than I did! I had my rough moments through my younger years, I got picked on, I was pretty insecure at times. But most of my memories are good memories. I had fun with my friends, I did a lot of interesting things, I had a very well-rounded experience. I played sports, I was in band, I played piano, I went to church, I went to summer camp and winter camp, I helped teach 4-H classes, I went to France for my Senior trip, I visited friends in New Jersey by myself, and I had a lot of other opportunities for other experiences if I had been interested. Maybe I would have had the same opportunities at Public School, but maybe not.

Maybe I still would have been awkward around a guy that I liked if I had gone to public school. Or maybe I wouldn't have been awkward around boys. Now there's a scary thought. I think I would much rather my younger self not being comfortable around guys than thinking of what could have happened.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm grateful for being that sheltered homeschool kid. Maybe I look back at my pictures from about 12 and up and think, "Praise God I was a sheltered homeschooler." Because I look at the heartache and trials that kids go through and I can't imagine having to deal with that. I was able to go through my ugly stage surrounded by people who loved me, and by people who were also going through their ugly stage, and didn't know it either! There were a few bullies in my life (ironically most of them went to public school), but for the most part everyone just did what they wanted, dressed how they wanted, and did weird science experiments involving dry ice in the parking lot after the homeschool group meeting. Well, not everyone did that, but I bet it happened more at our group meetings than it ever did at the local high school.
One of my favorite pictures with my friends! This is us at Silver State Baptist Youth Camp, I'm second from the left. Sometimes I wish I could go back to this age, just for one day!

This is for all of my fellow former-homeschooled friends that look back at their pictures with regret because we were a bunch of homeschooled, sheltered dorks. Don't be ashamed. Be grateful. I'm not trying to bash public schools, or public schoolers. I just want my now grown homeschooled friends to realize that we were not deprived of anything. And if we were, we are better because of it!

Me with my little homeschoolers at the Science Museum. Hopefully they look back at this picture with fondness!