Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stocked Up on Apples

I wanted to post a picture of my apple jars to show off to help me remember that I really did it!

The picture does not show all that we successfully stored (because they were already eaten or given away):
- 25 qts apple sauce
- 2 qts apple butter
- 12 half pints apple butter
- 6 large Ziplock bags of sliced apples (for desserts) in the deep freezer

As I said before we started with 5 bushels of apples. We ate some of the apples raw. Paul wants to put up two or three times this amount next year. I concur... even though I ration the apple sauce, I do not see it lasting for even 6 months. As for the apple butter, I enjoy eating it, but I REALLY enjoy giving it away and seeing other people smile. And, did I mention that I made it with honey - so it is sugar free. (Though a lot more costly per jar).

I am not writing out how much everything costs per jar, because I don't think that my system would make sense to anyone but myself. And, I had to purchase some jars - a one-time expense. But, we are still saving money on food. (So long as you have the time to "spare") 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Josiah is Becoming a Big Boy!

Baby Josiah seems to have grown up over night! All of the sudden he has a favorite book and wants to have it read to him a bazillion times a day! This definitely means that he is no longer the baby... just don't expect him to give up his footed pajamas any time soon!

(As usual, click the pic to enlarge)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What am I going to do??? (Croup update)

Josiah woke up from his nap in very bad condition. This was more or less to be expected.

BUT, I was not expecting Joshua (4) to wake up croupy!!!

And, though Nelson (almost 8) is way too old to have croup, he coughed and sounded like a seal. And, since he didn't even touch his lunch, I know he is very sick too.

Paul leaves for work at 3:30ish am. What am I going to do with 1, 2, or 3 (or more?! - heaven help us!) croupy little ones?!!!! I have no one nearby to call to stay the night with me... there is no one who is not scared of sickness.

I have further resolved my decision that when I am an older mother and my youngest ones are grown, I WILL help mamas with their sick babies!

Oh, God, please help me!

Worst Case of Croup Ever...

(at least in my experience). Josiah is very sick with Croup. He was up most of the night unable to breathe. Knowing that cold mist is better than hot humidity, we took him outside in the cool night air to breathe. We also tried a steamy bathroom - that only made him worse. We also slathered the poor thing in Vick's Vapor Rub. By 5:30am, after a few hours of restless sleep, I was too tired to get us both dressed to go outside, so I just sat in front of my open window. By 6, I was too tired to even answer Paul's questions about the baby's condition and Paul took over the next hour until Joey finally fell asleep again... until 7:30.

I have never seen such a bad case of croup. I don't want to take him to the ER, as I am afraid that we might pick up something even worse there.

Please, please pray for Josiah. In all my 9 1/2 years of mothering I have never seen a case like this.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On Cutting Back the Food Budget

I mentioned about a month ago that we were going to cut back our food budget in a major way. While we are making this decision from financial necessity, we also knew that it would benefit our health.

Here's my report:
- We have not been eating out at all!

- I have made a comparison pricing chart for foods in town. I have four columns: Aldi, Sam's Club, Dutch Bulk Foods, and other. I am eagerly filling it out when I am in stores hunting food bargains.

- We found "farm fresh" eggs in a neighboring town for only $1/dozen! The cheapest Wal-Mart carries are $1.88/doz, and the farm fresh are better! These of course are not given special (non-GMO) feed, but we cannot afford to be that picky at present ; )
- We are back on raw milk! We are able to get it delivered TO OUR HOUSE in glass jars for only $4/gallon! What a steal! Our milk man sells reasonably priced hormone-free, antibiotic free beef as well... we hope to begin purchasing that soon. And, we are having cream delivered to make butter.

 - In the last month I purchased 5 bushels of apples for canning/freezing. I haggled with the owner of the Dutch Bulk Food Stores to give me a reduced rate on Golden Delicious and Jonathon number ones. I ended up getting four boxes for the price of three! And, then a girlfriend called saying that she had some cheap Red Delicious from an Amish auction. So, I got just one bushel of those for only $10.50.

This was us processing the last 3 bushels y-day. (Click any pic to bring up the enlargements page). Nelson did a fantastic job helping! He ran the peeler/corer/slicer for hours! Rebecca watched the little ones and read them books. We did not let her help with the cooking, because she is sick.
Baby Josiah wasn't much help...

We made a vast amount of apple sauce.

And, today we have apple butter cooking in the crock pot.
Here is me filling the jars this morning.
I will can them when Paul comes home from work.

I can't imagine why I look so tired...

- We are baking our own bread again. I took about an eighteen month sabbatical from such work. But, between Rebecca and myself we should be able to keep the bread box filled. I did also make a trip to the bakery outlet a few weeks ago, but I would MUCH rather cook my own, thank you.

- We were able to get free pears last weekend. I have not processed them yet, because we have had our hands full of apples. But, we have been enjoying them raw! And, they are still plenty hard and will keep till Monday.

- We are buying very little processed foods at present. Again, this is largely from necessity. But, still, I am happy that we ran out of taco shells and tortillas. We know how to make tortillas, if we get desperate enough.

- We are not buying any soda or juice. We are only drinking milk, water, and coffee.

- We are all eating much smaller portions to make food stretch farther. This has significantly helped my heartburn! In fact, I intentionally leave the table hunger every night so that I (hopefully) won't have to take any antacids before bed. (Antacids deplete my vitamin D.)

- As you might expect, my chubbiest little man (Nelson) has really slimmed down! He has noticed and he feels good about it. The rest of us are looking more healthy too. And, don't worry, I am still gaining just the right amount of weight for the new Baby.

- Another less expected result of this dietary change is that we are making FAR less trips to town for groceries. So, we are saving gas too. Woo Hoo!

All in all, I am VERY happy with our progress so far! Leave me a comment to cheer me on!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I live for recess

Really... I do. I am constantly looking at the clock to see when I can set the captives free.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching my kids. And, the kids really do love school. BUT, we all need a break from time to time.

Today Lydia (6) was trying to sound out words, while Joshua (4) and Josiah (21 mos) were playing with blocks. Rebecca (9) was doing her Pathway Readers and talking aloud to herself. I ended up sending everyone out of the room while Lydia completed her reading assignment.

Then, I set the inmates free. We donned our winter coats and raced outside... and I DO mean raced! The dog was weaving in between children as she ran wildly about the yard. The children went running no where and everywhere all at the same time. I love watching their cheeks turn pink from the activity and the cold wind.

Yep - I like school... but I live for recess.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Praise God for Pears

While we were in IL this weekend, we visited some dear friends from our old church. These friends have many kinds of fruit trees and offered us as many pears as I wanted. The children each picked a Wal-Mart full of lovely, fresh-from-the-tree pears! When I got home and sorted through the pears, throwing out only 2 bad ones, we had one apple box (bushel) FULL of pears! We plan to slice them and can them. Maybe I will think to take a picture of the finished product... maybe.

PRAISE GOD for free pears!

My Grandma's 90th Birthday Party

We went to IL this past weekend to celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday! It was a blast! We hosted our party at my parents' church.

My brother played b-ball with the kids... and tag.. and catch...and, well, you get the idea. 
And, since he has asked to never be mentioned on the blog, 
I will not tell you which one he is ; )
 My dad, Paul and Josiah (21 mos)
 Rebecca (9 1/2) helping prepare the eats.
 Grandma is looking great!!!
 Dad spent most of his time cleaning!

My favorite part of the party (besides just seeing all the family... and eating all the food) was when we all gathered around grandma and asked questions about life in "the old days." I do not have a pic of that, because I was too busy writing her answers for posterity! 

Thanks to all my extended family for coming to the party!

LONG overdue pictures

I found some nice pics from December 2010! Some were just so cute, I could not keep them to myself. Not only did I not have internet access then, but our camera's USB cable was broken for about a year. So, I am a little behind. These were all taken at my parent's house.

Paul, Bethany, and Nelson (7)
 Paul and Lydia (5)
 Josiah (12 mos)
 Above: Rebecca (8)
Below: Paul and Joshua (3)

So, which one of the seven of us has changed the most?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I wish I could box up this smell

If I could box up the smell of my house, I would send it to all of my lovely readers! We are making apple butter in the crock pot, there is apple sauce finished on the stove, and bread in the oven.

*Deep breath in through my nose*
*Slowly exhale*

OH, how I love autumn!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why is it...

...that the more I have to accomplish, the more everything goes wrong?!

I promise I was not resting or playing on the computer when Josiah got into the cane sugar (actually, Nelson and I were moving something from the garage to the school room). Joey had to get a bath and I had to clean the whole kitchen. He dumped the sugar all over the floor and IN the cabinet too... ugh! I took pictures, but they don't do the mess justice. (And, I can't find the USB cable.)

Why do these things ALWAYS happen on the day I am preparing to have "company?" Well, maybe this stuff happens every day, but I am more stressed out because I want a clean(er) house today.

Another thing -Why is it that my girls never did make messes like this? Why did the girls never think to attack, eat, and dump the sugar all over the floor?

Just asking.

To do today

- can my homemade applesauce, made earlier in the week MMMmmmmm
- clean the house, because the men are coming here for lunch after church tomorrow
- make something for the ladies' lunch to be eaten after church tomorrow
- squeeze in some school?
- get the kids outside
- finish setting up the school room: the curriculum needs brought up from what is now the girl's room
- put my feet up!
- afternoon/evening: go with Paul to watch him and the two biggins pick up Gpa's hay (only 128 bales). And, watch Paul fix a combine.

Time to get to work!
10AM Update

I cut the finger and toe nails of two kiddoes and myself. Then, I delegated a few cleaning jobs. Next I switched over the laundry. Lastly, I laid down until about 10. Now I am eating a cup of Ramen noodles - instead of the breakfast I skipped earlier. Then, I plan to lay down again. So much for the to do list.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Homeschool Daybook Review (After one year)

I have been using Homeschool Daybook to log our school hours for over one year now. I am continuing to use the program for this new school year. If you are still looking for a concise, easy way to log your hours I encourage you to look into Homeschool Daybook.

What I Like about Homeschool Daybook:
-         super easy to use
-         I can record all my children in one log
-         You can view/print/save records at any time to be sure of having a back-up (and I find it VERY encouraging to see how many hours I have actually completed!) I can total my hours and view my reports from any dates I choose. I typically use my state’s legal homeschool school year (July 1 through June 30)
-         You can pick the subjects/labels that suit you (or the state you live in). If I recall correctly then when you first set up the program there are a few suggestions, but you choose which to keep, rename, or delete
-         At any time you can choose a category to become “inactive.” So, if you find (as I did) that you did not need to use so many different labels, then you can simply make that category inactive, but the hours stay recorded. Similarly, you can begin a new category at any time too.
-         You can choose between various color schemes, in case you are a person who can or cannot read light print on dark background or dark print on light background.
-         The set up was very easy with helpful, simple directions
-         The daily recording is easy and fast. I spend no more than 5 minutes a day logging ALL of my kiddoes’ hours.
      -    There is a special offer for blogging homeschool parents

What I would like to see changed/improved:
-         in MO, I am supposed to keep a record of hours spent at home verses school time away from home. I would love to see a box to click for “at home” or “away”.
-         in MO, we have a certain set of required “core” subjects and a certain amount of hours to meet that criteria. Last year, I simply added the columns up on my own to keep track of these required subjects. But, I would love to see some kind of box to distinguish “core” subjects from “extra” subjects.  Along these same lines, I would love to see a section on the printable reports page that reports these core hours vs. extra hours and then a tally for both. (Moms I know in MO almost always write their own Excel programs to meet these two above concerns. This mom has no time or energy to learn to use Excel at present.)

Overall, I highly recommend Homeschool Daybook. Any “problems” that I originally had in the first weeks/months were almost entirely my own mis-understanding of the working of the program… or lack of patience ; )  I will continue to recommend this program to large families as well as small. We homeschool moms need an easy way to log hours, and this program is the easiest I have seen.

Just so you know: I am NOT receiving any benefits/gain from Homeschool Daybook for writing this review. I am writing it from my own interest in seeing homeschool moms find an easy-to-use program.

Aggravating Vit D scores (and other test results)

The nurse just called with my test results from Tuesday's OB appointment.

Thyroid stuff - normal
Glucose Test - NOT diabetic 
Iron - normal

Vitamin D - This one is irritating me big time. Two months ago, my score was 28. So, we doubled my dosage of vit D3. Then, last month, my score was toxic at 210. So, she had me go back to my original dose (5,000IU/day). This week's score was back down to 34. I am very frustrated! I am chronically vitamin D deficient... except for the month of September?! Did I mow more? Was I outside more? Was I in the garden more? I know that each day that I was to be tested I did not take the vit d. Or did I forget in September and take it the day of the test? I suppose it is possible... I do have "pregnancy brain." If my score is only 34 now - what will happen this winter. ARGH! Will I ever be well again?

I gotta get my vitamin D reserves stronger, so that I can fight off the flu this year. (Last year I had pneumonia and the flu, but I was not connected to the internet to whine about it tell you all.) Other than eating more meat and meat fat products (like dairy) what do you recommend? What has worked for you? What supplement do you take? Maybe I should change brands? Have you found that the expensive health food store brands work better? Right now, I am using a cheap brand... but I know Paul would switch me over in a minute, if he thought that the more expensive ones work better! (My hubby is great! He splurged on New Chapter Organic Whole Foods prenatal vitamins last week! I am taking these instead of my SuperMom vitamins, because the New Chapter vitamins are smaller and easier to swallow.)

OK. That was my little temper tantrum. I will try to hold myself together now. :0)
Please pray for my body as I continue in this pregnancy (and especially when winter comes!!!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Powerful Lyrics

This video is pretty plain, but the lyrics to this Third Day song usually bring me to tears. I hope it blesses you too!

Goings On

Today was my 28 week check-up. We will get my thyroid, iron, vitamin D, and glucose test results later in the week. I measured at 29 weeks... not bad. My OB was not alarmed by anything I told her... until I refused the flu shot. I remained kind but adamant - "No thank you!" (To read more about my research about vaccines you can search the label on my former blog.)

Yesterday I had much more strength than I have had for weeks. I thank God for the energy. I was able to cook one meal. And, Rebecca and I processed one bushel of apples (freezing some for desserts and cooking some applesauce.) Only three more bushels to go...

Today, we moved the girls downstairs to the former school room and moved the school room upstairs. We all think that this will be beneficial for the remainder of my pregnancy and the tiring weeks that follow delivery. Hopefully Lydia will be able to sleep down there. Lydia has been having nightmares for several months now. And, she rarely sleeps through the night. But, what Satan means for evil God means for good. It is these nightmares, and her fears, that have pushed Lydia closer to the Lord. She is absolutely certain that if something were to kill her she would go live with Jesus. I hate to see her scared, but I am glad that her terrors have led her to the Lord!

That's enough for tonight. I will keep y'all posted about my health. Thanks for your concern and prayers!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Health Update

I do not mean to whine. This is just meant to be honest. Please pray for us.

For now - I am not sick... but this has been a rough pregnancy. Paul would tell you that this has been my most difficult pregnancy yet. The first few months were sickness, fatigue, and headaches (though we did learn after a few months that the headaches were from that dumb smart phone.) These last few months, my second trimester were decent. No sickness. But, still - very tired. I was extremely vit D deficient... then I went extremely toxic. Now, we are trying to balance back out. And, my thyroid is going haywire as well. (You can really appreciate the phrase "haywire" if your father-in-law has a square-baling hay business...using an old John Deere baler...)

I feel pretty badly most of the time. I am reading a LOT and playing on the blog. I cannot walk up the stairs without great fatigue and shortness of breath. I cannot lift my arms over my head for more than a moment. Rebecca and Paul do all of the cooking. I do only a little of the clean-up... not much at all. I am not disabled like before... just fatigued to the point of inability to function. Paul bought me some expensive health-food-store prenatal vitamins today. He is truly hoping that either these vitamins will help or the Lord will reach out and heal me.

For now... well, I am terribly grumpy because I can't do anything. The messy house gets on my nerves. The piles of dishes and laundry get on my nerves... and I can't do a thing about it.

Is that honest enough? I really am not trying to be whiny to get attention. I deliberately have kept my health comments to a minimum. But, I know that some of you are true prayer warriors, and I need your help. We hope that God restores my strength soon!!!

The praise report in this is that due to my great sickness/fatigue Rebecca has become quite independent in the kitchen. She can follow recipes by herself and cook whole meals without help. God has been very good to me!