Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Am Back....

Satellite internet connections can be so frustrating!   For the last couple of weeks our internet has been so slow that my blog wouldn't fully open up.  We would love to have DSL, but it is not available to us right now.  We are so far out in the boonies!!

Everyone is doing much better healthwise right now and we are making great strides in our school work.  The temperatures have been so nice lately that  we have been spending some time on the porch doing our reading and the younger children have spent hours outside playing.  This is why we generally do school during the hot summer months!  It's just too hot to play outside in much of July and August (and even this month has seen highs here in the 100's).  We take more time for outdoor activities in the fall and spring.  This weekend we will be having a much needed yard sale---lots of clothing, some furniture, framed prints and miscellaneous items that I hope will find a new home.  The boys' bathroom is almost complete.   Just needs a few paint touch-ups here and there.  Jeff had a trip to DC that interrupted his work.  Hopefully he can get that finished this weekend and get the next project completed before he and Jordan go back to DC later in October.

Next week we will be buying apples from our local orchard.  I hope to can lots of applesauce for applesauce muffins, pie filling and yes, apple jelly.  I am also gathering up supplies to start making our own soaps.  I am very excited about this and should have all my supplies in by next week.  I am so very thankful that God gave me these years at home to spend with my children and to learn together.  So many skills that we are learning are now lost arts, but we are having fun planning them, have fun working on them together and enjoy the fruits of our hands.

I have several topics coming in future posts-- a great giveaway, product reviews, recipes, homemade cleaners, fall decorations and finally the bathroom reveal.  But a busy household comes first!  Today it will be cleaning house, cooking, schooling, music practice,  a doctor's appointment, errand running and gathering and pricing more items for the yard sale.  So, what have you been up to?

Monday, September 13, 2010

CSN Product Review

My friend with the CSN stores recently contacted me about working together again and I agreed to do a product review this time.  Have you looked at the CSN stores?  Over 200 stores with lots of fabulous products!  Childrens toys, cookware, all kinds of furniture including some nice dining sets and much, much more.   I am looking forward to picking out one or more products to review.  I am gathering materials to start making homemade soaps for my family's use, so I have already been looking at stick blenders, thermometers, kitchen scales and new measuring cups.  Don't you love getting new kitchen gadgets?

Check out the CSN link to the words "dining sets" above to find some great products!

Birthday Boys

September third is Jeff's birthday.  While I cooked dinner, Kaelan and Jackson set the table and prepared the dining room.  Jackson wore this suit all day with a white undershirt and bared feet.  And yes, he is a funny kid!   On the small whiteboard, Kaelan wrote the menu:  Roman roast with mushrooms and spinach rice.  We had a mango-lemon-orange cake for dessert.

September fifth was Aaron's 14th birthday.    Aren't they handsome!   They could have dressed up a bit for the occasion, though!  

Aaron requested a fried fish dinner, so that's what we had!  I went with a fish house theme and served on paper plates.  We had fried fish, baked fish, fries, and seasoned green beans with cream sodas all around.  A delicious blueberry cobbler was served for dessert.

Sweet Caedmon!

Aaron received a new Columbia fleece from Devin and Jordan.  He has grown a lot in the last year!

Looking over the birthday goodies with Kaelan.  Aaron received a beautiful hard bound book of missionary John Paton, two Ballentyne adventure books and lots of art supplies. 

I am so very thankful for the man that my husband is and for the man the my son is growing into.  Aaron has on his Dave Ramsey t-shirt, but the message is true.  Every year he is changed a little more.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How I Conquer Mt. Laundry--or not!

Laundry is one of those many household tasks that just never goes away.  You can get that LAST load done for the day and realize that when everyone undresses for the night there will be at least two more loads of dirty clothes.  Kimberly at Raising Olives, Kim at  Life in a Shoe , Connie at Smockety Frocks and the Deputy Headmistress at the Common Room are all sharing their dirty laundry today and I thought I would join them.

My laundry room is not really a room.  It's more like a closet and not a big one at that.  Our laundry closet is just off the kitchen, right at the back door.  Originally there were folding doors to close this closet, but when we upgraded to front loading machines a few years ago the doors wouldn't close.  I then opted for curtains, but they are usually only closed when company is coming.  The curtain rod is too handy for hangars!  (Does anyone else have a pet peeve about loose hangars in the clothes closets?)  The back door is to the right of the laundry closet and is usually blocked off by laundry baskets which means Jeff and the kids either push all my carefully sorted laundry gently out of the way (not!) or go out the front door.    Because this is such a small area, I asked Jeff to take an old door and place it over the top of the washer/dryer.  It extends to the wall on the right side and back.  These were two areas that easily became great waste lands where things would be forever lost.  Now I don't lose anything back there!

Keeping it real!

Things are slightly messy right now due to our continued bathroom re-model which is ALMOST complete!  I desperately need to get this area cleaned off and re-organized.  There are two shelves above that hold many items that I do not use every day.  I have a slight remodel that I want Jeff to do here soon.  He has been saving a set of upper cabinets for his office for the last couple of years.  They are taking up valuable space in the garage and his office is not on the short list to be completed any time soon.  Those cabinets would be great in my laundry room, though, and a bar could be hung below to hold my collection of hangars!  Then we might actually be able to close the curtains.   I do have a vision of one day turning my current kitchen into a laundry room and the laundry room into a linen closet.  I have a dream!!

My mom drilled into me the importance of sorting laundry.  I think I have taken it up a notch.  I sort wash clothes, white socks and undies, and dish towels in one load which is washed in hot water.  Other loads are reds and purples, jeans, whites, lights, darks, greens and bright blues, light towels, dark towels and sheets.  And yes, I have been washing about 4 loads 5-6 days a week.  The other day I had a vision of each bedroom having its own TALL  laundry basket and only brought out to the laundry room on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.   I will wash clothes only on those days and do towels on Wednesday and Saturday and also do ALL the sheets on Saturdays as well.   I'll let you know how that works!

I have also been making my own laundry detergent.  You can go to  to find recipes, but I am hand grating a bar of goats milk laundry soup (makes two cups), adding 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of washing soda and then mixing it up in my Vita Mix.   I use a heaping tablespoon in the laundry.  It seems to do a good job!

I love to fold laundry!  I love neat orderly stacks and dream that the children actually keep them that way when they put their clothes away.  Still dreaming!  My dining room is just across the hallway from the laundry closet and that is where I fold laundry.  The clean laundry goes on the dining table where I fold away.  A low bookshelf serves as a holding spot for folded laundry for the children which is supposed to be put away at the end of the day.  Ahem!!  I go from right to left:  girls' bathroom, Devin, Jordan, Aaron, Kaelan, Jackson and boys' bathroom.  You can see in this picture that the boys' have a two stacks of bathroom towels waiting to be put away.  I bought all new towels for them and we can't put them away until the new vanity is installed and the hooks for the towels are hung on the wall.  I keep laundry for the master bath, Jeff, Caedmon and I put up through the day.
Laundry waiting to be put away!

At times  that I am feeling exceptionally thrifty and it is not 100+ degrees outside I will hang out laundry to dry on the clothesline.  I love hanging out the laundry as I enjoy the few moments of peace and quiet  (oops, did I say that?)  I also have a folding drying rack that comes out on occasion and I have been known to hang non-stretchy items from hangars in doorways to dry.  Now I am sure that I have shared way more than you ever wanted to know about how I do the laundry!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Of Remodeling, Reactions and Reasons to Celebrate

It has been a while since I have taken the time to blog.  I am trying to maintain a full school load with the children while in the midst of major home remodeling.  We are FINALLY getting the boys' bathroom rebuilt after gutting it due to water leaks almost 3 years ago.  Yes, we are slow about some things.  Thankfully we have 3 bathrooms so we have not been too terribly inconvenienced all this time.
"Worker men" have been here for several days each week for the last three weeks and Jeff took off three days.  It is extremely hard to get a 6 year old boy to sit down and work on letter sounds and counting with mom when there are nice men with jackhammers in your bathroom cutting through the concrete.  He has learned a lot these last few weeks about plumbing and shower building.  

We have lived in this house for 12 years and Jeff has decided this is the time to get all of the remodeling done and the broken things fixed.  He is a man on a mission!  The older boys are now old enough to be a tremendous help to him.  The boys' shower has built built and tiled.  It now has a nice glass door.  The walls are painted.  The floor is tiled, but still needs grout.  Then we do the baseboards, the door,  molding, toilet, vanity, mirror and cabinet.  Half of those items are in my dining room.  Boxes of all kinds have been shoved in the boys' bedroom and it was too cluttered for them to clean it up.  Yesterday we removed all remodeling paraphernalia, thus eliminating their excuse for cleaning their room.  Tomorrow, it WILL be cleaned from top to bottom.  There is so much dust from drywall that everything is gritty.  I have slowly been cleaning the living areas as we finish up the messy work in the bathroom.

In other news, we have been hit again with some strange illnesses.  I have suffered from dishydrosis for several years.  This is a severe form of eczema that occurs on your hands and feet.  Incredibly itchy blisters of which there is NO cure.  After a recent flair up I went to another dermatologist and had a steroid shot and was prescribed two different steroid creams.  After another visit I am now on oral steroids.   Women are more prone to this form of eczema and those who have eczema and asthma are more likely to get it.  It is not painful, but extremely itchy and frustrating.  Stress also causes flair ups.  Seven children, homeschooling, dealing with multiple food allergies, major remodeling and a type-A personality=stress.    In addition, my IBS has also been flaring.  I have had IBS for years, but after the removal of my gall bladder last year, it has worsened.  Some days I cannot leave home.  One perk, however, is that I continue to lose weight!  Got to find something good about it!

Aaron, Jackson and Caedmon continue with their usual eczema problems that need daily attention.  Caedmon has had two food allergy reactions that really scared us in the last two/three weeks.  I will no longer live the house without his Benadryl, Epipen and nebulizer.    Jordan is my only child who does not have asthma and/or eczema, but a couple of weeks ago he broke out in a very strange rash ALL over his body.  It looks like very small patches of eczema, but there are hundreds of them.  Jeff finally took him to the doctor Wednesday.  She just looked at him and was speechless.  Had no idea what the rash is!  Gave him a long-acting steroid shot and Benadryl ointment.  Repeat visit this morning added a staff infection to his diagnosis.  Now he will also be on an antibiotic for a couple of weeks.  Please pray for the rest of our eczema kids who have some spots that could be easily infected.  Staff is contagious!

I have been going back to visit my chiropractor the last couple of weeks as my back and neck have been bothering me (stress?).  He has told me for YEARS that we need to get off of gluten.  He is big on the blood type diet and we are all B and apparently gluten will cause skin and digestive issues for those with B type blood.  In light of all that I wrote above I think I need to investigate more and try a gluten free diet.  My problem with gluten-free is that two of my children are also allergic (deathly) to eggs and most gluten free recipes contain eggs.  Any body with any experience with gluten free and/or diets for blood types?  Would love to talk with you!!


And,  today is Jeff's birthday!  Both of us are sliding ever so closer to 50.  We are planning a nice birthday dinner for him tonight.  I asked him last night what he would like and he requested a Roman roast.  We got this recipe from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines when we were studying ancient Rome.  You take a nice roast and cook it on the cooktop in a Dutch oven.   I inserted sliced cloves of garlic in the roast, covered 1/3 with white grape juice and let cook slowly all day.  Half way through the cooking process, I added mushrooms cut in half.  We will serve this with spinach rice, roasted broccoli and carrots and a green salad.   We were trying to make his favorite apricot nectar cake for him, but two of our local Walmart stores are no longer carrying apricot nectar!  I bought mango nectar instead which I think will taste great.  I hope to get the dining room at least dusted and swept well for the evening meal.  Kaelan will be in charge of setting a celebratory table in honor of her father.  The kids pooled their money together to buy the BBC's Return to Cranford today, so it seems we will have an evening in Cranford  tonight.  A pleasant end to what I hope will be a nice celebration for my hard-working husband who is such a wonderful example of a Godly man for our children.

Sunday is Aaron's 14th birthday!  So hard to believe my fourth born child is so old.  Aaron is growing into an extremely hard worker.  He loves to read (ALL of my kids love to read), is becoming more serious about his Bible study, loves to eat and is a clown.  We will be spending the day with Jeff's parents on Sunday.  Aaron requested bratwurst and saurkraut with all the trimmings for his birthday meal, so the grands are getting the grill ready for his special day now.

I hope to have pictures of the bathroom as soon as it is completed and birthday pictures as well.  Hope you all have a great weekend!
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