Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kitchen Floor!!!!!!!

So....I am going to try to briefly update you on our latest project that has been a LONG time coming. We had linoleum (YUCKY) in our kitchen when we moved in and carpet everywhere else. Several years ago, we put in wood floors. My husband was terrified of wood in the kitchen because we have had some water issues over the years. The plan was to put Travertine in right after the wood. Well, several years later, we were still sighing and complaining over our thrashed, ugly linoleum that was peeling and chipping and an eye sore!

My husband got a bee in his bonnet last Friday and started ripping up the linoleum. Now, we were committed. It was a long, arduous process. And...might I husband has never laid a tile in his life. So, we went to the pool (after the boys helped him scrape some of the floor for a while) and he worked like a dog...poor guy. (And, it just happened to be well over 100 degrees).

On Saturday, the tile laying began. Let's just say.....being kept out of the kitchen for 5 days with 5 kids (including a baby) was NOT an easy task.....especially with a very very busy baby that wants to be a part of EVERYTHING.

So very proud of himself for helping! (and cute, too)
My cute husband - Working very very hard to get us back into the kitchen as quickly as he could.

Tuesday, while the kids were at class, my hubby finally got a little help! (real help). A couple friends came over and helped him grout the tile!...yeah....we are getting there!

How, may I ask, can we also keep the dog out....when her doggie door is in the kitchen?!
This was my view today...from my the kitchen!!!! Yeah! Table is out of the formal living room. Refrigerator is out of the family room. Pantry items are no longer scattered around the house. We are back!!!! The floor has been sealed. (I am told it needs one more coat of sealer but I am pretending it doesn't)!

No more linoleum......The end!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back in the kitchen....kind of

Well, I have a lot to pictures of our kitchen tile project. But for now, I am just so happy to be back in the kitchen. I haven't been able to cook or bake for days and it has made me quite sad. Today, my husband and a couple of friends got the tile grouted. So.....I decided to make a yummy dinner for a hot night. The tile needs to still be sealed so I can only spend limited time in there an my refrigerator and kitchen table, etc. are still in other rooms. But, I'll take what I can get right now.

For dinner, I made a cross between Pioneer Woman's Asian Noodle Salad and my friend's Asian Chicken Salad with Noodles!

Basically, you start with a mixture of lettuce and cabbage, green onions and red peppers.
Then you add linguine (I used whole wheat fettuccine)
Then you add grilled chicken: homemade Asian dressing:

And toasted almonds:

Mix it all together and .....Voila!
I asked my kid what they thought of it. My 13 year old son said, "I wish my mouth was bigger so I could get more in at a time!" I'll take that as him liking it! :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Leave of absence...

Well, it has been torturing me to be locked out of my kitchen, while I was on such a roll with cooking and meal planning. We were LONG overdue to replace our kitchen floor and my husband spontaneously decided to start ripping them up on Friday. There have been several bumps in the rode along the way, so it is going much slower than "we" thought. I am praying I can be in the kitchen for schooling and cooking on Monday. Plus....most of my kitchen stuff (including the fridge) is scattered throughout the house. I will post pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apples, pecans, and cranberries-Oh my!

I am getting back into the swing of things. Having the kids go to class today helped a lot (shhh...)! I got up early and browned my pork chops for dinner tonight. Then, I put everything in the crock pot and went to shower and get ready before I had to get everyone else up for school. This is a yummy recipe that I got form my friend, Michelle, when she posted it on facebook last year! I love shared recipes! My family loved it then and I haven't made it in a while. I am trying to stay on a roll with meal planning and early preparation of dinner! :)
(The picture above is what it looked like at the end of the day)

Here's the recipe:

* 6 to 8 lean pork chops, about 1 inch thick

* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons salt

* 1 (10 oz.) can chicken and rice soup or chicken and wild rice soup

* 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Coat pork chops in mixture of the flour, salt, dry mustard and garlic powder. Brown in hot oil in skillet, turning to brown both sides. Place browned pork chops in crockpot. Add chicken and rice soup. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Serves 6 to 8.

(I actually modified this by putting some dried brown rice and water in the crockpot 1st. Then, I used 2 cans of Campbell's condensed chicken and rice soup over the top of the pork chops)

Back to the story......Once I dropped the kids off, I ran 3 pretty big errands with the baby: Kohls, Homegoods, and Costco. Believe it or not, I am in the beginning stages of Christmas shopping. I have a few ideas that my parents have given figure it will help a lot if I start with those things now! (Although, don't feel too bad...I wanted very successful at finding what I wanted to find.)

Anyway, back home and back to baking with some new recipes I found. The 1st one I made was an Apple-Pecan Granola Bar . Again....all healthy, wholesome ingredients! And....September just calls for apple recipes! And, by the way, my kids walked in the door and their faces were beaming when they spotted the plate of fresh granola bars on the counter. The bars totally passed the taste test with everyone again...including my husband.

So yummy with chunks of apples and pecans!

Next...while I have all of the ingredients out...Applesauce Bars. These are all whole wheat and they have chunks of apples (that I didn't need to peel-yeah!), and applesauce in them. The recipe stated that they freeze really well, so I will be freezing some! When everyone tasted these.....they loved them even more than the granola bars. Even grandpa stopped by and then Uncle Ray and they both gave them their stamp of approval. Uncle Ray even wanted the recipe! I can't take any credit for this because I just searched the Internet and found them. But, I can say that it is nice to know that "healthy" can taste good and get the kids excited. (2 new recipes to file away)

Love that it has chunks of apples

Finally, I ended the day with making a Broccoli Slaw to go with the pork chops and rice. Cranberries and pecans and onions with a homemade creamy vinaigrette dressing. Simple, healthy and delicious!

All in all, a busy and productive day! Yeah! Now, back to work with the kids home tomorrow!...No time for baking :( Tomorrow night is a casserole that I pulled out of the freezer from our casserole exchange a few weeks ago (since we have to leave early for Awana and youth group).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Old Standby

So...we went to Disneyland Friday and it kind of threw me off. It was so much fun, but such a long day. I think we got home around midnight (Pictures to follow). Anyway, then we had a busy weekend and I think it took me the whole weekend to try to recover from Friday (which I never really got a chance).

So, today was our 1st day back to school and it was a bit of a rough day, I must admit. I think we worked until about 4. Hubby is working tonight so I had a bit more freedom when preparing dinner for the kids. I resorted to an old standby that the kids love.

It has no name. It's kind of a nice meal to throw together with leftovers or ingredients bought for other meals. I use any kind of pasta (but tonight I had cheese tortellini). Then, I add cooked chicken. I throw broccoli in the boiling water about 2 minutes before the pasta is done to blanch it. Then, it all gets tossed with Olive Oil (or butter), Italian Style bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and a bit of garlic salt. The kids love breaded chicken and they love a breaded pasta ( that my mom makes). So, this is the best of both worlds, with a little broccoli added! Very quick to make and always a hit in our house!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

This probably seems really pathetic but.... being in my kitchen makes me really happy now because my husband replaced our faucet. Simple pleasures are what can make my day. We bought our how brand new 8 years ago. They put cheap fixtures in homes and our sink faucet finally had seen it's last day. It was almost impossible to turn on and it was leaking. So, hubby went and bought us a new one the other day and installed it! Our sink is not worthy of this new faucet. It opened a can of worms and reminded us of EVERYTHING we wanted to replace. For now though, I will be happy with my faucet!

Then, today was another day with the kids in classes. I ran to Target and made all of my dreaded phone calls that seem to always pile up (nothing fun....just to insurance companies, etc). Then, I decided to make dinner in the afternoon! I decided to try a recipe that I found in Family Fun magazine. It's called Stacked Burrito Pie . So, I browned the meat, assembled them and put them in the garage refrigerator. Wow...what a great feeling tht was. I was able to do all of the cleanup while the kids were at school. Now...when they come running in the door and then need to leave for music lessons 2 short hours later.....all I have to pop them in the oven to heat it for 30 minutes, then serve.
Let me just tell you: this is something I will be doing a lot more often. Dinner time was a joy, not a burden. I was ready for my kids and was able to give them attention when they came home. of all....clean up was minimal after dinner. And, by the way, the kids LOVED the recipe and came back for 2nds and 3rds!!!! Love when that happens!

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Bad Report :(

It started out as a normal Sunday....all 7 of us got out the door for church on time (a feat in itself). Jonah hadn't been to the nursery for several weeks because he got so sick last time he went (pretty sure it was Roseola). Anyway, we put him in and he was happy. Normally get gets along really well in there and is a super content little guy. This Sunday, I went to pick him up and heard the dreaded words, "We had some issues today." Perfect. Just what I wanted to hear. I guess Jonah was pushing and pulling hair and biting. Even more perfect. What in the world???? How does he go from being a delight to a terror. My husband and I think that the virus altered his brain. I did notice his one-year molars breaking through the other day...can I use that as an excuse? Well, I don't know what to say beside the fact that I felt really burdened and need to really spend some extra time watching his behavior and shaping it here at home before he goes back. The sad thing is that he has to go Wednesday night since I am working at Awana this week. So, I will warn the workers. Poor kids. I hope no one gets bit. I may just have to end up working in there with him so I can keep a close eye from now on until he gets over this!

On another note, I decided to come home and cook my sadness away. Louie and the kids went back to night church for a concert (I didn't dare put Jonah back in the nursery so soon). So....I put on some sweet and sour pork chops for dinner.

Then...I went about and made another "healthy snack" for my kids. This one was SUPER DUPER easy!!!!! This is a healthy version of rice crispy treats.

The only ingredients in this one are: Natural peanut butter, honey and powdered milk. That it!
( ). Stir over low heat until blended, then stir in the crisp rice. Press in a pan and let set!

Once again.....they passed the taste test! My kids have loved EVER one of the snacks I have made. The monkey bars were the biggest hit so far!

Trying to figure out the best way to spend tomorrow (my kids will be at school all day). I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Fun Night!!!

So, today was our 2nd day at home, implementing our 1/2-hour schedule. I feel like it ran even more smoothly today. Everyone knew what to expect. It started to run a little more like a well-oiled machine. We still have a few kinks here and there. I still need to work on being flexible within the structure. But, we are loving it, overall.

Today, I made dividers in a binder and labeled them for the days we are home. I put each of the schedules behind the appropriate day of the week, in page protectors. Then, we got out our dry-erase marker. The kids may have had a little too much fun with this...but it did the trick. After they accomplished what was in each block of time, they "X'd" that box. The younger ones kind of went to town with this. (Don't know that it's necessary to go quite this far, normally). Any excuse to write with a dry-erase marker! I thought I would take a picture of our messy completed schedule to show you. Anyway, we have already erased it...and it is clean and ready for next Friday! :) Until Monday, the binder goes on the book shelf in the classroom!
On another note, my oldest son had ANOTHER birthday party to go to tonight, and it's a sleepover (and he has ANOTHER one tomorrow afternoon). My husband is at work tonight, so it's just me and the other 4 kids. The baby doesn't know any different, but we just completed a pretty full week and I want the kids to be able to relax and have fun tonight (and not be too sad that their older brother and dad are gone). So....I bought whole wheat pizza dough and the fixin's at Tader Joes and let the kids each make their own pizza for dinner. Funny thing is: They only wanted cheese. That's ok, though. The point is that they get to make it the way they want. (Normally, I think it's fun to put out a bunch of different topping.) Anyway, it's a simple thing but they were excited!

After pizza tonight, we are going to have a family movie night and they get to have dessert. Then, they get to camp out and sleep together, somewhere other than their normal bed! My kind of night....a quiet one at home with family! I wouldn't rather spend it any other way (except having my oldest son and husband home- and then hubby and I could watch a movie after the kids were all in bed).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1st Day of "schedule" and 2nd day home alone!

Well.....I have 2 days to update.

Yesterday I had all the kids home and it was our 1st official Full Day at home, utilizing out 1/2 hour block schedule and the kids' clipboard checklists. Overall, it was a hit. It was a super duper busy day, don't get me wrong. But, I am tired of just trying to get through the day and delegating all day long what the kids need to be doing. It wastes so much time and energy. I put the 4 page chart on a clipboard on the kitchen counter. The kids kept running in, every half hour, to see what they were supposed to be doing next. A couple of the time periods seemed a bit too long and a couple seemed a little too short. So, I took notes on the chart as we went through the day. I will probably do this for a few more "home days" and then will tweak it and print out a new one. I also think I want to put them inside plastic page protectors so that we can cross them off with a dry erase marker as we complete them. I am a list maker and find so much enjoyment in crossing things off. It's almost a disorder. Sometimes when I complete a task, and realize it wasn't on my list.....I write it down, just so I can cross it off. I know...scary. Anyway...It was nice not to spend mental energy trying to figure out what to have everyone do, every minute of the day. I just had to check my chart. The kids enjoyed the structure and the accomplishment of completing their tasks.....and checking them off their clipboard lists!!!! (maybe a couple of them will be like me.......uh oh)

With that said, today is the 2nd day that the kids were in class all day. I have to admit that after the crazy, long day yesterday, I couldn't wait for the kids to go to classes today (did I just say that?) I was a lot better this morning than Tuesday (although my husband was a huge help, too, this morning). I left the house in one piece, the kids had all their stuff, I had all my lists...and my coffee. We were even early! So, I ran a couple of quick errands and excitedly came back to my quiet home and laid the baby down. Today was simliar to Tuesday. I got some computer work done, stuff put away....and started to bake some more snacks to freeze for my kids. (By the way....they LOVED the snacks I made Tuesday...and so did my husband. It also made me happy to serve them to the baby).

Today, I made 2 things. I wanted to make another one but was missing one ingredient....drag. So, I'll save that for another day. these are recipes that I got from my "friend's" blog. One was from her and one was a recipe that a reader posted.

The 1st one is called "Monkey Bars". It's made with bananas, natural sugar, whole wheat flour, dried fruit and chocolate chips. It smells really good....hope the kids like it. Jonah had some when he woke up and he loved it!
Here are the Monkey Bars before going in....

Here's the recipe:

1 2/3 cup mashed banana (about 5 medium bananas)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/nuts (I used chocolate chips and cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a jelly roll pan with foil. Whisk bananas, sugar, oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk in flour just until it is blended, then gently stir in 1/2 of the raisins (or other substitutes). Spread batter in prepared pan, and sprinkle remaining raisins on top. Bake about 15 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

When the cookies are cool, slice them carefully into 40 pieces, removing the foil as you go. These stay moist and delicious for several days in an air-tight container at room temperature. For longer store, it's best to freeze them.

And here they are ready to cool and be sliced....

I don't know about you, but my kids have become junk food junkies. They love processed foods. That is why I am on this "kick". I really want to eliminate some of that and have more wholesome snacks when we can. So, looking at the above ingredients (I forgot to include the coconut oil) that were called for in the recipe for "Breakfast Cookies".....I was happy to make these cookies for my kids. I will be even happier if they like them.
Look at how healthy this batter looks! I just had to stop and take a picture.

And, they are ready to go in, and after they came out!

I'm anxious for my guinea pigs to get home from school and try their new snacks. I froze a lot of what I made today so I can use them next week....but I kept some out for everyone to enjoy today and tomorrow! Hoping to stick to our "schedule" again tomorrow...........

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last Hurrah, Part 2 (a little out of order)

It seems kind of funny to post this now, since we are in full swing of our school year. However, on the Friday before classes started (less than a week ago), Stefanie and I decided to take the afternoon to have our official "Last Hurrah" before the real crazy schedule had begun. So, we simply packed a lunch and got our kids together at the pool. Most summers we do many beach and pool days but the last 2 summers were different. Last summer I had a newborn and she was pregnant, and this summer was just plain crazy for both of us. I was gone almost all summer until the end of July and she had lots of people in her life that were moving and she needed to spend time with them. So, this is only our 2nd official day getting together all summer....pretty amazing. Although, we email things night and day so we are in touch constantly....

Anyway, Stefanie and I grew up next door to each other from the time I was in 2nd grade and she was in 1st. We went through high school together and lived in the same dorm at Masters College. All of our kids are about the age, only staggered. They have paired up so amazingly with each other and have become the best of friends. We are so thankful for how much they love each other and how well they play together (or now "hang out", as teens do). We got some sweet pictures that day....which was important to me, as they seem to change so much from year to year. So, as a record, I wanted to post them. (sorry there are a lot again....I am not learning to cut back very well). :)
Josh and Jaden
Joshua and Jaden
Olivia and Julia

Jonah and Isabella

Luke and Jake

My Jeremy and Josh, Her Jaden and Luke

Jaden and Josh
Our oldest: Jeremy, Andrew and Christine (the teens) !
Jeremy and Andrew: they are crazy about each other

Julia, Christine and Olivia (Christine is such a sweet helper with them)