Sunday, April 17, 2016

Leave them alone to play

I used to pride myself on my kids ability to make believe and play with just about nothing but the great outdoors or indoors.  Kids don't need very much to be happy and content.  Mostly they don't need to be in contact with adults constantly to be content.

Our family does have the luxury of living in the middle of ten acres of over half woods and some meadow.  Ever since our oldest was a small child, I can remember putting a sand box outside the living room window and our toddler basically lived in that sandbox while I  read a book and saw her head bobbing around.  She didn't care where I was as she was in her little world of imagination.  She would play for hours and then......I would read to her and she would take her nap....and then start the cycle all over again.

We have nine children total, which isn't necessarily relative to to the topic, but all of them have basically disappeared to their play land for most of their free time.  As small children they were loaded with free time.  Countless people have commented to me at one time or another the kids ability to just be content by themselves without my involvement.

Last week, my second to last child, took me on a delightful romp through our woods.   She showed me all her favorite haunts which frankly I wasn't aware existed.   My seeming neglect or lack of supervision, produced forts which were in their third or fourth stage of redesign by her and her sibs.   Her older sibs had also built and rebuilt forts in the woods.   She described the walking bridge they had created at the bottom of slippery hill and then showed me the remains of a foundation I didn't even know existed after twenty four years of living here!  This bridge had also undergone renovations as some logs rot you know.

I loved how she reminisced about her years in the woods.  It was a world to me that perhaps I can be sorry I wasn't as aware of but on the other hand it is their world.  When I dismiss the kids from their home educated world they frankly stop school in my world and then enter their own school of play.

Another area she described as one of her favorites for all the mushrooms they find there.  She is seven mind you, and the mushroom world is one of her favorites!   Where is MY mushroom world!?   I need a mushroom world!   This world will last her young life.  It can extend through the knowledge gained in observation into her adult life. She experiences things most people will never ever have a chance to experience, mainly because she was given the chance to play and explore on her own and with her sibs.

Lately the collaborative playing has been as Minute Men fighting the British all over the yard.  The book we read together is now live action in the yard without my meddling.  I pondered meddling when the Minute Men started bickering together but I thought better of it and left them to their own devices.

For all the panicking I've done through my parenting years as to whether I am teaching them everything I 'should' I really needn't worry too much about it.  My kids are thriving, know how to work hard, and have so many childhood tales of their adventures.  When they are released from my clutches of reading, math, etc., they disappear into their world for hours and hours.  I am happy for them. My fifteen year old still swings on the swing set and loves it.

So.....I encourage parents to encourage free play time outside as you can.  I know some people don't have that luxury due to apartment living, city living, so go camping!  Get out of sterile plugged in lives and get the kids outside to play with what is there.

Friday, April 15, 2016

And the kids were happy

With the help of my doctor, I had a revelation this week about how to reduce my stress and the rest of the family's stress.  I have grown to highly dislike Monday's.  Monday evenings are fine with either church or band rehearsal and being able to walk away from a day loaded with stress but the day itself usually makes me want to rip patches of hair out.  So......he mentioned an idea in this random conversation, of structuring Monday's to only include the easiest things which do not require tedious one on one work.  Eureka!  I thought about that and we are only going to read books aloud and practice our instruments and......that's it.  If a kid wants to play a little 'catch up' from years of my caring for elders then they can but......not with me unless I'm up to it.

  Our weekends are usually full of activities both for the kids, and then husband I try to spend some time on projects or visiting family and friends.   No one seems to look forward to the reality of Mondays.  I'm emotionally tapped out and overwhelmed.  I still have a few kids not reading as well as I would like and then writing ability needs attention with others.  We whittle away at this each day and it consumes our lives.  I'm determined to quietly be done around two each day and being ok with whatever we accomplished.  We need time to breathe and not be on school work duty all the time.

This afternoon I was with one of my kids at the dentist and two moms were discussing how exhausted their kids were with homework til eleven or twelve at night!   Yikes.  When was childhood robbed by all this schoolwork?   I don't want all this stress all day for my kids.   On Thursday we finished around two for everyone and everyone went outside and used the swing set and hammock and romped in the woods.  I heard my 15 year old exclaim that she hadn't swung on the swing set for forever.  Sigh.  Sounds like we have been oppressed.  Really.  I don't want to take their childhood away from them by obsessing over the amount of work they've gotten done.  I'm now switching gears to a regular routine with some things like practicing, math, reading instruction and then accepting whichever kids get some work done with me the rest of the day.    This is predictably happier.  I will know I'm done mid-afternoon and they will experience some freedom each day.   Phew.  I hope I can make this a lasting plan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hubbard Chicken

This is a friend's recipe for dressed up chicken which the whole family enjoys and guests might be impressed as well.


Buy or cut up chicken into parts and skin them, counting enough pieces for each family member plus a few extras for the teenagers.

Lay in your favorite tribal cookware pan.  I use my stoneware bar pan usually.

In a food processor mix several slice of stale bread, a few tablespoons dried oregano, one onion quartered, surge for a few seconds till in a consistent crumbly blend.

Sprinkle mix overtop of chicken and bake at 375 degrees for around an hour depending on the meatiness of the chicken.  Nothing spells disaster like undercooked chicken right?   I tend to cook it till I see the bone showing......definitely done.  Bread crumb mix keeps skinless meat moist and yummy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Creole stuff

How to cook with your beckon to your children and divide the ingredients between them for quick results.

M....start the rice cooker
MP.....cut up two green peppers....please
B......two small onions chopped and six stalks of celery
C.....chop up turkey kielbasa....all three packages

Put all that in a large pot also known as tribal cookware thanks to an old friend.

Cook that all for a bit then add two large cans of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
Three to four cans drained red beans

Add table spoon paprika
Cayenne pepper to taste
Two teaspoons thyme
Table spoon oregano
Three or four bay leaves

Simmer for as long as you have......with enough time to eat it before the next thing in life.
Serve over rice or mix in rice.

This is basically how cooking rolls in our house.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sophisticated Tuna salad

So.........canned tuna is inexpensive.  I chose a tuna salad at a restaurant not too long ago and this was the basic gist of it.  I should add before I record the idea, that not all meals you serve your family have to leave them n a food coma.   That it is.

Five cans of tuna or there abouts for your large family ( or pot luck....?)
Six to eight hard boiled eggs
Mayo or whatever you use in place of mayo
Six or more stalks of celery
Spices you like in tuna salad

Mix all of that. I put in enough mayo to make it consistently moist.

Two pounds lettuce of choice can cashews
One or two large cans of mandarin oranges ( any fruit....grape, apples chopped, cuties separated, pineapple chunks......)

Serve on individual plates.   Arrange lettuce on plate, plop enough tuna salad in the middle of lettuce.   Sprinkle fruit and nuts around.  My kids mixed lettuce and tuna on their plates.  Tuna salad can be stretched with more celery or eggs which are both inexpensive.

That's it!

Taco stuff

I used to use pasta to stretch a meal but now tend to use lettuce more often as it obviously is better for you than pasta.  I may have posted "Taco stuff" before but here is a stand by for our family.

Basic recipe for Taco Stuff

1 pound pork sausage
1 pound ground turkey
1 large onion diced
1 container cottage cheese
1 jar salsa
One pound box bow tie pasta or 1 package Romaine or lettuce available
Two cans black beans drained
1 large can pinto beans
1 heaping tablespoon cumin
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder

Extra ingredients if on hand or affordable
1 bag shredded cheddar  cheese or cojack....or similar
1 bag frozen corn
Fresh green pepper diced
Avocado diced
Fresh tomatos in place of salsa in season
Fresh cilantro
Chopped black olives if your family is okay with that......

Brown meat and onion, add salsa and spices and corn if using
Place ingredients in large bowl and mix all the rest of ingredients in.
Sometimes I get tortilla chips to serve with or......use tortilla shells or......serve over rice.


Tribal Cooking

I am going to attempt to record my thrift of feeding many.   I might be able to rate them per cost and many the reader needs to bear in mind that if you don't have an ingredient, it won't ruin the recipe usually.   I tend to take ideas from both meals I've actually eaten in a restaurant which shouldn't cost ten dollars a plate and just altering standards.   I should just start a new blog devoted to large family feeding survival.  We presently have ten at home and used to feed 14 or so a night depending on guests.

Names of my meals vary.......taco stuff, lasagna favorites.   Hubbard chicken, mom's chicken, then barbecue chicken (boring name).  Everyone names their food right?   Credit will be given where credit is due to inspiration of food.  Our menu sort of evolves with boredom or adventure.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sleeping potion

Several months ago I was wearily wanting my kids to just go to bed.  I'd spent all day with them, talking etc., reading to them, listening to the chirping of their pretending in the other room, and frankly wanting some selfish quiet time.  I don't remember when exactly I remembered the spray bottle of scent from Bath and Body, but the word SLEEP jumped out at me.  They carry a line of aromatherapy products and I have had this bottle called sleep for years!    It came to me that I could tell the kids it was sleeping potion and spray them right before bed.  

The kids were giddy!   They got sprayed and pretended to be immediately effected and then they went off to bed with a smiles on their faces.  It was a welcome change.

That was several months ago, and somewhere along the line we stopped doing this.  We are back to kids dragging their feet when told to scoot off to bed.  This drives a parent nuts.  It isn't news it drives us bats.  The words, "I just need a few minutes to call my own!", want to escape my mouth.  So......where did I put the sleeping potion??!!!    Today I am going to find that stuff and reinstate sleeping potion time again.  I made a little mental note too that they would do better if I tucked them in bed at night as they love that and THEN spray them with sleeping potion.  Their rooms will smell better too.  Nervous giggle.

Bath and Body or your local lavender farmer will supply all your needs.  Sleep well!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kids are normal

The phrase that kids will be kids is so true.  I'm trying to wrap my head more around this when finding messes and taking it all less personally so hat maybe my marbles will stay somewhat together.  A lot of thing in life are just normal.  The toddlers rearrange the house as a regular rule in the name of curiosity.  The energy of pre adolescents can amaze us.  The ability for them to bypass messes is really normal.  It doesn't really matter to them.  They are not of an age to understand the value of what food costs or whether a cup has sentimental value to you as it gets broken.  These events are not personal threats to you.

I can mentally understand the concept of oblivious accidents and messes and even remind other parents of the same.  The puppy dog eyed five year old who might have spilled twenty pounds of oatmeal on the floor really wasn't trying to upset his mom.  So why can't I always recognize this for myself.   Giving kids to do lists without believing they have secret meetings to make you crazy by ignoring you.  The behavior is just normal.

I want to remember this to lower my own stress and just simply have normal cleaning times and lists without internalizing it all.  Every normal child has waited to the last second lest they've discovered.   I remember doing it.  I was an expert.  I was normal.  So talented too I'm sure.  I fought with great skill with my brother and I'm not sure how we made it out alive.   Such awesome memories.

Moving forward with today's tasks and routine is just normal too.   I can't add anything more to our live or implode.   Yeah.  That is a thing.  I do hope that improves as the littles get older so exploring other activities doesn't add to my work load but for now I will just try to be at peace with the normal which is mine.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning together and not panicking together

There are all these subjects I'm supposed to get to with my crowd at home.   I personally just want them to know how to learn.  It is a challenge not to panic.  I know I don't want to sign my name on a diploma which does not include the bases covered so there in lies the challenge.  I truly believe that if kids acquire the skills of curiosity and how to find out information then they will be able to do whatever is laid before them.

I'm currently puzzling over how to cover he sciences even though they know a lot just by experience. Math seems to shadow everything for attention.  Grrrrrr.   Apologia is really college level and very time consuming.  I suppose I could pick out some of the chapters and not feel pressured into doing it all.  If the student has an affinity for the sciences then they can forge ahead.  I do not remember science being that in depth in high school so why kill the day going nuts over this time.  I'm thinking this through while writing as time is of a premium for me.  

I am fighting the panic as I have two kids still working on transitioning to being more confident readers and an older kid who struggles with approaching directions on his math and grammar lessons and I need him to gain confidence in those areas.  It......can......get.......overwhelming.  

We love our group time reading books together and I think everyone would love to just stay there.   Perhaps biology needs to become a family project in order to get it done.  Why not.  We can hang together with the sciences and get through.   I think I'm going to give this thought a whirl.  The younger kids love learning so I can't magi be they would be turned off by this.  I want a plan which requires more hands on experience I think.  If I could find an older text book it probably would just move along better than Apologia.  Why do we all use Apologia as if more is better for our young people.   Sigh.  I will never get the kids through all that is expected if we have to do it perfectly.

This is just me thinking this through.