One Year Ago

One year ago today our lives changed course. I am pretty sure this is an anniversary I will always be aware of. Don’t worry I won’t rehash the roller coaster year. Just go back to the beginning of this blog and you can read about it all. If you want specifics here,  here, and here explain a lot.
No, this post will, instead, be a love letter to Missouri because, although I (almost) always loved Missouri, it was during our year away that I learned just how much this crazy state means to me. Maybe it will help my family understand why I do not consider moving back to the northeast.
It was a year ago today I yearned to get back to my lovely Missouri.

Missouri Collage

Dear Missouri,
When I first crossed the Mississippi river and entered your borders I was excited and scared. I had no clue what the years would bring, but I was optimistic. I was pretty sure you would not become our “forever home.” I never imagined I would love you more than the state I grew up in; the state many of my family still live in. How naive was I.

It is OK though. That first year in a new state in never easy but I am glad you and I were able to find a peace with each other.
I found a church, discovered the joys of homeschooling, made friends (some whom I now consider family), and so much more.

Missouri, I discovered your beauty; so different than the New England I grew up in. You really can’t compare the two. The Ozarks are a far cry from the White Mountains that I camped in and went snowmobiling through. You border no ocean; but I have learned that even though my soul yearns for the ocean, where the mountain meets the prairie is another soul-filling scene for me.

Missouri, I may not be able to sit on a beach and watch a sunrise of breath-taking beauty, but I can drive down Route 44 W at sunset and witness that same breath-taking awe. One of my favorite things to do is ride off into the sunset. I always feel like you’re singing in my ear “Happy trails to you…..” Yes, I realize how odd this may seem, but your sunsets are just that amazing. I have yet to see any that compare elsewhere.

Missouri you are not rich in the beautiful history of the founding of our country. There are no field trips to Pilgrim Plantation or Revolutionary War sites such as the Old North Church. The name Paul Revere is not uttered on a daily basis here. Patriots? No, not here. There is much founding history on the east coast. History that is rich and enthralling.

Missouri, you do not fail though. You are the Gateway to the West! You opened our country up and expanded our borders. You are the Wild West! You host the caves that Jesse James used as hideouts. You house the birthplace of the iconic Route 66. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her famed books here. During the Civil War you hosted battlefields. Do you have Patriots? No, but you do have cowboys and that history is just as fascinating. You have helped me see a part of history that was distant before. It is a beautiful history.

There is much here I am thankful for. You are the birthplace of 2 of my children. You are the place our children grew up. You helped create memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Missouri, you are my surprise. I never thought I would call you home. I never thought I would love you with a fierce pride. To both, I do.

So, dear Missouri, I want to thank you and let you know I am so glad to be home.

~Andrea

My very long and awesome summer

A Midwest Yankee:

My totally amazing son wrote this

Originally posted on Musings of a Self-proclaimed Nerd:

Sorry I have not been writing this summer but I had no internet access.

We used to live in Missouri but my Dad’s job moved use to Indiana about one year ago. After two months in Indiana my Dad got laid of. He started to work at a Sears Home Store. Fast forward about seven months and my dad got a chance to be the manager of a Sears Home Store in Missouri about a hour away from where we used to live. In May he went to Missouri to look for a house while we stayed in Indiana and packed all our stuff.

We left Indiana at the end of June. When we got to Missouri we stay at an awesome hotel called Grand Country Resort. It had an indoor and outdoor water park, a pool, an arcade, two golf courses, many shops, a restaurant, a candy store, bumper…

View original 261 more words

Cooking With Kids

The kids love to cook. They are always asking to help and even if they can cook on their own.
“Mom, can I make French Toast?”
C-Dog asks this at least once a week. Unfortunately gluten free bread is expensive so I usually tell him no. We have it about once every 2 months.

The kids are mostly self-sufficient in the kitchen. We teach and supervise and once they have enough practice we let them be. They get their own breakfast and lunch. I refuse to help unless they can’t reach something or it is something they haven’t made before.

10616101_10204890697973427_8185604050124340139_n

I have the older kids help the younger ones when needed. This, I believe, teaches them leadership skills. This is because the big kids seriously hate helping their siblings in the kitchen so they instead teach them! I am so sneaky!
“Princess this is how much cheese you use for a quesadilla. See?”
“Elf, you want to put the water on medium to boil. Don’t forget the lid!”

10614164_10204983120003920_3842711287857660976_n
Of course there are days it is more like this:
“What were you thinking? That is far too much cheese. Here let ME do it! Sheesh! I have to do everything, don’t I.”

Yes, I have heard these types of sentences uttered from their mouths. Yes, I realize they must have gotten it from me. Ha! I admit I am far from perfect and sometimes my patience hits a brick wall.

This is when I intervene and teach us all a lesson. “Are we using helpful tones? OK, we all really need to be more aware with how we speak to one another.” Yes, I take mental notes and pray to remember these wise words for when my patience jumps out the window. Some days are better than others. I am sure you will agree with this.

Back to cooking, I have already told you my kids help with menu planning, grocery list making, and shopping. You can read about it here. I also let them help cook. Recently I realized that most often it is C-Dog who is helping and the others very loudly protest.

C-Dog has ambitions to be a chef and so I am quite guilty of allowing him as much opportunity as possible to be in the kitchen. He is also my kid with dyslexia and so reading is always a fight. I can get him to read recipes so I use cooking as an opportunity for that.

1380441_10153315237885612_801304331_n
My intentions are pure, but the reality is I am not being fair to the others. When I fully realized that I decided I needed a schedule. It is simple really; there are 4 big kids and 4 dinner chores. They rotate through them so each kid cooks at least once a week. There have been some glitches though. I won’t let them cook when they are sick. That puts a halt in our rotation. We realized it is easier to just halt the rotation instead of trying to fil in the hole because that is when it gets messy and unfair.

We have been using this rotation for over a month now and it is really working! Who would have thought something so simple could be so successful!
Due to the great success of this random idea, I plan on remaking (current one has water spots and food stains) and laminating the schedule and making it permanent. I will get hook and loops so names can be moved easily. Right now I am using sticky tack.
Yay!20140920_085613 for a successful idea!

In the picture I put numbers, but the original has little name tags. My kids didn’t ask for me to have this blog public so I won’t use their real names :)

Simple Egg-Free (and soy-free) Meatballs

One of my simplest recipes is meatballs. Most call for eggs, but we can’t do eggs. I have tried a few variations but they all fell apart. This recipe sticks together and tastes great!
Make it even better by grinding your own meat! Mmmmm!

1 pound of ground beef (I suppose turkey or even chicken would work also)
1 small onion (about 3/4 cup), diced
fresh garlic, minced I use 4-5 cloves because we love garlic. You can use less.
**I use this garlic press so I do not have to peel or chop the garlic.
2 tablespoons coconut amnio
1 flax egg **prepare this first and set aside to thicken**
(1 tablespoon ground flax, 3 tablespoons warm water; whisk and set aside)

salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste.

mix with hands and roll into balls. The amount you get depends on the size of meatballs you make.

Pop into the oven at 350 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve however you like. We use them in sandwiches, with pasta, plain. I bet they would work in soup also.
Enjoy!

20140915_163712

The Haircut

I have been meaning to write about this since the day it happened. I keep putting it off because I wanted Princess to feel a bit better about the really bad decision she made.

On August 21 we were all in the homeschool room. As I was walking over to Bug to help him with a math problem I noticed there was hair on the floor. There are 3 girls in the house and we all have long hair. I assumed someone had brushed their hair and left behind a mess. I bent over to pick it up…

“Oh!
“Oh my! Who cut their hair?”

10620662_10204828460937540_7066636738644953280_n

I knew the answer before I finished the question as all eyes, except one pair, looked up at me surprised. Princess put her head down and covered her eyes with her hands.

“May I see?”
She slowly crept toward me.
“Oh my.you really did a number, didn’t you.” I asked softly.

Princess proceeded to wail. Forget crying this was all out wailing. The best part is it was complete with singing.
“Me hair! Me miss me hair! Me cut me hair and I want it baaaaacccccckkkkkk!!!!!!!”

Yes, Princess deals with her feelings through song. She sings when she is happy, bored, sad, angry.
“Me happy! I singing to you because me happy!”
“Stop you crying Baby Zen. Stop you crying because I love you! Mommy loves you. Daddy loves you. Stop you crying Baby Zen!”
“Me mad at Mommy! Me mad at Mommy! She is unfair to me! She no like me!”

Yes, these are all lyrics she has sang. It is amusing. I love it. It helps her figure out what she is feeling and it is so much better than a temper tantrum; which she is also prone to.

Anyway, back to the hair.

Princess ran to my bed and climbed into Daddy’s side. She got under the covers and hid. I wasn’t mad so I knew this was “buyer’s remorse” that I was dealing with. I had the job of convincing her it wasn’t that bad.

I didn’t succeed.

I told her it would grow back. I told her it wasn’t that big of a deal. That was wrong! It just made her more upset because to her it WAS a big deal. Her precious locks were gone and she had no one to blame but herself. That is a lot of feelings for a 4 year old to deal with.

I refused to “fix” the hair cut because, frankly, it would just make it worse. So I have watched her hair grow back slowly. Once it is long enough I will straighten it out. It will be a few more weeks before I try that.

10613054_10204828506698684_830105956567415245_n

So did Princess learn a lesson? Of course not. A few days later I looked at Zen and saw he got his first hair cut and I didn’t have his hair to save for his baby book because it was an unauthorized trim :/ I did straighten his out. I had to. It would have looked quite odd with one random long hair down his forehead.

I was upset, not because his hair was cut, but because I didn’t get to save it. I was also upset that I didn’t learn a lesson and hide the scissors better.

Needless to say they are far, far, far from Princess’s reach now.

Kids make bad decisions. Heck, adults make bad decisions. I am not angry. Princess was curious and she learned a lesson. OK, so the lesson didn’t stick 100%, but she at least learned that her hair should only be cut by a grown up. I count that as a win.

Security Blankets and Lovies

Most kids have a special toy they take everywhere with them. Some are common like a teddy bear or blankie. Others are, for lack of a better word, downright weird. This would include mom’s bra, a plastic spoon, and other oddities one wouldn’t associate with “comfort.”

My kids each had a special toy and some are still attached. My eldest had Diddly Dog. He was a silly green dog who went everywhere with us. He outgrew his fondness for Diddly Dog, but we still have him as a memento.

My next guy had, and still has, his bunny. Bunny is a bunny head with a blanket bottom. As a baby the only way he would fall asleep was if Bunny was covering his face. Needless to say this freaked me out and you can bet I stood guard and removed that dang thing as soon as I could. It never failed, he would then wake up. Sigh. His love for Bunny grew so deep he ended up with a vast collection. They are all named and to this day he can still tell the difference between each one. Sadly his 2 favorites, Fluffy and Cowboy, have gotten lost along the way. The gross thing about the bunnies is that he prefers them dirty. He is quoted as saying “The stinkier, the better.” Shudder. I use tongs to touch them when I can wrangle them away to the wash.

Then there is my eldest daughter. *Sigh*
She is one of those children who prefers having an odd snuggle toy. It isn’t allowed to leave the house and she has to keep it under her pillow during the day. The reason why is because is it is one of my old bras. It has been so loved it is now only one side and no straps. I keep trying to get her to be done with it,  but she is stubborn.
Hers is like her brother’s; I use tongs to pick it up when I wash it. They get wash together with a vinegar soak.

When Princess arrived I was nervous. Would she have an odd affinity to bras also? Could it be anything worse? I didn’t want to know.
Bless her heart, she loves dolls and stuffed animals. She has her favorites, but rotates through them. She also has a blanket my mom made that she loves, but she isn’t so attached that it has to travel with her everywhere. She is easy in this regard; just like her eldest brother.

Last is our sweet zen baby. He is a snuggler through and through. He loves soft, stuffed animals. He loves baby dolls. He loves purses and cars. It really doesn’t matter. Whatever strikes his fancy is what he holds. However, it is his blankie that he always returns to when he is tired, hurt, sad….
He has a handful of muslin swaddle blankets and he loves them so much. They are his comfort and friend. He walks around with it trailing behind him, like Linus from Peanuts.

For months Mark and I have been trying to get a picture of him walking around with his blankie trailing behind him. He always drops it just as we are about to snap the picture. He is a little stinker. I swear he does it on purpose because he always turns and grins with a sparkly glint in his eye.
I finally got the picture and quickly uploaded it onto Instagram and Facebook. My husband was thrilled the shot was finally captured!

Needless to say I am glad that he likes something normal and that he likes something simple. Those blankets are everywhere and, thankfully, he doesn’t care which one he has so long as it is a muslin swaddle blanket. He also, currently, lets me wash them without a fuss so hopefully I won’t have to use the tongs on them.
Zen_Blanket
~Andrea

Morning

The alarm didn’t go off so we woke up 5 minutes before Mark had to leave for work. This never happens. Although now we can no longer say that.

Zen is fighting a cold so our sleep has been disrupted with snorting, snoring, and snotting. We are tired.

“Great another day with no food” My husband grumbles as he gets ready for a quick shave.

We are low on food and although we still have a bit of money from our budget it isn’t a lot so I am making everyone eat what we have in the pantry and freezer before I splurge on a trip to the store.

We normally don’t cut it quite this close in our budget but we had an unexpected expense we hadn’t accounted for; swim team suits, shirts, and caps. If I had been better prepared I would have successfully budgeted that money from 2 different paychecks instead of one. Anyway…

I run upstairs, without my glasses on and no contacts in, I am not blind without these, but everything is blurred and I have to squint a bit.

I throw random food into a shopping bag; gluten free crackers, granola bar, fruit bar, random frozen soft pretzel (score!), poptarts (a random and gross leftover from one of Bug’s camp-outs with the scouts).

“Well it isn’t much but I threw some things in this bag for you.”
I can’t remember what his exact reply was, but I am pretty sure it was, “Ah! You rock! You are the best, most sensational, astounding, awesome, fantastic wife ever. I pity all who can’t be married to you.”
Of course it may have just been “Thanks” but I can’t be sure. ;)

Mark kisses everyone, says good bye, and heads out. I pop in my contacts, brush my teeth and head back upstairs to make coffee.

Enjoy-your-Saturday