Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kale-abration

Kale.
Woohoo!
Super exciting, no?
Okay... no.
Kale isn't my favorite thing ever.
BUT.
I'm always trying to get more green foods into my kids...
and kale chips seemed like a good thing to try?

SO...
I looked up some recipes
and tried to figure out what MY kids might actually eat...
and it was a success!

So...
here's what I did:

1. Get some kale.
2. Pull the thinner leafy stuff off of the stalk-type thingy.


3. Put thinner leaf parts onto a sheet pan. 
(I used a cooling rack too)

4. Get some stuff out of the cabinet.

Sea salt, Old Bay, oil in a spray bottle.
5. Spray the leaf parts with oil, sprinkle with stuff.

6. Put the kale into the oven at 400 degrees.


7. Set your timer for 10 minutes...
then get the kale out of the oven and throw it into a bowl! 

8. Taste it, determine your children will NEVER like it... but offer it to them anyway.
video

9. Determine to make MORE kale chips next time 
since they inhaled the first two bunches in one day!

10. Teach children to say "kale".

video





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why I can't be "real" with you

I was told today "you should write on your blog like you are in real life!"

Interesting.

I thought I WAS writing on my blog like I am in real life...
but the more I thought about it, maybe she's right.

I can't tell you the gory details about my life.
I can't tell you how frustrating it is to try to decipher a child's barely-knows-enough-English-to-be-frustrating rant while another child is crying and feeling wronged and you have no idea what is the matter. I can't tell you because you'd think "well... you asked for this!"

I can't tell you how SICKANDFRICKAFRACKINGTIRED I am of my half-bath looking/smelling/feeling like one of those gas stations where you have to get the key that's attached by chain to a big block of wood because, Lord help us, someone wants to get into that bathroom without permission! CHAIN UP THE KEY, Floyd! Someone might get in our bathroom without our knowledge! I don't know why it is... but the floor is gross, the toilet is gross, the light switch is nasty and I don't even want to go in there. I'm considering having a port-a-potty delivered for the under-10 crowd to use exclusively. Maybe the port-a-potty people have a gift registry online! Dear Santa...

I can't tell you about being frustrated because your assumption is that my "heart is so full of love and laughter and happiness and joy and rainbows and butterflies and unicorns with pink manes" that I have had no negative thoughts or emotions EVER in the past two years!"
I don't want to tell you you're wrong.

I can't tell you how annoying the tattling gets, how sick I am of summer vacation or how I wish there was a year-round school option in our area because you'd think "wow - she's a TERRIBLE mom!" You'd tell me all about how all the top-moms homeschool, they read Little House on the Prairie out-loud to their children while they sit around under the handmade quilt the children helped make out of their baby clothes for a lesson on Textiles in the 21st Century.

I can't tell you how I secretly hope all you homeschooling moms want to Google "drop-in childcare center" on a daily basis and I CERTAINLY can't tell you about my TV babysitter before 7am. And sometimes till 8.

I can't tell you about feeling bitter or angry or helpless or frustrated or annoyed or any other negative emotion... because you'd GASP in horror and disbelief because, afterall... I'm the superstar mom with 12 kids...EIGHT of them adopted! GASP! OH the horror....

I won't tell you how sick I am of seeing everyone's Disney vacation pictures because I know we will likely never get there in the next 3 years before my oldest graduates High School. We always said we'd go.

I'm not about to tell you how stinking tired I am of blog posts about a week or two at the beach with your two kids and, aww SAD... it RAINED a few days?? Wah. A rainy day at the beach?? Poor you.

Never would I expound on how sick and tired I am of whiney, entitled, spoiled rich kids flaunting their new "device" in front of my kids, who will never have their own iWhatever until they can foot that bill on their own. They won't get a iPad for their birthday and I don't pay them for good grades (on their public school report cards).

I'm not at all bitter about being held to a higher standard because I have more than 3 or 4 kids. "Ohhhh see?? She must be SO overwhelmed... her youngest didn't have shoes on at Life Group!" Well, newsflash... when I had TWO kids one of them likely didn't have shoes on.

Newsflash: 
I don't have it all together.
My house is not clean.
(see above about my half-bath)
I "spring forward" the clock in the kitchen multiple times a week just to get the kids in the bed an hour early. Crafty? Sneaky? I call it "survival" and "genius".
I sometimes secretly wish I could go to work full time just to get the break during the day.
OhyesIdo.


I love my family.
I love my kids, even when they drive me absolutely insane.
Kids do that.
I have bad days. They have bad days.
Bad days usually begin with being awakened 8000 times in the middle of the night and then waking up before the coffee pot does it's automatic brewing thing in the morning.
Sometimes it's just that kind of day.
I'm not perfect.
So, there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Livin' Large

Okay, fine.

You broke me down.

Happy??

Friends keep sending me little messages saying "You should really blog about how you guys manage feeding and affording all these kids!"

I just kept thinking that's really not super exciting... but apparently people are interested in such gory details!

Piggybacking on my post two weeks ago - children aren't expensive. Lifestyles can be VERY expensive.

So here ya go!

Food:
We don't buy a bunch of processed stuff.
I don't buy biscuits in cans, no frozen breakfast products, no small cups of yogurt. I don't get snack-packs of anything, no canned fruit salad with cherries, no 100 calorie packs of pretzels. We don't eat frozen dinner stuff, we don't make meals from boxes, and I don't call the pizza guy.
So, what does that leave??
Breakfast - I buy those giant bags of honey nut o's (no trans-fat or HFCS), I make muffins, I make my own kefir and do "banana juice" (smoothies) with whatever I serve them. I make egg sandwiches, breakfast burritos, or a snack-plate with half a piece of fruit, yogurt in a little cup, and a muffin or two. And they have a smoothie almost every morning. It is super good for their digestive systems with all those good probiotics, and it helps fill them up and keep them full longer than just a muffin.
Lunch - PB&J (one loaf of "sandwich" bread makes 12 sandwiches), pasta with veggies, quesadillas, soup or grilled cheese, maybe a combo of leftover items. 80% of the kids love salad, so that's always an option with some leftover chicken on top. Lunch is whatever I make that's easy. I don't over-do it on lunch preparation, especially when it's 105 degrees - like this week!
Dinner - Some family favorites are fajitas, sauteed chicken, almost any pasta dish, any kind of fish, meatloaf, Salisbury steak, chicken fingers, and anything Dad makes. We do a lot of brown rice, a lot of those giant bags of frozen green beans, and I make rolls sometimes. We portion the food in the kitchen, and allow them to have more once they finish everything we gave them to start with.

Drinks:
We drink water. And smoothies. Sometimes milk... but I prefer smoothies.
No juice, no kool-aid, no juice boxes, no squeezy pouches of anything. Water or smoothies.

Snacks:
Fruit is our major snack food. I keep apples and bananas on hand. I recently bought a case of peaches, but mostly to freeze for cobblers and smoothies later on. If it's in season and a decent price, I buy fruit. 10-11 of the kids like watermelon... depending on the day. 9 or 10 like mangos, so when I see them on sale I buy a bunch.
Popcorn is a good snack... I have 2 air poppers and I make a giant bowl of popcorn and divide it up into lunch bags cut in half to hand it out.
I also buy pretzels... that makes a decent snack sometimes, too!

Sorry, tree-huggers:
I maintain that there is somewhere a landfill named in our honor from all the diapers and stuff over the years. However, now with a dozen kids... we use styrofoam or paper plates at nearly every meal. I serve cereal in plastic disposable cups. We use regular silverware and wash that regularly... but I use disposable if it's at all available.
I pink fuzzy heart styrofoam plates.
Laundry:
Laundry stinks. I don't like it. Thankfully, my kids help... otherwise I'd be buried alive in a matter of days. 14 people wear a LOT of clothes. The boys wear their pajamas 3 nights before they get washed. (sorry if that grosses you out... but I figure they aren't sleep-mud-wrestlers, so it's okay.)
They re-use towels after showers, and I'm a big fan of wearing jeans multiple times before washing them unless they are just gross. (which, in the summer, most stuff is gross after one wearing).


Transportation:
I might cry just writing this... but we have to get a new van. Soon. Like, very soon.
Poor Moby. We've dumped thousands into keeping her running and going strong over the past year... 15 passenger vans aren't cheap and they aren't just for sale around every corner either. The poor girl just ain't what she used to be. And now... we are van hunting. And I'm hoping I win the lottery (even though we don't play) to pay for it since I hate, hate, hate having a car payment.


Other: 
 We live within our means. We don't charge stuff, we don't wear brand names or go shopping for a new wardrobe anytime someone grows. We don't do 12 kids x 4 seasons of sports. We don't go on beach vacations twice a year. We don't go out to eat unless it's a SUPER special occasion. We let our lawn die this year since it's a drought. (Sorry, neighbors... but I'm not wasting my budget on a water bill just so the stupid grass is green. It will come back.) We have a local rec center membership so we can go to the pool all summer without paying per person. We have a zoo membership since it's the same price for 4 or 14 people. We pack lunches when we go out. We take water bottles when we go out so we don't have to buy drinks somewhere expensive. We shop yard sales and goodwill and get lots of hand-me-downs. We have what we need and we don't go hungry, we love our kids and we enjoy being around each other. 


Things that bug me:
"You must live in a HUGE house!"
"I could NEVER afford to have that many kids!"
"We can't afford to adopt."
"My kids all NEED their own rooms."
"My kids would NEVER share their stuff."
"Well, of course you cook a lot, your husband is a chef!"

Things I wish people understood:
12 is a big number.
It's a lot of food, a lot of laundry, a lot of mess.
It's also a huge blessing and responsibility.
It's also tight financially every month.
We worry about money sometimes.
It's always okay.
We appreciate every single little God-breeze that blows our way - donated clothing, an unexpected invitation for one of the kids to do something fun with a friend, a group discount, or a grocery budget that somehow manages to stretch till the next payday.
It's hard.
It's not impossible.
It's worth it all.